Sunday came faster than I wanted it to. I was more nervous than I wanted to admit. Lillian came through and made me a gorgeous, knee-length, apple green halter dress. Lillian was a good friend of mine and we used to party back in the day. Today she was well on her way to be a renowned fashion designer.
“Are you ready?” Xavier asked me for the umpteenth time.
“Yeah.” I assured myself. Part of me was nervous, part of me was worried, and part of me was relieved to be getting this over with.
“Why exactly are you driving?” Xavier asked.
“Because I want to be able to leave whenever I want.”
“And they would hinder this?”
“Absolutely. I’ve known the Evans family for a while. They aren’t bad people, but Senator Evans is known for getting his way.”
“I see. Remind me again why this is a good idea.”
“It’s just something I have to do.” I shrugged.
“Right.” Xavier sighed as he settled back against his seat, clearly not the answer he wanted. “You look lovely, by the way.”
I couldn’t help but smile. “Thank you.”
Once we got to Chase’s home, it made my heart ache. It reminded me distantly of my father’s estate, but on a much smaller scale. I missed him. I missed that strange connection I had with him. I missed our horseback rides around the grounds. I came back to reality as a valet parked my car and Xavier escorted me inside.
“Name?” Asked a man in a dark suit, with a tablet in his hand and an ear piece.
“And your guest?”
The man looked confused as he looked up from his tablet. “I have you listed as Chase Evans’s date.”
“Your list is wrong.”
He scoffed. “The list is never wrong.”
“Then how about we just ask Richard his opinion?” I asked as I smiled sweetly at him.
“Who else would know for certain?”
“Is there a problem here, Gunther?” Came a smooth low voice that I wanted to punch.”
“Why am I listed as your date?” I demanded.
“Because you are.”
“Like hell I am. Xavier is my date.” I snipped. “If this is a problem, then I can leave. Right here, right now.”
“Ah,” Chase chuckled nervously. “My mistake, let them in Gunther.” Chase led us inside and we got about ten paces before Chase grabbed my arm and pulled me aside. “What the fuck was that?” he demanded, his face about three inches from mine.
“Let go of me, Chase. You’re hurting me.” I growled right back.
“Why are you embarrassing me?” Chase’s grip on my arm tightened and a moment later Xavier was between us. He shielded me behind him.
“You will keep your hands to yourself and you will never lay hands on a lady again, especially not this one.” Xavier warned, his voice low and threatening. “You are lucky she agreed to this, if she were sensible, you’d already be back in police custody. I do believe your prison system is quite fond of women beaters.” Xavier warned before his arm slid across my shoulders and he led me away. “This is why I was worried about you coming here tonight.” He whispered. “I was worried he’d hurt you again.”
I nodded as I absently rubbed my arm.
“What would have happened if I hadn’t intervened?”
I shrugged. “Chase would have stopped before I made a scene, but I don’t really know. I don’t really know how Chase is anymore.”
“Are you hurt?” Xavier asked as he gingerly took my arm and examined it. “If he touches you again, I will make a scene; a crime scene. Do I make myself clear?”
“Xavier - ”
“No, Juliet. I will not move my opinions on this one. He hurt you, and he shows no remorse.”
I nodded knowing he was right. Something about Chase frightened me. He made me weak in ways that no one else could. He was definitely dangerous for me.
“Thank you.” Xavier sighed as he pulled me into a hug.
“Juliet!” I turned at the gruff bark to see Senator Richard Evans. He’d gained more weight around the middle since we’d last spoken. His black hair was showing a great deal more grey, especially around the his ears, but it was still cropped short in a military cut. Richard was a large man; he was used to being the biggest and the strongest. He towered over me and offered a large meaty hand.
“Senator Evans.” I replied cordially. He shook my hand and offered it to Xavier.
“Ah, never heard of you. Who did you come here with?”
Senator Evans gave me a confused sideways look. “Juliet you say? I thought you were here with my son.”
I shook my head. “No, Chase asked me to meet him here so he could publicly apologize, for the sake of your campaign.”
Senator Evans nodded. “Right, so why is he here?”
“Because for one, I invited him, and for another I’m entitled to bring a date.”
“You’re Chase’s date.”
“No, I’m really not, nor do I have any intention of being so.”
Senator Evans’s beady green eyes narrowed on me. “Oh really?”
“Senator, what exactly do you think this is?”
“We shall see. Good evening, make yourselves at home.” On that note, Senator Evans left us to go mingle with the other guests. Xavier and I had a few minutes to ourselves before Chase’s eldest brother, Richie, came and found us.
