Bossman by Vi Keeland

Chapter 27

Reese

I had no idea what I was going to say if Samantha asked point blank.

We were meeting her at the restaurant, a small Italian place a few blocks from the office that I’d never been to before. Clearly Chase had. The manager, Benito, greeted him by name and showed us to “Chase’s special romantica table.” It was in the back, in a dark corner by a large, rustic brick fireplace.

Chase pulled out my chair.

“I take it you’ve been here before.”

He sat while the busboy set up a third place setting. We were a few minutes early, and Samantha hadn’t arrived yet.

“Sam loves this place. Pretty sure Benito thinks we’re a couple. She likes to sit by the fireplace.”

I was quiet, and I’m certain doubt registered on my face.

Chase sat back in his chair. “She’s my friend. And there’s not much she can do about it if she doesn’t like it anyway.”

I frowned. “It’s so much easier for you.”

He leaned in. “Is that what you think?”

“You’re the boss. No one is going to look at you differently or think your ideas were accepted because of who you slept with.”

“I get that. I can even understand it. So if you decide you’d rather keep things between us secret, I’ll accept that.” Chase edged closer. “But don’t think this is easy for me. You’re the first woman who’s been anything more to me than a casual f—”

He caught himself, stopping short of painting the visual he’d been about to throw out. “Anything more than a casual relationship in seven years. And we’re sitting down at a restaurant, about to have dinner with my dead ex-fiancée’s best friend, who is also the vice president of human resources for the company I own. A company where I entrust her to write policies such as the no fucking in the office policy I want to violate every goddamn time I look at you.”

Chase looked away. I stared at him. It had never occurred to me how difficult it would be for him to come clean with Samantha. For me, it was a job and stupid mistakes from my past that formed my fears. For him, it was so much more. He just made everything seem so easy to do. God, sometimes I was a giant, selfish idiot.

Before I could apologize and clear the air that hung heavy between us, Samantha was at our table. Chase stood until she sat.

“Nice to see you, Reese.” Her face was friendly and warm when she greeted me.

“You too.”

The waiter quickly appeared to take our drink orders. Samantha glanced at the wine list and asked some questions about their selections. I looked from her to Chase and was caught in his troubled gaze. He looked hurt, angry, and deflated. And I hated that I’d made him feel that way.

Our eyes stayed locked as Samantha finished talking to the waiter, and then she looked between us. “So, what’s new with the two of you?”

Making my decision, I extended my hand across the table to her. “Not much, other than Chase and I are a couple.”

Sam took our news better than I had expected, and once dinner finished, Chase and I decided to stay at my place that night. When we arrived, I was surprised to find the new alarm system had been installed. Apparently, while I was busy being a vindictive bitch and stewing in my office half the day, Chase had been at my apartment having an added measure of security installed because he wanted to do something to quell my fears. My apology earlier in the day hadn’t been enough to make it up to him.

I went into the bathroom to wash up and came out to find Chase sitting in my bed with his back against the headboard. Pulling a knee up, I crawled to him, planting a kiss on his lips. When I moved to pull back, he stopped me by taking my face between his hands.

Looking directly into my eyes, he said, “Thank you.”

I knew what he meant, but pretended I didn’t. “I haven’t even given you anything to be thankful for. Yet.”

He smiled but continued with a serious tone. “It means a lot to me that you decided to tell Sam tonight.”

“You know. I realized tonight that it wasn’t Sam I was afraid to tell, really.”

“No?”

I shook my head. “After the dumb mistakes I’ve made in the past, of course the thought of a relationship with someone at work scares me. But I think what I’ve really been afraid of was feeling strongly enough about someone to be willing to purposely take a risk.” I grinned. “I tend to be risk averse, in case you hadn’t noticed.”

He attempted to conceal his smile. “I hadn’t noticed.”

“Thank you again for having the alarm installed. It was really sweet of you.” I kissed him again. Leaning my forehead against his, I whispered, “We’re really doing this, huh? Going to be a couple out in the open with my long-lost, middle school, second-cousin boyfriend who is also the bossman?”

He pushed a lock of hair behind my ear. “That’s a mouthful. How about if we just call you my woman?”

“Your woman, huh?”

His gaze roamed over my face. “It’s the truth. We’ve both been fighting it for different reasons. But you’ve been mine since I saw you in that dark restaurant hallway.”

“You mean when you called me a bitch? I don’t think that’s quite how you won me over. It was a little after that, I’d say.”

“Maybe for you. But you were under my skin from the first minute I laid eyes on you. I wanted to know what made you tick.”

I cocked my head. “And have you figured that out? What makes me tick?”

He flipped me on my back and braced himself over me. One hand trailed down my side, causing my skin to prickle.

“I’m still learning. Maybe we should play that little game you had me play once before.”

“What game?”

“Be watched masturbating or watch someone masturbating?”

“Ah…we’re playing Would You Rather?”

Chase answered by rubbing his nose along my neck.

“Are we talking about you I’m watching, or someone else?”

He stiffened and pulled back to look at me.

“Kidding. I was kidding.” I pecked his lips. “Watch you. I think I’d actually enjoy that.”

His face relaxed somewhat. So I continued the game with a real question. Lightly scratching my nails down his back, I said, “Office memo or PDA?”

His response was quick. “PDA.”

“What kind?”

He brushed his lips sweetly against mine. “Like this.”

“Mmm…show me again.”

“This is fast becoming my favorite game.”

“Mine too.”

I could spend all day doing this, but there were more pressing would you rather questions to attend to.

When our kiss broke, I asked, “Give or receive first?”

He grinned, but I didn’t give him a chance to respond. Instead, I lowered my head down his body.

Receive.

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