“Anyone would make beautiful babies with you.”
“We’d make beautiful babies,” he repeats, and we stare at each other, and something shifts between us, like a flower blossoming despite the cold chill of the winter’s day.
“Yes,” I agree; my throat constricting. “Yes, we would.”
Chris wraps his arm around my neck and presses his cheek to mine, his breath a warm fan on my skin as he whispers, “Never say never.” And with those words, we’ve both opened ourselves to the possibility that maybe, just maybe, one day we’ll be strong enough to dare just about anything, as long as we’re together.
Rules Are Made
to Be Broken
I’ve had three blissful, mostly naked days at the chateau with Chris, and he’s now in his dungeon-level studio, painting. I’m in my bra and panties, standing in one of the ten spare bedrooms, with a sixty-year-old French woman sizing up my ass. Literally. She wraps the tape measure around my hips and scribbles something on a notepad. Chantal, who seems to be fully through with her anger at me over Tristan, lies on the bed on her belly, her jean-clad legs in the air, watching us with an amused smirk on her face.
“This is not funny,” I scold as the woman wraps the tape measure around my thigh. “Ask her why that measurement is important. I’m not wearing pants at my wedding.”
Chantal speaks to her in French and the woman replies. “In case you want honeymoon outfits. Good thing you made peace with your translator.”
“And my friend,” I remind her, having promised not to ask her about Tristan anymore in order to get her here today. “We haven’t even thought about a honeymoon. Tell her just a wedding dress, please.”
“Are you kidding? You want to turn down an outfit from one of the most famous designers in the world?”
“Well, yes. Or no. Katie set this up and only told me afterwards. She said canceling would be an insult.”
“Like you’d say no to having this designer come to you to do measurements and show you designs? This is pretty amazing, Sara!”
A little thrill goes through me, and I grin like a schoolgirl. “It sort of is, isn’t it?”
“Yes. It is.”
“But it has to be incredibly expensive!”
Chantal holds a finger to her lips. “Shhh. I have a secret.” She leans forward conspiratorially. “You’re marrying a very wealthy man.”
“I know, but Chris is so much more than his money. I’m never going to take it for granted.”
“Judging from the way that man looks at you, I’m certain he’d spend it all to make you happy.”
“Money won’t make me happy, and he knows that. My father is very rich. I walked away from it all because he’s a bastard, and I wasn’t willing to be his slave. Money isn’t happiness, believe me. It’s who Chris is, and what he makes me feel, that puts joy in my life.”
The woman stands up and looks at me, and though she’s only spoken French, there’s a look of approval in her eyes that makes me wonder if she understands English. When she hands me my pink robe, the hint of a smile on her lips is almost certain confirmation. She gives me a tiny nod and speaks to Chantal before leaving.
“What did she say?” I ask, slipping the robe on and tying it at the waist.
“They’ll be rolling in some samples in your size from all those trucks they brought with them.”
“Oh. Wow. I’m excited to see them, but this is so much pressure, with them making a special trip out here. What if I don’t like any of them?”
The door opens and a tall, thin, rather regal man in a fitted blue suit walks in. “Then we’ll make something you like,” he assures me in a heavy French accent, grey sprinkling his neatly trimmed black hair.
I flush with the certainty he’s heard what I said, noting the door wasn’t shut all the way.
“Ms. McMillan,” he says, stopping in front of me and offering me his hand. “I’m Andre, one of the design executives, and you are quite lovely. It will be a pleasure to dress you and it is certainly an honor to be the style choice of the future Mrs. Merit.”
“Mrs. Merit,” I say, feeling a zing in my chest as I shake his hand.
“Mrs. Merit,” he agrees, his lips curving.
I crinkle my nose and try not to grin like a schoolgirl. “I’m getting married.” I glance at Chantal, who is now sitting Indian-style on the bed. “I’m getting married!”
She laughs. “Yes, you are.”
Andre now wears a full-blown smile. “You’re getting married, Ms. McMillian. Let’s find a dress to do it in, shall we?”
I nod. “Please. Yes.”
He presses his hands together, studying me intently, and I like the way he gives me the impression he’s invested in more than his job. He’s invested in our wedding. “Tell me a bit about the wedding. Small or large?”
“No more than seventy-five people,” I say, anticipating that the fifty Chris and I approved with Katie this morning will morph into more. “It’s just me and Chris at the altar with the preacher; no attendants. And it’s outdoors in Sonoma, at a winery Chris’s godparents own.”
“No. It seems too elaborate, and I’ll just trip on it anyway.”
Amusement flickers in his eyes. “Well, we can’t have that, now can we? February, correct?”