Friday afternoon, Chris and I are in the elevator headed to the attorney’s oice to discuss some of my last-minute business questions when he announces, “Amber’s stopping by in about an hour to meet with the attorney, as well.”
I blink. “What? Why?”
“About her business struggles.”
He wraps me in his arms. “Sara—”
I kiss him. “It’s okay. Really.”
The elevator dings but he doesn’t move. “It doesn’t seem okay.”
“It is.” But I feel uneasy about Amber. I always feel uneasy about Amber. I drag his hand into mine as the door opens.
“Let’s go get my business started.”
A few minutes later, Chris and I settle into a chair inside the attorney’s oice and my excitement washes everything else away. We quickly go through my concerns, and it seems my business is ready to launch.
Once Chris and I inish up, I leave Chris to discuss some details about his donation to the museum and head to the lobby, seeking the “toilette,” only to ind Amber has arrived. My unease is oicially back.
She stands up, looking as professional in her black pin-striped skirt and red blouse as I do in my black, slim-cut dress, with a matching jacket and high-heeled boots. “Is it my turn?”
she asks, actually looking nervous.
“Not yet,” I tell her. “Chris has some things to inish up, but he should be fast. We need to head out.”
“He has that charity event tonight, right?”
“Yes.” How did she know?
“I get the Louvre newsletters,” she replies, clearly reading my expression. She shrugs. “I used to follow the art world pretty closely. It was never really me, but I tried because of Chris.”
I suddenly want to be away from her. “I need to freshen up before we leave.” I start to move on, and she steps in front of me.
“Thanks for letting him do this for me.”
She seems sincere, but there’s something beneath the surface. I still think she hates me, but there’s pain, too. Heartache.
Loneliness. She’s such a confusing person. Or maybe I’m just confused.
I must be, because suddenly I don’t want her to hate me. I don’t want to cause her more pain. “You don’t have to thank me. Chris cares about you.” I hesitate and softly add, “He’s not going to shut you out, Amber. And neither am I.”
Surprise lickers on her face. “Thank you.” She hesitates, and then reaches for her purse. “We should exchange numbers.
I really want to do that lunch.”
I hesitate. “Okay.” She pulls out her phone and I do the same, and in the process her sleeve rises and I see fresh lash marks. When we inish inputting our numbers, I gently touch her shoulder. “If you need to talk, now you know how to reach me.”
She tilts her head and gives me the oddest look before she says, “Thank you, Sara.”
There’s nothing wrong with this reply, and yet something about it is very wrong. Fifteen minutes later, when Chris and I head to the car, I’m still thinking about it.
Near six that evening I sit at my new mahogany desk, which was delivered today along with chairs and a bookshelf. I’m writing out the goals for my business in a red leather journal; it’s my link to Rebecca. It’s hard to let her go. I still can’t believe she’s dead. And really, no body has been found. Maybe . . . no.
It’s a crazy thought. A ridiculous thought. She’s not alive.
“Paperwork has arrived,” Chris announces, sauntering into the room, wearing a Superman shirt he says is to motivate the kids to be their own superheroes. “Your oicial business documents.” He sets a large yellow envelope in front of me and lounges in my new guest chair.
“Already?” I ask, eagerly reaching for the documents. “We just met with the attorney a few hours ago.”
“I made sure he hurried things along.”
My hero. “I don’t suppose you did the same on my passport?”
“Stephen said there’s red tape, but it will be clear soon.”
“That’s the same answer he keeps giving us.”
He lifts his chin toward the envelope. “Open it and make sure everything is in order.”
My excitement overpowers my worry over the passport, and I remove the forms and start scanning. Chris grabs one of the documents and laughs. “I can’t believe you stuck with ‘SM
Consulting’ for a name.”
I glower at him. “Yes, I did. And don’t even start with S&M
jokes again. It stands for my irst and last name, and it’s good luck.”
The M would still be accurate if I marry Chris, but I don’t say that. We both know. It’s in the air every time we talk about this.
“I’ll be your S&M lucky charm any day, baby,” he teases.
“Unfortunately, not tonight.” He runs his hands over his jean-clad legs and stands. “Tonight I’ll be playing with the boys.
When is Chantal getting here?”
“She has to close up the family shop again for her mom.
Her grandmother is having issues again.”
Now Chris glowers. “I knew I should have had Rey come over.”
“You already have him checking in on me later.” I push to my stocking feet and go to him, wrapping my arms around him.
“I don’t need a babysitter. Chantal will be here, and I’m sure you will text me and call me like some crazy stalker man.”