"It's definitely you. You're not a plain wedding band kind of girl," he told her.
Milo walked over to her other side at that moment to see what she was looking at.
"That one?" he had asked in surprise, pointing to her ring. "I think that's a bit much, don't you? And who gets blue stones on a wedding band? Come on, babe, I found some plain silver ones over here. And they're on sale."
The memory faded from Parker's mind as she blinked back tears.
Garrett looked away, unable to handle the emotion in her eyes. He should have just stuck with the plain silver bands he got from Risner, but it didn't feel right.
Garrett turned from her gaze and held out his elbow for her to take.
"It's nothing, Parker. This has to look real, remember? No one would ever mistake you for plain," he said softly.
Garrett felt uncomfortable under Parker's scrutiny and the intense look on her face. He needed to do something to lighten the situation before it got uncomfortable.
"And besides, I don't want them thinking I'm a cheap bastard," he said with his usual smirk.
Parker slid her hand around Garrett's elbow as they made their way up the gradual staircase leading to the doors of the palace.
She couldn't help but wonder if this ring held more meaning for him than just trying to make their fake marriage more believable.
Garrett was mentally kicking himself for pulling that ring out of his pocket and slipping it on Parker's finger at the last minute. He'd felt the plain silver band in his left pocket as he looked down at Parker standing there under the moonlight, looking more beautiful than ever, and he just couldn't bear to put that plain, meaningless ring on her finger.
Instead, he'd quickly reached into the opposite pocket and pulled out the sparkling diamond and sapphire band he carried with him wherever he went ever since the day he bought it over a year ago. The same ring that made Parker get a dreamy, romantic look in her eyes that day in the jewelry store.
Garrett had bought that ring to give to his mother for her birthday. At least that was what he kept telling himself when he returned to the store by himself the next day and purchased it. He never ended up giving the ring to his mother. The only jewelry she ever wore was her wedding ring and she'd hinted that a plane ticket for her to come out and visit him would make her very happy. So Garrett bought her the ticket and kept the ring with him wherever he went over the last year, pulling it out of his pocket to stare at it and remind himself what a fool he was.
Garrett and Parker reached the top of the palace stairs and had to stop for another security check. The guards ghosted metal detector wands all around them and once satisfied, they bid them a good evening and Parker and Garrett walked through the palace doors.
"It's a good thing I didn't bring my gun," Parker whispered with a laugh, her lips grazing Garrett's earlobe causing him to shiver.
"I'm pretty sure you wouldn't have been able to find a hiding place wearing that dress."
Garrett's eyes raked over her body and Parker's heart sped up as she watched him absentmindedly lick his lips.
As they entered the lobby and got in the receiving line to greet President Fernandez and his wife, Parker leaned her body against Garrett's and held her lips close to his ear again.
"You'd be surprised the places I can hide a gun, Garrett. A garter placed high up on my leg with the gun secured inside of my thigh is a great spot," she whispered before turning away from him to greet someone from Fernandez's administration.
As Garrett walked behind Parker, he watched her turn, smile, and socialize with the Chief of Staff. She introduced him as her husband and a natural smile lit up his face. Garrett's eyes roamed over Parker's back side while she was busy talking and zeroed in on the slit up the side of her dress that showed off one perfectly toned leg. Garrett imagined a translucent, red lace garter hugging her thigh and his tongue snaking out to lick the skin above it. He thought about sliding his hand up the inside of her thigh and removing the Glock she most likely carried under normal circumstances from the elastic holding it in place and sliding the cool metal down the length of her leg.
Parker played her part, wondering why Garrett was so quiet next to her. She introduced herself and her "husband" and explained who they were and what news station they worked for. As they made their way down the receiving line, Parker couldn't help but glance down every few seconds at the ring on her left hand. Garrett brushed it off as no big deal, but Parker knew better. She knew his CO would have given Garrett wedding bands for them to use on this mission and those bands would have been generic and plain.
Garrett had no idea Parker was coming to the Dominican until they were getting ready to leave. Parker didn't understand how he could have possibly had the ring with him―the ring that reminded her of her mother, the ring she adored, and the one that Parker felt was meant just for her.
Before Parker had a chance to wonder further about the ring, they were at the front of the line and Garrett was making the introductions.
"Good evening, Mr. President," Garrett greeted as he shook the man's hand. "My name is Garrett Miller and this is my wife, Anna," Garrett gestured towards Parker.
Her heart skipped a beat with how easily the word "wife" rolled off his tongue and felt a warmth in her belly at how natural it sounded to her.
"We're with Fox News. Thank you so much for the invitation," Garrett said graciously.
Fernandez nodded his head at Garrett and then turned to Parker, taking her hands in his as she placed a kiss to each of his cheeks.
Parker knew the protocol and remained quiet while Garrett and the President spoke. As a woman, she was there as eye candy for the most part. She had to tone down her take-charge attitude and pushy nature when she was in the company of this man and the people who worked for him.
"It's a pleasure to have you in my home," Fernandez spoke in beautifully accented English. "And may I say, Mr. Miller, your wife is a stunning creature."
Parker smiled in appreciation, allowing Garrett to accept the compliment for her.
"Thank you, sir. I'm a lucky man," Garrett said with a smile as he slid his hand across Parker's lower back and pulled her close to his side.
"Allow me to introduce you to my wife, Margarita," Fernandez said as he gestured to the beautiful, dark-haired woman in her mid-forties standing next to him. "I apologize, but my wife does not speak English."
Fernandez turned to his wife and spoke in rapid Spanish, introducing Garrett and Parker.
"Gracias por invitarnos," Parker spoke softly to the woman, thanking her for the invitation.
