Christmas in Paris (A Master Chefs Series Standalone Novel)

BOOK: Christmas in Paris (A Master Chefs Series Standalone Novel)
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Christmas in

Paris

Master Chef Standalone Novel

 

 

Kailin Gow

 Christmas in Paris (A Master Chefs Standalone Novel)

 

Published by Sparklesoup.com

Copyright © 2015 Kailin Gow

 

All Rights Reserved. No part of
this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means,
graphic, electronic, or  mechanical, including photocopying, recording, taping
or by any information storage or retrieval system, without the permission in
writing from the publisher except in case of brief quotations embodied in critical
articles and reviews. This is a work of fiction base on true events.

 

For information, please contact:

Kailingowbooks(at)aol(dot)com.

First Edition.

Printed in the United States of
America.

 

 

DEDICATION

 

To the
people of France whose strength, pride, and spirit of independence inspires and
amazes me.  

 

May
you continue to shine through with your brightness and light, spreading love and
hope to all.

 

 

 

 

Prologue

 

Leopold Lee

Hollywood, CA
USA

 

“Sorry
your girlfriend couldn’t make it to the wrap party,” Marty said as he grabbed a
spicy shrimp off the buffet table.  The big man who’d worked on movie sets for
over twenty years looked at Leo.

Leo
forced a grin.  “That’s life.  What can you do?”

“Sure
thing.  Shame though.  She was sure a looker.  What was her name again?”

The
last thing Leo wanted to do was talk about Zara.  She’d yet to return any of
his calls or texts, and he’d had to finally conclude that she was really
serious about the break-up.  And to think he’d suggested it just to get the
paparazzi off his back and calm the angered fans who didn’t appreciate his
relationship with her.  Had he known that his foray into the Hollywood lifestyle
would cause him so much trouble, he might have reconsidered taking the offer to
make another movie.  Zara meant more to him than all the fame in the world.

“Zara,”
he finally said to the waiting man who’d already picked up another shrimp.

“Yeah,
right,” Marty said as he waved the shrimp at him.  “Cool chic; not one of those
hangers-on.  You better hang on to that one.  She’s a real winner.”  And with
that he gave Leo a sound slap on the shoulder and walked away, but not before
grabbing a few more shrimp.

Hang
onto her, Leo thought.  If I knew where she was, I certainly would hold onto
her.

Adding
to the painful burn of the break-up was knowing she’d already started seeing
someone new… and Oliver Klimpton of all people.  Not that he had anything
against the guy, except that he didn’t fully trust him.  But the guy obviously
had something that attracted Zara.

Money? 
He doubted it.  As heir to the Lee Holdings fortune, he’d always treated Zara
like a princess, a butt kicking, hard as nails princess.

“I
just hope you know what you’re doing,” he muttered as he thought of the last
hectic weeks with her.  Though a highly trained police officer who was more
than capable of taking care of herself, dealing with everything that came with
dating a celebrity proved too much.

He
shook his head.  If at least she would have giving him the consideration of
waiting a few weeks… even just a few days, but she essentially went straight
from his bed to Oliver’s.  He didn’t get it.  He just didn’t get it.  Never
would he have thought that she went for that type.  What had he done to make
her want to end it all and turn to Klimpton?  He knew there had to be more than
just his celebrity status. The question kept coming back to him time and again.

He
wanted to believe what she’d said about finding Clara, but it all seemed so
absurd.

Truth
was, there was no clear and precise answer to any of his questions.  He hadn’t
a clue what had really gone wrong. 

He
looked around at the festive celebration.  Dozens of people who’d worked so
hard over the past weeks told stories about difficult shoots, beautiful
locations and arrogant actors.  Some laughed as they remembered ridiculous
bloopers while others raged at scenes that simply refused to come together.

Shrugging,
he downed his glass of icy mineral water, set the glass down on the table and
slipped out the door before anyone else could come question him.  He hated the
thought of leaving the party so early. After all, he was the star of the
movie.  So many had put in a lot of time to plan the party, but his heart just
wasn’t in it.  In fact, his heart hadn’t been in much of anything lately.

