Unbound: The Pentagon Group, Book 2 (10 page)

“I’m not going to get tired of you.” His exasperated tone brimmed to the surface.

“How do you know, Matt? I’m sure you didn’t think you would get tired of the other women.”

“I knew I’d get tired of them.” He stated gruffly.

“How? How were you so sure?” I pushed for a satisfactory answer.

“Because I only wanted to fuck them.” He yelled in irritation. If he wanted to shut me up, he succeeded. The harsh description of what those women meant to him made me feel immensely insecure. He wanted to fuck me at one time, so how could it have changed to something more meaningful in such a short period of time? I turned to look out of the window at the tall buildings; intermittently rolling my eyes into the back of my lids to prevent a gush of tears. My breathing started to become jagged. I prayed I wouldn’t break. Hearing about his history with women was much harder than I expected. I was delusional to think he was the type of man who respected women and didn’t sleep around.

Only when he was able to keep the shift in a steady gear did he put his large hand over my clasped fists. “You’re beautiful, sexy, sweet, and funny . . . hardworking . . . incredibly smart. And you’re all about family and friends. How could I not fall in love with the complete package you offer?” With his kind words, I started relaxing, allowing him to hold my hand.

“When you discovered my role in this debacle, I was ashamed and afraid. I can’t lose you, Perla.” He pleaded. “I felt like I was going insane. You wouldn’t talk to me. And you wouldn’t see me the day I went to see you. I was afraid I’d lost you forever, so I made this happen.” He pulled his hand away to shift gears.

“To keep me bound to you? Do you know how crazy it sounds?”

“It may be crazy, but you’re here. We’re finally talking again.”

“What if I refuse to marry you and keep everything?”

“You wouldn’t do it. I know you love me as much as I love you. I can see it when you look at me, even now you’re angry, but there’s a glimmer of love in your eyes. I only need a speck of love to know I have you.” I looked away, shielding the truth emanating from my traitorous face.

“I can feel it when you touch me. Even when you don’t touch me, it’s coursing through the air between us.” He said, and I smirked, shaking my head; he did know me. He removed his hand from the gear shift and grabbed my wrist, causing me to unclasp my hands. His large hand slid down, rubbing his fingertips along the ridges of my fingers, stopping at the fingertips. My body shivered at his touch, like an electric current coursing from my hand to breasts and down to my folds.

“I’m going to spend the rest of my life making this better because I love you. I had to do this to make us work.” His statement made my heart ache. “We’re almost there. Are you sure you don’t want something to eat? We can go to the restaurant across from Zipper’s building. It has a great breakfast menu.”

“Sure, since we’re over an hour early.” He drove into the parking ramp. We walked to the restaurant and were quickly seated. Matt stood until I sat down. I flushed at his chivalry. I had to admit he was my dream man. I opened the menu and pretended to read the offerings. I could care less about eating right now.

“Do you see anything you’d like to order?” Matt asked, looking at me around his menu.

“Not particularly, no. I told you, I’m not very hungry.”

“I know you’d rather be anywhere, but here Perla, but you need to eat. It’s obvious you’re losing weight, and I’d hate to think  I’m the cause of you not taking care of yourself.” He looked at me squarely in the eyes.

I rolled my eyes behind the menu, preventing a fight. I was in for a long and arduous fight, and I needed to pick my battles. The waiter came back to us. I ordered an orange juice and a light breakfast of a boiled egg, smoked salmon, and tomatoes with capers. Matt ordered coffee and bacon and eggs. I wondered if he had lost his appetite since our breakup. He looked a little drawn and tired, but his body still looked amazing. There was no doubt he would always look handsome to me. I couldn’t see him any other way. I adored every part of him.

“I know you don’t want to talk about our meeting, but I’d like to know how you’re feeling about this.” He asked. I smirked and shook my head.

“How do you think I feel about this Matt? I want to move on from this whole mess and you won’t let me walk away.” I looked away and watched all the seated diners and serving staff walking about the small restaurant. It was a smart move on Matt’s part to have this conversation in public because I wasn’t sure if I could contain my derision in private.

