Page 27 of Chapel

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“I don’t want you to flirt with me.”

Nova chuckled, widening his stance. “Why not?”

“Because it triggers me. I was enjoying being with you, but when you did that, all I could think about was you flirting with Tiffany like this while we were together.”

He nodded in understanding. “I’m so—”

“You don’t have to apologize,” I interrupted him to say. “That’s just… a boundary I need us to have.”

Nova’s head nodded as he placed his hands in his pockets and walked over to me. “I can agree to that. It’s second nature for me to flirt with you, but I don’t want you to think I was like this with other women throughout our relationship. I didn’t flirt with other women, and with Tiffany, it only started when things changed between us.”

“It’s fine,” I muttered, though it wasn’t. I wanted to walk away, but he used his right hand to press my body into the refrigerator.

“No, it’s not. Are you sure you’re okay with us working here?”

I didn’t answer his question right away. The people pleaser in me wanted to tell him yes. My hurting heart wanted me to tell him no. I didn’t know who to listen to.

“It depends on the day.” Cupping my hands, I twiddled my thumbs. “It’s been a year for you, but this is fresh for me. Seeing you with her is tough, Nova, I can’t lie. Some days I’m okay with it and other days…”

I gripped my neck, finding it increasingly difficult to have this conversation.

“Other days what?” Nova’s hand wrapped around my wrist, and he used it to lower my hand.

“Other days… I feel like the walls are closing in on me and I can’t breathe when I see you with her. It hurts like hell watching the man I thought I’d be with forever with someone else. And when she touches you…”

“There you are!” Tiffany’s interruption had Nova growling under his breath quietly.

Laughing, I crossed my arms and ankles. I was surprised we were able to talk for as long as we had without her interrupting. She was a nagging fly that wouldn’t stay the hell away. As much as I wanted to swat her, I promised both Jerry and Allegra that I’d be on my best behavior.

“Wassup, Tiff?” Nova asked, turning to look at her.

“I just wanted to see you since you left before I woke up this morning.”

Ow. That felt like a sharp pain straight to my heart. I spent so much time away envisioning them together, but seeing it and hearing about it always felt like machetes ripping me apart.

“I’ll stop by your office when I’m done talking to Chapel.”

Tiffany’s eyes shifted from him to me. “I can wait for you to get done.”

“We’re having a private conversation.”

Her head jerked as she frowned. “What’s so private that you can’t discuss it with your fiancée present?”

On that note, I decided to make my exit.

“Chap, I want us to finish this,” Nova said to my back as I walked away. I wasn’t expecting him to follow behind me, so the feel of his hand in mine caused me to tense up. He stepped in front of me with concern in his eyes. With a softer tone, he added, “I want us to come to an agreement that will make this easier for you.”

I fought not to look at Tiffany as she scowled at me. I wasn’t sure how we ended up here. This was my business, my ex-fiancé, yet somehow… I felt like the other woman. If only I wouldn’t have run away. I could have fired her ass a year ago and gotten over Nova by now. No matter how upset I was with him personally, I couldn’t deny how important Nova was to WCSF.

I believed no one person was irreplaceable, but I did believe in the power of having the right team around you. Nova was a part of my winning team, and even with our personal relationship ending, I wanted to find a way for our business relationship to remain intact. With his clingy guard dog hanging around, I didn’t know how easy that would be though.

“Honestly, Nova, I don’t think that’s possible. Not any time soon at least.” Swallowing hard, Nova broke eye contact and sighed heavily. “I’m gonna go. See to your fiancée.”

His eyes squeezed shut briefly and he clenched his jaw before releasing a vocal breath.

“Okay. Try to enjoy the rest of your day, a’ight?”

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