“Well, at least the wedding was beautiful, right?” Bridget said, returning to the desk she shared in Madison’s office.
Madison nodded. “It was a wedding to remember, for sure.”
“Sounds like a Hallmark card.” Bridget laughed as Madison went back to thumbing through her e-mails. “You should write that one down. It would make for a corny—oh, holy crap.”
Looking up, Madison frowned at her friend. “What?”
Bridget’s blue eyes were wide. “Uh, take a look for yourself.”
Confused, Madison followed Bridget’s gaze and her mouth dropped open. “Oh my God…”
Through the glass walls surrounding her office, there was no mistaking the dark head prowling directly toward her or the broad shoulders squared with intent and determination.
What was he doing here? Why? There wasn’t any time for her to come up with those answers, because her door flew open and Chase stood there, tall, dark, sinfully sexy, and a whole lot pissed off.
Madison started to stand, but her legs were too weak. “Chase, what are you doing here?”
Fire lit his eyes as they landed on her. “We need to talk.”
“Uh, right now?” She looked around her office helplessly. “I think it—”
“It can’t wait,” he all but growled. “We need to talk now.”
Bridget started to stand. “I think I’ll give you guys some privacy. There are other desks out there I’m sure need organizing.”
Madison was already on her feet, smoothing her hands down the cotton of her skirt. Over Chase’s shoulder, she could see plenty of her co-workers staring from their cubicles. This was going to get awkward. “No. You don’t have to leave. Um, Chase and I can—”
Before she could finish her sentence, he was in front of her. Without saying a word, he clasped her cheeks and brought his mouth to hers. Too stunned to react at first, she froze as his lips pressed, slowly demanding that her mouth open to his. Then her body melted into his embrace, into the kiss that quickly deepened.
He pulled her against him, lifting her onto the toes of her shoes. He kissed her with all the passion and desperate yearning she had carried with her for so many years. The way his arms trembled against hers reached deep inside, shattering the freshly built walls around her heart.
When he pulled back, he kept his arms around her. “Why…why did you do that?” she asked.
A small half grin played across his face. “Sorry. I had to get that out of the way first.”
“Wow. I need popcorn for this,” Bridget murmured.
Madison flushed from the roots of her hair to the tips of her curled toes. Somehow, she had forgotten that her friend was still standing there…plus an entire room full of people watching from the outside through the glass walls. Pulling back, she shook her head. “Chase…”
“Let me explain something first, okay? Before you run off or start arguing with me.”
“Maddie,” he said, eyes glittering.
“You better let the man talk.” Bridget sat back down in her chair, folding her arms. “I cannot wait to hear what he has to say.”
Madison shot her friend a death glare, but it looked like she wasn’t going anywhere. Neither was he. “Okay,” she said.
Chase took a long breath. “There’s no way around saying this, other than just coming straight out with it. I’ve been an idiot—an ass. Time and time again, I’ve done the wrong thing by you.”
Her mouth dropped open.
“And this whole time I’d been trying to do the right thing by not being with you. I didn’t want to betray Mitch by hooking up with his little sister. I didn’t want to somehow mess up our friendship either, because you have been such a huge part of my life.” He took a deep breath. “And I never wanted to be like my father—to treat you like he treated my mom. And it was stupid—I get that now. Chad was right. Father never loved our mother, but it’s different for me—it’s different for us. It always has been.”
The whole time he spoke, he never looked away from her. She opened her mouth to say something but he rushed ahead. “But all I’ve managed to do is screw things up. That night in the club…I wasn’t drunk.”
Madison shifted uncomfortably. “I know.”
“It was a lame excuse, and I’m sorry. That night—I should’ve told you how I really felt. And every night thereafter,” he said, taking a step forward. “I should’ve told you how I felt the night in that damn cabin, too.”
Her heart swelled as hope grew in a tangle of emotions she could never unravel. All of this seemed surreal. Tears rushed her eyes as she reached behind her, grasping the edges of her desk. “And how do you feel?”
Chase’s smile revealed those deep dimples she loved, and when he spoke, his voice was husky. “Aw hell, Maddie, I’m not good at this kind of stuff. You…you are my world. You’ve always been my world, ever since I can remember.”
At Bridget’s soft inhale, Madison placed a trembling hand over her mouth.
Stepping forward, he placed a hand over hers, gently pulling it away from her mouth. “It’s the truth. You are my everything. I love you. I have for longer than I realized. Please tell me my boneheadedness hasn’t screwed things up beyond repair for us.”
Madison didn’t move for a moment, didn’t even breathe as his words tumbled inside her and wrapped their way around her heart, just as his strong fingers were wrapping around hers. And then she sprang forward, planting her lips right on his.
He kissed her back desperately and passionately, his arms crushing her to his chest. She could feel the hard heat of him, from the tips of her br**sts down to the harder, hotter part of him pressed against her belly. She revelled in his arousal, in the passion in which he held her—even though this so was not the place for it—but she did, because this was the moment she’d been waiting for her whole life.
This was it. The lump was back in her throat. She barely realized Bridget had quietly slipped out of the office.
“I want you,” he rasped against her lips.
Her breath caught. “You do?”
Chase nodded. “There is no one else—there’s never been anyone else for me but you. You’re it, Maddie. And I swear to you, I will never treat you like my father did my mom. Hell, I couldn’t. I’m just not built like that man.”
Blinking back hot tears, she wrapped her arms around Chase and breathed in the scent of him. “Oh, God, Chase, I love you so much.”
His laugh was a mixture of relief and joy as he held her tighter, and she could feel his heart thundering against hers. She placed her lips near his ear and whispered, “I think I need to use a sick day, because there’s something I really want to do right now.”
Chase’s breath left in an unsteady rush. “I couldn’t agree more, but…”
“But?” Madison pulled back with a frown.
He grinned at her. “But afterward we’re going to your parents’ house.”
“We are?” A smile swept across her lips. Giddy, she looped her arms around his neck. “I’m afraid to even ask.”
Chase’s smile matched hers. “I think we need to break the news to your parents face-to-face, because this…” He kissed her again, his tongue tangling with hers, drawing a breathy moan. And that kiss went on until her toes curled inside her heels and her heart thudded heavily in her chest.
Kissing Chase—loving Chase—was something she’d never get tired of.
Pulling back, his mouth formed a smile against hers and he said, “This is forever.”