forever love

The Chapman Brothers - Book 1

Chapter 1


New York, Present Day



"Jake Chapman, CEO of Bandit and Chairman for the Pearson Group, thank you for talking to us today."

I nodded to the brunette who interviewed me for the last hour at the internet security conference I was the headline speaker at.

It was nice to be recognized as one of the leaders in my field, and I was proud of what I had achieved, taking my company Bandit from start-up to billion-dollar company. The Pearson Group, however, wasn't my doing. I was merely the caretaker after my grandfather and his father before him had taken that company to the heights it was today. And I just wished people didn’t mention the two in the same sentence.

We both rose from our seats, and I made my way toward the stage exit, barely registering the applause from the conference hall. I had spoken to journalists and audiences countless times since I started, but it didn't change the fact that I hated public speaking or any kind of promotion. Still, it was a necessary evil, as my grandfather used to say.

The brunette, a journalist in charge of the business news on a popular news channel, had started flirting with me before the interview and seemed determined to continue if the sultry smile she aimed at me as we stepped backstage was anything to go by.

I wasn't interested and turned to follow Mike, my personal bodyguard and Bandit Head of Security, to my car.

“Jake, wait,” she said, grabbing my elbow.

I stopped and wrenched my arm away from her hand with more force than necessary. But I hadn’t given her permission to call me Jake, and I didn’t like people touching me. I was sure the glare I gave her reflected how I felt, but she ignored it, smiling coyly.

"I was wondering if you'd be up for having drinks with me tonight. I'd love to chat some more about your business and—"


I racked my brain for her name, but nothing came so I left it at that and turned on my heel, following two security guys from the conference, with Mike a step behind me. I heard him chuckle, and I shook my head.

I had been propositioned at conferences before with much less subtle come-ons thrown at me. Once upon a time, I would have happily taken the offer for one night only. But that period of my life was over. Nowadays, I only had one woman on my mind.


Her face popped into my mind just as I exited the conference hall and slid into the Escalade. She had been on my mind constantly since I landed in New York two days earlier.

New York did that to me. No matter how many times I flew here from San Francisco, she was always on my brain more when I was here because it was where she lived and not far from where we met as teenagers. We’d had a chance once…

I rubbed my eyes. I didn’t want to think about how I had messed up then. It was my fault if we were not together. She probably hated my guts too.

My phone rang, and I picked up when I saw my half-brother Nate’s name on the screen.

“What’s up, bro? Had a good flight home?”

We had met for a night of drinks and food in New York two nights ago. Something Nate, Miles, our younger brother, and I did twice a year. It was a way for us to let off steam without prying ears, be it competitors or family. The former would love to know the secrets of our success. The latter would like us to settle down and start families.

“Flight was good, thanks. Just saw Dad. He wants to know when you think you’ll be in LA next?”

I frowned. My father and I tolerated each other. The truth was without Nate and Miles, I’d probably have cut all ties with him, just like I had done with my mother. He and I had come a long way from what was once a very acrimonious relationship. But it sounded like he wanted a long chat, and I was not up for it.

“Why? What does he want?”

“Dunno, Jake. Maybe you could call and ask him.”

I sighed deeply. It was the last thing I wanted to do, but if that saved me a trip to LA… “Fine. How are the little terrors?”

Nate chuckled. It was a long-running joke between us since Nate had become a father of twins two years earlier. Ryan and Ethan were the apple of his eyes, the one thing Nate would do anything for. Unlike me, family was everything to him.

“They’re great. We’re right in the middle of the terrible twos so it’s fun,” he deadpanned. “You know they keep asking for you, right? When you’re next in LA, you better spend time with them, Jake.”

I closed my eyes. I loved Nate, and I loved my nephews, but LA was a place I avoided like the plague. It was the place where I had messed up big time with Hannah, and I couldn’t help but be reminded of it every time I flew down there.

The car slowed down, and I deflected, knowing that I didn’t fool Nate for one second. “Will do. Listen, I’m at the restaurant I’m meeting Miles for dinner. I’ll call you when I’m back in California in a couple of days.”

“You do that and please kiss my baby brother for me.”

“You know me. I live for these moments.”

Nate barked out a laugh. I wasn't lying, though; I loved taking the piss out of Miles.

“Geez, it’s freezing,” I said, rubbing my hands as I slid into a booth facing Miles a few minutes later. The restaurant was all dark wood and leather with low lighting. I had never been here but I liked it already.

He chuckled. “You crack me up, Jake. It’s the tenth time you’ve said that since you turned up on Saturday. What do you expect in New York in February? You used to live in these parts too. Hell, it must have been even worse in Upstate New York. It’ll definitely be worse there tomorrow morning if the snow continues to fall. So glad I live in the city.” He shivered dramatically.

“Don’t count your chickens; we could be snowed in here too tomorrow morning.”

“Nah, I bet you we won’t. How was your day?”

“Productive. I’m liking this new PR firm you recommended. Thanks for that.”

