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 (5 page)

BOOK: Kissed in Paris
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Thank God.
I needed to be alone.

The pristine marble bathroom smelled of roses and honey, but the wary-eyed reflection staring back at me in the mirror along with the scant red dress strung over my shaking body, reminded me that life was
anything
but honey and roses right now. 

I leaned over the sink and ran my hands under the cool water, trying to decipher a way out of this unimaginable situation.

My mind glazed over with fear, refusing to cooperate. Refusing to do anything but worry.

How in the
hell
was I under investigation for fraud? Why didn’t they believe me? How was I going to explain any of this to Pa—?

The bathroom door burst open and Officer Laroche fell through it, crashing onto the floor with a grunt. I stifled a scream as a rugged man with a full head of messy chestnut hair and an unshaven face tackled Officer Laroche, punched him in the face, and knocked him out cold. He removed Officer Laroche’s gun from the holster, tucked it into his jeans, then lifted his deep brown eyes to mine.

“Who are you?” I screeched, backing myself up against the wall.

He reached into his back pocket and whipped out a shiny badge.

“Julien Moreau. I am an undercover agent assigned to the case of a certain Claude Dubois. Judging by the
miniscule
red dress you are wearing at eight o’clock in the morning and the police escort waiting outside the bathroom door, I see you have met him. No?”

“Yes . . . but why—”  

“I know you are innocent, Chloe. I can help you get your passport back, but we have to get out of here before he wakes up.” Julien reached for my hand. “Come.”

A million questions zipped through my dazed head as Julien peeked outside the door, then swiftly led me down the hallway, past a lush arrangement of red roses and around the corner where we were alone.

I pulled my hand from his grip. “How do you know my name? And why did you just knock him—”

“Shhh!” Julien covered my mouth with his hand, his face only inches from mine. “If you don’t leave this hotel with me right now, the police are going to arrest you. Claude’s operation has infiltrated the police. He has someone working for him on the inside, which is why you must
not
follow Officer Laroche and Officer Fournier to the station.” Julien let his hand slide from my mouth, his body still hovering all too close to mine.

“But they said—”

“What they
said
does not matter. I have been on this case for months now, and trust me—Claude could not arrange the types of scams he pulls off and get away with it
every
time without using someone on the inside. If you go with them, you will
not
make it home in time for your wedding. I am one step away from arresting Claude, and I know exactly where he is headed next. If you come with me, we will get your passport back, and you can go home without any trouble. But we must leave now.”

“How did you know I’m engaged? And where are you going to take me? And how do I know for sure—”

“If you do not want to be accused of fraud and held in France against your will, you’ll have to trust me.”

I took a closer look at the man who was asking me to place my trust in him. He wore a coal gray T-shirt paired with dark jeans and scuffed black boots, and there was an intensity in his eyes that made my stomach flutter . . . but then again, that was probably from all of the red wine Claude had fed me the night before.

“You don’t seriously expect me to evade the police and run off with you, do you? I mean, you just knocked out that officer and stole his gun,” I hissed.

Instead of answering me, Julien peered over my shoulder, took my face in his hands and planted his lips on mine. I vaguely heard Officer Fournier’s harsh voice echoing down the hallway as Julien pressed his warm chest into me and pushed me up against a marble pillar. He held me there in a deep, long kiss, his moist lips brushing over mine, his cool, masculine scent engulfing me and nearly drowning out the sound of the restroom door banging open and shut.

By the time he pulled his lips away, I’d completely lost the ability to speak. Or to breathe.

“I rank higher than the police,” Julien whispered, his warm breath tickling my neck. He shot a pointed gaze down the hallway, where the officer’s tense voice rose. “And if you don’t come with me, your fiancé
will
find out what you have done. You think it is a mistake that Claude chose you, the cautious American with a hefty bank account and a wedding next week? Your life will be in ruins faster than you can blink. I have seen it happen to many women before you.”

I locked eyes with the man who’d just kissed me, trying to concentrate on his words, but instead wondering why I hadn’t felt the urge to push him off me and run away.

“They just took the elevator,” Julien continued, completely unfazed by my dropped jaw or my inability to form a coherent response. “We have only two minutes before they will realize you are not in your room and come back down looking for you. This is your only chance.” His big brown gaze intensified as he slid his hand over mine and squeezed it. “Follow me and act natural.”

In that split second, it was as if some other girl swooped in and inhabited my body. I felt as if I was watching myself in slow motion—my hand resting inside Julien’s, my legs following him underneath the crystal chandeliers and through the lobby, and my dazed eyes looking on as he smiled at the doorman on our way out of the Plaza Athénée Hotel.

As we emerged onto the fancy Parisian avenue, the late summer humidity clung to my skin like a leech and snapped me out of my trance. I yanked my hand free of his grasp. “Who do you think you are? I’m engaged! You can’t just kiss me like that. You don’t even know me.”

