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She just loved it when her grandmother came over. She always felt a special connection to her. Her parents were always calling Frida crazy in hushed tones but Chanel never thought her grandmother was crazy. She thought it was crazy to name your child after someone you supposed think is crazy. Chanel always was called by her middle name but that didn’t negate anything in Chanel’s mind.

 

She always just thought her grandmother was different, her grandmother wasn't originally from the states. She grew somewhere else with a different kind of experience, she was bound to be peculiar to other people. Her mother was always reluctant to let her grandmother babysit her, Paulina always felt as if it was Chanel that was the babysitter. Friedrich on the other hand didn't really have a problem with it.

 

He knew that his mother was eccentric… he also knew that she was a gambler and an alcoholic, but she was never violent. She could stay sober long enough to be a good babysitter for his daughter. He also knew that he couldn’t really turn his back on his mother. They were the only family that she had.

 

With his dad being dead, it only made his mother sadder. He always had a blind spot when he came to her. Her whole life was riddled with sadness and tragedy, even if Paulina voiced her concerns, he was never going to turn his back on his mother. Paulina couldn’t argue that Frida didn’t drink around Chanel, she had some wherewithal to not do that.

 

It was one of the only reasons that she let her mother-in-law watch their child in the first place. Frida would always say send the nannies away, they didn't need that because grandma was here. But grandma was also highly unreliable, it was the reason that Paulina hired nannies in the first place. She was serious about her career and so was her husband, so they had to have someone watch their child.

 

 As much as Frida loved her granddaughter, she couldn’t stop her vices. She got drunk several times a week and would have to cancel watching Chanel sometimes because she could barely move. She would consume so much alcohol that she would have to crawl to the bathroom in order to use it.

 

These were the times where Paulina got upset because how can they tell a child that their grandmother is a drunk? It's not something that Chanel would understand. Paulina had to tell her daughter that her grandmother was just so sick and had to reschedule. She could see the disappointment on her daughter’s face every time she did it and it came to a point where Chanel would blame her.

 

Chanel was perceptive to just about everything. She was a curious child from birth and love to investigate. It didn’t help that Paulina and sometimes even Friedrich calling her grandmother crazy. Sometimes her mother would do it with such distaste that all it did was make Chanel suspicious of her mother.

 

She never said anything to her mother’s face because she was afraid, even though she loved her grandma she loved her mom too and didn't want to make things more difficult. She didn’t want her grandmother to possibly visit even less if she had made her mother mad.

 

But her grandma was coming today… Mother had called and asked if she was going to show up, she couldn’t hear what her grandmother said on the other line but when she heard her mother saying mm hmm…it made Chanel happy.

 

“Please tell me that you can actually watch my daughter.” As much as Paulina wanted to be like her husband when it came to his mother, she knew that she couldn't be as optimistic.

 

She knew that she had to keep her eyes open and suspicious. It served her well in business, but it wasn’t like she wanted to live like this in her personal life. But she felt as if she didn’t really have a choice because this was her daughter at the end of the day.

 

“I can watch my granddaughter for an afternoon. I’m well versed with children… I even have one of my own.” Frida’s heavy German accent wafted in the air.

 

It always baffled Paulina how her mother- in-law could still have such a thick German accent even though she’s been in this country since 1945.

 

“I see you still have jokes. It makes me a little more confident that you haven’t been hitting the sauce yet. Frida, you know I do appreciate you watching Chanel… but I always have to make sure that you're okay to do that. You are family but I’m always going to need to protect her.” Paulina didn’t like being the bad cop.

 

It broke her heart that she even had to say it in the first place. She knew how much Frida adored her family especially since she went a long time without having anyone. But it was in that loneliness that started her problems. It hurt to be so cynical about someone who was a genuinely good person. She just had her problems that she could never get over. She had been doing pretty good until Louis had passed. It was hard on everyone.

 

Freddie had lost his father and Frida had lost her husband. It was a hard loss for everyone, but they were the ones who got hit the hardest. Freddie was even more involved with his work which was something that Paulina wasn’t mad at because so was she. They were simpatico like that.

 

Her husband found solace in work while her mother-in-law found solace in cards and drinking. At least one of those were productive.

 

All Frida could do was just nod… She was aware that her alcoholism made her hard to trust. Every time she thought that she would be able to just get through a couple of days without drinking, she would wreck it and go on a binge. She knew that it was destructive, and it was hurting her, but she just couldn't stop. She had tried rehab, but alcohol was just a tool… it couldn’t stop her… not really. She was always going to want to drown herself and want to physically feel how she emotionally felt. She lost Louis… She was tired of losing the people she loved the most in life. It was so unfair and she didn't know how to function.

 

Louis had found a way for her to smile again and laugh again after the most horrendous events of her life took place. But he was gone and the only time she ever smiled was when she was with Chanel. Her little granddaughter could take her worries away for a little while. It was so pleasing to be around someone she felt understood her. It might have been because she was a child and she wasn’t versed in how the world viewed her yet.

 

Maybe it was a selfish part of her… but she held on to it. She could clean herself up for a week here and there because she wanted to be completely there when she was with her granddaughter. That was her motivation to stop drinking… it would become really difficult because she would start to shake without the alcohol and always fall back into that familiar step, but she could survive two weeks out of a month without taking a drink if it meant that she got to see Chanel.

 

“Now Frida if you need to call me these will be all of the numbers. Don't hesitate because I'll be mad if something happens and you don't." Paulina wasn't going to be far... she was only going to Boca for this business trip. She could drive down if need be.

 

Freddie was out of town… frankly he was out of the whole state because he was doing business in Austin.  It was a lot to trust that Frida could handle this, but Freddie had convinced Paulina if anything were to happen that Paulina would be close and could drive down. He also had the confidence that his mother wouldn’t drink because she was watching Chanel and that was the one thing that could always stop his mother.

 

“If we should have any problems arise… I will call you. But you can go…” Frida was fine and she didn’t need Paulina staying and then accusing her of making her late.

 

Paulina left and Frida went to Chanel's room. She was wondering what her granddaughter was getting up to.

 

Frida didn’t find her granddaughter in her bedroom, so she went to the playroom… she had more luck. She saw that Chanel wasn’t really playing, she was doing work. She thought that Chanel was just so smart, she was always getting awards in school. It was one of the reasons she was able to sober up long enough so she could attend those events because she didn’t want to let her granddaughter down.

 

“Oma!” Chanel was so excited to see her grandmother. She had been waiting all day.

 

Every time she looked at the clock… it seemed to stay the same time which only made her upset because she felt like she would be waiting forever.

 

“Hallo Schatz!” Frida was so happy to see her granddaughter.

 

 Frida had been dogged about speaking her granddaughter knowing German. Friedrich spoke the language, but he had the accent of an American but not her granddaughter. If Frida closed her eyes, then she could imagine that they were in Berlin.

 

Chanel blushed when her grandmother called her darling. They both only spoke German to each other. Paulina felt a little left out because she was the only person in that house who didn’t know how to speak it, but if she was there with them then they would speak to her in English but if it was just them… They would speak in Frida’s native tongue.

 

“What are you doing?”

 

“I was bored so I had my mom take me to the library to check out some books. I wanted to learn more about Germany.”

 

A sense of dread ran through Frida's body. Even though the Germans now are not like the Germans she grew up with... she still had a huge sense of bitterness. These were descendants of Nazis. Not everyone but they were there and you didn't know what they look like. It was frightening for her.

 

“If you want to know about Germany you can just ask me… you know I was there. There’s lots of things that that book will not show.”

 

“What was it like growing up there? Is it anything like Miami?” The reason she now wanted to know about Germany was because she wanted to impress her grandmother with her knowledge.

 

“It was a very different time… You saw all kinds of people in Berlin. It was nice because it was a Metropolitan city. But that changed with the Holocaust… Did your book tell you about the Holocaust?”

 

“No… I’m still reading about the different areas that would become Germany.” Chanel had only gotten the book today, so she didn’t get to read much yet.

 

“Well the Holocaust was a period of time where a lot of suffering happened. People had their homes taken away from them… Their parents taken away from them… even their lives.”

 

“They took away people's mommies and daddies?”

 

“Yeah, including mine. It was a very scary time to be a child there. It was a lot of uncertainty. I had friends whose parents were hurt intentionally. They do things like make sure they couldn’t have babies so some people couldn’t have their own little Chanel.”  Frida realized that it might not have been the best idea to talk about the graphic atrocities that happened during the Holocaust with her granddaughter.

 

She knew that it was something that eventually her granddaughter was going to have to know. It was a part of their family history. It was the reason that she came to America.

 

“Well how do they do that?” Chanel only became more curious. She wanted to know more about how Germany was and how it was like for her grandmother to grow up there.

 

“It's really complicated but we have to keep it a secret. Enough about Germany for right now. I brought you a present…” Frida started to go in her bag to look for the little envelope.

 

Chanel had done her best to keep her eyes from rolling because these were not the kind of present that she wanted.

 

Her grandma was always giving her papers and it was so boring. Her grandma was always getting her sheets of paper instead of real toys and presents. When her grandma told her that she got her stocks in a fruit company… Chanel didn’t even know what that meant but she couldn’t play with any of these things that her grandma kept giving her. It drove her nuts, but she still accepted the gifts because it was from her grandmother.

 

“Don't give me that face. It’s very important for you to be able to have this. I got you some more savings bonds and they will be something that will be great for you in the future.” Frida knew that her granddaughter wanted to have trinkets.

 

What she was doing was trying to build a foundation for her granddaughter in the future. She was going to do it her way and no one was going to stop her.

 

Chanel just nodded and then went into her closet. She got the special shoe box that only her and her grandmother knew about. Her grandmother told her that they had to keep it a secret… So that’s what Chanel did.

 

Frida knew that her son would find a way to get mad at her. She didn't care because in her mind she thought she could do whatever she liked with her money. Even if it was her husband's life insurance money… it was hers to do with as she chose. She thought it was better to spend this money on her granddaughter instead of having more money to spend on booze or gamble away.

 

Chanel brought back the secret box filled with the same kind of papers her grandmother always brought. The fruit company paper was the only thing that was different, but all of the other ones look like overgrown money. Chanel didn’t even know it was real, but she would always indulge her grandmother.

 

“Chanel is important that you keep these. When I was a little girl, everything was taken away from us. The government told us that we had no home anymore. All of our bank accounts we’re no longer ours… it belonged to the government. It says your name on all of these because they belong to you. No one can take this away from you like they took away things from my father. You own something in the world. I know you’re still too young to understand but when you get older, you'll start to see just how much this matters.” Frida has to be careful.

 

As much as she wants to tell her granddaughter about her life story… Most of it is shrouded in pain and tragedy, at least her childhood is. It was hard to explain the racial component of Germany during that time with a girl as young as her granddaughter. It was going to have to be something that her parents agreed to. As much as she wanted to just go ahead and say it… she knows that it could be something that causes a chasm with her and her son.

 

She wasn’t going to put her trauma on her granddaughter. She was too young and she knew better. She could give her peripheral things about how was growing up in Nazi Germany. But she couldn’t really delve into it the way that she would if it were anyone else. If she were to talk about the forced sterilization or murders or the internment camps… it would be frightening for a child.

 

It was frightening for her and she was living it as a child when it happened.

 

“Chanel remembers one thing… What we talk about has to stay a secret… You wouldn’t let Oma down would you?” Frida knew that it was a little manipulative to swear her granddaughter to secrecy.

 

She had to do it because she was afraid if word got back to her son that she would be banned from seeing Chanel. It had scarred Friedrich to learn about his mother’s history. It filled him with such rage that she could suffer so greatly and be so helpless to it. But it also made him very quiet… he couldn’t really speak about it with his mother.

 

That’s what it did… it created scars in families that lasts longer than people live. It becomes a defining characteristic of your life as much as you don’t want it to be it just is. The government of Germany ensured that it was.

Chapter Text

Chanel only became more curious about her grandmother’s origins the older she became. Every time she asked her dad about where he came from… he would only talk about Miami. And then when she asked about their family's origins… he would only talk about her grandpa being from Mississippi.

 

She didn’t really care about Mississippi because she already knew about it, if there was anything that her dad could talk about it was his dad. Both of her parents were gone a lot so when they were there, she was always asking to the point questions. But her dad knew how to dodge them… like this was a practice round.

 

It only encouraged her to find out more much to her father’s chagrin. She started to realize that maybe her dad didn’t want to talk about it because something bad happened. She knew that it took years for her grandmother to come to the states. She was tired of asking her father only to be given stupid answers.

 

So she decided that she was going to go straight to the source. She decided to ask her grandmother. Even her grandmother was vague about Germany. She knew that her grandmother during the Holocaust. She learned about it in school, but it wasn’t in depth. Not the way that she wanted it to be. It was as if it was just a blip on the radar, she knew that it had to be something more terrible than her teacher could ever describe because her grandmother was in this country because of it. Her grandmother had not gone back to Germany even after the wall fell.

 

“Grandma how did you end up coming to America? It’s so far from Germany and I would think it would have been even harder back then. You didn’t even have your parents to help you so what was that like? We’re learning about what it was like in Germany in my civics class, but it feels so small, I realized that I have a primary source. I want to hear about it from you…” Chanel was confident that her grandmother would tell her if she really wanted to know.

 

Her grandmother was her best friend and she never lied to her. They kept secrets from her parents, but Chanel had never known her grandmother too betray her trust or be less than honest with her.

 

“Well, it’s very difficult to talk about. You are right I grew up in Nazi Germany. It was very difficult and horrible journey that was marked with a lot of death. The government sponsored the ridicule of a lot of people. We were the ‘undesirables’… the government were the architects of destruction. My father’s family had been in Germany for generations, even before Germany was called Germany. And then one day, they said that my father wasn’t German anymore. He was just a Black stateless person taking up room. You know how much you like writing… that comes from my side of the family. My dad was a writer just like his father. My dad had a printing press… He ran a newsletter, and it was a source of pride for him. The government shut that down and said that it was a tool of propaganda against the government. They spared my father’s life, at least that’s what they say at this point in time. Now my dad had no purpose, to take someone’s words away from them is the ultimate crime. It was like being stricken dumb. And my father loved to speak, so it was very difficult for him. The people he thought were friends of his started to treat him differently. Started to treat me differently, I wasn’t allowed to go to school anymore. The friends that I thought I had… a lot of them turned their backs on me. It wasn’t just me…Your aunt Sofia and our friend Esther Cohen, we only had each other now because all of the friends we thought we had on our street and at our schools were no longer that.”

 

“That really sucks. I would hate to think what would happen if my friend stop being my friends, why did they do that?” It angered Chanel because it was such a stupid reasoning.

 

She could completely understand if they stopped being friends with someone because they betrayed you by telling all your secrets or they embarrassed you… at least something that made sense too stop a friendship.

 

“It was a lot of things. Ultimately you can’t really blame the children because they take their cues from the adults in their life. A lot of people were scared… I’m not going to say everyone was because there were some people who we're excited to be mean people and hurtful to others, but there were also a lot of scared people. If you were known to associate with an undesirable you could be thrown in prison or worse, so if you concerned yourself with Jewish people or Black people or Romany people… you were referred to as a sympathizer which is a bad thing in Germany at that time. If you were deemed a sympathizer then you were just as bad. You were seen as betraying who you are and what you stand for at least in the government eyes because they wanted you to stand for what they wanted. They also did horrible things to people like your friend Michael.”  Frida knew that if she contextualized in terms that her granddaughter could easily identify through the proximity of friendships in her life that she would understand the magnitude of what it was like.

 

Chanel immediately knew what her grandmother meant, Michael liked boys like she did… She knew that people here didn’t always like that, she couldn’t imagine what it was like back then.

 

“How did you end up here? It’s a long way and I would imagine that it was difficult to get here.”

 

“It was very difficult to get here. We honestly thought that we would die on the way. It was the most terrifying experience for me. I have given birth and I would do that 1000 times over if it meant that I didn’t have to experience what it was like to escape. My mother had gotten us out. At first, we were going to ask Sofia’s clan to help us. The Romany people knew how to get you from one place to another very easily. They knew the roads and all of the secret ways to get you from one part of the country to another. But they started to hunt the Roma people. We could no longer take that risk. Could you imagine the horror of what it would be like to be inspected by the SS and found to be transporting 3 girls, one Black, one Jewish and one Romany. It would be certain death. It would get us all shot on the spot.”

 

It horrified Chanel to hear this but she knew that it was very real and very serious.

 

“It took us a very long time to get out of Germany itself because we were brought to so many different people. But it was like that by design because if someone traveled a great distance and they are not from a certain place it would arouse suspicion. It would put a target on your back. So we had to put our trust in a lot of people that we never met before. We could have been meeting with undercover SS people we would have never known. But at that point it didn’t matter because it was a very real possibility that we were going to die on the journey anyways.”  Frida was just remembering how much terror she felt every time she met a new person.

 

As much as she didn't want to say it, she was scared every time she met a new white person. The thing about Nazi Germany was you couldn’t tell who a Nazi at first glance is. Everyone didn’t wear swastikas on their arm bands. That’s what made it so dangerous on this journey because you were literally put in someone's hands. You have to trust them with your life and you know nothing about them.

 

“Well obviously you made it. I’m glad that you did because if you didn’t then I wouldn’t exist and neither with my dad.” Chanel was grateful that her grandmother got to live.

 

“Yes, we made it. We went to Amsterdam, Esther had family there and there was an embassy. The odd person out was Sofia, all of her family was in Germany, she had no ties outside of it. My mom did something… She did something very illegal… you can never tell anyone about it.”

 

“Grandma have never told anyone about our secrets, I’m not going to start now about Aunt Sofia.”

 

“Sofia and I don’t share a grandfather, we are not blood related at all. She has always been full Roma. My grandfather was a captain in the US army. He had fought in the First World War and decided to stay in Europe. Don’t ask me why he stayed, he didn’t even speak any German. I figured he might just not have wanted to go home. Sometimes war makes you a different person and it can be hard to face your family after that. You feel like you don't belong… Like an outsider even though you've known these people your entire life.”

 

“Wait a minute! Aunt Sofia is not really my aunt?!” Chanel loved her aunt, she passed a couple of years ago which only made her grandmother’s drinking worse.

 

“Nope. She and Esther were my dearest friends when we were in Germany. Our families knew each other. We had meals at each other’s house. We were like sisters but not actually. You must understand that what we did, we lied to the US government. Ultimately it was Sofia's safety. It wasn't like it is now. The Roma people are travelers, it's not uncommon that they don't have birth certificates with hospital or the city that they were born in. They're highly distrustful with good reason. They've always been scapegoated for just about anything. It's always easy to blame vulnerable people for your problems. They can't really fight back. Sofia's family had no records oh, she was originally born in Hungary, but she was never registered anywhere. Registering yourself as a way to mark yourself so when things go wrong, they know where to find you. When it got to be a point where the situation was untenable, our mothers took action.”

 

“But what about your dad?”

 

 A dark chill permeated the air… it wasn’t like a blast of the air conditioner, when Chanel looked at her grandmother it was like time standing still. For a second it was like her grandmother’s body was there, but it was lifeless. Her grandmother didn’t even blink.

 

“My father had died by that point, Sofia's father was arrested." Frida didn't mention the fact that her father was shot in the head by the police.

 

She relived the moment of watching from the window when Sofia’s dad was being arrested. They were claiming that he stole something from a shop owner which was preposterous. It was one of the ways that they always arrested the undesirables. They get some ‘witness’ to say that you did something even though you weren't even there.

 

It created such a commotion in the street, people started fighting with the police telling them that they were wrong, she saw her father holding on to George… Trying to pull him away from the police that started beating on him. Everything went slow for her, she felt all the air leave her body when the policeman pulled out his gun and shot her father.

 

Her father was always this imposing presence, to see him drop like a sack of potatoes was agonizing.

 

As soon as the shot was fired all of the noise ceased. Everyone who was fighting for George looked at her father on the floor. The police took this time to shove George into their car and drive away.

 

Her mother came into the living room because she heard a shot and went to the window. Even though her mother was right next to her, she didn’t actually feel close to anyone. She felt as if she was on another plane.

 

Then she started to hear screaming… it was first far and then it got closer to her, when she turned towards the voice, she blinked and realized it was her mother screaming. They could both see her father laying out on the ground blood seeping out, he was lifeless.

 

Frida didn’t know how long she sat at the window, the next time she could form a thought… she saw that she wasn’t at the window seat, she was sitting in the kitchen.

 

Both she and her mother said nothing for the rest of the night. They were able to bury her father relatively quickly. It always hurt Frida because she had always said to herself that she would never return back to Germany, it hurt too much… But that’s where her father was buried so it was a war with herself.

 

“So what did your mothers do?" Chanel was trying to understand what was so illegal.

 

“We created fake papers, you see my grandfather was a captain in the US army… He was white. When he married my grandmother… it wasn’t necessarily illegal… Miscegenation was a tricky thing, when they had my mother… The first thing that my grandfather did was to register her at the American embassy. So her birth was on record, she was a U.S. citizen as well as a German one. The same thing happened with me when I was born. My mother had registered me at the same American embassy. When the time came, I had gotten my passport they had the seal of the United States embossed on the front. So there was never a doubt that I was who I said I was. There were people who could verify that, witness to that. Anything you do with an embassy… There must be witnesses. Sofia was a Romani born in Hungary. We lied, our mothers told us when we finally got to Amsterdam that we needed to go to the American embassy and say that Sofia was my cousin, my grandfather had another child, but died before he could register them. They interview you and I taught Sofia on things about my grandfather. We always said that he fought in the World War which always seems to make the Americans happy. They love their war heroes. Sofia Thompson was a person who didn't actually exist, she was a person born on paper. We had to be very convincing, but Sofia was given citizenship, which was paramount because Esther had family in Amsterdam, she was staying with them. It was hard to get asylum being as young as we are with no family.”

 

“How long did it take you to actually get to Amsterdam?”

 

“It was the longest four years of our life… We stayed in people’s basements, their attics… Some places had secret rooms. There were times where we thought that we would never actually get there. Our mothers said they would be right behind us… but we knew. We had seen so many people disappear, we heard about the camps… They were smart, they got us out before they could round this up. We were the stains of society and the way you remove that as you remove the youth. They stop us from growing and contaminating their society. That’s what they thought we were doing. There were many nights that we cried, we only had each other. We would try to hug each other the way that our mothers hugged us. We failed miserably because that is impossible. But we were all that each other had. We experienced something that was unique to us. When we got to Amsterdam it didn't even feel real. We knew by that time that our parents were dead. It was 1943 when we got there. I still don’t know where my mother is. I know that she is dead… but I have absolutely no clue where she was taken, where she ended up... It was the same thing for Sofia and Esther. It was most likely that Esther’s parents ended up in a concentration camp. Sofia’s as well… They like to experiment on people like my mother. They called half black, half white people the Rhineland bastards. When the Nazis rose to power, they outlawed miscegenation outright. If you were caught… You were punished with death or worse. They treated them like creatures to be experimented upon… Black people were experimented and tortured routinely but the Nazis were morbidly fascinated with experimenting with bi-racial people because they were half-white. That’s the sadness of it all, they take your humanity away and debase you. Their disgusting curiosity with finding out how much abuse the vulnerable can take only embolden them... That’s what makes it so scary because I knew whatever happened to my mother was horrific. And there was nothing she could really do to stop it.” It was hard to relive her past, but it was important for her to let her granddaughter know.

 

Something about the way that these books describe the Holocaust, it always felt sanitized to her… People couldn’t truly know how horrible it was. The words on the page didn't give the people who live through it the magnitude it deserved.

 

She was happy to see that Chanel was older now, able to understand better. Her granddaughter’s highly curious mind wanted to know everything about their origins. Frida had just always wished that it could have been better origins.

 

Chapter Text

Ever since her grandmother passed… it seemed as if everything started to change. It was the single most terrible thing that ever happened to her so far in her life. She had lost her grandfather, but it was when she was much younger. She knew that she loved him, but she didn't have as many years with him as she did with her grandmother. It hurts something deep within her.

 

Her grandmother was the one who watched her, her parents were so busy with what was going on in their lives that they didn’t really pay attention to her. When her grandmother couldn’t watch her, it was nannies… She was old enough now where she could basically take care of herself. Her grandmother was her best friend and the house really felt silent now. She truly felt alone now… So she did what made her most comfortable. She studied… Her parents were going in different directions and her mother told her that they were getting a divorce.

 

It felt like such a shock to Chanel because she didn't understand why they were getting a divorce. They were hardly ever in the same room, the both of them were always out on business so they wouldn’t even be in the same state. She didn’t even understand the need to separate because they were already separate long before.

 

She knew that deep down inside it was her dad punishing himself. He was always chasing after the next deal… then his mother got sick. Chanel didn’t know if it was his guilt… Her grandmother was dying of advanced cirrhosis, but it was more than that for him.

 

Every time he came home… He was meeting a different person. The wife he thought he knew was a different person then she used to be. The daughter that he thought was his little girl was not so little anymore period time was flying by and he truly didn’t notice. He was changing himself and it was hard for him to admit that to himself.

 

It was like everyone in their house was a stranger, no one knew each other. He didn’t know his wife and he didn’t know his daughter, but he knew that was his fault. He chose not to pay attention, his world came crashing down when his mother couldn't be saved.

 

He knew that her drinking was her biggest vice, something that she couldn’t shake. She couldn’t leave the past in the past… he also didn’t expect her to because her past was something that was unshakable. It wasn’t like a bad business deal where you can both decide to be done with each other and move on. There really was no moving on for her. When he learned about what happened to his maternal family, it shook him too.

 

He knew that the Holocaust wasn’t something that only happened to the person… that kind of dread was passed down, he was always trying to outrun that. He felt a kind of guilt to his mother, he would get so mad at her for being drunk and yell at hear to get better. But how do you get better from that? There is no answer for it. He felt a misplaced guilt… something that he could not remove from himself. He was so mad at the world for turning their back on his mother when she was only a child.

 

His mother had no clue where her mother was… It wasn’t like that on his father’s side. Even though his father was just a man from a sharecropping family from the backwoods of Mississippi, all of his family were buried in the same place. If he wanted to visit the bones of his ancestors, he was able to.

 

There was only one time that he was brave enough to go to Germany. He had told his mother and she was completely against the idea. He felt bad because she went on a three-day bender when he told her, his Aunt Sofia said it wasn’t the best idea but if it was something that he needed then it would be his journey. You couldn’t blame either of them because that place is filled with unmeasurable pain for the both of them. Even though Frida had been upset with her son for what she felt was a betrayal, she told her son where he would be able to find his grandfather.

 

It was a trip that he took with Paulina, he had wanted to take Chanel, but he figured that it would be too confusing because she was so young at the time. When he came face to face with the tombstone Friedrich von Bruckner, he felt is big burst of pain in his heart. He was Friedrich von Bruckner Dupree, but anything that reminded him of Germany he didn’t want to invade his life. He refused to have himself called that last name. He was Freddie Dupree… the only reason he didn't change it on his legal document was because of his mother. It may not have been an identity that he wanted to have, but he wasn’t going to completely erase it. The Nazis tried to erase his family from existence.

 

He cried so hard… he hadn't cried as hard as he was in that moment since his dad whooped his ass for coming home after the streetlights. He thinks that he cried harder than even that time. He never got to know his grandfather, he knew that it was impossible for it to happen. He hated the world because it was them that let it happen. His mother was the way she was because the kind of horror that she went through with something that broke her spirit. She witnessed her own father’s murder… she was sent away by a mother that she knew she would never see again.

 

He cried for himself… he cried for his mother. As much as he knows that he wouldn’t exist if his mother didn’t come to the states, a part of him wished that none of this had to happen. He wished her she was able to have a happy childhood like she gave to him. He wished that she could have some kind of peace.

 

He wished his family’s line could have some peace, but it was just impossible. Some of the chaos had been inherited to him and maybe even Chanel. It made him distant from the people he loved most… He didn’t know how to reconcile the past because so much of it was still hidden. He became more distant after that. It was a slow chasm but it had been building… His mother’s death just compounded that.

 

They had been leading separate but united lives. It worked for them because they were two driven people. They understood each other in a way that other people couldn't. They were a cohesive team that were able to withstand distance because they wanted to achieve their goals. They wanted to be successful together but in their own way. In their own businesses... The thing that made them so good together was the reason they were starting to fall apart. Their marriage didn’t work anymore because they were other people now. He realized that he had been doing a lot of ignoring, it was something that was familiar to him, but he started ignoring the most foundational things which was the downfall of the family that he knew.

 

Whatever was going on with her parents made her upset. They were already gone a lot but now they were going to get a divorce. Now she was going to have a lonelier existence. Her grandmother was gone and her parents were going their separate ways from each other… but she knew that it would be to her as well.

 

The only person she felt had her back in life now was her best friend Daniela. She could count on her to listen to her problems… could distract her from her problems by talking about her own. She knew that she could give good advice, she knew that she was a good friend, so she really focused on that relationship because she needed someone who wasn't going to leave her. She needed to be able to put her faith in someone who wouldn't turn their back on her.

 

The abandonment also helped her channel her anger in something productive. She started taking more classes in high school. She was so focused that she decided she wanted to finish school early. She loaded herself up with her physical classes at school and then enrolled through Florida virtual school to take as many courses as she could. She was over high school… she wanted to be successful so she could chart her own path. She wanted to make her own money and hopefully be able to show her parents that she could be just as good as them. She was hoping that they would become proud of her… maybe they would be around more if she had more achievements.

 

She always got straight As and she did all the extra curriculars but if she could get a job and show them that she was good at it, maybe they would pay attention to her more. Maybe they could see that she learned a lot from watching them.

 

She felt so happy when her mother showered her with praise… She had graduated top three in her class at the age of 16. She knew if she had done high school in four years that she could have been valedictorian. She was playing catch up to over achievers. She was alright with not being number one because she felt she was more impressive by doing what they did in last time.

 

“I can’t believe my baby is graduating high school two years early. You know genius runs on my side of the family.” Paulina said as she was getting ready to take a picture with her phone of her daughter.

 

She always knew that Chanel was smart, but she had no clue how driven her daughter was. It was that tenacity that made her able to graduate high school at an accelerated pace. She did feel guilty a little because it seemed as if she missed most of it. Chanel was a big girl now and she could handle being alone while she was on business trips… Graduating at 16 really showed how mature her daughter was.

 

She was also happy that her sister and her niece could come and celebrate with them.  Paulina always felt that Tamara always had a certain type of attitude for her because she wanted to give Lani gifts. Paulina knew that she could be a little over the top, but she was always excited because Lani was the first child in the next generation of Prices. Paulina always thought that it would make her sister closer to her like they were when they were kids. She wanted to raise their kids together, she wanted their kids to be as close as they used to be.

 

They were completely different people with completely different personalities, but they always had a special connection. But it always seemed as if Paulina ever did anything it was always too much or like she was overstepping. It was when she started to feel a shift in her relationship with her sister. She saw her sister go on more tours and it was harder to contact her. She had thought when Tamara had her daughter that she would be in Miami more.

 

When she saw her sister get pregnant… she just thought she would be next… but she wasn’t. She and Freddie tried a couple different times… they had several heart breaks. She never told her sister because they became more distant than it felt like she couldn't do that anymore. It was why she wanted to pour her love into her niece because she didn't think that she would be able to have a child.

 

And then Chanel came… she was this miracle that they didn’t think that they were going to have. Now she got to show off her daughter and her achievements. She was always proud of Lani, but she knew that she had to do it from afar. If she was too proud then she was afraid that her sister would get upset. Even though she could be loud and boisterous… Paulina could have her feelings hurt quite easily by those she loves the most.

 

“Look at you Nel… Stunting on all of these people!” Lani was happy to be invited to this celebration.

 

She had always wanted to be closer to her aunt and Chanel, but it always seemed like something was happening. Her mom always had something to say about her sister and she didn't want to speak aloud and make things worse by saying she wanted to go to Aunt Paulina’s house. After Oma died it was like Lani was looking from the outside in again. Never wanting to be the reason for things to go down.

 

Lani knew that some of it came from envy. She knew on some level that her mother thought she was going to be more famous than she actually was. She was a respected singer and she toured quite a bit, but she didn’t have that stardom that she probably thought she was going to have when she was younger. Which meant that she didn’t have the same kind of money that she thought she was going to have. She knew on some level that I had to be jealousy because Aunt Paulina went completely different route and was so successful.

 

She didn’t have to be a cop to figure that out. Every time her mother told her that she needed to send back a present she knew. Every time her mother said that she couldn’t go to her aunt’s house she knew. They lived in the same city… but you would think that they lived on opposite sides of the country. It was why Lani was happy when her mother got gigs out of town.

 

Chanel was always weary about Lani, her mother was always talking about her big cousin. Every single achievement that Chanel had it seemed as if Paulina had to say something about Lani. Lani this and Lani that… it felt like being compared to a ghost because she hardly ever saw Lani after Oma passed.

 

“What can I say? Didn’t feel like wasting my time…”  Chanel batted her eyelashes in an innocent manner.

 

“We are so proud of you baby girl. What you have done is amazing and now you're going on this new chapter of your life... I know that it’s going to be challenging but you have shown that challenge might as well be your middle name.” Tamara I was really proud of her niece. She was a little sad at the fact that she wished that she knew more about her sooner.

 

She knew that some of it was her own doing because she could not set aside her pride. She knew that her younger sister was trying but she was always just afraid, her sister could take up a whole room without even trying and that was something that Tamara always wanted to do herself. She felt jealous of her sister and she could never admit it. Even though she knew that it created a crack in her family she couldn't stop it.

 

“Thanks Aunt Tam that means a lot. I know that it’s going to be challenging but I’m ready for college.”

 

They took a couple of more pictures and then Freddie had come back finally from the bathroom.

 

“I could not believe how long that line was to just use the bathroom. You would think that you were at a Heat game.” Freddie thought he spent almost half an hour just waiting to use the bathroom.

 

“Well finally, come bring your country fried steak ass over here so you can take a picture with your daughter.” Paulina was only joking… the Price women had country roots themselves.

 

Even though she and Freddie had gotten divorced… they stayed more than friends, Paulina always thought it was Freddie punishing himself.

 

Dani had been invited to her best friend’s graduation. She was so excited for her bestie… She had taken the photos so all of them could be in the picture.

 

 She knew that this was something Chanel had wanted for such a long time, she just wish it didn’t have to be a graduation for them to figure it out. Chanel had just wanted her family to be close, it seemed the only way for them to gather round was to a celebrate her achievements so that’s what she did.

 

Now that the ceremony was over and her father came back from the bathroom finally. They were able to leave and so now was happy because now they could eat. Her mother had asked her where she wanted to go to celebrate and she told her mom she wanted to go to Ginza.

 

Paulina looked at her daughter as if she grew 3 heads. Paulina said that Chanel could go anywhere she wanted and her daughter chose an all you can eat buffet… Chanel had told her that she liked going to Ginza and they had all you can eat hibachi.

 

The few times as she was able to hang out with Lani… this was where they would go because Lani didn’t have that much money being a cop and she had too much pride to let Chanel pay for it. So this is where they would go.

 

She didn’t need everything to cost $5000 or as much as a car would just to have a good time. All she needed was her family and all the hibachi she could eat.

 

Chapter Text

Chanel had applied to 8 different colleges around the country. She knew that it was ambitious, but she wanted to see how she stacked up. She made sure to take all of the AP classes she could and all of the dual enrollment that she could. She had so many college credits that she knew wherever she went that she wouldn't have to do the complete four years.

 

She wanted these colleges to see how focused she was. She wanted to become a writer… like her grandmother was supposed to be… like her great grandfather and her great-great grandfather was. She wanted to carry on the family tradition. She wanted to be a published writer like they were. She also wanted to surpass them. Every generation was supposed to be better than the last. That’s what her grandmother always told her. She was applying to schools with the best writing programs. For the first time in her life she had actually felt intimidated to get an answer from them.

 

She didn’t want to define who she was as a person by the acceptance or rejection of these institutions. But she also didn’t let that fear of rejection stop her from knowing. She didn’t want to go her whole life without knowing if she was able to get into these top tier schools.

 

It shocked her the most when she got accepted by all of them.

 

“I can’t believe you got into all of the schools this is amazing.” Chanel could hear Dani in her thick Cuban accent.

 

Her words snapped Chanel out of her disbelief. Her mom was away on business, so they were alone in her mother’s condo.

 

“I can’t believe it either. Daniela these are some of the best writing schools in the whole country and they want me to go to their school.” The moment was starting to hit Chanel and she started crying tears of joy.

 

“Oh don’t cry. If you cry, then I cry.” Daniela just reached over so she could hug her best friend.

 

She was so proud of her friend, she was only thinking about college prep at this moment… her best friend was actually getting into colleges.

 

“I’ll collect myself in a minute I just can't believe that all of them said yes. I expected some to say no… honestly I expected more nos than yeses.” Chanel was being honest… most people who got accepted into these kinds of writing programs, had more literary achievements than she did.

 

They had more contests won under their belt than she did. She didn’t have any actually. She went to a school that was STEM… it did have great AP English teachers, but her school was known for science and math. But her grades and her recommendations were sound. She knew that she had a fighting chance and apparently the schools thought so too.

 

“So what are you going to do?” Daniela was wondering because these were going to be tough decisions.

 

“I already knew what I was going to do before I got the letters. I didn’t do it because I was going to go to the schools… I did it to see if I was good enough. I saw that I am and that is enough for me. I already enrolled with FIU. I did early decision and they accepted me.”

 

Daniela was shocked that Chanel had made this decision. She had no clue that her best friend was going to do this, she felt as if she didn't actually get her best friend's motivations. She got into schools in California and New York and Illinois and she was going to FIU.  FIU is not a bad school to go to, Daniela knew that she was going to go there when she graduated but she had thought with all of these acceptance letters that her friend would have chosen somewhere outside of Florida.

 

“Tú tan loca?” (are you crazy?) Danielle was so close to slapping her friend hoping that it would make her come to her senses.

 

“Yes, I am crazy but not because of that. I’m not going to leave home. I’m 16 years old… It would be scary as hell to go to any of these places by myself with no family. It doesn’t matter if I live in a dorm… I know that I can't do it by myself. I know that I would be afraid, you know that I don’t want to be alone and that’s what I would be if I went to these places. Daniela you're my family, you always have my back. Everyone else leaves but you’re always there.  I need to have someone on my side, that's you. My mom is always working and so is my dad. And it’s not like either of them are going to move if I want to go to a school out of state. Even if they did it didn’t mean that I would actually see them. So I would be alone in another state isolated. I would rather be here and happy going to FIU. It would mean that I still get to hang out with Lani sometimes and we would still be together. That’s all that matters to me anyways. I just needed to see how good of a writer I am and I can see that other people can see what my potential is.”

 

Daniela understood… She only had her mother here in the states with her. Her father and the rest of their family lived in Cuba. Chanel was the first person she met at school, she couldn’t speak any English at that point and it was scary for her. When Chanel spoke to her in Spanish… she felt at ease. Here was a girl who looked like her who made her feel comfortable in a place that she had never been before. She knew that it was Miami, but she had met so many people when she was enrolling in school that didn’t speak Spanish that she felt out of her depth.

 

She was drowning in a sea of English and then Chanel came into her life. And then they had been best friends ever since. It made Daniela mad because Chanel was so driven… that they weren’t going to be in high school together anymore. Daniela had made more friends once she started to speak English but for the last two years, she was always side by side with her best friend.

 

“I understand. I’m still very proud of you for getting into all of these schools. You are a wonderful writer and I know that whatever and wherever you turn up that I will be the first one to buy your books! I’m really glad that you’re staying too… You’re my person. I know that you always have my back no matter what. It was scary to think that you may go somewhere else and I was ready for that, but I am really glad that you’re staying. Even though you’re going to be a college girl now… You should know that you really can’t get rid of me.”

 

They hugged each other tighter and laughed.

 

Chanel had gotten a chime on her phone, it was Lani telling her that she was outside.

 

“Lani’s outside.”

 

Daniela was so happy to hear this because she was so hungry. The both of them knew that it was a bad habit, but anytime they went to an all you can eat buffet they made sure not to eat until they got there no matter what.

 

The girls got their stuff and went downstairs. Lani was right up front and they got in the car and went.

 

“Hey girls, sorry I’m late. I got stuck on traffic duty today and the person who was supposed to come in after me came in late so I couldn’t leave until they came.” Lani was still ticked off at this because she was so hungry. She didn’t have any break from the time she ate breakfast and she was in a hot heat all day directing traffic flow at the courthouse.

 

“It’s no sweat cuz. We would have waited until whenever. We are out here for this hibachi.” Chanel started dancing in her seat, she got a little too hype in the seat belt let her know when it locked on her.

 

“Yeah, we never mind free food.” Daniela loved eating with Lani because it meant that she didn’t have to pay.

 

“Dani, you are so lucky that your family.” When Lani started getting closer to her aunt and cousin again, she had gotten to meet Daniela.

 

The two girls were a package deal... they were like Frick and Frack.

 

“Yes, I am and I will benefit from that as long as I can.”

 

Lani just rolled her eyes and kept driving as 2 girls laughed to themselves.

 

She was glad that her Aunt Paulina always slipped $100 to her so she was able to have these lunch and dinners with the girls. Lani would still pay for it even if her aunt didn't give her $100 every now and then. But when Paulina actually knew that they were going out to eat, she always made sure to pick up the tab. It was something that Lani appreciated because she didn’t have unlimited funds and the rent in Miami was ridiculously high without needing to be. She didn’t dare tell her mother though because she didn’t want any problems between the sisters. And she needed this $100 to help her stretch.

 

When they got to Ginza, the hostess took them too their table. They had been there enough where the whole staff knew exactly where Lani like to sit.

 

They took this time to catch each other up on their lives. They also got multiple plates and satisfied their appetites.

 

Lani had called for their waitress to come back so she could pay the bill…She was so happy that they were able to get in at the lunch special rate instead of the dinner special rate. She would be able to save a couple of dollars. She knew that even with leaving a good tip that she would have some money leftover from the money that her auntie gave her.

 

She knew that she could save it or the three of them could walk off some of their fullness and get some ice cream from their favorite place on the beach.

 

“Do you guys wanna go home or do you want to go to the Flamingo Park and then walk this off so we can go to Lincoln Rd and get some ice cream?” Lani was ready to do whatever.

 

Daniela and Chanel looked at each other pitifully. It hurt to even think about getting up and walking to the car let alone going to the park and walking but if they can get ice cream from their favorite place it would be worth it. They had ice cream in the buffet, but it did not compare to their fave.

 

“Why did you have to do that? You know that we want ice cream… but we can barely walk. How are we gonna make it to the car let alone to the park?” Chanel started whining as she was rubbing her stomach.

 

“Well think about it this way… you’re going to need room in your stomach to eat the ice cream and not feel like death runneth over. So you should be saying thank you Lani.”

 

Both girls just rolled their eyes and grumbled out of the seat and attempted to walk to the car. The silver lining was they were going to have the ice cream that they loved, it would just be a little painful on the journey there.

 

She knew it was a little mean to laugh but Lani enjoyed the winces on their faces. Sometimes the girls could be so dramatic, but it was fun for her. In a way it was like having little sisters and it made her feel happy to have this closer bond. This was what she was missing out when she was growing up, she knew the same thing for Chanel, so she was going to cherish these moments.

 

Chapter Text

Even though she was the youngest person in her class, it didn't stop Chanel from being the top dog. She knew that it was going to be a challenge for her because of her age but she didn't want that to intimidate her. She wasn't going to let people who were older than her stop her focus.

 

She was glad that she was able to do a lot of the heavy lifting in high school because she got a lot of credits for college. It was one of the best decisions for her to actually stay within the state because all of her dual enrollment were done via Florida schools, all of those credits were accepted by FIU on top of her AP scores.

 

She had really started to focus on her writing and branch out as well, she had never thought about doing playwriting or screenwriting, but she was interested in all of it, so she wanted to be well rounded. She figured even if she didn’t use this in her future, it was nice to have in her wheelhouse. You never knew when an opportunity would arise and she always wanted to be ready for the occasion. Her professors told her that she had a natural knack that you would think that it was inherited.

 

She kept her mouth shut because she came from a family of writers is just no one knew about the very small niche community of Black German writers. Most of their works had been lost to time. Not by accident… It was systematic… The Nazis had been known to basically delete the art and literature from society that didn’t match the Aryan identity that they wanted to portray to the world.

 

It was nice for her to be recognized for something that she loved. Every time she had a pen in her hand, she felt mighty and strong. Most people now would type their stories but there was something about her writing by hand that made her feel connected to her family's past. It made her manuscripts feel more authentic. It was also a way for her to have the 1st edition of every single work she created. It made her feel like a bona fide writer.

 

She also ended up getting a job… She wanted to prove to her mother that she could be successful. She wasn’t just a smart cookie, but she also knew how to work hard. She had started to apply to everywhere she could… she knew that it would be difficult because she was only 16. Even though she graduated high school, it didn’t matter to a lot of the places she was applying to. They had all these rules about how they treat minors and she understood that she didn't mind it… she just didn’t want that to take away the chance of her being able to have a job.

 

A lot of times employers don’t want to deal with the hassle of having minors on their staff because of the strict rules that they have for minors in employment. A place ended up taking a chance on her which she was happy about. She had gotten a job at H&M and it felt fun being there.

 

She had always been a people person and she could talk… she had a passion for creating cute outfits… so it was a no brainer for her. When they offered her the job she said yes immediately. She had thought that they would offer her only the minimum wage, but she found out that working at Aventura Mall, they had to compete with other retailers that were their competitors, so they had their own minimum wage within the mall and it was significantly higher than what she thought she was going to get paid.

 

She felt so mature having a job and getting paychecks. She had heard one of her coworkers talking about their 401K and she asked him what that was and wondered to herself if she could have one for herself.

 

She heard her grandmother’s voice in her head always telling her that she needed to make sure that she had something in her name that she owned… something that no one could take away from her no matter what. So when Chanel heard about 401K’s she wanted to know how she could get one for herself.

 

She had read the policy that the company that H&M used, and she didn't meet the qualifications. She started to do research on it because to her it seemed unfair because if she wanted to be able to save money, she had to wait until she was 21. It didn’t seem right if someone wanted to save when they were 16 versus 21 how could that be a bad thing?

 

 That's when she started to dig deep. It said that companies must offer 401K’s to employees that are at least 21 years old and have been in their service for at least a year. H&M had a policy of offering 401K’s after only six months. She then came to the conclusion that there were parameters set for what companies had to do that was mandatory, they had to offer a plan to people who were at least 21 years old and they couldn't get away from that, but it didn't necessarily preclude them from having people younger be able to get a plan.

 

They technically didn’t have to offer it to someone who was younger because they weren’t obligated by the law but if they chose to do it, they wouldn't be breaking the law. She had asked her manager if she can get in contact with HR to see about enrolling.

 

When Chanel made it to the six months mark it was the first thing she did. Even though she got paid more than she thought she was going to get paid it didn't mean that it was a lot of money. She was lucky that her parents we’re well off and all of her expenses were pretty much taken care of… she had spending money as well that she squared away all the time. She contributed the max amount that she was able on her paychecks and put the rest away with her spending money and the secret account that her grandmother had set up for her.

 

This secret account that she had was money for her dream house. One day she was going to live on her own and she wanted to have the house of her dreams, so she was going to save from now. Her parents gave her ridiculous amounts of money sometimes and they would ask her if she had any leftover and she would always tell them no. She put it all in the bank, but she didn't want them to know about her secret account because in the back of her mind she felt that they would stop giving her money if they knew that she hardly spent any of it. She knew that her dream house was going to be a lot of money and she wanted to have as much money as she could.

 

That’s why she was always ready to work more. When her manager found out that she wasn’t in high school, she got even more hours. She even got overtime, she wasn’t beholden to the same labor rules because she wasn’t a minor in high school. She had a knack for the visuals, so that’s what she primarily did. She loved flexing her creative mind. She loved creating beautiful outfits that people would buy.

 

After about a year there, her manager was so impressed with her work ethic that she was offered a promotion. She became a visual supervisor, and it was the first time in her life that she had a role in delegation. It was a little frustrating at first because in her mind, she knew that she could do the job and would try to take it upon herself to just do it. The visual manager told her that it wasn’t about her ability because they knew that she could do it… that ability is what got her the promotion in the first place. What they wanted her to do now was to be able to coach and train other employees on how to execute the visual plans.

 

They wanted her to be able to delegate duties to the employees that she was responsible for now. She was a little intimidated at that because she was only 17 at the time, but she was happy to have the support which made her feel more confident. She kept at it and she had gained a reputation for being one of the best employees. She was consistently getting the employee of the month award.

 

That kind of attention was paramount for her because she liked being recognized for what she contributed. It wasn’t something that she got at home often. She knew that her parents were proud of her and her accomplishments, but it was different to hear it. They were never home so sometimes she got a congratulations from far away or be told ‘I knew you could do it’.

 

But she always wanted to hear the words I’m proud of you, even though she got that from Lani and Daniela, it was different from her parents.

 

The only thing that she didn’t like about the job was the fact that she was really good at it. She wasn’t only good at visual she was good at every facet of the store. She was good with customers… she was good with shipment. She was like a Swiss knife, if you put her in a certain department, she was always going to succeed.

 

Every time a manager would ask her if she would be able to stay because of someone calling out or something happening, she would always say yes. It was nice to feel needed and be a part of a team. She felt bad when she said no to things. Most of the time she didn’t have a choice because she had a paper due or a project to finish. But she prioritized her time very well, so she was always getting overtime. Her checks look nice, but she never spent them. It was good for her 401K… she was happy that the company had a good match, but she felt like she had a full-time job and a half on top of being full-time at school.

 

Daniela and Lani loved the fact as she worked there. She got a great discount and Lani got her whole professional wardrobe from there. They had a workwear section and Lani was supposed to look put together for her job but that could get expensive, when her cousin found out about her discount and the fact that they had workwear that she actually would want to have, made it a no brainer for her.

 

Daniela just loved the fact that they had relatively affordable clothes that were really cute so she could look right at high school. It was dog eat dog there so if you didn’t come correct then you might get eaten alive.

 

Time felt like it was going at warp speed because Chanel had gotten a couple of more promotions at her job and she was finishing college. She was in the master’s writing program, so she still had two years to go, but she was officially a college graduate with her BA. It was really the best time because it coincided with Daniela’s graduation, so they were able to celebrate together. College always adjourned before high school so Chanel had her graduation first and they had a small party, but they would wait to have the big one when Daniela graduated.

 

It was a fun time for the both of them, Daniela decided to go to Miami Dade because they were going to basically have her education for free with all of the Florida Bright Futures and the aid that she qualified for.

 

The good thing about being in the master’s program was it wasn't like undergrad. Even though you technically were a full-time student you actually had less classes that were just more intensive. It was a different criterion for a master’s degree. It also agreed with her work schedule because she was working 60 to 80 hours a week consistently. She knew that it was crazy… her feet were telling her that she was insane but with the kind of money that she was getting now it was quite a bit of money that hardly any 18-year-old would be getting.

 

She did what she always did and squared it away. Even though she was getting a lot of money at this point, she was still feeling stressed. The hours on her feet were taxing and she also had her obligations to her writing program. She got used to the idea of only having 4 hours of sleep. It became a normal part of her routine.

 

She was in hyperdrive at work and at school. There was always some deadline on the horizon between her responsibilities, so she always had her special espresso from Panther Coffee on deck.  She was so close to getting her MFA, that she wasn’t going to let anything stop her at this point. Even if she felt like she could smell roasted coffee in her dreams.

 

Chapter Text

Chanel couldn't believe it. She was finally graduating with her MFA in creative writing. She felt like this was the end of a chapter and the start of something new. She found inspiration for what her first book was going to be. It felt really good to have all these invigorating things to happen to her. Another reason she was happy with because her graduation meant that her whole family would be together again.

 

Her Aunt Tamara had made sure to black out her graduation day on her tour so she could make it back in time. Both of her parents had promised her that they wouldn't miss it.

 

It was very few times where her whole family was together in one place at one time. The last time they were together was to celebrate Lani becoming a detective, but as soon as that was done… they were off on their merry way. So these times were far in between, and these were the moments that she savored. These were the reasons she worked so hard was so she could have that one great day.

 

She made it her mission to be the best so people could pay attention. All of the hard work and the sleepless nights that she had, it was worth it in the end because it meant that her heart could be happy. The only thing that would make this day more perfect was if her grandmother was able to be there but in a way she was.

 

Chanel could hear her grandmother in her head telling her that she could do whatever she saw her mind too. Whatever goal that she wanted to achieve… it was always doable because Chanel was a fighter. So that’s what Chanel did… she fought to have her seldom special days.

 

“Look at my baby. She is so grown and taking names… Graduating with a master’s degree. I’m so proud of you.” Paulina was always astonished by what her little girl could achieve.

 

Even though Paulina and Freddie were successful people, what their daughter did was always more than she expected.

 

She had a deep respect for her daughter because she had this internal drive that fueled her to want things and she did it on her terms. Her daughter was graduating with a master's degree at the age of 20. She knew what she wanted, and she went after that.

 

Paulina just wished that she was able to see it more. Even though Chanel was grown now, it probably made the feeling worse because Paulina knows that it doesn’t really have anything to do with her. Her daughter runs on something that she has nothing to do with.

 

She admires her daughter's independence and strength, but she wishes that she got to see more of the journey instead of just the achievement itself. Even though she always came back to Miami… business never waited. She had millions of frequent flyer miles because she was always off to the next place. There was always business to be had… clients to impress.

 

She was thankful though that the pride that she had in her daughter outweighed the guilt, Chanel was resilient, and she knew how to stand on her own two feet. She came from a family of survivors and that's what she did.

 

“Thanks mama.” Chanel was blushing under the praise.

 

Everything she did was worth that one little moment. They had just celebrated Daniela getting her associates degree from Miami Dade. Their graduation dates were only a couple days apart, so it was great that Paulina was able to come in for that. but she was a little miffed that her dad missed Daniela’s big day, but he promised that he wasn’t going to let business make him miss hers. It did make her more satisfied that her dad wouldn’t miss this day, he had never missed any graduation she had from the time she was in preschool and she hoped today wouldn’t be any different.

 

“Nel, I am so happy. I knew that you could do it. I knew that you were going to do it and now it's reality.” Lani felt like more than a proud cousin, she felt like a proud big sister.

 

She was so glad that she was able to establish a good relationship with her cousin. Since she had no siblings Chanel and by extension Daniela was the closest thing that she had to sisters. She was always trying to encourage the both of them and always made herself available to them. Celebrating these graduations made her feel more at ease about the decision that she made.

 

She was going to wait some time… even though she didn’t have that much left with them because she decided to take a job in Salem, Illinois. She wanted to advance her career, but she didn't want it to at the expense of the girls. She wanted to make sure that they were in a place where they could handle it. She felt that with them graduating college that it was okay for her to move on.

 

She came from a long line of women who did what they had to do to get ahead. The Price women were go-getters, and she wasn't going to be any different. She knew that deep down that the girls would understand that this was something that she had to do. It didn’t make it any easier to actually do it though. She felt guilty because both of them were so happy and even if they would support her decision, she knew that it would be something that was devastating to them. She was a person that they looked up to. She was more than fun Lani, she was a role model.

 

Her Aunt Paulina was always telling her that the girls look up to her. It was why Paulina was so happy that Lani made time for them. Even though Lani had her own friends in her own life… she always made sure that she spent time with her family. That was going to change soon because she was moving to a small city in the suburbs of Chicago.

 

They were paying her significantly more than what she was getting in Miami… even when she factored in the cost of living, she was still coming out ahead. She was going to take these next couple of months trying to hang with her girls as much as she can until she had to leave.

 

“Well you know how I do!” Chanel started flexing her muscles in a mocking manner and it made all the ladies in the room laugh.

 

Everybody was here except her dad and it was starting to make her get a little upset, the ceremony was starting soon, and it made her stomach turn. Her father knew how important this was to her and he was playing with time.

 

They all went to the ceremony… Paulina had texted and called Freddie’s phone… She was worried because he never disregarded her phone calls. Even when he was in business meetings, he would always answer her calls but then she thought maybe his plane got delayed and he was still in the air at this point and couldn't even get the calls because it went straight to voicemail.

 

It was an occupational hazard, she had been on plenty of flights that were running late because of XY&Z. She just wished it hadn’t been on this day.

 

When they said Chanel’s name… all of them cheered. Paulina, Tamara, Lani, Daniela and Daniela’s mom Lourdes screamed for her as she walked across the stage.

 

When the ceremony was over, she checked her phone to see where to find her family… she saw that there was a message from her dad. She found out that his plane was delayed and he was going to be a little late, but he wasn't going to miss out on her special day.

 

She had been so upset before because her dad hadn't been there, but she felt relieved to know that it wasn't his fault. It wasn’t like he could stop the delay and she was more forgiving about his absence because she knew that nothing was going to stop him from celebrating her big day.

 

She found her family and her mom was telling her about her dad running late. She appreciated that it was the first thing that Paulina did even though her dad had let her know himself.

 

There wasn’t any other place that Chanel could think to have their graduation of even if her mother wanted to go to one of the ritzy restaurants. Paulina was able to have her way and say that it wouldn’t be the same experience because Freddie wasn’t there yet. They ended up going to a restaurant in Bal Harbour Shops. Chanel felt like she was on cloud 9…her mom surprised her, Lani and Dani with bags from Fendi. She understood why her mom wanted to go there now. She had a graduate degree, and she wasn't even able to legally drink yet even though Lani let her have a glass of wine every now and then when they had sleepovers. She had a job and she was making great money even if her feet we're always aching.

 

And she got to celebrate with the people that she loved most in life. It did suck a little when she had to say goodbye to her Aunt Tamara. She knew that her aunt could only take this one day off because she had to get back on her tour… it didn’t make it any easier when she had to say goodbye though.

 

Lourdes was tired and she went back to her own condo… it was in the same building, because it was owned by Paulina and she always took care of family. Paulina had even offered Lani her own condo, but it was declined. The last thing Lani wanted was to add any drama between the two Price sisters. They were in a good place right now and she didn’t want her mother’s pride to clash with her aunt’s generosity. It was one of the reasons that she was going to Salem because she could make significantly more money and be able to make ends meet without feeling like she was in the middle.

 

Paulina and the girls went back to their condo. She saw the girls go to the terrace to hang out. She let them have their fun.

 

 She did have to catch up on some work emails, but she was going to let that go until tomorrow. She had these heels on all day so she needed to rest her feet for a little bit.

 

Paulina settled herself on the sofa and put her feet up on the coffee table. She let herself closed her eyes for a second. She wasn’t going to sleep but she felt more at peace to just relax for a second.

 

Her phone started ringing and she was so close to cursing someone out because she had just closed her eyes.

 

It was the number to the front desk of the building. She thought to herself maybe they were calling because she got some package, but they usually just waited until the next day unless it said it was urgent.

 

“Hello?” Paulina couldn’t keep the hint of attitude out of her voice.

 

“Sorry to be disturbing you at this time Mrs. Price but there are some police officers here and they are requesting to see you.”

 

 Paulina thought this was very peculiar… She always did her due diligence to not work with shady characters even though there were plenty in Miami. The last thing she wanted was the police to be in her face.

 

“Okay, you can send them up Omar thank you.” Paulina was starting to think she ate too much food at the restaurant. It was making her stomach hurt now.

 

She knew that it would be any minute now before they would be knocking on her door. Her hand shook a little when she heard the urgency in the knocks. The sliding door to the terrace was opened so the girls heard it too. Paulina just waved her hand and let them know that it wasn't a big deal. She saw them go back to talking.

 

 She opened the door and she saw two officers with grim faces. She then recognized the kind of uniform that they had so it made her suspicious.

 

Even though the girls were on the terrace, as soon as they saw the door open… Lani was on high alert, she saw that some police officers were at the door. She scanned their uniform and it looked like they were FHP. It made her get up and walk into the condo. She had just told the girls that she was getting the opportunity to work in Salem. They were happy for her. She thought that they would be throwing fits, but she was marveling at how mature they were being. So much was going right for the three of them that all they wanted to do was be supportive of each other.

 

Lani did not like the feeling that was in the atmosphere…  she knew what those kinds of looks on a cop’s face meant. They were there to tell bad news, she wanted to know exactly why they were there and for who...

 

Chanel and Daniela just followed because the whole mood of the room shifted and they wanted to know why…

 

 

 

Chapter Text

Even though their uniforms look legit… That didn’t mean anything for Lani she needed to check their credentials before they were coming into her family's house.

 

“Excuse me I am Detective Price. I’m going to need to see some valid credentials before you can come into my Aunt's home.” Lani flashed her badge so they knew that she was who she said she was.

 

“Metro?”

 

“Yeah, Intracoastal District.” Lani said this as she examined their IDs and badges.

 

“Alright these look legit. What is the reason for your visit?”

 

Paulina just watched her niece go into her work mode and started interrogating the officers that work coming to see her.

 

“We are here to see a Paulina Price…” The first officer looked around and saw an older woman, two younger girls and the officer that they’ve been speaking to since they came. They started to do deductive reasoning on who could Paulina Price be.

 

“Are you Paulina Price?” The other officer started talking... it didn't matter how they did it, it was always going to come out terrible. This was the one thing they hated about their job.

 

“Yes, I am.”

 

“Are you the emergency contact of a… let me get this right a Friedrich von Buckner Dupree?”

 

“Yes, I am his wife and it's von Bruckner. What is this about?” It still felt so natural for Paulina to say she was Freddie’s wife. They never stopped being intimate even when their divorce was final.

 

Everything in Paulina froze…  The strange people in her house asking her about Freddie. She didn’t like this… she didn’t like this at all.

 

“I apologize about that ma'am.  We came here because you are his emergency contact, ma’am there was a pileup on I-95 and a semi truck lost control and it tipped over. The car your husband was driving in was one of the cars that was crushed. I am sorry to tell you that your husband died from the impact.”

 

The whole room went silent, Chanel felt her whole body being robbed of air. These strange people were in her house telling her that her dad was dead.

 

“No. My husband is not dead…  this must be some kind of mistake because Freddie is going to be here any minute now. His flight was delayed but he is not going to miss out seeing us.” Paulina was shaking her head furiously because these people were in her house telling her these horrible lies.

 

“How did you conclude my uncle was the person who died? I imagine if there was a pile of that you would have more than just simple speculation? I’m going to need proof before you tell us that my uncle didn't make it.” Lani was not someone who was just told something she needed the evidence to make her own informed decisions.

 

“When the fire department was able to lift the trailer of the semi truck, they went in and extracted everyone they could from their vehicles. There was a copy of a rental agreement receipt in the dashboard, the identification on the man was in his wallet that was found inside of the car. We also compared the photo of his license to the person in the car and we believe it’s a match. We are incredibly sorry to have to tell you this, but we have been researching extensively because we want to make sure that when we alert the multiple families involved that we get it right.”

 

Paulina just couldn’t believe the words of people she didn't know. She just ran to her phone and started calling Freddie’s number and it went straight to voicemail every single time. She tried texting him and she didn’t get and answer back.

 

Chanel's eyes couldn't focus… she felt like the room was moving side to side as if she was on an unsteady boat. She started to feel her food coming up and she ran to the bathroom and vomited everything. She felt like she couldn’t stop vomiting.

 

Dani saw her friend racing towards the bathroom and followed her. Her heart felt heavy… almost as heavy as her legs because she felt like she was walking in quicksand.

 

When she got to the guest bathroom, she could smell the acrid aroma of vomit. She saw Chanel hugging the toilet bowl. It was like her friend was not even there even though her body was. She just flushed the toilet to hopefully alleviate the smell.

 

The door was open and the two girls could hear the screams coming from the living room. They could hear Lani trying to comfort Paulina but the loud sobs only continued.

 

Something in Chanel finally cracked when she heard her mother’s wailing. She started to cry herself because it was real now. If her mother believed it then it meant that her dad was actually dead.

 

She could feel Dani behind her, she was hugging her. It was like the weight of her friend was keeping her in her body. She just wanted to float away but Daniela wouldn’t let her, so she just settled for crying into the toilet. Every time she sobbed her face scrunched at how terrible her breath smelled but she made no move to get mouthwash or brush her teeth because none of that mattered.

 

She didn’t know what happens now… how did one of the best days of her life just turned into a nightmare that she wish she could take back. Now she found herself being mad. She was resentful of herself, she was always pushing herself to do things quicker, she didn’t want to waste her time if she didn't have to.

 

But if she had just waited then it would have meant that her dad would still be here. He wouldn't have been driving on the highway to come see her today. He would be at a business meeting doing what he always did. She was the reason her dad was dead.

 

No one could tell her any different because he wouldn’t have been here on this day if she hadn't graduated.

 

Chanel didn’t know how long they were sitting on the bathroom floor, when she could finally take two breaths one after the other… that’s when she got up. She took a look at herself in the mirror and she looked exactly how she expected herself to look. She had gotten her makeup professionally done just for today and she looks so ruined. But it felt right. She found some mouthwash and got rid of the disgusting taste in her mouth.

 

She had the urge to swallow the mouthwash because it felt like she could still taste the bile in her throat.  Chanel was pretty scared to go back into the living room. She was scared to see her mother. What was she supposed to say?

 

Would her mother blame her for her father’s death like she blames herself? She took cautious steps, she could feel Daniela’s hand on her back right under her neck. It was like a light weight of support.

 

When she got back to the living room, she could see her mother on the sofa with her face in her hands. Lonnie was right next to her holding her tight.

 

Paulina could hear movement… She picked up her head and she saw her daughter.  Chanel was as cried out as she was. She doesn’t know how to do this. It was one thing to have grandparents die because that’s what you expect because they get older. She had experience with her own parents going and then her husband’s parents going. How is she supposed to explain Freddie’s death when she can’t wrap her mind around it herself?

 

Her daughter needed answers but she didn’t have any. She felt so inadequate because she just didn't know what to do, she didn’t know how to be.

 

She got up from the sofa and walked to her daughter quietly. She knew that she needed to be strong for her daughter, but how was she supposed to be strong about this? This was supposed to be something along time away.

 

She did the only thing that she could think of, she hugged her daughter as tight as she could. She tried to pour as much love into that hug.

 

“I’m so sorry baby… I’m so sorry. We’re going to figure this out. This was the last thing that I ever wanted for you to go through. I wish I could take your pain away.” Paulina just kept talking to her daughter. She didn’t even know what she was saying at one point. All she could feel were the tears  from her daughter on her shoulder.

 

Chanel had thought that she was done with crying… she was completely wrong because when she heard her mother speaking a fresh wave of sorrow hit her, it was mixed with guilt.

 

She took this woman’s husband away and her mother might have been giving her some comfort now, but when her mother really started to think about everything… It would only be a matter of time before her mother turned on her.

 

Her mother would finally see that she was to blame for everything. Chanel kept telling herself as she cried that her ambition is what killed her father. If she had just waited instead of doing everything at an accelerated pace, she wouldn’t be hearing her mother's sobs in her ear.

 

She wouldn’t see Lani and Daniela on the sofa crying themselves. She is the person that caused this chaos.

 

“Baby, I know that this is a lot… but I know we’re going to get through it. This pain is fresh… for all of us but I know that your father wants us to be strong. How about you go take a shower? Help get some of the day off of you.” Paulina needed to shower herself because she knew that that was going to be the place where she did most of her crying from now on.

 

Chanel just nodded… She didn’t say a word to anyone in the room, she just walked back to her room and went to the bathroom. She felt like she was on autopilot. She didn’t even remember actually taking a shower even though her skin felt like it. She could feel the layers of makeup off of her face. When she came out of the bathroom, she saw that Lani and Daniela were in the room. She honestly didn’t care.

 

Nobody said anything, the two of them just took a shower after each other in stayed in the room with Chanel.

 

Even though Chanel didn't say it out loud, she was thankful when her cousin and her best friend were on either side of the bed of her. Even though she felt like she was in an abyss of nothingness, she felt as if they were her lifeline. Like they could pull her and make her feel less numb.  She was happy to have that even though she knew that she didn't deserve it.

 

She just wondered to herself how long did she have until everyone else figured it out?

 

 

Chapter Text

The funeral was something that gave a permanence to Chanel. Her heart and her mind had to play catch up. She just kept hoping that her mind was playing a terrible trick on her and she was in the longest nightmare she ever had. But this was no nightmare, this was her reality and she hated it.

 

She had all of her dad’s business associates telling her that they were so sorry for her loss. She knew that it wasn’t right because these were someone’s father or brother or son but she kept wishing that they were dead and her dad was still here.

 

The last thing she wanted was empty condolences as she could do nothing with. To her it was just hot air… Everything just felt stupid. She wanted it to end, it felt like it dragged on and on. She didn’t want to hear about how he could close a deal from someone she didn't even know. Why would someone think that would be something she wants to hear? Did they think that was going to make her sleep any easier? Grieve any easier?

 

Why do people say empty platitudes to make themselves feel better? That's what she kept wondering when each of these people were paying their condolences. She knew that she wasn’t the only one because she could hear her mother’s fake laugh she always reserved for things she didn’t care for. The fact that she heard her mom do the same laugh for about 2 hours was maddening.

 

Her mom had to pretend for the benefit of other people because it was polite. She had to hear them going on and on as if she had to be the one to comfort them. Chanel just wanted to tell everybody there to go to hell. They didn’t need this dumb and long process of making other people feel better about her dad dying. They could just pay their respects offer quick condolences and leave. When they linger they just make things worse because the last thing they really need was someone overstaying their welcome.

 

The day was hard enough. After the funeral her mother actually stayed home. She still did business, but she was doing business in the South Florida area. She was home more often than not settling for working at the condo, it was weird for Chanel.

 

Her mother was so present which made her feel out of her skin. This was something highly unusual. She didn’t know how to react to it. She didn’t know how to react to many things lately.

 

Some days she just wanted to spend all day in bed, she couldn't even sleep at night and when she fell asleep it was during the day.  She took a full two weeks of being like that and then her job was calling. They were understanding about her father dying but they only gave her two weeks of bereavement pay.

 

She didn’t even care about the pay because it wasn’t about money. She just needed time to be away from things. But then she realized that she needed something to distract her, the last thing she needed to think about was her father's death. The last thing she wanted to do was think about the role she played in it.

 

When she got back to work, she was actually shocked when she only worked a 40-hour work week. The last time she worked a 40-hour workweek… she had still been a minor. Chanel started thinking to herself maybe this was their idea of ‘easing’ her back into work. As soon as managers wanted vacation or people started calling out, everything went back to normal.

 

It was like nothing even happened in their minds. She was back to being dependable Chanel. She used to love her job so much, she was the youngest person to ever be a senior department manager. She should be so proud of that title because she works so hard and so long. She was grinding day in and day out to get ahead. But what did that really get her? These people were taking advantage of her.

 

She was regularly working 60 to 80 hour workweeks. It made for having bomb pay but she didn’t even use that money she always tucked it away. The only saving grace was she was done with her degree, so she was actually less tired. The only extra fatigue she had was from the grief of losing her father. The one thing that she forgot about grieving someone was the physical toll that it took on you. The mental was always a given but the kind of tired that you feel from someone you love dying is just otherworldly hard.

 

She was working seven days a week… Her manager was actually shocked with how many hours she logged. That was something should know could never understand… The woman did payroll every single week, so she didn’t understand how it was a surprise. The only time she ever took a vacation was when she knew that she was going to be capped.  Things were changing though… Chanel didn’t have that same love for coming to work. At some point it came automatic, it didn’t matter how many times they made their month and got a bonus or all of the overtime pay that she got. She was the youngest manager there and she was the highest paid but when you did it for my hours breakdown, she had the worst quality of life of any of them. She felt like she was taking it way more serious than other people were, so she didn’t care to have that same zeal anymore.

 

She didn’t change her work ethic because she was allergic to failure, her parents didn’t raise her to not follow through on something. Her own ethos wouldn’t allow her to do that. She had employees under her purview and she didn’t want them to see anything less than excellent because that’s the same standard that she held them too.

 

But she was just over it, she didn’t know how long she was going to keep this up. She didn’t know how long she could keep it up. She was exhausted all the time and she was sure that people saw it. Between working the endless amounts of hours and just trying to make a day-to-day in order to make it to tomorrow. It was just too much...All of her days started to meld together.

 

She blinked and then it was August, Lani was leaving and it just felt wrong. She had just lost her father and now Lani was leaving. It was like losing the closest thing she had to a sister. She had been trying for months to convince Lani to stay.

 

It didn’t matter what Chanel did she couldn’t convince her cousin that staying in Miami with the right choice. Lani had been dead set on going to Salem. Every time they met together, Chanel was always giving her a pitch.

 

Lani could understand where her cousin was coming from but she had already interviewed for the position and she accepted it. It’s not like working for a national company. It’s not like putting in for a transfer, you had to do a completely different interview process and accepting the job meant that you had to quit your old one. She didn’t leave her job on bad terms, but she couldn't pass up the opportunity to make more money.

 

Have more career advancement… That was one of the biggest reasons for her looking into Salem PD. It would seem as if a smaller Police Department meant less chance for career advancement, but it was the opposite. There were 4700 cops in Miami Dade Police Department, not even counting all of the cops in the 35 sub-cities. She had to compete with all those people for a job.

 

Lani had always been confident in her abilities to succeed and get ahead, but the sheer probability of getting jobs were so difficult for her. She wasn’t a kid from nepotism, she didn’t have any connections. The only thing she had was her work ethic and the recommendations from people who knew her. The people who could vouch for her but being honest and good don't get you a job when you're a cop. Especially not one in South Florida.

 

She was tired of getting passed up for positions because so and so’s kid was looking at the same position she wanted. She wasn’t willing to compromise herself to get ahead. She had gotten so many offers from sergeants and lieutenants only if she slept with him. She was tired of it… She was tired of having to deal with that on such a big level. It wasn’t to say that it wasn’t something that she expected in Salem, but she knew that logically she would be expecting it from less people.

 

If Lani could, she would stay, she would just accept a condo from her aunt, accept money from her aunt and not have to worry about how to pay her bills, how to save for the future… But it would only mean causing more problems.

 

Her mother would throw a stink and she didn't want the sisters to be at odds, her aunt had more things to deal with and adding her sister's pride wasn't something Lani wanted to add too.

 

As much as the timing was horrible, she had to do all was right for her future, she felt it in her bones that going to Salem was going to be good for her. She could actually make a name for herself there. She couldn’t do that in Miami unless she was willing to do it on her back. Her refusal to give in only made the men who actually had power to do something dig in. The fix was in and she knew that she could do the Sergeant's exam and then the Lieutenant exam pass them but until she got promoted, she would only be a person who passed the exams.

 

“Chanel, we talked about this. I have to go because this is how I'm going to advance my career. I can't do that in Miami and I know that it's been really tough. I can't even imagine what you're going through right now. I love you so much and that's what's making it so hard for me to go. But I have obligations... It’s not just about my career advancement but I have to be able to afford to live and I can't do it with what my job is offering me."

 

“It's just not fair. Can you ask for a raise or something? I’ve gotten a raise every single year I’ve been with H&M, I know that you’re good at your job… you deserve one so ask for it…” Chanel knew that she was grasping at straws, but she was still going to do whatever she could.

 

Lani wishes she could tell her cousin that the kind of raise they were offering her was abysmal. It was an actual joke… Just because she had the respect of her colleagues didn’t mean that HR was going to pay her accordingly. Even with the dismal raise that she was looking at… she was going to make way more in Salem. She had already tabulated how much it was going to cost with the apartment that she got and Miami was just not doing it for her anymore.

 

The City of Miami Police Department were offering her basically the same amount of money, so it was just a waste of her time.

 

“Cuz everything you are describing is stuff that I have done. Salem is it for me… I’ve already signed a lease for my apartment and I’m officially an employee of that Police Department, I’m just handling my affairs here. Now I want to spend this time with my girls enjoying the little time that we have left. It doesn’t mean that I won’t come back because we are going to have holidays and you can come visit me too.”

 

Chanel refrained from saying anything else… she had decided what she was going to do. Lani could just clear it out of town without looking back then so could she. They spent about another hour and a half before Lani took Chanel and Daniela home.

 

When they got back, Paulina wasn’t home which Chanel wasn’t too mad at because she didn't want to lose her nerve. She told Daniela that they should be taking a break. They should be traveling and being young.

 

School would always be waiting for Daniela and Chanel could always write her book later. She had the biggest case of writers block anyways. She couldn’t write since her dad died and the same 100 pages of her manuscript was mocking her. The most stable thing in her life was her job, it was longest relationship she ever had that wasn’t family. She didn’t feel an ounce of guilt when she wrote her two-week notice. She immediately sent it to her manager’s email.

 

In two weeks, she and Daniela would be doing what people envy. Traveling and documenting the whole thing. It was the first time in a long time that she actually smiled.

 

Chapter Text

When Chanel and Daniela told their respective mothers about their plans, they didn’t get that much resistance. They actually didn’t get any resistance at all. Paulina and Lourdes felt more comfortable that if they were going to travel it was going to be together.

 

Paulina was glad that Chanel look to be in better spirits. Most of the time Chanel was completely silent, her footsteps were light so sometimes you didn't even hear her come in the room. Her daughter was a shell of herself and it wasn't surprising. She had just lost her father and there's no playbook on how to handle it. Paulina was trying to handle it herself and she had no clue what she was doing.

 

She buried herself in work, it was something that she knew how to do and how to do well. She was even busier now than she ever was. Freddy had left her all of his business and his assets. She wanted to make him proud and  it meant she had to travel even more so now.

 

Maybe Chanel traveling was a good thing for all of them. She would feel less guilty about having to travel out of Florida, most of Freddie’s business dealings we’re out of state. It came to a point where she was on a first name basis with the desk agents at the airport.

 

Paulina thought that maybe Chanel taking a couple of months getting away would be able to help her clear her head. But that’s not what happened… That’s when things really started to change. Paulina and Freddie had always given Chanel everything she could desire but this was the start of Chanel asking for things and taking.

 

Chanel didn’t care anymore… this was a time where she was going to have fun and she was finally going to what she had at her disposal. She couldn’t write her book, she still had her writer's block. She could stare at her manuscript and no words could come to her and if they did they were quickly scratched out.

 

She wanted to try something new and so did Daniela, so they decided to start in Asia and make their way west. Even though she had writer’s block when it came towards her book she thought why not make a business out of this traveling she was doing. She started travel blog and used her skills in writing to monetize it. She thought that she could make a couple of bucks here and there.

 

She had visited a couple of people’s travel blogs and she thought it could be fun for her to try something like that as well. She knew that her degree in creative writing could really entice people to see what she was about. She was going to ride the wave until she couldn’t ride it anymore. So she documented her time in places like Bali And Hanoi.

 

She talked about the cuisine… the beaches she frequented… Fun things to do around each city they visited. She was actually shocked when she gathered a following. People were wondering which city she was going to go to next and it became really fun for her. She thought it was a win-win situation. She was jet-setting around the world going from country to country and city to city and she was doing it all on her mother's dime and making money while she did so.

 

When they hit Europe… it was a completely different vibe.  They had so much fun in Italy, people were always talking about the food and wine in Italy but Chanel and Daniela found out that the clubs were just as bomb. It was when they were in Italy that Chanel’s travel blog really started to boom. She did have a dedicated following but now it was crazy because she kept getting comments of people asking her to go to specific places and talk about that.

 

It was the first time that she saw the demand part from her followers. They had to cut down their timeline of hanging out in certain cities. They used to dedicate 2 weeks for one place but now they had to do it in a week's time. They zipped in and out of Italy and all of the little islands. It was a good thing that she listened because more people started following her blog. She had created a dedicated Twitter and Instagram for it as well. When she added the social media aspect to her blog that’s when she could really direct a huge amount of traffic to her site. Which meant more revenue for her.

 

She was saving all of her money… one day she was going to have her dream house and she was going to have a walk-in closet that rivaled Mariah Carey’s. She had all of her money saved up from when she was at H&M and now with this travel money, she could have a really good down payment, but she wanted to be able to buy her house outright or have one built.

 

The one thing her dad always taught her was sometimes it's better to save until you have it instead of using what you have and then owing someone later. You don’t know what the future holds so your revenue stream could always dry up. That’s why she was holding out. She let all of her money just sit in the bank and get interest. She didn’t even look at her 401K because it’s not like she could touch it. Her IRA either… They only let you dip into it without any penalties when you’re old and Chanel thought fine whatever.

 

The only place that she now refused to go to was Germany, she really didn’t want to put a damper on her trip, she didn’t think that she could actually enjoy the city with how much heaviness was attached to it. So when she got the request to go to Berlin, she lied to one of her followers and told them that they were already too west to go back. She was glad when the follower asked her if she could just go to Corsica instead.

 

She made sure to have a super in-depth post on Corsica and all of its splendor. When they decided to make traveling their job, it got to be a lot after a point.  Chanel was always editing and trying to come up with great new content… it became a really daunting task. It sounded weird to say but they actually did have too much fun.

 

It took a new turn because now they had expectations from Chanel’s blog. Daniela started complaining about all of the traveling they were doing, she kind of wanted to stay in one place for a while.

 

Even though Chanel wanted to make sure that her blog was filled with enough content to keep her followers interested she had to listen to her best friend. This was a person on the journey with her and her blog didn't matter as much as her friend did. They decided that when they got to Greece that they could still do content creation, but they were going to slow down.

 

Greece had so many different islands and so many towns and cities that they could still explore and stay in one place with less traveling. And I decided to change some aspects to her travel blog. She did a new theme with discovering Greece. It was the best idea that she had because the fact that her blog had a lot of exposure it meant that a lot of people in the tourism industry were reaching out to her.

 

She had gotten so many requests from mayors and the travel ministry of Greece to get in contact with them. Changing the focus of her blog brought created a lucrative business opportunity. She started cataloging everything that she did in Greece. They stayed on the island of Naxos, she had chosen a place that wasn't as known to people who didn’t know about Greece. She felt that it would help with exposure. Most people that she knew only knew about places like Mykonos or Athens because they had a very big club scene but there were so many different islands of Greece and so many different towns that she thinks that the travel ministry would appreciate her staying on a lesser-known island.

 

She was glad that her followers were pretty receptive to her changing aspect on her travel blog. She had very little negative reaction and way less people who stopped following her than she expected. It was nice to have a home base, they used ferries and water taxis to get from one island to another when they were creating new content, but they started to relax in Naxos for the most part.

 

The two of them ended up staying in Greece for three years. They spent two years on Naxos and one year on Thira. They ended up learning the language and being pretty fluent in it, it was pretty hard not to when they stayed in a place for years. They had the whole Greek experience with the partying and the dining… Especially with Greek men. It really attracted Chanel to everything Greek, they were so hot blooded and she had the best sex she ever had in Greece. She didn't know what it was and she didn't know something within the water but most of her boyfriends there as a whole were pretty spectacular. Maybe it was the fact that she wouldn't stay there forever that made them up their game, but she was ready for whatever. Collectively in all of her travels so far the Greeks had been the best lovers… The Italians and the French were given a reputation that in her opinion they didn't live up to. Maybe that would change but so far, she couldn’t quit Greek dick.

 

She knew sooner or later that her mother was going to flip. She had been playing this cat and mouse game with her mom for almost four years. She would call her mother every week and email her so she knew that she was alive but she really had no desire to listen to her mom start lecturing her about money or really anything else.

 

It was a little too late for Paulina to try and play the mama role. Her mother kept sending her angry emails about her spending ‘being out of control’, but she needed to spend in order to have the experiences that she wanted for her travel blog, to Chanel it was an investment. She didn’t tell her mom any of this, but she really didn't feel like it mattered. The two friends started getting angry text from their mothers telling them that they needed to come back.

 

Daniela actually got scared because her mother told her that she needed to come back and go to school because they were only supposed to be gone a couple of months and not almost four years. Lourdes was able to make Daniela feel guilty about her deferring. Her mother said that she should be in medical school right now and not gallivanting around the world.

 

Chanel knew that the guilt trip was working on her friend and she really felt bad because she didn't want her friend to be collateral damage in this escalating war between Chanel and her own mom. Paulina was threatening to cut her off and Chanel called her bluff. There was no way that her mother was going to leave her with no money in another country. As much as she pained to leave her best friend, she knew that Daniela has to get back on track and go to school. Chanel had already done all of her schooling is she got her MFA so there really wasn't anything left for her but that journey wasn't done for Daniela.

 

It was different being in Greece all by herself. It didn’t have the same charm as it once did because she was all alone. She thought about leaving. She had made a post telling all of her followers that she was going to be taking a step back from her travel blog. She was making one last trek and she decided to go to South Africa. She knew that they had some of the best clubs and she wanted to experience that before she went home.

 

She decided that she was going to make a post about Johannesburg and Cape Town and then cut her losses and go back to Miami. She would let Paulina win, but she was still going to go out on top and no one was going to stop her.

 

Chapter Text

Coming back to Miami was a little bittersweet, she couldn’t deny the fact that she missed home. She had only come back sparingly because of some holidays but she was back in Miami for good.

 

It just sucked because her best friend was super busy all the time. She completely got it because she remembered what it was like being in college really close to getting your degree. Knee-deep in your books… she was super proud of Daniela for sticking with it and wanting to graduate with her biology degree so she can go to medical school after.

 

It just meant that Miami wasn’t as fun, Lani didn’t live here and Daniela had to do study groups and projects and go to class… it was lonely being here. She did have her fun in South Africa… Things were going okay and her last boyfriend Theo was pretty good but he could be a stick in the mud sometimes. He knew how to have fun, but she hated it when he took things so seriously.

 

They clashed because sometimes she wanted to just do things to do things and he had to weigh all the options and by the time he made a decision it wasn’t even fun anymore. It certainly didn’t help with her last hurrah for her travel blog. It didn’t matter how cute he was, it didn't matter how much sexual chemistry they had and they had plenty, their personalities didn't gel the way that it needed to. The only reason she had stayed in South Africa as long as she did was because of Theo. She thought that she would be able to get over his over analytical ways, but she couldn’t.

 

The whole point of her taking these trips was to be spontaneous and to have fun and being with Theo was like a version of your parent. He was always saying ‘are you sure you want to make that decision?’ It got on her nerves because she thought to herself well of course she wanted to make that decision that’s why she said it in the first place. They had fights about it and it just came to the same conclusion  each time that it didn't matter how much they liked each other they were always going to hit a wall.

 

He was a great guy but she wasn't going to spend her whole time in South Africa debating things with him. This was supposed to be her last hurrah and it just kind of fizzled. They decided to break up and just be friends… but the both of them knew what it was because they were never going to see each other again they lived in two different countries separated by an ocean.

 

That was one of the biggest draws to travelling was if she had any romantic entanglements, she could always leave them because she wasn't going to see these people again.

 

But right now she wished that she could be there instead of in Miami doing nothing. Things were boring because she wasn’t doing her travelblog anymore, her adventures were done. She filled her days with shopping and going to the beach… But that got old.

 

She had gotten invited to a pool party at a hotel on South Beach, it was ironically by someone she met when she was in Ibiza… when they found out she was in Miami they told her that she just had to come. She thought to herself why not because she had all the time in the world.

 

It was nice to party in the middle of the day sipping Rosé. She stayed about 3 hours but then she got bored. She told Marco that she would see him around and she still had some time to burn because it was only about 3:30 so the first thing that came to her mind was to shop. She was on Collins Ave and it really wasn't far to go to some of the shops.

 

She didn’t have a particular need for anything, but shopping could be like a sport and sometimes she just like to see how much she could spend. She saw a really cute faux leather jacket that she liked so she decided to get it in black and in brown… She got a couple of other things. She kind of wasn’t in the mood to shop anymore, she could be really finicky like that, now she really just wanted to get something to eat and then take a nap. When she got to the register, the saleswoman gave her the total Chanel just gave her one of her numerous credit cards.

 

Chanel got the surprise of her life when the woman said that the card was declined. There’s never been a day in her life where her card has ever been declined. She knew that Miami was the high threat for identity theft in America, so she called her credit card company ASAP. She was livid when they told her that her card wasn’t active because her mother cancelled the card.

 

She couldn’t believe what Paulina did… Paulina waited for her to get back into the states to cancel everything. She had to give her mother some credit because she knew that Paulina wouldn't have done it if she was still in South Africa. Her mom played the long game and her mom won this round.

 

It made Chanel so mad to have to use her debit card. She never touched her secret accounts because that was supposed to be for her dream house. She wanted the ultimate walk-in closet and her mother put a wrench in those plans. She wanted to slap the saleswoman when she asked if Chanel wanted her to cut the card.

 

Chanel was so close to saying that someone just might get cut, but she wasn’t going to give this bitch the satisfaction.

 

Her mother wasn’t even in Miami. Chanel thought of course because the first thing her mother would have anticipated was for her to confront her. She was so mad when she found out that her mother went to that ugly Salem place. Apparently, Lani had twins… Chanel thought to herself of course Lani would have twins because she would have to outdo herself.

 

Chanel was not going to take this lying down. She tried to get a flight to the Salem place, but all of the flights were so expensive. It was different when you were using other people's money. She had no problem booking any tickets when her mom was footing the bill, but it was completely different when she had to be responsible for it.

 

So she decided that she was going to drive up there… it was going to cost her about $400 less if she did and to her that was a big amount of money to save. She knew that most of her time would actually be taken getting out of Florida because it was so fucking big.

 

She decided that she was going to get up at 6:00 AM the next day and drive up. She was going to need to pack her things because she didn’t know what the weather was like in Salem. It still disgusted her to think about that place in her mind. This is the place that Lonnie chose to abandon her for.

 

The one thing that she didn’t anticipate with driving up there was the fact that her ass hurt all the time. Being stuck in one position for hours on end was just horrible. Even with those cushions that old people use, her ass still hurt. The one thing she promised herself was she was never doing this again.

 

This was the road trip from hell… there were places that she would never be caught dead in again. She thought it would be a good idea because she was saving money and she could have just been in Salem within hours instead of driving through some really weird places. Most of the time she was afraid to even stop because she didn’t want to be stuck even for an hour at these towns that look like they were straight out of horror movies from the 90s.

 

Once she got to Chicago, she felt herself breathing easier again… She knew that Salem was one of the cities that were on the outskirts of Chicago. Why did it feel like her last 10 miles were closer to 100?

 

When she got to Salem… she started to look at hotels. She had to deduce exactly where her mother was staying because her mom wasn't really answering her calls. She didn’t expect her mother to because her mom knew exactly how she would be feeling so of course she was being avoided like the plague.

