Structural Damage – Chapter 19

Kyle Chapman was sitting in the small apartment he rented in Chicago. It wasn’t fancy, in fact, it was barely furnished. He just had the necessities: a couch, a kitchen table, a drafting table, a few bar stools, and a bed. The kitchen table was pushed against the large picture window, providing the perfect perch for the telescope and camera equipment that was used to spy on the 80th-floor penthouse across the river.

He kept the equipment set up at all times. He wanted to be ready at a moment’s notice to have eyes on Sabrina when she was home. But after his initial visit with Special Agent Coleman, knowing he was being watched, he felt it was a good idea to be a little more discreet. It would not be in his best interest for Coleman to drop by for a visit and see what he was up to. No, that was not an additional investigation that he wanted to invite upon himself.

This apartment did not seem cozy or homey. Instead, it was stark and cold. Since the divorce, the idea of a warm and cozy home was foreign to Kyle. He had allowed bitterness, jealousy, anger, and hatred to keep him warm for too long now. His place in Austin held his personal belongings, the pieces of his past, but it wasn’t home either. The only place that had pictures, his office in Austin, and that was so he could show off his wife. In the office, it was to give him status; he was married to Sabrina Burnham. He never told anyone he was divorced, he still wore his wedding ring, for him; it was an illusion.

It didn’t bother him as much that the camera and telescope were put away, Sabrina had not been home in the past few weeks. The security guard in her building had been keeping him updated; her assistant had been coming and going, but no sign of Sabrina. Kyle figured that it meant Sabrina was sleeping in the office, she was probably working too hard. He hated that he couldn’t have eyes on her there. Sure enough, he watched the groundbreaking for her new building on TV and saw her collapse. She would be rushed to the hospital, and there would be no way he could get in to see her. He did the only thing he knew to do; he sent flowers. A large bouquet of pink and white peonies; there was no need to send a card, these were the flowers he always sent her, it was his thing.

He was lost in his thoughts of Sabrina when there was a loud knock at the door. He jumped, realizing it was either Vinnie’s boys coming to give him a job, or it was the FBI. Either way, he didn’t want to answer the door. Two more loud knocks, he realized they weren’t going away, Kyle finally relented and opened the door.

“Was wondering how long it was gonna take for you to open the door,” Special Agent Coleman said as she pushed past him and entered his apartment. She stopped in the middle of the spacious living room, placing her hands on her hips and surveyed the surroundings, “All the money you have going in and out of your bank account and you live like a homeless man, unbelievable.”

Kyle just stared at her, trying to reconcile the words she just spoke. “Excuse me? What are you doing here, Coleman? And by the way, I don’t think I invited you to come in,” he was a bit indignant.

“Let’s get something straight, Chapman. I’m the FBI, and you’re a low life under investigation for criminal activity, I don’t need a damn invitation to come in,” she turned around, never moving her hands from her hips, her eyes practically lasering through him.

“Fine, what do you want?”

Coleman walked over to the kitchen table, pulling out one of the chairs and taking a seat. She looked out the window, taking in the view of the river and of the city below, “One hell of a view you have here, tell me, exactly how do you afford this place as well as your place in Austin?”

“I’m an architect; I make good money. Besides, as you said, I live like a homeless person. I’m not into material things; I don’t spend a lot of money on stuff.”

“You’re a junior architect, Chapman. They don’t make nearly the same amount of money the lead architects do. I mean, you took a significant hit when you killed all those folks, right? No one trusts your designs; all your work is double checked by lead architects and design engineers now from what I understand. No one wants to have a building that has your name all over the design.”

Kyle could feel the blood in his veins beginning to boil. She was pushing his buttons on purpose. She wanted him to go off and explode, so she had the right ammunition against him. He began measured breathing, just like the therapist had told him, well before he quit going to her. “I’m doing alright, monetarily. And yeah, I got bumped to being a junior architect, but at least I don’t have to deal with the stress that the lead architects have to deal with. So, I’m not complaining.”

“Oh, c’mon Chapman, you expect me to believe that? You were jealous of the success of your wife, so you’re telling me you’re okay with being the low man on the totem pole? You have more advanced degrees than some of the folks in your office,” she continued to egg him on. “By the way, isn’t that the building where your ex-wife lives? Right across the river from here?”

