FaceTime Kenna O’Loughlin…
FaceTime Kenna O’Loughlin…
I push the button to connect and am immediately greeted by MacKenna’s smiling lips and the top of her son’s head.
“Heyyy!” She holds up one of Zay’s little arms and waves it at me. I can’t help the grin that stretches across my face.
“Hey, back. How are my two favorite people?” I lean back on the chair in my home office and prop my elbows on the armrests. I adjust the top of my laptop to have a clearer picture and see her doing the same. Her beautiful face fills the screen, plump lips and freckles winking at me in happiness.
“We’re good. Still settling in, ya know how it is.” She shrugs slightly and moves her phone closer. She isn’t saying a lot, and I can tell she is trying to keep things light, probably in a sweet attempt to spare my feelings.
I’d been seriously in love with this woman. Rip my heart out and sacrifice it at her altar in love. Denounce my inheritance and run away to another country together in love. Rob a bank and give her the proceeds to hold while I went to jail in love.
And it was completely one-sided.
When I first met MacKenna O’Loughlin, it was at the behest of her “Aunt” Grey— her best friend’s mother. I worked with said best friend’s husband, Michael, who assured me they weren’t imposing a homely distant relative on me. He said it with a devious waggle of his eyebrows, which made me wonder if that was precisely what was happening. But since I’m a nice guy, I decided to show up and meet this poor girl. At worst, she was a broken branch on their family tree and needed a friend; at best, she was a nice girl, and maybe we would hit it off.
Yeah, I wasn’t prepared.
Grey’s family was throwing her a birthday party at their massive mansion in Kenilworth that night. The Grants are old Chicago money, railroads, and oil, with many inventions and patents on their resume. The attendees were the who’s who of society, and I was wandering around nodding at distantly familiar faces and trying to keep a low profile. I’m sure if a few of these people looked closely enough, they would realize that I seemed somewhat familiar— something I was trying to avoid at all costs. Even though I only need them to read, I keep my thick-rimmed glasses glued to my face. I dont need anyone getting too good a look. A slim beringed hand slid out of the crowd, and I came face to face with Grey Grant.
“There you are, Masen, darling. I’ve been looking for you.” A gentle cloud of perfume surrounded her, and her voice was calm and warm. “Walk with me a moment?” I drew her arm through my elbow and escorted her through the crowd. We chatted about this and that until she stopped and called out to someone. I looked in that direction and felt my breath leave my body.
No. Fucking. Way.
There was no way that this sexy girl with a body blessed by angels and a face of dreams was the homely chick they were trying to hook me up with. I froze midstride for a second and caused Grey to halt her progress abruptly. I shot her a quick apologetic look, and we stopped before this vision. Introductions were made, and I immediately sensed that MacKenna was uncomfortable with this matchmaking. I forced myself to keep my eyes glued to her face and not to the incredible figure tucked into a pale pink couture dress. She flicked her head so that her dark thick hair slid back from her face, and a saucy grin crossed her lips.
“Masen, I don’t know about you, but this champagne just isn’t cutting it, and I need a real drink. Wanna join me?”
I would join this woman to the ends of the earth. “That sounds like a great idea. What’s your idea of a real drink?”
“A Jack with no Coke. How ’bout you?” She narrowed her eyes playfully at me, and I could feel my grin reach my ears.
“A gorgeous woman with great taste in liquor? How’d I get so lucky? Lead the way.” I put my hand on her back and steered her toward the bar.
We spent the rest of the party together.
Between Jack’s glasses and the beer she snuck out of the kitchen, I found out just how magical MacKenna, or Kenna as she preferred, really was. She was the most unique woman I had ever met. Intellectual yet street smart, rawly sophisticated yet a proud nerd, ungodly sexual yet completely innocent, she stirred things in me that I tried for years to bury. I thought she would cry when I confessed how much I loved Star Wars (though she screwed up that adorable nose when I told her that I didn’t love Star Trek as much). I enthusiastically listed some tremendous graphic comics she hadn’t read and invited her to a small reading the following week. MacKenna immediately said yes and, after typing quickly into her phone, asked for my number. I couldn’t help the swell of satisfaction that rose in me and programmed hers into mine. I was in complete awe that this woman was single, yet oddly not surprised. She was warm and engaging, yet an ill-disguised wall surrounded her.
I was hooked.
© 2023 JM Blake