Satisfaction curled through her. She lifted up on her toes and grabbed at his shoulders, urging him closer. “That’s perfect, because I want the same damn thing.” She pressed her lips gently against his and whispered, “Now kiss me.”
He did. He kissed her hard and deep, bending her backward so he could devour all of her. His slick, hot tongue thrust into her mouth, and she plunged her fingers into his long dark hair and hung on, thrilled with the ride.
He backed her up to the sofa, and they collapsed together, never breaking the kiss. In seconds, they were naked. She climbed on top of him, taking him deep, holding tight as he lifted her up, guiding her hips in a wild rhythm that took them both to completion. They came together, bodies shuddering, the sweet release warming her blood, and she dropped her head against his shoulder and tried to catch her breath.
“I’m glad we came to a mutual agreement,” he finally said.
A tiny laugh escaped. “The moment I can move, I’ll make up the bed with the fancy sheets.”
He pressed a gentle kiss to her cheek. “Don’t move. Not for a long time.”
Taylor knew they needed to talk. Get serious about the future and how they wanted this new dynamic between them to play out. But right now, they were in Paris. They had a few idyllic days to just enjoy each other, away from Cape May, and let the city guide them in their heart and their pleasures.
Plenty of time to figure things out later.
“I can’t believe this is happening,” she whispered.
“I know. I just wish I could get closer. I thought it’d be . . . bigger.”
Her eyes widened. “It’s big in power, not size.”
“Right.” He squinted from the back row, trying to decipher the most mysterious expression in art history. “They said she should be looking at us no matter where we stand. Let’s try it.”
Taylor bumped into the person on her right and apologized. The large room was packed like a school of fish, all gazes focused on the famous Mona Lisa. The painting was behind a glass barrier, making it a little harder to see all the details. “How are we going to move?”
“We’re from Jersey, Taylz. We got this.”
She grinned, and they merged their way forward, like sharks amid minnows, until they reached the middle row on the right. Taylor gasped. “Yes—see how she’s staring at us? This is amazing.”
“Why do you still not look impressed?” she demanded.
“I don’t know!”
“Fine, let’s get closer.”
This time, people muttered under their breath, and some glared. A few deliberately bumped them back as they carefully maneuvered to the left. “She’s still staring at me,” Taylor whispered. “So direct. Gives me goose bumps. What do you think now?”
Pierce shrugged. “She’s cool. You ready to go? I want to see the Winged Victory statue.”
“Fine. I had no idea you were such a sucky art critic. It concerns me.”
“I like your stuff,” he said.
“That’s why it concerns me.”
He laughed and grabbed her hand, guiding her back through the mob. They toured some of the other highlights of the Louvre, torn on their favorites, then headed outside to explore.
The day was warm and bright. They darted in and out of shops, stopping at the occasional café for a champagne cocktail and nibbling on pastries from a patisserie, and snapped pictures to send back to Avery and Bella. The treats looked like fine art: almond croissants, thick and buttery; macarons in beautiful pastel colors; eclairs filled with rich cream; and sponge cake dusted with sugar. They washed it down with strong noisette, the hazelnut flavor and cream a dessert in itself.
They took a ferry to walk past Notre-Dame, solemn as they stared at the fire-ravaged cathedral, which was now a construction site, with the hope of saving the historical building. Taylor studied the dual south bell towers that had been saved, the lonely, graceful columns shooting high into the air, reminding the city of hope. She murmured a quick prayer for restoration, her heart tinged with sadness from the loss.
They worked their way back to the Eiffel Tower and scored a small table outside one of the cafés. Jammed between chattering groups of French students, they ate juicy steak frites in bordelaise sauce and drank a bottle of dry red wine that sparkled on the tongue and lingered with the taste of blackberry.
They stopped at Pierce’s hotel to get his camera equipment, then headed to the tower.
“I may be a while,” he warned, setting up his tripod.
She smiled at the look of banked excitement on his face. The crowds swarmed the square. Street vendors hawked their wares—flashing mini towers, glow sticks, and fresh bouquets of flowers. Music played softly in the background, and as the sun’s rays seeped from the sky, they were replaced by the tower’s sparkling lights.
She sat on one of the wall ledges, completely content. “I’m in no rush. I love people-watching. Plus, I can be the snack runner.”
He laughed and knelt down, pulling attachments from his bag. “I’m so stuffed, I don’t think I can eat again.”
“Within one hour, you’ll be asking for a baguette.”
She fell quiet and just watched him in his element. Strong, tapered fingers were gentle with the lenses, and he moved his equipment with a sense of respect for the tools of his trade. Once, she’d made the mistake of asking how he chose all his equipment, and half an hour later, her brain was spinning with information overload. In her mind, it wasn’t his equipment that made a real difference. It was his vision, creativity, and endless hours of practice to find the best way to capture an image.
He looked through the frame over and over—adjusting, resetting, mumbling to himself—while the city of Paris thrived and exploded around him against the regal backdrop of the black iron tower that rose to a mighty height above them.
“Is it harder to do night shots?” she asked curiously.
“Sometimes. The tower is illuminated, but the background is pure black, which makes this a particular challenge. In order to see the buildings, people, and statues in the distance, I’ll need to bracket the shot.”
“What does that mean?”
“I take a few pictures with different exposure levels, then combine them to create the perfect shot.”