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French Kissing: Season One (PAPERBACK)

French Kissing: Season One (PAPERBACK)

When The L Word meets Emily in Paris...

French Kissing follows a group of Parisian women as they navigate the stormy waters of love and life.

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Book specifications

Pages : 474
ISBN : 9789881289919
Weight : 15.8 ounces (448g)
Dimensions : 5 x 1.06 x 8 inches (127 x 27 x 203mm)

Full description

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

Claire and Juliette have been best friends for twenty years. Together they own a successful PR agency, but their journey to success has come at a price.

Juliette and her partner Nadia have drifted apart after ten years together while Claire hasn't been on a real date for as long as she can remember.

Meanwhile, their happily single employee Steph is getting a bit too close to a new, high-profile client.

Warning: This title contains sensual language, ladies making love and possibly more feelings than you can process.

Themes and tropes

  • Age gap
  • Workplace romance
  • Long term couple
  • Enemies to lovers
  • Political intrigue

Chapter One Look Inside

Juliette

“We haven’t had sex in months.” Juliette gazed out of Claire’s corner office window, hesitant to look her oldest friend and business partner in the eye. In the window’s reflection, she could see Claire shuffle around nervously in her seat. “Nadia, she’s just… hardly there anymore. And I’m not saying it’s her fault, but since she got promoted—”

“It’s her time, Jules,” Claire interrupted. “You had yours. Now it’s her turn.”

This remark made Juliette spin around instantly. “I had mine?” She opened her palms to the sky and made a sweeping gesture. “Past tense? Then what’s all this?”

“This is what we built. Through years of hard work and spousal neglect. I’m the best example of that.”

“You’re just single because you’re so bloody difficult and no one’s ever good enough.” Juliette scanned Claire’s flawless face. A few laughter lines bracketed her eyes and she dyed her hair now, but she still looked a decade below her physical age.

Claire pushed herself out of her chair and walked towards Juliette. “No need to take it out on me, dear. I may be single but I’m getting plenty.”

Frustration flared beneath Juliette’s skin. “As long as you stay away from the interns—”

A loud knock on the door stopped Juliette mid-insult. Steph, dressed in tight jeans and equally tight blazer, appeared in the doorway and Juliette and Claire both burst out laughing.

“What?” The puzzled look on Steph’s face made it difficult to stop the giggles, but this was their place of business and, in the end, everything always stopped for business.

“We were just talking about you. That’s all,” Claire said.

“Glad to be the source of such gaiety.” Steph always kept her cool, no matter the circumstances. It was one of the main reasons they had decided to hire her straight out of school ten years ago, despite her indiscretion with one of the bosses. “Dominique Laroche wants to meet first thing on Monday.”

“She’s keen,” Juliette said. “We want you in that meeting, Steph. Try to wear something… politically correct.”

“Sure. I just bought a really cool red tank top—”

“Don’t you fucking dare. She’s MRL’s rising star and we want to make an impression.” Juliette stared into Steph’s grinning face, realising too late her friend and employee was winding her up. “Just be on time tonight.”

“Is there a dress code?” Steph asked.

“Just your usual über-lesbian attire will do.”

“If everybody looked the same…” Steph hummed before turning on her heels and exiting Claire’s office.

Juliette checked her watch. “I’d better get going.” She couldn’t stifle a sigh. “Oh, and just a heads-up, even though I wasn’t supposed to tell you to avoid awkwardness… Nadia has invited some doctor from the hospital she wants you to meet.”

Juliette watched Claire roll her eyes. “I thought we had agreed on no more set-ups?”

“We had, but Nadia only seems to follow her own rules these days.”

“Hey, cut her some slack, okay? She’s put up with your workaholic habits for years. You’ll find a way to make it work again.”

“We have talked about, um, means to spice things up…” A blush bloomed on Juliette’s cheeks. She headed towards the visitor chair opposite Claire’s desk, against which Claire was still leaning, and sat down. “But this does not leave this room, yeah?”

“Of course not.” Claire’s eyebrows were already arched up expectantly.

“We were a bit tipsy at the time, mind you, otherwise, I mean, we would never…” Juliette knew she was rambling. She took a deep breath and continued. “We were thinking about going to Les Pêches one of these weekends with the sole purpose of picking someone up for a threesome.”

Claire’s face broke out in a grin. “You? Miss Control Freak? Inviting a stranger into your bed?”

“Better a stranger than someone I know.”

“I’m not so sure, Jules.”

Juliette ignored the smirk tugging at Claire’s lips. “What? Are you volunteering?”

“Been there, done that.” Claire’s face was now completely split by a smile baring her impeccable white teeth.

“I’m serious.” Juliette wanted nothing more than to have a giggle at it all. “My relationship is falling apart and I don’t know what to do about it.”

Claire scooted closer and put a hand on her knee. “It’s not falling apart. You’re just going through a rough patch, adjusting to changes in your life. You’ll be fine. You’re Juliette and Nadia for heaven’s sake.”

“What if we’re not, though? What if we’re not fine?” 

