“I do but…is tasting involved? I’m not sure I can do a tasting.”
“No,” he laughs, and rolls away from me to stand up at the end of the bed, stretching his long, muscular body, and good lord, sick or not, I am not blind to his male beauty. “No drinking is involved.”
“I’m not sure I want to learn about wine anymore.”
“Because you’re hung over. You’ll regret missing the opportunity when you recover. Besides, Meredith’s a wine expert and yet I’ve never seen her at any hotel, or gallery event with a glass in her hand. You can talk to her about how she manages that.”
“She doesn’t drink the wine she talks about?”
He crosses his arms over his broad, stellar chest. “I asked her that before I booked the training and her reply was that she can’t drink on the job and keep her professionalism.”
I’m suddenly encouraged by this meeting. “She sounds like someone I need to talk to.” Unbidden, a memory from the night before washes over me, and despite the circumstances, it hurts. “Last night...you said you shouldn’t have brought me here.”
His expression is unchanged but his reply is slow, his voice softening, “I say and do a lot of things I shouldn’t with you, Sara.”
“Then cancel the training and take me home.”
“I’m not taking you home.” He glances at the clock. “And if you want to shower and have time to eat before your training session, you should get up.”
“So we aren’t going to talk about this?”
“Why don’t we talk on the way back to the city so you don’t miss your session?”
“I’d rather talk now.” Leaving things up in the air, wondering if today is the last time I will see him, just isn’t how I’m made.
Chris relaxes his posture and sits down beside me, drawing my hand into his. “Look, baby, we were both wound tight last night. Alcohol and emotions, they don’t mix.”
I recall the image of his father’s wine card fluttering toward the pond and his taut features as he told me not to drink too much damn wine. Emotions. He was overflowing with them because of that card, and while I’ve already realized this, a new worry surfaces. Does he regret me being there during a moment of weakness?
“You told me I was making you crazy last night,” he reminds me, drawing me out of my thoughts, back to a present I’m uncertain of.
“You are, Chris.”
“Well, you’re making me crazy, too.”
“Is this supposed to be making me feel better?”
“It’s not about making you feel better. It’s about the truth. Sara, baby,” he strokes my cheek, “this ‘crazy’ thing you’re making me feel is the best crazy I’ve felt in a long time. I’m not ready to let go of you. I don’t know what you’re doing to me, Sara, but please…don’t stop.”
Not ready to let go of me. Those are the words I latch onto, the inference he will be here with me in the future. “You’re confusing me again, Chris,” I whisper. “If this is just hot sex, then let’s have hot sex, and leave all this other stuff out of it.”
“Why don’t we just take it one day at a time and enjoy each other, Sara? We’ll figure this out together.”
One day at time. Why does that feel so impossible now? And yet, I want another day with him. I need some alone time, some time at my home, so I can think straight. Maybe then I’ll find clarity, and decide what it is I want and need.
“Yes,” I agree. “Okay.”
“Good.” He smiles and glances at the clock. “You need to get ready if you want to make your session. Wait here a second.” He walks to the bathroom and returns with a hotel robe and offers it to me. “If I see you walk na**d across this room, you won’t be making your session.”
The primal heat in his stare defies my messy, post throw-up state, and I quickly slip into the robe. I wasn’t joking about being toxic. Now is not the time for hot loving, no matter how appealing it might sound.
I scoot to the side of the mattress and my gaze locks on my shoes and purse laying in the middle of the floor. Beside them is the journal which has tumbled from my unzipped purse. Unbidden, panic rushes through me and I push off the mattress and scoop up my purse and shove the journal inside.
The sound of Chris picking up the phone tells me he isn’t watching, and isn’t interested in the journal. I’m the only one obsessed with it, and Rebecca, but I can’t calm the adrenaline flooding my system. My suitcase is a few feet away and I zip it up and drag it towards the bathroom, while Chris orders from room service.
The instant I clear the door of the bathroom, I shut it and lean on the surface. What would Chris think if he knew I’d been reading Rebecca’s journal? Would he understand? Would he believe me when I told him I feared for Rebecca? And damn it, if I fear for her, why haven’t I done more to find her? I’ve gotten so caught up living her life, I’ve forgotten I’m afraid for hers. Silently, I vow to do more for Rebecca, to find out where she is, no matter what the consequence to me. And deep down, I know there will be consequences to what I discover.
Hours later, I long ago showered and dressed in black jeans and a cherry-red top with sequins, a feature which my personal shopper seemed to favor, and I think I might as well. I spent several hours in the dining room overlooking the gorgeous Mayacamas Mountains, while Meredith, a very likeable thirty-something woman, managed to make the vast world of wine interesting and rather simple. And thankfully, I’d recovered from my hangover enough that Chris had joined us for one of the most delicious meals I’ve ever been served.