I stare at Chris’s broad shoulders as he attends the food. He’s left me breathless and aching and I wonder why the heck I thought breakfast was important.

“Mr. Merit?” the woman on the line queries, jolting me out of my reverie.


“Yes, hi. Mr. Merit would like a toothbrush and toothpaste, please.”

“Of course,” the woman replies. “I’ll send them right up.”

I replace the receiver and head for the coffee pot, removing two cups from the cabinet above it. I glance at Chris as he fills two plates with his creations and he smiles at me, his eyes brimming with mischief and fun. He’s all too aware he’s left me fanning myself and he loves it.

“I like you in my robe.” He wiggles an eyebrow. ”I like you even better out of my robe.”

Heat rushes over me and it’s not from the stove. He’s so charming and sexy. “I’d look better showered and dressed like you.”

“I guess that’s a matter of opinion.”

I am glowing from his attention. How any woman could not glow from a compliment from Chris Merit? ”How do you like your coffee?”

“Lots of cream. It’s in the fridge.”

I laugh at this announcement.

His brows dip. “What’s funny about creamer in the fridge.”

“I expected you to say you like it straight up. You know. The whole biker, cool artist persona. I thought you’d want your coffee so strong and black it grows extra hair on your chest.”

“I have plenty of hair on my chest, as I’m sure you’ve noticed, and I like sugar with my poison.”

It’s an odd comment and like so many others with Chris, I suspect it comes with a hidden meaning. I wonder if he will be around long enough for me to understand him and I find I’m hoping he will be. Already, my vow to live in the moment with Chris is becoming a desire to live in the next one.

He was right. He’s dangerous. Or maybe he didn’t say dangerous. I’m not sure why he’s warned me away so much, but I’ll say it for him. He’s dangerous and I’ve never wanted to live on the edge more in my life.

Chapter Twenty

A few minutes later, my toothbrush and toothpaste have been sent to us via a chute in the wall by the fridge that resembles the drive-thru bank machines. I rushed off to brush my teeth before eating, which Chris had found amusing, and returned.

I am now sitting with Chris at his kitchen table, each of us with coffee sweetened with hazelnut creamer, which is apparently not easy to find in Paris and is a favorite of his.

“I’ve never tried hazelnut,” I confess. “I’m kind of a straight vanilla girl.” The silly statement is out before I can pull it back.

Chris’s lips quirk. “Well then, I aspire to break your vanilla habit.” He lifts his chin to my cup. “Try it.”

Oh good grief, he had to go there, but then I invited it. I wonder what he defines as vanilla. Me against that window? Was that vanilla? Not to me, but I’ve been so very vanilla for so very long. And I’m finally allowing myself to crave more from life.

“Or you can tell me what you’re thinking instead,” Chris suggests.

“Oh.” I blink and realize I’m thinking a little too hard and obviously about the ‘vanilla’ comment. “No. I don’t think I’ll share those thoughts.”

He looks intrigued but I ignore him and sip the coffee and the warm, nutty beverage as my reply. “It’s good. Really good.”

Approval etches his face, and his tone is all suggestion and sex. “I knew there was more than vanilla in your future.”

My cheeks heat with the flirty remark.

“And she blushes like the good little school teacher,” he comments. “You are one big contradiction, aren’t you, Sara?”

He’s right, of course. I feel like I’m swimming between two shorelines - one the bland simple life, the other dark and erotic - and I can’t quite reach either. I shrug in reply. “I guess I am.”

“I guess you are.”

There is a sexy awareness between us as we dig into our food and I’m hungrier than I realized because the first bite awakens my stomach and taste buds. “I say you earn Top Chef markings. My omelet is terrific.”

“Omelets are pretty easy to make and hard to screw up.”

“You haven’t tried my omelets,” I assure him and when he laughs I sigh and stare out the window. The city is an early morning canvas painted with a brilliant, clear blue sky, water for miles, and the jagged edges of hills and buildings speckled here and there for a complete and perfect picture. “It’s like being on top of the world here, and untouchable.” I settle an elbow on the table and rest my chin on my hand, adding longingly, “Sure beats my apartment and the view of the parking lot.” I glance at Chris. “Does your studio have this kind of view?”

“Yes. I’ll show you later if you’d like.”

A thrill goes through me at the idea of seeing where he works. “I’d like that very much.”

“The studio view is why I bought the place. Plenty of inspiration for my work since I love this city. It’s home to me and always will be.”

“When did you move to Paris?”

“My father moved us when I was thirteen.”

My brow furrows as I try to recall anything I’ve read about his family outside of his father and remember nothing. “And your mother is-“

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