 

She had gone to a couple of hotels and they didn’t want to let her know about their guests because it was privacy concerns… so she had to change her strategy. The first thing she thought of was going to her mother’s Instagram. Her mom had tagged a church where Lani’s rugrats were being baptized. This was perfect… only thing was she would look stupid going to a church and fighting with her mother about money.

 

She had met some people and was bored so she started hitting them up for the tea around this Podunk town. Looked like nothing went on here so she was actually a little surprised when they had dirt to dish. She wanted to have champagne because she was going to celebrate soon after she confronted her mother... Only thing was she wasn’t going to pay for it so she hopes this Tripp guy was good for it because she knew how to spend money cause she was drinking top shelf.

 

She told then that she had fun but she had to go. That's when Claire started to get loud and call her a con artist. Chanel turned around and wanted to slap the shit out of this little bitch. Who is she to try and cause a scene? Trip had already volunteered to pay for the bill and Claire was causing a scene.

 

Chanel rolled her eyes because of course this would be the point where her mother rolled up. Now Claire was telling this  fine ass man with her mother and Lani that she was some kind of con artist and freeloader and she was actually glad when her mother said that she would pay the bill. Last thing she needed with this little stuck-up bitch being so sanctimonious, she knew girls like her… girls like her were the most low-down out there was, she was the kind of girl who would want to listen to your problems and then fuck your man behind your back. She could clock people like this from a mile away. People who are so quick and ready to talk about people's business to people they don’t even know are the same people who love to create it.

 

She was so ready to leave even though she knew that she was in big trouble. Not just because the bill was nearly $500, her mother definitely wasn't expecting her to come and neither was Lani. She could clock the surprise from a mile away on both their faces.  In Chanel's mind her mother should have known that she was going to come. There was no way that Paulina could cut off all of her credit cards in think that she was going to take this lying down.

 

She couldn’t be that completely mad at Lani because clearly something in Salem wasn’t that bad, her man was fine as hell. Tall… looking sexy… she loved to see what was hiding under all of those clothes. Clearly, he was virile because he gave Lani fraternal twins.

 

Chanel was so mad that she couldn’t think clearly because she really should have gone inside with her mother instead of having it out in such a public place. She hated having people in her business and all of these people she didn’t know in this second-rate town had the inside track on her live. This was going to be the most interesting thing that these people have ever seen in their lives.  She wonders if this is one of those places that doesn’t even have 5G… It was such a scary thought to her that this place could be more backwards than she ever anticipated.

 

She really didn’t appreciate how Lani was giving her all that neck… She was already getting reamed out by her mother and she could see that her cousin was happy at her being embarrassed. Of course Lani would be like that, they didn’t leave on the best of terms. Lani was like the rest of them and Chanel has been over her for years.

 

She was glad to go into her mother’s hotel suite because she needed a shower, she spent too much time in that car and she just felt so dirty.

 

She was so happy to finally feel clean, but now her mom was all in her ear… Telling her that she was permanently cut off and that she needed to find a job. The last thing should know ever wanted was to have another job. She spent for almost five years slaving away… Working 60 to 80 hours each week… seven days a week with the only real breaks being her vacation time so she didn't lose any time when she capped out.

 

Her mother never knew any of that because her mother was always out of the picture, she would always say things like ‘oh you’re so mature and you have your priorities straight having a job and doing so well in school’… Her mom couldn’t even see that she worked every day because her mom was always going from state-to-state closing deals.

 

The last thing she ever wanted was to go back to work… sometimes she was sweat through her clothes and that was so disgusting… she never thought about that when she was younger, she was thinking there paying her so good and anytime she got overtime then it just meant more money. And she did get a lot of bank and she didn't spend any of it… that’s what started her dream house fund. She really didn’t understand why Paulina thought now would be a great time to be cracking down. Her mother said throw presents her way when she was younger to make up for her absence and now that Chanel actually wanted to utilize those finds her mother was cutting her off. She just thought typical.

 

She needed some time to think so she left the hotel room… she was so hungry and her mom was being a little bitch, she didn’t bother eating when she was with Tripp and Claire… she was only thinking of the champagne… now the champagne was making her extra hungry.

 

When she came back to the hotel room her mother, her mother was still dead set on her getting a job but she was being a little nicer… she let her have some food which was nice because she was so damn hungry. For some podunk town she thought this hotel was actually nice… it was to her mother’s standards, which meant that it was up to her standards.

 

 

 

Chapter Text

Chanel just had to get away from the hotel room… Thank goodness her mom was on a work call because she knew that the first thing Paulina was going to do was badger her about finding a job.

 

She didn’t really know the place, so she just settled for walking around. It was a good thing that the hotel that her mother was staying in was really close to everything because it was in the center part of town. She decided that maybe going to the park would help her clear her head.

 

“I swear my whole family is conspiring against me…” Chanel folded her arms and started marching.

 

If she were anyone else, she would say that they were acting like a petulant child, but she needed to be in her feelings for a second. Her mom was ruining her plans… She kept walking and then she saw some guy drunk in the middle of the day on a bench.

 

She could tell that he wasn’t a homeless man because his shoes were too nice, she knows good leather when she sees it… The jacket that he had been resting his head on looked like it felt like butter.

 

“What's your problem sweetheart?” Chanel rolled her eyes at this man… She could concede that his accent was sexy, but she refused to be judged by some drunk in the park.

 

“Sweetheart really?” Her eyes just look at him up and down scanning wondering how she’s going to attack this situation…

 

“Never mind just keep walking…” She takes a breath after he goes back to closing his eyes after he speaks.

 

 “It's fine. Just having one of those days…” She starts to get a little fidgety again just thinking about being cutoff.

 

“Well… Join the club… You know they say misery loves company.” Chanel watched the stranger rise into a sitting position on the bench.

 

“Excuse me?” There's a hint of attitude in her voice, she is one second away from scoffing again.

 

“It’s no fun drinking alone.” Chanel starts to look at the stranger and he’s right… it’s been a while since she drank even though she was just drinking with Tripp and Claire… they don’t count though.

 

 This guy is much more interesting than they are.

 

“You're right about that… But I don’t even know you.”

 

“Xander Kiriakis…” He sticks his hand out and the first thing Chanel could think was he had some really big hands.

 

She daintily shook his hand the same way a debutante would if she were at a ball.

 

 “Chanel Dupree. Enchante…” When Chanel introduced herself, she could have sworn she heard that last name before, but she couldn't place it.

 

She now started inspecting this whiskey that she had never seen in her life. She had never been a big whiskey drinker… But she knew the really good brands and she had never heard of this one. She started examining it and smelling it.

 

 This drunk man was looking at her like he was hoping his whiskey was good enough for her to stay.

 

“Well are you going to drink it or you are just gonna stand there looking at it?” Xander looked confused because it's alcohol… you drink it… he couldn’t understand why Chanel was looking at it like it was a foreign specimen.

 

Normally he would have been a little more disciplined in the kind of whiskey he would partake in, but he had to settle for some Irish whiskey that he lifted from Julie’s Place. If he had had his pick, he would obviously go for the home team… he loved The Balvenie but he doubted that would be in a place like Julie’s Place.

 

“As much as I could use a drink, I’m pretty particular about hygiene.” Chanel was completely serious, she didn’t know this man from anyone else… Sharing an open bottle of alcohol was not the best idea.

 

“Alcohol kills germs.” Xander couldn’t see the problem.

 

“Still… Glass would be nice or two and little ice.” Chanel turned up her flirt game because if she could have a more generous drinking outing that would be very nice.

 

“Well I’m staying at the Salem Inn… we can head over there hopefully by now they have replaced the minibar.” Xander started to think about it and there’s probably an array of alcohol in his room at this moment. Chanel was absolutely right…

 

As soon as she heard that he was staying at the Salem Inn she knew that he had to have a little bit of money… it wasn’t like the Salem Inn was one of those places that you could use a Groupon to get a good rate.

 

“You’re staying at the Salem Inn, what a coincidence so am I…”

 

“What are we waiting for?!” Xander realized that he should have gotten up a little slower because he was a little dizzy.

 

Chanel looked at him and hoped that she wasn’t going to need to help him walk all the way back to the Salem Inn. It wasn’t really far but the man was tall and very fit, so he looked like he had a hefty bit of weight to him.

 

“Come on…” Xander was so happy to have company… His arm reached out to escort her and it felt nice to have human touch again. It was split second but he felt it.

 

Chanel was grateful that he could walk on his own. When they got to the Salem Inn, she was so glad that she did not run into her mother. They weren’t even on the same floor which was amazing. When she walked into his hotel room she was disgusted because the bed was unmade… Clothes were on the floor. This was not what she was expecting.

 

She did see that the minibar was restocked so they didn’t clean the room at his direction which to her was strike one.

 

“Home sweet home…”

 

“Okay…” She turned and saw him throwing the open bottle of alcohol on the bed and all she could think to herself was oh hell no.

 

“Make yourself comfortable.” Chanel was thinking how could she make herself comfortable in this pigsty?

 

“If the owner of this skirt is gonna be unpleasantly surprised to find me here, I’ll just go now…” If there’s one thing that she does not do it is go after taken men.

 

She could flirt but that’s as far as she would ever go… She’s been cheated on and she hates the feeling so she would never put that out in the world.

 

“Oh that… that’s mine.” Xander was nonchalant as he started pouring his newest concoction in a glass.

 

“Oh… maybe I should have asked you for your pronouns.”

 

“Ehh?”

 

“Oh never mind I love the whole tartan thing… And I do love a good skirt.” Chanel could appreciate that they were having a plaid moment.

 

“It's not a skirt… it’s a kilt. I was supposed to wear it to my wedding.”

 

Things were making more sense to her now… the Scottish do wear kilts for special occasions like weddings.

 

“Supposed to?” Chanel loved to get the tea… She couldn’t help herself.

 

“Her name was Sarah…” Xander felt blue again. There wasn’t enough alcohol that could make him feel less sad.

 

“Was…” Chanel sure hoped that this woman wasn’t dead.

 

“Well she still is, she left me on my wedding day… she’s gone.” Xander was thinking himself because he had a drink in his hand and he was smart enough to empty the whole many bottle into it.

 

Xander went back to the desk where his minibar had been refreshed. He passed the drink that he made for Chanel to her… She took a drink and she was coughing.

 

It was a disgusting mix of different types of alcohol. She just thought to herself that he should never become a bartender because it was certainly something he wasn’t good at. When she asked him what it was, he just chuckled and told her that it was a mix of whatever he had left and if she wasn’t going to drink it then he was. She saw him down it and she kept her disdain to herself.

 

She was a little alarmed because he was drinking like a seasoned drunk and the first thing that came to mind was her grandmother. Even though her grandmother didn’t drink around her she knew that her grandmother was an alcoholic…  She didn’t want this man to go down that road because he got stood up. She thought that was the weakest excuse to drink yourself into a stupor.

 

Yeah, it hurt and you could drown your sorrows but you can only do it so much before you let it become a detriment.

 

“You might want to slow down a bit."

 

“I won’t be slowing down.” The last thing Xander wanted to be… was not drunk.

 

“I have a better idea.”

 

“Better than drinking? I don’t think so.” Xander’s anger was coming towards the surface.

 

Chanel thought the anger was a little sexy, but it didn't scare her. This guy needed to sober up.

 

“Food.  My mom ordered a ton of room service for some business meeting. I’ll go grab some of the leftovers, okay? I’ll be right back."  Chanel was back to shamelessly flirting and ready to grub because she knew that her mother had bomb food like she did last night.

 

Xander reached out and put his hand on her hip in a bid to stop her from walking away. It had been a while since anyone touched her… the last time she had someone touch her like this… she was in South Africa.

 

“Please. Don’t go.” Xander was pleading hoping that she wouldn’t leave. She said that she was getting food, but he couldn’t believe that she was telling the truth.

 

She might leave him like everyone else did…

 

Chanel was really hungry but the way that he was looking at her... Like she was a lifeline, she couldn't leave. She thought of her grandmother and knew that the drinking was really a cry for help. She knew that the alcohol was a poor substitute for companionship...So even though she was hungry, she decided to stay because this guy needed someone and clearly he didn't have many people in his life.

 

“I’ll stay…”

 

His hand was still on her hip… it started to move slowly until I reached the center of her back. He cautiously brought his left hand to the center of her back and brought her closer.

 

She could see that he wanted a hug, his cheek was resting on her stomach. His arms were so long that his biceps were hugging her hips. She could feel the heat every time he exhaled, she chose the best day to wear a two piece outfit. He stayed like that for a couple of minutes.

 

She ran her hands through his hair in comfort, all she could think was his hair was really soft… he was drunk out of his mind, but his hair was healthy.

 

When Xander felt her hands through his hair, he moaned because it felt so nice.

 

Chanel could feel the vibrations from his deep voice.

 

She just stayed there and kept running her hands through his hair because it was clear that he liked it.

 

He opened his eyes and saw the whiskey on the bed, he knew what he needed to do. It made no sense to not finish it off when it was almost done. It was still about 40% left in the container. He abruptly got up and picked it up and sat at the edge of the bed.

 

 Chanel thought that she was going to be able to make him stop drinking for a little while, but she was completely wrong. She just sat by him and watched him down it.

 

Chanel knew that she shouldn't judge him, but she couldn't help it, he was drinking like she was breathing. He gave her his wallet and told her to order room service. At least you was going to finally have some food but he made the mention of ordering another bottle and she knew he meant full size.

 

Xander excused himself to the bathroom. She started to open his wallet because she wanted to know more about this guy. He thought that he had a huge amount of cash for just keeping in a wallet...It started to make her feel really good that maybe this guy was well off. Then she saw this work badge for Titan Industries. Now she remembered where she recognized his last name. The Kiriakis family had a big presence in Greece. Especially in the major cities.

 

She felt like she was one of the lucky few to get the golden ticket in Willy Wonka. Her mother wanted her to get a job, well she decided that landing a man from the Kiriakis family was going to be her full-time job.

 

She was going to get this CEO... just thinking about it, these people had to be richer than her mom. and he wasn’t geriatric, so he was pretty easy to look at. She was going to have to do some work though cause even though he was drunk... he seems to be high-functioning. It won't be an easy job but she is up for it...

 

Chapter Text

If there was one thing that Chanel hated it was making plans on the fly. There were so many things that could go wrong when you did things impromptu. She needed a sounding board, she did the first thing she could think of.

 

“Hello…” Daniela was wondering why Chanel was calling because she usually texted.

 

“I don’t have a lot of time to talk. So my mom definitely cut me off and she’s been pressuring me to get a job. We both know that’s not going to happen. However, a situation has kind of fallen into my lap and I may have found a new revenue stream.” Chanel was trying her best not to be loud because she didn’t want her potential revenue stream to hear anything she was saying.

 

“Revenue stream? Are you going to start a podcast or something like that?”  Daniela thought it was a pretty unique set of words too choose when talking about money and jobs.

 

“Girl no. The last thing I want to do is spend countless hours editing… It would be like having the travel blog kind of responsibility times 1000 if I did a podcast. No… I have found a wealthy man that I plan on marrying to secure a new outlet for money.” Chanel was still trying to formulate her plan in her head.

 

“You’re kidding right?! Your mom will kill you if you do something like that.” Daniela was going to do her best to talk her best friend off of the ledge, but Chanel is a person that makes her own decisions no matter what.

 

“She's pushed me towards the damn ledge, and I have to do something about that. Daniela, I got an opportunity of a lifetime that just fell into my lap, I have to take it… and this guy is not even 80. Actually he’s fine as hell… And he works out girl, I’ll send you some pictures on the sly when he's not looking.” Even though no one could see her Chanel bit her lip as she thought of the whale she was trying to land.

 

“Oh it's great he's not an octogenarian! I still think that Mama Pau will kill you if she finds out that you married a guy just so you didn't have to get a job again.” Daniela knew Chanel’s aversion to working again, but she didn’t think that this was the best idea to go about it.

 

“But Dani this is a job, it’s going to be hard work to get a prominent rich man to marry me. That being said, I’m very committed into making that a reality. You can either support my endeavour or have your reservations but keep my secret.” She knew that her best friend wouldn't rat her out, but she still needed to say it. It was more to herself than to Dani but still.

 

“I’m not going to tell anyone duh! What do you even know about this man?!” Daniela knew that no matter what Chanel was going to follow through, but she had to make her friend really think about that choice.

 

“I know what I need to know, girl he is a CEO and that means my future man is making money, he’s going to be exactly what I need. Daniela, I get it, but I need to do this for me and the fact that it will piss off my mom a little is just the added bonus.” The prospect of seeing her mom go apoplectic was very appealing.

 

Her mom pissed her the hell off when she didn’t even have the decency to let her know that she was being cut off. She embarrassed her in front of people who were gleeful.

 

She was in this godforsaken place because of her mother. The least she could do was find someone who could finance her lifestyle if she was going to be stuck here for the foreseeable future.

 

“I hope you get what you need out of this.”

 

Chanel knew that this was the closest she was going to get to her best friend's blessing over her scheme to get her hands on some money.

 

“Thanks. I needed that. I got to go… I’ll keep you posted.” Chanel ended the call.

 

She didn’t know how much longer Xander was going to be. For someone who had to just use the bathroom, it was making her worried that maybe something happened to him.

 

She decided that she was going to go to the bathroom and see if he was okay but before she took a step, she heard the door opening.

 

“I was starting to get worried about you.” Chanel decided to tackle this head on. She was going to butter him up, she noticed when she was nicer to him while he was drunk the better his personality would be.

 

“No need to worry, I am back and better than ever. Did you order room service luv?” The idea of more alcohol just made Xander feel like he was going to hit the jackpot.

 

He sat on the bed wondering when they were going to come.

 

“No it slipped my mind. You know I was thinking of something better…”

 

“I’m listening. I would love to hear about what could be better than drinking especially since my bottle should have been here any moment now?” Xander was starting to get mad because he thought he made it perfectly clear, that was a trade off she could order whatever she liked as long as he got his alcohol.

 

Chanel now wishes that she had some more practice rounds and how to secure the bag. Being rich or her parents being rich had only giving her a taste of the finer things, but made it hard for her to secure her bag because she was out of her depth. She started thinking of things that Xander liked.

 

She knew almost next to nothing about this guy, but she was walking over to him. She remembered that he liked it when she scratched his scalp and ran her fingers through his hair.

 

So she was right in front of him, he was sitting with his legs open, and her body fit in there seamlessly.

 

Xander was wondering why Chanel was so close now, then he felt her fingers running through his hair. That nice feeling came back… This was a feeling that was eluding him.

 

He had been drinking copious amounts of alcohol trying to get that feeling and he was having next to no luck.

 

The next thing that the both of them knew, Xander pulled her closer and hugged her to him like he did earlier. His cheek was warm on her stomach. Only a sliver of it was exposed but the skin to skin contact no matter how little felt good to Xander.

 

Chanel could feel his biceps hugging her hips again and she could admit to herself that it felt good… just not good enough for her to forget her mission.

 

“I was thinking that we should get married… then we can celebrate that and actually have a reason to drink… It’s a shame to let your wedding skirt go to waste.” Chanel just had too much fun with getting Xander riled up.

 

She knew that it was a risk, but she got his vibe, she knew that he had bite and would like it if she pushed back.

 

“So you're saying if we get married… you’ll stay and I can have more alcohol?” Xander felt like things were starting to form.

 

“Something like that.” Chanel was going to get married.

 

However, she was completely lying about letting Xander have anymore alcohol. She had numerous reasons why she wasn’t going to let him have anymore. The first being that she didn't want a dead husband as soon as she got him… The second was he really did not need any more alcohol in his system.

 

This man has been drinking hard liquor in the whole space she has known him and was drinking beforehand. She doesn’t even know how he’s walking right now.

 

 It took much effort but Xander shifted his head. His cheek wasn’t laying flat on Chanel’s stomach anymore. His chin was and his face was tilted upward so he could see her.

 

“What does that mean? What does ‘something like that’ mean?”  Xander wanted to know the terms of the deal.

 

“It means that we are going to have to look up the best liquors to have at a wedding. It would be a faux pas to have the wrong things don't you think?” Chanel decided that lying through her teeth was going to be the best option.

 

 

“I guess if you want to think of it like that. Frankly I don’t care.”

 

Chanel could see just how much he didn’t care, he was looking into her eyes intensely showing her that it really didn't matter to him.

 

“We should get a move on… We have to get to the courthouse.” Chanel couldn’t believe that it worked.

 

“The sooner that gets done… The sooner we get to celebrate.” Xander got excited at the prospect of celebrating. “I just remembered can't do this without a ring right?!”

 

Xander got up with manic glee and went to go find the ring. He found it and went back to Chanel. He needed support from the bed so he could get on one knee.

 

“Are you ready to be Mrs. Kiriakis?”

 

All of her life Chanel had no desire to ever change her name, but those were different circumstances and a lifetime ago. A name change to secure the bag? That was an absolute given if that's what she needed to do.

 

“I’ll marry you. But you’ll need to work if you want me to be Mrs. Kiriakis.”

 

Xander chuckled because his wife to be being cheeky… He liked it.

 

“I see you’re a funny one.”

 

“Yes I am. You better get used to it. So how about you go put on your skirt and I look up a store where I can go get a cute white dress so we can get this show on the road…”

 

Xander chuckled again… him flexing his face the way he did when he smiled or laughed hurt. It had been a while since his face could make that kind of expression, maybe nonuse made it hurt, he didn’t know.

 

“We both know it’s a bloody kilt. No one who has tartan in their vocabulary would be saying that a kilt is a skirt unless they were being a little shite… Is that what you want to be… a cheeky little shite?”

 

Chanel started to fidget again, how could this drunk man actually be charming and cute right now? She was shaking her head and biting her lip trying to act like he wasn’t fazing her, but she was clearly failing because he was laughing at her.

 

“Shut up. We need to get a move on.”

 

Xander just kept laughing but he did get dressed.

 

Chanel didn't need anything in the room, she was going to need to buy a dress. She was glad that she had her bag and wallet because it had all of the info she was going to need for the license. When her husband to be came out of the bathroom dressed like a traditional Scottish groom, she told him to get everything that he needed and to not forget the key.

 

Chanel was so glad that she drove here because they were going to take the exit to the garage instead of the front of the hotel.  it was great for her because it meant less of a chance of running into someone, especially her mother.

 

Xander just followed her to her Acura SUV, he saw that it was a hybrid, and he didn’t know why that was surprising, but it was. He got in the passenger side and let her drive.

 

Chanel went to a mall that had designers that she actually heard of. It was annoying to see that the Gabi Chic here wasn’t even in business. It was honestly better to go to the mall though because she promised Xander that he could have some alcohol.

 

She told him to just stay there, and she would get everything. She honestly hopes that he stayed put because she did not want to be on a babysitting detail.  She knew that she was going to have to be in and out. She had first gone to the liquor store and asked the clerk to get her a bottle of the Balvenie and 2 bottles of the best tasting dealcoholized wine they had.

 

The clerk had recommended a sparkling Chardonnay which Chanel loved because bubbles could be a distraction, she really didn’t want Xander to catch on that he was drinking nonalcoholic wine.

 

She then went to one of her favorite stores and bought a white dress and some lingerie and a robe. The last thing she got was a couple pairs of heels. She changed into the white dress in the dressing room.

 

She still had his wallet on her, so she used one of his credit cards to pay everything. It felt so good when it said approved considering the last time, she tried to use a credit card, a bitch was in her face ready to cut it.

 

When she got back to the car, she was satisfied that he was still in it.

 

“Wow you are quick… You changed.” Xander didn’t know why that was so profound.

 

“I thought it would be best to just change now instead of at the courthouse you know?”

 

When they got to the courthouse, they filled out the paperwork they needed for their marriage license, but the clerk told them that they would need to have two witnesses.

 

Chanel remembered that Xander had $400 in his wallet. She wouldn’t give all of it if she didn't have to, but she was ready to bribe random people to be their witnesses.

 

They were able to convince 2 girls who were paying for their traffic violations to be their witness. They got told that they were ‘just so cute’.

 

The ceremony itself was pretty quick, Chanel had takeout orders that took longer. When the judge told them that they were married and if they would like they could kiss, Xander didn't need to be told twice... it was something that he didn't even flinch or think about. He hugged his new wife close to him and gave her a kiss.

 

He had always thought it was going to be with Sarah, but the lips felt different… They were fuller and pillowy soft. There was nothing chaste about it. He kept on kissing his wife until he heard a loud cough. He opens his eyes and thought to himself he was definitely in trouble.

 

He thought that he was in an elaborate dream, this dream woman looked nothing like Sarah which helped a lot. The alcohol induced haze was finally doing some good for him.  The wife in this dream was so beautiful, she was searching his eyes for something… He couldn’t tell what it was, but he hoped that she found it.

Chapter Text

“OMG, you two definitely need a room… I don’t even really know you two like that but that kiss made me hot and bothered. We took the liberty of taking photos for you guys. Chanel you’re so gorgeous, please tell me you have Instagram.” One of the girls actually had known who Chanel was, she had major travel envy reading her blog.

 

She didn’t want to say anything because she didn’t want to seem weird, she asked for Chanel’s Instagram because she only knew about the Instagram for the travel blog, but it hadn’t been updated in months because Chanel wasn’t traveling anymore and she could see why…

 

“Yeah, I’ll follow you, the only thing is please don’t put that on Instagram. We want to keep our marriage private for now… I hope that you can respect that.” Chanel knew that it was one thing to tell her mother that she had gotten married, but it was a completely different thing to let her mother discover that she got married.

 

“Yeah of course. I’ll AirDrop you these photos. It was so nice meeting the both of you. Look forward to seeing the progress of your marriage on insta when you’re ready.” It sucked that she was saying goodbye to one of her favorite travel bloggers, but she thought it was best to leave the newlyweds by themselves.

 

Her and her friend left Chanel and Xander alone.

 

Chanel was still reeling from the kiss. She could feel when Xander picked her up and had her feet off the ground as he kissed her. The one thing Chanel found out was this man sure knew how to kiss… When they pulled apart and he gently placed her back on the ground all she could do was just look at him. He left her speechless. Chanel came for the coins and found herself a little dumbfound because you don’t get kissed like that every day or any day.

 

“I’m ready to celebrate. I’m so glad that you bought the booze.” The prospect of drinking just sounded amazing in Xander's head.

 

Chanel just nodded because there was no way in hell Xander was going to have anymore alcohol, he was going to have fermented grape juice, she just hoped he didn’t catch on.

 

When they were leaving the courthouse… Chanel spotted a food truck and started walking over. She usually loves food trucks, so she wanted to see what they had.

 

This food truck specialized in seafood which just made her really happy. Xander just followed wondering where they were going, this was the opposite way of the car.

 

Chanel ordered two lobster sandwiches to go and paid with 100 and told them to keep the change.

 

They walked back to the car and Chanel drove them back to the hotel. When they got in, she went to the front desk and asked if they could have a bucket of ice sent to their room.

 

When they got back Xander went to the table so he could celebrate.

 

“So what kind of booze did you get us?”

 

“I got us a sparkling Chardonnay… I thought it would be a good celebratory drink to have.” Chanel tried to have the cheeriest voice that she could because she knew that Xander was going to be miffed at the mention of non-brown liquor.

 

Xander’s face fell… What did he look like drinking wine? He was looking for whiskey or gin…

 

“Don't give me that. It’s gonna go well with our food.”

 

As soon as Chanel said it, someone was knocking on the door. Chanel quickly got it and it was the bucket of ice. She immediately put the sparkling Chardonnay in the bucket because she didn’t want Xander to inspect any of the alcohol that she brought with them to the room.

 

“Just because you’re right doesn’t mean that I like it. I wanted some gin or whiskey.” Xander was annoyed.

 

“I know, but let’s eat… I don’t even know the last time you had food.”

 

Listening to her words, Xander couldn’t recall the last time he ate something either.

 

They sat at the table and ate their lobster sandwiches, he did have to admit that it was really tasty.

 

Chanel got some stemless wine glasses and serve the sparkling Chardonnay and hoped that it didn't taste like water.

 

When Xander said that it tasted good it made her breathe easier. Xander was looking for his next buzz so he kept drinking glass after glass. He drank the whole bottle and didn’t feel anymore buzzed. Then again, he thought to himself that he may not know because he was still drunk.

 

“This was what I was afraid of with the wine… is not strong enough.”

 

“Enough with that. It tastes good and it’s going well with the sandwich. You wanna know something funny?” Chanel wanted to make conversation to distract him from interrogating her about the wine.

 

“What?”

 

“I never had a lobster roll or sandwich whatever until I was like 20. There’s a lot of seafood in Miami but lobster rolls are pretty new as a concept there. I had it on a random vacation when I was in New York.” Lobster rolls were becoming more popular in Miami probably within the last five to seven years, but it wasn't a thing when she was growing up. Every time she heard lobster roll she thought people were talking about sushi until she came up north.

 

“This is the first time, I’ve ever had any iteration of it until now. I like that this is on sandwich bread and not hot dog bread which I know is the typical way of having a lobster roll. It’s not something we really have in Scotland. I imagine that some places may have it because they have a Bay styled menu or a lot of people coming back home requesting it because they had it on vacation here.” It was the first time in a long time that Xander thought of home.

 

“What was your life like back in Scotland?”

 

“Completely different than here… you know there's some mundane things like going to school, playing football with my mates, trying to get in pubs even though we were not of age. Lots of teenage mischief because we had too much time on our hands. It’s not like now where we have phones, if you wanted trouble you had to go find it and I found it a lot.”

 

Chanel giggled into her sandwich, this man in front of her definitely looked like he was up to no good when he was a kid.

 

“I was the complete opposite.”

 

“Stop shitting with me?! I refuse to believe that you were anything less than a cheeky little shite…”

 

“I did have my times where my mouth could write checks that my ass could not cash. No but I was really focused on school and I studied for fun. It was me and my grandmother a lot because my parents were always working and I didn’t want to make it hard for her, so I read a lot… we watched a lot of Jeopardy. I have a lot of useless information for everyday life, but I am the queen of trivia.”

 

Xander was eating up this info.

 

“You’re telling me that you are a big-time geek and a nerd?!” Xander was imagining her as a little kid reading the dictionary for fun.

 

“Oh shut it. Watch when you need someone for trivial pursuits, I’m going to tell you to look the other way.”

 

“I apologize trivia queen. One day I may be in need of your assistance.”

 

“That's more like it. How are you feeling?”

 

“Like that wine went right through me. I’ll be right back.”

 

Chanel is happy that he didn’t notice that the wine had no alcohol. She quickly put the bottle in the trash, so he didn't inspect the alcohol content and wonder why he didn't feel any different.

 

Chanel didn’t completely think this through, she had no plans of going to her mother’s room which meant that she wasn't going to have certain things like her silk scarf and bonnet for her hair… it was one of the things as she forgot to get when she was at the mall.

 

The day was starting to catch up to Xander and the alcohol wasn’t too far behind. He felt exhausted, he came back out of the bathroom and sat on the bed.

 

Chanel was still at the table, she let him sit on the bed as she went to the bathroom with a bag. She was glad that she had the smarts to get a shower cap. She took a shower and melted the day away.

 

She had gotten herself ready for bed and slipped on her nightie and robe on.

 

When she came out of the bathroom, she was a little miffed that he still had on his wedding outfit.

 

She got on the other side of the bed and sat up straight.

 

“This is the only night I will allow you to sleep in the bed without taking a shower, it’s only because I know that you’re exhausted.”

 

Xander looked down and saw that he was still in his kilt. He rubbed his hands on his face and smooth back his hair to keep it out of his eyes.

 

“Normally I would have taken a shower, right now it just seems like the most daunting of tasks.”

 

“You’re so lucky that you’re like a vortex of Scottish charm.”

 

Xander just started laughing because that was such a weird but specific descriptor.

 

“Wait… You don’t know about the vortex of Scottish charm?”

 

“I haven’t the faintest clue… is this like some amusement park ride at one of your 5000 different amusement parks?”

 

Chanel opened the wallet case to her phone and went to YouTube. She pulled up the video.

 

“No. It’s like the cutest thing… maybe not the cutest thing because seeing puppies play together is probably the cutest thing but this is definitely top three.”

 

Xander put his head in Chanel’s lap. It was so much nicer for him to have his cheek on her bare skin rather than her clothes.

 

Chanel didn’t expect this but she reached over and fixed the wallet case so it was in kickstand mode so Xander could see easily. She placed it on her legs and pressed play.

 

She ran her fingers through his head again as he watched the video. She could hear his laughter, it was like he was transported somewhere. At one point he shifted his head and kissed her thigh it was the quickest thing, and he went back to just watching the video.

 

It was the same feeling that she got when she kissed him at the courthouse earlier, it was a lingering tingling feeling.

 

“How did I not know this existed?”

 

“Well this was when he had an American talk show so it's pretty easy to miss unless you were here then.”

 

“Even though the both of them are not from where I’m from in Scotland… it’s nice to hear people who sound like me. It’s always a little weird to be the only one who talks like me here. It always reinforces the fact that I’m an outsider, Sometimes I feel foreign no matter how long I stay here because it always sticks out.”

 

Chanel could definitely feel where is Xander was coming from… they definitely had different lived experiences, but it must always be challenging to know what you sound like and always hear people who sound completely different. It’s a weird kind of alienation, without trying to be. It's what made it harder for Frida when she first came to the states.

 

“Maybe we can travel to Scotland and you can have some time being home. See your old friends and be around people who sound like you. It sounds like such a simple thing, but it’s something that we take for granted when we're not the ones who have to deal with it.”

 

Xander love the idea of going back home, just to visit but he couldn’t remember the last time he was in Scotland. He was always on from one scheme to another and wasted a lot of time without much to show for it.

 

“I’d love that. You’re not going to leave right?”

 

Xander let his head hit the pillow, he was tilted towards Chanel, he didn't want this dream to end because to wake up in a lonely existence again was something he spent his whole life trying to fight.

 

“Go to sleep… I’ll be here in the morning. I promise.”

 

Xander nodded and was able to fall asleep. It was the first time in a long time that he fell asleep without clutching a bottle.

 

Chapter Text

Xander felt like his head was splitting. It had become a pretty normal thing for him to feel, it didn't mean that it didn't hurt the more times he had a hangover. It hurt just as much as all of the other times and yet he still couldn't stop drinking.

 

He rubbed his hand on his forehead in a futile attempt to make it feel better, but it did not do the trick. He opened his eyes and hoped that the sun didn’t make his hangover worse.

 

The first thing he saw was a leg and then his eyes followed upward and there was a beautiful yet unknown woman in his bed. She seemed vaguely familiar, but also very distant to him.

 

It seemed as if she knew exactly who he was because she was running her fingers through his hair. He couldn’t recall, but he felt like this wasn't something new to him, but he didn't know her.

 

“Good morning, handsome.” Chanel was glad that he finally woke up.

 

It was to be expected that even though she fell asleep after he did that, she would be the first one to get up because you couldn't really tell with someone who was drunk. They could wake up at the crack of dawn, they could wake up at 3:00 in the afternoon.

 

Xander could only groan between his raging headache and having no clue how this mysterious woman was in his bed, this was fixing to be a complicated morning. He had no clue how wasted he got, that was par for the course, but it finally got him in trouble.

 

Xander could only stare… if he were to hook up anyone with at least she was gorgeous. He was speechless so he did the only thing he could do, try to breathe in and out and hope that this was just a dream.

 

He kept blinking and the woman did not disappear, so this was a situation... Some parts of yesterday were coming back to him but very little. He recognized her face but that was pretty much it. The last thing he could remember was meeting her in the park and them drinking together. After that everything was a blur. He couldn’t even remember his name let alone hers.

 

“Oh, it’s you. I’m so sorry, but I’m totally blanking on your name.”

 

Chanel wanted to roll her eyes, but she kept her cheery act.

 

“Chanel. You know, like the designer?” Even though Chanel hated making the comparison it was the easiest way for people to understand. The name preceded Coco Chanel, so it was one of the only reasons that she still felt comfortable with having that name.

 

Xander was still confused, but he played along as if he knew her name.

 

“Right. Look, last night is a total fog, but from the way my head feels, I can tell there was a lot of drink involved.”

 

Chanel almost laughed because she didn't allow him to have anymore alcohol after he finished that questionable whiskey that he had with him at the park.

 

“Oh, you were in a bad way. Telling me about your fiancée dumping you on your wedding day.”  Chanel kept up her act. She started to trace his skin lightly with her fingers.

 

She could see his eyes following her fingers.

 

“I’m sure I did. It’s all I can think about.” Xander was reminded with why he's been drinking himself into a stupor.

 

He still didn’t get why or how Sarah could just drop everything and hightail it out of town with Rex Brady.

 

“I felt bad for you. You were really hurting.”

 

Xander could feel her light touch, her voice was supposed to be soothing but it wasn't matching the teasing. This woman he was with was confusing and somewhere in him… He thinks that he likes it?

 

“So… since you felt bad for me… and you’re still here… Does that mean we hooked up?”

 

Chanel could only think to herself that he must have been perpetually drunk for a really long time if he could not remember last night. He probably couldn’t remember from before that. She started giggling… this was working out in her favor.

 

“You could say that, yeah.” She really wanted to say was he hooked it up because he signed on the dotted line, it wasn’t actually dotted but that really didn't matter.

 

Xander took a deep breath, for a second, he actually thought he was gonna choke on that breath.

 

“To be honest, I… Um – I don’t remember a thing about last night.” Xander gently takes her hand so she could stop tracing her fingers on his chest. It only made him more confused about everything. “So…”

 

Chanel had to regroup, and she had to regroup fast. She held his hands with her own and interlaced them.

 

“You cried on my shoulder. I comforted you. I said I’d help you get over Sarah.”

 

Xander chuckled nervously… that sounds like something that was likely to have happened.

 

“Well, I’m … very sorry if I acted like a drunken lout, but right now, I just need some aspirin.”

 

Xander could not do this with a foggy head, he was going to need his headache to clear, and the fastest way was to get some aspirin and water in his system.

 

He got out of the bed and saw that he had his kilt on and his shock just grew. All he could think to himself was what the hell did he do?

 

“Why have I got this on?”

 

“The skirt?”

 

“It's a kilt…” Xander felt like he's had this conversation already about the kilt. “… And I was supposed to get married in it. Why would I put it on?”

 

“Well, I didn’t make you do it, it was your idea.” Chanel knew that wasn’t completely true because she did broach the subject, but he accepted.

 

“After Sarah left me on our wedding day?”

 

“You were pretty drunk. What you said was—”

 

Xander interrupted her before she could finish.

 

“No, no, no, no more, my – my head is pounding, I can’t think straight, and I really have to have a shower, so.” Xander just walked into the bathroom and tried to figure out what the hell was he going to do.

 

Thank goodness there was some aspirin in the bathroom and he took a handful of the water from the cold water running. He hoped that the aspirin could kick in quickly.

 

He took off the kilt and took a shower and the hot water did make him feel better, at least as good as he could feel with this situation happening.

 

When Xander walked out of the bathroom, he could see Chanel at the desk, by his ill-advised minibar.

 

When Chanel heard the door open, she turned and saw her new hubby in nothing but a towel. She bit her tongue to remind her that she wasn’t here to lust on him… she had a mission to accomplish.

 

“You feel any better?”

 

“Well, a shower… cleared my head a little bit, but I still don’t know why I put on my kilt.”

 

 She was having too much fun with this now. She did love to drop bombs.

 

“Oh, I remember now. you said it would be a shame for your wedding outfit to go to waste.”

 

“I did?”

 

“You really don’t remember any of this?”

 

“I really don’t.”

 

“Well, maybe this will jog your memory.” She just sticks her hand out and give her fingers a little wiggle.

 

The look of shock on his face makes her want to snort.

 

“That’s Sarah’s engagement ring. Why do you have it?” Xander was loud and he wishes that he could have lowered his voice because it only made his headache worse.

 

“Why else? You gave it to me.” Chanel could appreciate his good taste because this diamond was not cloudy at all.

 

It was a little too big for her taste, she did like her blink to be a little more on the understated side just so she didn't attract unwanted attention, but she was going to rock this ring.

 

Xander felt like his stomach fell to the floor. He couldn’t believe that he gave Sarah’s ring away… Even in a drunken stupor… Now that he thought about it, he had to take that back because he had done a lot of questionable things while drunk.

 

“I didn’t con you out of this ring, if that's what you're thinking. you gave it to me.” That was one of the only things she didn't do.

 

She didn’t give a damn about a ring because you didn’t actually need rings to get married. The ring was just a bonus.

 

“If only Sarah had wanted the ring.” Xander could feel his self loathing coming back.

 

“You're cute when you're sad.”

 

“Look, I’m… Why don’t you just keep the ring, yeah? I mean, just, whatever happened last night, you just have it. Sell it if you want.”

 

“Oh, I would never do that.”

 

“Go ahead. You said you had money problems. That’s worth plenty.”

 

If Chanel hadn’t already married him… she would have thought this gesture was so sweet of him. He surely didn’t remember a lot of yesterday, but he remembered her talking about being cutoff.

 

“Come on, Xander. I’m not going to sell the ring.  not after you got down on one knee and proposed.”

 

“Look, Chanel, that was probably just the liquor talking, yeah, you know?” Xander didn’t know who he was trying to convince… Chanel or himself…

 

“Well, it didn’t sound that way to me. You begged me to marry you.”

 

“Yeah, only because I’ve been drinking for two days straight!” Xander was exasperated, his voice came out like a screech.

 

“Well, you were still able to see your vows.”

 

Xander just leaned in, as if that was going to somehow change Chanel’s word.

 

“Vows?”

 

Chanel went to the side of the bed and got her wedding dress and showed him.

 

“Oh God.”

 

“We're married honey! We tied the knot last night.”

 

Xander felt like his headache was going to defcon one.

 

“We’re married?!”

 

“I almost fell down when you proposed. I mean, we had only just met, but I must say, we clicked.”

 

“What did I—what did I say?”

 

“That marrying me would help you get over Sarah. You said it would be like… revenge sex… only worse.”

 

“Like a revenge wedding. And you have no problem with that?”

 

Of course Chanel had no problem with it. When Xander fell asleep, the first thing she did was text Daniela telling her that her mission was successful.

 

“I did at first, but then I said to myself, ‘he’s great looking, he has that accent, and he’s loaded! What have you got to lose?'”

 

Chanel felt like she got the jackpot, and she did it in a quick turn around time. She was so proud of herself.

 

“I can’t believe this.”

 

“You wanna see the license?” Chanel picked it up from the desk and showed Xander. “You should have seen yourself last night, making sure we got married. That’s how we got the license, you were spreading your money around. I was very impressed.”

 

“Look, um… Chanel, whatever we did last night we have to undo it.”

 

 Chanel thought that was cute. There was no way in hell that she was letting go of Xander Kiriakis.

 

“Why would we undo being married when we’re so hot together.” Chanel slipped her robe off her shoulders and put her hands on his chest.

 

She loved the fact that he had hair on his chest, she wanted to weave her fingers through it. She had some ideas of what she wanted to do but those would have to wait.

 

As soon as Xander was going to say something someone knocked on the door.

 

“What the hell?” when Xander opened the door he saw Eli Grant and a woman he's never seen before.

 

Eli could not believe his eyes… Chanel was with Xander Kiriakis. And is sure is how looked like they were getting busy because Xander was only in a towel and Chanel was in clothes that were specifically for the bedroom.

 

Xander was only hoping that there wasn't a warrant out for his arrest because he had no clue what else he got up to last night. He just hoped that the bail wouldn’t be high.

 

When the woman comes running into his room, Xander is just even more perplexed.

Chapter Text

Eli just stares at Xander wondering if this man lost his last brain cell.

 

Xander didn’t understand why Eli was looking at him like this, if he had committed any crimes then it would have been the first thing that Detective Grant mentioned. If he was only going by looks it looked like Eli thought he was an idiot.

 

It was confusing for Xander, not that Eli would think that he was an idiot but the fact that Eli looked shocked at him.

 

“Just what in God’s name do you think you’re doing with my daughter?” Paulina was ready to give this man a beatdown.

 

Chanel thought she was going to have a little more time, she knew that she worked hard but goddamnit her mother worked harder.

 

When Xander registered the word daughter, he blinked hard a couple of times. His day hadn’t even really started yet, and it was already in the shitter.

 

Paulina just kept staring back and forth at her daughter and this stranger.

 

“Make yourself decent.” Paulina rushed over and tried to put her daughter’s robe back on her shoulders.

 

“It's a little late for that…” Xander’s mouth was operating at a speed where his brain had to catch up.

 

He realized it was probably not the wisest thing to say with.

 

Eli had always known that Xander could be a foul ass motherfucker but he didn’t realize that this man had a death wish. He clearly has never dealt with a Black mother before.

 

“Excuse me?” Paulina turned to see this disrespectful man.

 

She was about to let him know about himself.

 

Chanel still couldn’t believe that her mother was in this room right now. And now she was about to unleash on her hubby, and she could not let that happen. Her mother was not going to get in the way of her coins, especially since she’s the reason that she’s cut off in the first place.

 

“Mom, can you leave please?”

 

When Xander heard her say mom, he could finally feel his brain catching up and telling him that he was not going about this in the right way.

 

On one hand Eli thought this was some clearly an adult situation and at least Paulina found her daughter, but on the other hand, he wanted to see the messiness front row. He was going to have so much fun telling Lani about her family.

 

“Yeah, why – why don’t we step outside and give these two a few minutes to get dressed?” Eli realized that the door was still open, and anybody could walk and get the 411.

 

“I’m not going anywhere.” Paulina was immovable. She wanted answers and she wanted them now… not in a couple minutes.

 

“What are you doing here?” She also wanted to know how in the hell did her mom even know to find her here?

 

“That's an excellent question.” Chanel really wished that her husband would shut the fuck up right now because he was not going to make this better.

 

“I’m looking for you Chanel. I’ve been worried sick.” Paulina didn’t even know why she had to explain herself. The both of them know that Chanel was hella wrong for doing this.

 

“Why?” Chanel was waiting for her answer because her mom knew. Her mom was pushing her and she intended to push back.

 

“Why do you think? You didn’t come home last night. And you haven’t responded to any of my texts.”

 

“Yeah, she was concerned about your safety which is why I’m here…” Eli said as he was still trying to come to grips with all of this.

 

This was a lot. He could see that this was kind of embarrassing for everyone involved.

 

“You called the cops?!” When Xander heard Chanel, he thought to himself that he was proud of his wife.

 

“Damn straight I did.  I thought you were lying in a ditch somewhere.” All Paulina could think of was if Freddie was here then he would be flipping.

 

“As you can see, I wasn’t lying in a ditch. I was lying in Xavier’s bed.”

 

 Eli was in shock, forget that he was shook. But then he thought who the hell is Xavier?!

 

“Who Xavier?” Eli looked out the door wondering what the hell was really going on in this room.

 

Xander looked as well, his brain was still trying to clear the fog and then he realized that he was Xavier.

 

Xander closed the door because he didn’t want anyone to witness his misfortunes.

 

“Just where do you think you’re going Sex-Xavier?” Paulina was not going to let this man off the hook.

 

“Nah, it’s Xander.” Eli was feeling a little bit better that whatever happened last night was not an orgy.

 

 “Xander… Do you know this slab of beef?”

 

“Yeah, I know him.” Eli could already tell that Paulina was going to want a full background check on Xander.

 

He didn’t want to have to be the one to tell her that it may take one to two business months for it to actually be completed.

 

Xander felt his hangover quickly dissipating by the insults coming from his mother-in-law, not that she knows that yet. He also doesn’t want her to know because he may not survive the day if she does.

 

“Can I get dressed please Detective?” Xander didn’t want to have this kind of conversation with only having a towel as an article of clothing.

 

“Just give us a second.”

 

“I can’t believe you brought a cop here?!” Chanel felt righteous indignation.

 

Her mother went to the extreme, she was going to call her mother eventually but after celebrating with a couple of glasses of champagne for herself, she fell asleep.

 

“Oh you are not turning this around on me missy…I’m not the one alley-catting around.”

 

“Oh my God it’s too early for this.”

 

“Don't you think she's a little young man?!” Eli knew that he had no dog in this race, but he just wanted to know.

 

Xander started to fret because when Eli said that it made him pause.

 

“Hold on… how young?”

 

Chanel really couldn’t believe that Eli said that. She is an adult and has been for a long time. And he definitely was not going to be messing with her money flow.

 

“Relax, I’m a grown woman and I’m free to make my own choices.”

 

“So you chose to jump in the bed with a stranger? Someone whose name you don’t even know.”

 

“This is no stranger mama. This is my husband.” Chanel flexed her ring on her mom.

 

All Eli could think was did Chanel get beat when she was a child because he knew that Lani's maternal family had country roots, but it didn’t seemed like Chanel ever knew what a switch was.

 

Paulina thought she was going to have a heart attack. She thought it was a great ring but why the hell was it on her daughter’s finger?!

 

Chanel was so proud of herself, she held on to Xander’s bicep. The man himself felt as nervous as can be. He literally was dressed in a towel and has been put in the awkward position of dealing with an outraged mother-in-law. All he could do was smile nervously, but he was wishing that the ground could just open up and take him.

 

Eli wished that he let Lani come instead of him. This situation just went from bad to worse.

 

“Did you just say that Xander is your husband?!”

 

“You married this… this –”

 

“Be nice, mama” This was an absurd moment for Xander, but he couldn’t refrain from having a little fun.

 

“Don’t you dare call me mama!” Paulina is one step away from throwing her bag at this Xander’s face.

 

Eli was thinking that Xander finally did it he lost his goddamn mind.

 

Xander finally caught himself and decided that he should probably shut his mouth right now.

 

“It's true… Xavier... I mean Xander and I jumped the broom last night.”

 

Xander was wondering how drunk he got because why would they be jumping brooms?

 

“Why in the hell would you do a dumb thing like that?!” Paulina was trying to understand why her daughter made it her mission to make her blood pressure to make her blood pressure go up.

 

Eli just had his face in his hands, he was not equipped for this conversation.

 

“Because of you!”

 

Xander was wondering what did his mother-in-law had to do with them getting married. It was apparent that this was a surprise to her too.

 

“Me?! I didn’t tell you to get married…”

 

“You told me not to come home until I could support myself and now I can because your son in law is a wealthy man.” Chanel was gloating… She still couldn’t believe how fast she was able to get her goals accomplished.

 

Xander was wondering what the hell Chanel was talking about. He was unemployed and had been spending an absurd amount of money on alcohol.

 

Paulina had enough, she pulled her daughter away and Xander made sure that he was not in the  pathway. When he looked up, he saw an angry looking Eli and it was just awkward.

 

“I told you to get a J-O-B, not to marry some random loser in the street.”

 

Xander took major offense to being called a loser in the street. If she wanted to be technical, he was a loser in the park.

 

“Excuse me?!”

 

“I told you, he’s not a loser… he’s rich.” Chanel was trying to make her mother see that she was wrong in her assessment of her husband.

 

“Well… I mean –” Xander was trying to explain that he didn’t have as big of a bank account as it may seem. He was living like a Cook again now not a Kiriakis.

 

“What the hell are you thinking?”

 

Xander thought it would be best if he was truthful with Eli.

 

“Honest mate, I’m not really sure...” Xander realized that maybe his honesty wasn’t going to be receptive because his mother-in-law is looking at him like she could just murder him witnesses be damned.

 

“What does that mean?”

 

“Well it means… Mom, that before, during and after we exchanged vows, I was pretty seriously inebriated and more than a little bit heartbroken.”

 

“Oh well this just keeps getting better and better. Well it seems like your new hubby is a prince, Chanel.”

 

“Listen… I—”

 

“No you listen to me… You big old dumb piece of scrap metal…”

 

“Oh boy.” Eli knew this moment was coming and he had no urge to stop it because he didn't want to get caught in the crossfire.

 

“I don’t care how much money that you have or that you’re built like a Greek God. Is that 8 pack?!” This was the first time Paulina was really taking a look at all of Xander.

 

Even though he had been in a towel the whole time she’s been in this room, she could only see red at her daughter. Even though she’s mad as hell, her daughter could have certainly done worse.

 

Xander felt flattered at the compliment, it did take a little of the edge off from all of the insults. He did pride himself on his body and his mother-in-law was right it indeed was an 8-pack. He smiled like a schoolboy.

 

“Mom!” The last thing she needed was her mother noticing her husband like that. It was just weird, but her mother was right… Xander was built like a Greek God.

 

“Point is… this is my little girl and I’m going to make you pay for corrupting her.”

 

Xander could not keep his shock or laughter under wraps.

 

It was a good thing that he laughed out loud because all Eli could think was Paulina wouldn’t hear him snickering under his breath.

 

“Me… corrupting her. I’m sorry lady but have you met your daughter?” Xander had enough… Chanel was perfectly able to make her own decisions and she certainly wasn't this innocent virginal girl that her mother was ascribing her to be.

 

“He's kinda right.”

 

Xander found himself smiling at his wife’s blatant flirting. It amazed him that she could be in lingerie and just didn't care about flirting in front of her mother and a cop. When his mother-in-law shifted her head, he quickly lost his smile, the last thing he wanted to do was piss her off even more.

 

“Well, I’m going to make him kinda dead.”

 

“I’m sorry detective, could you please escort this woman from my room. My Missus and I need to get started on our honeymoon. Don’t we Michelle?” Xander thought about paying back Chanel for saying his name wrong.

 

Eli just looked at Xander as if this man didn't value his life. He was fixing to get popped.

 

“It’s Chanel.” She knew Xander was fucking with her because he said her name multiple times before they had company.

 

“Isn’t that what I said?”

 

Chanel wanted to roll her eyes at his mock version of innocence. Eli just wanted to smack him.

 

“Oh kill me now.”

 

“My husband is right. Mom you need to go and hopefully the next time I see you, you’ll be ready to give us your blessing.”

 

Xander couldn’t help but think that she was pretty cheeky.

 

“Like hell I will.” Paulina was done. She had enough of all of this and decided to just march out the room.

 

Xander was smart enough to get out of the way, but he did earn a slap on the chest from Eli.

 

Now that they were alone, Xander wanted to laugh at the reason for Chanel getting married to him. It was so clear, she thought that he was loaded, and he had news for her.

 

He told her that he was going to get dressed, the one thing that eluded him in this whole situation was the fact that he wasn’t able to get dressed.

 

Chanel just told him okay. She decided to look at the room service menu because she was hungry from the interrogation.

 

“Let’s see… what am I in the mood for?”

 

Xander came out of the bathroom just as his bride was deciding what she was going to eat and he had to nip that in the Bud.

 

“We need to talk.”

 

“I’m sorry about my mom, she can be a bit extra.”

 

“Extra what?” Xander was genuinely perplexed.

 

“Wow, how old are you?!”

 

Xander didn’t know why he was offended at that, but he was.

 

“I’m going to go with the Lobster Benedict and Mimosa Dom of course.”

 

“You might want to dial that back a little bit.”

 

 Chanel knows that he cannot be talking about her drinking when he is the person who wrecked his own mini bar and drinks in parks.

 

“It's just one drink.”

 

“No I mean dial back the extravagancies. I’m not that rich.”

 

“No one who’s that rich thinks there that rich right? You are the CEO of Titan Industries… right?”

 

“Where did you hear that?”

 

“It says it right here.”

 

“Aww, I’m sorry wee wifey looks like your a little behind the times. Maybe just order some cereal.”

 

“You would be a fool to think I would order cereal from room service.”

 

“Well that’s all you can get because I’m not paying for Lobster Benedict.”

 

“Maybe it was the right choice for you not to be CEO of Titan industries.”

 

Xander felt his anger coming in full force, it completely destroyed the hangover he had been suffering from. His mind was clear and he was angry.

 

“Excuse me? You have no clue what happened and why I’m not there anymore!” He shouted at her even though they were pretty close to one another.

 

Chanel pulled him by the back of his head so she could be face to face with him.

 

“That may be true hubby. But I’ve gotten to know you even if it's just a little bit, you do love your pity parties don’t you?! You would have me order a bowl of cereal that would cost $12.00 rather than have a real meal? You could go to the grocery store and buy a gallon of milk and a box of cereal and still have money leftover. Rather have a minibar stocked with overpriced little bottles. And you wanted more of it, but I didn’t let you. I bet you that you ran up at least $250 in just minibar charges from yesterday alone. You don’t even own an iron because your shirt is wrinkled. You chose a suite that doesn’t even have an mini fridge let alone a kitchen so you can’t store any food so you always have to have takeout. So I find it rather rich of you to gang up on me for wanting to have a real breakfast.”

 

Chanel popped a kiss on his lips. It was supposed to be mocking, but she was in for a surprise of herself when he deepened the kiss and pushed her against the desk.

 

Xander didn’t know what came over him, he didn't know if it was lust or the fact that he wanted to just shut her up because she did make him look like an idiot… He didn’t even notice that cereal costs $12.00 on the room service menu. He shoved all of the stuff on the desk to the floor.

 

His hand slid up her leg and he was surprised when he felt that she didn't have any panties on.

 

He slipped a finger in her cunt and it went in with no problem. She was wet, he surmised that she was wet since before her mother barged into the room.

 

He had an overwhelming urge to make her cum, so he slipped another finger in her. She moaned so loudly in his mouth that it made him open his eyes.

 

His lips left hers and he started kissing along her jaw and went further down to her neck.

 

“Xander, I’m so fucking close… don’t stop!” Chanel was screaming, he was fingering her so good.  She knew his big hands were going to be good for something.

 

Xander watched her with her head thrown back, lips parted. There was something addicting about her in the throes of her orgasm… Or near it.

 

He circled his thumb on her clit and bit on her neck gently and that did it.

 

She was screaming and clutching at him. When she finally opened her eyes, they were just staring at each other.

 

Xander just kept scanning her eyes, he didn’t know what he was looking for… maybe it was vulnerability and he found it. She was most vulnerable after he shattered her.

 

“Get out.” Xander wasn’t even loud, it was so intimate which made it more harsh. For a millisecond he saw her sadness, but she covered it up well.

 

Chanel got up slowly. She couldn’t believe what just happened, but she wasn't going to allow him to have the satisfaction of breaking her. She got her stuff and went to the bathroom.

 

Xander didn’t know why he did that, but he slipped a finger as he used to fuck her in his mouth and he hated that she tasted delicious.

 

She took a shower and got ready like nothing was wrong.

 

She checked her phone and her mother sent her a number of text messages. Most of them were angry but she was happy to see that her mother had to go to Chicago for a few days. It meant that her mother suite would be empty and she could be there instead of with this doofus. She was going to have to figure it out because now she had to regroup again. He said that he wasn’t the CEO of Titan Industries anymore, by the way he was talking… it sounded like he was unemployed. This was just not going to do.

 

When she got out of the bathroom, she decided to pick up all of the many liquor bottles that Xander had shoved to the floor when he decided to finger her. She put it in the bucket.

 

He didn’t say anything even though she knew that he wanted to. She got her bag and she left. What that dumb ass didn’t realize was she still had his wallet.

 

She dumped the bucket in the trash. She heard his hotel door opening so she ran to the stairs instead of taking the elevator. She ran up a flight of stairs instead of down because she knew that it would be the first thing he did if he checked.

 

She waited two minutes and he didn't come to the staircase. She decided to take the elevator all the way down. She was gonna go to her mother’s  hotel suite but she wanted to go to the front desk first.

 

She was greeted by the desk agent and asked if there was anything that they could do for her.

 

“Hi, I’m Chanel Kiriakis and I’m staying in the suite 2119 with my husband Xander… it might be under his full name which is Alexandros. I would very much appreciate it if the minibar was not restocked and no alcohol was sent to our room.” Chanel may be highly upset but that didn’t mean that she wanted him to drink.

 

When the desk agent heard the name Kiriakis, she knew that she could not mess this up. That was probably the worst family to piss off.

 

“Of course, Mrs. Kiriakis… I will put a note so everyone at the front desk as well as the room service team can know about the update.”

 

“Thank you so much. Have a great day.”

 

Chanel was satisfied enough because her mother was already on her way to Chicago so she could go to her mother’s suite and have breakfast. She was going to have her Lobster Benedict and Mimosa Dom and no one was going to stop her.

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

Chanel was still fuming after being kicked out. It was a saving grace that her mother had business to attend to. She could at least be mad in private without having to have her mother laugh in her face. She knows that’s the first thing that Paulina would do if she found out that Chanel’s meal ticket ended up being a dud.

 

All hope wasn’t lost… she did her research, there’s plenty of roles at Titan Industries that Xander could have. At the end of the day he was still a Kiriakis which meant he should be able to have a job there. It may not be CEO, but she was sure that he could have a high-powered position and one that paid really well.

 

The only thing was he kicked her out of the room, he kicked her out right after making her climax. She hated that he could play her body like a harp and then just discard her. It was like she was dealing with two different people. Last night he was wistful and then in the day he was something else. This was supposed to be a slam dunk and now she was thinking about orgasms and how to make her husband get a job…

 

He was already supposed to have a job.... She was mad at herself because normally she would do her due diligence. She was always a person who prided herself on doing her research. She was so gung-ho from seeing his ID that she didn’t even think about it not being current. She thought to herself in her own defense that why would you be carrying an ID badge of a place you don’t even work at anymore if you know it doesn’t work?

 

She had ordered her breakfast and it tasted fine, but she couldn’t really enjoy it. She couldn’t have really enjoyed it because she felt trepidation. She didn’t want to bow to her mother, but what was she going to do? Her mother was going to come in a few days and the first thing that Paulina would want to know was why wasn’t she with her husband.

 

Her head was in a twist so she did the first thing she could think of.

 

So I have some news- Chanel.

 

How’s the honeymoon? You weren’t lying he is so fine! You hit the jackpot… I’m shocked that you could do it in so little time. – Daniela

 

So I am in a pickle. Yes, he’s fine as hell but he’s also broke. He isn’t even the CEO of Titan Industries anymore! He was carrying around an old work ID! Like WTF?! He’s unemployed and he kicked me out. He did it after he fucked me with his fingers. The worst part of it all is he’s really good at it. Right after it happened, he told me to get out. I was still in a haze. Please don’t laugh at me right now. – Chanel

 

Holy shit! This is a lot. So he doesn’t work there anymore? Damn girl I’m sorry. And why was he fucking you with his fingers? Why were you guys getting freaky?! I can’t really blame you but that wasn't your objective in the first place. – Daniela

 

Long story short was I wanted to order something from the room service menu, and he told me to get cereal and I called him out on it. It was absurdly expensive to get cereal and it was only going to cost a couple more dollars to have the breakfast that I wanted. I told him that he wasted so much money on overpriced alcohol that came in little bottles which exceeded way more than what I wanted to consume. Then I insulted him saying that maybe he wasn't the best CEO and that's why he didn't work there anymore because his economics were flawed. I kissed him in an effort to mock him and he only deepened the kiss and then I don’t know what happened. Then he was fucking me with his fingers, and I didn’t even last two minutes before I came. Then he was kicking me out. I took a shower and I changed and then I took my bag and left. – Chanel

 

Well what are you going to do now? Have you told your mom? – Daniela

 

Are you crazy? I cannot tell my mother. She found us. And she confronted us, and I told her because there wasn’t going to be any way to hide it really. She’s mad as hell right now and I’m in her room because she’s in Chicago on business for the next couple of days so I’m just going to lay low here and try to figure it out. I really don’t know what to do right now I just have to think about it and regroup. – Chanel

 

This is so complicated and messy. Maybe you should just cut your losses. Come back to Miami and I don’t know… you always land on your feet. – Daniela

 

I don’t know. It’s so early and I don’t want to abruptly decide on things. I already did that, and we already seen the consequences of that. I don’t wanna keep jumping the gun. I just need to chill out and really think about it. Maybe it’s good that I have some time by myself without having my mom in my ear. How’s everything with you? – Chanel

 

It’s sweet of you to ask but not much has changed since yesterday. I just have a project coming up and I’m just focused on that. It’s a group project which is a little annoying because I have someone in the group that I already know who isn’t going to put in the effort so I anticipate that there will be fights coming ahead. But other than that I’m good. I hope you figure it out. I have to text you later OK, class is going to start. – Daniela

 

Chanel felt like she could breathe a little easier after talking to Daniela. It wasn’t like any of her problems were solved or she had any progress, she just liked being able to vent. She would have vented to Lani, but they weren't on the best of terms. These were the times where she really wished that she had Lani’s ear.

 

She knew that Lani would give her a lecture, but she knows that she would be able to actually talk to her and feel comfortable in doing it. Oma always said that they needed to rely on each other. She would say things that neither would understand. Frida always told them that she would take care of them when the time came but they would have to take care of each other.

 

It was crazy because after her Oma died, Lani became distant again and she became weary of Lani. She didn’t know what it was, maybe they grieve differently. Or maybe they grieve the same and thus the problem. She didn’t blame Lani too much for the first time she left. It was a delicate balance between Paulina and Tamara. Lani was always trying to not cause trouble, but it meant estrangement which was not good for Lani or Chanel. Even though her Oma was her dad’s mother, Frida was the closest thing that Lani had to her own grandmother because when Grandma Price died, Lani actually knew her, but Chanel wasn’t able to because she hadn't been born yet.

 

Oma was always going on about them having to be there for each other like sisters not cousins. They were only children of their parents so they should have an extra special relationship. She used to get so excited when Lani would sneak over to their house. She took the bus when Oma couldn’t pick her up and Auntie Tam never knew about it until much later.

 

Lani ended up learning German because there was no way you could be around Frida and not start unless you were Paulina. Their grandmother was always particular about that. She lived in a world where almost no one sounded like her, that’s why she stressed the importance of learning German. Of always speaking to her in German. Only time they spoke English was when they were answering Jeopardy questions. It was like a secret little world for the three of them.

 

It was because of that that Chanel didn’t want to leave Xander. When he said that he was navigating in a world where no one sounded like him, she got reminded of her grandmother. How lonely that existence can be…

 

She thought of the past and how lonely she was. Maybe in a way she was attracted to that loneliness that he felt, it was something that she knew firsthand. When her grandma died… Lani disappeared too. She eventually came back but those three years of her being solely focused on studying and school, it was a distraction.

 

The ambition that she had was something that she clung to. It was like when she became a teenager, her parents just took it as she didn't need anymore nannies and they could just go back to business as usual. With Lani doing her own thing, she was completely isolated.

 

She was lucky to have met Daniela a year later. She had other friends, she had always been an amiable person, but sometimes you find the people that become your people.

 

She was in no mood to go outside even though she knew that she should. She should take a walk and have some time to clear her head, but she just couldn't do it. These were the times where she could count on books.

 

That’s when an idea came into her head. It was her best one yet and it was one that never failed her before. She had always been a voracious reader, it was what helped her become a great writer. She may still have her writer’s block because of the guilt of her father’s death but she knew and her abilities. Abilities that her grandmother believed in and so did her professors and all the teachers that she had that motivated her. She had to be good at it because she got a master’s in it and so many people in her program quit before they could get to the finish line. She knew that had to count for something.

 

So she decided that she was going to go to the library. She didn’t know what the Salem library's policy would be about signing up for the library card. She didn’t know she could put the hotel’s address as her own so, she would see when she got there.

 

It was a place that could always make her happy.  It didn’t matter where she was. Some of her highest rated articles and post were about libraries around the world. Those were also the most fun for her to make because she felt like a kid in a candy store. The sheer number of books made her eyes wander. It was the most beautiful sight to her. Sometimes it didn’t even matter what kind of library it was. She just loved to be in one, loved the smell of hardcover books. Some people thought that it was old-smelling, but she thought it was amazing.

 

It connected her to a past that she would never know. She would think was this the same way her great-grandfather got excited about books? What was it like for him to grow up with a father that was an author…? She like to think that the both of them enjoyed literature the way that she did.

 

That’s what her grandmother told her, there was nothing better than books. You could find adventure or challenge your own thoughts. Books were the gateway to knowledge. He got insight of how life was for people. It was one of the greatest connectors of history. Not the history books themselves but of authors creating...

 

She still felt terrible, she still felt lost and vulnerable, but she also felt hope. The prospect of going to the library always gave her hope. It was an escape from her problems. The great thing about books was that you get so enraptured with what's on the page that you have no cares about the problems that await you when you close the book.

 

Chanel had opened her purse to put her phone in and she saw Xander’s wallet. She knew that she could get angry all over again, but she was not going to give that any power over her. She was glad that she had his wallet, it meant that he could not go and find a liquor store to buy alcohol. She knows when he finds out about her putting in the note that he can’t have any alcohol that he will be through the roof.

 

He couldn’t text her about it anyways, she had his phone number, but he didn’t have hers. So all he could do was scream his frustration, but it meant that he would have to be sober about it.

 

It felt good two-fold, she would be hitting him where it hurt but she would also be sparing him from going into another drunken stupor. She just hoped that he didn’t use Apple Pay to get more alcohol.

 

Xander hadn’t expected her to actually leave. He thought that she would huff and puff, but she would stay. But she picked up all of the mini bottles and left the room.

 

He had been waiting for her to knock on the door. He gave it 30 seconds and then when he didn’t hear her knock. He opened the door and didn't see her in the hallway. He took the elevator, and he couldn’t find her. He realized that she had his wallet. He waited to see if there were charges anywhere so he would be able to track her down. The one thing she forgot was her car keys, so he knew that she wasn't driving. She was either walking or taking an Uber.

 

He started going through his phone and seeing if he could find her and it was when he realized that he didn't even have her number in his phone. He married her but he didn’t even have her phone number. When it was nightfall, he started to get worried.

 

He knew that she was on the outs with her mother so where was she going to go?

 

He went to social media and try to see if he could send her a DM telling her that she should come home. When he found her, he saw that her Instagram was private.  He created an Instagram just so he could send her a request. He didn’t even think that she was going to accept it, but she did.

 

Please come home. – Xander

 

He could see that she was typing something, it kept starting and stopping until it stopped completely. He could only see that she read his message.

 

He got upset because he felt that she was being petty right now. He didn’t know what he was going to say if her mother and Detective Grant came back. That actually made him really afraid because what was he going to say? That he kicked her out?!

 

 Chanel was surprised that he sent her a DM. It was short, it just said to come home. She kept trying to think of things that she wanted to say but she didn't want to say anything. Not yet at least, she wasn’t ready.

 

She needed to stay in her mother’s room tonight and just keep her head level. She ordered dinner. she ordered two separate dinners and asked if they could be sent on two different carts. She knows that it sounded peculiar, but they did as she asked.

 

She paid for it herself because she didn’t want her mother to know that she had been staying in her room. She took a gamble on his meal, but she decided to keep it simple, that way he most likely would eat it. She took the elevator down to his room. She walked with the room service cart and quickly knocked on his door and ran away.

 

She ran towards the stairs and waited. She heard the door open and heard his confusion. She felt like he was probably looking into the hallway to tell room service they had the wrong room. He took the cart in and she heard the door close. She took the stairs up a flight and then took the elevator back to her mother's room.

 

When she got in, she saw that she had a message. It was a message on Instagram.

 

Thank you for my dinner. It’s delicious, almost as delicious as you are. – Xander

 

Chanel was shocked at what he wrote. She didn’t expect anything, but she knew if she got a message, she expected a thank you. But she didn’t expect the second part and it made her fan herself.

 

Instagram had already said that she read the message. She did the only thing she could think of and liked the message.

 

She ate her food and was even more confused than she was this morning.

 

Xander was confused when someone knocked on his door. He was actually scared that it was going to be Paulina again asking where Chanel was. He was surprised when he saw a room service cart. He had been so worried all day that he didn’t eat. He had one mind to think that she was paying him back for this morning by sending him food and making him pay for it because she had his wallet. He checked all of his accounts and saw he hadn't been charged anything.

 

He knew that she had to be the one to actually come and bring it because room service always stated who they were and unless you tell them not to, they bring the food into the room.

 

He thanked her and then some for his meal. It wasn’t until he was at the table that he saw the trash can. It had the trash from yesterday. He picked up the bottle of wine. He vaguely remembered emptying a whole bottle by himself, she had only had half a glass. He inspected it and saw it had no alcohol in it. It was a dealcoholized sparkling Chardonnay.

 

He started remembering parts of the night. He remembered them talking and laughing over lobster sandwiches. He remembered her calling him a vortex of Scottish charm and showing him the origins of it.

 

He wanted to speak to her now more than ever, but he knew that it wasn't going to happen tonight. He was able to actually sleep knowing that she was in the hotel, in a room safe and not wandering around the city at night. A huge burden lifted from his chest he would have felt guilty if anything happened to her after what he did. At least she was with her mother and hopefully that would be enough not to send his new mother-in-law in a rage… one could only hope...

 

 

Chapter Text

Chanel woke up feeling much better. She felt like she was in a better space being alone for awhile. She didn’t know what she was feeling because just as she thought she was understanding Xander, he throws her for a loop again.

 

She didn’t know what he was trying to achieve sending her that message. It would have just been enough to just say thank you. She didn’t know if he was being flirty or being cruel by saying she tasted delicious. Even more so she was mad that she was turned on by it.

 

There were a couple of books that she couldn’t find at the library to check out, she decided to go to a bookstore at the mall. She got ready for the day… She wanted some height on her, so she decided to wear heels. She didn’t do it often because even though she loved heels, her feet were still wrecked from her days at H&M.

 

She looked at her choices for today, she had been feeling all over the place. It was in her mind to have a Copacabana inspired look or a Grecian inspired look. She settled on the Grecian look because it reminded her of her time in Naxos. She loved wearing lightweight cotton dresses that showed off her silhouette.

 

She checked the weather to see if she was going to need a jacket, it was nothing like Miami one day it could be cold in another day could be hot.  She really loved this blue and white striped dress. She had matching earrings for them. It was so rare for her to find the exact same shade, but she did. She decide to paint her nail powder blue. It was something she normally didn’t do but she always made her nails blue when she had this outfit on because her shoes and bag would always be white.  She always tried to have an equal amount of accessorizing be the same color. It didn’t always workout but this time it did. It reminded her of her days just walking around enjoying the sun.

 

She would always stumble across something to do in this outfit. The only difference was she usually wore sneakers instead of heels but she wasn’t really going to be traversing today so it didn’t matter.

 

She went to look for her keys in her purse, but all she found was Xander's wallet and some miscellaneous stuff she always kept in there. She was thinking in her haste that she must have forgotten her keys.

 

 She remembered exactly where she left them too. She decided that she was just going to take an Uber to the mall so she could go to the bookstore. She would worry about dealing with that later. The mall wasn’t particularly far but it would be if she were to walk. Normally she would have taken a bus, but she wasn’t really versed with bus schedules here or if they even had any.

 

She had seen a bookstore the other day when she was in a mall getting her wedding dress. She had wanted to go in, but she didn’t have time to waste. It was a good idea for her to go to the library first anyways because she got to check out books that she wouldn't have to pay for. She always saved books that she wanted to keep forever as her purchases and books as she just wanted to borrow as library choices.

 

She decided on forgoing makeup and just filled in her eyebrows and put on some lip gloss. She looked in the mirror trying to decide what she wanted to do with her hair. She ended up going with half-up, half- down. Something about it when she wore this dress really made her feel her best. She put on her blue pearl earrings and called for her Uber.

 

When she got to the mall, she did have the slightest urge to shop until she dropped but she refrained. She was just going to go to Mila’s bookstore and find some books that she liked.

 

Her phone buzzed and she wondered who it could be…

 

Where are you? I feel like we should talk. It would also be easier if I had your phone number. – Xander

 

Chanel saw the message on Instagram she looked at it for a good ten seconds before she responded. She texted Xander’s phone because she had already known his phone number.

 

I’m at the mall. I’m at a bookstore… it’s called Mila’s. – Chanel

 

When Xander saw that his phone got a text, he wanted to curse. The whole time that he was worried yesterday she had his phone number the whole time. But then he thought about it and she had no incentive to actually text him after what happened.

 

He didn’t even have his wallet, but he took the risk and took the keys to her car and drove to the mall. It had been such a long time since he had a car. He forgot what that was like. When he was the CEO of Titan, he had a driver. It was one of the perks of the position. He let his lease expire and gave back his car without thinking twice.

 

It was one of the other reminders of one of his boneheaded decisions. He really didn’t need a car anyways because since he lived at the Salem Inn, he was in the center part of town so most of the things that he would need were within walking distance. The mall technically wasn’t far, but it was a long walk.

 

He truly didn’t feel like walking for half an hour just to go to the mall when it could take him 6 minutes by car.

 

When he got to the mall, he had to go to a directory because he didn’t actually know where this bookstore was. He had been to the mall a couple of times, but that was not a store that he ever thought about going into. He tended to order his books online.

 

It took him a couple of tries but he found the bookstore. It had clear glass windows so he could see just about everything. That’s when he saw her. She was crouched down trying to get a book from the shelf. All Xander could think to himself was she looked so in her element. He didn’t know if that were true, but it looked natural.

 

He saw her rising and took in what she was wearing. She chose a dress that accented all of her features. It wasn’t overly tight, but it showed her silhouette. She looks beautiful without even trying and he caught himself just staring for a minute.

 

He walked into the bookstore and went straight for her. He didn’t pay attention to anything else. He knew that she didn’t see him. She was walking towards another section of books. Her back was to him and he reached out and touched her shoulder.

 

He felt her flinch a little and then he felt bad because he should have announced himself.

 

Chanel turned around and saw Xander and she felt a little calmer. She was about to go off on whoever touched her. She may still go off on Xander but she was not going to do that in public.

 

“Hello wife.” Xander tried to put on a confident front.

 

“Do not even start with me. I’m still upset with you.” Chanel reached into her bag and pulled out his wallet and gave it to him.

 

Xander was grateful for his wallet because he felt more comfortable having his ID on him.

 

“I know. And I’m sorry.” Xander meant it. He still flies off the handle every now and then.

 

 “I don’t want to talk about it here. I just need to get these books.” Chanel was actually almost done she was only getting five books today.

 

Chanel felt a blast of AC pushing past her and she shivered.

 

Xander saw this and took off his leather jacket.

 

“You should take this.” Xander offered his jacket to her and could see her mulling over the decision.

 

 Chanel looked at him in his eyes and gave him a small nod.

 

He opened the jacket so she could slip in it. So she turned and slid her arms in the jacket. She could feel him hold her shoulders.

 

“Thank you.” She could barely squeak it out. She felt him so close to her.

 

 “You’re welcome.” he whispered this in her ear and she shivered again.

 

But the both of them knew that it had nothing to do with the air conditioning.

 

“I’m done with the books that I wanted.” Chanel didn’t know what else to say so she did the first thing that came to mind.

 

She started walking over to the cash register.

 

“You’re really a booklover aren’t you? These are some serious titles.” The cashier was taking in some of the choices. Some of these were literary triumphs from authors who weren't as well known as people who get their books made into movies.

 

“Yeah I am. I’m a writer so it helps to read. Seems counter intuitive but that's just how it goes.” Chanel was trying to make small talk to distract her from the fact that Xander was staring at her.

 

She knew that he was trying to do it on the sly, but she could feel his eyes on her.

 

“Hopefully, I’ll be able to see a book of yours here one day.”

 

“That would be a dream, the store is very well curated.” Chanel was impressed with the kind of lineup that they had. It wasn’t like most bookstores with an endless array of books where it was daunting to try and choose a title because there were too many choices.

 

She liked to here because it felt intimate and the product selection were very high quality and showed that this book store was one curated by someone who really loved literature.

 

“That's a very high compliment, thank you.  I really do my best to try and get high caliber books and make a cohesive shopping experience. Your total today will be $143.23.”

 

Xander didn’t wait one second, he was pulling out his wallet so he could pay for the bill. He had a smile for the owner, Chanel was grateful that he wanted to buy her books.

 

 It however did not make her less upset. She put on a smile and pretended like everything was okay.

 

“Oh I don’t need a bag. I brought my big purse just because I knew I was going to go book shopping.” Chanel didn’t want Mila to make a fuss with giving her a reusable bag. She already had her own.

 

“I shouldn’t expect anything less from an enthusiastic reader.”

 

Chanel smiled and opened her tote so she could place the books inside. She was getting ready to put it back on her shoulders when Xander put his hands in hers so he could take the bag.

 

Chanel let him and told Mila goodbye and that she would be back. Chanel had signed up for text alerts so she would get new texts relating to new releases.

 

They walked back to the car in silence. Chanel had to follow him because he was the person who drove here. When she got to the car, he opened her door which was even more confusing for her because now he was acting like a gentleman. He had been ever since she saw him again. She took the jacket off because it was comfortable in the car and she didn't need it anymore. She put on her seat belt and laid his jacket on her lap.

 

Xander drove them back to the hotel and he was glad that it wasn’t a long ride because the silence was deafening. She was silent in the elevator and even on the way to the hotel room door.

 

She just waited for him to open it with his key.

 

“So I’m assuming that your mother was able to convince you to seek a divorce or an annulment?” Xander didn’t know why that made him upset to say especially considering they don't even know each other really.

 

He just sat on the bed wondering what was going to happen next.

 

“No. Thankfully my mom was gone on business. Divorce is gauche and we are not getting an annulment. I will not be erased. You’re a Kiriakis, you can get a job working for Titan, you’re in the family.”

 

Xander did not want to think about Titan. He got up ready to fight Chanel about what he was or wasn’t going to do.

 

“You better sit your motherfucking ass down right now or I swear to God…” Chanel had it up to here with him. She knew that he was going to try and fight her.

 

This was really the first time that Xander ever seen her truly upset, she actually looked scary. She still looked beautiful but there was no mistaking her fury in that moment.

 

“It isn't as easy as you think it is. I would have to basically kiss the ring to my Uncle Victor.”

 

“Then you kiss the ring. Xander even if you’re not married to me, there needs to be more for yourself then living out of a hotel room for God knows how long until you run out of money and finding yourself at the mercy of a bottle. I didn’t mean it when I said maybe you weren’t the right CEO for Titan. I was just mad at you for telling me what I could and couldn’t eat.”

 

“Well you certainly weren’t wrong about the cost of meal choices. I did overlook that. I don’t even know if there’s any positions open at Titan. In my family when you leave Titan, it’s like leaving the family sometimes. My uncle Victor is not easy, not to anyone.”

 

Xander wanted to tell Chanel that she really had no clue about who Victor Kiriakis is.

 

She just walked over to him and ran her fingers through his hair, she knew that it would calm him down. He was getting pretty passionate about the inner workings of his family.

 

Xander felt it was automatic to wrap his arms around her and place his head on her middle. He could remember doing it a couple times before and he liked it.

 

 They stayed like that for a couple of minutes.

 

 “I don’t even know if he will receive us, you kind of have to request to see him.”

 

“I definitely think that he’s going to want to receive us, he's probably going to be highly upset that we're married and he had no clue about it.”

 

“You're definitely right about that.” Xander could already see his uncle's face turning red with anger.

 

He knew that Victor didn’t really care for Sarah even though that was his wife’s daughter, but Victor didn’t really care for anyone who was not a Kiriakis and sometimes not even that could make him care.

 

“Let’s go see Victor Kiriakis.” Chanel knew that she might be encountering a very difficult man.

 

She knew that he had immense power in Greece because Titan Industries was big over there. She was going to have to do this eventually so why not now? What does she have to lose?

 

Chapter Text

To say that Xander was nervous was an understatement.

 

Chanel could see that he was nervous and put her hand in his in a bid to calm him. She didn’t know if it worked but he didn't snatch his hand away.

 

When they got to the Kiriakis mansion, the first thing that Chanel thought to herself that this was more than a mansion it was like a compound. She would expect nothing less than from a man who had his companies dominate almost all of the cosmopolitan areas of Greece.

 

When they got to the house, Xander used his key. He doesn’t even know why he was surprised that it still worked. He figured that his uncle would change the locks, but then he thought about it and it wasn’t like Victor cared particularly. His house was a fortress and no one in the family was going to cross him.

 

When they got in Chanel took in everything. The house had a Stately Manor feel to it. It was not something that she would imagine for someone so synonymous with Greece. Not to say that you wouldn’t find a house like this in Greece, it just really resembled more of mainland Europe and not what Greeks are known for Architecture wise...

 

Xander had asked one of the servants to request for his uncle. As they waited, Chanel could feel the nervousness rolling off of Xander.

 

“Hey…” Chanel called out to him gently.

 

Xander had his eyes scanning the whole foyer. But when he heard Chanel’s voice, he turned his head towards her.

 

She put her hand on his cheek and took a step closer to him. She kissed him, Xander hadn’t been expecting it and Chanel took his gasp of surprise to slip her tongue in his mouth.

 

Xander brought her closer to him, his arm snaked around her back. When she mewled in his mouth, he was pulling her as close as he could to his body. This was completely different than what happened in the hotel room. Anger had driven him to kiss her, it didn't feel any less sexy, but it was a completely different emotion driving this.

 

She was using the kiss as a way to calm him, distract him from his impending doom and it did a pretty good job. The last thing he really wanted to do was meet with Uncle Vic, but it was for completely different reasons now.

 

“Mr. Kiriakis, your uncle is waiting for you in the living room.” The servant was rather uncomfortable having to interrupt the couple, but the last thing she wanted to do was anger her boss more.

 

Chanel tensed when she heard another voice. She hadn’t been expecting it and she froze. Xander could feel it and hugged her to him instinctually.

 

“Thank you, Agnes.”

 

Agnes just nodded and went about her way.

 

It was just the two of them again and they looked at each other in silence. Xander was scanning her face, scrutinizing everything.

 

It made Chanel feel unnerved because the last time he looked at her like that, he was kicking her out of the hotel room.

 

He surprised her by giving her a quick kiss. The look of surprise on her face amused Xander.

 

“Come on, we mustn’t keep my uncle waiting. He’s usually crabby around this time.” Xander put his hand on the small of her back and they walked into the main living room.

 

It had been a while since Xander seen his uncle. He could already see Victor taking in the situation. If Victor was confused and it was not something he ever showed.

 

“So what are you doing here wasting my time?” Victor was surprised to hear that Xander was requesting his audience.

 

“Great to see you too, Uncle Vic.”

 

“Oh cut the crap. I heard from Justin that you got dumped, that's neither here nor there. You’ll survive… I hope you didn’t come here for pity party.” Victor really didn’t care what Xander did, and he cared even less about what Sarah did.

 

No matter how much Maggie would try to mediate, he still thought Sarah was a headache.

 

Xander didn’t take too kindly to being reminded of why he went on a bender. The pain of being left still had an ache, but he was trying to pick up the pieces to his life… He was finally seeing that he could when he wasn’t so consumed with drink. He needed to because he wasn't going to spend his days drowning himself in alcohol for the foreseeable future. It was not cost effective, and he doesn’t think that his liver could handle it.

 

Victor was gathering this new person in his house. He could see that she seemed to be very familiar with his nephew and Victor smiled on the inside. He heard about his nephew’s drunken escapades around town, it was annoying because it only belittled the Kiriakis name. If his nephew was going to be getting drunk, he should do it in the comfort of his own four walls.

 

The body language between Xander and this mystery woman showed there was some kind of romantic interest. Victor didn’t care what Xander did, as long as he wasn’t making him look like a fool. Victor hates poor reflections of himself and his family is filled with plenty.

 

“Believe me I did not come here for a pity party. I certainly did not come to you for comfort either.”

 

“Then why are you here? And who are you?” Victor finally acknowledged her existence formally instead of just staring.

 

Xander just walked himself and Chanel to the sofa. She sat down and really didn't know what to say, Xander was right this man definitely was ‘crabby’.

 

“I’m Chanel –”

 

“Kiriakis. This is my wife Uncle Vic.” Xander couldn’t help himself.

 

Chanel wanted to slap him because had no tact. He just dove right in and she knew that. He was trying to get a rise out of his uncle. She was mad because he was using her to do it.

 

“What?!” Victor did not get surprised by many things.

 

This however was completely not what he was thinking. His nephew could be so impulsive, he was almost as impulsive as Brady. It was annoying to be the one to have to clean up all of their messes.

 

“I’m pleased to meet you Mr. Kiriakis.” Chanel was trying to exercise her best manners.

 

Xander was a little regretful at throwing Chanel to the wolves when it came to Victor. He knows that he has bones to pick with his uncle, but he shouldn’t be using her as a vehicle for it.

 

“My goodness you are such an idiot. You got married because you got dumped. You make such stupid decisions but this one takes the cake. And now you come to me telling me that you're married. I’m pretty sure that there was no way you have a prenup. You would have gone to Justin to get one, but you didn’t because he would have told me. So now you’re married and you open us up to a payday by your new wife who's named after handbags. Malaka!” Victor was irate and he could feel his face getting red.

 

Victor was nowhere near done, Xander’s temper was getting the best of him.

 

The hand that had been rubbing circles into Chanel’s back started to squeeze her like she was some kind of stress ball.

 

Chanel was angry herself because she damn well did not like the comparisons to Coco Chanel.

 

Before his Xander could speak… Chanel shot up from the sofa.

 

She was ready to go off on him when he started to say things about her but when he said the word Malaka… with such deep distaste, she could see where Xander was coming from now.

 

If this man wanted to speak Greek, then she would speak Greek to him.

 

“First of all, my name is Chanel because it's supposed to honor my grandmother. She was born by the water in the village. Second of all, don't you ever disrespect my husband by calling him Malaka... As if he is the gum under your shoe! You are the closest thing that he has to a father and this is the relationship you choose to have with him… that is despicable. I would kill to have another day with my dad. I have been telling him that he should get a job with you because your family and why wouldn't you want him back?! He’s deceptively smart and was capable at his job. Listen to me old man… The days of you belittling him or trying to belittle me are not going to happen anymore. He does not need a job with you if it means that every single thing, he does is for you to critique him harshly for your enjoyment. No wonder he didn't want to do this in the first place. He would rather be estranged from you and the only family has just so he didn't have to endure this Hunger Games bullshit in trying to prove his loyalty or love for you. You probably see yourself as Aurelius when you are actually a Commodus." Chanel had all day, she was always raised to respect her elders, but she was not going to have it with someone who was off the bat just rude.

 

She didn’t give a damn who he was, he was not going to compare her to handbags. She was a person and that alone made her worthy of having respect shown to her.

 

Xander was in the surprise of his life when he found out that his wife somehow knows Greek, and he doesn't. He knows a couple of words usually because it’s when Victor is insulting him. Even though he had no clue what she was saying he did know that she was speaking it.

