Authors: Chloe Grey
New Adult and College Novella Series
Part 1 of the Chase Me Billionaire Romance Series
Chase Part 1
First edition. April, 2015.
Copyright © 2015 Chloe Grey.
All rights Reserved.
Written by Chloe Grey.
~ What is love, if there’s no dream to chase? ~
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Chase Part 1!
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Chase and his fraternity buddies walked across the parking lot to the last on-campus party before summer break. The twelve of them had driven across campus in three cars. They planned to meet the rest of the Wild Omega frat house members after, for a late night pub crawl. They weren’t actually living in their own frat house. They lived in the co-ed dorms. But that was just semantics. Their bond was just as strong as the preppy guys.
His friend Leonard led the pack.
“Get your game faces on, Wild Omega men,” Leonard said. “It’s time to go ape-shit on the honeys. We’re on the hunt!”
“On the hunt! On the hunt!” The rest of them chanted in unison as they walked in the front door.
The place was so packed, they could barely find a spot for their entire group to settle in.
“Divide and conquer, Wild Omega men!” Leo shouted, trying to speak over the pounding base.
“Take it easy, guys,” Chase answered, and went looking for Meaghan.
Meaghan said she’d be here. They wanted to celebrate together. She was his best friend, and had been for years.
He felt tiny hands slide up his back and come to rest over his eyes.
“Guess who, Chase?”
God, she smelled good
. He reached up to her hands and took them in his as he maneuvered around to look at her.
“Have you been drinking?” he asked.
She looked beautiful as always, but seemed a little unstable on her feet, and he could smell alcohol on her breath. He took a small step back and looked at her. She was gorgeous. But this short, body-hugging pink dress she was wearing, combined with her drunkenness, was a dangerous combination. Parties like these were known to attract some of the seediest campus guys—guys who were only too willing to slip date-rape drugs into a girl’s drink when she wasn’t looking.
“Maybe a little,” she said with a giggle. She wrapped her hands around his neck, and tiptoed to kiss his cheek. When she met his ears, she said, “Want a drink?”
“No, Meaghan. You know I don’t drink. What’s wrong?”
“I have something to tell you, Chase,” she answered, taking his hand. “Well, what I mean is I have something to show you. Let’s go upstairs.”
He was concerned, but followed her. She was in no condition to be alone. She took him to an empty bedroom upstairs and collapsed on the bed.
“What are you doing, Meaghan?”
“I want to show you this,” she giggled.
His eyes widened as she began to hike up her dress past her hips. “I think you’ve had enough to drink, Meaghan. I’m taking you back to the dorm.”
“No, wait! I just want to show you my new tattoo, honey. Look.”
She turned on her side, and on her lower hip was a tiny heart, with the letters M and C written inside. There was petroleum jelly spread over top of it. It was definitely new.
“When did you get that!” He shouted.
She was definitely drunk. She never wanted a tattoo before, and she
called him honey.
“Just now,” she said with an intoxicated drawl. “The party host hired a tattoo artist for the night, and I was first in line. Like my ink, Chase? I put our initials inside the heart. You’re my best friend, and I couldn’t think of putting anyone else’s name permanently on my body. Except our babies.”
She rolled onto her back and began to chuckle. “Meaghan and Chase forever, right sweetheart?”
She was clearly way past her drinking limit. They had been friends since childhood, and had never crossed the line. Chase couldn’t bear making a move on her—she was too important to date. He had seen his mother divorce and leave his father, then marry Meaghan’s dad, and then divorce
and leave town. To Chase, a romantic relationship was off-limits for him and Meaghan. It would jeopardize everything—no matter how much he secretly adored her.
“I’m taking you home.”
“I’m not ready to leave, baby. I want you so bad.”
“No, Meaghan. You’ll regret it the minute you get sober. And you’ll thank me then.”
“Don’t you even like my tattoo, baby? I love all your tattoos. All of them, especially the one on your shoulder. It’s like you’re my gladiator cowboy, baby. You can protect me with your cowboy hat, and then you can take me.”
