A/N: I'm sorry for the delay. We know I'm too optimistic in my writing schedule. RL happens. Hope it's worth the wait!
The real ending…
Garrett spent seven days sightseeing his way through Paris while Edward worked during the day. He stopped by the bookstore every day for lunch and was there when Edward turned the store over every evening to his business partner, Carlisle. They spent every night together, Edward showing Garrett more of Paris than he ever would've seen on his own, and when they couldn't keep their hands off each other any longer, hurried back to Garrett's hotel and fucked each other senseless.
Four days before Garrett was due to return to the States, Edward surprised him with a weekend trip to Deauville, Normandy. As soon as they'd settled into their hotel, Edward took Garrett to see one of his favorite places in the world, the Chateau de St-Germain-de-Livet. Garrett had also fallen in love with the five-hundred-year-old manor and was sure it would take the top spot on his list of best memories in France.
That was before they'd spent the rest of their mini-vacation lounging on the beautiful beaches of Normandy, tossing a frisbee back and forth in the sand, walking down the nearly deserted coast. Each night, they watched the sun disappear over the horizon, arms wrapped firmly around one another before heading inside to spend hours pleasuring each other.
As Edward drove them back to Paris, Garrett's hand clutched firmly within his own, Garrett wondered how he was possibly going to be able to say goodbye to his lover. He was positively dreading it. While he'd entertained the idea of hooking up with someone while visiting Paris, he'd anticipated a no-strings-attached roll in the hay with one or more men. He had not expected to bump into Edward his second day here and find out he was exactly the type of man he wanted to spend the rest of his life with.
Garrett spent his last full day in Paris at the Louvre and against Edward's insistence had waited in the long line to get his fifteen seconds in front of the Mona Lisa. When he'd groused to Edward about it over dinner that night, Edward had actually laughed in his face before leaning over and kissing him without even a hint of smugness.
After dinner, they'd strolled through the streets hand-in-hand, following whatever random path Edward decided on until Garrett found himself walking by the glass pyramids outside the Louvre once again.
"What're we doing here?" Garrett asked. "I thought you hated this place."
"Non, mon chou," Edward chided as they walked through the doors. "I do not hate the Louvre. I just say it is a pity people clamor to see the lady for mere seconds but then do not pay attention to the beautiful art on either side."
Garrett stopped, tugging Edward back to him. "Darlin', I spent the entire day here. I promise I looked at all of the other artwork, too."
"Oui, oui, but I think you will like what I have to show you." Edward led Garrett through the museum, and after a few minutes, Garrett realized where his lover was taking him. He stayed silent, though, and walked alongside Edward until the Mona Lisa was once again before him. Only this time, instead of a crowd of almost a hundred, there were only about ten people standing around the picture.
Garrett smiled at Edward, pulling him closer by their joined hands and wrapping an arm around his waist. "How did you know?"
"They start shooing people about thirty minutes before closing. The tourists scatter right away, and we get a small window of opportunity to admire her in peace."
Garrett pulled Edward closer to the picture and studied it, then pulled out his phone and snapped a better picture than the rushed one he'd taken earlier in the day. He didn't know much about art, but he could appreciate beauty, and the Mona Lisa didn't have much from where he was standing. The painting was much smaller than what he'd imagined and pretty dark and drab. The imitations he'd seen online and in books had looked better than this.
"Why exactly is this thing famous again?" Garrett whispered to Edward, who laughed loudly, drawing attention from the few remaining visitors around them.
"I believe because it was stolen. Are you disappointed?"
"A little," Garrett confessed, "but I'm still glad you brought me back. Thank you, darlin'. This was very thoughtful."
"I could not let you leave without getting a good look at her," Edward murmured, not taking his eyes off the painting.
Garrett had no idea how to respond, so he didn't. Instead, he stood next to Edward and tried not to think about tonight being the last night he'd fall asleep with Edward's head tucked beneath his chin and their legs tangled together between the sheets.
Garrett tried his best to stifle his yawn the following morning as he waited for Edward to finish up in the bathroom so they could leave for the airport. As it turned out, they'd only gotten a couple hours of sleep. Garrett had expected them to spend the entire night in bed, hot and sweaty, making love to each other as many times as their bodies would allow. Instead, they'd spent most of the night cuddling, eating rich French foods and sharing every last bit of their souls with each other. When the cuddling had finally turned to touching and then kissing, they'd worshipped each other's bodies for the last time and passed out wrapped around one another and exhausted.