Food
had no taste, music had no melody and fun was just something other people
enjoyed.  As far as he was concerned, life was just an abysmal drudge.

With
the blare of jazz music fading into the distance, Leo made his way to his now
familiar parking spot on the studio lot and got in his red sports car.  Sitting
in the luxury vehicle immediately brought back memories of Zara.  It always
did.  Her fragrance still lingered and he couldn’t help but take in a big, deep
sniff.  He’d considered taking the dark sedan that morning; Zara had never
gotten into that car, but he’d opted for the scented sports car.

“Guess
that makes me something of a masochist,” he muttered.  Holding the steering
wheel he simply sat there for a long moment.  “If only you could let me know
you were all right,” he said to the phantom odor.

He
started the car and headed home to get his things.  It was time to go back
home; back to Hong Kong, back to Lee Holdings.  He’d had enough of the
Hollywood life.  The paparazzi and fans had cost him enough and he needed to
find himself again.

Feeling
grumpy, he walked through the big luxurious home, seeing signs of Zara
everywhere.  The dining room where they’d shared meals, the entertainment room
where they’d relaxed and watched movies, and finally, the bedroom.

“Damn
it, Zara, why can’t I get over you?” He snorted.  Another good reason to hurry
up and get out of there.  The sooner he could put her behind him, the better
off he’d be.

The
bulk of his things had already been packed and sent to his private jet.  All
that remained were a few items.  He grabbed the last of his things, shoved them
into a bag then called his flight crew to tell them he was on his way.  It was
a few days sooner than he’d originally planned, but he was ready to go.  After
a quick last look around the posh Beverly Hills home, he brought his bags to
his car and drove off.

It
seemed every street taunted him, every boulevard teased him and every avenue
reminded him; he was leaving the woman he loved behind.  He was closing that
chapter of his life and moving forward.

 He
merged into traffic and headed to the airport where he directed his car to the
private hangar where his personal jet awaited him.

“Ready
to go?” his pilot said with a cheery grin and an energetic skip in his step.

“Ready
as I’ll ever be.”  Feeling glum and unable to hide it, he boarded the plane. 

“Everything
all right, sir. You don’t seem quite yourself.”

“Tired. 
Sick and tired actually.  People think being a celebrity is all fun and
glamour, but let me tell you… it can suck big time.”

“Sorry
to hear that, sir.  Is there anything I can do to lighten the load?”

Leo
turned to look at the man who’d brought him around the world.  For years he’d
trusted this man and had counted on him.  “You know what?  I think there is
something you can do.  I’ve been so tired lately, I thought all I needed was to
go home, but, now that I think of it, I’m not really ready to go home after all. 
I think I really need a complete change of scene.”  After all, Hong Kong held
even more memories of Zara than Los Angeles did.  It was where he’d first met
her, where she’d first come to work undercover in order to protect him.  It was
also where he’d fallen head over heels in love with her.  “How about we fly to
Paris instead?”

“Sounds
wonderful, sir.”

“I
think I need a little vacation before heading home. My friend Errol will be
there too. I’ll get lost in his world of delectable cuisine and fine dining. No
more film set food and strict dieting for the film. I’ll hang out with Errol
and enjoy being his taste tester for new recipes. That’s what friends are for,
isn’t it? Yes, Paris would be perfect.  Every day is beautiful in Paris. Errol
comes closest to the family so I’ll spend the Holidays with him and his family.
His wife Taryn is about ready to give birth. It’ll be great to see my Godchild
if she gives birth while I’m there. It’s the city of love, the city of lights,
the city of liberty.  And I hear the weather is beautiful this time of year.”

“It
certainly is.  I’ll make the necessary changes and we’ll be on our way.”

