Sébastien glanced around the table. It was nearly the end of the semester for the girls and they were talking excitedly in English about their finals and the last trips they had planned for their vacations. Piper and Laila had already started packing some of their things and Tamlyn had assured them multiple times that no matter who came to stay, no roommates would ever be as much fun.
At the other end of the table, his parents were talking about work. Luc had paint smeared all over his face and was clearly oblivious to it. Pierre was trying to tell him about his day at the office but could hardly keep a straight face, much less look him in the eye. The meal before them was prepared by the girls who had wanted to show his dads what a true, American meal would look and taste like. However, they had argued over what to make and ended up preparing Mexican food. Luc liked the margaritas.
Sébastien glanced back toward Tamlyn and resisted an urge to smile. She had been playing her part well and, after a lengthy conversation with Luc, Sébastien was convinced that no one else would have to know until they were ready to tell them. His father had promised him that Pierre wouldn’t be upset, and if he was, he would soon get over it. And he was now beginning to believe him. In fact, the anticipation of telling his father was growing and growing and Sébastien figured he was either going to explode or go completely insane.
“Will you come visit me in DC next year?” Tamlyn was asking the girls.
Laila nodded her head quickly. “Of course! I’ve always wanted to go there!”
“I’m going to work two jobs this summer so I don’t have to work during school next year,” Tamlyn told them and Sébastien frowned. “I think I have a pretty good shot at an internship but I’ll have my weekends free if you come for a visit.”
“You shouldn’t work too hard this summer,” Sébastien said before he could stop himself. “You need to make some time for yourself. For your friends and …”
But Tamlyn was quick to shut him down. “Some of us don’t mind working hard, Sébastien,” she said quickly but her eyes betrayed how much it hurt her to say it.
“All I’m saying is, you should think about having a little fun this summer. It’s your last summer break before you have to start seriously working.”
“That is unless I choose to be like you, of course,” Tamlyn said with a roll of her eyes and turned back to her friends. Laila gave him an apologetic glance and Piper simply looked down at her growing belly, most likely hoping her child wouldn’t turn out like either Tamlyn or Sébastien.
But Sébastien wasn’t going to let Tamlyn ruin his day. He smiled at her from across the table and then turned to his parents. “I bought my ticket today,” he said in loud enough French that the entire table could hear him.
Pierre and Luc both looked at him and he heard a fork drop from somewhere across the table. He hoped it was Tamlyn’s.
“When do you leave?” Luc asked, clearing his throat.
Sébastien chanced a quick glance at Tamlyn. She was staring at him with wide, expecting eyes. It looked as if she was about to burst into tears. “Not until June,” he said and watched from the corner of his eye as Tamlyn relaxed. She would have killed him if he left any earlier.
“And where are you going first,” Pierre asked. Sébastien knew that his father didn’t exactly approve of him spending all his money on a trip around the world, but they had agreed to disagree on this topic and he was glad some interest was being shown.
“I’m flying into Washington, DC.”
There was silence and Sébastien turned his head so he could face Tamlyn.
“I think it will be nice to start my trip in a place where I have someone who can show me around.”
“Well I certainly hope you aren’t thinking I am going to do it,” Tamlyn snapped at him. “I’ve had to spend enough time with you here and…”
“And then I thought it would be nice if we could rent a car and travel around the States for the summer. Maybe see parts of Mexico and Canada.”
Tamlyn blinked at him but held his gaze. “Now I know you aren’t talking about me because there is no possible way that…”
“I am talking about you, Tamlyn,” Sébastien interrupted her again and she snapped her mouth shut. “I have another six months of putting up with your annoying voice and your mediocre cooking and your infuriating habits, but that’s not enough for me. I want more time.”
Sébastien didn’t know what had gotten into him. And apparently neither did anyone else because the entire table was silent but he could see Piper was furiously elbowing Laila, trying desperately to get her to translate.
But what was the point of stopping now? “I want more time with you because I love you.”
Tamlyn opened her mouth to speak and for maybe the first time in her life, she could find no words. She could understand what Sébastien was saying but she was finding it very hard to believe. She struggled to focus on him as he continued to speak.
“So I’m going to fly into the DC and we can spend the summer doing whatever you want to do. I’ll sit on your couch and watch TV all day if you want to work, or we can run away together. Temporarily, of course. But until you physically force me to leave, I’m going to be where you are.”
Sébastien turned toward Pierre with a brave face. His father was looking at him with a proud expression, something which surprised him.
“I’m sorry we’ve been keeping this a secret. I asked Tamlyn not to say anything because I didn’t want you to think that I was taking advantage of this situation or that I was doing something unethical. She is still a guest here, after all.”
Pierre’s eyes were soft as he spoke. “I’m glad you are telling me now. And, I’m happy for you, for finally making a solid and wise decision.”
Sébastien grinned and then turned back to Tamlyn who was still staring at him, still putting together everything that had happened. But her head suddenly snapped to Luc and Pierre.
“May I be excuse?” She asked, pushing her chair away from the table and standing up.