“I’m sure you’re not here to talk to me about my ex-wife, my apartment, or if I’m okay with my fucking job title,” he seethed through clenched teeth.

Coleman tried to suppress her smile; she was enjoying the fact that she was getting under his skin. “I did, because it all intersects. Well, maybe not your ex-wife, I’m just curious about that piece of it because something isn’t sitting right with me where she’s concerned. But I told you I’m doing my research on you and your finances don’t add up, Kyle.”

Now he began to worry, the reach of the FBI meant that they could pull his bank records, his credit history, everything on him. Shit, he knew this was going to be trouble, Coleman had it out for him; she wasn’t kidding when she told him in Austin that she thought he got away with murder. She wanted to take him down, and by God, she was going to do it. He was trying not to sweat, he had no trouble intimidating Sabrina, but this woman, nope, she scared the hell out of him.

Coleman began tapping her fingers on the table, “See, I know you owe Saldonna a hefty amount of change. Word on the street is you owe him around ten million, give or take. Does that sound about right?”

Kyle said nothing, didn’t move a muscle; he figured any movement could be seen as confirming her suspicions, and that was the last thing he wanted to do.

“It’s okay, my CI is pretty reliable, so I feel good with the number,” Coleman said calmly, “So, it got me thinking about how you have to be paying him back. A junior architect, with two places of residence, there has to be some trick, right? I started pulling your bank records, Chapman and imagine my surprise when I found these wire transfers for significant amounts of money each month.”

Fuck, he was screwed. Coleman was playing herself off as folksy, a sweet southern woman who didn’t know what she was doing. The bitch knew exactly what she was doing. “Get to your point,” he snapped.

“Well these deposits, you’ve been getting them for years, about ten it looks like. But the amounts keep going up, and they jumped significantly about the time that building fell. And then your last payment went up again. So tell me, what are you holding over Sabrina’s head?”

~ * ~
Chris and Sabrina had been staying in the large guest room at the end of the hall on the second floor. It was his favorite guest room, the one he always claimed during his holiday visits with Tara. The large, four poster king bed was situated in front of the cathedral windows, providing a gorgeous view into the woods. Chris always loved this view on a bright moonlit night when there was a blanket of snow on the ground; the snow would sparkle like diamonds. He figured it was only proper they stay in this room; he wouldn’t feel right staying in Tara’s room; that would be creepy. She was his best friend, but he wasn’t crossing that line, even if the sheets were fresh!

The heat between him and Sabrina was measurable; somehow they had kept their hands off of one another as they had ascended the stairs towards the bedroom. Chris was a few steps behind her, watching as she slowly took each step, the motion of her leg and her footfall on the step. He admired the movements of the muscles in her calves, all the way up her thighs. It took everything within him not to reach out and run his hands up her legs.

As she took the last step, she turned to look back at him. Chris stopped, looking up at her, smiling as she gave him the ‘come hither’ look. He didn’t think it was possible to become any more aroused than he already was, but he was wrong. He let out a low growl as she walked off and he took the final few steps and followed her down the hallway. When he got to the bedroom door, he noticed she had turned the three-way bulb in the bedside lamp to the lowest setting, providing a soft glow to the room. She Sabrina had already pulled the covers back on the bed and was currently struggling to unzip the back of the black dress she had worn to dinner.

Chris stepped up behind her, sweeping her hair to the side, providing the perfect access to the zipper, but also to her neck. He helped himself, kissing her down her slender neck, sliding one arm around her waist and resting it on her stomach. He gently pulled her back closer to him, their bodies touching, the heat radiating between them.

He whispered in her ear, “Are you sure you’re up for this, baby? I don’t want to push you; I want to make sure you’ve got your strength back,” his breathy words on her skin practically sent her over the edge.

“I’ve waited long enough,” she was able to get out, her breath catching in her throat, “I’ve needed this, wanted this, for weeks. Don’t make me wait any longer, Chris.”

