Slaying The Dragon - T.K. Leigh


BREATHE, I TOLD MYSELF, using my trembling hands to lift the parking brake on my Mercedes convertible. I stared at the two-story cream-colored stucco house, ghosts of what was for a brief period of time dancing in my mind. It had been a week since I ordered Tyler to let me go, leaving him alone and heartbroken on the streets of Boston.

But not as heartbroken as I was.

I had so many questions…questions I desperately needed answers to. Despite his lies, I still woke up each morning with an emptiness in my heart because another day had passed that I didn’t get to feel his skin on mine, his lips brushing mine, his heart beating in time with mine.

I didn’t want to feel this way anymore.

I needed to wash my life of his existence so I could return to the old Mackenzie, the one who maintained complete control over her feelings, but I knew I couldn’t do that until I finally confronted him and said the things I needed to say. Only then could I finally move on and forget about Tyler Burnham.

Walking up the cobblestone driveway on unsteady legs, I tried to focus on simply putting one foot in front of the other. If I thought of anything else – why Tyler lied to me, why he used me, why he didn’t come after me even when I told him to let me go – I would lose the small amount of nerve I finally had. I had driven to this same house every day since I had gotten back to South Padre. Each time, I sat in my car, never having the courage to walk those fifty steps up to the front door. I had walked fifty steps countless times, but nothing seemed as daunting and insurmountable as the path that lay before me today.

I didn’t know what I hoped to get out of finally confronting Tyler. Closure? Answers? The truth? Maybe I just wanted to look into his eyes and see that it was real for him, like he had begged me to believe. My brain never wanted to see him again, but my heart wanted it to be real because, for that brief moment in time, it was so real for me.

Step one, I thought to myself, my hands growing clammy as I timidly began the short journey that seemed akin to mounting the tallest peak. My eyes fell on Tyler’s Bronco parked beside his Jaguar and the memories began to pour in. Memories I had tried to suppress. Even though our two-week romance was short in the grand scheme of things, it felt as if it lasted so much longer, our connection stronger than any I’d ever had with another human.

A breeze blew my dark hair in front of my face as I ran my finger against the metal of the Bronco, dust settling on my skin. I stopped in my tracks, recalling the first time I sat in this very car. I had been shocked he would drive a Bronco, throwing all my preconceived notions of the ridiculously wealthy and handsome Tyler Burnham out the window. He was worth more than the operating budget of several small countries, yet he drove around in a vintage Bronco with an engine that made an obnoxious amount of noise. That was one of the things that had attracted me to him, and it was one of the things I missed. I missed never knowing what each day would bring with him in my life. I actually missed the unexpected, even though it had brought me nothing but grief and regret.

My hand resting on the hood of the Bronco, I closed my eyes, wishing I could turn back the clock and return to that first lunch date, every little detail still ingrained in my memory. It had been unseasonably hot and humid for the middle of March, and I was a bundle of nerves as Tyler led me to his car. His hand had lingered on the small of my back, sending an electrifying tingle through me. I had done everything I could to remain the poised woman I wanted him to think I was. In reality, I couldn’t remember ever being as nervous in the presence of a member of the opposite sex as I was around Tyler.

He had done everything right, making it impossible for me to imagine my life without him. He had become my lightning strike, just as he had sworn I was his. But lightning