I wake up the next morning in Chase’s bright pink room with a heavy arm over my waist. My mind flashes through everything that happened last night. I barely drank, I'd remember sleeping with Chase if I had. Besides, I'm still fully clothed. So why the hell am I in Chase’s bed?
I slowly slide out from under his arm, he groans a little but then gets comfortable again. I stand up and can't help but look at him. He's so damn hot, and when he's sleeping he looks so peaceful.
I slip out of the bedroom before I end up climbing back into bed with him. Waking up in his arms has done nothing to help me get over my feelings for him. If anything, it's only made me realize how much I want him. How much I want to fall asleep in his arms and wake up next to him every morning.
I walk to my bedroom and into my bathroom, turning on the shower, I strip off my clothes and step under the spray. Spending the day with Chase yesterday was amazing. It was so relaxed. It made me realize just how amazing it could be to be in a relationship with Chase. But in the back of my mind lies the fact that there is a will. How much of this is a game to Chase? Is he just trying to get me on side so I stop trying to get an annulment? Or to ensure that I don't file for divorce? And if that's the case, in 8 years’ time, will he just toss me to the side? He hasn't said he has feelings for me, or that I'm more than just a means to an end. And even if he did, would I ever really know if I'm more important to him than his company?
Sighing I turn off the shower and try to shake my thoughts. It's a rabbit warren of questions that I'm not sure I want the answers to. I set off and get dressed before heading out to the kitchen. I have the lunch shift today at work. I head to the kitchen to see Chase already up, dressed in a suit and cooking something on the stove.
“Heading into work today?” I ask, eyeing the way his suit jacket sits across his broad shoulders, the narrowing of his waist and his deliciously tight ass. Chase turns his head and gives me his killer smile, the one that makes my knees shake.
“Morning wifey, yeah, I have a meeting at 12.” He tells me. I nod my head and take a seat at the breakfast bar.
“What are you cooking?” I ask.
“Blueberry pancakes.” He replies with a smile.
“I didn't know you could cook.” I say. He chuckles and removes the pancake from the pan, putting it on a stack already made.
“I usually cook, but I didn't want to take away from your torturing tendencies.” He tells me. I laugh as he slides a plate in front of me and hands me some cutlery. He places a cup of coffee in front of me then walks around to join me at the bar. I cut into the fluffy pancake and place a piece in my mouth. It's light and airy, the explosion of flavour in my mouth from the blueberry mixed with the cake illicits a moan.
“Oh my god... so good.” I say as I cut of a bit more. Chase clears his throat and shifts in his seat. I can't help but giggle at his reaction. “Sorry.” I say with a mouthful of pancake.
“Sure you are.” He smirks and I shake my head, reaching for my coffee and taking a sip, I decide to ask the question that plagued me this morning.
“Why was I in your bed this morning?” I ask. He simply shrugs his shoulders.
“You fell asleep on the couch. I warned you what would happen if you did that again.” He says seriously. I blush. He did warn me but I didn't think he was serious. I honestly don't know what to say to that. But I am confused by his actions. I could understand if he had made a move on me, but he hadn't. Chase just smiles and changes the subject.
“What's your plans for today?” he asks me as he sips his coffee.
“Not sure, bit of sightseeing I guess.” I lie. In all honesty, I haven't seen much of New York since I've been here. But I don't tell Chase I'm working. While I know that he knows, he doesn't know that I know that he knows. It makes me feel like I've got a little bit of control over a situation I've completely lost control of. Chase simply nods but gives nothing away. We finish eating in a comfortable silence. I can't help but watch him out of the corner of my eye. He's just so damn beautiful.
When we finish I grab our dishes and take them to the sink. Chase stands from his seat and walks around to me.
“I'm off to work dear.” He says with a small smile. He wraps his arms around me from behind and places a kiss on my temple. He lets go and walks away, as if it was the most natural thing in the world. But, I don't miss the smirk on his face as I watch him leave, my jaw open.
Work is flat out as people have long brunches that drift into lunchtime. We have people waiting for tables, large gatherings of families with kids, girls day brunches with the cackle of laughter amongst friends. Listening to them talk about their latest escapades makes me miss the catch ups with Lucy, Tammy and Nicole. I usually have coffee with Verity a few times a week but it's not the same. I miss my girls. But at the same time, I can't imagine my life in Perth anymore. I feel like coming to New York has changed me. That going back to Perth, it wouldn't feel like home as it once did.