He spun her around in his arms, unzipping the dress as his lips crushed against hers in a passionate kiss. His tongue gliding across her lips, begging for access to explore her mouth. Her hands reached for his shirt, pulling it from his pants and frantically unbuttoning it. The two broke their kiss long enough for him to shrug out of his shirt and for her to shimmy out of her dress.

“Fuck,” the word escaped his lips without thought. Sabrina was standing in front of him wearing a barely there lace demi bra, her heaving breasts practically spilling out of it, and matching lace panties. “Remind me to send Alice a thank you card for packing those. And give her a raise, will you?”

Sabrina gave him a wicked smile, “I own them, so do I get a raise?” She asked, stepping forward to unbutton his trousers.

“Yeah, I’ve got one for you,” he teased as he began kissing her again, this time walking her back towards the bed. He gently picked her up, placing her on the bed, his eyes looking over her body, taking in every part of her. He missed her like this, naked or nearly so and ready for him to make love to her. While they had been sleeping together, in the same bed, for the last few nights, they had not been intimate. Each of them had been clothed, they had kissed and cuddled, but there had been no sex or even heavy petting. Chris had wanted her, he ached for her each night but had been worried about pushing her due to her need to recover. Instead, he took care of himself each morning in the shower, praying she wouldn’t walk in on him or even hear him. He was so hard that he was afraid he would explode the moment he slid into her.

He made quick work of shedding his trousers and boxer briefs, freeing his erection and proving to her that he was more than ready for her. He reached forward, in one quick motion, he rid Sabrina of her panties, causing her to yelp with delight. He crawled onto the bed, positioning himself over her, using his right knee to part her legs. He knelt in between her legs, leaning forward, his hands on either side of her head, crushing his lips to hers. His tongue pushed past her lips, tasting her and wrapping itself around hers; she was delicious. He inhaled her scent; he was so turned on, but he wanted the moment to last.

Sabrina, on the other hand, was not willing to wait. She put her hand on his chest, wrapped her legs around him and flipped him over. She wanted to be on top and take control, “I told you, I’ve waited long enough,” her voice was raspy and breathless. Chris stared at her wide-eyed. Sabrina laced her fingers with his, holding them up near his head, and gently lowered herself onto his throbbing cock.

Their bodies moved in a slow rhythm at first, getting reacquainted with one another. Sabrina decided to let go of his hands, wanting leverage, she moved to hold onto his shoulders. Chris put his hands on her hips, helping to guide her. Her painstakingly slow rocking was torture to them both, but neither one of them was ready to climax just yet; it felt too good to stop.

Chris moved his hands to Sabrina’s breasts, kneading them and gently pinching her nipples between his fingers and thumb. He could feel her walls clench; she was nearing climax, “Oh, Chris,” she began to pant.

“What, baby? Tell me what you want,” he responded back to her, “Do you want to cum for me?” Sabrina began to nod her head, unable to form the words to answer fully.

He rolled her over and began to thrust into her. It didn’t take long before they were both careening over the edge; screaming each other’s name as they climaxed in unison.

Chris collapsed to the side of Sabrina, trying to catch his breath.

“Oh, shit, that was incredible,” Sabrina turned her body, snuggling to his side. She reached up and wiped his hair off his forehead, along with the beaded sweat. “You had to hold out for a while, are you okay?” She ran her hand down his chest and gently caressed his semi-erect cock. It twitched in response.

“Don’t, oh God, don’t touch it,” he said with a somewhat pained tone in his voice, “Real sensitive, baby, oh shit.”

Sabrina let out a low, evil laugh, “So, you’re not okay, then?”

Chris reached for her hand, lacing his fingers with hers, “I am better than okay. And yes, that was utterly fantastic. The question is, how are you? Are you all right?”

“I’m all right,” she realized he had asked that question with lots of concern in his voice. Come to think of it, until the very end; he had been extremely gentle with her during sex. More so than usual, not that Chris was a rough lover, he wasn’t. But he was overly cautious and concerned, and it just seemed out of character, “Chris?”

“Hmm?” He responded, his eyes were lidded, the exhaustion of what they had just done was catching up to him.

“You’ve been treating me a little different these last few days. Tonight, well, tonight you were a bit more gentle than usual when we were making love. Why the change?”

