Tonight he was a man who seemed to recognize me as a woman, not just his submissive. I heard vulnerability in his voice. I heard raw need, and even a plea. Could I dare believe he is a man who is ready to discover that love exists?

Now I am swimming in a sea of his promises that everything will change if I go home. He called San Francisco, and his house, my home. He wants me to move back in with him, to get rid of my apartment and the backup plan it had been. There will be no contract between us. There will be just us.


I want us. I need us. So why does this deep foreboding claw at me, the same feeling I got when I was having those horrible nightmares of my mother? What is there to fear about my decision to go to him, but heartache? And it’s worth a little heartache to reveal the real us I’ve always believed we can be. . . .

Two

I blink awake, the haze of sleep clinging to my mind, seeing Chris lying in front of me, his lashes lowered in slumber. The sound of an odd announcement begins to permeate my fog, and I remember I’m in a private section of the international light we’d boarded in Dallas many hours ago. One of the light attendants is speaking in French over the intercom, and the only word I understand is “Paris.”

I focus on Chris, his sensual mouth relaxed, his hair a rumpled, adorable mess. My lips curve at the thought of how he’d react to being thought of as adorable, and my ingers go to his cheek, trailing softly over his strong jaw. He is so beautiful, not classically like Mark, but raw and masculine, so completely male.

Not that I’m sure I think Mark is handsome anymore. I’m not sure what I think of Mark anymore at all.

Chris’s lashes lift and those brilliant green eyes of his ind mine. “Hey, baby.” He grabs my hand from where it’s trailing over his lips and kisses my palm. The touch tingles up my arm and over my chest, and settles low in my belly.

“Hey,” I say. “I think we’re about to land in Paris.” The light attendant starts speaking in English, conirming what I’d surmised. “The prior announcement was in French, and as you know, I don’t speak French.”

“We’ll ix that,” he promises me as we raise our seat backs.

I give a delicate snort. “Don’t get your hopes up. The foreign language part of my brain doesn’t work.” I swipe at my hair, certain I look like a complete mess. If not for the fact that Chris has seen me sick and throwing up and still loves me, I might feel insecure. Then again, I’m probably too tired to be insecure right now.

“You’ll be surprised how easily you’ll pick it up from being around it,” he promises. “Why don’t I give you a small lesson while we descend? I know that’s the part of lying you hate the most. It’ll keep your mind of the landing.”

I shake my head. “I’m too tired to get scared of crashing, and too tired to handle a French lesson.”

“Je t’aime.”

“I love you, too,” I say, having watched enough television to know what he’d said. But that’s the extent of my French.

His lips curve in that sexy way they always curve. “Montrez-moi quand nous serons rentrés.”

The way the words roll of his tongue sends a shiver of pure female appreciation down my spine. I’ve oicially found a reason to like the French language. “I have no idea what you just said, but it was sexy as hell coming from you.”

Chris leans in close and nuzzles my neck. “To which I repeat,” he murmurs, “montrez-moi quand nous serons rentrés.

Show me you love me when we get home.”

And just like that, I’m not nearly as tired as before, but eagerly looking forward to this new home. What could possibly go wrong here in Paris? There is art and culture and history.

There are new adventures. There is living life. And I’m with Chris.

When we step of the plane, I will myself to be excited about being in Paris, the city of lights and romance, but I fail. That bone-weary feeling has returned like a steam engine, and even Chris admits he needs rest. I can truly say that I’m looking forward to sleeping in a real bed with Chris very soon.

We clear the ramp from the plane, stepping into the airport, which looks pretty much like any other airport. Signs in English and French point us in the right direction. Back in the States the signs would be in English and Spanish, so it feels familiar and that’s comforting. I also hope it means I won’t be completely disabled by my lack of French.

Then we step onto a moving sidewalk that takes us through a strange, winding underground tunnel. Beside it is an odd, awkward stairwell that juts up and down in an uneven line, and I can’t imagine anyone using it. Why does it jut up and down? I ind it illogical and disconcerting, and my comfort level plummets again.

Suddenly our bags are on the belt by our feet, and Chris pulls me close, his hard body absorbing mine. I don’t look at him. I don’t want him to see how out of sorts I am. Besides, he is warm and wonderful, and I wrap my arms around him, inhaling his familiar scent, reminding myself he is why I’m here.

That’s what matters.

“Hey,” he says softly, leaning back and sliding a inger under my chin, not allowing me to escape his inspection.

When my eyes meet his, I ind them illed with concern. It never ceases to amaze and please me that he can be so gentle and sensitive, and also be the man who inds pain to be pleasure.

I raise to my toes and touch my lips to his for an instant.

“I’m just tired.” My ingers replace my mouth on his, tracing the sensual curve of his lips.

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