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French Kissing: Season Five (PAPERBACK)

French Kissing: Season Five (PAPERBACK)

The grand finale of the French Kissing series...

Partnerships will be questioned, loyalties will shift and priorities will be reassessed as favourite characters, and old foes, return for a new, and final, season of Parisian drama and intrigue.

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Book specifications

Pages : 250
ISBN : 9789887912422
Weight : 8.7 ounces (246g)
Dimensions : 5 x 0.55 x 8 inches (127 x 14 x 203mm)

Full description

Paris… City of lights, City of love… City of drama!

With a year remaining on Dominique’s first presidential term, the Laroche camp is gearing up for her re-election campaign. Dominique herself, however, doesn’t seem so keen on going through it all again.

Aurore and Solange’s relationship has been on and off so many times, nobody can keep count. The prospect of being on opposing sides of an election campaign is proving too difficult to overcome. Unless one of them can find it in her heart to make a sacrifice.

Claire is showing signs of a midlife crisis. Rather than test her marriage to Margot, her behaviour puts in danger Barbier & Cyr, and her friendship with Juliette and Steph.

Partnerships will be questioned, loyalties will shift and priorities will be reassessed as favourite characters, and old foes, return for a new season of Parisian drama and intrigue.

Warning: This title contains sensual language, ladies making love, copious wine consumption and the occasional bout of political backstabbing.

Themes and tropes

  • Age gap
  • Workplace romance
  • Long term couple
  • Enemies to lovers
  • Political intrigue
  • Opposites attract
  • Melting the ice queen

Chapter One Look Inside

Aurore

“Are you sure you shouldn't be working for Séverine Marechal instead of Dominique Laroche?” Aurore regretted the words the instant they’d passed her lips.

Solange just rolled her eyes, emitted a small sigh, and retreated into silence. Always that silence. More than anything else, it drove Aurore to insanity.

“Will you please say something?” Aurore had tried beating Solange at her own silence game, but she didn’t have the patience for it. Because the woman got under her skin too much. At least once a day, Aurore wondered how it was possible for her to be so attracted to someone with such ridiculous political views.

“What do you want me to say?” Solange shrugged. “Whatever I say next will just propel us into another fight.” She narrowed her eyes to slits. “But just for the record, I would never for a second consider working for someone like Séverine Marechal or any far-right candidate. I don’t believe in anything she stands for.” She looked up. “We’ve been seeing each other for a while. I figured you’d know that by now.”

“I’m not so sure of that. The MLR and the ANF have different strategies to get elected, but you do want some of the same things.” Aurore couldn’t stop herself. She didn’t care that, once again, she’d be accused—in Solange’s usual clipped tone—of being a bleeding heart socialist who wanted nothing more than to pamper the less fortunate.

Solange leaned back against the sofa. Her white blouse was crumpled. Aurore had bought her some more colourful blouses, but Solange never wore them. She pinched the bridge of her nose between her fingers. “I’m honestly too tired to do this with you tonight.”

“That makes two of us,” Aurore said.

Solange looked her in the eye briefly, then cast her gaze to the stack of papers on the coffee table. To the tax reform memo she’d been reading.

“Maybe I’ll just go,’ Solange said.”

“It’s late.” Aurore tried to ignore the stab of guilt in her gut.

“Yes, I know it’s late, but I’d rather make my way across town at this hour than sit here with you and be accused of being a closet fascist.” She shook her head. “Yes, we want to push through this tax reform before the end of Dominque’s term, but I truly don’t see how that makes me fit to work for someone like Marechal.” Solange put the memo in a folder.

Aurore bit back the reply she had at the ready.

Solange pushed herself out of the sofa. She looked tired, worn out even. “When I come here, I want to relax. Not have the same old argument every time.”

“Relax?” Aurore nodded at the folder Solange had in her hand. “How can you relax when you’re working on more tax cuts for the rich? On my sofa. At eleven o’clock in the evening.”

