"So let me get this straight. You want me to go with you on your business trip?"
"Yeah, I'm pretty sure that's what I asked you," Derek said.
He'd just taken a shower and was putting on some sweatpants over his boxers for bed. And yes, they were hanging off his hips in 'that way' that I loved so much.
"Is that even legal?", I asked him.
"Sweetheart, you're my wife. Of course I can bring you with me," he replied with a laugh.
"Oh...Because I thought that only your workers went on business trips with you," I remarked.
"Well, it's usually just me and Ashley. Sometimes Keith will go, too."
At the mention of Ashley's name- whom I loathed with a burning passion more and more each day- my subconscious immediately told me to decline Derek's invitation to accompany him to LA.
I hope I never had to see that heartless woman ever again.
"You know what, I think I'll just stay home," I stated.
"Why?", Derek asked, raising an eyebrow.
"Well, someone has to look over this place while you're gone, right?", I said, gesturing the large expanse of our bedroom with my arm.
A look of amusement began to play in Derek's eyes and he plopped down on the bed, shaking his head as he began to laugh.
"What's so funny?", I asked him.
"For one thing, this house doesn't need anyone to 'look over it.' And second, if that was some sort of lame excuse for you to not go, then I'm not buying it."
"I wasn't making an excuse. And besides, I already have plans with Charlotte for next Wednesday," I blurted, crossing my arms in front of my chest.
Liar, my subconscious sneered.
"I thought you told me she was visiting her mom this weekend and wouldn't be back until next Friday?"
"Yeah, but she found out that she had an important meeting to attend on Tuesday, so she has to come home earlier than planned," I quickly spoke.
Wow, I was better at lying than I thought.
"Oh, really?" Derek still didn't seem convinced.
I gave him an endearing smile, praying to God that he wouldn't figure out that Ashley was the real reason I didn't want to go to LA with him.
Instead of returning my smile like he normally would, Derek's face suddenly began to fall as he climbed under the covers, turning his back away from me.
"Hey, what's wrong?", I asked him with concern.
"Nothing. I was just really hoping that you and I could spend some quality time together in LA. But if your plans with Charlotte are more important, then I understand," he replied in a distant tone.
Crap, what had I done?
"Oh, honey, don't say that. You know how important you are to me," I assured, crawling into bed next to him. I slipped my arm around his waist, but he still wouldn't turn to look at me.
"It's my fault. I should've told you about this sooner," he murmured.
No, Derek, it's my fault. For not being honest with you about why I couldn't go.
At that moment, I felt like confessing everything to him, but I was afraid of what he'd think of me- some weak, insecure woman who couldn't stand up for herself against a jealous ex of her husband's.
The truth was, I trusted Derek with all my heart. But the last thing I wanted was having to see Ashley's face again. I needed a break from her and maybe then, I'd go with my husband on his next trip.
"Are you mad at me?", I asked Derek quietly.
A deep sigh escaped his lungs and then finally, he turned his body around to face me. I could tell that he was still upset from the disappointed look in his eyes, but eventually, a faint smile began to touch the corners of his mouth. I was overcome with relief.
"Aww baby, I could never be mad at you."
"That's because you love me too much," I said teasingly.
Shit, did that just come out of my mouth?
I quickly glanced at Derek to see how he'd reacted, but his expression was unreadable. He remained quiet and I began to feel extremely uncomfortable. I'd meant that he 'loved me' as a joke. Who knew it'd make things all awkward like this?
There was no way my husband could possibly be in love with me...right?
It was then that I finally decided to break the silence.
"Next time you want me to go with you on your business trip, I will. I promise."
Just not this time.
Derek reached out to pull me tight against his chest and I sighed in relaxation. There was nowhere else I'd rather be than safe in his arms.
But still, I couldn't help but wonder if he had some feelings for me...like I did for him.
In the middle of the night, my body abruptly jerked upright as traces of the nightmare I just had were beginning to fade into oblivion. I hadn't dreamt about Nick for over a month now, but this one in particular left me utterly shaken.
All I remembered was the vision of his gruesome, bloody appearance at the scene of the car accident. My face became as pale as a ghost, and I fought to control my sobbing as my arms searched for Derek in the total darkness.
Only he wasn't there.
