Wednesday, July 11, 2012

It is midnight, and I’m sitting on a hotel balcony in Maui. The sound of the ocean crashing against the shore is like a drug, calming the disarray inside me a little. It’s hard to believe that I am now a world traveler and art expert, rather than a bar waitress struggling to make ends meet. Me. Rebecca Mason. A world traveler. It’s as hard to believe as most of what has happened to me this past year.


My new man is only a few feet away, na**d and gorgeous beneath the sheets of our hotel bed, sated from a night of dinner, drinks, and passionate sex. Sex. I have to call it that. I cannot call it lovemaking, though he does. I wish that I could. Oh, how I wish that I could.

Why am I not in bed, pressed to all that sinewy muscle, basking in his male sensuality? I should be, but the cell phone in my lap is the reason why I’m not. “He” left me a message to call him. He, who I simply can’t forget, who I cannot stop craving: his touch, his kiss, the wicked lash of a logger against my skin that is both pleasure and pain.

I’m ighting the urge to dial his number, telling myself not to do it. My new man deserves better—just as I deserved better than what my Master ever ofered me. To call him back is to disrespect the new person in my life, and myself. If only he hadn’t sounded desperate to talk to me . . . which is insane. The man I knew was never desperate.

The past few weeks have been a wonderful ride of passion and exploration, both in the bedroom and around the world. Ishould be reveling in these things and the man making them possible. He is handsome and successful, and sexy in all possible ways, though it isn’t his money that attracts me. It’s his passion for how he makes that money, how he lives his life, how he makes love to me. He is supremely conident, apologizes for nothing, and embraces who he is, and yet . . . he is not the one I once called “Master,” nor would I ever consider him such. I don’t understand why I am not in love with him. I don’t understand why, even if he asked (and he wouldn’t), I would never consider submitting to him.

If I’m honest with myself, I think the reason I can’t fully fall into my new potential love is simple. “He” is still my Master inmy heart and soul, even in my mind.

But he doesn’t love me. He doesn’t even believe in love. He’s told this to me too many times to ignore.

I told him good-bye, and I will not call him. I know if I do, it will be my undoing, and I’ll once again be caught up in hisspell. I will once again be . . . lost.

One

No talking. No in between. All or nothing, Sara. I’m ofering 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 youwill be, too.

Chris had issued that ultimatum and deadline and left me sitting on my missing best friend’s bed, staring at the empty doorway where he’d stood moments before. Emotions explode inside me and twist me into knots. He sought me out, found me here. After our devastating ight last night, he still wants me to go to Paris with him. He wants to ind “us” again. But how can he expect me to pick up and leave at a moment’s notice? I can’t just leave—but . . . He’s leaving. I can barely breathe at the idea of losing him and, deep down, I know if I let him leave, I will lose him. We have to talk. We have to work through what happened last night before we leave for Paris.

With a jerky movement I reach for my phone, punching the button to auto-dial Chris. My heart hammers in my chest as I wait for him to answer.

Ring. Ring. Ring. Ring.

Then his voice, deep and raspy in that sexy way, ills the line. It’s his voice mail. My ingers tunnel through my long brown hair and helplessness rolls through me. No. No. No. This is not happening. It can’t happen. It’s too much, after nearly being killed by Ava last night. How can Chris not know this is too much right now? I want to scream at the phone.

I dial again, hear the unbearable ringing tone over and over, and I get his voice mail again. Damn! I’ll have to go try to catch him at home before he leaves for the airport.

I jump to my feet and rush for the door, my hand shaking as I lip the lock closed. I pray that Ella will return safely from her trip to Europe. I’m unable to help comparing her silence to Rebecca’s. I shiver as I step into the dark corridor outside Ella’s apartment, wishing I was in Chris’s arms. Wishing I could forget the hell of Ava killing Rebecca and then trying to kill me.

Once I’m in the parking lot, I glance at the apartment building and my gut twists into knots. “Ella’s okay,” I promise myself as I unlock my silver Ford Focus and slide inside. And it’s clear to me that I have two reasons to go to Paris: Chris and Ella. And they are good ones.

The drive to the apartment I share with Chris is less than ifteen minutes but feels like an eternity. By the time I pull into the drive in front of the fancy high-rise I am one big ball of tension. I hand my keys to the attendant, a new guy I don’t know. “Hold my car here, please.” The very act suggests I’m thinking of going to the airport.

Even if I do, I tell myself, it doesn’t mean I’m getting on the plane. Not yet. Not like this. I’ll convince Chris to delay the trip.

I barely see the lobby as I rush through it and step into the elevator. The doors close and I am suddenly, ridiculously nervous about seeing him. It’s insane. This is Chris. I have no reason to be nervous with him. I love him. I love him as I have never loved another human being. Yet the ride to the twentieth loor is excruciating, and I wish I had asked the attendant if Chris was in the building.

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