As I stand back and look at the reception desk and the open office space, I think about how proud Viola is that I really did it; I started my own business. I don’t burden her with all the details, knowing she’s staying plenty busy right now, but I know Drew is keeping her up-to-date. With the holidays approaching, the grand opening and scissor cutting ceremony isn’t until after the new year. I’ve invited community leaders, potential clients, and even the mayor, but the only person I want to be there is her.

As I look around, I remember how empowering it was to leave Crawford Marketing five months ago. The accident and Viola leaving was the wake-up call I needed. Going after my dreams is scary as fuck, but the reward is so much greater than the risk, and so far I haven’t regretted my decision. I now laugh at the day I took control of my career and gave Crawford Marketing the hypothetical middle finger. Blake was reaming my ass, as usual, something about not using time stamps on printed documents, and it all just clicked. There was no way I could stay there any longer—not with the tension, the lies, and the whole corporate vibe.

As Blake continued to shout at me, I stood up and started grabbing small items off my desk and tossing them into my briefcase. He was so far up his own ass; he didn’t even realize what I was doing. After asking him if he was done, I told him ‘I quit.’ Hilariously, he told me I couldn’t quit and demanded I get my ass back to my desk. I laughed in his face and walked out of my office without looking back. All the stress that miserable job caused instantly disappeared when I took my final step out the door. I wished I would have done it sooner.

The following day I wrote out my business plan and continued to push forward on opening my own marketing firm. As ready as I am, and knowing I’ve given it my all, I’m still nervous as fuck because failing is not an option.

Once the computers and printer are set up, I realize I should’ve hired an IT person to make sure the networking is installed correctly. Remembering Viola mentioning Courtney being a computer genius, which still shocks the shit out of me, I decide to ask Drew for her number.

T: Hey, do you have Courtney’s number by chance?

D: Who?

T: Courtney. Has the hots for you. Viola’s crazy blonde friend. Usually parading around in cowgirl boots and red lipstick.

D: Thanks for such a vivid picture. No, I don’t, but I’ll ask Viola for it.

He sends it back to me in under a minute. I’m sure Viola was more than willing to give it to him, probably because she thinks Drew wants to ask Courtney on a date or something. It actually makes me laugh. I would’ve texted Viola and asked myself, but our conversations haven’t been anything more than small talk or pictures of Gryff. She texts me about her job duties and her friend, Liam. She posts pictures of them together on Instagram, and it drives me insane that she’s spending so much time with him, even though she swears they’re only friends.

I don’t tell her how much it hurts to have her gone or not to know where we stand. I don’t tell her it feels as if we’re in limbo, and I have no idea if she’ll ever move back or if we’ll ever be an us again. I don’t tell her any of those things because I fear it’ll scare her away forever.

Although I’ve given her the space she’s clearly asked for, it’s killing me inside. I want to beg her to come back to me, tell her I need her, and that every day since she’s been gone has been the worst day of my life. But I know that isn’t fair to her. She’s worked so hard for this opportunity, and I can’t be the one to get in the way of it. I know she’s making a life in Boston, and although it still pains me to know she doesn’t trust me, I’m not giving up on us. I’ll never give up on us and will do whatever it takes to gain her trust back. I know she’ll be home soon for the holidays, and that’ll be my chance to lay it all out for her. She won’t leave again without knowing exactly where I stand.

Union International will more than likely offer her a full-time position; they would be idiots not to, but it’ll be her decision to accept or decline.

The selfish part of me hopes she hates the snow as much as she hates the rain and will come back to sunny California without a second thought.

Tags: Kennedy Fox The Checkmate Duet Erotic