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 (8 page)

BOOK: Kissed in Paris
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Julien didn’t respond. Instead, he kept walking.

“Didn’t you hear me? I said I’m getting married in less than a week. My fiancé will be waiting for me at the airport tonight and you don’t even own a phone that I can use to call him and tell him I won’t be there. My sister is flying in tomorrow, and we have a million things to do before the wedding. I
have
to make that flight.”

“Maybe you should’ve thought of all of this before you accepted a drink from Claude last night.”

I stopped along the dirt path and leaned against one of the lamp posts to catch my breath. “Why did I trust you? What was I thinking? If I would’ve just stayed in Paris with the police, I could’ve explained to them
again
that I hadn’t done anything illegal, that Claude had stolen my things and my money, and one of them would’ve believed me. I mean, all they would have to do is pull up my spotless record and see that there is no way I would
ever
be involved in illegal activity. But now here I am, watching you beat up innocent men in country cottages. And I’m no closer to the airport, the U.S. embassy, or to getting my passport back.”

“That man in the cottage was
not
innocent,” Julien said, still barreling down the path.

“Well if you’re really some kind of government agent, why didn’t you arrest him? And how did he know your name?”

“It seems that you keep forgetting I am
undercover
, which means I have to
act
as if I am one of them. Haven’t you ever watched any of those crime shows back in the—” Julien’s eyes widened as he muttered under his breath. “
Merde
.” He grabbed my arm and pulled me down another dirt path behind a pack of tourists.

“What is it?”

“Don’t turn around,” he hissed through his teeth. “The police have followed us here. They must’ve gotten my plate numbers and trailed us from Paris.”

I swiveled my head to the side to see Officer Laroche and Officer Fournier holding my photo and talking to a man in a pair of brown trousers with green suspenders stretching over his pot-belly.  

“I told you not to look,” Julien scolded. “Here, put these on.” He shoved his sunglasses into my hands and herded me further into the crowd of tourists.

“I’m not putting these on. I’m not doing this anymore. I’m going to go talk to them and demand that they take me to the U.S. embassy. I haven’t done anything wrong, so I’m sure it’s all a big misunderstanding and once they find Claude—the
real
criminal—they’ll know I’m telling the truth.”

Julien tightened his grip on my arm as we stayed sandwiched in between two fanny-pack clad Korean women and a group of high-school aged French kids.

“Don’t you understand? They are not looking for Claude at the moment. They are looking for
you.
And if they get a hold of you, you will not be going to the embassy to get a new passport,” Julien said, his whisper ringing with agitation. “Remember, Claude is a scam artist. He takes rich women’s belongings, taps into their bank accounts, ties some of the money to illegal activity, making it look as if
the woman
is responsible. Meanwhile, he steals the rest and wires it into an off-shore account. So the police will not believe anything you are saying until they run a full investigation. And by the time they are finished, Claude will be long gone with your money and your passport, and you will have missed your wedding.”

I wondered if Paul had gotten wind of the whopping $33,000 that Claude had already transferred out of our account. My stomach clenched just thinking about it. He was going to flip out. And he would flip out even more if he found out that all of this was happening because I’d allowed some strange French man into my hotel room. Continuing the lies was unbearable, unimaginable. But even so, I couldn’t tell Paul about bringing Claude into my room. Not if I still wanted him to marry me in six days.

“So if I can’t go back to the police, what am I supposed to do now?” I asked.

Julien peered over his shoulder as he continued to whisper in my ear. “You will come with me to Annecy. We will be there by tonight, we will get your passport, and you can fly home tomorrow. But if you choose to go back to the police, you are on your own.”

I suddenly envisioned myself sitting alone in a cold, cement jail cell while scary police officers yelled at me in French and Paul waited for me at the airport, peeking at his watch every five seconds, wondering where I could be. Then I thought of Paul getting a call from the police telling him I’d been seduced by a French con-artist who’d taken all my things.

The wedding would be cancelled. My life would be in ruins, just as Julien had warned.

I had to go to Annecy to find my passport. What other choice did I have?

“So, can we leave for Annecy right now?” I asked.

“Yes, but first, we have to get away from those officers.” Julien held my hand as we picked up our pace, weaving through the mob of picture-happy tourists. “Follow me.”

We squeezed through a wall of chatty English women, and once we’d made it to the other side, Julien pulled me off the path and around a giant willow tree facing a gorgeous green pond. He gathered me into his chest, then reached around and tucked my hair down the back of the dress.

“What are—”

“Shhh,” he whispered. “They will be passing by here any minute. We can’t take any chances that they will see your hair or this bright red dress. You need to get closer to me.”

Julien wrapped his arms around my waist and pressed my back firmly into the tree, completely covering me with his body. “Don’t move,” he whispered as his warm, scruffy cheek pressed into mine. I closed my eyes and prayed that the police wouldn’t see us. The cool scent of Julien’s cologne calmed my nerves but also made me remember his kiss from earlier this morning. I squeezed my eyes tighter and tried to conjure up Paul’s standard scent—the same Tommy Hilfiger aftershave he’d been wearing since we first met in college—but I couldn’t.