Claire gave her knee a squeeze. “Don’t even think about it.” She looked at her watch. “Don’t you have a dinner party to prepare for?”

“Yes, heaven forbid I screw that up as well.”

“Do you need help?”

Juliette shot Claire a disdainful glare. “You’d only end up setting my kitchen on fire.”

“Fair enough.” Claire pulled Juliette out of her chair and pecked her on the cheek before spinning her around and gently coaxing her towards the door. “I’ll see you at eight.”

Juliette made a brief stop in her office next door, powered off her computer and headed home. The Barbier & Cyr office was located on a side street of the Champs-Élysées and it was a fifteen-minute downhill walk to her and Nadia’s flat. Juliette pushed any negative thoughts about her relationship to the back of her mind and focused on the dish she would prepare tonight. Coq au vin with gratin dauphinois. Not that she was overcompensating.

Nadia

“What were you thinking?” Nadia tried to ignore Juliette’s question. She’d been expecting it all evening, but they hadn’t had a moment alone. “You couldn’t have picked a less compatible person for Claire. You know what she’s like.”

“Honey.” Nadia turned around, back against the sink. “When will you get it out of your head that the only type of woman Claire will fall for is someone exactly like you?” She painted a tight smile on her face. “People change. Tastes evolve. You may have an excellent business relationship these days, but, from what you’ve told me, back in the day when you were dating, it wasn’t all sunshine and roses, was it?”

Nadia witnessed how Juliette’s jaw dropped.

“There are so many things wrong with all of what you just said.” Juliette shook her head, no sign of kindness or amusement in her eyes. “I’m going back in there, but this conversation is far from over.” She spun on her heels and left the kitchen, but, just before rounding the corner, faced Nadia once more. “Claire has been my best friend for more than twenty years. I believe I know a thing or two about her.” And she was gone.

Nadia, once again, wondered when they’d stopped seeing eye to eye on most matters. It used to be so easy. Now they were seriously discussing threesomes—something that would never happen, if Nadia had any say in the matter—to save what was left of their relationship.

She opened the fridge and took out the chocolate cake she’d bought rather than made herself. Another strike against her.

“Everything under control?” Steph’s voice startled her.

Nadia nodded, drew her lips into a wide smile and pushed her troubles to the back of her mind. “I’ll be right out with dessert.”

“The doctor’s nice.” Steph said it with that inflection in her voice Nadia had heard so many times. Great. “Are you trying to set her up with Claire? Because I’m not sure that’s going to work out. But you know me, always willing to pick up the slack.”

“What is it with you people? You spend two hours in someone’s company and your mind’s made up? Has anyone even asked Claire what she thinks?” Nadia only realised after she’d uttered the words that the volume of her voice was not adjusted to the fact that the kitchen was right next to the dining room.

“Did you call for me?” Claire, all groomed to perfection, appeared in the doorway.

Still with the chocolate cake in her hands, Nadia sighed. “No.”

“Oh. Sorry.” She shot Nadia a quick wink and disappeared with Steph hot on her heels.

Nadia straightened her back, lifted her chin, and carried the cake into the living room. “No need for applause, I didn’t bake it myself.”

“But you took the time to pick it up for us,” Claire said.

“Looks great, honey.” Juliette’s voice had that now almost familiar undercurrent of disdain and Nadia spotted the quick exchange of glances between her and Claire.

“I’ll do the cutting,” Margot, the—frankly—hot surgeon Nadia had invited to dinner with her friends, offered. “It’s my job after all.” It was true that, unlike most French people—and Juliette especially—Margot was not in love with the sound of her own voice and didn’t produce an endless stream of meaningless words just to hear it non-stop. These days, Nadia much preferred a quick, quiet lunch with Margot to one of Juliette’s laboured-over suppers. Not because of romantic motivations, but mainly because Juliette, although very careful not to criticise too directly, didn’t seem to have that many good things to say about Nadia anymore.

Nadia sat down and regarded her friends and partner of ten years. She usually didn’t feel so deflated in their company. This was time off work, time to relax, but, in all honesty, Nadia didn’t mind working overtime if this was all she had to come home to.

Steph had adopted her usual pose, incapable of sitting in a chair like an adult, with one leg drawn up under her. Claire’s blonde fringe was cut so it nearly did but just didn’t fall into her eyes—eyes that Nadia had seen wander to Margot in unguarded moments, no matter what the others thought. Margot was her calm self, trained to remain level-headed in every situation. Maybe it worked against her a little bit in social situations, but if it hadn’t been for her co-worker’s lunch time advice over the past few weeks, Nadia wasn’t sure she’d still be sitting at this table.

Then there was Juliette. She’d slipped out of her business suit for the evening and looked relaxed in jeans and t-shirt. How looks could be deceiving. Juliette Barbier, the love of her life, who couldn’t feel more removed from her now than if she’d been on a mission to the North Pole.

And maybe she shouldn’t, but Nadia did what she had to do to numb that feeling of dread spreading in her chest. The premonition that this could not last, that the setting was false, the people present mere actors playing well-rehearsed parts. She poured herself another glass of wine.

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