“I’ll protect you, but that’s all,” Chase said. She was making no sense anymore. “And the tattoo is cute, but that tattoo artist needs to be taught a few things.”
“I love you, Chase. I hope we get married one day, and have fifteen babies, honey. That would make me so happy. Will you marry me, Chase? I love you more than air. And when we—”
Her drawl turned into mumbling, and within moments, she was asleep. Chase shook his head. He was sure she didn’t mean most of what she said, but as he picked her up into his arms to get her home safely, he secretly fantasized that some of it might be true.
Three days later
While they sat in the plane, Meaghan was forced to face her mixed feelings about returning to her father’s home in Arizona. Oro Valley hadn’t seemed like home in a long time, and she was certain Chase felt the same way. The expression on his face was distant as he fidgeted in the cramped seats in coach. Having a break from their college classes in San Diego was supposed to be a good thing, but instead of relaxing her, the idea made her antsy and caused her stomach to churn. She kept adjusting in her seat, but nothing helped.
When he eyed her curiously, she gave him a wan smile, as she did her best to work out how to explain her emotions to him. That was something that had never come easily to her in the past, but she was getting better at it. It was always easier with him, because he was so patient with her. They’d been best friends since elementary school. Of all people, Chase had grown accustomed to her nervous habits.
“Having a break from college is great, but…” She nibbled her bottom lip. “Going home, even with Aunt Jennifer there, isn’t something I want to be doing. I don’t know. Sometimes I can’t help wondering when something will happen to take her away from us. She’s not going to be there for the rest of our lives, no matter how much I want her to be.”
Jennifer was Meaghan’s aunt on her father’s side. In their close-knit community, growing up, both kids had spent a lot of time at Jennifer’s house. It had become home to him and Meaghan, and Jennifer was just as welcoming to Chase as she was to her own niece.
Her aunt knew about his parents, and how quickly he had had to grow up. Nothing had been easy for either of them, and Jennifer knew that. But as they grew older, a time would come when they’d have to stand apart from all the drama of their families; to stand on their own without Jennifer as their symbolic anchor. That time was coming more quickly than Meaghan had anticipated.
Chase leaned his head against the window, seeming to stare out at the clouds. His bulky frame was slumped over, his thick, brown hair a bit messy, as it usually was. The blankets and zipped up jacket covered all his tattoos.
“I know what you mean. Even though they’re not my biological family, your Aunt Jennifer and Uncle David are the only real family I have left back home. I know I have to stay with my dad this summer, but…things haven’t been good with him in a long time. At least Jennifer and David live right next door to me. Honestly, all I want to do is go home and earn some money. I’m not thinking of this as a break from anything. I don’t want to have to find a job right away when we get back to college in the fall.”
Neither of them had parents who could help them out financially. They were on their own. Chase’s mom left town after she divorced Meaghan’s dad. No one had heard from her since. And his dad had very little income. His father had worked for many years as a skilled automotive technician, but drinking had cost him his job. Now, he took on odd jobs to pay the bills, and it was supplemented by a disability payment. People in town often said his sicknesses and drinking were due to being heartbroken more than anything else, but he would never admit it.
Meaghan had her own problems, so between their two families, they knew the definition of dysfunction better than anyone. It wasn’t easy, but they both knew how important it was to get through college. Chase loved working on cars, and had once worked with his dad, before his father’s drinking worsened.
Still, he wanted to do more than the automotive field could offer. He had his mind set on engineering, and wanted to continue on to graduate school. Meaghan knew that was what he wanted, but sometimes, she felt he might back out. His self-esteem had been up and down since his parents split up. He was so smart and talented, though, and every bit as capable as anyone else.
They didn’t have a whole lot of money, and college was expensive, even with student loans. Going to Jennifer’s a couple of times a week during summer break would make things bearable. She would make sure they ate enough while they were back home. Any more than that, and they would feel they were taking advantage of her.
