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Married and trying to settle down with the man of her dreams, however, she's starting to wonder whether she made the right choice. Will her love for her husband always triumph over her lust for another? Does she have the strength to survive an epic scandal that threatens every relationship she holds dear?
Kierra struggles to find the answers to these questions and more in this, the third installment of Mindy Taylor's popular Bound To Him series.
The sun begins to rise behind me as I drink my morning coffee. The warm breeze is promising of another hot Southern California day. I stare off at our sparkling pool and professionally manicured lawn and landscaped gardens.
"Mommy, Mommy." I hear the young voice of Carson as he stands in the opened patio doors. I turn in my chair and open my arms at the same time as he jumps up onto my lap, and I hug him tightly.
"Good morning, baby." I kiss his black mane of hair falling past his shoulders, both Chandler and I refusing to cut his hair.
"Dood morning, Mommy." He giggles as he squirms in my arms. His speech still needs improving, but he amazes me in every way possible for being just shy of two years old.
I hold him tightly as he plays with the work badge clipped to my teal scrub top. I finish my coffee and hold the empty ceramic cup in one hand as I balance Carson on my hip. He wraps his little legs around me tightly, and I carry him back inside. I place him on the ledge of the kitchen island as I rinse my cup in the vegetable-washing sink. I dry may hands on a dishtowel and lean back, creating some distance between him and me.
I give him a stern, motherly look. "Are you going to be a good boy today for Miss Rosa while mommy's at work?" I ask him.
"Yes, yes, yes." He squeals as he bounces on the edge excitedly.
"All right, handsome man, mommy's got to go, patients need me." I pull him against my chest and hug him tightly as he giggles. I kiss his head and sit him down on the floor. "Mommy loves you, Carson."
"I loves you, too, momma." He pulls on my black scrub pants, laughing up at me.
As if on cue, Rosa walks in, and he runs past her. She laughs deeply and smiles at me. I grab my workbag off the counter and clutch my keys in my hand.
"Mr. Thorne will be home today, yes?" Rosa asks me.
"He should be in sometime this afternoon. If anything comes up, Rosa, please call the office." I sling my bag over my shoulder and walk towards the door.
"Have a good day, Mrs. Thorne," she calls after me, and I smile.
"You, too, Miss Rosa." I shut the door behind me and walk through the garage to my white Range Rover.
Marrying Chandler Thorne a little over a year ago was the best day of my life. Chandler owns my heart, my soul, and all my pleasures. Along with being the man of my dreams, master of my nights, I also gained the sweetest son a mother or woman could ask for. I may not have given birth to Carson Liam, but he is mine. I'm his mother in my heart and legally, as well. My thoughts are interrupted as Chandler calls during my drive in to work.
"Good morning, beautiful," his voice echoes through the car speakers.
I smile at his corny charm. "Good morning," I respond.
"How much have you missed me?"
"Oh, you've been gone? I haven't noticed," I say coyly, trying to hide my smile as I tease him.
"Funny girl. I will be leaving here in a couple hours. I plan to bring Carson by for your lunch break."
"I'd like that. How was your trip?"
"Good. Marcus and I are on the same page. He wants to have a get together before the grand opening, with all of the masters and us. I told him we could do it at our house."
I sigh. "There's not much time left before the opening. When is this being planned for?" I ask absent-mindedly as I merge off the highway.
"This weekend. He is going to check with the other guys and get back to me."
"Your mother wants to take Carson to Arizona this weekend to see your sister. I told her I was fine with it but I was going to check with you first."
"I am sure Maria would love that. That would work out perfectly."
"Yes, Lidia and Mia are excited to see their cousin. I wish I didn't have to work today. I have kind of missed you."
He laughs. "I missed you, too, little one. I will see you soon enough, though."
"I love you."
"I love you, too."
I hang up the phone and exit the highway. Within minutes I pull into Topar Wellness and Surgical Center. I park and walk in through the back entrance. I'm immediately met with the dark blue stunning eyes of Dr. Kathy Topar, or, to me, my mother-in law. She slides out of her flip-flops and into her black Danskin clogs. I hang my keys up and begin to unload my nursing bag that carries the essentials I need for the day.
She turns and leans in to kiss my cheek. "Good morning, darling. Chandler home yet?"
I shake my head. "No, but I just talked to him on my ride in. He's going to stop by on my lunch break with Carson. I did speak to him about Arizona, though. He was fine with it."
"Wonderful. I really wish he would slow down on all his business trips. He's gone, it seems, once a week."
