Today is the day.
Today is the day we finally get to go home....well, to our new temporary home.
Ryann’s scans came back all normal, and Dr. Turner allowed her to go home with strict rules to follow: Plenty of rest, no lifting anything over fifteen pounds, follow up with all appointments, and most importantly, heal. Not only physically but mentally as well. Dr. Turner wants Ryann to follow up with her therapist, and I’ve set up an appointment while I’m away in Cali.
Not something I want Ryann to tackle on her own, but Ryann swore up and down she wants to be able to chill at the condo and not worry about her next appointment. Or what she’s going to have to say for the next couple of days.
So, biting my tongue, I did as Ryann asked.
“Holy shit!” Ryann exclaims as she cranes her head against the glass of the car window to steal a glance of the skyscraper before we dip inside the garage. “Your friend lives here?”
Sliding across the seat, I look out Ryann’s window to see the familiar, polished stone exterior before it fades into sheets of pristine glass and steel. Creating a skyscraper worth remembering and capturing. But if she thinks the exterior is something to behold, wait until she walks through the lobby. The lobby makes you feel like you’ve entered into a palace made for royalty.
Something I am not. Honestly, I think the only reason why Alex stayed here for as long as he did was to prove a point to his father. A giant fuck you, if you will, because the man who owns this building is business rivals with Mr. Morgan.
“Ehh, he lived here. If you think this is impressive, you should see the lobby.” Ryann gawks, causing me to laugh. “It’s even a little too fancy for me.”
“Then why are we staying here?” She asks with a soft giggle.
Shrugging a shoulder, “Technically, I texted Alex asking him if he or knew anyone who had any property to rent for a short period. He responded with his place.” I pause for a moment knowing the true reason why I jumped on Alex’s offer, “And it’s safe.”
I watch her face fall slightly before her smile returns. “I’m pretty sure the broken tooth scared him off.” She muses.
Sliding away from Ryann, I’m partially afraid she’s going to nail me in the balls. “I...I have no clue what you’re talking about.” I’m an actor. I can pull off playing dumb.
Ryann snorts as the town car pulls into the secure parking garage. Her attention is distracted by the subtle strobing of the parking garage lights as we pass under them. Her eyes focusing on a nonexistent spot on the window, and I can tell her mind has taken her off into another memory far from here.
“Your acting is awful,” she says suddenly with a twerk of her lips. “You can’t fool me.”
I study her for a beat, her hazel eyes hooded and shielded from whatever memory she doesn’t want me to see. But I can still see the memory lingering in the corners of her eyes.
Deciding to distract her, “Your opinion doesn’t count.”
Ryann mocks hurt as she places her hand over her heart, “Why Mr. Copeland, I’m offended.”
“Ha, and you say my acting skills are terrible.”
Ryann swats at my arm as she sticks out her tongue, “Better than yours.” She giggles out.
Sliding across the backseat seat again, I can’t help but find myself memorized by her humor and wit again. I love seeing this side of her come out more and more since the accident. I’ve missed my spunky babydoll.
Feeling the car slow, I take Ryann’s hand into mine and bring it to my lips and place a soft kiss to the top of her warm, smooth skin. I’m waiting for the day that Ryann tells me to stop showering her with kisses and smothering her in nothing but love.
I’m waiting for her to tell me to back the fuck off and that I’m suffocating her. I mean, there are moments within Ryann’s new security detail that even I thought possibly crossed a line. Especially with the new restrictions for when I’m gone. But Ryann actually took it a step further. She does not want Max knowing where we’re staying, and she does not want him up in the condo.
And I’ve volunteered my services to break that news to Betty and Jen so Ryann wouldn’t have to explain her reasoning. At least this way, Betty will think it’s due to me and Max’s conflict. And she can keep believing that. I’ll take the brunt of the blame if I piss off Ryann’s mom with this news. I’d rather have her rath instead of her hounding Ryann and potentially sending Ryann into a breakdown.
I want Ryann’s time here, at the condo, to be relaxing and allow her the peace she needs to heal. I do not want her worrying about the drama that is constantly happening in our lives.
“You okay?” Ryann asks as the tips of her fingers brush against my stubble.
