Charlotte didn’t believe in magic, but she did believe in the power of red lipstick. In one small tube existed the power to stop a man dead in his tracks and even make him forget his own name. It was her own secret weapon, and every time she wore it, the more powerful she felt. Grandmother did not approve of her wearing anything but soft pinks and other “good girl” shades. Charlotte blew herself a little kiss in the mirror. She had been good enough that week.
What Grandmother doesn’t know won’t hurt her.
She made her way out of their hotel, her crinolines swishing about her legs and heels clicking against the pavement. Every inch of her body hummed as she caught sight of Dean waiting for her at the end of the street. He leaned against the wall, his cream-colored sport coat slung casually over the other shoulder, looking every bit a men’s fashion model.
“Wow,” he said when he saw her.
Charlotte smirked. “I’ll take that as a compliment.”
“How’d you get past your grandma in that?” he asked, his dark gaze drinking in every inch of her.
Red flowers dotted the dark material which plunged in a most inappropriate way that would equally scandalize Grandmother if she knew about it. Charlotte looped her arm through Dean’s and they began to walk down the sidewalk together. A gentle breeze lifted the scent of Bay Rum from him, and she knew she would always associate that smell with him.
“She’s away with a couple friends who live in Saint-Tropez. I wasn’t feeling well, I think it was something that I ate the other day,” she explained, feigning sadness. “I assured her that I would be fine without her and would spend the weekend in bed with a book.”
“I think you might be a bad influence on me,” he said with a wink.
They hopped into the next available taxi and Charlotte soon found herself in a much different part of town than she had seen. There were fewer tourists and shimmering lights than where she was staying. Dean assured her the restaurant – whose entrance was located down an alley – was the best in all of Nice. She followed him anyway. After all, if you couldn’t trust your tour guide, then who could you trust?
Much to her surprise, the restaurant’s dining area sat atop the building and gave them a beautiful panoramic view of the city. A few other restaurant patrons sat nearby, talking exclusively in French. This wasn’t in anyone’s guidebook, but they were certainly missing out. She appreciated that he wanted to take her to dinner, but seeing at the way the table’s candles glowed against his tanned skin and dark hair made her consider skipping it altogether.
“When are you heading back home?” Dean asked, finishing off his glass of wine at the end of the meal.
“We have a stop in Paris for a few days, and then back to New York on Friday,” she said. “Grandmother should be back tomorrow evening.”
“That doesn’t give us too much time, does it?”
Her mouth twitched into a smile. “It gives us tonight, at least. You wouldn’t want me sleeping alone in that big hotel bed all by myself, would you?” she purred, leaning into him enough that her lips brushed against his ear.
Dean did his best to conceal a moan and then quickly flagged down their waiter for the check. Chuckling, Charlotte pulled her compact case and lipstick from her clutch. She reapplied the magic red tint and wondered what it would look like smudged all over Dean’s body. Excitement curled in the pit of her stomach knowing that she would soon find out.