“You know how she gets when you don’t keep in touch,” she said.

“Tell her I’ll be over Sunday for dinner, and kiss Camden for me.”

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“I will. He misses you, Connor,” she spoke softly.

“I miss him as well, and tell him that I’ll see him on Sunday. I’ll come early, and we can take him for a walk along the trail.”

“He’ll love that. I’ll see you Sunday, Connor.”

“Bye, Cass. Take care.”

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I miss my family. I don’t see them as much as I should, and it’s my fault. They would love Ellery.

It’s too bad they won’t get to meet her anytime soon. The emptiness in my heart and the silence of my soul is too much to bear. I decided to stop by Ellery’s apartment before going home just to----hell, I don’t know why, but before I knew it, I was parked across the street from her place. Her curtains were closed, but I could see a small stream of light coming from the sides. I could see a shadow of someone sitting in the corner. I know that’s where she keeps her easel. I bet she’s painting. I slowly pulled away and headed home.

I arrived at the penthouse and headed straight to the bar. I poured myself a scotch and sat down with my laptop on the couch. I opened up my email, and the first one I saw, sitting on top, was one from Ellery. I took in a deep breath and prepared myself for the hate words she probably said. I wouldn’t blame her after what I did to her.

Dear Connor, I hope you’re reading this and didn’t delete it before you opened it when you saw my name. If you are, then you’ll see this is my heartfelt apology to you. Words cannot explain how sorry I am for not telling you about my illness from the start. I never meant for us to get as close as we did for that very reason. The night I took you home, I had every intention of leaving and never looking back; if I had, we wouldn’t have met, and you wouldn’t be hurting right now. I will never forgive myself for not telling you the truth. I believe in fate, and it was fate that brought us together. I told you I was saved for a reason, and I think it was to save you. You have a beautiful heart and soul, and you don’t deserve to never love someone. You will never know what you’ve done for me, and how you’ve changed my life. I never would have experienced love the way I have with you, because what you showed me, and how you made me feel, was a first for me in my lifetime. I never loved Kyle. I was with him because he was there, and I was afraid of being alone. Loneliness is what my whole life was made of. My decision to not receive treatment at the time was out of pure selfishness on my part, and I’ve come to understand that now. I want to thank you for your love and kindness. If I had one last breath left, I would use it to tell you how much I love you, because I do, and I always will.

Love forever, Ellery I closed my eyes, and my heart just shattered even more than it already was. My eyes started to sting with tears as I got up and threw my glass at the wall. I paced back and forth across the room, running my hands through my hair. I’m so angry and that email made it worse, because after everything I did and said to her, she still loves me. All she had to do was tell me from the start. Why the f**k didn’t she tell me?! I screamed. She said not getting treatment was selfish on her part. I wonder if she’s going to start treatments. I looked at my watch, and it was too late to call Peyton, so I sent her a text message.

“Peyton, has Ellery decided to start treatments?”

“I don’t want to get in the middle of this between the two of you, but yes, she has an appointment with the doctor tomorrow morning.”

“Thank you, Peyton.”

“No problem, Connor.”

I poured myself another scotch and headed upstairs to bed. I laid there and scrolled through the pictures of Ellery that I took at the seafood restaurant. We were so happy that day. As I was scrolling through the pictures, I came across one that Ellery took of the two us in the Range Rover. The only thing I could see in that picture was her dancing blue eyes and that smile. Damn that smile. It gets me every time. I reached over to the nightstand and grabbed the bottle of sleeping pills. I took one and laid back. The only thing in my head at the moment was the email she sent me. I couldn’t stop thinking about her words, and how much pain was in them. She was hurting just as bad as I was, and I want so badly to talk to her and forgive her, but it’s too soon. I need time to process everything and figure out what to do. If I don’t take time and just rush back to her, things aren’t going to work out. I closed my eyes and tried to shut down my brain. Eventually, I fell asleep.

I spent the next week doing nothing but working. I’d go into the office at 6:00 am and not leave until 11:00 pm. The acquisition of the Chicago building was getting close, and there was still a lot of work and negotiating to be done. As promised, I spent the day with my family. Cassidy and I took Camden for a walk down the nature trail. The leaves were starting to change and fall from the trees. It was beautiful at this time of the year, and it felt good to spend some time at the place I grew up. However, even being surrounded by family couldn’t ease the pain in my heart. Cassidy could tell something was wrong, and she wouldn’t stop asking. I told her it was work related and not to worry. She told me I needed to find myself a great girl who will take me away from all the stresses of Black Enterprises. I smiled because I wanted to tell her about the time I spent with Ellery, but then I would have to explain the horrific details of what happened, and I wasn’t about to go there. After a good family dinner, a good football game, and some great conversation, it was time for me to head home.

