Read Kissed in Paris Online

Authors: Juliette Sobanet

Tags: #Literature & Fiction, #Humor & Satire, #Humorous, #Women's Fiction, #Contemporary Women, #Romance, #Contemporary, #Romantic Comedy, #Contemporary Fiction, #General Humor, #Humor

Kissed in Paris (28 page)

BOOK: Kissed in Paris
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Julien’s voice boomed over his shoulder. “We don’t have time for this.”

“Just answer the question!”

He snapped his head around, his eyes burning right through me. “Yes, it is true.”

I stared at Julien, wanting to run up to him and pummel his chest with my fists. “God, how could I have been so stupid? I’ve wasted the past two days listening to you, following you, talking to you about my relationship, when all along, you’re just like him. You’re just like the man who put me in this horrible situation in the first place. I suppose you’ve been lying the entire time about working for the government as well?”

Julien kicked a clump of dirt and stormed back down the hill toward me. “Two years ago, when one of our cons went bad, and something terrible happened to that woman I told you about, Valérie . . . I quit after that. I was finished. But my friend, the one who is high up in the government, cut me a deal. If I went undercover and helped them bust other conmen, I could stay out of prison. I am not proud of my past, Chloe. But I am a different man now. I understand the hurt I have caused others, and I will spend the rest of my life trying to make up for it.”

“And what exactly did you think you’ve been doing by lying to me this whole time?
Helping
me? And to think I was actually beginning to . . . to feel bad for you. Well, you know what? I couldn’t care less what happens to you or to your vineyard. You deserve whatever you have coming to you.”

Julien flinched, and for a second, I caught a flicker of hurt in his eyes. “It is not just
my
vineyard. It belongs to my family, to my mother. And I will not let her lose it. I am leaving now. You can either come with me, and I can help you get home, or else you are on your own.”

“I don’t need your help getting home.”

Julien stared over at the Smart car, steam still sizzling up from the hood, then returned his deadpan gaze to me. “Suit yourself.”

He turned on his heel and headed back up the hill without looking back.

I closed my eyes as a spasm shot up my neck.
Shit, shit, shit.

“Wait!” I called after him.

Julien didn’t slow down. I rushed to catch up with him, and as I joined his side, he didn’t look at me, didn’t even acknowledge my presence.

We climbed into the car together, the silence so thick it was suffocating.

“When we get back to your house, I’ll find my own way home. I don’t want your help,” I told him.

Julien shifted the car into gear, the veins in his forearms bulging, a bead of sweat dripping down his forehead. “Fine,” he said.

“Fine,” I spat.

But, as he sped down the road, a gut-wrenching feeling of dread gripped my stomach. What in the hell was I going to do?

 

Seventeen

 

“Where is Claude’s note?” Julien demanded as he slammed the car into park and shot out of the car.

“On the kitchen table,” I told him. “Oh, and you might need this.” I climbed out of the car and tossed Claude’s credit card across the hood.

“What—?” he began, but when he reached for it, his eyes widened. “You stole this? From my wallet?”

“It’s not like it was even yours to begin with.”

He shook his head at me, his mouth twitching, his brown eyes frantic, then tucked the card into his pocket and ran up the stairs to the house.

I searched the rolling countryside that stretched for miles around me, the rows upon rows of vines, hoping a solution would pop out at me. Something I’d missed. Some magical way I could work out making it home in time for my wedding without telling Paul or the rest of my family what was going on. Without having to speak to the police. Without worrying about the fact that I officially had no passport.

But there was nothing. No sudden light bulb. No magical solution.

Suddenly every muscle in my body ached. Cramps gripped my calves, my head pounded, and my breathing quickened. I braced myself on the side of the car, feeling like I might pass out. Something Julien had said to me the day before rang loudly in my ears.

He’d said that this whole situation could ruin me. That it could ruin my life.

Blackness closed in around me as my chest struggled to take in air.

No.
I couldn’t let that happen.
I wouldn’t
.

I opened my eyes and forced the air into my lungs. I didn’t need Julien’s help. I just needed to use a phone.

 

***

 


Parlez-vous anglais
?” I said into the phone, cupping my hand over my mouth to muffle my voice. 


Un moment, s’il vous plaît
,” said the woman who’d answered the emergency police line.

While I waited on hold, I stretched the ancient corded desk phone across the downstairs office and peeked down the hallway to make sure the coast was clear. Julien had been up in his bedroom, yelling on his cell phone when I came back into the house moments before.

I listened for a moment and jumped when I heard his voice still booming upstairs. Closing the office door, I sat down at the desk and spread Claude’s license plate number out before me.