Julien gripped my waist a little tighter. “It’s okay, they are almost gone.”

I opened my eyes, only then realizing that I was shaking.


Allez, viens
. We must go the other way.” Julien slid his hand from my waist and intertwined his fingers with mine.

I guiltily swiped the image of Paul’s face from my mind, comforting myself with the hope that I would be flying home to him the next day, and that I would never again be in such close quarters with another man.

But as Julien gripped my hand and led me the opposite way around the lush, flowery pathway, my stomach remained unsettled, my heart still flickering inside my chest.

We rounded the pond, and it was only when I noticed the green arched bridge stretching across the water lily-covered water that I realized where we were.
This
was the famous water lily pond in Monet’s paintings.

“It is beautiful, is it not?” Julien said, leading me past a group of Italian high-schoolers and further away from the police officers.

“It’s gorgeous. Too bad I’m not here on vacation to really enjoy it.”

Julien’s shoulders relaxed as he let out a nervous laugh, the skin around his eyes crinkling the slightest bit. “You will never forget your trip to Giverny though, will you?”

I slipped my hand underneath my hair, shaking it free from the red dress. “No, I will never forget this.”

After making it through the swarms of tourists who were shooting their tiny digital cameras at the blossoming gardens behind Monet’s house, Julien led me toward a massive black tour bus parked at the end of the dirt road.

“Where are you going?” I asked him. “This isn’t the way to your car.”

“We have to leave the car here. The police have the license plate number, remember?” Julien took a step onto the bus and turned to face me. “You coming?”

“What other choice do I have?” I filed onto the air-conditioned bus behind him, hoping again that the man I was following was really worth my trust.

 

Five

 

Julien sauntered down the aisle toward the back of the empty bus, not seeming the least bit concerned with the fact that we were now on a random tour bus and had no clue where it was headed.

I’d no more than taken my seat and wiped a bead of sweat off my brow when a large group of men and women bounded onto the bus and filled up the rows, laughing and chatting as they coupled up and sat down.

“What if the bus is full?” I whispered to Julien. “And what if someone notices that we weren’t on the bus before? And what if we have to pay for a spot? I don’t exactly have any money on me, you know. And, just a side note, where in the hell is this bus going?”

Julien sighed, and I could’ve sworn he was holding in a laugh. “Relax. The bus is going to Paris, and we will take a train from there down to Annecy. Besides, even if they find out we are imposters, do you really believe they are going to kick us off the bus in the middle of nowhere?”

“Um . . . yeah, actually. I think that’s exactly what is going to happen.”

“I promise you, if that happens, I will find another way to get to Paris. If you haven’t noticed yet, I am quite resourceful.”

“How are you so sure this bus is going to Paris anyway?”

Just as Julien opened his mouth to speak, a tall blond woman who couldn’t have been older than thirty yelled from the front of the bus. “Welcome back! What did all of you newlyweds think of Giverny?”

Cheers erupted from the passengers as they passed around bottles of Bordeaux and poured massive quantities into red plastic cups.

Newlyweds? Could this day get any worse?

A woman with short black hair and razor-straight bangs handed me two cups across the aisle.

“Here you go,” she said with a smile as the man next to her thrust the wine bottle in my direction.

“Thanks, but I don’t really drink,” I told them.

Julien reached across my chest and grabbed the cups and the wine. “My little Chloe here is just joking. She would
love
a drink.”

My little Chloe
?

As Julien poured us each a tall cup of red wine—which I had absolutely no intention of drinking—the woman with the black hair reached her hand across the aisle.

“I’m Liz, and this is my husband Jack.” She smiled lovingly at him as a high-pitched giggle squeaked from her lips. “It still feels so crazy to say my
husband
. I love it!”

I glanced over at Julien, the short brown stubble on his face already a shade darker than it was just a few hours ago, his muscular forearms pouring the cup of wine down his throat like it was a glass of water.

Was I going to have to act like
he
was my husband?

“So what made you two decide to do the newlywed romance tour of France?” Liz asked as she took a sip of her wine and rubbed her hand over her husband’s thigh.

Julien was mid-sip and didn’t seem to be stopping anytime soon. I yanked the cup out of his hand, spilling red wine all over his jeans.

“Why
did
we choose the newlywed romance tour,
sweetie
?” I asked him.

Julien smiled over at me before taking my hand. I tried to pull away from his grasp but he squeezed my fingers so tightly I thought the bones would break.

“Well, we just got married, you see, and my little Chloe has not traveled much. In fact, she has never been away from home and—”

“That’s not true,” I cut in. “I’ve traveled all over the US for work, and—”

“Yes,
chérie
, but you have not traveled very often for pleasure. Am I right?” He shot me an annoying grin, which made a dimple appear in his right cheek.

BOOK: Kissed in Paris
10.93Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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