"Yes. It was my fault and therefore my responsibility to deal with. Thanks, though," I said to Charlotte, smiling gratefully.
"Well, let's hope all goes well."
She gave me a hug then hopped out of the car just as Elliot was turning into the driveway. I waved good-bye to them both before heading towards my own house.
To say that I was experiencing nervousness right now would be an understatement. It was more along the lines of a major panic attack and fear for my life.
Sweat began to form on my palms, and the sudden increase of blood flow rushing through my veins caused me to feel faint. My heart was beating so fast, I wouldn't be surprised if it jumped out of my chest any minute.
As I neared my neighborhood, an internal battle arose as I debated whether to drive straight home or head to the grocery store. The truth was, we still had an ample amount of food at home, but I wasn't ready to face Derek yet.
My fear got the better of me, and I ended up choosing the latter. If Charlotte were here, she'd probably laugh at my attempt to stall like this. The moment the light turned green, I did a quick u-turn and drove back onto I-5, sighing in relief.
After spending a pointless hour inside of Ralphs, I finally decided to head on home. It was nearly eight already, and I couldn't hide from my husband forever. So, I put my big girl pants on and walked out the store with a single carton of milk in my hand.
Upon my arrival, Derek stood on the porch, phone in hand and busy typing away. As I pulled into the driveway, he glanced up and his eyes widened in surprise.
I gulped nervously, turning off the engine before mustering up the courage to drag my butt out of the car. The moment Derek saw me, he came rushing in my direction with a look of horror on his face.
"Oh my god, Claire, what happened?", he exclaimed, grabbing both my cheeks with his hands.
"I-I'm so sorry. T-there was a mailbox but-," I began to explain, stuttering like an idiot when he interrupted me.
"You hit my car into a mailbox?!" His tone raised an octave and I stared at the ground, drowning in a sea of guilt.
Derek's eyes wildly scanned over the damage done to his BMW, his fingers running over very scratch and dent as he cursed under his breath.
"We'll talk about this inside," he said bitterly, turning on his heel to head towards the house.
I reluctantly followed him, setting my suitcase by the stairs then went to put the milk in the fridge. When I got to the living room, Derek was standing with his arms folded across his chest. His angry expression beared no hint of sympathy, and I was more scared than ever.
"How the hell did this happen?", he demanded authoritatively.
"Charlotte and I were at a party," I responded.
"And then what?"
His eyes were locked on mine, and I braced myself for the outburst I knew was about to come.
"We both had a couple drinks."
"My god, Claire, don't tell me you were drunk when you got in the car." He ran his fingers through his hair in frustration, mentally praying to God to give him the strength to not kill me then and there.
Well, at least that seemed like what he was doing.
"I wasn't! I was quite sober."
"Quite sober?!", he yelled.
"I might have felt a bit light-headed, but other than that, I was perfectly fine!", I insisted.
"Damn it, Claire, what's the matter with you?!" He was beyond furious, his eyes blazing with pure outrage.
"It wasn't my fault! I was just backing out of the driveway, and that mailbox came out of nowhere. You have to believe me, Derek," I pleaded.
"Haven't you already learned a lesson about drinking and driving? Look at your friend, Nick. Huh, who took away his life? Tell me!"
Derek's words had hit deep, like a punch to my stomach, and at that moment, I couldn't take it anymore.
"Please stop yelling at me!", I shouted, sinking down onto the couch as I began to cry. I thought I could handle this myself, but when he brought up Nick, my emotions had spiraled out of control.
Derek exhaled deeply, slowly making his way towards me. I inched my body away from him, curling up into a ball.
"Claire...," he spoke gently, sitting down on the couch.
"I would never drink and drive. You know me better than that." I was barely able to utter the words as tears streamed down my face. Derek reached out to touch my arm, dragging me onto his lap.
"I know, baby. But what if you had had more alcohol in your system? Something terrible could've happened."
"Yeah, but I didn't. I thought that since my friend, Paige, lived only three minutes away, I'd have nothing to worry."
"You can't just assume things like that!"
"Charlotte didn't let me drive at first. I should've listened to her and waited to leave in the morning, so I could actually see the mailbox. God, I'm so stupid."