The numbers blurred beneath me. This would either be my ticket back home, or my ticket to jail. But I had to take a chance. I couldn’t leave things in Julien’s hands anymore.

A gruff voice spoke into the phone. “I understand you requested an English speaker.”

“Yes, Officer. I’d like to report a theft. A couple of them actually—all by the same man. Claude Dubois. He just left, and I was able to get his license plate number.”

“You said Claude Dubois? Is this correct?”

“Yes, Officer. That’s correct.”

“Hold for one second, please.”

I tapped my fingers on the cool wood, my mind running a mile a minute, hoping I was making the right choice.

The officer’s voice came back over the line. “Madame?”

“Yes?”

“I am going to transfer you to Agent Bertrand Martin. He will be able to help you, and he speaks English.”

“Thank you.”

Within seconds, the line picked up.

“Hello, Miss. This is Agent Martin.” His voice was deep and throaty, and he spoke with a thick French accent. “I am a government official in Paris. I understand you have information pertaining to the whereabouts of Monsieur Dubois, and that you would like to report a theft.”

“Yes, I do. And that’s theft
s. Plural
.”

“Of course, Miss. But first, tell me your name.”

A bead of sweat rolled down my temple. I wondered if some kind of siren would go off at the sound of my name. What if this guy was just waiting for me to say “Chloe Turner” before sicking the entire French police force on me?

There was no other option though. I swallowed hard and took a deep breath.

“My name is Chloe Turner.”

“Thank you, Miss Turner. Have you just seen Monsieur Dubois?”

I breathed a sigh of relief. He didn’t sound at all interested in me. “Yes, in Saint-Julien, at his family’s vineyard near Lyon.”

“Yes, I am familiar. And the license plate number?”

“MT-541-RW.”

“Color and make of the car?”

“It was a gray Renault Twingo.”

“Thank you, miss. And quickly, please explain the thefts.”

“He stole my passport, my wallet, and a valuable Manet painting from his family’s home.”

There was a pause on the other line. “A Manet?”

“Yes, officer, that’s correct.”

“When did the thefts take place?”

“He took the painting maybe about a week ago, and he stole my passport and wallet on Sunday, at the Plaza Athénée Hotel in Paris.”

“I see.” Another long pause followed, then he cleared his throat. “Thank you for calling, Miss Turner. I will need to speak with you again and with a member of his family regarding the painting. Is there a number where I can reach you?”

Before I had a chance to answer, the office door flew open behind me. Julien towered in the doorway, staring me down.

I slammed the phone back into the cradle.

“What were you doing?” he asked

“I . . . I was just trying to call home. No answer though.”

Julien eyed me suspiciously. “Tell me the truth.”

When I didn’t answer, Julien glanced past me to the desk.

And then I remembered, Claude’s license plate number was lying there.
Shit.

I tried to scoot so he wouldn’t see it, but it was too late. He reached over my shoulder and snatched it off the desk. “This is Claude’s?”

I nodded.

“Did you give this number to the police?”

I couldn’t lie any longer. Julien wouldn’t believe me anyway. I stood up and faced him straight on. “Yes, I called the police and gave them his license plate number. Isn’t that what you would do if you were me?”

Julien paced back and forth around the small office. “No, that is not what I would do. You are not thinking clearly. The police are after you, and me. We have been running from them. They will be coming here. We have to leave. Now.”

“I’m not going anywhere. The way I see it, I haven’t done anything wrong. Well, besides running from the police. This was all Claude, and I have no choice but to talk to them if I want to get home. Now that we know my passport is gone, do you see that I have any other choices here? Because I’d love for you to enlighten me with more of your con-artist wisdom if you do.”


Merde
,” he said with a shake of his head.

I remembered that one from French class. It meant “shit.”


Merde
yourself,” I said, pushing past him.

“If you want to talk to them, go ahead. Like I have said, it will not go well. I will not be here when they arrive. It is not an option for me at this point.”

“Where are you going?”

Julien walked past me in the hallway, grabbed his car keys and opened the front door.


Where
are you going?” I called after him.

“It will be easier if I don’t tell you. That way you cannot tell the police.” He climbed into the car and skidded out of the driveway, just as his brother had done earlier this morning.

I couldn’t believe he’d just left me here. Alone, again, at his family’s vineyard. Where the hell were his mother and Camille? Before I had a chance to think about it another second, a different car pulled into the driveway.

This one was black and white and had a siren on the top.

Julien was right. It hadn’t taken them long at all.

 

***

 

“Let’s try this again. When did you first meet Claude Dubois?”

BOOK: Kissed in Paris
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