Mack, p.1

Mack, page 1

 

Mack


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Mack


  MACK

  The KING Series

  Book Four

  Mimi Jean Pamfiloff

  A Mimi Boutique Novel

  Copyright © 2015 by Mimi Jean Pamfiloff

  All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the writer, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical reviews and certain other noncommercial uses permitted by copyright law.

  This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, brands, media, and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. The author acknowledges the trademarked status and trademark owners of various products referenced in this work of fiction, which have been used without permission. The publication/use of these trademarks are not authorized, associated with, or sponsored by the trademark owners.

  ISBN-10:0996250476

  ISBN-13:978-0-9962504-7-4

  Cover Design by EarthlyCharms.com

  Editing by Latoya Smith and Pauline Nolet

  Formatting by WriteIntoPrint.com

  Like “Free” Pirated Books?

  Then Ask Yourself This Question:

  WHO ARE THESE PEOPLE I’M HELPING?

  What sort of person or organization would put up a website that uses stolen work (or encourages its users to share stolen work) in order to make money for themselves, either through website traffic or direct sales? Haven’t you ever wondered?

  Putting up thousands of pirated books onto a website or creating those anonymous ebook file sharing sites takes time and resources. Quite a lot, actually.

  So who are these people? Do you think they’re decent, ethical people with good intentions? Why do they set up camp anonymously in countries where they can’t easily be touched? And the money they make from advertising every time you go to their website, or through selling stolen work, what are they using it for? The answer is you don’t know. They could be terrorists, organized criminals, or just greedy bastards. But one thing we DO know is that THEY ARE CRIMINALS who don’t care about you, your family, or me and mine. And their intentions can’t be good.

  And every time you illegally share or download a book, YOU ARE HELPING these people. Meanwhile, people like me, who work to support a family and children, are left wondering why anyone would condone this.

  So please, please ask yourself who YOU are HELPING when you support ebook piracy and then ask yourself who you are HURTING.

  And for those who legally purchased/borrowed/obtained my work from a reputable retailer (not sure, just ask me!) muchas thank yous! You rock.

  The unauthorized reproduction or distribution of a copyrighted work is illegal. Criminal copyright infringement, including infringement without monetary gain, is investigated by the FBI and is punishable by fines and federal imprisonment.

  UNABLE TO BREATHE, I STOPPED THE CAR COMPLETELY.

  Then the wave of nausea hit. I put the car into park and bolted out the door, diving to my hands and knees, dry heaving. Nothing came out, but my stomach didn’t care.

  “Try to relax, Theodora. You’re fighting it.” I felt a strong, soothing hand on my back.

  Mack might as well have been stroking my breasts or inner thighs or kissing my lips. His touch felt intimate, tender and sensual.

  Okay. Feeling better now. In fact, I felt the urge to jump to my feet and kiss him like a long-lost lover I missed with all my heart.

  I shook my head from side to side, gathering up my crumbling wits. Oh look. I’m in the doggy position on the ground with my tongue hanging out. Nice.

  I wiped my mouth with the back of my hand, and Mack gripped my arm to help me to my feet.

  This is it, I realized. I was going to turn around and look him straight in the eyes. I already knew how beautiful he was, but the last time we’d locked eyes, it changed me.

  Contents

  OTHER WORKS BY MIMI JEAN PAMFILOFF

  DEDICATION

  PROLOGUE

  CHAPTER ONE

  CHAPTER TWO

  CHAPTER THREE

  CHAPTER FOUR

  CHAPTER FIVE

  CHAPTER SIX

  CHAPTER SEVEN

  CHAPTER EIGHT

  CHAPTER NINE

  CHAPTER TEN

  CHAPTER ELEVEN

  CHAPTER TWELVE

  CHAPTER THIRTEEN

  CHAPTER FOURTEEN

  CHAPTER FIFTEEN

  CHAPTER SIXTEEN

  CHAPTER SEVENTEEN

  CHAPTER EIGHTEEN

  CHAPTER NINETEEN

  CHAPTER TWENTY

  CHAPTER TWENTY-ONE

  CHAPTER TWENTY-TWO

  CHAPTER TWENTY-THREE

  CHAPTER TWENTY-FOUR

  AUTHOR’S NOTE

  What’s Mack Really All About?

