I arrived at the restaurant with the bright-yellow exterior ahead of time. It was early enough to request a table by the window. Sitting there, watching the world go by, would have been the perfect time to test the medication. If I had been on it. Too bad because it took every ounce of control to not storm out of the building.
The waitress came by the table for the fifth time, and I finally placed an order. For some reason, I learned Spanish and Arabic easier than French. Since being in the country, I grasped enough of the language to do the basic things—including ordering from a menu. After the woman walked off, I went over a plan in my head. I’d finish eating before Margaux arrived. Then I’d confront her ass and leave. A perfect scheme.
In retrospect it wasn’t. There was no such thing as perfection. If it were, the captain, crew, and all those passengers on the Titanic would have fared better. Just like that ill-fated voyage, the reality of my thinking sank in when the wench entered the building with a bright smile stretched over her deceitful face.
“Ah, James, it’s good to see you.” She waited for me to pull out her chair. When I didn’t move, she slowly pulled it out herself and sat down. “Is there a problem today?”
“You tell me, Margaux. How long were you going to play this game with me?”
“And what game is that?” She cocked her head to one side. The gesture reminded me so much of Peyton.
I blinked and stared out the window. Dealing with the woman required focus, and I was quickly losing mine. “A little truth between us?”
“But of course. What truth are you offering?”
My smarter half warned me not to pursue any answers. Staying off Aldrich Daniels radar required keeping my fucking mouth shut. It was why I hadn’t volunteered information to Dr. Allard. It was why I didn’t look to make friends. It was why I fucked random women—no pillow talk afterward.
Without hesitation, I asked, “We’ve met before, haven’t we?”
Margaux sighed. “Is this your paranoia again? I promise you we’ve never met.”
Common sense took a back seat when I asked, “Does all your family live in France?”
The waitress returned with my food. Margaux placed her order and waited until we were alone again. “I have family all over the world. Why?”
Maybe I was wrong. Anything was possible. Maybe I wanted to see connections where there were none. “No reason. Forgive me for being nosy.”
“No apology needed, mon ami. Now, can we simply enjoy each other’s company?”
So, why was my gut twisting into a major knot?
After lunch, Margaux and I spent the afternoon walking around the Montmartre neighborhood. She pointed out landmarks that should have been of interest to me. Instead of giving her my undivided attention, I couldn’t stop the loop of memories—déjà vu—in my head.
Peyton and Margaux talking.
Peyton and Margaux arguing.
For some reason, Margaux hated her American cousin, and neither of their fathers noticed.
Something kept telling me that the woman knew who I was. Tension wrapped around my body, stiffening my muscles and sending my internal alert system into hyperdrive.
Trying to shake the images, I side-glanced at Margaux and was reminded me of Peyton all over again.
I had to get past it.
By the time we reached her apartment, I was a nervous wreck. One wrong word would ignite a fury that I wasn’t sure I’d come back from. Honestly, there was no hope for someone like me. Rather than hiding out in Paris, I should have found a deserted island and a dark cave.
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