A/N: Hello Everyone! So sorry for being a little flakey with my chapter updates lately. I arrived home to a pile of work, and couldn't get back to the story until now. I hope Sarah has become a bit more likeable, despite the fact that she is the obvious bad guy in the story. Her complexity was very fun to write.
As always, please read and review. I know it's annoying to be asked so often, but nothing makes me want to write more than FictionPress review alerts in my email inbox!
Max awoke to the sound of a silent, yet engine roar filled cabin. Rubbing the tiredness out of his eyes, he looked around the dark cabin. Not with the main crew of the photo shoot like Kate and Ian, he was seated with the rest of the crew in Business Class.
Adjusting his skinny black tie, he purposefully mussed up his hair once again to refresh it from his long nap. Looking across the arm-rest, he saw his auburn haired aisle partner laying asleep in her reclined chair. Max turned his head back towards the aisle, and seeing that it was clear, he got up to use the rest room.
Unfortunately, since the cabin was so dark, it was impossible to see more than a foot in front of him as he walked. Pushing his arms out in front of him as he walked, he tried to feel his way to the lavatories that formed a border between first and business class.
Hard cold plastic walls quickly switched to warm knit fabric as his hand moved from the wall onto an unexpected person.
Quickly, Max pulled his hands away, and focused his eyes onto the person he accidentally touched.
What he saw before him shocked him.
He saw the normally cool and controlled Sarah completely out of control. Her eyes were red and swollen, obviously from crying, and to prove that idea further, her makeup was smeared down her face from her tears. Her sniffling filled his stunned ears, and he quickly took a step back to give her some space.
"Sarah, are you ok?" Ian asked.
He didn't see her give a response, and her mouth remained closed in silence. Instead of giving him an answer, she quickly slipped past him into his targeted lavatory stall.
The shock from seeing the uncontained model stopped Max from being annoyed at her taking his stall, so he instead leaned against the bathroom wall as he waited for it to open up again.
If he looked carefully, he could see the outlines of Kate and Ian's seats, however he could not see anything since Ian's seat was reclined all the way. Looking more carefully, he did see that Kate's seat remained upright.
Maybe Sarah noticed this as well? He didn't know what seat she was in, was there were only two seats that appeared empty, and they were both equally visible to each other. It was completely plausible that Sarah saw the couple together.
But what would make her so upset about that? She may be controlling, but she was rarely upset.
Max heard the toilet flush, and Sarah exited. When the door opened, Max was prepared to see what was wrong, but she brushed him off. Slipping back into the seats that Max had observed earlier, he noticed her stiff shoulders and could see that she was still visibly upset.
Something was just not right.
Max felt worry sink into his bones.
Walking back towards his seat he noticed that his aisle partner had gotten up as well. Seeing as he didn't pass her on her way to the lavatories, Max assumed she went to the ones that were close to the economy section. Looking at her empty seat, he noticed packets of paper filling her otherwise empty seat.
It was all research on Kate and Ian: their careers, their personal background. Brushing the sight off with her reappearance, Max returned to sleep with confused brows downturned over his closed eyes.
Tess returned to her seat after briefly refreshing herself in the plane's bathroom. When she woke up, the man that had been sitting next to her was gone. Assuming he had gone to the bathroom, she figured she could do the same. When Tess returned to her seat, he was back with his tie readjusted. Quietly, she bent down to pick her research up off of her chair, and joined the man in returning to sleep.
Feeling Ian's jostling next to her, Kate slowly opened her eyes as she awoke to a sunlit cabin. Slowly looking around herself, she saw that the stewardess was beginning to hand out breakfast.
Kate looked over to Ian, and found that while his moving woke her up, he was still fast asleep. Moving her hand to his hair, she stopped herself before she woke him up. Quickly, she realized that they were lying in his seat. Together. In a public place.
Quick as lighting, Kate jumped out of the seat, hitting her head in the process.
"Ow," Kate mumbled while rubbing her sore head.
"Sunshine, what's wrong," Ian asked while gently rubbing her head as well.
Kate began to untangle herself out of the blankets she found them wrapped in, and quietly attempted to remove herself from Ian's seat.
"Ian, we can't be seen like this here," Kate whispered.