While Nate was the CEO of the film studio my father had started when he moved to California over thirty years ago, Miles looked after the content division in NY as well as managing the property portfolio Chapman LLC was acquiring at a quick pace since I partnered with my brothers. 

“You going to hire them?” he asked with a self-satisfied smirk I wanted to wipe off his face.

“I’ve got meetings with a couple more firms in SF when I’m back, but they’re on the shortlist. What’s with the smirk?”

The server appeared and took our orders. Steak and red wine. Perfect for a cold winter night. I realized after he left that I was ravenous. One of my many annoying habits, as my assistant Li reminded me daily, was that I often skipped lunch altogether because I was just too busy to stop and eat.

“Nothing. Have you heard from your mother?”

I glared at him over my wine glass. “No. And before you ask, I don’t intend to make contact with her while I’m in New York. Same as always.”

I took a sip of my wine. It was fragrant and rich, just as I liked it.

He put his elbows on the table, making a steeple with his fingers. “I get it that you hate her for what she did to you. I really do, but don’t you think you’re better off having her on your side?”

I scoffed. “Her on my side? Miles, she tried to convince the Pearson board that I was unfit to be chairman and would have succeeded if the majority of the board members hadn’t been loyal to me. What kind of a mother does that?”

My heart was racing, and I took a deep inhale. Getting worked up about something that had happened two years ago was not worth it. She’d had no chance from the start to turn the board against me, but it was the thought that she tried that hurt the most.

But what could I expect from a woman who had pawned me off to my grandparents as soon as the ink was dry on her divorce from my father? Nothing. She had never shown love or care for me, not even on the worst day of my life. I didn’t owe her anything.

Our steaks arrived, and we ate in silence for a few minutes. I had the feeling Miles had something else to say, so I put my fork down and looked at him. I had no patience for mind games. Miles was like me, so I didn’t understand what his problem was.

“Miles, something’s bothering you. Out with it already.”

He chewed on the mouthful of the tender steak he had just put in his mouth and sat back against the booth. “You’re not going to like what I’m going to say.”

I sighed. “Nothing new here.”

I wasn’t trying to antagonize him and he laughed under his breath. “Do you think your problems with Hannah stem from the relationship you have with your mother?”

My fork stopped between my plate and my mouth. It was unlike Miles to say things like that. He had always been more of a what-you-see-is-what-you-get kind of guy. Insight was usually not his thing, but maybe he was growing up. Finally.

“That’s deep, Miles,” I said, putting my fork back on the table, needing some time to think.

Had my relationship with my mother influenced the way I had treated Hannah two years ago?

The truth was I didn’t want to think too hard about this because that would open a can of worms I didn’t want to deal with.


They were dangerous, and I tended to keep them pushed back as far as I could, so that I didn’t have to deal with them. But maybe the vivid dreams I was having about Hannah lately stemmed from my feelings for her. And maybe, just maybe, that’s what my mother had been doing to me all these years, repressing her feelings for me.

“No,” I said, dismissing the thought with a flick of my hand.

Time to change topics. 

To deflect. Again.

When we exited the restaurant an hour later, snow blanketed the pavements and the roads. Snow we weren’t equipped to deal with in our thousand-dollar shoes, stylish woolen coats, and thin leather gloves. Big fat flakes were falling, and we were soon covered in them as we walked back towards Miles’s penthouse.

Suddenly, I was hit by a snowball on the left side of my face. “Ouch!” I said, rubbing at my jaw.

I turned around to see who’d thrown the ball. I should’ve known it would be Miles.  

He grinned. “Gotcha, brother!”

Maybe it was because the twenty-four hours I had spent with my brothers reminded me of our childhood holidays, or maybe it was being in New York in winter. All I knew was that the next minute, I was the one throwing snowball after snowball at Miles. We were both laughing and calling each other’s names like we used to do when we were kids. When snow ran down my collar, I had the vague thought that we should stop before one of us slipped and injured himself, but we continued unabashed.

And then it happened.

Miles tripped in slow motion and landed on his hand. He cursed.

Slipping and sliding, I stopped in front of him, giving him my hand to help him up. “What’s wrong?”

He winced as he knelt and grabbed his left forearm. His face was white as a sheet and melted snow dripped from his hair onto his shoulders. “I think I did something to my wrist. Fuck!”

I yanked my gloves off and took my phone out of the inside pocket of my coat to call Mike, asking him to meet us at the next corner. “There’s no need,” Miles said in a huff, “I’m sure some ice will do just fine.”

“Nope, we’re going to the hospital. Your mother will kill me otherwise.” I opened the map on my phone and checked out which hospital was the closest to us.


The hospital where Hannah worked.

I didn’t believe in signs or all that shit, but I’d take that one. Or maybe I was just an idiot. In a city where millions of people lived, I had one in as many million chances of seeing her.

But I’d take that chance anyway.

Because I just couldn’t avoid confronting my fears. I needed to know where I stood.

To know if I still had a chance.

(c) 2024 Celline Chancelier. All Rights Reserved. 


Read Now

Chapter 1

Read Now

Chapter 2

Read Now
© 2024 Celine Chancelier. All rights reserved.