When Alicia McKinley agreed to a whirlwind Las Vegas wedding, she'd been swept away by the sheer romance of it all. How could she not say "I do" to Michael James McKinley, the gorgeous doctor who offered her everything she'd ever dreamed of? Still, after years of coming in second to MJ's career, it was time to say "I don't" to the workaholic husband who took her totally for granted.
But MJ is not a man who gives up without a fight. He and Alicia might not have a perfect marriage, but now that he knows what is on the line, he is determined to risk everything--including his heart--for a second chance with his wife!
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Dr . Michael James McKinley Junior's life came crashing down around him at seven o'clock on a Wednesday evening in October.
Ironically, he was home considerably earlier than usual. He was feeling content. Happy, even.
Entering the lavishly lit and decorated lobby of his building, he anticipated the moment of homecoming at a level of detail that he would have been embarrassed about if anyone had known.
It would unfold something like this:
Alicia would hear his key in the door and come to meet him, giving a little cry of pleasure and surprise. He'd suggest a meal out, and she would hurry away to change and freshen her makeup and hair. The kids would still be awake. He could spend some time with them, while Alicia readied herself.
The procedure always took a while, but the results were worth it. She was just about the most stunning woman he had ever seen. After nearly seven years of marriage he still thought so, and when he entered a social gathering with her on his arm, he felt the aura of success around both of them like a magnetic field.
So, yes, he would have to wait for Alicia to work her beauty magic, and that would be fine. He could help Nanny Maura with...well, with whatever she did with the children at this time of the evening. Their bath. Their bedtime story.
He felt he ought to know what they would be up to in their routine, but it seemed to change every few months, and it was hard to keep track of such things when he was so rarely home at an hour when they were still awake. Kids grew so fast. He had the idea Alicia had told him recently that Tyler was on the verge of giving up his daytime nap.
Or maybe he already had. MJ couldn't remember.
He took the elevator, thinking that he had better be quiet when he entered, in case Tyler was already settling into sleep. While the thought of his two-year-old son bouncing excitedly out of bed to greet him was a pleasing one in his own head, he realized that Alicia and Maura might not think of it the same way. Tyler was an exhausting little dynamo, and if he became overtired or overstimulated he was even worse.
No, he absolutely must not disrupt the sleep routine with Tyler purely for a father's selfish reasons.
At the apartment door, he registered that things were indeed pretty quiet in there. He slipped his key silently into the lock, turned the handle slowly so that it didn't make a sound and tiptoed inside.
There were no lights switched on against the gathering night, and no sounds. Still convinced that he was arriving at his children's bedtime, he crept through to the sitting room, expecting to see the night-light glowing in its socket in the hallway, or to hear the soft voices of Alicia and Maura telling Abby and Tyler good-night.
But the apartment was dark and silent. The sunset fading in the sky outside provided the only source of light, and the traffic in the canyons of the Manhattan streets below made the only sounds. No one was here. His pleasing fantasy of a warm greeting, twenty minutes of parental quality time and a relaxed evening out evaporated and left a feeling of fatigue and irritation.
He'd been at the hospital at six this morning, in surgery at six-thirty. He'd eaten lunch on the move, hadn't had a break all day, and then when he'd glimpsed the possibility of an early departure, he'd tied himself in knots to make it happen. As a reward, he could easily have accepted fellow surgeon Oliver Marks's casual suggestion of a quick drink instead of hurrying home to his family. Would it really have been too hard for Alicia to text him with a warning that she and the children might not be home? His arrival at...
A Marriage Worth Fighting For
By: Lilian Darcy