"I know, Kathy, I know." I huff and roll my eyes. We both share the same frustrations and annoyance over his need to still be on the road.
We walk into the office and flip through the day's schedule when her husband, Dr. Jonathan, comes in with a coffee. Working with my in-laws is surprisingly not that terrible. I've seen more things than I ever thought I would. I completely loved my OR rotation in nursing school. Trish was a little hurt that I didn't want to work with her at the rehab center, but she understood why I was moving to California with Chandler.
I think at this point in our lives, I would follow Chandler all over the world. When I think back to the very first time I met him, I was just a scared waitress full of unreleased pain and fear. I wonder how I got so lucky. He continued to warn me against falling in love with him, and then Darla's accident happened. Carson was born, but his birth mother died from complications following a drunk driving hit and run. Before I knew it my heart was broken, and I was in Las Vegas.
Months went by, and I heard very little from Chandler until he showed up in my Las Vegas penthouse suite demanding I go to lunch with him. That day set off a domino effect that I never expected or was ready for. The one fact that remained true was no matter how much I fought him, he always was the man I wanted, the man I loved, even if I wasn't the first one to admit it. While playing at Club Vice and discovering more about myself and trusting others, I still only wanted the one man I couldn't have at that time. But timing was everything, and that time finally came for us.
I have the career I always wanted, the husband I always desired, and a son who is the center of my world. Both my family and his are really supportive and have accepted all that has come of our marriage. My dad and Trish have been nothing but supportive and accepting of Chandler and Carson. My poor father could only dream of the day that he walked me down the aisle, a goal I'm not sure any of us thought would be obtainable. Now they have their daughter back, a son-in-law, and a grandson. They really enjoy taking Carson on weekend getaways, and Jack loves having someone to play with. And the Topars, his family, not only gave me a job but also unconditional love.
"Kierra? Kierra?" I hear the soft voice pulling me from my memories.
I look up with a smile on my face. "Hmm?"
"Are you lost in thought, sweetheart?" Kathy asks.
I laugh softly. "Yes, I guess I was. I was just reminiscing about Chandler and me. Pretty embarrassing that I still get all soft over him," I admit as I stand up and jot some notes on my sticky pad about our first patient.
"Of course you do. Both of you will feel that way for the rest of your lives. You can just see that you two are each other's soul mates."
"He certainly has my heart and soul," I say while smiling fondly.
"We can all see it. I'm so glad he found you, really I am. I couldn't ask for a better, more loving and kind daughter-in-law."
I laugh. "You? I always heard horror stories of mother in laws. I'm the lucky one."
She laughs shaking her head. "How is my little grand boy?"
"Full of energy as always. Are you taking him Friday night or Saturday morning?"
"Friday night after we close here. I'll just follow you home and steal my little prince." She smiles from ear to ear at the mention of Carson. She spoils him more than anyone in the family.
"Works for me," I say.
I begin compiling papers into the chart for both Kathy and Jonathan's patients this morning. The second office nurse, who usually works with Jonathan, isn't scheduled to come into work until nine. Samantha and I get along pretty well, and we both like to try to help the other one out. I try to get everything organized so it's all ready when she comes in later on.
"We have the breast augmentation at eight-thirty, and you have down three hours for that." I look up over the chart at Kathy, and she is still in her street clothes.
"She should be in any minute now, so you can begin the pre-op forms. Jonathan has already paged Dr. Carr."
"Okay, sounds good."
I put the folder down and log on to the computer system. I hear the office doors open. I look out through the sliding glass window and see the young woman walking in with the boyfriend I met during the initial consultation visit.
I slide the window open and smile. "Good morning, Caitlin," I cheerfully greet her.
"Good morning, Kierra," she says nervously as she rummages through her purse.
I politely wait for her to pull out the tube of lip balm she was searching for. "If you'll just come on back we can get started. Do you have any questions for me?"
"No, not really. I'm just ready to get going."
I come around to the office door and open it, clutching her folder to my chest. Caitlin and her boyfriend enter the office, and I show them to the exam room I use for the pre-op interview. I see Dr. Carr walk in through the back. I smile and wave as he looks at me.
"It shouldn't be too much longer. I've got some consent forms for you and then I'll grab a set of vitals and your current weight. Next, I'll have you change into the surgical gown and say your goodbyes to Andy. Once I bring you back into the operating room, I am going to insert your IV, and Dr. Carr will begin the anesthesia."
