Beautiful Bastard (Chapter 13 JE SUIS a TOI)

I kicked smoothly off the edge of the pool, my body gliding through the lower depths of the dimly lit water. I swam harder, pushing my body as far as it would take me, hoping the ache in my overworked muscles would be enough to distract me from the constant ache I felt in my chest. I needed to feel this. I needed the physical exertion to drive me into a dreamless sleep tonight. I needed to know that I would return to my room too exhausted to focus on the fact that I was alone, that I had opened my heart and finally acknowledged my feelings for him, only to have it thrown back.

Repeating the process on the other side, I plunged deeper, hoping to drown every bit of hurt I felt at his rejection. Everything had been so perfect, and I was still struggling to accept that he had essentially pulled away. I didn't know what had happened. One minute we were happy, as happy as we could have been given the situation, and the next…he was gone.

When we'd left our meeting, the eyes that looked back at me were not the soft, kind eyes I had come to know this week. He was cold and distant as he told me of the plans that would take up his evening.

I'd done my best to keep my surprise and hurt hidden, but on the inside I was struggling. What had changed? What had I done? This hurt, insecure girl was not the woman I prided myself on being. I knew then as he walked away from me that this was over.

Breaking the surface, I moved to my back and let the warm water support my weight. I floated along the surface and attempted to let my mind clear for the moment as I watched the stars in the deep ebony sky above me. It was so perfect up here, and I found myself wishing once again that I had been able to share it with him.

For the first time since this morning, I thought back to what had happened and how it had felt to wake up in his arms. Within seconds of waking, I'd felt stirrings of the unwelcome panic begin to settle over me again and I'd climbed out of bed, needing some space before facing him. As I slipped on my robe and moved to the balcony I berated myself once more for not being brave enough to talk to him. Was I afraid I wouldn't like what he had to say? Maybe it was me. Maybe I was afraid to really look at my feelings. I knew that once I opened that door and finally acknowledged them, there would be no going back.

I'd been surprised to feel his arms around me, but not surprised at how right it felt. Everything with him felt right, and it only made the reality of our situation that much harder to accept. I had known going in that he was completely unavailable to me, and at the time it wasn't a problem. I never wanted more from him. I did now.

"You weren't there," he whispered between kisses along my neck.

"I know," I answered, wondering if the guilt I felt for being such a coward was betrayed by my voice.

There was no way I could tell him why. Why every single morning this week I'd crept out of bed, afraid to face him, afraid of what I might see when I looked at him lying next to me. I was grateful he didn't question, and I melted into his touch. His hands fit perfectly along my body, and I couldn't help the tiny moan that escaped as his thumbs brushed my nipple.

I let my eyes close as I remembered what was quite possibly the last time I would know him that way.

"You're so beautiful," he had said. I'd heard those words before, but never really known how powerful they could be. He made me feel beautiful. I'd never been so physically open with another person before, letting him explore every part of my body. He always looked at me with wonder and fascination, never allowing me to feel ashamed or self conscious. I hoped he knew how much that meant to me.

Dragging my hands lazily over the waters surface, I remembered standing with him in the gentle rain, relishing in the feel of just being together. I thought of how his hands had moved along my body, slipping into my robe and caressing my bare skin. I leaned back into him, feeling him hard and warm against me. His need for me seemed to be almost as insatiable as my need for him. I knew there wasn't time. We couldn't keep pushing away our responsibilities to indulge this growing passion between us. Yet once again, I found myself unable to say no.

He'd thrown me playfully on to the bed, only taking enough time to part my robe before pushing himself inside of me. It was soft and teasing, so very different from how we usually were. He'd kissed my eyes, my nose, and my cheeks leaving no part of my body untouched. He'd whispered things to me I didn't understand, and yet they spoke to me as if I knew every word. I swore to myself right then that one day I would learn French. When we'd come together at the end, I knew that no matter where I looked, I would never find this again.

Deciding it was time to face reality, I moved to the edge of the pool and climbed out, instantly thankful for all of the large heaters surrounding the patio. Startled by a throat clearing behind me, I turned; shocked to find he was there. He wanted to talk, to explain what had happened, that it was all a misunderstanding. He'd felt the same guilt and fear that I had.

Even as his fingertips ran along my jaw and his hand wrapped itself into my hair, I'd tried to hold back. I couldn't finish the words to tell him that I couldn't do this. I tried to fight the way my stomach fluttered as he touched me and how my heart ached when he said he wanted me.

"I know what I want," he'd said. "I want you, but I don't know how to make it right. To have you and make it right. Tell me how, Chloe." I gazed at him, seeing my own hopes and fears reflected back. I wanted it too. I wanted him more than I'd ever wanted anything, and when he'd looked into my eyes and said I had him, I crumbled.