I immediately glanced at the alarm clock and saw that it was midnight. He probably just went to get a glass of water or something.
But ten minutes later, he was still nowhere to be seen in our bedroom. At a moment like this, especially after I'd had such a horrific nightmare, I needed my husband the most. To tell me that things were going to be ok. That I'd be ok.
I quickly got out of bed and put on my robe even though it was extremely warm in the house. Just thinking about Nick made me feel chilled fo the bone.
After doing a thorough search of the entire second floor, I still couldn't find my husband. And that's when I began to panic.
What if my biggest fear had come to life? What if Derek had just left me without saying a single word?
I rushed downstairs and called out his name, but there was no reply. I checked all of the rooms and the moment I saw a light coming from underneath one of the doors, I breathed the biggest sigh of relief.
He was in his study.
I heard him talking on the phone to someone and contemplated whether or not to go inside. But for crying out loud, I was his wife.
So, I slowly opened the door and was greeted by his intense gaze. He set his phone down on the desk before speaking.
"Why aren't you in bed?"
"I had a nightmare," I mumbled in a quivering tone.
I slowly nodded my head.
His business-like manner instantly vanished as a sympathetic look crossed his face.
"Oh, baby...Come here," he said, standing up as he held his arms out for me to run into. And I did.
I began to cry again and Derek sat back down so I was curled up in his lap like a child. He stroked my hair and placed gentle kisses on my forehead without saying a single word. But he didn't have to. Just knowing that he was by my side made the pain feel that much less.
"I-I'm sorry I i-interrupted your work."
"Sweetheart, you're my number one priority. Not work. I only came down here because I couldn't sleep. If I'd known you were up there crying like this, I wouldn't have left."
"Who were you on the phone with?", I asked.
"One of the guys over in Sydney that's part of our hotel project. It's 5 in the evening over there so I thought I'd give him a call to check up on things," he replied.
Derek wiped the remains of my tears away with his thumb and then I got off his lap, straightening out my robe.
"You feeling better now?"
I nodded my head in response.
"Well in that case, we should probably go back to bed."
He let out a massive yawn and then gave me a crooked smile. I loved those smiles best. They never failed to brighten my mood.
I stood up on my tippy toes to give Derek a peck on the lips, which caught him by surprise for a moment. But before I could even take a single step, he pulled me back towards him and crushed his lips against mine.
The kiss was urgent, full of passion and desire, unlike any other times we've kissed. His mouth was devouring mine as if his life depended on it.
I closed my eyes and savored his intoxicating taste as our tongues danced in unison, driving my senses completely wild. His lips began to trail downwards and I moaned out in pleasure when I felt them against my neck.
Meanwhile, his hands were scrambling to untie my robe, but that's when I decided that we both had to stop.
"Derek, no. Not right now," I said in between gasps.
He immediately pulled away, and I struggled to catch my breath. For a brief second, a look of discouragement crossed his face. But then, he cleared his throat and ran a hand through his messy hair.
"Sorry. I kind of got carried away," he mumbled guiltily.
"It's ok. Come on, let's get back to bed."
I slipped my arm around his waist and we both headed upstairs to our room, fighting to control the sexual tension that had somehow risen between us from just a single kiss. It was as clear as day what Derek had wanted back in his study.
And what shocked me a little was the fact that I'd wanted him, too. However, everything soon escaped my mind the moment I began to drift off to sleep.
It was the day before Derek had to leave for his business trip in LA. This weekend, I had received a call from Wells Fargo, and they wanted to interview me for their financial analyst position.
I was stunned at first because I never recalled applying for a job there, but then one person immediately came to mind.
She must've had something to do with this. So, I called her to find out, and indeed, she was the one who had set up that opportunity for me.
"Remember how I told you that I had a surprise coming up for you last week? Well, this was it. I didn't want you to get bored of staying home everyday. And besides, we'll get to see each other at work," she'd said happily.
I sure was thankful to have a friend like her. The truth was, I'd been planning to get a job sooner or later, so I wouldn't feel like I was depending on Derek's money consistently- even if he kept telling me that it was our money. I wanted to be able to support myself financially in case something ever happened.
Like a divorce, a voice in my head spoke.