"You're not stupid, sweetheart. Just promise me you'll be more careful next time," he said, brushing my tears away with his thumb.
"I promise." I gave him a small smile.
"Do you have any idea how devastated I'd be if you'd gotten hurt? My car is replaceable, but my wife," he leaned down to kiss my nose, "is not".
A blush crept onto my cheeks, and I crawled off Derek's lap, sitting next to him on the couch as I rested my head against his shoulder.
"Don't worry about the BMW, ok? I'll get it repaired during the week," he reassured with a smile that didn't quite reach his eyes.
Derek wasn't one to mask his feelings very well. I knew that inside, he was extremely upset about the whole accident. He took such good care of his cars, and now his most treasured one was damaged because of me.
"What were you doing standing outside?", I asked.
"I just wanted to get some fresh air. Anyway, I heard you guys won yesterday."
"Yeah, we did."
"That's amazing, especially against a team like Ohio's. Whose party did you go to?"
"Who's that?" Derek sounded slightly jealous.
And yes, I was gonna have some fun with it.
"He's a football player and very handsome. We made out back in college," I said nonchalantly.
"Oh, really? What else did you guys do?" Derek played along with my made-up story.
"Why don't you ask him yourself? He'll probably tell you about the time we went skinny dipping our junior year."
His blue eyes narrowed into slits, and I knew I'd gone too far. He was about to pounce on me when I let out a loud yelp and quickly jumped off the couch, sprinting to the other end of the house.
Derek's rapid footsteps were hot on my trail as he chased me all over the entire first floor. It felt like I was reliving my childhood days all over again.
"I'm gonna get you, Claire!", I heard him yell. I couldn't help but laugh at his playful behavior.
Eventually, I found myself trapped in the kitchen and began to panic. Derek was stealthily approaching when I quickly spotted an escape- the sliding door.
I stuck my tongue out at him and before he could grab me, I ducked under his arm and opened the door, dashing outside.
A couple moments later, I stopped to catch my breath, glancing around to see if Derek was anywhere to be found. But there was no sign of him. So, I began to make my way back inside.
"Gave up so soon?"
I spun around at the sound of his deep voice, and my eyes widened in horror as he came charging full speed at me from behind the tool shed.
I tried to run, but it was too late. His arms latched onto my waist, and we both fell backwards into the pool, creating the biggest splash I'd ever seen.
My tshirt became absolutely drenched, and I quickly popped my head out of the water to see my husband's despicable- yet so sexy- face staring back at me. He was smirking, and my eyes shot daggers at him.
"You bast-!", I was about to yell when he covered my mouth with his, preventing any further words from being spoken.
I tried to push him away, but he only held on tighter.
"Stop fighting me," Derek mumbled against my lips, his voice thick with lust and desire.
I was completely turned on and immediately surrendered myself to him. He trailed his hand that was resting on my hip upward, giving my breast a firm squeeze.
I moaned against his mouth, and he used it as an oportunity to slide his tongue in, running it over my own. His hands cupped my ass, and he lifted me up as I wrapped my legs around his waist.
He began to walk forward in the water until my back hit the hard edge of the pool, and I grabbed the hem of my wet tshirt, pulling it over my head before discarding it on the chaise longue.
My body was craving Derek so badly right now; I didn't even care if we were in a pool. I just needed him inside of me. Recently, I went on birth control, and so we didn't have to worry about condoms.
The moment his shirt was off, I began placing kisses along his neck as my hands explored the contours of his firm abs.
A deep groan rumbled in the back of his throat when I slipped my hand underneath his athletic shorts, stroking him through the thin material of his boxers.
"Ugh, fuck." His breathing hitched.
As the sexual frustration increased, we both worked to rid each other of the rest of our damp clothing before Derek's lips went back to devouring mine. I savored his sweet taste, letting it consume all my thoughts.
And soon, we were lost in each other under the blanket of the starry, night sky.
My boss wasn't lying when he'd said that I'd be working long hours. It was only my second week on the job, and already, three of the five days I'd worked had been 12-hour shifts.
