She got up, moving away from him to dress. She yanked on her clothing without care and then glanced down in disgust at the formfitting dress.

“I’m ready to go,” she said.


“Chess, are you sure I don’t need to take you to the hospital?” Tate asked uneasily. “How badly did he hurt you?”

Her gaze found his and she stared unflinchingly at him. “Not nearly as much as you have.”


THE ride home was silent and tense. Chessy leaned against the passenger door, her forehead pressed to the glass as she stared sightlessly at the passing streetlights. She was strangely numb. She felt empty and desolate but couldn’t summon any emotion. No anger, no sorrow. Just … nothing.

Her marriage was over. As far as she was concerned, Tate had crossed a line he could never erase. While such knowledge would have devastated her twenty-four hours ago, right now she couldn’t bring herself to feel anything but resignation.

She could feel him looking her way, but she didn’t acknowledge him. Instead she pretended he wasn’t even there, already making plans for a future that didn’t include him.

When they finally pulled into their drive, she opened her door before the car came to a full stop and she got out, the concrete tearing her stockings at the feet. She hadn’t brought her keys so she had to wait for Tate to unlock the front door, but as soon as he accomplished that, she pushed past him in a direct path to their bedroom.

Wasting no time, she went to her closet and hauled out one of her large suitcases, flinging it onto the bed to unzip it.

“Chessy, what the hell are you doing?” Tate demanded from the doorway.

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She ignored him and went back to her closet to yank clothing from hangers, returning to dump them into the suitcase without bothering to arrange them in any way.

His hand closed around her wrist and she froze when he prompted her to look up at him and meet his gaze. His features were gray, deep grooves lining his forehead. Sorrow and regret swamped his eyes. He looked tortured.

Not her problem.

She wrested her hand from his grip and took a step back, her tone as frigid as an Artic wind.

“Do not touch me.”

He took an immediate step back and when she went to her dresser for underwear and bras he repeated his earlier question.

“What the hell are you doing? Where do you think you’re going?”

She paused, her hands full of her intimate things. Then she turned and stared him down until unease crept into his eyes.

“I’m leaving,” she said simply. “I would think that much is obvious. But if you need me to spell it out for you, I’m packing my clothes and then I’m getting in my car and then I’m getting the hell away from you.”

He flinched, his features going pale. “Chessy, please don’t go. I know you’re angry. God, you certainly have the right to be. But please don’t leave when you’re so upset. I’ll go. This is your house. I’ll get a hotel and come back tomorrow when we can talk this out.”

“Exactly what are we going to talk out, Tate? The fact that you lied to me? That you made me promises that once again you didn’t keep? Or maybe the fact that you took a phone call when your wife was helpless to defend herself against a man you chose and were supposed to have been guiding every step of the way. Let me make myself perfectly clear. There isn’t a single thing you have to say that I care to hear. There’s no going back. No forgetting what happened. No way to undo what’s already been done. You made your choice and it damn sure wasn’t me.”

Tate sank onto the edge of the bed, his head bowed. His hands shook visibly and his shoulders heaved as he struggled with his emotions. Chessy tossed the rest of her clothing into the suitcase, only wanting to get it done so she could get the hell out before she broke down and completely lost it.

She grabbed an oversized bag from underneath the bathroom sink and quickly emptied the drawers of all her toiletries and then decided that whatever she didn’t get she’d return for at a later time. Preferably when Tate wasn’t here. His precious clients could keep him company from now on. She was done waiting around for every crumb of attention he threw her way.

After dropping the toiletry bag by the bed, she closed her suitcase and zipped it up. Tate hadn’t moved, seemingly frozen and in shock that she was leaving. It didn’t surprise her. Their relationship was a study in her giving and him taking. Of her never bucking his authority. Always ceding to his wishes and control.

That was all coming to a screeching halt starting tonight.

“At least let me drive you to where you’re going,” Tate said in a low voice. “I’m worried about you driving, Chessy. At least give me that. I want to make sure you’re safe.”

She gave him a scornful look and then shook her head. “That’s a laugh. You want to make sure I’m safe. Forgive my amusement over the flaming hypocrisy of that statement.”

Tate closed his eyes and let out a sigh. “I deserve your anger. I deserve whatever you dish out, but God, please, Chessy. Stay so we can work it out. Don’t leave. I love you.”

“I believe you love me,” Chessy said honestly. “You just don’t love me enough and you don’t love me as much as I love you. I suppose I would have settled for that once. But not any longer. I deserve better.”

She yanked the suitcase off the bed and slung the toiletry bag over her shoulder before heading out of the bedroom, Tate on her heels. She wished he’d just let her go. There was little point in trying to change her mind. He should know her well enough to realize the futility of dissuading her when she was set on something.