His dad texted.Anything?
Philippe is making me insane about hiking to find the cure. We could be waiting for days or weeks for William to leave a note. Do you think Jennifer would mind if you slipped away in the morning for a bit? Ray could up the guards around the villa.
Doubt she’d mind, he texted back. Jennifer would probably be relieved to be away from the tension surrounding them.
Okay. I’ll text you details.
Tristan sent a thumbs up emoji.
The timer beeped on the casserole. He looked around the empty kitchen and living area. Would Jennifer hide in her room the rest of the evening? How could he convince her they had true love, that she was the only woman for him? His options and chances for success seemed very, very bleak.
Adistant buzzing alarm woke Jennifer. She was surprised she’d slept with all the angst going through her. She was upset about her parents and about Tristan. Seeing him with that gorgeous blonde on the television had only added to her jealousy. She wanted to tell him how he’d broken her by falling in love with someone else and getting engaged. What if he excused it away? He’d only been filling the hole with her gone or something equally lame.
True love. They’d had true love, and he’d forgotten about her and fallen in love with someone else. Fallen so hard and fast he’d asked Macey to marry him. It still gouged at her heart, even though Macey was now married to Ray.
Jennifer glanced at the clock. It was six-ten p.m. She’d slept a long time. What was that buzzing? Jumping to her feet, she hurried into the attached bath and freshened her makeup, wishing she didn’t care what she looked like.
As she opened her bedroom door, a delicious, savory scent wafted to her. She crept down the stairs. Tristan met her at the bottom, a welcoming smile on his lips. Her stomach hopped happily and her legs went weak. She clung to the stairway banister. “You … cook?” she asked. His bedroom was clean. He cooked. What other changes had happened since they’d been apart? Her shoulders sagged. He’d fallen in love with someone else and dated hundreds of gorgeous women.
“I used a cookbook.” He grinned. “Here’s hoping it’s not a fail.”
“It smells delicious,” she admitted.
He extended his hand. She should’ve just walked by him, but she couldn’t do it. She put her hand in his, feeling the rightness of their clasped fingers all the way through. He escorted her to the table and pulled out her chair. “You sit. I’ve got it all ready.”
She was impressed. He had the table set with cut veggies and ranch dip out. Water in the glasses and salt and pepper at the ready. He brought over a casserole dish.
She longed to talk openly with him about so many things, but those recording devices were a thorn in her side. Tristan prayed and then made small talk as they ate. It was delicious. They cleaned up together and then she got brave and asked, “Would you like to go on a walk around the lake?”
Maybe it wasn’t smart to be away from the villa, but she needed to get outside and move, talk without the worry of William listening in.
“I would love to,” he said.
They walked out of the cottage, arming the security system. There was no note on the step, not that she’d expected one as there had been no knock on the door or notice from their security guards. The anxiety of when that note would come and what William would demand of her weighed heavily on her shoulders. She’d be a mess without Tristan here. Even with all the angst of their separation and destroyed love and dreams she appreciated his solid and uplifting presence.
They walked about twenty meters away until they were covered by the trees with only a peek of the lake and the evening shadows on the beautiful blue water.
“Let me text Ray,” he said.
She waited while he texted and waited for a response. He took her hand, and they meandered along the lake trail. Should she let him so casually hold her hand? He acted like they’d never lost their love. But his strong hand around hers was warm and reassuring, and she didn’t have it in her to pull away.
His phone beeped. “One of Ray’s guys is going to stay close to us and the other one will watch the cottage in case William or his people drop a note.”
It was a beautiful fall night, a crisp feeling to the air that woke her up, but just being with T made her plenty warm.
“How are you holding up?” he asked, squeezing her hand gently.
“I’m a mess,” she admitted. “It’s awful worrying about my parents and not being able to talk about it or have any clue what role William expects me to play.”
“You’re doing amazing.”