Chapter 17

I know who you are.

Sarah rapidly grasped for her phone before it could hit the makeshift floor of the tent.

"How does she know who I am, how could she," she whispered to herself.

The sinking feeling that accommodated guilt flooded her system as she whipped her head back and forth. Feeling her straight hair move on her neck, Sarah wondered where Tess could be. She had to have been close by to catch her, unless she knew already, and was biding her time before giving herself away.

Though, Sarah wondered, she got the message merely seconds after sending Tess a picture. She had to have caught Sarah taking the picture, and then decided to give herself away.

When Sarah saw no movement in the tent, she flipped the flap of the tent's doorway and stomped outside. Her eagerness to catch the reporter made her feet move faster.

Wandering around the outdoor set up for today's photo-shoot, Sarah found nothing out of place, and no one that looked unfamiliar to the crew. Once Sarah realized that she would not catch the elusive reporter, she resigned herself back into getting ready for the shoot. However, before she could take a step back towards the tent, her phone lit up again.

Meet me after the shoot in the bar of your hotel.

"Sarah, how come you aren't dressed," one of the nameless costumers asked.

Before she had a chance to process how the reporter knew where she was staying, Sarah was ushered back into the temporary changing rooms.

Kate felt Ian's arms loosen from being wrapped around her, and with their movement, she felt his warmth move away from her.

"It's been awhile since we have snuck away from the rest of the crew for some private time," Kate said with a secret smile. She missed the times Ian would sneak them away from the crew when they first started dating.

"I know, we haven't really had a chance to do that since coming to France," Ian said. "I should head outside, I don't want to hold the photo shoot back after all," Ian gave Kate one more peck on the lips and on his way out of the room, Ian added one more comment.

"Also, are you free tonight? I want to have some more one on one time with you," he said.

Kate knew that they were already walking on eggshells because of the previous night, but she sincerely wanted to forget about what everyone else thought for once, and do what she wanted. However, being the professional that she was, she had to give it some consideration before falling headfirst into a potentially risky plan. They did have a reporter at their backs, waiting for them to slip. In fact, Kate was surprised they hadn't been caught last night. Seeing her hesitation, Ian added on to his question.

"I will make it so that no one will be able to catch us," he inserted using a persuasive voice.

That voice proved to be her weakness, and Kate gave a nod in acceptance.

"I will knock on your door tonight at eight-thirty then," Ian responded with a smile before leaving the tent.

Ian stepped out of the tent with a subtle smile growing on his face. He would finally have some time to himself and Kate. When he arrived in Paris, Ian got in contact with his Aunt within the first five minutes of landing. She was the one who supported him the most in his desire to become a model, and she also happened to live in the heart of Paris.

If he took Kate to Paris, not only would his beloved girlfriend meet the motherly woman who supported him most, he would also get to take her a good twenty-minutes away from anyone that could possibly recognize them.

Walking to his manager, Ian took the staff's group schedule from the man's outstretched hands, and confirmed his thoughts. He knew that since Kate held a higher position than him, she was the director after all, she would be held back longer. While she was occupied finalizing the day's shoots, he would take his rental car, and drive back to Paris to get everything set up.

Ian left Versailles later when the sun's light still held the warm radiance of the afternoon. Now, the sky shifted into a rose tinted early evening. His silver Ferrari sped through the highway for those quick minutes before he saw his Aunt's antiquated neighborhood come into view. Parking his car in the narrow spot in front of her antique apartment, he observed his Aunt's petite frame greet him from the doorway.

"Hello my boy, come here, and give your old auntie a hug," she greeted warmly.

She looked the same as she always did. When Ian was growing up, his parents didn't support his dream, so on weekends Ian would travel into the city to visit his Aunt in her uptown apartment.

Being that she rose to power in Manhattan as the editor in chief of a major magazine, she understood his struggle to move to the city. Most importantly, since she was in the city, she was there for him when his parents kicked him out for giving up college for his modeling career.

Once he was on his feet, and rising to his own fame, his aunt decided it was time for her to move and let him blossom on his own because he no longer needed her by his side. She lived in Paris for about a year now.

Even though she had left the country, Ian kept communication with her; she was his only maternal figure after all. When she found out about Kate, she was ecstatic. The only thing his aunt disapproved of in his life was his promiscuity, and now that that chapter of his life was firmly closed, she was eager to meet the woman that made it happen.

