He takes my face in his hands and searches my eyes. I have the impression he’s looking for an answer to a question he hasn’t asked, and I’ve never in my life wanted to be the answer to a question, the way I do when Chris is seeking one.
“What I don’t know,” he inally confesses, “is how I’ll ever sleep again, after watching you almost die last night.”
No one but my mother has ever loved me enough to worry this much, but with Chris that worry is complicated. I’m smart enough to see the writing on the wall, and I don’t like what it reveals. While I was thinking about what comes next in Paris on the light, Chris was rethinking it with Rebecca’s tragedy as his guide.
“We aren’t them,” I tell him. “We aren’t Rebecca and Mark.
And I’m not going anywhere, so you might as well just let me come inside.” I’m not talking about our house and we both know it.
I barely get the words out before his mouth comes down on mine, his tongue stroking against mine, awakening my senses, the taste of him pouring through me. Hungry for him, I want his passion, I want his pain. I want it all.
I tug at his shirt, running my hands under the material, absorbing the feel of his naked, hard body beneath my palms.
Finally. I’ve waited hours that felt like a lifetime to be this close to him, and I moan, part relief, part pleasure.
Chris tears his mouth from mine, tunneling ingers in my hair to hold me away from him, a struggle etched on his handsome face. “You passed out, Sara. I don’t want to hurt you.”
“I didn’t come to Paris with Mr. Nice, Chris, so don’t bring him out to play now. And I won’t rest until we do this.” I try to lean in to kiss him again.
He tightens his ingers in my hair and sends an erotic thrill up and down my spine. Oh, yes. Good-bye, Mr. Nice Guy.
“Gentle isn’t how I’ll deal with the kind of things going on in my head right now,” he warns. “Why do you think I walked away in the bathroom?”
“I don’t want gentle.” I don’t like what I see on his face, a battle between the burn to take me and what he thinks I’m ready to handle, and I won’t let him decide for me. “I understand what it means to need more than that. I need more, Chris.”
In a blink he’s maneuvered me against a giant white pillar separating the iron gates, his hands framing my waist. “I used to think you didn’t understand. But you do. Too well. And I blame myself for that, Sara. I didn’t want this for you.”
His guilt over Rebecca could so easily bleed into our relationship, like his fears over who he is and who he will make me become. “I told you. I’m not Rebecca, so stop going there, Chris. I read those journals. She changed who she was to be with Mark.
“You didn’t turn me into who I am now. All you did was to help me to stop hiding from who I am, and I’m glad. Don’t make me feel like I have to start again.”
Seconds tick by as he studies me, before he asks, “Who are you, Sara?”
I lift my chin. “If you don’t know that by now, I suggest you ind out before it’s too late to turn back.”
I blink and Chris has turned me to face the banister, and I catch my weight on my hands to steady myself. His hand lattens between my shoulder blades and he steps close, framing my h*ps with his, his erection nestled against my backside.
“Do you remember what I promised you back in that Los Angeles hotel?”
“Yes: that you’d stop protecting me from you. But you haven’t,” I accuse, certain now that it’s the right time, the right mood, to push him.
“Baby, I held back today to let you get over all you’ve been through. But don’t let that mislead you. You wouldn’t be here if I planned to protect you from me.” His hand splays possessively on my stomach. “What else did I tell you?”
My lashes lower, heat slicing through me at the memory of lying in that Los Angeles hotel bed, his body intimately wrapped around mine. “That you’d own me if I stayed with you.”
“Every part of you,” he agrees huskily. “That means I know you completely. All of you. And it’s time you understand what that means.”
“Show me,” I challenge, wanting him to own me, when no other man will ever come close to having this much of me.
When I never thought I’d want this much from a man. But this is Chris, and that’s the only answer I ever need.
“Show you what?” he demands.
“How it feels to be owned by you,” I dare to reply, and heat pools low in my belly at the many erotic things this might invite. “Because I haven’t felt it yet. And I want to.”
His teeth scrape my earlobe, his breath teasing the delicate skin there. “You will, Sara. You will.” He steps away from me, leaving me cold and wanting. “Turn around.”
I swallow hard, aroused by the possibilities his promise has stirred, relieved that we’re taking our journey together, past the wall the loss of Rebecca almost erected. I tentatively turn and meet his stare, and instead of hot coals and burning embers, I ind tenderness.
He lifts his chin at the doorway. “Walk inside, baby.”
My heart squeezes at the soft endearment he uses often, and the message I read behind it. Whatever journey he’s about to take me on, we’ll still be just us when it’s over.
He’s not out of control. He’s not even on the edge anymore.