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 (7 page)

BOOK: Kissed in Paris
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“Correction,
you
are running from the police.”

“Whatever. Why didn’t you just flash your shiny badge at them and tell them you were in charge now?”

“Because only one other person knows who I am and what I am doing.”

“What? Are you saying that if the police catch us, you won’t be protected?”

Julien nodded. “This is the type of assignment that is . . . how do you say it in English?” Julien scratched his chin. “Ah,
unsanctioned
. This is the word, no?”

“You mean illegal?”

Julien hesitated. “No, it is not
illegal
. It is simply the only way this can work. In order for me to find Claude, no one except for my boss must know I am on the case. Otherwise the mouse . . . or the
mole
will tell him, and the operation will be ruined.”

“So if the police catch us, what would happen to you?”

“Same as what would happen to you. I would go to jail. But that,
chérie,
is not going to happen because as you saw in the hotel, I am good at what I do. Evading those
imbécile
policemen will not be a problem.”

I buried my forehead in my hands. “Oh, God.”

 “Back to your original concern—your credit cards. Claude is not concerned with them. It is the debit card—the checking account—that he is after.”

“Why would he take everything then? I mean, couldn’t he at least have left me
something
? I can’t even buy myself a phone card, and I have to get in touch with my bank.”

“A thief is not concerned with your well-being, Chloe.”

“Clearly.”

Julien took another swig of water. “Claude has already tapped into your account, so there is no point in calling your bank. They will soon place a hold on the account for suspicious activity, if they haven’t already.”

That meant there was no way Paul wouldn’t get wind of this. As soon as he tried to use the debit and was denied, he would find out about the hold. Unless I could get home first and run damage control. I had to get on that flight.

“Back to what you just said about the debit card,” I said, trying to calm the desperation that was seeping back up through my chest. “How could Claude use that to access my account if he doesn’t have my pin number?”

“Did you use your debit card at an ATM at all while you were in Paris?”

“I used it once. I took money out to buy a new purse for myself. Which, by the way, Claude stole.”


Et voilà
. You have your answer.”

“What? You mean Claude was watching me?”

“Was there anyone standing behind you waiting to use the machine?”

“I don’t know. I wasn’t paying attention.”

“I told you, Claude knows what he’s doing. He’s done this so many times he could do it in his sleep.”

“What a sick man,” I spat, wishing I could see Claude again just so I could smack him across the face and tell him what a disgusting human being he was.

I crossed my arms over my chest for the fifth time that day and gazed out at the rolling green hills as they whizzed by. Never in a million years would I have imagined I would be in a smoke-infested, miniature car with an undercover French detective, racing through the French countryside to find my passport, asking questions about how some slick con-man stole my pin number.

“Do you come to France a lot for business?” Julien asked.

“This is my first time. I wasn’t even supposed to be here actually. My boss was slated to make this trip, but she got sick at the last minute and sent me.”

“Then it must’ve been fate.”

“In that case, fate and I are
not
on speaking terms.”

 

Four

 

A half an hour later, after Julien had made four illegal passes on the skinny, country roads that led to Giverny, he pulled into an open field and parked the car.

“We are here,” he announced before throwing his most recent cigarette out the window and climbing out of the car.

I breathed a sigh of relief as the fresh country air filled my lungs and replaced all of the smoke I had just inhaled.

“Follow me.” Julien slipped on a pair of dark sunglasses as he took off across the field.

I struggled to keep up with him, my three-inch heels sticking into the muddy ground with each step. “Could you slow it down? I didn’t exactly get a chance to change into a more comfortable pair of shoes for our country outing, with Claude stealing my entire suitcase and all.”

Julien didn’t slow his pace. “We have to hurry if we want to get your passport. Claude may already be gone.”

“How do you know for sure where he is? You don’t even have a phone.”

Julien shook his head and mumbled something under his breath, not breaking his brisk stride.

As my right heel lodged into the ground, I bent over to yank it out, trying not to let the tiny dress give Julien a show. “Why are you helping me anyway? I mean, if you’re after Claude, why didn’t you just let the police take me? You must be getting something out of all of this. You don’t even know me.”

Julien stopped at the edge of the field and pushed his sunglasses down his nose, revealing his penetrating brown eyes. “What? You would rather be at the police station in Paris being accused of a crime you did not commit? If you don’t want me to help you, just say the word, and I will arrange for your trip back to Paris. I am sure Officer Laroche and Officer Fournier will be very happy to see you again.”

“No, I’d rather not go back to the police station. The only place I need to go is to the airport.”

