“Sara, honey, are you okay?”
I sink down on the bed and my heart twists. I don’t know her well, but she has this motherly quality that stirs the emotions I’ve tried to bury deep down inside about the mother I lost, and who I’m not sure I ever really understood, and the loneliness that had followed.
“Sara, honey, are you okay?” Katie repeats.
I clear my throat and watch Chris slide open a long closet that covers most of the wall and matches the white inish. “I’m ine,” I assure her. “I’m sorry we made you worry.”
“I wish Chris had brought you here, not taken you to Paris.
You’re a ish out of water. How long will you be there?”
“Indeinitely,” I tell her, and I’m surprised that I’m glad I’m here and not there. Katie and John are a part of Chris’s past and present, but Paris is where Chris feels he needs to be to truly open up to me.
“Oh dear,” Katie frets. “That’s what I feared. Did you plan for this, or take of because of the problems here?”
“We’d started talking about it, but hadn’t had time to plan.”
“I can see why that felt important, but you’re in for quite the culture shock. Some people do well, while others really struggle. Do you know how to speak French?”
“That’s what I feared. Okay. That’s a big part of enjoying your time there. Don’t fret; we’ll remedy this. I have a friend who has a niece who’s in school there to be a language instruc-tor. Give me a few minutes and I’ll see if she can tutor you, then I’ll call you back. What’s your direct number?” I give it to her and she adds, “Everything is going to be wonderful. We’ll take care of you.” She ends the call and I sit there stunned. This woman barely knows me, and she’s already swept me into her family circle. I haven’t had that since my mother died. Truth-fully, not ever.
“Everything okay?” Chris asks from the closet, where he’s hanging a shirt from his suitcase.
“Yes, ine. Good, actually. Katie is wonderful. She’s trying to ind me a tutor and then calling me back.”
He scrubs his jaw, an amused look on his face. “And you thought I was a control freak?” He saunters toward me. “She’s in another country, trying to line up your French lessons.”
I smirk as he stops in front of me. “You are a control freak.”
“So are you,” he says, ofering me his hand, then pulls me to my feet and wraps me in his embrace. “Which makes your giving it to me all the more meaningful.”
The mix of hot ire and tender warmth in his eyes has my ingers lexing on the hard wall of his chest and my body relaxing into his. “Just remember, control is like a fortune cookie saying.”
“A fortune cookie saying,” he repeats, looking amused.
“Right. It’s meaningful only when you add ‘in bed’ to the end.”
He laughs, and it’s such a sexy laugh for all kinds of reasons.
Yes, it’s deep and masculine and warm and wonderful, but more than anything, it’s relaxed. It’s comfortable. It’s a part of who we’re becoming together.
“Let’s go take a shower,” he says. “I’ll show you your closet.
It’s in the back of the bathroom and in desperate need of a whole lot of illing, because that little suitcase you brought isn’t going to manage.”
He’s right. I packed fast and horribly. “I’m all for seeing the closet, but Katie’s going to call back. I can’t get into the shower until she calls.”
His phone rings and Chris looks at the screen and sighs.
“Thanks to one of our nosy neighbors, word has spread I’m back in the city. This is a major donor for my charity, who sits on one of the board of directors for one of the local museums.”
“Take it,” I encourage him. “I need to ind my phone for when Katie calls back, anyway.” I kiss him and head into the bathroom, loving the normalcy of the moment. We’re just a couple sharing a bedroom and a bathroom, getting ready to shower, eat, and go to bed. Well . . . we also were almost killed by a madwoman who’s accusing me of murder, not to mention that I confronted the manipulative, gorgeous ex named Amber.
But I banish those events and focus on the here and now. I’ve had too little normalcy in my life, and I think Chris has, too. We need this.
Finding my purse, I dig out my phone. Satisied that it has enough charge, I drain the cold water from the tub, then head toward the closet to check it out. The sound of Chris speaking French lifts in the air, the words rolling sexily of his tongue. I sigh. He alone could make me love this new language.
I lip on the light to ind a completely empty closet the size of a small bedroom, with rows of built-in shelves and shoe hold-ers that make my little suitcase full of stuf a joke. My cell phone rings and it’s Katie. I sit down on a cushion-topped bench.
“Okay, you’re all set,” she says. “Chantal will be there at ten in the morning, and you’ll adore her. She’s actually graduated college and is starting a new job after the holidays, so this is perfect.”
“Ten tomorrow,” I repeat. “That’s fast.”
“I thought you’d need something to keep your mind of what’s going on back here. And you aren’t going to like being in a city where you can’t communicate with people. Sure, there are some who speak English, but very poorly. And I know you’re going to want to be involved in the art community and, before you blink, the various charity events Chris is involved with over the holidays.”