I'd pushed up onto my toes, my lips meeting his in a deep, needful kiss. It wasn't enough and in my desperate need for reassurance, I'd taken the lead. My hands roamed his body, quickly becoming frustrated by the lack of skin that met my fingertips. I pulled at his clothes and tore at his buttons in my haste to rid us of the barriers between our bodies. I'd gasped as I felt his warm hands encircle my breasts and lost myself even more when he'd whispered against my damp skin.

Our clothes were quickly shed, lost and forgotten along the smooth wood floor. I needed him now and pushed him back, straddling his hips as he sank into the plush cushions. My mouth moved over every inch of his body, needing to permanently etch the taste and feel of him against my lips into my brain. I lifted my body above him, and we both groaned as I took him inside. My hips rocked against him as he rose up to meet me, our bodies moving as one. I was lost in our connection, feeling it in every fiber of my being. A wave of emotion began to build as the perfectness of the moment threatened to overtake me. I felt him move suddenly, his arms encircling my waist, his face buried against my chest. Every feeling and fear I'd been trying to hide from rushed to the surface, and I couldn't stop the tears that began to form behind my closed eyes. I whispered his name and wrapped my body around him, needing him closer.

"Oh God, Chloe. I need you." His words were simple, and yet they touched a buried place inside of me.

His hand moved to cradle my face and I moaned as he kissed my lips. I began to feel my body tighten as it searched for something just out of reach. His movements quickened and I begged for him to say what I needed to hear.

"Je suis a toi," he murmured against my ear over and over. The words were foreign to me but the emotion behind them was not. They broke through the last wall, and in that moment I knew that I couldn't be without him. He'd changed how I saw the world and myself, and I knew that I would never see anything in the same way again. The tears slipped down my cheeks as the intensity of both the physical and emotional connection engulfed me. The sound of his panicked voice brought me back as he pulled me down with him, cradling me against his warm body.

Pressing my face against his chest, I closed my eyes, loving the way his fingers felt entwined with mine. He whispered soft words against my hair and I found myself snuggling farther into his side. In that one moment, lost in the warm embrace of this complex and beautiful man, the world felt right.

Just on the edge of my mind other thoughts were looming, trying to break through and take this away, but I wouldn't let them. For tonight, until the sun came up and the suitcases were packed, he was mine.

The air had cooled, and even with the heaters just outside the cabana, I could feel the drop in temperature against my skin. Goose bumps spread across my body, but I didn't want to end this moment. Soft lips pressed against my hair and lingered. I felt his warm breath tickle my scalp and I sighed, loving the simple, yet intimate act. I don't know how long we stayed that way before his voice broke the silence.

"We should probably head back downstairs," he murmured. Was I imagining it, or did he sound as reluctant to leave as I felt? "It's starting to get cold, and your hair is still wet." His hand moved up my arm to my hair, and I couldn't help but close my eyes as his fingers toyed with the damp strands.

"I know," I sighed, and yet, neither of us moved. He exhaled deeply and my head rose and fell with the movement of his chest. What was he thinking? Did he wonder what would happen tomorrow? Did he look at the luggage sitting in the corner with the same disdain that I did?

Shifting my head, I ran my nose across the smooth skin I'd been resting on, relishing in the way he smelled. I placed a small kiss against his ribs and looked up at him. He was watching me closely, a strange and intense expression on his face. Our gazes held and the tightening in my chest intensified.

"Come downstairs with me," he said softy. I nodded, still looking into his eyes as he released a deep breath, the warm moist air fanning my face. Moments passed before he made a move, sitting up slowly and pulling me with him. Untangling our limbs, his eyes roamed the patio floor in search of our clothes.

We redressed quickly and I looked behind us as he pulled me by the hand towards the elevators. I was reluctant to leave this perfect place and all that I had experienced here. We passed through the elaborate iron gate and entered the hotel, and I swear I felt the weight of the real world suddenly press in on me ever so slightly. His fingers still entwined with mine, he pulled me against him as the elevator doors closed behind us.

I kissed his neck softly, and encouraged by the soft moan that emanated from his throat, I pushed up onto my toes and brushed my lips against his. His free hand went to my hair, tilting my head as he deepened our kiss. I was barely conscious of the elevator reaching our floor as he pulled me with him, his lips never leaving mine. In an uncharacteristic move, he continued to kiss me as he walked backward down the hall. We bumped into the wall and he smiled against my lips as he took my key card from my hand and fumbled to get it into the lock. We stumbled into the room, breaking our kiss only long enough for him to place the Do Not Disturb sign outside the door.