  Acknowledgements

  TOMMASO

  GOD OF WINE

  THE HAPPY PANTS SERIES IS BACK!

  ABOUT THE AUTHOR

  OTHER WORKS BY MIMI JEAN PAMFILOFF

  COMING SOON:

  TOMMASO (Standalone/Paranormal/Humor/Immortal Matchmakers Series, Book 2)

  GOD OF WINE (Standalone/Paranormal/Humor/Immortal Matchmakers Series, Book 3)

  TAILORED FOR TROUBLE (Standalone/Romantic Comedy/The Happy Pants Series)

  IT’S A FUGLY LIFE (Standalone/Contemporary Romance/Fugly Series, Book 2)

  THE TEN CLUB (Standalone/Dark Fantasy/The King Series, Book 5)

  BRUTUS (Standalone/Paranormal/Humor/Immortal Matchmakers Series, Book 4)

  READ NOW:

  FUGLY (Standalone/Contemporary Romance)

  IMMORTAL MATCHMAKERS, Inc. (Standalone/Paranormal/Humor/Book1)

  FATE BOOK (Standalone/New Adult Suspense/Humor)

  FATE BOOK TWO (Standalone/New Adult Suspense/Humor)

  THE HAPPY PANTS CAFÉ (Standalone/Prequel/Romantic Comedy)

  THE MERMEN TRILOGY (Dark Fantasy)

  Mermen (Book 1)

  MerMadmen (Book 2)

  MerCiless (Book 3)

  THE KING TRILOGY (Dark Fantasy)

  King’s (Book 1)

  King for a Day (Book 2)

  King of Me (Book 3)

  THE ACCIDENTALLY YOURS SERIES (Paranormal Romance/Humor)

  Accidentally in Love with…a God? (Book 1)

  Accidentally Married to…a Vampire? (Book 2)

  Sun God Seeks…Surrogate? (Book 3)

  Accidentally…Evil? (a Novella) (Book 3.5)

  Vampires Need Not…Apply? (Book 4)

  Accidentally…Cimil? (a Novella) (Book 4.5)

  Accidentally…Over? (Series Finale) (Book 5)

  DEDICATION

  To Anson and Marleen, my desert spirit guides.

  “Anson! Look! It’s soooo beautiful!”

  MACK

  PROLOGUE

  MACK

  Most know me as Mack, though I have gone by many names and have lived many lives—each ending in misfortune. Each making my heart grow colder and harder.

  This is my story—a tragedy without hope, so don’t try. Don’t wish for an ending filled with love or a moral lesson that lifts your soul. That’s impossible for a man like me, because I have done too many terrible things.

  So turn back now if that’s what you’re looking for. Run the other way.

  The only ending you should expect is mine. And I pray that this time my death is an irrevocable one.

  CHAPTER ONE

  TEDDI

  “You’ve nailed it,” I mumbled to myself, eyeing my black pencil skirt and pinstriped blazer in the mirror, confident that no one would ever learn my little secret.

  Or would they?

  I swiveled in my black heels one last time before rea
lizing I was running late for my first day.

  Yep. A new job.

  Thus the reason for my new look—dark brown hair cut into an A-line and extra-thick, black-framed glasses (instead of contacts) to play down my green eyes.

  Of course, just because I looked more grown-up and serious didn’t mean the staff would accept a twenty-eight-year-old woman named Teddi (short for Theodora) as the new director of the Santa Barbara Mental Health Treatment Center. I could hardly accept it myself.

  However, my youthful appearance only held the number two slot on my list of concerns. Coveted number one was the sort of obstacle a conservative suit could never resolve. I only hoped that no one caught on.

  No one has yet, I thought to myself. Really, only my parents knew the truth.

