But no. I don’t believe Chris needs me to fit some perfect image to be on his arm. I felt his sincere desire to do this for me. Emotion wells inside me. This is the first time since my mother died that I truly feel cared about. It matters to me. Chris is beginning to matter to me. I have to take the gifts.

My gaze falls on the bags. Maybe I do need these things. They will motivate me to study and earn a place at Riptide. It’s not like before, when there was no hope of extra income. Yes. I am good with this. Chris is helping to motivate me.


Nevertheless, there’s a knot in my stomach as I go through the items and pack the suitcase, finding several dresses, a pair of boots, several heels, lingerie and toiletries. The lingerie is beautiful and expensive, and my blood heats thinking of wearing it for Chris. Since we are traveling and I have no idea where we’re going, I decide to go casual since Chris is in his typical biker gear.

After trying on a few items and picking my favorites, I choose a pair of slim black jean leggings and a sleek camel-colored blouse with sequins. The outfit is complete with a pair of high-heeled boots that lace up to my ankles. Beneath it all, I am wearing a cream-colored jeweled bra and thong set I’d pulled a ridiculous price tag from.

The flat iron is a relief, and I quickly put it to use, and note that I also have a curling iron for later use. For now, thanks to a high quality flat iron, and some styling products also in the bags, my hair falls in sleek, shiny brunette waves down my shoulders. I glance at the two kinds of perfume that were included but I choose to spray on another dollop more of Chris’s cologne.

Finally, I’m ready and I head to the living room with my new Vuitton bag in tow. Chris is sitting in a leather chair, legs propped up on an ottoman and a sketch pad in hand. He sets the pad aside the instant he sees me and stands up.

“You look beautiful, Sara.”

“Thank you. I wasn’t sure how to dress.”

He walks towards me, all loose-legged swagger and hotness. “You would have been perfect no matter what you chose. You are perfect.”

No one in my life has ever said that to me but my mother. That it’s Chris saying it now, that he is saying it with appreciation glowing in his hot gaze, warms me in ways well beyond the words.

He strokes a lock of my hair behind my ear, something I’m becoming accustomed to him doing, but I still shiver from the gentleness of the touch. “Ready to leave?”

“Yes. Where are we going?”

His lips curve. God, he has great lips. “I told you, baby. It’s a surprise.”

More of the emotion I’d felt in the bedroom, rises inside me. “Chris--”

“Don’t thank me. Just be with me, Sara.”

“I am. I want to be.”

His lips curve. “Good.” He motions toward the exit. “Let’s blow this joint, then, aye?”

I laugh. “Aye.”

We head to the elevator, me pulling my roller Vuitton and him with a black leather case he throws over his shoulder. There is a raw energy and excitement in the air, and we glance at each other and smile. I’ve never had that kind of energy with anyone. I feel suddenly light and free. This is an adventure. Chris is an adventure.

We exit in a garage and I immediately spot not one, not two, but three Harleys, and stop dead in my tracks. “Holy cow, they’re all yours, aren’t they?”

He grins. “Yeah. You ever been on one?”

I shake my head.

“We’ll have to fix that soon.” He clicks his key ring and the Porsche’s lights flicker.

We approach the car and next to it I admire a sky blue, classic Mustang that’s been remodeled. “Is this yours too?” I ask, pausing beside it.

“I have a thing for remodeling old Mustangs.”

“How many do you have?”

“Five.”

I blink at him. I know he has money. I know he’s sold a lot of work. But still. “How rich are you, Chris?”

He barks out a laugh, his eyes twinkling. He knows I’ve mimicked his words when he’d asked about my father. “My father was an accomplished musician and well paid for his craft. My mother was Danielle Wright — as in the founder of the cosmetic line that still exists today.”

Holy crap. He inherited a fortune on top of what he makes himself. “Do you own Danielle Wright Cosmetics?”

“I’m not a boardroom kind of guy. I sold out years ago and re-invested in things of more interest.”

Stunned does not describe what I feel. “You’re filthy rich, aren’t you?”

He laughs. “It depends on how you define filthy, sweetheart.” He wiggles a brow and opens the door to the Porsche.

“You don’t seem that rich. I mean, clearly you have money, but you don’t act like it.”

“I don’t know if that’s a compliment or an insult.” He doesn’t look insulted though, more entertained.

I study him a long moment, trying to see something I’ve missed in him. Some hint of what makes him like my father, or Michael—who rides my father’s coattails and acts like he’s successful on his own--but I see nothing. He doesn’t treat people like they are beneath him. In fact, when he’d given me the clothes, he’d acted like wearing them was a favor to him, not an honor he’d bestowed upon me.

I lean forward, push to my toes, and kiss him on his sexy, perfect mouth. “It’s a compliment, Chris. In every way possible.” I pull back and see a flicker of surprise on his face before I slide into the car, letting the soft leather absorb my weight. He said I was never what he expected. He is never what I expect. And when Chris slips behind the wheel, and revs the engine of the 911 into a soft purr, I do not think about the car’s connection to my father. I revel in how utterly male and sexy Chris is as he maneuvers the sleek vehicle onto the highway.

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