It doesn't take long for things to become busy. Once my portion is complete, I hand the folder over to Dr. Carr. He reviews her vital signs and begins administering the medications that will put her to sleep. While he is with our patient, I change into my surgical scrubs and join Kathy in the operating room.
Three and a half hours later, I am scrubbing myself with the harsh surgical scrub and changing back into my office scrubs. I pull my surgical cap off, and a few loose curls fall around my face. I step out into the office and immediately see Chandler sitting in one of the waiting room chairs. Carson is playing in the children's nook, stacking blocks into towers while his daddy watches him attentively. It takes a few moments before Chandler looks up, and he stands quickly. I cross the room and step into his open arms.
He holds me tightly. "Mm. And I thought you did not miss me," he says softly, and I smile into his chest. He runs his hands over my back. The simplest of his touches still have the power to awaken every nerve ending in my body.
"I always miss you when you're gone," I admit as I look up at him, and he leans down and kisses me passionately.
"Mommy and me?"
I look down at Carson, who is pulling on my scrub top and pointing to himself. His big, bright blue eyes question me. I step out of Chandler's arms and kneel down and pull my son into my arms.
"What about you?" I say in a silly voice, causing him to giggle. I lean in and kiss his silky black hair.
"Miss me?" he asks in his sweet little toddler voice.
"Oh, I guess I must've missed you, too."
"Where's nana?" Carson groans impatiently as he wiggles out of my arms, and I look over my shoulder at Chandler.
"She's busy, but she'll be out soon," I tell him as I stand up. Chandler pulls me against his side. He places light kisses along my neck, and I cock my head to the side giving him free rein.
"Hey, little buddy," Kathy calls out as she comes out of the closed office. "Mommy told me you were coming by today." She looks at Chandler and me. She tilts her head to the side as she lovingly runs her fingers through Carson's long hair.
"How are you, darling? I haven't been blessed with your presence in a few weeks." Her voice is cool, and I can pick up on her subtle displeasure at his work schedule.
"Things have just got busy, Mother, but I will make time for us to get together."
"Maybe you should think about coming to Arizona with us. Your sister and nieces would love to see you."
"I wish I could, but I have a business event this weekend." His fingers press into my hips, pulling me firmly against his body as he makes excuses to his mother.
"It's always business with you. At some point your family would like to see you, as well." She looks down at Carson and smiles. "Go on, take your wife to lunch. She hasn't seen you all week. I'll keep Carson for my own special lunch date."
"Are you sure, Mother? I just got back a little while ago and was planning on a family lunch."
"I'm sure. Go on enjoy some time together." Kathy leans down and picks Carson up in her arms, and he plays with her necklace.
"Well, you heard the woman." I smile over my shoulder, and Chandler nods.
"Bye, Momma, bye, Daddy." Carson waves to the two of us as Kathy carries him back into the office.
I turn in Chandler's arms, and he wraps his fingers around my wrist as we exit the office. I stand at the side of the black Mercedes SUV as he opens the door for me. I climb inside, and he playfully slaps my bottom. I groan. He slips into the seat next to me and begins driving towards the city. A few moments of driving go by, and Chandler reaches over and squeezes my knee. I look up at him, and he winks.
"Is Thorne-N-Vice all ready to open next week?"
"Everything is up and running as it is supposed to be. The support staff have been there for the past two weeks, and notice came in a couple days ago that we are fully booked for the next two months. Our marketing team is working on honeymoon packages for the upcoming wedding seasons," he informs me.
"Sounds like everything is falling into place. I'm happy for you."
"For us," he corrects, and I smile before turning and staring out the window. "Are you okay, little one? You seem distant?"
"I am. We've just got a lot going on these next few weeks. I'd really like some time just to ourselves. I was thinking we could get away, just the three of us, to somewhere quiet, after all the chaos is over."
"Chaos?" he states as if he doesn't know what I'm talking about.
"Well, we've got people coming down this weekend, then we are going to Costa Rica all of next week, and I hope you didn't forget about the benefit dinner in my mother's honor that weekend. It's a lot all at once." I look sternly at him, and he simply nods.
"I did not forget my gift to you, in your mother's honor. I did not realize you considered these things to be chaos."
"Chandler, I just want some time with my family�alone."
"I understand, little one." He licks his lips and pulls into the restaurant parking lot.