 

Victor thought he was going to have a stroke, he was not expecting his nephew’s impulsive decision to speak his native language. He was still upset at his nephew’s dumb mistake, but he was incredibly intrigued at this woman who was able to speak fluent Greek. He was even more intrigued that she told him to his face what Roman emperor she believes him to be. Of course he thinks she is wrong but the fact she raised the argument alone meant she had an in-depth knowledge of history and was ready to use it to insult someone.  She had fury and it was channeled correctly. She was succinct in how she argued with him. It was something that he respected even if he didn’t like being challenged by anyone.

 

Xander just kept looking at Chanel, she didn’t even notice because her eyes were focused solely on Victor. He scanned her up and down multiple times.

 

Victor replied to her in Greek, so it left Xander out of his depth. Chanel sat back down and continued to listen to Victor.

 

“You speak Greek? That’s stupid of me of course you speak Greek because you just launched a whole diatribe at me. Where did you learn it? Never heard a Greek girl called Chanel before…”

 

“I lived there for three years. Two years in Naxos and one year in Thira. I learned to speak it while I lived there.”

 

“Most people from the rest of the world would call it Santorini…”

 

“I doubt the Greeks whether modern or ancient would ever want to refer to Thira as anything other than what they know it to be. And they certainly wouldn’t want to call something that was named by the Romans.” Chanel was a confident person, especially when it was about things she knew about. She always prided herself on being knowledgeable in numerous areas.

 

It always helped that she had an affinity for books because she could read them forever without ever getting bored. Her family has always had a special relationship with Greek literature, so it was natural for her to know about some of its history.

 

“More than a pretty face I see. Maybe I underestimated you.” Victor was amused by his nephew’s wife.

 

“And that was your first mistake. My intellect surpasses what you deem pretty, by miles or meters whichever you prefer.”

 

“The face of an Aphrodite, but the will of an Athena. It seems my nephew might have stumbled upon someone who could give him a run for his money. I hope you know he doesn’t have much of that anymore.”

 

“Thank you for the compliment. I’m well aware of Alexandros. Thank you for the concern though.” Chanel knew that Xander's pride was not going to let him beg anything from his uncle.

 

It was clearer to her now because she got to see it instead of being told about it.

 

“You know Xander, I don’t know which one of you has bitten off more than you could chew.”

 

“As always it’s been a pleasure Uncle Vic.  We’ll be going now.” Xander got up, he was ready to blow this joint.

 

Chanel saw something… very familiar.

 

“You read von Bruckner?” Chanel could spot this book from anywhere.

 

“Yes, he's one of my favorite writers. I have a first edition of his book.” Victor was really proud of having this book because it was incredibly rare.

 

“It’s impossible for you to have a first edition of von Bruckner. First editions of von Bruckner books have their photo in it.” Chanel knew exactly where the first editions were.

 

“I have never known about any pictures. I assure you this is a first edition.  The German script in it can prove it.”

 

“There's only two first editions by type of Friedrich von Bruckner. One of them is in Miami, Florida and the other is in Amsterdam. Whoever sold it to you lied.”

 

“Are you now telling me that you're an authority on von Bruckner?”

 

“Yes, I am. What I can tell you is that… The book is the third installment of a series, the best way to read the book is with a glass of Sherry, just like Friedrich intended. One of his favorite writers was Perez Galdós.”

 

“How do you know this?! I’ve never found any evidence of it.” Victor wanted to know everything.

 

He had numerous expeditions for his favorite writers. So little was known about von Bruckner because his book came out during the height of Nazi Germany.

 

“I just do.”

 

“How do you have such information on him?  No one even knows what happened to von Bruckner after the book came out…” Victor was trying to wonder how this young woman knew so much when historians didn't.

 

“He was shot in the head by the SS.” Chanel was matter of fact about it because that's what it was. She let out a deep sigh when she said it. It was an indisputable fact because there were witnesses. Her grandmother being one of them.

 

Xander looked at her and could feel a melancholy wash over her when she said it. He hadn’t been expecting her to make this statement.

 

Victor gasped at this assertion. He felt his heartbeat steadily climbing at the news that one of his favorite writers was shot by the Nazis. Many of the historians he conferred with just thought von Bruckner developed in aversion to writing or had writer’s block.

 

“What?! Why would the SS kill him?”

 

“Why wouldn't they? Von Bruckner is the complete antithesis to what the Aryan idea was all about. If you had a real first edition you would know that. He was a part of the undesirable population. The reason they shot him was because George Mirga was being arrested on trumped up charges. He was being accused of stealing because he was Romany, so it was easy to pin that on them. Friedrich had been with him when the police came. The neighbors on the block were trying to fight for George because they knew that the charges were baseless. A whole fight happened, and Friedrich was trying to help George and an SS officer pulled out his gun and shot Friedrich in the head. The shock of seeing Friedrich shot gave the SS the distraction they needed to have George arrested and driven away.”

 

Victor was speechless because he didn’t even know that von Bruckner knew Mirga.

 

“Mirga and von Bruckner knew each other?”

 

“Yeah, they lived in the same tenement.  Their daughters were best friends.”

 

“How do you know all of this?”

 

“Friedrich and George’s daughters resettled in America. I knew them before they died.”

 

“Why didn't they say anything? Their fathers created amazing books. They deserved recognition.”

 

“They just wanted to be left alone. They wanted anonymity, there is a comfort in having their privacy. Who would want to relive their trauma? They know that their fathers were great and that was enough for them. They were able to get out which they didn’t think possible until they were. They had families and then they died.”

 

Victor just nodded his head, of course… People process trauma differently and the world definitely would have been in their face if they came out of the shadows.

 

“This may have been one of the most peculiar introductions but one that was highly informative. My nephew seems to be good for something. I would like to talk to him alone.”

 

Chanel just walked away and went back to the foyer and waited.

 

“You need to be careful with her…” Victor looked at Xander in his eyes. He wanted his nephew to understand. Xander was prone to screwing things up.

 

“Why?” Xander really didn’t want to play the head games right now.

 

“Because she is clearly a great champion…” Victor hoped his nephew could understand what he meant but Xander was rolling his eyes. All Victor could think was how Titus’s son could be so smart but dense at the same time.

 

Xander was done with the conversation he didn’t want to hear of how much of a loser he is compared to his wife, he was leaving the main living room. Victor just smiled, he was going to ask Agnes to get him some Sherry. He hoped Xander figured out what he meant but he had to get back to reading his book. If he is to believe Chanel than there’s more books out there but he doesn’t know how that is possible... He must see her again, but he doesn’t think his nephew will let that happen for a while. He knows Xander's little feelings are hurt. He thinks that he let his family get too sensitive.

 

As Chanel was waiting for Xander to come, someone opened the door.

 

Philip was just coming home to change quickly, he had a date later and didn’t feel like wearing work clothes to it.

 

“Well hello, I’m Philip Kiriakis and who might you be?” Philip stuck his hand out because it was only the right thing to do. He made sure his dimples were out and on display.

 

There was this beautiful woman in his foyer that he did not know. She looked like she was waiting so he decided he was going to keep her company.

 

“Nice to meet you, I’m Chanel Du—” Before Chanel could finish saying her last name she was interrupted.

 

“Kiriakis. She’s my wife Philip.” Xander really wanted to avoid seeing Brady or Philip and of course he had to see one of them. He gently took Chanel’s hand and pulled it back gently before she could shake Philip’s hand.

 

Xander's other hand found its way to her hip and he kept it there possessively.

 

Philip was absolutely shocked because he thought Xander was supposed to be marrying Sarah. He kept his face cool though, there was no point in showing it. He learned that from his father. He hadn’t been keeping up with his cousin's life lately because once he was gone from Titan, Philip just didn’t care.

 

“I must say cousin you have good taste. I’ll be seeing you around Ms. Chanel. Will you be moving in? I’d love to be roomies with our newest member to the family. You know if you’re down on your luck Xandy, I’m sure I could always find something for you to do at Titan.” Philip had fun getting under Xander’s skin.

 

“I’m fine thanks. If you’ll excuse us…” Xander was already rushing Chanel out of the door before his cousin could blink.

 

They walked back to the car in silence. Chanel could tell that Xander was fuming he certainly was already mad about dealing with Victor and it seemed as if he had an adversarial relationship with his cousin. Chanel took a guess in deduce that Philip must be the new CEO of Titan.

 

Xander made sure to open her door for her. He might have still been mad, but he did have manners.

 

Chanel didn’t get in right away. She could feel his anger, it was just rolling off of him.

 

“You okay baby? You were right your uncle is a lot.” Chanel was willing to concede that he was right, especially if it would make him a little less upset than he was.

 

The trip over definitely was a mistake, but it wasn’t one she was going to know until it happened.

 

Xander just looked at her, he was scanning her yet again. It’s something that he was doing frequently.

 

He got closer to her and put his hand on her back. He brought her closer to him gently and kissed her. They stayed like that for about a minute. Their kissing wasn’t urgent. Chanel wrapped her hands around his neck so she could get even closer to him. His other hand started to move across her body and eventually reached her ass and he squeezed it.

 

It took Chanel by surprise and she moaned in his mouth.

 

Xander was pleased at the sounds she was making. He eventually stopped the kiss and saw Chanel pouting.

 

He wanted to laugh because she looked cute. He thought it was absurd, he kissed the pout off of her lips.

 

They looked at each other, all Xander could think of was the last thing his uncle told him. Chanel was a great champion… His uncle was calling her a winner after one conversation with her? It was a highly impressive conversation even if Xander didn’t know what they were saying. It wasn’t anything new for his uncle to call him a variation of loser, was his uncle already deducing that he wasn’t worthy of Chanel within the short span of knowing her?

 

Chanel was just trying to catch her breath.

 

“Do you want to go by the courthouse and see if that food truck is still there and get lobster sandwiches?” Xander asked as he tucked her hair behind her ear.

 

“Yeah, I’d like that.” Chanel felt like her heart was beating faster instead of going back to normal when he asked her that.

 

Chanel got into the car and Xander closed her door and went to his side.

 

When he got in the car, they looked at each other and smiled. Xander started driving feeling for the first time in a while that everything wasn't figured out, but his life didn’t feel like it was in freefall anymore. He really liked that feeling.

 

Chapter Text

Luckily for the both of them the food truck was at the same place as it was last time. They got their lobster sandwiches and then went back to the hotel room. This time instead of any kind of alcohol they decided on just having soda instead.

 

Xander watched Chanel eat her food. He was still trying to dissect her, every time he thought that he had a beat on her, she surprised him.

 

He was surprised doubly today because he found out that she’s a writer when they were at the bookstore and that she somehow knows Greek and can battle with his uncle.

 

What struck him the most was how unafraid she was going toe to toe with Victor Kiriakis. He had no clue what she said but it was obvious that Victor respected her. He didn’t know many people that his uncle actually respected. If he had to take a guess, then it would be a smaller amount then the fingers he has.

 

Chanel tried to concentrate on eating her sandwich except she could feel Xander’s eyes on her. The silence in the room wasn’t filled with tension, it felt kind of peaceful… but his scrutinizing gaze made her stomach turn in knots.

 

“I’ve seen very few people go toe to toe with my uncle.”

 

“Well, I did not appreciate what he was saying. So I vocalized my distaste and I would do it again. You were right going there was a mistake. I didn’t foresee how mean he was going to be.” Even though Chanel knew that the whole conversation wasn’t the most terrible thing.

 

It was clearly not something that Xander wanted, he told her what was going to happen and he was right. She got a front row seat to a sampling of Victor Kiriakis.

 

“I don’t think it was a complete mistake. I knew I was not going to have my job back because it would take more than one meeting and it would be a lot of groveling and I don’t think I can handle that. He was impressed with you though, but I think I was more impressed. I had no clue you knew Greek. I don’t even know Greek… Can you believe that?!”

 

“You don’t know Greek? You were CEO of Titan… You have a lot of business in Greece, how do you not know how to speak it?” Chanel was shocked.

 

She also just took in the fact that Xander had no clue what she told his uncle.

 

“Well, I didn’t have to if I am being honest. The people we have based in Greece, most of them went to school in England so it was never a big deal. We have all of our conferences in English. To be honest I don’t think most of the family here even knows Greek. Out of anyone I was the closest because of geography but everyone else was based here. I guess it wasn’t a big emphasis for my uncle.” Xander never really thought about having to speak Greek.

 

“Oh, I guess. It just seemed so out of the ordinary because it has such a big presence in Greece. I just would have thought.”

 

“How do you know Greek?”

 

“I thought you knew everything I was telling your uncle. I just assumed that you did… But I spent three years there, I lived two years in a place called Naxos and one year in a place called Thira. I would visit other cities and islands but that’s where I was permanently living when I was in Greece. I thought if I was going to be living there then I would have to learn the language, so I did.”

 

“Well, it was a pleasant surprise for me to learn. First, I find out that you are writer and then I see you going toe to toe with my uncle. It was a fascinating sight to see. I do wonder what did you talk to him about?” That was what Xander was most curious about because she definitely had a lot to say and by the time she finished and sat down, his uncle was a new person.

 

He was still Victor Kiriakis, but his uncle almost smiled, he was definitely impressed and amused by Chanel. And when he was alone with his uncle, Victor was calling her a champion which he found the most surprising. Victor didn’t dish out compliments much, and certainly not in Xander’s presence.

 

“I said that he is an old ass man to his face and told him who the hell I was and how he was not going to disrespect me.  Then I told him that him disrespecting you was not going to continue. I told him that he is the closest thing you have to a father and I would beg for anything to have my dad again even if it was just for a day. I shared with him that I’m the one that put you up to coming to his house to ask for a job that you weren't really looking to have. I don’t like this bullshit Game of Thrones or Hunger Games whatever way that he handles things. He thinks that he's so clever, but he’s not. I told him that he thinks that he is Marcus Aurelius, but he really is a Commodus.” Chanel decided to be as truthful as possible.

 

Xander wasn’t as knowledgeable about every single Roman emperor but he did know Commodus as being one of the worst, so for her to say that to his uncle, that was a big thing and he found himself even more attracted to her. He can see that she doesn’t back down to anyone. Not him and not his uncle.

 

“You defended me… Why?” Xander was touched that someone was defending him to Victor.

 

For most of Xander’s life he has only been a burden to his uncle… Always the black sheep that has to be bailed out, but he was finally doing right, and he left Titan because he wasn't going to deal with doing everything right only to have it thrown in his face. What Philip did was wrong, and he was rewarded for it. It just reminded him that it didn’t matter how much Xander tried, he was still the nephew and not the son. The only exception that would be for would be Justin, there was no room for Xander.

 

He was always on the outside looking in when it came to his family. It always breeded resentment, he always felt as if Brady was dumber than a box of rocks but as much chastising as he would get from Victor, it didn't mean anything in the end. Philip jeopardized so much with Titan, but it didn't really matter period of course Philip was always going to be bailed out because he is Victor’s son.

 

“Of course I defended you. Besides it being the most logical choice, I’m not going to allow anyone to disrespect you in my presence.  Nobody is going to be talking about my man breezy and thinking that they could get away with it. If they say it behind my back, then I can’t do anything about that but if they’re going to be in my face that's completely different. I don’t know what we have… All of this has been crazy, but I don’t know Xander. Maybe it’s because we've both been ignored and cast aside, I married you on the presumption of you being rich, but I’m staying because when you look at me my stomach goes in knots. It’s not news that you're good looking, and according to my mother with the body of a Greek God. When we kiss, I don’t want it to stop.” Chanel knew it was a gamble, but she didn’t see how she was going to keep this under wraps.

 

Xander was too inquisitive in nature to let it go, especially with the undercurrent that is between them.

 

Xander listened as she spoke, and he couldn’t help but scrutinize her again. The only person that was legitimately attracted to him for a relationship had been Sarah, that took a long time  and convincing on his part and that had crashed and burned. He couldn’t deny that he was attracted to Chanel.

 

She was someone who knew what she wanted and would do anything to go after it. She might have made a miscalculation in him, but she stayed. She was trying to have the life she wanted still, she was doing anything she could to make him get a job.

 

Chanel couldn’t handle the long silence, she couldn’t eat her food anymore it was only chips left anyways.

 

 “You want to stay?” Nobody ever stayed long for Xander, so he had to ask.

 

“Yeah, it’s not my smartest choice but I don’t wanna stop this. Do you?” Chanel was nervous to hear the answer.

 

 Her hand squeezed her knees in a bid to calm herself while she waited for an answer.

 

“You're infuriating. You keep me guessing and on my toes. You called me out on buying food and it made me so mad that all I wanted to do was take you on a desk. When I told you to get out, I was digging my heels in, but I hoped that you wouldn’t. I thought we would make our individual points and you would come back. I couldn’t eat the whole day, I was so worried about you. And then when you brought me dinner, I realized how sweet you could be. I remembered our night when we got married. We connected, I was so bloody drunk, but I remembered the vortex of Scottish charm. I remember you promising me a trip to Scotland so I’m holding you to it. You make me question myself… a lot. I like the feeling of hugging you. It sounds so stupid, I’m this big burly man and hugging you calms me. I don’t want this to stop either. I just don’t know how it’s going to go with your mother.” If there was one thing Xander hated being vulnerable, but he was going to meet her halfway.

 

She was defending him to Victor with because that's what she wanted to do. He found that to be sexy.

 

“There’s nothing wrong with wanting affection baby. I’ll hug you whenever you like. As far as my mother goes… well she's coming back tomorrow and I’m pretty sure she’s going to try and convince me to get a divorce but that's not going to happen. What we need to do is refresh your resume. Obviously, you’re not going back to Titan, but your resources are finite, and we have to figure this out. My mom is trying to expand her holdings here so let's use your executive experience and try and see if we can get you a job working for her.”

 

“Chanel, you were there when your mother was introduced to me. How on earth do you think she’s going to give me a job after marrying you...? She probably wants my head on a spike!” Xander was appreciative of the fact that Chanel was trying to move forward from the foolish notion of him going back to Titan.

 

“My mom has worked with people she doesn't like before. If my mom sees that you have this executive experience, she might be willing to give you a chance. You also live here so you have a leg up. Baby, it’s something to think about. It doesn’t have to be forever, but you would be getting paid well and it'll give you more experience.”  Chanel also knew that it was probably going to be the easiest option to get a high paying position by using the connections they had.

 

Xander couldn’t argue that logic but he was still weary about even broaching the subject with her mother. He was done with eating his food, so he threw away the container and went to go wash his hands. Chanel followed him because she was done with her food too and repeated the action.

 

Xander walked over to the bed and just sat at the edge.

 

“I feel as if I should be a little more transparent. When I was a CEO of Titan that was my first time having a real executive position. I’m still a novice when it comes to that compared to big sharks. Who knows if she’s going to go with me if she even takes me seriously in the first place?”

 

“OK, then we’ll focus on that in your resume.  We will make huge emphasis on your role there and the impact that you made while you were CEO. Maybe if you get this job then that going to be wonderful. We also can’t stay in this hotel room forever because it's more expensive to be here. Why don’t we follow Philip’s advice and move into your uncle's mansion? That way we can save up.” Chanel was trying to throw as many options as possible.

 

It was the most logical choice to move into the Kiriakis mansion if that was a choice on the table.

 

“That will not happen.”

 

“Why not? I’m assuming it would be rent free…”

 

“It's not up for discussion. We will not be moving in there and that decision is final. I’ll figure things out but that is something that will not happen do you understand me?”  Xander’s voice was devoid of any emotion.

 

Chanel was taken aback by how concrete he was about not moving back to the mansion. She wasn’t going to fight him on it. She just thought it was a good idea because if frees up a lot of expenses.

 

Xander was thinking about how smug Philip was. He took it upon himself to flirt with Chanel and it did not sit right with Xander at all. The last thing he wanted was Philip taking an active interest in annoying him by shamelessly flirting with his wife if they lived at the mansion. He also didn’t want to go groveling back to his uncle, but if push came to shove then that's what he would have to do.

 

“I’m sorry I won’t bring it up again.”

 

“Don’t apologize. I was being a little rough. I just don’t want us to live at the mansion if we don’t have too. I misplaced my anger at you and I’m sorry for that.”

 

 Xander pulled her into a kiss. He could do that now freely. The kiss got a little heated. Chanel had a hand in his hair and another around his neck. Xander felt she was too far from him, so he scooped her into his lap. Chanel giggled which broke their kiss. Xander found himself smiling when he heard her laughter.

 

She bit her lip as she looked at him. As much as she would like this to continue, they had work to do.

 

“OK, I take my apology back then. I forgive you. Do you wanna start refreshing your resume now? I think we should get it done and out of the way. I have a surprise for you later.”  Chanel had been meaning to give him his surprise, but a lot happened today.

 

“You have a surprise for me? I don’t know whether to be intrigued or afraid?” Xander placed his head on her chest and squeezed her hip.

 

“You won't know until we finished the things that we have to do first. You just have to ask yourself if it is worth it to find out?”

 

Xander took his head from her chest and looked up. They just gaze into each other’s eyes for about 10 seconds, Chanel didn’t even think about it… She pressed a kiss to his forehead.

 

“Oh it's very much worth it.”

 

Xander was going to get up in a minute, but right now he just wanted to soak up this affection he was getting. He was letting go and trying for something new. This was something that excited him, motivated him and it made him feel good. He liked the feeling and maybe he had to tap into a bit of his old self. He was going to fight anyone who opposed what he wanted.

 

He breathed her in, anyone that got in his way, he felt sorry for them. He could care less who they were… He wasn’t backing down to anyone not even her mother.

 

Chapter Text

Chanel took the time to help Xander curate his resume. She knew that they were going to have to emphasize the positive impacts that he had when he was CEO at Titan and his overall duties.

 

Xander had made the mention of maybe embellishing and Chanel quickly disagreed. Her mother would be able to smell the bullshit from a mile away, so it was not going to put them in the best position.

 

Her mother has been in the business world too long to not be able to sniff out posers. The last thing she wanted her mother to think Xander was that. It was already going to be an uphill battle, there was no way she was going to make it more difficult.

 

They spent about two hours making sure that the resume looked perfect.

 

“I think it looks good. What do you think wife?"

 

“I think that’s as good as it’s going to get. Does the hotel have a business center?” Chanel wanted to know because if the hotel didn’t then they would need to go to the library or an Internet café to print this out.

 

“Yeah, they do. We’ll print it out first thing in the morning. What time did your mother want to have lunch with you?” Xander asked as he kissed her neck.

 

Chanel told him that sitting on his lap wouldn’t be the best way to get their work done, but he wasn’t having it. He told her she was not allowed to sit on any other surface. She thinks that it took them so long to finesse his resume because they spent most of their time touching each other. She giggled more than she’d like to admit every time he placed a kiss on her shoulder or her arm.

 

But she didn’t dare want him to stop.

 

“I don’t know. I think the text said two o’clock in the afternoon but I’m not completely sure. Let me go check my phone.”

 

“No. Your phone is in your bag and your bag is on the table. you'd have to get up…”

 

 “We have to get up eventually. My surprise for you is in my bag. Are you telling me that you don’t want it anymore?” Chanel knew that she was going to win this round.

 

“Yer aff yer heid. Of course I want my surprise, but why does it have to be on the other side of the room?!” Xander didn’t want to let go of the moment, but he was very curious of what she had gotten him.

 

“OK, I’m multilingual but I did not understand that… What did you say?”

 

“Basically it means you're crazy.  If you say it slower and less like a Scotsman, it sounds like you are off your head. Sometimes it can mean someone being stupid, someone being too drunk, talking nonsense… i.e. someone like me.” Xander thought to himself that he definitely fit the definition lately.

 

“Okay, I get it. What would I like to know is am I going to be able to get up anytime soon? The quicker you let me do this the quicker I can come back. Honestly, we would be more comfortable on the bed.”

 

Xander knew that she was right. He made sure to save the file and create a copy. He tapped on her hip twice to let her know that they could get up.

 

As Chanel went to her bag to get her phone, Xander sat on the bed wondering if his surprise was on her phone. He thought that was a little weird.

 

“So it wasn’t an easy find but there’s this app called Libby. It connects you to libraries all over the country. As long as you have a library card with a library that is supported on the platform. You can check out their e-book collection. When we were having our conversation the night we got married, you talked about feeling like an outsider no matter how long you stay here. And I knew someone like that. I know how isolating it could be, sometimes just wanting someone to sound like you is such a simple thing to want but can be very difficult to come by. So I started scouring, I’m very good at that when it comes to books. So I’ve found some Scottish authors that I thought you might like. I was able to find some audiobooks narrated by Scottish people.” Chanel slipped her air pods in Xander’s ear.

 

She went to one of the titles and pressed play.

 

Xander listened to the audiobook. He laughed, he was actually listening to a book that was being narrated by someone from Scotland. If he had to venture a guess, he would think that they were from Glasgow. For the first couple of minutes, he didn't even pay attention to the story. He was just listening to a voice that wasn’t his.

 

It took him a second to see that this was a book by Ian Rankin. He read it in school when he was a kid. He listened for about 5 more minutes. He definitely wanted to continue but it had to be at another time.

 

“You found Scottish narrators for me?” This was probably the most peculiar surprise he's been given.

 

“Yeah, I was thinking about our conversation we had and how isolating it could be for you. Yearning for something that logically you know is difficult to come by. So I did something about it. Do you like your surprise?”  Chanel was a little anxious to know if he actually liked it.

 

She didn’t actually know if he enjoyed books or audiobooks. She hoped that he did because if he didn’t then the surprise would be a bust. She put in a lot of effort to finding the exact audiobooks that would make the surprise worthwhile. It was actually pretty daunting for her because most of the audiobooks were narrated by English people even though they were Scottish authors.

 

“Yeah, I more than like it. I’m sure it was difficult for you to find the books in the first place. I actually really enjoy Ian Rankin. I read a lot of his works back when I lived in Scotland. It’s a great way for me to enjoy books that I liked yesteryear and also feeling a little less homesick. This is probably the most thoughtful gift I’ve ever had. It’s so simple and yet it would be nothing that I would ever think of doing. Thank you.”

 

Xander showed his thanks with a kiss. He was thoroughly enjoying his surprise, but he had other things on his mind that he wanted to unwrap. His hand went to the cloth belt of her dress.

 

“Can I sweetheart?” Xander was asking permission to want more.

 

Chanel felt herself almost crumbling when she heard Xander call her sweetheart. His voice was so soft… almost as soft as his eyes. He was such a dynamic person because in the daytime you would never believe this was the same person.

 

“Yes, I want you too.”  Chanel lost her voice. Her words came out like a whisper.

 

She could feel the belt loosening. Normally she would be impatient, she would have ripped the buttons off of her dress, one of the reasons she didn’t was because she would hate herself after because it was one of her favorite dresses.

 

The other reason was Xander was taking his time unbuttoning her dress. He was unbuttoning it with care, it was something she didn't expect but it was something she liked for this moment. She was watching him watch her.

 

 If she had to take a guess on the expression, he was making… it felt like wonder. It made her shiver because he was looking at her with wonder.  

 

He carefully slid her dress off of her shoulders. he started to kiss a trail from her shoulder to her neck. Chanel’s breath came out as a sigh. Her hands had a light hold his head. She could feel him kissing along her jaw.

 

When he stopped, Chanel opened her eyes. They looked at each other with anticipation. He caressed her right cheek with his hand. They smiled at each other and said no words. He kissed her gently and held her face in his hands.

 

Chanel was disappointed when he broke away from their kiss.

 

“Sweetheart, lie down on the bed.”

 

Chanel thought her face was going to split from how wide her smile was. When Xander called her sweetheart, she felt like she was beaming. It made all of her skin hot… she let out a breath to calm herself.

 

Chanel got on all fours and slowly crawled on the bed until she was on her back. She had done it on purpose, she knew that Xander would be looking and nothing excited her more then making him want her.

 

Xander watched her as she crawled. He had one mind to rip off her underwear and take her from behind. He definitely was planning on doing that, but it would be at another time.

 

He licked his lips when he saw her all splayed out on his bed. Chanel tilted her head so she could see him.

 

She watched him gently pick up her foot and kiss her ankle. Her stomach tightened as he worked his way up. When he kissed her calf, she moaned out loud. It was always a sensitive place for her. When he tugged on her panties, she lifted her hips slightly so he could take them off.

 

It was like her thighs were in a competition with each other, she was counting which one got the most kisses. When he kissed her clit that made her roll her hips. He laughed at her when she whined.

 

“Don't tease me right now. I’ll kick you in the face.”  Chanel was at a point where she didn’t know if she meant it or not. She just knew that Xander better finish what he started.

 

“Well, seeing as how I only have two choices… Bury my face in this beautiful cunt or risk bodily injury… I think it’s safe to say…” Xander took a long lick, from the bottom all the way to her clit. “It's going to be your cunt every single time.”

 

When she felt his tongue on her pussy she almost shot up off the bed. She knew that silver tongue would be put to good use. She opened her legs wider and held his head. She could feel his tongue lapping on her clit... He was taking his time there… Giving it extra attention. Her first orgasm surprised her. It had been a while since she been with someone.

 

Xander could feel everything, he knew the precise point that she climaxed. He could feel her thigh tense and untense. He could tell that she wanted him to keep going because she had a firm grip on his head. She was pressing his face to her center wanting him to give her more. So that’s what he did.

 

He stuck his tongue inside of her slit and it was the best idea he had all day because he got to taste her. She had been so wet for him and that only made him harder than he already was. He slipped his tongue out so he could lick every part of her and brought his mouth back to her clit and started to suck on it which made Chanel scream.

 

He put his two longest fingers in her pussy and out of nowhere Xander felt the heel of her foot hit his back hard. It made him jump a little.

 

“Fuck! Baby do that shit again… oh!” Chanel squeezed her fingers tighter on Xander’s hair. "Do it again baby."

 

Xander chuckled but did as she asked. He licked a circle around her clit twice and then sucked hard as he curled his fingers and pressed on her G spot.

 

“Yes baby! Fuck I’m coming!”

 

The grip on Xander’s hair loosened. He could feel her thighs shake and he kissed her inner thigh which made a strangled noise come out of her mouth.

 

The intensity of Chanel’s climax pinned her in place. She felt like she couldn’t move. Every time she blinked, she swore that the ceiling was moving.

 

Xander kissed and nibbled his way up her body. He got greedy when he made his way to her breast. He pinched one lightly while he sucked on the other.

 

“You still have clothes on.”

 

Chanel’s words snapped Xander from the attention he was giving to her breast. He got so in the moment that he ignored taking off his clothes. He could definitely feel his dick straining against his pants. He just didn’t feel like stopping because of it.

 

“I was distracted from you lying naked in my bed. But I can remedy that.”

 

“Well if you get up, can you go in my bag and get a condom?”

 

He nodded and smiled, he definitely appreciated her being prepared.

 

He took off his shirt and threw it in the corner and started to unbutton his jeans… Of course now would be the time where he had trouble taking off his pants.

 

He could hear her laughing from the bed and he was going to make her pay for that later. When he finally was able to get out of his jeans he went to her bag and found a condom.

 

Chanel was propping up her head with her and watching him. She saw him rip the condom wrapper with his teeth as he hastily dropped his boxers.

 

She licked her bottom lip and then bit it as she saw him rolling the condom on his dick. She thought to herself if he was going to be broke at least he was packing heat. And if his cunnilingus skills were a preview of how the rest of this night was going to go, she thought that she was in great hands.

 

“Are you finished staring?” He started to walk over to the bed shamelessly.

 

“Not on your life.”

 

Xander bellowed out a laugh. He gave her a peck on the lips, but Chanel wasn’t done.

 

She wrapped her hand around his forearm and moved it towards her pussy. She opened her legs wider and he started to massage her.

 

They kissed as he fingered her, she pinched her nipple. She had decided that she had enough. She didn’t break their kiss, but she used one of her legs too nudge him closer to her. Xander got the drift, he teased her by rubbing his dick on her clit.

 

“You better fuck me right now. Do not play with me.”

 

When her eyes fluttered open, Xander could see the fury in them. He paid close attention, her eyes started to roll as he slid into her. The feeling of her warm walls closing in on his dick was amazing.

 

He didn’t move yet because he wanted to ensure she was ready.

 

He caressed her cheek and kissed her lips lightly.

 

“I’m ready baby.”

 

Chanel looked at him in his eyes to add veracity to what she said. She lifted her head from the pillows and gave him a kiss.

 

He smiled and started to move. He was slow at first but started to build in momentum when she kept asking for more.

 

“Rub my clit baby.” Chanel emphasized her point by digging her nails into his back.

 

Xander let out a hiss between his teeth. He thumbed her clit roughly and it was just the way Chanel liked it. He had her moaning and screaming in his face.

 

It only fueled his desire more to make her cum again. When she started to say she was close again, he pinched her clit lightly and angled his dick upward and it made her go cross eyed.

 

Her cunt squeezed him so tight that he came without being able to control it. He growled as his cum was filling the condom.

 

His mouth had been right under her ear so when she heard him growl, it was so loud, and she felt like she could come again just from hearing him.

 

He slipped out of her and tide up the condom and threw it away in the wastebasket.

 

Chanel felt empty when his body left hers.

 

Xander hadn’t planned on staying out of the bed long, he just wanted to make sure that he disposed of the condom. When he got back in the bed Chanel is reaching for him.

 

“I just need you to hold me for a couple minutes.”

 

“Darling, I’d hold you all night if that’s what you wanted.”

 

Xander took her hand and intertwined it with his.

 

They stayed cuddled together for about half an hour, but then Chanel wanted to actually get ready for bed.

 

She wasn’t sleepy or anything, but she did want to take a shower and wrap her hair and put it in a silk scarf, so it could lay the way she wanted it too.

 

They were in the bathroom together when Xander saw her attending to her hair.

 

“Darling, what are you doing?” He was curious because he's never seen something like this before.

 

“It’s called wrapping. I wrap my hair at night so it could be how I like it in the morning.” Chanel knew that this might be something completely new to Xander.

 

He most likely never dated a Black woman before and had no clue on how they care for their hair.

 

“Teach me how to do it.” He looked at her through the mirror.

 

He could sense her shock by the expression on her face through the mirror.

 

“You really wanna know?” Chanel was confused. She never had a man ask her that before… Black or otherwise.

 

He bent his head a little and kissed her neck and then hugged her middle.

 

“You're my wife. Of course I want to know.”

 

Chanel choked on her gasp, she knew that Xander could feel it.

 

“OK.”

 

Chanel showed him each step she took, from rubbing a little Jojoba oil on her scalp and her favorite hair serum through her hair. Then she showed him how to wrap her hair using a brush.

 

Xander paid close attention to every single step. He saw that she was meticulous. She likes to put on a mesh wrap hair protector, a silk scarf and a bonnet. She explained if her bonnet came loose, and she had her hair scarf.

 

Chanel felt very vulnerable showing Xander how she took care of her hair. It was something very personal to just about every Black woman, at least every Black woman that she knew.

 

They both ended up taking a shower and getting ready for bed. Neither were particularly tired, but it had been a long day. Xander had downloaded the Libby app on his own phone so he could listen to the audiobooks. He had only one of his air pods in.

 

He saw Chanel rubbing body butter all over her skin, she was silent. He reached out and rubbed circles on her back.

 

When Chanel was done, she got under the covers, she took a look over at him. She felt him rubbing his hand up and down her back. She got close to him and put her head on his chest. He had an arm around her and gave her a squeeze. She felt exposed to Xander, but she also felt safe for the first time in a long time. She placed a kiss on his chest and settled herself in.

 

They were going to have a big day tomorrow, but everything right now felt so right, and she hadn't felt that in a long time.

 

Chapter Text

When Xander woke up he saw that Chanel had her back to him. Even though she was pretty close, he felt like spooning with her. He put his arm around her waist and scooted closer to her.

 

“It seems that someone is happy to see me.” Chanel grounded her ass into Xander’s crotch.

 

She enjoyed rubbing on his erection.

 

“I thought you were still sleeping.” Xander jumped a little at the sound of his wife's voice.

 

Chanel pulled Xander’s arms to bring him even closer to her.

 

“I’ve been up for a little bit I just didn’t want to get out of bed. I do that a lot, even if I wake up… I’m the queen of the snooze button.” Chanel could set up 7 alarms, she would only get out of bed after the 7th one.

 

“Well I’m glad for that. This is a great way to start my day. Since I’m pretty sure by lunch it’s going to crash and burn.” Xander kissed her neck and gave her body a squeeze.

 

Chanel didn’t like where this was going so, she turned her body so she could see Xander.

 

“Baby, you can't go into this lunch with a defeatist attitude. We can’t lose the game before we play it. Maybe things don’t go our way but don't psych yourself out before it actually happens. I know you’re intelligent… I’ve seen articles talking about Titan’s new direction when you were CEO. You have to lean into that. Promise me that when we go into this meeting that you were going to be on like fucking Donkey Kong.” Chanel was completely serious.

 

If he went into a meeting with her mother with that kind of mentality, then of course he wasn't going to walk away with a job. Her mother wouldn’t think that he had the confidence or the drive to succeed and she knew that wasn't the case.

 

Xander appreciated the pep talk that Chanel was giving him. He definitely needed it because somewhere deep inside of him he felt like this meeting was going to be a disaster. Her mother was banking on them getting a divorce, so she wasn't going to be in the mind of an employer. But the way that Chanel makes her sound inside business never sleeps so he hopes that Paulina can see that he would be a good addition.

 

“You want me to be on like a video game character?” Xander never got tired of touching her. He placed his hand on the curve of her middle.

 

“It’s a saying from the 90s oh my goodness. It just means that you need to be ready. I think I have a good distraction that will hopefully get you in the right headspace.” Chanel pulled the condom that she had on the nightstand.

 

She ripped it open and pressed Xander down so he could be flat on his back. She ripped the sheet off of them and slid the condom on his dick followed by her pussy.

 

Xander thought he could pass out from the ecstasy of watching the expressions on her face as her cunt descended on his cock. He grunted loudly when she clenched around him.

 

“Goddamnit are you trying to kill me?!” Xander had a mind to flip them over an and fuck her until she begged for him to stop.

 

He was starting to rise when he felt her delicate hand press him back into the bed.

 

He was transfixed watching her, she didn’t move up and down yet she was swiveling her hips and the controlled movements and her clutching at him did a number on him, coupled with her biting her lip  and the furrowing her brow, it was so difficult for him to not just want to have his way with her.

 

“Baby, you know damn well I would never kill you while you're broke.” The words slipped out of Chanel’s mouth before she could catch them.

 

This was definitely not the response the Xander expected but it was the one that made him howl with laughter.

 

He just watched her go up and down. It was intoxicating to see her losing yourself. Every time he wanted to touch her, she batted his hand away. She slid the straps of her nighty down and Xander felt like he was on cloud nine with her breast on full display.

 

“Oh God… baby.  This dick is magic. I swear to God.” Chanel was rubbing her clit as she went up and down.

 

She threw her head back as she got lost in the sensation. She was so close, she felt like she was in a competition with herself.

 

As much as Xander wanted to touch her, he kept his hands to himself. He didn’t want to throw off her concentration. He would thrust his hips as she was coming down on him… He enjoyed it when she screamed in pleasure. He was mesmerized watching her breast bounce up and down.

 

“I’m going to fucking come… oh shit. Fuck…Fuck… Fuck!” Chanel’s whole body was shaking. Her mouth was open gasping, but her eyes were wound shut tight.

 

Xander sat up, he was still hard as a rock. But he was close.

 

“Go ahead baby make yourself come.” Chanel’s words came out breathlessly, but Xander understood everything she said.

 

Xander grabbed her from her hips and used his strength to make her go up and down his cock.

 

“Shit… I think I’m going to come again.”

 

“Darling, touch yourself.”

 

Chanel listened to Xander and started rubbing her clit.

 

“Yes! Just like that baby… You're fucking me so good.”

 

The sounds over their skin slapping against each other only made them more turned on.

 

Xander came like a freight train. His hands grabbed her hips tighter.  When his vision started to clear, her breasts were right in his face asking for attention. He took her right breast in his mouth and slowly swirled the nipple on his tongue and took a gentle bite.

 

Chanel was rubbing her clit furiously, when she felt him playing with her nipple it sent her over the edge. Her head fell in the space between his shoulder and neck.

 

She could feel him slipping out of her.

 

Xander tied the condom and threw it away in the wastebasket.

 

Chanel had her arms wrapped around his neck and her head pressed on his chest.

 

When she felt Xander’s hands on her back, it felt perfect. His hands were so warm. The chill blasting from the AC didn't feel as frosty anymore because she was pressed up against him. She felt him plant kisses on the edge of her shoulder.

 

Out of nowhere the door started pounding. It made Chanel’s whole body freeze. She couldn’t untense because the pounding was relentless. It was making her heart race and she started to get scared.

 

Xander could feel her whole body lock up.

 

“Baby, look at me it’s okay.” Xander was trying to calm her down as he picked up the straps to her nighty to slip over her shoulders. “I’m bloody coming.” Xander was pissed. He didn’t care who it was at the door, they shouldn’t have been knocking like that.

 

Xander was completely naked, he went to go find some boxers and sweats to put on so he could answer the door. He found Chanel’s robe and placed it in her hand so she could cover herself.

 

He went to go see who was at the door. He saw that it was Lani Price. They couldn’t get a morning of peace.

 

He opened the door with a sinister face. He was pissed the hell off.

 

“Are you bloody mad detective?!”

 

“I don’t have time for this.” Lani stepped into the room and saw that Chanel was in a robe. “You have your bonnet on?” Lani was incredibly surprised at Chanel being in her bonnet with Xander in the room.

 

“Yes I do. I have to make sure that my hair is on point. Why the fuck are you knocking on our door like the fucking Gestapo?” Chanel was pissed because it scared the hell out of her.

 

Xander closed the door and went straight for Chanel.

 

“I’d like to know the same. You bloody scared her half to death.” Xander couldn’t keep the growl out of his voice because he had been surprised at the pounding too.

 

Lani was surprised to see Xander being… protective over Chanel?!

 

“I scared you?! You know I would never mean to do that on purpose. I’m sorry. I am just shocked. You had to know that I would be coming.”

 

“I actually thought you were going to come yesterday.”

 

“I would have if someone could have watched the twins. Eli got called into work, so I was on my own. Nel, what are you thinking with this? Of all things to do… you marry Xander Kiriakis?” Lani was trying to make sense of it all because she could not believe her husband when he told her.

 

“Yes, we're married. If you think that you’re going to be more successful at trying to separate us, then I have some news for you. It’s not going to happen.”

 

Chanel knew that her mother would have been banking on Lani to be the one to try and get her to break away from this marriage.

 

“I just don’t understand this. Chanel you had been in town for so little time and you got married… to this man. You don’t even know him.”

 

“Seeing as how we are all family now –” Xander was trying to make this easier for Chanel, but he was interrupted before he could get his point across.

 

“You can just shut your mouth while I’m talking to my sister.” Lani was really not here to deal with any of Xander and his shenanigans.

 

The last thing she wanted was for Chanel to get caught up in any of Xander’s bullshit. Xander’s schemes tended to be illegal and she did not want Chanel to be embarrassed at the least and caught up in it at the most.

 

“Sister?!” Xander was surprised at this revelation.

 

“Yeah baby. Biologically we’re cousins but our grandmother was an only child just like us and thought it would be best to be raised together as sisters. We WERE supposed to lookout for each other.”

 

Lani nodded at Chanel's explanation but she thought about it. She doesn't have to explain anything to Xander Kiriakis.

 

“Nel, that’s exactly why I’m here, you don't need to be in this marriage. We have options you can get a divorce… it’ll be even better if you got an annulment, it’ll be like it never even happened.” Lani could help her with the paperwork. She was ready to do anything to make this go away.

 

“Our marriage exists, I fucking EXIST! There’s no way I would get an annulment ever! I’m also not divorcing my husband. You can have your fine ass husband and I’ll have mine.”

 

Xander puffed out his chest a little when his wife complimented his looks.

 

Lani clocked the body language between the two of them. This was going to be more difficult than she anticipated because it was clear that they were definitely fucking. And probably doing it often with how Chanel is defending Xander of all people.

 

“Detective I just have to know how my niece and nephew are doing?” Xander couldn’t help but antagonize Lani a little.

 

“They are fine. Thank you for asking” Lani just narrowed her eyes at this man.

 

Chanel was tired of having this conversation, but she had things to get off her chest with Lani. It was their personal business and she didn’t want Xander to know about it so she decided that she was going to speak German.

 

“You have some nerve to come here you know that! You’re talking about how you want to help me? Lani, you left twice. I forgave you the first time and we got even closer and then you left me again when I needed you the most. Now you want to play superhero in my life. I don’t need that. I can make my own choices and I don’t need approval from anyone about them.” Chanel felt herself starting to shake because she was so angry. She was letting years of resentment come out of her.

 

Xander looked on clueless on what to do. Chanel looked irate and Lani wasn't. He wonders what happened between them...

 

“I’m not perfect. I’m not going to pretend like I am.  Nel, there's so much that you have no clue about. I made a terrible mistake pulling away the first time. When Oma died, it was hard… and it was even harder because our mothers have a weird relationship and I don’t want to be caught in the middle. I didn’t want to be the reason their thing got worse. I did not know how to navigate that. Yes, I am the big sister, but I was young and I did not know how to handle it. And I’m sorry for that, I wish I could have made it better. I wish I had made different choices, but I didn't. I loved it when we got close again. I had to leave Miami. It was so difficult to make that decision especially with daddy dying. But I didn’t have a choice really. I had no prospects. I wasn’t going to get any promotions working there. The truth of the matter is I applied to so many different police departments and Salem was one of the few that one of my bosses did not have any connections with. He wanted me to sleep with him in order to have my promotion. I refuse to do it. I couldn’t do it… it went against all of my ethics and I just did not want to sleep with that man. It was a long shot that I was even going to get a job with another police department, but Salem took a chance on me and I had to come. I could barely afford to live in Miami. I had no savings, and my boss made sure that I wasn’t going to go anywhere unless I gave him what he wanted. I started over here. I was able to actually have a bank account without overdrafting by accident. I didn’t have to worry about P and my mom fighting because of something I did. I came back. I actually came back to Miami because it was a long two years and I wanted to see you again. I was willing to try and just take P on her offer to give me a condo. And deal with the consequences with my mom. But you were gone –”

 

“You came back?!” Chanel was in complete shock because she did not know that Lani went back to Miami for anything other than the holidays.

 

Xander was looking back and forth between the two of them. He had no clue what they were saying, but it was clear to him that they were speaking in German.

 

“Yes I did. I tried to contact you so many times, but you blocked me on everything. After a while I gave up and I came back to Salem. And honestly, it’s been the best choice for me. I’m happy. I have an amazing husband. I have kids that I adore. I feel like I don’t have a ceiling that has been created for me here. But I am glad that you’re here. I would love to share that with you if that’s something you want to do too… Oma would want us to be together, it looks a little different, but she said that we have to stick together. Maybe when she meant that she was taking care of us… it meant that she loved us enough to plant seeds, but we have to be the ones to grow and nurture it. I know we have so many things to work through. But I want to. I know how important it is to have family. You don’t know what it’s like to have you and P here with me. It means everything… it’s like having a piece of home with me. Having people who understand me in a way that other people can't. I know you… And I love you.”

 

Chanel couldn’t stop the tears because she felt like she was in the dark about so much. She didn’t know about Lani having to deal with sexual harassment. She only knew about the nepotism. It made so much more sense now.

 

She wished that she knew then but there's something so personal and there’s so much pride in her sister … she wouldn't admit something like that at the time. She always thought Lani was this superhero. She didn’t have powers like x-ray vision but it always seemed like Lani had all the answers.

 

She was starting to see that Lani didn't have the answers, you have to make difficult decisions at the time you make them and have to live with the consequences of those choices whatever they are.

 

“You’re right. Oma would want us to work this out. We have so much to work through. I wish you were able to tell me back then and I completely respect why you didn’t. And I shouldn’t have blocked you from everything. I was just so hurt and upset. I completely got why you needed to come to Salem and I was so proud of you for being able to find a place that would appreciate your talents. It was just really horrible with what happened to my dad. I was massively depressed and it was hard to lose you being there. I wasn’t in my right mind a lot. Sometimes I still don’t think I am in my right mind. But I’m figuring it out just like you did. I know that it’s a lot to ask but it would mean a lot if you supported my marriage. I know that I have not known Xander long. But he’s my husband and he’s going to stay as my husband. Obviously, we know that my mother doesn’t approve, but can you at least try?”

 

Lani thought it was a tall order to ask of her because of all of the things that Xander has done.

 

“He’s dangerous. Obviously his wealth and his looks are probably very attractive to you, but he has done terrible things. But he also helped save my children. I still don’t think that he deserves you. I don’t think he’s worthy of you. You could do so much better. But on Oma, I’m going to try because I don’t want to lose you over it. I love you too much to let you slip through my fingers again.”

 

Chanel kept her mouth shut on Xander's wealth or lack thereof.

 

“Thank you for attempting to try Lala.”

 

Lani hadn’t heard that nickname in years and it made her smile. Which was nice because the both of them had tears running down their face.

 

She couldn’t believe that she was crying and she had an audience of Xander. It did help that he had no clue what they were saying.

 

The two of them came together and gave each other a hug.

 

Lani turned her attention to Xander.

 

“If you hurt her. I promise you that you won’t even see me coming. I will hunt you down and shoot you where you stand.”

 

“Is that any way to speak to your new brother?”  Xander was a little nervous because Lani said it with her arm around his wife and Chanel was pretty silent.

 

“I said what I said.  And you better believe that Chanel will not protect you. If anything she'll be digging your grave because we bury bodies together. So do not try me by trying her.” Lani just smiled on. She could tell that she got her point across. “Nel, I have to go… Eli is going to have to head into work soon so I have to get back to the twins. I hope you’re going to be seeing them sometime soon.”

 

“I will. Please wish me luck because I’m having lunch with my mom later. I’m bringing Xander.”

 

Lani started laughing because it was definitely going to be something that Auntie P was going to tell her whether she wanted to know or not.

 

“All I can say is get the best tasting things on the menu because you are definitely going to need it.” That was the only advice that Lani could give.

 

The type of disgust that her aunt had for Xander… it meant that that lunch was going to be something wild.

 

Chanel walked Lani to the door. They said their goodbyes and Chanel promised to text.

 

Xander was starting to see just how much sway and influence that Lani had over Chanel. It certainly was more than her mother.

 

“You let her threaten me with death?” Xander was being playful. He came closer to her and put his hands on her shoulders.

 

“Yeah baby, it would be a mercy because my mom would torture you endlessly if you hurt me. You helped rescue Lani’s kids?”

 

Xander was actually happy to help when he heard about their twins being kidnapped. He smiled and told her about what happened.

 

“Well, I know you didn’t know me then. But thank you.” She was grateful that he was able to be a help to them.

 

“Of course darling. Today I find you speak German. Did you spend some years living there too and pick up the language?”

 

“Absolutely not.” The way Xander heard her say it, it was like she had such a deep distaste. “My grandmother was German. She’s the one that I was talking about. She made me and Lani learn it so she could have someone to talk to the way that she used to. She was in a new place with a heavy accent. My dad didn’t speak it with her as much as she would like. It was really hard for him to do.”

 

“Well I think it’s splendid that you know. I was mighty confused with you battling back and forth with Lani but quite turned on by my nerdy wife.”

 

Chanel rolled her eyes but smiled at his comment.

 

“Lani said that she’s going to try and support us. She said that you don’t make it easy but she’s going to at least give it a shot for me.  But I don’t want to think about any of that anymore. I would like to make out with you before we have to start getting ready.”

 

“Your wish has been granted Mrs. Kiriakis.” Xander picked her up and carried her back to the bed.

 

They were going to spend this time happy and carefree because soon they would be locking horns with her mother and most likely was going to be fireworks.

Chapter Text

 

Xander made sure to go to the business center before they left the hotel so he could print out a couple of copies of his resume. Since they were going to eat at Julie's Place, it made no sense for them to bring the car because it wasn't a far walk.

 

As they were leaving, Chanel heard someone calling out for Mrs. Kiriakis.  It took her a couple of seconds to realize that she was Mrs. Kiriakis.

 

“I’m so sorry to bother you about this Mrs. Kiriakis. I wanted to do it discreetly, but I regret to inform you that I have a couple of complaints from other guests.” The front desk agent was absolutely terrified to get on the bad side of a powerful family. But she also had a job to do, and Mrs. Kiriakis seemed to be very fair the last time they interacted so she thought if she came with respect then maybe things would workout.

 

Xander had just come from the business center and saw his wife talking to the receptionist at the front desk and wondered what was going on. He knew that soon he was probably going to have to find new living accommodations.

 

He walked up and went next to Chanel wondering what was going on. When front desk agent saw that Xander Kiriakis was next to Chanel, she got a little afraid. This man was known to be very ‘temperamental’. She really hoped that she did not invoke his passion in front of everyone in the lobby.

 

“I’m sorry that I even have to say this because it's slightly embarrassing. However we have gotten several complaints about loud… um amorous behavior.” The front desk agent was mortified to have to tell them this. Her manager told her that she could probably just write a note, but it seemed a little unprofessional and she didn't want it to be seemingly passive aggressive. She knew that she had to tread very carefully with a family like the Kiriakis family.

 

 Chanel was very thankful for the melanin she had right now. She felt her whole body was heated right now from hearing that people could hear Xander fucking her.

 

Xander placed his hand on the lowest part of her back. Part of his hand was touching her ass and he was tempted to give it a squeeze, but he did not want to incite her rage right now.

 

“Oh… Um…” Chanel always prided herself on having a huge vocabulary, but right now she had no clue on what she should say.

 

Xander at first was quite pleased with himself that they got complaints about how audible he could make his wife. When he started to feel her shake, he could see that this was something that made her nervous or embarrassed.

 

“We apologize, we did not mean to inconvenience any other guests. It’s entirely my fault. I’ll make sure that it doesn’t happen again. Thank you.” Xander decided to take the lead so Chanel could collect herself.

 

“I’m really sorry Mrs. Kiriakis. You’re always so sweet to me, I really hope you’re not mad at me.”

 

“Of course not. You’re just doing your job and I get that it’s hard. You have to appease a lot of people here and it can get to be challenging. Don’t worry you’re still my favorite person here Andrea.” Chanel meant it because Andrea was the one that put in the note to not have alcohol sent to the hotel room.

 

Andrea nodded and Chanel waved bye to her. Xander gave a curt nod, and they left the hotel.

 

Chanel found Xander’s hand and interlock their fingers. It made Xander smile. He gave her the folder he had with his resume so she could put it in her bag.

 

“Baby, is it a far walk to this restaurant?” Chanel remembered that Xander said it was close but close while walking in heels is different than close and walking in sneakers.

 

“It's only a couple of blocks away. If it was more than a 5-minute walk I would have taken the car.” He knows that she likes look good in heels not suffer in them.

 

He also knew that he wouldn’t be hearing the end of it if they ended up walking forever.

 

When they finally got to Julie’s Place, he opened the door and she walked in. The only thing on his mind was she was wearing that dress out. He thought that she looked ridiculously gorgeous. It didn’t make any sense to him, it wasn’t as if she was wearing a gown, she was wearing a dress but something about it on her made him go crazy.

 

Chanel spotted her mother and went over to her table. Xander followed suit. When they got there, he helped her into her seat before sitting down himself.

 

Paulina looked at them and thought she was encountering a whole other couple. The last time she saw these two together they didn't even know each other's names. Now she sees Xander helping her daughter into a seat? She felt like she was in the twilight zone.

 

“Hi mama, how are you?” Chanel was trying to be polite because she didn't know how long it was going to last, but she was going to try nonetheless.

 

“I’m doing well. Thank you for asking. I would be doing even better once I know the date that you will be filing for divorce. When is that going to be?” Paulina was thinking that this lunch was going to be between her daughter and herself.

 

She was surprised to see the Xander was here. She felt something was afoot.

 

“About that…” Chanel started but she was not actually sure of how she was going to get her point across.

 

“Well you see mum... We have decided that divorce is not in the cards for us.” Xander had no problem telling his mother-in-law what their status was.

 

“What did I tell you about calling me mom?” Paulina felt like this man was trying to get on her last nerve.

 

“Mom, he’s right. We’re not getting a divorce. I actually brought him here because I think he would be a great addition to your business.” Chanel went in her bag and got the folder with Xander’s resume.

 

She gave it to her mother and hoped that her mom could think like a businesswoman.

 

“Why are you bothering me with this? I thought he was supposed to be the answer to all of your problems Chanel. Now you're telling me that you want him to have a job with me in my company?”

 

“I do have executive experience. I recently was the CEO of Titan Industries. If you take a look at my resume –” Xander wanted to talk about his accomplishments that he was able to achieve while he was at Titan.

 

“Well let me stop you there. You might have had a turn at being CEO of Titan. Good for you, but I’ve been checking about you. You’re not there anymore. See I heard the streets talking about you Xander.” Paulina was still trying to come to grips with what she learned about him.

 

“I think I could be of real help to you. You want to expand in Salem, and I’ve been living here for a while now and I can help with that—”

 

“Oh honey. I don’t need help like yours. Your resume looks good… I will not deny that. I’m sure that you worked long and hard on it. But does my daughter know that you used to be an international diamond smuggler?”

 

Chanel looked at Xander wondering what the hell her mother was talking about?! Then she saw the expression on his face and knew that he was guilty of what her mother was accusing him of.

 

“Mom—”

 

“Here you were wanting a sugar daddy and got stuck with this unemployed loser. And now you want me to give him a job? You want me to reward your questionable behavior?!”

 

“First of all he would be a Xaddy. Get it, because his name…” When the joke ran flat Chanel changed gears. “Mom he's not a loser. He is good at business and I’m just asking you to give him a fair shake he is ready to tell you about his qualifications and skills.”

 

“Oh I heard about his skills. He was involved with a Mexican cartel? Or the fact that he used a pharmacy as cover to launder money while he was smuggling diamonds? Do you know this about your hubby?” Paulina wanted to drive it home to her daughter that this man that she was with… was not it.

 

Chanel felt cold all over. Some of it was from the fact of being given all of this information by surprise. It was also from the fact that this restaurant was so cold, and she was wearing a dress with cutouts.

 

Xander could see goosebumps on her skin, and it made him worried because he thought that it was because she was learning about his past. He took off his sweater and gave it to her without her even asking him to.

 

Paulina was thrown at Xander taking the sweater off of his back and giving it to her daughter. It almost seemed as if Xander cared about her daughter which she found hard to believe.

 

“Mom, he's a good candidate. Why won’t you give him a chance? You don’t even need to give him the job, but you could at least treat him like a candidate. If dad were here, he would give him a fair shake.” Chanel could feel her temper rising because so many things were unsettled, and Xander needed to find something.

 

“Frida Chanel von Bruckner Dupree, you will never have to tell me what Freddie would or would not do. Everything that I do and how I approach his business as well as mine is always to have his reputation at the forefront of everything that I do. Your husband is simply unemployable. And I’m not even trying to say this to hurt you. The last thing I ever would want to do is hurt you, but I need to let you know the truth. You know if your father was alive, he would not hire him. Your father’s family, both sides only had their pride and their honor. That’s how your father conducted himself in business and that’s how I do it too. I promise you we can work things out, but you have to make a decision. I’m willing to help you get on your feet, but you have to get a divorce.” Paulina closed her eyes for a second. Talking about her husband always made her a little emotional.

 

She ran all of the businesses above reproach because her husband wouldn't expect anything less.

 

Xander felt all of the faith that he had going into this meeting disintegrated. He thought that Chanel would take her mother up on that offer. She would be able to have money again and not have to worry about much anymore.

 

“Xander isn’t a saint. Mama, I don’t need him to be. Yes, he has done stupid and terrible things in the past, but he also helped rescue Lani’s kids. That’s OUR family… And for that alone I know that my grandmother would approve of him. If you don’t want to hire him fine. I’m exercising my rights under my father’s estate to have housing here. You will have no choice but to grant me that. If you want to throw legal hurdles in my way to go against me… We will figure it out, we’ll move to Miami because it would just be easier there at my condo. But I am trying to honor a promise that I made to my grandmother. Lani and I are together again, like we were supposed to be but I’m going to have to do what’s right for me.”

 

Xander was shocked that his wife had a condo and that she was sticking with him even after finding out about his past. She was playing hardball with her mother which impressed him.

 

Paulina started to feel a little guilty because Frida was the one that was there. She was the one who took care of her daughter. The woman was always going on about how Lani and Chanel needed to be raised together because she didn't have any siblings.

 

This was why Paulina was in Salem. She was trying to reconnect. Having Chanel here made it even better, she couldn’t even think about what it would mean if Chanel put distance between the two of them. It killed her to think about having an even more acrimonious relationship with her daughter. She knew that she could lose her and that was the last thing she ever wanted.

 

“You really did pay attention to stipulations?! You know that it doesn’t include the cost of living or things like property taxes or insurance?”

 

“Yes, I know that mother. Just the house itself and everything within it. My husband and I will figure that out. It will cost of significantly less in the long run.” Chanel knew that her mother would do her best to try and counter her, but she was ready.

 

“You are right he did help get the twins back. For that I commend him on. However, I can’t give him a job. Not with the kind of standards your father set out. Find the property you want and let me know. Be mindful that it is something that you can afford. Upkeep and property taxes will sneak up on you and seeing as how your sugar daddy has no sugar… decide wisely.”

 

“What’s the catch?” Chanel knew that her mom had to have some kind of ulterior motive. She wondered if she was going to do some reverse psychology on her.

 

“There is no catch. Chanel you are my daughter. I am not pleased with the decisions you have made. Your marriage being the biggest one however I know that your father wouldn't want this for us, and your grandmother would probably be pestering me until I helped you. I have to do what’s right for the businesses, but lord help me now. I have to do what’s right for this family. Find some properties that you like, and we'll figure it out from there.” Paulina took a deep breath. Why was there no playbook on how to do these things? “Xander I’m only going to say this once, I don’t trust you, I don’t like you, but you have a hold on my daughter. One that I am afraid of you exercising to take her away from me. If you do anything to hurt my daughter and I do mean anything, you’ll see that you have never had an adversary like me.”

 

“I’d never do anything to take her away from you. I have lived many years with neither my mum nor dad and I don’t wish that ever for my wife.” Xander said.

 

He felt a great wave of sadness that washed over him. One that his wife and mother-in-law took notice of.

 

Even though Paulina felt the slightest bit of sadness seeing how affected this man was by the loss of his parents, he was still Xander Kiriakis. Paulina was going to let them play house. She was hoping by giving Chanel what she wanted, Chanel would see that she could do so much better than Xander Kiriakis. Her daughter might be infatuated, but that won’t last long. Just like you can fizzle in a snap it can be cold. She would be waiting in the wings for her daughter.

 

“Well, I’m not really hungry anymore. So I’m going to go.” Chanel had no desire to eat anymore, she really didn’t want to be in public right now because she felt like she was going to break a little.

 

Xander got up quickly and helped her out her seat. He didn’t dare touch her because he wasn't sure if that's what she wanted right now.  When they got outside, she paused for a second.

 

“Now that you know some more about my past are you afraid to hold my hand?” Xander knew that even though she had defended him in there it didn’t mean anything when it was just the two of them.

 

Chanel looked at him with eyes filled with unshed tears. Her hands were shaking but she reached over and interlocked her hand with his.

 

“We need to go home right now. I don’t want to talk about it here.” Chanel didn’t even know if she was going to be able to rein in her emotions before they got back to the hotel.

 

Now she wishes that they brought the car because she could at least have cried and feel a little bit better because the windows were tinted.

 

Xander walked her back to the hotel swiftly. Even though the hotel wasn’t far it felt like one of the longest walks he’s ever had in his life. When they got back to the hotel they went straight for their room.

 

If Xander thought that the quiet from a couple of days ago was maddening, this was ten times worse.

 

When they got to the room the first thing Chanel did was take off her shoes. Walking so fast in the heels were terrible for her feet.

 

The silence between them stretched. Xander was clueless on what to do so he decided to stay on the opposite side.

 

He was just watching her wondering what was going to happen.

 

“Why the fuck would you let me get surprised with that shit?!” Chanel was furious on multiple fronts, but she had wished that Xander told her this instead of learning it from her mother.

 

“I –”

 

“You couldn't be that naive to believe that my mom wouldn't have found that stuff out. This is what Lani meant isn’t it? When she was calling you dangerous… this is what she meant by it.”

 

Xander had no clue what Chanel and Lani were talking about because they were speaking in a completely different language.

 

“Well she does know about my past because I have an extensive rap sheet.”

 

“That's just great. That’s what my mom meant by you were unemployable. Why didn’t you tell me?! We worked so long and hard on the resume and you didn’t think to tell me any of this! Xander, it’s one of the most common questions on job interviews and on job applications to ask if someone's been convicted of a crime. You’re telling me that you have an extensive rap sheet. Why would you hide that? I don’t know how to combat that if I don’t know! I’m mad as hell that you did it. I could tell that you did it from how guilty you looked, but I’m even more mad you said shit and let us walk into an ambush. Obviously, you’re not doing it anymore because you’re fucking broke.” Chanel had more to say… she could go all day and night.

 

Xander had to bite his tongue because he hated when his past was thrown in his face.

 

“Now that you know who I was, are you going to leave?! I can’t deny that I did those things because I did. I did even more than what your mom told you. I did a lot of fucked up shit… Sometimes even when I knew I was making the wrong decision I did it anyways.” Xander didn’t care anymore because what was the point. He didn’t bother hiding his anger.

 

He was sure that she could finesse her mother and go back to her lifestyle that she was used to.

 

“I’m so fucking mad at you. But I’m most mad at you right now for thinking that I’m trying to leave! Xander even when I had no clue what the fuck was happening while we were sitting there, I was clear! I said I’m not getting a divorce. I want you to tell me everything. I wanna hear it from you because I don’t wanna be surprised by other people talking about you. I don’t want them to try and use ammunition. That’s what my mom did today, she knew that she could because she knew that you didn’t tell me. Before you tell me, I need to know… Is the ring that I’m wearing a conflict diamond?”

 

“Darling, I promise that it’s not… it was ethically sourced from Canada.”

 

Chanel nodded and she was grateful that she wasn’t wearing a conflict diamond on her hand.

 

“Good. That’s one thing out of the way. Xander why did you do those things?”

 

“I ran a diamond smuggling ring and I used a fake pharmacy as cover for it. I was laundering money for my uncle. I’ve been trying to prove myself to him for such a long time. I’ve always been on the outside looking in with my family and I was always trying to be reliable for him. But the thing about doing shit like that is that it puts a target on your back. You’re constantly dealing with large flows of money or commodities that run as currency. It didn’t matter to me because at the end of the day I was just trying to get that old man to see that I’m just as good as anyone else in the family. I’ve screwed up a lot in my life and he’s bailed me out. That’s why I tried to be successful with my criminal operations. But I got busted and I lashed out. My uncle wanted nothing to do with me which meant I didn’t have his protection anymore, I was dealing with unsavory characters who I owed money to so that’s when I worked with the cartel because I needed fast money to pay my debts. And with the kind of debtors that I had it's not one that can go unpaid. When I became the CEO of Titan, I was the happiest I’ve ever been because it was finally as if my uncle trusted me to be apart of the legitimate family. I didn’t feel like I was on the outside looking in so much anymore. The feeling didn’t last long because of course his son comes back in the picture and it didn't take long before I knew I was going to have to take a backseat no matter how good I was at the job.” Xander was only giving her an abbreviated version, he wanted to get the biggest chunks out of the way first.

 

“So I was right… you would really do anything to get that man to love you?! No wonder you do these things. He made you into a criminal and then you do all this illegal shit and get popped for it. It doesn’t negate that I think it was incredibly stupid for you to do those things. But that’s me thinking logically. I can understand why you did it, in a weird way you were trying to prove your love and loyalty to Victor. I just hate it because you’re so intelligent and you got caught up in that and you’ve been running your whole adult life, haven't you?”

 

Xander never really tried to examine why he does the things he does. Both of his parents were dead and the closest thing that he had was Victor and it was a constant battle, he never measured up because there was always some new plateau to hit.

 

“Yeah, I guess. I can’t blame it all on him though. I still made a choice to do it. I wanted the high life like my cousins, and I was willing to do it through nefarious means. The only thing is once you get in, it’s really difficult to navigate your way through. It’s so easy to end up in debt with someone and you're always clamoring to try and pay that debt and sometimes you find someone else took over your debt or your debt was sold and you’re dealing with crazy bastards. It was an endless cycle, but I’m lucky to be alive with the kind of people I was dealing with. Lani is right I’m dangerous. Is that something you want to deal with?” Xander was trying to push her for an answer because he'd rather know now if she was leaving.

 

He didn’t want to get comfortable with anyone because it was a constant revolving door.

 

“Is anyone after you now?”

 

“No. I handled all of my debts. I’m pretty sure that’s one of the only reasons that Victor even thought about having me run Titan.”

 

“Then I’m not leaving. But I want you to tell me everything. I don’t want a CliffsNotes version. I want to know every detail.”

 

Xander had decided to tell her everything from the time that he was a kid until now. He didn’t want to leave any stone unturned because she was right, when people found out about them… she was bound to be bombarded with his past.

 

Xander told her to order room service because it was going to take awhile.

 

He felt like he was confessing every sin he ever committed.

 

After he admitted to everything he did, including things that he did before he ever came to Salem, all Chanel said was OK.

 

He didn’t know what to do after that. The room was coated with silence. He wanted to know what she thought, even if she was angry, he wanted that versus the stillness. There was something chaotic about the silence in the room. It made him nervous because he didn’t know what to expect.

 

It was like that for hours, the only bit of hope that he had was that she didn’t leave the room. They got ready for bed and he just got in and just wanted to forget the day.

 

He felt her get in, but he didn’t reach for her because it just felt weird to do that now.

 

Chanel was just trying to wrap her head around everything he told her. It was longer than a laundry list. Some of it made her shocked. she needed time to process everything he was telling her because it was not something you could just do in one moment.

 

When she got in the bed, she saw his back turned towards her. She scooted herself closer to him and placed a kiss to his back and put her arm around his middle.

 

Xander turned and looked at her.

 

“I’m not going to leave. Do you understand that baby? I’m not going to leave.” Chanel held his face with her hands.

 

She pressed her lips to his for a long moment.

 

Xander nodded, he placed his head on her chest and hugged himself to her.

 

“I’m right here baby.” Chanel ran her fingers through his hair.

 

“You looked beautiful today.” Xander didn’t know why he waited until now to say it. He just felt like he should.

 

“I’m glad you thought so. I need you to promise me one thing…”

 

“What is it sweetheart?”

 

“You know I want a certain way of living however I don’t want you sliding back into a dangerous life to accommodate that... Please just promise me that the business you attend to will be legit.”

 

Xander had no plans of getting back into that world even if Chanel hadn’t asked. He was lucky to be alive and that is mostly due to the fact that no one will cross Victor Kiriakis.

 

“I promise you that I won’t.”

 

She felt him holding on to her tighter. They had one little set back, but she wasn't going to let it stop her from moving forward. They were going to figure it out and it was going to be together.

Chapter Text

When Xander awoke, he saw that he didn’t stray away from Chanel. His head was on a pillow now, but he was right next to her.

 

He let his eyes adjust to the light and saw that she was on her phone.

 

“Good morning.”

 

Chanel got spooked when she heard Xander’s voice. She still thought he was asleep.

 

“Oh my god, you scared me. I was wondering when you were going to be up…” Chanel said as she put her phone down back on the nightstand.

 

She turned towards him, now they were both on their sides looking at each other.

 

She reached out and pulled on his earlobe. She had no reason for it. She just felt like it.

 

Xander laughed even though it was kind of weird that she did that. But it was something that he enjoyed because it was unpredictable. He smiled at her. He felt in better spirits considering everything that happened yesterday.

 

“Is it late?” He felt the sun was out but he had no clue what the time was and he didn't feel like searching for his phone or watch.

 

 “No not really. It’s just I’ve noticed that you tend to wake up early… Even when you were drunk.”

 

“Well, I used to wake up early because I used to have a job that required me to do so. I guess my body hasn’t gotten used to developing a new sleeping pattern now that I’m unemployed.” It was little things like this that drove home to Xander that he walked away from the biggest opportunity he's ever had.

 

Sometimes he doesn’t know if he regrets doing it. If he still had his job at Titan, then it would make things much easier now.

 

“Maybe not.” Chanel had ideas. She had been up for about half an hour and her mind was always buzzing.

 

“What do you mean?! Darling, I’m not going to ask my uncle. I have done with you asked… I’ve met with my uncle and I’ve met with your mother and I really can’t deal with sitting through an hour trying to rein in my anger.” Xander didn’t even know why he subjected himself to doing it in the first place.

 

He should’ve told her no from the get-go.

 

“Take off your boxers and sit up.” Chanel’s voice came out quiet but confident.

 

Xander was confused… but he was wondering where she was going with this. He was battling morning wood, but they were having a conversation and one that he wanted to get his point across.

 

He had his back against the headboard. He watched her get up. Before he could say anything, he saw her pulling at the hem of her nighty.

 

He felt her soft hand caressing his dick a couple of times before she was guiding him into her.

 

“Darling, we didn’t get a condom.” Even though Xander loved the feeling of nothing between them. She had been adamant before about condom, so he wasn't going to disrespect her choices.

 

“It's OK. I’m on birth control and we’re both clean. I just want to feel you.” Chanel didn’t move… she didn’t want to.

 

She just kissed him from his shoulder to his ear and then along his jaw. Then she peppered kisses all over his face.

 

Then she kissed the place that she wanted to most. She couldn’t get enough of kissing him.

 

Xander knew that he wasn’t the best with impulse control. His first inclination was to seek out pleasure, but something about what they were doing was more than that. Every time they kissed… he smiled. Even when he could feel her cunt squeezing him, most likely with no conscious thought, he didn’t do anything other than hold her to him.

 

It was only a couple of minutes, but it felt longer.

 

When Chanel had her fill of him, she got on all fours and stared back at him.

 

He made sure to not leave anything on the table and he fucked her like it would be the last time he'd ever do it. But this was different than the other times they had sex. She was moaning and screaming into a pillow to stifle her sounds.

 

Then he remembered before all the drama with her mother. They had gotten noise complaints over their bedroom activities. He found that he didn’t like her holding back.

 

He liked hearing her voice the pleasure he was giving her.

 

He was surprised as she got up as soon as he finished climaxing to go to the bathroom. He heard the shower running and he felt all of his momentary energy being tapped out. He was hungry and he wanted to order some room service.

 

He got the menu and reached over for the phone to put in an order.

 

“What are you doing?” Chanel asked as she removed her towel and neatly folded it.

 

Xander was momentarily flummoxed because he was distracted by Chanel in her nakedness.

 

“I—I was trying to order us some breakfast but now I can't help but stare.”

 

Chanel just went about her business and started to get dressed.

 

“Maybe we should find a place to get breakfast. It’s going to be cheaper and I would think by now you’d be over everything on that menu. I’m sure you’ve tried everything it numerous times.”

 

It was a pretty good idea to try and find somewhere outside to eat because it would be more affordable for them. Especially since he made a whole scene about ordering from the room service menu.

 

“Are you sure you don’t want Lobster Benedict?”

 

“I’ve had their Lobster Benedict and I can make it better than they can. I saw this diner and it looked pretty good and it had high ratings. Have you ever been to a place called Carl’s diner?” Chanel had been doing some research about places to eat they had high ratings and didn’t burn a hole through the pocket.

 

“Well… you’re just going to have to make me your Lobster Benedict so I can compare. I haven’t heard of this Carl’s diner, but it would be nice to get out and go somewhere I haven’t been before. Let me go get ready.” Xander got out of the bed and started to make a beeline for the bathroom.

 

As Xander got ready, Chanel was trying to figure out what she wanted to wear. Even though she didn't like to wear the same colors back to back… she was in such a mood to wear her fitted houndstooth dress with the leather collar.

 

It was sleeveless mini dress with a slit in the leg. She loved wearing it because she looks so good in it. She decided she wanted a pop of color and got her mustard pumps. She finished getting ready and just waited for Xander.

 

She had been on the phone when she heard the door to the bathroom open.

 

She could feel a little bit of the heat escaping the bathroom. Xander was walking to the dresser not paying her any attention.

 

She put her phone down and admired the view.

 

Xander took off the towel because his body was dry. It was not as if it was something to hide from her because she seen him naked.

 

He slipped on his boxers and took a look at her. He started to snicker when he noticed that she was full on checking him out. He could see the lust in her eyes and it was hard for him to still want to go outside.

 

Chanel had packed her bag and made sure to bring her computer and charger because they were going to need it.

 

“You ready?” Xander may try to get everything he was going to need. He got his wallet and the keys to the car.

 

When Chanel had gotten up, Xander was able to see her whole outfit and it was a big mistake. She was wearing completely different dress and yet he felt the same way as he did yesterday.

 

“Yeah I am. I was waiting on you… I’m so hungry. Somebody worked me into an appetite.” Chanel bit her lip.

 

“Like you're one to talk. All I want to do is rip that dress from the slit and not leave this room.”

 

 “Never on your life will you ever rip this dress. You might be throwing it down in bed, but my wardrobe is carefully curated and this is one of my favorite dresses. If you even think about it… I won’t be tracing my tongue across your body and lick every inch tonight.” She picked up her bag from the table and started to go for the door.

 

Xander’s eyebrows raised to his hairline. Damn her for putting that in his head… he wasn’t going to be able to think about anything else.

 

He shook his head and went for the door to open it. He asked her if she would like him to hold the tote she was carrying.

 

She smiled at him casually wanting to hold her bag for her.

 

They got into the elevator and quickly made their way for the exit to the parking garage.

 

Xander had no clue where this Carl’s diner was so he used the GPS system to guide him there. It took them about 10 minutes to get there… The diner was on the edge of Salem.

 

After he helped Chanel out of the car, they went into the diner and saw a few patrons. Xander was glad that he wasn't encountering anyone he knew here. He actually never heard of anyone speaking of this place so it wasn’t that farfetched for him to believe that they could enjoy their anonymity here.

 

The hostess quickly got them a table and told them that their server will be with them shortly.

 

They took a look at the menu and as soon as the server came, they put in their orders. The good thing about going to a diner is that usually the food doesn't take long to arrive. It was a good thing for them both because they were starving.

 

As they ate… Xander couldn’t help but replay yesterday in his mind. Not every single moment but he remembered Paulina saying Chanel’s whole name.

 

“Your name is Frida?” Xander said as he casually ate his eggs.

 

“Yes, but I don’t go by Frida. In German naming customs, if two people have the same name then the way to differentiate them, usually is to go by a middle name or a family name. So even though my name has been Frida my whole life… no one really calls me that. I was named after my grandmother but it’s more than that.” Only her father called her Frida sometimes...

 

“What do you mean that?”

 

“So my grandmother’s name is Frida. And I was named after her. But everyone in my grandmother's family has the same name. It kind of just happened. It’s very common to have father and son have the same first name and go by the middle name or a nickname of sorts.”

 

“Okay, I get it much better now, I think. When we visited my uncle. You had all this information about the author von Bruckner. My uncle challenged you on how you had information that nobody he has ever worked with has known. He questioned if you were an authority on von Bruckner… You talked about his daughter. You had information about his death that no one had.  You knew all of this because you're one of them.” Before that day, Xander could say that he had never heard of that author.

 

But the way he heard her talk about it, it was with such confident knowledge. She stumped his uncle and that hardly ever happens.

 

“Yes, that Friedrich von Bruckner... Jules had a daughter named Frida… She was my grandmother.” Chanel got sad thinking about it.

 

It’s a fact that she has known this most of her life, but it doesn't make it any less of a sadness.

 

Xander had never met anyone… at least knowingly who is a descendant of Holocaust survivor. He didn’t know what to say.

 

“I can see you trying to think of something, but baby I don’t need you to do that.  I’m doing what they want me to do and that is to be able to live another day. That’s what counts the most.”

 

“Thank you for that because I honestly don’t know what the right thing is to say.”

 

“Really the only thing you can do is make sure that people who try to deny it are told clearly it not only existed, but there's still people who are alive who can attest to the death and destruction of people who were deemed undesirable to society.”

 

“It's utter nonsense for people to try and deny such a vivid and horrific and well documented genocide.  It is devastating that your great-grandfather lost his life trying to help his friend.”

 

“It honestly was inevitable. If he wasn't shot in the street, he would have still have something happened to him.”

 

“Why? A last name like von Bruckner, that’s as German as you can get.”

 

“Let me tell you something about Nazi Germany. There were people ratting out their families in fear and some out of a disgusting display of 'patriotism'. If you are deemed a sympathizer of any undesirable, then you would meet the same fate. My great grandfather wasn’t a sympathizer… he was an undesirable. His last name… it is German, but it was born on a whim. My three times great-grandfather immigrated to Germany like many people from German colonized African states. He was a part of a group of people from Gabon who came to Berlin. It’s a very African thing to do to create a name based on your surroundings. Von means of and Bruckner means village. Not even everyone that he was with were even related to each other but they all became von Bruckners that day. Unfortunately due to my great-grandfather being a great writer, meant that he was going to be reviewed and interviewed. He was… His book was celebrated for a little while until they saw when he actually looked like. This was something that the SS could not have. You could not have an author who looks like him, representing anything German. It goes against the Aryan ideals. my grandmother's childhood home, was taken away from them, his books became banned and anyone found with contraband would be met with harsh consequences… any international release of the book was immediately halted. Before they killed him they made sure that he was penniless… at least they tried to. One of the only saving graces with that several Swiss banks held on to bank accounts of undesirables even though the Nazis didn’t want them too. Before my great-grandfather’s book stop circulation around the world, he was able to make some money off of it. He wasn’t able to access it, the Nazis were able to take his home, but they weren’t able to seize his earnings outside of Germany. That money helped my dad and grandfather start their businesses. That’s why it’s in my dad's estate that no von Bruckner is to be without a home. My mom was right all my dad’s family has is their pride and their honor.” Chanel was thinking about both of her grandparents.

 

Her grandmother left everything behind for a chance at staying alive. Her grandfather was from the deepest part of Northwest Mississippi. Her dad used to joke that they were a match made in heaven because they both had the most absurd accents to the American ear.

 

“How did your grandmother get out? I imagine that she was only a little girl back then.” Xander was riveted at learning this information.

 

“She was a little girl. A lot happened to her. She witnessed her father’s murder. Her mother knew that it would only be a matter of time for the SS to come banging on their door. So her mother, Ida Cohen and Florence Mirga made plans. They were all endangered species in Germany. They did the hardest thing they ever had to do. It was probably the last active independent choice that they all made. Their daughters were only 7 in 1939. There were people who admired von Bruckner and Mirga. It was probably the key to their survival that their fathers' imagination had people risking it all to keep them alive. Three mothers took a chance on sending their daughters away. The last thing my grandmother heard from her mom when she hugged her goodbye for the last time was that her mother hoped that she did not damn her daughter. My grandma and her friends lived in the dark… they lived in secret parts to basements, attics, fucking walls. Could you imagine what would happen if the SS caught them… Romani, Black and Jewish girls in hiding?! The journey was so long, they never thought they were actually going to get out. The only resolve that my grandma had was the belief that she was the hero in her story. She was seven years old when that journey started, and she was carrying not only herself but books. Books that made grown men afraid. It became her mission to survive. Every day she got to wake up was a victory to her because it meant that the books survived another day because they were in her hands. It didn’t mean that it was easy. The girls went hungry a lot. There were rations and of course they were not accounted for in the households that they were in because they were there secretly. So they didn't have consistent meals and the ones that they did have were meager at best. It took them four years. Two of those years just to get out of Germany. Esther Cohen who was friends with grandmother had family in Amsterdam. That’s where they headed. By a stroke of random luck my grandmother was a U.S. citizen. Her grandfather happened to be a captain in the US army who decided to stay in Germany and he had a family with a Gabonese-German woman. We don't know what happened to my great-grandmother but it's a bleak outlook. There was a special way of treating biracial children in Germany. It was a dangerous morbid curiosity. And I’d like to think that she was trying to get out because that's what she told my grandmother, but who knows. If they didn't put her in a camp, it meant that they probably sterilized her, experimented on her and tortured her. That’s what my grandmother thought about all the time. My grandmother reached Amsterdam when she was nine. She had an American passport proving that she was who she said she was. Sofia Mirga, she didn’t have any kind of papers. The Romani have been highly distrustful and they were proven to be right. The only problem with that was… and made it hard to get asylum. Their moms had coached them… My grandmother, Esther and Sofia had practice over and over to say that Sofia was my grandmother’s cousin. That her mother had a half-brother. They made fake papers of birth certificates, baptismal documents the works and created someone who didn’t exist. It worked… It wasn’t as if the United states was going to truly investigated they really couldn't because of what was happening in Germany. A war was being fought and they were confronted with the potential grandchild of the US Army captain. Thankfully they were able to get to the United States. The Thompson family lived in Miami and were surprised to hear that they had relatives who escaped Germany. They said that they would assume custody of my grandmother and my aunt Sofia. But when they actually got to Miami and met them, they were surprised to see that my grandmother was not white. It was the biggest slap in the face for my grandma. She left Nazi Germany to come to a segregated United States, she was out of her depth. She had no clue about the realities of living in the segregated South. They did not teach you that in Germany. You got a very limited view on world history and it was always in a German point of view. She didn’t speak the language and felt as shunned as she did in Germany. My aunt Sofia and my grandmother ended up at an orphanage. When they became adults, the both of them were able to work as interpreters.” Chanel was able to tell the story without crying. she didn't cry much now when she told the story but she seldomly ever did in the first place.

 

Xander was reeling from everything he was learning about her and her family. He thought to himself if even one mistake happened, Chanel wouldn’t exist. It was so hard for him to wrap around how fragile life can be. Her family was hunted, and the Nazis were partially successful. But her family had the ultimate victory because she was sitting in front of him. Now he was starting to understand more about her. She said things to him that were peculiar out of context. She would talk about being erased and the fact that she existed. He understood it much better now. It didn’t escape his notice that she answered his questions with no hesitation. It clearly had to hurt somewhere deep inside her to even talk about it because what he's hearing is deeply traumatic. He completely lost his appetite even though the food had been good.

 

What he didn’t expect was for her to be smiling… If he had to venture a guess, she looked… happy? But he didn’t get it. After hearing her he would expect for her to be inconsolable.

 

"Darling, are you okay?" Xander asked because it seemed as if Chanel drifted off into her own mind.

 

Chanel heard Xander asking her a question and she forgot in the moment that she was here with him.

 

“Yeah, I am. I was just thinking about my grandmother. She had the best day of her life in a diner.” Chanel smiled wider as she thought about the story that her grandmother told her when she was a kid.

 

It made Xander smile to see that Chanel was so happy.

 

“I’d love to know about the best day of your grandmother’s life.”

 

“So my grandmother used to live in this neighborhood called Brownsville in Miami. It was a big deal back then. She was a career woman, she felt like she had a purpose. Working as an interpreter even though she was getting paid ridiculously low compared to people who did the same job as her, she made good money and so did my aunt. They bought a house in Brownsville. Now my grandmother until her last day had a very thick German accent and she was also very serious person to people on the outside. It’s not really true but German gets this bad rap about being a harsh language anyways… My grandmother and aunt had decided to have breakfast out instead of making it at home. So they went to this diner in Brownsville and she's just having her meal like it's a regular day. Then this man approaches her table. He built up his courage but when he got there, he was nervous and he was a stammering mess. It didn’t help that he was from the most country of places in Mississippi. He asked her if she would like to go out on a rendezvous with him. She took a long look at him and that only made him more nervous. She thought he was cute and my Aunt Sofia out of nowhere says yes on behalf of my grandmother. My grandmother always had this habit of going silent when she was happy. Sofia picked up on it and rescued the both of them out of that situation. When my grandma was able to come out of her thoughts and speak again, she asked him his name. He told her that he was Louis Dupree of Tyro, Mississippi. It was probably the funniest thing to their friends. My grandfather had a very thick accent, people who knew him sometimes didn’t even understand him when he was speaking English in a private setting, it was the same thing for my grandmother. She thought that they were perfect for each other. She used to say that nobody could understand them and they both had green eyes. She thought it was a match made in heaven. He loved her so deeply, even though I didn't get to know my grandfather for long because he died when I was young, I got to see them together. If there's anyone deserved to have love it's my grandmother. She gave him her all and he gave her nothing less in return.” Chanel kept thinking about them.

 

Xander could see the wistful expression on her face. He was starting to see there were similarities to her and her grandmother.

 

“Thank you for telling me that.”

 

“You’re welcome.”

 

“Can I ask you one last question?”

 

“Okay.”

 

“You told my Uncle Victor that there were more books. And your great-grandfather’s book that he has was the third. Were those the books that you said your grandmother was escaping with? Those are the first editions you were talking about?”

 

“Yes. You have a good memory.”

 

“It's very interesting. Especially with how valuable those books are because of the harrowing journey that your grandmother took to keep them safe. You own them, you told him there’s only two first editions. One in Miami and one in Amsterdam. If I were to take a guess… one of them is with the family of your grandmother's best friend and the other is in your possession. Maybe not here but you know where it is."

 

“Baby, I’m starting to think if your life had taken a different route, you could have been a detective."

 

Xander smiled because that could have very well have been the case. He was good at finding things but he liked business so he was going to stick with that.

 

“Well you do know that I enjoy Ian Rankin novels. I also enjoy Doyle.”

 

“The Scots do make great mystery novels don't they?! That’s not the only thing they do well is it?” Chanel bit her lip as she stared at him.

 

Xander just winked and chuckled at his wife flirtatious behavior.

 

“I guess I’ll just have to show you later, won’t I?”

 

“You make it so hard –”

 

“No, that's what you do.”

 

 Chanel had to close her eyes for a second and let a breath out.

 

“Stop it. We have to get serious. You need to reapply your sunscreen and we need to start looking for houses.” Chanel started going into her bag and pulled out the sunscreen and the laptop.

 

It was funny to him because he had always used sunscreen because he worked out a lot outdoors, but he never really thought about reapplying until she told him that she wasn't going to have a husband made out of leather.

 

Chanel got up so she could go to the bathroom and reapply. She was wearing significantly less than Xander, so she didn’t want to look weird applying lotion to most of her body.

 

Xander did it from the comfort of his seat, he only had to worry about his face hands and neck.

 

When Chanel came back, she sat in her seat and asked Xander to come to her side so they didn’t have to slide the laptop to each other over and over again.

