"It will all be aboveboard," Noah said. "You can have your own room…if that's what you want."
But it wasn't what Paula wanted. She wanted to have a romance in Paris! No strings attached, immersing herself in this heady experience for as long as she could. She'd tell him, in Paris, that she wasn't what he thought she was.
Even before that, she knew what her answer was going to be.
"Alright." It felt as if she was swan diving off a cliff, her arms thrown open to life. Exhilarating and terrifying. As if on cue, the evening fireworks began to explode around them.
"I'll send a car for you in the morning."
She realized it was way too late. She had told Isabella that she wouldn't be home for supper but she hadn't said she'd be away half the night.
She scrambled up from her chair. "I lost track of the time. I have to go."
"I swear you must turn into a pumpkin at midnight."
"Something like that," she said.
He got up and gathered her in his arms. With the fireworks exploding around them he kissed her until she could barely breathe.
"I can't wait for Paris," he whispered. "Where should I send the car?"
"Tell me where to meet you instead."
He named his hotel and a time, and then, snatching one more kiss, Paula raced off into the night.
"Mor,"Isabella cried, when she burst through the door of their apartment. "I was starting to worry. What on earth is going on?"
Paula sank down onto the sofa beside her daughter. Suddenly, she had to tell someone.
"My seat at the concert was in the VIP section. I met a man. A very wealthy businessman. We had the loveliest day together. Now he's invited me to go to Paris."
Saying it out loud made Paula realize how foolish it was. She would be having a fit if her daughter was going to go off to Paris with someone she hardly knew.
"I don't even know if he's who he says he is," she realized. "It could all be a plot. To kidnap me, or something."
"That's ridiculous. Besides, it's so easy to find out if someone is who they say they are. What's his name?"
Her daughter pulled her tablet off the table beside her and typed it in. "Oh! He's gorgeous! He runs a company that repurposes plastic?"
Paula could feel the relief washing over her like a wave. Of course, he was exactly who he said he was. She was the one pretending.
But then Isabella's next words cut through her life a knife.
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