Page 16

 Emma Chase

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Until I hear the front door slam open with a meaningful bang.
And my gorgeous, pregnant wife appears, pinning me down with the blue fucking fire in her eyes.
She breathes out hard through her nose “We need to talk. Outside. Now.”
The kids all freeze midmotion. In any other case, it’d be funny—the way their attention is instantly captured.
“We sure do,” is my simple reply.
Raymond starts to whistle the Darth Vader theme from Star Wars.
As I stand and follow Chelsea toward the kitchen, Rosaleen sings, “Someone’s in trouble.”
“And for once, it’s not me,” Rory points out. “Take note, people.”
Through the kitchen and out the back door onto the patio we go. As soon as the door is shut, Chelsea whips around, waving an opened envelope at me.
“What the hell is this? And why did Gavin inform me—through his closed office door, I might add—that you’d given him my resignation?”
I cross my arms. “I’m more interested in hearing about the sexual harassment you’ve been silently suffering for God knows how long and why the hell you didn’t clue me in on it.”
Now she crosses her arms and cocks a hip. “I like my job, Jake—it wasn’t that bad—and I knew you’d make a big deal about it.”
I keep a tight rein on my voice—and my temper—though I gotta say, it’s a battle.
“Hearing that cocksucker tell your coworker how he couldn’t wait for you to blow him sounded like a pretty fucking big deal to me. Guess I’m funny like that.”
She blinks up at me. “He said that?”
My nod is quick and sharp. “And his choice of words wasn’t nearly as nice.” I point my finger. “You should’ve told me you were dealing with that.”
“I was handling it!”
Those four words push me right to the edge. “You obviously weren’t handling it, since the scumbag was still spewing shit about you. That won’t be a problem anymore.”
Her jaw is clenched and her chin is high—and if I wasn’t genuinely fucking furious, I’d be really turned on right now.
“I’m not quitting my job, Jake.”
“You already have.”
“I’m not quitting my job, Jake.”
My voice goes soft, dropping to a lethal whisper. “Let me make this crystal clear. If that fucker gets within twenty feet of you ever again, I will put him in the ground. You’re not going back there. Period.”
Chelsea’s arms flail out to her sides and she yells, “Who are you?”
“I’m your husband.”
“Really? I don’t remember exchanging rings with a fucking caveman!”
I lean down over her, almost nose to nose. “Then you weren’t paying close enough attention.”
She glares up at me for a few seconds; then she closes her eyes and breathes deep, stepping back. When she focuses on me again, the fury has faded—replaced with something more dangerous. Resentment.
“I can’t talk to you when you’re like this.”
“I’m completely calm. You’re the one pitching a fit. And apparently you can’t fucking talk to me at all.”
It seems I’ve got some resentment issues of my own. Brent would say this is healthy—getting it all out in the open. That theory can go suck a dick.
Chelsea’s hand goes to her stomach—to the bump—rubbing circles. She takes another deep, cleansing breath. “The kids have homework, we have to start dinner, Rosaleen’s piano teacher will be here any minute. We’ll finish this later.”
She moves around me to the door but stops when I call her name.
“Chelsea. It’s already finished.”
She hisses at me through clenched teeth, “God, you are such an asshole sometimes!”
After that, we do our best to ignore each other the whole fucking night.
Dinner? Done.
Dishes? Clean.
Kids? Asleep. Or at least, pretending to be, which works for me.
Chelsea and I share the bathroom sink space, brushing our teeth, our arms moving in matching, violent jerks, both of us avoiding the mirror and instead glaring at the faucet like it insulted our mother.
I finish first, walk into the bedroom, strip down to boxer briefs, and slide between the cold sheets. A minute later the bathroom light goes out, and I watch, through the moonlit, shadowed room, as Chelsea walks around to the other side of the bed. She climbs in—staying as far away from me as she possibly can without actually falling off the mattress.
I stare at the ceiling, one arm slung above my head, listening to the sound of her tense, harsh breaths. And God, I know it makes me sound like a pussy—but I want to hold her. As frustrated as I am with her ridiculous stubbornness, as infuriated as I feel about the entire fucking debacle . . . I love her.
It’s a constant, living, needy thing inside me. My arms twitch with the urge to pull her close, to feel her, warm and supple against me.
My voice comes out in a gentle, jagged whisper.
“Chelsea . . .”
Slowly, she turns on her side, facing me. We watch each other in the darkness for a few seconds, then she insists softly, “Our discussion is not over.”
“And I’m going to be really mad at you again in the morning.”
My hand finds her jaw, stroking, before moving through her hair. “I can live with that.”