Romance

I Choose You

Kelsie Tate

Jessie’s perfect life comes crashing down when she loses her job and her cheating boyfriend all on the same day. On a hunch, she heads to a small town in the California Redwoods where no one knows her. Will she be able to start over and make her own life? The town’s handsome doctor might have something to say about that!

Age Rating: 18+ (Assault, Domestic Violence, Stalker, Violence Against Women)

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I Choose You - Book cover
Romance

I Choose You

Kelsie Tate

Jessie’s perfect life comes crashing down when she loses her job and her cheating boyfriend all on the same day. On a hunch, she heads to a small town in the California Redwoods where no one knows her. Will she be able to start over and make her own life? The town’s handsome doctor might have something to say about that!

Age Rating: 18+ (Assault, Domestic Violence, Stalker, Violence Against Women)

1: The End of Perfect

JESSIE

I sat on the balcony of my high-rise apartment and looked out over the city. I sipped my coffee and a feeling of contentment spread through me.

“Hey babe, do you know where my wallet is?”

I perked up at hearing Liam’s voice. I stood and made my way back inside. “Is it in your jacket from yesterday?”

Liam stuck his hands in the pockets of the jacket he wore the day before. “No, why would it—oh…” Liam rolled his eyes, his wallet in his hand.

He gave me a quick kiss before heading out the door. “Love you!” he hollered as he walked out of the apartment.

“Love you too,” I replied before setting down my coffee and making my way in to get dressed. Liam had been less attentive lately. Work had been crazy, with new deals coming in all the time.

It irritated me, but I knew he was working hard to make our dreams a reality, and I was looking forward to getting some time with him this weekend.

I looked around at our apartment and let out a happy sigh. It was modern and sleek: white walls with hardwood floors and metal accents.

Chrome and glass covered the kitchen and the whole living area was swimming in light from the floor-to-ceiling windows that lined the back wall.

I walked into the bedroom and got dressed for the day in my expensive designer clothing. I threw on some black pumps and made my way to work as well.

I had graduated top of my class from Yale Law and had gotten a job as a corporate lawyer for a firm here in San Francisco. I loved my job and had worked my way up in the company.

“Good morning, Kathy!” I sang, handing the receptionist a coffee. If there was one thing I knew, it was that you always need to be on the good side of the receptionists.

“Oh, bless you dear!” Kathy was a middle-aged woman and one of the sweetest beings I had ever met, at least in San Francisco anyway.

“Any messages for me?”

“Nope, but I know Mr. Thomas was looking for you.”

I smiled. “Thank you!” I made my way to my office and sat down at my desk to do a few things before wandering to find Mr. Thomas.

My head snapped up when there was a tap on the door. “Hey Jess, do you have a minute?”

James Thomas was an older man. He had worked as the lead attorney for the company since the beginning, and the rumor was that he was retiring. He was a nice man and had taken me under his wing when I first started working here.

“Of course, come in!”

Mr. Thomas sat down and gave me a smile.

“I know you’ve heard the rumors. I’ll just say it, I’m retiring. It’ll be at the end of the month. But I wanted you to know that I recommended you for the position. You’ve done so well and can run circles around these other guys.”

I sat in shock, absolutely speechless. When I finally came back to reality I managed to stutter, “I—uh, thank you, Mr. Thomas! I don’t know what to say.”

“You deserve it,” he replied with a smile. “Show them what you’re made of.”

I was walking on air the rest of the day. I went home and changed into something more comfortable before making dinner.

I decided to make something fancy to celebrate my impending promotion. In the middle of cooking, Liam walked in, talking on the phone as usual.

He went into the bedroom and came out a half hour later, changed and finally off the phone.

“Hey, babe.” He gave me a kiss on the cheek as he walked past to get a drink of water.

“Hey! Go sit down, I’m almost done with dinner. I have some big news.”

“Oh really?” he replied flatly, grabbing a bottle of wine from the cooler.

I placed our plates on the table and sat down across from Liam, barely able to control my excitement.

We began eating, and I started in on my news. “So…James Thomas met with me this morning. Apparently, the rumors that he’s retiring are correct. Guess who he recommended as his replacement?!” I just about yelled.

Liam looked up, his face full of shock. “Jess, that’s awesome!”

“It is! I can’t believe it’s happening! I didn’t think it would happen so soon.”

Liam looked down at his food again and took a bite. “You deserve this. You’ve worked so hard.”

I beamed, glad he was excited for me.

That night as I lay naked in his arms, I smiled. Life was perfect. Everything was falling into place. The goals I had made were beginning to unfold.

***

I was determined to dominate today. I put on my best work outfit and the stiletto heels that made me feel like a boss. When I walked into work, I smiled at the receptionist. “Good morning, Kathy.”

“Good morning, Ms. Hanson,” she replied sweetly. I made my way to my office and had barely sat down before my boss walked in.

“Jessica, I need you to send me the McCain contract, and then make your way to my office,” said Mr. Garrison.

I smiled even though I hated it when people called me Jessica. “Today is the day!” I hummed.

When James Thomas had told me a few days ago that I was the top pick to replace him, I had been elated.

I was going to be promoted to head of legal and I was so excited. I was ready, and I knew I was the best person for the job.

“Mr. Garrison?” I opened the door slowly and my boss looked up from his work with a smile.

“I got the contract, thank you.”

