“I feel … numb,” Chessy said in a confused voice. “Like it really hasn’t sunk in. I woke up and thought I was at home and I automatically reached for Tate.”

“That’s understandable,” Kylie soothed.

Kylie set a steaming mug of coffee in front of Chessy but all she did was wrap her hands around the cup as though trying to infuse some of the warmth into her body.

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“What time is it anyway?” Chessy asked wearily.

“It’s almost ten,” Jensen supplied. “Kylie is going to go call Joss and then we’ll head over to your house so you can get what you need.”

Chessy nodded, tears brimming in her eyes. “What am I going to do? I was completely dependent on Tate. It was what he wanted. He never wanted me to work. He insisted that he take care of me financially. And what did that get me? Now I have no husband, no house, no money.” She buried her face in her hands, her shoulders heaving.

Kylie sent Jensen an anxious look, unsure of what to do to comfort her friend. Jensen merely shook his head and put a finger to his lips.

Jensen moved in close to Kylie and whispered near to her ear so Chessy didn’t hear.

“Just give her time. She’s going to be upset for a few days. Just be there for her and let her cry on your shoulder. Then we’ll figure out what she’s going to do. If she and Tate divorce, she gets half of everything so she’ll be financially secure.”

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Kylie flinched. Chessy and Tate divorced? Yes, she’d certainly known that there were problems in the marriage, but she honestly hadn’t considered things would go this far. That Chessy would be sitting at her kitchen table crying her eyes out because she’d walked out on Tate.

“I’m going to go call Joss, hon,” Kylie said to Chessy. “Why don’t you jump in the shower? It’ll make you feel better.”

Chessy sighed but nodded and shuffled back toward the guest bathroom. Kylie waited until she was certain Chessy was in the shower before dialing Joss’s number.

As expected, Joss didn’t take the news well at all. Kylie winced at the expletives that filled her ear. If Joss was swearing like a sailor then it really was bad.

“I can’t believe he let that happen,” Joss raged. “Dash will kill him.”

“He’ll have to wait in line behind Jensen,” Kylie said dryly.

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“Poor Chessy,” Joss said, tears evident in her voice. “What are we going to do, Kylie?”

“Well, the first thing is that Jensen and I are going to take her by her house after she gets out of the shower so she can properly pack what she needs. After that? She’ll stay here. I’ll sit on her if I have to.”

“Should I come over too?” Joss asked. “I can meet y’all there.”

“I think it would be best for Chessy if you came over here, after she’s packed. It’s going to be an ordeal for her and she’ll need to be surrounded by friends. How about I text you when we’re leaving her house and you can meet us here.”

“That sounds good,” Joss replied. “I can’t believe this, Kylie. I just can’t believe he let this happen.”

“Neither can I,” Kylie said softly.

TWENTY-ONE

CHESSY tensed when Jensen pulled into her and Tate’s neighborhood. Her fingers curled into tight fists and she fought the surge of tears that welled in her eyes. Kylie turned to look at Chessy over her shoulder, her eyes brimming with sympathy.

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“You’ll get through this, Chessy. Jensen, Joss, Dash and I will be here for you.”

“I know,” Chessy said.

“Shit,” Jensen muttered when he made the turn into Chessy’s drive.

Chessy looked and her heart plummeted when she saw Tate’s car parked outside the garage. What was he doing home? Why?

“What should we do, Jensen?” Kylie asked anxiously.

Jensen put the car in park and turned to look at Chessy. “It’s up to you, honey. Kylie and I will go in with you, but if you’d rather come back when he isn’t here I’ll be happy to bring you another time.”

Chessy squared her shoulders resolutely and spoke with calm she didn’t quite feel. “No. I’ll do it now. I have to face him sometime. I won’t let him make me afraid to walk into my own house.”

“Okay then, let’s do it,” Jensen said, opening his door.

Chessy climbed from the backseat and started toward the door on wobbly legs. Before she was halfway up the walk, the front door flew open and Tate filled the doorway, his appearance haggard and unkempt. As if he hadn’t slept at all the night before. Relief poured from his face.

“Chessy, thank God you came back,” he said in a hoarse voice.

And then he looked beyond her as if he’d been so focused on her that he hadn’t even noticed that Jensen and Kylie were there.

“Chessy? What’s going on?” he asked quietly.

“Jensen and Kylie drove me over so I could pack more of my things,” Chessy said, proud of how steady—and firm—she sounded.

He looked as though she’d slapped him right across the face. He visibly flinched and then ran a hand through his already rumpled hair.

“You’re moving out?”

The pain in his voice made her heart clench. But she steeled herself against letting him manipulate her emotionally. This wasn’t about him. It was about her finally standing up for herself and doing what she should have done a long time ago.

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