 

He quickly made his way over and sat down.

 

“You didn't forget your ears.”

 

Xander turned his head to see her beaming at him. He wrapped his arm around her and pressed a kiss to her lips. He had intended for it to just be a peck but he loved the feel of her lips on his and stayed for several seconds.

 

Chanel rested the back of her head on his shoulder.

 

Xander went on a couple of real estate websites to see what homes were for sale in the area. He started going on the filters of what kind of features they wanted.

 

“How about a pool?” Chanel had always lived somewhere with a pool. It was so synonymous with where she was from.

 

“Darling, I would advise against it. Pools have maintenance costs and can make our utility bills unnecessarily high, they could be upwards of $5000 over the course of a year to maintain.” Xander was being realistic he didn’t know how far his money was going to go.

 

“Okay, no pool then. Well how do you feel about condo versus house?”

 

“Well it can't hurt to look at both but I would probably lean towards house because with condos you have HOA fees… sometimes the buildings can make assessments that you're on the hook for. We don’t know how long I’m going to be unemployed for and it’s going to be hard for me to get a job here.”

 

Chanel nodded her head because she knew all about HOA fees. The only reason that her condo was exempt from it was because at the time her father owned the building and when she got it as a present for completing graduate school, everything was paid for in perpetuity. Even though her mom owned it now, the agreement was still in place and his estate pays for it.

 

“Well about that. I know that the meetings with my mom and your uncle didn't go our way. But we don’t need them. You have experience running a business legitimately and even more business experience running it in an extralegal manner, you can start your own business.” Chanel was thinking about what Xander was saying when they were in bed this morning.

 

It didn’t matter where he went, his interviews were always going to bomb if they even accepted his application in the first place. Her mother was right he was unemployable because no company was going to take the risk.

 

“It’s a risk. I’m pretty sure after we leave the hotel, I’m going to incur a huge bill that's going to take a big chunk of my savings. Whatever house we go into I want to make sure that I have the property taxes squared away so I don’t have to worry about it when it’s due. Money is going to be tight, new businesses usually require so much. How are we going to even furnish the house?”

 

“Well, at least we’ll have the hotel bill out of our hair soon. The house is going to be taken care of. Everything within it will be as well. We can go to town on getting the best of the best in furniture. We'll find a place that you can make an office out of and make sure you have everything you need.”

 

Xander was able to breathe a little easier. It didn’t escape his notice that it was random chance and that they would be able to even get a house in the first place. Chanel in general was a random chance.

 

His life didn’t feel so aimless right now. He liked being able to have a conversation about the future. He was happy at having the chance to start over. It should be a ludicrous notion because they haven't known each other long, but at the same token he realized that he doesn't care. She makes him smile, she makes him see possibilities. It was easy to recognize her beauty, objectively anyone worth an ounce could do that. But there was so much underneath all of that. He was slowly starting to learn that she was like an onion. There’s so many layers that he was curious to find out about.

 

She doesn’t even know it, but she gave him a gift… She gives him hope and there's something so powerful about that. Hope is giving him a direction. He was moving forward. He was giving himself permission to be happy. He didn’t know how this was going to turn out but he liked adventure.

 

 “You okay?”

 

 Chanel started rubbing his thigh in a bid too get his attention. She tried to ask him what he thought of this house, but he didn't answer.

 

He looked at her again and saw the worry in her face. It was nice to see her concern.

 

He used the arm around her to tilt her towards him and used his other hand to cup her cheek. He brought his lips to hers and kissed her. And he kept on kissing her because he was chasing the feeling. He remembered that they were in public, so he didn’t overdo it. He held his forehead to hers and closed his eyes.

 

He had no clue how long he pressed his head to hers. He found her hand and intertwined them.

 

 “Sweetheart, I’m very much OK. Let’s look at some houses.”

 

Chanel made herself comfortable and put her head back on his chest as he laid his hand back on her side, both were content and went back to searching for houses.

 

Chapter Text

It took them a couple of days, but they narrowed their choices down to about 7 to 8 properties. Chanel had texted her mother letting her know about their final options.

 

Chanel and Xander wanted to go to some open houses on their own but her mother insisted on coming. Paulina had said that she would be acting as their real estate agent to make sure that everything was on the up and up.

 

Chanel let her mother have her way because she didn’t want to fight right now. Fighting meant elongating the process and that's what they didn't need right now.

 

Since they were at the same hotel it only made sense that they went to go see the houses together.

 

Chanel had awakened Xander early. If she was going to be dealing with her snarky mother, she was going to need to take the edge off. She was glad that she could climax twice so she could start her day.

 

She had checked the weather outside and saw that it was going to be cold. It might just be mild weather for other people, but it was definitely cold for her. She was used to Miami and even in the dead of winter and the coldest it would ever get would be 50 degrees and that would usually be at nighttime. Most of the time it didn’t even get that cold.

 

She decided on wearing her cream-colored fitted sweater dress with her sheer tights and booties. She wasn’t going to let some chilly weather let her be any less fashionable.

 

Xander looked at her and came to the conclusion that she definitely took her fashion seriously. It was like she knew what to wear and when to wear it. He’s seen her in multiple outfits and all he can think about is how right they look on her. How badly he wants to take it off… He hated how hard she made it to focus. He had to snap himself out of his thoughts because they had important things to do today.

 

“You ready to do this?” Xander asked as he picked up his wallet and keys.

 

“Why do you always ask me that when I’m always done first? It’s not my fault that you’re staring.” Chanel started to walk for the door with a confidence strut.

 

“I know you’re not talking?!” Xander walked so he could open the door.

 

Chanel turned before actually leaving the hotel room. She started to trace her fingers on his abs.

 

“Oh… I am talking. What are you going to do about it?” Chanel poked him hard.

 

She grimaced a little because she probably shouldn't have poked him with just one finger.

 

Xander almost laughed, he could tell that she hurt her finger trying to poke him.

 

“Hard as a rock, eh?”

 

Chanel decided to pout instead of giving him an answer.

 

He picked up her hand and gave the affected finger a kiss before he slipped it in his mouth and sucked on it.

 

Chanel parted her lips and gasped a little. She couldn’t believe what he did and how much it was turning her on. Which she hated most about it was how absolutely shameless his face was.

 

Xander let her finger go and put his hands on her shoulders and turned her around. He tapped on her ass twice nudging her to start walking out the door.

 

They made their way too Paulina’s hotel room. Chanel knocked on the door and took a deep breath. Today was going to be a long day for her, she wanted to brace herself.

 

Xander slipped his hand into hers, he could tell that she was trying to psych herself up.

 

The door opened and Paulina was taking a look at everything. She saw her daughter’s hand joined with Xander, the gift that keeps on giving.

 

She cleared her throat as she gave Xander a once over.

 

“At least you're punctual.” Paulina went to go get her handbag so they could do this.

 

“Hello to you too mama.” Chanel rolled her eyes because they didn't even need to do this in the first place with her mother.

 

All they really needed was to choose a place and have the purchase cost of what it was going to take to furnish it. Her mother was interloping on their process and now Paulina was trying to make it seem as if she was doing them a favor.

 

“Hello ma'am.” Xander wasn’t sure if he should pretend as if he was invisible or say something. He didn’t know which would make Paulina more upset.

 

“Uh huh. Let’s get this over with. I set up appointments with the real estate agents that are listing the properties.” Paulina closed her hotel door and started to walk quickly to the elevator.

 

 Chanel and Xander quickly followed. It was awkward standing in silence as they waited for the elevator.

 

Paulina took the time to see what her daughter was wearing, she really thought Chanel looked beautiful. She might be upset with her daughter for making huge mistakes, but she knew that she needed to try.

 

“I like your outfit, Chanel.” Paulina said as the elevator dinged open.

 

They all stepped in, Xander pressed the button for the lobby and the doors closed.

 

“Thank you. You know my style icon is Hilary Banks.” Chanel said this proudly.

 

Even though Hilary Banks was a fictional character, she absolutely adored the fashion choices. Every time she created an outfit, it had that kind of aesthetic behind it but updated to make it more current.

 

“You certainly know how to spend like Hilary Banks.” Paulina said with a choke of a laugh.

 

Chanel rolled her eyes because she was going to be stuck with her mother all day and she didn't know how long she was going to be able to bite her tongue.

 

When the elevator opened, Chanel is practically dragging Xander out of it. She only had one mind to go into the car and make their way to the first property.

 

When they got to the car, Xander opened Chanel’s door and helped her in. He then opened the back seat door for Paulina.

 

Paulina was shocked at this display of chivalry for her by Xander. She’s made her feelings very clear about him and she finds it confusing for him to be such a gentleman to not only her daughter but to her as well.

 

She got into the seat and he closed her door for her and then made his way to the driver's seat.

 

The first two properties were actually in the same building. Even though they were steering away from condos, there were benefits of living in a building and it was worth exploring. Chanel and Xander had wanted to keep their options open just in case.

 

Paulina had been impressed with the property when they got there. The high-rise building was very synonymous with the kind of panache does she would expect from Chicago and not so much from the surrounding area. She knew that her daughter would have gravitated towards a place like this as well.

 

It will be something that would remind Chanel of home. Chanel had her own condo in a high rise that was actually better than this but not everyone could be the visionary her husband was when it came to buildings.

 

When they saw the first condo, Paulina was impressed because it was definitely a gorgeous space. Expansive windows which would be great to let natural light in.

 

It was a 3-bedroom condo, it would be something that was easy for her to sell if she were the listing agent.

 

Chanel and Xander on the other hand went into one of the bedrooms to have a private conversation.

 

“What do you think?” Xander wanted to know because objectively there was nothing wrong with the property.

 

“It's too open. If you were to have an office, then you would have to use a bedroom or we would have to create a space and who knows if we get approval from the HOA to do it in the first place because of the noise. It would be very easy for neighbors to complain and what happens if they complain after we start the job?” Chanel was thinking critically about this because she really didn't want to waste a bedroom because there was so much free space. She wanted the chance to have a walk-in closet that would be the size of a bedroom.

 

“That's very true. Well it's good that we got to see the property in the first place. We can go see the next condo, but we were leaning towards houses anyways.”

 

They walked out of the bedroom and told the real estate agent that they were ready to see the other condo.

 

When they went to the next condo, they saw that it had even more space. It was like being in a huge box. It was definitely going to be a no for them. Chanel had asked for the information on the properties and she saw that the HOA fees were different than what they were on the website that they looked up on. Chanel thought she was seeing things or she made a mistake. She pointed it out to Xander who raised his eyebrows at what they were asking for monthly. It was significantly more than what the website said.

 

When Xander asked if there was a mistake with the monthly HOA maintenance fees, the real estate agent looked at her paper and told them no. The building had recently started offering ‘more amenities’.

 

Xander and Chanel shared a look. It was a long one and Paulina was trying to figure out what it meant.

 

They went on to see other properties. Chanel always brought a notebook with her when she needed to take notes. She was making a pros and cons list about each of the properties that they saw next. She liked to be able to go back for research purposes. Sometimes you can’t remember everything you saw from before, so it helped her to write things down.

 

It made Paulina proud to see her daughter taking this seriously. She knew that Chanel could be serious if she wanted to. It was just hard for her to Chanel that these days. That’s why she hoped her daughter got a job… she wanted her to have a purpose.

 

After seeing most of the properties, Chanel had been dead set on the 5th house they saw.  she liked that it had a beautiful kitchen with the stove centered in the island counter. She loved how it was so spacious to walk in. She was going to have the time of her life buying kitchen accessories. She also loved that house had enclosed spaces. It was easier to differentiate… She didn’t want to just live in a box… even if it was a big box. She liked houses that had character and dimension. She also liked it when it didn't feel like a waste of space. She liked to be able to design in her head how things were going to look.

 

When they got to the last house, it was different than what they expected it to be. The pictures were not matching what they saw.

 

When they met with the listing agent for the last house, they were notified that the owners were putting additions in… One that included a pool.

 

They took the tour, and the house was nice on the interior. You couldn’t fault in any way. Chanel was just thinking about how it wasn’t really move in ready. She didn’t want to fixer upper.

 

Paulina talked to the listing agent to pass the time. But then the agent got a call and it left her by herself. She started to walk around to look for her daughter and Xander.

 

She could hear voices and she decided to tiptoe so they couldn't hear her coming.

 

“Additions?! It just feels like a bait and switch. I know we agreed on no pool. I would have loved the house if they didn't have any additions. I loved the fifth property the most but this one would have given it a run for its money. But I don’t wanna think about the extra maintenance costs that it would be to maintain a pool. You’re right we don’t have $5000 to spend over the course of a year for something that we won't even be able to use for most of the year.” Chanel was a little upset that additions were started and obviously weren't going to be finished if they were to buy the property. That would fall on them and she didn't want to deal with that.

 

Paulina was shocked to hear about her daughter talking about minimizing her expenses. She heard Chanel saying the Xander was right. Paulina felt like she was not hearing correctly. The international career criminal was teaching her daughter the value of a dollar?!

 

“I like the fifth one too. It’s a great space and it has a nice deck.”

 

“Yeah, it did. Could you believe that condo building arbitrarily changing their HOA fees. They're fucking liars. I went to check if they updated on Redfin and it’s still the same amount that we saw It last. It still has the same amenities listed I didn’t find anything additional. So for it to climb from 500 to $800 with no discernible reason is ludicrous That’s a difference of $4000.  Let’s face it the only real amenity that will be used will probably be you going to the gym.”

 

It reminded Chanel that she was going to need to find a place where she can do Pilates.

 

Paulina thought she was going to have a stroke listening to her daughter breakdown numbers.

 

“You're most certainly right on that. I think that building is just trying to capitalize on the fact that there’s a lot of transplants and people are looking into the Chicago suburbs as much as they’re looking in the city itself. They are definitely trying to bilk as much money as they can. I have no clue why someone would pay $800 each and every month for a building in Salem no less when they could find cheaper maintenance cost living in Chicago itself and have the luxury of living in the city instead of driving into it. I’m proud of you, sweetheart. You took what I had to say seriously about the hidden costs and didn't let the flashy things fool you.”

 

“Well thank you for saying that. I do take this seriously.  It’s going to be our home. I just want us to do it right.” Chanel wrapped her arms around his middle seeking out his comfort.

 

Xander held her face in his hands and kissed her. Tilting her head made her beret fall. He picked it up and placed it back on her head.

 

“We will. Maybe we should go find your mother? I don’t want her getting mad at you because she's short with me.”

 

When Paulina heard Xander talking about finding her, she started to tip toe away from the ajar door, so they didn't know that she had been listening to them.

 

She had thought that Chanel was just going through a fling, but she could see that the two of them clearly had a connection and it wasn't one that would be temporary.

 

The way she saw Xander kissing her daughter, it was tender. Her mind was going crazy trying to reconcile who Xander is and what he keeps presenting himself as. He has been nothing less than gentlemanly the whole day with her. He always opened her car doors, literally gave her a hand to help her out of the car.

 

“Mama?”

 

“Huh? What?”

 

“Are you OK? I was trying to say that Xander and I are done with seeing the house. We were asking if you want us to take you back to the hotel?”

 

“Oh, maybe not the hotel yet. I think we should have lunch and go over the properties that you liked. I’m buying.”

 

Chanel really didn’t want to have lunch with her mom but having lunch with her mother meant that it would be a lunch that would be paid for.

 

“Fine mom. What do you wanna choose?”

 

“I’ll let you two pick…”

 

“I’m fine with anything Xander wants to eat…”  Chanel was not really trying to challenge her mother by saying this even though it might be construed as that.

 

She really only knew about Carl’s diner and the food truck, so she really wasn't up to date on the restaurant scene here.

 

Xander wanted to avoid the potential can of worms being open. He knew that Chanel likes seafood, so he thought about the first restaurant that popped in his head.

 

“There's a nice seafood restaurant on the river. We could go there?” Xander hoped that was the right thing to say.

 

“Well let's get a move on then. I’m hungry and that actually sounds good.” Paulina was still wary about their relationship. They only just met each other, so whatever they're doing must be intense. She just didn’t want her daughter’s heart to break, but she knew that she needed to tread very carefully because it could be her that breaks her daughter’s heart instead of Xander. Her antagonizing Xander incessantly could backfire on her and alienate her daughter from her even further.

 

Xander helped both women into the car and as he drove them to the restaurant, Paulina was trying to figure out what to do to help her daughter.

 

As Xander drove the car was silent except for the songs that played on the radio. She saw their hands find each other even though Xander was focused on driving and Chanel was looking out the window. She realized in that second the best thing she could do for her daughter was to be present for her daughter but back off her relationship. She wasn't saying it was anything other than an infatuation, but she knew what that was like, when she met Freddie, she acted up a fool. She didn't marry him the day she met him, but they got married after five months together and she was only a year older than Chanel was now.

 

Her daughter was doing what she wanted and not asking permission, the same way Paulina was when she was that age. Chanel was her mother's daughter. Paulina could not expect to win if she was fighting herself. It was the wrong mindset. She couldn't impose her will on Chanel any more than Paulina's family could when she was younger. Feeling the need to control her daughter came from a place of guilt, she missed out on Chanel growing up. The years crept up on her and before she knew it her daughter had the ability to get married on her own volition no matter the motives. She knew that as much as she was disgusted with Xander's past, she wasn't truly mad at him. She was mad at herself for getting so caught up in her career that she missed out on daughter growing into a woman.

 

The car door opening roused her out of her thoughts... Xander had been helping her out of the car without fail all day and it didn't stop then. Xander had an arm out and Paulina used it. She kept her hand in the crook of his arm.

 

"You may escort me into the restaurant." Paulina was trying despite her many reservations.

 

Chanel had been on the other side and thought she heard wrong... her mother was talking to Xander in a tone that was resembling nice?!

 

When Xander smiled, Paulina could see why her daughter could be taken by this man. He had enough charm to fill a Tiffany’s bracelet. As they walked towards the restaurant, Xander realized if he wanted to open the door then he would have to drop one of them. He wanted to keep himself on Paulina’s good side, so he let go of Chanel which she loudly scoffed at which made Paulina snicker loudly.

 

He did hold the door out for her so she could enter first and then Paulina walked in after who was still trying to catch her breath.

 

She thought to herself at least if her daughter was going to possibly latch herself to a mistake at least it was a well-defined one who was entertaining.

 

Chapter Text

Chanel had been up for an hour, she couldn't even do her regular snooze routine. She decided the best course of action was to get ready for the day. She took a shower and did her hair, but she got back into bed naked.

 

There wasn’t anything on the agenda really until much later. For the past week and a half they had been looking at how to decorate the house. They ended up going with the fifth property. It was the one that they like best and one of the biggest draws for them was it had distinct rooms. It had walls and columns. The backward was huge with beautiful deck. What Chanel loved the most was the kitchen. It was spacious and had windows that brought in so much natural light. She can already see herself having fun there.

 

She hired an interior designer from Chicago to come help them design their house. Chanel had lots of inspiration from houses that she has seen and wanted to incorporate that into her own home, but she wanted to make sure that it made sense and that it wasn't too chaotic. She also knew that this was going to be Xander's home too, so she made sure to get his input.

 

It had been a fun experience for them both. The best thing about having an interior designer was it took a lot of the headache out of house shopping. It could be so daunting and stressful to think about having to decorate every single room. Going store by store feeling as if it's never going to end. They still went shopping but it wasn’t as much as they would need to because they had someone there to make it happen.

 

Chanel had been waiting for Xander to wake up, but she didn't want to wake him from his sleep. Just because she couldn't go back to sleep didn't mean that she was going to make him get up before he was ready. She could kill time while she waited for him to come to.

 

She decided to check out some Instagram of popular interior designers as a way to kill the time. She had her back turned to Xander because her phone was still charging.

 

When Xander woke up, he saw Chanel’s hair cascading down her back… Her naked back. He knew that she was up because her hand was propping up her head and he could see her scrolling on her phone.

 

He carefully picked up the sheet that was covering them both and saw that she wasn’t wearing any underwear at all.

 

He knew that she had to have started getting ready for the day, but she didn't get dressed yet because she was waiting for something. He smirked because he realized that he was what she was waiting for.

 

He gathered that she must have been horny and was waiting for him to wake up and take care of her problem.

 

He reached his arm over and pressed his hand to her stomach and pulled her closer to him.

 

Chanel let out a little yelp when she was being pulled closer to Xander. She could feel his hand going up her body… He did it slowly and it made her moan.

 

She had been waiting for his touch all morning, it felt so good to finally have it. His thumb was in the space between her breast and his hand was underneath her left breast pressing gently on her ribs.

 

Xander used his other hand too push her hair to the side so he could have unencumbered access to her neck. He put his head in the space between her neck and shoulder.

 

“Have you been waiting for me?” Xander said into her ear.

 

When Chanel heard him in that husky tone it made her eyes flutter.

 

“I’ve been waiting all morning. Are you going to give me what I want, or do I need to take it?” Chanel is trying to keep her voice from cracking because Xander knew what he was doing when he bit her earlobe.

 

“Darling, why not both?” Xander said as he chuckled and then kissed the space right behind her ear.

 

Chanel turned around and pushed Xander until he was flat on his back and then climbed on top of him. She kissed him quickly on the mouth, but she didn't let him get used to it. She started kissing up and down his body.

 

When she got to his chest, she took his nipple into her mouth and bit it as she twisted the other. Hearing him hiss was enjoyable. Her hands started to move down his waist, she firmly pushed down his boxers and grabbed his dick.

 

When Xander felt her massaging his dick he moaned out loud because it felt just right.

 

 She started to kiss down his happy trail until she got to the tip of his dick.

 

When Xander felt her tongue on the tip, he weaved his hand in her hair. She was swirling her tongue teasing him and he gently pressed her head down and she laughed at him.

 

She was taunting him, and he enjoyed it, but she did have mercy upon him.

 

Chanel started to slowly glide her tongue up and down his dick. She lets the edges of her teeth grazed his sensitive skin which made him pull on her hair tighter. She used one of her hands to stroke the base while using the other to play with his balls. Her eyes flicked up so she could see him. The amount of satisfaction she got when she saw that his eyes were closed, and he was biting on his lower lip was everything.

 

Xander’s eyes shot open when she abruptly stopped. She still had a firm grip on his cock but her back was towards him. She was using his dick to tease her clit, it made her voice go up an octave.

 

He could feel her positioning him and there’s no feeling quite like feeling his dick being guided into her walls. The amount of absurd pride that was running through him right now when he could feel just how wet she was for him surprised him.

 

He couldn’t take any more of this lying down, he did a sit up and the chest was to her back. He pressed the kiss into her shoulder as she was riding him.

 

“Yes! Yes fuck! Baby, rub my clit.” Chanel felt like she just might burst, she was swiveling her hips from side to side and grinding on him trying to take his cock deeper into her.

 

She set an intense pace for herself, it was fast and hard and she couldn't get enough. She knew that she would be exhausted by the end of it, but she didn’t care.

 

Out of nowhere Xander's phone starts going off and it breaks both of their concentration. Xander switched from his right to his left so he could keep pressure on her clit like she wanted him to. He started to reach over to get his phone.

 

Chanel used her arm too reach behind her and pressed Xander’s head into her neck. Her hand had a gentle grip on the nape of his neck.

 

“Xander no. No… no. Don’t pick it up, not right now please.” Chanel didn’t know if she was making full sentences or speaking gibberish. She was so close to climaxing that she didn’t want anything to get in her way.

 

Xander could tell that she was close, he was close himself. He ignored the phone and kept playing with her clit as he held her right breast in his hand and teased her nipple as he kissed everywhere he could reach on her back and neck.

 

“Xander fuck. I’m gonna come. Oh god I’m gonna come.”

 

As she was climaxing, she felt Xander changing positions. Her body was tilted, she could feel that one of his legs was on the floor and the knee of his other one was on the bed. He was fucking her pussy just right that it felt like an orgasm was layering on another.

 

She felt the bliss of her orgasm fade away but the building of another one was right behind it. Chanel started to rub herself. Hearing Xander curse and grunt only turned her on more.

 

“Your cunt is so goddamn tight." Xander said through gritted teeth.

 

He slapped her on her ass hard, even he could feel the sting of it on his hand.

 

“Baby do it again. Do that again.”

 

As soon as Xander slapped her ass again she was screaming, she was climaxing again and she was squeezing his dick so tight, Xander felt as if he could barely move is dick. He pumped into her a couple more times and he was thankful when he came because he was exhausted.

 

After Xander took a couple of minutes to catch his breath, He looked down at her as she was lying down on the bed. Her legs were pressed together tight, probably so his come didn't leak on to the bed.

 

He covered her body with his and started to kiss her.

 

Chanel didn’t even open her eyes, she just wrapped her hand around his neck and kept on kissing him. She felt like she couldn’t move.

 

“Baby, do you want me to carry you to the bathroom?” Xander knew that sooner rather than later she was going to want to clean herself up.

 

She didn’t say anything she just connected her other arm to the hand that she had on his neck.

 

Xander carried her into the bathroom and placed her on the toilet while he got into the shower and started to get ready. Chanel cleaned herself up and left the bathroom to figure out what she was going to wear for the day.

 

She had no clue if they were gonna go out to eat or not. She decided on wearing her cerulean romper, it was one of her best leisure pieces. If they did go out for breakfast, then she was going to wear it with her all-white Adidas.

 

Xander came out of the bathroom he found her sitting at the table reading a book.

 

Chanel decided to focus on her book because she didn’t want to be distracted by Xander’s nakedness.

 

After Xander got dressed, he made his way over to the table. He gently grabbed Chanel’s hand and kissed it as he sat down in the other chair. He smiled when he saw the sparkle in her eyes. This was one of the ways he could tell when she was blushing.

 

“I imagine that you’re hungry.” He had worked up an appetite himself.

 

“Yeah, I am.  Are you going to check your phone? I hope it wasn’t important, I would feel bad.”

 

Xander had completely forgot about his missed call.

 

“Babe don't feel bad. We had matters to attend to and they were pressing.” Xander said as he got up and gave her a quick kiss before he went to get his phone.

 

He saw that the missed call was from his Uncle Victor and that was really peculiar because his uncle really didn’t call him unless it was about business and seeing as how he didn’t work at Titan anymore, he had no clue why Victor would be calling.

 

He saw that his uncle left a message, so he went to his inbox and pressed play. This was probably the weirdest request of his uncle, but he saw that their breakfast needs were going to be completely taken care of now.

 

Xander walked back to the table. Chanel could see that whatever Xander just heard had him stumped. Before she could say anything, he started talking.

 

“It seems as if my uncle is requesting an audience with us…”

 

“Us? Why wouldn’t it just be you?”

 

“If I had to venture a guess Ms. von Bruckner Dupree, I would say it’s you.”

 

“Within these walls it’s Kiriakis.”

 

Chanel's eyes met with his, she could see the slow smirk emerging on his face.

 

“It seems you know how to stroke the ego...”

 

“it’s not the only thing I know how to stroke…”

 

“We need to go. My uncle is expecting us quite soon but if you keep talking like that, I’m just going to say fuck it all and deal with his wrath.” Xander was glad that she reminded him to check his phone because it was not a good idea to keep Victor Kiriakis waiting even if you didn’t confirm the time yourself.

 

Chanel put on her socks and then slipped into her sneakers. She grabbed her crossbody bag and made sure that she had everything she needed.

 

Xander made sure that he had his wallet, keys and phone and they made their way out of the room.  

 

It didn’t take them any time at all to get to the Kiriakis mansion. Xander used his key to get in.

 

He saw Agnes and asked where his uncle was… they were supposed to meet, and it was almost time.

 

Agnes told him that Victor was in the study reading a book.

 

Chanel just followed Xander because she had no clue where that was.

 

When they got to the study, they could see Victor on the far side sitting behind his desk.

 

“Here I was thinking you were going to be late.” Victor said as he kept reading on.

 

Xander rolled his eyes but walked in.

 

“Good to see you too Uncle Vic. So it seems that you requested to see us...”

 

“It’s really just Chanel, I just figured that you would come too.”

 

Chanel stepped forward and started to speak Greek with Victor.

 

“I figured if you were going to call for me that it would have been much sooner, not weeks later.”

 

“I was letting you the two of you get your honeymoon. However I would like to know more about what we discussed last time.”

 

Xander had no urge to watch a conversation in a language that he wasn't going to be able to understand. He was also too hungry anyways. He left to go through the kitchen so he could get himself some breakfast for himself and Chanel.

 

Chanel could hear when Xander left the room. She clocked that Victor had sherry on his desk. It made her smile to see that he listened to her.

 

“Well what do you want to know?” Chanel had fun doing this because Victor was clearly a big fan.

 

So much so that he had historians and book collectors trying to find everything they could on something that only she had.

 

“I’ve read this book at least 70 times since it came in my possession, it never occurred to me that this could be one of a series. It seems as if it’s a standalone. I’ve inquired with my historians and they had never heard of any other von Bruckner book. You knew the daughter of Friedrich von Bruckner. Does she know what happened to the books? It’s obvious that we cannot find out now. Now that I know that this isn't the only one… I need those books. I have to know more about Ulises. I can’t get a complete picture if I only have 25% of the picture.”

 

“Well, it can stand alone. Your historians are not going to find any more books by this author. His other books were burned, but who knows, maybe it’ll show up in your lap one day. Maybe these authorities on von Bruckner, just didn’t know where to look.” Chanel did have fun teasing with her loaded words. Victor was a man who spoke in few words she wanted to do the same.

 

Her great-grandfather had only written one book of the series because each generation wrote their own book. A continuation of sorts. He wrote other books, with different subjects and different adventures.

 

“I’ve been telling them to go to Amsterdam to try and figure it out. If there is a first edition there, most likely more books are over there because that’s much closer to Germany than Miami is. I found next to nothing about his daughter. Records were completely different back then, and now you have the Internet and there’s so much backed up on it, it’s a wealth of knowledge but back then it was always done by paper. Such stupid things happen with paper. A fire happens all the records are destroyed.” Victor was annoyed because ever since he got this information, he thought that he would have more by now, but he was still stuck.

 

Xander came back into the study with food, he went over to Chanel and gave her a plate.

 

“There's a football game with Barcelona. I’m going to go check it out OK…” Xander dropped a quick kiss on her cheek and left the room.

 

Victor watched them, Xander clearly had no cares for showing public affection to her… so he was seeing that this definitely was something.

 

“You are right about that. So much history has been lost because of fires. There are so many movies that no one will ever see because fires happened. It’s crazy to believe how such a thing could make things that existed and tangible cease to be.” Chanel was really thinking about all of the art and literature that were burned by Germany. Countless authors and artists having their imagination erased with the strike of a match.

 

People who will never be known, literary works that could have been deemed masterpieces of their time… will never be known to anyone. People will not even have their marks on history as published authors. The Nazis purged and they purged so thoroughly.

 

The reason Victor couldn’t find anything about her grandmother was because her grandmother worked for the government in a highly classified manner. There was going to be very few documents if at all about her, she dealt with sensitive information all the time. She was translating for high-ranking diplomats from every German-speaking country not just Germany itself. There was no way that a civilian was going to find that kind of information especially from back then. Her marriage to her grandfather and her dad’s birth certificate were all sealed.

 

“You're telling me?! You’ve given me the most information about von Bruckner that I have found in decades. I have had no luck otherwise. I can’t find one shred of information about his daughter. She probably changed her name when she came to the US. So many people did which makes it next to impossible to find out anything about her. This is why I’m going to go the Amsterdam route. Do you know anything else about her?”

 

“I know that she was a private woman, that's probably why you can't find much information about her.” Chanel wasn’t ready to let him know about her.

 

The kinds of questions that Victor Kiriakis would ask her would be hard to answer because she would have to be digging deep into her trauma. It’s not something that she wants to be reliving right now. She wants to hold on to her happiness right now instead of thinking about heavier times. It was easier with Xander because he wasn't a fan… he didn’t know about her family. If Victor was anything like her when it came to her favorite writers, he would be dogged for information.

 

For the next couple of hours they talked about the book. They talked about the things that they liked and what they didn’t like. Chanel was pleased when Victor said he had a deep distaste for the character of Napoleon. She figured that he might find some kind of kindred spirit in him because Victor Kiriakis definitely was a gray man not that the character of Napoleon was, but sometimes gray people gravitate towards the antagonist.

 

“You know we should start a book club. I’m a writer, but first and foremost a reader.” Chanel said excitedly. She had a great time debating with Victor about the book.

 

She couldn’t remember the last time she had a thought-provoking debate about literature with someone else.

 

Victor was smiling because he actually liked the idea of a book club. Most of the time these days he was reading anyways, catching up on his favorites. He liked the idea of being able to converse with someone who actually had a love for books as much as he did. He had a great time having a conversing with her.

 

“I may be amenable to that. With what kind of frequency?” Victor said as he rose his eyebrow in a mock serious manner.

 

“I would think since we’re both voracious readers unless the book is atrocious it should take us never more than a week at most no matter what the length is.” Chanel smiled because she knew that Victor was going to say yes.

 

“It seems as if we have a book club on our hands.” Victor laughed as he lightly slapped the cover to his book and set it down on his desk.

 

 

Xander was coming back from watching his game now that it was over. When he got to the study, he saw Chanel bouncing up and down the sofa clapping.

 

“Well what's going on here? Please enlighten me in English please…” Xander sat next to her on the sofa wanting to know exactly what had her so cheery.

 

“Nothing big. I’m just dating Mr. Kiriakis. We've made it official.” Chanel was being cheeky as she looked at Xander.

 

Xander knew that he was not the Mr. Kiriakis she was talking about. He could see his uncle rolling his eyes, but he could tell that Victor was amused.

 

“Your wife and I have come to an agreement about starting a book club.” Victor explained to his nephew.

 

Xander was surprised at what his uncle said. His eyes softened at Chanel even though she couldn’t see him since her face was turned towards Victor. He didn’t know why he liked it so much because Victor was a pain in his ass, but it was nice to see Chanel being nice to his uncle.

 

Victor made casual conversation asking about how the football game went with Barcelona. He and Xander talked for about 5 minutes about the game. Xander had already missed half of the game but watch the highlights after.

 

Chanel and Xander started getting ready to go and got up.

 

“As always it’s been a pleasure Uncle Vic.” These were one of the times that Xander didn’t have animosity in his tone.

 

“Same time, same place next week Mr. Kiriakis?” Chanel asked in a singsong manner. She already knew that they made concrete plans, but She wanted to have said something in parting.

 

Victor just nodded in an amused manner.

 

As they were walking out, they encountered Philip.

 

“Hello cousin. Oh and hello to you, Ms. Chanel.” Philip had been surprised to see Chanel again. He thought that their impromptu marriage would have been annulled by now.

 

“Hello Philip, how are you?” Chanel knew that Xander had animosity towards Philip, but manners dictated that she needed to be nice.

 

“I’m doing well how about yourself? Have you two decided to move in? Having you here would definitely lighten things up Chanel…” Philip loved to flirt.

 

She was a beautiful woman and anything that got under Xander’s skin was a bonus.

 

“We're doing well. Actually we won’t be moving in, so I guess you’ll just have to do without. We were just leaving. You have a good day now, come on baby you ready to go?” Chanel placed her hand through Xander’s arm and rested it on his forearm.

 

Xander snorted at his cousin when Philip’s smile fell a little. He tried to cover it, but it wasn’t fast enough for Xander not to see.

 

They left the house and walked back to the car. Xander opened her car door and helped her in.

 

Before he closed the door, he pulled Chanel by the neck and kissed her.

 

The kiss left Chanel breathless, she didn’t want it to stop but Xander had promised her that they were going to go to Chicago so they could go to furniture stores there. She didn’t want to waste anymore time because the visit here wasn't expected which means they had less time before the stores closed.

 

“What was that for?”

 

“I just wanted to. Now let’s go to Chicago so you can go crazy over home décor.”

 

Xander closed her door and went to his side. He programmed the GPS to the Jonathan Adler in Chicago.

 

“Oh please, it’s not just me. I know you’re having fun with it too.”

 

Xander didn’t say anything he just smiled and kept driving. If they got into the city early enough, they might be able to squeeze in time with the interior designer.

 

Chapter Text

Chanel had made a promise to Lani to try and get their relationship back on track. It was something that they were slowly working towards. They met a couple of times since Lani came to the hotel room.

 

She got to meet Jules and Carver and she had to admit they were cute babies. It was pretty nice to see that Lani was happy with how her life turned out. Her being on maternity leave really worked out in their favor, they were able to hang out more.

 

The thing they don't tell you about estrangement is that you don't go back to how life was when you became estranged to that person. You've changed and so have they, it's not necessarily a bad thing. You have just progressed into a newer version of yourself. A version that you have to introduce to them.

 

You have so much time to catch up on. The longer the estrangement, the more you need to know. It was nice. Their grandmother always raised them to be upfront. Chanel always thought it was a German thing or a Gabonese thing. Time is always of the essence and there’s no reason to beat around the bush.

 

Beating around the bush only elongates the process. Chanel missed the closeness and so did Lani. She didn’t really have close relationships with anyone in Salem. With the exception of Kristen who is in jail, Lani didn’t really have real friends here. She had people she knew, but she didn’t go out with them and have drinks.

 

There was no girls night out or anything remotely close to that. She missed going out to all you can eat buffets and catching up with her girls. She loved being needed, she liked being someone’s guiding force. It made her feel as if she had her life together even though she was living paycheck to paycheck trying to figure out this adult thing.

 

Chanel being in town was like a new beginning, having her past and her present at the same time was something she didn't really foresee happening. She knew that Chanel was angry, why wouldn’t she be? Lani knew that she wasn’t the real target… she just caught a stray.

 

Chanel was supposed to have the best time of her life and it all came crashing down and one thing just kept piling up on the next. Even though she knew objectively that Salem was the right choice for her, she just really hated how shitty the timing was. You really don’t know what tomorrow brings, their family has lost so much but it was Chanel who felt it the deepest.

 

Even though Lani felt lonely when she was growing up with her mom always trying to work and do it all by herself, her mom was still there for the most part. It was important for her mom to be present in her life. But for Chanel it was completely different, Auntie Paulina was super driven and was always ready to make a deal no matter what. Her Uncle Freddie was like a machine. She didn’t doubt that they loved Chanel, everything they were doing was for Chanel. It’s so important to Black people to create generational wealth for their families. Always trying to be better than the last generation so you can make it easier for the next…

 

But it created an absence, Lani's mother didn't really start touring again until she was a teenager and even when she toured, she tried to not have too many days in a row so she could still come back home.

 

But Lani did get lonely, it was why she gravitated towards going to Auntie P’s house. Oma treated her like she was her own. It was the three of them and it was some of the best years of her life. She had her friends and was popular in school, but that was different you still had to go home at the end of the day. It was weird for her to go home sometimes and not have anyone there to talk to. Her mother didn’t have any other children so the only company she had was her textbooks and a television with only network channels because her mom refused to get cable.

 

Oma was an escape, a life where she got to be different. It was a place where she got to be a big sister, she got to have someone who was there constantly. It’s addicting to get used to, you fall in love with the idea of it being forever. That’s what made it hurt so badly when Oma got sick. It felt like something unfair to have the little family they forged broken by something that she couldn't even see.

 

Cirrhosis… she hated that word because it changed everything. She saw her grandmother get sicker and sicker and there was nothing she could do about it. This woman that she knew was tougher than nails and escaped from fucking Nazis was dying because the Nazis ruined her life and the only saving grace that she had was her grandfather who was dead.

 

It wasn’t fair that when she stopped drinking completely was when she got sick. It felt like a punishment for not just Lani but for Chanel and Oma as well. Why did it have to be people who didn’t deserve it given all this kind of pain?

 

What she missed most about having Chanel there was being able to speak German. It sounded so crazy, but it was something that reminded her of her grandmother.

 

“What's got you so deep in thought?” Chanel could see that Lani was not really in the moment.

 

They had decided to have lunch at this small bistro. It was one of the few times that Lani was able to get away from her kids.

 

“I was just thinking about Oma. I was thinking about the past and how I’m happy to even have this moment. It seems so stupid and meaningless but just speaking German right now helps me feel connected to her and I haven’t had that in so long.”

 

“It's the same way for me. It’s like you don't realize the depth of how much you miss her until you have moments like this. She used to hammer it into us about speaking German in a Berlin accent so much! I never thought anything about it when she was alive. I just thought that was normal. The times we got to do fun stuff like cooking from our family's recipe book or watching trivia shows. I didn’t realize how sacred it was until we didn’t have her anymore.”

 

“Yeah, cooking with her was the best. It was so crazy in the moment too. Remember that time when you put too much baking soda for the cookies?” Lani started laughing when she remembered how badly Chanel fucked up the recipe.

 

“Oh my god yes! I don’t think I had ever seen her that mad until that point. I honestly, I’m being completely legit swore she gave me the correct spoon so I could scoop out the baking soda and call it a day. How was I supposed to know that she wanted me to fill it up only halfway? She should have just given me the right measuring spoon in the first place, and we would have never had that problem. She had a whole conversation with herself in Fang. Every time I tried to tell her anything she would just curse me out and keep going.”

 

“She gave you that tablespoon because I needed the teaspoon so I could measure out the vanilla extract. She said only put in half a tablespoon.”

 

“I don’t care what anyone says I’m going to go my whole life saying I did not hear that come out of her mouth. Half the time Oma tells you she said something, and she didn't. Just because she thinks it doesn’t mean that she actually said it, I was just never going to tell her that to her face because she might slap me in the back of my head and proceed to still curse me out in Fang.”

 

 Lani was laughing so hard and made her sides hurt. She had to grab the table to control herself.

 

“That's how you knew you were in deep shit. If she broke out the Fang, then it was over. Remember when we used to watch jeopardy, every time someone got something wrong even if she didn’t know the answer, she was swearing up and down that shame would come upon their whole family.” Lani shook her head as she remembered the memory like it just happened.

 

“My goodness she was such a trip. I remembered we were watching wheel of fortune one time and the guy spins and spins and says every single consonant and then when it comes time to solve the puzzle, he still fucked it up.”

 

Marlena had seen Lani having lunch with another young woman and she didn't know why it made her happy. She thought to herself that it had been a while since she seen Lani. She had been meaning to go and check up on her and see her children.

 

There was just so much happening in her life with her family that she was so presently occupied with all of that circus, but it shouldn’t keep her from seeing her best friend's daughter.

 

She made her way over to the table with a warm smile.

 

“Hi Lani, I didn’t mean to interrupt… I just haven’t seen you in awhile and I wanted to say hello. I’ve been meaning to come and see you and the children, but my life has been a little complicated lately so I hope you can forgive me?”

 

“Oh Marlena, that means so much to hear that from you. Eli has been keeping me posted about everything and I’m so sorry that your family seems to be going through it right now and I know that he is going to do his best to try and prove that your daughter didn’t do it.” Lani had been shocked with how many suspects there were in the Charlie Dale murder, so many of them being related to Marlena but that wasn’t hard to believe because what he did to her granddaughter.

 

“That means so much to hear that. Oh where are my manners, hi my name is Marlena… are you new in town? No I’ve seen you before. Not here though.” Marlena got a distinct feeling that she knew this woman.

 

“Yeah, we met. You were at my dad’s funeral.” Chanel remembered her, she was one of the only people who didn't patronize her or made her feel awkward when they launched into a story about her father.

 

 It was all coming back to Marlena now. This was Paulina and Freddie’s child.

 

“Chanel… It’s nice to see you. You know when you tilt your head and stare to the side, you look just like your dad it's uncanny... Are you going to be staying in town long?”

 

Chanel smiled at the comparison to her father.

 

“Yeah actually. I wanted to be closer to Lani. We’re trying to keep the promise we made to our grandmother, so Salem looks like it’s my new home.”

 

“That's so lovely to hear. You can never have too many Prices in town is my motto. I’m catching up with your mother later, it’s been a while since I’ve seen her. I’d love to have dinner with all of you sometime soon after the chaos in my life dies down a little.” Marlena had friends here, but it was different.

 

Her friends here always wanted her to be their sounding board. It was like being on the clock and not getting paid for it. She got tired of it sometimes because it always felt like she had to be on. It always felt like she had to be the one to give in her friendships. The friends that she had before she was a psychiatrist felt like friends where she didn’t have to be the one doing all of the listening. That’s what she loved about Tamara and Paulina.

 

It was so easy to have a good time with them because it wasn't so doom and gloom all of the time, even when bad things happened to them, they knew how to roll with the punches and still have a good time. She didn’t see Paulina often. When she took trips to go and see Tamara in Miami, the three of them would always have drinks and Marlena could talk about just how crazy it was living in Salem.

 

“Marlena that sounds like an awesome idea. You can count us in.” Lani was speaking for the both of them, but she knew that Chanel really wouldn’t have a problem with it, she was nodding her head in agreement.

 

“Oh that's so lovely girls. I love that so much. We’ll talk about details when the timing is right. It was so nice to get re-acquainted with you Chanel. I’ll be seeing you soon ladies. I do have to ask… were you ladies speaking German?”

 

“Yeah, we were. It’s something that our grandmother taught us when we were young. Speaking it with each other keeps us connected to her.”

 

“Well you ladies speak it fantastic. I only took two semesters of German in college and I can tell you the only words I know are good morning and I love you and I still find a way to butcher that. Anyways I have to go, I was picking up some soup for my husband. Bye ladies.” Marlena gave them a wave goodbye.

 

 “She's so nice.” Chanel said as she took a sip of her lemonade.

 

“Yeah, she's good people. She’s one of those people that when you're down and out she’ll help you.” Lani always remembered her mom saying if anything ever gets hard and she doesn't have anywhere to turn to that she can always go to Marlena.

 

“Good to know. You know that I’m moving into my house soon. I don’t want to come off as anything other than a supportive sister, but why don’t you ask the estate to get your own house?” Chanel had been talking about everything that was going into furnishing the property and made her think about how Lani should have something like this too.

 

“It's not the same…”

 

“Why not?”

 

“Chanel I’m not a von Bruckner like you.”

 

“Lani, you were of von Bruckner to Oma and that's all that matters. It says every von Bruckner should not be without a home. It’s not daddy’s estate really, his business assets that he didn't leave for my mom went to the estate and I’m pretty sure that grandpa made the estate for Oma. At least talk to my mom about it. There is nothing wrong with the apartment it’s nice and beautiful, but it's so expensive to have kids and having an apartment means it’s rent and not a mortgage. If you have the chance to get the house of your dreams, then go for it. What is there to stop you if Oma wants that for you?”

 

Lani could hear her grandmother’s words in her head. She could even hear her voice. She was always going on about when the time comes that she would take care of her, but she and Chanel would have to take care of each other. The two of them just chalked it up to their grandmother being eccentric even without alcohol but Oma was never drunk when she was taking care of them.

 

“Well I’ll have to talk to Eli about it first and I’m not making any guarantees, but it would be nice to have one less burden. It’s tough as hell trying to afford twins in this town and all of our bills. Eli has student loans, and they kick our ass. We make it but it's not easy and to be honest, I don’t know what’s going to happen. I like staying home with the kids, I don’t know if I want to go back to work. Being with them every day just makes it harder. But I feel like I won’t have a choice soon because when my maternity leave is up, I have to go back to work or else we're going to be on one salary, and it cannot survive for four people.” Lani was getting stressed all over again.

 

The money problems weren’t anything new, when they thought they were only having one child it was tight but doable but now that they have two children it just means that it's double the expenses.

 

“Even more reason. Look I’m going to research everything I can on the estate. But I’m pretty sure that Oma probably made some kind of stipulation for you. Even when she was dying, she was lucid, I don’t see her not planning… she was always planning.”

 

“OK… OK. Look into it and I will talk to my husband about it, but I don’t want us to jump the gun. It has to be super clear because you know Auntie will not have any problem wanting to give me a house. I just don’t want my mom to get jealous or envious and it causes some kind of friction. I can’t handle that right now with everything. I just want to keep the peace in the Price clan.” Lani hated that she always had to feel like she had to watch what she said or what she did.

 

 Chanel completely got it. She knew about the weird layers between her aunt and her mother.

 

“We're going to figure it out. Alright no more doom and gloom about our crazy ass mothers. You know what we should do?”

 

“What?”

 

“We should have a game night!” Chanel loved games she was the queen of games.

 

“OK, who would be invited to this game night?”

 

“It would be a couples game night duh?!” Chanel thought that would have been obvious.

 

“Um, you mean to tell me that you want me to let Xander into my home?” Lani had to tilt her head because she could not believe what she was hearing right now.

 

“Well duh. Honestly the hotel room is too small, and I figured you wouldn’t want to be away from the twins. You said that you would try for me. This is me asking you to try. I think that this could be fun and a way for us to progress. You know he’s not going to do anything to your children. Come on Lani, it’s going to be fun I know it will be.”

 

Lani hated to be guilt tripped but Chanel is right. She did say that she was going to try and honestly the best way to deal with something like this is to spend time together. She didn’t want her own relationship with Chanel to be affected because she felt like Xander was going to be alienated.

 

She thought that their relationship would have been over by now, if anything it only got stronger. They were moving into a house together which was crazy to believe but that was reality.

 

At first, she thought Xander might be using Chanel, because when she spoke with her aunt… she was given a whole lot of tea about Xander's finances or lack thereof.

 

Paulina told her that Xander was the one telling Chanel on cutting back and Chanel actually listened to him.

 

“Fine. Let’s do it in a couple of days, I’m probably going to have to slide it in with Eli so by the time he objects it's going to be too late.” Lani laughed thinking about it.

 

“I know that’s right.” Chanel put her hand out to do their secret handshake.

 

“Come on, let’s get out of here. I’ll drop you off.” Lani got up after they paid the bill.

 

The ride back to the hotel was filled with giggles and howls. Chanel hugged Lani goodbye and went into the hotel. She saw Andrea and made some small talk until Andrea had to get back to her job.

 

When she got back to the room, she saw Xander sitting at the table on his laptop concentrating. She proceeded to take off her canary yellow coat. It was much warmer in the room than it was outside. She wanted to take off her turtleneck dress too.

 

Xander turned his head and admired her wardrobe choice. The body-hugging dress she was wearing was making his day.

 

She walked over to him and placed a kiss on his cheek before sitting down at the chair beside him.

 

“You look like you had a good day?!” Chanel took in his happy demeanor.

 

“Yeah, I did. I actually went to your stomping grounds. The library is so good for focus. I’ve been doing outlines for some business ventures. You know soon we are going to have to sit down and make a budget for expenses and stick to it.”

 

“I know baby. I just have to ask Lani about places around here. I need to find a hair place for when I need my hair done and one for when I want braids, nail place, wax place, facial place, threading place... it’s so much. I’ll wait until we have more money to even think about a massage place. I’m used to Miami so I’m pretty clueless to stuff here.” Chanel wished Xander made a mention of this before she left, she would have been able to ask then and there.

 

Xander eyes bugged out a little with how many places she rattled off the top of her head. He had no clue the efforts she takes to look the way she does.

 

“It’s not a big deal right now we can figure that out later. I just want to know what to expect so I can plan for it. Are you excited? We’ll be leaving this place soon…” Xander was a little anxious himself.

 

“Yeah I am. It’s crazy right?”

 

Xander could hear the worry in her voice. He could see it on her face. It was like she was waiting to get egg on her face.

 

“Yeah, it is crazy and I don’t give a fuck baby.” He got up and held out his hand for her to take.

 

Chanel enveloped her hand in his and got up. They walked over to the bed and sat at the edge.

 

“I want you… I want us. We are going to do this.” Xander meant every word.

 

Chanel reached for him and kissed him.

 

“I’m sorry, I was just a little scared.” When she blinked some tears escaped.

 

Xander took her face in his hands and wiped her tears away.

 

“Don’t apologize. It’s okay to be scared but I will do my best to not make you feel that way okay?”

 

Chanel nodded before pulling Xander's hands from her cheeks.

 

“I want to ask you something. It could help keep us afloat, but I don’t want to make you mad at me…” More tears started to leak from her eyes.

 

“Tell me…”

 

“We could sell the ring.” Chanel was scared to hear what he was going to say.

 

She started to lift her hands from his, but he tightened his grip.

 

Xander knew that she was right, but he knew it was deeper than that. She was asking him to choose her.

 

He looked her in the eyes, he just watched her cry.

 

“We’ll sell the ring baby. We’ll get gold bands for the both of us.”

 

She nodded and hugged him. She was choosing to believe him. She was trusting him… with her dignity but most of all her heart.

 

Xander decided he was choosing her, the way she is choosing him.

 

“Okay. I don’t want to wear it anymore. It was a promise to someone else.” Chanel had to stick to her guns.

 

Xander took the ring of her finger and placed it on the desk.

 

“I want us. I want you… Frida Chanel.”

 

“I want you too Alexandros. That’s all I need for now.”

 

“For now?”

 

“When it comes to you Xander, I only want more with each passing day.”

 

“I want you more each day too Chanel.”

 

He gently pulled her down so they could lie down on the bed. He held her close. They said nothing and didn’t need to… for the both of them it felt like they were untethering their past hurt and binding to each other.

 

When he interlaced their hands and held it to his chest, Chanel felt like she could let her breath go. She would bet on Xander every single time. She started to feel sleepy, and she didn’t fight the feeling. She fell asleep not only feeling physically secure in his arms but emotionally secure as well. It was wonderful feeling.

Chapter Text

They would be moving into the house in two days. It was exciting for them and a little nerve wracking. They would have been able to move in sooner, but Chanel insisted on having her walk-in closet. She had asked the interior designer to look into it. It took them an extra 3 weeks to get a permit but the actual job itself to create the walking closet didn't take much time at all.

Chanel had worked with the interior designer to have exactly what she wanted. She had gotten pictures of the progress and she felt like she was falling in love. It wasn’t a penthouse like Mariah Carey, but it still felt great.

The only real problem was that because it was taking them longer and meant that they had to stay at the hotel longer. Which meant it was adding to their bill... She thought that it would irritate Xander, but he said that he didn’t mind so that was one of the reasons that Chanel said if that were the case then she wanted her closet.

Today was one of the few times that Xander was actually up before she was. When she woke up, she found him focused on his laptop. He had been that way for a while now. She liked to see him focused, she knew that he was intelligent and business with something that called to him.

When she got out of bed, she went to him and hug him from behind and gave him a kiss on the cheek.

“Good morning.” she peppered a couple more kisses on his cheek and temple.

“Good morning darling. I trust you slept well…” Xander was happy to have this surprise even though he kept reading on the screen.

“Yeah, I did. My husband sexed me so good that it made me fall asleep right after.” Chanel moaned as she thought about the night before.

“Sounds like a swell guy.”

“Hmm? No, I don’t think he is. He’s very dynamic, complicated… His temper and passion sing to me like a moth to a flame. He can be swell… but he’s so much more than that. He definitely wasn’t a swell guy when he was fucking me last night.” Chanel started licking from the bottom of his jaw to his earlobe and then gently bit it.

She got up and left for the bathroom, but it was worth it to hear the curses under his breath. She got ready for the day because she did have a couple of things that she needed to do today.

She had her book club with Victor later and she had about 30 pages left from her book. Normally she would have been done way beforehand but with all the planning with the house and reading up on as much of the estate as possible, she was dividing her time as best as she could.

She was thinking about what she wanted to wear for the day, and she decided she was going to wear her denim jumpsuit and curl her hair in big waves. She was going for Charlie’s Angels kind of look for the day.

She sat down beside Xander and started reading the rest of her book.

Before she could actually start reading Xander spoke.

“Darling, could you do me a favor?” Xander’s eyes were still glued to the laptop.

“It depends on what that favor is?” Most likely Chanel was going to say yes whatever it was.

“Could you get me some coffee?” Xander asked as he looked at her.

It was the first time that his eyes strayed away from the laptop.

“Yeah, baby that's not a problem. I’ll be back.” Chanel got up and picked up the best handbag that would go with her outfit. She made sure to have her phone and the car keys.

It was a good idea to actually get something because she was getting hungry. She decided that it would be the best option to go to carl’s diner and order something to go.

“Thank you, sweetheart.” Xander was grateful because the coffee maker in the room was really shitty.

He never understood how anyone could drink it because it wasn't like the water could get hot enough, sometimes he found coffee grounds in the actual coffee. And he was more conscious about what things cost with the room service menu.

Chanel said you’re welcome with a kiss. Then she left and drove to the diner.

Even though Xander didn’t ask for any breakfast, he was definitely going to be eating one. Anytime Chanel drank coffee on an empty stomach it was a recipe for disaster. Her stomach would hurt for the whole day, maybe it was just her, but she wasn’t taking any chances.

She ordered what they got the first time they came here.

She made her way back to the hotel. She had gotten two coffees and two orange juices, she was holding them in a tray, and she had the food in her other hand.

When she got to the door, she realized that she had no hands free. She placed a bag down so she could slide the keycard into the reader.

She was a little annoyed that Xander didn’t notice how full her hands were, but she didn't read too much into it.

She just picked up the food and walked over to the table. As soon as she put the tray down. Xander was pulling a cup of coffee and took a sip.

“Baby, I think you should take a break and eat something.” Chanel wasn’t really giving him a choice. She was just saying it in a nice tone.

Xander didn’t really notice, when he smelled the food, he noticed that he was hungry, and he really did need a break.

He closed the laptop and set it off to the side.

“Thank you darling. It’s a good idea to eat. It looks like we can have breakfast together.”

Xander got up and gave her a kiss and hug. They stayed like that for about half a minute. All of Chanel’s annoyance evaporated when he did that.

After they finished their breakfast, they went back to their respective activities. Chanel did have to finish the book and Xander went back to doing his research.

After Chanel finished her book, she started to organize her thoughts on her notepad. She liked to write things down so she could always circle back on it. It was great when she was having discussions with people because the most important points she wouldn't forget because they would be with her. Sometimes she broke into tangents talking about a book. There’s so much to be dissected within a story that sometimes you forget what your original point was supposed to be.

It was about four hours later when Xander asked for another favor.

“Sweetheart?”

“Yes…”

“I hate to do this to you, but is it possible for you to get me another coffee?”

Chanel was definitely annoyed, but when she saw his face… she didn’t have the heart to tell him to get it himself. He was looking at her with soft eyes and a half smile and she knew that she couldn't say no.

“It's okay. I’ll be back.” She got up again and gave him a kiss on the forehead before she left.

When she went back to Carl’s diner, she already knew that they were going to look at her confused.

“Hi Chanel, I didn’t expect to see you back so soon. Was everything alright with your meal?” Carl always took everything about his business seriously.

The fact that a customer was coming back so quickly after ordering takeout definitely was a cause for concern for him.

“Oh Mr. Carl, everything was perfect. You know this is one of our favorite places to come. I’m actually here because my husband loves your coffee so much that I didn’t get enough for the first time I came so I’m here for a second run. I think I should get some lunch for him too. What’s your favorite thing on the menu for lunch?”

“Well, that's a very tough question because I made the whole menu. But for lunch after the breakfast that your husband had… I would probably recommend the chicken kabob. It’s simple but also very well liked.” Whenever Carl had a problem thinking about just what he was going to have for lunch or dinner, this was his go to when he was undecided.

“Alright I’m trusting you Mr. Carl. You know Xander guzzled down both of those coffees I don’t know how much I should get for him.”

“I’ll put the order in for the chicken kabobs. You know we do sell thermoses. How about this… you buy a thermos, and I will fill the coffee for free. That way Xander can have an abundance of coffee and if he doesn't finish it, he can throw it out. If he does finish it, I don’t know what to tell you. But it is a pretty big thermos.”

“I think that’s a great idea. I’ll do that.”

Chanel had waited about 20 minutes to get the food and then she made her way back to the hotel. It was an easier time having a thermos instead of carrying multiple drinks.

When she opened the door, she made her way back to the table.

She saw that Xander had his eyes glued to the laptop, but he was just staring. She didn’t know if he was actually reading or if he was spaced out.

“Baby I’m back. Maybe you should take a break. I believe there is a Real Madrid game on soon. I have to go to my book club, but I got you lunch and a Sprite. There’s coffee in the thermos.”

“That's a great idea actually, I need a break or else I might just get a headache.”

“I know it’s a great idea because it’s my idea duh?! I’m kidding though… Having some time away from working is good though. It will give you some time to recharge, you’ll have fun because you’ll be watching a good game most likely and eating something really good. I also have something fun planned for us later. Don’t bother asking me because I’m not going to tell you what it is. Just know that it’s going to be fun, and you don’t have a choice in the matter.” Chanel was excited about this game night.

When Lani texted her that Eli was going to be done with work by 7:00 PM, She thought it was great because everything was shaping up.

“I don’t have a choice in the matter. I don’t see how you could stop me?”

“Xander, you don’t want to rock the boat on this believe me. We’re going to have fun that’s going to be the most important part of it. Don’t you want that?”

“Of course I like having fun, but I would like to know what and where that would take place…”

“I don’t have time to talk about that right now. I have to get to my book club, and I can’t be late because your uncle won’t tolerate that. Now please give me a kiss that will make me miss you.”

Xander started kissing her and let his hands roam all over her body. When his hands gravitated towards her ass, he lifted her off the ground, Chanel’s legs wrapped around his waist. He pinned her to the closest wall.

He had his hand cradling the nape of her neck as he tongued her down. His other hand was squeezing her breast, she was lost in a sensation. She wanted to say fuck book club.at that precise moment, Xander stopped.

“My game is going to start. I think that was satisfactory, don’t you? I don’t want you to be late to your book club.” Xander had fun mocking her.

He knew just how to turn her on and then throw cold water on her. If she wasn’t going to tell him what they were going to do later then this was his little act of rebellion.

“Damn you Alexandros.”

“I’m sure you’ll be damning me later baby.”

He let her down gently. He laughed as she huffed and puffed out of the room.

He knew that she was going to be back because she forgot her notepad. He had it in his hand and stood by the door.

As soon as she opened the door, he handed it to her with a smirk, she snatched it out of his hands and left. He was amused but he did need to get ready for his game.

Chanel made her way over to the Kiriakis mansion. She went straight for the study because her little impromptu make out session with Xander was making her lose time.

She was two minutes early to her book club meeting.

“Glad to see you’ve come on time. Agnes just brought in lunch and she left us with a bottle of sherry.” Victor didn’t bother to say hi because what was the point…

“Sounds great, where should we begin?” She made her way over to her favorite spot as of late.

They conversed for about three hours, she always had fun at her book club meetings. She knew that Victor was an intense man, she could see it every time that Xander was in the same room with the man. But it was like he was a different person when it came to books. He was still intense and passionate, but he was less abrasive intended to have his insults for characters instead of humans in the room. But then again, she was the only human in the room.

Didn’t make sense to try and insult the only other member of the book club, because they just may not come back. After they had their discussion on this week’s book, they decided the shortlist for next week. They couldn’t decide on which book to read so it was obvious to Chanel what they had to do.

When she told Victor that they had to play rock paper scissors to figure it out, the man laughed a hearty laugh. He said it was ludicrous, but they would always have a stalemate because there was only two people in the club. Victor laughed again when he was the winner of their game of rock paper scissors.

After she settled everything with Victor, she drove back to the hotel. She had to get ready for game night. She told Lani that she was going to bring pizza which was definitely the right thing to say.

When she got back to the room, she saw Xander lying down on the bed with his air pods in. She knew that he was listening to a book.

He took one of the air pods out of his ear, but he didn’t move. Chanel made her way over and sat on the edge of the bed. She bent down so she could kiss him. It wasn’t like the kiss they had before she left. This was a kiss that was to butter him up.

“I ordered a pizza. We’re going to need it for what we’re going to be doing later.”

“This is still the thing that I am not allowed to know about right?”

“That’s right. Come on… Please don’t be mopey about it I promise it’s going to be fun.”

“Fine.” Xander got up and went to get his shoes.

He didn’t know if he was underdressed or overdressed but she gave him no clue, so he was just going to throw on his leather jacket on top of his T-shirt.

“We're gonna have so much fun. I can’t wait. But let’s get to the pizza place because I don’t want our pizza to get cold.”

After they picked up the pizza, Chanel started directing Xander on where to go. When they ended up at an apartment building, he was kind of confused… but he didn’t say anything.

Chanel entered a code into an intercom system and the door unlocked. He followed her as he held the box of pizza. When they got to the apartment in question she knocked, and he was shocked, but he felt foolish because he shouldn't have been.

Lani was behind a door and he should have figured it out sooner.

“Welcome to game night.” Lani said through a forced smile.

Xander was fuming because he felt like he walked into a trap and now he was stuck here.

Lani had been dealing with a slightly annoyed Eli.

Eli had been surprised to find out that they were going to be hosting a game night with Chanel and Xander. He knew that Lani had been re-establishing her relationship with Chanel, but he didn’t expect for it to mean that they would be doing essentially double dates with Xander of all people.

Xander looked at Chanel like she was crazy. He thought that his eyes focusing on her would get her to look at him, but she didn't. He couldn't believe that she would think that this would ever be his idea of fun. Playing games with Eli and Lani felt like a recipe for disaster.

“I’m so ready. Aren’t you Xander?”

Xander already had a sarcastic quip on his tongue ready to lash every single person in the room, but when he took a look at Chanel and saw how excited she was… it died on his lips.

He knew that it was important for her to become close to Lani again so he would suck this up.

“We brought pizza.” It was the first thing that Xander could think of saying.

“Great.” I’ll take that and get us some plates.

Lani had gently taken the box of pizza and brought it to the table.

Eli grumbled and just went to their dinner table and sat down.

“Well there's no time like the present. I think we should choose teams now. I believe Lani said the first game we would be playing would be catch phrase.”

“I call dibs on Chanel.” Lani said as she was getting plates.

“Say what?!” Eli couldn’t believe what he was hearing. He thought it was going to be a given that they would be teammates.

“Yeah, why do you get to have dibs on Chanel? She’s my wife.” There were only four people here so if Xander didn’t get to play with Chanel then it would mean that he would be teamed up with Eli… That was not going to do…

“I get dibs because I called dibs and if we really want to go there. I’m her sister and I’ve known her longer so I’m pretty sure I win.” Lani didn’t think that this was up for debate. When you call dibs that’s it.

“Well don’t we think Chanel should decide whose team she wants to be on?” Xander stared at Chanel but she wouldn’t look at him.

“Xander, I’m sorry but there’s nothing that beats dibs. We can be partners next game night.” Chanel sat down at the table and bit her lip.

She knew that Xander was going to be pissed but she was doing this for two reasons. One nothing did beat dibs and two maybe if he was teamed up with Eli, they could connect a little and who knows…

Eli laughed because it seemed as if he wasn’t the only one who had been bamboozled. At least he wasn’t alone in his misery.

Xander took a slice of pizza from the box, he didn’t even need a plate because he ripped about half of the pizza with his teeth and started chewing.

Eli was doing his own angry chewing.

Lani and Chanel were discussing strategy. It was easiest for them to do it in German because it meant that the guys wouldn’t understand anything you were saying.

It was kind of awkward for Eli and Xander to just watch their wives talking in a language they didn't know.

Xander decided to break the ice because they were going to be partners, might as well figure it out now.

“Do you watch football? There was a game on today… was pretty good kind of...”

“Football on a Wednesday… Oh I get it, you’re talking about soccer football. There was a game on today… who was playing?” If there was one thing Eli could talk about it was definitely soccer.

“It was Real Madrid versus Osasuna. Real Madrid 2 to nil.”

“Word? That’s lit. Real Madrid is my team…”

“Oh really? I enjoy them too. Do you get to watch them often?” Xander had been surprised that Eli watched football, wasn’t that popular in this country.

“Yeah, that's been my team since Zizou went there in 2001. When he played for Juventus, I watched as many games, when he was there too. It’s funny though because back then they didn’t really show games on the regular sports channels. So I had to watch that shit in Spanish. I ended up choosing Spanish as my foreign language in school just so I could know what the hell they were saying when I was watching those games.” Eli laughed as he was recounting his childhood watching soccer games.

“He's one of my favorite footballers ever. Even though I don’t play the same position as him, I love his style of football.”

“Oh you play too?! He’s the whole reason I started playing in the first place. I ended up with me getting a scholarship to get my undergrad. I played attacking midfielder just like he did, I used to want to be him. His goal at the 2002 UEFA Champions League final… chef's kiss”

“Oh that’s definitely one of my favorite moments ever in football. Yeah, I still play every now and then. Most of the time I play wingback or just fullback in general.”

“I could see it. Definitely need a lot of endurance to do wing back. But was the game even competitive?"

“Not at all. It was like honestly a clinic, it was like a senior team playing with a junior team. Madrid was able to get 20 plus shots, but Osasuna was only able to get 3. They had half as many passes, committed more fouls, got yellow cards. Madrid made very few mistakes. They were offsides twice, but it really didn't matter because it was to be expected with how much they dominated the game.” Even though Xander had watched the game from start to finish, he was shaking his head most of the time.

He knows that every team can’t be on at all times, but Osasuna was just terrible.

“Not even surprising to be honest. They’ve been so inconsistent that a lot of times people just think they're going to be an easy win.”

Chanel was smiling because even though she was strategizing how they were going to pulverize Xander and Eli, she was excited that they were having a civil conversation. It did help that they both liked soccer. She didn’t care what made them act like this as long as they did.

“All right looks like we’re ready to start, I hope that you guys were strategizing because you’re going to need it because Chanel and I are going to kick your ass.” Lani was ready.

“You always know how to talk trash.” Eli rolled his eyes because his wife was always so cocky.

“If that’s code word for the truth then so be it. I hope y’all are ready.” Chanel had her game face on because she was a completely different person when it came to games.

“Let’s just start.” Xander narrowed his eyes at Chanel. He has always been a competitive person and right now he really wanted to make her eat Crow.

“Well we should flip a coin to see who's going to go first…” Lani wanted to get the show on the road.

“Ladies first.” Eli said with a sneer.

“Thank you but no thank you, we'd rather have the coin flip. We want to keep it fair so when we kick your asses, you don’t cry about any cheating.” Chanel was looking both Eli and Xander up and down.

Xander raised his eyebrows at this new side that he was discovering.

When they flip the coin, Lani and Chanel won the right to go first.

Chanel picked the food category and placed the phone on her head.

“And go.” Eli said.

“Oma’s favorite food.”

“Bratwurst.”

A minute had passed, and Chanel had successfully answered 11 questions.

The guys tried to do the same but didn’t have the same kind of results. It led them to being loud and wrong which made the ladies laugh. Eli was only able to answer six of them right. It kind of set the tone for the night.

Even though they got an absurd number of questions wrong, every time they finished around, they would rag on each other on how bad the clues were.

Chanel and Lani took sly looks at each other all night. The game night was definitely a good idea. After they played catch phrase, they settled for ‘what do you meme?’

The game had been very chaotic and everyone at the table was laughing at the absurdity with each passing round.

It was almost eleven at night when Eli had to call it a night because he had to be up early for work.

“You know Barcelona is playing on Saturday… If you want, you can come over to our house and watch…” Xander said in a nonchalant tone.

“Yeah man, that’s what’s up. I’m off on Saturday and I think Lani is supposed to be going to your house anyways, so I’ll just tag along.” Eli didn’t think much of it, he wasn’t going to be doing much anyways because Lani had already told him that she was going to spend the day with Chanel.

Eli and Lani had walked the Xander and Chanel to the door. Ironically it was Eli and Xander that were talking.

When they got back to the hotel, they started getting ready for bed. When Xander came out of the bathroom he saw Chanel rubbing lotion on herself. He had started to do the same when she said that she didn't want a man with dry cracked skin.

He had been sitting against the headboard watching TV when she started to crawl over to him. She sat on his thighs and completely blocked the television from his eyeline.

“Did you have fun Xander?” She thought it was a success, but she also knew that Xander could be charming when he wanted to even if he was mad on the inside.

Xander looked at her in silence.

“I didn’t think I would have a good time at all. Definitely didn’t expect to have a great time. I had so much fun baby. I don’t even remember the last time I ever did something like that. Must have been when I was in Scotland with my mates. Thank you for that.”

He put his arms around her back to push her forward. He wanted her closer to him. When he kissed her, it was like he could taste her happiness. He could feel her smile against his lips.

“I was hoping you were having fun. Thank you for trying. There’s one more thing I would like though…”

“And what’s that?”

“Your head between my legs.” Chanel giggled because he tickled her side.

He used a distraction to make her lay on her side. He kissed her on the lips some more and then made his way down. He adjusted himself so his head could lie on her inner thigh. He planned on eating her out until she begged him to stop.

He knew they had a long night ahead of him and he smiled and laughed into her cunt which made her moan out. Indeed he was going to have a long night and he was going to love every second of it.

Chapter Text

Today was the day they were moving into their house. Chanel was so excited that she was beside herself. She just couldn’t wait to move on. Even though the Salem Inn was nice, they were only staying in one room. It didn’t have much space to do anything. It wasn’t something she minded particularly, hotel rooms have their uses… she just didn’t think it would be something that she would want long term.

 

They had packed all of their luggage and put it in the car. They had made their way to the front desk so they could turn in their keys and pay the final bill. This was the part that was going to make Xander pretty anxious because he knew that the bill was going to be high. He had been living at the Inn for months after he decided to move out of the mansion.

 

His pride refused to let him go back crawling to his uncle, sometimes in his mind he wanted to acquiesce just because of financial toll it was going to take on him would be immense. He just knew that it wasn’t feasible to happen, he knew himself and right now he would rather take the difficult road instead of asking for anything because his anger just wouldn’t allow it.

 

“Hi Andrea, we wanted to check out of our room and get our final bill.” Chanel was happy to see her resident friendly face.

 

She was always able to strike up conversation with Andrea because they are around the same age. She took a real liking to her because she felt like she could ask Andrea about fun things to do around town and not get a stupid answer.

 

“Oh hey Chanel, yeah I can definitely do that for you. Hello, Mr. Kiriakis. It’s been a pleasure having you both stay here with us at the Salem Inn. Mr. Kiriakis it looks like you stayed here for 106 days that haven’t been cleared yet. You got the rate at $250 a day. Looks like that comes to $26,500 even. It looks like the room service and minibar charges had already been cleared. Oh let me not forget to attach the corporate discount for Titan employees. That makes a difference at 15% off…” Andrea had to find the right discount because each company they had an agreement with had a different code in the computer.

 

Both Xander and Chanel kept their mouth shut about Xander’s unemployment status because 15% would go along way with this bill. The bill was enough to buy a whole new car without any kind of financing. Chanel just squeezed Xander’s hand tight.

 

“Alright, I found the code which is great! It looks like the bill will come to $22,525 even. There is a card attached would you like me to charge that, or would you like to pay with another?” Even though Andrea was dealing with lots of businesspeople every single time she worked, this was probably the highest bill she’s ever seen.

 

Xander took a deep breath because hearing such a large amount of money when he was going through the poorest time in his life financially was so defeating. He had only about 80k in his checking account, so this bill was going to take a big dent out. After settling this bill he would have less than 60K. He was selling the ring but dumping it to the first buyer might lose him money. He needed to shop around and get the best price for it.

 

“You can use the card on the account. Thank you.” Xander finally said something, he didn’t know how long he stayed silent as he was contemplating everything.

 

Chanel spoke with Andrea for a couple more minutes. They made plans to hang out outside of the Salem Inn.

 

When Xander and Chanel got to the car, she could already tell that he was still thinking about the bill. She knew that it was going to be a steep cost and He was probably going to be upset at the bill and himself.

 

He could have saved himself a lot of money by moving into the mansion. Victor had even offered her during one of their book club meetings, but she didn't dare tell Xander about it. After last time she knew that he most likely would have blown a gasket.

 

Even if she believed that Victor was being earnest about it which she actually did she knew he would want for them to convene more to talk about books, it didn’t mean that Xander would take it that way. They had a fraught relationship and she didn’t want to make it seem as if she was in any way trying to take Victor’s side. But she thought about it in her head even if they had just taken Victor up on the offer then the bill would have been much less.

 

But she knew that Xander was like a keg of gunpowder. If it sets at the right time then it’s great, but if it explodes at the wrong time then it's a disaster.

 

Xander started driving thinking about everything. He had money set aside for property taxes and insurance. But then he started to think about their regular living expenses. They had to have a budget it was expensive to buy food and gas. Then they were going to have to start thinking about the utilities and the stress was already mounting on his head.

 

“Xander…” Chanel was trying to comfort him.

 

It was a little tough to navigate because the air in the car was filled with tension. It was radiating from his body and she wanted to make it better. She had been afraid to even turn on the radio because she didn't know if that would make it worse.

 

“Baby not right now. Let’s just go home.” Xander didn’t want any sweet words or messages of hope.

 

They were going into the unknown and no amount of sweet words were going to get him to forget the real possibility of running out of money.

 

After that… Chanel said nothing and looked out the window. This was supposed to be a happier experience and all she could feel was anxiousness pouring out of Xander’s body.

 

The both of them were relieved when they finally made it home. This was going to be the first time they were going to enter their home when it was completely done.

 

The both of them were able to forget about the problems mounting and just enjoy the fact that they would have more space than a hotel room.

 

Xander helped Chanel out of the car. She had expected him to just walk towards the house, she was surprised when he still held her hand. After the brushoff she didn’t really expect much.

 

Xander could run hot and cold, you could get burned by the cold just as much as the hot.

 

“Are you ready sweetheart?” Xander knew that he was a dick earlier, he was trying to put a little bit of a balm on the abrasiveness that he gave her earlier.

 

The worry that she had started to melt away when he called her sweetheart. It was like he knew just what to do.

 

“Yes. I’m really excited.” It was the truth she was. She got updates from the interior designer just about every single day and she loved what she saw in the pictures and the videos.

 

They had taken some trips to the house to see how the progress is going. Everything looked like it was coming together but now they got to see the finished product in its entirety.

 

They walked to the house and Xander had used his set of keys that he got when they officially got the house.

 

When they got into the house… it was like a dream. Xander couldn’t believe it. He knew that Chanel had a knack for this and definitely for modern refinement mixed bold colors, it was just lovely. The only thing that he really cared to decorate was his office because it was going to be his personal space. He gave her free reign on just about everything else.

 

He loved the sofas because they were oversized which meant that he could actually be comfortable on them if he were to lie down. They checked out every single room and then made their way to their bedroom.

 

Their bed had been the last thing to come because it was huge. When Xander saw he thought it was comical. He had never even heard of an Alaskan King bed before. He knew that all of this was going to be paid for by her father’s estate, but this was a lot.

 

“Darling, this bed has its own area code. We didn’t need a bed this big?!” Xander was laughing just looking at it.

 

“I think it looks great! I got it for you… I looked at all the measurements of every kind of bed that we wouldn't have to make custom. Originally, I thought a king size bed would be fine, but the length is only 80 inches. You’re 74 inches. That only leaves half a foot of space for you and you would have to sleep at the headboard. Then I looked at California King and a Wyoming King Ann the length on those are only 84 inches. I wanted you to be able to have room and not feel like you had to bend your knees or have your feet hanging off the bed.” Chanel always had a method to every decision she made.

 

Even if it didn’t make much sense to other people, she always tried to make informed decisions.

 

Xander still thought that she was crazy for getting such a huge bed, he was glad that she bought a ridiculous amount of bed sets because if they had bought it after they would be on the hook for it, and he knew that it would be expensive for each set. But he was also very touched by her thought rationale. She did it all for his comfort and it made him smile.

 

 “You did all of that for me?”

 

“Well yeah. Most of the bed is not going to have any use because I will probably always be going to sleep close to you unless you do something to get on my nerves. I might not even let you in the bed. I even went down to the firmness of the bed. If you sleep on your side, it won’t hurt your shoulder or make your muscles ache.  The bed stays cool cause I know you run hot. That’s important to me, you’re important to me. It’s our house and I want you to feel comfortable in it. I want you to love it as much as I love it. I want you to feel at home in it as much as I do. If you want to get another bed, we can do that. I know it looks a little big… I know it looks huge, but no matter which way you're facing, your feet won’t hang off the bed unless you want it too.” Chanel knew that even if they returned the bed with the return fee attached, they could get any other bed for much less and probably pocket money.

 

As Xander heard her explanation, every word she said hit him hard. She thought so thoroughly about something he didn't even really think about. When she said that he was important to her his stomach clenched.

 

“I love…” Xander almost blurted out the word you, but he caught himself. “it. I love it so much darling. I love the whole house. I still think it was a little overboard but the thought you put into it means a lot to me. You’re important to me too.” A little voice in Xander’s head told him that she was more than important.

 

He was in love with his wife. It was a terrifying thought because so much of their life was up in the air.

 

He had to be successful to hold on to her. He was just thinking about all of the expenses they were going to have to pay for. She was going to need at least $400 on the conservative end just to do her regular self-care routine each month.

 

He felt so tempted to call some of his old contacts and get back in the game. He had already made a promise to her that he wasn't going to do anything illegal, but he heard Paulina’s voice in his head telling him that he was unemployable.

 

“I’m glad you do. Now I have to go to the supermarket and buy us food to fill up our refrigerator and pantry. I assume that you want me to get you snacks so you and your new boyfriend will have a grand time watching the game tomorrow.” Chanel was having so much fun teasing him about Eli.

 

Xander rolled his eyes at his wife. They had one bloody conversation that wasn’t terrible, now Chanel was not going to let him live it down.

 

“Boyfriend?! Woman you are absurd. I am barely a mate to Eli, more like an acquaintance. We are just watching the game tomorrow that is it.”

 

Chanel started walking and Xander followed her. He felt like he had to give her 100 different reasons on how he and Eli were not mates.

 

“OK! Whatever… Like who invites someone to their house if they don't have the intention of being their friend. Baby, I wouldn’t invite no acquaintances here… You don’t have to admit it to me I know that you want Eli to be your football bae and that’s okay. I think it’s really cute… it’s like witnessing the start of a bromance. Now I don’t have time to listen to you try and explain how I’m reading too much into it… I want to go to the grocery store and get us some food so we can actually eat something. Now give me the car keys…”

 

Xander took the keys out of his pocket and handed them over.

 

“There you go. Is there anything else I could do for you, your Majesty?”

 

Chanel pressed her index finger to her lips.

 

Xander had no problem obliging to her wants. He scooped her up for a kiss. He wasn’t ready to tell her that he loved her with words… but he could do it with affection. He was still scared she might pull the plug on them if he doesn’t find something that pans out.

 

When she started giggling, he set her down again. It was one of the ways that he could tell that she was blushing. He walked her to the door and waved to her goodbye. He only closed the door when he saw the car driving away.

 

Xander felt desperate right now, he was going to do something that he really didn't want to do but he didn't feel like he had a choice at this point. He needed money and he would tell Chanel when he crossed that bridge.

 

Chanel was excited when she got to the supermarket. It was going to be a little confusing because she wasn’t used to a supermarket up here. She usually shopped at Publix or Trader Joe’s, but they don’t have Publix outside of the southeast and she didn’t actually check if there was a Trader Joe’s here, but she figured that they had to because she knew that Chicago did. If she couldn’t find things, she wanted here then she would go there next.

 

She had compiled a list of everything she needed, if there was anything that she wanted then she would get those after. It really wasn’t hard for her to fill up the cart because they were starting off from scratch. She was not only getting food she was getting cleaning supplies, toiletries… the works.

 

She started her process, it wasn’t that hard. She looked up at every single aisle to see exactly what was in it, so she didn't go round and round in the supermarket. She hated even going to a Publix that wasn't hers because they would have a different layout. Didn't actually take her long to do her grocery shopping when she was at home because she knew exactly where everything was because she knew her supermarket in and out.

 

She would learn the layout of this supermarket it was just going to take her some time. As she was getting a package of chicken tenderloins, she heard a familiar voice. She knew the sounds of a raggedy ass bitch like she had sonar.

 

“Look what we have here? Is the princess doing her own shopping… are you gonna find some random shopper to try and swindle so they can pay for your stuff?” Claire was surprised to see Chanel here, she didn’t expect the con artist to do her own groceries.

 

“Claire?! I apologize Chanel.” Tripp felt like he was in an awkward position. Yeah, he was a little miffed at Chanel trying to skip out on the bill, but it worked out in the end and it was obvious that Chanel’s mother was rich, so he didn’t understand why Claire was trying to antagonize her.

He really didn’t think there was any reason to keep holding on to any kind of animosity. He’s done that in the past and it almost ruined the relationship that he has with his stepmother.

 

“Hello Tripp… Claire. No Claire, I don’t need anyone to buy my groceries, are you on an excursion with Tripp so he can buy you something?”  Chanel was ready if Claire really wanted to go there.

 

She may have hated using the money she earned while she worked, but at least she had money to her name.

 

Tripp’s eyebrows went to his hairline because they came to get a sandwich from the deli, and he was paying for it.

 

“Judging by the facial expression on Tripp I can see that I am a winner winner chicken dinner.” Chanel dropped the package of chicken tenderloins into her cart. “As always it was lovely seeing you Tripp…  Claire profite du sandwich gratuit.” (Claire this is for your free sandwich.) Chanel went in her bag and slipped a $10 bill into the pocket of Tripp’s shirt and walked away.

 

 She could hear Tripp laughing, and then she heard Claire calling her a bitch. Chanel gave herself a pat on the back and checked out the next meat section.

 

Chanel swore that it took her about an hour and a half to get everything she needed.  She had been half surprised that the supermarket had most of the spices and marinades that she used to cook. She had to play tetris with the cart to fit everything. The last thing she wanted to do was either lug around two carts or do a double back.

 

She had finished getting all of the essentials that they were going to need and now she was thinking about her favorite junk food and getting snacks for the game on Saturday. She was also going to get snacks for herself and Lani even though they were going to be in another room doing something else. She knew that Xander was a beer snob so she got, she got some local stuff she had seen him drinking but she got Stella Artois and Blue Moon hoping that would suffice.

 

She finally got to the checkout and knew that it was going to be a hefty bill.

 

She decided to get 10 reusable totes because she realized all of her totes that she usually used were at her condo in Miami.

 

When the cashier finished scanning everything, the bill came out to $563.27. Chanel handed her debit card even though she hated it.

 

She hated spending that money because it reminded her of the worst moments in her life. When she was working herself to the bone for absolutely no reason other than to not think about how she killed her father. Or running away when she couldn't deal with 12-to-16-hour days anymore, she wouldn’t deal with the 100-hour workweeks that people just let her do without asking her why?! She was working herself to death trying not to think of the death she precipitated. She knew how to make money, she knew how to be a machine… Being machine meant that she didn’t have to feel. She made most of her money when she ran away. She monetized her blog and became a commodity in travel circles. It was one of the biggest reasons she and Dani only stayed in places for a week until they got to Greece. By then she had enough cache to just stay in one country and make bank with tourist ministry of Greece by visiting the cities and towns. She was able to forget for a while didn’t have to think about the stages of grief. She couldn’t go through the stages of grief when she was on step 0… She just didn’t touch that issue anymore, like she was trying not to touch the money. It was a real reminder of what she was trying to bury. The guilt was rising to the surface, but she pushed it down.

 

Her husband just paid an almost $23,000 bill, Chanel thought to herself that she could fucking pay for some damn groceries, but it still hurt when she put the chip in and then her pin.

 

Then she found the Trader Joe’s and got the items that she wanted that she couldn’t find at the supermarket and did it again.

 

The whole ride home she felt like she was on autopilot. when she was close, she picked up the clicker from the cup holder and opened the gate so she could get into the house.

 

She had texted Xander telling him that she was home. She saw the door quickly open and saw him in super casual clothes. It almost made her smile to see him so comfortable.

 

“Sweetheart, I’ll bring everything inside and then we will put them away together.” Xander said as he gave her a quick peck on the forehead.

 

Chanel took the first tote bag and brought it into the house and went straight to the kitchen. She was always quiet when she put away groceries, but she had so much on her mind right now. She was trying to be in the moment and not think about the horrible past.

 

 Xander was able to bring multiple totes in at once. He wanted to cut down as many trips as possible.

 

When he finally got everything inside, he started helping Chanel put things away.

 

“Baby you got some good beers!” Xander exclaimed as he popped a kiss on her cheek as he passed her.

 

He put things on the counter because he knew they didn't have a system yet so things that have to go immediately in the fridge, he put them in there but the other items he knew that they were going to have to work together so they knew where everything was.

 

He noticed that Chanel was more robotic. He couldn’t figure out why, he thought to himself maybe it was just because they were putting groceries away and she wanted to concentrate on that, but he got the distinct feeling that she was sad.

 

When they finished… he saw her taking the car keys out of her bag. He made a note to himself that they needed to get copies, so they don't have to do the back and forth.

 

“You tired sweetheart? It’s a lot of groceries and must have been daunting to shop for nearly three hours.” Xander started to walk over to her and hugged her from behind.

 

“Yeah, I’m a little tired, I just want to relax now.”

 

“Well do you want to watch Netflix or something?” Xander hugged her tighter and placed his head next to hers.

 

The only reason Xander was keeping a Netflix subscription was because he had T-Mobile and it was free, but he would have cut it if he didn't. He had to remind himself to bring her on his plan it would lower their costs than having two different individual phone plans. The only thing he wasn’t going to skip out on was cable, he needed to be able to watch his football games.

 

“That would be nice.” Chanel’s voice was barely above a whisper.

 

It made Xander very nervous, in his mind he was thinking that she was probably regretting doing this now that she had some time away from him.

 

They walked over to the sofa and he lied down on his side. He took Chanel’s hand and brought her closer to him. Chanel lied down and let herself be cuddled by Xander.

 

“Let me know when you get hungry. I’ll make you something to eat. It’s the least I could do for my sweet wife…” He kissed her jaw and hugged her tighter to him.

 

Chanel could think of 2.6 million reasons why the words that came out of Xander’s mouth was a lie.

 

She made herself fall asleep so she could escape the guiltiness for a little while.

Chapter Text

It was game day which meant that Eli and Lani were coming over. It didn’t matter what Xander said, Chanel knew that he was excited.

 

After her nap yesterday she was able to distract herself from what was plaguing her mind. It was pretty easy because Xander had a way of making things easy. It wasn’t just the kisses or sex that took her mind off of everything heavy. They watched TV and he gave his unsolicited commentary. It made her laugh because he was so ridiculous. 

 

When she woke up, she saw that he was still sleeping. She rolled to the other side of the bed so she could get her phone from the nightstand. She took it out of the charger an rolled back close to Xander.

 

She decided to burn some time by watching some videos on YouTube. When she started looking at funny videos, she started laughing uncontrollably.

 

Her laughter ended up waking up Xander, but she couldn’t tell because her back was towards him.