"Please, follow the other guests down the hall to the elevator. It will take you to the third floor ballroom and dining area. Help yourselves to drinks before dinner begins," Fernandez instructed them with a smile
As Garrett and Parker walked away and followed another couple down the hall, Parker leaned in towards Garrett and spoke softly.
"You notice how his wife barely looked us in the eye and never spoke?"
Garrett nodded his head.
"Fernandez is very protective of her," Parker whispered. "She's twenty-years his junior and according to our intel, showed up one day out of the blue fifteen years ago as his wife. No one had ever heard of her before and there were rumors she was a prostitute. Nothing could ever be confirmed though."
Parker stopped talking as they got on the elevator with the other couple. Everyone smiled and nodded politely at one another as the doors closed.
Garrett hadn't removed his hand from Parker's hip and pretended not to notice that it was still there resting dangerously close to the curve of her behind. .
They stepped off of the elevator into the largest ballroom they had ever set eyes on. A guard standing by the elevator pointed them in the direction of the bar where several other guests had gathered.
"So Fernandez marries a hooker and turns her into the First Lady? That doesn't explain why she doesn't speak though. Shouldn't he have molded her into a typical First Lady so she could assist him with campaigns and policies and do a little public speaking on the side?" Garrett asked quietly.
"You would think so. That's typically what other presidents have done who married outside of their social circle. Margarita is never seen in public and the only time anyone is permitted to meet her is during a dinner like this one. She's never given an interview alone or with the president for that matter. The only thing anyone knows about her is what Fernandez has told them. On paper, Margarita didn't exist before she became his wife," Parker explained as they approached the bar.
Garrett grabbed them each a glass of champagne, and they made their way to the other end of the room, walking through one of the red curtained doorways and into a more intimate dining room, intimate at least in palace standards considering the size of the place.
A long table that seated forty ran the length of the room and was covered in a white table cloth. The ceiling above the table was arched and Garrett assumed was where the dome on top of the building was located. There were ornate, crystal chandeliers hanging down from the ceiling every few feet throughout the room. Everywhere you looked there was gold, artwork, and lavishness.
Most of the guests were already seated so Garrett and Parker had no trouble finding their place cards. Garrett pulled out Parker's chair for her and took his seat next to her once she was situated.
The President and his wife made their entrance a few minutes later and the wait staff began bringing out the first course. Luckily, Garrett and Parker were seated directly across from Fernandez.
Everyone made small talk for a while, getting to know one another.
Between the first and second course, Fernandez was in a deep, quiet discussion with his Vice President seated next to him. Garrett was waiting for a break in the conversation and was beginning to get impatient. He just wanted to ask the guy a few questions. They were here for an interview; Fernandez knew that. Garrett couldn't figure out why in the hell he'd invited them to a huge dinner with a ton of people for something like that.
He heard Parker speaking next to him in a strange language, and he turned his focus on her profile as she laughed and spoke easily to the woman on her left. Garrett leaned forward subtly so he could see who she was.
According to her place card, she was the Deputy Prime Minister of the Netherlands.
Jesus Christ, she speaks Dutch? Garrett thought to himself.
Garrett shook his head and looked back toward the President as the second course was served. He was speaking quietly in Spanish, and Garrett really wished he'd taken more than a preliminary course in that language so he could understand what he was saying.
He reached his hand over and placed it on Parker's satin-covered thigh, giving it a little squeeze, forcing himself not to move his hand all the way up and dip in between her legs.
Parker ended her conversation with the Deputy Prime Minister and turned her attention to Garrett. He smiled at her the way a husband would, but his eyes darted over to the President. She leaned forward under the ruse of reaching for her water glass and strained her ears.
The clinking of glasses and silverware and the steady hum of conversation made it difficult for Parker to make out anything more than a few words: girls, money, and boat.
Parker picked up her water glass and pulled it to her lips, smiling back at Garrett and giving him a slight nod of her head that she had understood a few things.
Garrett noticed the gesture and leaned over toward her, placing a kiss on her cheek and lingering for a moment.
"How many fucking languages do you speak, hon?" he asked, before pulling away and raising his eyebrow at her.
Parker's skin heated at the spot where Garrett's lips had just been, and she fought with her hands to keep them in her lap and not pressed against her cheek.
She raised her right arm and rested it along the back of Garrett's shoulders, her fingers stroking the hair at the nape of his neck like a loving wife.
She moved close, pressing her body against his arm and placing her own kiss on his cheek right next to his ear. She whispered softly, "English, Russian, German, Greek, Dutch, French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Norwegian, and Swedish. Oh and I have a Rosetta Stone at home right now learning a bit of Hungarian."
Parker let her lips press against the line between Garrett's cheek and earlobe, hovering a moment longer than necessary.
When she pulled away and slid her hand back across his shoulder blades to begin her second course, Garrett had to close his eyes and take several deep breaths to keep the growing member in his pants from ripping through the material.
Two more courses went by and Garrett still hadn't found a break in the conversation to talk to Fernandez. He decided to hell with it, and took matters into his own hands.
"Excuse me, Mr. President?" Garrett spoke. He could feel Parker's eyes on him, most likely wondering what the hell he was doing interrupting the man.
Fernandez turned to face him with a smile on his face that Garrett wasn't entirely sure was real or fake.
"I was just wondering, out of all the businesses you own, which one do you take the most pride in?" Garrett asked as a waiter removed his empty plate from the table.
As questions go, it wasn't the most gripping, but Garrett figured he had to start somewhere.
Fernandez laughed. "My dear boy, there is a time and place for business. Let us enjoy this wonderful meal that has been prepared by my chefs and take pleasure in the company of our women. We have plenty of time for questions."