"Hello Auntie Kristie, how have you been since I last saw you," Ian asked as he dipped down to hug the older woman.

"I have been well, excited actually. When will you bring that fine woman over to meet me," she asked as she guided him into her apartment building.

Kristie had built a substantial fortune being the top tier editor for her magazine, so his aunt could afford to own a substantial chunk of the apartment building she lived in. He had helped her knock down several walls within her suite to make the antiquated rooms bigger.

Following her up the steps, Ian watched his Aunt lead him into her kitchen.

"I know that you wanted me to cook, a wise decision by the way, but I wanted to at least have you touch the items that are going to make it onto your girlfriend's plate," she said.

Handing him a knife, Kristie gestured Ian towards a cutting board full of herbs.

"So you are going to leave in an hour to go pick her up right? Help me make the butter sauce for the fish before you leave," she said. "Have you decided on how you are going to tell her?"

Ian paused, and rearranged the herbs in his palm before running his knife through them. His aunt was quick to the point as usual. Tonight wasn't going to be just any other date.

He was going to ask Kate to move in with him.

Their project together was almost over, and Ian wanted Kate to move in with him after it did. It was only logical. Her things practically filled his apartment already; he completely welcomed them. He loved seeing and smelling her things in his apartment, having her towel next to his in his bathroom, her lotions next to his aftershave.

All he needed now was Kate to accompany them.

Dumping the chopped herbs into the pot his aunt gestured to, Ian responded.

"I was just going to keep it simple, bring it up during the meal," he said. "I will let the scenery take care of the romantic gesture for me."

The scenery he was referring to was his favorite part of his aunt's apartment since she owned the entire roof. Ian had already set up a romantic rooftop dinner setting, tablecloth, candles, and all. By the time he and Kate made it up to the roof, the setting sun would paint the Parisian skyline with a rosy glow.

He could just picture how the night would go as he allowed himself the guilty pleasure of running the fantasy in his head a couple times.

His aunt stared at him with kind smile gracing her face.

"That's one big grin you have on your face honey," she said. "I have never seen your face light up like that before."

Ian felt his face flush in embarrassment, and tried to unsuccessfully wipe the dopey smile off his face.

"So what were you thinking about that made you smile so broadly," Kristie said while preparing the fish.

"I was just living in a moment," Ian said. "Nothing major."

Before his aunt could tease him more, Ian headed towards the hall so he could reach the roof. However his escape was quickly paused when the older woman asked him one more question.

"I know you aren't one to talk about the mushy gushy things Ian, but I am just too curious. Indulge me a little. Tell me a little about her," she said over her flaming pan.

Casually grasping the doorway, Ian rotated so that he could lean against the painted wood, and face his aunt.

"What did you want to know," he asked in response.

"Well, knowing my boy, I would assume that she is the pretty type of girl you used to have surrounding you. However, I have never seen that dazed look in your eye before. So I know that she has to be quite special to have changed you so much," she said knowingly.

"What do you mean, 'pretty type of girl'? Are you calling me shallow," Ian asked incredulously. While he knew that he slept around before he met Kate, Ian didn't expect that part of his life to reach his aunt's ears.

Hearing the disbelief in his tone, Kristie walked towards his spot, and jokingly poked his stomach with the end of her wooden spoon. A poke for each word she said.

"Don't get all defensive," she said putting the spoon back into her pot. "I love you, but we both know you used play around. I am not going to judge you for that. It just makes me all the more curious to hear about this Kate of yours. She must be quite the amazing catch to have tamed you. After all, from the idle chat I would hear from my magazine's models, you were quite the man in the sack."

Ian's eyes widened at her bold words.

"Auntie, please don't say it like that," he begged.

"What it's the truth? You know me; I say it like it is. Now stop beating around the bush, and tell me about this magnificent girl of yours," she said.

Ian quickly realized that his aunt wasn't going to let him off the hook, so he walked away from the doorway with a slight longing look. He was so close to escape. Once he was settled onto a barstool at the kitchen's island, he took a piece of food from the counter.

"Well, I met her on the first day for my current project. The one I am in France for," Ian said while pausing a moment. "Well, I guess a good way to describe it would be that I was swept off my feet. Though thinking back on it further, the best way to describe it was that she knocked me off my feet."

