Chapter One Hundred

After We Fell

chapter one hundred




Kimberly is sitting at the breakfast bar when I walk into the kitchen. Her face is free of makeup, and her hair is pulled back away from her face. I don’t think I’ve ever seen her without a shit ton of crap on her face, and for Vance’s sake I contemplate hiding the shit from her because she looks much better without it.

    “Well, look who’s finally awake,” she says in a chipper tone.

    “Yeah, yeah.” I groan and walk straight past her to the coffee machine nestled in the corner of the dark granite countertop.

    “What time are you leaving?” she asks while picking at a bowl of lettuce.

    “Not until tomorrow, if that’s okay. Or do you want me out now?” I fill a mug with the black liquid and turn to face her.

    “Of course you can stay.” She grins. “As long as you aren’t being an asshole to Tessa.”

    “Actually, I’m not.” I roll my eyes as Vance enters the room. “You need to get a tighter leash on this one, perhaps even a muzzle,” I tell him.

    A deep bellowing laugh comes from her fiancé just as Kimberly raises her middle finger to me.

    “So classy,” I taunt her.

    “You’re in an awfully cheery mood.” Christian grins wickedly, and Kimberly shoots him a glare.

    What the hell is that about?

    “Wonder why that is?” he adds, and she elbows him.

    “Christian . . .” she scolds, and he shakes his head. His hand lifts in defense to block her from repeating the playful assault.

    “Probably because he’s missed Tessa,” Kimberly suggests and eyes Christian as he circles around the oversized island to grab a banana from the fruit basket.

    His eyes twinkle in amusement as he pulls down the peel of a banana. “I heard midnight workouts will do that.”

    My blood turns cold. “What did you say?”

    “Calm down . . . he shut the camera off before the good stuff,” Kimberly assures me.


    Fuck. Of fucking course this asshole would have a camera in his gym . . . Hell, every main access room is probably equipped with security cameras. He’s always been more paranoid behind that slick demeanor than he lets on.

    “What did you see?” I growl, trying to keep my pulsing anger at bay.

    “Nothing. Only that Tessa came into the room; he knew better than to continue . . .” Kimberly bites back a grin, and relief floods through me. I was too caught up in the moment, caught up in Tessa, to think about shit like security cams.

    I scowl at Vance. “Why were you even watching the footage? That’s pretty fucking creepy that you were watching me work out.”

    “Don’t flatter yourself. I was checking the kitchen monitor, because it had a short; the gym just happened to be playing alongside it at the time.”

    “Sure,” I say, stretching the word out.

    “Hardin’s staying another night; that’s fine, right?” Kim asks him.

    “Of course it’s fine. I don’t know why your ass isn’t here to stay anyway. You know I’ll pay you more than Bolthouse.”

    “You didn’t the first time—that was the problem,” I remind him with a smug grin.

    “That’s because you were only a freshman in college at the time. You were lucky to have a paid internship, let alone an actual job, without a degree.” He shrugs, trying to dismiss my argument.

    I cross my arms in defense. “Bolthouse disagrees with you.”

    “They are twats. Need I remind you that in the last year alone, Vance Publishing has surpassed them by a huge margin. I’ve expanded here to Seattle, and I plan on opening a New York office by next year.”

    “Is there a point to all this bragging?” I ask.

    “Yes. Point is, Vance is better, bigger, and happens to be where she’s working.” He doesn’t have to say Tessa’s name for me to feel the weight of his words. “You’ll be graduating after this semester; don’t make an impulsive decision now that will impact the entirety of your career before it even begins.” He takes a quick bite of the fruit in his hand, and I scowl at him, trying to think of a sharp reply.

    I can’t seem to come up with one. “Bolthouse has an office in London.”

    He looks at me in mocking disbelief. “Who’s going back to London? You?” He doesn’t hide the sarcasm in his voice.

    “Possibly. I had planned on it and still am.”

    “Yeah, so did I.” He glances at his future wife. “You’ll never go back to live there, just as I won’t either.”

    Kimberly flushes and gushes at his words, and I come to the conclusion that they’re the most obnoxious couple I’ve ever encountered. It’s like you can see how much they love each other just by watching them interact. It’s annoying and uncomfortable.

    “Point proven.” Christian snickers.

    “I didn’t agree with you,” I snap.

    “Yes,” Kimberly butts in, like the ballbuster she is. “But you didn’t disagree either.”

    Without another word, I take my coffee mug and my balls as far away from Kimberly as I can get them.