Ian rolled his eyes at her response and brought his chair back into upright position. None to subtly, he brought his legs into his seat as he attempted to delicately drape the small felted blanket over his lap, covering the entirety of the armrest.
Looking at his peculiar behavior, Kate saw Ian look toward the edge of the blanket as he slipped his hand underneath the blanket, and onto the armrest. When Kate didn't reciprocate Ian gave her a mocking look while wriggling his fingers at her until Kate slipped her hand underneath, and grasped his hand.
"There you go," Ian mumbled with a secretive smile.
"Good morning Ladies and Gentleman. This is your captain speaking. We will be arriving into Paris Charles de Gaulle in about an hour," a masculine voice said over the plane's intercom.
Tess awoke to the sound of the captain speaking.
At the same time, she heard the man next to her begin to awaken as well. Giving him a polite smile when he noticed her looking at him, she turned to readjust her chair out of the bed shape it was currently in.
Looking at the stack of papers tucked into the seat pocket in front of her, Tess moved her hand to pull the packets out. She only had an hour left of the flight left, and she hadn't finished reading her research yet. Pulling a highlighter out as well, she started to skim over the information.
"What are all of those," the man next to her asked.
Looking over to him, Tess noticed him looking at the paper in her hands with curiosity as he adjusted his loosened tie.
"I am writing an article on the upcoming Christophe Laurent Fashion Show, so I am researching some of the main people in the crew," she responded.
Max felt excitement grow in his gut when he heard that. Right when he was about to tell her his connection with the fashion show, he saw something tucked in with the papers that were startling.
Pictures. Lots of them.
Scandalous pictures that while innocent, showed more than a friendly relationship between his best friend and the popular male model.
Max quickly shut up, ending the flow of conversation.
The plane jostled all of the passengers an hour later, announcing the end of the flight. As Max felt the plane rush over the surface of the landing strip, he tried to ignore the negative gut feeling that the woman next to him incited.
She was bad news.
The cabin lights flickered as the plane connected with the terminal, and Max watched the passengers around them begin to get out of their seats.
"It was nice meeting you," he said to the auburn haired woman.
Grabbing his bag as quickly as possible, Max rushed out of the plane before the woman could see him meet up with the rest of the crew, the crew that contained the people contained within that woman's photographs.
Stepping onto the firm ground of Paris' Charles De Gaulle's airport was a relief to Max after such a long flight, and for once, he was happy he remembered the French he learned in high school. Crowds filled the customs area, and once Max made it through the line, he found the group of his fellow crew members clumped up next to baggage claim.
"Hey!" he exclaimed.
He waved as he walked over to meet her. Once he reached her, Max pulled her into a hug. As he was about to pull away something caught his eye.
Red hair came into his vision, and he pulled Kate's head closer into his neck to cover her up.
"Max, you can let me go now," Kate said while patting his back.
Before he let her go, he watched the red hair leave his vision.
"Watch how you act with Ian, there's a reporter on your back," Max whispered before pulling away.
Pulling a fake smile to divert any unwanted attention, Max surveyed the crowd. There was a small number of the crew despite the upcoming fashion show, since only the core models would be needed for the exterior photo shoots. He continued to look at the familiar faces of his coworkers before having to take a retake. Once he recognized the oddly familiar face, he nudged Kate's side.
"Is that Antoine?" Max whispered in her ear.
"Yes," Kate nodded. "He is the company's representative, and will be taking care of us for the remainder of the trip."
Interesting, Max thought.
Another one of the men that Kate unknowingly left wanting.
The two had met a year previously when Kate was first given the assignment. While Max was already in Paris working with the head designers, Antoine had been in charge of taking care of all of the American guests during the contract signing.
Kate having her famous unconscious charm, Max was not surprised to see him trailing after Kate like a puppy into the office at the time after picking her up at the time.
She had a bad habit of unknowingly attracting men to her side, and this was just another one of those cases. Even now, Antoine was still looking at Kate with unveiled interested eyes.
Ian felt his palms clench at the way the tour guide was looking at his Kate. There was something too familiar glowing in his eyes, like he knew her. Worse, he looked like he was attracted to her.