I take an order of coffees and make my way back towards the counter to put the order in. A loud bang sounds behind me, followed quickly by more bangs. I feel the air, as something whizzes past me at high speed. Bullets. I take a step, and then my body hits the floor.
I had the best night sleep last night. The best night in years. And it was all due to Kate. Having her soft warm body against me, the purr of her breathing filling my ears. I can't imagine not having her in my arms every night. I was disappointed to not wake up next to her, but hearing her shower running I decided to make her breakfast. I got up and quickly got ready for work. I didn't really want to go in, I wanted to spend another day with Kate.
I pause as I realize what I'm thinking. My job was everything to me, and while I still love it, it's not my priority anymore. That thought scares me, but also makes my heart pound. Work never made my heart race the way Kate does. Ryder's words play in my head but I push them away. I'm not ready to admit to that word yet. I head to the kitchen and start the coffee before grabbing the ingredients for pancakes. She has no idea that I can cook, apparently chicks dig a man who can cook, so I'm hoping that works in my favour. I need to win her over, ensure that she stays in my bed at night. I'm lost in thought, as I watch the pancake bubble in the middle and I flip it over.
“Heading into work today?” I hear a sexy Australian accent say. I turn around and see Kate, wearing black shorts that show off those sexy legs and a tight black shirt. She must have a shift today, not that she will tell me that. I should probably tell her that I know. But I won't. It gives me the feeling of control, knowing something that she doesn't, and I've lost complete control when it comes to Kate.
I slide a plate in front of her and walk around the kitchen island to join her. My eyes don't leave her as she cuts into the pancake and puts it to her lips. The moan that escapes her lips makes my pants tighten and I make a note to cook for her more often, if I get to hear that sound again.
Before heading to work, I wrap her in my arms and place a kiss on her temple. It just felt so natural to do, but I couldn't help but smirk at her reaction. She wasn't expecting me to play the part of the loving husband. But then again, I wasn't playing.
“Hey asshole.” Verity greets me. I walk past Verity with a smile on my face.
“Morning Verity, how are you today?” I say extra cheerfully. Her eyes narrow as she follows me into my office, a file in her hands.
“What's wrong with you?” she asks. I can't help but chuckle. I enjoy being an ass to Verity, despite the fact that I actually like her, but throwing in a day of nice and happy Chase is just as enjoyable. I like throwing Verity off her game. I walk around my desk and take a seat, turning on my computer. “Aww, I know, you've finally figured out your in love.” She says with a smirk. I narrow my eyes on Verity.
“I'm not in love.” I tell her. Verity pouts her lips.
“Pity. I like Kate, I'm going to miss her when she goes back to Australia.” She says. I know she's baiting me, Verity can play me like a fiddle when she wants to.
“She's not going to Australia. I'm not signing the annulment.” I say sternly. Verity tilts her head, studying me.
“That won't stop her from going home. It's just a piece of paper after all.” Verity says before she places the file on my desk. “But then she will be free to do whoever she wants, and so will you.” She says. Verity turns and starts towards the door as I grit my teeth. I didn't think about Kate leaving with our marriage still intact. But it is a possibility. Fuck.
“Verity...” I call out. She stops just at the door to my office and looks over her shoulder.
“Yes Chase?” she asks with a smug grin. I sigh and look down at my hands, not wanting to give into this she-devil but knowing I have to.
“How do I make sure Kate stays?” I say. A satisfied smirk covers her face and she stalks back towards me.
“Aww, is Chase Caldwell asking for my help?” she mocks. I grit my teeth and nod my head. Verity plonks down in one of the armchairs. “Let me just commit this moment to memory. Not only are you asking me for my help, but you, self-declared bachelor, are asking for my help to keep your wife.”
“Verity...” I say in warning as I grit my teeth, making her laugh.
“Ok... ok, firstly, you have to admit that you're in love with her and tell her.” She states. I swallow the lump in my throat. That's not something I planned on doing. I've only loved one person outside of my family, and that turned into a disaster. My feelings for Kate... well, Monique has nothing on Kate. My face must show the panic I'm feeling at Verity's advice.
