12 𝘐'𝘭𝘭 𝘸𝘢𝘪𝘵 𝘧𝘰𝘳 𝘺𝘰𝘶𝘳 𝘤𝘢𝘭𝘭"
How the hell did that happen? She was on pills, they had a fucking deal!
And while trying to assimilate the news that has just dropped from nowhere, Chase's heart swells both with happiness and regret. Now, if only this kind of news would have come from Kathleen's mouth, if only...
But being Paula...
"Pregnant..." Chase whispers leaning his back against the kitchen counter, dropping the glass on it and running one hand through his hair, keeping himself painfully silent.
He shifts his eyes to the patio outside through the glass sliding doors, glaring in the depth of the scenery it offers.
It is beautiful outside and his mind travels far, back to his penthouse, his bedroom, his bed where Kathleen has fitted so well, her perfume filling the air and making it smell of home.
Maybe if he keeps absent long enough the last minutes will become just a dream, a virtual reality that can be changed with a simple reset.
"Chase... say something," Paula stops his train of thoughts and he snaps his eyes to her when her voice reaches his ears.
"Is it mine?" he asks in a soft tone, making it sound like the most natural thing to say.
Paula's face hardens in anger. It's one thing to refuse the child and a totally different one to ask if she has cheated on him.
"How dare you?" she hisses.
"What the fuck do you want me to say, Paula? You disappear on me, I hear nothing from you and then you come here, two months and a half later telling me you are pregnant. I can't be sure of anything, so... is it mine?" Chase repeats the question, more in the hope she'll say no, it isn't his.
And as strange as it might sound, he would have been really happy for her, even if she was pregnant with the child of another man. Hell, maybe he would even support her raising it.
"You're an asshole, Chase!" she spits and twists on her heels leaving the house without looking back but hoping Chase will stop her.
He doesn't. He just follows her walk of anger out of the kitchen, listening to the sound of her stilettos fading away with every rushed step she makes.
'What the fuck just happened?' Chase whispers, his eyes still staring in the direction of the exit long after Paula has left and slammed the door behind her.
This is going to be a total game-changer. His entire plan of making Kathleen his, although he doesn't even know yet what that plan is, needs to be redone, maybe even sped up, but there is no way he'll give up on it.
There is nothing to make him change his mind, not now when he feels that he finally has found the woman to stir him in ways that he has only dreamed of.
Yes, Paula has popped up back into his life bringing one hell of news that is going to shape his future in a totally different way but he and Paula are so much the past now.
If she thinks that her coming back with the news of carrying his child will convince Chase to continue their relationship from where it has stopped months back, well, she has another thing coming.
Even if things are going to get complicated now, having another child a woman he doesn't see in his life, Chase is adamant to give him and Kathleen a chance, a chance he'll grab with both hands.
The volume of thoughts and feelings she's gaining in his mind and heart are making her already a huge part of himself, a past he can't ignore, and he can't live without.
The ring of the phone stops the train of his thoughts and he pulls the phone out of his pocket filled with hope that it's Kathleen calling back but it's no other but his brother, Bennet, reminding him he has a flight to catch.
"Bennet," Chase says in a deep tone when picking up the call.
"Chase, I'm at the airport already. Are you on your way?"
"Hm... no, not yet. I'll be out on the door in twenty," Chase replies absently.
"Hurry up, bro. We're taking off in two hours."
"Sure, Bennet. See you in an hour," Chase replies and hangs up exiting the kitchen and rushing towards the bedroom.
He packs a few things for no more than three days or so. He plans to hit hard, one time, save the girl, and be done with it.
He arrives at the airport one hour later, just as he has said. If there is one word to describe Chase that one word is punctuality, never late or early.
He parks the car outside in the VIP parking where two of his men are waiting for him already.
"Boss," one of them greets with a nod.
"The bag is in the trunk," Chase says continuing his way into the airport building, rushing his steps towards the gates.
He picks the phone from his pocket while walking on the corridors after crossing the gates, hoping for a text message or a call from Kathleen.
But there's nothing, no call, no text, pushing him into a whirlpool of worry mixed with anger.
He wonders if running away early in the morning and not returning his call means she doesn't want to have anything to do with him.
Should he insist? Of course, he should. He wouldn't give up on her just because she has gotten scared or something, she doesn't know him to decide that just yet.
Yes, she has someone, he knows that but how important is that someone when she has responded to him too strongly, so freely, without any hesitation? And he hasn't even struggled too much.
"Chase, good you're here. We're taking off in half an hour," Bennet says welcoming his brother at the jet's stairs.
"Is everybody here?" Chase asks.
"All of them. Jack is checking the flight and instructing the team. Hey, are you okay?" Bennet asks seeing Chase all frown and worried.