Chris opened his eyes; a little surprised she was bringing it up. He knew he had to have this conversation with her; it had been rattling around in his brain since his phone call with Scott. How he was going to bring it up was his biggest concern, and it appeared she had just opened the door for him. That didn’t mean it was going to be any easier to have the talk. He knew that no matter how he broached the subject, it would be uncomfortable. And honestly, he didn’t know if he would be disappointed no matter the answer.

“I was worried about your condition, thought I should be gentle with you, that’s all.”

“My condition?” she let out a chuckle, “Are you talking about the fact that I collapsed and was weak? You don’t have to worry about that you know. I’m fine; it’s behind me.”

“Um, yeah but is there’s a reason why that happened?”

“Yeah, I didn’t eat or sleep for four weeks. I was stressed out and acting stupid, that’s all, you don’t need to worry about me.”

He took a deep breath; he was just going to go for it, “Sabrina, is there a chance that you’re pregnant?”

She immediately sat up, looking down at him as if he was crazy, “What? Where in the world is that coming from?”

Chris sat up, his expression serious, “I don’t know, I feel like you’ve been keeping something from me. I mean, I know I’ve been on the other side of the world, we haven’t been able to talk like we want to. Our relationship, or whatever this is, has been difficult these past few weeks. But, you’ve not been eating, not sleeping, your emotions are riding high,” his voice trailed off, she was glowering at him.

“My emotions? What in the hell is that supposed to mean?”

He sighed heavily; this was the perfect example, but he wasn’t about to point that out to her. “You’re fighting with your best friend, you completely freaked out over a vase of flowers that were delivered, you’re riding an emotional roller coaster. I’m concerned about you. That’s all,” he paused for a moment before continuing. He needed to make sure his voice conveyed that he was not upset, the idea that she might be pregnant was not a problem for him. He didn’t want her to think that he didn’t want to sound acquisitory or angry, just needed her to know he was worried.

He put his hand on the nape of her neck, pulling her close, placing a soft kiss on her lips. Resting his forehead on hers, he began to coo, “You’ve not been yourself, I’m trying to figure out what is going on. Some of the things that are going on, they just mirror symptoms of pregnancy. I know you said you were using birth control, but there is always the chance that it could fail. I had to ask, for the record, I wouldn’t be freaked out if you were.”

She listened to what he said, but she could not contain her reaction. She pulled back from him and snapped, “You might not be freaked out, but I sure in the hell would be. No, I’m not pregnant, and I don’t want to be. My condition, as you called it, was just because I was stressed out and not eating or sleeping. That’s it, Chris. As far as my fight with my best friend,” she grew quiet, she didn’t want to tell him the truth. It wasn’t her place to tell him about Audrey’s feelings and how that played a role in their relationship being blown apart.

“Did that have to do with her feelings for me?”

Sabrina couldn’t hide her surprise, “You know?”

“I confronted her on why she didn’t call me what about your collapse, why I had to get a Google alert on it. She came clean, told me she didn’t work for you and told me she had feelings for me. She said you two had a fight, but didn’t tell me all of those details. I was too hung up on her confession that she had feelings for me.”

“She pushed me to go out with you, give you a chance, then got angry with me because we’re together.”

Chris watched her expression as she said the words. He couldn’t leave well enough alone; he figured if they were clearing the air, he needed the answer to the one thing that has been nagging him for weeks. “Are we together, Sabrina? How exactly do you see us? I mean, you just made it abundantly clear that you are thankful that you are not pregnant and you don’t ever want me to get you pregnant. So, am I nothing more than a fuck toy for you? Is this just a fling for you?”

Her heart stopped, those were not words she had anticipated him saying. Her words were stuck in her throat; her body was frozen. When she didn’t respond to him, Chris eased himself off the bed, reaching for his boxer briefs, he began to get dressed.