 

“Why are you disrupting my sleep?” Xander’s voice was gruff but the kiss he placed on her back wasn’t.

 

He pulled her close so her back was against his chest. He placed his hand on her the lower part of her stomach.

                                                                                                                                                

“Was I messing with your rest sleeping beauty? If so tough luck.” Chanel didn’t care one way or the other. It was only a matter of time before he woke up anyways.

 

Xander was utterly amused by the banter. He had been happy Chanel had foregone any sleep clothes after they had sex last night.

 

He loved the feel of her naked flesh. He let his hands roam and he was satisfied when he heard her phone drop on the bed.

 

“You’re not even a little bit sorry?” His voice was hot in her ear.

 

His hand reached his favorite place. He slipped his middle finger in her cunt and he chuckled when she let out a high-pitched whimper.

 

“Never. Now add another finger.”

 

Xander smirked and added another finger.

 

“Look who's being greedy…” He mocked her and then gave her neck a gentle bite.

 

 “I can’t be greedy if it’s mine. Are you mine Xander?” Chanel tilted her head back and groaned as he started to curl his fingers.

 

“Yes sweetheart. I’m yours.”

 

Hearing those words made Chanel moan even louder.

 

 She starts to move her hand lower so she could play with her clit.

 

Xander knew exactly what she was trying to do, and it wasn’t going to work today.

 

“Don’t you dare…”

 

Chanel shivered from his words, but she didn’t move her hand yet.

 

“Please… baby.” Chanel placed her hand on top of Xander’s.

 

 She loved the feel of his long fingers in her.

 

“I said no.”

 

Chanel was getting frustrated because Xander was giving her just enough to torture her. She knew that he was enjoying every second of it.

 

“You have to give me more than this. If you don’t then if I decide to let you live, then you will regret it.”

 

Xander smiled into her skin… He could always count on her to use her charm. Chanel could feel him kiss everywhere… each one felt like a taunt.

 

She started laughing because two could play that game. She was going to remember this and get her retribution. But that would be later because she felt his kisses descending lower.

 

When Xander got in between her legs they were both in anticipation.

 

His fingers never left her cunt, he had been enjoying giving her just enough to make her want more.

 

When he kissed right above her clit, she tried to roll her hips, but his other hand pressed down so she didn’t have much luck.

 

“Not today sweetheart.”

 

 “Damn you Xander. There’s only so much I can take and only so much I will take –”

 

Before Chanel could say anything else, Xander licked her clit. She let out a loud groan out unexpectedly. But she sure did love it.

 

Xander was taking everything in, he saw her hands digging into the bed… bunching up the sheets.

 

“That feels so good don't stop.”

 

Xander watched her as she spoke… He could see her back arching into a bow what he was doing to her. Now he felt like the greedy one.

 

He went back to giving her the attention that she desperately wanted.

 

“Just like that… Lick that pussy baby, taste it. There’s no other pussy that tastes as good as mine.” Chanel felt like a stream of consciousness just burst through her lips.

 

Xander was taken aback… It actually broke his concentration for a second. He enjoyed her inhibition, it tasted almost as good as she did.

 

“Did I fucking tell you to stop. Xander you better not ruin my vibe this morning. Now get back to work.” Chanel was starting to get upset because every time she started building towards an orgasm, Xander did something to make it wash away.

 

Xander 's eyes turned crazy. He felt some of his rage coming to the surface. He started sucking on her clit hard. If she wanted to get aggressive then so would he.

 

It should have been impossible, but she arched her back even more.

 

 He stopped sucking on her clit again and Chanel thought she was going to have to curse him out.

 

“Xander—”

 

“No. You listen to me… Open your eyes and watch everything that I do to you. If you don’t then you're going to be pretty unhappy without getting to cum this morning.”

 

When she saw the angry look on Xander’s face, it only turned her on more. She propped herself on her elbows and picked her head up so it could lean forward.

 

“Baby… I’ll go crazy if you don’t let me come.” She groaned as she rolled her eyes, but she made sure not to let them go shut.

 

She watched him as he devoured her. She had always thought that his blue eyes had this sort of magnetism but in bed it was amplified. She felt like she couldn’t look anywhere else.

 

Xander was putting in work, so much so that his jaw was starting to ache, but he could hardly care when he saw her eyebrows furrow or the sounds of her breathy sighs.

 

“Fuck! Xander… Oh my god. Unh! Oh my god. I’m—” Chanel couldn’t say anything else she was shrieking loudly.

 

This is what Xander missed. When they were at the hotel she started moaning and screaming into a pillow. He absolutely hated it but didn't stop her.

 

But now that they were home, he had the freedom to make his wife cum at the top of her lungs and he loved it.

 

Chanel couldn’t keep her elbows up anymore. She fell into the bed as her orgasm kept spreading through her body.

 

Xander kissed her cunt which made her shiver. Then he started to kiss upward. He could feel the muscles of her stomach clenching every time he dropped the kiss. When he reached her breast, he wanted to take a lick.

 

 When Chanel felt his tongue on her nipple she started shaking some more.

 

“Baby no, too much.”

 

Xander immediately stopped and settled himself beside her.

 

 When Chanel opened her eyes, she saw those same eyes that turned her on so thoroughly just minutes ago.

 

She started to reach for him and pressed herself to him. She loved that he felt solid and warm. She loved feeling his arms around her. They held each other in silence.

 

 All Chanel wanted to do right now was snuggle.

 

“I’m sure you’re looking forward to today…” Chanel planted a kiss on his chest as she said it.

 

“My goodness woman, you’re still on this…” Xander rolled his eyes even though his wife couldn’t see him do it because his head was resting above her head.

 

“Uh huh. That’s why you haven’t had any of the beers that you said were great choices. Okay baby… I guess we live in a Burger King now because we’ll just have it your way.”

 

Xander chuckled at her sass.

 

“Darling it’s just a game. I doubt that will even be talking most of the game. I’m trying to be more genial because it's important to you.”

 

Chanel snatched her head back so she could look at Xander.

 

First, she kissed the space between his eyebrows and then the tip of his nose. Then she made it to his mouth.

 

As soon as she did, Xander was kissing her with just as much passion as he had when he was eating her out and she felt like she was on fire. She tasted herself on his tongue and it only turned her on even more even though she was in no condition to have anymore sex.

 

“Mmm…I love the taste of me on my man. But seriously, thank you for trying. My family is very important to me and so are you.” Chanel pressed a kiss to his lips and then hugged him.

 

She knew that she loved Xander… she loved him even more for doing this for her even though she knew that he would enjoy it too.

 

Xander hugged her tighter when she said that he was important to her.

 

After a couple of minutes they both got out of bed to take a shower. They did it together and Xander felt like Chanel was trying to take his soul from him when she sucked his dick as water was cascading on his back.

 

After they ate breakfast, they spent most of the morning just cuddling on the couch.

 

When they heard the knock, Chanel started laughing because Xander shot up from the couch and then try to pretend as if he wasn't walking quickly to the door.

 

When he opened the door, he saw Eli, Lani and their kids in the stroller.

 

“Hello welcome.” Xander was trying to be cheerful which made everyone look at him funny including Chanel.

 

Lani was the first one to come in and she took in the house and she didn't mind feeling jealous. The place was absolutely gorgeous.

 

“Hey Nel…” Lani had parked the stroller and went to hug Chanel.

 

It had been a couple of days since they saw each other and the more they saw each other the more difficult it was for Lani to say goodbye. She was getting used to the fact that Chanel was in town.

 

She felt like she had her person and maybe it was a little selfish of her, but she wanted to keep holding on to that.

 

Eli and Xander started making small talk about the game which was starting soon.

 

Eli had come in his Real Madrid jersey which confused Chanel because she thought it was a Barcelona game on today.

 

“Why do you have that jersey on?” Chanel asked curiously and saw that Lani was rolling her eyes.

 

Xander couldn’t believe what his wife just asked.

 

“It should be obvious sweetheart? We’re rooting for Real Madrid.”

 

“But I thought it was Barcelona against Valencia…” Chanel was confused because unless they up and changed opponents then what the hell?

 

“Because Real Madrid is our team, so we need Barcelona to lose against Valencia. We will be rooting for Valencia to win today because it helps Real Madrid in the standings.”

 

“Don't bother with them, I had the same conversation when I saw Eli putting on that jersey. I’m hungry girl… What you got to eat?”

 

Chanel rolled her eyes at Xander's explanation.

 

“Come on Lani, I’ll take you to the kitchen and we can make some lunch for ourselves.”

 

Xander and Eli look at each other wondering about their lunch.

 

“So she really forgot these kids like that?” Eli was wondering if Lani left the twins with him on purpose or because she was hungry.

 

He could have sworn that he came here to watch a game.

 

“Mate, I think we’re supposed to watch them until they come back… If they come back?” Xander was trying to make sense of it because the game was starting soon and the possibility of children crying didn't make for a good experience.

 

“Well, I’m going to stroll these kids to the kitchen while we get our snacks and then just leave those kids there. Ha! I wonder how she’s going to top that.” Eli was not falling for no traps today.

 

They made their way to the kitchen and saw the two ladies moving through the kitchen without saying a word making food.

 

“Oh it's about to be lit. It smells good in here… what y’all makin’?!” Eli felt they were gonna be eatin’ good today.

 

“Chanel and I are making Sauerbraten. Sis, I’m so glad that you started marinating the beef beforehand. It’s going to be so good.”

 

“Is that like some kind of hot dog with sauerkraut in it… I mean we’ll eat that if that’s what y’all makin’...” Eli just hoped it tastes good… he liked hot dogs.

 

Lani and Chanel just looked at each other and laughed. They laughed so hard that it woke up the twins.

 

 Eli and Xander looked at each other like they weren’t in on a joke.

 

“Who said that?!” Lani said as she was cutting some red cabbage.

 

“Who said what?!” Eli didn’t feel like playing any games right now.

 

“Who said we were making you lunch? I said Chanel and I are preparing food. You should have used your deductive reasoning to understand that we were making food for ourselves. If we were making food for you, your name would have been included, don’t you think?”

 

“I don’t think that’s reasonably fair. I believe there’s enough food that we all can eat.” Xander was pretty hungry too. He did have breakfast but that was hours ago.

 

"Xander you are about the last person who should be talking about what is fair. I told you I would have my retribution." Chanel looked at him straight in his eye.

 

Xander started to scratch his neck, he was in a situation that he didn't foresee.

 

“Fool what did you do?!” Eli didn’t want any part of a fight between Chanel and Xander messing up with his plate. “Forget him, what he did ain’t got nothin’ do with me so can a brother get a meal?!”

 

“Hey mate, I know you’re not throwing me under the bus.”

 

“Settle down, you two can have snacks and beer for your game. It’s going to take a long time to make the Sauerbraten anyways. By the time it’s finished your game would have been long done anyways. Of course you’re going to get some… no one really makes sauerbraten in small portions anyways it takes too long to make that it's not worth it to make it only for two people.” Chanel rolled her eyes… she couldn’t believe that they actually believed them.

 

“What is sauerbraten anyways?” Xander wanted to know what they were going to be eating later.

 

 “It’s like a pot roast stew.” Chanel told him.

 

 “Good looking out. So Xander and I are going to get our snacks and then we’ll be going ‘cause the game is going to start soon.”

 

The kind of speed that Xander and Eli were zipping through the kitchen actually astonished both Lani and Chanel.

 

She laughed when she saw Xander getting a bucket of ice so they could put beer in it, so they didn't have to make a second trip.

 

Lani had been focused on the meal that it took her a second to realize that Eli left the stroller in the kitchen.

 

“This fool left these kids with me. I swear to god he’s so trifling.” Lani could admit that she was being slick when she left the stroller in the living room.

 

 “You know damn well he wasn't going to watch these kids once that game started.”

 

“I know but I still had a little hope.” Lani knew that it was a foolish notion, but she was still going to try at the end of the day.

 

An hour had passed they had finished all of their prep and put the burner on medium low.

 

Lani and Chanel decided to go into one of the bedrooms. As they were making their way, they passed the living room and saw the guys.

 

“Sweetheart, could you get us more crisps?” Xander asked us he was focused on the game.

 

Chanel took a deep breath and went back into the kitchen to get some more potato chips.

 

She gave Xander the bag of chips and thought that she would be on her way. She didn’t expect him to hold on to her hand and give it a kiss. She got lost in his stare for a second until Eli snapped the both of them out of their moment.

 

“Oh hell naw, I know that ain’t who I think it is?! Of course, they got Diver McFloppington checking into the game.” Eli was out his seat and started pacing.

 

And that was Lani’s cue to go. Chanel followed… she couldn’t see Xander staring at her as she left.

 

“What did I miss mate?”

 

“Nothing much… they just have this fishy ass motherfucker ready to flop when need be.”

 

Xander started laughing, it was pretty true that this guy was a known diver.

 

The ladies had settled into a guest room and turn down the TV and try to find something to watch.

 

As they were watching TV, Lani could see that there was a lot on Chanel’s mind…

 

“You okay sis?”

 

“There's a couple of things that are on my mind, but before I forget I told you that I would look at everything in the estate. Oma made a stipulation for her grandchildren when she was in the hospital, I’m pretty sure that meant that she was including you because there’s only two of us, so it has to be us. I think you have a good chance of being able to successfully get your petition. So if I were you, I would go to my mom and tell her. It could be one less headache for you and maybe you won't have to go back to work so soon if you're able to work it out.”

 

Lani felt like she was letting the longest breath out of her body. This was a very welcomed answer. If the whole thing worked out, then it would be one less stress in her life. With each passing day, she felt less of an inclination to want to work. She couldn’t fully explain it… maybe part of it is because of David. Even though she has the twins now and she is so grateful for them, it doesn’t erase her first baby.

 

If anything it just made her devotion to the kids she does have even greater. She didn’t want to miss anything because she didn’t get to have any of it with David. It was very likely that she would miss the first word or when they started to walk if she went back to work.

 

In a place like Salem, crime never sleeps, and the hours could be so unpredictable… she didn’t know if it was worth it. She had always thought of herself as a cop ever since she became one, but now her foray into motherhood was just putting that into focus. She never used to care about the grind and the constant barrage of work it was. Back in a day sometimes she slept at her desk and she was ready to go and work some more.

 

She didn’t want to live like that… Getting this house… if it actually happens is a blessing that’s so needed. She had Oma’s voice in her head saying that she would take care of her when the time comes. Lani was wondering was this the time?

 

“I really hope it’s true. I need this… I can’t even think about leaving them right now. I don’t want to miss anything. Every time they hit a milestone, I’m still happy I feel like I could just burst, I can’t have that if I’m back on the force full time. I feel like I’m caught in between.”

 

“I really do think that Oma was making contingencies. The one thing she was always talking about was us needing to have something to our name. Something that no one could take away from us and I don’t think she would teach us those lessons if she didn't have the intention of leaving us both something.”

 

“I’ll ask Auntie P as soon as she comes back from her business trip. Thanks for looking into it for me. You said you had other things on your mind… You look sad.” There wasn't anything that Chanel could really hide from her.

 

“Of course I would look into it for you. I don’t know if I’m sad… I’m just feeling so heavy these days. I haven’t even said it to him but I’m in love with Xander. I know everyone has been thinking that I’ll just snap out of it and get a divorce. But I love him.”

 

 Lani could tell from their interactions that they definitely we're past the infatuation stage.

 

“And that makes you sad and heavy…” Lani didn’t understand why it was making Chanel feel bad.

 

“No. I just meant that I had a lot of things on my mind. I’ve just been kind of feeling wayward a little. Xander helps… he doesn’t know it, but he does. My graduation day is coming up…”

 

Chanel didn’t need to say anything else for Lani to understand exactly what she meant.

 

Lani could still remember that day like it happened yesterday. She could remember how much her own heart hurt… she could remember the crying that came from both her aunt and Chanel.

 

She remembered her own feelings of sadness at the fact that her uncle... the only father she knew growing up had died in such a horrible manner. The only saving grace was then being told that it was quick. It didn’t really make it better, but she was just happy that he didn’t have to suffer Long.

 

Chanel sobbed quietly and Lani hugged her tight and let her. She thought it was a cruel punishment… it was supposed to be the best day of Chanel’s life but it was her worst. Her accomplishment would always be tainted with tragedy.

 

It completely shuttered Chanel’s life. She couldn’t write anymore. That was the ultimate crime because Chanel was such a great writer. She had already written a book even though Lani was the only person in the world who ever got to read it.

 

Freddie dying crippled Chanel. And she knew that the feeling was still there because Chanel still couldn’t write. She wished that as time passed by that Chanel would be able to but still, she couldn’t, and she didn't know how to help her sister.

 

Chanel stop crying after about half an hour. She didn’t want Xander knowing that she cried so she got some eye drops to clear the redness and try to relax so the puffing could go away.

 

Lani and Chanel tried to focus on watching the comedy that was on Netflix. Neither of them laughed because they didn’t find it particularly funny in any way.   Chanel gave the movie a thumbs down and kept it moving.

 

When the timer on her phone went off, both she and Lani got up. Lani brought her baby monitors and left one in the room. She had been surprised that Chanel had portable bassinets. She thought it was sweet of Chanel to even think of it in the first place.

 

Chanel took a look in the mirror before she left the room. She was satisfied that you could barely tell that she was crying. If anything she was ready to blame it on watching a sad movie and she made Lani promise to back her up.

 

They went back to the kitchen and on their way, they saw Xander, and Eli were gloomy. The both of them were sitting lazily on the sofa just watching the game as if they were ready for it to just end.

 

Lani and Chanel just looked at each other and kept walking. When they got to the kitchen, they checked on the pot roast itself and the separate stew they made for the vegetables and flour dumplings. They made their potato dumpling as well and would put it in last.

 

Lani tasted the gravy, and it was like she was transported to the past. Her grandmother always used to say that she was making sauerbraten by way of Central Africa.

 

Chanel took out four soup bowls so they could start plating. She knew it was time because she could hear the complaints in the other room about the game.

 

Eli and Xander went to the kitchen in search of food after the game didn't go in their favor.

 

They found Chanel and Lani sitting at the table getting ready to eat.

 

They settled down at the table. Ready to at least have good food ‘cause it smelled amazing.

 

“How was the game?” Chanel asked innocently to make conversation.

 

“Depressing. We lost.”  Eli grumbled as he started to eat his food.

 

“Absolutely dreadful…” Xander took a spoonful of food and tasted it. “Mmm…Sweetheart this taste lovely.” He loved the explosion of flavor and the meat was so tender.

 

When he finished chewing, he stretched so he could give her a kiss.

 

When Lani heard Chanel giggle, she rolled her eyes.

 

Eli started talking about the game again and Xander joined in. It was clear to Chanel and Lani that it was a conversation between the two guys. They just ate their food and had their own conversation.

 

It was a meal between the four of them and it started to feel like things were shifting in a new direction.

 

Chapter Text

When she woke up, Chanel felt hollow. Normally she would start sleeping through her alarms, but she turned all of them off.

 

She couldn’t close her eyes anymore… she just stared at the wall. It was a weird feeling but all too familiar to be numb… feel nothingness. She wonders if this was the feeling that her grandmother had when she left everything she knew behind or when grandpa died.

 

With this recurring feeling she felt just the guilt of the universe being so cruel to her. Why did she have to pay an enormous cost over and over again? Each time this day comes she’s just reminded of how her ambition killed her dad… how she killed her dad…

 

Life took away everything from her that really mattered. She still had her manuscript… she carried it around as if there will be some day she would actually finish it, but she didn’t know how to put pen to paper anymore. Every single time she tried… she ended up curled up in a ball and crying her eyes out.

 

The day her dad died felt like all of her real freedom was dying with him. Writing was what made her feel free. She used to feel like a warrior carrying on her family’s legacy. But all she felt like she was now a fraud who just couldn’t hack it.

 

She was supposed to be more than what she was but all she could see was all the hurt she put into the world. What was the point of having ambition when all it does is take who you love most out of the world?

 

Her go getter attitude brought her awards and accolades but the thing about statues are that they’re hollow on the inside, like she was. She had a whole awards room when she was a kid, and she remembered every time her parents would come back from a trip and they would see a new award they would be so proud of her.

 

It’s what drove her to want to get more awards… she wanted that praise so badly. She wanted to succeed so badly because it's what her father did. It’s what her grandmother wanted for her all of her life. The need to have recognition… the need to not be erased. She wanted her name to be in print forever. Something that no one could ever take away from her like they did to her family before. She wanted to be like her father so badly making her own mark just like he did.

 

Every time he said Meine Frida she felt on top of the world. When he wasn’t home, he would make sure to call her every day just to tell her that he was so proud of her. Some days were just ordinary and she would ask him why he was proud of her that day... He would just say that she had the courage to be happy that day and that's made him the most proud of her.

 

But Chanel didn’t feel that way anymore. She didn’t know how to be happy. She was too scared to have the courage because she knew if she let herself be happy then eventually something bad would happen. That’s why she ran away. It takes courage to stay… It took courage to pick up the pieces… It took courage to write… She didn't have any of that.

 

She kept thinking about everything that she wasn’t… she had always thought that she would have another book by now maybe even two. But she was still stuck on 100 pages of a manuscript that she carries around. She doesn’t even know why she carries it anymore. She still couldn’t write anything. The manuscript was almost like a painful reminder of unfulfilled dreams.

 

Her dad encouraged her to be ambitious… he said that wanting more would be good for her. Yearning for more knowledge would only give her more power. She had so much knowledge, but she felt powerless. What did that knowledge get her? When she got her degree in the mail… she wanted to burn it.

 

The knowledge that she seeked let her down. It let her father down. All she could think about was how empty her life became because of ambition… Her life was empty for her daring to dream. What was the point of dreaming if it made you live a nightmare? The only balm to all of this was that she had Lani back in her life. She was also holding on Xander with everything she had.

 

She knew that it was selfish to be with him. She was in love with him, and she craved him. She loved being held by him and his kisses. He looked at her with care and want… all it did was make her feel guilty.

 

If he knew what she truly could do then he would run for the hills. She wanted to hold on to that happiness, but this was something fleeting in her life and she didn't know what to do. If he knew the truth about her, she knew that he wouldn’t look at her the same. She knew that in the back of his head he would wonder if he was next.

 

When Xander woke up, he could see that Chanel was already awake. She hadn’t been on her phone… but he could hear her taking deep breaths in and out.

 

Today was a big day for him and he couldn't think of anything better than starting his day off with a little love session before he had to go to his meeting.

 

 He kissed the center of the back of her neck. he could see her shudder and it made him smile in delight.

 

“Baby not today.” Chanel felt an aversion.

 

Xander wasn’t acting any different than any other day. But when he kissed her neck… She wanted to cry because she felt guilty.

 

Xander didn’t like her tone of voice… It was small and frightened. The first thing that came to his mind was that she had a bad dream and he wanted to make her feel at ease.

 

He started extending his arm so he could turn her, but she started getting out of the bed. She left the room and he didn’t really know what happened. He looked at the time and knew that he had to start getting ready for this meeting.

 

This meeting was too important for the rest of their lives for him to fuck it up. He got out of bed and went to go take a shower.

 

The whole time he was taking a shower he was focused on Chanel instead of focused on the meeting. Money mattered but right now he was only worried about his wife.

 

He got ready and wore his best suit. As soon as he stepped out of their bedroom, he made his way towards the kitchen.

 

He could see that she was making breakfast but when he got closer, he saw that it definitely wasn't enough for the both of them.

 

“Darling, do you think that’s going to be enough for the both of us?” Xander thought about it, it was definitely possible that she had already eaten breakfast since she had been up.

 

“How about you make your own fucking breakfast?” The remark flew out of Chanel’s mouth before she could actually control herself. “I’m sorry baby. I was making breakfast for you. I’m not hungry.”

 

Xander was taken aback. Not necessarily by Chanel’s attitude because she could be sarcastic and sassy… it was one of the things he loved most about her, however this was not it.

 

She definitely snapped and his wife doesn't snap. She’s usually levelheaded and calm especially when she was giving a verbal beatdown.

 

He was going to say something but that's when she started moving. She plated his eggs, bacon and toast. She moved through the kitchen silently, she got him a glass of water because she knew that he didn't want to start his day with fruit juice.

 

Chanel couldn’t really look at Xander. She knew that if she did then she was going to start getting frazzled and she didn't want him to see her cry. Xander wasn’t a man who knew how to let go. If she started crying, then he was going to investigate it and get to her core and he would see who she truly was and she needed to hide that from him.

 

She went to the table and placed his plate and drink down. She was going to go back to their bedroom but then he made a request of her.

 

 “Sit with me sweetheart...”

 

Chanel felt all of her resolve crumble when he called her sweetheart. She sat down silently and watched him eat his breakfast.

 

Xander was satisfied that whatever was bothering her it wasn't something that he did. He loved her too much to let things get screwed up.

 

Xander started talking aimlessly as he ate his food.

 

Chanel didn’t really have a clue what he was talking about. She just nodded when it seemed like she should. She was physically there and in the moment… It was just his words didn’t sound like anything that she could make out. She wasn’t really paying attention to him.

 

Xander was starting to get a little ticked off because It was clear that Chanel wasn’t really hearing him.

 

“I was thinking about going to the square and shooting the first granny I see.” Xander was testing her to see if she was going to just say yes or nod again.

 

“That sounds great baby.”

 

Xander had enough.

 

He caught her wrist and his heart felt disgusted when he saw her face. It was like she was reviled from him touching her. It only made him angry and upset. How did she just turn this way?! It was like there was no warning.

 

Chanel wasn’t expecting him to hold her wrist. It snapped her out of her foggy daze.

 

“What the hell is going on with you? You are acting completely… I don’t even know what to say because I don’t understand it. Are you on your period or something?!” Xander was grasping at straws but he was just trying to understand.

 

Chanel snapped again. She slapped Xander so hard that food flew out of his mouth.

 

She got up and left the kitchen.

 

Xander became enraged. His nose flared and he hissed when he felt his skin. It stung to the touch. He got up and started to follow Chanel.

 

When she now heard the clacks of his shoes, she started to run. She made it into the bedroom and slammed the door in his face and locked it.

 

Xander started pounding on the door… he would have broken the door if it didn't mean that he would have to pay for the damages.

 

“Chanel… Open the door!”  Xander was past angry at this point.

 

Chanel felt like she was all over the place. Everything became too much, she started crying.

 

Xander kept his ear close to the door, when he heard her crying… all of his anger just evaporated. He didn’t give a damn that she just slapped him, he just wanted to know what was going on with her.

 

He looked at his watch and saw that he had to get a move on if he was going to make this meeting. It was something that he couldn’t miss.

 

“Sweetheart I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to yell. I just want to make sure you’re okay...” Xander sat down at the door.

 

Chanel stop crying for a little bit.

 

“I’m sorry too.”

 

Chanel sat on the opposite side of the door.

 

“Sweetheart, I want to stay and take care of you, but I have to go to this meeting. Can you get my cell phone please? I won’t be gone long. We need to talk… whatever is going on with you, I want to know what it is because you're so important to me.”

 

Chanel listened to him and she did see that his phone was on his nightstand. She got the phone and went back to the door.

 

She slid it in the space between the door and the floor and left her fingers out.

 

When Xander saw her fingers, he pressed his own to it.

 

Chanel is the first one to pull back.

 

Xander got up and took the keys and left.

 

He was doing something that he really didn’t want to do but he didn’t feel like he had a choice at this point.

 

He was going to a bank and asking for a business loan.

 

He came prepared… he had a sound business plan and presented it to the business banker.

 

After an hour of his time answering every question that the business banker had… They said that they would process his application.

 

Xander fell a little hopeful because he needed to make this happen. When the business banker came back and said that the loan had been denied, Xander wanted to take the man's computer and throw it against the wall. He caught himself before his rage boiled over.

 

He was already having a bad day and this man was just adding to it. He asked for the unadulterated truth about why his loan was denied. He could honestly see a myriad of reasons… he was an international criminal. It’s been alleged that he’s done a lot of things and plenty of them he actually did even though he was able to skirt most of the charges.

 

When the banker told him that the reason his loan was denied was because the bank didn't want to be at war with Victor Kiriakis. Xander didn’t know what this man was talking about…

 

When Xander asked for clarification, the banker told him that the higher ups didn't want any part of a Kiriakis war. Apparently, it was known that Xander had a falling out with Victor, and they didn’t want to be apart of collateral damage if Titan was offended at the bank giving Xander any money.

 

Xander’s day went from bad to worse when he heard this bullshit. He was trying to do the legit thing and do what normal business owners do and he’s getting denied because his uncle is Victor Kiriakis, these people are afraid that if they give him some money that it means that they're going to be in the crosshairs.

 

He just got all of his shit and left the bank. He knew if he didn’t leave at that specific moment that he probably would have strangled the man and he didn't really feel like being arrested today because he had already promised Chanel that they would talk when he got home.

 

Before he went home, he knew that he had to do something. He was already upset and out of his depth.

 

He drove to a familiar place and knocking on the door hoping that it wasn’t for naught.

 

“Xander what are you doing here?” Lani was surprised to see Xander at her front door. She started to wonder if Chanel was with him, but it was clearly just him.

 

“We need to talk and I’m not going anywhere until I get some answers.”

 

Xander just made his way into the apartment without actually being invited.

 

Lani looked at the back of his head like he was crazy.

 

When he turned, Lani could see that he was angry… She had seen Xander in his anger before, but this was something actually scary.

 

“Why have you come barging into my home with that angry look on your face? I’m not going to tolerate you going homicidal maniac on me…”

 

Xander realized that his anger needed to be managed because he didn’t come to be antagonistic with Lani.

 

“I apologize if I seem or act crazy. I’m here about Chanel because I’m worried about her. Something is wrong and I need her to be okay.”

 

As soon as Lani heard Chanel’s name, her arms fell to the side and her face softened. she knew what today was and Xander was probably confused.

 

“I’ll try to answer your questions if I can.”

 

Lani gestured for them to sit at her kitchen table.

 

Now that Xander was actually able to find out things… he didn't actually know where to start. He just sat in silence trying to formulate a question.

 

He hoped coming here would actually be more fruitful than his excursion to the bank.

 

Chapter Text

Xander wasn't sure where to start. He thought that he would just come here and get answers, but these were one of the times in his life where he didn't feel so articulate. He took a deep breath and some time to think.

 

“I don’t know what it is but today Chanel was different. She wouldn’t tell me what it was and it clearly distressed her. I don’t know what to do and I know you don’t really trust me, but I just want to help her, and I don't even know if you can help me really….” Xander bit on the inner part of his bottom lip.

 

It was a very hard concept for him to admit any kind of vulnerability to anyone… it was much easier with Chanel because she was vulnerable with him too.

 

He knew in order to help her that he would have to tell the truth to Lani. He didn’t like to admit that he was scared or any iteration of it, but he was increasingly finding that when it came to his wife that he would do anything.

 

Lani was surprised at Xander’s candor and honesty. She had been skeptical of their relationship from the get-go with reason, Xander was a lot more than his rap sheet ever told. He was dangerous and if push came to shove, he would use someone as a human shield. She was always afraid that it would be her sister when she found out that they were married.

 

Her opinion started changing when she actually spent time with them as a couple. She still believed that Xander was a dangerous person if someone got on his wrong side, but she was sure that he wouldn’t use her sister as a human shield anymore.

 

They were actually pretty sickening with how they interacted with each other. Chanel became one of those people that she and Lani used to make fun of when they went out. She wasn’t going to get in the way of her sister and her relationship. Even though Lani thought that in the beginning that they would have gotten a divorce, they just got more enmeshed with each other.

 

So enmeshed that they had game nights… She found out that Xander had a very strong affinity for winning at Yahtzee. It was actually the only game that Chanel hadn’t won at which was surprising since her sister had always kicked everyone's ass at board games. It was one of the reasons that she always chose Chanel to be on her team.

 

“Five years ago, my sister graduated from graduate school with an MFA in Writing and Literature on this date.” Lani wasn’t sure what else she should say because she was in sure if Xander really knew about their family.

 

She didn’t want to betray Chanel’s trust.

 

Xander felt beaming pride hearing about his wife's accomplishment.

 

“That's a wonderful thing. Why would that make her upset? She was sobbing and it wasn’t tears of joy. The whole morning she was… I don’t even know how to describe it she was present, but she wasn’t there and when she was, she was snapping and apologizing.” Xander would take her out for a nice dinner if that was what she wanted.

 

He wondered if she was mad that he didn’t know that fact about her. If he did then he would have mentioned it and told her proud he was of her. He knew that she was a writer and literature was important to her especially because of her family.

 

“Xander, I don’t really know if I should tell you more. I really don’t want to betray Chanel’s trust. It has to do with our family, I don’t know how much you know –” Lani was trying to explain without going into too much detail which was difficult.

 

“I know who Chanel is… I know where she comes from.  I know that your grandmother was a Holocaust survivor and I know your grandfather is from Tyro, Mississippi. I know that you’re von Bruckners. I know that your grandparents met in a diner in Brownsville in Miami and fell in love. Chanel has told me about the underbelly of the atrocities that have happened to your family. So if that’s what you are trying to avoid telling me then please know that you don't have to because my wife has already told me.”

 

Lani raised her eyebrows when Xander was telling her everything that he knew. When Chanel told her that she loved Xander, she knew that her sister meant it, but she didn't know that Chanel trusted Xander with some of the worst moments of their family's history.

 

“She told you all of that?! She really does love you to speak that pain into the air.” Lani realized that she blurted out the fact that Chanel loved Xander, she had no clue if her sister actually exchanged I love yous with him yet.

 

Xander smiled because if there was anyone who would know if Chanel loved him, it was Lani. He was in love with his wife, and he finds out that she loves him too. It wasn’t the information that he was coming here for, but it was something that he yearned for.

 

“That she did. And I love her all the more for it. She trusted me with a very painful trauma. This is why I want to help my wife however I can. I just need to know what it is.”

 

“If you know about our family then you should see that it has everything to do with it. Chanel is upset at this day because it's the worst day of her life. The thing that you need to know about Chanel is that my sister is like concrete. First it is liquid and then when it solidifies it is so strong. It can withstand so much pressure. Chanel has always been a winner. Both sides of our family championed excellence. My uncle Freddie… he’s like Uncle Phil from The Fresh Prince of Bel Air. He was my father in every way when I was growing up because I didn’t have anyone else. I found Abe much later in life, but Freddie was it. But he was very busy. My dad was like a machine, he was always on and ready. Chanel was like that too… Her intelligence is so vast, our father encouraged it. Our grandmother too. The thing about Chanel’s drive is that it came from our dad like truly. You have to understand that our father is the son of a Holocaust survivor and the grandson of American slaves. Our grandmother and he would always say things like your accomplishments are your own and no one can take that away from you. It is a fact that will never leave no matter if anyone tries to erase it you know that it exists... It was that drive that made us succeed in school. Chanel skipped grades she took the initiative, she graduated in the top 3% of her class at 16, she got an MFA at 20. Even though our father was busy, we never asked him for much… it’s kind of a German thing. But when something was really important to us, he would drop everything and come. If we had a problem, he would solve it. He was our superhero… came to the rescue when you needed it. My mom and Chanel’s mom have a weird relationship.  They are close but there is a rivalry there. When I was graduating high school, I got into FSU and I don’t know how I was going to pay for it, they were shoving loans in my face. I told my grandma and the first thing she did was call my dad and told him that he had to come home and have lunch with me. I was so embarrassed to even talk about it with him because my mom is a proud woman, she wasn't going to ask anyone for money. I became that way too because I didn’t want to make her feel bad or inadequate. But I wanted to go to FSU, I got a better financial aid package from UCF, but it still had loans and I didn’t want to saddle myself with that and FSU was better for what I wanted. I had lunch with my dad and the first thing he told me was that he was proud of me. That’s what he always did with us… No matter what he always told us he would always be proud of us. He only asked us to have the courage to be happy. If we did that then he didn’t care what else, we did. I was so ashamed to ask him for money, I just told him of my dilemma of school choices, and he asked me which school I wanted to go to and I told him. He said then that’s where I was going to go no matter what. I told him I couldn’t do it because it wasn’t affordable, and the loans were just too much. I had to think about undergraduate and getting my master’s in criminal justice. My dad said I was his responsibility… It was his job to make sure he gave us enough room to leap. All of his honor and dignity resides in his children. He said that he worked tirelessly so we could have what his mother couldn't. So he quietly paid my tuition and I lied to my mom. I told her that I got a full-ride and when graduate school came, I told her I got grants… it was all my dad. My dad wasn’t perfect, and he certainly wasn't always there. But was a good and decent man. He called us every night. Even at a time where it was ridiculous to give your kids cell phones because minutes used to cost money, but it didn't matter to dad. He would ask us about our day and every night he would always say I’m so proud of you. When our grandmother died… A part of my dad died too… He was still there for us, but he was away a lot.  It was harder on Chanel because she was still at home. I was in college. I would come back for the holidays and I would spend it with the family, but I will go back to school in Tallahassee. Chanel was alone. Our grandmother was our constant. When she died it shook Chanel to the core because Frida was our person. Chanel was taking care of herself at 13. I didn’t leave her on purpose, I just did what my dad wanted me to do and that was dare to dream. Going after what I wanted, but I still feel guilt because I broke my sister’s heart. She felt like everyone left her and she's not wrong. She spent three years completely driven, it was to stave off loneliness. She wrote a fucking book. She proofed her own book… edited her own book. And it's not like a children’s novel. My sister wrote a serious novel and graduated top of her class at the same time. Then she went to college. She stayed home which was good because I came back, we reconnected, and it was so much fun. She was working and going to school. But she was really working, they had her working from sunup to sundown she had our dad and her mom’s work ethic. But she still had time to hang out with Daniela and me. When our dad was in town, we had our dinners. We would have dinners with our moms. It all came to a head when we had to go to Chanel’s graduation for her MFA. It was a beautiful ceremony, and we were also happy for her. She was already starting on another book. She had a manuscript 100 pages deep which was probably 200 pages if you had like a regular size book. When something is important our dad always comes. His flight got delayed and he ended up missing the ceremony. He texted apologizing letting us know that he was getting on the next flight possible and that he would be there because it was Chanel’s big day. My dad ended up getting his new flight and he made it to Miami. I need a minute…” Lani got up and tried to psych herself into going back.

 

It was a really painful experience for her to have to relive but she needed to make Xander understand so he could help Chanel. She would do anything to help Chanel.

 

As Xander was listening to Lani speak, he just felt for the both of them. It was clear that they had a deep abiding love for their father.

 

When he saw Lani again, he could see tears free flowing from her eyes. She grabbed a paper napkin from the holder on the table and dabbed her eyes.

 

“My dad was driving on I-95, as he was driving— As he was driving a semi truck lost control and the container tipped over and caused multiple cars to be crushed.” Lani couldn't contain her sobs. “Our dad’s car had been crushed. The only good thing about it was he died instantly. We didn't even know about anything at that point. We were just waiting for him to come home. Chanel, Daniela and I were on the balcony and I had just told them that I got a job in Salem. Chanel was so happy for me, the only person who knew before she did was my dad and he just told me that I was making the right move for myself. FHP had knocked on the door. When I saw them, I was immediately suspicious because they typically deal with vehicular accidents. After I had them identify themselves, they started asking questions which in turn made me ask them questions. They were there to notify next of kin that my dad died in an accident. Paulina was in disbelief… we all were. She started calling his phone and it went straight to voicemail. The thing about them was he always picked up when she called. The only way he wouldn’t is if he couldn’t. Chanel got sick to her stomach literally, she ran to the bathroom and started throwing up. I was trying to console my aunt who was screaming and sobbing. It was not right… It was an accident, but it was just gratuitous of how our family just dies... It’s so cruel. Chanel cried her eyes out, it took hours for her to try to get sleep. I didn’t sleep at all. Chanel cried in her sleep I could see it. I had to take trips to the bathroom so I could cry myself in silence because I couldn’t have her see me like that. She had nightmares all night and woke up in these quiet screams like she was drowning. That was the day that my sister’s concrete cracked. That was the day that too much pressure was applied, she hasn’t been the same since. I came to Salem for a job, but it was also a fresh start for me. My sister thought I abandoned her and in a way I did. But I would never make a different decision. My dad told me, it was the right decision to make for the trajectory of my career. Chanel didn’t see it that way. I caused the crack to widen. After I left, Chanel quit her job and started traveling the world. She stayed away for four and a half almost five years. Now we’re at this moment, Chanel will never feel happiness on this day because it's just so cruel to her.”

 

All Xander wanted to do right now was hold his wife. Hearing this was absolutely horrific, he couldn't imagine something worse happening to the woman he loves.

 

“It's cruel to you too. I’m so sorry that something so terrible could occur to either of you.”

 

Lani didn’t expect Xander to give her any kind of words of comfort. She was oddly touched by them.

 

“Thank you for saying that. Xander I’m only gonna tell you this once… Do not hurt my sister. She could not afford another crack. I won’t allow it… It is my job to protect her and if you have any decency… If you need to leave then you do it now while my sister can still handle it, don’t make her fall in love with you so deeply only to you leave her. She’s so strong, stronger than anyone I know… do not test that strength. My sister wants a Gomez to love her.” Lani has to protect Chanel, that's the only thing she wanted to do.

 

It took Xander a minute to recognize the reference.

 

“I’m not leaving Chanel. She has my heart even though it’s coal. It’s not coal for her. She's my Morticia… She’s my Frida and I’m her Louis, end of story.” Xander had no hesitation when he said this.

 

Lani took a big gulp when she heard Xander. Any comparison to her grandparents had to be taken seriously.

 

The door to the apartment opened and it was Eli.

 

He was a little confused because Xander was there, they didn’t have anything planned.

 

“Can’t say I was expecting to see you for lunch Xander.”

 

“He was here about Chanel. She’s not doing too well with today…”

 

Eli nodded, he knew about Freddie and what he meant to Lani.

 

“Thank you for giving me insight.” Xander got up and was ready to go.

 

Lani nodded her head and Xander started to walk away.

 

“Hey, we still on for the Madrid/Granada game?” Eli asked Xander as he was getting ready to leave.

 

“Yeah mate… Madrid really needs a good bounce back in order to stay in it. It's getting a little embarrassing at this point.”

 

The men fist bumped and Xander left.

 

The only thing on his mind was getting home and support his wife.

 

Chapter Text

When Xander got home, it was just as quiet as he left it. If he didn’t know that his wife was in no condition to be outside, he would have thought that he was alone. He took off his shoes and left them by the door. He would pick them up later. He set his keys down on the table and went in the direction of the bedroom.

 

Somewhere inside he had wished that the door to their bedroom was unlocked, but when he tried to open it, he had no luck.

 

“Sweetheart, I’m back. Please open the door for me. I’m not mad… I just need to see you.” Xander was desperate to get to her.

 

He wanted to say fuck it all this morning and just stay and figure it out but after talking to Lani… it was so much worse than he could have ever imagined.

 

Chanel heard him. She got an alert when the door was opened so she knew that he was home. His voice sounded so soft and inviting but she couldn't trust it because she felt like she was so close to breaking.

 

Chanel went to the door and sat down and placed her fingers in the space between the door and the floor like she did this morning.

 

When Xander saw her fingers, he immediately placed his on hers. It wasn’t remotely what he was looking for, but he was going to take anything he could get and if this was the way he was going to be able to comfort his wife then he was going to do it.

 

 “It does feel nice to touch your fingers, but I would much rather give you a hug. Sweetheart I need to be close to you. Can you give me that? Can you open the door for me?”

 

Xander thought that he fucked up when Chanel pulled her fingers abruptly.

 

He was only met with silence and he felt like he was back at square one or worse not even on the square at all.

 

Chanel had her hand on the door handle, and she was warring with herself if she should give in. She was scared that she wasn’t going to be able to hide. She didn’t have the ability to run away from Xander… if anything she was always running towards him not away.

 

She was scared… terrified even knowing that he could uncover the truth about her, but she opened the door.

 

Xander’s eyes were closed, he heard the door opening and when he opened his eyes, he looked up and saw his wife and he let out a breath of relief.

 

He got up quickly and went to her. When he hugged her, he felt like he won something. He realized this was the first time that he hugged her since yesterday.

 

“Thank you.” Xander said as he held her tight.

 

He kissed cheek and just kept holding on to her.

 

He felt a sob go through her. He wondered if he did the wrong thing.

 

“I’m so sorry about this morning. I’m so sorry…” Chanel started sobbing some more.

 

She couldn’t really stop at this point.

 

Xander felt terrible that she was apologizing. He walked her over to the sofa that was in front of their bed.

 

“Baby, you do not have to be sorry. You are hurting and it hurts me to see you that way. I just want to make sure that the woman I love is okay.” Xander let the cat out of the bag.

 

He has no clue if him telling her sooner would have gotten her to open up to him, but he couldn’t change the past… what he could now was be honest with her.

 

When Chanel heard Xander tell her that he loved her, it made the burst of tears that came out of her vicious.

 

“You love me?! Oh god, that just makes it worse.” Chanel got up from the sofa and she started pacing.

 

Xander watched his wife pacing in a frantic manner and he didn't think that admitting that he loved her would have caused a reaction like this.

 

Lani told him that Chanel loved him. He had expected her to say it back, but it seemed as if him saying it made her worse.

 

“No… No!” Hearing that he loved her made her feel good and terrible at the same time.

 

“Sweetheart, I love you. I love you so much and I just want to get through this together.” Xander got up from the sofa and went closer to her.

 

He blocked her path so she couldn’t keep pacing.

 

“I don’t know how. It’s just so hard… and you make me happy. You make me so happy, but you’re going to leave. I can’t tell you.”

 

 Xander felt such sadness when Chanel couldn’t even look at him.

 

“Baby… Chanel, I didn’t know what to do. This morning was really hard for me to see you like that. I went to see Lani and she told me –”

 

When Chanel heard that Lani told Xander, she started sobbing from her core. It felt like her whole body was crying.

 

Xander held on to her tight, he started crying himself when he saw how distraught she was.

 

“She told you about dad?!”

 

 She pushed herself out of his arms and started to pace again.

 

“Yes, she did. I needed to know… baby I’m sorry. I’m so sorry that happened to you.”

 

Chanel took a look at Xander for the first time since she let him inside of the bedroom. He was crying too, he felt for her… but she was afraid to tell him everything. She hasn’t told anyone her secret.

 

“You're going to leave…”

 

 “Chanel, I’m not going to leave. I love you and I’m here to support you. You are my wife… I adore you. Baby, I’m not going to leave…  I promise.”

 

“You love me now, but you don't know the truth. I can’t tell you because if I do then you will leave me. I don’t want you to leave. You make me so happy. I feel so loved by you. I love you so much, but if I tell you… everything will change. You'll look at me different and you won’t love me anymore.” Chanel started pacing even faster.

 

She was trying her best hold on, but Xander made it so hard. He was talking about how much he loved her and adored her. He kept saying that he wouldn’t leave but it felt like a trick. It was so easy for her to be tricked to thinking that she could have lasting happiness.

 

“There is nothing that you can say that will change what I feel about you. I am yours and only yours. Baby, I’m not mad that you didn’t tell me. What happened to your father is devastating and painful. I can’t begin to imagine how you felt and how you still feel. The only thing I can do is love you. In whatever way you want me to.”

 

Chanel heard his words and it just made it almost unbearable to hold it in.

 

“You won't love me for long. You won’t when you know what I did.”

 

Xander was confused because he didn’t understand what Chanel was talking about. There’s nothing in his mind that could ever make him mad at her about her trauma… He saw that it was eating at her and it made him feel so inadequate for his wife.

 

“You didn't do anything.”

 

Chanel snapped when he said that…  He didn't know anything. He didn’t know the truth.

 

“That's not true. I killed him! I killed my dad!” Chanel fell to the floor.

 

She hugged her knees and kept crying, she couldn’t look at Xander anymore. He knew what she did.

 

Xander immediately went to her and hugged her to him. He couldn’t believe that she thought that. Nothing she did caused her father's death.

 

“Baby, listen to me… You did not kill your father. It is not your fault that he died.”  Xander held her so she couldn’t walk or crawl away.

 

Chanel picked her head up and was ready to tell Xander that he was wrong.

 

“Yes I did, my ambition killed him. If I had just waited, a year or even just a semester. It wouldn’t have happened. My dad would always come when we achieved something. My dad told me to want more. He made me believe that I am more. But I’m not… He was always talking about no one being able to take our success away and erase us this time. But what I did… erased my dad. I don’t have courage that he thought I did. I ran away because I couldn’t take people realizing that it was me that did it. I can’t write… I can’t be the warrior of the pen he thought I was. I am a fraud… I don’t have courage. You’re going to leave too because you’re going to feel like that my ambition will kill you. I’m telling you that I want a lifestyle that you're breaking your back to give me. I see you… So focused and ready to give me everything. I want to give you everything too, but I don’t have anything to give.” Chanel was trying to make Xander see the truth.

 

Xander felt a myriad of emotions. He felt such anger at how life could treat her so cruelly. He felt sadness because she was holding on to this horrible notion that she killed her father when it was the furthest thing from the truth. Her grief was needing someone to blame, and she was taking it out on herself. But the emotion that he felt the most was his love for her.

 

He never thought that he could love again, but here he was loving this woman with his whole heart, she owned it… it was hers and it would always be.

 

He had to talk tough with her to make her see.

 

“Now you listen to me. You did not kill your father. Your ambition did not kill your father. Your whole life you have been so strong, in the face of such turmoil and strife. I am so mad at the world for constantly testing your strength even if I am in awe of it. What happened to your father was an accident. Hearing Lani talk about your dad and how much he loved you two, there is no doubt in my mind that he would make the same decision 100 times out of 100 because he loves you. There was never going to be a chance that he was going to let you down. And baby you did not let him down.  He loves you… he is proud of you. You are excellence and nothing less. You are not a fraud, you are brilliant. Lani told me that you wrote a book, and you were your own editing team. Even when you were scheming, you showed your resourcefulness and finding someone to give you what you want. You’re tenacious. I was the lucky one in the draw. You put a roof over our heads not me… remember that. I knew the second that you had volunteered to go and get food from your mother’s room when I was drunk out of my mind that you were just so sweet. You stopped me from having more alcohol. When I begged you not to go, you’re so sweet to me… You held me. Your ambition can’t kill me. It’s not possible, what it has done is make me believe in myself again. You made me get off my ass and go after what I wanted. You make me want more. You make me realize I can be more than what I am. You support me and believe in me and very few people in my life have ever done that and you did that within the second day of me knowing you. You have gone toe to toe with my uncle and defended me to him.  You defended me to your mother, even when you were mad at me… You shield me with everything you have. I know what a killer is. I am one… I have actually killed people. You are not killer, you are intelligent, thoughtful, caring, adventurous and stop traffic beautiful. I love you, I’m not going to leave.” Xander kept her close. He hoped to anything good that she believed him.

 

Chanel couldn’t believe it.  Xander said he wasn’t leaving.

 

She looked at him to see if there was any doubt, she couldn’t find any. She didn’t really know what to do at this point. She had never thought of the alternative.

 

“You wouldn’t let anyone hurt me?”

 

“If someone hurt you, then people will see just how crazy I am.” Xander's jaw was set. The idea of anyone or anything hurting her set a dark cloud over him.

 

Chanel saw his face of stone. His eyes were hard and glinty. She felt safe with him… she knew he would protect her.

 

“You're going to stay?”

 

“Baby, I was never going to leave. You’re my Louis…”

 

He smiled as he held her face in his hands.

 

“You're Louis. I’m Frida…”

 

“Isn’t that what I said?”

 

Chanel started laughing because she remembered when they were in the hotel room when they were caught by her mom and Eli. They were teasing each other even though there were other people in the room.

 

“I love you.”

 

“I love you too. But I need you to do something for me?” Xander wasn't going to let Chanel skirt on this.

 

“OK… what is it?”  Chanel would do anything Xander asked of her.

 

“I need you to not only say it but believe it. Say I did not kill my father, he died in an accident.”

 

Xander could see her face trying to understand. She looked at him in the eye and said it.

 

When she said it, he felt such a relief. He made her repeat it over and over again. He wanted her to say it so many times as she actually believed herself. When he was satisfied, he just holds her.

 

“Darling have you eaten anything?”

 

Chanel’s at her face burrowed in her husband's neck. She shook her head no. To be honest she still had no appetite, but she knew that Xander wouldn’t care. He was going to feed her one way or another.

 

“Alright, I obviously can’t cook as well as you can… but I do know how my baby likes her sandwiches. Ham and cheese on rye.”

 

“It’s the best bread.”

 

“I know better than to argue.” Xander got up and then picked up his wife.

 

She opened their bedroom door and he walked down the corridor to get to the kitchen.

 

“Why?”

 

Xander was happy that his wife's personality was starting to come through again.

 

“The Price is always right.” He kissed her nose after he said it.

 

The way she would smile with her eyes closed took his breath away.

 

He set her down on her feet so she could sit down.

 

“I know that’s right.” Chanel felt much lighter and some of her playfulness was rearing its head. “Baby don't forget –”

 

“I won’t forget to cut the crust babe.” Xander was happy to get through this hurdle because his wife was back. He knew she didn’t like crust if it was only ham and cheese. She was… unique like that.

 

There was nothing else he would rather do in the world right now than make his wife a sandwich.

 

Chapter Text

It had been about a couple weeks since they had their big conversation. Chanel felt much better no that she didn't have to worry about Xander leaving her. He knew about the things that hurt her most and he was right there with her. He gave her the affection that she needed with no reservation.

 

She was always finding some reason to be around him. She loved the feeling that he gave her… She was always reaching for him. The hugs that he gave felt like sunshine she would feel in Miami on her skin.

 

Xander was happy that she was in much better shape. It didn’t mean that he didn’t have any concerns… Something like this doesn’t just go away. Even though it hadn’t been on his radar yet, he immediately signed up for health insurance. It wouldn’t kick in till the next month started but he insisted that she went to therapy.

 

He knew that having support for her was important, but he knew that he didn't have the capabilities to give her everything she needed. He just wanted her to be okay and be able to see the past for what it actually was and not what her mind was trying to tell her what it was.

 

He didn’t want the doubt and the fears to control her. He thought that she was going to get mad at him when he suggested therapy. It was definitely something that he couldn't really afford at this moment in time. It was hard to ration money, but he wasn’t going to make any exceptions to his wife.

 

She needed a safe space to communicate those fears and wrong assertions. He knew that she had survivor’s guilt and that was something that you needed a professional to help you with. He was going to find a way to figure it out. The only thing he wished was that it could be sooner, but he did think that they could wait on it.

 

They could wait until they got their insurance cards in the mail.

 

It was rare for him to be up before she was, but it had been somewhat more regular for him lately. He was glad that she was allowing herself to just rest after everything that happened.

 

He had a tendency to reach out to her, cuddle with her in the mornings.  If he had told Xander of old that he looked forward to cuddling his wife every morning, his old self would laugh him under the table.

 

He felt her shift a little and then felt her hand on top of his.

 

“Are you up sweetheart?” He pressed a gentle kiss on the edge of her shoulder.

 

Chanel smiled wide when she felt him kiss her skin. She moaned and nodded.

 

“I love you…” Ever since the day that she admitted that she loved him, every time she woke up she told him that.

 

Xander pressed himself tighter to her, he didn’t think that he could ever get tired of her saying that she loved him.

 

“I love you too darling. God… I love you so much.”

 

Chanel turned over so she could be face to face with her husband.

 

“You better love me... Show me how much.” Before Chanel could actually finish her sentence, she felt her husband licking his way down her chest.

 

She had been too lazy to put on her nightie back on last night, she wasn't mad at herself now. When she felt his tongue dip into her belly button she started moaning.

 

She started her morning off right, he ate her out until she climaxed twice and then fucked her until she screamed. She felt like a fiend for him, she loved what he dished out.

 

She knew that she would return the favor when it was nightfall.

 

Chanel had book club today and she suggested to Victor that they have a theme. Chanel always liked a reason to dress up. Today's theme was dressing like a Parisian.

 

She chose a cream-colored floral long sleeve dress that was fitted in the bodice and let out. She loved how lightweight it was. It reminded her of her time in the city, she liked the fashion there. It was effortless but always chic. They were less concerned about matching, but always seemed to have a cohesive way of dressing.

 

She paired it with her suede brown boots and a beret.

 

She still had time before book club started, she had no clue what Xander was going to do for the day. She knew that he was going to work but other than that she didn't think he planned anything.

 

“Do you want to go to  Carl’s diner?” Xander asked as he was putting his leather jacket on.

 

“That’s okay, I guess. I can’t eat too much because Uncle Vic is having a full spread for our themed book club meeting. Do I look Parisian enough?!”  Chanel asked as she exaggeratedly had her arms out.

 

Xander didn’t know why he was so emotionally affected when Chanel referred to his uncle as her Uncle Vic. The old man got on his nerves a lot… but that was his family regardless and hearing his wife refer to Victor in that way made him happier than he could express.

 

“Oui, oui, mon chéri!” Xander said in his flawless French. He started laughing exaggeratedly like Inspector Clouseau.

 

“Oh my goodness… Baby you laugh like Pierre Escargot!” Chanel laughed so hard that she had to clutch her stomach.

 

“Who the hell is Pierre Escargot?!”

 

“You know…  Pierre Escargot from All That?! Oh, I forget sometimes… All That was like the closest thing  to SNL for kids and teenagers. It was really popular in the 90s and early Millennium years. It’s just a sketch character who speaks in barely intelligible French and laughs in an exaggerated mock French accent.”

 

Even though Chanel knew objectively that her husband was raised in Scotland and sounded as such, sometimes they would make references to each other and have no clue what the other was talking about.

 

“Is he as handsome as I am?”

 

“He's okay. Also the sketch character wore a raincoat in a bubble bath so baby you're clearly winning. You know what’s really sexy?”

 

“What I did to you earlier?”

 

 Chanel bit her lip as she was reliving what they did earlier.

 

“Mmm…You did put it down on me. But that’s not what I was talking about. Je ne connais pas vous parlez français?” ( I didn’t know that you could speak French? )

 

When Xander heard her, he wanted to bend her over and fuck her again.

 

“Yeah, I learned it in school… it was compulsory to pick a foreign language to learn.” Xander left out the fact that he perfected his French when he was deep in his smuggling days in Francophonie Africa.

 

“Well, it did you some good because it made these panties wet." Chanel was dropping her panties to her ankles.

 

Xander watched as they fell and he quickly undid the zipper to his jeans. He was already half hard, he gave himself a couple of pumps and took a condom out of his wallet and slipped it on.

 

He bent her over the arm of their living room sofa and fucked her. Even though he had her earlier he couldn’t get enough. He loved the feeling of her cunt. She was tight and divine.

 

He loved it most when he fucked her bare, but he knew better because he knew if his semen started to descend on her leg and on to her boots… she would kill him.

 

He had to put a rush on this quickie, he knew that once she climaxed that he was going to have to come quickly because she was probably going to be like a rag doll with how strenuous he was with her that morning.

 

When he came, it was with a loud shout… he emptied himself in the condom  removed himself from her right after. He was picking up her underwear from her ankles and sliding it up her body.

 

He fixed himself and got rid of the condom. His stomach was growling even stronger than before.

 

He washed his hands in the kitchen quickly and made his way back to the living room.

 

“Come on darling we need to get a move on.” Xander was ready to go.

 

Chanel was still trying to catch her breath and Xander was rushing her. Of course he would… he got everything he wanted.

 

“Give me a second…  You were pounding my pussy a little too good.”

 

 Xander’s eyes strayed to the side and looked at his wife. On one hand he was more than proud of himself on the other, he was little concerned.

 

“Baby, are you sore? Do you want me to carry you?”

 

“A little bit. I can walk… It’s just gonna be a little slower. I’m pretty sure by the time we get to the diner I’ll be fine. You trying to put me out of order huh?” Chanel started walking gingerly but she made it to the door to the door.

 

“I would never dream of it. I definitely love pushing you to the brink though, pretty sure you like to do the same with me.” Xander smirked.

 

She would drive him to the brink of insanity when she was riding him. He loved the ecstasy on her face, her digging her nails into his abs. Her clawing at his chest. It fucking hurt like hell, but that combined with her walls squeezing his cock and her breast jumping wildly as she went up and down, it was the most amazing feeling.

 

“We’ll have to change your name to Orkney, because I do  want to make ruins out of you.”  Chanel started giggling to herself, she was trying to be punny.

 

She was at the car door waiting for his Xander and to open it for her. He was just staring at her as she kept giggling.

 

Xander just stared, even though he knew that his wife was a nerd… It truly came out at the weirdest times. Here she was making a historical joke using ancient ruins from his homeland comparing it to how she wishes to destroy him sexually.

 

He just started bellowing out a hearty laugh.

 

“Good god you’re so corny.  If you weren’t so sore I’d make you ride me in the driver's seat.” He had to let a deep breath out. He opened her door and helped her in.

 

When he got in, he started the car and clicked on the clicker so the gate could open.

 

“Do you like that I’m corny?” Chanel was trying to sound her most seductive.

 

“Yeah, I fucking like it. I like everything about you. Fuck that, I love everything about you. I don’t think you quite understand how much…” Xander didn’t start driving yet. He just looked at Chanel as he told her.

 

Their car was just idle on the road in front of their house.

 

Chanel just looked at him speechless, her lips were parted, she felt like she couldn't breathe. A light gasp hit her throat.

 

Xander beckoned her over with his index finger. Chanel listened and leaned over.

 

Xander held her gently by the chin and pressed his lips to hers. He didn’t do anything else but press a multitude of kisses on to her lips.

 

“I love you.” His voice was barely audible, but Chanel heard him.

 

He looked at her like the first time he touched her. His eyes searching hers. Her eyes followed where his went.

 

“I love you too.”

 

When Xander heard her response, he smiled widely… he was pleased.

 

They held hands the whole way to Carl’s diner.

 

When he ordered his breakfast, he asked her again if she was really not going to eat.

 

She told him that she was going away for her book club because she was going to eat there but she would eat his toast to tide herself over.

 

“What are you going to do today?”

 

“I’m probably going to workout before I really get into work today.”

 

Chanel didn’t like one of the locations where he worked out. She thought it was dangerous, but it wasn't like she could control her husband.

 

“I wish you would think of another place to run instead of the freaking woods.”

 

Xander rolled his eyes he really didn’t want to have another fight about this. Jogging in the woods was great because it had different terrains which was good to mix it up when he ran.

 

“Darling, I don’t want to have a fight about this. I don’t complain about you taking your Pilates classes even though they cost an arm and a leg. Running in the woods is free for me. Can I have that?!” Xander took a deep breath in and out.

 

He didn’t particularly care for fighting even though it made for great angry sex, however he did not want to fight in public and definitely not about something as silly as his workout habits.

 

“You said you wouldn’t use money against me. I’m not even taking private lessons… I’m taking group classes because they’re cheaper. It’s only $80.00 a month. I know that’s more than a gym membership but you’re saying it like it's $1000.” Chanel dropped the piece of toast as she was eating. Back home she would have been paying 10 times as much for the classes that she was used to. She used to take $200 classes so she could be by herself and get one on one attention, so she knew that she was doing all of the movements right.

 

“I’m not. What I’m trying to say is I don’t judge you for what you're doing to get exercise. Just let me be with running in the woods okay.” Xander wanted this conversation to be over.

 

Chanel was over this. She put her half-eaten toast back on Xander’s plate.

 

“Chanel, eat the damn toast. You’ve only taken 3 bites of it and you haven’t had anything else to eat today.”

 

“I’m not hungry. I have no appetite.”

 

“Chanel, don’t try my patience with this. You can be mad at me, but I’m not going to let you take it out on yourself. You're not proving a point by not eating the toast. Stay mad at me, if that's what you need. But eat something.” The last time she wasn’t ‘hungry’ was the when he found out about her father. She didn’t eat that morning either.

 

Chanel looked at her husband, his face was mad, but his eyes were soft. She knew that she was throwing a tantrum and he was calling her out on it. She just wished that he would listen to her about this, but he wouldn’t be swayed.

 

She took the toast from his plate and ate the rest of it.

 

After he finished his meal and paid… They bid Carl adieu and left the diner.

 

Even if they were mad at each other, they still reached for one another. Chanel walked with her arms around Xander’s middle while Xander's hand made its way to her ass.

 

They got in the car and Xander drove them to the Kiriakis mansion so Chanel could get to her book club meeting.

 

The whole car ride was silent. When they got there, neither of them said anything for a couple of minutes. They both had drew their lines in the sand and neither of them were budging.

 

“Do you want me to walk you inside?”

 

“No, you can get my door for me though.”

 

Xander got out of the car and went to the other side to let her out.

 

They looked at each other and wondered what the other was thinking.

 

“Can I have a kiss sweetheart?”

 

“Always.” Chanel might be mad at him but withholding affection would be just as much a punishment for him as it was for her.

 

She wrapped her arms around his neck and gave him a kiss. It wasn’t just a peck, she slipped her tongue in his mouth and enjoy the feeling their tongues touching and tasting each other.

 

“I love you. I have to go now.” Chanel didn’t want to be late for her book club meeting.

 

“I love you too. You text me when you’re ready.” Xander held his index finger to her chin to lift up her face so he could drop another kiss on her lips.

 

He was glad that they had a thorough talk… even if they were mad at each other, they would always end every interaction with words of love. Both of them knew all too well what it was like to be left behind. He never wanted her to doubt that he loved her even for a second. He was happy that she felt the same way about him.

 

“I will baby.”

 

“Have fun at your book club.”

 

Chanel smiled and gave him a small wave.

 

He didn’t move from where he was until he saw that she got behind the mansion door.

 

When he got home, he quickly changed out of his clothes and put on his workout gear.

 

He needed a run to clear his mind and push down the anger that he was so prone to.

 

He drove to the woods and paid for 30 minutes parking.

 

He started on his run hoping that he would feel better after it. If not, he was hoping that his wife would let him fuck her tonight, so he could get his aggression out.

 

Chapter Text

Chanel had knocked on the door, when the door opened… she was greeted by Agnes.

 

She made quick to chat with the woman as she ventured to the study.

 

The woman told her that she had to get back to work and Chanel gave the woman a hug goodbye. When Chanel stepped into the study, she was shocked to see that Victor wasn’t there.

 

Victor was never late, but he also didn’t cancel their meetings, so she wondered where he was.

 

The only thing about the room was that she wasn't alone. She saw this woman with curly hair deep in the corner. She had her air pods in, she was reading a book. She had no clue that Chanel was in the room.

 

Ciara came to the study so she could be by herself. It was a great way to escape in this house. Even though it was huge it seemed like every single place she went… she had company that she honestly didn’t want. It was so annoying to get those sympathetic and pitiable eyes on her.

 

She lost memories from the last four years, but she still knew who she was. She wasn’t like some amnesiacs who couldn’t remember their name or their whole life. It was easier to just hide, right now what she needed was silence and not Ben Weston pressuring her to remember her supposed life.

 

He had tried to inject her with something while she was sleeping. That was the scariest thing that happened to her in a long time. He was always waxing poetic about how much he loved her and begging her to remember.

 

It made her so mad that he was deciding to do things on her behalf without giving a fuck what she thought. If he supposedly loved her so much, then he should know that she would have never accepted him doing something like that. She made her own choices in her own time. People had to respect that even if they didn’t like it.

 

She even found herself wondering about this life she supposedly lived. She asked Marlena to help her remember… in a safe way. The only thing was it didn’t feel very safe… She knew that it was only a memory, but she could smell the fire. She remembered what it was like to feel helpless.

 

She didn’t know what she was going to do, she was just glad that her grandpa was looking out for her. She felt safe here. Ben couldn’t come here. Claire knew better than to try and find her here. If she wanted to visit Victor then so be it but she knew that she needed to make herself scarce if she saw Ciara.

 

When Ciara turned her head, she was shocked to see this woman that she's never seen before in the study.

 

She took her air pods out and closed her book.

 

“The book must not be that interesting if you didn't bookmark it.” Chanel said as she went to sit down on the sofa.

 

“I was stuck on the same page for the last half hour anyways. I remember what page I was on. I’ve never seen you here before.” Ciara thought this woman was interesting.

 

“You must have moved in relatively recently because I’m in the study at this time every week. I’m in a book club. What are you doing here?” Chanel knew that Xander had like 85 members in his paternal extended family.

 

“Trying to run from a life that I don’t remember. This seems to be one of the only safe places that I can come to.”

 

“I know all about running from life. And did it for a long time.”

 

Ciara was a little surprised at how candid this woman she didn’t even know was being.

 

“What made you run?” It wasn’t really in Ciara's nature to beat around the Bush.

 

“My whole life came to a standstill. My dad died and I fucking hated everything about my life.  I was working like a machine to not think about it, my feet and back were screaming for me to stop. It came to a point where I knew if I kept going then something bad was going to happen. I wasn’t ready to confront my father’s death, so I ran away and traveled the world.” If Chanel had said this a couple of weeks ago, she would have burst into tears but not anymore… not after her husband held her and told her that it wasn't her fault.

 

She could see with new eyes that it was just an accident.

 

“I lost my dad too. It completely changed my life as well. For a long time I felt like a part of me was dead. It was so hard to wrap my head around the fact that he was actually gone. Sometimes I would just be at our house on the sofa and if the door opened, I was always expecting it to be him.”

 

“I completely get that. I felt the same for a while. I used to just think it was a bad dream… I would wake up and my dad would be there. He would say a terrible joke that would be so terrible that it would make me laugh till my stomach hurts and we would move on. He was a cornball… But he was my cornball.” Chanel smiled because she felt like her corniness came from her dad.

 

“My dad was a cornball too. Hey, I totally forgot to introduce myself, my name is Ciara… what’s yours?”

 

“I’m Chanel. You said your name is Ciara?! You know Theo Carver?”

 

“Yeah, he is my best friend… Wait how do you know Theo?”

 

“He’s my ex… I met him in South Africa. It was one of my many pit stops when I was traveling. I know he’s from this place and when Theo was telling me about his life. He literally told me about his life and talked about a girl named Ciara being his best friend and the mess you two got up to when you were kids. You love trouble…”

 

“I did! Not even on purpose I swear! Oh my god that’s so weird. This world is so big and yet so small.”

 

“You're telling me?! We share a sister, I didn’t even know that.”

 

“Eww…Wait did you guys like commit incest?”

 

“Thankfully no. Theo is on her paternal side and I’m on the maternal side. It’s complicated but Lani is biologically my cousin, but our grandma raised us as sisters. She didn’t even know who Mr. Carver was until some years back.”

 

“Thank God. It’s kind of weird but a lot of people in this town… not really the town but a good chunk of people keep intermarrying, so it becomes a little hard to navigate who you can and can't date. It looks like you won’t have a problem with that.” Ciara clocked the wedding ring on Chanel’s hand.

 

“Oh yeah, I’m married.” Chanel had the widest grin on her face.

 

It actually made Ciara really jealous to see that kind of happiness. She was married too, but she couldn’t remember any of it and it was to a man who terrorized the town.

 

People kept telling her that Ben would never hurt her, but she had these waves of overwhelming terror that hit her every time she remembered his crimes or saw him and other times, she would feel a calming feeling. She didn't know how to describe it, but she felt such extremes when it came to the guy and it scared her.

 

“I’m married too except I can’t remember any of it. All I know is that my husband is a documented serial killer. He's walking all around town free and shit and I feel like I’m living in the twilight zone because no one says anything about it.”

 

“My husband’s pretty psychotic too. I love that he’s pretty psychotic about me. Call it toxic I don’t give a fuck, call me Britney Spears.”

 

“I fucking love the song toxic by Britney. I doubt that your husband is as bad as Ben Weston.” Ciara felt weird trying to win a contest of who had the more psychotic husband.

 

“I don’t know much about this Ben Weston guy, but since you’re living here, I’m guessing that you’re a Kiriakis. I’m married to the craziest one.” Chanel said it like it was a secret and then she started clapping.

 

Ciara was ready to say that she didn't know that Claire was married, but she thought to herself that Chanel probably didn’t even know who Claire was. She started going down the list of the most unstable of the Kiriakis bunch. She didn’t have to get far ‘cause it was really only two people on the list.

 

“You’re married to Xander?!”  Ciara jaw just dropped.

 

“Yes ma’am.” Chanel started thinking about her husband. All she could think about was just how fine he was.

 

She was mad at him right now, but it wasn't going to stop her from fucking him tonight.

 

Before Ciara could investigate this more, the side door to the study was being opened and she saw her grandpa coming in. She saw one of the servants that worked in the house right behind him with a tray of food.

 

Victor was beaming at the sight of his granddaughter and Chanel.

 

He decided to forgo his normal seat and settled for the recliner that was near the sofa. They were going to be eating today as they discussed the book, so he thought it was best to be closer.

 

After the servant set down the food, they asked Victor If he needed anything else. Victor told them that they could take their leave.

 

“You are ghastly late.” Chanel was ready to let this man know.

 

Ciara’s eyebrows shot up. There’re very few people who tell her grandpa what's up. Her dad had no problem doing it, sometimes she didn’t either… but it is shocking for her to see Chanel doing it.

 

“I believe it’s called being fashionably late. That’s what the French do… One would say I am being chic.” Victor was being light-hearted. He was amused at Chanel’s annoyance.

 

“Well that person would not be me.”

 

“Well it seems as if you have had good company in my absence.” Victor gave a wink to Ciara.

 

She smiled before she could stop herself and it made her grandpa smile, so she didn’t regret it.

 

“You’re right, Ciara is good company. She’s one of the most interesting people in this ridiculously boring town.”

 

“I don’t think I have ever heard anyone say that Salem was boring.” Ciara found that to be a little shocking.

 

“It’s pretty boring here. My husband is probably the most interesting thing about it. Honestly outside of murder and chaos which you can get just about anywhere in this country… what does Salem really have? If you want to have fun… You have to go to Chicago. There are so much more activities there. If I want to take in a show… I’m going to Chicago. How many times can you go to the park and be fulfilled? How many art exhibits are there here? I’m from Miami and there’s always something to do.”

 

Ciara wanted to defend her hometown, but she realized that she didn’t really have an argument. The fact that her grandma’s restaurant was a hangout for most people in town did not really help.

 

“You can always find something to do in Greece…” Victor said thinking about just how quiet Salem is on the day to day.

 

“I know that’s right Uncle Vic!” Chanel put her hand out so Victor could give her a high 5.

 

It was still pretty shocking for Ciara to see her grandpa so friendly with anyone… especially knowing that this is Xander's wife.

 

Victor just laughed.

 

“Ladies, now you must tell me… do I look like I would be a heartbreaker on the streets of Paris?” Victor got up and gave a 360 of his outfit.

 

Chanel gave Victor snaps in a Z formation.

 

“Yes Uncle Vic. You better work! The streets of Paris are not safe.” Chanel had no problem hyping up Victor.

 

She had so much fun doing it because it made the old man smile.

 

Ciara was laughing at the top of her lungs. She could see why her grandpa liked Chanel.  Chanel was fun and she honestly forgot what that was like. She wondered if this was what their book club was like every week.

 

Chanel showed off her outfit too and got a round of applause from the two of them which was definitely warranted because she tried hard with this outfit. She still was going for her aesthetic of Hilary Banks but Hilary in Paris.

 

“Ciara, are you going to stay for our book club meeting? We have lunch.” Victor was hopeful that she would stay.

 

He knew that his granddaughter was having a hard time and it seemed as if she clicked with Chanel and he didn't want her to withdraw and keep hiding from everyone. Maybe being around new energy would help her in a way.

 

“I would be honored. I love lunch.” Ciara made quick work of getting herself a plate.

 

She just watched the back and forth of Chanel and her grandpa conversing. They definitely had a spirited debate, but it was clear that they respected each other's opinion… most of their points were in conjunction. But when one of them brought in a newer point that the other one didn't think about, instead of interjecting… they listened.

 

Even though Ciara didn’t read the book, there would be times where they would include her in the conversation giving her a breakdown about characters and their motivations. It was really fun… she couldn't remember the last time she laughed this much.

 

After their book club meeting had adjourned, she saw Chanel texting Xander letting her know to come pick her up. It was still hard for her to believe that this dope ass chick she just met is married to her impulsive homicidal cousin… willingly at that.

 

They exchanged phone numbers, it made Ciara happy because her best friend used to be Claire and it was so hard for her to even wrap around the idea of forgiveness when it came to Claire.

 

Chanel was staring at her phone looking at the message her husband sent her. It really was just an emoji with a kiss, but it made her feel giddy inside.

 

“What’s got you so happy?” Victor asked as he put butter on his sliced baguette.

 

“My husband is just so sweet to me.” Chanel flipped her hair.

 

She wasn’t even that upset anymore about their fight this morning.

 

“Your husband is Xander!” Ciara was finding it so hard to believe still.

 

 Victor was so surprised at the laughter that ripped from his throat, it made him cough because he had just swallowed his food.

 

“We want Uncle Vic to freaking live damn! Are you okay? Oh my gosh!” Chanel was being dramatic, she was laughing too.

 

“I’m so sorry grandpa.” Ciara knew that it wasn’t funny, but she couldn’t stop laughing.

 

“No harm no foul. I just wasn’t expecting to laugh so suddenly.”

 

“Now that we know that Uncle Vic is going to be OK. As co-president of the book club –”

 

“There’s only two people in the book club.” Ciara could not believe that they made themselves co-presidents when there’s only two people in the book club.

 

“You know you have a lot of lip for being a visiting book club member. You didn’t even read the book.” Chanel winked at Ciara so she could see that she wasn’t being serious.

 

"I didn't even know the book club existed until a few hours ago!"

 

Victor agreed with Chanel and Ciara felt a little betrayed in a comical way.

 

“It is very unbecoming to attack the leadership of the book club. I’ll forgive you because you’re my granddaughter and I love you.” Victor was trying to be diplomatic.

 

 It made the ladies laugh so hard at Victor’s deadpan delivery.

 

“As I was saying before I was unceremoniously interrupted. As co-president of the book club, I would actually like to open another club.”

 

“I am open to opening another club. What would the genre be of this club?” Victor was intrigued, he actually wished that Chanel came to the house more.

 

Chanel went into her bag and got the puzzle book that she bought.

 

“I was thinking of us starting a Sudoku club. We can do the puzzles in our books and have contests.” Chanel taught Victor how to play Sudoku at their second meeting.

 

She handed Victor one of the books. She had bought two identical ones.

 

“Ciara, you’re welcome to join our club too if you like. I have another book I can always buy a third.”

 

“I don’t know how to play Sudoku. Is it hard?”

 

“There's levels of difficulty, ranging from easy to difficult. The same rules always apply. I can teach you… there’s lots of puzzles online and we can practice until we have our Sudoku meeting. Great idea Chanel. When should we have Sudoku meetings?”

 

“I was thinking Mondays and we could still have our book club on Wednesdays.”

 

“All in favor of sudoku club say yay.”

 

All three of them said yay and Ciara earned a look from Victor as well as Chanel.

 

“Visiting members don't have voting rights.” Chanel said. “Would you like to join our book club?”

 

“Hell yeah, it’s lit.”

 

“I’ll have to confer with my co-president.” Chanel flipped her whole neck and her hair swayed back and forth.

 

Ciara couldn’t believe that they were having actual deliberations about this… she thought it was a slam dunk that she would be in a book club.

 

They were having a serious conversation in what she gathered to be Greek, and she just learned a new fact about Chanel. Then again, she thought about it and maybe it was something Chanel learned on her travels.

 

“We were just shitting with you, you’re in the book club. We only wanted to look like we were having a serious conversation. We were just talking about the theme for next week.  Next week is dressed like a Grecian… however even though we are reading an ancient Greek play… We’re going to dress more modern. If you need any styling tips just let me know. I have tons of experience dressing Grecian anyways, we’re going a real retro and reading Antigone. You’re going to love it.”

 

Before Chanel could say anything else, the main door to the study was being opened. It was Xander and her heart skipped a beat.

 

“I might take you up on that.”

 

“You know that… I’m having lunch with my friend Andrea tomorrow at Carl’s diner… you wanna come?”

 

“Yeah, that’s totally cool. Just text me when you plan on going.”

 

“We'll carpool. I’m picking up Andrea, I’ll stop by the house and pick you up too. Uncle Vic I can’t wait for Sudoku Monday.”

 

“What’s this about Sudoku Monday?” Xander felt out of the loop.

 

“We just started a new club. We’re going to do sudoku puzzles on Mondays.”

 

“Uncle Vic, are you trying to monopolize my wife’s time?” Xander said in a joking manner.

 

“It's not my fault that she prefers my company. She’s the person who wanted sudoku club. I’m only obliging her.”

 

“Next you'll be starting a crochet club…”

 

“That’s a great idea I know how to crochet. I took a class years ago. Uncle Vic, I’ll teach you… it's not hard. Ciara, will have to take a vote if you can join our future club so I don’t really want to waste either of our time.”

 

Ciara was just laughing, she was so thoroughly happy that she decided to go into the study today.

 

“Darling I was not serious. You can’t start a club for everything.”

 

“Says you… You don’t have any voting rights in our club. You’re not even in the club.”

 

Both Ciara and Victor saw Xander rolling his eyes.

 

“Very well then. The temperature dropped quite a bit… it’s cold outside.” Xander winced as he took his leather jacket off.

 

Chanel turned and slipped her arms into the jacket.

 

“Bye friends. Ciara, I’ll text you… I’ll see you Monday Uncle Vic.”

 

“As always it’s been a pleasure uncle Vic. Ciara good to see you up and about.” Xander said as he reached for his wife's hand with his left instead of his right.

 

As soon as he did it, Chanel was suspicious.

 

They walked out and as soon as they got outside. Chanel looked at him.

 

“What's wrong?”

 

It annoyed Xander that Chanel could quickly know that something was wrong.

 

“I need you to drive.” Xander knew it was one of the things that Chanel liked least.

 

“I knew something was wrong when you used your left hand instead of your right. You usually use your right hand now you want me to drive. What’s wrong with your hand?” Chanel started walking because Xander was right it was cold, and the bottom of her dress was flowy.

 

Xander really didn’t want to admit what happened. he could already see her getting mad, but he really had no choice at this point.

 

He just hoped that he could get out relatively unscathed.

Chapter Text

The first thing that popped into Chanel’s mind was that maybe something was wrong with Xander having points on his license.

 

The last thing they needed was any kind of traffic tickets while she was still getting things sorted. She would be more willing to believe that being the cause of her having to drive if he didn't hold her hand with his left hand.

 

She walked quickly to the car because her legs were cold.  Xander was right behind her. He opened the car door for her with his left hand. It wasn’t out of the ordinary because this was the left side.

 

She got in and she watched him as he walked. When he got to the passenger side of the car, he is his left hand again even though it should have been instinctual to use the right because it was the right side.

 

She immediately knew that something was wrong with his right hand.

 

When Xander got into the car, he could feel Chanel’s silence eating at him.

 

“Why do you need me to drive?” Chanel didn’t even press the push button to the car yet.

 

Xander was uncomfortable, they had just had a fight about this.

 

“So now you're not going to answer my question. Alexandros, what is wrong with your right hand?”  Chanel wanted to breakdown all of the pretenses and get to the facts now.

 

He bristled at her using his full name like that.

 

Xander pulled up the sleeve to his henley and Chanel saw that Xander’s wrist was bandaged up with compression tape. She started to get upset because his wrist was fine this morning and the only thing that could explain it would be him falling. Which was more than likely to happen in the freaking woods than anywhere else.

 

“I was running and I tripped over a branch or vine that I didn’t see. My hand broke my fall. When I got up my wrist was hurting so I walked back to the car and went to the drugstore and got some bandaging tape and wrapped my wrist.” After Xander explained what happened he just closed his eyes for 10 seconds.

 

“I fucking told you! I told you so many times that it wasn’t safe. It’s fucking horror movie shit to run in the woods in the first place. It’s so easy to get hurt there and what happened if it wasn’t your wrist?! What happened if you tripped and you hit your head on a rock? I wouldn’t even know anything was wrong until you didn’t text me back when I was ready to go. I told you it wasn't safe.”

 

“Chanel this is a rare occurrence… I have been running in those woods for a long time and this is the first time something like this has ever happened.” Xander was trying to explain his piece.

 

“Don't you fucking dare. Alexandros, I will not accept that right now. No one would know anything was wrong with you until some other dumb ass who also runs in the woods found you. Or I look on the Find My iPhone for you.” Chanel was crying because she was right to be concerned. She thought it was crazy talk to run in the woods… especially alone. “You don't get it. It terrifies me! I love you. I told you that it wasn’t safe and you told me that you would be fine. But look at you, you can’t even drive. I don’t care about driving, I care about why you can’t drive. Now you’re trying to act like this sprained wrist isn’t anything… but you don’t even know if it’s really sprained. It could be a fucking fracture. We are going to the hospital.”

 

Chanel got the car started and back the fuck out. She was so angry… She was worried about her husband’s wrist but she was just so angry with him for dismissing her concern which she felt was very valid and now she's been proven right.

 

“We are not going to the hospital. It’s only a sprain.” Xander's voice came out in a low growl.

 

“It is more expensive to go to the hospital… if we're not going to hospital then we are going to an urgent care, but you will be seeing a medical professional. You are not a doctor, you are not a nurse… you have no way of knowing how severe it is. And there’s several grades of sprained wrist. And grade II and up needs to be seen by a doctor. Alexandros give it up because you are not walking away from this thinking that we're just going home. What happens if your arm heals badly? Your right hand is your dominant hand you use it for everything.”

 

“If it bothers me in 2 weeks, I’ll go to the doctor when our insurance kicks in but we cannot afford to go to the doctor right now. It will just be another fucking bill.” Xander put his left hand over his eyes.

 

Chanel made a lot of sense, he could have a fucked up wrist… But they truly didn’t have the means to just absorb hospital bills without insurance.

 

Chanel’s felt a little guilt, she was sitting on a big secret… but her cousin Benny was helping her. He was in Amsterdam right now, but he had been working on her behalf.

 

Ever since Xander told her that he loved her. She told herself that she would give him everything. What she needs to do is tell him everything. Every part of her, she could trust him to make everything okay.

 

“You’re my husband. Whatever happens with the bill, I’ll take care of it. I have my old HSA account and it will take care of the bill. The bill is going to be a qualified health expense and you’re my husband so I can use my HSA card on you. Baby you don’t have to worry about the bill. It’s my job to take care of you. Just like you take care of me. Let me take care of you.”

 

Chanel cried at every red light. She was so worried, mostly of what could have happened. Xander could have a fracture and he wouldn’t know because fractures actually hurt less than sprains.

 

Xander winced every time she cried but he shut up. He knew there was a high probability of her cursing him out if he said anything to her.

 

“Okay.” Xander actually was relieved when Chanel explained that she had an HSA account.

 

He was putting up a front because he didn't want to act like it was a big deal. His wrist hurt badly… The only thing that would hurt worse would be getting the bill, so he was ready to just deal with it.

 

Chanel put in the GPS for the nearest urgent care. She was so happy when she saw that one was only 6 minutes away.

 

When I got to the parking lot of the urgent care. Chanel fixed herself, she was glad that she didn’t wear makeup today because she would have been a mess. She dried her tears and took a couple deep breaths and got out the car.

 

Right now she didn’t care about Xander’s and his need to be sweet and get her door.

 

“Let’s go.” Chanel didn’t bother waiting for him.

 

She didn’t want to hold his hand right now. She wanted a doctor to check him out and give them news.

 

Xander could tell that she was livid because she didn’t even turn back to look at him. He just followed and went into the urgent care entrance.

 

Chanel filled out all of the paperwork, she had to… Xander went ahead and fucked up the hand he uses to write.

 

“Xander?”

 

“Yes?” Xander’s voice had an edge to it. He turned his head so he could look at her.

 

Chanel placed the clipboard on her lap.

 

Her hands gently caressed his cheeks, she pulled him closer so she could kiss his lips. That’s all she wanted to do right now.

 

She got up so she could give the woman at the front desk the form they asked her to fill out.

 

Xander just stared. He could see Chanel asking questions. He honestly hoped that it wouldn’t take long, it was cold as hell in this clinic and he gave his jacket to his wife.

 

He never in a million years would ever ask her to give it back. She would be colder than he was, he would rather be cold knowing that she was warm.

 

She came back and sat down and hugged herself to his left arm. It made him feel better that she wasn’t as mad as she was in the car. He wasn’t foolish to think that she wasn’t mad anymore because he knew better.

 

They had several fights about the woods. Now his chickens were coming to roost.

 

It was about 40 minutes before they were called. Xander wanted to get this sorted out and just go home and relax.

 

When they got to the examination room, the doctor started asking him questions. He explained what he had been doing and tripping over the branch and using his right hand to break his fall.

 

The doctor told him that it was pretty instinctual to do that even though it was probably the worst thing to do.

 

The doctor felt Xander’s wrist… He had been confident that it was a Grade 2, but he knew that X-Rays would confirm there were no broken bones and a CT to confirm how torn his ligaments were.

 

The doctor told Xander and Chanel that he would be doing a digital X-Ray to make sure everything was on the up and up.

 

The doctor performed the digital X Ray on Xander’s wrist. He also performed the CT scan and told them that it would take 10 to 20 minutes to get the results on that it wasn’t as instant as an X-Ray. The doctor told them that he would be back with the results of the CT scan.

 

Chanel got up and went to him. She just hugged him. She was so glad that she didn’t take no for an answer.

 

“Hey.” It was all Xander could say.

 

“Hey.” Your voice was soft. She wasn’t looking to fight. She just wanted to hold him.

 

She just wanted to be with him. She didn’t care about being right, she only cared that he was going to be okay.

 

When the doctor came back, Chanel let go of Xander.

 

“Great news. We are not dealing with a fracture which is amazing. We are dealing with a Grade II sprain. It’s actually really good that you came and got it checked out. It’s a moderate sprain so it does hurt more than what we typically think as sprains which is really just the hyper extension of ligaments in the arms and feet that create little tears in those ligaments. The good news about this Grade II is that it’s on the milder side so it’s not going to take as long to heal. I would think 4 to 6 weeks. It may actually take less time because you seems to be pretty athletic. Athlete recover tends to be faster. You will have way more range of motion within two weeks, you may still feel pinches of pain, but it will be nothing like you are experiencing right now. It is going to be very important that you do not overdo it though. Just because your wrist feels better doesn’t mean you should be curling 50-pound dumbbells. You can come back to see me in 6 weeks if you don’t have a Primary-care Physician. We can assess your progress then. Do you have any naproxen or ibuprofen at home?”