Garrett slipped the note he'd hastily scrawled on a loose piece of paper under Edward's pillow, hoping he'd find it when he went to bed that night. After their first week together, at Edward's insistence, Garrett had checked out of his hotel and taken over Edward's small spare bedroom. He'd shared Edward's bed every night, of course, but he could never bring himself to move his clothes into Edward's room, too. He found it difficult enough seeing their toothbrushes crisscrossing in a cup by the sink and their deodorant stacked neatly beside their respective razors. The permanence of seeing his shirts hanging next to Edward's in the closet was something he yearned for so badly, he didn't think he'd be able to handle it when his shirts were once again alone in his too-big-for-one closet back home.
When he came out of the bathroom, Edward found Garrett sitting on the edge of his bed, elbows on his knees, head resting in his hands. He took the three small steps and knelt in front of Garrett, resting on his haunches as he wrapped his arms around him and laid his head in his cowboy's lap. Garrett accommodated immediately, circling Edward's shoulders with his arms and resting his forehead on Edward's shoulder.
"Stay," Edward eventually whispered, hating himself for saying it because he knew Garrett couldn't. But it wasn't supposed to end this way. Edward wasn't supposed to fall for the sexy, drenched stranger who'd wandered into his bookstore by chance.
Garrett didn't speak, merely shook his head once against Edward's shoulder, and Edward tilted his head to let Garrett's jeans soak up the single tear that escaped at Garrett's gentle refusal. He knew Garrett would say no. The man had an entire cattle ranch to run back in Texas, and Edward would never ask him to give up something he clearly loved so much. Unfortunately for them, there wasn't much business for cattle farming around Paris. Still, it hurt more than it should have after less than two weeks together.
When they were almost out of time, Edward raised his head, his mouth searching for Garrett's. He was driving Garrett to the airport, but he knew this was their last private moment and Edward wanted it to be as memorable as possible. When their lips met, he poured every ounce of unvoiced feelings into the kiss, clutching at Garrett's shirt as if it-the man inside of it-was the lifeline to making his soul smile. He knew he wasn't imagining it when Garrett returned the same unspoken words as he broke the kiss and buried his tear-stained face in Edward's shoulder.
After several long moments, Edward stood, pulling Garrett with him. He grabbed the cowboy hat on the bed and sat it on top of his own head. No way was Garrett taking it with him. "Time to get you home, cowboy," Edward said with a smile that he hoped looked much braver than he felt.
Garrett grabbed the horn of Sahara's saddle and threw his leg over, adjusting himself before quietly clicking his tongue and urging her out of the barn. He knew it was a little late to be heading out for the evening, but he hadn't spoken to Edward in over a week and the only way he was able to cope was to keep busy. They'd made no promises to one another before he'd left Paris but had spoken on the phone, Skyped, and messaged each other almost every day the first four months after he'd left. Then things had gotten crazy at the farm. Calves were being delivered left and right, and Garrett was lucky if he even had time to send Edward a quick hello on Facebook. By the time everything finally calmed down for Garrett, the two men had seemed to lose some of their original spark. Garrett had wracked his brain for ways to recapture it, but short of visiting Paris, he was clueless.
As Sahara trotted toward the well-worn path, the wind picked up, making Garrett shiver and rethink his decision to leave so close to dark, but he really didn't want to sit in his living room and watch television by himself, and he could hardly stomach the thought of reading a book without knowing he'd have Edward to talk it over with once he was finished.
The rumbling purr of an engine dragged Garrett's eyes toward the mile-long driveway and an unfamiliar green Taurus slowly making its way down the gravel path. Tugging Sahara's reins to the right, Garrett set off to the meet the car at the end of the drive.
When he was about a hundred yards out, the driver's side door of the Taurus opened, and a familiar cowboy hat rose out of the car. Garrett coaxed Sahara into a gallop, and within seconds, Garrett was sliding off her saddle and crashing into Edward before the man even said a word. Edward's laughter tore through Garrett as the two men hugged, instantly rekindling the fire that time and distance had tried to smother. Grabbing Edward's face, Garrett attacked his mouth in a desperate, rough, tongue and teeth and wet, sloppy kiss that had them all but dry humping each other on Garrett's front lawn. When Garrett finally pulled away, he looked Edward up and down, still not quite able to believe he was standing in front of him. "How? Why are you here?"
Edward smiled, causing Garrett's stomach to churn and flutter at its beauty. "Simple, mon chou. I missed my cowboy too much to stay away."
A/N: I really kind of love these guys and had every intention of leaving them like this, but don't be too shocked if A Parisian in Texas shows up in some compilation sometime!
Big thanks to born, chaya, and les for encouraging me and loving my words... even when they need some help. Love you girls!
Hope everyone enjoyed and a final happy birthday to my girls:)