As he dressed, he started talking, “See, before Audrey admitted her feelings for me, she told me that you don’t do relationships. I should prepare myself for disappointment. I won’t get from you what I want. I told her she was wrong, after all, you and I had a connection, we made a physical and chemical connection, I felt it,” he stopped and looked up at her. He had his trousers on as well as his shirt, but he had not bothered to button it. “I was hoping this was all more than just mindless fucking for you, that you were letting your emotions take part, that you were letting me in. You see, this wasn’t a fling for me, my emotions were there the entire time. So much so, I was planning to tell you during this trip that I love you, even though I was fully aware you wouldn’t be able to say it back to me.”

Sabrina just stared at him, the words echoing in her head. He had said he loved her. Her heart was beating rapidly; she could hear the blood rushing in her ears. It either meant she was going to pass out or have a panic attack, she wasn’t sure which. The room was beginning to spin; it was a panic attack. No man had told her that he loved her since Kyle; the last time he said it and truly meant it, was more than ten years ago. She had not known Chris that long, how could he feel that way about her so quickly?

He started to walk away from her. He could tell she was having a hard time dealing with the words he had spat at her. But he could not just stand there all night and hope she could get the nerve to answer him. No, he had to save face, he needed to walk away. He had taken three steps towards the door when he heard her voice break.

“You’re not a fling or a fuck toy,” her words were barely audible, she was crying and whispering. He hated that she was crying, that he had made her cry, but he needed to hear more from her before he was willing to turn around. He would at least stay in the room, for the moment. “Emotions are hard for me, but if you think this was just a mindless fuck, you’re wrong, Chris.”

With those words, he turned around to face her. She had pulled her knees up to her chest; her arms are wrapped around her legs, hugging herself. Tears streaking down her face, he could see the hurt in her eyes, and he felt a pang of guilt over what he had said. She wasn’t looking at him. Her stare was straight ahead at where he had one been standing. She never shifted her gaze.

“Why can’t you just tell me what is going on in that head of yours? Let me in; Sabrina quit making this so damn hard.”

“I’m broken, can’t you see that? Maybe you’re better off without me. I don’t know how to handle a relationship, especially one that is moving so fast and making me feel things I haven’t felt in a long time. I’m scared, Chris, scared that I feel this way and what it all means.”

He hadn’t moved since she started talking. Instead, he just watched her, waiting to see what she would do. She never turned to look at him; she just kept staring straight ahead. “Why do you think I’d be better off without you?” His voice was soft; it wasn’t angry or hateful. He genuinely wanted to know the answer.

“I’ve spent my whole life trying to be the best architect, sacrificing my personal life so that I could have professional success,” she finally turned and looked at him, “I’m 42 years old, and you’re what, 35?”

“36,” he answered quietly.

“I’ve spent my life not wanting kids, and you, that’s what you want. You said you wouldn’t have been upset if I had told you I was pregnant. I’m too old to give you the family you want. So, maybe you would be better off finding a younger woman,” she trailed off, the tears beginning to fall from her eyes.

She took a deep breath and looked up at him. He was watching her with what she was certain was pity, “You want to know what is worse? There is a part of me that thinks I actually want that with you after all. That’s why I’m so scared, that everything I’ve always known and said I wanted, I’m willing to consider giving it up. For a man, I’ve known for a little more than a month.”

Now Chris decided it was time to move, he walked to the bed, taking a seat next to Sabrina. He reached over, wrapping his arm around her, pulling her body to his. “You’re not the only one who is scared, do you think I run around and fall in love with women I’ve known for only a month? This isn’t normal for me either.”

“Then why do you seem more composed?” She sniffled.

“You do remember that I’m an actor, right?” He chuckled, “I’ve gotten pretty good at being able to hide my emotions when I need to.” He moved Sabrina so he could look her in the eyes, “You scare the hell out of me. You’re not like any woman I’ve ever been involved with, Sabrina. I don’t know where I stand with you because you won’t open up to me. I just want you to trust me; I have no intention of hurting you.”

“Wait! I scare you? Why in the world would an architect from Chicago scare a famous actor?”

“You are so self-assured and command a room when you walk in. The people of Chicago eat out of the palm of your hand, it’s unreal.”

“Why did you think I only thought of you as a boy toy? I don’t understand what made you think that I felt that way,” she asked as she put her head back on his shoulder.

