Home > Billionaire Unbound ~ Chloe (The Billionaire's Obsession #8)(11)

Billionaire Unbound ~ Chloe (The Billionaire's Obsession #8)(11)
Author: J.S. Scott

She’d been worried about Blake.

She’d been worried about Zane.

Why had she never really been concerned about Chloe?

My mind was too full of safety concerns about the boys. My baby girl never complains, and I never knew she had any significant issues. But I should have seen her pain, asked more questions when I suspected her relationship with James wasn’t completely healthy. I just didn’t know how very bad it really was…

“Don’t cry, Mom.” Chloe got up from her chair and pulled her mother into a hug.

“I’m so sorry, Chloe,” Aileen said as she rose to hug her.

“It isn’t your fault,” Chloe replied staunchly. “I was ignorant about men when I met James, and becoming engaged to him kept me that way.”

“What happened to make you change?” Aileen asked curiously as they both sat down again. “How did you know you had to find the strength to break it off?”

Chloe smiled fondly. “Lara,” she answered simply. “She’s teaching me to kick major ass, and she knows a lot about unhealthy relationships. She had one or two herself before she met Tate. Not with abuse, but they weren’t good relationships. She helped me get into counseling, and it’s helped a lot.”

Aileen sighed, grateful that Tate had married such a wonderful woman, a female who’d opened her daughter’s eyes to the truth when she couldn’t see it herself. “She’s good for him.”

Chloe rolled her eyes. “That’s putting it mildly. They practically worship each other,” she answered whimsically. “I’d like to have a relationship like theirs one day.”

“You will, Chloe. Just don’t settle for less than you deserve,” Aileen warned, the brief look of longing in her daughter’s eyes squeezing at her heart.

Her daughter shrugged. “I guess I’m not sure what I deserve yet. I never expected much because I’m not exactly the ideal woman. Really, I was probably an easy target for James because I never quite liked myself.”

For several moments, Aileen looked at her youngest child in shock. “I don’t understand. You’re beautiful and educated. You also have a great deal of money, which I hope will never be a factor in any future relationships, but I’m not sure what else you could want.”

“I want to not be fat,” Chloe admitted unhappily.

Aileen gaped at Chloe for a moment before answering. “You’re built just like I am.” Chloe was curvy—she had inherited her mother’s figure—but she certainly couldn’t be defined as being fat. She’d been chubby in high school, but nothing she hadn’t outgrown when she’d matured. “We’re just built this way.”

Chloe had exactly the same curvy hips and padded butt that she had, and Aileen had never once considered herself overweight.

“I always felt different,” Chloe admitted. “But I had Ellie, so I was happy. When I first started dating James, he was charming. The bad stuff came later.”

Aileen’s heart squeezed as she thought about Chloe’s best friend. There was still no information on what had become of the lost woman, and it hurt to think of Ellie coming to any harm. Chloe would be devastated, and Aileen had always adored her daughter’s best friend. “They’ll find her,” she told Chloe supportively.

I just hope they find her alive. After six months missing, it’s not likely.

“I hope so,” Chloe answered fervently.

Aileen took a sip of the hot chocolate she’d made when Chloe had come home. “I’m glad Gabe was there tonight.”

“Me, too,” Chloe admitted. “It was rather mortifying, but I was glad he came to help. To my rescue, actually. It would have been more of a scene if he hadn’t. Still, I wish it hadn’t been Gabe…” Maybe it had needed to be Gabe so she could talk about her pain, but now she was a little embarrassed by the way she had poured her heart out to him.

“Why do you dislike him so much?” Aileen asked curiously, already certain she knew the answer. “He’s always been nice to you.” Truth be told, he’d always been fond of teasing Chloe, and Aileen suspected he didn’t do it for no reason.

“I don’t dislike him. I just don’t really like him.” Chloe laughed at her own words. “That doesn’t quite sound right, does it? Actually, he offered me a job, a chance to get away from town. I guess Doc Thomas retired, so he needs a new resident vet.”

Aileen’s spirits rose. “Are you going to do it?”

Chloe paused thoughtfully. “I want to. I took that extra residency to train in equine medicine so I’d be able to feel comfortable working with horses. But Gabe owns some pretty pricey horseflesh. I’d think he’d want someone with more experience than me.”

“Everybody starts somewhere. And you do have the additional training. You’re perfectly capable, Chloe,” Aileen replied, sending silent thanks to Gabe for being so thoughtful. Chloe was qualified for the position, and it would be a good experience for her. She was actually more than a little overqualified for the position she was filling at the animal clinic since she’d taken the extra residency to specialize in equine medicine.

“Starting with really expensive horses wasn’t my plan, but you know how much I’d love to do that kind of work.”

Aileen knew. Chloe had been horse crazy from the time she could walk. “Do it. It will give you a chance to get away for a while, concentrate on something else.” And someone other than James.

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