I nodded in response. “Good.”

“Please, come in and have a seat. Coffee?”

“No, thank you.” I smiled, trying hard to contain my feelings.

“Well, I’ll just come out and say it. I know that you know you’re on the short list for head of legal. I wanted to inform you that we will be hiring Samuels for the job.”

Shock spread on my face. “What?”

“You do a great job, and I want you to keep doing what you’re doing.”

“I…umm…can I ask why?” I prodded as I attempted to keep my anger at bay.

“Samuels is just a better fit.” He smiled, and I knew exactly what that meant.

My anger now boiled over. “You mean he’s a man.”

The look on Mr. Garrison’s face went from shocked to confused to irritated. “Now look here…”

I stood up. “Mr. Garrison, I have more experience and seniority than Samuels. Dave is a good guy, but let’s be honest here. I’m the better lawyer.”

A scowl spread across my boss’s face. “Ms. Hanson, please watch your attitude. This is not professional.”

“No. What’s not professional is promoting someone based on how they fit into your golf schedule instead of their actual skill.” My blood was boiling.

Mr. Garrison stood. “That will be all, Ms. Hanson!”

I stormed out of his office and down the hall. When I collapsed at my desk, I bit my lip in frustration, and then in fear.

“Oh my gosh.” I threw my face in my hands, “I just yelled at my boss.”

Just then my phone rang in with a text.

LiamHey babe, got a table for tonight at Rubio’s, 7pm. Wear your best.

I let out a sigh. How was I going to tell Liam I didn’t get the job?

I was irritated. Scratch that, I was angry. I picked myself up and made my way to James Thomas’s office.

“Mr. Thomas?” I tapped on the door as I entered.

“Ms. Hanson! I hope you’re here to tell me the good news in person!”

I exhaled to keep from yelling. “Actually, they gave it to Samuels.”

Mr. Thomas scowled. “Idiots. Dave Samuels is a tool and a crap lawyer.”

“That’s what I said.” I rolled my eyes. We talked for a while, James giving advice on how to move past this.

I had just entered my office when my desk phone rang. “Jessie Hanson,” I answered.

“Ms. Hanson, Mr. Garrison would like to see you.”

“I’m on my way.” I hung up the phone and slumped in my chair. “Great,” I muttered before picking myself up and heading to my boss.

Maybe he’s come to his senses? I thought.

“Ms. Hanson, please sit down.” He motioned to the chair in front of his desk and I sat, trying to hide the anger still inside me.

“Ms. Hanson, your behavior earlier was displeasing and unprofessional to say the least.

“After having talked with the rest of legal, I don’t believe you will be able to properly function on our team with all of the animosity you’ve displayed.”

I sat in shock and confusion as his words sank in.

“You’re fired, Ms. Hanson.”

I slumped in the chair, words completely escaping me. How had I gone from getting my dream promotion to being fired?

My anger rose from my core but I was going to leave with as much dignity as I could muster. I sat up straight and spoke with a calm, cold voice.

“Thank you, Mr. Garrison, for showing me how not to run a firm. Let’s hope you don’t get sued for discrimination and wrongful termination.”

And with that I walked out of my now-former boss’s office and went back to mine to pack my things.

I walked past reception, Kathy giving me the most pitiful look, and entered the elevator. I had made myself the promise to not cry until I at least made it to the car.

I kept my little promise, but cried the whole way home. “How am I going to tell Liam?” I sobbed.

“How did I go from the best job ever to unemployed?! I’m a damn Yale graduate!” I yelled at the windshield as I drove through the streets of San Francisco until finally making it back to my home.

I wiped my tears and hoped none of my neighbors would see my puffy face. I was grateful Liam was at work, and I would have time to find the courage to tell him that I was now on the job hunt.

With my shoulders and head hung low I entered the apartment, kicking off my heels and making my way to the kitchen for a glass, or bottle, of wine. I grabbed the bottle and sat on the couch.

As I opened it, I heard a giggle. I turned around but when I didn’t hear it again, I continued. Then another giggle.

“What the…” I got up and looked around the apartment before opening the bedroom door, a loud moan escaping the room as I entered.

“WHAT THE HELL, LIAM?!”

Liam and the woman who was under him scrambled to cover themselves. Liam jumped out of the bed. “Jess? What are you doing here?”

I fumed. “I live here.”

“You’re supposed to be at work.”

“So are you, you jerk!!” I grabbed a picture off the shelf and chucked it at his head, narrowly missing. “Who the hell is that?” I pointed to the woman lying naked in my bed. In the bed meant to be only shared by us.

“I—uh…” Liam rubbed his head, flustered at the fact he’d been caught.

“So, every late night, every early morning, every damn lunch meeting and missed holiday. Tell me you weren’t with her!” I yelled.

“Maybe I have something that he needs that you don’t seem to offer,” the woman threw out, sass hanging off every word.

I stood straight. “Get. Out.”

“Jess, wait…let me—”

“GET OUT!!!!” I screamed. The fury in my voice informed them I was dead serious. They scrambled to get dressed and I slammed the door behind them before collapsing on the floor.

My whole world had just imploded. I couldn’t stay here now. He paid half the rent on the apartment, and I couldn’t afford to keep it now that I didn’t have a job.

So now I was jobless, boyfriendless, and practically homeless.

“What am I going to do?” I whispered, my voice and spirit broken.

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