“Well, then.
On y va
.” He pushed his sunglasses back up his nose and walked out onto a small country road lined with lush green trees and skinny black lampposts. Two gray-haired women strolled down the path, gift bags in hand, and when their gaze landed on me and Julien, their eyebrows furrowed in disapproval.

“People are staring at me,” I whispered as I tried to keep up with his quick stride, crossing my arms over my chest to hide the inappropriate, low-cut neck-line of the skimpy red dress.

Julien chuckled. “Well, you are not exactly dressed for a walk in Giverny.”

I tried to run my hands through my hair to calm it down, but the sticky humidity was making it poof up like a cotton ball. It was beyond help. I just needed to get my passport and get the hell out of here. I didn’t even want to imagine what was going to happen if I didn’t step off that plane tonight in DC. Paul would be worried sick, not to mention irate. My sisters would go nuts, and my dad, my poor dad, would have to run damage control. And he never did that. I was the one who always had things under control so that he’d never even known if there was a fire that needed to be put out.

Despite the heels of my shoes now rubbing massive blisters into the backs of my feet, I picked up my pace. If trusting Julien was the only way to get my passport back and fly home before those police officers found me and kept me in France for God knows what crime, then I would just have to trust him.

After passing another group of happy, vacationing tourists, Julien made a sharp turn down a long, dirt driveway which led to a beige cottage with clunky brown shutters and red rose bushes climbing up the walls.

As I followed him down the dirt path, my stomach churned again. God, I hoped this would work.

“Do you speak French?” Julien asked.

“I took it years ago in college . . . but I don’t really remember much. Why?”

He turned to me as we reached the door, his gaze hardening. “Because I don’t want you to say a word in there. Just let me do the talking.”

Julien tried the door handle, but when it didn’t open, he stood back a few feet, lifted his black boot into the air and kicked the door open.

Something told me this wasn’t going to be a peaceful exchange of goods.

Beads of sweat dripped down my neck and slid underneath the thin red dress as I followed Julien inside a tiny, clean kitchen that smelled of coffee beans and honey. A half-eaten baguette and an open jar of Nutella sat on the table, begging to be eaten. For a split-second, I wished this was my vacation cottage. I wished I could take a huge glass of water from the sink, scoop a big spoonful of Nutella onto that bread and forget about this whole mess. Then take a hot shower and lie down in bed with the sound of the birds chirping outside, lulling me to sleep.

Before my daydream got too carried away, Julien was already in the next room. I crept through the doorway, my ears perking up at the sound of a scratchy voice coming from around the corner.


Salut, Julien
.”

A short, balding man in a long-sleeved, black collared shirt appeared on a staircase across the room. That definitely was
not
Claude.

Julien’s body immediately tensed up. He narrowed his eyes and began barking in French.

I struggled to understand as the little bit of French I’d taken in college wormed its way back into my brain, but all I could get out of his rant was the word

which meant “where.” Before I could figure out the rest, the man with the shiny bald spot on his head shouted something completely incomprehensible in French. Well, completely incomprehensible to
me
at least.

Julien must’ve understood him perfectly—and he must not have liked it one bit—because he charged across the room, flew up the stairs and punched the guy straight in the jaw.

I backed up against the doorway and covered a hand over my mouth to stifle my scream. Julien leaned over the man, grabbed him by the collar and kneed him in the groin. The man moaned loudly and curled into a ball as Julien let go of him and continued grilling him in French.

The man hesitated, then finally yelped out a response. Julien flared his nostrils and huffed out a loud breath before turning to me.

“Let’s go. Claude is not here.”

I peered over Julien’s shoulder at the man on the stairs who was still hunched over, groaning and rubbing his jaw. He lifted his eyes to meet mine, and for a brief second I actually felt bad for him.

What had I gotten myself into?

Julien stormed out of the cottage, his black boots scuffing along the dirt path as he mumbled what I assumed to be French obscenities under his breath.

“What the hell was that?” I asked.

“I had to do that to find out what I needed to know.”

“So where’s Claude?”

“Claude is gone.”

“What about my passport?”

“It is with Claude.”

“Well, where the hell is he?”

“He knows the police are after him, so he is on his way to Annecy.”

I struggled to keep up with Julien as he turned back down the wooded path.

“Where is Annecy? Can we get there in time to find my passport and make my flight?”

Julien shook his head. “No, it is several hours from here. You are not going to make your flight, Chloe. I am sorry.” He ran his hands through his messy hair as a bead of sweat ran down his cheekbone and under his chin.

The panic I’d been swallowing for the past hour overcame me as I realized that I was completely screwed.

“But I’m getting married! In six days!” I shouted, not caring about all the jolly tourists passing by.

BOOK: Kissed in Paris
4.17Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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