Two weeks ago, the lady who had interviewed me called to announce that I'd been given the financial analyst position. Words couldn't describe how happy and excited I had felt.
Not only would I be busy everyday instead of boring myself to death at home, I'd also be making quite a lot of money on my own. I hated having to depend on someone else's income, no matter how rich they were. For me, independence was key.
And of course, the best part about work was getting to see Charlotte on a regular basis. Her office was located directly across the hall from mine and around noon, we'd go to lunch together.
On a similar note, Derek had been working extremely long hours, too. I still managed to get home by eight every night, but that wasn't the case for him. If he were lucky, he'd be able to leave his office at nine the soonest.
I hadn't seen much of him the past two weeks. Even on the weekends, he was locked up in his study doing work. There was only a little over two months left before the grand opening of his hotel in Sydney. Until then, he'd be busy both day and night.
Yesterday, I'd called Derek to see if he could make it home in time for dinner. Instead, he'd told me to not wait up for him since he was going out for some drinks with his friends.
I was slightly disappointed because we hadn't eaten together ever since I started working. And that was over a week ago. But I just kept it to myself, not wanting to cause any trouble.
That night, I'd just finished taking a nice, hot shower. There was no denying how exhausting work could be, especially on the long days.
After putting a robe on, I went downstairs to get some water before bed. The sound of heavy footsteps echoed in the hall, and immediately, my face brightened as I ran towards the source of them.
"Derek!", I greeted excitedly with outstretched arms, colliding into his hard body as his back hit the garage door.
"Whoa, easy there, baby," he said with a stunned expression, pushing me away with his hands. A look of dismay clouded my face, and I felt hurt that he didn't hug me back.
"What's wrong?", I asked.
"Nothing, I'm just tired," he replied wearily, pinching the bridge of his nose.
"Oh, I understand."
Derek brushed past me without saying another word and headed upstairs to our bedroom. I followed him and went to lie down while he took a shower, eventually falling into a deep sleep.
On Friday morning, I was in an especially good mood. Derek had bought tickets to the Kings game, so we were driving up to LA tomorrow to see it. He had waited for a match-up against the Blackhawks since he knew they were my favorite team.
It'd also be a great way for us to spend some quality time together. Lately, he'd been acting kind of distant towards me, and I almost feared that our relationship was going downhill.
But in the end, his behavior was all due to work, and so I tried to stop worrying about it too much.
"Good morning, boss," I greeted cheerfully when I stepped into my office.
My boss was a man in his late forties named, Paul Williams. He had a wonderful personality and strong work ethic.
"Hello, Claire. If you could look at the upcoming budget plans for me today, that'd be great."
"I'm on it."
"Perfect. I'll see you later then. Have a good day."
A huge stack of papers was already waiting for me on the desk. I set my purse on the ground then sat down, smoothing out my pencil skirt.
This was gonna be a long day.
During our lunch break, Charlotte and I ate at the new French café down the block. Their mouth-watering pastries were to die for, and I opted to buy a slice of tiramisu to bring to Derek since I still had some time left. I knew he would love it.
Weston Hotel Group was located just two blocks away from the café, so I didn't have to drive. When I arrived, I took the elevator up to the very top floor and was greeted by a young receptionist.
"Hi, how may I help you?"
"Could you tell me where Derek's office is? I'm surprising him with some cake from the new bakery," I said with a smile.
"Oh, you must be his wife! It's a pleasure to meet you." She shook my hand. "I could sure use some cake right now myself."
We both laughed and then she led me down the hall to a set of large double-doors. I'd never been inside Derek's office before, but I was assuming it was quite nice.
"You can just go on in. I'm sure he'll be glad to see you," she said.
The receptionist smiled then went back to her desk.
The moment I opened the heavy door, my jaw dropped to the ground in utter shock at the sight before me. Any color I had on my face instantly drained until I was left pale like a ghost.
Clinging to the edge of sanity, I blinked twice to make sure that my eyes weren't deceiving me as my heart began shattering into a million pieces.
I couldn't believe it...
A/N- Looks like we've got another cliffhanger. And just like last time, I'm not gonna say anything at all. But as usual, remember to like and comment!