“I’m going to try to save as much as I can too, but…” Meaghan glanced down toward her feet, where her carry-on bags were tucked beneath the seat in front of her. “I have this sinking feeling something bad is going to happen.”
“Maybe it’s a delayed reaction,” Chase joked. “Maybe it’s really about getting the hack tattoo job that night at the party, Meaghan. We’d be married with fifteen babies if it were up to drunken Meaghan, remember?”
Meaghan turned a rosy shade of pink and sunk down in her chair. “I still can’t believe I did that…or said that.”
“I still have a bad feeling.”
“You had that feeling last summer, Meg, and all that happened was we got lost in the woods while camping.”
Whenever they went hiking without a map or a compass, they got lost. Meaghan often felt directionless. Where was her compass when she needed it? There was no compass when it came to real life. Just instinct.
And Meaghan’s instinct was that this summer wouldn’t work out the way they’d planned.
Chase wasn’t going to accept Meaghan’s trepidation as anything more than her hatred of going back home. Still, he couldn’t help worrying. Home, for both of them, was a difficult place to be. Jennifer was their only saving grace. Chase had grown up right next door to her, while Meaghan grew up a couple blocks away. No matter how much they loved her, Jennifer couldn’t be their crutch.
She’d been his favorite next-door neighbor for years, and then became a step-aunt for five years; but he wouldn’t use her. Whenever he had a problem, he would go to one of the two people he trusted—Jennifer or Meaghan. Losing either of them would shatter the balance of his life. He wished this fear wouldn’t keep surfacing inside him, but couldn’t admit it as easily as Meaghan could.
“Chase, do you think we should be going home at all?”
“We’re on a plane back home, Meaghan. Why are we still questioning it?”
“I know. But think about it. Does it make sense to go back?”
He let the question settle in his mind for a moment, readjusting his legs as the person in front of him reclined their seat slightly.
“There is nowhere else for us to go. Going home is what everyone else does during summer break, and I think it’s the right thing for us to do. I know how much Jennifer worries about us. She’ll be glad to see us.”
For the first time since they’d gotten on the plane, Meaghan smiled. “She calls me every week. I can’t wait to see her.”
Chase knew how much it hurt her when her dad had remarried twice. Her birth mother had died when she was still in grade school. And then, her dad remarried and got divorced five years later. And now, her brand new stepmom Wanda made it clear from the very beginning that she didn’t want Meaghan around. If it hadn’t been for Jennifer’s loving presence, Meaghan might have left home much earlier.
“Aunt Jennifer is special,” she said. “I don’t think I’d have a reason to go back if she wasn’t there.”
She patted him on the shoulder, the most she could manage in the confined space. “Well I still feel going home is a bad idea. Maybe I’m just biased.”
“Hey. It’s okay. We’ll have each other, and Jennifer. It’s six weeks. We’ll make it work. I know exactly what you’ve been through and…” He fiddled with the zipper on his jacket. “You are one of the strongest people I know, Meg. You are an amazing person. You are…”
“Stop.” Her face was bright pink. “I appreciate the compliments, but I’m nowhere near as strong or amazing as you are. Your childhood was just as awful as mine. We’ve both been through a lot, and we’re both going to deal with it all for a couple more years. When it’s finally over, I think then we’ll see how strong we are. It’s when the hard part’s over that people crumble.”
“Maybe.” Chase didn’t agree, but he wasn’t going to argue with her. He believed she would continue on the way she always had, while he’d be the one who shattered. “How about we talk about something else? What courses are you planning on taking next year?”
“We only just left. I haven’t even thought about next year.” She accepted a cup of water from the flight attendant when they came through with a cart of beverages and snacks.
Chase waved his hand in dismissal; he wasn’t thirsty, or hungry. Thinking of what she’d just said, he added, “Meg, be honest. We both know you already have next year all planned out.”
Just as he’d anticipated, she was unable to deny it.