She sat, feeling conspicuous because the food was in front of her, the smell wafting tantalizingly through her nostrils. Where was Tate?
She pulled out her phone, checking for texts since she’d silenced it once she entered the restaurant. She could very well have missed the vibration signaling an incoming call or text.
There was nothing. Taking a deep breath, she dialed his number and waited as it rang. She frowned when he didn’t immediately pick up. Then her gut clenched when it went to voice mail.
Had something horrible happened? Had he been in an accident? He never let her calls go to voice mail. Not that she called him much during the day. She knew how busy he was and she didn’t want to appear clingy or needy. Even if she was just that. Needing. She needed her husband back.
Her anxiety level reached epic proportions while she watched the food grow colder as more time passed. She should just eat. Let him eat alone if and when he got there. She refused to believe that he could be hurt somewhere, needing help, and she was here waiting for him.
When an hour passed, the waiter hovered, obviously waiting for her to vacate. This was a popular restaurant and they were always full on reservations. An hour was more than enough time to eat and even enjoy dessert and yet her husband wasn’t here and two plates of food, wasted, sat in front of her and her stomach was too tied up in knots to even take one bite. She feared if she even tasted the entrée that she’d have to bolt for the bathroom and heave into the toilet.
Tears stung her eyes. Worry warred with anger. The only excuse for being over an hour late when he had said twenty minutes at the most was that he had been in an accident or something equally horrible.
She dug into her clutch, counting out the cash she had, praying she had enough. She didn’t have time nor did she want to wait on the waiter to collect her credit card and have to spend precious minutes swiping and then signing the bill.
To her relief she had the cash and even enough for a tip, though the waiter had done little but deliver their food. Uneaten food. She tossed the cash down on the table and strode rapidly to the door, tears pooling in her eyes at Tate’s betrayal.
Then she felt guilty because he could have been in an accident. He could be in a hospital somewhere, but why wouldn’t she have received a call?
She nearly tripped when the elegant carpet turned into slick marble that led past the upscale bar and to the exit. She was almost to the door when something caught her attention out of the corner of her eye.
She stopped in absolute shock, her mouth open as she stared—at Tate. In the bar with a woman, having a drink and smiling broadly at her. And the woman was stunning. Tall, thin, elegant. Obviously of money, and she was touching Chessy’s husband, her hand lightly resting on his arm in a distinctly intimate fashion.
God, he was with a woman in the same restaurant that he was supposed to be having his anniversary dinner with his wife. How dare he flaunt this woman in this restaurant, their restaurant.
Tears flooded her eyes. She was about to turn to flee when Tate looked up, his expression one of shock. Not guilt. It was remorse. She could see him curse, his lips moving as he picked up his wrist to check his watch.
Then he started toward her and she finally made her legs move, momentarily paralyzed by grief and humiliation. She all but ran for the exit, not caring that she’d taken a taxi to the restaurant because she’d planned to ride home with Tate. She had a set of his keys. He could walk for all she cared.
Fury enveloped her even as tears poured down her face, clouding her vision. She hit the parking lot at a dead run, bolting past the attendant. She could see his Escalade in the roped-off area of the valet parking.
She flinched when Tate roared her name. But she kept running, thanking God she’d worn a strappy pair of sandals instead of high heels or she’d make an ass of herself and face-plant right in the parking lot.
“Chessy! Godamnit, stop! You can’t drive in your condition. Please, just stop and listen to me, please!”
Chessy made it to his vehicle, hitting the automatic door unlock on the key chain. She made it to the door and flung it open, only to have Tate grab the door and reach for her arm.
She whirled, tears streaming down her face. Tate always hated to see her cry. In the past it would have slayed him to ever see her cry. But tonight he looked desperate, and sincere regret lined his face. But at this point, it was too late for regret. He’d pushed her to her limit and there was no going back. She was done.
“Get away from me,” she choked out.
She’d never given orders to Tate. Ever. That was his role. She was the submissive. He was the Dominant. But now she felt the stirrings of a power exchange. She was taking charge and to hell with what he wanted.
She tried to slide into the driver’s seat but Tate pulled her out, cradling her carefully in his arms, as if he expected her to fight. But she had enough pride that she wasn’t going to cause more of a scene in a public parking lot than she already had. She went stiff as a board, refusing to meet his gaze as he walked around to the passenger side and deposited her into the seat, pulling the seat belt over her and securing it with quick, brusque movements. Then he looked her directly in the eyes, his gaze hard and unyielding. A look she would have died for, one she’d craved for such a long time. Why did he have to finally haul out his dominance when he’d royally f**ked up and she no longer cared?
“Don’t you dare move,” he growled.
Usually such a tone would have Chessy quivering in anticipation. It was a tone he used when he was commanding her. Owning her. Using her body as his own. His possession. To do with as he liked. But now? She was just pissed enough to tell him to shove it up his ass.