A smirk passed over his full lips. “You didn’t seem to have any problem doing that with Claude last night, no? And besides it was the only way to make you stop talking.
Allez, viens.
We don’t have much time.”

Julien took my hand again and led me around the corner of Avenue Montaigne toward a miniature, sleek black car.

“Get in,” he ordered as he unlocked the passenger door.

“Okay, just hold on a second. I can see that you clearly know who I am and that you know this Claude character I met last night. But how do I know
you’re
not in on this whole thing with him?
You
could be the insider he’s working with for all I know. I have a flight to catch today, and I’m getting married this Saturday. I need to go to the embassy right now. They can help me there. I’m not going anywhere with you.”

I spun around on my heel and scoured the street for a cab, trying to push the memory of Julien’s warm kiss out of my dizzy head. 

“Suit yourself.” Julien leaned against the car and folded his arms over his broad chest. “But you must know, the embassy will not be able to protect you. Your name
and
your bank account are now tied to illegal activity, and it could be weeks or even months before you will be cleared to leave the country. In fact, the last girl Claude scammed—a beautiful Brazilian woman—is
still
under investigation. But, if you come with me, we will take a short drive to where Claude is, I will arrest him, you will get your passport back, your name will be cleared from this mess,
and
you could still make your flight.
Simple, n’est-ce pas?

I shook my head at him, my stomach still woozy and my legs wobbly from the night’s events. And, if I was being honest with myself . . . from his kiss. “I’m not getting in that car with you.”

He shrugged, letting out a low laugh before nodding back toward the hotel. “It’s now or never.”

I swiveled around to find my two favorite police officers rounding the corner.  


C’est elle!
” Officer Fournier shouted before they took off in my direction.

I hadn’t taken French in years, but I understood enough to know they weren’t charging at me to tell me they’d made a mistake and they believed I was innocent. Or to help me get my passport back and make it home in time for my wedding.

Julien was already in the driver’s seat when I jumped into the passenger’s side.

As he sped down the tree-lined boulevard and took a left onto the crowded Champs-Élysées, he glanced my way, shooting me a disarming grin.

“Now do you believe me?”

 

Three

 

“Where are you taking me?” I peeked around my seat to make sure the police weren’t following us, my heart threatening to pound right through my chest.

Julien shifted the car into gear, causing it to jolt forward as we sped past swarms of tourists lugging their heavy shopping bags while they meandered up the sun-lit Champs-Élysées.

“We are going to Giverny. It is where Claude Monet lived. You know Monet?”

“Yes, I know who Monet is. What does that have to do with anything? How far away is this place?”

“Only one hour. And with me driving, it will be less.”

I gripped the door handle as Julien raced around the Arc de Triomphe and zoomed through a red light.

“And you’re sure that Claude is there? In Giverny?” I asked.

Julien balanced the steering wheel with his knee as he used one hand to roll down the window and the other to grab a cigarette from the pack in the center console. “So many questions. It seems you have trust issues, no?”

“Well, excuse me for asking questions, but I’m riding in a car with a French maniac who just accosted me in the lobby of a five-star hotel less than a week before my wedding, which I may not even make it to now that some other maniac French man has stolen my passport. Not to mention the fact that the police are chasing me! I think I’m entitled to a few questions.”

He popped the cigarette between his grinning lips, once again letting go of the steering wheel to light it. “Yes, I guess so.”

My stomach churned at the smell of cigarette smoke billowing past my face. “Do all French police officers drive like this? And what is it with French people and smoking? Has France not received the lung cancer memo?”

“First of all, I am not a police officer. I am an undercover government agent. And secondly, has America not received the ‘live your life and have fun while you can’ memo?” He shook his head, puffing another cloud of smoke into the tiny car. “It seems not.”

“If having fun in France means drinking poisonous French wine that makes you forget what you did the night before and getting all of your things stolen, then yes, I believe I’ve received the memo.”

Julien actually refrained from racing through the next red light, instead glancing over at me, the smile wiped clean from his face. “You are not the only one who needs to find Claude, you know. After following this dirty
voleur
for months now, and seeing woman after woman in your situation, I will not stop until I put him in prison. You have my word.”

“What is a
voleur
?”

Julien shifted in his seat, an odd flicker passing through his gaze. “A thief.”

“Speaking of thieves, what do you know about my bank account being tied to illegal activity?”

Julien ignored my question and removed the gun from his jeans.

“What are you doing?” I screeched.

“I do not need to carry two guns. I only stole this one because I did not want to risk the officer using it on us.” Julien rested his arm on my bare knee while he tossed the gun into the glove compartment. After closing it up, he reached into the back seat where he rifled inside a plastic bag.

A greasy croissant wrapped in tissue paper emerged, the strong scent of butter and fluffy bread almost drowning out the cigarette smoke. He dropped it into my lap. “Eat this. It will help you calm down.”

BOOK: Kissed in Paris
13.29Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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