The next morning, I decided to leave the office and go to lunch at a deli that was down a couple of blocks. I pulled out my phone to check the time of my afternoon meeting as I collided with someone.

We both looked at each other at the same time, and I gasped when I saw it was Ellery. My heart started racing as I lightly grabbed her arm because she almost fell over.

“Connor, I’m sorry; I didn’t mean…” she softly spoke as she wouldn’t even look at me.

“No, it’s my fault. I should have been paying more attention,” I said.

We stood in front of each other awkwardly and then she pulled away and said she had to go. I stood there and watched her turn the corner as fast as she could. My heart felt like it was in my throat, and the pain I felt intensified even more. I missed her so much, and running into her and touching her arm only made it worse. I spent the rest of the day reliving our little collision and the look on her face when she saw it was me.

I was sitting in my office, scrolling through pictures, when Denny called.

“What’s up, Denny?”

“I thought you’d want to know that Ellery will be starting chemotherapy in a couple of days.”

“What time?” I asked.

“9:00 am,” Denny replied.

“Thank you, Denny. I’ll need you to drive me. I’ll see you later.”

I wasn’t about to let Ellery go through chemo alone. I was still angry at her for not telling me about the cancer coming back, but I love her, and I can’t forget about her. She needs someone to help her and to be there for her, so I made a promise to myself that I would be the one, no matter the consequences. I was in deep thought when Ashlyn messaged me.

“Connor, Howie wants me to stay for another two weeks. Please tell him no. I want to come back to New York.”

“Sorry, Ashlyn, but if that’s what Howie wants, then you have to do it. It’s part of the job, and if you refuse, then I’m afraid you won’t be able to work for Black Enterprises anymore.”

“I hate you, Connor Black.”

I didn’t even respond to that because I was hoping she meant it. But I know she didn’t because it isn’t the first time she said it. I put my phone down on the desk and moved some stuff around so I could be with Ellery during her treatment. It’s going to be hard on both of us.

I called the hospital and got the name and number of a good homecare nurse. After speaking with her for 30 minutes, I decided she was good enough for Ellery. She came highly recommended, and I offered her a great deal of money to become Ellery’s private nurse. I arranged for her to pay daily visits to her and take care of her. I also made arrangements to be available on the days of her chemo treatments so I can take her to and from the hospital. I looked at my watch, and it was already after 10:00 pm. I shut down my computer, locked up my office, and headed home.

Chapter 16

Today is Ellery’s first chemotherapy treatment. I got up, showered, got dressed, and headed to the kitchen for coffee. Denny was already sitting at the table, eating the breakfast Claire had made.

“Good morning, Connor. Can I make you some breakfast?” Claire asked.

“Good morning, Claire. I’m just going to have some coffee,” I replied.

I sat down at the table across from Denny as Claire brought me a cup of coffee and a plate with banana bread on it. I looked up at her and smiled.

“I made it at home last night, and I know how much you love it,” she smiled.

I got up and gave her a kiss on the cheek. “Thank you, Claire. As always, I appreciate you taking care of me.”

Denny looked at me intently. “Are you ready to see her?” he asked.

“I don’t know,” I answered as I took a sip of coffee. “I don’t know how she’s going to react when she sees me.”

“Well it’s going to be a bit awkward since the two of you haven’t spoken since the day you left her.”

I looked at him as I took a bite of banana bread. “Do you really need to keep bringing that up?”

“I’m just saying that maybe you should have called her before today. You’re just going to show up unexpected, and she’s probably going to kick you in the balls,” Denny said.

“Nice, Denny. Thanks for the vote of confidence, and I don’t think she’d do that.”

“Have you met Ellery Lane?” Denny laughed.

I rolled my eyes and got up from the table. I put my cup and plate in the dishwasher, then looked at my watch. It was 8:30 am, and Ellery’s chemo begins in 30 minutes.

I climbed into the limo, and Denny drove me to the hospital.

“Good luck, Connor,” Denny said.

“Thanks, Denny; I’m going to need it,” I said as I climbed out of the backseat.

I walked into the hospital and followed the signs to the cancer treatment center. I stepped through the doors of a large waiting room. The receptionist asked if she could help me, and I told her I was here for Ellery. A nurse was standing there looking over a chart and overheard me.

“You’re here for Ellery Lane?” She asked.

“Yes, I’m Connor Black.”

She looked at me and tilted her head. “She said that nobody was going to be here with her.”

I pursed my lips together, “She isn’t expecting me.”

“Are you the husband, friend, or boyfriend?” she asked.

“It’s complicated, but I’m her friend,” I replied.

She smiled and waved her hand for me to follow her down the long hallway. We approached a large room that was filled with oversized chairs, IV poles, and curtains. She took me to the fourth chair and opened the curtain.

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