“Most of the schools in the five boroughs bring the kids to this museum during the week, and then you have all the nannies who bring the kids here during the day. Or moms who just want something to do with their rug rats show up here as well,” I tell her, wrapping my arm around her shoulders so I can lead us though the crowd.
“I had no idea,” she mutters.
“When I was growing up, I only liked coming here for one reason.” I lead her past some of the exhibits, heading towards my favorite spot in the building.
“Holy cow,” she breathes, looking up at the giant blue whale that takes up a huge expanse of the museum.
“I used to lie on the ground under it for hours,” I tell her, looking around.
The area the whale is kept is dark and the floor is empty, making it the perfect spot to get away from all the noise inside the museum. I lead her towards the middle of the floor and watch as she looks around the room. There are kids everywhere along with adults who are looking at the displays tucked into the walls.
“Come on.” She pulls my hand, beginning to sit on the floor.
I frown down at her. “What are you doing?”
“Come on, old man. I need the full experience.” She laughs, sitting down completely before lying on the floor.
I shake my head but follow her down, resting my head near hers. She moves my arm and lays her head on my chest.
“This is so cool,” she whispers.
I squeeze her shoulder. I forgot how much I enjoyed doing this when I was young.
“This is where I had my first kiss,” I say, kissing her forehead.
“Was she your girlfriend?” Her cheek moves against my chest, and I know she’s smiling.
“I was six. I thought she was my girlfriend, so when we came for a field trip, I kissed her when we got to this part of the museum.”
“What did she do?” She giggles, making me smile.
“She hit me then ran off and told the teacher.”
“Your poor ego.” She tilts her head back, and the soft look in her eyes makes me realize that this is the spot I will ask her to marry me once the ring I’m having made for her is complete.
“I survived,” I mutter, pulling her face up towards mine.
She instantly rises up on her elbow and lowers her mouth down to mine, nibbling my bottom lip before licking it. My hand moves to hold her face to take over the kiss, but we’re suddenly interrupted.
“Dere kissin’!” a kid yells, and a bunch of giggles break out around us.
Both Chloe’s face and mine turn at the same time to see that there is a group of kids who are all wearing matching shirts and look to be around five standing around us and laughing.
“Oh my God,” Chloe whispers and hides her face in my chest.
I lay my head back down, break out into laughter, and can feel Chloe shaking from doing the same.
“I think we need to get up,” I tell her, sitting up and seeing that the children have moved on.
We spend the next few hours walking around the museum, checking out different displays before heading out of the building. Once on the street, I signal to Ricket as we walk towards the park.
“This is nice,” Chloe mutters.
I look down at her as she takes a bite of the pretzel I just bought her. I forget sometimes to step back from work to just enjoy the little moments.
“It has been nice,” I agree, bending my head to take a bite of her pretzel, making her laugh.
By the time we arrive back at my penthouse, it is dark. There is a chill in the air, and Chloe is shivering. She insisted we walk instead of taking the car, so I sent Ricket ahead of us, telling him that he could have the night off. That’s why I’m surprised to find him waiting in the lobby of the building along with Bernard.
“Sir,” Ricket says when he spots me.
“Is everything okay?” I ask, rubbing Chloe’s arm, trying to warm her up. We both dressed light to go out, and now, I wish I would have brought a jacket or demanded we take the car home.
“Evening,” Bernard says to Chloe before moving his eyes to mine. “We need to meet.”
I nod. “Let me get Chloe upstairs and warmed up, and then we can talk,” I tell him, watching as he lifts his chin and follows us to the elevator.
Once I have Chloe in the bath, I make my way out to the living room, where Bernard and Ricket are both speaking quietly.
“Tell me what’s going on,” I say, pouring a glass of scotch.
“I have gone over the videos from the club again from the night Chloe was drugged and still have not found even one moment when she could have been slipped the drug. Throughout the evening, she was never away from the other women at the event, she never went to the bar alone, and the party she was with had pitchers of drinks brought to them, and none of the other women ever showed any signs of having been given the same thing as Chloe.”
“The drug was in her system, and I know she has never taken sleeping medication, so at some point during that party, she was given the drug,” I growl.
“I agree,” Bernard says then looks at Ricket. “What I’m thinking is one of the women at the party slipped it into her drink. They are the only ones who would have had the opportunity to do so. My men were watching her the entire evening, and at no point was anyone who wasn’t part of the bachelorette party even within sneezing distance of her.”
“So you believe one of the women she was with drugged her?” I shake my head. “That makes no sense at all.”
“I don’t know why someone did it, but women from the party are the only ones who would have had the opportunity to do so.”
“So, what’s the plan?” I look in the direction of the bathroom, not wanting Chloe to come out during this talk. I don’t want her to even know there is something going on or what they suspect. I don’t know how she would react if she knew they believe that her friends had something to do with her being drugged.
“Right now, I’m gathering all the information I can on the women who attended the party. So far, they are all coming up as a bunch of well-to-do trophy wives, and I cannot find any link that would lead me to believe they would hold a grudge against her.”
“Chloe is innocent. I believe whatever’s going on here has more to do with me than her.”
“You think someone is using her to get to you?” Bernard replies, and I nod. “That would make sense. I have been going the ex-boyfriend route, but even he has been a dead end.”
“What do you mean?”