She lowered her camera and swiveled around. “Those are only for us.”
“I know, baby. And I love looking at them with you.”
That was an item on our list we checked off over and over, because we both loved those pictures. They were so goddamn arousing, the visual record of our love, our intimacy.
They were decadent, dirty, and endlessly erotic.
And I was so damn glad she’d asked for number eleven, because her boldness in asking for what she wanted bolstered me today.
I planned to ask for what I wanted most.
After we hiked to a picnic spot, she set down her camera and I spread out a blanket. “Sandwiches for my sandwich monster,” I said, and her eyes lit up. Nina loved to be fed.
“Are they going to make me sing a rock anthem?”
“I do believe they will make you croon. But first I need to ask you something.”
“Ask me anything, Adam,” she said, so open, so trusting.
God, I loved this woman.
She made it so easy to get down on one knee, meet her gaze, and give her all my truth. “Nina Bellamy, you are the most wonderful, giving person I’ve ever met. You’ve been my friend and my lover, and you’ve shown me so much about trust and faith and love,” I said, my heart expanding to fill my whole damn chest.
Her eyes shone, tears glimmering in them.
“And the only other thing I want is for you to be mine always. Will you be my wife?”
She nodded as tears streamed down her cheeks. “Yes, Adam. Yes, I’ll be your wife. I’ve only ever been yours, and I’ll only ever be yours.”
And that was the most wonderful gift.
I slid a gorgeous solitaire on her ring finger, then kissed my bride-to-be as passionately and fiercely as I ever had.
There were no engagement photographers. No photos captured by someone else for social media.
But I had the record of this moment etched into my mind, and it was perfect.
It was real, and it was ours.
And it always would be.
A few weeks later
My second shoot for the watchmaker in Los Angeles had been another success.
So good in fact that the client upgraded me to first class for my return flight home to Paris.
I wasn’t going to complain.
Not when I settled into the plush leather seat in the second row. Not when I checked the menu for the flight, my mouth watering over the offerings. And not when I saw the wine list.
A glass of pinot, a good meal, and a long nap as I crossed the country and then an ocean. Sounded like a perfect plan for the flight. I’d been enjoying the little things in life more, and this sure as hell counted.
I closed my eyes, settling into my seat, savoring a little moment.
Then I heard a voice.
One I’d been hearing since a certain flight a couple of months ago.
I’d thought she was just a stranger. That was the role I’d assigned to her.
But I couldn’t get the flight attendant out of my head. Her advice had touched down deep inside me. I wanted to remember her words, to hold on to them, so I’d memorized her voice.
You’ll get there. I can see in your eyes that you’re thinking about it. I know you’ll get there, and you’ll be glad when you tried.
And there was that voice again.
“Can I get you a drink before we take off, Mr. Abernathy?”
My eyes snapped open as she asked the man in front of me for his beverage order.
As if on cue, her gaze traveled to mine. She blinked, then a sliver of a smile tugged at her lips. She returned her focus to her customer, who asked for a bourbon.
A minute later, she brought it to him, then she moved to stand by my seat, a knowing grin on her pretty face. “And what brings you to Paris this time, Mr. Winters?”
My smile spread of its own accord. She remembered my name. “Just heading home.”
“What a coincidence. I live there too. Another American in Paris.”
I sat up straighter, feeling buzzed with possibilities for the first time in ages. “You never told me your name.”
“You never asked.”
I smiled at the beauty in front of me and let her own words be my guide. You’ll be glad when you tried.
“I’m Mr. Winters, as you know. But my friends call me Brandon. And I’d love to know your name.”
Her smile was radiant. “I’m Miss Parker. But my friends call me Serena.”
A few months later, I opened the mailbox at my flat, fishing around for bills or letters. I found an invitation. One I’d known was coming.
I turned and showed it to the woman by my side.
The woman who’d become my lover, my partner, and my friend.
Serena Parker moonlighted as a flight attendant, but her passion was helping others find deep love and intimacy through her podcast.