Chris joins me on the opposite side of the island across from Amber and sets cream on the counter. “Yes, she was once as American as apple pie.”

Amber’s brows dip. “I’m still American, but unlike you, I’ve embraced French culture.”


He loves Paris but he doesn’t embrace French culture? I want to explore this, but Amber is already moving on. “Learning French sucked. I hated every second of it, but you really have to learn, to spend any substantial time here. Believe me, I found that out quickly.”

Chris glances down at me. “She came here as a teenager, like I did, and American students aren’t welcomed with open arms.”

“Kids are cruel,” she agrees, surprising me by showing a vulnerable side.

I’m not sure I want to see her as human, which isn’t nice.

There’s no healthy reason to feel this jealousy . . . aside from the fact that she’s gorgeous and has a long history with the man I love. Oh, how I hate this insecure side of me.

“. . . but that was ages ago,” Amber says, inishing a sentence I didn’t hear, standing at the cofeepot, all long, lean, and beautiful, illing her cup. “You need a one-on-one tutor if you want to learn quickly.”

“She’s right,” Chris agrees. “We’ll get you someone lined up, if you want?”

“I’d like that,” I say, and I don’t miss how he’s asked me rather than ordered me, when only a short time before he was dominant and I was submissive. It’s the balance of respect and dominance in Chris that makes him so very dif-ferent from other dominant men, of whom there have been many in my life. “We need to ind a really patient person who knows how to teach someone who doesn’t learn other languages well.”

“That would be Tristan,” Amber suggests. “He teaches English. I’m sure he can teach French.”

“No,” Chris says and his eyes meet Amber’s. “Tristan is not tutoring Sara.”

“He’s much better than some stufy teacher who will cram rules and subject matter down her throat. He’ll get her street-slanging it in a week.”

“No,” Chris repeats, and there is a low, dangerous quality to his voice.

Ouch. Who is this Tristan and why does Chris want me to stay away from him?

Amber returns to her chair. “She can’t even speak to Sophie, Chris.”

“Who’s Sophie?” I ask.

“The housekeeper,” she replies, surprising me when her deep blue eyes meet my light green ones. “She doesn’t speak English.”

“Amber,” Chris warns, and he turns to me. “We’ll get by the language stuf, baby. And Sophie only comes once a week.”

The doorbell rings and Chris glances at his watch. “I guess I can’t wonder who the heck would be here at this time of the night, since it’s three in the afternoon here.” He sets his cup down and glances at Amber. “It’s more a question of who even knows I’m here.”

She holds up her hands. “Don’t look at me. I didn’t have time to tell anyone.”

I stand up as he heads down the stairs. “Don’t you need a shirt?”

He glances over his shoulder. “Wanna give me that one?”

“Get your own,” I call back, smiling, as he disappears around the corner. But as I turn back to the table and ind myself alone with Amber, it fades quickly. For several seconds we just stare at each other and the silence eats away at the few nerve endings this day has left me with. I can’t stand the empty space, so I blurt out, “Who’s Tristan?”

Her lips curve like a cat that’s about to capture a canary, with me soon to be a feather in those lips. “A tattoo artist I work with,” she explains. “A wickedly sexy, talented one. Cus-tomers wait for a good two months to get his ink.”

This tells me nothing of why Chris wouldn’t want me around Tristan. But I’m guessing it must be his connection to Amber, and maybe hers to the BDSM world. I want to be as far away from that topic with her as possible, and I say, “You did Chris’s dragon. It’s brilliant. You’re quite gifted.”

Her eyes register surprise and then pride. “Yes. I did it many, many moons ago, and it’s still some of my best work. I was . . .

inspired. It was a coming of age for both him and me.”

“It certainly shows in the work,” I manage, past a knot in my throat caused by her sentimental tone that reaches beyond sex to a deep history of friendship, and yes, passion.

She tilts her head and studies my face, and something lares in her eyes that I don’t understand. Her gaze drops and travels over what she can see of my body, and the hot, sultry inspection is as far from hate as it gets. “You know,” she purrs, her dark lashes lifting, “I could ink that beautiful pale skin of yours with a dragon to match Chris’s. It would be . . . breathtaking.”

I can feel heat spreading across my chest and up my neck.

Is she coming on to me? No, that’s pure craziness. I’m confused and uncomfortable. One minute she’s looking at me as if she wants to kill me, and the next like she wants to strip me na**d again.

My irst instinct is to seek out Chris, but that might be exactly what she hopes for. I have to establish that I will not be pushed around, and do it quickly. Still, I sit there and say nothing. Me. The nervous rambler.

“I have a three-month wait, but I’ll get you in right away,”

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