“What part of get the fuck out of my office are you not getting? Do it yourself, or I’ll have security do it because I’m sure as fuck not touching you. Just like I’ve sure as fuck never touched you before.” He bellows the last part, and I swear the walls of the office rattle.

Cary jumps, running out of the office faster than I thought a person could in heels.

“If I’d known—” Ryan says, but Phillip raises his hand, cutting him off.

“Leave. I’ll deal with you later.” Ryan just nods tightly and follows Cary out the door. Phillip moves to the door and shuts it. Then I hear the lock click, the sound echoing around in the room.

He turns, leaning up against the locked office door.

I just stand there staring at him, guilt eating at me.

I go to step towards him, wanting to touch him, but he holds his hand up and I stop. Guilt tugs at my heart even more.

“I didn’t see her that night in my office. I’d passed out on the sofa and came to later. I’d actually told Ryan to fire her because I thought she’d been flirting with me, which was unacceptable. I’d murder anyone who flirted with you.” He takes a deep breath. “I need a second to get myself under control. I’m not mad at you. I’m just feeling a lot of things right now and I’m not sure what I’ll do.” He reaches up, running his hands though his midnight-black hair like he’s trying to calm himself. I can see the tension in every line of his body.

“You’d never hurt me,” I counter, knowing he’d never lay a hand on me. Hell, I’d just smacked him and he took it.

“I don’t know about that. I’d really like to spank your ass right now, then bend you over that couch and fuck the shit out of you just to show you that you’re the only woman I’ve ever fucked in this office. Ever.”

It’s like every emotion I’m feeling goes straight to my core. Phillip has never talked to me like that. But he’s been doing a lot of things differently this past week. He hasn’t slept with me since I’ve been back. It’s been over four months, a record for us. We barely went twenty-four hours without making love before I ran. Even when he worked late, he’d crawl into bed and climb right on top of me.

“I’m okay with that.” I start to slip off my dress. Wanting that. Wanting us skin on skin. To let his warmth fill me up. Ease this ache.

“Don’t,” he growls, stopping me. “First we’re going to clear up some things.”

I drop my hand and shake my head.

“You thought I was having an affair before you even came here that night?” he asks, studying me, recalling my words to him. I had, but I’d discounted those thoughts. I’d come here to tell him how I’d been feeling for those past few months.

“I…” God, I feel terrible. How could I have let this get this far? “You’d started coming home later and later. I felt like there were secrets. Then the way she’d treat me,” I nod towards the door, out to where Cary’s desk sits, “when I called or stopped by. It pissed me off. Then Cindy said I was crazy, and to come and talk to you. So I did, but when I got here and saw her naked, I…”

“Your dad,” he finishes for me. I was going to say I freaked out and ran, but yeah, a big part of that was my dad. Phillip went right to the root of it. I drop my head, looking at my feet, feeling shame that I let that get between us.

Then Phillip is picking me up, placing me in his lap as he sits down on the couch.

“This isn’t your fault, sweet Molly.” God, I love when he calls me that. I look up into his dark blue eyes that are all soft and sweet now. His big hands cup my face. “I should have known what you’d think, but I was too worried about myself. What I might do to you. You’re so young, and it’s almost like I forget that in some areas but not in others.”

His thumb brushes my lips and I can’t stop my tongue from peeking out, trying to get a taste of him, making a half smile pull at his lips.

“I don’t get it,” I admit.

“I should have known you were going to think that. Hell, we’d laid in bed many nights, you telling me about how he was and how you’d never want a family like that. That it messed with your mom, and I knew that shit messed with you, too. Even he messed with you. I see it. His little side jabs, like you were too young to participate in some conversations. Always going on about how you had to get a silly art degree. It’s why I didn’t care when I moved you away from him to another city. It’s also why I gave him a piece of my mind that very night after we said ‘I do.’”

I stare at him. I shouldn't be surprised he’d say something to my father, but I guess I never thought he noticed the things my dad did. All my experiences had been shaped and influenced by my insecurities. Never had Phillip treated me like I was less than.

“You’re young and I knew that. I should have taken better care of you.”

“You do. I was silly. I should have stayed and fought. I should have—”

“Fought for a husband who even let an idea like that pop into your head? Fight for a husband who told you he’d give you one thing but hadn’t followed through?”

“We would have gotten there,” I tell him, because we would have. I know that now. He was letting go of the reins at work. Moving us out of the city. He’s been talking about it all week.

“We would have—we are,” he corrects. “But all this goes back to my insecurities, too. I was afraid you wouldn’t love me if you knew.”



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