Power (The Keatyn Chronicles Book 9)
TUESDAY, OCTOBER 7TH
Vanessa’s Estate, Guest house - Holmby Hills
“Collin! Stop it!” I yell, pulling away from his unwanted kiss.
He grabs my arms tightly, digging his fingers in. “You’re my wife. You need to come with me.”
“How did you get in here?” I ask, wondering how he got through the gate.
“I told the phone company we were in California on vacation and you misplaced your phone. They gave me the GPS coordinates. The gate was open. You told your parents you were staying in a friend’s guest house. And here I am.”
I shove the divorce papers toward him. “Take these. It’s time you face the facts. We’re getting a divorce. We’re not getting back together, and I’m not coming home!”
He leans closer to me, like he’s going to kiss me again, but instead he whispers, “But, pumpkin, you got up in front of 478 people and promised ‘Til death do us part.”
“And you promised to be faithful. You broke our vows, Collin, not me.”
“I told you I’d stop seeing her.”
“No, you told me you already had, but we both know you lied about it. You need to leave, now!” I shout.
“I’m not leaving without you!”
“Yes, you are,” a voice says.
Collin spins around to find Chad, Vanessa’s buff, massage-giving pool boy standing behind him. Chad’s arms are crossed in front of his chest, his muscles bulging from beneath a tight white T-shirt.
“Who the fuck do you think you are?” Collin asks haughtily. “I’m her husband.”
“Who she is divorcing. I will escort you out now or have you arrested for trespassing. Your choice.”
Collin studies Chad closely and I know which option he will choose. Although he tries to act tough, he’s not a fighter. He’s too soft.
“This isn’t over, Ariela,” he says to me, as he allows Chad to lead him away.
Collin stares at me the whole time Chad is dragging him down the stone path. That’s when I notice a pink bouquet lying on the ground.
I run toward the house so fast that I pass Chad and Collin, looking for him. When I get to the front of the house, I see a single pink petal lying on the driveway. I pick it up and stare at it.
As Collin walks by me, he knocks it out of my hand. “I’m going to make your life miserable, baby. That’s a promise.”
“You don’t know how to keep promises, baby,” I sass back before he screeches out of the driveway.
I turn to Chad. “Was Riley here?”
“I haven’t seen him.”
I rush back to the guest house, stopping to pick up the beautiful bouquet of pink peonies. When we first dated, I told Collin they were my favorite flower, but he always insisted that red roses were better. When we dated later in college, he asked me again. This time I lied, telling him I loved red roses. I would have died if he ever bought me anything pink. Pink was something I shared with Riley. When Riley asked me to be his girlfriend, he gave me a pink rhinestone Hello Kitty ring. On our one-year anniversary, he filled my dorm room with an assortment of pink flowers. The peonies were my favorite and Riley said they would forever be our flower. Part of me can’t believe he remembers. But our love left such an imprint on our souls that neither of us could ever forget.
I set the bouquet down on the kitchen counter while I grab my phone and call him.
It goes straight to voicemail.
Could Riley have seen me with Collin? Is that why he dropped the flowers and left?
I call again and get no answer, so I decide to text him.
Me: Hey, are we still on for tonight?
When he doesn’t reply, I send another.
Me: I found the flowers, Riley. Please call me.
My hands shake as I fill a vase with water for the peonies. I set the gorgeous arrangement on the sofa table then go up to the main house, finding Vanessa in the kitchen.
“I heard your ex was here,” she says as she pours me a drink. “You need this?”
I gratefully take the drink.
“You’re shaking,” she says. “What happened?”
“I’m not even sure,” I say, taking a gulp. “I opened the door happily expecting Riley but found Collin standing there instead.”
“What did he say?”
“That he wants me to come home. That he’ll stop cheating. When I said no, he grabbed me and kissed me. And now I’m freaking out because I’m afraid Riley might have seen.”
“What makes you think that? Dawson just texted me to cancel our dinner plans. Something about a last minute business trip with his brother.”
“That’s weird.” I double-check my phone. “He didn’t call or text me. Did Dawson say where they’re going?”
“Nope. Just that he had to go straight to the airport.”