Kristie paused in her stirring to let out a loud, unfeminine snort.

"What do you mean, 'Knocked me off my feet," she gasped out.

"While I was checking her out, she reprimanded me for being late. Then when I tried to start dating her, she deluded herself into thinking we were only friends," Ian responded with a laugh. "It has taken a lot of work on both of our parts to be the couple that we are now."

Ian watched the lively woman silently dip down closer to the ground so that she could grab a baking dish, and then slip the remaining food into the oven to finish up. When she came back up, she moved to join him.

"But you know what Ian, while you moved so far, you actually did it in quite the short amount of time. You have only been dating for what, a couple months?" she said while picking a grape out of her kitchen's fruit bowl.

"Yea, I guess that's true," Ian mumbled.

His aunt stared at him pondering the thought, and said the last thing she needed to say.

"Well, now that you realize you have only been dating for that long, do you think you are moving too fast? Pushing her too much? I know that you told me she was pretty new at all of this, do you think she will answer in the way you want?" she asked while touching his shoulder gently.

Ian froze.

He forgot about that.

Ian knew that they were moving steadily, and that they were both growing, but he didn't consider the idea that he might be pushing her too fast. When his aunt felt his arm tense under her palm, she gave it a reassuring squeeze.

"I am not saying that she will say no, or that you are pushing her. I am just saying to keep your head out of the clouds, and see your relationship for what it is. It's practically a new born. Just think about it," Kristie said as she got up to check on the food.

Back in Versailles, Sarah nursed her full vodka cranberry as she waited for the reporter to come and oust her. While she knew that drinking before an interview was probably not a wise idea, she desperately needed to take the edge off.

Hearing the ice clink in her newly emptied glass, Sarah felt her heart beat faster and faster, matching the sounds of a set of heals click on the marble floors of the hotel. They clicked at a constant rhythm, getting louder ad louder, her heart pounding faster and faster, until they both finally stopped.

"Hello Sarah, my name is Tess Jacobs. I am the person you have been sending anonymous messages to, and I eagerly want to know why," the woman said.

Sarah rotated her stool until her eyes fell upon the shoes that announced her accomplice's arrival. She shifted her gaze up until she saw a pair of green eyes staring back at her, semi hidden behind auburn fringe. When she was done eyeing the competition, she rose out of her seat. Sarah never let anyone look down on her, literal or not.

"Well hello, it's nice to finally know the face behind the email account I am acquainted with," Sarah said while extending her hand out.

Feeling the reporter's hand enclose hers, Sarah almost winced at the firm handshake she was given. This one would be a tough nut to crack.

Sarah watched Tess sit down beside her, and rotate the bar stool until she was facing her. Not long after, the red head turned to the bartender, and ordered a glass of red wine as Sarah settled herself back into her seat.

When she heard the clinking of the new glass beside hers, she knew that the interview was ready to start.

"So, you are Sarah right? You are one of the models of the shoot, and you are also one of Ian's old flames. You have also been sending scandalous photos to me," the woman said.

Nodding her head yes, Sarah heard the woman continue.

"Well let me just get straight to the point. Despite the fact that you are someone Ian has slept with, what would compel you to blackmail your boss and coworker? There are other women on this shoot that have slept with him too, and except for a minor annoyance to the relationship of your two co-workers, they don't seem to mind. Why would you want to send me those photos?" Sarah heard the woman evenly ask.

The awkwardness of the situation had Sarah looking down at the woman's heels, but when she heard the silence accompanying the end of the question, she forced herself to look up. Tess, the reporter she had gotten in contact with, had her focused eyes glued to her face. The sight of Tess' phone recording the conversation then immediately caught Sarah's eyes.

She should have expected it. It just made Sarah's pulse increase, anxiety settling into her bones. However, she refused to lose control of the situation. Sarah refused to not get what she needed out of this woman. This woman would be the key to getting the man she loved back into her arms.

Sarah took a deep breath, and ordered one more drink. Resetting her faded professional smile on her finely perfected face, Sarah began to do what she did best. Talk her way out of this problem.

"I was jealous. What can I say, I like to have my man to myself," Sarah said with a flip of her blonde hair.

