Tessa's Temptation(9)

By: Ella Jade

“We continued to go there every summer until I was twelve then we had to sell.” Disappointment settled in her eyes. “I loved that place.”

“The property was incredible. That’s prime real estate today. I wonder who owns it?”

“The bank took it from my dad, so whoever got it probably made out really well.” She played with the napkin in front of her plate. “Some of my best childhood memories were spent there. I wish I could go back.”

“I’m sorry.” He reached across the table and took her hand, feeling the need to comfort her. “That must have been hard on you.”

“It was just one more thing to add to my shitty childhood.” She laughed, but it was different from her infectious giggle. “So you wouldn’t have all of this,” she looked around, “if not for my old man?”

“Well, I might have had all of this, but my life wouldn’t have turned out this good. Some of the friends I hung out with back then didn’t do as well as I did. Three of them were pretty bad. One went to jail, another is snorting his trust fund, and I lost track of the other one. Your dad got my ass in gear and made sure I didn’t give my mom any more trouble. I went off to college after that last summer I spent at the cabin.”

“Did you lose touch with my dad? I don’t ever remember you coming around.”

“We kept in touch for a while. I studied abroad for a few semesters. Then I moved to San Diego for a couple of years. I worked for a firm there before coming back to Massachusetts and starting my own company. I’ve been so busy the past few years that I lost touch with him. A friend of my mom’s mentioned his accident to me because he remembered I stayed with your dad.”

“I’m glad you reached out to him, but I’m still embarrassed he asked you to take me in. That was totally unexpected.”

“I was surprised myself.” He smiled when he thought about that conversation in the hospital. Pat had caught him off guard, but when he saw the desperation on Tessa’s face there was no way he could say no. “When I went to visit him, I had no idea I’d be leaving with a roommate.”

“Do you regret it? It must be hard to have someone invade your space.” She glanced down at their joined hands.

“Sorry.” He let go of her hand. Holding it seemed so natural that he had forgotten he was even doing it. “Now I’ve invaded your space.”

“I don’t mind.”

“I’m glad I came home for dinner,” he said. “It’s been nice getting to know you.”

“Do you think we could do it again next week?” She looked up at him with those persuasive blue eyes of hers. They were full of hope and anticipation. “If you’re not too busy.”

“I’d like that.”

“Cool.” She stood and collected the dirty plates. “You want to go watch a movie? You have that massive home theater that I never see you use.”

“Sure, that sounds like a plan.” Just as he was about to help her with the dishes there was a knock at the back door. There were only a small group of people who came to the back door and he hadn’t invited any of them tonight.

“Expecting someone?” she asked.

“I don’t think so.” He moved toward the door, looking through the glass to see who it was. Crap!

His attorney and ex-girlfriend was standing there holding a six pack of beer. Chase pulled open the door to greet the woman who often showed up when she had nothing better to do. She’d been dating someone for over a month and hadn’t come knocking in weeks. Not once since Tessa moved in.

“Audra,” he said, “what brings you here?”

“I have those papers for you to sign and I thought maybe we could order a pizza. I brought beer.” She held up her offering. “Did you eat?”

“Yeah, I did.”

“This early?” She stepped into the kitchen. “Since when are you even home at this hour?”

“Hi.” Tessa moved to stand next to Chase. “We have some pizza left over if you’re hungry.”

Tessa had taken Audra by surprise. Chase could see it in her expression. He’d mentioned he’d taken in his friend’s daughter but he hadn’t given her any details. He hoped his unstable ex didn’t misbehave.

“You must be Tessa,” Audra said as she glared at Chase. “I’m Audra Sinclair, Chase’s attorney.”

“Cool,” Tess said. “I’ll bet he keeps you busy. He’s such a workaholic.”

“He’s a real slave-driver.” Audra set the six pack on the counter. “Do you want to go over those contracts tonight or are you busy?”