“Sweetie, what is going on with you and Tate?” Joss asked, concern creasing her forehead. “We’ve discussed this so many times and yet I keep getting the feeling that you aren’t telling us the whole truth. That you’re holding back at least a part of what you’re feeling and experiencing. Are you still worried he’s cheating on you?”

Chessy sucked in her breath. The very thought, however fleeting it may be, that Tate would ever cheat on her filled her with such agony that she couldn’t dwell on it for the pain it caused her. She truly regretted that moment of weakness when she’d shared that fear with her best friends, no matter how little she truly believed it.

“I know he loves me,” Chessy said firmly. “I know he wouldn’t cheat. He has too much honor. If he wanted another woman, I know he’d be forthright with me and just ask for a divorce.”

God, the word divorce sent waves of agony through her heart and soul even though she knew it wouldn’t come to that. But panic quaked through her at the very idea of her marriage truly ending. It wasn’t a thought she could even linger over because of the devastation it caused her.

“But love isn’t about causing pain for the person you care about,” Kylie quietly inserted.

Lord knew Kylie recently had become very acquainted with pain and love and her own brush with the end of a relationship. If she hadn’t kicked Jensen’s ass for ending things with Kylie “for her own good” they’d probably still be apart and absolutely miserable without one another.

“He doesn’t know he’s hurting me because I haven’t told him,” Chessy said softly. “That’s on me. He can’t be expected to fix something if he doesn’t know the problem or the solution. I admit I’m being a coward. A part of me wants to just beg him to stop focusing on business, tell him that I don’t care about having a lot of money in the bank, while the other part of me thinks that if I just suck it up and ride it out a little longer things will resolve themselves and I’ll have my husband back and everything will go back to the way it used to be.”

Joss and Kylie both sighed in resignation. It wasn’t as if they hadn’t discussed this subject a half a dozen times already. Chessy knew that neither agreed with her thinking or approach to the problem but they loved her and supported her unconditionally. And for that she loved them beyond reason.

Part of her recognized that they had a right to be frustrated with her. They listened to her whine about a problem she herself wasn’t willing to address, much less try to fix. Chessy knew she had her head firmly in the sand and was in denial over the state of her marriage, but to even contemplate any other alternative meant she had to admit that her marriage was in trouble. And she wasn’t prepared to do that. Yet.

“Our anniversary is this Friday,” Chessy said, purposely brightening her tone in an effort to relieve the somber turn of the conversation. “Tate has promised me an intimate dinner at the restaurant where we always have our anniversary dinner. No cell phones. No business. He plans to take off early and he said the entire weekend is ours. And,” she said, drawing out the word, “he says he has very distinct plans for after dinner, so I can hardly wait. I think having this, one weekend where it’s just us, will do wonders for my insecurities and silliness. I never should have let it get to this point. I recognize that I’m at fault for not communicating better with Tate, for not telling him of my unhappiness. But this weekend, when it’s just the two of us and our focus is solely on us, I absolutely plan to talk to him about … everything.”

Kylie and Joss both wore identical looks of relief.

“That’s wonderful, sweetie,” Joss said.

“I’m so glad you’re taking this step,” Kylie said. “I agree with you. A weekend with just the two of you is probably exactly what you need to feel better about everything. And talking to him and opening up about the way you’ve been feeling is a huge step in the right direction. I can’t imagine Tate not moving heaven and earth to make you happy again. But as you said yourself, he has to know about the problem if he’s going to be able to fix it.”

Chessy smiled, her heart lightening and some of the ache slipping away as she soaked in the healing balm of her girlfriends’ unfettered, unconditional love. God only knew Chessy was usually the one freely dispensing advice and threatening to kick Joss and Kylie’s asses over certain matters when it came to their happiness. It made her a flaming hypocrite that she wasn’t taking a dose of the same medicine she dished out to her friends. And that she was quick to tell them what they should do but then shrugged off their advice. Sound advice to boot.

Ah well, no more. She was resolving to have the best anniversary weekend ever. She and Tate would rediscover the love she knew they still shared. They’d spend a wonderful weekend together loving and laughing and she would talk to him about her growing unhappiness. It was time for her to stop being a spineless guppy and take a stand when it came to her own life and relationship with a man she loved with all her heart and soul.


THAT Friday, Chessy sat at the table Tate had reserved at the restaurant for their anniversary dinner, resisting the urge to look at her watch. There were a million reasons Tate could be late. Traffic. Difficulty in breaking free from work. She didn’t mind any of it as long as he showed up and their weekend began, just as he’d promised her.

In the beginning of their five-year marriage, Tate had always gone the extra mile to make it a special day for her. One year, they’d eaten here and then he’d taken her home, told her to pack a bag, that they were going to the Bora Bora for an entire week.