  Whoa. Don’t get me wrong. I wasn’t some breed of degenerate. I was what most considered lucky—a child prodigy who skipped several grades, graduated high school just shy of sixteen, and finished my PhD in clinical psychology from Colombia at twenty-two, which included taking a year off from my studies to try to find myself.

  A disastrous failure.

  Because for every ounce of academic intelligence I possessed, my emotional intelligence decreased by an equal amount. Yes, my brain was broken. So in laymen’s terms, I got everything and I got nothing. A computer had more genuine empathy, yet I could probably build one from a blueprint if I had to.

  So what was wrong with me?

  Who the hell knew? But the doctors explained it as this: the deep emotional part of my brain was shut off.

  That wasn’t to say I didn’t have emotions. I had some, although nothing anyone would classify as normal. A normal person, for example, would feel happy when her boyfriend of two years proposed. I’d felt…indifferent. Just like I felt when I caught him four weeks later pounding his dick into my best friend while I was supposed to be at work. While he wore my lingerie. My brand-new, untouched wedding-night lingerie.

  The appropriate response would’ve been outrage; however, the best I could muster was the conclusion that fate had intervened at an opportune moment and done me a favor.

  So, as you might guess, this lack of emotion was what drew me to psychology—the study of the mind and emotions. And it was why I owned a collection of Spock T-shirts.

  Yes. I really did. And that was as close as you came to humor when you’ve spent your whole life trying to understand why you’re broken.

  Anyway, now you see why it was a miracle that I was given the opportunity to run a center. Because while my analytical mind could pinpoint schizophrenia or bipolar disorder from a mile away, and I immediately knew the most effective treatment for every patient I met—it was my gift—I found it difficult to connect to people. But that didn’t mean I couldn’t be useful in this world. I just went about helping people in a logical way.

  Watch out, Spock. Here comes Teddi.

  “See you later, Bentley.” I turned and patted my dog’s head—a Jack Russell with a serious staring problem—and then grabbed my keys to my new black BMW (a little congrats gift to myself) before heading out the front door of my two-bedroom beach house.