“If you can't tell her without your asshole mode ruining it, then show her.” She sighs. Actions. I can do actions, that's easy enough.
“What, like some grand gesture?” I ask. I've seen them in enough rom-coms to understand how they work.
“That's not really Kate's style, plus, you started this by keeping her here to secure your company. A grand gesture will look like your trying to seal the deal.” Verity states.
“So I need to show her that this isn't about the company anymore?” I ask. Verity nods her head.
“Now you're getting it. Do little things, hold her hand, spend time with her, and listen to her. Why don't you start by actually taking her on a date?” Verity suggests. I cringe at the thought of a date. I stopped taking women on dates to get into their pants years ago, mainly because of the paparazzi. They followed me constantly and the shit they would write when they saw me having dinner with a woman was ridiculous. I stopped reading what they wrote a while ago, I couldn't care less about the lies they spewed.
It has been strangely quiet lately on that front too. But then I haven't been going to clubs every night either. The good thing is that they haven't found out about Kate yet. I like that she's free to do what she wants without being hounded. I want to keep her from that as long as possible.
“The paparazzi will be on us in seconds.” I grumble. Verity nods, her lips pursing in thought.
“Go somewhere a little more secluded. Somewhere you can have privacy but that doesn't scream that you are trying to keep her hidden.” She says.
“I AM trying to keep her hidden.” I tell her.
“From the paparazzi or from potential fuck buddies?” Verity questions. I glare at Verity.
“You know it's the paparazzi.” I growl. Verity nods with a smile.
“Just checking... eventually she's going to be exposed to them. You need to tell her you're trying to keep her privacy as long as possible, but prepare her for them too.” She says. I nod my head in understanding. I can only hope Kate will cope when that time comes. A knock on the door cuts our conversation short.
“You ready for this?” Dad asks from the doorway. I grab the file Verity left on my desk and flick through it.
“Yeah, is he here yet?” I ask. Dad shakes his head and walks in, taking the spare armchair.
“Not yet, shouldn't be too far away.” He tells me.
This meeting is a big deal, probably the biggest one I've made. If we secure this contract we would be securing our place in the European market. While we have hotels, clubs, resorts and restaurants all over Europe, our corporate footprint is virtually non-existent.
The elevator dings and Verity jumps up and walks out the door to greet Mr Harbinger. I straighten my tie and stand up. While I'm taking the lead on this deal as I'm due to take over from dad, I'm grateful he's by my side.
“Don't worry, we've got this.” Dad reassures me. I nod and take a deep breath to calm my nerves. Once he signs, I can go home and celebrate with my wife. That thought calms me. My wife will be at home.
Verity walks in, followed by an older man in a perfectly tailored suit.
“Mr Harbinger, this is Mark Caldwell and Chase Caldwell.” Verity introduces us. He walks over and shakes our hands, his thick Germanic accent sounding out his greeting.
“Pleasure to meet you both. Sorry for my delay, there was a shooting at a cafe musette that had the roads closed.” He tells us. My blood runs cold when he says the name of the café. I look to Verity whose gone pale, the only confirmation that I need that it’s the cafe Kate works at. My feet are running before I can comprehend what's happened.
“Chase!” Dad calls out. I ignore dad as I bolt for the elevators, but I hear Verity speak.
“Kate works there.” She tells them. I don't wait for anything more. I hit the button on the elevator, but when the doors don't open straight away, I make a dash for the stairs. Running on pure fear and adrenaline, I race down the 45 flights of stairs, jumping the last few of each floor and make it out onto the street. I sprint the 10 blocks to the cafe, my mind only thinking of getting to Kate. Of holding her in my arms, of making sure she's ok.
I push through the people on the busy New York streets, ignoring their yells of annoyance and finally make it to the block the cafe sits on. Police tape blocks off the cafe, ambulances, and fire trucks and police cars litter the streets. People are everywhere, watching the scene, people crying in each other's arms. I search for Kate among the people. People are pulled out of the cafe on stretchers, straight into ambulances, none of them Kate. More stretchers emerge, the sheets pulled up over their faces and my heart stops. I haven't seen her. I haven't found her.
“Kate.” I try to call out, but my voice comes out soft. I try again, and pray that I get an answer.
“KATE!” I scream as loud as I can.