My face still tingles where Kate slapped me earlier. While I probably deserved it, who knew that such a little thing could hit so hard? I can't help but replay the brief encounter in my mind. Our little game over the past nine days has had me in all sorts, she's had all the power and I wanted to take some of it back. So I planned on kissing her when she arrived like clockwork in my office. I knew she wouldn't be able to resist me, and for just a moment she didn't. And that kiss... that kiss was dangerous. She tasted as sweet as I thought she would and felt so damn good in my arms. She felt too good. I'm not sure that I would have been able to stop had she not pushed me away. In fact, I'm damn sure of it. My thoughts are interrupted as dad enters my office followed closely by Ryder.
“Hey Chase do you...” Dad trails off when he sees me. “What the hell happened to your face?” he asks. I'm guessing that Kate's small handprint is still visible on my cheek. I shrug my shoulders.
“Kate slapped me.” I tell him. Ryder stifles a laugh.
“That little thing slapped you?” he asks. I glare at Ryder and open my mouth to speak before dad cuts me off.
“What did you do?” he asks, eyeing me.
“Nothing.” I say. They both look at me expectantly. They know I did something. But I'm not about to tell them I kissed her without her permission. Or that it was the best kiss I've ever had. “Anyway... dad, what did you need?” I ask, changing the subject. Dad clears his throat.
“Oh, right, the Harbinger file.” Dad says. I nod and stand from my desk, retrieving the file from the cabinet and handing it over to dad. He flicks through it quickly before looking up at me. “Where did Kate go by the way?” he asks. I furrow my brows.
“How would I know?” I ask.
“She checked out of the hotel. Thought she might have said she was going home.” He tells me. I stare at dad, my mind reeling over this information. She left?
“Did you sign the annulment? “ Ryder asks. I shake my head and sink down in my chair. Dad and Ryder share a look before Ryder grins at me. “Oh well, I guess you got what you wanted. Still married with your wife in another country.” He says. I shoot him a smile I don't feel.
“Yeah, I guess I did.” I say.
The rest of the day my mind keeps going to Kate. Did she really leave? Did I push her too far? I should be happy about this if she did. It's what I wanted. The annulment hasn't gone through, I'm still married and less than 4 weeks out from my 30th. I'm free to go and pick up whenever I want, without Kate cockblocking me at every turn. But for some reason I'm not happy. I think I was enjoying our little game. She was challenging me in ways no one has before, and I liked it. I wasn't ready for it to end. I decided not to go out tonight, telling Ryder I was tired from work, but really I just feel like going home and drinking a bottle of whiskey.
Opening the door to my penthouse apartment, something seems different... off... I look around trying to see what's changed, but nothing really stands out. It's the same bachelor pad I bought 6 years ago. I shrug it off as just being part of my weird mood and start to remove my coat.
“Honey! You're home!” I sweet Australian accent fills me ears and I freeze as I see Kate walk towards me, the click of her heels on the tile floor a steady rhythm. Her hair is up in an old style bun, she wears a 1950's style dress that's fitted at the bust and fans out from the waist. I know I'm staring at her, and I haven't said a word yet, but I'm trying to comprehend what she's doing here... and what she's wearing. When she reaches me she places a kiss on my cheek then carefully wipes of the lipstick with her thumb before moving to take off my coat and place it in the cupboard. “How was your day dear?” she asks. Her smile is sweet and demure, a picture of innocence.
“What are you doing here?” I ask, completely dumbfounded by what is happening right now. She laughs and smacks my chest, not missing a beat in whatever game she's playing.
“Don't be silly, I'm your wife, I'm where I should be... at your side.” She says with a smile. And there it is, a picture of what's to come, the perfect little housewife who no doubt has something up her sleeve. Kate sashays towards the kitchen and I follow behind, my mind going a mile a minute. A part of me is happy she didn't go back to Australia, a larger part of me is curious as to her game. And how the hell did she even get into my apartment?
As we enter the kitchen, Kate steps around the bench to continue cooking whatever is on the stove. I head straight to my little bar, needing whiskey now more than ever. I open the cupboard door to find it empty. I stare into the empty cupboard, my eyes blinking in the hope it would magically appear.
“Kate...” I say as I turn towards her.
“Yes dear?” she asks as she looks at me lovingly.
“Where's my whiskey?” I ask her. She smiles sweetly and turns back to flip whatever is in the fry pan. I can't tell what type of meat it is.
“Oh, I threw it away. It's really not good for you, you know.” She says nonchalantly. I stare at her, hoping that I heard her incorrectly, or that she would turn back around and tell me she was just kidding. Neither comes true.
“You threw it away?” I ask slowly. She doesn't look at me, simply nods as she focuses on the stove. As if she doesn't care that she just threw away liquid gold.
“Mhm, tipped it down the sink.” She says. I feel the stabbing pain of loss as I think of my poor whiskey, ending its life in a drain instead of being savoured. I step behind her, close enough to feel her body heat and smell the delicate scent of roses that permeates her body.
“You're joking right?” I ask. She shakes her head, not looking at me, but I know she can feel me behind her, the goose bumps on her shoulders and tiny shiver in her body when I spoke gave her away.