She knows. She always seems to know when the world is weighing on my shoulders. And right now, it feels like I’m about to be crushed alive—Ryann’s right. I’m a shit actor. Well....when it comes to her. “I’m fine, babydoll.”
I watch her lips twerk into a slight smile, “Liar. What’s wrong?”
I shake my head, “Nothing, I can’t wait to get home and just hold you.”
Her smile widens, “And I can’t wait for you to hold me, but you’re still a shit actor. When was the last time you talked with Andrew?”
Sighing, “Two days ago.”
“I think you should call him today, and maybe you shouldn’t meet with my mom. I can tell her and.....”
Shaking my head, “No. I’ve already made arrangements to meet your mom and sister at their hotel. I don’t want you dealing with this. You need to rest and heal.”
“And you need to rest and heal too. Do you have to do it today?”
No, I could have Travis or Jonathan do the deed instead. But I know to keep the tension level at a tolerable level, I should be the one to deliver the news. Not my security.
Giving her hand another kiss, “Tell you what, I’m going to spend the day with you. Holding you and watching whatever crap-tastic television you want. When the sun starts to set, I’ll meet with your family and come back with dinner. Your choice.”
I can tell by the sadness in Ryann’s eyes that was not the answer she was hoping for, but it’s an answer that she’s going to have to deal with. As much as I want to hide out in the condo with her, I still have to deal with the gnawing aspect that Max is still in fucking New York, and I feel like he’s lurking around every damn corner.
“Babydoll, I know that’s not the answer you want, but.....” the car door is swung open with Travis standing at the ready. Drawing Ryann’s attention back to me, “Hey, I promise that I’ll make the meeting with your family as quick as possible. Because the last thing I want is to be away from you.” Placing my fingers under her chin, I place a soft kiss to her lips. “Are you ready to see our temporary home?”
She smiles, “As long as I’m with you, anywhere is home.”
If I wasn’t a mush before, I am now. God, Ryann knows how to make my heart leap through hops and feel like I belong. With her, my whole world is rose color.
Following close to Ryann, I slide out of the vehicle behind her. There is a slight smile in the corners of Travis’s mouth as he looks at Ryann before his eyes meet mine. “Sir, Valerie is already up in the condo, and the staff security have been informed of the new measures. Along with a list of approved visitors. At your request Ryann, the front desk have been made aware to call once your sister and mom arrive.”
Taking Ryann’s hand in mine, I feel her squeeze tightly, “Thank you, Travis.” Ryann says softly. I’m starting to get the feeling that she’s second-guessing her decision. A decision I don’t think she needs to be second-guessing or thinking of any further.
“The elevators are this way,” Travis instructs. “Samuel and Jonathan will escort you up.”
“Where....where are you going?” Ryann asks curiously.
“I’ll be up shortly. I need to check one last security measure.”
Nodding her head, we start to follow Jonathan and Samuel towards the elevator as Travis heads in the direction of the building’s lobby. I know where he’s going. He’s going to access the security cameras that the building has and make sure they cover every single damn inch of this building. So much so that not even a ghost will be able to sneak in.
Boarding the elevator, Ryann immediately leans into my arm, her head resting against my bicep. I can’t see our reflection in the doors as Samuel and Jonathan stand in front of us, but I can sense that she’s starting to feel fatigued.
I hear her hum as she looks up at me. “I’m fine.” She assures me.
But I can tell by the heaviness in her eyes, she’s tired, and something heavier than before is weighing on her mind. I can tell that Ryann is overanalyzing a decision or a memory, but I also know, right now is not the time to probe her. Not when she’s tired because the last thing I want is for us to end up in a fight.
At the sound of the elevator ding, Jonathan and Samuel step off the elevator, and we follow behind. Immediately we’re met by Val, who rushes between the two men and nearly topples Ryann over, “Ooohh, I’m so happy you’re out!”
“Val easy,” I chastise as I sturdy Ryann.
Val keeps hold of her embrace as Ryann holds onto Val for extra stability. “I’m just so excited. How are you feeling? Are you hungry? Do you need a shower? What do you need or want?” She rushes out. “I have lunch going.” I arch a brow because the last I knew, Val’s cooking skills consist of burning everything that lands on or in the stove.
Ryann gives Val a soft pat on the back, “It all depends on what you cooked. If it’s pasta again, I’m out.”
