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The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo: Chapter 49


SOMETIME AROUND ONE IN THE morning, after Harry had already gone back to the hotel to check on Connor, Max and I were outside in the courtyard of a mansion owned by the head of Paramount. There was a circular fountain, spraying water into the night sky. Max and I sat, marveling at what we had accomplished together. His limo pulled up.

“Can I give you a ride back to your hotel?” he asked.

“Where’s your date?”

Max shrugged. “I fear she was only interested in the ticket to the show.”

I laughed. “Poor Max.”

“Not poor Max,” he said, shaking his head. “I spent my evening with the most beautiful woman in the world.”

I shook my head. “You are too much.”

“You look hungry. Come get in the car. We will get hamburgers.”

“Hamburgers?”

“I’m sure even Evelyn Hugo eats a hamburger from time to time.”

Max opened the limo door and waited for me to get in. “Your chariot,” he said.

I wanted to go home and see Connor. I wanted to watch the way her mouth hung open as she slept. But the idea of getting a hamburger with Max Girard actually didn’t sound so bad.

Minutes later, the limo driver was trying to navigate the drive-through of a Jack in the Box, and Max and I decided it was easier to get out of the car and go in.

The two of us stood in line, me in my navy-blue silk gown, him in his tux, behind two teenage boys ordering french fries. And then, when we got to the front of the line, the cashier screamed as if she’d seen a mouse.

“Oh, my God!” she said. “You’re Evelyn Hugo.”

I laughed. “I have no idea what you’re talking about,” I said. After twenty-five years, that line still worked every time.

“You’re her. Evelyn Hugo.”

“Nonsense.”

“This is the greatest day of my life,” she said, and then she called to the back. “Norm, you have to come see this. Evelyn Hugo is here. In a gown.”

Max laughed as more and more people started to stare. I was beginning to feel like a caged animal. It’s not something you really ever get used to, being stared at in small spaces. A few of the people in the kitchen came forward to look at me.

“Any chance we could get two burgers?” Max said. “Extra cheese on mine, please.”

Everyone ignored him.

“Can I have your autograph?” the woman behind the counter asked.

“Sure,” I said kindly.

I was hoping it would be over soon, that we could get the food and go. I started signing paper menus and paper hats. I signed a couple of receipts.

“We really should be going,” I said. “It’s late.” But no one stopped. They all just kept pushing things at me.

“You won an Oscar,” an older woman said. “Just a few hours ago. I saw it. I saw it myself.”

“I did, yes,” I said. I pointed at Max with the pen in my hand. “So did he.”

Max waved.

I signed a few more things, shook a few more hands. “OK, I really must be going,” I said.

But the mob of people crowded me more.

“OK,” Max said. “Let the lady breathe.” I looked in the direction of his voice and saw him coming toward me, breaking up the crowd. He handed me the burgers, picked me up, threw me over his shoulder, and walked us right out of the restaurant and into the limo.

“Wow,” I said when he put me down.

He got in next to me. He grabbed the bag. “Evelyn,” he said.

“What?”

“I love you.”

“What do you mean, you love me?”

He leaned over, smooshed the burgers, and kissed me.

It felt as if someone had turned on the electricity in a long-abandoned building. I had not been kissed like that since Celia left me. I had not been kissed with desire, the kind of desire that spurs desire, since the love of my life walked out the door.

And here was Max, two deformed burgers in between us, his warm lips on mine.

“That is what I mean,” he said when he pulled away from me. “Do with that what you will.”

* * *

THE NEXT MORNING, I woke up as an Oscar winner with a precious six-year-old eating room service in my bed.

There was a knock at the door. I grabbed my robe. I opened the door. In front of me were two-dozen red roses with a note that said, “I have loved you since I met you. I have tried to stop. It will not work. Leave him, ma belle. Marry me. Please. XO, M.”


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