 

“We have both doctor.” Chanel always made sure to have Aleve and Advil in the house just in case.

 

“That’s good. You want to keep your hand elevated. You’re also going to want to ice it. It will definitely help with the swelling it’s really crucial to do this between 24 and 48 hours. The great news is that this only happened a couple of hours ago, so you are in the best shape to tackle this.  I’m going to put you in a splint. It’s going to be important for you not to move your wrist. As far as bandaging goes, it would be best for your wife to do it. You should start doing this on week 3 or 4 depending on how your wrist feels. Knowing that this is your dominant hand, you may not be wrapping it tight enough using your non dominant hand. You also want to relieve pressure so rebandaging is just as important. Do either of you know the rice method?” The doctor was talking to Chanel just as much as he was talking to Xander.

 

“Rest, ice, compress, elevate.” Chanel said automatically.

 

“That’s correct. I’m going to give you two some literature on how to care for the specific type of sprain.”

 

“Thank you, doctor. Truly thank you. If I’m being honest my wife wanted me to come here more than I wanted to come here.”

 

“It's a good thing that you did.  It’s actually easier to fracture your wrist then just sprain it. You have 15 bones in the wrist and only four ligaments. Ligaments are always designed to stretch for the most part. The joints are there to take impact but all it takes is 1 wrong angle and bam you got a fracture. Sometimes you don’t even know that the fracture even happened because the pain can be less than a sprain. A lot of people get that confused and let their wrist heal wrong. That only starts a cycle of pain. It can be bothersome and if you go to the doctor after the fact, the first thing we’re going to tell you is you should have come when it hurt first, it's hard to reverse damage if it becomes set.” This wasn't the first time he's heard anything remotely like this. He actually really hated it when that happened.

 

People were so afraid of going to the doctor unless they were actually dying. But things like this ruin your quality of life if it doesn't get treated.

 

He put the splint on Xander’s wrist.

 

As soon as the doctor put the splint on Xander felt relief. He couldn’t move his arm, but it actually felt good. The pain was much less now.

 

Chanel put the papers that the doctor gave her in her purse. She would be studying them attentively.

 

The doctor gave them some more info and Then left the room.

 

“How do you feel baby?” Chanel looked up and stared into his eyes. She wanted the truth and nothing less.

 

“Tired. I feel tired… But I also feel lucky. I feel lucky that my wife didn’t back down. It was a foolish notion to not get this checked out.”

 

“I’m glad so we came here though instead of going to the hospital. It will cost probably 10 times as much. I’m glad I had time to think about it when you said no to going to the hospital. I’m never going to back down when it comes to you. You’re my husband… It’s my job to make sure that you're good. I don’t care about being right. All I care about is that you are okay. You're all that matters…” Chanel didn’t care about anything else in the moment.

 

Xander just scrutinized her like he did frequently. She was intoxicating… Hearing that he was the only thing that mattered made him feel a type of way.

 

“I’m lucky to have you.”

 

“You are. But I’m lucky to have you. We fight for each other baby… Always.” Chanel stuck out her pinky.

 

Xander laughed, he pinky promised her.

 

“We should probably get out of here so next patient can come.”

 

“I think that’s probably best.”

 

They went to the front desk to pay their bill.

 

“Alright let's see. It’s going to be $40 for the examination on the sprained wrist. It’s going to be $75 for the digital X-Ray and $175 for the CT scan. So all together it’s going to be $290.00. How would you like to pay?”

 

Chanel was so glad that she started forwarding her mail to Salem because she had just gotten her new card from WEX.

 

She pulled it out of her phone case wallet and gave it to the woman at the front desk.

 

Xander felt like it was magic when they received the receipt and he didn't have to pay anything. It was the absolute worst time to have another bill, but he felt happy to have this silver lining.

 

They walked back to the car and when they got in, they didn’t say anything to each other.

 

They didn’t hold hands. Chanel was a different driver than Xander. She liked to keep both hands on the steering wheel at all times unless they were at red lights. She was a little more on the neurotic side where he was a lot more relaxed.

 

Chanel had explained to him that traffic here was nothing like traffic in South Florida. You were taught to be a defensive driver because the people suck.  People do terrible things on the road and then blame you for it. She hadn’t used her horn once living in Salem, that’s how she knew that it was boring here.

 

Chanel had been so happy when they finally got home. She was ready to put this day behind her. She also had some things to tell Xander.

 

There was more than likely chance he was going to get upset when she told him. She was ready for that.

 

Chapter Text

When they got home, Chanel went straight to the kitchen and got a big zip lock bag and filled it with ice.

 

When she came back to the living room, she saw Xander sitting on the sofa. She could tell that he was tired and exhausted from everything. She was tired herself, but she wasn’t the one with a sprained wrist.

 

“Xander, you should take off the splint so we can ice your wrist for 20 minutes.” Chanel didn’t need the literature to tell her that.

 

She already had experience with caring for sprained wrists.

 

Xander took off the splint and when he did, he felt like his wrist was expanding. It made sense because the splint was there to compress his wrist.

 

Chanel started stacking up the pillows so his hand could be elevated.

 

Chanel put down a little towel on the top pillow and put half of the zip lock bag on the towel and then Xander’s hand, she put the top of the zip lock bag on the top of Xander’s wrist.

 

“So fucking cold.” It made Xander shudder to feel the ice.

 

“I know, but it’s good for you. It’s only for 20 minutes.” Chanel knows that this was probably the last thing he wanted to do but it was vital.

 

It was something that couldn’t be avoided so they would just have to let it be.

 

“Distract me.”

 

 Chanel went to his other side and sat down. Xander put his left arm around her.

 

She took a moment to just hug herself to him. She felt his hand go up and down her arm. Even though she still had on her long sleeve dress, she could feel the heat from his hand warm her.

 

She wasn’t even cold, but the feeling felt so good.

 

Chanel closed her eyes and just let herself get caught up in the feeling. It was so nice to just let go for a second.

 

“Are you falling asleep?” Xander asked because he could feel her trying to make herself even more comfortable.

 

She tended to do that when she was getting ready to take a nap. There’s been plenty of times where she fell asleep on his chest when they were watching TV.

 

“No. I was just making myself more comfortable. You’re like an overgrown teddy bear and I love it so much…” to emphasize her point Chanel hugged his middle tighter.

 

“Don't you ever say that to anyone who isn't me… I have a reputation to maintain. How can I be intimidating if I’m just a teddy bear?” Xander let out a soft chuckle.

 

Chanel could feel the genuine laugh because his abs were contracting and relaxing as he laughed.

 

“You can be an intimidating teddy bear! I wouldn’t want to besmirch flawless reputation though. Anyways, our marriage is for us so it’s nobody’s business but ours. I’m not going to volunteer any information to anyone. When you invite people into your relationship… hoping they pick sides… it only leads to the demise of your relationship. I don’t want anyone’s opinion about us. When it’s about us, I only care what you think…” Chanel is a big proponent of that.

 

She knew it was a recipe for disaster to tell so-called friends about things that don't concern them. There’re exceptions of course but people offer their unsolicited advice and expect you to take it. She had seen so many drama-filled relationships with friends she had because people were always gossiping about their relationships. She thought it was embarrassing to have so many people comment on a relationship where they were the people affected by it.

 

She felt it was like vultures circling a carcass. She knew it wasn’t a Miami mentality it was something that was pretty universal. People would do commentary on relationships like it was a sport and they were Al Michaels.

 

“Huh? You’re telling me you wouldn’t even tell Lani or Daniela if we were to have problems?”

 

“I might say we had a fight or something like that, but what goes on between me and you is between me and you. I have seen what it’s like when other people get involved in relationships at they don't need to have any kind of influence on. It’s not to say that Lani or Dani would give me bad advice. Lani would also kill you first and ask questions later. It’s a way I just approach relationships in general. It’s our business and inviting people into that is a horrible idea. People will have their take and all of a sudden someone’s cursing you out and someone’s telling me that I’m wrong… blah blah blah. But that’s not their place because they are not affected by it. I don’t even know most of the people in this town, but they're always telling everyone's business. They make it sound like concerns or best intentions, only it’s not. A town as boring as this, they have to be in other people's business because that’s the only way that their day will go by.”

 

Xander thought about what his wife was talking about and she wasn’t wrong. He was always happening on people’s affairs that he didn’t really have anything to do with nor care about.

 

“You think the town is boring? It doesn’t really have a reputation for being so.”

 

“You're the most interesting thing about this place. There’s very little actual places of interest here. Crime doesn't make a place interesting… That’s not going to be a draw for people to want to visit or move.”

 

“When you put it like that…”

 

“I know what I’m talking about.” Chanel twisted her body and was now sitting on Xander’s lap.

 

She ran her fingers through his hair. She loved it when he closed his eyes and got lost in the feeling of her touch. She was addicted to him.

 

When his eyes opened, his blue eyes focused on her, it made her heart quicken. He had this habit of always looking her in the eye. It had been like that ever since they met.

 

“Sweetheart, just out of curiosity how much is on that HSA card?” Xander thought about his follow up visit.

 

Every dollar counted and they weren't going to meet a deductible after their first month. It would be easier for time to use the HSA card to pay whatever cost difference it would be after the insurance kicked in.

 

Xander had his hand on her back and he could feel her tense. It was like she was frozen.

 

His eyes were trying to follow hers and they kept shifting. They couldn’t find one place to focus in the room.

 

“We should talk about that…” Chanel’s said as her voice cracked.

 

She cleared her throat and got off of Xander.

 

“Talk about what? If there’s any money left on it, we can use it to pay whatever our out of pocket will be when I have to go for a follow up.” Xander couldn’t understand why she was pulling away from him.

 

Chanel’s felt her nervousness and guilt combine into nausea.

 

“We'll have more than enough…”  Chanel’s voice dropped… It was barely above a whisper.

 

“OK, but a number would be nice. It would help to be able to plan our health expenses like when you start therapy if we could use that instead of paying out of pocket it would be easier on me.”

 

“Yeah, we can use it to cover the out of pocket for therapy.” Chanel’s fingers started to dance with each other.

 

Xander was taking everything in and could tell that Chanel was hiding something from him. He hated not knowing so his patience was starting to run thin.

 

“Why are you evading the question? Just tell me how much money is on it…” Xander didn’t understand what the big deal was about knowing how much money was in a health savings account.

 

Chanel started to panic because she was waiting to get her package from Benny before telling Xander.

 

“This is not how I wanted to have this conversation…”

 

“Not how you wanted to have this conversation?! Chanel, I don’t understand why you just won’t tell me. It’s just a number. It can only help us… if there’s not that much money on it then that’s fine. I know we just spent almost $300.00 so just see what the balance is now.” Xander didn’t see what the big deal was… every dollar counted so whatever dollar they didn’t have to pay out of the pocket the better.

 

Chanel felt the pit in the bottom of her stomach growing. She knew that she had to tell the truth and all of it, but she knew Xander was going to fly off the handle.

 

“It should still be over 13,000…” Chanel looked at him… her voice came out quite low when she said it.

 

“Excuse me? Say that again.” Xander assumed that he heard wrong or Chanel said the wrong number.

 

“The account should have over $13,000 in it…”

 

Xander just looked at her in silence. That was a big sum of money in HSA.

 

“What?! Why are you only telling me this now?” Xander clenched his jaw to try and calm himself.

 

He knew with that kind of evasion she was doing that she was still hiding something. He could see the guilty look on her face.

 

“This is not how I wanted to tell you. You weren’t supposed to sprain your hand. I wanted to have the stuff I was getting from Benny first.”

 

“Who the fuck is Benny? And what the hell do they have to do with you having such a large sum of money in your HSA? Why didn't you tell me this before?” Even with the penalties to cash out that money could only help them.

 

“I didn’t think about my HSA account… it’s for emergencies like this. I forgot I even had it until I knew about your hand.”

 

“You're telling me that you wanted to wait for Benny? Who is Benny?”

 

“Benny is my cousin… He’s also my financial planner.” Chanel let out of breath that she didn't even know she had been holding on to for so long.

 

The silence in the living room was deafening… She could see her husband’s eyes staring hard at her. He was trying to decode everything.

 

“Financial planner?! Bloody hell why would you need a financial planner?” Xander asked with a hiss. Had she been ready to fleece him as soon as the wedding happened?!

 

He wasn’t slow on the uptake, he wanted to hear her say it.

 

“He helps me… he helps us because you’re my husband now. And we love each other. That’s why I did it… because I love you.”

 

“Don't you fucking dare try and manipulate me right now. Fucking love… I just found out that you have $13,000 in a health savings account. I have been petrified… The real notion of running out of money bloody terrifies me because I want to be able to take care of you. I have done things that I don’t want to do. I have been rejected by my uncle for you. I have been rejected by your mother for you. I even went to the fucking bank and tried to take out a business loan only to be rejected yet again. It’s would be so easy for me to go back to my old world but I don’t because I promised you! I have put myself through humiliation… do you know how hurtful it is for me? I put aside my pride because I fucking love you. If you have secrets tell me! I'll lie to the fucking world I don't care because I bloody love you. You’re telling me that you love me and yet you don't answer my questions. You say that you are waiting on your cousin for what? Your exit strategy. You can invest that money in your HSA and do just fine without me. Were you just waiting for me to fall flat on my face and then say sayonara. Oh no you wouldn't be saying goodbye it would be me. This is your home –” The idea of Xander crawling back to Victor makes a fresh wave of anger come to the surface.

 

“No baby, it's our home. It belongs to both of us. I’m not trying to keep secrets from you it’s just everything changed when we said we loved each other. As soon as you said that you loved me, I knew that I would do anything for you… I would do everything for you. I know you’re doing the best to support us. I see it all. I don’t want you to think of any of it as humiliation I’m sorry if you do. That’s not my intention.”

 

“Not your intention. Your intention was to marry me for money. I was your mark… let’s be real. Here I am playing the fucking fool. And here you are playing me like a fiddle.” Xander started hurling his words like barrels from the top of a hill.

 

“Everything changed though. I knew you didn't have any money after you told me you didn’t. But I thought we had more than that. I know we have more than that. I felt this overwhelming attraction to you that I couldn’t even leave when you told me to get out. I only left because I didn’t want to look weak. But I wanted to stay and then the next day… You said you were sorry. And we were kissing and holding each other. When you called me sweetheart… I was yours from that second. I would do anything for us to secure the life we will have.” Chanel was crying. Remembering how he was when he looked at her with soft eyes. She felt like she would do anything for him.

 

She wanted Xander to believe her but he was just looking her with those hard crystal eyes.

 

“Your tears aren't going to work today. Your sweet words of love and affection are not working. It only reinforces the notion that you are still working your mark. I’m the fucking fool. I’m in love with a woman who I humiliate myself for. The drinking hurts less then what I feel right now.” Xander felt like being vicious.

 

He got closer to Chanel with every word he said. He wanted to stare her in the eyes… Be close and see what bullshit she was going to feed him.

 

“Don't say that. I love you. You’re my heart baby.”

 

“Your love is hurting me.”

 

 Chanel shook her head in disbelief. Xander was so close… his face was right in front of hers. She only cried harder because she could see the hurt in his eyes.

 

“I’m sorry. Baby, I’m sorry. I’m fixing everything for us. I promise.”

 

“Fixing things. How on earth is anything fixed? I still feel like shit. Do you know what the worst part is? I put myself out there… I endured insults and took them like a civilized human being. I wanted to strangle the banker because it felt like game over. When I cried in your arms when I wasn’t able to get that business loan, you told me that you believed in me… Just like you did the first time we went to Carl’s diner. You’re full of shit.” Xander felt like he was breaking.

 

Tears escaped his eyes, some of it was from anger but most of it was from feeling foolish yet again.

 

“You don't mean that. I know you’re hurt. But you’re thinking with anger. Of course, I believe in you Alexandros. I will always believe in you. Not only because you're my husband, you're so smart and capable. If you just let me explain –” Chanel was trying to explain the full scope.

 

 “It's not just the HSA... what else are you hiding from me? Do not give me the runaround. I don’t want any fucking word salad right now. If you love me the way you say you do… then give me the fucking truth.”

 

“$2.6 million.” Chanel winced as the words came out of her mouth.

 

 She saw Xander’s mouth drop. As he started to recover from hearing that answer, she could see how red he was getting all over his body.

 

Xander felt like screaming… He thought that he had heard wrong again but he knew that it couldn't have been wrong because the first time he thought he heard wrong he was definitely right.

 

He was so angry he felt defeated. He threw his hands in exasperation, it was the biggest mistake for him to make. He didn’t have the splint on and the violent downward motion that he had when he threw his hands in the air only caused him excruciating pain.

 

The pain was so bad that he screamed in agony.

 

Chanel saw all of it and felt terrible. She ran to the sofa so she could get the splint.

 

She went back to him so she could put it back on for him.

 

“Don't fucking touch me.”

 

“No matter how you feel about me right now. I don’t want to see you in pain. It will be easier for you to let me do this for you.” Chanel looked at him in the eye.

 

It wasn’t for long because he turned his head to the side but let her put the splint back on him.

 

“You have any other assets that I don’t know about? Honestly you don’t even really need to tell me because it belongs to you. I don’t even give a fuck about the money. I just give a fuck about this shit you’re keeping from me. You reamed me a new asshole when your mom laid out this shit that I did. But you know every single thing about me because when you asked me, I told you. You know everything about me… I thought I knew you. I really thought that I knew you, but I don’t know and that's what hurts the most.”

 

“I have some savings bonds and stock in a fruit company from 1995… my grandma got it when she was drunk out of her mind. It’s in a shoebox in Miami. Baby you do know me. There’s more to the story just let me explain please.”

 

“I need some fucking time. As beautiful as you are, I can’t stand the sight of you right now. We can talk later but I really need to calm down. I’ve already said things in anger that I regret, I don’t want keep going down that route. I need to step back.” The whole fight made Xander exhausted.

 

Xander rubbed his face with his left hand in frustration.

 

Chanel watched him as he left the room. She knew that he was going to his office. It still surprised her when she heard the door slam.

 

She was in the living room all by herself with tears running down her cheeks just wishing that she had been able to explain everything to her husband. She kept telling herself that she would have been able to tell him everything the way she wanted to if he didn’t sprain his damn wrist…

 

Chapter Text

Xander locked himself in his office. He felt so many emotions just surging through his body. He was beyond angry.

 

His wife was sitting on a huge pile of cash and she could leave at any moment. That’s what made him the most mad. Hearing that high amount of money in her HSA… it was only the tip of the iceberg. He wondered when she was going to leave. She had the means to do so and he didn’t even know why she married him in the first place…

 

Why marry him if she had all of that at her disposal? She had a financial planner so even if she was frivolous with her money, she obviously trusted her financial planner to make investments for her that would only further her…

 

He had such a fear of running out of money. He felt handicapped because he was trying to do it the right way and all it did was blow up in his face. He was trying to calm down, but he couldn't no matter how hard he tried. He hated how pathetic he felt, Chanel was his calming force. He couldn’t go to her… not right now.

 

She was the reason for this anger. His uncle’s words were going through his head. It felt so audible like he was on speaker. He kept saying Chanel was this great champion. Victor didn’t know how right he was because she was sitting on a great heap of money. Victor told him to be careful around her. But it seemed as if he had to be the one that was careful.

 

She didn’t make any sense… She kept talking about she was doing this for them, she believed in him. That she was helping him…

 

He wanted to trash his office… he wanted to be able to wreck everything, but he wouldn’t for two reasons. His wrist was already fucked up, he didn’t want to make it worse, and he could hear his wife's words. She said that where you dwell can be a reflection upon yourself. He didn't want to wreck his office because he didn't want to be messed up. He didn't want to be a disaster, he felt alone.

 

He remembers their first night. He remembers asking her if she would be there in the morning, he had thought it was a dream, but it was real, she told him that she would be there in the morning and it was the first time in a long time he believed in something.

 

He was having this hard time reconciling everything. How could she fiercely defend him to people in their lives and hide from him?

 

Chanel had made her way to a guest bedroom. She just wanted to sit in the quiet and collect herself. This wasn’t how she envisioned she was going to tell Xander about everything. She knew that he was mad, but she was still confident that they could get through it. She had to trust in her love… she had to believe in it. Oma always told her that when real love was there, it would be able to endure.

 

She just hopes that she isn't wrong. She doesn’t want her heart to break, she doesn’t want to be left behind. It’s not even about being left behind really, it hurts when you're left behind by someone who is deep in your heart.

 

She sat on the bed and didn't want to be alone. She texted Daniela, but she knew that Daniela would be busy because she was taking her finals.

 

She knew that she couldn’t tell Lani anything because Lani would be ready to curse Xander out. She wouldn’t tell anyone about the particulars of their fight, but it would be enough to send Lani running.

 

She got her phone and her air pods and called a familiar number.

 

“Hello?”

 

“I figured it was okay to call now because it's only 7 hours difference. How is Amsterdam?” Chanel wanted to be distracted from the headache that was starting to form.

 

“It's been good. We got in safely last night.  JoJo has been loving it here. I honestly just think he's happy to be out of school.”

 

“Of course he is Benny. It’s his first time in Amsterdam of course he’s going to be excited…”

 

“Not that I am not happy to hear from you, but I honestly wasn’t expecting the call now. Are you okay?”. He was always worried about her.

 

“I’m just having one of those days. I wanted to hear a familiar voice. I also really wanted to check in with Joey. He made me give him a virtual pinky promise the last time I FaceTimed him to call him when he became a Holland boy.”

 

Benny laughed because his son would say something like that.

 

“He’s been calling himself that all day. It’s been driving Georgie crazy…  it's honestly payback. She was driving us crazy with her overzealous crafting habit as she picked up out of nowhere.”

 

Chanel thought about her other cousin, she could definitely believe Georgina getting obsessive in a new hobby. It was how she ended up going to a crochet class in the first place.

 

“You better leave my cousin alone. She doesn’t deserve all this slander.” Chanel was trying to defend Georgie and her honor even though she has had to endure some of that infectious energy.

 

She loved it though because Georgina was always so much fun and Joey was just like his mom.

 

Chanel enjoyed catching up with Benny. Her air pods had low battery, so she took them out and turn off her Bluetooth. He told her that he sent the package and some comforts from home right before he left for Holland. It should get there any day. To Chanel it didn’t matter as much anymore because Xander knew. Benny told her that Joseph wanted to speak to her.

 

The doorbell rang, Xander got up and went to his phone. You could see on the ring alarm that it was a delivery person with a box. He hadn’t been expecting any deliveries, so he was suspicious.

 

He went to the door and opened it.

 

“Hey, I got a delivery for a Frida C. and Alexandros Kiriakis.”

 

 Xander gave the delivery guy a hard stare, it did satisfy him when he saw the guy shrink a little in fear. Then he felt bad because this guy was just doing his job and he was punching down on someone. Just because life was punching him down didn’t mean that he had to do it to someone else.

 

“Sorry, I just wasn’t expecting a package.”

 

“No worries dude. I just know that it came from Miami and it looks like it's from some guy Benjamin Cohen. You don’t know the guy?”

 

Xander was thinking long and hard about the name because he hadn’t heard of this person. But then he thought about what his wife said. She was waiting on ‘Benny’…

 

“Yeah, that's my wife's cousin… she’s from Miami so he's probably sending her some stuff from there. She recently moved here.”

 

“Recently moved? So you’re like newly married… Congrats man that’s cool. She must love you a lot to leave her life in glitzy Miami for Salem.”

 

Xander thought about what this man was saying. His wife was ready to go back to Miami. She said so when they had that meeting with her mom. She said if Paulina made it tough then she would figure it out in Miami. She had included him when she said it. This man he didn’t even know was giving him a wisdom that he didn't see or wasn't ready to look at because he had been so mad.

 

He was still mad about a lot of things, but his wife kept choosing him even when he gives her the chance to leave.

 

“Yeah, I’m pretty lucky. sorry mate, I’m holding up your whole day talking about a package I wasn’t expecting. Where do you need me to sign?”

 

The delivery man just shrugged and said it was okay. He liked having conversations with people. It was actually pretty rare these days because most people were not home when he delivered packages. After Xander signed for the package, he told the delivery driver bye and closed the door.

 

His name was on the package too which was a little weird to him. He didn’t even know Benny. He went and got his keys and used it too open the tape on the box.

 

When he opened it, he saw an array of things in there. He saw a smaller box and things that were bubble wrapped. There were photo frames. He saw a man, woman and child. He unwrapped some of the photo frames and saw Chanel hugging the little boy. This must have been her little cousin. She looks so happy, it made him smile.

 

He started putting their pictures up and around. They had pictures of themselves, Lani and Eli and the babies. Pictures of Paulina and Chanel together. And recently they had put up a picture of her and her dad.

 

He was jealous in a way. Chanel had all of this and he didn't. All he had was her and it frightened him to his core if she left him.

 

There were some letters in there that were addressed to her. He saw some comfort foods and delicacies.

 

He lifted the smaller box from this bigger one he lifted it up and he saw all this mail. It was mail with his name on it. The first one was a letter from Benny himself. He opened it and started to read.

 

Hello Alexandros,

 

It’s very rare for me to write dear John letters to someone I haven’t actually met yet. I just want to forward my congratulations on your marriage to my cousin. Mazal tov! I am indeed very happy to hear my cousins in Salem are married and in love. When Chanel told me that she was married, it came as a surprise. She had just left Miami, but she told me that she has rekindle a feeling that she hasn't had in a very long time… She hasn’t felt hope in her life until now. I’m very grateful to the person who can help her feel this way. I’m very happy that she has someone devoted to her. Someone who loves her… She loves you greatly, so greatly that she has asked me to be your business manager. She has told me that it has been more difficult for you as of late. It makes her worry and that is something she would rather have less of.

She has asked me to help you with your business ventures. I have secured some business credit cards for you as well as some personal. I also have given you access to everything that she has asked. That is everything that is liquid of course. I believe you should have sufficient starting capital for whatever you would like. In the event that you will need more, just let me know and I will do some work arounds to try and free up capital for you. If you have any questions, feel free to call at the number below. I must caution you that I may not be as available. By the time you get this package I will be in Holland visiting my mother and tending to some matters. But I’m very much reachable by email as well even with the seven-hour difference.

 

                 ,Welcome to the family

                  Benjamin Cohen

 

 

 

Xander couldn’t believe what he was reading. He let out a breath and just closed his eyes for a second. They had just had a really bad fight and he was accusing her of having her exit strategy. He was so blinded with his anger that he didn't want to be in the same room with her. She was nervous and trying to explain herself, she is trying to explain this.

 

He tore open all of the mail. He laughed in disbelief when he saw the credit cards. They weren’t run of the mill credit cards they were the ones with heft. This Benjamin guy didn’t play around. He had business ink Preferred cards from Chase, Blue cash and Platinum from Amex. He also saw that he had the best of the best with personal credit cards. He shouldn't expect anything less where it concerned Chanel.

 

It was the best or nothing. He thought everything in the box was going to be stuff for her, but they were sending him stuff too. What he was struck by was the kind of kindness they had to include him. He knew that he was Chanel’s husband, but they didn't really know him. He was getting presents from all of them in congratulations.

 

They wouldn’t have done this if Chanel was leaving him. It took him a lot of time to realize that he misinterpreted his uncle's words. He thought his uncle was calling him loser compared to Chanel.

 

He was too impulsive to perceived insults to realize what his uncle was telling him. His wife had just defended him to his uncle. Victor said that she was a great champion. He took it to mean that she was a winner, in Xander's opinion she is. He finally understood that his uncle meant that she would be his greatest support. She fiercely defended him and his uncle saw that she wouldn't allow anyone to hurt him.

 

All of his anger left him. They needed to talk. He still wished that she explained this to him sooner. He would have liked to have been included in this because they are a team. She had well intentions, but they had to make decisions together.

 

He got up and went to their bedroom. He figured that she was in there, but when he got there, their bed was still made, and she wasn’t on the sofa.

 

He started to go into each room and when he finally got to the last guest room, he opened the door expecting that she would turn but she didn't. He could see that she was on the phone.

 

He knew that she should have her privacy, he just couldn't move his feet.

 

“You look so cute in your outfit. A real big boy. I’m so glad you’re having fun in Holland.” Chanel giggled. She could always make Joey blush with her compliments.

 

“You think so? I’m almost 6.”

 

“I know baby. I’m so excited for you. I’m going to make sure to get you a really nice gift.”

 

“Will you come to my party?”

 

“I don’t know right now. Even if I don’t make it, you know I would never forget. I’ll call you and we’ll talk for as long as you want Joey I promise.” Chanel felt bad because when she left Miami, it was under assumption that she would be right back after dealing with her mother.

 

“Well if you got married to me... Then you could live with me and mommy and daddy and you could be at my party. I’ll even let you help me blow out my candles.”

 

“Thank you so much for the proposal. I however am very happy just to be your cousin. Remember I got married, I know that I said I would be right back and I would take you to the zoo. I’m so sorry, I broke my promise to you. It was very unexpected for me to stay. But what do we want for everyone in our family to be?” Chanel was always gentle when it came to Joseph.

 

Xander thought about it, he was the real reason she stuck around here. She could have visited Lani but her life was clearly in Miami.

 

She could be irritated by other people’s children but not the kids in her family.

 

“We need to have the courage to be happy. So you are happy?” Joseph’s innocent voice reverberated around the room.

 

Xander felt his whole stomach tighten.

 

“Yes I am. Sometimes I even get happy when I don’t talk to you. Can you believe that?”

 

“So I guess your husband makes you happy?”

 

“Yes, he does. Like your mommy and daddy make each other happy. You know how your mommy is?”  Chanel smiled wide thinking about Xander.

 

Xander felt the tightness in his stomach loosen.

 

“Yeah, but let’s not talk about them! Remember Valentine’s Day, when you came to my school?” Joey had a tendency to go off on tangents just like his mother.

 

“How can I forget? You’re my forever Valentine.”

 

“I love being your forever Valentine. So does my class. Everybody loved the cake.” Joey licked his lips as he remembered that day.

 

“Who doesn’t love Publix cake? You know I was terrified I was going to mess it up. I had to go up the stairs with that big cake. I was so scared I was going to trip over a step and drop it and all of the cake went on the floor and then no one would have had cake and I would have gone right back to Publix to buy another one because I had to make sure your class got to have cake.”  Chanel put her right hand on her forehead as she remembered.

 

“I’m glad you didn’t trip too. The cake was so good. Um… My dad says he needs to see you and Lani in Miami when we come back from Holland. He also says I have to go to sleep, I don’t wanna go to sleep. I want to keep talking to you. I’m a big boy and I don’t need sleep.”

 

Chanel was trying to think what could possibly be so important that she and Lani had to go to Miami for. It wasn’t something.

 

“I would appreciate it if you went to sleep for me. Can you do that?”

 

“For you, I do everything. Ich hab’ dich lieb. (I love you.)

 

“Ich hab’ dich lieb auch. Schlaf gut… Tschö meine liebchen.” (I love you too. Sleep well… bye my sweetheart.)

 

Chanel got up and sat upright. She did feel better after that conversation but now her mind was back on her husband.

 

Xander watched her, he could see that she was just concentrating on breathing. He waited a minute and then knocked on the door even though it was already open.

 

Hearing the knock on the door spooked Chanel a little. She saw that it was Xander and didn't know what to do. She saw him slowly walking to her and she just followed his eyes.

 

She was holding on to a breath wondering if their fight was going to continue or not.

 

Xander finally made it over to the far side of the bed. Their eyes met and he could see how unsure she was. She bit her lip and her eyes were looking at him trying to gauge what was going to happen.

 

He bent down until his knees were on the ground. Now he was the one staring up at her and not the other way around.

 

“You're my champion?”

 

Chanel nodded her head up and down furiously. Xander's hands made their way to the center of her back. His biceps were hugging her outer hips. His head was pressed against her belly. He pressed a kiss to the center, it didn't matter if she was clothed or not. His strength pulls her closer to the edge of the bed and to him.

 

Chanel felt her legs intertwining. The heels of her feet were gently pressed on his lower back. She started to weave her fingers through his hair. It calmed him, she knew it was what he wanted, and she gave it to him.

 

“I love you.”

 

Chanel felt so much better when she heard him say that. Their fight hurt her really badly. She would never want him to think that she was satisfied with him being humiliated or her love for him not being real.

 

“I love you so much.”

 

“I know that you do sweetheart. I'm ready to talk now.”

 

Chanel felt hopeful. She could tell that Xander was much more mellowed out now which was something that she appreciated very much.

 

“Sweetheart, wrap your arms around my neck. When I get up tighten your legs around my waist.”

 

“Xander, your wrist is injured. You don't have to carry me.”

 

“I can hold you with one arm just fine.” Xander didn't give her much time to react, he started to get up... he could hear his wife yelp at his surprise. But her arms quickly locked around his neck and her legs locked around his waist. He had his left forearm holding her to him.

 

Her head was resting on the column of his neck as he walked them back to living room. He sat her down on the sofa and Chanel saw the box, this was what Benny had sent them. It was opened and she saw papers on the sofa and his wallet was open.

 

“Your family is very kind. I was kind of surprised that they wouldn't give me the treatment that your mother and Lani gave me originally.”

 

“I should probably preface this and say that Benjamin thought I was bordering on lunacy when I told him that we got married. I told him we got married when we admitted that we loved each other. After that day was when I went to him and asked him to help me.” Chanel was reliving their conversation.

 

At first it was a lecture, but she told Benjamin as she really didn't want to hear it, she was not in the mood to have yet another person telling her she was making a mistake here in the didn't feel like a mistake when Xander held her and told her that it wasn't her fault.

 

“Is this box a part of what it was to help you?”

 

“Not originally. When you told me about being rejected for the loan because of the drama with you and Philip and them possibly thinking that you are setting up a rival business to Titan, I went to him and I said I wanted a business loan and I felt that I would have an easier chance if it was my name. Benny said it was a ridiculous notion for me to apply for a business loan when I had more than enough capital.” Chanel's started to play with her fingers again.

 

It was a habit that she had since she was a kid, she always did it when she was nervous in a situation.

 

“Well he isn't wrong. Even with a big chunk of this money tied into jumbo CDs, it could last us a very long time. Baby why didn't you tell me about this before?”

 

“I didn't think that you would still be with me if you knew about my dad... I thought you would have wanted a divorce when you found out. I don't have a good relationship with the money. I graduated high school at 16. I had a full-time job when I was in college. I was working nearly 80 to 100 hours a week regularly. I got a lot of promotions when I was working for H&M. I was good at what I did, and the problem was that I tried to fill my life to avoid loneliness. At first, I loved my job because I was a part of a team and I was well liked, and my work was well received. I was dependable, young and naive. I didn't think of overtime catching up to me. I thought I was killing the game. I was making my own money and being like my parents… independent and with drive. I was really like a machine, the more praise I got at work, the more driven I became to try to get more accolades and just be what my boss wanted me to be. I got paid really well. Our store was bonusing quite a bit. I made a lot of money there. But my feet hurt all the time. It didn't matter what I wore I could wear the most comfortable things. But working 12-to-16-hour days sometimes more took a toll on my feet. But I didn't stop. I thought to myself that this is what work is and I'm not a quitter. I worked there all through college and graduate school. But it wasn't until my dad died that I started to see things. You know my boss felt terrible for me because my dad passed, and I was able to get bereavement. But it was only two weeks. I went back to work and I still did my job at an optimum level but if felt so empty after. I went back to 16-hour days and no one ever thought to say maybe she shouldn't be working this much. My boss would always talk about H&M respects work life balance. But I didn't really have any of that. I was always at work. I usually had one day off and those were the days where Lani and Daniela and I did our meetups. I didn't have the same love that I did for the job anymore. My life felt empty. I quit my job and then I told my mom that I wanted to travel. No one knew about the money. My grandma was always drilling into my head that I had to have something in my name. She got me a bank account and she told me not to tell anyone. Everyone just assumed because she was an alcoholic that she didn't know what she was doing but she was laying down the seeds for us. I just didn't even know it at the time. I used to get upset with her, she would always say toys mean nothing, you have to get things that mean something. She would give me savings bonds when I was a kid. We always kept it a secret. When I had my job, I never told my mom how much I got paid. They just thought it was a part time job that I wanted to have because I was bored. I made over a quarter million after taxes and my deductions. I didn't have any expenses, If I wanted anything then I could just ask my dad or my mom. I was making sure to hit the max on my HSA, 401K and IRA. The money in those accounts were making money and not like I could spend it without getting some kind of penalty. I told Benny about the account when I was leaving. He advised me to lock them into jumbo CDs if I was just going to let it sit because the interest rate was the best it had been in a really long time. At that point I didn't have any liquid anything. When I decided to leave the states, it was honestly to run away from the guilt. When we started traveling, I saw an opportunity. I started a travelblog and I monetized it. I didn't really think it was going to take off, but it got pretty popular. I would stay in places for two weeks and just talk about the experience and people liked it here and I will talk about the food me and Dani ate and link recipes as well and the website did well and then I thought to myself let me get social media accounts for the travel blog and it opened me up to even more people who wanted to see that content. I got a good following and then I started making great money when tourism ministry officials from various countries that I was going to visit wanted me to basically being ambassador for them and help with getting them visitors. So when I got to Greece, that's when it got really good. Daniela didn't want to keep traveling country to country anymore and I revamped my travel blog and made it about discovering Greece. It was the perfect time because the tourism minister wanted to work with me. Over the course of three years that we lived there, they paid us a million each. I also was getting a lot of sponsorship for my website let's just say I was generating a lot of revenue. Benny was investing on my behalf and the money was making money. When I tried to spend it, even just to buy something small, I never had a good experience. It ties to the worst times in my life. I was trying to fill a void of losing the two most important people of my life and I thought it worked but it didn't. When Dani had to leave and I was on my own, that's when it hit me like a ton of bricks. When I was alone, I just realized how empty and hopeless I felt and the money ties back to that. I have berated myself, I cursed out myself asking myself why I can't spend money that I earned. It had no meaning to me. When I made my book, I only did that because I had this fury inside of me to right a wrong. I had this passion in me, and it felt like I produce something worthwhile. The traveling was fun because I had someone with me, but the making the money aspect of it just reminded me that why I was running away. I felt down in the dumps if I really thought about it. I know it wasn't my fault now, but I didn't feel that then. I felt guilty about my dad and here I was making money which I mean made me more angry with myself. It was a cycle of... I don't know. I didn't have the fury in me or a feeling in me at all. I felt empty... That money makes me feel empty at best and at worst it is debilitating. The reason I know so much about sprained wrist and fractures is because when I was working at H&M, I fell off of a ladder. I had a compound fracture as well as a Grade II sprain. It took six months to heal. But I was working after two weeks, there was certain things I couldn't do but I was still working 12-to-16-hour days like a good worker bee because I felt like I had to. I had a breakdown in the car the first time I was buying us groceries. You had just paid $23,000 hotel bill and I was crying in the car about spending my own money. It only took me two hours to get everything but the other hour I was having a panic attack in the car. I have such negative reactions to it, that I can't stop. And I always feel foolish for them. When I came home and I put the groceries away, you would give me little touches and kisses and I started to feel guilty. I'm saying to myself he loves me so much and doing so much for us and I can't buy groceries without having a meltdown. I knew that you knew something was wrong. And then I felt guilty for hiding the money from you, I knew that it would make a big difference in our lives, but I couldn't make myself tell you because that meant I would have to tell you everything and in my head, I thought there's no way you were going to stay with me knowing about my dad. But you told me it wasn't my fault and that it was an accident that I had no part in. I felt like I was absolved from a sin. You lifted this huge burden on me. I just knew from that point that I trusted you with everything that I had. I trusted you before, but this was different. I let you into a place that I've never let anyone, you didn't think it was ugly. You make me feel beautiful and loved… I finally felt worthy of it. So I told Benny that I had to help you in any way I could. He told me that I had more than enough money, but I still have weird feeling about it. That's why I spent my mom's money instead of my own. I didn't feel tainted by it. I didn't get panic attacks from spending my mom's money. So I didn't look that way. Benny was still making investments for me. He asked me what I was going to do with the money, I told him that I wanted to have a place with a closet that rivaled Mariah Carey. I said it so many times that I made myself believe the lie. You're going to have everything you need to make something for us. I would do anything for you. I believe in you... So much. I never wanted to humiliate you or even make you feel that way. I love you too much to ever want to hurt you like that. I didn't want you to get rejected by anyone. I'm so sorry that you felt that I was rejecting you. This money isn't my exit strategy. I promise you, I'm not going anywhere. I'm where I want to be and who I wanna be with. You're everything that I want and need, I hope that I'm yours. Alexandros you are going to make your own way. You don't need my mom, your Uncle Victor, or some idiot out of bank who never gave you a chance before writing you off. You're intelligent, cunning and business savvy. Now you have the tools to really show yourself. And I know in time that's exactly what you do.” Even though Chanel had been nervous to say these things she did it anyways.

 

She looked her husband in the eyes and never strayed. It wasn't easy but she did it. His face wasn't hard like stone anymore, but her husband knew how to make himself unreadable and when she looked into his eyes... she just hoped that he believed her.

 

Xander kept learning about his wife, she had a deep guilt complex. It's not really hard to believe because she told him about her dad and her grandmother and how deep their guilt went. It was foolish for him to not think about his wife having that trait. Generational trauma on top of the shit she’s endured was just too much.

 

He looked at how she kept fiddling with her fingers or would tuck her hair behind her ears even though it was already tucked.

 

He put his hand on her cheek and leaned over and kissed her. He kept on kissing her, he held her close to him. He didn't want her to be nervous around him, he knew that he needed to do a better job with making her feel comfortable. Their fight had been ugly, and it certainly didn't do anything to help her feel safe. He was holding on to her and hugging her. Him giving her affection was good for the both of them. He loves to have her close.

 

“Thank you for telling me sweetheart. I know that I couldn't have been easy. I wish you told me sooner though. I love you so much and the fact that you hurt in any way, I want to know about that. You talk about protecting me and you do. But I'm also here to protect you. I want you to trust that and I know it may take you time, but I love you. I would destroy anyone who hurts you and not feel an ounce of guilt. I'm also very thankful for you. This money is going to change our lives. If you can't spend it, that's OK. Use credit cards and I'll make sure that we are okay. You are in a happier place in your life, I'm glad that I get to be a part of that. I'm glad that I get to contribute to that. I love making you happy. I love that you make me happy. We are together, we are a team... I want you to always feel like you can trust in me. There is nothing that you cannot tell me. So when I ask you this, I don't want you to feel any kind of pressure, I'm only asking you out of love... Is there anything else you're keeping from me?” Xander didn't want anything between them.

 

“That's everything baby. Well, I'm sure that there's things in my life that will come up in conversation, but I don't have any big secrets. I have told you about everything that hurts.”

 

“Thank you. It means a lot for me to know this.” He gives her another hug as he says this.

 

“It's been really hard on me to be away from you since our fight. I need you.”

 

Chanel got up and had her hand out. Xander looked up at her… He could see the melancholy on her face. He wanted to take that away.

 

He took her hand and they walked to their bedroom.

 

This was going to be their first-time having sex since he sprained his wrist.

 

Chanel took the hem of Xander's shirt and lifted it, Xander helped her by putting his arms up. then she unbuckled his jeans and pulled them down. He stepped outside of them and kicked him to the side.

 

He was amused when he saw the brief flash of annoyance on her face. This was going to be one of the only times she was going to let it slide with him having clothes on the floor. She slid his boxers off, he was as naked as the day he was born.

 

He sat down on the edge of the bed and looked at her. He watched her unbutton her dress and let it fall. Then she went for her bra, the sight of her breast made his dick twitch.

 

She slipped her panties off and took a step closer to him. He wasted no time at all and slipped her left nipple in his mouth as he teased the other with his hand. The only sound in the room where her gasps of breath. He surprised her when he took a little bite, her nails pressed into the back of his neck on reflex.

 

“Baby... lie back.”

 

Xander could hear her soft voice and stared up. He let her nipple slip out of his mouth and did as she asked.

 

He watched her get on the bed. She put her legs on either side of his head. He had a full view of her cunt. He breathed her in. He had his left hand on Her waist, he signaled to her subtly that he wanted her to drop lower. He was happy when she did, the second he was going to stick his tongue out, he grunted because she sucked hard on the tip of his cock. They gave each other pleasure. He loved that she was insatiable. She was deepthroating him as her hip snapped and bucked. She was practically riding his face. He could feel the second she came, her body dropped on to him. Her waist was at his clavicle.

 

Chanel felt a small wave of bliss hit her when she orgasmed. When she got up from her husband, he now had his legs on the bed instead of firmly planted on the floor. She saw his dick hard and wet from her mouth. She can't wait to sink herself on it. She got a condom from the nightstand and ripped it She started pumping him with a firm hand, slid the condom on and then guided his dick into her.

 

“Oh God. Unph shit.” Chanel felt herself sinking on her husband's cock and the feeling only got better and better.

 

He had gotten so turned on watching her. Every time her eye flutters or rolls, it made him harder. It only made him wanna give her a good fucking that much more. Xander started to take off the splint on his wrist.

 

“Baby don't take that off...” Chanel didn't understand why he was doing it, he needed to keep his wrist stabilized.

 

“I don't want the splint against your sensitive skin.” He said as his mouth was in between the hollow space underneath her neck.

 

“The only skin that gets sensitive is my ass and that’s only when you spank me...” Chanel bit her lip thinking about how she likes to be fucked doggy.

 

Xander's eyes flared when his wife mentioned him spanking her. He loved taking her from behind, he was more than upset that he wouldn't be able to fuck her in all the positions that he liked because of his wrist.

 

“My wrist needs to heal quickly. I wish I could take you from behind. I'd love to pull you by the hair and slap your ass. It makes me wild when you ask me to do it.”

 

Chanel was swiveling her hips, it felt so good with him inside her.

 

“Baby, keep it on. I don't care how it feels on my skin. See if it hurts to hold me at my waist... Does it hurt your fingers or wrist?” Chanel was happy when Xander shook his head no. “Then please fuck me the way I like.”

 

Chanel laid her body on top of Xander. He held her waist and planted his feet on the bed. His lower body lifted a little and he started fucking his wife hard and fast.

 

Chanel started rubbing her clit, she knew that she wasn't going to last long.

 

“Yes baby. Just like that... keep fucking me just like that!” Chanel was screaming. She knew would only be a matter of time before she was swimming in the clouds.

 

Xander felt when his wife came. She was drooling on his shoulder. She could only moan and whimper... that coupled with the feeling of her sweet cunt surrounding his cock made him orgasm. He looked at the ceiling and roared.

 

When he could form a coherent thought again, he gently put his wife on the bed and got up. He discarded the condom and went to the bathroom. After he cleaned himself up, he got a washcloth and wet it with warm water.

 

He came back out and saw his wife the same way he left her. He got on the bed and opened her legs gently. He pressed the washcloth at her center to clean her.

 

“No... No” She felt fucked out.

 

“I know baby. I know you're sensitive right now but I'm just going to clean you. I'll be quick.”

 

Chanel opened her eyes and saw him looking at her. She pushed her lips out, because she wanted to be kissed. She was so happy when he picked up on the signal. It helped distract her from what he was doing.

 

When Xander was finished he got up and put the washcloth in the hamper and went back to her.

 

“Thank you for taking care of me.” Chanel was burrowing herself closer to him. As close as she could get...

 

Xander just picked up her hand and placed it over his heart. she could feel the steady heartbeat under her hand. It made her open her eyes and look at him. His face looks like stone again.

 

“You feel that? That's yours, that's what you do to me. I will always take care of you. Do you understand that?” Xander asked her. When she nodded, he was satisfied. “Good. Are you still going to make dinner tonight or did I give you a fucking too good that I just starved myself?”

 

Chanel picked up her hand from his chest and slapped his side.

 

“I already started marinating this morning... so eventually I have to get up and go make the food.”

 

“Thank goodness. Darling, I'm starving.”

 

Chanel giggled into his chest. She would get up in a while but well she wanted right now was just have her body pressed against his. After the roller coaster that was today this was all she needed.

 

 

Chapter Text

Lani and Chanel thought it would be best to have lunch at a restaurant with Paulina. Lani didn't feel comfortable asking Paulina about this alone. She felt like having Chanel as backup would be vital for her. Chanel was the one who read up on the estate. She would have more info if Paulina gave them any challenges.

 

They chose the Bistro because it was a place where they could have a private conversation publicly. Lani didn't really want to run into anyone she knew. Even though she knew a lot of people in this town, she didn't want anyone in her business. That was the one thing that she didn't like about this town was that everyone was ready to go run and publish your business for public consumption.

 

“How do you think it's going to go?” Lani was a bundle of nerves. Eli had the day off so she had him watching the kids so she could come and do this.

 

When she talked about it with him, he was on board. He told her that anything that made their lives easier, he was always going to sign up. Getting a house felt like they would be putting down roots somewhere and it was very appealing to the both of them. He told Lani that he supported that decision 110%.

 

“I think that it's going to be fine. I really don't think that my mom would say no. I also think that dad never really changed anything because he didn't think that it needed to be changed. he probably believed that it was a given.” Chanel knew that Lani had been iffy about the whole thing.

 

First it was a pride thing, but she knew that it went deeper than that. She knew that it was an emotional situation as well as a financial one. Lani had already said that she wasn't a real von Bruckner. Chanel tried to dispel that notion because she was never treated as one that was less than. But she knew how deep rejection could go. She did just about anything to avoid rejection. Sometimes she dug her own holes just so she could hide and made things worse before they got better. Maybe that was a price trait.

 

“It's not about auntie saying no. I know that she would do anything for me. But it's not about her. I don't need her to be the one.”

 

“I know. You want to feel like you belong. You want to feel like you do in your heart and you don't want it to be rejected. I respect that... I totally get it. No one wants to be told that their dad isn't their dad, and their grandmother isn't their grandmother.” Chanel stuck out her hand so Lani could take it.

 

A single tear rolled down Lani's face because this is what she didn't want to vocalize. She didn't want to be an extended family member or just the girl at the family reunion. She loved her Frida, it didn't matter if there was no common blood between them. She loved Freddie for the same reason. Whenever she needed him, he was there... Ready and willing.

 

Deep down she knew that she wanted the acknowledgement. She loves Abe, she loves the paternal family that she discovered much later in life. But she had a past life, filled with people who loved her. People who would do anything for her and somewhere deep down inside she was still a little girl wanting that acknowledgement because the people who gave it to her were no longer here.

 

Lani put her hand in Chanel's and squeezed. She appreciated the support, because it didn't matter how old she was... This felt difficult to talk about.

 

“It's going to be OK I promise. We know that grandma always always always make contingencies. She made contingencies for her contingencies. She always had her back and I know that she always will.”

 

Paulina came into the Bistro looking for the girls, she saw them at the far side of the restaurant and made her way over.

 

Lani saw Paulina coming so she quickly dabbed away the tear to avoid an uncomfortable conversation. It was already going to be an uncomfortable conversation she didn't want to have multiple.

 

“I was so glad to hear about a lunch date with my favorite girls.”

 

Paulina sat down as the girls gave a soft chuckle.

 

“Well we are trying to be closer, so you know... lunch.” Chanel said as she looked at the menu.

 

“Why do I have the nagging suspicion that this is more than about lunch?” Paulina already had her suspicions, but Chanel just confirmed them.

 

“They don't call you business savvy for nothing. You see I'm not going to beat around the bush. I have been doing some research and it has uncovered some enlightening things.” That was all Chanel said because she knew that Lani would want to speak as well.

 

“You see auntie. You know I'm very grateful to have you in my life. I know that you would do just about anything for me and my children. However I believe that Frida had this mission to make sure that I was taken care of. Chanel had made a mention of me getting a house. I didn't think too much of it because I didn't want to get my hopes up. But when she was reading up on the estate it said that all von Bruckners should have a home to dwell in. I don't like making any presumptions, but Frida raised me as one. I believe it was her intention to make sure that both Chanel and I had a home for us in our families. I also think that Freddie believes that too and that's why he didn't amend anything. I would never presume anything, but I would think that he would make sure that I was taken care of. He always told me that he would.” Lani couldn't stop the tears.

 

She kept thinking about the private dinners that she had with her dad. Where she would always be contemplating her future and asking him what decisions she should make…

 

Paulina felt blindsided. She wasn't mad or upset she just was blindsided. She knew that Lani had been close to Frida. And her husband had always treated Lani like his own. She actually felt guilty only to think about the situation now. She would have given Lani a house no problem. She even offered a condo to Lani when she was living in Miami. But Lani rejected it out of respect for her mother and to not add too any potential issues.

 

“Lani, I had no idea you felt this way. I honestly wasn't purposely trying to keep anything from you, I want you to know that. Freddie loved you so much. I know he did and Frida too. I have no doubt that they would have taken care of you and had it in their mind that you would be period to be honest I didn't really think about this particular clause because it never came up until Chanel wanted a house. I only assumed that you didn't want any kind of help, when I offered you the condo you said no. And I respected that, and I completely understood why you would. If I had known that you felt this way earlier than of course we would have gotten the ball rolling. Lani, you know our family, all we ever wanted was to be the best for the next generation. You know Freddie, his parents went through it. Frida escaped unimaginable horror and terror only with books and dresses that were too small for her. Louis's parents were sharecroppers. And you know us Prices left North Carolina for greener pastures, whatever that meant. We all made sacrifices so life could be easier for you two. I never want you to think that Freddie loved you any less, 'cause I could promise you that he didn't. The only time success is real is when the next generation get to have a taste of it. Both of you are so independent and march to the beat of your own drum even if that drum can be a little loud. I'm very proud of the both of you. Lani find some houses that you like, and we'll take it from there. I’m actually surprised Freddie didn’t leave either of you anything. The estate is really for his businesses. I don’t know what happened to his assets and money. He did have his philanthropic endowments. I guess he left them all his assets.” As Paulina thought about she was curious... She and Freddie had separate assets and joint ones. He had over three hundred million dollars… did he leave that to charity? She was sure that he would leave it for the girls but she had only received information about businesses through the estate. She shook the thought away and thought about her family’s origins.

 

She thought about all of the sacrifices her mama made and how many she made to get to the point where she is today. It was something that she never took for granted. She knew just how tough and how difficult it was to make something out of less than nothing. Because that's what they grew up in.

 

“Thank you, Auntie. It means a lot for you to say that I don't think you truly understand how much. The only reason I rejected the condo was because I didn't want you to have any problems with my mom. I didn’t want any problems with my mom. I didn't want to be the reason that you two lose your closeness. I normally would reject something like this. It's been ingrained in me and I don't want to do that anymore. Dad promised me that he would always take care of me, there didn't need to be any questions asked. If I went to him and told him that I needed it, he would get it done. But this isn't an offer like the condo was, this is a right that they ensured that I would have. That's why I feel comfortable asking for this. Grandma was always talking about when the time comes that she would take care of us, but Chanel and I had to take care of each other. That's what Chanel did when she made the mention of me getting a house. I'm really thankful for you saying yes and not contesting it. It makes me feel like my grandparents are my grandparents and he was my dad.” Lani needed both of her hands to wipe the tears from her eyes.

 

“Of course they were. You two are Ready Freddie’s girls. There's no one in life that could tell you any different. He was so proud of you both. When you got that medal from the County, he talked about it for weeks. When we went to galas, he had his phone ready to show your accomplishment off. He was always like that when it came to you girls. Overachievers you are and he was so proud to show you two off.” Paulina was enjoying the memory of her husband, he was a shrewd businessman but anytime Lani or Chanel came up in conversation he was like melted butter.

 

Marlena had been walking, she was in a mood to have food, but she couldn't figure out exactly what she wanted. As she was passing by the Bistro, she took a look inside and saw Paulina and the girls.

 

They were talking, Marlena had the urge to go over and join them, but she didn't want to be presumptuous. She thought about it for over a minute, she could go somewhere else or she could go inside and eat with them. At the very least she could go and say hi and if she got the feeling that it was a private lunch then she would just leave. She liked that plan, so she went inside.

 

She made her way over with a big smile on her face.

 

Paulina could see Marlena coming over.

 

“Well look what the cat dragged in. Lena Evans. Are you free? You know in this town, I reckon you never are, but forget about them for a while and join us?! We haven't even ordered yet... Just appetizers and cocktails for me but those don't really count.” Paulina loved her some Lena Evans.

 

“Don't mind if I do.” Marlena smiled so wide, it reached her eyes.

 

Paulina could always tell the fake smiles from the real ones.

 

“That's good. How you been doing? Your kids give you too many headaches. I only have one and she's more than enough.” Paulina pointed her fork at Chanel.

 

Marlena laughed out loud... she could always count on Paulie and Tammy for laughs. She saw Chanel and Lani roll their eyes at Paulie.

 

“It's getting better. I will tell you that they do keep my life interesting.” They also did keep the headaches rolling as well.

 

“Testify.” Paulina put her hands in the air.

 

“Come up in the spot looking extra fly.” Marlena said as she did a hair flip.

 

"I know that's right!" Chanel was smiling wide at Marlena's quick lyric skills.

 

“OK, Marlena, I see you.” Lani was snapping her fingers encouragingly, she was surprised to see this version that she has never known of Marlena.

 

“Y'all don't know anything about Lena. She used to be the queen of the discotheque.” Paulina was remembering those yesteryears.

 

“If you put on any Donna Summer song, I'm your gal.”

 

All the ladies at the table laughed. They ordered their lunch and had fun conversation.

 

It was so funny and surreal for Lani and Chanel to hear about their mothers’ escapades when they were younger. It seemed as if the Price girls always knew how to get in their fair share of trouble.

 

“Chanel, I didn't notice the ring on your finger until now. You're married?” Marlena asked curiously.

 

“Yes. I actually got married to someone in town. I don't know if you know him... His name is Xander.”

 

Marlana's eyebrows shot up. She was very surprised at this information.

 

“As in Xander Kiriakis?”

 

Lani’s whole demeanor changed. she remembered what Xander did to Marlena.

 

“Yeah! That's him.” Chanel had been excited to share that news.

 

But she started thinking, she knew that Xander had an extensive past with a lot of people in town. He told her everything about him and she remembered him telling her that he shot Doctor Evans. Marlena is a doctor, and her last name is Evans. Even though that was a common last name, in a town as small as this... her heart knew that her husband shot one of her mom’s best friends.

 

“Oh my god. I'm so sorry. I didn't connect the dots. I'm so sorry what he did to you.”

 

Marlena had been shocked that Chanel seemed to know what Xander did to her.

 

“What the hell did Xander do to her? Lena what did he do to you?” Paulina was on the hunt for answers because the table was too quiet and information wasn't flowing.

 

“Some years ago, Xander shot me...”

 

“Come again? Did you just say Xander shot you? How am I finding this out now? My goodness, I was just starting to get around to the idea of him being married to Chanel and now I find out that he tried to kill you. I'm going to kill him.”

 

“Don't cry for me Argentina.” Marlena put a hand up.

 

Paulina snorted at her friend's joke.

 

“You gotta give me more than this. You're telling me that my son-in-law shot you and you're going around like it's not a big deal.”

 

“It was a big deal at the time yes. It's a long story but Xander was trying to get revenge on Eric and intended to shoot him which honestly isn't better. But I've gotten past it Paulie. He seemed to turn over a new leaf and you know me… I'm all about progress. Does he make you happy Chanel?” Marlena wanted to know.

 

She didn't want Chanel to feel conflicted on her behalf. She could still picture the sad young woman in her mind when she went to Freddie’s funeral.

 

Chanel started playing with her fingers because she was nervous. How is she supposed to talk about her happiness to Marlena when her husband was her attempted murderer?

 

“Dear, you don't have to feel guilty about loving him because of me. We can't help we fall in love with much to your mother's chagrin. I'm in the same boat with my own children. If you are happy, that is important to me. The last time I saw you before you came to Salem... You had a sadness that was so potent... I felt like I could breathe it in. That must have been really hard for you. If you are happy then hold on to it. I've made my peace with Xander. So I'm going to ask you again, does he make you happy?”

 

“Yes. The happiest I've ever been in a really long time. Thank you for saying that. I also want to thank you for just sitting with me back then when our dad died. You were the only person who didn't try to tell me about the good old times with my dad on that day. It was like other people were trying to make themselves feel good and couldn't read the room. You just sat with me and that's what I needed in that moment. Just silence, but someone who was there. Those useless people were so disrespectful to us. They couldn't see that two kids just lost their dad and a woman who lost her husband and instead of people being respectful and trying to comfort us, it was like they wanted us to comfort them. It's so selfish that people don't think of the family. They say they come to pay their respects, but it's really just I'm trying to make themselves feel better. But then making themselves feel better only reinforces that our dad was dead. Every story back-to-back just reminded us that he was gone. It was something obviously that we knew logically, but it was like every single person wanted to hammer that in with their memories that we didn't ask for. It was annoying to hear my mom's fake laughter for hours. Because inside I know that she was breaking, like we all were. You were one of the few that was respectful and could read the damn room. I didn't know how to be happy for a long time and I am now and it’s such an amazing feeling. It's honestly the best feeling I've had in so long. So thank you for saying what you did because it means something.” Chanel didn't expect to be so candid.

 

Paulina cried a little remembering the funeral. It was one of her toughest days. Her daughter was right, the last thing she wanted to hear was about shallow stories with people who hardly knew her husband. She grinned and beared it because that was what etiquette was. All she wanted to do was get in her bed and sleep for 20 years or two minutes. She couldn't sleep at all in those days.

 

“It's not a problem. We're not perfect, nobody is and we can't help who we love. I know that better than anyone. Turns out my husband used to be an assassin, so he's killed more people than your husband has, not that is a contest but if it was, I’m the winner! So live and let live. What's that thing that von Bruckners say?” The words went right through Marlena she was a little tipsy.

 

Lani and Chanel spoke at the same time.

 

“Have the courage to be happy.”

 

“Let's toast to that.” Marlena said as she had her Long Island iced tea in the air.

 

“I'll cheer to that. I'm still gonna need some time to get over this revelation though so I'm going to need the server to come back so I can double up on my cocktail.”

 

“Yeah, where is she because I am going to need my drink polished to the top. It’s 2 for 1 right now, so I’m shooting for 8!” Marlena let loose. She put a hand up and Paulina high-fived her quick.

 

“This is why we are best friends!” Paulina clinked glasses.

 

The older women tried to race each other and see who could finish their drink first.

 

Lani and Chanel just looked at each other and were starting to see the kind of mess that their moms used to get up to back in a day.

 

The ladies laughed and Marlena mentioned that they had to make this a regular thing. She drunkenly said Thursday would now be Price Day and that they must have a boozy afternoon from now on.

 

Chanel and Lani were absolutely shocked to see Paulina giggle like a schoolgirl because she usually had a laugh that was larger than life. The whole afternoon they kept looking to each other wondering who these people were because they were cutting up like it was the 70s, they were knocking back drinks like it was water. The both of them were fascinated at these women like they were an unknown species newly discovered in the Serengeti. They spent the rest of the afternoon just watching in horror and intrigue.

Chapter Text

Ever since their first rendezvous at Carl’s diner, it has become somewhat of an unofficial place they hang out.

 

Chanel would pick up Andrea from her morning shift and then swing by the mansion and pick up Ciara.

 

Carl loved the new additions, the more regulars he got the better.

 

“Man, the food is so good!” Ciara didn’t know how she never knew about this spot before.

 

It’s become her regular place and she liked that she had friends again. It was pretty lonely. She had a lot of family and she knew that she could always count on her brother, Chelsea was so far but she was glad her sister was always checking up on her, but she missed having friends. She missed just being able to hang out and do whatever they wanted.

 

For a long time she had Claire and Joey. She was happy that Joey got out of prison because Ava was alive, but he steered clear of Salem and she couldn’t blame him. He was moving on with his life and she respected that. But that left her with Claire.

 

Even though they used to be close, she used to get this undercurrent sometimes with them. It was like this unspoken rivalry. It didn’t help that they tended to look at the same guys. She thought that Claire would be happy for her. Tripp was her first relationship after Chase raped her.

 

That was such a big step for her, she thought that her best friend would be happy for her moving on and wanting to have a relationship, but she was wrong.

 

Claire thought that she could break up with Theo and come back to Salem and Tripp would be hers. Ciara knew that Tripp had a crush on Claire, but she had made it clear that she was committed to being with Theo. Tripp moved on and he moved on with her.

 

Ciara enjoyed being in a relationship, Tripp was her first real grown-up relationship. She forgot what it was like to be excited, to look forward to trying new things.

 

She liked that Tripp was patient with her and didn't just write her off because he saw her as someone with too much baggage. She thought that Claire would get over it and see that just because Tripp had a crush on her in the past didn’t mean that he wasn't allowed to be with anyone else.

 

She didn’t know why she thought that Claire could be happy for her. It was like dealing with someone else. Ciara didn’t want to fight, she just wanted to finally pick up the pieces to her life and move on. She wanted the chance to be happy and not feel so stuck. Claire was a wrench to that… it was like no one could be happy if Claire wasn’t. And Claire wasn’t going to be happy unless she had her way.

 

That’s why Ciara pushed back so hard, she didn’t want to live on another person’s terms ever again. For so long she was tormented by what Chase did to her. She wasn’t going to give anyone that kind of power over her again. It took her too long for her to choose herself only to let someone else take that from her. She might love Claire out of obligation, but it didn’t mean that she wanted Claire in her life.

 

That’s why she was happy to have Andrea and Chanel. She even got a friendship through FaceTime with Daniela. It was interesting and quite knew what technology could do but she dug it.

 

She knew that she could talk to Allie, but she honestly didn’t want to be that close to her cousin. And it wasn’t even like it was Allie’s fault. Her cousin was in the middle and she didn’t want Allie to feel like she had to choose sides.

 

She had already made it clear to Allie that they could only hang out if Claire wasn’t there. She hated having ultimatums for anyone, because she knew just how annoying they felt but she couldn't make an exception for this.

 

Ever since she found out that Claire tried to set her on fire twice… It hurt her so much more than walking in on her and Tripp. She knew that eventually she would have gotten over that. No guy was worth losing sleep over. She knew that she may not have trusted Claire anymore, but the forgiveness was more for her instead of Claire. She was going to move on with her life and let it be.

 

But Claire tried to kill her… twice… How was she supposed to forgive that?

 

She knows that people in this town have done horrible things to each other. But she never in a million years would have ever thought that her best friend… Her family would want her dead. There was no justification for Claire doing it in the first place.

 

Ciara could have better understood it if she had gone out of her mind and she threatened Claire and it was self defense, but she couldn't move… She was trapped and even though Claire set the cabin on fire. Claire could have changed her mind and come back and saved her, but she didn’t she left her there.

 

Ciara had nightmares about this. In her dreams, it felt so vivid. It felt so real and they only got worse. She could hear herself screaming when the fire sizzled her skin. She would try to wake herself up, but she was always trapped in this dream. She never woke up until her whole body was in flames.

 

She would wake up sweating trying to catch her breath. All she could think to herself was how in the hell did she ever forgive Claire the first time? She honestly didn’t care if Claire went to a sanitarium. She was living with the terror that her best friend inflicted upon her. She has to live with the knowledge that Claire would have let her burn.

 

She knows logically that Ben saved her because everyone said that. It didn’t stop the fear that she felt though. Every time she looked upon him all she could think about was of the people he killed. The terror that he inflicted on Abby. He killed Will, even though Will somehow came back from the dead or whatever, Ben killed him. He killed Paige… She knew that she didn’t know Paige well. She only met her a couple of times because they were introduced through JJ, but Paige was a couple of years older than her.

 

She had a bright future ahead of herself and Ben took that away from her. She didn’t deserve to lose her life… How the hell did she fall in love with someone who killed people with their bare hands? Paige had wildly curly hair like her. Every time Ben came close to her, she sometimes imagined herself being strangled by him.

 

Every time he says he would never hurt her, her mind plays tricks on her and she can't breathe. That’s what happens when she looks at him. There is fleeting seconds where she feels at peace with him and maybe that is the Ciara that felt safe with Ben. Maybe somewhere in her mind under all of the stress felt something for him.

 

But those fleeting seconds mean nothing for the minutes of terror that happened when she's in his presence. She could understand how he just wants his wife back. She has remembered the times where her mother would go to the ends of the world to find her dad. She grew up on stories where they would rescue each other.

 

But she wasn’t missing, she was missing a big chunk of time, but she didn't want that to rule her. She was still doing the therapy with Marlena. Marlena told her that it would be a slow process because a lot of the events that she went through involve the possibility of getting PTSD. Ciara was still grappling with the first hypnotherapy session.

 

She was grateful for having just this talk therapy for now. It was nice to be able to just vocalize her confusion and what she was feeling inside. She loved that Marlena didn’t judge her or make her feel like what she was feeling wasn't valid. She had been afraid that if Marlena was treating her then it might mean that she was made to forgive Claire.

 

She should have known that Marlena would never use her position as a therapist to sway her one way or the other even if Claire was her granddaughter.

 

Ciara snapped herself out of her thoughts, she could always think about the bullshit with Claire later. She wasn’t going to allow clear to take over. She was going to enjoy her time with her friends.

 

“Yeah, I love it here.” Andrea quickly sad as she shoveled some asparagus in her mouth.

 

“Yeah, me too. I love Mr. Carl, he’s so legit.” It was her favorite place in town.

 

“How did you even find out about this place? I have lived here my whole life and I didn’t know about it.” They started going there a couple of times a week for the last couple of weeks and Ciara meant to ask each time but she always forgot.

 

 

“It was actually the day after we got the noise complaint from the hotel. It was when Xander and I needed to find places to live, I wanted to go out to eat instead of ordering room service. I just looked up restaurants in the area and it had really high rating and I love diners. It's kind of important in my family.” Chanel was thinking about her first time at this diner.

 

She told her husband about really important events in her family's history. She shared and bared a lot of herself. This place was special for her, so she loved coming here.

 

Andrea immediately winced when Chanel had mentioned the hotel complaints. It was probably one of the most mortifying times at her job. It was very sensitive to bring up something like that, she was just happy that they were very understanding about it.

 

“Oh god. I'm so happy you didn't hate me after that. I was so embarrassed to even say it in the first place.” Andrea kept reliving the moment in her head and she was happy that it was a pleasant encounter for what it was. Plenty of guests react differently to news like that.

 

“You got a noise complaints?! Drea was the one that told you?” Ciara was wanting the tea.

 

“Yeah, it was mortifying for me at the time. But I'm so glad that we're friends now, you are like one of the coolest people who ever came to the hotel since I've been working there.” Drea was happy to have a friend like Chanel.

 

They were like two peas in a pod and she gained two more friends from it. She loved Daniela and Ciara.

 

“OK, someone has to tell me what happened. Especially if you were mortified in saying it.” Ciara didn't want to be the last one in the loop about this.

 

“Basically, they got numerous complaints from a couple of guests because of their... how can I say this--” Andrea was trying to get the best wordage for this.

 

“People complained about us fucking. There's no need to beat around the bush Drea. We were having a lot of sex and it got people talking.” Chanel decided to just put it bluntly because Andrea was tripping all over herself.

 

“Oh wow! Damn, and you had to tell her that... That's so fucking awkward. No wonder you were mortified. I would be so embarrassed to say, ‘hey just wanted to let you guys know that you're fucking too loud that other people can hear you’ so figure that out.” Even though Ciara did not have a good relationship with sex, it wasn't like that for everyone.

 

She obviously knew that it could be enjoyable for other people, apparently it was really enjoyable for Chanel and her cousin... so much so that it got other people talking.

 

“Pretty much. I was actually really mortified myself. I was actually speechless, but I knew it wasn't easy for Drea to say. I was just glad to move into our house because it's freer. It's not something that I have to consciously think about anymore. Drea also don't feel like we started looking for houses because of that because we did not do it because of that. It was just getting too expensive to live at the hotel indefinitely.” There were other factors at work but she wasn't going to tell her friends about the inner workings of her dad's estate.

 

“Well great, I would definitely not want to be the catalyst of why you guys moved out. My manager was pissed, when she saw that you guys checked out.” Drea could remember the conversation she had with her supervisor after they moved out.

 

“Why would she be pissed? They are only guests... it's a hotel they're going to have more...” Ciara couldn't understand why it was such a big deal.

 

“Yeah, we stayed almost an extra month after the complaint, so I didn't see the big deal.” It wasn't like they moved out right away after the complaint. They stayed awhile while they were looking for a house and while it was being decorated and re-modeled for her closet.

 

“Because it had a big bill. I'm pretty sure she's like mad because she had a crush on your husband, I think... And she liked him staying at the hotel because it meant that he was going to rack up more money for each day that he stayed. It was like a guaranteed thing. Because we didn't know when he was going to leave, she just expected for him to take up residence there. Until you showed up... That's when things changed so I don't think she likes you very much, you took away her eye candy and her money bags.” Andrea didn't know if this was a complete truth. This was only her conclusion based on her interactions with her boss.

 

They always wanted people to stay as long as possible so they could get more guaranteed money.

 

Chanel rolled her eyes because of course someone would want it that if they worked in a hotel. It made her mad that somebody was upset with her for wanting a life with her husband outside of a hotel room. She may have wanted Xander in the beginning for financial security, but she was very protective of her husband. Obviously, this person had no incentive to care about her husband outside of the hotel bill, but it made her mad that someone was banking on him staying there basically forever. He could have spent his whole savings just paying the bill because she knew that he was stubborn and wouldn't let Victor pay for it.

 

“Do you like working there?” Chanel asked because it didn't really seem that Drea was like that, so she really wanted to know.

 

“I mean it's a job and it pays my bills. But do I like hoping someone stays for six months to a year no. Especially if they were getting drunk all the time and probably weren't making the best decisions... No not really but what am I going to do?”

 

“Come work for me? I don't really have anything lined up yet, but I will soon I just have to think about it. But it's something to think about. It would be great benefits, probably have a lot of free time to discover stuff that you like to do. I'm still figuring it out, but I'll get back to you when I know more.”

 

Chanel had a lot of ideas of what she wanted to do, ever since she had her breakthrough conversation with her husband about her dad. She didn't have writer’s block anymore.

 

“Well if you're going to be giving jobs out willy nilly, I'm in need of one.” Ciara thought it would be fun, she knew that Chanel could be serious when it came to important things.

 

She wasn't nervous about it affecting their friendship. Even though Chanel could be serious about things she also had a high EQ.

 

“OK. I'll talk to Xander later about it.” Chanel knew that she also needed to talk to Lani because her sister wanted to still be with the twins and not go back to work so soon.

 

She knew that they could get a hustle together and it would be fun.

 

“Yeah, I'm definitely game when you have a plan. You know I just gotta be careful because I have my rent to pay and bills. But it would be nice to leave the hotel because for just as many nice and hospitable guests there are, there is just as many people on the inverse and who drive me insane. I would love to get out.”

 

“Well let's get this bill and get out of here. Do you guys wanna go hang out at the park or we could go back to my house and probably watch something on Netflix. That would be fun right?!” Chanel usually binge watched stuff with Lani, Xander or Daniela and it was always fun.

 

“Let's go to your house. Fucking love that place” Andrea had been there a couple of times since Chanel had checked out of the hotel and she loved hanging out there.

 

Ciara on the other hand hadn't been there yet and she thought to herself why not? It wasn't like she had anything else to do with her time.

 

“Yeah, let's go back to your place and do a Netflix and chill.” Ciara wiggled her eyebrows suggestively.

 

“Oh, if I wasn't a married woman...” Chanel winked.

 

The ladies giggled loudly and started to get their stuff ready.

 

Mr. Carl came around and Chanel asked for the bill. She used one of the credit cards Benny gave her to pay. She was in therapy, but it was still difficult for her to use the money she earned. She was glad that she didn't have to. Plus she got rewards for doing it anyways, so this is much better.

 

 

They walked to the car chatting about what shows they should watch. Chanel told them what shows she wasn’t allowed to watch, between Xander, Dani and Lani it was a lot that she couldn’t watch.

 

Chanel drove them to her house, she knew that Xander wasn’t home yet because he was playing soccer with Eli.

 

“Welcome to my humble abode.” if there was anything that Chanel was in love with after her husband it was her home.

 

It was something that she diligently made sure that it would be everything she wanted.

 

“It's so gorgeous. I can't believe that this is my first time in it. It won't be my last... I just might move in...” Ciara said.

 

“I've actually stayed over and it's so much fun. It was really because I couldn't remember the code to get into my building, so it was either stay over or sleep outside.” Drea was remembering there fun night out, she had too much fun.

 

“Glad you didn't sleep outside. What do you guys wanna watch?”

 

“I'm game for whatever you guys want to watch. It just can't be one of the shows that I wrote down because I don't wanna get in trouble with any of those people. I'm gonna go get us some snacks. I know we're not hungry but I have this really bad habit of just eating while watching TV, it's really bad.” Chanel left the room, it was just the two of them.

 

“I still can't believe that she's married to my cousin. Chanel’s so dope and my cousin is... himself. I don't understand it.”

 

“You have to see them together. I'll be honest I don't get to see them much as one, but when you do... you can feel the love between them and it's so sweet. He is so sweet with her and she is with him.”

 

That's the crux of it all for Ciara. It's hard for her to imagine Xander being sweet. She's witnessed really one interaction with them, that was the first day she met Chanel. She was confused, Xander definitely was sweet to Chanel, and he wasn't so antagonistic with her grandfather. It was weird.

 

The two ladies heard keys being inserted in the door and they assumed that it had to be Xander.

 

When the door opened it was and he wasn't alone.

 

“Hello Andrea... Ciara. I imagine that my wife is here?” Xander had been a little surprised at there were people in his house besides his wife.

 

He knew that she was home because the car was in the driveway, but he didn't know that she was going to have company.

 

“I'm guessing you guys called the living room TV...” Eli was annoyed because this was the biggest TV in the house.

 

Never mind that... they could always use the den. He was surprised to see his cousin here though.

 

“Eli what are you doing here?!” Ciara was really happy to see her cousin. She got up and gave him a hug.

 

He came to visit her a couple of times when she was in the hospital, but she had been surprised when she heard him having twins.

 

“I came to watch the game with Xander.”

 

Ciara was finding it hard to believe that Eli was friends with Xander. She knew that he would do anything for Lani, but this seemed to be overboard.

 

“That's cool. Are you going to go to grandma’s thing tomorrow?” Ciara wasn't really looking forward to it but she was going to go.

 

“You say it as if we have a choice. Alright my game is going to start soon, it was so nice to see you cuz. I love to see you out and about living your life. But I gotta get this den set up since you guys have dibs on the living room.” Eli gave her a quick kiss on the forehead and left the room.

 

Ciara definitely felt like she was living in an alternate universe. First, she finds out she's married to Ben Weston and now her cousin Eli is watching a game with her cousin Xander. This was just too wild for her to imagine.

 

Andrea's phone started ringing and she told Ciara that she would be right back. Ciara didn't feel like being alone, so she went to the kitchen to find Chanel.

 

When she got closer, she could hear voices. She didn't know why but she was spying on them.

 

When Xander came into the kitchen, he saw his wife going for his snacks and he couldn't have that.

 

“Baby you're gonna have to find other snacks... you know those are mine and they're specifically for football.”

 

Chanel was a little spooked because she didn't know that Xander was home.

 

“You don't need snacks. I went to Carl’s diner today and I got you and Eli your favorite. I made sure to get it right before I left. It's still hot. I even had Carl wrap it in aluminum foil to keep the condensation from making the tortilla chips get soggy.”

 

Xander had been happy to know about this development because he loved the fully loaded nachos from Carl’s diner.

 

“You did all that for me baby?” Xander said as he sat down on the edge of the stool.

 

Chanel looked at him, he didn't need to say anything or motion anything to her. She knew that he wanted her to come to him.

 

She went to him and put her arms around him. She felt his arms crisscross around her. One of his hands found it's way to her neck, she could feel his fingers weaving at the nape of her neck while the other settled on her butt.

 

“I know that the season is almost over, so the games are getting bigger. It wasn't a big deal for me to get my husband to eat. I also know that since it's game day that I'll get the climax for how many goals Real Madrid gets.” Chanel had her forehead resting on the column of his neck.

 

“That's right. Let's hope it's a high scoring game. But for real, it's a big deal to me. Thank you, sweetheart.” He squeezed her tighter.

 

“Ich liebe dich.” (I love you.)

 

Xander pulled his head away from her so he could see her, he looked into those big brown eyes that he loved so much. He knew that this was the highest form of saying I love you in German. This wasn't a phrase you said to many people. It was only reserved for lovers in high regard.

 

“Tha gaol agam ort. Tha thu cho brèagha… Mo leannan.” (I love you. You are so beautiful… My sweetheart.)

 

English couldn't do that justice for how he felt about her, she felt the same way about him. That's why she expressed her love in German, it was why he felt like he had to speak Scottish with her. It wasn't a language that she knew too much of. He knew that she knew a couple of phrases from when she was traveling. He knew that she knew what this meant, it always made her near tears when he said it to her.

 

“Du wirst für immer meine liebe sein.” (You’ll be my love forever.)

 

Xander didn’t know everything she said but he knew that meine liebe was my love and immer meant forever. He heard her say it enough. He pressed his forehead to hers and held her… then he kissed her.

 

Ciara had no clue what either of them were saying after they stopped speaking English. She knew that they didn't know that she was spying on them. They were speaking different languages to each other, but she felt her heart ache because they were so tender with each other. She could finally see what Andrea meant. She wondered was this what she had with Ben?

 

Eli was getting impatient, the game was about to start and he didn't know where the hell Xander was?! He was supposed to be procuring their snacks and yet there were no snacks present.

 

He got up from the den and made his way to the kitchen. He was walking swiftly because the game was going to start soon. Ciara could hear footsteps coming so she backed up a little and pretended to walk slowly.

 

She saw that it was Eli and decided to walk with him.

 

When Eli came into the kitchen, he was ready to snap these people in shape. Of course this was the reason Xander was taking so long. Chanel was a distraction. A distraction that knew better because this was his time, not hers.

 

“You better get your hands off my mans. Our game is starting soon and there’re no snacks in the den. This is a no go. Chanel you should know better than this, you know my man is weak. Xander, I'm very disappointed in you right now. I trusted you and this is what you're doing... with her?” The disgust in Eli’s voice made everyone in the room laugh.

 

Chanel giggles and started to put some distance between her and Xander.

 

“I got caught up in a moment. I got you guys loaded nachos from Carl's diner and your own meals.” To Chanel there was nothing more annoying then Eli on game day.

 

“That's what's up. But you're still on thin ice. Speaking of ice we need that in a bucket for our beers so we can get this game crackalackin. Cici you want anything in here too?” Eli figured that his cousin probably came to the kitchen because she wanted snacks.

 

Ooh I was getting our snacks I completely forgot. We’ll just be taking those and going...” Chanel starting making her way over.

 

“No. If it's those snacks on the counter... I don't think so. Those are game day snacks. I'm sure there's some grapes in the fridge that y'all could eat, but yeah you won't be taking these snacks. We don't have time for this.” Eli was done with this conversation. He got the bag from Carl's diner and took their snacks and told Xander he needed to get the bucket and the beers. They had four minutes until the game started.

 

Ciara just watched and fascination wondering what just happened?

 

Even though they had ice maker, it took too long for them to get ice so for now always bought a small bag of ice and put it at the bottom of their freezer. It made it much easier for Xander at times like this. He dumped the ice in the bucket and got 6 beers, gave his wife a kiss and left the room.

 

“What the hell was that? Eli was like a whole other person...”

 

“That's just Eli on game day. He doesn't play about Real Madrid and neither does Xander.”

 

“But what about our snacks, he took everything!” Ciara knew that she wasn't hungry but damn she wanted snacks now.

 

“Girl don't worry bout them fools I always have snacks in secret places.” Chanel went to her secret stash places and pulled out salt and vinegar chips and popcorn for her to pop.

 

Ciara started doing a little dance because they were going to be eating good while they watched Netflix. the whole time they were watching her new obsession... Every now and then she kept thinking that she wanted someone to look at her the way that Xander looked at Chanel.

 

Chapter Text

Xander was excited, it was finally the six-week mark, he was supposed to have his follow up visit with his primary care physician about his wrist.

 

When he woke up, it was later than his usual time. He smiled when he saw Chanel’s back.

 

He never quite got used to the switched positions. Ever since he sprained his wrist they had been sleeping on the opposite side. He used to sleep on the side closest to the door.

 

He got closer to her and put his arms around her. It didn’t hurt to use his right hand. It’s been much better after week 3. He did have little pinches of pain every now and then, but it wasn’t like he went looking for it, so he didn’t feel it much.

 

“You're up later than usual.” Chanel relished the feeling of Xander’s arms around her.

 

He kissed the base of her neck and then rested his head there so he could smell her. He loved the way she smelled. It didn’t matter what kind of fragrance she put on, it always put him at ease.

 

“I guess it must have been from elation because today, I have my follow up appointment. I can’t wait to have the official all clear. I can’t wait for all of the possibilities that will open.” Xander’s hand made it down his wife's body.

 

He smirked into her neck when he felt the resistance of her trying to fight the feeling of him getting access to her cunt.

 

“Baby, as much as I want you to do what we both want... you should really get ready because you don't have much time. I did mean it that you woke up much later. And if I have my way with you, you’ll miss the appointment altogether.” Chanel was only a fan of quickies if they were outside of the house.

 

But if her husband was going to start this, she wasn’t going to let him leave.

 

Xander growled into her neck, the last thing he wanted was to be told that he wasn't going to have his way with his wife. He almost wants to say screw it all, but this clean bill health would make his mind more at ease.

 

“I’m guessing you started getting ready for the day… Why are you still naked in bed then?”

 

Chanel turned around and Xander could see the mischief written all over her face.

 

“I like the feel of your hands on me, what can I say…” Chanel ran her fingers from his abs to his chest and she closed her eyes and almost moaned.

 

 “So what you’re saying was you were trying to tease me? That innocent face you’re trying to pull would have worked better if you didn't do it so often… I’m going to remember this.” Xander looked at her in her eye and let her know that a challenge would be coming.

 

He popped two kisses on her lips and then got out of bed. She was right he did have to get up and get ready. He looked at the time on the clock and they had maybe half an hour before they had to be out of the house.

 

Chanel got up and started thinking about what she wanted to wear for the day. She settled on one of her favorite midi dresses. It was a beautiful floral print that wasn't overly tight but showed off her figure. She loved the top the most though because they showed off her cleavage. She could always count on dresses like this to make Xander squirm.

 

When Xander was finished with his shower, he went into the closet. He was just going to throw on a T-shirt and jeans. He also made sure to get his workout gear now so he didn't forget later, he and Eli were supposed to be playing a pickup game later.

 

As he was getting ready he saw his wife sitting at her vanity. He couldn't see the front of the dress but he knew that he was in trouble. He could tell by the fit that it showed off her figure. It was hard to focus on anything when she was in the room.

 

He went deeper into the room, and started putting on his clothes. When he finally got to her vanity, he could see her putting on some makeup. He saw her putting on red lipstick. She was almost done, he knew that she liked to do her lips last if she was going to put on makeup for their day.

 

Chanel could hear his footsteps, it made the hair on the back of her neck stand at attention. He was fully clothed the only thing he was missing was his shoes. He was looking at her through the mirror. He was just leaning on a wall without a care in the world.

 

She's seen him plenty of times, but he still had a way of making her shy. She smiled wide and her head went down because she knew that she couldn't keep his gaze long without her whole-body blushing in embarrassment.

 

Xander enjoyed it all... He loves that her smile radiates happiness. He loves that she smiles with her whole face and not just her lips, that's how he knows it's genuine. It turned him on like nothing else.

 

“I'm almost done baby.” Chanel lifted her head again and turned.

 

She would rather actually look at him then just through the mirror.

 

Chanel finished applying her lip stain, used setting spray on her face and then got up.

 

She and Lani were going to get their hair braided today so she wanted to bring the change of shoes because she did want to look cute, but it was going to take a long time to do their hair, so she was going to change out into cute sandals but change back into her heels later. She wanted to take her photos before and after she got her hair done.

 

They had to forego breakfast because they had to get a move on, they could always get something after.

 

They walked out of the house and got into the car and started to drive out. When they got to the first red light, Xander looked over at her.

 

“You look beautiful sweetheart.” Xander's hand reached out and stroked her left arm.

 

Chanel smiled because she was always trying to look good and when she got compliments, it just made it that much better.

 

“Thank you.” Her eyes stayed closed for a couple of seconds.

 

Xander caught it, he loved to cause that reaction in her.

 

He reached over the console and Chanel felt that familiar feeling every time he did this. She met him halfway and press her lips to his.

 

It always astonished her how such a small act could make her feel so whole.

 

When the light turned green, he started driving again but left his hand on the console... She slipped her hand within his and the rest of the ride, his hand was in her lap.

 

When they got to the doctor's office, they were a little early which was good because they would rather be early than late. They filled out some paperwork and then just waited until Xander's name was called.

 

When they got into the exam room, the first thing the doctor did was ask some questions. Then he started to examine Xander's wrist. He had Xander rotating his wrist and telling him how it felt to do that. He also did a CT scan to get an internal view on how the ligament was healing. He told him that he would be back once he got the test results, but it shouldn't be more than 15 to 20 minutes.

 

Chanel got up from the seat in the corner and went to him.

 

He put his arms around her and gave her a hug. he could feel her melting into it.

 

“How do you feel?” Chanel asked him as she ran her hands up and down his arms.

 

“I feel like this is going to finally be over. My wrist feels good. It's been feeling good for the last couple of weeks obviously, but I just want the doctor to say that everything is healed and we can finally move on.”

 

“I know you do.” She held his face in her hands and kissed him.

 

He hugged her tighter to him as he deepened the kiss. It would be so inappropriate to fuck her on this examination table.

 

“We should stop. I can't keep doing this or else we're going to fuck in the car.” Chanel closed her eyes at the prospect of that happening.

 

“And what is wrong with that?!” In Xander's mind, he didn't see this as a problem. They had a fuck ton of condoms in the car, so they didn't have a mess on their hands.

 

“There is no way that is happening today. My makeup would be so destroyed, I have to take pics for the gram. I have to keep my followers up.” She had a relatively big following, many people who followed her travel blog insta also follow her regular one.

 

She knew that having a high Instagram count would be good if she ever needed to make an announcement.

 

“I'll take a couple bloody pictures and call it a day. You look sinful and I like committing sins.” He nibbled on her neck as he said this.

