She stared woodenly through the windshield as Tate carefully disengaged the keys from her hand and then closed her door. In a matter of seconds he was in the driver’s seat starting the engine, almost as if he were afraid she’d leap from the car. And she’d given it serious consideration, but then she’d have to figure out a way home, which meant having the restaurant call her a cab, or she could call Joss or Kylie. Either would come at a moment’s notice.

But then she would be faced with the humiliating fact that her best friends would know her anniversary had been a complete disaster. Hell, for that matter they may have suspected it would be a cluster f**k from the very start. It wasn’t as if they hadn’t expressed enough concern over Chessy’s faltering relationship with her husband.

Tate pulled out of the parking lot.

“Please don’t cry, Chessy,” he said softly. “I’m so damn sorry. Time got away from me.”

“Who was she?” Chessy asked coldly, ignoring his words and his apology. Words meant nothing at this point. Actions spoke far more clearly than words, and his actions had been reprehensible in her mind.

Tate gave her a startled look. “She’s a potential client. A very important potential client, one I’d like to get on board as quickly as possible. She wanted to meet face-to-face, and I arranged to meet her at the bar of the restaurant so that when we finished I could have dinner with you.”

“Yes, well, dinner was delivered and perfectly cold and you were an hour late,” Chessy said in an icy tone.

“What’s going on with my girl?” Tate asked softly. “You’ve been different lately.”

She gave him her best “duh” look and then pinned him with a piercing stare. “Wow. Observant of you, Tate. I’ve been different for an entire year and you just now notice? At a time you missed our anniversary dinner because you were schmoozing some rich floozy in the bar of the restaurant we were supposed to have dinner in. Think about that for a moment, Tate, and imagine if the roles were reversed and you were sitting there over cold entrees and then you saw me in the bar of the same restaurant with another man.”

His gaze grew hard and he nearly growled. “I’ll never let another man touch you unless I command it.”

Chessy wanted to weep at what they’d lost. That he’d bring up a kink they both enjoyed and hadn’t participated in for two years. Two long years. And in the last year, he’d given up any semblance of dominance. It was like an alien had invaded his body and her Tate was gone.

“I’m not happy,” she said, finally getting to the heart of the matter. “I haven’t been happy for a long time.”

Tate looked shocked. Genuinely and utterly shocked. “What are you saying?” he asked hoarsely. “Are you telling me you want out of our marriage?”

He looked so horrified that for a brief moment she had hope, but then she remembered all the missed dates, him leaving early at gatherings of their friends because someone had called. And he’d missed his anniversary dinner because he was wining and courting a potential client.

Potential client her ass. That woman was on the prowl and Chessy damn well knew it. She was a woman and she clearly recognized the signals the woman was giving off. And Tate had done nothing to ward her off. Hadn’t avoid her touch. Tate would lose his shit if another man took such liberties with her unless Tate commanded him to do so. To pleasure her while he watched. Always in control. She couldn’t even remember the last time they’d been to The House.

The House was a place where people could indulge in any hedonistic fantasy. No judgment. No condemnation. Damon Roche, a very wealthy businessman, owned The House and he was very discerning when it came to membership. Hell, for all Chessy knew their membership had expired or they’d been taken off the guest list since they hadn’t been in two years.

She took in a deep breath. Damn it, this was not how she’d envisioned having this talk with Tate. She’d wanted to have a wonderful anniversary dinner followed by a night of lovemaking. At this point she wouldn’t have even cared if it involved dominance. She just wanted that intimate connection to her husband back.

And then, after a wonderful weekend, with no cell phones, business shit or anything else, she’d wanted to very carefully broach the subject of her growing unhappiness.

Damn him for forcing her hand after the debacle that was their anniversary.

“I don’t want out of our marriage, Tate. I want our marriage to change,” she said firmly, proud that she was able to lay it out without faltering or breaking down into tears.

Tate gave her another look filled with utter confusion and then swore when he nearly veered into the other lane. He yanked the wheel, righting them and avoiding a collision—barely.

“Just drive,” she said wearily. “This isn’t something we should be discussing in a damn car. We’ll talk about it when we get home.”

She wanted to weep over the fact that she was giving all the commands. She was issuing the orders. This wasn’t the way their relationship was supposed to work and yet he was forcing her to take control. She could positively feel the power shift in their relationship and it wasn’t something that gave her any satisfaction.


TATE pulled into the driveway of their house that was in an exclusive gated community in a suburb of Houston. He glanced sideways at Chessy, something he’d been doing all the way home despite her short directive to just drive and they’d talk later.