His arm's muscles clenched as he restrained himself from wrapping his arms around Kate. He wanted to show this Antoine who he was to Kate, more specifically, whom Antoine could not, and if Ian had a say in it, would never be. His thought process was abruptly cut off when the man began to talk in slightly accented English.
"Welcome to France everyone. If you will follow me, we will walk out to the bus that will take us to Versailles," Antoine said.
The group stopped talking when Antoine clapped to get them to follow him.
"My name is Antoine, and I will be you events coordinator for your stay," he said. "It will take us about 50 minutes to get to Versailles, but first we will stop by the hotel so you guys can freshen up. If you look in the travel folders I faxed sent Kate last week, you should find the schedule for the trip, don't hesitate to look over it during the car ride down."
Walking through the airports halls, they passed through a set of double doors, and found themselves in the group pick up parking lot. Antoine guided them a few rows down, and they found their charter bus.
When Antoine reached to grab Kate's suitcase for loading, Ian quickly intercepted.
"I see what you are doing Mr. French Gentleman, but I am not letting you anywhere near Kate," Ian thought.
He gave Antoine a dirty look before pulling Kate's bag towards the bus, and lifting it into the bottom storage area with his own.
Max watched what was going on, and resisted a frustrated groan. Now was not the time for Ian to start feeling jealous, especially when there was a reporter sniffing up stories close by. He saw Ian place his hand on Kate's lower back as they began to walk up the bus steps, and he knew he had to do something.
Before the couple could make it far into the bus, Max grabbed Ian's arm, and gestured outside of the bus with a nod of his chin.
"What's up Max?" Ian asked in confusion.
"I know that you already told the crew, so you feel at ease acting like boyfriend to Kate, but there is a reporter that has come here knowing about you two. She is trying to sniff you two out, so you have to be careful, and stop acting possessive over a woman only we know that you are dating," Max hissed in his ear.
When Max pulled away from Ian, he could see the visible shock on his face. After giving a sympathetic pat on the back to Ian, Max walked back towards the bus. The shutting of the bus doors signaled their departure.
The sound of Tess loudly shutting the cab's trunk echoed through the dark garage. When she landed in France, her phone's inbox was full of images of a schedule, and of two people snuggling on a flight. She had been looking through them while she waited for her turn in line to hail a taxi.
Now she was sitting in her taxi, about to leave the airport.
"Where, Miss," the cabbie said in limited English.
"Hôtel la Residence du Marseille, Versailles, France. S'il vous plait," Tess responded thankful for her college French classes.
The cabbie nodded in acknowledgement, giving thanks in French for her language switch.
Tess watched the views from her car window, watching it slowly fade into the heart city of Paris before fading again into the beautifully trimmed trees and greenery of Versailles. The car passed the palace, and after a couple turns, she found herself parked behind a large charter bus.
"Nous sommes ici, Mademoiselle," the cabby said.
"D'accord," Tess said in response.
After the cabby got her luggage out from the trunk, Tess paid him. Minutes later, the cab sped off back towards the airport for more business.
Once she was checked in, Tess sat on her bed, and arranged her paperwork. Throughout the entire cab ride, she couldn't figure out the story behind the mysterious texts and photos.
While she was glad she had the evidence, she found that no one submitted proof to a reporter unless they had something they themselves wanted. That was the only hole in the plan. Tess needed to know why someone was sending her photos. There was obviously someone malicious hiding in the crew of the photo shoot, and now, Tess knew that she had more to look for. She had to find out why someone would want to jeopardize the reputations of their coworkers for a potentially scathing article.
Releasing a sigh, Tess put her paperwork down and lied down on her bed.
She pulled out her press pass, and was thankful to her job for giving her those. She could now wander around the palace, and the shooting location without having to worry about being kicked out. Taking a deep breath before getting up, Tess decided on two things.
She would find out the official relationship between Ian Johnson and Kate Sanders, those photos could have been professionally photo shopped, though unlikely.
She would find the person behind these messages, they have a hidden agenda that Tess was itching to uncover.
Tess turned back to the neatly pile of files on her bed, and looked at the three beautiful faces that filled it's contents. Kate, the photographer and alleged lover of her head model. Ian, the head model and famous playboy. Finally, Sarah Roberts, model and ex-lover of Ian.
This was going to be an interesting two weeks.