Chandler hops out of the parked car and walks around and opens my door. I stare up at him, trying to judge his appearance as I step slowly out of the car. His arms around my low back pull me against his firm body. I press my face into his soft t-shirt and breathe deeply in his familiar scent. His arms squeeze me tightly, and they always seem to settle my nerves and my worries. I let out a soft sigh.
He begins to relax his hold on me, and I take a step back from him. I look up and see the virility in his deep blue eyes and lower my eyes and feel the heat only he causes in me. Chandler wraps his fingers around my hip and leads me into the restaurant. We sit in the back of the restaurant and are quickly brought menus and water.�
"Any progress on the office headquarters?" I ask.
"It is coming along. It should be up, running, and fully staffed by the end of the month."
"Good. It'll be nice having you home every night."
"Yes, little one. It has been in the works a long time. My family deserves it." The sincerity in his answer causes me to smile.
"You don't look forward to being home more?"
"I did not say that."
"I know, but I'm asking."
"Kierra, I enjoy seeing my hard work first hand. You have always known I prefer not having roots. I think you should appreciate my doing this for us and our family."
"I do appreciate it. I just wanted to know how you truly felt about it," I say earnestly.
"I love you, I love our son, and I see no reason why I cannot work out of a base office at this point."
We place our orders and continue chatting about the future with him being home and working out of California. I know how much this is a sacrifice for him because he prefers being hands-on with his company. As we eat our lunch Chandler mentions Marcus asking him to do a favor. I tense when he tells me that one of the former club submissives was relocating, and Marcus asked him to give her job at the Thorne Luxury Resort office. Keeping our private and personal life completely separate has always been what we agreed upon. I try to hold back my disapproval of the entire situation.
Now with the opening of the resort in Costa Rica, lines are becoming blurred, with masters from Club Vice being partners in Thorne-N-Vice, and dominants and mistresses becoming full-time staff members. With workshops for couples, and themed rooms for fetish- and kink-seeking couples, it all seems like a risk to our privacy. I want to voice my opinion on the matter, but I eventually decide against it. All that matters at this point in our marriage is that he'll be home more for both Carson and me.
"You look lost, little one," he says, and I look at him.
"No, not at all. I'm perfectly happy right where I am and exactly where we are heading." I pause, trying to divert the attention off a subject I don't want to discuss. "When are the guys coming in this weekend? Did you hear any more about it?"
"Saturday at some point. I know Adam and Storm are coming, and Kole, Lilly, Derrick, Bryn, and Jessica, but she is not speaking to Marcus still. Sylas and Julia will be coming together, and Marcus, obviously. He may or may not have someone."
I smile, trying to be cute. "Well, this should be fun�like old home day at the Thorne residence," I say sarcastically, and he chuckles.
"Yeah, something like that," he agrees with a nod.
"What are your plans tonight? My calendar on my phone reminded me I have an appointment after work today."
Chandler raises a brow. "Appointment for what?"
"I'm going to Sephoria's for my wax and pedicure." I take a bite of my lettuce-wrapped turkey roll.
Chandler studies me for a moment, looking almost puzzled. "Cancel it," he finally answers, and I'm not sure if he intended for it to sound so snappy.
I watch his fingers tap the side of his glass. "What? I made the appointment, like, seven weeks ago. Do you know how hard it is to get into that place?" I stare at him across the table, truly dumbfounded.
He nods and tilts his head to the side. "I said cancel it, little one." The demand is harsh, but his voice never rises.
"I don't understand. I made this appointment almost two months ago. I can't just get another one for tomorrow. How was I supposed to know you were going to be gone this week and then come back on the day I made the appointment?" My irritation grows, and he can tell by my tone.
Chandler purses his lips and levels his eyes with mine before raising his brow. "I will get you a new appointment, but tonight I want what is mine."
I take a deep breath, and then crack a smile. "Well, I'm warning you ahead of time, I am in a need of everything being waxed." I use my hands to emphasize the everywhere.
He smirks. "Au naturel. I like it." He chuckles, and I roll my eyes.
We finish our lunch with playful banter. I don't let on any further how annoyed I really am over this appointment I now have to cancel. As he pulls into the plastic surgeon's office that his mother and stepfather own, I pull out my phone. I dial the spa's number and regretfully cancel my appointment. I tell the person on the other end of the line that I will call back to reschedule.