“Richie!” Richie pulled me in for a hug. He had the same blonde hair as chase, but his mother’s honey brown eyes. “How are you?”
“Better than you’ve been. I can’t apologize enough for that idiot of a brother of mine and what he did. I really am sorry. Are you doing alright?”
I shrugged. “It’s not your fault Chase can be a dunderhead.”
Richie started laughing; it was a rich, rolling laugh that was contagious. “Dunderhead? Really? That’s your word for him? Oh how I’ve missed you.” Richie chuckled as he regained his composure. “You remember Elsie, right?” Richie asked as his wife joined him and his arm found its way securely around her waist. She was drop dead gorgeous with curly blonde hair neatly piled in a neat bun atop her head. She was warm and kind and gentle and everything that complemented Richie. Ironically everything that contrasted with Chase. Elsie had always been kind to me.
“Of course I do! You are looking just as gorgeous as ever!” I smiled and she pulled me in for a hug.
“You look good, darling. When Chase told us what happened we were all so worried. I’m glad you’re doing better now.”
I nodded. “Yes, much better now that I’m not stuck in that godforsaken hospital.”
“Good to hear.”
“It looks like things are going well for you two as well. I swear Elsie, you look like you’re glowing.” I smiled and then her cheeks flushed and her hand went to her stomach. “Oh my god, are you?”
She bit her lip and smiled.
“Oh my god! Congratulations!”
A wide grin broke across Richie’s face. “Thanks, we’re excited.”
“How far along are you?”
“Only nine weeks, it’s still early. We haven’t announced it yet.” Elsie whispered. “We don’t want anyone to know yet.”
I nodded. “Got it. You two are going to be great parents.”
“I hope so.”
“Who is your friend?”
“This is Xavier. Xavier, this is Chase’s oldest brother Richie and his lovely wife, Elsie.”
Richie shook Xavier’s hand and gave him a strange look. “It’s a pleasure to meet you. Ladies, would you excuse us for a moment?”
Richie led Xavier off for a moment and Elsie and I caught up. I was surprised how much time had passed when they returned. They’d been gone nearly a half an hour.
“Well Juliet, I hope everything continues to go well, but I’ve been neglecting my other guests. I must be off, take care.”
“What were you two talking about for so long?”
“Just politics.” Xavier dismissed smoothly, his eyes not quite meeting mine. “Should we begin heading to the tables?”
I nodded. “Sure. Let’s go.”
To my displeasure, I had a seat right next to Chase at the Senator’s table. They tried to seat Xavier elsewhere. When I decided I would be going to whichever table Xavier was at anyway, they made room for him at the Senator’s table. This was going to be a long night. I could feel it now.
We took our seats and it wasn’t long before everyone was seated. Xavier was to my right and Chase to my left.
“Glad you could come, babe.” Chase whispered in my ear.
I leaned away and glared at him. “I am not your babe.” I snipped back.
“You know what I meant.”
“Exactly. That’s why I said what I said.”
“Oh Jules.” Chase shook his head smirking. “You’re still the same.”
“No Chase, I’m really not. I’m different from what you remember.”
“I like it.”
I noticed the tension in Xavier’s jaw, the way he pointedly wasn’t looking at us, but was watching from his peripheral vision. I jumped when a hand touched my leg. I glared at Chase as I squeezed his wrist as I removed his hand from me. “Don’t touch me.” I growled. I noticed Xavier’s eyes watching Chase like a hawk. His face may have been a pleasant mask, I knew his better than that. I could see the dangerous glint in his eye.
“Or what?” Chase goaded and I shuddered. It was out of disgust, but he took it another way. “I know you couldn’t resist me.”
“The only thing I’m currently resisting is the urge to vomit. Keep your filthy hands and every other part of you off of and away from me.” I was relieved when the first course came, it gave me the perfect excuse to ignore Chase.
“Are you alright?” Xavier whispered in my ear.
I shook my head. “Not really. I think this was a bad idea.”
Xavier nodded. “Well, I’ll be right here all night. Don’t worry. You have me for whatever you need.”
I smiled. “Thank you. You have no idea how comforting that is right now.”
Xavier’s hand found mine under the table and I couldn’t explain it but suddenly I was more relaxed. I didn’t question it, I just went with it.
Chase kept trying to make sly little moves under the table which I continued to shoot down. It was annoying but tolerable until Senator Evans stood to make a speech.