Solange held up a hand. “Maybe we shouldn’t do this anymore. Any of it. Elections are coming. I’m only going to get busier and… frankly, I could do without your socialist distractions.”

“My socialist distractions? Is that all I am to you now? A socialist?”

“Tonight, you clearly are.” Solange straightened her spine. “Do you enjoy our endless fights? Because I’m sick of them. I’d rather be alone than fight with you every other day.”

“Are you breaking up with me?” Again. Aurore tried to keep her voice steady.

“What’s there even left to break up from? We’re hardly couple of the year.” Solange grabbed her bag from the sofa and stuffed the folder inside.

“I take it back.” Aurore stepped closer to her. “What I said about Marechal was a heat of the moment thing. Surely, you know that. Please, stay.” Aurore had been here before too many times. Every single time had felt like the last time—like Solange would disappear from her life forever. It was a thought she couldn’t bear.

“It’s not working.” Solange’s voice shot up, which indicated she meant business. “Can’t you see that?” She shook her head again. “You’re supposed to be the expert in relationships and emotions and communication and all the other things I suck at. So you tell me. Do you really think this is worth putting any more energy into? Because I can use my energy for much more valuable things.”

“In that case, I think my opinion hardly still matters.” Aurore’s voice cracked.

“Look me in the eye and tell me you truly believe we are worth fighting for.” Solange took a step closer. She stood so close that Aurore could feel her breath. This was a new move. Was it the first hint at the make-up sex they’d be having or was Solange truly being serious?

In the end, it didn’t matter. Because Aurore was tired too. Tired of the endless arguments, tired of never feeling totally at ease. Solange was so different from her, it often annoyed her more than it aroused her.

But Aurore couldn’t just say that out loud. She couldn’t just admit defeat like that. She couldn’t lie either. “I respect you as a person, but I don’t respect your political opinions. I just can’t.”

“Well, there we go then.” It came out as a whimper. “I knew I could count on your honesty, which is something I truly respect.” Solange was regaining confidence, or maybe it was the sarcasm that made it sound that way.

Aurore reached out her arm and put her hand on Solange’s hip. “Let’s not do this.” It was hardly an adequate argument—and she knew it wasn’t enough to persuade someone like Solange to stay.

“I agree. Let’s not.” Solange stepped to the side so Aurore’s hand slid off her hip. “Let’s end it here and now.” She swiftly made her way into the hallway. Aurore followed on her heels.

Solange snatched her coat from a hanger. She turned around. “It’s not that I don’t love you, but sometimes love isn’t enough.”

Her words were like a dagger through Aurore’s heart—because she knew that what Solange had just said couldn’t possibly be more true. They were in love, but it wasn’t enough.

With that, Solange slipped into her coat and out the door.

Aurore watched the front door for a good while longer. It wasn’t the first time Solange had disappeared through it—Aurore had lost count of how many times they’d ended things between them during the time they’d been seeing each other. Correction: tried to see each other. This time, however, a foreboding sense of finality hung in the air. And apart from the acute sadness she always felt when things went awry between them, Aurore was a little relieved as well. Which was probably the biggest indicator that this was their final goodbye.

Solange

Solange opened the door to her office at the Elysée. She’d never get tired of walking into this grand room, reserved for the President’s Chief of Staff. Working for Dominique Laroche pleased her more than anything else. A thought she had to cling to now more than ever. A headache throbbed behind her eyes and the three cups of very strong coffee she had downed earlier weren’t helping with her fatigue. She’d barely slept a wink.

The conversation with Aurore kept playing in her mind. Could she have dealt with it differently? She had asked herself over and over. The answer was always no. At least Solange had tried. She had ventured into a relationship with the least-likely person—maybe that was the problem. Either way, personal relationships would have to be relegated to a dark, dusty corner of her life once again. Now that she no longer had Aurore to fight with, she’d start on a strategy for Dominique’s re-election campaign. The election was still a year and a half away, but it was never too early to start strategising. Solange needed the distraction. 

