Backing out of his hold, she gave him a small smile. “I won’t. I don’t need to with Brad.”
“Okay. I’ll get out of your hair. Call me if you need anything.”
“Will do.” She waved, watched him climb into his truck and back out of the drive. When he disappeared down the street, Cassie ventured inside. Her gaze caught on the photograph of her and Chris atop the mantle as she crossed the front room, and her confident stride faltered. The heavy weight resting on her shoulders pressed harder. She’d given him eight years of her life. His family had built this home for them. Was it right for her to build a new life under this roof?
Cassie wandered to the photograph and stared at Chris’s handsome face. His eyes were so serious, so intense, even though he’d just been wrestling with her in the grass. The two men were like sunrise and sunset, similar in their general approach to the world, but entirely different. Both full of incredible beauty, inside and out. Chris had built this house for her, and he had tried to make himself fit inside it. Just as she’d tried to fit inside his world. But their frames were mismatched, his nails too short and her corners too wide. He’d wanted her to be happy, he just didn’t know how. He would want that same happiness for her now, and if she had been the one to die, she’d wish the same for him.
She traced a fingertip over the glass and breathed deeply. “Thank you,” she whispered. “I never said it often enough, but thank you for loving me so much.” A faint smile slowly emerged on her lips. “He loves me, Chris, and I love him. I hope you’re okay with this, because I know what I need now.”
Cassie rose to her toes to put the photograph back in place, but at the last minute took it back down. She glanced around the room for a more appropriate location. Though she didn’t intend to tuck away her past in some forgotten corner, it was time to make new memories.
A nook in the tall bookcase caught her eye. She took the photograph there, rearranged the spines so his favorite novels rested on the same shelf, and tucked the picture in the middle. When she stepped back to inspect the arrangement, the knot in her belly finally let go.
Brad accepted the scotch Randall Blackson offered him with a polite dip of his chin, hoping he didn’t appear as frazzled as he felt. Aside from the lingering tiredness in his limbs from a full night with Cassie, the rush to the airport, the harried business of a delayed connecting flight, had him discombobulated. He’d grabbed the first suit and tie his fingers touched in the closet, and he still wasn’t entirely certain the dry cleaners hadn’t paired his coat with another suit’s pants.
“Good to see you, Brad.” Randall clapped a hand onto his shoulder and steered him away from the ornate liquor cabinet. “We’re sure looking forward to your joining us. Monday’s more or less a formality, but Higgins has some questions for you.”
“About?” Brad sipped from his lowball glass.
“Your view of the firm. How you feel you contribute to furthering our goals, and your vision of your role as a Blackson and Goodwell partner.”
Talk about high concept—Brad swallowed a groan. It wasn’t a performance review, but a psychological exam. So not what he was prepared to handle while he was still trying to wrap his head around the fact he’d fallen in love with Cassie.
“We’ll also want an update on that Cooper case, the status, the angle of approach you’re using, and your rationale for choosing that approach. Case law if necessary. And, of course, your thoughts on why Miles Cooper might feel the way he does about your work.”
Holy fuck. Brad nearly spit his drink all over Randall’s Italian shoes. He didn’t have an angle of approach for that mess. He had to have something concrete and plausible in less than forty-eight hours.
Fuck, fuck, fuck.
“Enough about that though. I’m sure there won’t be any surprises—you’ll do fine. You always do.” Randall let out a deep laugh and gestured at the guests gathered around his formal dining room. “Tonight this is pleasure, not business, Old dog Heagle’s tying the knot. Looks like Mandy’s beckoning us over.”