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Home > Billionaire Unbound ~ Chloe (The Billionaire's Obsession #8)(4)

Billionaire Unbound ~ Chloe (The Billionaire's Obsession #8)(4)
Author: J.S. Scott

Chloe dropped into a chair at the kitchen table, watching him until he disappeared on his way back to the living room area where the party was taking place.

Still trying to wrap her muddled brain around what had just happened, she automatically whispered aloud, “Happy New Year, Gabe.”

She lost track of how long she sat in the kitchen before she finally rejoined the party.

Two days later, Chloe sat in front of her laptop, her body rigid with fear as she stared at the blank screen on her desk.

Dial the number. Start the session.

She’d finally confessed to her sister-in-law, Lara, exactly what was happening with James. Lara was a former FBI agent who had left the Bureau and gone back to school to finish her degree in psychology. With Ellie gone, Chloe hadn’t known who to turn to, and talking to her mother about the issues was out of the question right now. After a long discussion with Lara, Tate’s wife had given Chloe the number to set up an appointment with one of the foremost experts in the world on domestic abuse.

The psychologist, Dr. Natalie Townson, was based in the UK, so she’d made an Internet appointment.

It’s time. Sign in.

Oh God, was she really going to do this?

I’m not ready. I’m not ready.

She didn’t know if she could talk to a woman she didn’t know at all about her very personal life with James.

Then, she pictured Gabe’s face, the way he’d touched her two nights ago. She thought about Lara and her look of genuine horror as Chloe had described some of the things that bothered her about James. Both of them had reached out to her in different ways to try to help her. She might be irritated and embarrassed about her reaction to Gabe, but his white-hot kiss had been a learning experience.

There’s no harm in trying, Chloe. Do it.

Before she could change her mind, she brought up her computer and followed the instructions to be connected with Dr. Townson. The woman’s face appeared almost immediately, as though she had been waiting for her.

“Hello, Chloe. Are you ready to begin the session? I’m hoping I can help make things better for you.”

The woman was beautiful with shoulder-length brown hair and the kindest eyes Chloe had ever seen. She had a lovely, melodious English accent that was soothing to Chloe’s ears. “I’m nervous, Dr. Townson,” she said in a rush.

“That’s normal. But you’re very brave. Please call me Natalie. Is it okay that I’m using your first name, Chloe?”

She wasn’t sure if Natalie suggested first names because they were both doctors in their respective fields, but she was relieved to be able to address the woman less formally.

“Yes.” Chloe nodded slowly.

“Good.” Natalie smiled wider.

“I’m not sure I need this, and I’m not sure if I’m ready, but I do want to try.” Chloe looked into the computer screen and met the other woman’s compassionate gaze. She sensed that Natalie knew exactly how she felt.

“Well then, wanting to try is the most important part. We’ll figure out everything else as we go along, shall we?” Natalie suggested earnestly.

Chloe sat up straighter in her chair, giving Natalie a weak smile in return. “Okay.”

Maybe she wasn’t ready, but maybe nobody ever was. Something was wrong, and Chloe was determined to figure out exactly what it was, and how she could heal the damaged places in her soul.

Her body slowly relaxed as she opened up and let the first session begin.

The Present…

“Chloe, please tell me you aren’t seriously still considering marriage to James,” Lara Colter begged her sister-in-law as they both brushed their wet hair in the shower room of the Rocky Springs Resort. Lara had been teaching Chloe self-defense every morning for months, and working out and cleaning up at the resort had become their morning routine.

Chloe looked at her, a woman who had become both mentor and friend since she’d married Tate. “I pushed the wedding back because Ellie disappeared.”

Though Chloe had been counseling with Natalie for months, since right after the New Year had started, and she knew she wasn’t going to marry James, she’d been taking her time canceling the wedding for good.

“Cancel it. You know you can’t marry him. He doesn’t love you, Chloe, and you don’t love him,” Lara said in a pleading voice full of concern.

What Lara said was true. Chloe had known the truth since Gabe had kissed her months ago. Natalie had forced her to see the truth. Chloe had spent a short time in denial, but deep inside she did know the truth. James had become more and more cruel, but he was still determined to see them become man and wife. If he hurt her, he’d come back contrite, claiming he was stressed out. They’d have a brief period of harmony and then it would happen all over again. She wasn’t sure how much longer she could stay on the roller coaster without falling off.

She’d needed time to straighten out her head, so she’d avoided as much conflict as possible with him. Unfortunately, he still pushed for a wedding—nuptials that Chloe knew were never going to happen. She just hadn’t found the strength to tell him…until recently. It had taken her months to finally understand that things with James were never going to change.

“I didn’t know what to do,” she admitted for the first time. “Things are okay for a while, and then he just…changes.” Not that it was ever great, but there were occasionally periods of peace. However, those moments were happening less and less often. She knew she needed to sever her connection to him completely. James was trying harder and harder to control her.

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