CHAPTER FOUR -
I sit on the couch at home staring at the copy of the marriage certificate Mr Finch gave me. Not once, did it even cross my mind that I would have gotten married that night. On the coffee table in front of me sit the fake wedding rings I brought as part of a bet. If I had have woken up wearing a wedding ring I would have known, but I wore them before I went out that night. I hear a knock at the door but I don't look up, still staring at the Certificate in my hand. The room fills with chatter and kids as our friends filter into the lounge room. Ethan or Lucy must have called them all.
I hear the kids leave the room and look up to see only Tammy, Lucy and Nicole remain, the boys having left with the kids. Tammy disappears into the kitchen and returns with a bottle of wine and glasses. She opens the bottle and pours the wine into the glasses. As soon as she hands me the thick red wine, I down it in one gulp and hand her the glass back. She laughs and refills it.
“If there's any excuse to drink, then this is it.” She says. I nod my head in agreement. The girls sit around me and Nicole takes the certificate out of my hand.
“Well, at least we figured out what happened that night.” Lucy says. I nod again, unable to form words.
“Do you know anything about him?” Tammy asks. I shake my head.
“No. only that he and his family are looking for me and want me to go back to the states.” I say. The girls nod in unison.
“What are you going to do?” Lucy asks. I shrug my shoulders.
“I honestly have no clue.” I say. Tammy pulls out her phone and starts typing into it.
“Ok, let’s see what your options are.” She says. I nod my head. Tammy has always been the logical one, wanting all the facts before making a decision. “So, according to this you should be able to get an annulment.” She says after a moment.
“Annulment?” I ask.
“Yeah, it'll be like it never happened, the other way is to file for divorce.” She tells me. I shake my head, not wanting to go through a long and tedious divorce.
“No, I'll get it annulled. Does it say how?” I ask. Tammy looks at the screen for a while before replying.
“I think you will have to go to the states to do it.” She says while biting her lip. I nod again, thinking how I wanted something interesting to happen to me, I just never imagined this. Lucy takes the certificate from Nicole's hands and types something into her phone.
“Let’s see if we can find anything on your husband.” She says. I cringe at those words. My husband. Who I've been married to for two years and I have no fucking clue who he is. “Holy shit.” Lucy says. It's a whispered exclamation that gets all of our attention. Lucy hands her phone over to me and Nicole and Tammy scoot closer to read over my shoulder. I look at the search results from his name. The first is a photo and flashes of my night with him enter my mind.
“Wow... he's hot.” Tammy observes. He definitely is. Probably the sexiest man I've ever seen. I scroll down through the headlines of articles about him.
"Heir to Caldwell industries to take over company"
"Billionaire Chase Caldwell and notorious playboy in another paternity suit"
Another paternity suit? Seriously? I click on the link and read the article, my eyes widening as I read the scalding article. Nicole reads over my shoulder out loud.
“Billionaire playboy is quoted as saying "I know the kids not mine but I'll play her little game. She's just another hungry gold digger using her own kid to extort money from me"” Nicole laughs.
“Holy fuck, I married an ass.” I breathe. The girls laugh.
“A hot ass.” Lucy adds. I shrug my shoulders. We read article after article about him and it really doesn't paint him in a nice light. Even his comments make him seem like an arrogant conceited asshole, not one person had anything nice to say about him. I put the phone down and lean back on the couch as Tammy grabs another bottle of wine and refills our glasses. I scull it down.
“You do realize that's what got you into this mess?” Nicole says. I look at the wine glass and back to Nicole.
“Wine would never do that to me, wine is my friend. Tequila. Tequila did this. It's my frenemy.” I tell her. The girls laugh and shake their heads
“Have you told Liam?” Lucy asks. Shit. I forgot about him. Not once did he cross my mind in all of this. Some girlfriend I am. I groan and put my hands over my face.
“Great. I have to tell my boyfriend about my husband.” I say. The girls burst out laughing. It sounds so fucking bad. But, it's not like I knew I was married. “I'm glad you find this amusing.” I grumble. Tammy pats my knee.
“At least you have a good one night stand story now.” She tells me.
“Yeah, years from now you can say "hey, remember that time I woke up in Vegas next to a hot stranger and two years later I found out we were married"” Nicole says, making me laugh. Truth is that it's the most interesting thing that's ever happened to me.
“I guess it's my scandal.” I say with a shrug. “So come on girls, what's your scandal?” I ask, wanting to change the subject. Tammy and Lucy look deep in thought while Nicole blushes. We all pick up on it.
“Spill Nicole.” Lucy says. Nicole laughs and shakes her head. She sips her wine as we stare her down, sighing she places her glass on the table.
“I had a fling with a guy named Marco, he was from Italy and would visit Griffith for a couple of weeks every year.” Nicole says.
“Mafia?” I ask, knowing that it probably was, given who Nicole’s family is. Nicole nods her head.
“Marco De Paulo... he's actually the head of the Italian mafia.” She says. Tammy and Lucy's eyes widen while I burst out laughing. They look at me confused.
“Marco de Paulo?” I question with a giggle. Nicole nods confused and takes a sip of her wine.
“As in Marco Polo?” Nicole spits the wine across the table and we all burst out laughing.
“Oh my god how did I not pick up on that!” Nicole gasps. We are reduced to a fit of giggles before we prompt Nicole to continue. “Well, I found out afterwards that he was engaged with a kid... all the while he was constantly texting me.” She tells us. There's a mutual gasp from the three of us.
