“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.”
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.”
She gives me a tiny nod, and then—she moves in close, resting her head on my chest. I wrap my arm around her, holding tight. And there’s a small comfort in the idea she needs this every bit as much as me.
Her sigh is long but not ungrateful.
There’s a weighted pause, and then she adds, “Even when you’re being an asshole.”
Yep. I can totally live with that.
The next morning, our midnight truce is most definitely off. Our mornings are busy—crazy—and that’s never truer than on a school day. I get the kids up. They’re dressed and almost fed by the time Chelsea walks into the dining room.
From the chair at the table, my eyes rake over her.
She smiles tightly. Determinedly. “Thanks. It’s new. Maternity clothes have come a long way since Rachel was pregnant.”