“Pentagon got what they wanted. You did a great job acquiring Liberty. I found out. I wanted out. You should’ve let me.” I said quietly, but enough for him to hear. The uncomfortable silence was broken by the server who brought our food and placed the plates before us.

I took a sip of my juice, swallowing the bitterness in my throat. I cut into my food and moved it around, putting my fork down. “Why do you want to marry me? How can any marriage start off with extortion? You got what you needed. Why not move on? Find someone more suited to live your lifestyle as a billionaire.” I asked in earnest.

“Perla, I told you before, and obviously it bears repeating, I’m in love with you. You! I can’t think of anyone else. I don’t want anyone else. We’re great together. We fit perfectly. I know you’re angry now, but with time, you’ll forgive me and forget how we got together. All that matters is we’re together. I’ll make you happy from now on. You just have to let me.” I also believed in time I would forget. However, he hadn’t given me time or space.

“What ever happened to just trying to win me back instead of buying me back? You know I’m not about the money. Why would you give me the majority of your fortune when it isn’t a turn on?”

“You would choose to marry me just to give it back, which is precisely why I gave you my fortune because you wouldn’t keep it. You would choose me because you want me and not my money. You’re humble and honorable. You told me a long time ago you ‘live simply’, but I know you love richly. I can live without the fortune, but Perla, I can’t live without you.” His words halted my breath. I pushed back the tears in my eyes. He reached out and placed his hand on mine. My first instinct was to pull away, but I didn’t. I couldn’t be a raving bitch when he was being honest.

“It would’ve been better if you would’ve just tried to woo me back. Flowers and a candy-gram goes a long way too.”

“Perla, you’ve rejected me. You blocked my numbers. You’ve told everyone, including my sister, we were done. I couldn’t ‘woo’ you when you were closed off to me.” He was right. I ignored him and ignored people’s advice and opinions on the matter. The flowers were left to be appreciated by strangers. I closed myself off completely.

“Eat. We can talk more tonight.”

“Tonight?” I asked with surprise.

“I want to take you out to dinner to my favorite restaurant. I’ll pick you up after work, and we can go celebrate our starting over.”

“Matt. I don’t know if we should go out tonight. We haven’t negotiated all the terms, or signed the prenup. We might not be in the mood to spend time together after everything is said and done.”

“I don’t know about that. The fact we’re actually together now and speaking, is progress.” He smiled his toothy smile, his dimples concaved on his beautiful face. “Eat.” He ordered.

I took a few bites, sparking my appetite. I ate two-thirds of the already tiny meal then looked at my watch to see it was fifteen minutes to our scheduled meeting with our attorneys at Zipper’s law firm. Sensing my desire to leave for our meeting, Matt called for the check. Once it arrived, he laid a few bills on the table. We made our way out of the building. He held my hand as we walked across the street to Zipper’s office. Matt stood close to me while we rode the packed elevator to the twenty-third floor. The law firm encompassed five floors of the building. I wondered if the firm was owned by Pentagon, but didn’t want to get into a discussion about Pentagon before negotiations.

The receptionist allowed us entry to the back. Matt seemed familiar with the office and led us to the conference room where we were greeted by Kevin and Turner. They both stood from the large oval center table. I walked to Turner and gave him a long hug. He gently stroked my back. He whispered, “Are you okay, Darlin’?” I nodded. He comforted me with a kiss on the cheek. He still held me in his arms, and asked, “Do you have anything else to add since our dinner?” I shook my head, ‘no’. In Turner’s arms, as if I were being held by Carson, I felt comfort and safety. I knew he would do anything to take care of my best interests.

When I turned to face Matt, I noted his tense jaw. He looked at Turner with a possessive glare, and he stood in a defensive stance beside Zipper. I knew Matt misread the signals between me and Turner, making the wrong assumptions. “Matt, this is Turner Noble. He’s Carson’s fiancé. They’ll be getting married in October. Turner is also my attorney and advisor.” With a detailed introduction, Matt relaxed and forced a smile as he extended his hand to Turner in a shake.