He glares at his brother, not knowing what to answer. No, he's not okay. He's falling hard for a young girl who doesn't seem to give him a chance, and he won't be okay until Kathleen is his.
"Not really. Come on, let's get going," Chase replies trying to take his mind away from Kathleen and divert Bennet from asking more questions. They both get into the flight and take their seats at the table where there's already brandy in crystal glasses, waiting for them.
Before Chase buckles the seatbelt he has a sudden change of mind and stands up walking towards the small resting room and fishing his phone from his pocket, dialing a number. He sits on the small bed, running a hand through his hair and waiting.
The phone rings until the line is disconnected. She hasn't picked up. Again.
She can't be still sleeping.
Maybe she didn't hear the call. Maybe she was showering, or maybe cooking, or maybe...
Fuck, so many excuses he finds for her when actually the most obvious reason is that she doesn't want to talk to him. She's avoiding him and that is driving him crazy.
"Chase, come on, we need to take off," Bennet picks his head in the door, reminding him to get to his seat.
Chase complies, walking towards the door where Bennet stands, staring at the straight emotionless face his brother has and the deep line between his frown eyebrows.
Before exiting the room, Chase's phone buzzes, and a text message flashes on the screen, making Chase stop in his way and give his undivided attention to reading it, walking back in and sitting on the bed again.
"Chase, come on..." Bennet tries to protest but his brother raises a finger, still reading the text, asking Bennet to give him a moment.
K: Hello Mr. Rowllings. Thank you for checking on me. I'm fine and no, I do not hold you responsible for what has happened last night. It was mutual consent. Have a good evening. K
A smirk blooms in his slips with every word he reads, crossing his eyes on the message, one time, two times.
As cold as it sounds it's still an open door because she doesn't seem to regret their night before and she has replied, even with text.
If texts are what she wants, texts are what she gets.
C: I wished you answered so I could hear your voice. What happened last night was more than consent. You were beautiful last night and I do want to see this beauty again. I hope you'll pick up next time when I have the chance to call. I'm traveling for a few days. I'll call you when I land. Take care. C.
"Wow! So many colors on your face in a matter of a few minutes. I'm getting jealous," Bennet chuckles, joking at the expense of his brother.
He follows Chase with curious eyes and a goofy smile while he takes his seat and buckles up, holding a mighty smirk in the corner of his lips.
"Yeah. Well, be careful what you wish for," Chase replies and turns his eyes towards the window, part of him jolting for finally having a word from Kathleen another part frozen, remembering the news of Paula's pregnancy.
In the first part of the trip, Bennet and Chase reviewed the plans and built strategies for the matter in Seoul.
Meeting Kim-Ho is going to be the first step. They need all the detail he can give to help them assess the enemy and then comes Jack, the right person for the raid they have in plan and he's damn good at what he's doing. He's an ex-cop who has gotten hooked with some gang in NY and that has brought him a sudden release from duty.
A few months later he was working as a private detective and from being a private detective to becoming a hitman was just a step.
He started as a rewards hunter though, working with police and bringing down to justice the runways and parole breakers then he met important rich people, and working for them for loads of money made more sense.
A few years later he had a small team gathered, mercenaries, and his clients were public figures and billionaires, much like Chase.
They ran the plan one more time during the flight but it was not much of a plan. None of them had any connections with the Korean mob, so the plan was yet to be improved after meeting Kim-Ho.
The second part of the trip went on in complete silence until the team together with Jack retrieved to the room in the back of the jet while Chase and Bennet took their seats next to the minibar.
Bennet leans his head against the backrest, closing his eyes probably hoping for a nap but that's quite a far fetch.
One could cut with a knife the tension Chase is giving off all around him although it's in perfect antagonism with the cocky smirk he has plastered on his face since the text messages with Kathleen.
That tension is enough for Bennet to keep him awake and watching. Chase has always been a rock-hard man, someone who can hardly be defeated and he's rarely losing it, but when he does... well, let's just say one needs to enter hell to pull him out.
"Have you heard from Paula?" Bennet speaks without opening his eyes or sparing Chase a look.
His brother inhales deeply, bending in front and scratching his short beards.
He did hear from her alright. He just wished he didn't.
"Yeah. She passed by the mansion today."
It’s only now that Bennet lifts his head, looking surprised at his brother.
"Really? What did she want?" he asks, raising his eyebrows.
"Oh, nothing much. Just to tell me she's pregnant," Chase clarifies in the same dull tone, sipping from his glass.
"What?!" Bennet's eyes snap wide open. "No fucking way! Is it your?"