 

“Xander, I love you so much. More than I can ever express, however you are a terrible Instagram husband. You never get my good angles and I hardly ever get good lighting with you. That's why I have to have the girls do it because they get it. Lani is going to be doing my pics today.” Chanel tried to break the news lightly, but she still felt a little bad.

 

“But you don't have any bad angles and you look good in any lighting.” He pressed a kiss to her collarbone as he said it.

 

Chanel started pouting because he was so sweet, she knew that there was a part of him that just wanted sex, but it was still a sweet for him to say it.

 

“You might not be a good Instagram husband but you're a great hubby in real life. I love you...” She pressed his head deeper into her neck and scratched his scalp the way he liked.

 

When Xander felt his wife scratching his scalp, he felt like he was turning into putty.

 

“I love you too… does that mean I will get something?” Xander was completely willing to settle on a BJ.

 

“Absolutely not.”

 

Before Chanel could say anything else the doctor came back. The CT scan showed that the ligament had healed and it was completely okay to go back to all regular activities.

 

When they finished, they went to the waiting area to pay and this time Xander could care less about how much something was going to cost. Their insurance finally kicked in and they still have a lot of money on the HSA so everything was running smoothly for them right now.

 

They made their way back to the car and went in the direction of the diner. They were both hungry and it was a little call for celebration too…

 

They enjoyed their meal together. They had good food and each other.

 

“Baby I wanna ask you something?” Chanel had been thinking about this for a while.

 

She broached the subject with Lani, her sister had no clue what they would do but was open to a partnership if it meant that she didn't have to go back to work so soon.

 

“You can ask me anything…” Xander loved it when his wife wanted to tell him things.

 

“I've been thinking about doing. And I wanted to do it with Lani. At first, we didn't know what we wanted to do and a couple of days ago I was checking out my old travel blog and I put a lot of recipes on there. Lani and I used to cook a lot with our grandma when we were kids. I was thinking of having a side hustle with Lani possibly a cooking series on YouTube. What do you think?” Chanel bit her lip because she was nervous.

 

She knows that her husband wouldn't hurt her feelings on purpose but there is a high saturation of cooking channels on YouTube and it may not be the best venture for them but she likes the idea of doing fun stuff and it could make them a little bit of money on the side and that's what Lani wants to do.

 

It was hard to gauge where Xander was out because he had this way of making his face unreadable.

 

Xander looked at his wife and was proud of her. She had been completely burned out from her first job. It didn't set a good precedent for what she would expect work to be. The one thing he did know about with her work ethic. They were living on her work ethic. She had a good mind for business and knew how to chase opportunities. He could already think of things they could do if she could get Lani to agree to it.

 

“You want to work again?”

 

“I guess yeah. I know that it would be work, I don't care about that... I want to do it because I wanna do it with Lani… it could be fun. I'm really lucky to be with you. Your business is taking off and it's profitable even with it being so early. I don't know if this is going to be successful, but I feel like it would make me happy. I know that we could most likely make a little money off of it. That's why I've been keeping my followers up on my Instagram. I keep putting out content because I never know when I might need a built-in consumer base again.”

 

All Xander could do with smirk. His wife had a business acumen that was natural. She knew how to seize opportunities without really trying. It made sense because both of her parents were businesspeople.

 

“That's why it's going to be successful. You already have an audience ready to follow you. If they were following your travel blog, I don't see it being a far stretch for them to follow you into the kitchen. You're already listing recipes on the website. I was actually shocked when I saw your Instagram. I was shocked by the amount of people who followed you, I thought that it must have been another Chanel Dupree. I was just happy that you had photos so I knew.” Xander was thinking back to when he had to create an Instagram just to communicate with her.

 

“I'm shocked at how many people follow me too. When I made the travelblog I didn't think it was going to be what it was. It was really supposed to be about finding a semblance of life again. My first post was about losing my dad and Lani leaving. I explained why I was going on this journey and it was really supposed to be personal, but I guess it was personal for a lot of people. I think that is cooking channel will be personal as well. Cooking is such a big manifestation of love in German, Southern and Gabonese culture. That's why I only do it if Lani wants to. It was something we did with our grandmother and it would feel incomplete if I didn't do it with her.” Chanel wasn't really trying to have such an introspective conversation, but it really didn't matter because she always felt safe to tell him anything.

 

Xander was always happy to learn about his wife. All of the events in her life led her to him. He loved knowing... whether it was good or bad.

 

“Then that's what we'll do sweetheart. I'm sure Lani would want to do it with you too. You connect with people... It doesn't matter what you choose to do. I know one thing for sure... you will always be successful. You're so diligent about everything. It's actually made me step up my game too. I make sure all of my plans are airtight when it comes to business.”

 

“That means a lot to hear that from you. I love you.”

 

“I'm only telling you the truth and I love you too. Let's get this check and get out of here. I know I have to get you to Lani’s place and then I have to go to the park.” Xander was happy when their server came back and made rounds.

 

“You get to play full throttle with your football bae. that's so cute...”

 

Xander rolls his eyes as he pays for their meal. Chanel and Lani were always making fun of him and Eli getting closer. It was nice for Xander to have friends what could he say.

 

As they were making their way out, she spotted Drea and Ciara. She walked over to their table to tell them hi.

 

“Fancy seeing you here?!” Chanel had been excited to see her friends.

 

“Oh my god, you look so sexy!” Ciara got up and gave her friend a hug.

 

“Yeah, are you going anywhere special?” Andrea wanted to know the 411.

 

“No, there's no occasion. I just like to take pics for the gram. You two look gorgeous. It's clearly not just me. don't they baby?”

 

Xander really wanted to go, he hadn't made plans to do small talk.

 

“Yes, you two look nice.” He resisted rolling his eyes…

 

“Are you doing anything today? You could always hang with us if you're not busy.” Andrea predicted that Chanel stays pretty busy with Xander around...

 

“I can't today. I'm gonna go get my hair braided so that's gonna take pretty long. Plus I already promised this day to my sister, so it is what it is.”

 

“Respect. I totally get it about sister time.” Andrea missed her sister but her whole family was back in Puerto Rico, so she completely got it.

 

“I second that. We’ll see you soon anyways because book club is tomorrow.” Ciara read the book, so she was going to be ready to debate.

 

“That's super true. I'll see you two later. I'll probably be bored when I'm getting my hair done. I might send a text to the group chat. Daniela is so bored now that school is out. So expect texts from the both of us.”

 

The ladies talked for about another minute and then Chanel was leaving with Xander. He said nothing, he just held his hand right above her hip as they walked.

 

Xander helped her into her seat and then went to his side. When he got in, Chanel could see that he was a little on the stiff side.

 

“Are you okay?”

 

“Yeah, I'm fine.”

 

“Xander... Tell me what's going on?”

 

Xander let out a sigh because he really didn't want to have to explain anatomy right now.

 

“Baby, it's not a big deal.”

 

“How about you let me decide that? Tell me...”

 

Xander didn't tell her anything, he just pulled her hand and placed it at his crotch.

 

“I thought you would have been fine after your shower...”

 

“I did... It happened again… since I saw you in the mirror…”

 

“Go find some place to secluded. You have to sit on the passenger side because I don't want to hit my head again on the steering wheel. And no touching my head, I don't want you ruining my hair.”

 

Chanel could feel Xander flooring it as she spoke. She rolled her eyes but it made him happy so she would do it.

 

“All that's fine darling. You just know how to brighten my day.” Xander licked his lips in anticipation.

 

There was nothing more he loved than getting what he wants, especially when it was coming from his wife.

 

 

Chapter Text

“Baby, is my makeup messed up?” Chanel was pretty intense, she hoped that it didn't smudge anything.

 

She didn't see any makeup transferred to his pants so she thought she was pretty lucky so far, but she couldn't see herself.

 

“No, in my opinion it looks the same...” Xander said.

 

He knew that his wife was going to flip her shit soon and he was the only person within the vicinity to take it. The problem wasn't with her makeup, he swore that she could make her makeup bulletproof approved if she wanted to.

 

“Thank God. We're not gonna have that much time to take the before pictures because we have to do my hair and that's gonna take forever.”

 

“Does it take longer than how you usually do it?” Xander was curious because he wanted to know just how vast the difference would be.

 

“Definitely yes. With how long my hair is, it might be 6 to 10 hours. Lani said that the salon she goes to is good so hopefully it won’t take 10 hours.”

 

“That's basically your whole day…”

 

“Yeah, but it definitely will last for a while. Sometimes I go like six weeks to two months with braids. So it seems like a lot of time on the front end but it's good on the back end.” Chanel explained to her husband, it would be the first time he seen her in braids ever.

 

She subconsciously went to smooth her hair down, it felt wildly out of place.

 

Xander felt like it was in slow motion when her hand was moving through her hair.

 

“I told you not to touch my head. You had your big ass hand weaving through my hair.” Chanel twisted her body, it was a tight fit because her husband was in the passenger seat but she sat on top of him and she was close to the roof of the car.

 

She had to contort herself to see how her hair looked in the tiny mirror on the sun visor.

 

“You love my big hands! It's not that bad… I'm sure you could fix it. You always keep stuff in the car for times like this.” Xander was trying his best to placate her.

 

He had his hand rubbing up and down her back.

 

“I told you. Do you know how hard it was to style my hair with no heat? I had to prep my hair so it can get braided. I didn't even think that the rollers were going to take and they did.” Chanel was still surveying the damage.

 

Chanel could feel Xander lifting up her dress. She let her breath out when she felt him slip his hand inside her underwear.

 

“Shh…It’s okay sweetheart. I’ll make you feel better.” Xander used his left hand to finger his wife and placed his right on her stomach and pushed her back.

 

When Chanel felt him kiss her neck she mewled in a strangled voice.

 

“Doesn't that feel good?” Xander’s right hand started to move upward. He squeezed her breast.

 

He started pressing kisses from the column of her neck to the edge of her shoulder.

 

“Yes… feel so good. You’re so good.” She was lost to reality. The only thing she was feeling was what he was giving her.

 

“I love to hear that. Do you want me to add another finger? Do you want three fingers inside you?” Xander went inside of her dress, he slipped past her bra and gave her nipple a gentle pinch.

 

“Yes!” Chanel screamed when he pinched her nipple.

 

She was so sensitive there. He knew just how to make her go crazy.

 

Chanel could feel him smiling into her skin, she didn’t know if it was a taunt or if he was just happy that she agreed to have another finger in her.

 

“Yes, darling that's it. I can feel how close you are… wouldn't it feel good if I let you come right now?” Xander chose this particular moment to ground his palm on her clit.

 

He could feel his wife arching because of it. He didn't know if it was possible to smile wider but is certainly felt like he was.

 

“Yes...” Chanel felt almost powerless. Her voice was barely a whisper, she was only focused on one thing. She was so close...

 

“Then I just have to please my wife.” Xander bit into her shoulder and curled his fingers. His palm was firmly on her clit and he knew he had her.

 

When Chanel came, she had the faintest huff of breath escape her. She fell into her husband and just stayed there. She was trying to catch her breath and all she could hope for was that she wasn't sweating.

 

Xander took his fingers out of her slowly and the whines he heard were like music to his ears. He brought his fingers to his mouth and licked all of the evidence of her wetness. He loved the way she tasted. He also loved the reaction he got from her when he tasted her. She grounded her ass into his crotch. There was no possible way she was going to let them have sex in the car because she didn't want to be late going to Lani’s, it still felt good though.

 

“Do you feel better?”

 

“Yes, but I'm still mad at you. You broke one of my rules after I took pity on you.” Chanel tried to keep a straight face but she broke into laughter pretty soon after she started talking.

 

“You're telling me that was a pity blowjob?! Certainly didn't feel like one…”

 

“The skill of the blowjob doesn't matter. The intent behind it does.” Chanel kept her eyes closed. She was just enjoying being close to her husband even though it was a tight fit.

 

“Well, I need my wife to take pity on me more if that's going to be the result.” He pressed some kisses to her shoulder. He loved that she was wearing a dress that exposed skin he could reach.

 

“You need to get me to Lani’s. This excursion as nice as it has been, wasn't planned and I can't afford to be late.” Even though her words were saying one thing, her hands were on top of his. Pressing it deeper into her skin.

 

“I know, I have to get to the park too. I'm glad I get to play without worrying about my wrist. Baby, lift your bum up a little.”

 

Chanel did as he asked, Xander started to push her dress down. He knew they had to get a move on even though it was really the last thing he wanted to do. Even if it wasn't the most comfortable position for her to be in, he didn't want her to leave his lap.

 

“We have to get going...” Even as she said this, she had reached over and had her hand on his neck.

 

Xander knew it she wanted, he pressed kisses to her cheek. He could see through the little mirror on the sun visor. He loved to see her smiling with her eyes closed, something about her wearing happiness was just amazing to see.

 

After a minute, he opened the car door and got out and went to the driver side.

 

Chanel opened her eyes and saw that her hair was even more messed up.

 

“Xander, it looks worse!” Chanel’s eyes were bugging out looking at how messed up her hair was.

 

“Hey, you look sensational. You always look beautiful. I'm sure it'll be a quick fix.”

 

Xander could see that she was not impressed with him trying to cheer her up.

 

“You are just saying that because it's your fault. This would have never happened if we had just gone straight there. I am never doing this again.” She opened the glove compartment and got a brush out.

 

It was really no point now, so she decided to just brush her hair out and wear it like that.

 

Xander scoffed as he started the car. He felt like he was being maligned undeservedly so. It was her idea... He just happened to be the beneficiary of it.

 

He had to endure Chanel’s little comments the whole ride over. She popped in a piece of gum, so she didn't have dick breath when she got to her sister’s place.

 

When they got to Lani’s apartment, Xander parked in the visitor parking.

 

“You want me to come up with you?”

 

“No thank you. That's sweet of you though. I know you need to get to the park.” Chanel reached over and gave him a goodbye kiss.

 

Xander held her in place by putting his hand at the back of her neck. He slipped his tongue in her mouth and teased her. He took the gum she was chewing and started chewing it himself.

 

“Bye baby.” Chanel said as she started to get her stuff.

 

As Chanel started reaching for the door, she heard Xander’s door open. He went to her side and let her out. Even though he did this all the time, sometimes she would forget. But it was probably one of her favorite things about him because it meant that she was going to get a hug.

 

He kissed her on the cheek and wrapped his arms around her and gave her a tight squeeze before she left. Sometimes she was still wrapping her head around the fact that she was married to him.

 

Xander always waited for her to go into a building before he ever thought about leaving. He watched her punch to the code and watched her go into the building and felt more comfortable.

 

When he got to the park, he didn't see Eli and he was wondering what happened. Some of the guys that they played pickup basketball with said that they hadn't seen Eli. They just figured that it would be traffic that was keeping him.

 

Xander didn't think so because he just came from Eli’s apartment complex and he didn't have that much traffic.

 

Hey, are you running late? - Xander

 

Bruh, we couldn't find anyone to watch the kids. Lani asked me for a self-care day and I thought that we were going to have someone from the nanny service we are using come through but their booked solid. So it's looking like I can't come. I'm still on the phone with the nanny service but I don't think it's gonna work out. - Eli

 

Xander looked at the text and he was a little bummed at Eli wasn't able to come. Even though Xander had been introduced to the guys, these were mostly Eli’s friends and he didn't feel right doing it alone plus they can't really play five on five if Eli isn't there, so at best he was going to be the referee and he didn't really feel like doing that.

 

Well, that sucks to hear. Do you want me to come over and help with the kids? - Xander

 

You really wanna do that? If you want to, you can come over... - Eli

 

Of course man is no sweat. They are my family. – Xander

 

😘😜 This is why you’re BAE! – Eli

 

Lani and Chanel  were always teasing them. They would always call them baes or boyfriends. It always made Eli and Xander laugh.

 

But the guys ran with it. It was weird because Eli has lived in this town for a while now and he had friends and family here, but he didn't really have anyone close to him besides Lani that lived in town.

 

It was the same for Xander. He didn’t have many friends here, the best man to his wedding that never happened was Jack. Which was pretty weird because up until a couple of months ago they never really interacted. The most interaction they had previously was when Jack was amnesiac and Xander had been working with Eve. He was so desperate to have people in his life to listen to him that he attached himself to just about anyone.

 

It seemed as if the friendship was disposable because ever since he got married to Chanel, he honestly hadn't thought twice about his friendship with Jack. It was nice to have a friend who was closer to his age, instead of someone who's 20 years older. He didn’t think that there was anything wrong with having friendship with older people, but it wasn’t like he was going to play a pickup game with Jack.

 

He made his way back to apartment complex. When he got to the apartment, he knocked and waited.

 

When Eli opened the door, he was happy to see Xander. It was nice to have help with the twins.

 

“Of course you come after I change their diapers.” Eli said in a joking manner.

 

They did their handshake and half hug.

 

“You’re saying that I missed the best part?!” Xander put his hand across his heart in mock shock.

 

Eli rolls his eyes and called him stupid.

 

“I was thinking of taking the kids to the park for a little bit, it would be nice for them to get some outside action.”

 

“Sounds like a plan.” Xander thought why not… he had already changed into his workout gear.

 

They went into the kids’ bedroom to get them ready.

 

About 5 minutes later, each of them had a baby strapped to them when they heard the door open.

 

“I can’t believe I forgot my phone. There’s no way in hell I was going to be sitting getting my hair braided without my phone.” Lani still couldn’t believe that she left her phone on the kitchen table.

 

“That would have been a travesty. This was definitely not how I wanted to take these pics… I kinda don’t even wanna take them anymore because this was not the look in my head.”

 

“Maybe if you weren’t giving Xander head you wouldn’t even have this problem…” Lani gave her sister a look… that knowing look.

 

Xander and Eli were in the hallway. The thing about living in a loft was your voice carried. Eli’s eyebrows went up and then his head turned to Xander… He was looking proud at his bae.

 

Xander was feeling himself, he couldn’t lie.

 

“And how do you figure that?”

 

“Well, I’m a detective. We FaceTimed this morning and your hair was completely done. When you came over… it was completely different. There’s no way that you would take the effort to get curls or waves only to brush your hair straight unless something happened. If I had to take a guess… Your man had a strong grip on your head, while you were giving him head.”

 

Eli gave Xander a fist bump and the two of them kept eavesdropping.

 

“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

 

“Chanel, you can try everyone else, but you can’t try me. You have been transparent when it comes to this since you were 16 and you were caught red handed with that scrawny ass nerd… What was his name again? Oh yes how can I forget, Dante Pennington. I thought daddy was gonna shoot him dead.”

 

Xander and Eli found it hard to keep a straight face but they couldn't laugh or else their wives would hear them.

 

“Don't remind me. I had planned it for a month. How was I supposed to know everybody was going to show up when there was no occasion… it was all your fault.” Chanel was so upset when she was a kid, it was her second time having sex and it was barely better than the first time, only it was worse because her whole family turned up at her house.

 

“I don’t even feel a little bit sorry for you. Daddy was just trying to do something nice because I won an award. It’s not my fault that you were sneaking that bird-chested boy into the house. He messed up when he went for daddy’s liquor. Dante wanted to be a big man and it caught up to him.” Lani folded her arms like she did when it happened.

 

“Well I didn’t think that he was going to instruct you to shoot Dante. Good thing you said no.”

 

Eli and Xander looked at each other puzzled, intrigued and a little afraid.

 

“He only did that because he couldn’t get access to his gun to shoot Dante. Daddy wasn’t wrong, the boy was trespassing on his property in his mind.”

 

“Y'all are terrible people. The only way Dante was getting in was because I let him obviously. Daddy’s building was a high-rise condo and we lived in the penthouse. Do you think daddy knew I was having sex with him?”

 

“Obviously, why would you be inviting anyone without dad or Auntie P knowing? He just didn’t want to embarrass you obviously and pretended to be mad about the underaged drinking.”

 

“After it happened Dante never spoke to me again. Every time I saw him at the mall, he walked the other way. He probably was saying to himself that he dodged a bullet.”

 

“It's OK. He was nothing to write home about anyways.” Lani never thought the boy was all that anyways.

 

 Chanel got an alert from Instagram and opened her phone to check it out.

 

She saw that Sinqua Walls updated his story about a movie was going to be in. She clicked on it so she could see the post. When she opened it, she just gasped.

 

“This man has no business being this fine. Mmph.” Chanel couldn't help but stare at her phone.

 

Xander did not like the sound of that, he wanted to know the identity of who was peeking his wife's interest.

 

“Who?” Lani started to walk over so she could see.

 

Eli sneered.

 

“Your wife is trifling and a bad influence.” Eli whispered to Xander.

 

“Sinqua Walls. I swear I’m gonna need a cold glass of water soon. He could get it… any day that ends with Y.” Chanel kept admiring the thirst trap that Sinqua put out.

 

“Every bloody day ends in Y.” Xander whispered back to Eli nearly in a hiss.

 

“Well if you was putting it down like that, maybe she wouldn’t be thirsting on Sinqua like that. That Lancelot guy ain’t even all that.” Eli whispered with his whole neck.

 

“Girl I feel you. All he needs to do is put the location on and I will put the nikes on and run to him. It’s a wrap.”

 

“I know that’s right!”  Chanel started laughing and snapping her fingers.

 

“Come on baby girl. We gots to go… There’s an awesome rib joint by the hair salon too. We’ll order us a plate, their mac and cheese is bomb. It’s not as good as House of Mac but is definitely the best in Salem.”

 

“That's what's up.”

 

The girls left the apartment and Xander and Eli walked to the living room.

 

“I guess it seems as if you're not holding it down if your wife is ready to lace up and ready to make a trek to get some of Sinqua Walls.” It felt great for Xander to rub it in after Eli’s comment.

 

Eli narrowed his eyes, Xander had a lot of nerve talking to him like that with his child strapped to this man's chest.

 

“OK, I admit I deserve that. Lani is trifling as hell though. She got on me once because I happen to have a dream about Gabrielle Union. It was just a dream, she wouldn't let me live it down. And here she goes thirsty and drooling over Shawn from Power. She got a whole lot of nerve.” He lies snatched up the go bag for the kids.

 

“Is he even really that good looking?”

 

They walked out of the apartment and went to Eli’s car.

 

“I mean… he’s whatever.” Eli scoffed and shrugged.

 

As Eli was making conversation, Xander decided to go on Instagram and see just who this Sinqua Walls person was…

 

When they got to the park, they took the kids out of the carseat and put them in the baby bjorn.

 

As they walked…  they got some stares from people they didn't know.

 

“Right on. What you guys are doing is awesome!”

 

Some random stranger said this as they were walking by.

 

“What was that about?” Eli was trying to figure out why this random jogger was talking to them.

 

“I have not a clue. Anyways I perused this guy's Instagram.”

 

“Bruh, get over it… Ain’t nobody really sweatin’ Shawn from Power. I mean he OK.”

 

“And what does Shawn from Power do?”

 

“Well he was messing with Tasha and that's the wife of the lead character. Now you got me thinking about this... But Shawn isn’t real…” Eli really didn’t wanna go down this road.

 

“Oh my god you two are so cute. It’s so lovely to see two dads getting to have the family they want.”

 

A lady that neither of them knew started gushing about them and it took them a second to figure out why this lady was talking the way she did. They both had rings and the twins. Xander was no one’s father.

 

“Ma’am I think you’re mistaken.” Eli was not trying to hurt this woman’s feelings but she was wrong about them.

 

“It's completely OK. I totally respect what you’re doing. I think it’s perfectly fine to get married to who you want to get married to and start a family.”

 

“Yes, it’s completely great to get married to who you want to get married to. However I think that you jumped to a conclusion, yes we are married but to sisters. I’m just the uncle.” Xander tried to explain to the woman.

 

“Oh. I guess whatever.” The woman just walked off.

 

“Why do I get the distinct feeling that woman is mad that we’re not gay…” Eli was confused why random people were coming up to them in the first place.

 

It was weird to him even if they were gay, It’s weird to go to people unprompted and start talking to them without being invited.

 

“I did sense a little bit of disappointment. But if we were you would be lucky to have me.”

 

“You? Hell no… You would be lucky to have me! Don’t get it twisted.” Eli was almost offended that Xander would think that he would have been the lucky one in this scenario.

 

“Fine. We would both be lucky… that’s why I don’t understand why Sinqua Walls can command such attention from our wives. My wife is ready to give it to him any day and your wife is ready to run a marathon to jump on him.”

 

“Don't you remind me. I’m still upset. I had one mother fucking dream and I’m still paying for it and she’s out here talking about she gonna take jogs for this man she don't even really know. He stays playing characters that's the side piece. Can’t be trusted.”

 

As Eli and Xander grumbled about their wives thirsting over an Instagram post, the ladies were at the salon getting their hair done.

 

“So remember how we were talking about doing something together and hopefully making money off of it…” Chanel was glad that they were able to be seated next to each other.

 

“Yeah, it's been really hard thinking about going back to work. It’s so nice that the house is almost done. I’ve been having so much fun picking out what I want. It gives us a lot of breathing room but me going back to work would be good for our savings. So what have you been thinking about?” Lani was intrigued with the idea of having a business venture.

 

“I was thinking of us having a cooking series on YouTube. We were always cooking with Oma growing up and when I had my travelblog I posted a lot of recipes from the places that I went to. We have so much dishes that we can choose to make. I was talking to Xander about it and he thought it was a good idea too. I have a built in fanbase from the travelblog so that’s why I’ve been staying on point with my Instagram. I wanted to keep the engagement up so if we do this, we can already have people who know about it. Is this something that you might want to do?” Chanel had already decided that this was going to be something that she would only do if Lani wanted to do it.

 

“Nelly, I think that’s a great idea. We’re always cooking anyways, we might as well monetize it. Honestly even if it doesn’t make a lot of money and we just get a little bit of money from advertisements, it would be awesome to be able to spend as much time with the kids when they're so young. Plus it’s something that we can do together, and I really like that.” Lani was beaming at the idea of having a cooking series.

 

She remembered what it was like when she was younger. Some of her best times was in the kitchen. Their grandmother always made it fun, it was a place where she got to learn a lot about culture, heritage and history.

 

“I’m so glad you said yes because I couldn’t have done it without you. I told Xander if you said no then it wouldn’t have happened because I can’t think of anyone else I would do it with. He said if it takes off, we could have our own line of cookware. He is already researching about it. He believes it will be a success.”

 

“Why wouldn’t he? Nelly when you set your mind to something you were never short of successful. And the fact that I’m the same way… it just means we are going to knock this out of the park. Now pass me my ribs please.”

 

The ladies kept throwing ideas off of each other of what they wanted for the channel. It was so exciting for them to be doing something together.

 

It had taken them about 8 hours to finally get their hair completely done. They had taken numerous photos of each other for Instagram. Chanel started tagging Lani in her post so it could up her sister's follower count. After they got everything, they needed Lani gave Chanel a ride home.

 

When she now got inside, she started looking for Xander because the car was in the driveway but he wasn't in the living room.

 

She ventured to their bedroom and she saw the back of his head. She saw him watching TV.

 

She walked over to him and saw that he only had his boxers on and she was pretty sure he was drinking Scotch.

 

“Baby do you like my hair?!” Chanel took a twirl and showed off her new hairstyle.

 

Xander looked up at her and saw how excited she was, but he had other things on his mind.

 

“Undress.” Xander kept his stare on her.

 

Chanel didn’t know how he did it but his voice was turning her on.

 

She undid the zipper to her dress and when she pulled down the straps it bunched at her hips. She pushed it down in her dress fell to the floor.

 

“I want everything gone.”

 

Chanel saw his eyes barely blink. He was solely focused on her. She took off all of her underwear and looked ahead.

 

“Come closer.”

 

She walked until she was right in front of him.

 

She gasped when she felt his hand rubbing on her pussy. He was so nonchalant about it, he took a sip of Scotch as he did it.

 

All she could do was focus on him, when she saw him take a swallow… that’s when his finger went inside. She was wet already, but she was glad to feel his fingers slippery. Just in case she wasn’t wet he made sure to put lubricant on his fingers for her comfort.

 

She just stood there letting him have his way with her. His eyes stayed on hers and she could not stray even if she wanted to. All of her concentration was watching him.

 

It took only two minutes, she was coming, her knees bent.

 

He stood up, she could see that he was as hard as a rock.

 

“Go ahead.”

 

She had used his forearms to steady herself so she didn’t fall.

 

She let go when she felt her senses coming back to her.

 

She pulled down his boxers and his dick sprang free.

 

Xander enjoyed the flare in her eyes when she saw him kick his underwear to the side. He sat back down on the sofa.

 

Chanel got down on her knees gracefully and looked at him as she grabbed him. She saw him smile wide, it wasn't a sweet smile. It was one filled with smugness. Her husband was cocky, it was one of the things she loved most about him.

 

He slipped the head in her mouth and she saw his blue eyes flare. Even if he tried to school his features, she knew what she could do to him. She took her time, she licked and sucked. Gave attention to his balls. She sucked him gently and she saw him have a tight grip on the glass, she almost thought it was going to break.

 

She tickled the head of his cock with her tongue which made him choke on the Scotch. She kept sucking his dick while he coughed. She even laughed, it didn’t matter if she had his dick was in her mouth or not.

 

“That’s enough.” Xander had no urge to climax in her mouth tonight.

 

He tore the condom on the side table and slipped it on his dick.

 

They said nothing, but their eyes said everything. Her legs climbed on to the sofa. She was on top of him.

 

Xander loved looking at her, the only thing he loved more than looking at her was feeling her. The feeling of her rubbing his cock up and down her cunny made him squeeze the glass.

 

He felt her taking him in and it took everything in him to not thrust up.

 

She was now sitting in front of him with all of him in her. He was watching her parted lips taking in air.

 

“Have some.” Xander held out the glass of Scotch for her to drink.

 

She took it in her hand and took a sip. This was the balvenie. It wasn’t something to gulp down. It was to be enjoyed slowly.

 

It was erotic to watch her drinking the Scotch. He waited until she swallowed and got that warm feeling inside to pinch her nipples.

 

She started bouncing up and down and arched her back slowly. Xander saw her close her eyes. He took the glass out of her hand and put it back at the side table.

 

He was mesmerized watching her moving instinctually. Her cunt could squeeze his cock so tight, it would make him wild.

 

 “Stop… get up.”

 

 She heard him and his snapped her eyes open. She got up and waited.

 

Xander took her hand and they went to their bed.

 

She didn’t know how but she knew that he wanted her on all fours. So she got on the bed and got into position.

 

She felt him going into her slowly and it made her arch like a bow. She let her face fall to the sheets. It was so nice to feel the coolness on her cheek versus the heat from her body and his.

 

The pace that he set was deep but not fast and not slow. It was like he wanted to make this last but still have momentum.

 

Every stroke he was pressing his dick hard on her G-spot. It felt so good, that it stole her breath.

 

“Baby –”

 

Before she could say anything else, he slapped her ass and it made her groan.

 

“Who does this cunt belong to?” Xander’s words bit into her ear.

 

“It's yours. You already know that… fuck!”

 

He cracks another slap on her ass and it makes her thrust back as he was thrusting forward and Chanel swore she could see stars.

 

“Oh that's rich don't you think? I thought you would let Sinqua have your walls any day that ends in Y…”

 

“Oh my God. Fuck… fuck. You heard that? I thought you were at the park.”

 

“I had to go back because Eli couldn’t find anyone to care for the twins. But let’s not distract. You won't ever let Sinqua into these walls will you?”

 

“Yes baby… Fuck.”

 

Xander slapped her ass again.

 

“I mean no baby.”

 

Xander repeated the action and Chanel was confused.

 

“I don’t know the right answer. I thought I was supposed to say the affirmative answer because you said won’t. Baby… don't stop. Fucking me so good.” Chanel started grabbing at the sheets.

 

“You are such a nerd.”

 

 Chanel took two swipes at her clit and she was groaning.

 

Xander knew that he didn't have long before his wife started getting really sensitive. He started fucking her fast, he was trying to chase his orgasm which had been teetering since she rode him on the sofa. He came with a shout and fell down to the bed.

 

After he threw away the condom he came behind her and hugged her. He flipped her body so he could see her face to face.

 

When Chanel felt him kissing her, her whole body felt warm and tingly. It was the most amazing feeling after having an orgasm.

 

“The answer is yes.”

 

 Chanel didn’t know what he was saying yes to.

 

“I don’t understand.”

 

“You asked me if I liked your hair and I do.”

 

“Oh... Thank you. You don’t have to be jealous about Sinqua. You know you’re my everything. You’re the CEO of my cunt. Also the CEO of this…” She picked up his hand and placed it on her breast. “Also the CEO of my heart. Everything…”

 

“Chairman of the board too?”

 

“Yes baby, all the seats on the board.”

 

“Good.”

 

“You fucked me like that because you were jealous of Sinqua Walls?”

 

“I may have been. It’s not every day I hear my wife say she would give it up any day of the week.”

 

“It was an exaggeration. I only want you…”

 

“I know but still.”

 

They kissed each other and Xander held her until he felt her stomach rumble.

 

“I can make you dinner baby. It’s the least I can do after I had my way with you.”

 

“You can make me dinner tomorrow. I got us ribs and barbecue chicken from this really good place."

 

Xander was excited at the prospect of his dinner, Eli had made the comment that the place by the hair salon was fire.

 

“God, I love you.” He peppered kisses all over her face.

 

“You're so silly. I love you too. But I am hungry. Go heat up the food while I go wash my face and find some clothes. We can finish watching that movie. Oh before I forget, I asked Lani and she said yes.”

 

 “That's amazing sweetheart. I’m glad that you’re going to have something fun to do together. Let me go get the food warmed up.” Xander gave her one last kiss on the cheek before he got up.

 

He went to go get some boxers and sweatpants and left for the kitchen.

 

“I think I need to make him jealous more often. Damn. We are definitely going to watch Power. Hmph...” Chanel got up and went to the bathroom to wash the makeup off her face.

 

When Xander came back to the bedroom, he saw his wife at the sofa looking through their list.

 

He put the food on the side table just took the time to cuddle with his wife.

 

“Baby, pass me some food before I get hangry…” Chanel needed food ASAP.

 

Xander just passed the food and stared at her.

 

Chanel could feel eyes on her. She took a big helping of mac and cheese and shoved it in her mouth.

 

 “What?”

 

“Nothing. I was just thinking about how much I love you.”

 

Chanel smiled… She had a mouthful of macaroni and cheese and probably resembled a gerbil and it made her feel on top of the world to hear her husband say that he loved her.

 

Chanel couldn’t think of a better way to end her day then having mac and cheese and hearing that her husband loved her.

 

Chapter Text

When he woke up, he was surprised to see that his wife was still sleeping. She was usually the one who was up before he did. He just chalked it up as her wanting to get more sleep.

 

Sometime through the night she had reached over and left her hand on his bicep. He could tell that she wasn’t awake because her hand didn't move at all.

 

He watched her as she slept. Her face had a peaceful look as it rested on a pillow.

 

He couldn’t look away. He was so in love with her. All he could think about was her falling into his lap at his darkest hour. It was funny to him how things can workout. She had only come to this place to figure out why her mother cut her off. She was supposed to go right back to Miami.

 

They met by pure chance, he was so glad that things worked out this way. If it wasn’t for Paulina, he would have never met her. They would just be walking around not knowing what kind of love they could have.

 

Chanel felt herself coming out of her dream. It was peaceful and everything felt right. But she could slowly feel herself becoming more conscious, she could feel herself waking up. Her eyes slowly opened and she saw those familiar blue eyes looking at her.

 

Xander could see the slow smile that was emerging on her face. His hand reached out and cupped her face.

 

“Mo leannan.”  (my sweetheart)

 

Xander could feel the single teardrop that fell from her eye.  He knew how much power that one word had over his wife. Anytime he called her sweetheart, he knew that it would make her heartbeat race.

 

When Chanel heard him, it was like her whole body felt it.

 

Xander got closer to her and just held her in his arms.

 

“I love you so much. Ich liebe dich…” (I love you) Chanel couldn’t stop her voice from cracking.

 

“Tha gaol agam ort. Always…” (I love you)

 

Chanel just pressed her cheek to his skin. sometimes she just loved to hear his heartbeat. She didn’t need to say or do anything. It was one of the most wonderful feelings to hear the steadiness.

 

They stayed in their bed for another hour. Xander pressed kisses all over her face.

 

Every time their lips touched Chanel tried to get even closer to him.

 

“Are you busy today?” Chanel asked. She didn’t have that much to do herself.

 

She didn’t actually need to read the book that was selected for the discussion this week because it was her great-grandfathers book. A book that she knew every single word… because she knew the words of all of the books.

 

“I have work to do. Also have to do some research for about the line of cookware. I really think that this channel will be successful. The earlier we get in on the game with research and development, the better chance we will have when you start churning out content. If it were a perfect world, I have the line out already so you could cook with it in the videos.”

 

 Xander pressed a kiss to the bridge of her nose after he spoke.

 

“Baby you're so business savvy. It’s really sexy Mr. Kiriakis.” Chanel smiled wide as she traced her finger down his arm.

 

“Just doing my job Mrs. Kiriakis.” Xander chuckled as he spoke.

 

“Won’t the research and development be a lot of money if we do it independently? Lani won’t have enough to commit and I don’t have any problem using our money but baby wouldn't the R&D be expensive and then we would need the materials and for it to be made and people to make it. That’s not even counting well we would need from marketing, it's a lot.” Chanel knew that Xander was ambitious… she was ambitious too but maybe they were going about this too soon before they even started.

 

Xander could completely respect where she was coming from… this wasn’t something that he didn’t think about when he started thinking about this being viable. He was doing the research and getting the ball rolling. She wasn’t wrong that this would be an expensive venture if they did it alone.

 

But there were benefits in doing it alone they didn't have to split their profits. It would be costlier to go about it alone, but he believed that they would be successful. He didn’t care if it took longer to do it independently he would. It was better for them to not be beholden to any potential partners. He never wanted there to be anything that distracted his wife from her primary focus and that was her channel. He knew there was a high probability that if they made commitments to a big company that already had market share, that it would probably become something that his wife didn’t want to do anymore. He didn’t want anyone to exploit his wife like she had been before.

 

“Do you trust me?” Xander didn’t care about anything else except her answer.

 

“Always baby. Always.”

 

Chanel looked down so she could find his hand. She took it within hers and intertwined their fingers.

 

Xander picked up their hands and brought it to his lips and kissed hers as he looked her in the eye.

 

Chanel smiled when he did that. She never wanted him to feel like she didn’t trust him or didn't believe in him.

 

“That’s all I need. I’ll figure out the rest.”

 

Chanel nodded and kissed him again, she brought his hand to her breast. Even through the thin satin of her nighty, his hand was so warm.

 

Xander watched as her eyes fluttered closed.

 

He slipped off the spaghetti straps of her nightdress down her shoulders. Her breasts were free and they were all his.

 

He kissed her breasts before slipping a nipple in his mouth. He teased the other with his fingers.

 

They had things to do today but Xander took time to make his wife feel good.

 

It took him about an hour, but he wore her out. She was lying on her stomach and he kissed her from the base of her spine all the way to the back of her neck. He could feel her shudder when he took a little bite in that sensitive place that always made her weak.

 

Chanel was still trying to recover from everything Xander did to her. When she got up from the bed, she opened her eyes and saw him staring at her. She could feel herself blushing again and she rushed herself to the bathroom.

 

She did have to get ready for the day, she needed to figure out what she was going to wear for book club.

 

Since the theme was modern German, she wasn’t going to have any trouble figuring out what kind of clothes to wear.

 

When Chanel got out of the shower and headed for their closet, Xander took his turn and got ready for the day.

 

He had a lot to do and he really couldn't skip out on work. He had his own company to run and get the paperwork started on incorporating Chanel and Lani’s company. They had decided on a name.

 

They wanted it to be called Price von Bruckner. He thought it was smart and concise. Something to the point and when they started marketing products, it wasn’t something that would ever look silly.

 

After he finished his shower, he went into the closet as well. It didn’t take much for him to get dressed.

 

He saw her at her vanity putting her makeup on.

 

 Chanel could see him watching her through the mirror.

 

“Do you want me to drop you off at book club or do you want to go yourself?” It was easier for Xander to know this now so he could plan his day.

 

“I would like for you to take me.” Chanel stopped doing her makeup for a second and just looked at him through the mirror and smiled coquettishly.

 

He rolled his eyes but smiled right back at her.

 

“Alright. I know you’re going to eat there but I’m going to make us some breakfast… I’ll keep yours light, is there anything you had in mind?”

 

“Now that I’m thinking about it, I want fruit salad and toast.” Chanel didn’t know where it came from but she had an urge to have strawberries and pineapple with apple slices.

 

Xander started laughing because it was a very particular request.

 

“Basically you're saying that you're giving me a task that I can’t really fuck up.”

 

“Baby, you could burn the toast and I would take a knife and scrape the burnt parts and still eat it.”

 

“Mo ghràdh!”  (my love)

 

Xander made his way over to her and kissed her shoulder and left.

 

After they ate their breakfast, they got in the car and made their way over to the mansion.

 

Xander walked her all the way to the study and gave her a kiss goodbye. When she got into the room she was met with the familiar faces.

 

“What's got you so happy? And you didn’t bring your trusty notebook… color me shocked. I never thought I would see the day.” Andrea had joined their book club about a week after Ciara did.

 

Ever since it's been four people in book club instead of just Chanel and Victor. Chanel knew that deep down inside Victor absolutely loved it. He became one of the most popular people in Salem in her mind.

 

He definitely had the company of the most interesting people in the most boring of towns.

 

“I hope you guys came to debate because I don’t need my notebook for this book. I know it cover to cover.” Chanel said as she walked to her regular seat.

 

They had a long discussion about the book and the characters. Every time someone said something it made another person open their eyes to something they hadn't seen before in the book.

 

They were still having a discussion 2 hours later when Xander came back. He didn't want to interrupt his wife, normally he would have waited for a text, but he just thought to himself that they would have been done by now. He just stood in the back. He knew what book they were reading, it made him laugh because no one was going to have more of a succinct understanding of the book than her.

 

“This book reminded me a little bit of The Count of Monte Cristo a little bit. Not so much in plot but of Ulises getting his revenge against Napoleon.” Andrea was so transfixed when she read this book, she actually stayed up in her bed and read it. It took her only two days which she found to be fascinating because she hardly ever was so engrossed by a book where she couldn’t stop. The only reason she did was because she had to get up for work the next day.

 

“Yeah, I totally dig him… but can we talk about Melia? They are so bad ass but they are such distinct characters but she is a freaking renegade. I was really shocked at how the author was able to let her have such agency especially knowing that it came out in the 30s. He didn’t make her just a lover of Ulises. She was a leading character in this novel. She had just as much character building as Napoleon and Ulises is. I found that to be one of the most interesting parts of the book. Usually we know a little bit about other characters and how they will support either the protagonist or the antagonist. Obviously, she’s on Ulises’s side, but she also has her own motivations, her own goals. She’s not doing everything in service to him and I dig that so much.” Ciara loved the book.

 

The character is kind of reminded her of her parents. They loved each other deeply but Melia was so independent and wasn’t afraid to get into battles with anyone... Not even Ulises. This contrasted with a lot of books as she read from that era. She was so used to a lot of American books by men where women were just supporting characters to the men and were written as just wives and girlfriends or lovers or mistresses. It was refreshing for her to read something from yesteryear that was completely opposite from that.

 

“What do you think Chanel?” Victor knew that she had a lot to say.

 

She had been the most quiet of them all even though he knew that she knew so much about it. She had background knowledge that no one else had.

 

“You two are right mostly. The author’s intention is not to let Melia have agency just showcase it. He knows that it’s not his place to give her anything. Ulises knows just how powerful Melia can be. He has this respect for her that he holds above anyone else. He knows that Melia is her own person. She loves him and she trusts him and vice versa. He knows that he can trust her with his life. And he knew that before she saved him. When the assassin comes and is ready to blow his ass away, Melia remembers where her dad told her, heart and head equals dead. He finds out why her neighbors call her bulleye in that moment. If there was any doubt for him before she shoots the assassin which I don’t think he did have any doubts, maybe the reader does for how much they love each other. That scene erases any doubt anyone could have. The gun is the most prized possession she has because that’s the only thing of her father that she has left in the world. The fact that she uses it with no hesitation shows that she is ruthless when she needs to be. It’s very rare that an author lets a woman be ruthless without giving her some kind of malady. Usually she is seen as crazy or man hungry or some other sexist trope from back then… hell even now. Von Bruckner is very careful on how he wants Melia to be seen. He wants her to be seen as just as powerful as Ulises, and just as worthy as being invested in a character. He wants the reader to root for Melia always. But it's not to say that she doesn't make mistakes. He writes her as a human being, we are all fallible and he wants that to be showcased at all times even more so than Ulises because everyone knows that he's going to be loved. He is the hero of the story. But he wants the most importantly for the reader to understand that Melia is just as worthy of being a hero.”

 

“She definitely is. The one thing that made me so mad, I get it because it’s high stakes and Napoleon is coming for anyone who says anything remotely negative about him. But I detested when she got arrested, even though I knew it was going to happen and I knew she was going to be caught it made my stomach hurt so badly.” Andrea had read that part at 3:00 o’clock in the morning and she couldn’t even go to sleep after it.

 

“Yeah, it made me upset too. I was always rooting for them to never get caught even though I knew that it would happen. Ulises tells her it’s going to be the wrong move with heightening her whisper campaign would become dangerous and she does it anyway. I was glad that she was able to make her own choice even though it wasn’t the right one, but she more than made up for it when she had her soliloquy. The ‘I am you’ speech made me cry. She had always been planting the seeds of doubt within the people in the village and the soldiers, you could see that she is smart and sly and goes about it in such an innocent manner. But that moment was everything, it was my favorite part of the book.  So now I completely see what you’re talking about where the reader has to root for her. And you think so much about her and Ulises because they have most of the focus in the book. But when she goes on about saying I am the same as you and elevates women to suffer right alongside the men if not more. She has this way of attacking without striking. When she says I go hungry like you to the soldier she knew growing up in the same village, I felt like it was just as powerful as her shooting the assassin. I knew when I read it that she had him. When she added there is someone who is like me in your life whether it's your mother, sister, daughter or just neighbor. She was electric, it was like I could hear her voice even though I have no clue what she would sound like. The soliloquy is the defining moment where you see that she can orate just as well as Ulises and Napoleon. She used emotional manipulation but she used it in the right way. When the soldier opened her cell and let her out, I rejoiced. All I kept wishing was that Ulises knows that she has been freed so he doesn’t go John McClane and try to rescue her. It also made me hopeful that the soldiers would turn against Napoleon.” Ciara knew that this would be a book that she read again and again.

 

“It is one of the best parts of the book, isn’t it? You’re right she does make mistakes and they were necessary ones by the author. It was to reinforce that Melia will always have her agency at all times. She will do what she feels is right in that moment even if it’s wrong. She doesn’t go about any decision lightly, she always displays her intelligence with everything she does. That’s why she’s able to rally people just as well Ulises and Napoleon does, but she does it through completely different means. She knows what it’s like to be a woman of her time she has to know when to display her strength and intelligence... She knows that she has to do things differently because she won't be seen the same. That’s why she knows she has to be cunning at all times. There's only a couple of times where Ulises truly gets angry with her and it’s not anger really directed towards her. It’s just to get her to see because sometimes they can get so in their head that they don’t see anything else. They need each other, they will always have each other’s backs and they know even if they fight that they will always come together in the end because there's so much more that's important.”

 

“I did appreciate The Notebook style moment where she's like nothing matters more than our love.” Andrea thought it was a romantic moment that was well placed because the romance is very brief in the book even though you know that these characters are together even though no one else within the book does.

 

“It was a good moment wasn't it? But he fights her on that. Next time he sees her he tells her that she is the queen of his heart but there is something that matters more than their love… the future. At first glance or the first read, you probably think that he’s talking about them staying alive or the village staying alive and minimizing the lives lost. The future he’s talking about is their child. When she tells him if they can only have one night, they obviously do have their night and they don't see each other for long while. The next time she sees him, she tells him that they have a future and she holds her stomach when she does. Every time they refer to the future, they say the future is safe. They must secure the future.” The surprise that Chanel got when she explained Made her smile.

 

“You mean to tell me that this whole time they were talking about a child? I know that they had a child and she’s in hiding, but I never made that conclusion. I have read this book more times than your ages put together.” Victor was smiling wide at this revelation.

 

“It's why he challenges her declaration. Alexandra has to be what matters most. They want the best for their village because they live within it, but they have to fight because Alexandra is everything. She cannot come back if it is not safe. It will never be safe if Napoleon is in power. If he ever connects the dots that Alexandra is the daughter of Ulises, she is as good as dead. He has sent an assassin, the best he’s ever had and they wind up dead. He keeps putting bounties and no one will turn Ulises in. If they ever want to be a family or just even have their child be alive, they must defeat Napoleon. Things are unsettled at the end, Melia is out and Ulises is able to intercept a message telling him to not come. They always speak in code, a code that no one else knows. They never call Alexandra by her name, it’s too dangerous to do so even if they have the confidence that no one will ever sell them out. It’s a stalemate for Napoleon and Ulises. Neither of them have won, but neither of them have truly lost. It’s frustrating but also indicative of how real situations like this can be. People hate stalemates but they occur more often than winners and losers. You can have an official winner and an official loser but there's so many treaties out there that are just there to end a war, the casualties on both sides shows that there is no true winner only losers in the battle.” Chanel always had fun seeing how people can come to the conclusions that they do about this book.

 

“That's so frustrating. Many books do end like this but the fact that I know there’s another book after this and four in general and makes me want to know even more. I want to know what happens.” Victor balls his hand into a fist.

 

He has had yet to find anything about the other books. He sent his people to Amsterdam and no one has heard anything about anything related to von Bruckner ever having more than one book.

 

Xander had a wide smile on his face because he knew where the books were. He liked being in on the secret with his wife. The fact that it made his uncle want to know so badly, only made it that much more satisfying that he knew something that Victor Kiriakis didn’t.

 

They talked for a little while longer.

 

Andrea was the first to go because she had the night shift at the hotel.

 

It was just the four of them now, but Chanel had no clue that Xander came in.

 

“Chanel… I was hoping I could talk to you before you left…” Ciara had been meaning to talk to her for the last couple of days but she thought it would have been easiest to do it after book club.

 

“Sure Cici, that’s no problem. I just need to text Xander really quickly –” Chanel was interrupted by a familiar voice.

 

“There is no need darling. I’ve been here for quite a bit of time. I figured your book club would have ended, but here I am. Pleasant to witness though. I love von Bruckner.” Xander let his words hang in the air, only Chanel would get what he meant.

 

Chanel just looked at him and her heart raced. He was talking about her and all she wanted to do was go and be with him, but she remembered that Ciara asked to speak to her.

 

“You read von Bruckner?” Victor found it very hard to believe.

 

“I won’t keep her forever, we just need to have a girl chat.” Ciara didn’t wait for Xander to say anything.

 

She was pulling Chanel by the wrist and leaving the room. She took Chanel to her bedroom so they could speak privately. She really needed advice and hoped her friend could help.

Chapter Text

It was just Victor and Xander left in the study.

 

“Pleasure to see you Uncle Vic…” Xander sat down and ate from the remnants off his wife’s plate.

 

“You seem… perky as of late. I trust you are not acting idiotic or making a fool of yourself…” Victor really did want the best for everyone in his family, he just wished they weren’t so stupid in how they went about it.

 

“I’m not embarrassing the family name if that's what you're insinuating...”

 

“Yes, I’ve been checking the arrest records. I see that you have your own company, you are not using any illegal funds to do this right?”

 

“No. I would never put my wife in that situation.”

 

“You had better not. Chanel gives you pedigree.”

 

“I finally got what you meant. In the moment I was upset, I was thinking too impulsively to actually understand what you were saying. Chanel is my champion. I don’t take her for granted, I love her, and I do right by her. I know that’s hard to believe because of my past.”

 

“It's not all on you. As much as I don’t like to admit it, I had a hand in how you turned out. But believe me when I tell you that I don’t want you to revert, because I don’t truly believe that is what you want. I dealt you a hand and you made the best of it. You evolved it and made it into your own, but I kept you in the illegitimate part, I couldn’t be surprised when you did illegal things.”

 

“Are you apologizing to me?” Xander was confused because Victor Kiriakis didn’t apologize to anyone.

 

“If you want to take it as that… I betrayed my brother by pushing you down a road that is hard to get out of once you start. But you found a way out. Just don't hurt her.” Somewhere deep down in Victor felt like Chanel shouldn't have her heart broken. He didn't know how to explain it, it was just something about her.

 

She was a lot like Melia from the book. She was clearly underestimated by plenty of people even by him in the beginning. He knows how sly she can be… He also sees the intelligence that she displays and a fierceness that is completely fearless. She has restraint and can be ruthless when needed. he can tell that she has a strength within her that almost seems kin to Melia. It's probably why he likes her so much because Melia is one of his favorite characters in all of literature, not just this book. He knows that she somehow sees that he wanted company and they both knew that he was too proud to ever admit it. He did like being around young people because it made him feel younger in a way. The book club is something that is accessible for him... It's his arena and it's something that he loves. He looks forward to every Monday and Wednesday. He has fun... which he can't say he's done in quite some time. He's always waiting for the next shoe to drop in his family because they all have a penchant for creating disasters. He likes not having to be Victor the taskmaster all the time. He knows that she sees people and not just look at them.

 

“You care for my wife? You don’t care for any of the spouses of the family…”

 

“That's a very true statement. Chanel is different, she actually spends time with me.  Do you think anyone else is trying to spend time with me? She is a writer and I’m an avid reader, the fact that she trusts me with her manuscript says a lot. I edit for her and for a writer to do something like that is something not to be taken for granted. Her writing is not amateurish either. She has a command for it. I know that I am who I am. She’s not intimidated by me, any insult about you she's cursing my name. I don’t just care about her, I am invested in her, I love her… Don’t hurt her Xander.” Victor was stern in his warning. He would not be cryptic about this.

 

“I would never dream about hurting her. She means everything to me. I would do anything for her and to protect her.”

 

“Good. I’m glad we’re on the same page because it wouldn't be in your best interest for us not to be.”

 

Having his uncle threaten him about hurting his wife made him appreciative. It wasn't like he liked being threatened ever, he really couldn't go against his uncle and he had no urge to. He just loved that there were people who loved his wife, she is so deserving of love that comes with protection.

 

As Victor and Xander speak, Ciara takes Chanel to her room and wants to talk.

 

“So what's going on with you?” Chanel knew that it had to be somewhat serious because Ciara locked her door.

 

“It's just everything is so much. I don't even know if I should say it... I don't want to feel stupid.” Ciara has been battling if she should tell anyone about it. It's one thing to talk to your therapist about things but it's another thing to talk to your friends about it.

 

“Ciara... Nothing that you say to me will ever make me think that you are stupid. Obviously, what you're going through is a lot. Life is hitting you like a ton of bricks right now and you are just trying to survive. You are my friend and I want to help you. If that means listening to you... Of course I will. Your feelings are valid, and you are always entitled to them.” Chanel knew what it was like to be lost, she had good people in her life and sometimes that just added to the guilt.

 

She didn't want Ciara to have to feel like she was in any way inadequate.

 

Ciara started to cry and was embarrassed when she did. She wanted to be strong and deal with everything going on in her life, but it just always felt like so much and she was drowning. The only break she really felt like she had was when she was with her friends. It was like having a nice escape from the pitying looks of people around her. She was thankful that her grandfather was one of the only people who treated her the same. He never pitied her... It was one of the only times she didn't feel embarrassed that she couldn't remember her own life.

 

Ciara sat at her desk while Chanel sat on her bed. She clasped her hands together because it was going to be one of the only ways for her hands not to shake.

 

“You have no clue what those words mean to me. Like meeting you has been kind of a turning point for me. You know we just vibed and hit it off. it's been so amazing to just hang out and not feel this weight on my shoulders. You're like my best friend which is crazy because we haven't really known each other that long but being with you, Andrea and Dani via FaceTime is something I didn't know that I needed. I love you guys so much because it came out of really important time for me. I have my sister and I have my brother and they're great, but they have their own lives and I just feel guilty trying to lean on them with how busy they are, so I keep it in. I also don't want to talk about it because… I don't know why. I always feel all over the place but when I'm with you guys, I don't feel that way. I don't have these expectations of will she remember now? It's so freeing not to have those expectations. I always try to be tough and strong because both of my parents were like that... you've obviously met my grandpa. It's just so hard and you guys make it less hard.” Ciara hoped that she made sense. She felt like she was talking all over the place because she felt all over the place.

 

“I get you. We're fucking squad... There's a safety in friendship and with time… trust. I completely get not wanting to be pitied. I obviously haven't gone through the ordeals that you have. And it's a lot... You’ve had several traumatic events and I get why it is so complicated and difficult for you. On top of that all of these expectations from people in your life. When my dad died... I couldn't think about the future. My dad was a builder, so was my grandmother. They were always talking about planning for the future and contingencies if anything went wrong. Like they had contingencies for contingencies no joke. I was always thinking about the future because I was raised that way... A lot of terrible things happened to my family and they always had plans because the one time they didn’t there was hell to pay and I did that too. It completely changed with my dad's passing. I didn't know how to think about down the line anymore. Things felt hopeless and bleak. When it happened my sister stayed with me the first couple of nights. I couldn't sleep and when I did, I could only sleep for a couple of hours at a time. It was just this recurring nightmare of thinking that my dad had died and then I wake up and then I remember that it's not a dream it's reality. She told me that if I can't do the day by day... then I have to do hour by hour until I can build back up again. When she said that I was transported back to being a kid. That was something my grandmother used to say, if she would get really sad and couldn't think about the future, she would go hour by hour, then day by day, then week by week, then month by month. There is no right or wrong timeline. We have to do everything that's right for us at the time with the options we have. She was very realistic, it taught me that shitty things happen and most of the time we're not going to be ready for it, but we build back up again. It doesn't have to be alone... obviously the people in your life want what's best for you because they love you. Sometimes it can feel stifling because it may feel like pressure. I felt the same way and I ran away. I want you to know that I'm here to support you. You easily become one of my besties too... real recognizes real you know... Obviously, Dani is always going to be #1 because she's always been my ride or die since forever, but Ciara you are special and a fucking riot. I love hanging out with you because it's guaranteed laughter... fun times and I wouldn't trade that for the world. You make this boring ass town more interesting.”

 

They both chuckled when Chanel said the town was boring.

 

“Thanks for the advice I think I need to do some of that. I’m glad I have bestie status! It's so shocking me how unimpressed you are by Salem. I really long being a friend and having friends again. It's really important for me right now because my best friend Claire, she's not so best.”

 

“Hold up... Claire... I figured you were related to her because you have the same last name but she's your best friend?! I can't stand her.”

 

“You know Claire?!” They've been hanging out for a while now and Ciara had no clue that Chanel had any interactions with Claire.

 

“Yes, unfortunately so. When I first came to town... I had drinks with her and Tripp and I kind of stiffed them with the bill and she went bezerk. Granted I was doing bitchy behavior, some of it because my mom cut me off... some of it was because Claire was telling me everybody's business. And I thought it would be fun to let this busybody get stuck with the bill. Anyways long story short my mom found us and paid the bill, but she still won't let it go. Which I'm very like what the fuck about because she's so judgy and I don't get why because she is a fucking pyromaniac?! Like that’s like comparing apples to a jackhammer. She won't let it go even though it's been a while now and she always finds some way to try and get a dig in, but I know it makes her mad that I'm always ready for her ass. She just reminds me of shallow bitches who think that they know it all but can’t buy a clue.” Chanel didn't see Claire around town much and could go about her life just fine.

 

“Well she definitely has that tendency. You really tried to stiff them with the bill... I know it happened before you even knew me, but I dig it. They are persona non grata to me right now so fuck them.” It made Ciara laugh to hear the two people she was trying to get away from the night of her bike ride almost got stiffed with the bill. She just wished that Chanel succeeded.

 

“Sometimes I just wanna slap her. I wouldn't give her the satisfaction though. She always has a lot to say but I'm like honey it's a glass house that you're living in.”

 

“I can't disagree with you there but enough talking about her. I want to ask you something...”

 

“Go for it appeared you know you can ask me anything…”

 

“So obviously I don't have my memories from the last four years and there's this supposed serum that can help with that... maybe. I'm just really wondering if it's worth it. There could be side effects that could affect my health, it may not even work, and I can be stuck with health issues and it's scary to think about. I'm in therapy and it's okay for now but it's still been really hard for me trying to remember because when I do I remember really bad shit is happening and it gives me nightmares. But then I have the image of me in a wedding dress. I look happy with Ben and I never thought I would have something like that after what Chase did to me. But I'm also afraid of the person I was... What kind of person was I to let a convicted serial killer date and marry me? My grandpa told me that everyone in my family tried to warn me off of Ben and I didn't listen, and I can totally believe that because I wouldn't back down from something like that. I probably had it in my head that it was some forbidden romance like my parents because my dad was a bit of a troublemaker and my grandparents initially didn't want him to be with my mom. I could see how I could find that to be attractive, they had a love of a lifetime and I wanted that. But I don't know how to reconcile the things that he's done... Even if he has changed, I still feel afraid. My forearms get sweaty, and my heart rate picks up and it feels like I might have a panic attack. And sometimes I have these fleeting seconds of calm around him, but I have this wave of fear that makes me feel horrible. So bad that I think I might throw up, it literally makes me sick to my stomach. Like I don't mean this to be in any way offensive but then I look at you and Xander. He's done really fucked up things and I see the kind of love that you guys have for each other, I see that it's possible to love someone who has done horrible things. And I find myself saying maybe I can, I just can't stop the fear and I think to myself what happens if he really was this great love of mine you know? I wonder to myself does he make me feel beautiful and loved... these are things that I never thought I would ever be able to have. I didn't think I could get to that next step, but I did and he's obsessive right now and from what my brother tells me I guess I can kind of understand it... I just feel so all over the place because I go back and forth. I want to be loved like that you know. I want to be able to move on from that bad chapter in my life, I want to feel beautiful to someone in the romantic sense, but it just seems so daunting with how much I have to go through just to get there.” Ciara couldn't hold back her tears because it was just so much to unpack.

 

She really wished that she did have her memories back, she wishes that it wasn't four years later. She is reliving a time where she felt stuck and she finally tried to venture out and date someone and she was betrayed by people she trusted. Even though she can't remember the last four years she hates that she has to relive all of this BS.

 

Chanel felt like her heart was breaking for her friend. She got up and she went to Ciara and hugged her. Her friend was hurting and there was absolutely nothing as she could do about it. The only real thing that she could do was just listen. Make her friend feel like she's being heard and not pressuring her to do one thing or the other.

 

“I feel for you. What you're going through is unimaginable and hellish. There's no right or wrong. I don't know what to tell you because this is something I just don't know how to navigate. All I can do is make sure that you know that I love you and I am here for you. You can text me or call me anytime and I will be right over always. If you want to play video games, we can do that even though I'm really not good at it or talk shit, that's something I'm really good at. I've got your back and whatever you choose I will support you 100%.”

 

“What would you do? If you were in my place... Would you take the serum?” Ciara wanted to know what Chanel really thought about that.

 

“I don't know. It's very different for us because Xander hasn't killed anyone who's related to me. But knowing how I love him, I would never want to forget him. I'm in the best place of my life since I lost my dad. It's been a long time since I've allowed myself to have sustained happiness. A lot of that is because of Xander. It doesn't feel like a punishment to be happy, he's helped me unburden my heart... His love takes away a lot of the guilt. He saved me in a way that you will never know because it's not your journey... If I lost four years of my life, I would be the girl that was running and trying to push down the pain like I could just bury it. I would hope that he could convince me to want to remember and it would be very difficult because I would have to live with the trauma of my dad dying when it was more fresh. But it's worth it... The pain and heartache is worth the love that he gives me. And he gives him more than love… he gives me laughs, he gives me companionship, he gives me annoyance. I know what it's like to feel alive again and that's a feeling that I never want to give up. I can't make any choices for you, whatever you choose it's not going to be easy. And I don't want you to do it for anyone else. You have to remember for you. Because you're the one who's going to have to do the heavy lifting. Ben might be your husband, but you have to want this for you. You have to choose you. Xander might be my love but I had to choose to love him. I had to take that leap and it was scary. It was the scariest thing to me because I thought I wasn't worthy of it, but that was my doubt and my insecurities and my trauma that I had to get through. His love is the most powerful thing I have ever felt, and I have been through a lot and I know the depth of emotion that I can feel and still his love the greatest of them. He's worth it to me... If something like this ever happened to me, I would hope that he could make me understand that our love is worth it. And if this happened to him, I know that I would go to the ends of the world to make him remember us, but only if that's what he wanted to do. Even though it is my biggest fear to be forgotten, I would never want to take his autonomy away. I would never want our love to be forgotten because it's just way too important, but it would hurt me too much to not give him what he needs in that moment. He would be confused because he's missing a big chunk of his life and it’s scary. I don't want to add to that scariness by telling him that he needs to do something that he may not be ready for. These choices are not easy ones. They are monumental. Don't choose something because it's what I would do... Only do it if your heart tells you that is the right choice. If you are afraid of the choice you want to have then we can talk about it.” Chanel got so emotional. She felt like her emotions were just magnified, she couldn’t explain the phenomena surging through her body.

 

Ciara just sobbed in Chanel's arms... Chanel let her. Chanel was sobbing herself because she may have a nervous breakdown if Xander were to forget her. She loves him with everything she has, and it would kill her to want to give everything she has to someone who didn't want it or couldn't remember wanting it but that was just her perspective. She would also want Xander to remember because he was worthy of knowing his own memories. She wouldn't push him if he didn't want to because it was his right and she would have to respect it.

 

“You've given me so much to think about. Even though it's reduced me to tears, this was a really good conversation for me to have. You've given me a lot of nuance and perspective. I just need to collect myself before we go back out.” Ciara got up and went to the bathroom so she could get some Kleenex.

 

She got some for both her and Chanel. After they freshen themselves up, they went downstairs and went back to the study.

 

“I told you I wouldn't keep her too long.” Ciara said in a cheerful tone.

 

She didn't want her grandpa knowing that she had been crying.

 

“No skin off my back. Darling you ready to go?” Xander got up and went over to his wife.

 

“Yeah. I'm ready.” Chanel looked at Ciara. When her friend just gave her a nod, she felt more comfortable that she could leave. It was weird but Chanel felt her stomach getting a little queasy. She could smell fish, it was so sharp and pungent for her which was weird because she liked fish normally. It was on the far side of the room with a food cover on top, but she could smell it like it was right next to her. She remembered earlier Agnes telling Victor that his meal would be delayed because the fish he requested had not arrived yet. Chanel wanted to get out of the room before she threw up. “I'll be seeing you two soon.” Chanel placed her hand on Xander's forearm.

 

“As always Uncle Vic it's been a pleasure. I'll be seeing you, Ciara.” Xander said as he started walking.

 

They walked to the car in silence. It wasn't awkward or intentional, they just didn't have anything to say.

 

After Xander helped her get in and went to his side, he looked at his wife. Something was different... Her eyes were puffy like she had been crying and he didn't like that.

 

“Chanel...”

 

“Yes baby.” When Chanel said it, her voice came out like a croak.

 

It alerted Xander that she indeed had been crying.

 

“Look at me.”

 

Chanel turned her head towards her husband.

 

He reached over and touched her chin with his finger and kissed her. He could feel her sadness in the kiss it was intense. It made him worry.

 

“What's wrong?”

 

When she heard her husband's question, tears started leaking from her face.

 

“I can't tell you everything because it was told to me in confidence. It’s just Ciara is going through a really hard time and as we were talking... as difficult as it was, she asked me what I would do if I was in her place. And it broke my heart because I don't ever want you to forget me, and I don't wanna ever forget you. It would be horrific. I love you so much. You make me feel worthy of love. You know the depths of me and you don't I find them to be unattractive and it was a scary question to think of myself four years ago. I told her that I would hope that you were able to make me want to remember because that was really painful times in my life. I thought what it would be like if it were you and you lost your memories of us. I would fight like hell to make you want to remember but I would never force you to do that if it wasn't something you wanted. I never want to take your choice away, my biggest fear is being forgotten... but when Ciara asked me that question... I had a bigger fear. One that I didn't have until that moment, I would never want you to feel like I was taking your choice away from you. I love you for everything you are, and it would hurt if you said you didn't want to remember our time, but I would respect it because I always want your choice to feel like they matter and they are valued, they will with me. I will always respect that even if it hurts.”

 

Xander knew that they had to have talked about more... He was already in love with his wife, but she would find things to make him love her even more. He knows just how important it is for her not to be forgotten and she would place the love and respect that she has for him above that, and it makes his love go deeper. He would definitely respect her choices even if they hurt him because he loves her if they were in this situation. He loves her so much that it hurts him that she's crying.

 

“You don't have to worry about that. Even if we were to ever get into some freak accident... You have my heart. I would wake up in that hospital bed take one look at you and wonder why this insanely beautiful woman is looking at me with such devotion. I would always want to remember what I have with you. I love you and I will always love you, even if I were to forget your name or have no memories of you, you have my heart, and it will always come back to you. But our reality is we're not them. Let's not let ourselves get into thinking like that. It will distract us from what we do have. We love each other and we know it and that is what matters baby.” He popped another kiss on her lips.

 

They both kept their eyes open, it felt like they should.

 

“I know it's just I put myself in her shoes just so I can understand so I could be able to talk to her and make her feel heard.”

 

“I know baby. I have an idea... how about we go away for little getaway?” Xander thought that a trip out of Salem could be a great way to cheer her up and to just have fun as a couple.

 

“I like the idea of that... It's just we can't do it on short notice, I have to go to my weekly lunch with my mom tomorrow and it's too late to cancel. I also don't wanna hold you up for work because I know that you've been doing working double because of me and Lani.”

 

“I don’t have a problem doing that. I never will... It makes you happy and that is the only thing that is important to me. Your happiness means more to me then my job. I can always take my computer with us and do work remotely. So I don't want you to feel guilty, I'm the person who brought the trip up in the first place. Even if it were you to do it, I'm usually going to say yes. If I'm with you, I'm guaranteed to have a good time.” Xander smirked and he could witness the telltale signs of her blushing.

 

“OK. I want to choose the place...”

 

“Where do you want to go?”

 

“Let's go to New York. I haven't been there in years and I always have a good time there and I would love to have a good time there with you.” Chanel bopped him on the nose with her finger.

 

It made Xander smile to see his wife being more carefree again.

 

“Then we'll go to New York after your lunch. How does that sound?” He said as he kissed her again.

 

“Like a plan. I just have to be back by Monday because of sudoku club. Your uncle won't accept me cancelling unless it's some kind of emergency. Andrea is gunning for my co-president position and I would never give anyone the satisfaction.” Chanel was excited... this would be their first trip as a couple. She needed to calm down though because her stomach was still queasy. She didn’t want to over-excite herself and possibly make it worse.

 

She thought about it and they never had a honeymoon, this trip was going to be the closest thing to it.

 

“I would never want to jeopardize your tenure. I'll make sure we're back by Sunday.” Xander kissed her one more time before he started the car.

 

There was something else that was different about her, but he couldn't put his finger on it. His gut was telling him he was missing something. It was more of a feeling, but he decided to just focus on their trip for the time being.

Chapter Text

“So what are we wagering this week?” Lani hoped that it was going to be something good.

 

“How about whoever is the loser has to do the prep work for the next time we have all four of us eating...” Chanel remembered that a game was coming up and it meant that Eli and Lani were going to come over.

 

“That sounds fair. So how many bottles do you think that they're going to have this week?” Lani enjoyed their betting.

 

It was something that they started after their first encounter with the crazy twosome that were Paulina and Marlena. She was actually glad that her mother wasn't here because she didn't need a trifecta. They longed stop being embarrassed after the second Price Day lunch.

 

They've become regulars here and it was something to be expected by the waitstaff as well as Lani and Chanel.

 

“So… I'm going to shoot for four bottles between the both of them. I'm pretty sure that they are going to completely demolished two wine bottles each.” Chanel had been doing her homework.

 

She had been analyzing every single week of how much they were able to clear amongst the two of them.

 

“Damn, I was hoping you weren’t going to say 4 because that was going to be my answer. I gotta go for three then.” Lani knew that she should have made her wager first.

 

She gave Chanel the opening that she needed to set the stage for an over an under.

 

“It's only your fault. So what's the progress on the house?” Chanel was a little surprised at Lani and Eli haven't moved in yet.

 

They were doing renovations, but she didn't think that it was going to take this long.

 

“I think the interior designer said two more weeks. Girl it’s not even me. I have already told the interior designer what I wanted. Also thank you again for referring her. It's all Eli. If you tell that man that he doesn't have to pay for it and he can do whatever he wants... let me tell you… He is legit making a man cave and he's designing it with Xander. It's absolutely ridiculous but it makes him happy, so it is what it is. At least he submitted it to the interior designer and she’s making it happen. I would have loved to move in by now... but at least when it's ready it's going to be amazing which is what I'm most happy about.” Lani did not know that Eli was going to be so hands on when they got the okay from Auntie P.

 

“It's so funny that they're always calling us extra and this is what they do. Xander said he didn't care what I did to the house for the most part, but he went nuts when it came to his office and the den. I was like okay... It's your space you do whatever you want with it and he was so particular, I was surprised but not at the same time.”

 

“I had better not hear anything out of his mouth again. Him going back and forth is the whole reason we are not even in the house now. He can't settle his mind yet, I better not get any shit from him. But I'm very excited. It's going to be my first time living in a house on my own and it’s all mine. I was thinking of having a game night as my housewarming party. I want it to be small, but I want it to be fun.” Lani was excited at the prospect of moving in.

 

Ever since they chose a house it has been her wish to actually move in. The apartment was fine, but she wanted to move on. This felt like the next chapter in her life and she was ready for it.

 

“I think that's a great idea. It's unique... We definitely know that we'll have fun because we always have fun at game night. I can't wait to beat everybody’s ass. Before I forget I won’t be going to Pilates on Saturday.” Chanel didn't bother hiding her competitive spirit.

 

“Why? It can't be because you're sick because we just came from Pilates.” Lani loved their routine, she was with Chanel most of the time even if Chanel had her clubs. But her definite days were always Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.

 

It had been important to them to be together especially with Lani's kids. Lani didn’t let the kids out of her sight. They had decided that they should try the Gabonese way of raising kids. Their grandmother raised them together. They were carrying on their tradition and living up to their name, Chanel helped Lani take care of their kids like a typical Fang woman would.

 

Chanel had been feeling a little off lately. She was starting to think that she was coming down with a cold. She was nauseous yesterday... It wasn't bad today, but she was still trying to take it easy. She's been drinking ginger ale and water with every meal just in case.

 

“No. Nothing like that... Xander and I are just going to go away for the weekend. We're going to be back on Sunday.” Chanel realized that this would be the first time she was away from the kids ever since she came into town.

 

Chanel didn't give two damns about other people's kids, but she loved the kids in her family.

 

“Oh that's nice. I'm still going to miss you even if it's just for a weekend. I like our routine. I wonder if I should still go to Pilates on Saturday?” Lani went to Pilates because she actually liked doing it, but it wasn't something that she could afford to do on her own.

 

“Yeah, you should still go... If you can of course. I know is usually me looking after Jules and you looking after Carter awhile, we are in class, but I always pay up front for the month so you should go.” Chanel was happy to have private classes again. After admitting everything to Xander, they were able to be more free with expenses.

 

“I guess that's good, it’s not the same but I don't mind having a one-on-one class. I'm a little jealous that you got to go on a trip, and I'll be stuck here!” Lani wasn't ashamed to admit that she was emvious, she never even got a honeymoon. She'd love to go on a trip.

 

“Well why don't you go on a trip? Yeah, y’all don't go anywhere so I'm pretty sure Eli has time saved up...”

 

“Yeah, he does have a lot of pay time off and so do I but I'm on paid leave, so it doesn't matter about me. As much as we want to, we don't have extra with all of the kids’ expenses...”

 

“What you do have is a sister with a platinum Amex! You two could go away for a week and I can watch the kids. I'm with them most of the time anyways and if you miss them, we can FaceTime... it's not a big deal. It can be like a honeymoon and a push present combined.” If there was one thing Chanel could do, it was spend.

 

The best part about having the Amex was the huge discounts that you could get for booking flight and hotel using the card.

 

“Oma always said that we needed to take care of each other. So I'm going to let my sis take care of me! I don't even know where to go?!” Lani was beyond excited.

 

“Well let's use these phones and start making a list. And tell Eli he better take put in some PTO asap.”

 

“Let me tell him to do it now. Normally there's like a two week wait but it's been surprisingly quiet, so Eli has been doing patrol lately and it's not even needed to be honest because there's enough cops on patrol.” Lani would love to do this sooner rather than later. She wanted a vacation so bad.

 

The first thing she did was text Eli and let him know that he needed to take a week of PTO asap. She thought that he was going to ask questions but all he said was okay.

 

“Now let's get this search party started!”

 

Chanel and Lani kept talking and researching as they waited for the usual suspects to come.

 

Marlena had been in her office, she started doing work around where she had the least number of appointments on Thursdays because they were Price Day. She didn't want anything to interfere with her standing lunch. She had been having some much-needed fun time. Everything was so heavy in her family right now and it was just such a good escape to have regular lunches with Paulina and the Price girls. The only thing that would make it even better would be if Tammy was here, but beggars can't be choosers.

 

She started to get her stuff ready when her daughters came into her office. Of course they didn't knock because they were her daughters...

 

“Hey mom…” Belle was surprised to see her mom's stuff packed.

 

It was almost 2:00 o'clock in the afternoon. It was so early in the day she didn't expect her mom to be leaving. She started to think maybe her mom was getting sick.

 

“Hello sweetie. I'm very surprised to see you two together. I do love my girls getting along though. What brings you two by?” Marlena did not mean to sound abrupt she just had things to do and places to be.

 

“Belle and I have been talking and we just wanted to get over the hump. We thought it would be nice for us to have lunch together and the only thing that would make it better it was if you were to come...” Sami thought it would be the best idea to have her mother come with them.

 

Even though she and Belle decided two call a truce, it would be best if their mother was there as a buffer.

 

“Oh, I'm afraid I can't do that. I have plans...” Marlena thought it was cute for her daughters to be doing this, but she would have to do a rain check.

 

“Are you having lunch with dad?” Belle had just seen him, he didn't mention that he was going to have lunch with Marlena.

 

“No. It's Price Day!” Marlena thought it was a silly suggestion from Belle to think that she was going to have lunch with John on Price Day.

 

“What's Price Day? Is that some kind of special at the grocery store? You'd rather go to the grocery store then have lunch with your daughters?” Sami was mildly offended that her mother would rather complete her shopping list than have lunch with them.

 

“It's the best day of the week. I get to have lunch with one of my best friends from before you two were even born… I'm going to go see Paulina...” Marlena started to pick up her briefcase and her purse.

 

“She is Ms. Tamara’s sister, right?” Sami remembered Tamara from when she was a kid.

 

When they thought that John was Roman, she remembered her mom getting married and Tamara was the maid of honor.

 

“On the money Samantha Gene! You know if you two would like you could join... Honestly the more the merrier.” Marlena thought it would be two birds in one stone. Invite her girls to have lunch and not have to feel bad because she didn't know when she would be able to do the rain check because her schedule was pretty busy.

 

Belle and Sami looked at each other and thought to themselves why not? If there were more people, then there would be a less chance that they would fight with each other.

 

“Why not? We were hungry anyways.” Sami said as she pressed her hand to her stomach.

 

“That's just great! This is just marvelous. These lunches are so much fun I'm pretty sure you're going to have a great time... I always do. I’ll ride with whoever wants me.” Marlena was delighted at the idea of bringing her girls to lunch.

 

Marlena texted the address to the both of them, so they knew where to go. Belle told her it didn’t matter because she came with Sami. The three of them walked out of her office and went into Sami’s car.

 

When they got to the restaurant, Marlena bypassed the hostess after telling her hello... The whole staff already knew her from the frequent visits. She went to the usual table with Sami and Belle and saw the three Price women sitting there.

 

“I hope you ladies don't mind but I brought my daughters. They had invited me to lunch, but I had to turn them down since it's Price Day and I thought to myself why don't I just invite them to my lunch... is that okay?” Marlena thought it was a great idea, but she probably should have texted first now that she thought about it.

 

“Oh that's just a marvelous idea. The more Evans girls that come to a party... the better.” Paulina thought it was a great idea to bring more people into the fold.

 

She thought to herself if they were anything like Marlena then it was going to be nothing but a good time.

 

“That's just great. Sami and Belle you two already know Lani but you haven't met Chanel. She's Paulina's daughter, isn't she precious?!” Marlena exclaimed as she sat down right next to Paulina.

 

Sami and Belle followed suit.

 

“Hi Lani, it's a pleasure to meet you Chanel are you new in town?” Belle tried to make small talk to break the ice.

 

She knew Lani but she wasn't really close with her.

 

“Hey Belle... hey Sami.” Lani said as she sipped on her lemonade.

 

“Hi. I'm pleased to meet the both of you. Ms. Lena talks about you often. Yeah, I'm newish in town. I've just been wanting to live closer to Lani so here I am.”

 

Marlena and Paulina were having their own conversation. They saw their respective girls communicating with each other. It seemed pretty easy for them to get along and make small talk.

 

“Isn't this cute?! They're talking with each other.” Paulina was glad that everyone felt comfortable to talk to each other. There was nothing worse than awkward silences.

 

“I just love it. Did you do anything interesting since we've seen each other?” Marlena and Paulina had decided to have dinners once a week where it was just them.

 

Even though they liked having lunch on Thursdays, they did like their girl time to be private. Sometimes Lani and Chanel could be sticks in the mud.

 

“It's been the same old, same old, but I was at the mall with Chanel and Lani two days ago and I found the most amazing thing I've ever seen and I think you will love it!”

 

“Well don't keep me in suspense I want to know?! I also need a couple of drinks.” Marlena said as she took some of the appetizers and put it on her plate.

 

Paulina went into her bag and pulled out what she thought was the greatest invention.

 

“They are wine straws. They fit in a bottle of wine can you believe it?! You don't need a wine glass or even a cup anymore! I've bought you a pack too.” Paulina was so excited to show Marlena.

 

Chanel just looked on at her mother pulling out the wine straws. She rolled her eyes because her mom thought it was just the most amazing thing and she just thought her mother was nuts.

 

All of the ladies put in their order for their lunch and Marlena asked their server Shayla if whole wine bottles counted in the happy hour. When Shayla told her yes, she gave a sly look to Paulina and they laughed to each other.

 

Lani and Chanel looked at each other because their bet was starting now.

 

As they ate their food Sami was explaining to Chanel on some of her favorite spots in Salem when Chanel made the comment that the town was pretty boring.

 

So far Paulina and Marlena had only been sipping on gin and tonics, but it was game on when Shayla washed their wine straws and brought them some pinot grigio.

 

“You know what we should do?!” Marlena tended to be a little more audible than she was normally after she had a couple of drinks.

 

Sami and Belle looked at each other wondering why their mother was so loud if she was right next to Paulina.

 

“What?!” Paulina was hanging on Marlena’s every word. She was already probably going to say yes.

 

“Paulie remember when we used to go to those frat parties and do keg stands?!” Marlena was thinking about those golden years in college.

 

She was in her first year of medical school when Paulina was in her freshman year of college. It had been fun to still have a Price sister with her after Tammy got her undergrad and went off to do background work on tours.

 

“Lena, how could you think I could forget... We were the queens of the keg stands...” Paulina loved to toot her own horn. She didn't even really like beer, but she did like to win.

 

Sami and Belle were trying to figure out who this woman was because it was like their mother was another person. It could be believable that she would be Hattie except Paulina knew their mother from back in the day and was apparently corroborating that their mother was the main fixture at frat parties. It was such a hard thing to fathom for either of them.

 

“Yeah, we were pretty awesome. Still are in my book. We should do a wine stand... We're classier now...” Marlena was pumped!

 

“That sounds like so much fun. I wonder if we still have it. Let’s ask Shayla for another bottle of wine. Whoever finishes their bottle of wine first gets their next meal free at dinner next week.”

 

“I’ll be ordering the steak then because I am going to win Lena Evans.”

 

“You always were a good comedienne Paulie Price.” Marlena thought it was just a funny notion for Paulie to insinuate she would be losing.

 

Belle and Sami looked at each other than over to Lani and Chanel wondering how they were unfazed by what was going on. They just kept eating their food.

 

“Mom you can’t do a keg stand with wine?!” Sami was trying to put a stop to this madness before it started.

 

“She’s right Lena! Let’s see…” Paulina started looking around and saw a nice space of wall that they can prop themselves against while doing a handstand. “We can do handstands against the wall! I’m glad I wore pants today!”

 

“You always have the best ideas! Ooh Shayla is coming with our new bottles.” Marlena was thrilled to see her pinot grigio coming.

 

Both Paulina and Marlena got up and asked Shayla if she could referee them while they had a mini contest. The server was amused. For some reason they didn't have many people who came on Thursdays for lunch, so this table was her regular. They were the only table in the restaurant .She was always having fun with them every time they came in.

 

The Price and Evans ladies saw Paulina and Marlena do hand stands against the wall.

 

“This happens every week?! And you two just eat like this is normal? What do you do?” Belle wanted to know because this was something else.

 

“We do the only thing we can do...” Chanel let them be.

 

“Tip generously and in cash. Shayla has tuition… our embarrassment left the station a while ago. No one's going to tell Paulina Price and Marlena Evans what to do.” Lani learned the first time she saw them interact that she had no power. It was chaos meeting mayhem.

 

They all could hear Shayla saying on your mark, get set and go. The four of them watched as Paulina and Marlena sip the wine through the pink glittery wine straw in fascination.

 

Took about three minutes, but Paulina was the first to finish her bottle.

 

“I told you I would win.” Paulina said as she effortlessly got back upright.

 

“I know you cheated. You started drinking too early.” Marlena couldn't accept defeat because she was just so close. She had cleared out her wine only two seconds after Paulina.

 

“Still so sore when you lose to me. Some things never change… Ha! It's okay to lose. You should get used to it again because I'm not going anywhere.” Paulina knew there couldn't be much competition in this town.

 

“Whatever I demand a rematch.” Marlena said as they were walking back to their table.

 

“Well that rematch will have to be next week.” Chanel was not letting her mother have another bottle of wine. Especially trying to drink it upside down.

 

“She's right Lena. If I have another bottle, I may just get a hangover. Can't take the chance...”

 

“You mean you won't get a hangover after all you two drink…” Sami was laughing because they both cleared two wine bottles by themselves and exercised the happy hour specials with gusto.

                                                                                                                                                          

“Lena and you talk about me being a comedienne, your daughters are so funny. Us... hangovers. That's so cute.” Paulina let out a big laugh.

 

It made Marlena laugh so hard she belched so loudly, it scared both of her daughters.

 

“Did I do that?!” Marlena exclaimed in a nasally voice reminiscent of Steve Urkel. “I apologize… It seems I've had my limit.” Marlena kept laughing thinking about her belch.

 

Sami and Belle looked at each other again and couldn’t help but laugh. This was so ridiculously absurd you couldn’t help but laugh. Their mother is apparently a former party girl who can still hold her own.

 

“I’ve got to use the ladies room!” Paulina shot up because the drinks were finally having their due.

 

“Me too! Let’s jet… never accept a call collect…” Marlena said as she got up.

 

Sami was so caught off guard by her mother’s old reference to collect calls that the Sprite she had been drinking came out through her nose.

 

Belle laughed at her sister’s misfortune. It was very few times you could catch Sami Brady unaware.

 

Shayla came around and asked them if everything was okay. Lani said everything was perfect as always and asked for the check.

 

“You got me sis?” Lani asked Chanel.

 

“Always…” Chanel took out her wallet and pulled out her credit card and cash for the tip.

 

Sami and Belle could see that Chanel and Lani definitely didn’t joke about tipping generously. They thought they should do the same after witnessing what their mother gets up to on a Thursday.

 

“These are actually pretty fun! I’d love to come to another one. I thought it was going to be tea and crumpets to be honest.” Sami said as she started going into her bag.

 

Belle laughed because she thought the same thing.

 

Lani and Chanel looked at each other and laughed loudly.

 

“What’s so funny?!” Belle wanted to be in on the joke.

 

“Oh your mom definitely loves crumpets but not with tea.” Chanel uttered.

 

“Yeah, she butters her crumpets and then dunks into a glass of Bourbon and let it soak and then eat it.” Lani could remember the first time she saw her aunt and Marlena do it and mildly amused at their antics.

 

“What?!” Belle made a face.

 

“They are weird, but they’ve been weird forever together. We just let them be.” Chanel shrugged. She remembers the dumb shit she got to do with Dani and what made it so fun was who she got to do it with.

 

Marlena and Paulina came back to the table and sat down.

 

“Oooh the check is here! I’m so glad you two came to see me today. It’s been so fun to have you here!” Marlena felt like she could just burst.

 

“Yeah mom, for us too. Sami was telling Lani and Chanel about doing this again and I like the idea.” Belle couldn’t commit to every Thursday, but she thought it would be fun to do this every once and while when she didn’t have clients.

 

“Oh that would be so delightful.” Marlena smiled so wide that it made everyone at the table smile.

 

Sami and Belle thought to themselves about how much their mom gave to other people daily… it would be nice to make their mom happy by doing this.

 

“You two also do dinners too we can come to those too.” Sami said.

 

Lani and Chanel shook their heads no, but Sami and Belle didn’t understand why they were doing this.

 

“Oh. That’s okay… you’re not invited to Evans Day.” Marlena thought it was cute that her daughters wanted to hang with her on Monday evenings.

 

“What?! If it’s Price Day today and all of the Price ladies are here, why can’t we be invited Evans day if we are Evans?”

 

“Evans Day is for Marlena Evans’s best friends. You’re not up to snuff. Neither of you make the cut…” Marlena shrugged as she put her credit card into the receipt book.

 

Lani and Chanel looked down so they could laugh without feeling terrible.

 

“That was way harsh Lena.” Paulina giggled and stuck her index finger out.

 

Marlena pressed her index finger to Paulina’s and they both made hissing sounds.

 

“Old people can be so sweet.” Chanel tiled her head and looked both her mother and Ms. Lena up and down.

 

This made both Marlena and Paulina both speechless.

 

“Oooh! Now that’s a burn Nelly. Yas!” Lani gave her sister two snaps for that quick response.

