“Good night, Mr. Compton.”
Unmoving, I listen to his footsteps fade, staring at the flowers that have teased my senses and reminded me of Chris all day. I reach for the card and pull my hand back. Romantic scribble on a plain white card doesn’t erase what he’s done. In fact, the weekend and the flowers seem more a mask for him to hide his motives. The voice of logic and the one of my heart begin battling it out in true gladiator style. But he let you into his world. He told you things he doesn’t tell other people. I grind my teeth and remind myself his disclosure was created by Mike taking him off guard. I was simply there at the right--or I suspect in Chris’s mind--the wrong time. But he took you to meet his godparents.
How long I sit there fighting with myself, I’m not sure, but I feel bloody and beaten, with ever nerve ending raw and exposed. Somehow, I shake myself and reach for the phone, trying to be productive. I dial Ricardo for about the tenth time, hoping the evening hour plays in my favor. I receive his machine again. Hmm. I wonder if he has caller ID. I reach for my cell phone and stare at the blank screen. I’ve burned to turn it on, to see if Chris has replied. Why do I care if he’s replied? He is playing with my life and my career. Logic raises her ugly, practical head again, and tells me I’ve been down this path. I can’t go down it again. I won’t go down it again.
Returning my phone to my purse, I gather several pieces of paper with notes I’ve made about Rebecca that I stuffed in a drawer earlier in the day. On one of them is a phone number for the manager of her apartment building. Or what I assume is her old apartment building.
I glance at the office phone and consider calling, but decide better. I’ve learned my camera lesson. Don’t forget Mark is the man in the journal. Don’t forget Rebecca is missing and turn him into a hero because Chris has hurt you. My Rebecca research really has to be done off site. The building in question isn’t far away and I’ll go by at lunch tomorrow.
Still not ready to head home to my empty apartment and tormented thoughts, I review a stack of files I was given earlier in the day, containing information on people who have bought from the gallery in the past year. Thirty minutes later, I’ve filed them in order of the best prospects and made notes on each.
When nine o’clock arrives I can no longer put off the inevitable walk to my car and entry to my empty apartment filled with memories of Chris. With my purse and briefcase on my shoulder, and wearing the leather jacket Chris gave me, I pause inside at the front door of the gallery. Squeezing my eyes shut, I am uncertain if I am more worried about Chris being outside, or not being outside. Maybe he didn’t do this to me on purpose. Maybe I’ve jumped to conclusions. I roll my eyes at myself, disgusted at my thoughts. I am so weak where that man is concerned.
Stiffening my spine, I exit into the chilly evening breeze, and make sure the door clicks behind me. Nervously, I scan the street, taking in the cars at meters, and the random pedestrians milling about, searching for Chris to no avail. Disappointment fills me, and I laugh bitterly into the wind at my misplaced hope he would be here, fighting for me, proving me wrong about him. I cut to my left and hike up the hill toward the discreet spot I’d cozied my car into, berating myself the entire time. You are so messed up, Sara. You want him after he made you a nearly X-rated video star.
Two blocks down, I round the corner of what was a busy street now turned eerily sleepy, which was not the plan. Quickening my pace, I dig out my keys. Halfway down the block, I spot my car and stop dead in my tracks, my heart racing wildly in my chest. Next to my car is a sleek Porsche 911. A wild flutter of every emotion possible goes through me. To say I’m conflicted is an understatement. The flutter in my chest becomes thunder, hard and intense, echoing in my ears.
Somehow, I force my feet to move, mentally steeling myself to be strong, to hold my ground with Chris. No weakness allowed. Chris rounds the hood of his car and heads toward me, a predatory edge to his steps. He is gorgeous, his longish hair a bit wild like the man. His jeans and biker books are so damn sexy, hugging the lithe lines of his body. I hate how much I want him.
Wicked hot anger forms inside me at my reaction to him. I don’t give him a chance to confront me, charging toward him and unleashing on him. “You knew there were cameras in the gallery and still you shoved me against that wall and kissed me. He made me watch the security feed, Chris. How could you do that to me?”
He curses and scrubs his jaw. “He f**king played the tape for you?”
I don’t have the denial I’d hoped for and my chest burns and aches. “Yes. He made me watch it. Am I right? Did you know there were cameras in the gallery?”
He runs a hand through his hair, the overhead light playing on the handsome, tormented lines of his face. Too tormented. He knew. I see it in his eyes.
“I wasn’t thinking about the camera when I was kissing you if that’s where you’re going with this, Sara.”
It’s not enough. “But you knew.” It’s not a question. It’s fact.
“I thought about it later, yes.”
“And you didn’t tell me?”
“You were worried enough over your job.”
“That’s not an answer. Tell me you didn’t do this on purpose. Tell me, Chris. I need to hear it.”
“I didn’t do it on purpose, Sara.” His voice is low, taut, filled with the conviction I so desperately had hoped for. “At that moment,” he continues, “I couldn’t think of anything but how badly I wanted you. That’s what you do to me.” His lips tighten and thin. “But I won’t lie to you and tell you I was sorry he might see it either. In fact, I was hoping like hell he did.”