  This is it, Ted. Don’t fucking blow it.

  ~~~

  My new administrative assistant, Shannon—a middle-aged blonde with a passive-aggressive smile—greeted me at the center’s reception. The one-story glass building, with excessively vibrant landscaped grounds, was a mere ten minutes from downtown Santa Barbara and contained two hundred beds, fifty of which were reserved for long-term care. The rest were for the weekend benders, meltdown moms, and variety of people simply going through an anxiety rough patch. Substance abusers and alcoholics went to the rehab center across town.

  “And here is our resident patient ward,” Shannon said, gesturing toward the set of beige double doors with small windows to prevent the staff from slamming into one another. “Fifty patients who receive around-the-clock care, including one-on-one and daily group therapy.”

  Shannon pushed through the doors, and I followed along, feeling a bit like I was being led on a tour of a people zoo.

  “These first ten rooms are for our suicide watches. The others are a variety of conditions—PTSD, chronic postpartum, eating disorders. The usual.” Shannon strolled along the hallway, waving her hands toward the different doors as she spoke.

  There was nothing here I hadn’t seen during my last four years working at County, which meant most of these patients were textbook. Roughly seventy percent would respond to standard psychotherapy treatments. The other thirty percent were statistically likely to require life-long care, show little to no improvement, or require a treatment we weren’t able to provide.

  My job was to ensure the center ran efficiently and benefited as many patients as possible.

  “And that’s the tour!” Shannon said cheerfully, her brown eyes reflecting a different emotion altogether, while we stood at the end of the hallway.

  Suddenly, my gaze was pulled down the immaculately polished, beige tile floor, gravitating toward the last room on the right. The small frosted-glass window was completely dark.

  “Who’s in that room?” Room twenty-five.

  “Which room, Dr. Valentine?”

  A hard shiver sprinted through my body, and I rubbed my goose-bump-covered arms. “It’s a little cold in here, isn’t it?” Yes, we wanted to watch our expenses, but this was a little much.

  Shannon shrugged. “I feel okay.”

  Hmm. “I’ll look into the thermostat later.” I then pointed at room twenty-five. “And that? The room with no light inside despite it being ten in the morning and our facility having a strict rule about keeping to a schedule.” Routines were important for everyone—sane or not. So was sunlight. And no, the room couldn’t be empty. Not possible given we were full and turning people away from our lovely sanctuary of mental healing.

  “Oh. That room…” Her eyes shifted a bit. “That’s Dr. Wilson’s patient.”

  “Does the patient have an aversion to light?” Because obviously the curtains were drawn inside and the lights were off.

  “Not that I’m aware of.”

  “So then?” I asked.

  “Well, that patient is a little…” She leaned in to whisper, “He’s difficult.”

  “I’m not following.” After all, that was our purpose: dealing with difficult people or people with difficulties.

  She drew a breath so deep that her sagging posture almost looked correct for a moment. Almost. “He won’t speak to anyone, so Dr. Wilson gave us instructions to leave him alone until he’s ready.”

  I lifted my chin and pushed my glasses back up my nose. “If the patient isn’t willing to engage in his own healing process, then we can’t help. Send him home or transfer him to County.” This facility was private, but operated mainly on grants from the state or donations, so we had a mandate in our charter to process a certain number of patients each year.

  Shannon blinked at me.

  “Are you confused?” I wasn’t sure what her blinking meant—not so obvious to someone like me.

  “Dr. Wilson was very clear; the patient is not to be disturbed.”

  Ah! Meaning, Shannon didn’t want to upset Dr. Wilson. “I see, Shannon. My apologies. It wasn’t my intention to put you in the middle.” This was a classic example of how my brain worked. The human-feelings element was generally an afterthought. I did try my best, however, to be aware of such things. I truly did. It was why I’d adopted a dog to help cultivate my ability to pick up on subtle emotional cues. So far, Bentley only stared a lot, as if waiting for me to do something.

  I continued, “I’ll ask Dr. Wilson myself about Mr. Room Twenty-Five later. No action required on your part.” I offered Shannon a smile, hoping she’d know I meant no harm. I’m just a robot soul in a people suit. Don’t be frightened, human.

  As we concluded the tour and walked away, I couldn’t help looking over my shoulder at that little dark window. Why was it so fascinating to me?

  I shook
it off, and Shannon then showed me back to my office—a bland-looking rectangle with a wall of windows facing the parking lot. Suited me fine. I wasn’t into fancy feng shui. Or mood lighting. Or anything that wasn’t functional. Desk, two chairs, computer, bookcase, done.

  We discussed the schedule for the week, including staff meetings and patient progress reports. For someone like me, it was all very logical and simple. I still was unsure, however, how the staff and doctors twice my age would respond to my…well, youthful appearance.

  After Shannon took her leave, I sat at my desk, staring at a pile of paperwork, wishing I could feel more excited. This was a big accomplishment, something to be proud of—my parents certainly were. And my best friends, Melody and Sue, were certainly impressed. But like every milestone in my life, I felt little more than like I was checking off boxes while waiting for my real life to commence.

  This is your life, Ted. Stop wishing it to be something else.

  I grabbed a piece of paper and a pen and started making my action plan for the week. I found lists to be soothing. But only just a little.

  #1. Review doctor/patient load

  #2. Have Shannon set up one-on-one meetings with staff

  #3. Review cash flow with accountant

  And…oh!

  #4. Talk to Dr. Wilson about Mr. Room Twenty-Five…

  CHAPTER TWO

  I spent the rest of my first week checking off my list: reviewing the books with Martha, the head accountant; planning my first staff meeting; and scheduling those one-on-ones with the other doctors—schedules were extremely tight, so Shannon was doing her best to clear space. I noted immediately how understaffed we were, and that meant doctors had too many patients. I’d have to cut costs—bye-bye resort-style meditation gardens—and hire additional doctors. Turning away more patients was not an option.

 
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