“It is. It really is.”
“Come on,” she urges. “Let’s lie down and rest. I’m up for a fifteen-minute snooze.” She sits down on the couch and pulls off one of the throw blankets on the back.
I join her, taking the second blanket. “Because you were with Rey last night?”
Her eyes go wide. “How did you know?”
“I saw you kiss him yesterday by the bathroom.”
She smiles. “He kissed me—or at least, that’s how it started. Why didn’t you say something?”
“Why didn’t you?”
“Because I needed to think first.”
“And I don’t know.” She kicks off her tennis shoes and turns to sit against the end of the couch, her knees to her chest.
I do the same, prodding, “What does that mean?”
“It means I’m nervous with Rey. He could hurt me, Sara. I could fall hard for him.” She laughs without humor. “Who am I kidding? I already have. It terrifies me, and yet I need him in this really intense way.”
“Does he return your feelings?”
“He doesn’t talk about feelings. He just says he’s bad for me, but he can’t seem to walk away. He pretty much ordered me not to see Tristan again.”
“And you said?”
“Considering he was naked and in bed with me at the time, I said I wouldn’t. Besides, Tristan and I were about mutual heartache and escape. Rey had rejected me, and Tristan had lost Amber. We helped each other. The connection beyond that doesn’t exist.
“Rey is different. All he has to do is look at me, and I feel him in all kinds of crazy ways. And I think I make him feel the same. Isn’t that what we all want? To be with someone who consumes us? Who makes us want to give them all that we are, even though it’s terrifying?”
“Yes,” I whisper. “Yes, it is. But they have to deserve all of you, Chantal. Make sure Rey does before you give it to him.”
“The way Chris does?”
“Yes. The way Chris does.”
“No cold feet at all?”
“None. Chris has all of me.”
• • •
Chantal leaves to get herself ready when the makeup and hair women arrive. I change into the sexy white bra and panty set I bought for today, with thigh-highs and garters. My face is then soaked in some sort of mask, and after that the true styling process begins. Once my hair and makeup are done, the two of them help me into my dress without mishap.
I’m standing in front of the mirror, admiring the long, sheer sleeves of the dress when a knock sounds and Katie pokes her head in. “Need help?” She quickly enters the room, shutting us inside, her face glowing with excitement. “You are such a beautiful bride. I’d worried about you not having a veil, but you’re elegance personified. Absolute perfection.”
“Thank you. I hope Chris thinks so, too.”
“Of course he will. And I’ve never seen that man nervous until today. He’s very eager to have his wife by his side.”
“Chris doesn’t get nervous.”
“He’s pacing, and on his sketch pad he’s drawn everything from stick people to someone’s coffee cup.”
“Stick people? Chris? Okay, maybe he is nervous.”
She glances at her watch. “They should be ready for you in five minutes. I’m going to check on things. Don’t sit, or you’ll get wrinkled.” She exits and isn’t gone more than a minute before a knock sounds on the door.
I open it and peek around to find Mark standing there. “I’d ask how you got to me, but something tells me it involved Jacob or Blake.”
“It did,” he confirms, and I open the door.
Mark steps inside the room, consuming it as he does most rooms he enters, looking his normal, immaculate, good-looking self in a blue pinstriped suit and matching tie. “You look lovely, Sara. Chris is a lucky man, and I just finished telling him that.”
“Yes. I did. I asked his permission to come and talk to you. I was hurting and in denial, just like you said I was the night I tried to kiss you. I tried to break you and Chris up, and it ended up delivering me to the doorstep of the woman I plan to call my wife. And she’s an amazing woman. She wouldn’t let me deny what Rebecca was to me, then or now. I am forever in your debt. Anything you need, just ask. And when I say you, I mean both you and Chris.”
“Thank you, Mark. I’m so happy you’ve found a way to heal with Crystal.”
“It’s a work in progress, but I’m getting there. I asked Chris to be my best man.”
“Now you’re going to make me cry and mess up my makeup.”
“No tears, Ms. McMillan. That’s an order.” He closes the space between us and hugs me, holding me for a long moment. “You have affected my life in ways I’m not sure you’ll ever fully understand.” He releases me and leaves, shutting the door behind him.
When the door opens again, it’s Katie. “It’s time, honey.”
“Oh,” I whisper, nerves exploding inside me. “It’s time.”
“Your man is already in the gazebo, waiting for you.”
I step into the hallway and Mike is waiting, looking sharp in a tuxedo. “I have the rings.” He takes my arm. “And now I have the beautiful bride.”
I cling to his arm. “Thank you. I feel unsteady.”