But Mona Lisa isn’t talking, and a long line waits behind me to see her. So as my shoulders slump with these unanswered questions, I head to the exit and come out on the dimly lit streets. Collins said he wouldn’t be back for dinner, so I decide to walk along the River Seine, hoping I’ll find a good place to eat.
The city is bustling with tourists and Parisians alike, out enjoying the beautiful night. As I slowly make my way down the river, I notice everyone is in pairs. The couple in front of me is holding hands. On the boulevard, a man and woman sit on a park bench and look longingly into each other’s eyes. I pass another couple leaning against the railing, gazing down on the river, arms around each other, huddling close.
As I take note of all the couples, my heart fills with sadness. I wrap my arms around myself, suddenly feeling cold, and alone. I’ve been wandering around this romantic city like a lovesick fool all day, but the man I’ve fallen for isn’t even mine, and I’m not sure he ever will be.
The emptiness I feel is so sudden and so overwhelming it hurts, my eyes pool with tears.
At least two weeks ago I had a job and an apartment. Now, I have nothing. I want to believe Collins will leave Tatianna, but the cold truth is, I have no assurances.
I have no idea what comes next.
Another room opened up at the hotel, and I left Mia in the suite, in favor of a room to myself where I wouldn’t have to share a bed with a woman who tempted me to my very core. I couldn’t imagine spending the rest of the week fighting the urge to jump her each night. Especially since I knew she’d give in to me. She’d give me everything, if I only asked. It’d always been that way.
My meetings with Pierre and his associates went better than expected, so I should be returning on a high, but as Mia and I arrive home, feelings of sadness stir inside me.
Tatianna is in the kitchen when we arrive. She squeals and runs to me, throwing her arms around my neck dramatically, and I can’t help but feel it’s all for show, rather than a genuine display of affection.
“Missed you,” she says, air kissing my cheek.
I can’t even muster the words back to her. My eyes follow Mia’s movements. She turns away from us, but not before I catch a hint of sadness in her eyes. She heads to the fridge and grabs a bottle of water.
“Well, how was it? Paris, right?” she asks.
“How was New York?” I ask, my tone guarded.
She waves a dismissive hand, and I wonder if she’s going to lie. “Flaky photographer canceled. I stayed home.”
“You should have told me. You could have come with.” The words taste false in my mouth, and I know they’re all wrong. Mia was the perfect companion. I just want to hear Tatianna admit that she wasn’t the least bit concerned with me – she was out clubbing with God knows who.
She waves me off again. “I’m sure Mia filled my role nicely.” She turns to Mia. “Did you take care of my man?”
Mia’s eyes widen and she nods. “I did.” Her eyes find mine briefly, and then stray down to the floor.
Fuck. Mia isn’t good at lying. She’s just not that type of person. And now I feel like even more of an asshole because not only did I use her in Paris to fulfill my own needs, but now I’ve put her in a situation where she feels she has to lie.
“The trip went well,” I say, trying to smooth the awkward moment over.
Mia glances up again, her gaze finding Tatianna’s. “Collins was brilliant. He won over Pierre and Adele almost immediately.”
“You were amazing,” I correct her.
“Wait, who are Pierre and Adele?” Tatianna asks.
Mia’s brows pinch together. “Pierre Ducharme, the CEO of Ducharme Industries…the entire reason for the trip.” She seems shocked that Tatianna wouldn’t know this information, since it was so important to me.
Tatianna nods. “Oh. Right. So, was it all work or did you guys have some fun?”
Mia laughs nervously. “We had fun. Collins made sure it was perfect for me.”
I bite down, my jaw clenching as memories of Mia’s naked, curvy body dance through my brain, her moan of satisfaction when she tasted a real croque-monsieur for the first time, the mischievous twinkle in her eyes when she’d had too much wine, her hearty laugh when I took her to the top of the Eiffel Tower.
I exchange a meaningful look with Mia, as if to communicate my pleasure that she was the one with me. Tatianna’s gaze moves between me and Mia and her brow furrows as if she’s just solved a challenging equation. I see the exact moment something snaps in her. Her hands fly to her hips and her gaze narrows on Mia.
“What exactly has been going on here?” Tatianna questions Mia, her tone filled with icy venom.
Mia’s mouth snaps shut, and she looks to me, desperate, her eyes wide and wild.
Not getting anything out of Mia, Tatianna turns to me. “Have you been fucking her?” she shrieks.
I don’t know what the fuck is wrong with me, but I don’t answer right away. I just look at the woman I’ve spent the last three years with and wonder where all the time went. I feel like I’ve built more memories, shared more laughs, had more fun with Mia in one week than I have with Tatianna in three years.
Tatianna drops her head to look at the floor, and makes a sound of annoyed frustration. When she lifts her head, she’s laughing. “You’re fucking crazy to choose that over this.” She motions between her and Mia—noting the obvious differences in their physiques. Tatianna is tall and willowy, while Mia is curvy and built for a man’s pleasure.