I wake up in Chases arms. My forehead rests against his chest, both his arms are wrapped around me tight, our legs tangled together. I feel so warm and safe. The events of yesterday are just a blur of images and emotions. Feeling so afraid, so much terror, as I hid in that cafe. Feeling so lost and confused out on the street. Feeling so safe and warm in Chase’s arms. The same feeling I have now, that I don't want to leave. I hear Chases phone start to ring on the bedside table beside me. I go to reach out to grab it but Chase tightens his hold on me.
“Ignore it.” He mumbles. His voice is sleepy and I can't help but smile. He really can be adorable
“It might be important.” I whisper. Chase groans and reaches behind me for the phone. He looks at the number and frowns.
“That's a strange number.” He says. I rest my head on his chest and look at the phone. I recognize the +61 instantly.
“That's an Australian number.” I say. He raises an eyebrow and hands me the still ringing phone.
“Guessing it's for you then.” He says. I take the phone and look at Chase in confusion. Why would people call me on his phone? I decide to answer it anyway.
“Hello?” I say hesitantly into the phone.
“Kate! Hey! Thank god you're ok.” A familiar voice fills my ear.
“Lucy?” I ask, though I’m sure it’s her.
“Yeah, Tammy is here too. Your friend Verity messaged me through Instagram, told me what happened and that you were ok, she gave me Chase’s phone number.” Lucy explains. I sit up in the bed, hating the loss of Chase’s arms around me.
“Yeah I'm fine, a little shaken but good.” I tell her. Chase moves off the bed. Before leaving the room he places a long lingering kiss on my temple, I can't help but lean into him and close my eyes. He leaves the bedroom and I watch him, still in his suit pants and shirt from yesterday, though now dishevelled.
“Oh I'm so glad, it's just hit the news here.... hang on, Brad and Nicole are just walking in.” she says. I hear a bit of noise in the background and realize that Lucy must have me on speaker phone.
“Is that Kate on the phone? Is she ok?” I hear Nicole's worried voice and I can't help but smile. I love my friends, my family.
“I'm ok Nicole, I wasn't injured.” I tell her.
“Oh thank god.” She says.
“We tried to call you as soon as we heard the news.” Brad’s voice comes over the phone.
“Sorry, my phone is still at the cafe... crap, Ethan might try call me and freak out.” I say. Tammy's motherly voice fills my ears.
“I've already texted all the boys.... not sure if they will be able to read them, but it's all we can do.” Tammy says. I sigh in relief, the last thing I want is for Ethan to find out I was in a cafe that got shot up and not know how I am. I have no idea what he would do.
“Thank you.” I whisper.
“So is Chase looking after you?” Lucy asks. I can hear the smirk in Lucy's voice. The few times we've talked in the last couple of weeks she's been teasing me for catching feelings.
“I'm fine, I don't need looking after.” I say, a slight blush staining my cheeks as I remember how we woke up this morning, and the lingering kiss he left on my temple.
“Oh, so he didn't run to you the instant he heard you were in danger?” Tammy says. I furrow my brow at Tammy's teasing voice, images of a sweaty and out of breath Chase enter my mind. But how would Tammy know that?
“Umm.” I say. The girls giggle
“There may be some stuff on the internet about you and Chase.” Lucy says. My eyes widen in shock and I sit up straighter,
“What?!” I exclaim.
“Well, it's more about Chase, he had your face covered from the paparazzi, so they don't know who you are, but they did get great photos of yours and Chase’s rings.” Tammy says, I can hear her smile. I groan and place my head in my hands.
“What are they saying exactly?” I ask.
“Umm, basically stuff like "Billionaire marries mystery gold digger" "billionaire sprints to gold digger wife's side"” Lucy states.
“They're calling me a gold digger?!” My voice is raised quite loud.
“They are, but they don't even know what you look like
Kate, let alone your name.” Tammy says calmly.
“Plus they are trashy tabloids, not exactly world news.” Lucy adds.
“I guess you're right.” I sigh, hating being called something I’m not.
“I'm sure Chase knows you're not a gold digger, he's the only one that matters right?” Brad asks. I hear the smirk in his voice and roll my eyes. So we are back to this. The girls giggle in the back ground.
“You're all determined that I have feelings for him aren't you?” I say as I roll my eyes.
“Mhm, and we are pretty sure he has feelings for you too Kate.” Nicole says. My heart flutters at the thought but I ignore it. They are on another continent, how could they possibly know.
“I'm not so sure about that... I mean, I know he cares, he kind of proved that yesterday, but I don't know how much of that is because he needs me for his company and how much is genuine feelings for me you know?” I say. They are silent for a moment before Brad speaks.
“Yeah... according to a tabloid on the internet, someone saw Chase exit the stairwell in the foyer of his work and sprint ten blocks... a guy doesn't do that for anything but love.” Brad says. I furrow my brows. Why would Chase take the stairs? It's like 45 floors.
“You deserve to be happy Kate, and honestly... you being in New York is the happiest I've seen you since I've known you.” Tammy speaks up.
“That may have something to do with torturing Chase.” I laugh. The girls giggle.
“Still to do with Chase though right?” Lucy asks.
I sigh into the phone but don’t answer, knowing that they are right.
