“What are you doing here?” I finally ask.
“I know I haven’t been the best father,” he begins.
“Are you kidding me? Are you really going to have this conversation with me today?”
“I’ve put it off for too long.”
“And you choose the day before I get married?” I cross my arms in front of me, shutting him out, wishing this didn’t cut so deeply. “Please leave.”
I lean forward and point at him. “Your timing is so poorly thought out that even if I wanted to hear what you had to say, which I don’t, I wouldn’t listen.”
“I’m sorry. For now. For the past. For everything.”
“You think sorry makes it all go away? You think sorry makes you dismissing Michael”—my breath hitches—“and what he did to me okay?”
“No. I don’t. I think it’s a beginning. That’s all I want.”
“I had a cancer scare. It’s over. I’m fine, but it made me look in the mirror.”
Cancer. That one word chills me to the bone. It’s like it’s all around me, touching lives, destroying lives. Mark’s mother. Rebecca’s mother. Dylan.
“All I’m asking is for you to be open to a conversation with me after the wedding. I’ll call you.” He gets up and leaves. He just . . . leaves.
I sit there watching him, my mind blank, and I suddenly realize that I’m shaking, on the edge of an explosion I can’t have here. I push to my feet, grab my purse, and rush in the direction of the bathroom. Rounding the bar, I enter an L-shaped hallway and stop dead when I hear rapid French. A man’s voice, Rey, I think, and then Chantal is responding, first in French, and then shifting to English.
“Sorry? What are you sorry for?” she asks, contempt lacing her words. “Because I’m not sorry for Tristan. He needs me. He thinks I’m woman enough for him. He thinks I’m good enough.”
“You think I think you’re not good enough?”
She snorts. “Shall I quote you? I’m too young. I’m too—”
“It’s me that’s the problem. I’m a problem for you.”
“You’re right. You are. You keep messing with my head. Just go, and let me go.”
“I can’t,” he rasps hoarsely, and I can tell from Chantal’s gasp that something has happened.
I peek around the corner to find them kissing. Sinking back against the wall, I turn to leave . . . and see Chris approaching, his black T-shirt stretched over his perfect chest, his jeans hugging his powerful lower body. He’s just . . . Chris. He is perfect.
I wrap my arms around him and press my head to his chest. “Hey,” he says, his hand coming down on my head. “What’s wrong?”
I look up at him. “How is it that you’re always here when I need you?”
“That’s what we do, Sara. We’re here for each other. The salon told me you were here.”
“I thought . . . I thought he told you. Did you see him?”
“My father. He was here.”
“What? How? When?”
“He just left, and I have no idea how he found me.” I laugh bitterly. “He wanted to apologize.”
“Stay here,” he orders, but when he tries to leave, I hold on tight. “He’s gone. He left.”
“Yes, I’m sure. He said he’d call after the wedding.”
“What did he say?”
“That he had a cancer scare and it changed his thinking. And I hate that I feel this ball of hope that it might be true. No one is who he is and then changes. And why did he have to choose today? He’s going to call. It’s not over.”
“And we’ll deal with it, like we do everything else. That’s what we do,” he repeats. “We’re there for each other.”
“I don’t want to let him back in my life, so why does he stir these feelings inside me?”
“The same reason mine did me. He’s your father, a part of you. But so am I, now.”
There’s a whisper, a moan, and Rey says something in French.
“What the hell?” Chris asks.
I laugh and grab his shirt when he tries to look around the corner. “Don’t look. It’s Rey and Chantal. Apparently he’s decided he’s not so bad for her, after all. He apologized and she said it wasn’t enough.”
Chris cups my face. “Because when you really want someone, nothing is ever enough.”
“Why do I feel guilty for not greeting my father’s request with welcome arms?”
“He took you off guard, and he’s done a lot to hurt you—including not being the father you needed him to be. Try to put him aside for now. The hurt, the guilt, the need he creates in you for that unknown something you never had.
“Because you have us. Think about us. Think about our song.” He lowers his head, his lips near my ear as he softly sings, “It’s just you and me and all of the people. With nothing to do and nothing to prove.” He leans back and stares down at me, his eyes filled with love. “Just you and me, baby.”
I smile. “Just you and me, Chris.”
The Reason I Breathe
The morning of the wedding, I don’t awaken alone. I’m on my stomach with Chris draped over me, one leg twined with mine, his hand on my backside. It’s heaven. Not only am I marrying the love of my life, but he’s talented, sexy, and a really amazing person.