Opening my eyes, I was instantly filled with a sense that something wasn't right. I ran my hand along the sheets in an attempt to assure myself he was there, only to find an empty spot next to me. The room was dark and I reached for my phone on the bedside table to see the time, 2:43 a.m. I sat up and rubbed my eyes, trying to focus on the room around me and was relieved when I spotted a thin sliver of light seeping out from beneath the bathroom door. Calm down, Chloe. He's just in the bathroom.

Lying back against the pillows, I pulled the sheet up to my chin and attempted to shake the uneasy feeling I'd awaken with. I'd been overcome with an unexplainable fear that he'd left sometime during the night. Despite everything that had happened at the pool, I couldn't shake this fear that he would start to pull away again, and I had no idea how I would handle it if he did.

Glancing at the time again, I groaned. In four hours and eight minutes we would be on a plane on our way home. Home. A word that used to fill me with such feelings of comfort and security now made my stomach clench with panic and anxiety. Returning home meant going back to a life that very well could end the connection we had shared all week. My stomach dropped just as it did whenever that thought crossed my mind. I could try and push it aside for all it was worth, but that didn't change the fact that by this time tomorrow I'd be in my own bed back in Chicago. Alone.

I rolled over and pulled the pillow against my body, seeking comfort. His pillow. My eyes closed of their own volition and I wondered briefly if I could get away with taking it with me. I almost laughed at the ridiculousness of that idea and looked towards the bathroom door, trying to focus on any noise I could hear coming from inside. There wasn't any.

I continued to lie there, clutching his pillow as my eyes began to grow heavier. I wanted to wait for him. I knew I was being silly, but I needed the reassurance of his warm body next to mine and the feel of his strong arms wrapped around me. I sighed and smiled slightly as I imagined him holding me, whispering that this was all real and nothing would change in the morning. Before long, my eyes drifted closed and I slipped back into an uneasy sleep.

Some time later, I awoke again, finding that I was still alone. Rolling over quickly I looked at the time, 3:14 a.m. What? Fumbling in the darkness, I put on the first thing I found and walked to the bathroom.

"Bennett?" No answer. I knocked softly. "Bennett?" A groan and a soft shuffle sounded from the other side of the door.

"Just go away." His voice was hoarse and echoed off the bathroom walls.

"Bennett, are you okay?"

"I'm just not feeling well. I'll be fine, just go back to bed."

"Is there anything I can get you?" I questioned.

"I'm fine. Just please, go back to bed."


"Chloe," he groaned, obviously getting annoyed with my questions.

Okay. I turned, unsure of what to do, battling an odd unsettling feeling. Did he even get sick? In a year, I'd never seen him with so much as a stuffy nose. It was obvious he didn't want me hovering outside the door, but there was no way I could go back to sleep either. Walking back to the bed, I straightened the blankets and headed towards the suite's living room. I grabbed a bottle of water from the mini bar and sat on the couch.

If he was sick, I mean really sick, there was no way we would make our flight in a couple of hours. I knew it was wrong and I felt horrid for even thinking it, but I couldn't help the momentary feeling of happiness that washed over me. We didn't have to leave. Not yet anyway.

Feeling calmer, although slightly guilty, I switched on the TV and began flipping through the channels. Infomercial. Bad movie. Nick at Nite. Ahh, Wayne's World. Sitting back into the couch, I tucked my legs under me and prepared to wait. Halfway through the movie, I heard the water running in the bathroom. I sat up and listened as it was the first sound I'd heard in over an hour. The bathroom door opened and I flew off the couch, grabbing another bottle of water before entering the bedroom.

"Are you feeling better?" I asked worriedly.

"Yes, much better. I think I just need to sleep now," he replied as he climbed back into bed, burying his face into the pillow.

"What…what was wrong?" I placed the bottle of water down on the bedside table and sat on the edge of the bed next to him.

"It was just my stomach. I think it was the sushi." His eyes were closed and even in the dim light coming from the other room, I could see that he looked like hell. He turned away from me slightly but I ignored it, placing one hand in his hair and the other on his cheek. His hair was damp and his face was pale and clammy, and despite his initial reaction, he leaned into my touch.

"Why didn't you wake me up?" I asked softly, brushing a few damp strands away from his forehead.

"Because the last thing I wanted was you in there watching me throw up," he replied almost grumpily, and I rolled my eyes, offering him the bottle of water.

"I could have done something. You don't have to be such a man," I teased, relieved when he rolled his eyes back at me.

"I didn't want to wake you." He glanced at me for a moment before looking down. "We have a flight in a couple of hours and you needed to sleep."

"No," I insisted, shaking my head and pulling the covers over him more. "We're not going anywhere.

You just get some rest and I'll take care of everything else." I was surprised when he didn't argue and reluctantly nodded his head in agreement.

"Good, thank you for not being stubborn." He mumbled something under his breath and rolled over, falling asleep almost instantly.