Luc nodded slowly, glancing between her and his son. Tamlyn ran from the room and the five remaining people at the table heard the from door slam behind her as she flew from the apartment. Sébastien glanced at the girls, not quite sure if he wanted to give Tamlyn her space or go running after her. Piper had a goofy grin on her face and had possibly discerned what was happening at the dinner table. Laila was staring at him as if he was the dumbest person alive.
“Go find her!” The petite blonde scolded him as soon as their eyes met. He gave her a thankful smile and jumped from his chair without a second thought.
“Tamlyn!” He screamed down the stairs as he raced out the front door. He could hear her footsteps on the marble and knew she hadn’t gotten far. But she didn’t stop and Sébastien knew he was going to have to run her down. Three stairs at a time, he bounded after her, chasing the girl he loved out into the cold winter rain.
“Tamlyn, wait!” He called to her in English just as she crossed the courtyard. She looked back but shook her head and slowly started to round the corner out into the street. He finally caught up to her in the middle of the street, her hair already soaked and her sweater clinging to her body.
“Tamlyn, come back inside,” he said as he reached for her elbow, pulling her back toward the house.
“No,” she said decidedly, brushing him off and continuing on her way.
Sébastien knew that he had embarrassed her and knew that she wasn’t going to give into him that easily. He sighed and looked toward the sky, the clouds showing no sign of ceasing their downpour. He took two large steps and caught up with her, draping his arm around her shoulder to keep her as warm as he could. She didn’t push him away and he remained silent until he heard her teeth begin to chatter.
“You’re cold,” he said in a soft voice.
She didn’t answer, just stopped walking and turned toward him, an unyielding look on her face.“Why did you do it?”
“Let’s go back home. We can talk…”
“No,” she said again, shaking her head and walking away from him. She was furious beyond comprehension yet flattered and about to burst with excitement. She couldn’t go back to the house where she knew that the girls would want answers, answers which she couldn’t give, and Sébastien’s dads would be spying on them at every conceivable moment.
“Then let’s go somewhere else,” she heard him beg her. “Please, Tamlyn. I didn’t mean to hurt you.”
She stopped in her tracks and felt him run into her back. His hands went to her shoulders to steady them both and she turned around quickly, staring into his grey eyes. His dark hair was sticking to his face and the rain was dripping from his nose and chin.
“You didn’t hurt me Sébastien. You surprised me and you should have known better. How could you do that?”
Sébastien smiled and reached for her again, letting his hands find her arms and pulling her close. “I don’t know. It just seemed like a good time to say it.”
“In front of everyone? We could have told Pierre about us first, we could have gone on a legitimate date, you’ve done this all wrong.”
“Because everything about us has gone right so far?”
Tamlyn frowned and looked down, nuzzling into his chest and shivering. He did have a point, but there was rarely a moment in Tamlyn’s life where she wasn’t in control. She felt the exact opposite at the moment, as if she was spinning out of control with no way of stopping herself. But she was growing to like the feeling, trusting that Sébastien wouldn’t let her down.
“I’m not taking it back,” she heard him whisper. “I meant every word I said and I didn’t want to hide it from anyone.”
She looked up at him and leaned back against his arms, the rain no longer freezing her skin, the wind no longer biting at her cheeks.
“I love you,” he told her, reaching a soft hand to her cheek.
With all the confidence in the world, he leaned down and kissed her. Tamlyn could feel a change in his kiss. It was no longer desperate or secretive. He kissed her as if he wanted to world to see. It was bold and he seemed to know how much she wanted him.
“I love you too,” she said against his lips and felt him smile. “I was so worried you were going to leave sometime soon and I would never see you again.”
Sébastien looked down at her and pushed some hair from her face. “You won’t mind me coming to visit you, then?”
“Of course not.”
“I’ll leave, once you start school,” Sébastien started to say and saw Tamlyn’s eyes immediately fill with tears. “But I’ll be back in time for your graduation. I’ll write you as often as I can…”
“Then what?” She asked, a pleased look now on her face.
Sébastien smiled at her. “Then we’ll figure it out. We can come back here, we can stay in DC. Whatever we want to do.”
Tamlyn smiled in return but started shivering again. Sébastien could see her lips turning a dark shade of purple. “I like that plan,” she said as she pressed even closer to him.
“Let’s go home,” Sébastien urged but he felt Tamlyn shake her head against his chest.
“You might be ready to share me with the world but I’m not.”
“I’ve got keys to the store,” Sébastien suggested with a sly smile. “It’s warm and dry. There’s a couch in the back,” he added, kissing her neck.
Tamlyn giggled and nodded her head. “No one will disturb us?”
“Not a chance,” he promised her and took her hand.
Her green eyes danced with his and she grinned from ear to ear. “Okay,” she whispered, blushing and trying to hide her excitement.
Sébastien didn’t tease her even though he wanted to. Instead he lead her quickly through the streets, a new sense of purpose urging him on. No longer would he be tortured by what he should be versus what he wanted to be. He would find his way with Tamlyn at his side, the one thing he knew he could truly feel, the one thing he knew he truly wanted.
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