 

Paulina and Marlena objected to being called old, but it was a good stinger to use Clueless references against them.

 

Sami was impressed with Chanel.

 

“That’s what I am talking about. Give me some!” Sami stuck her hand out for a high five.

 

“Yeah!” Belle stuck out her hand too.

 

The four of them gave high fives to each other.

 

“Maybe it wasn’t such a good idea to invite them. Now there’s more of them than us. Even if Tammy were here, we would still be outnumbered by these narcs.” Paulina whispered in Marlena’s ear.

 

Marlena narrowed her eyes at her daughters and nodded… Paulie was right.

 

 “You realize we can here you. Being drunk does not help with your concept of whispering.” Lani looked her aunt in the eye just befuddled at how funny she could be.

 

Paulina pursed her lips not impressed with being called out.

 

All the ladies got up from the table and started to leave the restaurant. They all gave each other hugs as they said goodbye.

 

“Come on non-virgin who can’t drive.” Sami quipped to her mother as she started to walk towards her car.

 

Belle raised her eyebrows and smiled at her sister’s boldness.

 

“Oh, you’re good!” Marlena was proud even though she was the butt of the joke.

 

“Come on Auntie, I’ll drop you back off at the hotel.” Lani was always the designated driver on ‘Price Day’.

 

Chanel in the passenger seat and started to text Xander as Lani drove to the Salem Inn.

 

Hey baby… I am going to come a little later than I thought. I have to help Lani do something and she will give me a ride home. I can’t wait to see you. Well I can wait… that’s just an expression but I meant that I miss you. -Chanel

 

Xander had been working looking at old factory spaces in the Chicagoland area when he heard his phone chime. He smiled when he saw that it was Chanel. He opened the message and was amused by her text.

 

You’re such a nerd. I miss you too sweetheart. That’s all right. I’m at home. I have our luggage at the door, and I already called the taxi service. Everything is ready… all that’s missing is you. -Xander

 

Chanel smiled and liked the message. After they dropped Paulina off, they went to Lani’s apartment complex.

 

When they got inside, Lani didn’t see Eli. He was watching the kids until he went into his shift at the station, but he had been working the late afternoon shifts as of late. She figured he probably took them to the park.

 

“So we narrowed the list down to Bora Bora and Turks and Caicos. Which one do you want the most?” Chanel thought it was a hard choice because both of those places sounded amazing.

 

“I would love to go to Tahiti, but the flight alone back and forth would be two days, so I think it’s a safe bet to just do Turks and Caicos for now. I reserve the right for Bora Bora later. I would just want that kind of vacation to be longer you know…” Lani was excited at the prospect of leaving Salem.

 

The last time she left Salem it was to be a nun… it wasn’t a vacation. She was just running from her problems.

 

“All right looks like it’s Turks and Caicos. So what do you think about this place? I think it looks pretty and it’s private.” Chanel pulled up a villa at the COMO resort to show Lani.

 

“It’s beautiful! And it’s got good reviews…” Lani felt like this was more than she ever thought.

 

“All right let’s book it.”

 

It took them about ten minutes to get everything squared away getting the flights and hotel booked.

 

“Thank you so much sissy. This is just such an amazing gift. I love you so much.” Lani hugged Chanel tight because she would never have dreamed up a vacation so nice.

 

“I love you too. You deserve to have a honeymoon… you deserve nice things. Daddy would want it for you. I feel like good things are coming to us finally. We can be happy and not feel guilty about it.” Chanel felt like something was shifting for them… it was a gut feeling for her.

 

Lani listened to her sister and decided she wasn’t going to be too proud to accept things from the people who loved her most. She didn’t like the feeling of struggling… she didn’t like the heavy feeling of pressure of going back to work just so she and Eli could survive.

 

“Thanks baby girl, I needed to hear that. Let me get you home so you can go on your own getaway.” Lani hugged Chanel tight one more time before getting her keys and bag so they could leave.

 

She texted Eli letting him now, everything that was happening.

 

Eli had gone to the park with the kids so they could spend some time outside. He didn't feel like being alone after so he went to Xander’s house and hung out with him until he knew that Lani would be home.

 

He got a text on his phone as he was getting ready to leave. He saw that it was Lani, so he immediately opened the text.

 

So the reason I told you to take a week off was because we're going to Turks and Caicos. -Lani

 

Eli had been very surprised to see this text. At most he thought that Lonnie would want to drive into Chicago and stay a couple of nights at hotel and then spend a couple of days at home relaxing.

 

OK! I do have a question though how are we going to pay for this even though I'm really excited about the prospect of going to Turks and Caicos. -Eli

 

It's a belated wedding present from my sister. -Lani

 

That's what's up. I love that girl but if we're going to be gone a week, we have to take the kids. -Eli

 

That's where you're wrong. Chanel will be watching the kids for a week and we will be eating conch on a beach. -Lani

 

Say no more. My time off was approved so I can guarantee that Wednesday to Wednesday is 100% now and not just 90. -Eli

 

Well good thing because I already booked the tickets. -Lani

 

I can't believe this. I'm so excited babe. I'm going to be home soon to drop off the kids. -Eli

 

I'm going to be home soon. -Lani

 

“I think I love your wife more than you do right now!” Eli was putting on his leather jacket.

 

“I highly doubt that but why do you love my wife so much?” Xander was mildly amused at Eli.

 

He needed some kind of amusement because Real Madrid lost the La Liga championship.

 

“Lani and I are going on vacation for a week starting on Wednesday to Turks and Caicos courtesy of your wife. Don't act like you don't know... For real man that means a lot. Lani and I never had our honeymoon or a vacation in general, so it means a lot that you guys would do that for us. Now I gotta go because I gotta get these kids home and then I have to get ready for work. Thanks again man. I can't believe you were going to let me go this whole time without telling me.” Eli gave Xander a quick hug and clapped him on the shoulder.

 

Xander was highly confused and before he could say anything Eli was already out the door.

 

He was in the kitchen getting something to drink when he heard the front door open. He knew that it was Chanel. He came out into the living room and saw her.

 

When Chanel came home, she had expected Xander to be on the couch waiting for her, but before she started to walk around and find him, she saw him walking into the room and smiled. She went over to him and gave him a hug.

 

“Hey. I just have to take off my shoes and get something more comfortable.”

 

Xander just nodded and let her do her thing. Their taxi was coming in about 5 minutes.

 

After Chanel got a pair of sneakers and socks, she came back into the living room and set them by the door.

 

“Xander, I need to tell you something…”

 

“What is it?”

 

“I bought my sister a honeymoon vacation. I wanted to do something nice for her because she deserves nice things and I can give them to her. I know it's something that my father would want for me to do. I didn't want you to see a big charge on our account and then think it was some kind of fraud.”

 

Xander had only gotten a little tidbit from what Eli said so it was something that he already knew. Even though he would never tell his wife how to spend her own money, he did appreciate that she wanted to give him a heads up, so he knew what was happening.

 

“That's sweet of you. It's wonderful that you can do that for them.”

 

“Yeah. I just want my sister to be happy... that means a lot to me and in meant a lot to my dad and grandma for the both of us to have it, so I don't feel right being happy and knowing that my sister could have some of that.” Chanel knew that this was a part of always taking care of each other.

 

“I'm happy that it makes you happy.” He cupped her cheek and planted a kiss on her lips.

 

“This also means that we’ll be taking care of the kids for the week. It's going to be from Wednesday to Wednesday.”

 

Xander knew that they were going to be taking care of the kids not because Eli said so, but he learned a lot about his wife's culture from her and knows that they take care of children communally, she already spent most of her week with the kids anyways because she was always with Lani. It was a no brainer if Eli and Lani went out of town that they would be watching the kids. Chanel had already put him through torture with painting and repainting one of their guest rooms because they converted it into a nursery for when Lani and Eli were over, and the kids needed naps.

 

“That's not a problem.” Xander smiled at her.

 

He got a text on his phone from the taxi service letting him know that the driver was waiting for them outside.

 

“The taxi is outside waiting for us. You ready baby?” Xander said as he intertwined their hands.

 

“Yeah I am.” Chanel’s stomach fluttered. She didn’t know if it was the lingering nausea or from how Xander was looking at her. In that moment it didn’t matter. She was just smiled as they went to the door to put on their shoes. She couldn’t wait to get to New York.

Chapter Text

Xander had decided that they should leave through O'Hare because it was the only way that they would get a nonstop flight to New York. When they got to the airport it was pretty easy to get their luggage checked in and get past security.

 

As they waited to board, Xander thought to himself to get some work done. He had been a little worried as of late because Chanel was more tired. There was a nasty bug going around and he was starting to think that she probably caught it. She felt a little more sluggish as of late and had been drinking ginger ale to settle her stomach because she had a little nausea. But that was pretty much it, it could have been a whole lot worse.

 

He almost wanted to cancel the trip and just stay home, but Chanel really wanted to come and he wanted to make it happen. They were in the airport lounge and she had fallen asleep. Her head was on his shoulder. When it was time for their flight, he gently woke her up and they boarded. As soon as she sat down in her seat... He was glad that he booked first class, so they didn't have to be stuck with anyone else. He could already tell that she was still groggy and she was going to fall asleep again, the last thing he wanted was a chatty traveler trying to strike up conversation. He just wanted her to be able to sleep in peace because it felt like it was something she really needed right now. It was going to be late when they got to New York.

 

It was probably going to be the wisest decision to just get room service and call it a night.

 

It had taken them about two hours to get to New York, but time was ahead by three since it was in a different time zone. It was close to midnight when they checked into the hotel. He decided the only room that they would get would be a private suite. The last thing he wanted was having to deal with noise complaints. He wanted to be able to fuck his wife without having to worry about anyone finding them to be too loud.

 

“Darling, do you want to get something to eat?” Xander had started to look for the room service menu.

 

Chanel thought about it, the last time she ate was at lunch. Her stomach wasn't growling but she knew that she should eat something, so she didn't wake up in a night starving.

 

“Yeah, that would be good. I don't care what it is... I'll eat whatever you order. I just wanna get ready for bed. I should have taken off my makeup before we left home.” Chanel knew that she really didn't have time to go through her routine like she normally would have because she was doing something for Lani.

 

When Xander heard her alarm bells went off in his head. Eli warned him when they saw they will eat whatever it really didn’t mean that.

 

“Okay baby. I'll figure it out. Hopefully it doesn't take too long because I'm pretty hungry too.” Xander was pretty famished. He ate a little at the airport lounge, but it was really just a light snack.

 

“I hope not. You get so crabby when you're hungry... Just like Uncle Vic.” Chanel knew that she was choosing chaos when she said it... that's why she did it in the first place.

 

She just got her travel bag filled with her toiletries and left him speechless as she made her way to the bathroom.

 

After the shock wore off at being compared to his uncle, Xander laughed he could admit that she had a point.

 

The shower that Chanel took felt so good. The hot water was amazing on her skin... After it she felt like she was ready for bed. There were few feelings better than getting into bed after taking a nice hot shower feeling the tension in your muscles melt away and then going on a nice plush bed ready to fall asleep when the time comes.

 

Xander took a quick shower after her. He wasn't particularly tired, but it was already late, and he didn't want to put this off.

 

Xander was coming out of the bathroom when he heard someone knocking on the door. He saw his wife get up and his paranoia was sharp.

 

He was always thinking about the worst-case scenario and the fact that his wife was tired as of late, he never wanted her to open the door if he was there.

 

Chanel saw Xander gesture to her for her to stay back. She went back on the bed and sat down. She saw him throw on a robe and step closer to her. He pressed a kiss to her lips and looked her in the eye.

 

“I'll get the door okay...”

 

They both knew that it was a rhetorical statement. Chanel just nodded her head and let him go. He had gone to his wallet to get some cash for the tip.

 

When Xander got to the door he checked through the peephole and it definitely looked like room service, but you could never be too sure. He opened the door only slightly and looked at the man behind the cart.

 

“You don't need to wheel the cart in, I'll do it myself.” Xander said as he passed along the tip.

 

“Not a problem sir. Thank you.” The room service attendant said.

 

Xander waited until he was sure that the attendant had gone into the elevator to take the food in.

 

He went back into the bedroom to get his wife, he saw that she was sitting in the same spot that he left her in. He came over to her and held his hand out for her to take.

 

Chanel took his hand as she looked him in the eye trying to figure out what was going on with him.

 

They walked over to the dining area and sat down.

 

Chanel watched him as he started eating in silence.

 

“Xander... can I ask you something?” Chanel wasn't mad or anything like that she was just curious to see where his mind was at…

 

“You can ask me anything...” Xander said as he chewed on a piece of chicken.

 

“Why didn’t you want me to get the door?” Chanel asked.

 

Xander stopped eating and looked up... He could see the curiosity plastered on his wife's face.

 

“I try to take precautions... We are away from home and I've never traveled with someone who could be used to hurt me. No one is after me as far as I know... but I'm always on guard... especially when we are not home. We have a video doorbell and cameras on the outside even though there's pretty good security here, there's plenty of people I know from back in the day who can slip through the cracks or pay someone off. I know that I could… easily even. I don't take chances when it comes to you. Maybe it is paranoia, but paranoia has kept me alive and alert. I have to pay attention always... even more now because I have you. I would never let anything happen to you. I not only would die for you... I will eliminate anyone who causes you harm.” Xander tried to explain his rationale. He knew it was something she was going to ask.

 

Chanel looked at her husband and started unpacking everything he said. She was always learning something new about him every day. She knew about his former life and she didn't think that it was smart to pretend that it didn't exist. She loves that he is not living in a bubble, he was ready to defend himself and her if danger came their way. But there were things that Xander didn't know about her yet. She knew how to defend herself just fine... But she knew that it was different than dealing with the kinds of people that Xander knew.

 

“It's not paranoia it’s self-preservation. I'm glad that you want to protect me. I would kill for you too, I want you to know that. There's no one who is ever going to take you for me.” Chanel was completely serious. She was holding on to her happiness with everything she had.

 

She wasn't going to allow anyone from Xander’s life before her to change that. If they came, they would find out who she was.

 

When Xander heard her say that she would kill for him, he was ready to object but he saw the look in her eyes. She was completely austere. It was something that she wouldn't be swayed upon. He felt his heartbeat faster... The kind of love she gave was addicting. The more she gave the more he wanted it.

 

They said nothing else to each other... they held hands and continued to eat their meal in complete silence. Neither of them needed to say a word because they were on the same page.

 

When they finished Xander gathered the plates and put it back on the cart and wheeled it out. He went back into their bedroom and went to go brush his teeth.

 

When he came out of the bathroom, he got into the bed and was right next to Chanel.

 

Chanel was tired but she didn't want to go to sleep yet. When she felt Xander get in the bed, her heart felt full. She had been lying on her back when he decided to be on his side right next to her. He looked down on her and said nothing.

 

She just felt him caressing her face with his free hand. It was so intriguing for her to know that these same hands that would kill for her were so tender on her skin.

 

“Kiss me.” That's all she wanted right now.

 

Xander smirked at the request. He gave her everything she wanted.

 

“That's one of my favorite things to do.”

 

“What kiss me? I thought it would be other activities...”

 

“Believe me, I love those too. We kiss plenty when we shag. But I love your lips. I have since before I married you. When I asked you not to go... I had wanted to know what it would feel like... You are so beautiful, I honestly thought you were a dream. I thought you were just a figment of my imagination. When the judge told us that we could kiss if we liked, it made me happy. I felt like I had permission to have what I wanted. When I kissed you, I like I think to myself was the softness and how I wanted more. It was not a chaste kiss, it was a kiss with no inhibition. After I looked in your eyes and I felt like you were trying to find something. I wanted so badly for you to find it and to find it in me. The next morning I was confused, I was ready for you not to be real and then you were still there. I asked you if you would still be here in the morning and you said yes. Then you made me so angry by challenging me... So angry that all I wanted to do was fuck all of my aggression out on you. When we kissed, it was different, but it still had that same undercurrent. It was passionate and when you were begging me to come, all it did was make my cock get even harder than it was when I woke up and saw you in my bed. I had to jerk off in the shower so you wouldn't be able to see what you were doing to me. When I kicked you out... I can admit that I wanted you to hurt. I saw you shattering from my fingers and I was afraid because I liked it. I was afraid of what might happen if you stayed. But I wanted you to stay... I was willing to have you mad at me, but not leave me... When you didn't come back it scared the shit out of me. One because I'm afraid of your mother, but I was scared because I thought to myself what could happen if you were alone at nighttime feeling like you had nowhere to go and I was the one who pushed you. When you sent me that meal... I felt like I had a second chance. I've only had one serious relationship before you and I didn't know how to act or how to be... sometimes I was too much… other times not enough. I just knew that when I couldn't find you it's just it made me worry and I had the biggest knot in my stomach for the whole day. Even though you didn't come home that night, I was happy that you were in the hotel... safe. I knew that you were the one who brought me the food. I could sleep easier after that. When I saw you at the bookstore... I didn't go straight in. I was just watching you. I had already known that was I attracted to you... I have been since the park, but that really the first moment I got to appreciate your beauty completely sober. When you were cold and I gave you my jacket and I felt you shiver... That's when I knew that I wasn't alone in this for sure. Then everything happened in a whirlwind. The attraction that I felt to you physically was being magnified with everything that I was learning about you. When you called my uncle an old ass man who won’t be disrespecting your man any longer... I was amused but I was also intrigued because you felt I was worthy of protection... your protection. When you said you wanted to explore us, it made me happy. You shared what you treasured most with me… a beautiful part of yourself with me… your love of books. I don’t think I have ever felt so seen than that moment when you found those audiobooks. I heard sounds of home and I just wanted you. The first time we had sex, I couldn't look back after that. I knew that I couldn't let you go. Your mother... Lani... I was ready to bulldoze anyone. You had known me for such little time, and you looked in my eyes with such trust and you had this hold on me that I couldn’t explain. When you said, ‘I'm ready baby’ and kissed me… it made my heart race…” Xander kept a hold on her cheek with his hand. He kept caressing her face with his thumb. When he saw a tear descend from her eye, he wiped it away. “... Leannan… oh baby don't cry.” He kissed her forehead.  (Leannan = sweetheart)

 

“I don’t know why I am crying. Everything you are saying to me makes me so happy. I just feel so full Xander. I want you to know you don’t have to feel like you are doing too much or too little. You don’t have to second guess yourself with me ever Alexandros. Du bist mein Kuschelbär.” (You’re my cuddle bear.)

 

She said it enough that Xander knew what it meant. She never said it outside of his presence. It was something only meant for them and the fact Eli and Lani would be merciless for all time if they knew.

 

“Yes, I am. You tired baby?” Xander could tell when she was getting exhausted because it was happening more frequently lately. He moved so he could be flat on his back. His wife liked to fall asleep on his chest lately. She liked to hear his heartbeat. Chanel nodded and smiled to him sleepily. “Komm zu deinem kuschelbären… meine Frida.” Xander thought hard about his words, it wasn’t a language he knew intimately, he tried to not butcher the pronunciation. (Come to your cuddly bear, my Frida)

 

“Oh my god. You’ve been learning German…” Chanel was shocked and even more overcome with emotion.

 

“A little bit here and there. I never understand what you and Lani are talking about. Eli is convinced that it’s just the two of you making fun of us.”

 

“Eli would think that. We probably talk shit about you guys maybe 15% of the time max. You and your boyfriend are truly out of sight, out of mind for us.”

 

“My bae is going to highly disappointed we are not shit talked at least a quarter of the time.” Xander laughed because Eli was convinced and tried to tell him it was definitely for sure because Lani was always giving him a ‘look’. He got up briefly so he could turn off all the lights and then got back into bed.

 

Chanel hugged herself close to him and felt close to sleep.

 

“Gute nacht…”

 

“Good night baby.” Xander responded.

 

He felt a little nervous unloading his feelings on his wife even though he knew that she was in love with him. It was worth it for him though. It might be a little mad for him to be touched by her serious admission that she would kill for him. His heart fluttered when she said it with no hesitation or apprehension. It wasn’t as if he wanted her to go killing random people in his name, but he was enamored with her fighting for him, the way he would fight for her. Eli called it being ride or die.

 

He loved the concept. He was just glad that he had his past in the rearview and could enjoy his life as it is now. He felt Chanel sleeping in his arms and sometimes it scared him because he finally had something to lose… he held her tighter… he couldn’t lose her. Just the thought alone was enough to make him go mad.

 

“I will never let anything happen to you… never…” He said into the night air.

 

He wasn’t really talking to Chanel because she was asleep… it was an affirmation to himself. He said it over and over until he fell asleep.

Chapter Text

When Chanel woke up, she felt like she was recharged. Lately she's been feeling a little sluggish and she hoped that she didn't catch the flu that had been going around town. She really wanted to just have a chance to enjoy vacation without actually being sick.

 

She knew that part of it was the fact that she wanted to experience a new place with her husband. This was their mini honeymoon, it made her excited. She had been looking for things to do around the city. She had been to the city before and she knew that she didn't want to do anything like a bus tour or hang out in Times Square for no reason. She liked coming to New York because it was a place where something was always happening. Sometimes events which is happened on the fly, it just comes up organically.

 

She had reached for her phone and thought about doing a post. These were one of the times that she did wish that she had the girls because her husband was just not good at taking the picture she wanted for the gram. But she had to make do with what she had, and she really didn't feel like taking selfies. She was going to have to count on him to deliver.

 

She had done some google searches to see if there were any cool things that she could check out. She saw that there were some independent theater productions going on.

 

Well Xander woke up he was surprised to see that Chanel was on her phone. He thought it was a good thing, maybe this would be an indicator that she didn't have what was going around Salem. He knew that it could just be excitement from the change of scenery. He knew that she enjoyed places like New York which had a lot to offer.

 

“It's nice to see you up.” Xander said groggily as he kissed the top of her back.

 

“Yeah, I'm just excited... I was looking at things we could do around the city. is there anything that you wanna do in particular?”

 

“Darling, I don't care what we do. I'm sure whatever you conjure up we're going to have fun.” Xander was down to do anything.

 

He was a complicated individual but not when it came to doing things in his downtime. He was pretty open to doing new things. America was very different from Scotland, it wasn't like Scotland was some backwards country it was just America was on steroids when it came to everything that included events. It was like Americans bore easily so they always find something new.

 

“Xander, if there's something you wanna do... I want to know about it. This isn't just for me... this is for you… this is for us... I wanna experience things with you... things that you want to do, not just things that I want. If there's really nothing that you want to do here, I understand but I find that so hard to believe.” Chanel could not believe that he didn't have at least one thing he wanted to do.

 

Xander thought about it and he realized that he had to stop with just going with the flow. He could want to do things and actually do them.

 

“Well thinking about it, when I was a kid, I used to see Coney Island on TV... It's so famous because a lot of shows were based out of New York City, I don't know... I think I'd love to ride the Cyclone even though it looks like a death trap being completely wood.” He knew that it was one of the oldest amusement parks in the world and one of the most iconic.

 

Chanel smiled when he told her what he wanted. She was glad that he chose something. She knew that he would do any and everything she wanted but she wanted him to have choices too and she wanted to do what he liked as well. This wasn't a solo vacation.

 

She got closer to him and started giving him a multitude of kisses.

 

“You see baby, I knew that there would have to be at least something you wanna do. I've been on the Cyclone before and it's so much fun. It definitely it's a little scary because it makes like rackety noises because it is old and wooden, but I think that's part of the charm. It’s going to be fun!” Chanel was happy that he was able to think of something.

 

She thought it was really cute that he wanted to go to an amusement park that he saw on TV as a kid.

 

“Yeah, I guess but it's pretty far from us. I thought you would want to keep it contained with distance.”

 

“You know what they say about people who assume... We will just take the subway. There’re so many boroughs of New York. I would hate for us to miss out on so much because we decided to stay in an artificial perimeter that we made. Let's venture out. Some of the best things to do are not even in Manhattan.” Chanel had traveled for a long time.

 

Some of the best experiences you could have would be away from the tourist center. It could be fun to do the tourist thing on the first day, but it gets old quickly and you want to know the cool things that people get up to.

 

“I don't doubt that.” He kissed her forehead for no reason in particular.

 

“Like for example... Scrabble was invented in Queens and the sign on the corner of where it was invented has the values of the letters.” Chanel got so excited thinking about it.

 

“You choose the absolutely unorthodox times to be such a geek. My goodness you're so adorable.”

 

Chanel's eyes shifted. She couldn't look at him anymore without feeling shy.

 

“We don't have to go there...”

 

“I think we do. I want my trivia queen wife to be able to take a picture.” He brought Chanel close to him and kissed her before she could say anything else.

 

“It could be my photo for the day.” Chanel started to organize what they would do for the day.

 

She thought it would be best if they did this first because it was deep in Queens. If they were going to do Coney Island, it would be best to do it last and that place was deep in Brooklyn. They would spend a good amount of time on the subway traveling to do everything of interest.

 

The fact that they were going to be walking most of the time she knew that she could not wear heels. She settled on her cutest sneakers and a dress that was fitted to her waist and let out. She finished the look with a denim jacket.

 

After she had her outfit figured out, she went to the bathroom to get ready. Xander took that time to start ordering breakfast.

 

He made sure not to order too much because he was sure that she was going to want to eat as much outside food as possible. They were in New York… it was the restaurant capital of the world. He wanted to get in on it himself.

 

After Chanel came out of the bathroom, Xander went immediately in. He was pretty excited to explore, he couldn't remember the last time he had a real vacation. He had been around the world... but there really were no breaks then it was always high stakes. He never took the time to appreciate the locales that he went to. he wanted to change that. It was exciting to make plans.

 

They ate their breakfast and set out for the day.

 

Chanel was excited to take the subway. She didn't know why... There's just something about doing it the way that everyone else does enticed her. They did have to transfer to another train to get to Jackson Heights, but it was worth it. When Chanel is standing on the corner of 35th avenue also known as Scrabble Ave, it felt so surreal for her.

 

She had Xander take over 20 pictures. She took some of him as well because she thought it would be cute. And they took selfies together. It made her smile, everything just felt wonderful and in place. She knew that it was going to be a good day because the photos that Xander took weren't half bad.

 

“I think I'm going to post this one and the caption is going to be... I don't know yet it's so hard because I can't believe I'm actually here.” Chanel was still trying to wrap her head around the fact that she was on Scrabble Ave.

 

She posted the pic to her Instagram profile and within seconds her phone was just buzzing. Xander watched as the comments just kept piling on.

 

we stan an intelligent queen! 😍👑 -@carpediem167485

 

La reina del Scrabble. 😘 -@danialvares

 

My sister is a nerd and a half. -@lanipricegrant

 

You're so cute. -@moralesdrea

 

I wish I was there! Miss you lots xoxo- @ciarabrady

 

She now spent the next 5 minutes just liking and commenting to everyone who responded to her pic. She loved that the engagement stayed high, but she turned off her notifications because she didn't want her phone to keep vibrating every time that someone liked or commented. She could go back later and try and like and comment to other people’s social interaction with her. This was time to spend with her man and she didn't want any interruptions.

 

“There's these cool elevators and it looks like ordinary on the outside but when it opens up it's works of art. Do you want to go? I think it’s awesome, it's just really cool.” Chanel had discovered it this morning.

 

She had been researching things to do in other boroughs besides Manhattan.

 

Xander just stop them from walking and planted a kiss on her lips. When they opened their eyes, they were just smiling at each other.

 

“Yeah, let's go, plus it could be pictures for your Instagram account, and you should post it on your travel one as well. It's good to have this kind of engagement, when you launch you're cooking series, it's going to be in a really good place.” Even though they were on vacation, business was business, his wife was a brand.

 

She may not have known it when she created her travel site that it would blow up into what it was now, but people wanted her opinions about travel... they wanted to see what she did. She was intelligent enough at the time to seek sponsorships and coordinate with brands too monetize her website and get money from being a travel influencer before the market got saturated with them. But people stuck with her... He was going to take her to new heights. But this would be different because she wouldn't be alone... She had a team ready for her and help her when needed. This time she had him…

 

“That's a great idea. If I had known that we were going to do that, I would have brought a change of clothes.”

 

“Baby don't sweat it. I know that's important to you, but I'm sure they're going to like seeing you do interesting things. It's going to be fine. I don't want us to do too much business while we're here because it's not about your followers. It's about you... it's about us. They can have a glimpse, but I get everything.”

 

When Chanel looked at her husband, she could see the mischief in his eyes. It was turning her on and her eyes started to flutter.

 

“You do have everything.” She bit her lip, she wanted to throw him off kilter the way he was able to do with her.

 

Xander could feel his dick twitch when she bit her lip. He smirked because she wanted to start a game. He was amused yet frustrated because she played hard, and he knew that he was going to be in for it now.

 

“Let's get to this damn elevator.”

 

Chanel laughed as they walked back to the subway station.

 

It didn't take them too long to get to the building. Xander thought that this better be good because the elevator was indeed drab.

 

When they got inside, both of them were in awe of the space. It was definitely something retro and psychedelic. Chanel took as many pictures as she could, some of it was for the gram but mostly because she just like the space. It wasn't a very big space, it wasn't like it was a museum it was just two elevators.

 

When they had finished going to the Surreal Elevator, Chanel wanted to go to Central Park. There was no special reason, she just felt like walking around. It took them two trains to get there but they finally did.

 

They walked hand in hand like many couples do there. Chanel knew that it was a very touristy thing to do but Central Park was one of the most famous parks in the world. She had been here before, but she had never been there with a significant other. She had only come here with Lani once. It was pretty mindboggling for her to believe because she traveled the world, but she had only been to New York once.

 

It was a pretty warm day and she started to feel like she was suffocating in her denim jacket. When she let go of Xander's hand, he started to look at her. He saw her take off her denim jacket and he held his hand out so he could hold it.

 

“Baby, you okay?”

 

“Yeah, I think so. I just think I'm a little hot. I think if we get from water and an ice cream, I think I feel much better.” It was the early afternoon, and the sun was at its hottest. Chanel went in her bag and got her husband's wallet out and took a $20 bill.

 

Xander thought it would be best to get the ice cream and then sit down for a while. They had done a lot of walking when they were in Queens and you could do nothing but walk in Central Park.

 

Chanel put the bottle of water in her crossbody bag and then took her husband's hand. As soon as she had a little bit of ice cream in her mouth, it felt soothing. The coolness from the ice cream was starting to make her more comfortable.

 

They found a bench to sit on and Chanel felt like she could relax. Xander put his arm around her and cupped her shoulder with his hand. She started to get ideas now that she wasn't feeling like a furnace.

 

She started to stick out her tongue and take long licks of her ice cream. At first Xander didn't notice, but she knew it was only a matter of time.

 

Xander had been checking his emails to see if there were any that were pertinent for him to respond to, but nothing was an emergency. Xander put his phone back into the pocket of his denim jacket. When he lifted his head, his eyebrows rose as he watched his wife. He saw her take a long lick and then curve the tip of her tongue. He watched her, he saw that she fixed her eyes to make it seem as if she wasn't staring at him, but he knew better.

 

“Why the fuck are you doing this to me?”

 

Chanel eyes rose and saw the hard look in his eyes. It only spurred her on. She was going to play ignorant until she gave in. But there was one thing about Chanel that the both of them knew… she was persistent.

 

“What am I doing?” She asked innocently as she kept on doing what she was doing. She even swirled her tongue a couple of times and moaned loudly as she swallowed.

 

Xander squeezed her shoulder and used other hand to run his fingers through his hair. His wife was a menace.

 

“You know what the hell you're doing… go ahead if that makes you feel better.” He just stared right back at her.

 

It was hard for him to focus on her licking ice cream when he was visualizing her doing something completely different.

 

“I'm just licking on the cream. It tastes so good... I can't stop myself.” Chanel opens her mouth wider and suck the remaining ice cream from the cone.

 

There wasn't a lot left so it was pretty easy for her to get it in one suck. She saw Xander’s eyes flare, and she swallowed the ice cream and groaned in a high-pitched tone.

 

Xander had enough, he snatched the cone out of her hand and threw it in the garbage. He knew that she didn't care for waffle cones anyways, he just sped up the process.

 

“Hey, I might have eaten that...” Chanel couldn't lie convincingly because she always hated waffle cones, she preferred cake cones.

 

Xander moved his hand from her shoulder to the nape of her neck. He felt some of her braids in the space of his fingers. He brought her head closer to his and kissed her.

 

He stuck his tongue in her mouth. He sucked on it hard, he tasted the remnants of the vanilla.

 

Chanel whimpered, it was like he was fucking her with his tongue. It was alluring, she opened her mouth more. She wrapped her arms around his neck, as she reached over, he decided to scoop her into his lap. They were French kissing on a park bench in Central Park without a care in the world.

 

“You should be more mindful of people, what you're doing is inappropriate?! Children walk these parks!” The woman was walking her dog and saw these two people going at it. She thought to herself they might as well have been having sex. That kind of kissing was not suitable to be done in public.

 

Xander didn't like to be interrupted, when he opened his eyes... he looked at his wife. Chanel could see the crazed look in his eyes, it was turning her on even more. She saw him tilt his head slowly towards the woman who interrupted them.

 

“I don't care about children who walk the park. They are of no concern to me, I'm not their parent. I don't need to be mindful of anyone who isn't my wife… Who are you to deem what is appropriate and inappropriate? Why don't you just mind your business and walk your rat?” Xander thought it was funny how someone he didn't know could presume to tell him what he should and shouldn't be doing.

 

“I am walking my dog excuse yourself, Mortimer is not a rat. You should have more decency for other park goers.”

 

“Do you pay for me to live? Do you pay my taxes? I owe you nothing. I don't know you from anyone else. You do not get to presume how or when I will kiss my wife. It costs you nothing to turn the other way and go about your day. But you live a miserable existence, so you come and interrupt our day instead of worrying about your rat that's shaking like a leaf. You don't want to tango with me… so I suggest you keep moving.” Xander barely blinked as he told this woman to mind her damn business.

 

The woman felt the heavy stare coming from this crazy man. It was like she could feel the wave of dread in his eyes. He kept staring hard at her… He had blue eyes like her husband, but it felt very unknown to her... They felt dangerous. She decided it wasn't worth it to keep engaging with him and she walked swiftly away.

 

Xander stared as the woman kept walking. When she was out of sight, he could feel his wife licking the column of his neck and then bite down on his earlobe.

 

“Xander, I need you to fuck me right now...” Chanel was too horny after watching that.

 

Her body was getting hot again, but it wasn't from the heat of the sun. Water or ice cream was not going to solve this.

 

“We can go back to the ho--”

 

“No... it needs to be right now. You need to fuck me right now.” Chanel didn't want to wait at all.

 

“Fuck!” Xander got up quickly.

 

She went in her bag and got two moist towelettes so they could clean their hands. After Chanel clasped their hands together and she tried to keep in step with him, but he was taller than her and could take large strides.

 

Xander tried to find a secluded spot. Every step he took, he was only more motivated to find some place to have sex. He found a secluded tunnel and they rushed over.

 

They picked up where they left off and kiss again. It was hard for Chanel to focus on that and trying to find a condom in her bag.

 

Xander was fumbling to take his pants off as Chanel was shimmied out of her underwear, she put it in her purse for safekeeping.

 

He pressed her against the wall and pushed her bum up. Chanel wrapped her legs around his waist like she did so many times before. She was holding on to him for dear life. Their lips broke apart and he started kissing her neck. She gave him the condom and he ripped the rapper and slipped the condom on.

 

 

He started to rub on her clit and finger her, she wasn’t kidding about the need for her to be fucked.

 

“Yes! I need it.” Chanel felt like the heat in her body was just rising.

 

Xander could feel her nails dig into him through his denim jacket. He looked at her face and saw her eyes rolling.

 

He took his fingers out and guided his cock into her.

 

“Mmm… I love it. Give me more Xander. I need it… I need you. Give me what I need baby.” Chanel felt her body was frenzied. It was a fever pitch.

 

Hearing his wife’s desperation for him to fuck her only added motivation. The sight of her eyes closed, and lips parted was a beautiful sight, but he knew of something better.

 

“Open those eyes, I want them focused on me.” Xander was still charged at being interrupted by someone who clearly had bad taste.

 

When Chanel heard him her eyes fluttered open and stared into her husband’s eyes. She was close to her climax. He was fucking her fast and hard, the intensity of his eyes only added to it.

 

“Oooh, when you told that lady to go somewhere, I had to press my knees together.”

 

“No one tells me what I can and can’t do with my wife except my wife…” Xander growled through his teeth. He was enraged at the insolence of a woman unironically wearing the wardrobe from a knockoff jazzercize VHS tape.

 

“Yes baby… no one. Aah! Aah!” Chanel started to cum, and her eyelids felt heavy, but she didn’t close them.

 

He could see his wife’s ecstasy, her cunt was spasming around him and he pumped into her a couple more times and grunted when he climaxed. He rested his head in her neck while he caught his breath.

 

When Xander could form a thought again, he looked at his wife. Her eyes were still closed, she looked content, it made him feel content.

 

He went into her purse and fished out her panties. He gently placed his hands at the back of her knees one by one and set them firmly on the ground.

 

Xander bent down so she could easily step into her underwear. He rose as he slid her panties up her body. It made her shiver to feel his hands on her skin.

 

When Xander was at his full height again, he took a look down at her, saw her sigh.

 

“You hungry?” Xander asked as he tucked a braid behind her ear.

 

“Yeah, let’s go to Tribeca and eat. I want to go to the Mysterious Bookshop and get some books.” Chanel always wanted to visit the bookstore, it’s the oldest bookstore of its kind and she had never been there before.

 

Xander picked his wife up and spun her a couple of times. Of course she would want to go to a bookstore.

 

“Yeah, let’s go.”

Chapter Text

They made their way outside of the park and went straight to the subway station. It took them about 20 minutes but they got to Tribeca. Xander asked her what she wanted to eat, he was expecting some local restaurant they had high reviews on Google or Yelp, he was surprised when she said Chipotle.

 

He laughed at the absurdity because they could have Chipotle anywhere and that was what she wanted in the moment.

 

Chanel wanted Chipotle because it was close and it wasn't going to take long. The whole ride on the subway she had this hunger that she's never had before. The need for food was great and she needed to satisfy it as soon as possible.

 

She ended up settling for three tacos and he got a burrito bowl. It was weird for her though because she had been so hungry before but when it came time to eat, she was only able to eat two of the tacos. She felt full from them even though she thought that she would eat her tacos and probably eat off of her husband's plate.

 

“Do you want my last taco?”

 

“You're not hungry anymore?”

 

“No, not really. I think I truly bite off more than I could chew. I feel full, but I don't feel queasy. I feel good.” Chanel felt good today.

 

She had felt like she had good amount of energy. They had been walking around all day and she didn’t feel tired at all. Her hunger was more pronounced than it ever has been but that was pretty much it.

 

Xander was satisfied with her answer. The last thing he wanted was for her to be sick, the flu could seem harmless until it wasn’t.

 

Chanel just watched him as he ate his food. Xander could clear out food like she has never seen before. She found it amusing and cute.

 

After they finished their food. Chanel got so excited because the next stop was the bookstore. It was the biggest collection of crime and thriller novels in the whole world. It was iconic and she always wanted to visit.

 

They spent a better part of 45 minutes in there. She was looking for rare books that were out of print. She wanted to grow her library. That was always a dream of hers when she was a kid. She wanted to have a library where any mood that she was in, there was a book for her to read. She ended up getting 26 books. She thought it was the best idea for them to stop by the hotel and drop it off.

 

It was pretty heavy and even though Xander was the one carrying them, it wouldn't make sense for them to take it on their journey to Coney Island.

 

After they dropped off the books, Chanel was expecting for them to take the train again when Xander told her that it would be easier for them to just take a taxi. They would have to change multiple trains and take the bus and the last thing he really wanted was for them to be traveling for so long.

 

He knew deep down inside if they were to travel that long then she was going to get tired and she probably wouldn't have a good time at Coney Island so it would be a waste of a trip. Even though he wanted to go he wanted to make sure that she didn't get sleepy or didn't have a good time.

 

It would also take less time to get there if they were to go by car.

 

When they got to Coney Island, Chanel could see that Xander was excited. It was like she could feel that nervous anxious energy coming from him. It was like he was ready to bounce out of his seat.

 

They made their way everywhere. Chanel had been here with Lani before but it wasn't like she knew the place like a local. They had fun discovering the different rides and attractions. When Chanel smelled the food, she doesn't know how but her appetite and hunger were surging. She wanted to eat everything. When Xander got a pizza, she ended up eating half of it and made him get another one.

 

The line to the Cyclone was super long.

 

“You excited?” Chanel wrapped her hands around his torso as they waited.

 

“It's ridiculous but yeah, it's weird because I never thought I would actually go on the ride. Is there anything I should expect?”

 

“I've only been on it once and it's a fun roller coaster. But it was good that we ate a little bit before and the line is long so the food can settle a little. it would be very embarrassing for us to throw up because there's a lot of people here.” Chanel laughed because she has never done that before but it would be pretty embarrassing to do it then and there.

 

“Good to know. Even though we're pretty far behind, the line goes pretty fast.”

 

It took about 8 more minutes, but they were finally on the ride. Xander had been on a few roller coasters throughout his life but he didn't know why he was so nervous for this one. It made him feel connected to being a kid, before everything went to shit. The times where he had hopes and dreams that weren't marred with nightmares.

 

The ride was pretty quick, they were zigging and zagging and he could hear his wife screaming at the top of her lungs which made him laugh more than anything else. As soon as he started getting used to the ride it was already over. When they got off his head fell a little funny.

 

Chanel needed to walk slowly because she felt very queasy. She thought that she might upchuck the food that she had. She really felt like she needed to have a ginger ale. She decided to keep it to herself because Xander was so excited to be here she didn't want to cause a damper to it. She knew that if she said something he would want to immediately take her back to the hotel. She only felt nauseous, but she felt like she could keep it at bay.

 

“How do you feel about the Cyclone?” Chanel asked in a valley accent. She didn't know why she did it, it just seemed funny in her head.

 

“Well I'm happy that I went on it. It has fulfilled a nostalgic moment however it made my neck hurt so bad. I never want to go on it again. I appreciate the newer style roller coasters because they are configured in a way where your neck is more protected. My goodness... baby you're gonna have to rub my neck later.” Xander tried to roll his neck and move his shoulders up and down to relieve some tension and nothing was working.

 

“I definitely remember the neck pain now. I'm sorry I forgot to mention that... Of course I’ll rub your neck when we get home. It looks like it's really bothering you. Do you wanna do anything else you wanna call it a night?” Chanel really wasn't opposed to ending her night out.

 

“Almost. I have always wanted to go to the Nathan's hotdog stand.” Xander wanted to have a hot dog at the location that they used to have the hot dog eating contest every single year.

 

“Aww, that's definitely how you complete a visit to Coney Island.” Chanel was not going to have a hot dog herself, but she remembers the first time that she came here it was definitely something that she did.

 

She giggled at her husband's excitement. He walked as quickly as he could through the crowd, she was walking pretty fast to keep up. She thought that she was going to have to slow down but right now her queasiness wasn't giving her any trouble.

 

They waited about 10 minutes to get a hot dog and she made sure to take a picture of him taking his first bite. She thought he was so precious and cute. The queasiness in her stomach was replaced by butterflies.

 

After Xander had completed everything he wanted, he was ready to go back to the hotel. They had flagged down a taxi and spent the whole ride cuddled next to each other. She listened to him recap his night as if she wasn't a witness to it all. She didn't care because he was happy and that made her happy.

 

When they got back to the hotel, they went straight to the bathroom. Chanel put her shower cap on and they washed each other off. Sometimes they had showers together, but Chanel felt as if this was sexier than any other. They sometimes had sex in the shower but this time she felt her husband touch her, it was like he was burning her with his fingers. But it was burning that she welcomed. He made her whole body warm.

 

She told Xander that she would be right out, but she had to do something first. He looked at her funny, but he didn't say anything. The whole day had been pretty perfect for her even with the slight bits of nausea. It disappeared because she felt fine now, she felt more than fine she felt elated.

 

When she came out of the bathroom, she saw her husband on the bed in his boxers, he was looking at his phone and she felt a little nervous. She wanted to do something that they never done before. She had this overwhelming feeling of love. It made her feel like she was bursting at the seams, she felt like she couldn't hold it in. She didn't have control over the feeling.

 

She got closer to the bed and gently sat down. Xander was looking at his wife, she looked like she had something on her mind, but he couldn't get a read on her. Chanel picked up her phone from the nightstand and open the playlist that she made. It was some of her favorite songs that describe how she felt about him.

 

“Can I ask you a question?” Chanel was nervous because she's never done this with anyone before.

 

It was something that she always wanted to try if she found someone she was completely and utterly in love with. She finally found someone who made her feel that way, but she didn't want to be seen as ridiculous.

 

“You know you can ask me anything...” Xander was puzzled because it was something that she never had to ask him.

 

“Can I make love to you?” Chanel looked at him shyly.

 

She was normally a confident person, but it was hard for her to admit to any vulnerability... He made it better... but it was always there.

 

Xander was confused because they had sexual activity all the time. it's the most sex he's ever had with one person.

 

“Darling, I don't understand.” Xander was trying to figure out where she was coming from, but he still hadn't a clue. He didn't fully grasp what she was asking.

 

“I want to show you. I just want to show you… how I feel for you.” Chanel started the playlist and got closer to him.

 

Xander could hear the soft jazzy soul tones that permeated the room. When his wife kissed him, it felt different. It was still her lips and she was still the same person but his heart started beating faster and goosebumps started forming on his forearms. The music playing added to the mood. He started listening to the words of the song and he started to understand why his wife felt different.

 

Her lips left his and started to kiss his face and then his neck. He could feel her gently pushing him into the bed. He lied down and let her continue to do what she wanted. He closed his eyes and focused on the words and the feeling she was giving him.

 

Your love is king, crown you in my heart… Your love is king, you're the ruler of my heart…

 

He started to feel engulfed with emotions when he heard that line. His wife was kissing his whole chest. Each gentle kiss she gave only made the emotions grow. When she started to kiss each one of his abs, he felt tears rolling down the side of his face. He’d never done that before.

 

He could feel the gentle tug on his boxers. He raised his hips slightly so she could take it off. He was already half hard from everything she was doing.

 

Chanel took a hold of her husband’s dick and jerked it a couple of times. When she took the head of his dick and began to suck, a hitch came out of Xander's throat. He took a deep breath and let a long sigh out. She ran her tongue up and down the length of his dick and his thighs tense. Chanel could feel it all.

 

“I love you baby…” Xander was surprised at himself whispering. He felt out of breath.

 

Chanel briefly stopped when she heard him. She had a mouthful of dick, but she felt herself smiling wide. She continued to massage his dick with her tongue and traced 1-4-3 onto his thigh.

 

Xander felt the message that his wife was trying to tell him when she used her fingers on his thigh. He smiled when he realized that 1- 4- 3 meant I love you.

 

He could tell that the song was winding down... It felt overwhelming at first too hear the words, but now he wanted to know more. He needed to know more.

 

Gotta crown me with your heart… your love is king…

 

When the song ended, Chanel got up and went to the nightstand and ripped the condom and placed it on Xander's dick.

 

Xander's eyes opened when she stopped. He saw her get up and position herself right above his cock. They both groaned when she guided him into her. The next song on her playlist was No Ordinary Love.

 

There's nothing like you and I… baby…

 

When she heard the lyric, she let out a soft scream. She had her hands on his abs and closed her eyes as she rubbed her hands up and down his chest. She rotated and swiveled her hips just enjoying the fullness that came with having him inside her. It felt like every part of her pussy surrounded.

 

Xander did a sit up pushed himself back until his back was against the headboard.

 

They stared at each other and smiled. Chanel could see the dry tear stain marks on her husband’s face and it made her get more emotional. She always wanted to feel the kind of love that the songs conveyed and she could feel the words now. It wasn’t a longing anymore she could experience them because she had someone who made her feel that way. Her favorite part of the song played.

 

When you came my way…You brightened every day… With your sweet smile

 

 

“Can I see your sweet smile baby?” Chanel asked in a barely there voice.

 

 

Xander felt his cheek being cupped with his wife’s hand. He smiled slowly as another single tear rolled down his face.

 

 

Chanel saw it and wipe it away. She pressed her lips to his and put everything she felt into the kiss. Xander's hand found its way to the nape of her neck. He held it gently as he kissed her some more.

 

 

“Baby I’m going to cum…” Xander had been building towards a climax for a while.

 

 

She had been snapping her hips and riding him slowly, but he didn't think that he could last any longer.

 

 

“Don't come yet…”

 

 

Xander wanted to curse because he didn’t think he could hold on. Chanel wanted to climax at the same time or as close to it as possible. She formed a ring at the base of his dick with her thumb and index finger and kept riding him.

 

 

Xander felt like he was going crazy, but it did help him focus. The song started to fade and he heard the new song start.

 

 

Chanel loved this song especially. Kiss of Life played in her head when she married Xander.

 

 

“This song played in my head when you kissed me. It embarrassed me that I could feel so much with one kiss from someone I didn’t know. It was then I didn’t just want the financial security, I wanted more of your kisses.” Chanel felt her own tears forming and falling from her eyes.

 

 

Look at the sky…It's the color of love…

 

 

“Your eyes are the color of the sky. Color of my love.” She could only whisper now.

 

 

Xander could hear his wife’s voice crack and her whispering. She was crying but she wasn’t upset. He felt like she was giving her heart to him.

 

 

The song made him feel so happy. He pressed his lips to hers and wanted her to feel what he felt.

 

 

After half a minute, she stopped the kiss and looked at him.

 

 

“I’m going to come Alexandros… Come with me…” She looked him in the eye. Chanel felt herself close to shattering.

 

 

Xander could see the exact second, she climaxed, it pushed him to his own. He held her tight when she fell against him.

 

 

He just kept holding her as he listened to the song. His eyes were closed, he just let himself get lost to the sensation.

 

 

You wrapped me up in the color of love…

 

 

He squeezed his wife tighter when he heard it. It made her moan… appreciatively he hoped.

 

 

When Chanel felt her climax slipping away from her the song changed. This was her last song on her playlist but her favorite of them all. Cherish The Day meant everything to her and what she would have with him.

 

 

She ran her fingers through his hair the way she knew he liked. Her tears flowed again as it started to play.

 

 

You're ruling the way that I move… And I breathe your air…

 

 

She couldn’t explain why she needed him so close lately. It felt almost biological… second nature. It made her feel off-kilter.

 

 

“You’re everything to me honey. Everything… you are so precious to me.” She held his face with both her hands and kept her eyes locked on his.

 

 

I cherish the day… I won't go astray…I won't be afraid…

 

 

“You are the day… my light. You make me feel alive. Brought me out of my fears and pain. I cherish you so much. You give me hope. I can live another day easily but with you I can live it happily.” Chanel couldn’t get through her whole talk without her voice breaking. He told her it wasn’t her fault, got her to believe she deserved happiness.

 

 

You're ruling the way that I move… You take my air…

 

 

“I cherish you with everything I am, I always will. You’ve brought love and compassion into my life when I needed it the most. My heart is always yours. You’re so beautiful to me.” Chanel laid her head on his shoulder and hugged herself to him.

 

 

Xander hugged closer to him. His cock slipped out of her when he did. He held her with one hand while he threw away the condom into the wastebasket that was at the side of their bed.

 

 

He laid her down on her side and just stared at her. Her eyes were closed. Tears still streamed but she looked so at peace. She was living up to her name.

 

 

“I didn’t think I could find love again. I didn’t think anyone else in the world would want to be with me. You stumbled upon me literally and I thought you were just a dream. But my dream became a reality. A reality I fervently love. You picked up the pieces left behind and helped me move on. You don’t let me wallow in my self-pity… sometimes you can be gentle… sometimes you kick my ass, but you make me believe that I am deserving. You gave me hope again, I dare to dream because of you. Even when doors were shut in my face, you were there telling me that you believe in me. Very few people have believed in me in my life. You did it so quickly and fearlessly. It made me confident in my abilities again. You mean the world to me because you are my world. You are the ruler of my heart. It’s seems highly appropriate considering your name means peaceful ruler. I love the depth of your love and not just for me. You are such a great sister to Lani. You have been a great friend to Ciara when her life is in shambles and you befriended an lonely old man and brought smiles to his face. Very few people can make my uncle smile. I know you do those things because they are my family. I know that you are establishing good relationships with them because you want me to be in better standing. You give me more than I could have ever fathomed a relationship could have. You will always have my heart.  I love how you love Frida Chanel… mo bhean bhinn. Leannan, Tha gràdh cho mòr agam ort.”

 

 

Chanel started to sob hard when he told her how he felt.

 

 

“Ich liebe dich.”

 

 

Xander held her and kissed her and just kept telling he loved her until he fell asleep.

 

 

He fell asleep not long after.

 

 

As Xander was dreaming he heard a song, but it was so weird because it made no sense. Xander's breathing got more deep and he started to wake up. He saw a phone glow and picked it up.

 

 

He saw that there was a missed call from Benny and a couple of texts. He saw Lani texted Chanel, but he didn’t understand because it was most of it was in German. He used google translate on his phone and the text read…

 

 

Some guy from the State Department said he needs to speak with us, it’s about grandma. He also had a German lady with him. -Lani

 

 

He saw another text pop as he was translating it was from Benny.

 

 

I will be home in two weeks. I must see you and Lani… I found something concerning your dad and the two of you. It will also be great for you to come down, Joseph says he will never go to school again if you do not appear. We talk later. Ciao. -Benjamin

 

Both of these seemed serious to Xander, but he couldn’t really wake up Chanel it was four in the morning. She has been so tired lately that it would feel cruel to do that to his wife. They would be home on Sunday and she could answer her texts in the morning.

 

 

He checked his own phone to see if he got anything important. His phone was radio silent.

 

 

Xander heard Chanel moaning and he turned back to her. She was reaching out for him in her sleep. He went back to her and brought cuddled her. He gave her a kiss on the head and drifted back to sleep.

 

Chapter Text

The trip was more than she could have ever imagined. Chanel felt like she was more in love with Xander even though she didn't think that was possible. Every time he kissed her, she felt desperate for more. Every time she looked at him all she wanted to do was give him all of her love.

 

Xander had told her about the texts on her phone and she was curious. Her grandmother worked at the state department, all of her adult life until she retired. She wondered what they wanted with her and Lani. It had to be something really important because they didn't really make visits to retired worker’s families’ homes.

 

The getaway they had had made her determined to do something. It felt like the greatest idea in her head. She had promised her husband a trip to Scotland the night they got married. It was a promise that she intended to keep. But she wanted to do more than just bring Xander back to his home. She wanted to marry him there.

 

She had friends in Scotland from the time she traveled. She wanted to make it fun, she knew that her husband had a lay over the land better than she did, but she wanted to make it an experience that he would never forget. She wanted him to enjoy himself and be happier than words could ever describe.

 

They had been at the airport ready to go back home to Salem. Even though they didn’t want to leave because New York was a special memory for the both of them, they had to get back to their reality.

 

“Baby…” Chanel’s voice was gentle but definitely audible.

 

Xander stopped typing when he heard his wife, hearing her voice made him ache. Their mini holiday had only made him more addicted to his wife.

 

He turned and looked at her wondering what she wanted to say.

 

Chanel said nothing yet, right now she just wanted to kiss him. She grasped his cheek with her hand brought her head closer to his.

 

She never got tired of the feel of his lips on hers, it really only started a frenzy. If she kissed him once, then she was going to want more. It started to get a little heated when Xander pulled away.

 

“Leannan… Baby we can't do that here. As much as I want to, let’s save it for plane or home.” Normally Xander wouldn’t care but there were a lot of people in the airport lounge.

 

It only took one of them complaining to start a scene.

 

“I’m sorry. I just can’t get enough of you. It drives me crazy honestly… I don’t know why.”  Chanel couldn’t really explain herself.

 

She constantly needed to hug him and be close. It was like her body was begging for affection even though he gave her so much.

 

“Baby… don’t be sorry. I feel it too… I feel like I’m going out of my mind sometimes well more than usual. Obviously, we have a great relationship, but this trip somehow made it even deeper. You make me feel things that I’ve never experienced. And I love it… It’s electric. God, I love you so much. I feel it too. I can’t wait to get you home.”

 

“We do have to make a pit stop before we go home though. I need to see Uncle Vic.” Chanel was going to need help with her plan.

 

She was going to get her help from her sister, but she wanted to tell Uncle Vic because she felt like it was something she could trust him with. It was going to be a surprise for her hubby and even though he's not the favorite Kiriakis, he still was one at the end of the day.

 

“Chanel, we're going to be exhausted, can’t you just wait for your clubs to talk to him? You’re going to see him tomorrow.”

 

“It won’t be long, I just need to do it. I picked up some books for him and he requested that he received them immediately.” It wasn't a lie but that wasn't the biggest reason for her wanting to see Victor Kiriakis.

 

Xander didn’t really feel like flirting with a fight. If his uncle was requesting books for today, then they would need to deliver them. He was on better terms with his uncle, and he honestly wanted to keep it that way.

 

“Fine, but you have to make it up to me.”

 

“I’ll make you whatever you like, we can cuddle up and watch a movie and you can fuck me wherever you like at home. How does that sound?”

 

 Xander's eyebrows rose because he was very intrigued at the offer.

 

“It sounds like an even exchange.”

 

“You are out of your goddamn mind if you think that’s even exchange.” Chanel couldn’t believe the kind of gumption he had right now.

 

“I think it’s fair. The weekend isn’t over, I should have you all to myself. Sunday is still a part of the weekend. I’m extending a kindness to my uncle in sharing my wife.” Xander had no qualms in saying how he felt.

 

This weekend that they had was something very centering for him. He needed to be selfish about it, it was about them and the love they have for each other. The fact that he was going to give even a minute to anyone should be deemed charity.

 

Chanel felt heated from what he was saying.  she completely got how he felt. The whole trip every single time some woman turned their head and looked at him, she wanted to beat them down for daring to look at what was hers. She didn’t want even one second interrupted.

 

“I loved it too. I want us to have a real honeymoon though. One that’s longer and just us.” And they would… She was going to make sure of it.

 

“I want that too baby.” As much as this weekend had been amazing, it felt like it went by so fast to him.

 

He was thought it was more than just a weekend. He didn’t want to go back to their regular life just yet, but they had to. They had commitments that they couldn’t deviate from.

 

Chanel just nodded when she heard him and gave him another kiss.

 

They heard over the intercom system that their flight was getting ready to board. They walked hand in hand to their airport terminal.

 

 What neither of them noticed were they were being watched.

 

He couldn’t believe his luck, he sees Xander Kiriakis randomly at the airport. He went to jail for Deimos and was left to rot. He also didn’t even get paid for the job that he was supposed to do. Xander had been the right hand for that bastard. Xander broke out of the prison in Greece, he didn't even get a heads up.

 

That way he gets for working with the discount Kiriakis, Victor might have been a bastard too, but he always paid for services rendered and if you ended up in prison, he would get you out. But no… he served his whole sentence. He saw that Xander wasn’t alone, he was with a woman, and he looked happy.

 

Charon looked on. No woman should be subjected to the idiot. When he killed Xander he would be doing this woman a favor. If this was years ago, he would have let it slide, he would have just asked for his payment and be on his way. He knew that prison was always a chance when you did what they did, but his wife died when he was in prison. It wasn't even about money anymore, he lost time after he was promised that he would be bailed out. Deimos was dead… He wanted to make both of them pay, it made him upset that he wasn’t able to extract his revenge on the man, but an opportunity arose with Xander.

 

He figured that center would be going to Salem, he had been doing his research, he saw the Xander had become the CEO of Titan Industries. But after that it was like he had very little media profile. Even things before started disappearing. He had no clue what was happening, but it was like Xander was being scrubbed from the internet, it made it harder for Charon, but he still had been determined.

 

He was originally going to Los Angeles, but he changed his mind. Opportunities don’t fall in your lap like this very often. Only flights were to Chicago, that was okay because Salem was a suburb city of Chicago. He could take a taxi the rest of the way. He was going to lie low. He wasn’t even going to take the same flight even if they had seats. He didn’t want to encounter Xander. He didn’t want to give him time to regroup.

 

He had the element of surprise, and he was going to keep it. He was going to keep a low profile because he didn’t want Victor to know that he was going to be in Salem. He had to fly with new credentials anyways. This was going to be easy.

 

The flight back to Chicago was seamless. Chanel didn’t feel as tired on this flight. She let Xander get back to work while she texted her sister.

 

I wanted to run something by you. - Chanel

 

What is it? – Lani

 

 I want to surprise Xander with a trip to Scotland. It was something that I promised him the night we got married. But what I also want to do is plan another wedding, this time with our families present and with some of his people in Scotland. I want it to be a surprise. But I’m going to need help and in my head who better than you and maybe Dani. – Chanel

 

You promised him that the night you guys got married? You’ve been serious about him from the jump. – Lani

 

You could say that. He had me when he kissed me the first time. I never felt something so quickly and so deeply before. He’s intense and it just magnifies everything. He made me think foolish thoughts… They weren’t foolish for long. I love him so much Lani and this trip we just had only deepened that. I don’t know what’s going on with me, but I’m just crazy for him. – Chanel

 

I’ll help you. Obviously, I’ll be gone from Wednesday to Wednesday. But we can start whenever you're ready. Also I should make a mention that Eli was invited to a bachelor party in Las Vegas. Does Xander get an invite? – Lonnie

 

This was news to Chanel because Xander didn’t make any mention of it.

 

“Xander?”

 

“Yes baby?” Xander took his focus off of the computer and turned his head over to his wife.

 

“Did you get invited to a bachelor party? Apparently, Eli was invited…”

 

Xander was slightly confused because he doesn't remember this offer.

 

He had his phone on do not disturb the whole weekend. But it had been pretty radio silent. When he checked his phone again, he saw that he got a text from the group chat they had for their basketball crew.

 

He looked at the text and saw that Ronnie told them about his bachelor party that would be in three weeks.

 

“Oh, it seems I have been invited to a bachelor party. It’s our friend Ronald in our basketball crew. He got engaged several months ago. The bachelor party is in about three weeks.” Xander knew that it was going to be a real bachelor party unlike the one he had for the marriage that never happened.

 

He wondered how it was going to make his wife react.

 

“Oh baby that’s awesome. You’re going to have so much fun…” Chanel was excited for Xander.

 

“You really want me to go?” Xander was a little confused because he knew that bachelor parties could have a very bad wrap when it came to Las Vegas.

 

“Of course I want you to go. Baby, I’m so happy that you have friends that want to do things like this with you. And the best part is they are genuine, they want to include you because they like you. It warms my heart that people can see a little of what I see. I don’t want you to be lonely. Yes, you will always have me but having friends is important. Having people that you can have a dinner out with or grab a beer with… that means something. As much as I like keeping you to myself, I don’t want your life to be about just working and me. You deserve to have more. I don’t think you’ll do anything unbecoming there. I trust you and I love you. I know it’s hard for you because most of your friends are still in Scotland and that's an ocean away. I’m glad that you have your crew that’s here.” Chanel knew how important friendship was.

 

They helped her get through some of the hardest times of her life.

 

Xander reached out and held her hand within his. He could feel his wife reaching over to kiss him. The kiss was all about comfort. It was crazy to him how he could decipher the intentions of her kisses.

 

“Just when I think I have reached a summit of my love for you, you prove me wrong every time. Thank you for saying that. At first, I just thought of them as Eli’s friends, but over the course of time they have become my friends too. I can’t remember the last time I was invited to a bachelor party, definitely wasn’t stateside. I’m glad that you’re OK with it though. I wouldn’t go if that’s not something you want. Thank you for trusting me.” Xander would never betray his wife, especially like that. With each new day he loves her more and he can't stand the thought of anyone hurting her let alone him.

 

Chanel just gave him another kiss and smiled at him.

 

When they got to Salem, they both felt great. Even though they wish that New York had been longer, there was no place they loved more than being in their home. They didn't stay there long though because they were just there to drop their bags.

 

Chanel felt the sooner that she went to Victor, the sooner they could get back home. She did have a promise to fulfill to her husband and she was more than game in doing so.

 

Xander drove them to the mansion with haste.

 

Xander had used his key to get in and asked one of the servants if they could request for his uncle.

 

Victor had been surprised when he heard that Chanel and Xander were requesting for him. It wasn’t normal for him to see either of them on Sunday, but he did remember that they were going on a trip and Chanel was going to give him books. He could have waited until tomorrow before them, but he was excited to have people come and visit him.

 

The servant had brought them into the living room, and they sat down and waited for Uncle Vic.

 

 When Victor made his way into the living room, Chanel was happy.

 

“I see you have brought my books. I’m assuming if they were up to your standards that they must be good.” Victor said to her in Greek.

 

Xander just let them do what they did. He couldn’t really understand what they were saying so he just decided to catch up on his emails.

 

“You’ll be satisfied to know that I was able to find some great first editions of items that were out of print. I also had a favor to ask of you…”

 

Victor was intrigued by Chanel asking him for a favor. It clearly was something that she wanted to do because she was telling him in Greek, instead of English. She knew that Xander wouldn’t be able to understand.

 

“You have come to the dealmaker, what favor would you need from an old man as you would say?”

 

Chanel smiled being reminded of their first interaction.

 

“I had promised my husband that I would take him to Scotland the night we got married. I want to make to make it a trip that he will never forget. I also want to marry him again there and I want our families to be there as well. I just wanted to let you know my intentions and hoped you would come. I know that Xander would never say it, but I know that it would mean a lot for you to be there. I think the only thing he really wants from you is to be proud of him… love him and respect him. It’s why he tries so hard with making it in business. Obviously, he wants to be successful for himself, but I know that somewhere he wants to prove it to you, like he wants to belong in his family. He’s everything to me and the only reason I’m not crying is because he would become suspicious of what we're talking about. I love and respect you Uncle Vic, I know you know that. It would mean a great deal to me too if you would come to our wedding. So will you?” Chanel knew that she could never presume anything when it came to Victor Kiriakis.

 

Victor just studied her, he knew that they loved each other… He knew they loved each other deeply. But this was the first time that the love that Chanel had for Xander asked something upon him. One of the biggest things that he liked about Chanel was she could speak in riddles, but she could also be very direct. She didn’t mince words or talk in riddles when it came to about how she felt about his nephew. He knew that she was the real deal.

 

She could feel Victor's eyes linger… it was pretty close to how her husband looked at her sometimes. It was a scrutinizing gaze that can intimidate many, but she would never cower to Victor Kiriakis.

 

“I’ll go. I’ll even pay for it.”

 

“Uncle Vic, I can pay for it…”

 

“I assume that all of your accounts are joint, correct?”

 

“Well yes… but we have the means to make that happen.”

 

“It’s not about the means. He will know something is up because they will be line charges on your statements. If I pay for it, he will never know. It will truly be a surprise that he won’t see coming. I am proud of him. He was able to stop wallowing in self-pity and be a Kiriakis. You came into his life at the right time. He believes in himself because you believe in him.” It was very obvious from where Victor was sitting.

 

“Thank you for saying that. I know that it would mean a lot to him if he knew that you were proud of him. I know that you’re not his dad… but you are the closest thing to that for him. My sister is my cousin biologically, but we were raised as sisters. My dad loved her as his own and it was very important for her and her development as a person. Life is not guaranteed… We lost our father about five years ago and he was shrewd, a businessman through and through. He traveled a lot and was gone quite a bit, but he comes from a family where you fight to live another day because we know how fragile life can be. We’ve experienced a lot of loss and tragedy but what got us through is our memories. My dad never hesitated to tell us that he was proud of us and that he loved us. That kind of reinforcement made me confident as a writer and my sister confident in her abilities as a detective. Uncle Vic, I can’t tell you what to do, I can just tell you what it was like for my sister. It meant the world to her to know that she was loved and appreciated deeply when she didn’t grow up with her biological father. She had someone who supported her and pushed her to be great. It's great that you want to help and pay for this endeavour, what would mean the most to me is if Xander knew how you felt about him… Because once you’re gone… all he’ll have is just questions.  He'll go through his mind trying to analyze every conversation he's ever had with you trying to decipher if you gave a damn about him. Just think about it, I don’t want it to be because of my sake. Family is everything to me. He’s my most important piece. Let it be because of Xander’s sake or Titus’s sake. We should head home now. I’ll see you tomorrow at sudoku club?”

 

This was probably the most difficult time not to cry. Chanel felt her emotions battering her like a tidal wave. She was usually very adept at not showcasing her feelings. She had to blink back her tears, so Xander didn’t notice. She was glad that her head was tilted toward victor and all her husband could see was the back of her head.

 

Victor just looked at her and wondered how this woman could make him feel shame. He knew all about loss. He had been the only one in his nuclear family to still live. Loyalty meant everything in his family, it was the Greek way… the Kiriakis way.

 

He felt a pang in his heart at making her cry. He didn’t know what it was about her particularly, he liked that she was ambitious and spirited. Her manuscript was one of the best pieces of literature he's ever read, and it wasn't even done. She was so much like Melia in the book. That was one of his favorite literary characters and he felt like he was somehow in front of a real-life version of her.

 

She reminded him of something he couldn’t quite put his finger on yet. Making her cry felt wrong. He looked at his nephew who was in his own world oblivious to what was being talked about. He didn’t understand how it was so easy for him to keep Justin on the right side but so easy for him to throw Xander into a world that was filled with nothing but danger and suspicion. Titus had deserved more than that for his son, it was something that Victor didn’t really want to reckon with himself. He didn’t want to examine how his brother would feel about him doing this. He knew that Xander had some troubles in his youth and instead of trying to steer him into the right direction, he just used it as an excuse to make Xander do the dirty dealings.

 

But there his nephew was making his own way… He was legit. He makes sure to set up Google alerts for his Xander’s company. The trajectory looked good, the business plan was sound and his nephew didn't even ask him for help. He knew that Xander would be too proud to do so anyways, it just made Victor prouder that he was able to do it on his own.

 

He had a lot to think about.

 

“Yes, I’ll see you tomorrow. you know how to effectively use your power. You are so much like Melia.”

 

Chanel’s hand found her husband’s. She then got up. It alerted Xander that it was time to go.

 

“Uncle Vic, you don't know how high of an honor it is to be compared to Melia. To have the love I have compared to her own makes me trust that you know that I will always protect my husband from any and everyone.” Chanel knew that Victor didn’t know the significance of Melia, how integral she is to the identity of her family... to her.

 

Victor saw her with new eyes. He could see that she had a ruthlessness like the character. He knew that she could be ruthless, but he was starting to understand just how deep it could go.

 

“We're going to get going now. As always Uncle Vic has been a pleasure.”

 

Victor only gave him a nod in acknowledgement.

 

Xander got up and started to walk away from the living room and his uncle. Chanel followed but she gave a wave goodbye to Victor before she left.

 

As they were driving home, Xander was curious at what they were talking about. If she were just dropping off books, it shouldn’t have taken as long as it did.

 

“Leannan, what were you talking about with my uncle? It seemed pretty long for books.”

 

Chanel didn’t like lying to Xander… She didn’t like omitting the truth because it also felt like a lie.

 

“Baby… What I said to him is in confidence… It wasn’t anything bad I promise. It was a private conversation though. If you really want to know I will tell you.” Chanel was telling the truth, she would tell him if she had no other choice.

 

“I was just curious. If it was something said in confidence, then it should stay that way. I respect that. I also know if he was talking shit about me that you would rip him a new asshole.” Xander said as he placed his hand on his wife’s thigh.

 

“I know that’s right.” Chanel picked his hand up and brought to her lips and gave his hand a kiss.

 

It took them about 5 more minutes, but they were finally home.

 

“I have you all to myself again.” He hugged her from behind and planted a kiss on her jaw.

 

“Yes, you do. And for being so gracious in doing what I asked I believe that I need to keep my end of the bargain. Have you decided what you wanted to eat? Obviously if we don’t have it, we can go out to eat or order in.

 

“Yes, I don’t want anything too complicated. How about steak frites for dinner and your cunny for dessert?”

 

Chanel’s eyes bugged out for a second. She turned around in her husband’s arms and looked at him. His blue eyes were gleaming. She swore if she turned the lights off that she could see color emitting from his eyes in the dark.

 

“I did tell you anything you want. I don’t break my promises, do I?”

 

“No, I can’t say that you do.”

 

“You’re going to have to let me go so I can actually make some food.”

 

“I can’t seem to be very far from you. How about I help you? I promise I won’t do anything too untoward. Scout's honor…”

 

“You know you’re a damn lie. You never been a scout a day in your life.”

 

“A damn lie… that’s what I am is it?” He bit his lip and slapped her on the ass for her cheekiness.

 

Chanel giggled.

 

“Let's get this show on the road because I really want you to have your dessert. Let me see if we still have truffles, that would make the frites even better.”

 

Xander thought he might almost drool when his wife made the mention of possibly having truffle on top of the frites.

 

“Baby we do. Not that much left but we have to use it anyways before it goes bad.” Chanel had bought truffles before Pilates on Thursday.

 

They tended to last five days, so they were cutting it close, but it still smelled good.

 

“God, I love you so much.” Xander was ready to really eat now.

 

He couldn’t find any way to cap off the weekend on a higher note than making a meal at home with his wife. He doesn’t think that he stopped smiling ever since she said for him to wash the potatoes. He didn’t think anything could get better than this.

Chapter Text

Chanel had gotten a text from Ciara asking her to pick her up from the house. She thought it was a little peculiar because they had sudoku club, so it made no sense to pick up Ciara, but she did it anyways.

 

She suspected that Ciara just wanted to get out of the house and she was willing to oblige her friend. When she got to the Kiriakis house, Ciara was already outside. She didn’t even get out the car because her friend was walking over to her.

 

It felt like a breath of fresh air to be outside for Ciara. She stayed home a lot because she really didn't feel like being out. She was related to so many people and hated running into them because it would always be the same thing. They would ask her how she was doing and it was really code word for do you remember life yet... It was annoying and she felt bad for getting mad.

 

But she didn’t know how else to be because it was the same thing over and over. Seeing the faces of expectation and her not being able to remember honestly made her feel like shit. It felt like a failure in a way because other people who have lost their memory have gotten it back and she always feels like people are looking at her wondering why I can’t just be with the same with her.

 

 

It just seemed easier to stay in the house because she felt so close to snapping. She didn’t want to snap on someone she really cared about. She knew they were just having hope for her and looking out for her. But it also felt like a box that she was stifled in. People were expecting a different Ciara and she couldn’t deliver on that.

 

But it became hard because she’s not a person who’s hardwired to just stay home until she doesn't know when. She always liked being busy and finding new things to do. She wanted adventure… She wanted to live her life, but she didn't feel like she could right now in Salem. This place was her home but dealing with the Stares and hopeful expressions only made it worse.

 

It was nice to have friends who we’re unconnected to it. She felt like she could relax around them and not feel as if every move she made would be scrutinized.

 

She remembered what it was like to be carefree and to have fun. To laugh… she did that mostly from the comfort of her grandfather’s house, but she wanted to be out. It was why she asked Chanel to pick her up first before they went to pick up Andrea from her job.

 

She wanted some time to just talk to Chanel. They’ve gone through some similar things, and it made Ciara trust in her friend more because of it.

 

“So how are you today?” Ciara asked while playing with Chanel’s phone.

 

She was going through the playlist on Chanel’s phone trying to get a mood going. She wanted some upbeat fun songs to play.

 

As she was looking through the next song while Chanel drove to the park, a message chimed on Chanel’s phone.

 

She saw that it was from Xander. She was just happy that it wasn’t something X rated. It was definitely not something that she could decipher. She thought that something was wrong with his auto correct.

 

“Your husband sent you a text. It looks like his auto correct is fucked up. Do you know what ‘the goal a game ort’ means?” Ciara rolled her eyes at what Xander sent.

 

Chanel thought the Ciara was crazy. The girl just wasn’t making any kind of sense. There is no way her husband would send her some gibberish.

 

“I have no clue what you’re saying… Let me see…” She started to figure that maybe her husband was speaking in Gaelic.

 

Tha gaol agam ort.  – Xander

 

She started laughing because it was funny to hear someone butchering the words, I love you.

 

“That’s definitely not how you say it. Xander said he loves me. The first t is silent. It sounds like this.”

 

Chanel said the phrase the best way she could. She wasn’t some expert in Gaelic, but she heard it enough from Xander where she didn’t feel like she was being plain old disrespectful.

 

“So it’s not phonetically like English…” Ciara started laughing because her pronunciation was in a different zip code.

 

“Absolutely not. It’s super romantical at least it is when Xander speaks to it to me. Can you please answer him back…? Can you write… never mind. I’ll just wait until we can get to a red light. It’s not like you know German.”

 

“Well why don’t you just say it in English? I have no problem writing it… Or texting it rather.” Ciara didn’t think it was a big deal to just say it in English.

 

She then thought about it and figured that Chanel may not have wanted her to know what she wanted to say to her husband.

 

“It's not like that. English is one of the only languages where I love you doesn’t have categories. You can say I love you to your kid or you can say I love you to your significant other with the same words. It’s not like that in German. There’s love that’s only reserved for your romantic partner. You wouldn’t say it to anyone else… you would actually look weird if you did. I love him in the highest way. When he tells me he loves me in Gaelic… I tell him I love him in German. It’s a way that we feel connected on the same level even though it's two completely different languages that have absolutely different linguistic trees. It’s not like we don’t say I love you because we do… but sometimes it's more than that. I guess we’re weird.” Chanel really didn't know how to explain her thought process when it came to loving her husband to someone who wasn’t her husband.

 

“I don’t think it’s weird. I think it’s poetic in a way. It makes sense in a way I guess because you’re a writer. You know how to express love with words that go beyond those simple 3 words. The only thing I find weird about it is the fact that it’s Xander, not the act itself.”

 

Chanel laughed because Ciara always was befuddled by her romance with Xander. Instead of waiting for the next red light because there weren’t any, Chanel just texted her husband when they got to the park.

 

Ich liebe dich so sehr. – Chanel

 

“What did you do to warrant him speaking in another tongue for you?” Ciara loved teasing.

 

Ever since she started hanging out with Chanel, Andrea and Daniela… she found that there was an art for teasing and roasting. The person she knew that roasted the most before she met them was her grandfather and their clubs tended to be so much fun because they were trading insults to each other.

 

They wouldn't be the standard super hurtful ones, they were usually witty and clever. Some of them even went over her head and hours later she got the full scope and would be laughing in a fit in her room alone.

 

“Ciara don't ask questions you don't want the answer to…” Chanel was trying to steer the conversation away from that area.

 

“Why? Did you greet him with a coffee and a blowjob?!” Ciara was making her own self laugh.

 

Just for that Chanel couldn’t help herself.

 

“That’s exactly what I did and then he fucked me on his desk. Is that enough for you?” Chanel smirked at her friend.

 

She truly enjoyed seeing Ciara’s jaw drop.

 

The last thing she ever needed was visuals of her cousin and her friend having sex.

 

“I am thoroughly disgusted, but I guess good for you.” Ciara said as she started to walk a little faster.

 

“I could give you the play by play, but I think that would be TMI. You wanna get some ice cream?”

 

“It's a little early but fuck it. We can do whatever we want we’re adults. Time is arbitrary.”

 

“I know that’s right.” Chanel gave her friend a hip bump.

 

“I need something nice to distract me from the chaos you just inflicted upon me.”

 

“You love me very much and you can only blame yourself because you walked right into it. If you kept your comment to yourself, I would have kept my comment to myself.” Chanel looped her arm through Ciara’s and they walked arm and arm to the ice cream stand.

 

When neither of the ladies could see was that people were watching them… a specific person was watching them.

 

“I truly feel like I’m in the twilight zone. I can’t believe that Ciara is around that scamming bitch Chanel.” Claire was livid.

 

She thought it would be nice to go to the park with Allie and Henry, but now she was regretting it. She couldn’t understand how her best friend and family could hang out with someone so wretched.

 

Allie was a little taken aback at Claire and her comment. Tripp told her all about the run in with Chanel. She didn’t think it was a big deal, the bill was paid by Chanel’s mother. He told her that he saw her a couple of times around town and she was pretty nice to him after their first interaction. She couldn't understand why Claire wouldn't let it go if Tripp could...

 

“Tripp said she’s pretty nice. You can’t really judge someone on one interaction that you had with them. Trust me Claire, I know all about that.”

 

“Tripp would say that about anyone. She is a grade A bitch. The next time I saw her after she tried to scam us, she was a bitch then too.” It started to rile Claire up even more.

 

“It clearly got to you. What did she do that was so terrible?” Allie felt that Claire was being overdramatic.

 

“So Tripp and I were at the supermarket, and we saw her. We were on the way to the deli to get sandwiches. Anyways we start talking and she was being so rude to me, saying that I only came with Tripp to get free food. Then she slipped money in his pocket to pay for my sandwich and then started speaking French. I don’t know what she said, but she was probably talking shit.”

 

“Really?! Because Tripp told me all about that and he said that you went up to her and started talking to her. He said that you were implying that she was trying to scam someone to pay for her groceries and then she turned it around on you saying that you were hanging out with Tripp so you could get free food from him, and Tripp speaks French from taking it in high school. She didn’t say anything bad about you. She said to enjoy the sandwich on her. Claire are you really mad at her or do you need a reason to be mad at something?” Allie wasn’t trying to be rude to her cousin it just seemed as if Claire was finding any reason to not like Chanel.

 

Claire didn’t like being put on the spot, she didn’t know that Tripp had spoken to Allie about the grocery store incident. She was so upset when Tripp actually used the money to buy her sandwich.

 

“Why would I need to be mad at someone? she's a con artist…”

 

“And you're being rude. Claire she was minding her own business and you went to her. You were the one starting stuff with her. You have to let that check thing go. It seems really petty for you to try and hold on to something like that when you didn't pay the bill. I don’t really think it’s honestly about Chanel.” Allie may have not been in the situation herself, but it just seemed stupid to hold a grudge over all of this.

 

“She tried to stick me with a $500 check. Why wouldn’t I be mad at that?”

 

“And like I said her mother paid for it. There’re so much more serious things going on in the world than to be hung up on that. I think you’re jealous of her. You see her hanging out with Ciara and you can’t.” It didn't take a genius to figure out why her cousin was mad.

 

She was clearly distraught at the fact that their cousin was not forgiving Claire for what she did to her.

 

“Ciara deserves to know exactly who Chanel is and I’m going to tell her.” Claire got ready to go to the ice cream stand.

 

“The hell you will! Claire, I love you but you need to get a grip. The last thing you need to do right now is go to Ciara. She has made her feelings clear. She doesn’t want you around her. You have to respect that. Every time you don't you only make it harder for her to even get in the realm of forgiving you.”

 

“Is that what she told you?” Claire wanted to know because Allie told her that she didn’t want to be in the middle of what was going on between the two of them.

 

“I don’t know Claire. Ciara doesn't talk to me about you. She doesn’t want me to be in the middle of the two of you. I love you both and I’m not going to choose a side, but I do think you need to back off. You need to give her breathing room… if you want her to ever forgive you… you have to give her the space to do it. Every time she sees you, she’s only going to think about the fire and how she felt during it. It’s probably re-traumatizing her every single time you don’t respect her boundaries.”

 

“Okay. I get it… I know I shouldn’t be around her right now because it only makes it tougher for her, but she shouldn’t be hanging out with scammers like Chanel. Chanel probably latched onto her because she knows that Ciara is from a prominent family and is trying to take advantage of that. She deserves to know the kind of person that Chanel is.”

 

“We're back to this again. Ciara’s friendship with Chanel is none of your business. And I have never known Ciara to be gullible… ever. She’s always had an investigative mind so if she doesn’t think that Chanel is worth her time then she wouldn’t be hanging out with her. You really need to stop this jealousy thing because it’s clearly eating at you.” Allie was trying to be patient, but she was finding it becoming increasingly difficult the more Claire dug her heels in.

 

Before Claire could say anything else her phone started to ring.

 

“It's my mom calling me. I gotta take this… I’ll be back.” Claire answered the phone and started to talk to Belle.

 

On the other side of the park Chanel and Ciara sat down at a bench and enjoyed their ice cream cones.

 

“Can I ask you something?” Ciara was wondering about this for awhile.

 

“Sure.”

 

“Obviously I don’t have a big chunk of my life. It’s also made me inquisitive about it. I don’t have any real sexual experience. I know I’m literally living in the past… but I was thinking I was ready to take that step with Tripp when everything happened. I don’t no anything besides what Chase did to me. I know it might be too personal to ask but what does sex feel like or what should it feel like?”

 

Ciara felt they have a friendship that she could ask these things. It wasn’t like she wanted to know about the inner workings of Chanel’s sex life… she just wanted to know about something she knew nothing about. The only thing she could ever tie sex to was violence and she didn't want to do that anymore.

 

“Honestly… It can feel like a multitude of things. Sex can be different things at different times. Sometimes it can be soft and make you feel like love is going to burst from your body. Other times it can feel like it’s an itch that you need to scratch. It can be something that you crave like you would ice cream. Sex is not created equal… sometimes you want to fuck and want it to be aggressive and rough… Other times you can want it to be like making love and you wanted to be tender and yearning. Sometimes you just want to climax. If you are not ready to have sex… I can get you some of my favorite sex toys. It can help you feel more comfortable with sex and the pleasurable parts that it can bring.  Sometimes it can be terrible, so terrible you have to tell your best friend about it. But it’s always going to be something all parties need to consent to. I don’t think you need me to explain the mechanics of sex but if you need I can.”

 

Ciara laughed at she knows joke the last thing she needed was the mechanics of sex. She has seen porn before and could understand the logistics even if she hadn't.

 

“Please, I don’t need any mechanics from you. I think I like the idea of the sex toys… thank you for listening to me. It feels good to be able to talk about this. I feel so late in the game even though realistically I know that I had to be having it because looking at Ben, he definitely looks like a guy who has a lot of sex or did.”

 

“It’s not a problem. I get it you’re in a difficult situation. You basically have to start over. I don’t mind sharing info with you about that. You have to re-discover a lot of things and it’s honestly not fun especially when you didn’t have good relationships with certain parts. But speaking of fun… I’m doing this thing for my sister… it’s like celebrating her impending voyage. I’m renting this party bus that’s taking us to Chicago so we can go to some clubs. I invited some of my sister’s friends from Miami. Dani is coming too! Lani doesn’t even know it yet. She just thinks that it’s going to be us going. It would be great for you to get out of the city and have fun without worrying about people staring… you can dance and drink the night away if you want to. It’s something to think about but it is tomorrow night and Andrea is going if that helps.”

 

 Ciara did like the idea of being able to have fun outside of the jurisdiction of Salem. She really kept herself in the house most days because she didn't like the alternative of going into town.

 

“I love my sister, but I need a sister like you. You’re celebrating your sister’s vacation by taking her partying?! I fucking love you!”

 

“Of course… I’m celebrating my sister. Besides being amazing and beautiful and my sister, she deserves it.” Chanel always wanted Lani to feel appreciated.

 

Ciara nodded because she agreed… she knew that it was tough to have a baby, but Lani had to that she had to take care of.

 

“Yeah, she does! She is so awesome, I’m so glad that she is with Eli, and they have their amazing family.” Ciara was happy for her cousin and his family.

 

“Me too. We should get ready to go because Andrea should be almost done with work.” Chanel looked at her watch and saw that their friend should be getting off of work soon.

 

“I almost forgot. Let’s go… almost time for sudoku club.”

 

They got up and went back to Chanel’s car. When Chanel had gotten to the Salem Inn, Andrea was just coming outside.

 

“Hola amigas!” Andrea was so happy to be out of work.

 

It had been pretty slow because they didn't have much people coming to check in, so she was just stuck behind the front reception desk on her phone. She was jealous that her friends got ice cream while she was stuck there.

 

“Hello! It seems like you're happy to have escaped work. It's not like you're going to have to do it for much longer since we have jobs!” Ciara was anxious about being employed again.

 

It was going to be different because she and Andrea we're going to be working for Chanel and Lani. She had no clue about how to edit videos, but Chanel promised that she would teach them, and it would become second nature to them. She liked the idea of getting to work with her friends because it meant that she wouldn't be stuck in the house, and she would be around people who didn't stress her out.

 

“I'm so fucking excited! It was the best feeling when I gave them my two weeks last week. I'm so ready to just be out of there.” Andrea was glad that her time at the Salem inn was going to be done soon.

 

It could get pretty boring, but she could have knocked that it was an easy job... she was just ready for something new.

 

“I'm so ready for you to be done with that place... Chanel where do you keep the gum?” Ciara asked as she wanted to freshen her breath.

 

She didn't wait for an answer before she started looking... the first place she checked was the armrest and she was in for the surprise of her life when she opened it. Instead of finding random things like a pack of gum, she saw a mountain of condoms.

 

“Oh my god! You have like 1000 condoms in here?!” Ciara was surprised that the condoms were basically filled all the way to the top.

 

Andrea started laughing at her friend space because her mouth was opened so wide in surprise.

 

Ciara just picked up a handful of condoms and drop them like a waterfall.

 

“What?! They come in handy! And I don't keep gum in the car... it's in my handbag. You see what happens when you go looking for things before someone can give you an answer?! Girl… close your mouth you lucky that I never have the windows down because a fly could go in your mouth right now.” Chanel loved that Ciara was mortified. That would teach her to not just go to places without permission.

 

“Before you close the armrest you can pass me some of those so I can save myself a trip.” Andrea was not going to pass up the opportunity to get some free condoms.

 

Ciara got a handful and passed them to her friend absentmindedly.

 

“I'm trying so hard not to throw up at the idea of me sitting in a place where you have sex with my cousin?!”

 

“Then you can’t be anywhere in this car or my house... just saying. I get the car detailed every week... It's not a big deal... Ciara, I'm telling you when it's good... It is good!”

 

Ciara blushed because now she really wasn't thinking about her cousin and her best friend... she was thinking about her supposed husband. Clearly, she could see that Chanel had no qualms about having sex with Xander knowing exactly who he is... She knows that she was the same about Ben even though she couldn't remember it. She found herself wondering what sex was like with him... She could imagine that they had good sexual chemistry even though she couldn't remember it.

 

“She is most certainly right. I am stocking up on these just in case for tomorrow.” Andrea was so ready to party in Chicago... she was even more ready at the prospect of finding someone to hook up with.

 

Ciara rolled her eyes, but she couldn't really disagree... she was excited for tomorrow too.

 

It only took them about 5 more minutes to get to the Kiriakis mansion. Ciara used her key, and they went straight to the study because it was almost