"Well, she says it is," Chase replies with a sigh, staring at the bottom of his brandy glass, having an internal battle that is so obvious to Bennet. "I don't know, Bennet. Paula wouldn't lie to me about something like this," he continues being very confident that his hunches have never failed him.
No matter how dull or uptight Paula is, one thing Chase knows for sure about her. She never lies and especially not to him.
"You are going to be a father. Wow," Bennet mumbles for himself. "What will you do?"
"I'm going to definitely have a paternity test," he replies rolling the booze in his glass while staring at it. "And... Paula is not coming back to me. She took a decision when she left and..."
"Oh, come on, Chase! Stop lying to yourself. You know damn well that if it was her decision she would have come back to you long ago. It's not about her, my brother, it's about you. You don't want her back and... I'm not sure if I dislike that."
Chase lifts his eyes and takes a long stare at his brother. He knows Bennet is right, he'll never go back to Paula, pregnant or not.
"You never liked Paula anyway," Chase replies.
"That I did, brother," Bennet agrees, leaning against the backrest again and closing his eyes. "It's good you're thinking about the paternity test. Not only because you need to be sure you're the father but it will also make a good statement to that young girl that you won't get Paula back blindly... or ever, even if you’re the father," Bennet speaks his mind.
He likes the way Bennet sees the new developments in his life. It feels good to know that people close to him accept Kathleen as a new part of his life.
Having a baby with Paula will change nothing. Of course, he'll have to tell Kathleen about the baby but that won't stand in his way of making her his and keeping Paula at arm's length.
He'll fulfill his duty towards as a father to his child and nothing more than that will connect him with Paula.
It's going to be bumpy but he'll never stop until Kathleen knows how much desired she is. He's going to fight for her and he's going to make her his, no matter how stormy the path to her heart will be.
They land in Seoul the next day, early morning. At 7 am, Bennet and Chase exit the airport building where a black SUV and the men of Kim-Ho are waiting.
"감사합니다," Chase mutters when one of the guys opens the back door for them to get in. (Thank you).
Once inside they both get greeted by an exhausted Kim.
"Welcome to Seoul, guys," he says, shaking hands with both Bennet and Chase.
"Kim, likewise," Chase replies while Bennet greets with two fingers to his right temple. "I'm really sorry for the circumstances, though," Chase continues, looking at his Korean business partner and reading on his face all the anguish of the situation.
Kim was a man in his mid forty's. They met ten years ago and had different businesses, good businesses for both. When the opportunity for this contract came up Kim proved to be as skillful as fair Chase wished from a business partner. Connections were in place in a matter of days, construction authorizations were impossible to get but Kim managed to have them in a couple of months.
They were supposed to build several six golf fields around South Korea over 6-7 years and that was one strong and rich project, somehow the best Chase ever had.
But with the recent events had the project thrown all the way back to the last priorities for Kim.
He never expected to face such strong resistance from the other businessmen in Korea who forcefully were willing to do anything to keep foreign involvement out.
And the life of his daughter was the last thing he was willing to pay.
"We will go to the villa. You surely need some rest. The villa has enough space for your guys as well. They can rest," Kim says. "Take your time, though."
"Kim, we are here with business. How long do we still have till the deadline?" Chase asks in his usual cold and hard business mood.
He was tired, the flight was too long and his mind had been too busy to be able to rest.
The new challenges in Seoul were the last thing he needed but they had to be solved.
Things might turn ugly but the sooner they were done, the faster he could get back to NY and meet Kathleen.
"I know but some crashed fighters and tired minds will not help," Kim replies, and Chase agrees although he feels to take the same flight back right now and go straight to Kathleen's door no matter how tiring that is.
But he only nods and leans back his head.
“I’m afraid you’re right. Besides, we should raid at night time,” Bennet says.
"I’ll pick you in the evening and we meet at my mansion. My men have some new details. I had them dig and snoop around the possible kidnappers," Kim informs.
"Do they have any leads?" Chase asks and this is when Kim's face brightens.
"Yeah, we know where she is."
"Fuck, let's get to business now," Bennet suggests but Kim shakes his head in disapproval.
"No, Bennet. We need to plan and we need to plan well. We have one chance only and I’m not risking my daughter's life just because we act in a haste."
"You're right, Kim. Just give us a few hours to refresh and we’ll be at your house. We should be ready to hit tonight. The sooner the better," Chase intervenes “… and the faster I go back,” he speaks for himself.
His phone buzzes in his pocket and pulling it out he sees a text message flashing on the screen.
K: I’ll be waiting for your call. K.
His fingers curl tight around the phone with memories of their touches on Kathleen’s skin flushing his mind and making his palms sweat.
A smile blooms on his lips and his heart jolts, hitting wildly his rib cage and sounding in his ears.