Chandler opens the door and reaches for my wrist. The heat that pools in my center every time his skin caresses mine still amazes me. I follow him into the office, and my mind wonders what he has planned for me tonight. I catch myself staring at him skeptically. He must feel my eyes boring into him. He turns and looks down at me. The mystery in his eyes frustrates me, and that almost seems to amuse him more. He bends down to capture my lips and claim my mouth. His hands pull me tight against his body as he steals my breath from me. The intensity and passion in his kiss is synonymous with Chandler. I whimper in response to the demand of his touch. His fingers tangle in my hair up against my scalp as he holds me firmly in his clutch.
"All right, you two, this is still a place of business," Kathy playfully says, and I feel Chandler smile against my lips.
He steps back and smirks at me.
"Daddy, we go bye-bye now?" Carson asks as he runs out of the office with vinyl exam gloves on his hands.
I laugh and scoop him up in my arms. "You have fun with Dad. I'll see you when I get home." I kiss his cheeks and place him on the floor between Chandler and me.
"Yes, we are leaving now. Say goodbye to nana," he instructs, and Carson peeks around Chandler's legs and blows a kiss to Kathy. Aww, the sweetest little boy ever!
"Bye, nana." He waves as he calls out to her.
"Bye, sweetheart," she responds, and smiles fondly.
I lean in and kiss Chandler on the cheek. "I love you," I whisper against his flesh, and then step aside.
"I love you, too. I will see you tonight."
I wave goodbye from the office door as they leave, and I stare off through the glass entrance as they pull away. I feel a hand on my shoulder, and I look over and see Kathy.
"When is he leaving again?" she asks distantly, and I tense at the mention.
I know she didn't mean for it to sound spiteful. She's well aware of the amount of time Chandler spends away from California. She sees firsthand the hardship it causes the both of us. We share the same animosity towards his lengthy business travels.
"He says the office is almost ready to open, maybe a few more weeks. Hopefully, he won't be leaving again unless there's an emergency."
"I hope not. You deserve all of him. It's time he starts being with his family."
Kathy is always pushing Chandler to take a more passive role in his company, and I no longer have the strength or ability to make excuses for his time away. I step into the office and close the door. Not knowing what to say, I can only shrug my shoulders and offer a sheepish smile.
"How is Caitlin recovering?" I say, attempting to change the subject from Chandler.
"She's groggy. We need another set of vital signs and her bandages checked."
I nod and grab my stethoscope as I head to the recovery room.
Working with Chandler's mom has allowed me the schedule a graduate nurse could only dream of. I work three days a week, no holidays, no weekends and no overtime. I'm fortunate and grateful for the opportunity of working in a private practice in such a high demand area, just another added bonus to marrying Chandler.
I begin checking Caitlin's vital signs and determine she is stable. Her bandages need to be changed one final time, before I wrap her in the compression bandage. Samantha comes in and helps Caitlin sit up while I wrap the elastic bandage around her and then place the support bra over her chest. She is still very groggy but able to follow basic commands. We lay her back down on the bed and she moans in pain. There's a knock on the door and Samantha lets Andy, Caitlin's boyfriend, in. He sits down beside her and holds her hand while offering reassurance.
"Caitlin, you'll be free to go once you can get up and use the restroom. Tomorrow when you come back in, we will remove your bandages. There will be some swelling, but you will be able to see your final results."
I hand the information to Andy, and he looks over it briefly.
"Thank you," Caitlin says with a groan.
I smile sympathetically and leave the two of them alone.
We have two consultations and one post-operative appointment that keep me busy the rest of the day. Once Caitlin leaves the office, I check to make sure all my paper work is complete. Kathy peeks in, and I tell her I'll be leaving soon.
I happen to look over the schedule for tomorrow and Friday. Tomorrow is going to be a busy day, with two augmentations and Caitlin's follow up. Friday I see that it's full only with consults, a few injections, and the two follow-ups. Kathy likes to keep Fridays open for the patients looking for their lunch break quick fixes. Injections of different fillers and plumpers, laser wrinkle reductions, types of procedures that do not require much assistance from me. It also prevents any of us from having to come into the office over the weekend. I flip to the next week and see Kathy has scheduled only follow-ups and consults. I was wondering if she was going to have Samantha be her nurse while I'm away on vacation. I smile, knowing she hadn't done that.
"Hey, sweetheart, I'm heading out," Kathy announces, and I jump, semi-startled
"Yeah, I'm right behind you," I say as I push away from the desk and walk back with Kathy to the staff room. She kicks off her clogs and throws her socks in her bag as she slips into her flip-flops. We walk out together into the parking lot and part ways.
"I'll see you tomorrow," I yell to her, and wave as I jump into my SUV and head for home.