A/N: Sorry I didn't update last week. Hope you all like this chapter. As always, thanks for the kind reviews.

Omgsweetx3: Thank you!!! I'd forgotten I'd already let Chuck say 'I love you' in Chap 6. I've edited the last few lines of this chapter to correct the mistake.

Chapter 9

Lily smiled as Chuck sat down on the couch facing her. "The Board is turning more in your favor every day. They know you're doing well at school, and the meeting in Paris over Spring Break also worked in your favor. I want to set a few more meeting like that over the summer. Your relationship with Blair is also working in your favor. I've heard a few say they are happy to see you in a stable relationship."

"Thank you for telling me. I think I need to talk with Blair."

Lily gave him a confused look.

"If she gets the idea that I'm using her as a way to win over the Board…"

Understanding lit Lily's eyes as she nodded. "It's obvious you love her. Even if you won't… can't, say the words. I'm happy for you, Charles. You deserve that. And I'm proud of how hard you're working to make things work with her, and with the company. If things continue this way I don't think there will be any problem handing the company over to you in the fall."

"Thank you, Lily."

"Has Eric said anything to you about what he'll be doing for Prom, since he and Jonathon broke up?" Lily asked.

"Blair and I are working on finding him an appropriate date," he told her.

Lily nodded, satisfied. She'd seen enough of the relationship between the two boys to know that Chuck would watch after Eric.

The next evening Chuck, Blair and Eric were sitting together in Suite 1812, as Blair set three files on the table in front of Eric. "Here are the three finalists. We'll set up dinners with any or all of them, so you can choose a date for Prom," Blair explained to Eric.

He looked through the files. Two were models, and one the son of the Bass Industries Board Member. He read the detailed information on each of the men, and handed two files back to Blair. A model, Christopher Wilson; and James Edwards, son of Michael Edwards, who was on the Bass Industries Board of Directors.

"I have some news," Eric said, looking to Chuck. "I talked to my old Shrink at the Ostroff Center, like we discussed. He has friend who works at a Center in Denmark. If we get G into the Ostroff Center, he can get her transferred to Denmark. It's an even more secure hospital than Ostroff. She'll be there a long time. It'll require large 'donations' to both places, but I didn't think you'd mind."

"You're right - I don't," Chuck assured him, smiling at his little brother.

Blair was also smiling. "I'm impressed, E. You're learning."

"Well, I have two of the best schemers in New York as my teachers. Now we just have to get her angry enough she'll do something we can have her committed for," Eric noted.

Once they were alone Chuck looked at Blair. "One of the Board members is retiring, and we're having a dinner for him on Friday. Would you come with me?"

"Of course," she said.

"There's something I need to explain. Since Spring Break the Board is looking at me more favorably. Part of that is you. My relationship with you. I need you to know that isn't why I'm with you. That isn't why I asked you to come to the dinner with me. I want to spend time with you… be with you. Looking good to the Board is a benefit of our relationship, not the reason for it. I... I just wanted you to hear it from me before you heard some comment at the dinner."

Blair didn't answer out loud, but kissed him. It was all the answer Chuck needed. She understood. This wouldn't be a problem in their relationship.

"Miss Blair, Mr. Chuck is here," Dorota announced from outside Blair's closed door on Saturday evening.

"I'll be down in a minute," Blair called, setting down her brush, and checking her appearance in the mirror. The sapphire blue dress made her ivory skin glow, and looked stunning with her dark hair. She smiled as she saw the beautiful sapphire necklace Chuck had bought her in Paris. She was also wearing the matching bracelet and ring. She'd fallen in love with the set as soon as she'd seen it, and Chuck had been more than happy to buy it for her. She smiled at the memory.

A minute later Chuck looked up as she walked down the stairs. He smiled as he saw the jewelry she was wearing. His eyes slowly, appreciatively, looked her up and down. "You look stunning. I'll be the envy of every man there… And for once it won't be because I'm the future CEO," he smirked.

She kissed him in greeting. "You don't look too bad yourself, Bass."

"I'm Chuck Bass," he replied, the smirk reappearing.

Blair rolled her eyes.

Dorota had returned with the silk wrap Blair planned to wear. Chuck took it from her, and wrapped it around Blair's shoulders, using the action as an excuse to brush his hands along the exposed skin at the nape of her neck, and her bare shoulders.

A short time later they arrived at the restaurant.

"Chuck. Blair, you look great," Eric greeted. He was there to meet James, and had a dinner with Christopher scheduled for Saturday night.

"Thank you, Eric," Blair returned.

Seeing James, Chuck motioned him over. "James, my brother, Eric."

"Hi, Eric. Nice to meet you," James said.

"You too," Eric replied.

"Chuck, there's Lily. We should go greet her," Blair said sweetly. She really wanted to get Chuck away go Eric and James could talk.

Chuck realized what Blair was doing, and smiled at Eric and James. "If you'll excuse us," he said. Without waiting for an answer he led Blair off toward Lily.

They were intercepted by Timothy Nelson, a Board member, and his wife, Sara. "Chuck. You remember my wife, Sara. It's so good to see you here, Miss Waldorf."