“Oh my god what an asshole.” Tammy says, a look of disgust on her face. Nicole nods her head.
“Yep! But with a name like Marco Polo what do you expect?” she says. We all laugh again. I love these girls, despite my inner turmoil and shock over finding out I'm married, they still manage to make me laugh.
“What the fuck do you mean you're married?!” Liam paces my lounge room running his hands through his hair. I've never seen him so angry before “How could you do this to me? To us?” he growls. I'm taken aback by the venom in his voice.
“It's not like I knew.” I tell him. My voice is small. I've never been one for confrontation. Yes I'll fight back when I have to but I'd prefer to avoid it all together.
“Oh that's right, you got drunk and married a stranger.” He tuts. I stand up from the couch, getting annoyed at his attitude
“Yeah, I did! I don't even remember most of that night.” I say, raising my voice.
“It’s fucking irresponsible.” Liam yells, I sigh and place my hands on my hips.
“Most drunken decisions are.” I say, resisting the urge to roll my eyes. He stops pacing and runs his hand over his face with a sigh, seemingly calming down a bit.
“So what are you going to do?” he says, his voice quieter than before. I sit back down on the couch.
“Go to New York and get an annulment.” I say.
“You're going back to him?” Liam asks, his eyes wide. I look at him stunned.
“Umm no, I'm going to get the paperwork signed so this can all just disappear.” I tell him. I'd spent the morning researching what I needed and printing off the required forms.
“And you have to go over there to do that?” he asks. I nod my head. The truth is I don't know if I have to go in person or not, but I've always wanted to go to New York and this is my chance. “And you'll meet with him?” he asks. I can hear the jealousy in his voice.
“I'll have to, he needs to sign the forms.” I tell him.
“Great, run to another country to see your fucking husband.” He growls. I stare at him in shocked silence.
“Seriously?” I say, wondering what the fuck has gotten into him.
“Do you even care how I feel? I just found out you're married and now you're telling me you're going to see him? By yourself!” he says, running his hands through his dirty blonde hair.
“Of course I care about how you feel... but you are blowing this way out of proportion.” I say. He glares at me and goes to speak but I cut him off. “It's not like I even know the guy. And you're acting like I have been lying to you our entire relationship, I only found out yesterday, I haven't been hiding a husband from you.” I say. He sighs and I see a flash of guilt cross his handsome features.
“You're right, I'm sorry, it's just a lot to take in.” he says. I nod as he sits down next to me and wraps me in his arms.
“Tell me about it...” I mumble.
“How long will you be gone?” he asks.
“Honestly... I don't know, a week maybe two I guess, I'm not sure how long it will take.” I reply honestly.
“Ok... I wish I could go with you.” He says sweetly.
“I know, it's short notice and you have work.” I say. The truth is I'm glad he's not coming, I feel like this is something I have to do by myself. Unfortunately, Ethan is set on coming with me, despite my protests.
“When do you leave?” he asks
“I fly out tonight.” I say. He sighs and removes his arms from around me.
“Alright... well, be safe.” He says. He stands from the couch and I look at him confused. “I have to get going, I organized to catch up with some mates.” He tells me. I nod my head in understanding. He kisses my cheek and leaves. I sit there wondering about our relationship. I'm leaving for a couple of weeks and that's he says goodbye?
As I pack my bag, Ethan's phone rings
“Collins.” He answers abruptly. He doesn't say anything but I know with how he answered his phone that he's being called back to base. “Roger.” He says and then He hangs up the phone and looks at me, with a concerned look.
“We're getting deployed again.” He tells me. I nod. I always get scared when he leaves on missions, when he went missing it was the worst two and a half years of my life. “Any chance you will postpone New York until I get back?” he asks. I shake my head.
“E, I'm 26 years old, I can do this by myself, I need to do this by myself.” I tell him. He looks away and nods, I can tell he doesn't like the idea. He's been my protector for so long I think it's hard for him to let go. “I'll be fine.” I reassure him. I walk over and pull him into a hug.
“I know. I just worry.” He says.
“I know you do. I worry for you too. Just be safe and promise you will come home in one piece?” I say. He sighs and squeezes me tight.
“I'll try my best.” He says. That's all he ever promises me, and I know that's all he can promise. “How are you going to get to the airport?” he asks.
“I'll call one of the girls.” I say. He nods, the worry lines not going away.
“Not Liam?” he asks, his jaw clenching ever so slightly.
“He's out with his mates.” I say with a shrug of my shoulders. His jaw clenches harder, but he doesn't say anything, he knows better than to start an argument before a mission. “Even though you probably can't contact me I'll text you when I land and update you daily.” I tell him.
“And I have that hotline number thing if I need it.” I reassure him. He sighs and the worry lines disappear. The hotline number is an unofficial army number set up by the commandos themselves for their families. If I'm ever in trouble, no matter where I am in the world, I can call that number and an Aussie commando or someone they trust will come to my aid. Or that's how it's supposed to work. I've never used it and I don't know anyone who has. But still I keep it in my phone and as per Ethan's instructions, I have memorized it too .
“Alright, I have to get going, please be safe.” He says. He pulls me into another hug and I squeeze him tight. I never know if it's the last time I'll see him so I make sure to cherish the moment. He pulls away and kisses the top of my head before heading to his room to grab his go bag.
“Love you!” He yells out as he opens the front door.
“Love you too!” I call out. I hear the front door close then a minute later the roar of his V8 engine. I wait until the sound fades away until I get back to packing my bag and calling one of the girls to head to the airport.