Good news! Episode 4 will be ending on the blog Wednesday, and Thursday, Episode 5 will be available to buy! Thanks to my editor for moving super fast on this one!
If you’re looking for a good weekend read with sex at a ski lodge, be sure to buy Corporate Fire. I’ll be posting pics from the Taos ski basin this weekend!
And now for the story of Charisse’s relationship with Josh…
Conor opened the door to the den and walked inside. It was a stereotypical masculine den: loads of books on the shelves and paintings on the walls. The desk was oak and the couch and armchair were both leather.
Charisse sat against the arm of the sofa with her legs stretched out, staring at the fireplace. She had her clothes on from yesterday, and she had the blanket from earlier wrapped around her legs even though it was on the warmish side in the room.
“Hey,” he said in a quiet voice.
She turned her head to look at him. Her eyes were red from crying, but her expression appeared placid. He wondered if the doctor had given her something. It looked like there was a prescription on the coffee table.
“Hey,” she said. “Would you come sit with me?” She slid her legs off of the couch and patted the cushion next to her.
When he sat down, she put her legs on his lap and allowed him to wrap his arm around her. He’d been so worried she wouldn’t want him to touch her again that relief flooded him.
She leaned her head on his shoulder and said, “I want to apologize for what happened. It had nothing to do with you. Last night was incredible. I’m so sorry I ruined it.”
If you apologize to me one more time, I’m going to force you to harvest all those plums for me and then you’ll have to work in the salon with purple fingertips.”
He was glad when she chuckled. But then she fell silent.
He caressed her head and tried to read what the prescription was for, but the writing was in typical doctor fashion—illegible.
“Dr. Mandal said it’s because I’ve never talked to anyone about what happened with Josh that I flipped out. So in a way, I’m not as crazy as you may think.”
“I didn’t think you were crazy. I’ve just been out of my mind with worry.”
She fell silent again. As much as he wanted to know what had happened, he didn’t want to rush her.
“Could I get you some coffee, or water or a strong drink?”
She gave a small smile and said, “The doctor gave me some sort of valium. I think that’s why I’m not crying right now.”
After another minute of silence she said, “I was with Josh two years. And the first year was fine. But the second year the market took a dive. He was a floor trader, and when he had a bad day, sometimes I had a bad day.” She ended the sentence barely at a whisper.
He held her head against his chest and brushed his fingers through her curls. He didn’t trust himself to speak for fear she’d think his anger was aimed at her. He couldn’t believe anyone would ever hurt her.
After awhile she continued. “Usually he’d just hit me once and then be really sorry. He’d go to great lengths to make it up to me.”
He didn’t like the way she used the word ‘usually’ but he didn’t press. “Did you ever tell anyone or seek help?”
She snorted in derision. Not at all what he expected. “You know what it’s like. Everyone has the perfect life in Manhattan. You step out of line just a little and the gossip flies. I didn’t want people talking about me.”
Conor thought of the reporter he’d paid off not to run a story about the police involvement with his wife’s death. He knew exactly what she was talking about.
“Marie suspected,” he said.
Charisse gazed at him with wide eyes.
“I just talked to her and she accused me of being like Josh because he occasionally took your calls for a whole day and would claim you were sick. Why didn’t you ever open up to her at least?”
Charisse leaned on his shoulder again and snuggled closer. “I should’ve. But she’s so hot and cold. I never know when she has my back.”
Conor kissed her forehead and dared to ask a question. “So why did you finally leave him?”