she adds, leaning forward to narrow the distance over the counter. “We’ll surprise Chris.”

We’ll surprise Chris? Is she . . . surely not. Or is she? Does she want us to be a threesome? That’s not happening. I don’t share, and if I thought for a moment Chris did, I’d be on a plane back to the States. But she knows him. She’s had sex with him.


Kinky sex.

I swallow hard. Past. Present. Past. Present. I repeat these words in my head, feeling like I’ll be using them a lot in the near future. “No ink for me,” I say, my voice strained with discomfort. “Thanks, though.”

Amber notices; I see the gleam in her intelligent eyes. She’s smart, and that makes her dangerous. She pushes of her chair to stand, a good two or three inches above my ive feet four inches. “Too bad,” she says. “I could have told you all of his secrets while I worked on you.”

I ignore the soft little rasp emphasizing “worked on you.”

She’s deinitely playing some head game with me, and I hate that it’s working a little. Chris is the one to share his secrets with me, but still . . . does she know all the things about him I don’t? Maybe. Probably. Some things, for sure. She’s the one who lured him into the BDSM world. Well, he didn’t use the word lure, and he isn’t the type to be lured into anything. Past.

Present. Maybe he had been the type back then? And Amber certainly is the type to lure someone into something. I almost laugh out loud. This is the man who, as a teen, responded to the French kids’ teasing by beating the crap out of them and getting in trouble.

Amber rounds the island and walks toward me, and I am hopeful she is leaving. Instead, she stops beside me and shocks me by pressing her hand to my bare arm and running it up under Chris’s shirt to close around my bare shoulder.

My gaze jerks to hers and it’s all I can do not to pull back, but I’ve had enough people play intimidation games with me to know not to respond.

“Right here,” she says, her ingers lexing on my shoulder.

“I’ll do a perfect duplicate of Chris’s dragon. It would be delicious fun to re-create it.” Her hand slides away and her lips curve. “He likes inked skin.”

She’s hit a nerve I do not want to exist, and I barely contain a linch. I’m not the daring, beautiful creature that she is and, though I felt quite secure earlier, right now I fear I eventually won’t be enough for Chris.

Her eyes gleam with satisfaction. She knows she’s gotten to me, and I hate that she knows. “I have a feeling you’d be surprised at a lot of the things Chris likes,” she comments, tucking a strand of long blond hair behind her ear. “You know, he’s going to get called for one meeting after another by everyone and their uncle in the art world. That’s what happens the minute he enters the city. You’ll get bored. Stop by the shop if you like. I’m at the Script, of the Champs-Élysées. It’s a short walk.”

She smirks, and even that is pretty. I have a feeling she’d look good with the lu, while I look like something from a zombie apocalypse when I don’t get enough sleep. Like now.

“I’m sure Chris and I will get by that way.”

“Come alone so we can talk about the tattoo,” she encourages.

“Tristan will be there, too. He can give you a lesson.” The cat-that-ate-the-canary look is back, and I’m sure she’s not talking about a lesson in French.

She waves two ingers at me. “Later, ma belle.” She walks down the stairs, and I don’t turn to watch.

I have no clue what just happened. I only know that Amber isn’t going away. Neither am I, so I’m going to have to ind a way to deal with her.

I’m not sure how long I sit at the island in the kitchen, trying to igure Amber out, unwilling to risk another encounter with her before she is inally gone. Not even the idea of her fawn-ing over Chris will lift me from my seat. Finally the need for a shower, and my curiosity over who was at the door and why Chris is taking so long, wins out.

I head to the living room and Chris is entering from a hallway on the opposite side of the room, wearing a white T-shirt and talking on the phone in French. I’ve never been so happy to see the man dressed.

Chris ends his call. “Let’s go get a shower, order food, eat, and then sleep.”

“I’m all for all of those things in that order,” I agree, walking with him up the stairs.

“That was the security guy at the door who looks after our place and a few others around here. Rey is his name. He stopped by to give me a stack of messages.” He runs a hand over his jaw. “One was from Katie and John, who’d heard about what happened on the news and kept getting fast busy signals when they called me.”

I stop at the mention of his godparents. “Oh, no. We were supposed to be at the château today.”

“Yeah,” he conirms. We start walking again. “I feel like crap for not calling them.”

“How did she know to call here?”

“Jacob told her we were here.” His phone rings and he glances down and back up. “Speaking of Katie.” He answers the call. “Hi, Katie. Yes, I’m okay. We’re both okay. You’re right.

I should have called. I just wanted to get Sara out of there.” We walk into the bedroom and Chris glances at me with a question in his eyes. “You want to talk to Sara?”

I nod and accept the phone from him. “Hi, Katie.”

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