With nerves fluttering in my stomach, I try to call him. The rings radiate through me, one after another, until I hear his voice mail and hang up. I feel that same pinch in my chest that I did last week when he’d shut me out. He’s angry and hurt and I’m not anymore. I’m uncertain and confused.

I’m not sure how tonight landed where it did, and as I start driving, I find myself searching for answers where it all seemed to start. I end up at my old apartment and go to Ella’s unit, the place where I first discovered Rebecca. I walk to the bedroom, drop my purse on the bed, and lie on the mattress to stare at the ceiling. Thanks to Ella and Rebecca, I dared to be me, not the shell of a person I had settled for. And because of them, I found Chris.

I roll to my side, exhausted beyond belief. I want to go home, I want to see Chris. I want to talk to him about all I am feeling, but we are broken. So very broken. I don’t know how to fix us. I don’t know if he wants to fix us. Maybe I shouldn’t want to fix us. But I do. And I don’t care if that makes me foolish. I dig my phone from my purse, shut my eyes, and will it to ring.

• • •

“Sara.” I blink awake to the sound of Chris’s voice and find him standing above me.

I sit up in a haze, afraid I’m still dreaming. “Chris?” I scoot to the end of the bed, relieved he is indeed here, hope filling me that we still have a chance.

He squats down in front of me, but he doesn’t touch me. “I thought you’d be here, when I didn’t find you at home.”

“I couldn’t go home when you weren’t there. I tried to call you.”

“They made me turn my phone off at the hospital, and you haven’t been answering yours since I turned it back on.” He cuts his gaze away and I sense the struggle in him, and dread fills me before he turns back to me. “Look. Sara.” Again he hesitates, and I hang on the moment until he continues. “I’m leaving for Paris at ten in the morning.”

My shoulders slump, pain spiraling through me. “You’re leaving?”

“Yes. I’m leaving.”

“No. Don’t.”

He studies me a long moment, searching for something I hope he finds. “Come with me. We’ll find Ella and we’ll try to find us again. I’ve thought about this for hours. I’ve held things back, and maybe tonight wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t. If you want to know exactly who and what I am, Paris is where you will find out. I’ve always known that but I wasn’t ready for what that means until now. And I’m not sure you ever will be. You need to think long and hard on that before morning.”

“My passport—”

He reaches into his pocket, then pulls out my passport and tosses it on the bed. “It came while I was out of town.” He pushes to his feet and he still hasn’t touched me. Why won’t he touch me?

This is too sudden. My head is spinning. “Chris, please. Let’s talk about this.”

“No. No talking. No in between. All or nothing, Sara. I’m offering that to you, and you have to decide if you really want it. There’s a reservation in your name with American Airlines. I’ll be on the plane. I hope you will be, too.” He walks away and the door opens and shuts behind him.

He’s gone, leaving me with confirmation of what I’ve already sensed in him. There is more to his pain than I know, more secrets to be revealed. He’s left me with another one of his tests, and I have only a few hours to answer. Not knowing what secrets he holds, am I willing to take this risk with him?

Thursday, August 2, 2012

I told him good-bye today, but he didn’t believe I meant it. His lips curved in that sensual way they do, and he murmured wicked promises of pleasure in my ear. But this time those promises weren’t enough. He looked shocked when I told him that pleasure was the façade he used to hide from love. I saw something deep in his eyes, a flash of torment. And I knew I was right, that there is more to him than he allows me to see. I’m not blind anymore, though. I know now that I’m not the woman who can reveal the man beneath the Master. I’m simply a part of his journey and he of mine.

Ah, but there is a part of me that hopes he will miss me. That maybe we will find each other again someday. I didn’t dare see him again, or touch him again, for fear I’d be weak and change my mind. I left him a handwritten note on his desk, and said all there was left to say. “Good-bye—Love, Rebecca”

Tags: Lisa Renee Jones Inside Out Romance
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