Tell Me You Want Me (Search and Seduce, #2)
You’re the only reason this book exists the way it does. Thank you for the endless info on duct tape scenarios! You are the most bad ass woman in the world and I love you.
“What do you mean you’re not coming?” Michelle Ruby asked into her cell phone.
“I’m sorry,” Chloe’s voice came back. “I totally wanted to do this with you, but something came up.”
Michelle let out a long sigh. “If that something is Gage again, that’s not a good enough excuse to ditch me.”
Chloe McGraw was seen less frequently around their small town of Beaufort, North Carolina, than Big Foot lately. Three months ago, she’d married Gage McGraw, the head training officer of North Carolina Search and Rescue, and ever since then, neither of them appeared to have exited the honeymoon phase. It was probably the truest Happily Ever After for a couple that Michelle had seen.
“Well, this is kind of Gage’s fault that I can’t come,” Chloe admitted.
Michelle clutched the phone to her ear and turned to glance at the classroom door behind her.
“I’m literally standing at the entrance of the class and…” Was she really going to go in alone? Or she could leave. Forget this whole thing. But then she’d be exactly what her parents and ex thought her to be: a give up and run home girl.
Michelle huffed and took out her notebook and flipped to her extensive “To Do” list, each with subcategories that were color coded and outlined for maximum success.
#1) Be Independent.
She frowned at the number one bullet point and knew there was a lot that went into those two small words. She’d spent her whole life dependent on her family, their money, and her ex-fiancé. But she couldn’t do it anymore. Couldn’t give in to a life that was structured for her, a life that was so safe she never had to worry about being hurt but also could never know for sure that she was capable of taking care of herself. She refused to depend on anyone again.
Which brought her to a different list, the “To Don’t” list. There was only one bullet point on that one, and it was:
#1) Don’t get into a relationship. Ever!
She’d learned the hard way that giving herself completely to a man only gave him the power to control. And the new Michelle was all about finding independence. In every way. She even had a sexual fantasy list, but she’d save that for later.
Right now, she was standing alone, attempting to take a step in finding this phantom independence by signing up for a survival training course. Surely if she could survive, that would be proof to herself and everyone that she was well on her way to having her life under control.
As if Chloe read her mind, she said, “I am really sorry I can’t do the wilderness survival day with you today, but you should still go. Have fun! It will be adventurous after all.”
That one word struck her chest and delivered a kick of annoyance and pain. She’d been in town for just over six months now. After breaking ties with her family and their money, she’d been determined to live a life for herself and on her own. She was more than just her family’s rich name and even richer bank account. At least, that’s what she kept telling herself.
Growing up in the city, she’d never had any real friends or freedom. But finally in this little town, she had friends and her small high-fashion boutique—The Chic Storm. And failure wasn’t an option. Some weeks were better than others for her store—in fact, if she didn’t turn her business around in the next six months, she’d be forced to consider closing the shop—but she was determined not to go bust. She wouldn’t. She couldn’t. Because that would mean she’d have to run home to her family. And that simply wasn’t an option.
Which was one other big reason why she’d come here for this survival training. The next six months would prove whether she could be the woman she needed to be. If a little thing like a struggling business was enough to break her, how could she hope to stand tall for the rest of her life?
Her stomach clenched, but she took a deep breath and forced the feeling deep down, where it couldn’t hurt her anymore.
She would make this work on her own. She’d show them all that she was a strong, independent woman.
The phone call she’d gotten from her mother a few days ago had been an unpleasant reminder of just how much she still had to prove. Because her mother’s phone call had come with startling news.
Her ex wanted her back.