“ . . . and the pale pink is really beautiful on you,” Chantal is saying, snapping me back to the present. “What do you think?”
I point to the dress on the bed. “This is the dress—not the one I have on.” I turn and give her my back. “Unzip me, please?”
I rush behind the changing panel and slip off the pink dress. Chantal appears beside me with the new dress, helping me pull it down over my head. “Please be the one,” I whisper, as I turn so she can zip me up. The instant she’s done, I rush around the panel to stand in front of the mirror. I sigh at my reflection, my long brown hair draped over the sheer white, a striking contrast that makes me certain I want to wear my hair down. And the roses on the sheer material create a sexy impression, yet they reveal absolutely nothing.
“The back is gorgeous,” Chantal comments, and I turn to find the same sheer material running down my lower back with little roses here and there.
“It really is,” I agree, facing the mirror again. I run my hands over my hips. “I love this fitted bottom so much more than the chiffon.”
“It fits you like it was custom-made,” she agrees. “It’s truly stunning, Sara.”
“I love it. How much do you think it costs?”
She rolls her eyes. “Not the money thing again. Please.”
“I just want to know the price before I make a decision. I need to talk to Andre.”
Hurrying to the door, I fling it open, rushing forward and around the corner to smack right into Chris, his hands coming down on my arms, resting on the sheer mesh of my gown. “Oh God,” I gasp, my hands flattening on his chest. “You can’t be here. You’re supposed to be painting.”
“I took a break.” He moves back enough to give me a quick but thorough inspection, and the look in his green eyes when they lift to mine is hot enough to scorch Alaska. “You are fucking gorgeous, Sara. This is the dress.”
“I know. Yes. Or I don’t know yet. He hasn’t told me the price.”
“I don’t give a damn how much it is. It’s the dress. It’s perfect. You’re perfect.”
Heat rushes over me and collides with excitement. I run my fingers over the bodice. “Did you see the roses? Just like on my ring.”
“Yeah baby, I saw the roses. Like I said. Perfect.”
“Even if it is, now you’ve seen it. You can’t see me in my dress before the wedding. It’s bad luck. Now this can’t be the dress.”
Andre’s voice sounds behind us, and it’s not a happy voice. “This is unacceptable. He cannot be here. I forbade it, and now this cannot be the dress. It’s bad luck.”
“See?” I tell Chris. “I can’t wear this dress.” My heart sinks even saying those words. Chris frames my face with his hands. “Sara. We’ve been breaking every rule either of us have ever made since we met. Why would we want to follow anyone else’s now—or ever?” He kisses me, a deep, curl-my-toes, passionate kiss that has me moaning despite the many guests in the house. And when his lips part from mine, he says, “Let’s keep breaking the rules together. It works for us.”
I bite my bottom lip and nod eagerly. “Yes. Let’s break the rules.”
“Ms. McMillan,” Andre chides, “I must object. I’ll custom-design a dress.”
“We’ll take this one,” Chris announces, no give in his words.
I turn in his arms to face Andre and Chantal. Andre’s staff of at least ten has gathered around them, and I can’t help but grin as I say, “This is my dress!”
There is a moment of silence before everyone, even Andre, starts clapping.
One Door Closes,
On the following Saturday, Chantal picks up something in the city I want to give to Chris and brings it to me, so I can surprise him. She doesn’t have long to visit, so I walk her to the library to find some books for her grandmother.
We cross the stone foyer, passing the winding stairs that lead to an impressive balcony that wraps the entire second level above us. Chantal stops in the center of the foyer, staring up at the magnificent chandelier hanging from the vaulted ceiling. “This place is stunning. Are you ever coming back to the city? Out here, in this gorgeous place with a famous¸ sexy artist . . .” She sighs. “A little piece of heaven.”
I smile. “It is. But yes. We’re coming back on December first.”
“That’s weeks away.” She wipes pretend tears from her eyes.
I laugh and hug her. “I’m just a phone call away.”
She holds onto me a little too hard and a little too long to pass for a casual good-bye, and I can’t help but think that her promises of being unattached to Tristan are about as real as mine were with Chris. I lean back and study her, my hands on her shoulders. “You can come out here anytime, and you can always call me. About anything. Including Tristan.”
She shoves her hands into the pockets of her trench coat. “I know that now—and I’m glad I do.”
I can’t stop myself from saying, “Text me when you get home. That little fuel-saver car of yours scares me.”
“Everyone drives small cars here.”
“It’s terrifyingly small for a highway. Text me. Please.”
“I’m not going straight home.”
I see the comment as the test it most certainly is, and I aspire to pass my exam. “Then text me when you get to Tristan’s.”