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Chapter 24

Chris smiled as he clapped for Emma. She blushed embarrassed by his display of appreciation in the restaurant.

“I’m so proud of you for standing up to that shrew,” he said after ending his applause. “Baby girl you are one hell of a woman.”

Emma’s body went warm with pride in response to his praise. No one had ever encouraged her like this before. Their parents were reassuring but didn’t support her taking on the bullies in her life. It was best to walk away according to them.

Yet standing up to Sara today made her feel strong, like she could handle things. Usually she thought she couldn’t face life and what it threw at her. When she had been young, she had been lost in that horrible place her parents had shoved her into. So she had retreated into herself.

The Carringtons had helped to open her up a little bit. They were gentle and loving. She learned to trust a bit more. However two weeks with Chris had made her blossom. It was so exhilarating. She actually looked forward to every day wondering what could happen instead of always worrying about bad things that would happen. With Chris at her side, she knew every minute would be full of love and it was okay. She would survive and probably thrive.

“I’m glad you met Rachel,” Chris continued with his supper. “She was my lifeline when I first moved here.”

“She’s a great lady. I’m glad you had her to help you during that transition.”

“I am too –”

“Hey Chris!”

A man stopped by their table and stuck out his hand. Chris, looking annoyed, stood up and shook the man’s hand.

“Hello Joel,” Chris gritted out.

“Why haven’t you been returning my calls or texts?” the short man asked gruffly turning his back to Emma. The woman at his side towered over him. He kept her close with an arm around her waist. Emma caught her looking down at her suspiciously. She wondered why.

“I haven’t felt the need to talk to you Joel,” Chris answered bluntly. “I know why you’ve been trying to get ahold of me and I didn’t want to deal with you.”

“I’m your manager kid. I have your best interests at heart. People are talking.”

“Who is talking? Desiree? I’m pretty sure she is the only one talking.” Chris scoffed.

“Well what she told me is enough to worry about. We need to talk about this. Your contracts can be broken if you do something stupid.”

“Joel I’m not going to talk to you about this here. I pay you and Desiree lots of money to deal with these issues in my professional life.”

“But it’s your personal life that is fucking everything up,” Joel hissed quietly.

“Leave us alone,” Chris growled his voice low and threatening.

“Fine, but we have to talk at some point. Just give me a call soon.”

“Sorry about that,” Chris apologized. “He’s an asshole but a great negotiator.”

“What did he mean about your personal life messing things up?” Emma asked sure that she already knew.

“Nothing to worry about,” he said smiling brightly at her. “He’s overreacting. Everything is wonderful in my personal life.”

Emma returned his grin feeling precious in his eyes. God she loved this man.

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