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Love in the Afternoon

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Emily wants Amanda to go to Paris for a while, to hide her away where it's safe. At first Amanda thinks Emily is trying to get rid of her, but that's okay.

Because Amanda is going to ask Emily to go to Paris with her, and Emily is going to say yes.

*

Emily already went off the grid once, after all--it won't be a problem doing it a second time around. At the end of the summer, the beach house will be quietly sold off, her phone service cancelled, bank accounts closed. They'll board a plane one morning in September when summer is still clinging to everything with warm, sticky fingers. They won't look back. Maybe some of her Hamptons friends will try to contact her, but it won't matter. Their emails will bounce, and their letters will be returned. As long as Amanda and Emily have each other, they won't need anyone else.

*

Amanda already knows exactly how it will be:

Emily owns a little flat in the 17th arrondissement, just big enough for the two of them. It's got an ancient claw foot bathtub and tall windows that paint the room in narrow bands of sunlight. In the mornings they stroll arm in arm down to the local boulangerie, where Emily rattles off orders in rapid-fire French. Amanda didn't know she could speak French. She wonders what else Emily is hiding from her.

"You're not going to leave me, are you?" Amanda asks. She's sprawled out on their bed in a nest of rumpled quilts, feet up on the headboard, eating from a bag of nougat they purchased from the old Algerian woman who runs the candy shop around the corner. It melts slowly, the flavor nutty and rich on her tongue. "Promise me you'll stay."

Emily puts down the book she's reading, careful to mark her place first. She slides one cool hand beneath the hem of Amanda's skirt and lets it rest on the curve of her hip. Amanda pulls her down for a kiss, hot and wet and with just a hint of teeth. Emily tastes sweet and bitter all at once, like the coffee they had over breakfast. She arches up into the warmth of Emily's body, the muscles of her stomach tightening in anticipation.

"I'll never leave you, silly," Emily says, breathless and smiling. "I need you."

Amanda knows that this is what love feels like.

*

The passport Emily puts in Amanda's hand is so light, so thin. It's a little scary that this tiny book of paper is their key to a better life, away from everything that's made Emily so unhappy all these years.

She'll keep the name Kara, even, because Emily prefers it that way. She'll give her that much.

Who is she kidding? For Emily, she'd do anything.

"Come with me," Amanda says.

Amanda's heart catches in her throat as Emily winds her fingers in Amanda's curls, her hands soft on the side of Amanda's face. Emily wraps Amanda up in those strong arms of hers, leans in close and says,

"I'd love to."