Val pulls away with a mocking frown, “That was not my fault. The temperature was too high on the stove.” I knew the house smelt like burnt plastic and tomatoes that day.
“Then who’s fault?” Ryann jokes. “The invisible cat?”
Val points, “Hey, he may be invisible, but he’s a troublemaker. But no, I made the ever so safe grilled cheese and tomato soup......from the can.” She laughs.
Leaning into Ryann, “Babydoll, why don’t you go and eat with Val, and I’ll go put our stuff in our room. I don’t think Val could screw up grilled cheese.”
I watch Val wrap her arm around Ryann and guide her into the living room before disappearing into the kitchen. I hear the sound of the barstools being scooted away from the breakfast bar as I imagine Ryann getting up in her chair. The girls’ laughter, echoing in the condo and a welcoming, missed sound.
Smiling at the pure enjoyment coming from the kitchen, I make my way down the hall and into our bedroom with the overnight bag and pillow. Stepping into the room, I’m immediately basked into sunlight. The room is immaculate. The master bedroom is essentially two separate rooms within one. As you walk in, a California King size platform bed with a dark navy upholstered headboard rest against a wall as the bed comes out into the center of the room. Across from the bed against the opposite wall is a large grey, old farm wood dresser with a large television mounted to the wall.
The closet is off to the side of the dresser and exits into a sizeable hidden bathroom. I feel like Alex had his condo designed this way because unless you know, some stranger walking in won’t know the bathroom is even in this bedroom. Especially if the bathroom door is shut, it blends in perfectly into the wall.
Walking into what could be considered another small room, I step down into the little alcove. A bookshelf rests against one wall, empty. A giant plush navy and white armchair sits off-center in the room. It looks like whoever sat here last was sitting in turmoil and possibly losing oneself in a drink or twenty. The whole vibe feels a little depressing, but maybe that is my internal emotions since I’m now left alone with my thoughts.
Adjusting the chair, I move it closer to the giant wall of ceiling to floor windows that overlooks the city. The view is stunning and one I could get used to. If I remember correctly, one of these bedrooms, if not two, have views of the Hudson. Sitting down, I cross one leg over the other and vacantly stare at Manhattan. My mind is racing. Trying to figure out how to deal with Pearl and Dax, how to get Max out of Ryann’s life, and then there is this whole shit with Raymond now wanting to make amends.
After everything, it takes Ryann nearly dying for him to realize the truth? Is there ever a point when it becomes too little too late? Because in my opinion, it’s too late. And adding this revelation, when Ryann isn’t ready and when she’s trying to heal both mentally and physically, I think it will be taxing on her health.
If I could control what came out of her dad’s mouth, that would be a different story. But from what I’ve heard and understand, Raymond is old fashion. I’m not sure even Jen could fully change the way he thinks. People can change but not this far down the line change. If Raymond truly loved Ryann, he would have changed the moment he saw the hurt, the devastation, and soul-crushing humiliation in Ryann’s eyes. He should have been there, like Betty, in attempting to help her. Not shaming her, and sure as fucking hell, not siding with her psychotic ex.
God, and that is another territory I’m trying to figure the fuck out. Jamie isn’t traveling anytime soon. He’s facing enough legal trouble in Indiana, so much so, he’s currently on house arrest.
I couldn’t help but do a little digging on my own after Jen and I’s conversation.
I knew an ankle monitor was an accessory he could pull off. I can’t wait until he faces charges in California for his crimes. Charges that are stacking by the damn minute.
“Sir,” the sound of Travis’s gruff voice forces me out of my overanalyzing thoughts.
I don’t bother to turn to acknowledge Travis. Whatever he has to tell me can’t be good if he’s standing in my bedroom. “If this is more bad news, can it wait?”
I hear him sigh, “Sir, I don’t think this can wait.”
Turning slightly, “What is it?”
“I’ve heard from Tucker. They have sent a cease-and-desist order and are threatening legal action.” Now he has my full attention. His tone is starkly eerie even and underlined with tones that could land someone on his murder list.
“What?” I demand.
“A photo has been sold to a magazine.”
My body goes ice cold with rage. I’m going to need my lawyers to help me get away with murder.