Bossman by Vi Keeland

Chapter 29

Reese

Chase didn’t show up at work the next day. My uneasiness had worked its way into an overall sinking feeling, and my stomach was upset because I knew something had changed. I had no idea if it had something to do with the woman coming out of Chase’s office last night, or maybe with the reaction Josh had had to our couple-status news, but my anxiety over the unknown was killing me.

There had been no response to my text checking in on him either. Even though my phone was set to make a sound whenever a new text arrived, I found myself checking it every two minutes.

I was fast losing the little focus I’d brought with me to work. A tiny voice in my head whispered, See? This is what you get for having an affair at the office. Don’t you ever learn your lesson?

I tried to ignore it. Toward the end of the day, I stopped by Chase’s secretary’s desk and attempted to sound casual. “Do you know when the boss will be back?”

“He didn’t say. Just received a one-line email saying he wouldn’t be in.” Her brows drew together, and she shrugged. “Not really like him.”

I stayed at the office until after seven. Still not hearing anything from Chase, I picked up the phone and called before I left. Voicemail answered on the first ring. Moving from anxious to worried, I sent another text. The second one never even showed delivered. Whatever was going on, his phone was off, and he didn’t want to be reached. I struggled with what to do next.

Show up at his house unannounced? We were in a relationship; it was normal for me to be concerned that I hadn’t heard from him, right?

Then again, if he’d wanted to hear from me, I would have spoken to him by now. Unlike him, I was exactly where I was supposed to be. And completely accessible in any number of ways—text, voice, email, office phone. He could certainly reach me.

Unless.

Unless something was wrong.

Oh my God. Something was wrong.

What the hell was I doing sitting in the office?

Practically sprinting to the subway, I hopped on the first train and traveled uptown. I rang the bell, but Chase’s brownstone was dark. The mail hadn’t been taken in for a day…maybe even two. Not knowing what else to do, I reluctantly went home after a while. First thing in the morning, I’d go see Sam if I still hadn’t heard from him.

I tossed and turned the entire night. Eventually, I took a shower and got myself ready even though it was barely five a.m. I’d had my phone on the charger, and when I opened the text string I had with Chase, I noticed my messages from last night had been recently read. Yet there was no response. He must have plugged his phone in somewhere. Possibly home?

My emotions swung back and forth like the pendulum on a grandfather clock. He was obviously somewhere that he could plug in his phone, so he could’ve called to let me know he was all right. Yet…maybe he wasn’t okay. Maybe he needed someone. Maybe that someone was meant to be me.

And so back uptown I went. The sun had just started to rise as I reached Chase’s stop. This time, when I reached his brownstone, there was a light on inside. And mail no longer stuck out of the box hanging next to the door.

I ran the bell and waited anxiously. After a few minutes, the door opened. I sucked in a breath and waited for Chase to speak.

But he didn’t. Even more heartbreaking, though, was that he also didn’t open the door and invite me in. Instead, he stepped outside onto the stoop. Keeping distance between us, he stared off somewhere down the block, no place in particular.

“Chase?” I took a step forward but stopped when I smelled him. Alcohol teemed from his pores. It was then I realized he was wearing the same shirt and slacks he’d been wearing the last time I saw him in the office. They were a crumpled mess now, and his tie was missing, but it was definitely the same clothing.

He still hadn’t responded or looked at me.

“Chase? What’s going on? Are you okay?”

The silence was painful. It felt like someone had died, and he couldn’t say it out loud, couldn’t face it.

Oh my God. Has someone died? “Is Anna okay? The baby?”

He closed his eyes. “They’re fine.”

“What’s going on? Where have you been?”

“I needed some time alone.”

“Does this have something to do with the woman who was at your office the other night?”

“It has nothing to do with you.”

“Then what does it have to do with?” My voice came out high and reedy, and it broke on a whisper. “I don’t understand.”

For the first time, Chase finally looked my way. When our gazes met, I saw so much in his eyes—hurt, pain, sadness, anger. I gasped. Not so much because it scared me, but because I could feel the pain he was experiencing for whatever reason. My chest tightened, and a knot swelled in my throat, making it difficult to swallow.

Even though his body language was anything but welcoming, I reached out, wanting to offer him comfort. He pulled back as if my touch was fire.

“Chase?”

He shook his head. “I’m sorry.”

I furrowed my brow, refusing to understand. “You’re sorry? For what? What’s going on?”

“You were right. We work together. Nothing should have happened between us.”

It felt like someone had backhanded me across the face. “What?”

He looked down at me again, his eyes meeting mine, yet I felt like he still couldn’t see me. Why did he look so lost?

“I hope you’ll stay on. Josh thinks very highly of your work.”

“Is this a joke? What happened? I don’t understand.”

Chase’s expression went from blank to hurt, and I suddenly wanted to see more of that on his face. I felt used and insignificant. Ashamed. And I hated that he’d made me feel like that. It was him who should be ashamed at how he was acting.

He hung his head, not facing me—like a coward. “I’m sorry.”

“You’re sorry? I don’t even understand whatever it is you’re sorry for.”

“I’m not the right man for you.”

I took a step closer, forcing him to look at me. “You know what? You’re right. Because the right man for me would have the balls to at least give me the truth. I have no idea what happened, but I don’t deserve this.”

I saw a flash of something in his eyes, and for a half of a second, it looked like he was going to reach out to me. But he didn’t. Instead, he took a full step back, almost as if he needed distance to keep himself from touching me.

I began to turn around—wanting to get the hell out of there so I could disappear with some shred of my dignity intact—but then turned back.

“You know the worst part of this? You were the first person who’d made me feel safe since I was a kid.”

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