My peace, p.1
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       My Peace, p.1
 

         Part #5 of Beautifully Broken series by Courtney Cole
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  1

  My Peace

  Happy endings must be worked for.

  Pax Tate used to be an effed up asshole, but you’d never know it now.

  He’s got a sexy wife, their own little family, a cozy home, and a successful career.

  Everything is perfect.

  Until his past rears its ugly head.

  Pax will do anything to protect his family,

  even if he destroys himself in the process.

  ****

  Copyright  2017 by Courtney Cole

  Names, characters and incidents depicted in this novel are products of the author’s imagination and are used fictitiously.

  Any resemblance to actual events, locales, organizations or persons (living or dead) is entirely coincidental and is beyond the intent of the author or publisher.

  No part of this book may be reproduced without written permission from the author or publisher. If you are reading this book and you did not purchase it from the author/publisher, or it was not given to you directly by the author/publisher, then this book is pirated.

  Piracy is a crime.

  Please delete any pirated book and purchase it through an authorized distributor.

  Prologue

  I am flat on my back, I think.

  It’s hard to say, because I feel like I’m floating. Through space, through water, through something.

  I’m the perfect temperature. Not hot, not cold.

  Nothing bothers me here, not in this abyss. Worries, stress, reality. All are gone. Far from me, far from here.

  I can’t feel.

  I can’t think.

  I don’t need to.

  Still, even though it’s perfect here, and black and void, something isn’t right. I know that. It niggles at me, bothering me, like an itch. I scratch at it, at the thought, and I realize that it bothers me because I shouldn’t be here.

  This is an old familiar place, a place I haven’t visited in a long time.

  Oblivion.

  How did I get here?

  What the fuck happened?

  I furrow my brow and try to think…

  2

  Chapter One

  Pax

  Pushing back from my desk, I stretch, arching my back and flexing my arms.

  My leather shoes squeak when I move, and my toes are confined.

  I fucking hate wearing suits.

  Glancing at my watch, I realize the time.

  “Damn it.” I grab the phone and punch the button for my assistant.

  “Yes, Mr. Tate?”

  “Would you call my car for me? I’m late.”

  “Yes, sir.”

  I don’t bother reminding her that she doesn’t need to call me sir. Sasha was my grandfather’s assistant before he retired, and he was old-school. Old habits die hard for her.

  As I stride through my office doors, Sasha scrambles to her feet at her desk.

  “Here’s your bag,” she thrusts it into my hands. “But what should I tell Mr. Andre? You had a meeting with him tonight to discuss a proposal.”

  “Fuck,” I mutter. “I forgot. Can you reschedule for tomorrow? I’ve got somewhere important to be.”

  “Of course. Have a good night, sir.”

  “You, too.”

  When I reach the street, the doorman opens the door for me, and my car is waiting, a long sleek, black Cadillac. It was also inherited from my grandfather. He believed that the CEO of Alexander Holdings should arrive and depart from work in a chauffeured car. He was, and still is, a big believer in creating your own reality.

  If we portray a sense of success, we will be successful.

  We already are, and we don’t need to put on a show to prove it, but I grudgingly agreed to his quirks when I took over for him two years ago. “I need to get to the Minnow, Rog,” I tell the driver. “I’m late.”

  “Will do.” He takes off like a bullet, and I go about the impossible task of changing my clothes in the backseat of a moving car.

  My legs are long, so folding and contorting myself to change clothes must look ridiculous. I see Roger’s lip twitch in the rearview mirror.

  “Shut it,” I growl at him, shoving my arm into a black t-shirt sleeve. I lift my hips and wiggle into my favorite jeans, and thankfully, finally, replace my loafers with broken-in cowboy boots.

  “Ahh,” I sigh, settling back into the seat. “That’s more like it.”

  I’m comfortable in jeans and a tee. It’s where I belong. It’s much easier to swallow being driven around when you’re wearing comfortable clothes.

  I grab my phone and text my wife.

  Babe, I’ll be there in 5.

  There are three bubbles.

  Hurry up. I miss you.

  I smile. I’m coming.

  Three bubbles. You wish.

  I laugh now, and this is my favorite part of my day… when I get to see Mila. She’s just the right combination of sassy and sweet, sexy and innocent. She’s perfect, and deep down, I know I don’t deserve her. But she’s stayed with me anyway.

  Soon, the car glides up to the curb in front of the Wounded Minnow, and I get out.

  “You don’t need to wait. I’ll drive home with my wife.”

  Roger nods. “Have a good night, boss.”

  “You, too.”

  I push through the front door of the bar, and search the crowded room. Mila stands up at a booth in the back and her face lights up when she smiles, her green eyes bright.

  She’s with her sister and brother-in-law, Madison and Gabe. They all wave, and I weave through the crowded room to get to them. When I do, Mila stands up on her tiptoes to kiss me, her soft lips pressed to mine. She smells like lavender and vanilla, like all things good in the world.

  She smells like home.

  “Hey, babe,” I murmur against her lips, and my hands stretch around to press her hips into mine. “I missed you.”

  “I missed you, too,” she answers, and she wiggles up against me.

  “God, get a room,” Madison groans from the table, and we break apart, laughing.

  “It’s not my fault that your husband is too tired to…”

  “Watch it,” Gabe interrupts me, glaring over his whiskey glass. “When you have a two-month old again, one who doesn’t want to sleep, you can give me shit about being tired. Until then, bite me.”

  His eyes are red, there are bags under them, and the whole thing cracks me up.