“Just go for it sweetie.” Nicole says. The subject changes and I catch up on their lives before finally saying bye. I put Chase’s phone on charge after noticing the battery is low and wander out into the kitchen. Chase is standing at the stove, the smell of bacon permeating the room. I can't help but admire him as I walk to the breakfast bar. His tight ass in his suit pants, the untucked dress shirt that I know hides the body of a god.
A sigh escapes my lips and Chase turns around, catching my ogling. He winks and I blush, making him chuckle. I watch as he plates up bacon and waffles and slides one over to me followed by a coffee. He comes around the bench and sits right next to me, his leg brushing up against mine.
“How are you feeling this morning?” he asks. He places his hand on my lower back, rubbing his thumb over my shirt, the gentle caress sending tingles down my body.
“I'm ok, still a bit shaken I guess.” I say. Chase nods in understanding.
“That's understandable, I can't imagine what it was like in there.” He says.
“Honestly, the entire thing is a blur.” I say with a shrug. He studies me for a moment, as if he was weighing up saying something then turns to his breakfast. I dig in, but I can't help watching him out of the corner of my eye. My heart flutters at what Brad read out online. I wonder if it's true.
“Did you really run down 45 flights of stairs when you heard?” I ask Chase. Chase chuckles, his cheeks tinged pink and rubs the back of his neck.
“Ah... yeah.” He says. He shrugs, as if it was nothing. I smile and place a piece of bacon in my mouth. An awkward silence descends upon us. It's never been awkward with Chase before, heated and fuelled with sexual tension sure, but awkward, no. I blurt out the first thing that comes into my mind to break the silence.
“So the media knows we are married.” I say. Chases jaw clenches and he nods his head.
“Yeah... they were there yesterday.” He states.
“Apparently there's no photos that could identify me though.” I say. He sips his coffee and shakes his head.
“No, I made sure they couldn't see your face. Ryder and dad got us away from them.” He says. I nod, a little uneasy with what he said. He didn't want them to know who I was. Is he embarrassed by me? As if reading my thoughts Chase turns in his seat and takes my hand. “The longer it takes them to figure out who you are, the better. Once they know, you will be hounded every time you step outside... even now there's paparazzi camped outside taking photos of every blonde who leaves the building.” I look down at our joined hands.
“They're calling me a gold digger.” I say softly. Chase sighs, his thumb running across my knuckles.
“That's probably my fault.” Chase says. My head shoots up to look at him. He squeezes my hand. “No, I didn't talk to them, I don't speak to the media anymore at all.” He clarifies. I furrow my brow in confusion.
“Then how is it your fault?” I ask. Chase scratches the light stubble on his jaw with his free hand then looks at me.
“About a year ago, a woman came forward claiming I was the father of her son... I found out via the media, she never came to us directly.” He says.
“Were you?” I ask, wondering if he has a child I don’t know about.
“Not unless she was pregnant for 14 months.” Chase laughs. “My lawyers contacted her and told her that she needed to withdraw her statements from the press. She didn't. They then demanded a paternity test, even though I knew it was impossible. She refused.” He continues.
“Well it would have proven her claims wrong.” I say with a nod.
“Yeah... instead she went to the media saying I was a dead beat dad, denying my own child... I ended up doing the worse thing possible.” He says, looking down at our hands. “I spoke to the media. We ended up in a media war of he said she said. It got that bad that we paid her off to go away.” He continues.
“After that, women came from everywhere claiming I was their kids’ father. Some I hadn't even met before, they all thought they could get paid to go away.” He shakes his head with a dry chuckle. “I ended up losing my cool in front of the media, calling all women gold diggers who would use their own children for personal gain... it didn't go over well.” He says. I have to hold in a giggle
“I'm sure it didn't.” I say.
“You find it funny?” Chase asks with a grin. I bite my lip to stop my smile.
“A little. Kind of makes you look like an even bigger asshole.” I say. He chuckles and shakes his head.
“Yeah probably, but it was a ridiculous situation. In the end I was advised to ignore the media and we came up with a strategy to address the claims.” He says with a shrug.
“Which is?” I ask out of curiousity.
“Any paternity claims we demand a paternity test, even if I know it's not possible. If the test comes back positive then I take responsibility, if it comes back negative and the mother has spoken to the media we sue for slander.” He says. My eyes widen at his revelation.
“Seriously?” I ask. Chase nods his head.
“Only one has ever had her child tested.” Chase says.
“And it wasn't yours?” I ask. He shakes his head. “Did you sue?” Chase shakes his head again.
“She never went to the media. She honestly wasn't sure if it was mine or not, the timeline fitted, but she had been with someone else around the same time as me... I think she wanted it to be mine though.” He says as he ponders the situation.
“For money?” I ask. Chase thinks for a moment and then shakes his head.
“I thought so at the time, but then I found out that the other possibility was her ex... he used to beat her.” He says. My stomach drops at the news. “I helped her out, when I found out, set her up out of New York, away from her ex. He never found out about the kid.” He shrugs his shoulders. I smile and squeeze Chase’s hand.
“I knew you weren't really an asshole.” I say as I smile up at him. Chase grins back, looking into my eyes.
“Just don't tell anyone.” He says.
“Your secrets safe with me.” I reply.