“Good. 
Thank you.”  He boarded the plane and sat silently contemplating the turn of
events until the plane finally taxied down the runway and prepared to take
off.  Soon they were in the air, and his heart ached as he thought of leaving Zara
for good.  Looking out over the glitz and glamour that was Hollywood, he kissed
his fingertips and tapped the window.

“Goodbye.”

He
fell asleep thinking of her and was riddled with dreams that aroused him then
troubled him.  Her hands were warm as she stroked him, and her kisses warmer
still, but then she turned to Oliver, kissing him with such passion it turned
Leo’s gut.  He woke up with his heart pounding then he heard the sound of his
pilot’s voice over the speakers. 

“Just
to let you know, we’re be redirected, sir.”

Wiping
the sleep from his eyes, Leo rose and headed to the cockpit.  “What do you
mean, we’re being redirected?  To where?”

“Few
flights are being permitted to land at Charles de Gaulle tonight.”

“Why’s
that?” 

“The
information I’ve received is still a little sketchy.  Something about a
terrorist attack, sir?”

“You’re
kidding me, right?”

“Paris
is on high alert following a number of shootings and possibly a bomb threat. 
Most flights in and out of Paris have been cancelled.  That’s all I know for
now.”

“I
see.”  He suddenly questioned the wisdom of changing his plans.  Maybe he
should have stuck to his original idea of heading home.

“But
don’t worry, sir.  I know a small, private strip where we can securely land. 
You’ll have a slightly longer drive into the city, however.”

“That’s
fine.”  It wasn’t fine and he quickly considered the possibility of changing
his plans once again.

He
heard his phone ring back at his seat where he’d left it.  “I’ll be right
back.”  He rushed to his seat and grabbed his phone with the desperate hope it
was Zara.  His heart pounded at the thought of hearing her voice, but instead
he saw the name of his culinary partner and friend, Errol King, on his screen.

 “Leo,”
Errol said.

“Hey,
bro,” he managed to say with a light tone.  “What’s up?  Having trouble with
your vichyssoise?”  While Errol had been instrumental in helping Leo set up his
restaurant, Oyster House, back in Hong Kong, and his culinary genius was known
across the world, Leo never tired of teasing his old friend.

“It’s
Taryn,” Errol said breathlessly.

Great,
Leo thought. Don’t tell me Errol was having girl problems too. “The beautiful
Taryn.  How’s she doing?”

“I
don’t know.  I can’t find her.”

“What
do you mean, you can’t find her?”

“Things
are going crazy here in Paris.  I don’t know what to think.  I barely recognize
my city.  For the first time in my life I feel lost and helpless.  I know
you’ve been busy, but… if you can give me a hand, I’d appreciate having someone
I can trust at my side…”

Leo
couldn’t help but smile at the coincidence.  “I’ll be right there.”

“When?”

“Give
me half an hour.”

“You’re
kidding, right?”

Leo
laughed.  “You know, the funny thing is that I was supposed to head to Hong
Kong, but decided at the last minute to redirect the flight to Paris… and I had
no real idea why,” Leo said.  “Now I know the real reason I changed my mind.
I’ll be in Paris as soon as I can, and help track her down.”

 “You’re
a real mind reader.  I’ll owe you one.”

Leo
ended the call with mixed emotions.  While he wanted to be at his friend’s side
at this difficult time, he was a little reluctant to enter a besieged city.  It
was crazy; his girl was off with some billionaire playboy, and Errol’s girl had
disappeared while the city of lights was under attack.  It wasn’t a good
weekend to be in love, he thought with a wry grin. But Zara obviously wanted to
be away from him while Errol needed his help so going to Paris became his top
priority.

As
the plane landed, he placed a call to Errol, hoping to find out more about the
crisis that gripped Paris, but there was no answer.  It was unlike Errol not to
answer.  Leo grabbed his duffle bag and headed out to his waiting limo then
tried again.  Still no answer.

Something
was up.

 

 

 

 

 

BOOK: Christmas in Paris (A Master Chefs Series Standalone Novel)
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