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Oof this chapter is a long one. Enjoy! (There also may be spelling errors, let's pretend those don't exist for today just until I can edit this tomorrow)

Alex

When Christian returned us to our table, his mothers eyes were practically glued to his hand in mine

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When Christian returned us to our table, his mothers eyes were practically glued to his hand in mine. I moved to pull my hand away, but Christian just held it tighter.

Before either Anna or Slav could comment on my earlier outburst, or the fact that their son and I were holding hands, Miles was the first to speak at the table.

"Well look at that familiar face. Feels like it's been a while since we've last seen each other, ay? I'm glad to see your face has since returned to its original state. My apologies for dragging you out into the wild like that." Miles smiled warmly at me. I gave him a smile back. I had forgotten how much I liked Miles.

"Technically, it was Christian's fault for not listening when I told him I was highly allergic to the outside." I shot back. Christian, Miles, and John all laughed at that.

"Sounds like the ignorant Christian we know." John chimed in. "I'm glad to see you again, as well. The New York trip was far too short, you and Christian must come to visit again soon." I glanced over at Christian, and he gave me a casual shrug.

"Whenever Alex has some free time, I'll make sure to make a date of it." He replied. John's face lit up at that.

I glanced over at everyone sitting at this table. It felt good to see familiar faces. Miles and John had both made me feel incredibly welcome over the span of working with Christian. I couldn't fully understand how all these guys had become so close with him, but it made me feel a level of warmth to know Christian had such great support.

In a way, I guess we both did... I thought, as I panned over at Joan, Derek, and Brad. Christian had been right, sometimes it was okay to lean on friends.

When my eyes finally landed on my mother, all that warmth I had felt, was annihilated. Pain and anger filled the void instead. She was wearing a dress far too elegant for her. I knew it must have been something provided to her by the Ivanov's. I leant over to Christian and whispered in his ear.

"Please make sure you collect that dress before my mother leaves. I know she's going to try and pawn it for money."

He gave me a stern nod almost immediately. "I already let her know our security team was cleared to take her down if she tried to leave with it."

"Thank you." I whispered back, before glancing up to pay attention to what everyone was suddenly applauding for. It looks as if Slav had stood up to take the stage.

"No worries, love. That's my cue though. I'll be right back, I'm just going to introduce my father." Christian whispered before his hand eventually left mine. It felt cold when it wasn't in his, but I watched on proudly, as Christian took the stage. Brad's suit jacket looked fitting with the rest of Christian's attire.

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