“Nice to meet you, Turner. Please call me Matt.” He offered.

“Great to meet you, Matt. I wish it were under different circumstances, but we’re happy Perla found someone who is giving her a fortune instead of demanding she give him one.” I lightly slapped his shoulder for referencing my ex-husband’s demand I repay a false claim of embezzled money from his construction company. Turner pulled out a seat for me beside him, and all the men sat down after I did.

“Perla, I provided Kevin with a list of demands so he could review with Matt. This meeting is to work into the prenuptial agreement what is acceptable to the both of you. Any disagreements with terms will be hashed out in this meeting as best as we can due to the request we sign by Friday. However, as I told Kevin, it is in your best interest to feel free to sign the prenup when it’s satisfactory to you. Do you understand?”

“Yes. Let’s get started.” I stated.

 

*****

 

Turner took the lead in the discussion. When I was divorcing Ben, he helped me with negotiating the terms of the settlement agreement. He didn’t agree with my consenting to the repayment of money I didn’t owe, but he understood I couldn’t undergo criminal charges. Turner was instrumental in crafting a repayment plan which would protect me from criminal charges, keep the transaction confidential from the public, especially our family and friends, and installed a penalty if the non-disclosure agreement were violated. Only three people in my life were privy to the reason behind my false debt; Chelsea, Turner and Carson knew my plight and were emotionally supportive during a very difficult time. Once again, I relied on these two amazing men to care for my interests, and I was thankful to have Turner seated beside me.

“Dr. Keene and Attorney Zipperer, Perla and I have reviewed the terms of the prenuptial agreement you’ve drafted as part of the assignment of Dr. Keene’s estate in Perla Mercurio’s name under a living trust. She is aware you’ve designated her as board member of Pentagon’s board, which is a closed corporation. Perla would like to add some terms to the prenuptial agreement before she accepts the proposal and signs the agreement by this Friday. I would like to read the list Perla would like included and please hold your response until the end.

“I’m prepared to take notes and will discuss with my client to ensure he agrees.” Zipper agreed. The terms I’ve requested were a little personal to include in the prenuptial in front of all these men. I was a prude in public. Never discussing my sexual experiences or desires, and here I was going to reveal some things I would otherwise never discuss.

Turner started reading my list out loud, which he had typewritten. I wanted a non-disclosure agreement of our relationship to anyone within or without our social and familial circle. A term necessary in the prenup was my ability to work, whether for another business or one I create for myself. I didn’t want to use his funds for any personal expenses and would only use my earnings to purchase my own personal items, which included but not limited to: clothing and accessories, toiletries, and beauty care. I wanted to hold my own health insurance from my employer. I couldn’t rely on a man to take care of the great and small necessities of life. Ben left me with nothing. I had to rebuild my life slowly, and I refused to regress because of Matt’s desperate attempts to keep me as his woman.

As Turner read on, I didn’t have the courage to look up to see Matt’s reaction to the things I requested. I did hear some shuffling and note taking, but I didn’t know who was writing. Turner relayed I was going to remain living in my apartment until the wedding. After marriage, I would maintain my leased apartment or another of equal or lesser value, but of comparable quality through the duration of the marriage. I didn’t want to be kicked out or choose to leave without a place to turn to. The lowest point at the end of my marriage was staying with my father as a grown woman until I could afford to live on my own. Upon finding three-quarter time employment at Liberty, I lived at Liberty Inn for months while I got on my feet. I thanked the Gods in the heavens for sending Alice and Ross during that pitiful time. I felt lucky to find my current studio. It was my haven; a place which embraces me no matter what I’m going through.

I cringed and was mortified when Turner read out loud I was not going to sleep over or have sexual intercourse with Matt during the thirty days before the wedding. My reasoning was him needing to show me he loved me, and wasn’t about the sexually pleasurable things we did to each other. We needed to work on us. Part of working on us would be going to therapy, which was another demand Turner read.

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