“You didn’t want to be seen in public with me. You didn’t want anyone to know about us being together. I thought you were embarrassed by me. I figured you thought I was beneath you, I wasn’t the type of guy you should be seen with,” he sounded almost apologetic for saying it out loud. While it made sense in his head, out loud it made him sound like an idiot.

“I never wanted to take you out in public because of the attention. Face it, you have photographers following you consistently if it isn’t the paparazzi then it’s fangirls stalking you. I’m not ready for that, Chris. I’m already anxiety riddled over the idea of you and me, but add that into the mix. I just don’t know if I could handle it,” she reached out for his hand, lacing her fingers with his and squeezing his hand for reassurance. “Besides, keeping you in the apartment, well, it allowed us to get to know each other, shall we say, intimately?”

“We definitely got to know each other intimately,” he answered with a laugh.

“I’m sorry if I made you feel anything less than special, Chris. My heart broke when you left, I thought you realized that you meant more to me,” the tears began to form in her eyes once again.

Chris moved his arm and began rubbing her back, “Shhh, I knew you were upset when I left. It’s okay, baby, I promise.”

“Did you mean what you said? Do you really love me?”

He let out a heavy sigh, “Yeah, as crazy as it sounds, I do.”

Sabrina moved so that she was straddling Chris’ lap, she slid her arms around him, under his shirt. Tucking her head under his chin, pulling herself to him so they were chest to chest. Chris felt the tears slid down her cheeks, onto his chest. He wrapped his arms around her, enveloping her in a hug and gently rubbing her back.

“I love you, too,” she whispered.

Chris could not believe she said it back to him, it was not what he had expected to hear. He felt as if his heart would burst, he already knew he couldn’t speak, any words would get caught in his throat. After holding her for a few minutes, he stood from the bed, she was still wrapped in his arms. He pulled the covers back on the bed and put her down gently. He then moved to the other side of the bed, quickly shedding his clothes and joining her in bed. She immediately went to him, rolling her back to his chest. He wrapped his arms around her, nuzzling his nose in her hair, inhaling her scent.

“Go to sleep baby, we can talk more in the morning,” he murmured, his voice velvety smooth.

~ * ~
Sabrina slowly opened her eyes, she was lying on her stomach, her arms up under the pillow. She could feel the sheet draped across the lower part of her back, with the lightness of the mattress, she could tell she was alone in bed. She didn’t want to move her head to check Chris’ side of the bed, she didn’t want to see the emptiness beside her. She took a deep breath, thinking back to the discussion from last night, the fact they had each declared their love for one another. She couldn’t believe she said the words out loud, honestly, if he hadn’t said it first, the words might not have escaped her lips.

As she was getting lost in her own thoughts, she heard footsteps nearing the door. Casting her eyes upward, she noticing Chris coming into the bedroom with the coffee carafe and mugs. He smiled at her, “Well, look who decided to wake up,” he sat everything down on the nightstand then took a seat on the mattress next to her. He leaned down, giving her a kiss on the head while pulling the sheet up so she could cover herself as she sat up.

“Hey, good morning,” she sat up, pulling the sheet up to her chest, “What time is it?”

“Almost 9, I was afraid I was going to wake you when I got up, but you were out cold. I think the emotion of last night wore you out,” he poured her a cup of coffee, handing handed it to her, “How do you feel this morning?”

Sabrina took a tentative sip from her cup, then tried to form a coherent thought to answer him. “I’m okay, I guess. Still trying to wrap my brain around everything we talked about and what it means for us going forward. How are you?”

“The same,” he took a drink of his coffee as well, “I’m not regretting that I told you I love you, though. Are you regretting you said it back?”

Sabrina took another sip of her coffee, the warm liquid helping her resolve, she smiled at me him, “No, I don’t regret it. I just don’t know if I should have admitted I was broken, that’s all.”

Chris reached over, placing his cup back on the nightstand. He then leaned over, his hands on either side of Sabrina, his face close to hers, “Babe, we need to be honest with one another, you telling me that you’re broken, it explains a lot and helps me understand where we are,” he kissed her lips softly. Pushing back, he took her coffee cup from her hand, “We’ve had enough conversations in the last 24 hours with you naked, literally and figuratively, why don’t you take a shower and get dressed. We can continue this downstairs in a bit.” Kissing her again, he got up from the bed, picking up the coffee cups and carafe and went downstairs.