"Thank you," Blair replied, smiling.

"We're both lucky men," Chuck replied to Timothy, though he smiled at Sara.

"Can't argue that," Timothy replied, chuckling.

"You'd better not," Sara said, smiling fondly at her husband.

"At least we found men smart enough to realize what they have," Blair said, smiling at Sara.

"Yes. And Tim is right - it's wonderful to see you here, Blair," Sara replied.

Just then Lily joined the group. "You look lovely, Lily," Chuck greeted.

"Thank you, Charles. Hello, Blair."

"Hello, Lily," Blair greeted, smiling.

They talked for a few minutes, then Chuck led Blair away from the group.

As they continued moving around and greeting people Blair noticed the approving smiles. There were glances, followed by whispers. All from the Bass Industries Board of Directors and their wives. She was glad Chuck had warned her about this, or she might have thought he had invited her here tonight to use her… Just like Nate had used her to try and help his father… She pushed the memory away. Chuck wasn't Nate.

"We'll miss you, Hunter," Chuck told the retiring Board member, Hunter Wilks.

Just then four young people approached. "Ah, there you are," Hunter greeted. "You all know Chuck. His lovely date, Blair Waldorf."

"Girlfriend. My absolutely beautiful girlfriend," Chuck corrected.

Happiness flowed through her. She knew she was Chuck's girlfriend, not just his date for the evening, but it felt good to have him declare that so publicly. The two were so focused on each other they hadn't even truly looked at the couples who'd joined them.

"Of course," Hunter agreed. "My grandson, William, and his girlfriend, Kristin. His friend, Nicholas, and his date…"

"Georgina," Chuck said in a flat tone, having finally looked at the couples.

"You know each other?" Nicholas asked.

Chuck was furious that Georgina had managed to get into the Bass Industries party, but knew he had to remain calm and polite. With every member of the Bass Industries Board of Directors in the room, he couldn't make a scene.

Blair stepped in and spoke. "Yes. We go way back. We'd been hoping to see her since we found out she returned. She's been keeping herself hidden away."

"'Fraid that's my fault," Nicholas said. "We just met, and I've been monopolizing her time, as we get to know each other."

"Yes, there's a lot to get to know about G," Chuck said, his voice smooth and controlled.

Finally Georgina spoke. "It's so good to see you two again. And I can't wait to see the others. We'll have to make that happen… very soon. Maybe for Prom." Her voice was light and calm, but Blair and Chuck both saw the dangerous look in her eyes.

Chuck turned away from her as the manager approached and told him that dinner would be served in a few minutes.

Blair smiled innocently up at Nicholas. "Let me steal her away for a minute. We have to set up plans to meet again and catch up. I promise I'll bring her right back."

"I'll see you in a minute, Darling," Georgina said, then kissed him on the cheek and followed Blair away.

"What the Hell to you think you're doing here? If you think you'll ruin this for Chuck, think again," Blair said in a low, deadly, voice.

"Protective of him, aren't we, Blair? How sweet. Especially after everything I hear he put you through. But don't worry, I'm not here to ruin this party. Though just me being here is probably enough to ruin it for you two. But I'm not going to make a scene. I just wanted to let you know I'm still in the game. Despite Serena getting me black listed… How did I know it was S? Easy. You don't have enough social power to do that kind of damage," Georgina added, knowing the comment would infuriate Blair. She didn't plan to make a scene, but that didn't mean she couldn't try to provoke Chuck or Blair into making one.

Knowing Georgina was just trying to provoke a reaction Blair ignored the comment about Serena. "Really, G. Haven't you learned it isn't wise to play this game against Chuck and I? We'd really hoped you'd have learned your lesson last time. But since you haven't, we'll be more than happy to give you a refresher course. But right now, it's time for dinner."

Without another word both girls curved their lips into smiles, and went to join their dates. Blair's smile became real when Chuck gave her a quick kiss before they took their seats.

The dinner went smoothly. In an attempt to keep his mind off Georgina, Chuck kept his attention focused on Blair, and sometimes Eric. He was pleased to see how well James and Eric seemed to be getting along.

Eventually the evening ended, and they were back in the limo. Lily had gone home in her own limo, and Eric was going out for drinks with James, so Chuck and Blair had the limo to themselves.

As soon as they were inside Blair moved to sit on Chuck's lap, wanting the physical closeness. He kissed her forehead as he wrapped his arms around her. For a moment he allowed himself to savor how perfectly she fit against him, without allowing the thought to become more sexual.

After a long moment he spoke. His voice soft. "I love you. I also… I…need you."

"I love you too, Chuck. Don't worry… I'm here. You have me," she reassured him, snuggling closer. "I'm not going anywhere."

The rest of the ride passed in silence.

Spotted: E dating again. G crashing a Bass Industries party. V being accepted into the van der Bilt family, and N being set up for a summer internship at the Mayor's office… But didn't we hear about a summer backpacking trip… S and D arguing more than kissing. Are they headed for yet another breakup? And just in time for Prom… I'll be watching…

xoxo,

Gossip Girl

Nex chapter: Prom, and Jack…