I immediately dismissed the thought. In the past, I would've done anything to get out of my marriage, but now, Derek had become more of a husband figure to me.
He might not be Nick, but there was no doubt about how much I enjoyed having him in my life. He was handsome, sincere, funny, and most importantly, trustworthy.
I believed him when he'd said that he and Ashley were just friends. She might be his secretary at work, but I was his wife- the woman he came home to everyday.
As I was driving downtown for my interview, my palms began to grow sweaty due to anxiety and nervousness.
What if they don't like me? What if I don't get the job?
To calm myself down, I thought back to when I had my first ever job interview for Chipotle as a sophomore in high school. The manager really liked me and said that I had an extremely friendly personality. And plus, my kitchen skills weren't too bad either.
So, he gave me the job. Working at Chipotle definitely hadn't been a stroll in the park, but as long as it paid for my car, then I was fine with it.
Oh, and I'd learned to make a mean burrito, too.
A huge smile spread across my face as I remembered the day Nick and his hockey team had visited me at work after their game.
We had a contest to see who could eat the most chips and guacamole, and Carter-one of the senior defensemen- ended up vomiting in the bathroom.
By the time I arrived at Wells Fargo, all of my self-doubt vanished and instead was replaced with poise and confidence. I smoothed out my black pencil skirt and stepped into the building, determined to get this job.
An hour later, I was back at home baking a pie for my grandparents whom I would be visiting tomorrow in Coronado. They'd just gotten back from a one-month vacation in Europe.
The interview had gone extremely well, and I would know in about two weeks time if I'd been hired or not.
I also found out that although financial analysts worked in office settings, sometimes they had to work long hours. I personally didn't mind because Derek usually got home late himself.
When I finished baking the cherry pie around five, I headed upstairs to take a shower, putting on a comfy pair of sweatpants and my Blackhawks tshirt afterwards since I wasn't planning on going anywhere else today.
Speaking of the Hawks, I sure couldn't wait for hockey season to start again next month. I definitely had to attend at least one game this year. Too bad, the closest city from here that actually had an NHL team was LA. Back in Minnesota, I could go see the Wild play whenever I wanted.
When I stepped out of the bathroom, my eyes widened in surprise at the sight of Derek unbuttoning his white shirt in our bedroom.
When did he get home?
I quietly sneaked up behind him and wrapped my arms around his waist. To say he was startled would've been an understatement.
He whipped around, and the moment I saw the horrified expression on his gorgeous face, I couldn't help but burst into laughter.
"Oh, thank god it's just you," he said with a huge sigh of relief.
"Who'd you think it was?", I asked, playfully ruffling his hair.
"A serial killer," he replied with a straight face, pulling me into his chest.
"Why are you home so early?"
"Just thought I'd surprise you. But looks like it was the other way around. You scared the hell out of me!", he exclaimed.
"Like you don't ever do that to me," I scoffed.
"Have you cooked dinner yet?"
"Good, because I want to take you out for dinner tonight," he said, giving me his signature smile that managed to steal my breath away every time.
"Is that why you came home early?"
"Yup. I thought 'hey, why not take my wife out to a fancy dinner before I have to leave tomorrow?' Now go make yourself look nice. I'm gonna take a shower real quick and then we'll leave."
"Oh, and when I said to make yourself 'look nice', I meant to like wear a dress or something. I wasn't trying to be offensive or anything. 'Cause believe me baby, you always look nice," he remarked with a wink before heading into the bathroom.
I could feel a blush beginning to creep onto my cheeks as I went to go search for a casual dress in our spacious closet. After hearing his flattering comment, I almost had a sudden urge to ask him this single question.
Who are you and what have you done to the old Derek?
But god knows I'd choose this Derek over the old one in a heartbeat. And if there was something else I'd finally come to realize, it was this.
I was falling for my husband. Hard.
A/N- Wow, it's sure been a long time since I last updated! Well, it looks like our precious Claire has finally admitted that she's falling for Derek. And he might not have said it yet, but we all know Derek's got a thing for her, too(; Anyways, as you guys all know, I'm a HUGE hockey fan. So, if I don't update soon, then it's either because I'm busy with schoolwork or watching NHL hockey. Tyler Seguin (my bae) has been doing great so far this season which makes me reeaallyy happy(: Remember to like and comment!