“Not at all.” She turns around to look up at me, placing her hand on my chest. Such a casual touch, as if she's always done it. She looks up at me sweetly before continuing. “What kind of wife would I be if I didn't look after my husband’s health?” she asks. I'm not really sure how to respond to that so I let the first thing out of my mouth without thinking.
“The kind that's only for business purposes.” I say. I see a flash of hurt in her eyes before she covers it again with that innocent smile. It was so quick, but not quick enough that it didn't make the guilt stop flooding through my veins.
“Take a seat, dinners ready.” She says sweetly. She turns around and starts dishing up two plates, feeling bad I follow her instructions and let go of the early death of my dear whiskey. I take my seat and she comes over and places a dish in front of me before pouring me a glass of water from the jug on the table. It's then I notice that the table is set, which in all honestly I don't think this table has been used for dining purposes since I moved in. Well, not the typical dishes you are supposed to eat at a table. I wonder what Kate would think about everything that's happened on this table. Should I tell her? Nah. I'll wait until after we finish eating.
I look down at the meal she has put in front of me, trying to figure out what it is, some type of leafy salad with whatever meat she was cooking in the frypan.
“What's this?” I ask her. She smiles that sweet smile at me.
“Grilled tofu salad.” She replies. Tofu... salad... two words that aren't in my vocabulary, certainly not together.
“Tofu?” I ask, my heart dropping into my stomach. She nods and takes a bite of her own salad. I don't miss the small quick grimace on her face before she lets out a soft moan.
“Mm so good.” She says. The sound of the moan sends blood rushing to my southern buddy, even though I know it was fake. She's as appalled by this meal as I am, but I'm not going to call her on it, no, I'll play her little game and I'll win. I pick up a piece of tofu with the leafy green thing on my fork and bring it to my mouth. As soon as the taste hits my tongue I fight the urge to spit it out. The green stuff is hard, crunchy and bitter, as if the lettuce has spoiled, while the tofu... Well, I feel like I'm eating a sponge. A flavourless sponge. I look over to the kitchen sink and wonder if the dishcloth has more flavour than this. Or worse, if Kate just cut up a dishcloth and served it to me on rotten lettuce. No. she wouldn't do that. She's eating it herself.
I force it down my throat, wishing now more than ever that I had my beloved whiskey to wash away the foul taste in my mouth.
“You're right, it is good.” I lie. Kate looks at me, her lips pursed together, her eyes alight with amusement as she tries to not laugh. I know I wasn't convincing, but fuck, who could be when eating something as disgusting as this?
“So what's the green stuff?” I ask her. She smiles, biting down on her bottom lip which draws my eyes to her mouth. The image of her pressed against me, her soft lips on mine flashes through my mind.
“Kale.” She replies. I nod and load my fork again, taking a deep breath I force it into my mouth and chew quickly before swallowing it almost whole. It still didn't stop me from tasting it. I grab my water and gulp down half of it. Honestly, who the fuck eats kale? It should be banned along with cilantro and quinoa. We eat in silence, except for the fake moans and false praises of the abomination that was dinner. Once our plates were clear, a feat that should be given a medal for, I decide to broach the subject of our marriage.
“So you've decided to stay married to me?” I ask her. She gives me that sweet innocent smile that I'm starting to think is anything but.
“I've decided to be the wife you deserve.” She says, fluttering her eyelashes. Her words sound sweet, the way she caresses my arm as she speaks a sign of tenderness, but somehow I feel like it's more of a threat than anything. Still, I don't call her out, I'm curious as to how far she will take this, and what else she has planned. Surely I can get through the torturous dinners and lack of alcohol at home to ensure that I keep my company. I'll just eat better meals at work and have a drink before I leave. I smile at my dear, loving wife and take her hand in mine.
“I'm looking forward to it.” I tell her.
That didn't quite go how I expected it to, but then again, nothing has gone as expected since I arrived in New York. Although I did enjoy the look on Chases face when he saw me, and watching him eat tofu and kale was downright hilarious. But still, I can tell he won't back down easy. I won't either, this is just the start and eventually I'll get what I want. I watch as Chase puts the dishes in the dishwasher, thinking that at least he is house trained.
He walks into the lounge room and collapses on the couch, flicking on the TV and changing it to the sports channel. I smile as I follow him in and sit on the other end of the couch. I grab the remote off the coffee table and flick the channel over to some mediocre soppy romance then look at Chase. His jaw is clenched, I'm guessing I've hit a sore spot with taking away his sports. And with that being on top of his lack of whiskey or a decent edible meal, it has to hurt. I put on my most innocent voice.
“It's ok if I watch this isn't it babe?” I ask. He grits his teeth but puts on a forced smile.
“That's fine sweetheart, whatever you like.” He says. I smile and lean over, placing a kiss on his cheek, he slowly starts to get up when I speak.
“I'm so excited to spend some time with you tonight, watching a movie together and all...” I say sweetly. I can see the indecision in his face, he wants to pretend that he's fine with watching some shitty movie, I don't even care to watch, but I know it's got to be torture for him. But he puts on another forced smile and sits back on the couch.
“Me too.” He says with a fake grin. I smile wide, a real smile of victory and settle in for the night’s entertainment. 2 hours of watching Chase squirm.