Tess looked at the haughty woman in front of her, and could only describe this situation as skin deep. Shallow. She was not getting any good information out of Sarah. Yes, she would expect that a woman as proud as Sarah would not want to share. Especially with someone like Kate, who while pretty, was definitely not model material. But to go so far as to blackmail them into being forced apart? Something is there that Sarah is not showing.

"Well what did you expect me to do with those photos? What could I do, that you couldn't do?" Tess asked, digging deeper.

"I don't know, write an article or something. You work for Celebrity magazine. Wouldn't you be able to do something?" Tess heard Sarah rush out.

Green eyes shifted at the scene before her. A cool and collected, gorgeous model was slowly starting to fall apart in front of her. Tess saw Sarah empty another vodka cranberry, and then slam the glass against the granite counter.

"Get me another one of these," the model gasped out to the bartender.

Briefly, Tess wondered if she should stop her. An intoxicated interview would get all the more information out of her subject, but her conscious irked her. Unfortunately for Sarah, Tess' greed for a good quote caused her to squish her conscious immediately before she felt guilty.

Maybe going into the history between Sarah and Ian would open up some more information.

"Can you tell me more about what happened between you and Ian?" Tess asked while scribbling notes on a pad of paper.

Since the truth was already out about her sending the photos, Sarah could not find any way out. So she took it in the only direction that was available to her.

"I was one of Ian's play things," Sarah bit out. It hurt more than Sarah thought it would to admit that.

"I have been sleeping with him for years now. We met at work, and it didn't take long for us to start dating. It was never exclusive though. I knew that he saw other women too," Sarah said.

"We would sleep together regularly, it was almost as if it were on schedule. Every month, he would text me, and we would meet up," she said. "Everything was going to schedule, nothing was out of whack. That is, until he signed that damn contract with Christophe Laurent."

Tess saw Sarah's walls begin to break. She seemed like the type to begin to cuss when angry, and Tess felt as if she were lucky no F-bombs had dropped yet.

"What changed?" Tess pushed.

Sarah didn't like where this interview was going. She knew that as soon as she sat down for the interview, it would be uncomfortable. Sarah hadn't expected to have to spill her life story, stories between her and Ian, and thoughts that she herself wasn't comfortable admitting. The alcohol in her system, however, dulled any caution that alerted her of any dangerous territory.

"He didn't want to see me anymore. He didn't want to see any of us anymore. As soon as he met Kate, he didn't give a shit about us anymore. I don't know what he saw in her, but suddenly we were useless to him," Sarah said as her stomach tightened at the words.

Every word that left Sarah's mouth felt like a stab to her heart. The saddest part, not one word that she said was a lie. She couldn't hide in that miniscule comfort anymore. Her icy glass numbed her hand, and she wished the frozen feeling could drip down her arm, and towards her heart. Sarah didn't want to feel like this anymore, she was tired. She couldn't stomach the thoughts that were running through her head. Unsure if the alcohol was affecting her too much, Sarah suddenly felt nauseous.

"Can we stop talking about why he ditched me? I just want him to stop playing around with that stupid woman so that he can come back to me," Sarah slurred out as she slammed her current glass down onto the bar.

"Are you saying that he is yours? That he has no choice in the matter?" Sarah heard Tess say.

Choice.

That word set an alarm off in Sarah's head.

Did it really sound like that, Sarah wondered. Did it really sound like she was not giving Ian a choice? It sounded so stupid to say something like that, because the whole interview was happening because she was blackmailing an unaware Ian. She really was leaving no room for choice, but a large part of Sarah dearly wanted it to not have to be forced by her hand. She so sincerely wanted Ian to love her, and to come to her all on his own.

"Sarah, why are you doing all of this, seriously, what is your motive? Do you want Ian back? Do you want me to break them up with an article? Is that why you contacted me?" Tess pushed again.

Tess felt adrenaline pump through her blood, the powerful feeling of digging deep into a story energizing her thoroughly. She refused to let one piece of information slip past her. Guilt and conscious fled from the monster her eagerness was transforming into.

"Please stop asking so many questions," Sarah shrieked. "Yes I want Ian back. Sue me. Is it so wrong for me to want to be with the man I love? I don't care if I have to tear him away from the girl he loves, I can't be without him!"

Hello Everyone!

For once, I have two updates in one month. The drama is rising, and everything is about to get that much better! I am so excited to write and publish the next few chapters. Please review, you all know how much I love them.

-Sukihana00