  “Odd that Maddy looks as gorgeous as usual,” I point out, sliding into the booth and kissing my sister-in-law on the cheek. She really does look gorgeous, tall and blonde. She is the polar opposite of my wife, who is petite and brunette. But they are both beautiful.

  “Flattery gets you everywhere,” Maddy promises me, and she signals for the bartender. “He needs a drink,” she announces to him.

  “Just club soda,” I tell him.

  Maddy rolls her eyes. “You can let loose tonight,” she tells me. “We’re celebrating.”

  “What exactly are we celebrating?” I ask as Mila settles into the crook of my arm, her hand on my thigh. Her fingers slide upward a little, toward my groin, and I give her side-eye. The evil minx grins from ear to ear.

  “You know… your contract with Defense Tech,” Mila reminds me, as though her fingers aren’t a quarter of an inch from my penis.

  I swallow. “Oh, yes. Another year of me keeping Gabe in a job.”

  Gabe cackles, and rolls his eyes because it’s not true and we both know it. His business has grown exponentially, and without my business, his body armor company would still be fine. I did give him his start, though. And I’m never one to pass up taking credit for something.

  “Whatever,” he grunts. “You’re lucky to have me and you
know it, dude.”

  We laugh and chat for the next hour, and it feels so fucking good to be sitting around a table in a dingy little bar with the people I love the most.

  “How was ZuZu today?” I ask my wife.

  “Same as when you left this morning. Four going on fourteen.”

  “That’s my girl,” I grin.

  “I’m still pissed that you aren’t calling her Maddy,” Madison complains. “You named her after me. I feel cheated.”

  “Whatever,” Mila tells her. “It got confusing and you know it.”

  “Yeah, but to nickname her after the girl in A Wonderful Life? That movie is just depressing,” she complains again. “Seriously.”

  “It is not,” Mila defends us. “And it’s also after her middle name, Susanna. ZuZu is a fitting name. So hush.”

  Maddy rolls her eyes, but my daughter has her wrapped around her little pinkie and we all know it. Maddy has bought her approximately one hundred pairs of shoes in this year alone.

  I start to mention it, but Maddy holds up her hand. “She needed those pink cowboy boots.”

  I snort. “What about the other ninety-nine pairs?”

  “That’s neither here nor there,” Maddy sniffs.

  Mila laughs and signals the waiter for another glass of wine. “You want a glass, honey?” she asks me.

  “Sure. One glass won’t hurt anything.”

  Maddy sighs from across the table. “You’ve got such willpower, Pax.”

  “And to think, you used to think I was a lost cause,” I rib her.

  “I did,” she admits without remorse. “But you proved us all wrong.”

  “Yup.”

  We order big juicy burgers, and Mila and I sip at our wine while Maddy and Gabe play a game of pool. Mila nestles in the crook of my shoulder, and I run my fingers through the tips of her dark hair.

  “Did you have a good day?” I ask and her fingers curl around my arm.

  “Yes. It’s better now, though.”

  I smile, kissing the top of her head.

  “Yeah.”

  “How was work?”

  I growl lightly. “Nope. No work talk. I’m out of that suit and I’m here with you.”

  Mila smiles. “I don’t think you dislike it nearly as much as you say.”

  I think on that. I don’t dislike the respect that the job commands. I don’t dislike the salary, although, since I’ve always had a trust fund, the money wasn’t new to me.

  “I guess I just hate the confinement,” I admit. “I hate the suits. And the Yes, sirs. It doesn’t feel like me.”

  “It’s not you,” Mila agrees. “It’s just your job. You can be you again when you come home. But you’re so good at what you do. Your grandfather was just telling me so the other day.”

  I can’t help but feel satisfaction in that, in his approval. William Alexander is hard to impress, and once you’ve done it, you don’t forget it.

  “Good.”

  “He’s coming over for dinner next week,” she mentions. I nod.

  “Ok.”

  The heat from Mila’s body is comforting, and we are spooned together as much as we can be in a bar booth. Mila lifts her head from my chest. “I’m ready to go home now,” she tells me softly. Her eyes are large and suggestive.

  “Any particular reason why?” I ask, my eyebrow raised.

  “I’ll give you three guesses,” she answers, sliding her hand discreetly up my thigh again.

  I catch her fingers deftly.

  “Ok. Let’s get you out of here before you get us arrested for indecent exposure.”

  She giggles and we head to the pool table to say our goodnights. We leave Madison winning at pool and Gabe desperately trying to pretend he’s losing on purpose. We all know better. He’s a big bad Army Ranger, but Madison doesn’t lose at anything she puts her mind to.

  We walk through the dark parking lot to my wife’s SUV. I open the passenger door and help her in, and when I get in the driver’s side, I’m assaulted immediately by my wife.

  She presses against me, her lips against mine, her tongue plunging into my mouth.

  “I’ve really missed you,” she says softly, her hand splayed against my chest.

  “I’ve only been gone eight hours,” I tell her, but I’m not very convincing, because I missed her too.

  “We’re pathetic,” she points out, but she doesn’t care and neither do I.

  “We’re lucky,” I correct her, as I stroke my fingers against her. She arches into my hand.

  “Very lucky. And you’re about to get luckier.”

  She unfastens my pants and dips her head, and before I know it, my wife is giving me a blowjob in the parking lot.

  I suck in a breath as her fingers curl around my balls, just like I’d taught her years ago.

  “Fuck,” I exhale.

 
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