“Ladies and gentlemen, I’m so glad all of you could make it tonight. Tonight is a special night for a few very special reasons. First, I am please to inform you all that I will be running for reelection.” He paused for the applause, basking in the attention. “Now, this is the start for another long journey and I hope you have all of your support once again. I would like to congratulate my son, Richard, for following in my footsteps. He’ll be running for Congress as well.” Richie looked a little sheepish but smiled politely and waved. “Congratulations son! My second son, Harrison, will be graduating Harvard Law next semester with honors. Unfortunately, he’s in the middle of midterms so he couldn’t join us here tonight. And my third son, Chase, has seen the error of his ways and has happily agreed to begin his life anew with his fiancé, Juliet.”
“What?” I hissed as applause rang out.
“It’s alright sweetie.” Chase purred. “Everyone can know now, it doesn’t have to be a secret anymore.”
“Excuse me, Senator.” I interrupted as I stood in my seat.
“It’s not polite to interrupt, Juliet.” Senator Evans condescended.
“I would hate for you to be misinformed.” I started, my voice as polite as I could muster. “And you have been grievously misinformed. I am not now, nor have I ever been your son’s fiancé.”
“Juliet, you’re embarrassing me.” Chase hissed.
“You embarrassed yourself when you told that lie.” I snapped back.
“Juliet, we will discuss this later. Please sit down.” Senator Evans warned through clenched teeth. “As I was saying-”
I fought to reel my flaring temper in. “If you’ll excuse me.” I snipped as I walked away from the tables. I was furious. How dare he! Honestly! Really Chase? How thick was he? Did he seriously think he could just decide something like that? What the fuck was wrong with him?
Someone grabbed my arm in a vice-like grip. “Juliet, you are embarrassing me family.” Chase snarled in my ear as he shoved me against the wall. “Get your ass back in there and stop making a scene.”
“I warned you not to touch her again.” Came Xavier’s bass rumble. Just past Chase’s angry face was Xavier with a quiet rage painted across his features. “Remove your hands from her at once or I will do it for you.”
“Oh yeah? You think you’re a big man?”
“Chase.” Senator Evans interrupted. “You better check yourself. Juliet, a word?”
I shook my head. “I don’t think so. Anything you have to say to me, you can say in front of Xavier.”
“Juliet, you don’t want this conversation public.”
“No sir, it’s you that doesn’t want this conversation public. You want this kept very quiet.”
“Juliet, I’m warning you.”
“Senator, I sincerely you are not threatening me.”
“Juliet, you have singlehandedly ruined my son’s hopes for a career and his life. I hope you’re happy.”
“Please explain to me how that blame rests on me.”
“You broke that boy. There was once a time I believed I could look past your tattoos and radical ideas-”
“Radical ideas? Like what?”
“Don’t interrupt. It’s rude and unbecoming of a lady, oh wait, never mind for a moment I forgot who I was speaking to.”
“Excuse me?” I grit out as I felt the rage boil in my veins.
“I’m going to ask you to refrain from such comments.” Xavier growled. “We are civilized adults, let us act like it.”
“Xavier, you and I may be civilized, however Juliet, on the other hand, if far from that.”
“Juliet is far more civilized that you or your son.” Xavier growled.
“Senator, your son has ruined his own life. He’s the one who chose to spiral down with drugs. He’s the one who chose to lead a piss poor excuse of a wannabe C list band. He’s the asshole who tried to beat me to death. Your son is the one who made all these bad decisions, not me. It’s not my fault he’s the way he is. If you want to point fingers, look at who raised him.
“I will not tolerate you slandering my son’s name or making such accusations.”
“It’s not slander if I’m telling the truth.”
“Juliet, how much have you had to drink tonight?” Chase smirked.
“Not a drop.”
“I find that hard to believe.” Chase scoffed.
I turned to glare at Senator Evans in the eye. “I’m so glad your name is Richard.”
“Why is that?”
“Because I can call you Dick in publish.” I snapped and spun on my heel to storm off. I got maybe ten steps before someone grabbed my upper arm and began dragging me off.
“Who do you think you are?” Senator Evans snarled in my ear as he dragged me into a side room then slammed and locked the door. That’s when he turned his full attention to me. “What are you playing at?”
“What are you doing?”
“I want to know who you think you are. You are embarrassing yourself and your future husband.”
“Are you crazy? I will never marry your son.”
“You really think you can do better?”
“Uh yeah, actually I do.”
“Then you’re an idiot.”
“I’m the idiot? For leaving him?”
“Why would I stay? He cheated on me. He didn’t treat me the way I deserve to be treated.”
“Cheating really? Is that really such a big deal?”
“It is to me.”
“That’s part of being with an official man. I’ve held countless affairs. Georgia knows of them and she’s still by my side.”
“That’s her choice, but I refuse to be with someone who thinks they can just use me.”