Grabbing my Blackberry and his room key from the dresser, I was about to walk out into the hallway when I noticed what I was wearing: his dress shirt from last night. Only his dress shirt. I couldn't go to his room and get his briefcase dressed like this. I rummaged around in my luggage until I found a pair of sleep shorts and put them on. Hopefully no one would be in the halls at this hour. I looked up and down the large hallway before leaving the room and made a bee line for his door. God, why did I feel like I was committing a crime? Quickly unlocking his suite, I gathered his briefcase, toiletries, and a fresh change of clothes. I headed back towards my room and mentally made a list of all the things I'd need to do. This is what I was good at, being in charge and making plans. Hopefully this would be the distraction I needed today to keep my mind busy.

As I entered my room, I placed his briefcase on the table and took his clothes with me into the bedroom. The sound of his deep breathing greeted me and I couldn't resist the urge to run my fingers through his hair and place a kiss on his forehead. He stirred slightly and I quickly stepped back, not wanting to wake him. Leaving his clothes in the bathroom, I took what I needed and got to work.

Rearranging our flight turned out to be more difficult than I had originally thought. Between a meeting that couldn't be changed on such short notice and a ton of booked flights, our only option was to fly out late tonight. I rebooked the flight and prayed he was right about it just being something he ate. By 8:30, I'd rescheduled anything I could, spoke to the hotel about our rooms and even placed a call to Esme to find out some of Bennett's favorite things when he was sick. Just as I suspected, the last time she could recall being able to spoil him with chicken noodle soup and popsicles, he'd been wearing a retainer. She'd been delighted to hear from me, and I had to swallow the guilt I felt when she asked if he was behaving. I assured her that all was fine and that he was only suffering from a mild stomach bug. I told her we'd be home tomorrow morning and that of course I'd have him call.

I heard him moving around a couple more times as he passed between the different rooms, but over the next few hours, his trips became less frequent. I chelled on him often, making sure he wasn't too warm or too cold and that he was drinking, but otherwise gave him the space he needed. He seemed especially grateful for that. I wanted to offer comfort and spend every last minute I could next to him, but I also understood his need to not appear weak in front of me.

With a list items I'd gotten from Esme, I walked into the darkened bedroom to change and chell on him one last time before leaving. I was surprised to find him sitting on the edge of the bed with his eyes trained on the floor. He appeared to be deep in thought, but upon my entering he lifted his gaze to meet mine and the corner of his mouth lifted into a slight smile. Crossing the room, I stopped with my feet just in front of his. Slowly, he reached out and hesitantly placed his hand on my waist. We stood in silence as his thumbs traced small circles along my abdomen and his other hand moved to rest on my hip. Ever so slowly he pulled me closer to him, his eyes focused intently on the patterns he rubbed on my shirt.

"I like you in my shirt," he said quietly. The edges of his smile lifted a little more, something anyone who had studied his feature any less wouldn't have noticed.

"Thank you," I whispered. "I like it too." The quiet of the room wrapped around us, the only noise being the sound of his fingers brushing along the fabric and our soft breathing. He looked up at me finally, and my chest hurt at how tired he appeared. I reached out to him and lightly brushed the hair from his forehead, loving the way the silky strands slipped through my fingertips.

"Thank you, Chloe." His words were sincere and gentle, and I accepted them without question, letting us just enjoy this small moment together. His hands seemed to tremble slightly as he slid them to my lower back before wrapping his arms completely around me. I stepped between his legs, my arms encircling him as he rested his cheek against my stomach. He sighed deeply and I leaned in, placing a kiss into his hair. I never wanted to leave.

"You're welcome." I spoke softly as I laid my cheek against the top of his head, loving the way he tightened his hold on me. "Are you feeling better?"

"Much," he answered.

"You look so tired," I whispered as I began running fingers through the hair at the nape of his neck.

His body seemed to relax further into me and I smiled with the knowledge that I was learning how to comfort him.

"I am," he affirmed with a nod and a sigh.

Reluctantly, I pulled away and put my hands on his face. "I need to run to a store, so I want you to get more sleep." I could see that he was about to protest and I shook my head. "Please? I've already taken care of everything. All you need to do is rest. Is there anything I can get you before I leave?"

"No, I'm just going to sleep… or throw up. I'll let you know."

"Well thank you for sharing," I laughed, still unwilling to move quite yet.

"Will you promise to put my shirt back on when you come home?" His fingers toyed with the damaged bottom of my shirt, touching where each of the missing buttons would have been. My stomach fluttered at his use of the word "home."

"Well…if that will make you feel better," I replied teasingly with a small shrug.

"It will." He smiled widely at me and the flutter intensified. God, that smile always left me weak. On shaky legs, I pulled away from him to go change, conscious of the fact that he was watching my every move.

