The elevator whisks me up to the top floor, the annulment papers held tightly in my hands. After leaving here yesterday, I'd gone back to the hotel and had a look at my options. Divorce is expensive and would take longer than 6 weeks. Not that I care about Chase's marriage time frame. I couldn't afford it anyway. No, the only option is annulment and I'm determined to get it. I just need him to sign.
The elevator arrives at the top floor and the door opens. I take a deep breath to steady my nerves and walk out the doors towards reception. Verity's smile is bright when she sees me.
“You're back! He's in his office, go on through.” She says excitedly. I smile back, hoping my nerves aren't on display. I'm not sure what I'm so nervous about. I've never been good at confrontation. Always trying to avoid an argument or disagreement but here I am walking straight into one.
“Thank you, Verity.” I say. She gives me a mischievous smirk and I wonder what that was about, I walk to the door of the office I had entered yesterday and take a deep breath. Should I knock? I decide against it, wanting to make an entrance so that he knows I mean business and won't submit to him. I pull my shoulders back and raise my chin, appearing more confident than I feel, I open the door and walk into the office.
Chase sits behind his desk, staring over paperwork as I enter. He looks up as I walk towards him, a slow smile spreading across his face as he leans back in his chair and takes me in. I ignore the way his smile creates small dimples in his cheeks. I ignore those sexy broad shoulders and muscular chest that shows beneath the stretch of his white shirt.
“Ah... my beautiful wife.” He says in a deep, husky voice. I bite the inside of my cheek to stop a blush forming on my face and ignore the way his deep voice sends tingles through my body even from the distance between us. I approach his desk, trying to not let my nerves show and throw the papers down in front of him. “What? No hello?” he asks with a smirk. I raise my chin in defiance.
“Annulment papers. You need to sign the fourth and sixth pages. I'll lodge them today.” I say, trying to appear more confident than I feel. He smirks and throws the pen he was rolling between his long fingers onto the desk before slowly standing and making his way around the desk. His eyes never leave me, scanning my body, his retinas scorching every inch of skin they find. He stops beside me, so close I can feel his body heat on me. Leaning down he reaches for the papers, his breath tickling my neck. I dare not move, ignoring the desire that pools in my core from his close proximity. I hate the effect he has on me.
I've never met a man that can make me feel breathless without even touching me. Hell, I've never met a man who’s made me feel breathless period, and I can't help but wonder what his hands would feel like on me. How his tongue would feel caressing every part of my skin as it makes its way down to my... NO! I push the thoughts out of my head and resist the urge to squeeze my legs together from the ache those thoughts caused.
Chase takes the papers in his hands and leans past me, his firm chest up against my arm. I watch as he moves the papers to the other side of me, and my eyes widen as the sound of a shredder makes the papers disappear. He slowly straightens up, still standing way too close for my liking.
“You can't force me to stay married to you.” I say through gritted teeth. I try to put as much force behind my words as possible, try not to let the sound of my voice show how I'm affected by his presence. He leans in and whispers in my ear.
“Watch me.” My body shudders, betraying me and I know he saw it, going by the victorious smirk on his handsome face. I clench my fists and harden my jaw. I can't let him win this, no matter how attracted to him I am, I can't let him use me in this way.
“You're an ass.” I say. He chuckles low, the sound vibrating to my core.
“Oh I know.” He says with a smirk. I grit my teeth and raise my chin. I won't let him get to me.
“This isn't over.” I tell him. I step away from him, my body missing the warmth that radiates off him.
“I should hope not.” He says, his eyes scanning my body once again. I spin on my heel and storm out of his office, ignoring that stupidly sexy smirk on his stupidly handsome face. Like yesterday, I slam the door behind me as I leave and resist the urge to scream. Whether it's in frustration at the arrogance of the man, or sexual frustration, I'm unsure. I walk out into their lavish reception area trying to compose myself when Verity appears in front of me.
“I take it that didn't go well?” she says. I grit my teeth.
“You could say that... I've never met such an obnoxious arrogant man in my life!” I say. And damn hot. But I leave that part out.
“Verity... ah, you must be Kate!” An older man walks up behind me and offers his hand. I take it and he cups our joint hands with his other. “Mark Caldwell, Chase's father.” He adds. I feel a blush stain my cheeks. He had to have heard what I just said about his son.
“Sir.. I'm so sor...” I start to say but a wave of his hand cuts me off.
“Don’t.” He smiles down warmly at me. “It's an apt description of my son.” He says. He chuckles, his eyes twinkling with amusement.
“Sorry I didn't get to meet you yesterday, I was tied up in meetings.” He says. I smile up at him, my body relaxing at his calm disposition.
“That's no problem.” I say with a smile. Chase is a lot like Mark. They both have the same firm jaw and blue eyes. I imagine that Mark’s now grey hair was once dark brown like Chase’s. Their smiles are similar, both having those adorable dimples. I imagine this is what Chase would look like in 40 years. Definitely a silver fox.
“Sir, do you mind if I leave early today? I think Kate could use a drink.” Verity says, pulling me from my observations. He nods at Verity with a slight chuckle.
“I have no doubt.” He says. He turns back to me. “If you need anything, don't hesitate to call. I'll try to knock some sense into my son.” He says with a kind smile. I nod, a small smile on my lips.
