“You won’t ever have to do it alone, Chessy,” Jensen said in a determined voice. “You were there for Kylie when I was a dumbass. You were there for Joss when Dash was a dumbass. So now Tate is the one being the dumbass. It all turned out well for Joss and Kylie so maybe there’s hope yet for Tate.”

Chessy attempted a smile but failed miserably. Compared to Tate’s “fuck-up,” Dash and Jensen’s paled in comparison. There was never any doubt in Chessy’s mind that the two men adored their women, and even when they pulled their stupid male moves, she’d known that it would turn out just fine in the end.

Before the night at The House, Chessy had felt optimistic about her future with Tate. She’d truly believed that they’d incurred a minor hiccup on the way to happily ever after. But when a husband turned his back on his wife when she was at her most vulnerable to take an after-hours business call, what else was she to think other than that their marriage was well and truly over?

TWENTY-TWO

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TRUE to Kylie’s word, Joss was waiting at Jensen’s house for her. As soon as they pulled up, Joss got out of her car and rushed over to Chessy’s side of the car, pulling her into a ferocious hug the minute Chessy stepped out.

“Oh Chessy, I’m so sorry,” Joss said, tears thick in her voice. “When Kylie told me what happened, I couldn’t believe it. I want to kick Tate’s stupid ass!”

Despite her misery, Chessy couldn’t help but smile at Joss’s vehemence. Her heart squeezed with love for her two best friends.

“I love you,” Chessy said sincerely. “Thank you for coming. I hate to burden you when you’re so miserable with morning sickness.”

Joss scowled, her brow furrowing in disapproval. “If you weren’t already down and out I’d kick your ass for saying that. I will always be here when you need me. God knows you’ve been there for me countless times.”

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They all turned when they heard a car pull up.

“There’s Dash now,” Joss said. “I called him when Kylie texted me to say you were on your way and he left work to meet us here.”

Chessy sighed. She knew it was inevitable that her entire group of friends would learn of the demise of her marriage, but being confronted by everyone at once was overwhelming.

Dash got out, a deep scowl on his face as he strode toward Chessy and Joss. Not even bothering to greet his wife first, he immediately pulled Chessy into a fierce hug, squeezing her against his muscular frame.

“I’m going to kill the bastard for this,” Dash said darkly.

“Not if I kill him first,” Jensen muttered.

Dash pulled away and gently pushed a strand of Chessy’s hair behind her ear. “Are you okay, honey? Is there anything I can do?”

“I’m okay,” Chessy said quietly. “Kylie and Jensen have taken good care of me and Kylie let me cry all over her earlier. At this point I’m out of tears and if I cry one more time I think my head may explode.”

Sympathy darkened Dash’s eyes. “I’m so sorry this happened. I wish Tate would have pulled his head out of his ass a hell of a lot earlier. There’s no excuse for what he did.”

“I know,” she said sadly. “Leaving him was the hardest thing I’ve ever done, but I couldn’t stay. He made a choice last night and it wasn’t me. If there was any hope for our marriage before, it died a quick death then. It made me realize I took too long to accept that our relationship was doomed.”

“Oh sweetie,” Joss said, wrapping her arm around Chessy’s waist. “I’m so very sorry. I don’t even know what to say to make you feel better.”

“There’s not much you could say at this point,” Chessy said wryly. “How’s the saying go? Time heals all wounds? I guess I have to hope that’s true in my case. But I really wish I could press a Fast Forward button and jump to the part when everything is okay again.”

“Come on inside, ladies,” Jensen said. “We’re standing outside where the whole neighborhood can see us. Dash and I will cook dinner while you girls relax in the living room. I’ll open a bottle of wine, or something stronger if you prefer, and you’re perfectly welcome to get as shit-faced as you like. Well, except you, Joss,” he added with a grin. “Don’t want to get the baby drunk!”

Joss and Kylie flanked Chessy, each wrapping an arm around her waist as they herded her toward the door. Once inside, they deposited Chessy on the sofa while Jensen and Dash headed for the kitchen to begin supper preparation.

True to his word, Jensen popped open a bottle of wine and poured glasses for Kylie and Chessy and then set the bottle on the coffee table with another unopened bottle in reach.

“Guess he expects us to imbibe a lot,” Kylie said dryly.

“I’ll drink enough for me and you, Joss,” Chessy muttered. “Just keep pouring.”

Joss reached for Chessy’s free hand—the one not holding the wineglass. “Have you thought about what you’re going to do? You know you’re welcome at my house any time. You can stay as long as you want. We certainly have the room.”

“I don’t know,” Chessy said helplessly. “I stood in my house just earlier and thought about how weak and dependent I’ve become. I have a degree and job experience but used neither in the five years I’ve been married to Tate. I have no means of supporting myself, which is so incredibly stupid I can’t even begin to go there. I have to be the poorest example of womanhood on the planet. The thing is I’d be the first one to advise a woman to make sure she can stand on her own two feet and to never depend completely on a man. And yet I gave up everything because I thought it was so sweet and romantic that Tate wanted to take care of me. I was so caught up in the lifestyle we led that I never considered that I’d need to be self-sufficient. Not only does it make me hopelessly naïve, but it makes me the dumbest woman on earth.”

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