To Have and to Hold (The Hold Series Book 3)(13)

By: Arell Rivers

Before I can respond, Emilie jumps into the conversation. “Are you ready to rock out in Paris tomorrow night, Cole?”

I mentally pat her on the back. As someone who excels at avoiding unwanted subjects, I recognize a master at work. “Yes. It’ll be good to get back in front of an audience. The Australian leg of my tour went very well.”

Her deflection is successful, and everyone peppers me with questions about how the tour’s gone so far. Gerard seems particularly interested in hearing about the staging and set lists.

“This will be the first time Emilie is seeing me perform live since that television show back in the States.” Which means they need to be prepared for the PR blitz. “I look forward to seeing you all backstage tomorrow. Please don’t be surprised, though, when we pretend to be dating for the media.”

Danielle shrugs. “We have seen the photos from Los Angeles. It is not a problem for us.”

Gerard makes a disgusted noise. “How do you do all that fake stuff? You know, for the paparazzi?”

Isn’t that the million-dollar question? But it’s not something I’m eager to dip into right now. Shrugging, I reply, “It comes with the job. You’d better be ready for it when your band makes it big, Gerard.” Everyone around the table laughs.

“Emilie has told us all about Rose,” Danielle says in a quiet, earnest voice. “She really likes your girlfriend. I pray for her every night.”

My heart stutters. Emilie’s mother’s words mean a lot to me. “Thank you, Danielle.” I drain the last of my wine and try to stifle a yawn.

Henri smiles. “Still getting over the jetlag, Cole?”

I grin back. “The time changes are definitely difficult. I think I should be getting back to my hotel. Thank you again for a delicious meal and even better company. I look forward to seeing you at the concert tomorrow.”

After I kiss everyone, including Henri, on both cheeks, Emilie escorts me to the front door. “Your taxi will be here shortly.”

“Merci, Emsy.”

Emilie smiles and shakes her head at my use of her brother’s nickname. Her eyes dart around the foyer and finally land on mine. She must be thinking about Rinaldo. Or Wills.

Finally, she says, “I am going back to Barcelona for a follow-up shoot next week. I hope to get to Los Angeles soon.”

Though she hasn’t mentioned either man by name, I know what those two cities mean to her, so I offer her the only advice I know. “Be true to your heart.”

The honking of the taxi’s horn ends our conversation. Opening the door, Em walks me to the street. I give her a hug. Stepping back, I lower my forehead to hers and rub her arms.

“See you tomorrow,” I whisper, then duck into the car.

J-Man joins me in the backseat where I hand him a care package from Danielle, and we’re whisked to our hotel near the Eiffel Tower. We stop at the lobby bar and share a drink—I force him to indulge in honor of Thanksgiving.

“Any news about Lisa?” Somehow using Starr’s real name makes me feel more in control.

He sips his beer. “A hotel employee was paid off to deliver your birthday present in Sydney. This morning I intercepted another package addressed to you.”

“Don’t tell me what was in it.” I slam my beer on the bar. “What will it take to catch her?”

He places his glass next to mine. I’m immediately remorseful—we’re all on edge. Plus, it’s a holiday. “Sorry, J-Man. I know you’re doing your best, and I appreciate it.”

His mouth quirks into a small smile.

I fish into my back pocket and pull out a small surprise. “Happy Thanksgiving.” I’ve upgraded his room to a suite. It’s the least I could do, as he’s missing the holiday with his family for me.

“Thanks, Cole.” He picks up his beer and taps the top of my glass.

If only all my problems could be resolved with a simple upgrade.

Once I’m settled back in my suite, I check the time and do a quick calculation. It’s around eleven o’clock in the morning in LA. I don’t have what it takes to speak with Lynn tonight, so I send her a quick text asking about Rose. Her response is immediate and as predictable as a broken record. I spend time staring at some photos of Rose on my cell, tracing her beautiful face.