Gathering my clothes, I slipped into the bathroom and dressed quickly in a pair of yoga pants, a tank top and matching jacket. I pulled my hair up and opted for my glasses rather than my contacts. When I returned to the bedroom, I laid his shirt at the foot of the bed and watched him as I slipped on my running shoes. He seemed to have fallen asleep again, and I battled with myself not to walk over and kiss him goodbye. Maybe getting out for a bit would be a good idea. I placed his cell phone near the bed, making sure the ringer was on vibrate, and with one last look, I quietly stepped out of the room.

It didn't take me long to find a store and pick up what I needed. Within twenty minutes I was on my way back to the hotel. The sound of my cell phone ringing in my purse startled me and I reached for it, thinking instantly of Bennett needing me. I glanced at the caller ID and was only half surprised to see the name Carlisle instead. I swallowed loudly as I prepared myself to speak to him.

"Chloe!" His exuberant voice sounded through the phone and I was torn between being happy to hear from him and worried that he would see right through me.

"Hi, Carlisle," I replied, attempting to sound cheerful.

"I hear my son is feeling a bit under the weather today." I couldn't help but smile at the underlying love and fatherly tone of his voice.

"Yes, but don't worry, I'm taking care of him. Bennett's sleeping now, and I'm out getting a few of the things that Esme suggested." The words were out of my mouth before I even registered what I'd said.

"Chloe? Did you just call him Bennett?" Shit. I sat silent for a moment, berating myself for being a terrible liar.

"Yes, actually, I did."

"I'm so proud of you two, Chloe. I knew your being forced to spend time together would be a good thing. Didn't I tell you? If you would just stop fighting for five minutes, you'd see how alike you two actually are." God. Could this get any worse?

"You did say that, Carlisle. And you were right. We've gotten along great this week," I answered, praying my voice didn't betray me.

"Good. Well let's hope it continues. You take care and tell him I'll talk to him soon."

"I will, Carlisle," I said quietly.

"Goodbye, Chloe." I hung up the phone just as I pulled up to the valet, feeling worse than I thought possible. One more lie.

Doing my best to place a cheerful expression on my face, I entered the suite, pleased to hear the TV on in the bedroom.

"Hi," I said, unable to hide my smile when I saw him sitting up in bed.

"Hey," he answered back. I couldn't resist bending over to place a small kiss on his hair before setting down the bag and removing my jacket. He smelled wonderful, and the scent of his soap and shampoo filled the room.

"You look better." He had obviously showered and was wearing the pajama bottoms I had brought him.

"I feel better." Lifting his arm, I couldn't help but laugh as he held up his shirt. "Remember?"

"How could I forget? Here, eat something while I change," I said as I emptied the bag in front of him. I looked up to find him staring at me. "What? Did I forget something?"

"How did you know to get all this?" He asked, eyeing the items in front of him with a confused expression.

"I talked to your mom this morning. Frankly, she was surprised to hear that Superman was sick. By the way, she said to mention that you haven't called her in two weeks." I began to feel uncomfortable as he continued to look at me. "Was that not okay?"

"I can't believe you called my mom," he replied quietly. "Thank you."

"It was nothing." I shrugged and took the shirt from him, a bit uneasy under his gaze. I stepped into the bathroom and changed, putting his shirt back on and psyching myself up to attempt to have an actual conversation with him. Returning to the room, I saw he had opened the juice and was eating a popsicle. I was unsure of where to go when he patted the bed next to him. I climbed in, sitting with my head against the headboard, and took the popsicle he offered me.

"So, I made most of the arrangements earlier. We have a flight tonight at eleven if you're up to it and I rescheduled everything but you're meeting to sign the papers tomorrow evening at JemCo." He nodded slowly and seemed to be thinking. "What are we watching?"

"Clerks, it's a commercial right now," he answered, still not looking at me.

"Awesome. That's one of my favorite movies," I said as I settled back into the pillows.

"I know. You were quoting it the first day I met you."

"Actually, that was Clerks 2," I clarified, and then stopped. "Wait, you remember that?" I turned towards him, surprised that he had any recollection of our horrible first meeting.

"Of course I remember that." His head was down and the regret in his voice was clear.

"But-" I stopped, unable to even form the words that I wanted to say.

"I know," he said as he looked at me, pain and remorse evident in his features. "I was a bastard to you, Chloe." Reaching over, he took my hand, entwining his fingers with my own. He looked look down at our joined hands, his thumb moving in small circles across my skin. "I've…when I think of how I used to…" he trailed off, seemingly unable to finish his thought. I continued to watch him, moved beyond words by his admission. This was…so unexpected.