Speak of the devil. Solange had barely sat before Dominique appeared in the doorframe.

“If you keep turning up earlier and earlier, you’ll make me look bad.” Dominique tilted her head. “Or did you sleep here? You look a bit worse for wear.”

Solange shook her head. She made a point of not discussing her personal life with the President, but she figured if she just told her and got it over with, the subject could be closed and she wouldn’t have to talk about it with her boss again.

“Please don’t make a big deal about this.” She gazed out of the window. “Aurore and I broke up. For good, this time. It’s over and it’s for the best.” There. She’d said it. She had expected some sort of relief to wash over her, but instead she was flooded with sadness.

“Oh, Solange.” Dominique walked further into her office. “I’m so sorry to hear that.”

“I really don’t want to talk about it and I would appreciate it if Steph didn’t stop by later to make a big song and dance about it.”

“Don’t worry about Steph.” Dominique leaned against Solange’s desk. “I’m probably foolish to ask, but do you need some personal time?”

“With all due respect, Madam President, but that is indeed very foolish.”

Dominique nodded.

“I’ve been thinking about the upcoming campaign.” Solange quickly changed the subject. She knew Dominique would respect her wish to not discuss her breakup any further. Not only out of respect for Solange, but simply because she didn’t have the time to worry about her staff’s personal life. She barely had time to see her own children.

“Of course you have.”

“Shall we set up a meeting with Barbier & Cyr soon?” If it were up to Solange, they’d consult other agencies as well, but Steph still officially worked for Barbier & Cyr, so it was out of the question for Dominique to employ anyone else to handle the PR for her campaign.

“You’re certainly eager.” Dominique started pacing. “How about we focus on getting this tax reform bill through the Assemblée first?”

“I am focused on that, but how about I have a preliminary meeting with Claire and Juliette?” During the previous campaign, Solange wouldn’t even have considered calling the owners of Barbier & Cyr by their first name. But everything was different now.

“No.” Dominique squared her shoulders. “Not yet.”

“Do you want to use a different agency?” Solange asked, slightly baffled.

“No, it’s just too soon.”

“It’s really not,” Solange urged. “I can assure you that Marechal and Rivière are already consulting, and they will be your two main competitors. In fact, we should aim for a face-off with Marechal in the second round and try to eliminate Ri—”

“Solange.” Dominique held up her hand. “Stop.”

Solange quirked up her eyebrows. Dominique never raised her voice like that—not to her chief of staff.

Solange had no choice but to accept that she was not fully in charge. There would always be one more person above her.

“Okay.”

“We’re going to have to re-crunch some numbers for this bill. Again,” Dominique said, not explaining herself further.

“I’m on it. You’ll have it on your desk in an hour, but…” Dominique might be the president, but she wouldn’t be if it weren’t for Solange. And Solange had already lost a battle last night. She needed the thrill of gearing up for re-election to take her mind off Aurore. “We’re going to have that first meeting soon.”

Dominique rubbed her forehead briefly. Solange had a hunch of what that could mean. Surely, Dominique wanted to run again? It was unthinkable that she did not. What it would mean, for Dominique, for France. For herself. Her brain couldn’t really parse the thought. 

“You do want to run for another term?” Solange asked.

Dominique didn’t immediately reply. Merde. Before she could put together a battle plan for re-election, Solange had to come up with another plan. Convincing the president that not running really wasn’t an option. If she couldn’t persuade Dominique to run again, then she was pretty sure Dominique’s father would come to the rescue. She made a mental note to get in touch with him as soon as possible.

“I truly resent that it’s so automatically assumed.” Dominique huffed out some air. 

Resent it all you want, Solange thought. It doesn’t make it any less so.

“Do we have to talk about this?” Solange asked.

“At some point yes, but as I said earlier, not now.” She didn’t say anything else before leaving.

This was worse than breaking up with a woman she loved. Far, far worse. Dominique simply had to run again. The thought that she might not hadn’t even been a possibility in Solange’s mind.

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