She still smiled over the memory of that. Her bubbly excitement over Tate arranging such a wonderful surprise for her. He’d taken her on a reenactment of their honeymoon. Same bungalow set out over the water. Same honeymoon bed. They’d spent most of that entire week in bed, only venturing out to eat or to play in the water.
But in the last two years there’d been no time for such frivolities. They still ate at the same restaurant, but on Monday morning it had been off to work for him as usual.
She glanced at her watch again, breathing a small sigh of relief. He wasn’t late. She was merely a few minutes early. Deciding she’d take a quick trip to the ladies room to double check her appearance, she rose and hurried to the bathroom.
She’d paid extra attention to her makeup and hair and had donned a sexy, slinky dress she knew would get a rise out of Tate. With any luck he wouldn’t be able to take his eyes off her during the entire meal and his gaze would smolder with all the things he’d do to her once they arrived home.
She shivered in delight as she retouched her lip gloss and patted her upswept hair. Little curly tendrils floated carelessly down her neck and against her cheek. She knew without false modesty that she looked her absolute best.
Hoping that Tate would be at the table when she returned, she closed her clutch and rushed back, her heart sinking when she saw his chair still unoccupied. She slowly retook her seat, scanning the interior to see if he was arriving.
She’d just let out a heavy sigh when her cell phone vibrated. Hoping it was Tate, she opened her clutch and lunged for it. As she glanced at the incoming name she saw it was indeed Tate.
“Tate? Where are you?” she asked breathlessly, trying to keep an accusing note from her voice.
“I’m sorry, my girl.” His deep-timbered voice slid like silk over her ears and she got a delicious thrill every time he called her “my girl.” “I just got caught up in a last-minute client call but I’m on my way out the door. Give me twenty depending on traffic and I’ll meet you there. If you like go ahead and order for us. You know my preference. By the time the food is served, I’ll be there.”
Chessy couldn’t help the frown that curved her lips downward. That wasn’t the way things worked in their relationship. Not at all. Tate was her Dominant. Not just her Dominant but her lover, her husband, the man she adored—and trusted—with all her heart.
He always made the decisions. He always ordered her food. Her heart gave a guilty twinge. She was acting like a petulant, pouty two-year-old. He merely didn’t want to hold up their dinner, but still, there was a small part of her that registered that lately, with recurring frequency, he’d drifted away from the dominance he’d always held over her. More and more she was forced to act on her own. Make the decisions that Tate always made.
It sounded silly to anyone looking in from the outside. Like she wasn’t capable of making her own decisions and was some helpless twit, lost without her husband. But she willingly ceded power to Tate in their relationship. He made her feel safe. Cherished. Utterly adored because he took care of her every need. Or at least he used to.
Their relationship—their lifestyle—was her choice. Perhaps the biggest choice of her life. She was an intelligent, smart woman. She had no reservations when it came to knowing what she was capable of. But she chose to give up power to her Dominant, and submissiveness wasn’t for the weak. Not at all. She knew she wielded every bit as much power in her marriage to Tate as he did. Just in a different way.
“I’ll take care of it,” she said softly. “Drive safe. I can’t wait to see you so we can kick off our anniversary and have an entire weekend to ourselves. It’s been so long, Tate. I can’t tell you how much I need this. How much I need you.”
There was a lengthy pause and she cursed herself for already putting a damper on the evening before it ever began. It was as if he had no idea what to say in response to what amounted to a plea.
“I love you. See you in a minute,” she said brightly, to cover up the awkwardness caused by her passionate, needy sounding outburst. And, well, the words were truth. She did need him. She needed her husband back, even if it was only for one weekend before things went back to the same day-to-day routine.
“I love my girl too,” he said gruffly. “Be there as quick as I can.”
When she ended the call, her stomach felt as though it had lead in it. And she didn’t understand why. He was only going to be twenty minutes late. Thank God he was making it at all. When the phone had vibrated, she’d fully expected him to tell her he couldn’t make it. That something had come up and he was cancelling. On their anniversary of all nights.
Was this what their marriage had come to? Her always expecting the worst? But in her defense, that’s precisely what she’d gotten over the last two years. Ever since his partner had bowed out and Tate had to take over the entire client load, Tate had been determined to step up and not lose a single client.
To date, he’d only lost one and he wanted to keep it that way. Which meant being called out at all hours of the day. Clients wanting to meet with him. Or calling him in panic after a bad day in the stock market. It seemed to never end.
In the beginning, Tate had wanted Chessy to accompany him to his dinners with his clients. Had wanted her to play the consummate hostess. They’d even had small dinner parties at their house that Chessy had arranged with Joss’s help since Joss was such an amazing cook.
But lately? He hadn’t asked her to accompany him for anything. He’d made an offhand remark that it was becoming too much for her and that he didn’t want his job to consume them both. At the time Chessy had taken it as a sign of his caring. That he wanted to take care of her and not put her in high-pressure situations. But marriage was all about partnership, wasn’t it?