"We both did, Bennett. It's fine. It was as much my fault as it was yours." He looked at me then, and the intensity of his eyes sent a tremor through me. "Really." He nodded and turned back to the TV. I knew there was so much more that we both needed to say, but I couldn't help but be slightly proud at what, in my opinion, was a huge admission. We fell into a comfortable silence as we continued to watch the movie. We both laughed in the same places and slowly shifted our bodies until our arms were pressed against each other. At some point, my head fell to his shoulder and I closed my eyes, and after a few minutes he laid his against mine. Out of the corner of my eye I glanced at the clock on the wall and inwardly sighed as I mentally calculated the hours I had left with him.

My stomach growled, and I realized I had yet to eat today. "Are you ready to eat something more than popsicles?" I asked as I reluctantly moved away from him, retrieving the room service menu from the dresser.

"I could probably eat something light," he answered. "It's been hours so I should be good." We looked over the choices and I placed the order, a chicken salad for me and chicken soup for him. We began another movie as we waited, coming to an easy decision to order Shaun of the Dead from the on screen menu. I was surprised to notice when a knock sounded at the door signaling lunch had arrived, that we had once again gravitated back towards each other, my bare feet now twisted with his under the blanket.

We ate in companionable silence and continued to watch the movie. About half way through I was surprised to hear Bennett's voice. "Chloe? What's your favorite movie?" I turned to him, surprised by the question.

"Well," I began. "I tend to like funny movies. Clerks, Tommy Boy, Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, Clue; things like that. But I would have to say my all time favorite movie would probably be Rear Window."

"Because of Jimmy Stewart or Grace Kelly?" I smiled, surprised that he knew it.

"Both, but probably Grace Kelly."

"I can see that. You have very Grace Kelly-like tendencies about you." His hand came up and smoothed a piece of my hair that had come lose from my ponytail. I've never been the type of girl who blushed, but I looked down and I felt my cheeks heat. "Except for your filthy mouth that is," he added. I looked up at him with feigned shock on my face.

"Very funny, jackass." I said as I smacked his arm. He chuckled, obviously very pleased with himself.

"You know, if you would shut up once in a while you'd be damn near perfect. I've even considered walking around with a roll of tape in my purse." I popped a cracker into my mouth and he looked at me for a moment before breaking into the sexiest laugh I'd ever heard. Yeah, that was rapidly becoming my favorite sound.

"Oh, I don't know. I think you like some of the things that come out of my mouth. Right, ma petite cherie?" He leaned in towards me and ran his nose along my neck. God, he's such a smooth bastard.

"You don't play fair," I sighed, feeling him laugh softly against my skin.

"You say that like it's a bad thing." He had turned completely towards me now, his legs tangled in mine and his hand resting on my bare thigh. My breath hitched slightly as his lips ghosted along my ear. "Okay, okay," he said with a chuckle, pulling away slightly and resting his head on the pillow.

"Favorite color?"

"Not so fast, you didn't tell me your favorite movie." We were now both lying on our sides facing each other, and I noticed happily that his color had returned.

"Oh, are we taking turns now?" he laughed, his smile widening.

"Unless you can think of something else to do." He raised his eyebrows at me and I did my best to ignore him.

"Well, to be honest, I liked all the movies you named." I looked at him in shock.


"Why does that surprise you?" He moved the arm he was laying on to the pillow above his head and his fingers began to absentmindedly play with the strands of my hair.

"I don't know, I guess I just assumed it would be some artsy movie." He laughed again and I smiled widely at the sound.

"Well I do enjoy a lot of artsy movies," he began. "But I like plain old funny movies too. Okay, my turn, favorite color?"

"Probably pink."

"Well that's a perfectly acceptable girl answer," he teased, our movie all but forgotten.

I looked at him, raising an eyebrow at his comment. "Favorite color?" His gaze moved behind me as he considered.

"Hmmm….I'm going to go with, whichever of your panties are in my pocket at the end of the night.

That color."

" Oh God," I moaned, not even attempting to hide how ridiculous an answer that was.

"What? That is my favorite color." He could see I was still waiting. "Okay, blue," he finally relented.

"Well that's a perfectly acceptable boy answer," I teased back. He laughed again and I was surprised at how easy this was, the two of us just talking. "Bennett?" I said, trying to sound nonchalant. "Where are they?" I couldn't hide the interest in my voice as I asked.

"Somewhere safe."

"Can I see?"


"Why?" I asked, narrowing my eyes at him.

"Because you'll try and take them back."

"Why would I want them back? They're all ripped." He grinned at me but didn't answer.

"Why do you do that anyway?" He studied me for a moment, obviously considering his answer.

Finally, he lifted himself onto his elbow and moved his face to mine. The backs of his fingers brushed my jaw ever so gently before he brought his lips to mine in the softest of kisses.

Pulling back, he looked into my eyes, "For the same reason you like it." My pulse instantly sped up and I cleared my throat.

