And then I dart away, laughing when he groans. I think it’s safe to say we’re both looking forward to tonight.
• • •
Appalled that Chris and I spent the night together, Katie chides us for our bad wedding etiquette and hovers as I shower and pack. I have a few minutes alone as I finish gathering my things, then I head to the kitchen to find Chris and Katie standing by the coffeepot. I have no makeup on, my hair isn’t done, and I’m wearing his Harley T-shirt with a pair of sweats. He looks his normal biker hottie self, with jeans, a T-shirt, his leather jacket, and biker boots on. I drool.
“This instead of the tux,” I say. “I approve.”
His eyes light with mischief. “I’ll wear this if you wear my T-shirt,” he says, clearly referencing our hallway encounter. “Or not.”
Katie steps between us. “Stop it, you two. You aren’t even supposed to see each other until the wedding.” She turns to me. “I booked a massage for you in fifteen minutes. It’ll relax you.”
My throat thickens. “Massage? No. I just . . .”
Chris drapes his arm over my shoulder. “She doesn’t like other people touching her. Unless it’s me.”
I don’t know how he knows this. Maybe I’ve told him. Or maybe it’s just the way Chris gets me. But since Michael, I’m weird about being touched. It’s part of what made my intense physical reactions to Chris so surprising from the beginning.
She looks at Chris, her gaze soft, and I’m certain she senses he’s being a big, protective bear. “Sure, no massage.” The doorbell rings. “I’ll go tell her the massage is cancelled, then we should head to the chateau.”
She leaves me alone with Chris and I face him. “You knew.”
“Of course I knew.”
“I trusted you from the beginning. It’s like some part of me just knew you were safe.”
Katie pops her head in the door. “Let’s go. And break it up, you two.”
He grabs me and kisses me firmly. “See you soon, baby.”
I back up and wave and then turn and follow Katie outside, aware that the next time I see Chris, it will be to say “I do.”
The idea has me smiling as I slide into Katie’s BMW.
• • •
The tight security to get onto the chateau grounds should be comforting, but it reminds me of all the people arriving soon. All the vendor trucks and people running around don’t make the tremors in my stomach any better, either. Katie and I exit the car, and I’m pleased that it’s sunny and on the warm side, though it’s two o’clock now and the ceremony is at six, right at sunset, and I expect it will be chilly then.
I glance toward the steps leading to the chateau, relieved to see Jacob and Blake by the front door, both wearing Walker Security T-shirts. The instant they see us, they break away from several other men to approach and Blake whistles.
“The bride has arrived.”
“Yes, and she needs to be protected.”
“Oh?” he asks, sounding serious. “From what?”
“Tripping over my own feet in front of all these famous people coming today.”
“I’ve never seen you fall,” Jacob assures me. “Though I do remember ripped pantyhose and a lot of sand once.”
I blush, remembering that incident well myself. Chris had come home from Dylan’s funeral. We’d fought, and ended up making love on the beach. Later, we’d tried to sneak into the garage unnoticed, but Jacob had busted us. “Thanks for that memory, Jacob. I feel better already.”
“That’s what I’m here for,” he says with a wink. “But seriously. We’re here. We’ve got your back in all things.”
“Thank you. You sure we can’t hire you away from Mark and Crystal?”
“Chris is too private to have me following you two around like I do them.”
I glance around as a car pulls up, and I’m excited to see Chantal and her mother emerge, and unsurprised when Rey gets out of the front of the car. Chantal rushes to me and gives me one of her customary hugs, and I realize that, in general, I don’t mind being touched the way I used to. Because of Chris.
“Do you want to see the ceremony area?” Katie asks, joining us, while Blake and Jacob move on to take care of business.
Rey heads off to help the security crew, but not before whispering in Chantal’s ear. She’d returned to the lunch table yesterday and said nothing about kissing him in the hallway, so I’m dying of curiosity. She and I follow Katie and her mother through the chateau to inspect the ceremony area out back, stopping first at the reception area. There is a rose ice sculpture and plenty of flowers, and while the Paris scene on the chocolate cake is impressive, my favorite cake is the three-tiered strawberry one with elaborate roses on the edges.
After our tour and inspection, there is a lunch that I only nibble at. Shortly after, Katie delivers me and Chantal to a sitting room and orders, “Rest until the hair and makeup people get here. It’s going to be an adrenaline rush later that will drain you.”
She leaves and we enter a room with a gigantic couch, a vanity and chair, and a tall, triple-paned standing mirror. But it’s what’s hanging on the mirror that has my attention.
My dress, in all its rose-etched glory.
Chantal steps to my side. “It’s even more gorgeous than I remember.”