Sabrina watched as he walked out of the room. The thought that was going through her mind, ‘how am I so lucky to have him?’ Seriously, he was almost perfect! Okay, maybe not, but the fact that he was caring, understanding, gorgeous, and in love with her, it was all too much to ask for in one person. Her thoughts went back for a moment to Kyle, and how he was going to do what he could to ruin her and if ever found out who Chris was, he would destroy him, too.

Chris said they needed to be honest with one another, and he was right. But she couldn’t tell him about Kyle, at least not yet. She was going to try and take care of Kyle on her own, he was in financial trouble, and she knew it. If she could help get him out of his mess, he might step away, and the risk for Chris would be zero. Why get him upset over something if she could get it to disappear? Besides, if Chris knew what Kyle was up to, he would want to kick his ass. And that would not look good for Chris, Disney and Marvel would not be happy that story hit the paper.

No, the goal was to protect Chris at all costs. Keep him out of trouble, keep him out of the tabloids. She got out of bed, headed for the bathroom to take her shower.

Sabrina descended the stairs into the living room about an hour later. Chris was sitting on the couch, smartphone in hand, checking his emails. He looked up and smiled as he watched her come into the room. “I was beginning to worry if you were going to come downstairs or not,” he joked as he clicked his phone off and sat it on the table.

“Sorry to have kept you waiting, it took me a little time to get out of bed. I didn’t really want to move,” she laughed, “I was actually comfortable, even if I was a little bare.”

Chris leaned forward, resting his elbows on his knees, watching as Sabrina sat across from him in the oversized chair. “I don’t want to rehash everything we already discussed. I just want to talk about where we go from here, are you ready for that conversation?”
Sabrina didn’t speak, but she did nod in agreement. “Are you willing to give us a real shot? Call it a relationship and consider us dating?”

Sabrina let a smile cross her lips, “Yes, I’m willing to say that we’re dating, are you?”

“Yes, I am. But you realize that with my job, I’m not always available when you want me or need me, right? I can’t just drop everything and run to you, and if I’m in an intense role, I might be emotionally unavailable.”

“I get that, I might not like it,” she admitted, “But I understand it. Just like you have to know my job is stressful, I have deadlines, and I put in long hours when those deadlines get close. I might be just as unavailable as you are.”

“Understood, we just need to keep an open line of communication between us,” Chris took a deep breath, not sure how to continues, “We also have to be completely honest with one another. No secrets, understood?”

Sabrina swallowed hard, this was going to be the most difficult part of their agreement. She knew this is where she should tell him about Kyle, but she couldn’t do it. She knew she was about to start this relationship with a lie between them, one that could eventually bite her in the ass. But she had no choice, she wasn’t ready to admit she was divorced, or being blackmailed, “I understand, no secrets, Chris.”

“Ok, so, in the interest of being open and honest with you, I have a few things to tell you. First of all, I have an unhealthy obsession with the New England Patriots and Tom Brady. Second, I have a tendency to break out into song and dance,” he was laughing at this point and noticing that Sabrina was stifling her laugh as well. “And third, when I love someone, I do all I can to protect that person and make them happy. Now, it’s your turn.”

Sabrina took a deep breath and calmed her nerves, “Ok, first and foremost, I have an intense dislike for the New England Patriots and Tom Brady and will do my best to not hold that against you. Keep in mind, I’m from Chicago, and no matter how bad we are, I’m a fan of Da Bears!” A smile broke out, and Chris could not help but return it, she was trying so hard to be adorable, “Second, I’ve seen you dance, and it turns me on. So, please feel free to dance whenever you want. And third, I want to do all I can to protect you and make you happy. I’m afraid the person I’m protecting you from is me, I don’t know how to do relationships, so please go easy on me.”

“Come here,” Chris motioned for Sabrina to join him on the couch. She walked over, and he pulled her down so she was sitting on his lap. Instinctively, she wrapped her arms around his neck, they moved towards one another and met in a passionate kiss.

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