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The Interview: Chapter 36

WHIT

“Jeans and sneakers?”

“Yeah.” I give her a quick once-over. “What you’ve got on is fine. More than fine.” Black jeans and a long-sleeved T-shirt slashed at the neck. Cute little sneakers, I mean, trainers, and a jacket. Mimi looks as cute as fuck.

“And you’re not going to tell me where we’re going?”

“Nope,” I repeat. “Because then I wouldn’t be able to call it a surprise.”

“Man, I hate surprises,” she lies, doing this cute little dance in on the spot.

“That’s a shame because I love dishing them out. You ready?”

“Yeah. No, wait. I’m gonna put on the boots.”

“The new ones?” The ones from the boutique, she means. Can I just say Mimi is the best Barbie Doll ever. I’ve never had an interest in buying a woman clothes before. The odd posh purse, maybe. Wave something with a designer label under a girl’s nose and they’re usually very grateful. And their thanks muffled when they drop to their knees. But buying Mimi clothes has been very, very different. I find I want to treat her because it’s a pleasure all on its own. And I love the little fashion shows she’s treated me to. Especially the lingerie.

“Yeah, the ankle boots,” she says, her gaze flicking down to her feet.

“Stick to the sneakers,” I suggest.

“Comfort over cuteness?”

“Comfort with cute. Now, come on.”

“Hey, George. Where are we off to?” Mimi bounces out of the door of the building thinking she’s being the cunning kind of cute as she bounds up to the driver, who’s waiting by the car.

“I just go where I’m told,” George says with a blank expression. The man is a vault and has been sworn to secrecy.

“Dammit!” She gives an adorable pout before climbing into the back of the Bentley.

I feel kind of nervous as I slide in on the other side, though not about the first part of what I’ve dubbed “Surprise Saturday” in my head. I think I’ll blame the dream I had last night for these jitters. I dreamed of Connor. He was at the pearly gates of heaven in silver gym gear and heavy white wings, which is just crazy. Crazier still, Saint Peter was spotting Connor as he bench pressed, his wings folded around him. Well, Connor wasn’t exactly happy to see me, and Saint Peter was all for him landing me on my arse as I tried to explain how I’d fallen for Mimi.

“Connor, mate, I was trying to protect her,” I’d pleaded. “Like you said I should.”

“By fucking her yourself?” he’d demanded with such disgust.

“You said to make sure she didn’t end up with someone like us.” My tone was beseeching as I tried so hard to make him understand.

“I’m pretty sure I said someone like you,” Connor growled, his wings beginning to flap like an angry swan. I probably have the boat trip to The Serpentine to thank for that.

“Yeah.” Saint Peter sounded like a wheedling, snot-nosed kid from a teen movie, not like heaven’s doorman or all-powerful security detail. “Connor has already made the right side of the gates. Meanwhile, you’re out here,” he’d taunted. “What do you think that means?”

“That I’m dead?”

“If you’re not, you will be,” Connor snarled. “You were supposed to protect her, not fuck her.”

“That’s what I’m trying to tell you,” I pleaded. “I’m not like me anymore. She makes me want to be a better man.”

Then he punched me.

To be honest, I would’ve punched me too for that line. In my dream, I’d tumbled from heaven like the devil himself. I could feel myself falling, falling, before coming back to myself in my bed with a hypnic jerk. Heart pounding, eyes on stalks and straining to see in the dark. But then Mimi had snuffled next to me, murmuring something about cupcakes being under the fridge. I’d wrapped her in my arms and ease had returned to me almost immediately. God, Saint Peter, Old Nick, Connor. They can all go fuck themselves as long as I get to keep this girl.


“The airport?” Mimi makes what feels like her tenth guess as George takes the turning for London City Airport.

“Yep, you got me. You’ve heard of train spotters, right? Well, I’m a plane spotter.”

“Do you spot them from the skies? You know, when you’re up there in your private jet.”

“The bank’s private jet.”

“The bank you’re the major shareholder in? So, kind of, sort of your private jet?”

“I’m not sure the rest of the shareholders would see it like that,” I say, turning my attention to the window. It’s pretty miserable out there. I hope the weather is nicer where we’re heading.

“Did you tell the front desk that Primrose and her friends were visiting today?”

“Yep,” I reply, popping the p. Mimi had given me a hard time about keeping my family from visiting. I hadn’t the heart to tell her most of them seem to have already guessed she’s staying with me. And more. Only Primrose and Lavender don’t seem to be aware, and Lavender only turns up when she wants something. She must have a new boyfriend, given I haven’t been called to pick her up from any police stations for a while.

At Mimi’s gasp, I turn my head.

“We are at the airport! Where are we going?”

“I’ll tell you.” Her smile widens. “When we get there.”


Super swanky,” Mimi says as she wiggles her delectable bum in the cream leather upholstery.

“It beats the bus, right?”

“Oh, Mr. CEO, I think it’s been a while since you rode any bus.”

“True, but I still remember how they work. I also remember what it’s like not to be rolling in it.” I think that helps to keep me grounded.

“Well, I don’t know many rich people, but for what it’s worth, you’re my favorite.”

I laugh. “Such high praise.”

“I know, right? Oh, hello.” Mimi turns her face to the purser.