"Will you tell me something?" He nodded and I continued. "Tell me about your tattoo?" My finger slid down his bare chest to the edge of his tattoo peaking out above his pajamas. I smiled as he shivered slightly.

"It's really not a very interesting story. I was twenty-one and had just moved to Paris. In fact it was the first week I arrived. I loved everything about being there. I had been offered an amazing opportunity, I lived in a beautiful city, and it was everything I'd ever hoped for. But I soon found myself questioning my decision. I missed my family and I wondered if I'd made the right choice to separate myself from them by moving half way around the world just to prove I could make it on my own. So I was walking down the street one day, feeling confused and actually considering going home and I turned into this little cafe called Le Cafe du Coeur . I sat down and this song was playing in the background by Edith Piaf, called "Je Ne Regrette Rien" . I had such a visceral reaction as I listened to the lyrics; I can't describe it…it just connected with me. I knew right then that it meant something, that this was how I needed to live my life; to make every decision count and to look back and know it all happened for a reason. ' Je Ne Regrette Rien,' it means, I regret nothing."

" I think that's a beautiful story" I said, completely enraptured in the image of a young Bennett, lonely and questioning his decision to leave his family and go off on his own. He nodded. "And is that true?

That's how you've lived your life?"

"It is. I regret nothing that's happened in my life, none of the decisions I've made." He placed his hand on my face. "I don't regret anything that's happened between us. I want you to know that." His fingers slid gently across my shoulder and down my arm. He took my hand in his, placing his palm flat against mine. I followed his eyes to our hands and watched as he slowly entwined our fingers. " Je ne regrette rien. I don't regret this, Chloe." He brought our joined hands to his mouth and placed a soft kiss on the back of my hand. How in the world could he make something as chaste as a kiss on the hand seem so intimate? I couldn't help the soft moan that escaped me and he laughed quietly, placing another soft, lingering kiss there. "I love that it has that effect on you." I'd been rendered slightly incoherent by this point and simply nodded. "Chloe, have you ever been to Paris?"

"No," I answered, shaking my head.

"Do you think you'd ever want to?"

"Sure. If the opportunity ever came up, I'd love to." He nodded, but said nothing else about the subject. We continued to talk for hours, eventually taking a break to order dinner and even watching another movie. At some point, I fell asleep and woke to the sound of the alarm going off on my phone.

Reaching over, I grabbed it and shut it off, noticing how dark the room had become. I looked at him asleep next to me and realized with a sinking feeling in my chest that our time was up. I couldn't believe that for those few hours we spent talking, I hadn't thought about going home once. Now however, I could feel the panic beginning to take hold. Slipping from the bed I stepped into the bathroom and splashed cold water on my face. There was no hiding from reality anymore, it was inevitable. Turning on a few lights, I slowly made my way back to the bed to wake him. He stirred and his eyes opened. He looked confused at first as he watched me, but I knew the moment of realization dawned on him.

"Is it time?" he asked, a nod being my only reply. He sat up and swung his legs off the bed, running his hands through his hair.

"I'm going to get in the shower and get ready." My voice was hollow and lifeless, sounding strange to my own ears. The mood in the air was heavy and suffocating.

"I'll go to my room and do the same." I turned and went into the bathroom, shutting the door behind me. Closing my eyes, I leaned my forehead against the cool wood, listening as he moved around to get dressed and eventually passing the bathroom on his way to leave. I felt his footfalls across the carpet and sensed him stop just outside. Something brushed against the other side, and I couldn't help but imagine him placing his hand on the door separating us. I heard him sigh and step away, the sound soon followed by the click of the lock as he closed the door behind him.

The silence around me was deafening and I realized I was now alone. I was unable to stop the sob that tore through my throat as I sank to my knees onto the bathroom floor. Ceaseless sobs racked my body and hot tears flowed freely down my cheeks as I realized that the man I loved had just left. I'd tried to keep him out. I'd tried to remind myself that he was a player and no good for me, that he was unavailable and could never be mine, but none of it mattered. At some point, I had given him my heart and I knew now that I would never get it back.

I'm not sure how long I sat there, but eventually the tears stopped, and I emerged from the haze long enough to realize that I was still sitting on the cold marble floor with my arms wrapped tightly around me. I was grateful for the sense of numbness that overtook me as I pulled myself up and turned on the shower. I moved through the motions of getting ready, barely conscious of my surroundings. I dressed and moved as if in a trance as I gathered all my things and placed them in my bags. When the last thing was packed I sat on the edge of the bed and looked at the luggage sitting in the corner. It mocked me, representing all that I was leaving behind. Its presence seemed to grow in the stillness of the room, taunting me.

Still blessedly shrouded in an aching numbness, unbidden images passed through my mind.

