By: Kayti McGee

“That was the thing. You are a lot of things, but you aren’t mean. And when I weighed how pissed I was against the idea of never seeing you again, well… I spent a lot of time working my anger off on the farm chores so that I wouldn’t have any left when I came home to you.” He snaked his arm around me, and I leaned in for another kiss. Now that I was allowed to kiss him again, I didn’t know how I would ever get enough.

Although I still had a lot of questions. For one thing, forgiving me and renewing the sex thing still didn’t tell me exactly where I stood with him in general. I took another large swallow of wine, and considered how to phrase “but do you love me” without sounding desperate or pathetic.

“Madison—” my name sounded sweet in his mouth again— “I had no idea how lonely I was until you showed up. And just your presence in the house alone was enough at first, but after we spent our first evening on this couch together, it was like I realized everything I’d been missing during my non-stop studying life.”

“Like I colorized your sepia existence?” I supplied helpfully.

“Exactly! How did you know?”

“Perhaps I remember more of that evening than you do.” He blushed, which was exactly as adorable as it sounds.

“I kept telling myself it was just having anyone new around that would make me feel that way. And that I’d been doing the right thing all my life with no reward; the idea that French women would be the unexpected and exciting thing to do was on a loop in my brain. Settling down with the first girl I’d slept with in a year was the exact opposite of my plan. And I really like plans.” He took a deep breath, and gulped a little wine.

“But what’s the point of Paris without you? I don’t want to share the trip of a lifetime with strangers. I still want to bang my way across the country. I just want you to be the bangee.” He breathed out, and smiled. “Madison, I want to buy you a ticket to France.”

I stared at him.

“No,” I said.

“No?” he asked, clearly shocked.

“No. Definitely not.” I got up and refilled my glass.

“But—why? Are you worried about work? Because I thought—I mean, I’ve already booked all the hotels and everything, so it really won’t cost too much extra for you to come, and I can cover your rent while we’re there, too.” He stood up and grabbed me by the upper arms, his eyes searching mine.

“Say something!” He demanded. I smiled at him.

“Well. I haven’t been pining for you the entire time you’ve been gone,” I told him. “I’ve also been working very hard.”

“I know, I saw all the things you did online,” he said, still holding me. I relished each fingerprint pressed into my skin.

“I mean, I don’t want to upset you, but I definitely sold the whole thing to a publisher, and I don’t want to piss you off again, so you’d have to say yes, but I already cashed the check, so.”

“What are you saying, exactly?” I stood up on my tiptoes and kissed him on each cheek, like a Frenchwoman.

“I’m saying that I’m buying my own damn ticket to France.” After that, we basically retreated to his room to celebrate our bangcation. The first order of business—trying the upside-down thing. After all, the Kama Sutra offers several variations on the position. It went exactly as well as I’d predicted in the sex shop, so after that we celebrated a bit more tastefully.

I slam my laptop shut, and close my eyes. The air smells like lavender, and it isn’t even coming from Marc, but the scent will always remind me of him. As if the thought itself summons him, I feel his presence behind me. I wonder if I’ll ever stop being so hyperaware of the way the air moves around him, and I fervently hope I don’t.

“If you’ve finished the ending of your smutty graphic novel, I’ve arranged a vineyard tour for us,” he whispers in my ear.

“It’s very tasteful,” I whisper back, “And I’ll never turn down wine.”

Although it is strange—for all our success at the wine tasting with Brandon, we seem to have bungled every single vintage in Paris. Surely now that we’ve moved into the Loire Valley, the country air will sharpen our senses.