“Miss Valente, Mr. Whittington. Can I get you any refreshments this morning?”

“No thanks, Gwen,” I reply.

“I could go for a juice,” Mimi says.

Gwen runs through the juices available on the in-flight menu, providing me with the opportunity to watch Mimi. To observe the tiniest flickers of enjoyment across her face. She is so fucking beautiful but it’s not just in her looks. She radiates joy—is sunshine personified. And while I’m sure, like everyone, she has her dark moments, she never seems to let them get her down. But I hope there’s a time in the not-too-distant future when she’ll let me share those moments with her. When she’ll lean on me as part of her team. I’ll introduce her to people by saying this is Mimi, my better half. And she’ll laugh like she’s amused, but we’ll secretly know it’s true because we’ll both be part of the other, the way all the best couples are.

“Six types of juice is some kind of fancy,” she says as Gwen retreats. “And that’s not even including the tomato juice, which, although technically made from a fruit, should not be included in a selection of juices.”

“It has seeds. Therefore, it’s a juice.”

“You would think, right?”

“Know so.”

“Then you’d be wrong. Tomato juice should be something you reserve for spaghetti sauce.”

“I’m sure there’s a little bit of logic in there somewhere.”

“Don’t hate me because you’re wrong.”

“Mimi,” I say with a chuckle, “hell would freeze over before I could ever hate you.”

She stares at me for a beat, and I swear whatever I see turns the blood in my veins into ice water. It’s like a switch has gone off, dimming the light inside her. It’s just a fleeting moment that lasts as long as a blink. A heartbeat. It’s gone in a second, though the residual energy seems to linger between us.

I want to ask, what was that? What were you thinking there, but it turns out, I’m a chickenshit when Gwen reappears.

“One pineapple juice,” she announces.

I glance at the glass of opaque juice balanced on a napkin on her silver tray. “I’ve changed my mind, Gwen. Could you rustle me up a Bloody Mary when you have a minute, please?”

“Certainly, Mr. Whittington.”

Mimi pulls a distasteful face. “If you think I’m kissing you after you drank spaghetti sauce—”

“I’d be right?”

She shrugs. “Probably.”

“Definitely. You know you can’t resist me.”

She turns her head to the window with a melancholy-sounding sigh. “Yeah, that’s true.”

My drink arrives, and I stare at it. I’m not the sort to try to numb the pain, but I drink the fucker anyway. Not that I’m in pain but I don’t know. I suppose I just want to chase away this sense of foreboding.

“We’ve been in the air a little over an hour, and the plane is beginning to descend.”

“Good deducing, Miss Marple.”

“So I’m gonna guess Scotland.”

“We’d already be on the ground if that were the case.”

“Northern Ireland? Not the other part, because I don’t have my passport.”

“Don’t you?” I pull an oh shit face.

“Do you carry your passport around with you?” she scoffs, unfolding her legs from beneath her and turning to face me fully.

“What? You mean Americans don’t?” I frown, confused, as I slip my hand into the top pocket of my shirt and, “Ta-da!”

“You don’t carry your passport around with you.”

“So what’s this?” I give it a little shake.

“Well, mine is with HR,” she says, flopping back in her seat. “They asked me to bring it in during the week. Something about my visa and the biometric reading.”

“Oh, dear. Sounds like you’ve been scammed. It’s probably been sold one and an Albanian nana somewhere is at this moment opening a bank account in your name.”

“Don’t joke about that.” She folds her arms across her chest and scowls in my direction. After a beat, she adds, “Are we really going somewhere I’ll need it because I really don’t have it.”

“No, but I do,” I say, pulling it out of my jacket pocket.

“You sneak!” She immediately follows this up with, “So, where are we going?”

But I just laugh.


“Paris!” she squeals.

“Steady on,” I faux-complain, sticking my finger in my ear. “These eardrums have got to last me another fifty years, at least.”

“You brought me to Paris!”

“Happy?”

“Try ecstatic!” Mimi practically bounces her way to immigration at Le Bourget private terminal. One of the better perks of flying private, especially into Paris, is avoiding the immigration queues. Charles de Gaulle Airport makes you feel like you need a break just to get over the experience.

Why Paris? It’s the city of love, right? If I can’t make her love me here, what chance have I got? And I will be pulling out all the stops. But also, Mimi had become engrossed in a travel program on TV recently, so I knew it was somewhere she’d like to visit. And then there’s the matter of her favorite movie, which I think I might be able to incorporate.

“Bonjour!” She greets the immigration officer with such enthusiasm, complimenting the woman on her lipstick and generally peppering her with thoughtful questions.

“How to win friends and influence people,” I say, taking her hand as we step out of the terminal. I bring our linked fingers to my lips. “I should’ve taken you with me when I had to meet the FCA.”

“What do you mean?”

“You’ve missed your calling. If you can make a Parisienne immigration officer smile, you should go into hostage negotiations.”

“It costs nothing to be nice.”

Nothing. Just my heart.

We climb into the Mercedes Town Car I’d arranged.

“Where to first?” she asks, still vibrating with excitement.

“I think it would be rude not to eat a croissant first.” My laughter fills the back of the Mercedes as she wraps her fist in my sweater, pulling my lips down to hers.


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