“What about the Louvre event tonight?”
“I’ll warn them. They have good security.”
I type a message to Katie, then pull up my next text. Frowning, I read it twice. “This is . . . unique,” I murmur.
“Do I want to know?”
“Mark sent me a text. He’s going to be in San Francisco for the memorial and to attend to business. He wants us to have dinner with him and Crystal.”
“That is . . . .unique.”
“Us with Mark and Crystal. If that’s not interesting, I don’t know what is.”
Chris smiles. “Since the two of them are involved, and she’s as far from submissive as he is, it’s more than interesting. It’s entertainment.”
I glance down at my screen and read another message from Mark. “Whoa. They’re more than involved—they’re getting married in September!”
“Mark Compton, getting married? Dinner just got downright popcorn-worthy.”
• • •
Chris and I leave the Paris airport at noon, stopping at the bank on the way home. Thankfully there’s only an hour’s time difference between Scotland and France, because by the time we finally arrive home to Foch Avenue, we’re both so wired that neither of us even tries to rest. By six-forty-five we’re in the Porsche and headed to the Louvre, and for the third time, I try to call Chantal to confirm she’s attending tonight, but get her voice mail. “It’s this ongoing thing with Tristan,” I say after I end the call. “She’s less and less responsive to me.”
Chris’s phone buzzes and he glances at the caller ID. “Blake. I’ll put it on speaker.”
Ten minutes later, Blake has recapped what we already know about Ava, Ricco, and Ryan. He also confesses he’s hired Jacob to stay on full time through Walker Security to work specifically for Mark.
“Bastard,” Chris grumbles to Blake as he pulls the 911 into a VIP parking spot in the Louvre’s underground garage. “I knew I shouldn’t have introduced you to Jacob. You hired him right out from under us.”
“All for the good of mankind,” Blake jests.
“Mankind, my ass,” Chris complains. “And what the hell does Mark want to meet with us about?”
“I don’t have a fucking clue what Mark wants,” Blake replies. “Ah, sorry, Sara.”
“I’m used to you now, Blake.”
“I wish my wife would say that. But as for Mr. Compton, Jacob is the guy to talk to. He has some kind of understanding with the man. He gets him. I don’t.”
We end the call and I sigh. “It’s going to be weird, not having Jacob at the building when we get back home.”
Chris pockets the key to the 911 and opens his door to exit. As I reach for mine, he grabs my arm, stilling me. “I’ll come and get you.”
Warmed by Chris’s gentlemanly command, I wait as he rounds the back of the car to open my door. He offers me his hand, and when I press my palm to his, the heat that simmers in his touch is something I never tire of feeling. I stand, my long black jacket draping over the pale pink knee-length sheath I picked because it’s the color of the wedding dress I almost chose. One of my hands flattens on his black Louvre T-shirt signed by himself, the other slipping to his waist beneath his sleek black leather jacket. A couple walks by us, the man in a tux, and I smile up at Chris. “My future husband—the rebel in leather and denim.”
“They’d think I was an impostor if I wore a tux. This is who I am. They know it. You know it.”
“Oh yes. And I like it. When I was trying on wedding dresses, I was thinking that it’d be kind of sexy to have me in a gown and you like this.”
“I’m wearing a tux for the wedding.”
“Don’t wear it for me, Chris. Seriously. I like you like this.”
“The joy of putting on a tux is you taking it off of me when it’s all over. And you still need to decide where we’re going for our honeymoon.”
“I’ve been thinking about that, and there’s only one place I really want to go: to the place I first thought of as home with you.”
“You want to stay in San Francisco?”
“Very much. We’ve been everywhere but there, it seems. I just want us, in our own space.”
He curls my hand in his and brings it to his lips. “Home it is, then.”
We lace our fingers together and head to the elevators. There I lean against Chris, the bond between us, which I always felt, now possessed of a name: love. I think I loved him the moment I met him; I just didn’t know what the feeling was until later.
We exit into a long corridor and the press is everywhere, taking pictures of important people coming and going. Chris flags down a security guard, who motions us to a side door, and Chris leads me forward.
For the briefest of moments I’m back in L.A. with Chris, at another charity event. That was the night my ex-fiancé, Michael, showed up, and all hell broke loose. I have a flashback of crying in a bathroom stall after Michael threatened me, only to have Chris storm into the ladies’ room to save me. And it hits me then that he is always quick to say that I’ve saved him. I need to make sure he knows he’s saved me, as well.
After our coats are checked, Chris and I are ushered into a magnificent room where an orchestra plays beneath towering arched ceilings, and artwork surrounds us on every wall. Around us, fancy ball gowns and tuxedos are sprinkled like glitter on a night sky, elegance alight everywhere. And much to my delight, the food is all my favorite French cuisine, which includes puff pastries, macarons, and chocolates, which I nibble on in between the many conversations that have me struggling to understand bad English, and our visitors struggling to understand good English. Chris is charming to everyone, as always, creating laughter and smiles, and I don’t miss how he touches me every chance he gets, and finds ways to engage me in every conversation despite the language barrier.