French Kissing: Episode One
Copyright © Harper Bliss 2014
Claire high-fived Steph, not a gesture she often partook in, but Steph had just landed Barbier & Cyr its first politician as a client in its fourteen-year existence. Claire had always known politics and PR were a match made in heaven, but for the first time, she would reap the rewards.
Steph had been outstanding in the meeting with Dominique Laroche, sweeping her off her feet with her boyish charm as well as with deep knowledge of the smallest events in the rising députée’s career. A winning combination.
“Impressive,” she said as she ushered Steph and Juliette into her office for a debriefing. “She’s all yours now.” Claire liked to believe that she’d taught Steph all she knew, but their once intern and now co-worker was plenty savvy herself. She simply had the instinct. And she could seduce like no other.
A sly grin on Steph’s face said it all. It was the same crooked smile Claire had briefly fallen for ten years ago, in a moment of weakness. Despite scolding herself for that misstep many times, she could still see how it had come about. Glancing at Juliette, her other, more serious ex, she wondered how the three of them had made it work so well.
“I hope you’re ready to work around the clock,” Juliette said. “When you’re on a politician’s payroll, you’re always on standby.”
“She’ll be fine.” Claire didn’t want Juliette to ruin Steph’s moment of glory just because she’d been suffering from a skewed work-life balance the past fourteen years or, to be more precise, because Nadia was starting to show signs of being fed up with it. “Steph? Are you up for it?”
She sat up in the chair she’d been slouching in in typical Steph fashion. “Can’t wait.”
“This woman is ambitious.” Adrenalin surged in Claire’s blood. “We want to be around when it really happens for her. You have to build a relationship with her based on trust. That’s the most important thing. But before you do, you’ll have to dig up all her dirty laundry.”
“Consider it done.” Steph cleared her throat. “Speaking of which and in the spirit of full disclosure… last Friday I made a bit of a pass on Margot when we were saying our goodbyes. She blew me off. We went our separate ways.”
Claire shook her head. “Quelle surprise.”
“I know she was meant for you—”
“She wasn’t meant for Claire,” Juliette interjected. “For heaven’s sake.”
“It’s all good, ladies. Please.” Claire raised her hands in a conciliatory gesture. There were many perks to working with your best friends, but this was one of the downsides. “Steph, I wasn’t expecting anything else from you.” She turned to Juliette, who’d been in a foul mood since arriving at the office, despite their big meeting. “Please thank Nadia for introducing me to Margot. She’s certainly intriguing, but it was hardly love at first sight. On either side.”
“If you want to thank Nadia, you can do it yourself.” Juliette brought a hand to her mouth as soon as she said it. “Sorry. I shouldn’t bring my personal life to work. I will fix things at home. Let’s move on.”
Claire gave her a slight nod of the head before turning her attention back to Steph. “She blew you off? That must have stung?”
“Maybe I’ve peaked and the time has come to settle down.”
“And pigs will fly,” Claire said absent-mindedly, thinking back to last Friday when she’d found a tight-lipped, square-jawed trauma surgeon in leather pants in Juliette and Nadia’s sofa. Margot had looked as ready to slice through someone’s skin as to kick someone’s ass. A vibe that had, admittedly, put Claire off from the start. She had to agree with Juliette on this, as on most things, that Nadia might have made an error of judgement. And she’d had no doubt in her mind that Steph would have tried something with the inconnue at the dinner party.
“I’m interviewing a potential new assistant in five minutes.” Juliette tapped her watch. “Can we get on with it, please?”
“I hope she’s good and intuitive and brings you a better mood to be in,” Claire said. “I have lunch with Renson at Le Georges. I’ll give him your love.”
“I’ll start digging into Laroche.” Steph raised her eyebrows twice in quick succession and pushed herself out of her chair.
When they’d both left her office, before shifting her focus to work, Claire closed her eyes for a minute and wondered when was the last time she’d spent some time cultivating her own love life instead of discussing that of her friends.
TO BE CONTINUED TOMORROW…