Want a preview of French Kissing: Episode One? You can read the first 4000 words here (PDF) and over the next five days I’ll also be posting them on my blog. This way, you can decide for yourself if 25.000 words of this is worth $0.99. 😉
French Kissing: Episode One
Copyright © Harper Bliss 2014
“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. She could see Claire shuffle around nervously in her seat in the reflection of the window. “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.
(TO BE CONTINUED TOMORROW…)