Now though, it’s approaching five o’clock, and the time to head home has arrived. Chris helps me into the passenger seat of the Porsche and by the time he’s behind the wheel, I cannot suppress a hint of sadness at our weekend coming to a close.
I sink into my seat, the grogginess of heavy food and the aftermath of being hungover weighing down my mind and body. Chris maneuvers over the back roads to the highway and we fall into a surprisingly comfortable silence.
“I have to go to Los Angeles on Tuesday morning,” he announces fifteen minutes into the drive.
This news punches me in the chest. Chris is leaving and I knew he would, but not this soon. But this isn’t Paris, I remind myself.
“I have a charity event for the children’s hospital over the weekend, and I’ve committed to a series of events leading up to it. I won’t be back until Monday.”
Tension uncurls inside me. He’s coming back.
“Come with me, Sara.”
Chris wants me to go with him? I’m surprised and pleased by the invitation. “I’d love to, but you know I can’t. I have a job.”
“I can convince Mark--”
“No.” I sit up straight. “Chris, we talked about this. Whatever is between you and Mark can’t overflow into my job.”
“I’ll get him press for the gallery.”
“No,” I repeat. “Please, Chris. Do not talk to Mark. I’ve told you. I need to know I can earn this job on my own.”
A muscle in his jaw flexes and I can tell he’s fighting with himself. “I won’t call him.” He cuts me a sideways look. “Your car is at the gallery and I live right nearby. If you won’t go, stay with me tonight. We can stop by your apartment on the way to my place if you like, so you can get some of your things.”
I’d hoped for some alone time to process what is between us but the idea of not seeing Chris for days twists me in knots. How has he become such a part of my life in so short a time?
“Yes. I’d like to stay with you.” I don’t want to go to my apartment, though, and it’s partially because I don’t want Chris to see how humbly I live. No, I correct myself. There’s more to it. My apartment is my old life that I’ve managed to escape for days, and on some level, I fear that I will never escape fully. I glance at Chris’s profile, his masculine beauty, and a deeper fear emerges, a fear that I will never truly belong in this life, his life. But this isn’t suppose to be about me. Rebecca. Remember how this all started. I need the information I pulled from her storage unit to properly investigate her whereabouts.
I have to go by my apartment.
The sun is setting by the time we pull up to my apartment building and Chris parks his 911 in the midst of much humbler vehicles I imagine he can’t help but notice.
“I’ll just be a few minutes,” I say, and quickly exit the 911. Chris is already rounding the trunk when I stand up. So much for my escape strategy. “You don’t have to come in.”
“But I want to.” There is no give to his voice and he slides his fingers between mine and motions me forward. “Lead the way.”
Resigned to a battle I can’t win, I head toward my red brick building with Chris by my side and quickly find my door. I tug the keys from my purse, and hesitate. The journals are laying out on the coffee table. I can’t hide them from Chris. There’s no possible way.
Chris reaches around me, his big body framing mine, and takes the keys. He turns the key and shoves open the door.
Adrenaline pours through me and I rush inside, darting for the coffee table. I start to stack the journals, and the only bright side to their location, and my present state of panic, is I have something to worry about other than my simple brown couch and my $500 dining room set.
The door shuts behind me and the jolt somehow rakes my raw nerves to the point that two of the journals tumble to the ground. Chris is there, as he always is when I drop things, picking them up.
I sink to the couch and set the three in my hands on the coffee table before accepting the ones in his hands. He sits beside me, studying me, ignoring the journals that are all I can think about. “What’s wrong, baby? Why is bringing me in making you this frazzled. I don’t care about your apartment. I care about you.”
My eyes go wide. He cares about me. It’s the closest thing to truly admitting this ‘thing’, for lack of a better term, between us is more than sex. “It’s a lot of things but no, I didn’t want you to see my little bitty apartment.”
He continues to study me with far too much scrutiny. “What else? And don’t say nothing. You already said it was more than the apartment.”
My gaze falls to the journals on the table, and suddenly I desperately want to tell Chris about them. “If I tell you, I’m not sure how you’ll react.” I glance up at him. “Call this reveal my dark secret that might send you running.”
“I won’t run, Sara.” He pulls my legs over his, holding me captive, and I wonder if he knows this. I suspect he does. Chris has a way of controlling things, controlling me. “Talk to me.”
“The journals on the table are Rebecca’s.” The words tumble out of me, and it is a relief to say them. “Her personal journals, with her most intimate thoughts inside.”
“Rebecca’s journals,” he repeats flatly, his expression as unreadable as his tone. “Did you get them from the gallery?”