“Thank you sir.” I say, noting that while they look alike, Mark and his son are polar opposites in personality.
“Mark. Please.” He corrects me.
“Thank you, Mark.” I say. He gives me another warm smile before turning to leave. Verity steps back to her desk, gathering her things before approaching me and wrapping her arm in mine.
“Come on, let’s go get a drink and you can fill me in on what the asshole did now.” She says. I giggle and let her lead me towards the elevators.
The bar Verity chose, is slowly filling up as people finish up their work day and get their much needed Friday night drinks. We have just opened our second bottle of red, the smooth fruity wine going down much too easy. I'd told Verity everything that happened today and yesterday, leaving out the obvious attraction I have to him. She wasn't surprised.
“Has he always been an ass?” I say, sipping on my wine. She chuckles and nods her head.
“Pretty much... although...” She bites her lip, debating whether to finish her sentence.
“Although?” I prompt. She sighs and moves her finger around the rim of her half full wine glass.
“In my first year of college, I was working part time for the company when my dad died.” She tells me.
“Oh... I'm sorry.” I say. She shrugs it off.
“It's ok. It was a while ago now. Anyway, when he passed, I inherited everything. The house, the cars, and all the lavish and expensive items I'd grown up with.” She continues. I see a flicker of anger in her eyes. “But I also inherited a pile of debt. Dad was living well above his means... I had to sell everything, and use my own money, including my college funds, just to pay off part of it.” She shakes her head.
“It was all a lie. We were living upper class when we were middle class at best.” She says with a scoff. I nod in understanding as she sips her wine. “I was about to drop out of college, I couldn't afford it anymore, when the college told me I was paid up in full... all 4 years of college by an anonymous person.” She says, a small smile playing on her lips.
“Chase?” I ask. She nods with a shrug. I furrow my brow, trying to reconcile the arrogant asshole I met, with the generous benefactor.
“I didn't know it at the time. I had no idea it was him until a year ago when I became Marks personal assistant.” She says. I nod, encouraging her to continue. “I was cleaning out some of Chase's files, when I came across the information for my college payment... I tried to bring it up with him, to thank him, but he was just an arrogant ass as always.” She says as she rolls her eyes.
“I was never meant to find out. He didn't want me to know that he could actually do something nice... so I let it go and treat him like the asshole he is. But I haven't forgotten.” She says with a smile. I smile at that. Who knew he had a heart? My phone rings on the table, breaking me from my thoughts. I look at the caller ID and guilt clouds my thoughts.
Liam. I hadn't called him since I've been here. I hadn't thought about him once.
“I better take this.” I say with a sigh. Verity nods as I pick up my phone and hit accept.
“Hello?” I say into the phone.
“Hey babe.” I can barely hear him over the noise of the bar so I indicate to Verity that I'm ducking outside.
“Hang on, let me go somewhere quieter.” I say to Liam. I head out the door into the crisp night air. I hadn't even noticed the sun had set, we had been in the bar longer than I thought.
“Where are you?” Liam asks me.
“At a bar.” I tell him. I hug an arm around my body, the air much colder than it was inside.
“With him?” he says. I don't miss the venom in his voice.
“No. with Verity, his PA.” I say, fighting the urge to roll my eyes.
“Ok. When are you coming home?” he asks me. I bite my lip, unsure what to say.
“I'm not sure... there is more legal stuff than I thought...” I say. It's not really a lie. I never imagined that Chase would refuse the annulment and want to stay married. Liam sighs on the other end of the phone.
“I don't like this Kate.” He tells me.
“I'm doing everything I can Liam.” I say, a frown forming on my face.
“I know... I'm sorry... I just... I love you so much... I miss you.” He says. Guilt floods me again at his words but I swallow it down.
“I miss you too.” I say. My voice is quiet, as if it not being heard won't sound like the lie it is. “As soon as the annulments lodged, I'll come home.” I tell him.
“Ok... I better go, bye Kate.” He says. He hangs up before I can respond. I swallow the lump in my throat. Here I am having random sexual fantasies about Chase, when I have a man at home who loves me. A man who is so sweet to me when he wants to be, and who I'm not just a business deal too. I strengthen the resolve that had slightly lessened with Verity's story of Chase. No. I need to get this annulment signed and go home to Liam.
I look through my phone, scrolling through my contact numbers. With just one phone call, I could have someone force him to sign. Whether it's one of my brothers’ contacts or the Valentino's is up to me. But do I really want that? Do I want someone bailing me out yet again? My entire life it's been others who have fought my battles for me. I sigh and put my phone in my purse. Not this time. This time I'm handling this on my own. And I will get him to sign, no matter what.
With a new found confidence I go back into the bar and sit across from Verity who is looking at her phone.
“Sorry about that.” I say as I slide into my seat. She looks up and smiles.
“It's no problem. Ryder just texted, he and Chase are going to a club.” She tells me. I nod my head. “Chase only goes there to pick up...” she continues. A knot forms in my stomach but I push it away. Verity watches me cautiously, gauging my reaction. My mind ticks over this information before a mischievous smile forms on my lips. Verity grins.
“What's that look for?” she asks. I chuckle and down my wine
“Chase is about to find out how hard it is to score when your wife is in town.”