I heard a pounding on the door. “Senator, questions are being asked.
“I’ll eb out in a moment.” Senator Evans shouted. He turned back to me and backed me into a corner. “You go out there and I don’t care what you say, but you will fix this and you will marry that boy.”
“Um, no. In case you haven’t noticed this isn’t the dark ages, Senator. I get to choose who I marry. And if I ever do get married, it will not be to Chase. It will be to someone who I love and who treats me the way I deserve to be treated. Now you need to back up.”
Senator Evans leaned down, his face inches from mine. “Are you really challenging me, girl?”
“What? Are you going to hit me like your son?”
I saw the fury cross his face and I think he seriously considered it. I was in deep shit if he lost his temper. I had sen the senator angry before and I’d seen the damage he could do to his own. I had to hope he didn’t lose his temper.
“Look, Senator, there are two ways this can go.” I negotiated.
“I agree. You go with the plan or I make your life very miserable.”
“Juliet? Are you in there? Are you alright? Juliet! Answer me!” I heard Xavier’s voice as he pounded on the door.
“I’m in here Xavier!” I shouted back as I turned my attention back to Senator Evans. “Now Senator, I don’t know what Chase told you, but I have no intention of ever getting back with him. You can cover it up however you like, but I will not be bullied into a relationship, let alone a marriage. If you try to cover it up by slandering my name or my family’s, I will correct you, publicly.” I brushed past him and strode towards the door. “Now unlock this door or I start screaming.”
“You little bitch.”
“Been called worse, now open this damn door.”
“Not until you agree.”
“Xavier!” I shouted through the door. “I think you need to call the police.”
“You little bitch!” I felt the sharp sting as he backhanded me and the next moment I was on the floor. I was still dazed when I was lifted my the front of my dress. “You are going to regret this.” I was dropped to the floor, dazed and dizzy when I heard his heavy footsteps plod away. A long moment later someone’s hand was in mine.
“No baby, it’s me, Chase.”
I snatched my head back. “Don’t touch me, you or your family.” I tried to focus and managed to sit up. I was surrounded by people. “Where is Xavier?”
“I had him thrown out of course.”
“Why the hell would you do that, Chase?” I snarled as I gingerly touched my face and hissed.
“For trying to lock you in a room with him.”
I let my bewilderment show for a moment before I shook my head. “Where the fuck is he?”
“It doesn’t matter, baby, I’m here.”
“Chase, I don’t want you. We aren’t together and we never will be again. Stay the hell away from me. Get out of my life.” I pulled out my phone and called Xavier.
“I’m by the car.” Xavier answered before I could ask.
“Great, can you drive?”
“Bring the car around.”
“I had a feeling. I’m already outside.”
I stood up and glared up at Senator Evans. “With all due respect, Senator, I’ve had enough of this degradation and your son’s bastardized version of an apology. I will not allow you to lie any longer or try to make a mockery of me or my friends. I’d say it’s been a pleasure, but it really hasn’t. Good evening.”
“I didn’t say you could leave.”
“I didn’t ask.” I snarled as I stormed out of the hall and past all the gawking faces and cameras right up to Xavier. “You were so right.” I whispered to him before I leaned up on tiptoe and kissed him. Xavier seemed shocked but wrapped his arms around me.
He pulled away and stared me down for a long moment with the strangest look on his face. I smiled up at him before I turned to the crowd who was still had their eyes on us. “Senator Evans, have fun with this because I’m totally pressing assault charges!” I shouted as I saluted him and got in my car with Xavier and we drove off.
“He hit you?”
“Yup, he smacked my happy little ass across the fucking room.” I growled. Talking hurt and my jaw was already swelling.
“I will kill him.”
“Senator Evans, not Chase, by the way.”
“I don’t care. To hell with the lot of them. You were serious, weren’t you? About the assault charges?”
“So we’re going there now.”
Xavier sighed. “Good.” We drove in a strange silence for a long moment before Xavier turned to stare at me. “Juliet, one more question.”
“Have you had anything to drink tonight?”
“Why did you kiss me?”
“You’ve never kissed me sober.”
I thought about it for a long moment. “Really?”
“Oh my god, I’m a terrible person. I’m sorry Xavier.”
“I was just curious why.”
“I felt like it. It was just what I wanted him that moment, so I did it.” I shrugged. “Should I not have?”
“Mind you, I’m not complaining, just surprised.”
“What does this mean?”
“Let’s worry about that later.”
Xavier drove us to the police station. Several hours later I was allowed to go home.
I got a shower and then I knew Xavier and I had to talk.