Among them, I saw his smile at the airport. I heard his voice as he told me he wanted me. I saw how beautiful he was as he covered my body with his. I watched him laugh as he playfully teased. One last memory stood out above the rest, something so trivial that to anyone else it would seem meaningless. Closing my eyes, I let the image of a darkened room fill the emptiness behind my closed lids. I let the sound of him saying my name wash over me, remembering how it felt to hear him whisper it against my skin as he held me in this very bed.

A knock sounded against the door and I stood, smoothing my skirt before I made my way to it. Taking a deep breath, I swung it open to reveal him standing in the hallway. He looked perfect as usual in a gorgeous dark suit and tie. His hair stood in its usual disarray, and the slight scruff that still lined his jaw showed that he had decided to forgo shaving. His eyes met mine and narrowed briefly as he took in my appearance, and if he noticed anything was wrong, he was thoughtful enough not to bring it up.

I moved aside so he could enter, and his body brushed up against mine as he passed. Without thinking, I pushed him roughly against the wall and twisted his tie around my hand, pulling him down to me. My lips met his harshly and he froze, surprised at my sudden action. My free hand moved up his chest and fisted in the hair at the nape of his neck.

His body slowly began to relax against me, and as his tongue reached out to meet mine, I groaned into his mouth. In the back of my mind, I knew that I was being manipulative. This was a last desperate attempt to keep him here with me. Even then, with the shame of what I was doing burning in my gut, I was helpless to stop it. I rocked my hips against him and felt a thrill rush through me as his hardened cock pressed against my stomach. My hands moved between us to his belt, pulling him closer to where I needed him to be.

"Baby," he moaned breathlessly, pulling his mouth away from mine. "Baby, we don't have time for this."

"I don't fucking care. I want you." He swore under his breath and tangled his hands deeper into my hair, his mouth returning roughly to mine. "Oh God, Bennett. I need you." I wrapped one of my legs around him, the heel of my shoe digging into his calf. A hand slid down my neck and cupped my breast roughly, causing me to gasp as I rocked against him. We stumbled forward in the small entryway and I felt my back pushed against the cool wall. Placing my hand over his, I locked our fingers together and slid it down my body to my thigh. "Tell me that you want me." I pushed our fingers further up my thigh and under my skirt.

Pulling his lips from mine, he looked down at our joined hands resting on my thigh. Unthreading our fingers he wrapped his hand more firmly around my leg and lifted, hitching it higher on his hip. "You have no idea how badly I want you, baby." He pushed against me as his fingers toyed with the straps of my garter belt. Using the hand still wrapped in my hair, he moved my head to the side, leaving my neck open to his hungry kisses.

"Fuck me, Bennett. Please." I felt him groan loudly against my neck, and I gasped as I felt his teeth sshite the tender skin there. His fingers still splayed on my thigh moved further up to my panties. I couldn't hide the groan as I felt him wrap the delicate strap around his fist. "Just one more time. Please."

His body stilled, and I was suddenly aware of the wild thrumming of my heart against his chest. He pulled his head from my neck, his eyes searching my face.

"What?" I whispered breathlessly. "Don't stop." I leaned forward and placed my lips against his, only to have him pull farther back.

"Chloe, stop," he said softly. I felt his grip loosen on my panties before sliding his hand down my leg and eventually releasing it all together. "Baby, what are you doing?"

I looked down, no longer wanting to look in his beautiful eyes.

"I don't know what you're talking about." Even to me, the words sounded like a lie.

I felt him place a hand on either side of my face, and he brought my eyes up to meet his. "Listen to me, Chloe. I want more from you than this. And when we get on that plane, everything that we have here will come with us. I promise you." My eyes searched his face and saw nothing but sincerity there. "Do you believe me? Je suis a toi. I. Am. Yours." I wanted to believe him, more than anything.

"Yes." He brought his forehead to rest against mine and I closed my eyes.

"I promise, Chloe."

"And I'm yours." He smiled the most beautiful smile I'd ever seen and placed his warm lips softly to mine. My heart screamed to tell him I loved him, but my head wouldn't let me. Was this all I could have with him? As I thought about it, I realized that if this was all that he could give me, I would gladly take it.

He pulled away and straightened my dress before attending to himself. "Are you ready?" I nodded and I felt his fingertips brush against my palm before his hand wrapped around mine. "The bellman is coming up to get our bags," he said, motioning behind us. I nodded again as he pulled us towards the door. I took a deep breath and readied myself for all that awaited us. He squeezed my hand in reassurance as he opened the door. Voices carried back into us from the hall and before we stepped out, he brought our joined hands to his mouth and kissed it softly. "Je suis a toi," he said once more, and I understood.

I followed him out into the hall and felt his hand fall from mine.