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Authors: Jody Klaire

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La Vie en Bleu

BOOK: La Vie en Bleu
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Other Books by
Jody Klaire . . .

 

The
Above and Beyond Series

 

Book 1:
The Empath

Book 2:
Blind Trust

Book 3:
Untrained Eye

 

La Vie en Bleu

Jody Klaire

 

 

© 2015 Jody Klaire

 

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be

reproduced or transmitted in any means,

electronic or mechanical, without permission in

writing from the publisher.

 

978-1-939562-98-2 paperback

978-1-939562-99-9 ebook

 

Cover Design

by

Bink Books

a division of

Bedazzled Ink Publishing, LLC

Fairfield, California

http://www.bedazzledink.com

 

Pippa
Saunders likes her life as it is. Uncomplicated, boring, and underachieving.
She's engaged to a Prince Charming (AKA Doug Fletcher) and she and her best
friend, Rebecca, share a flat in London. A series of events threatens to shake
her neatly packaged life when Doug buys a holiday home for them in the south of
France and hires the mysterious Berne Chamonix to help renovate the stonework.

Pippa
finds herself face to face with the woman who has an uncanny knack of tying her
up in emotional knots. Now she has to work alongside the beautiful, strong, and
enchanting former lover she ran away from when she was nineteen. Her once
simple life and well built-up façade is poised to crumble . . .
la vie en
bleu
.

 

For,

Em—because
it’s fun to make you smile.

And,

For
everyone who believes in love.

 

Acknowledgments

 

La
Vie en Bleu
has given me the chance to show my love for a country very close to my heart. I
wanted to fill it full of light, laughter, and love. Behind every book there’s
a network of people that have helped me, inspired me, and cheered me on
throughout the journey.

First
of all I would like to thank you, the reader. Whether you have followed my
writing so far or are joining me for the first time. Welcome aboard. I hope
that you love your time with Pippa and her friends.

To
those on social media who have supported me and continue to do so, thank you.
It’s wonderful to know there are so many lovely people out there. A big thanks
goes to Georgia Beers and Gerri Hill for the welcome and guidance. Thank you
ladies!

To
my fellow Cloudies and Bedazzled Ink family, you inspire me, drive me to
improve, and cheer me. It’s a pleasure to write
alongside you. Special thanks to John Taylor and Katherine Het
zel,
your friendship and camaraderie make a big difference, so thank you. Ann McMan,
thank you once again for a wonderful cover and the patience and hard work you
put in to each creation. Once again, it’s sublime.

To
the GCLS Writing Academy, you worked incredibly hard and it was heart warming
to know how much passion and drive you put in to deliver the course. I learned
a lot, laughed a lot, and Saturdays were great fun.

My fellow students. You’re all inspiring and every one de
served their
graduation certificate. I look forward to seeing your stories take flight.

Liz
McMullen. You are as cool as pie. Hard work, patience, hospitality, and a
pleasure to know. Thank you for your support.

Sandra
Moran, you know I think you rock. You helped me to bring France to life and
your time, energy, and friendship mean a great deal. Thank you.

MC
Henrichon and Pauline Reibell: Alors, Je vous remercie de votre patience avec
ma tentative du français. Merci de partager votre langue qui m’inspire. Que ce
soit en France ou au Canada, votre accueil signifie beaucoup pour moi. J’espère
avoir montré mon amour pour la France et que cela vous fait sourire et rire.
Merci!

To Casey and Claudia at Bedazzled Ink. Thank you for hav
ing the faith to
let me try romance. Thank you for the patience and gentle guidance to help me
make it a book that makes me smile. It’s always a pleasure working with you, a
joy to learn from you and what is romance without dangling participles? Thank
you both very much.

To all at the CNB parish, those friends close, whether
neigh
bour
or far away, you bring light, love, laughter, and I feel honoured just to be
counted one of you. Thank you especially to Moira Spence,
Jayne Shaw, Mike Komor, and Sue Beverley (and Mr B)
for guid
ance, for sharing, for making such a difference in my journey.
Thank you.

To
my betas: Sarah Green, Mel and Glenda, Moira and Ian and the Team Truth girls:
Karen Kormelink, Gena Ratcliff, and Dani Dixon. Thank you for working with me,
for your love, support, and all the time you put in. Overworked but loved
dearly! Thank you, my friends.

To
Debi Alper for your continued support and red pen when I need it. I love
learning from you, so thank you for sharing your knowledge and time. 

Brie
Burkeman, when I thought of a city to place Pippa in, your words and guidance
drew me to London. When I write, I count on the wisdom you shared. You make me
strive to grow, to believe, and to work hard. Your patience helped me lay many
solid foundations and I hope that this book gives you a lot of laughter. Thank
you very much.

To
my family both near and in the next room. There is nothing like being amongst
good company and being reminded that the best family trees are full of nuts.

Uncle
Terry—thank you for sharing your love of language, I hope you chuckle along at
my humour.

Mum,
for your help with grammar . . . well actually, your help with pretty much
everything. Writing this book reminds me how blessed I am to have a mum like
you.

Little
Fergus and friends. Okay, so you can’t read but you play a starring role in my
heart and my day. Thank you.

To
Em. What do I say? Other than the fact that you would rock
a cherry red helmet and sunblock? The most ardent,
most dedi
cated, and most patient of my supporters. Knowing how much you
love this book makes it all the more worthwhile. Home isn’t home without you.

To
THS, a lamp for my feet and a light for my path. You are in all things. You are
love, you are light. Thank you for Pippa’s story and for blessing me with your
love.

 

Jody Klaire

August
2015

 

“My
command is this: love each other as

I
have loved you.”

—John
15:12 [NIV]

 

“To
love oneself is the beginning of a lifelong romance.”


Oscar Wilde
,
An Ideal Husband

 

Chapter One

 

THE HOT SUMMER air caressed my skin, leaving beads of sweat to
trickle down between my shoulder blades. Other people would complain at such an
onslaught but just to stand in the fierce heat reminded me of her. If only for
a fleeting moment, a secret, unthinking moment, I could close my eyes and feel
the touch of her. Warm fingertips, light, teasing, trailing their way up my
bare back, her soft laughter in my ear. The sound that had seeped into every
breath I had taken since. She was the thudding of my heart, the wriggle in my
stomach, the hammering of the pulse in my ear.

Her soft, knowing lips brushed across my exposed neck. I leaned to
the side, baring all to her, even if she only existed in my memory now. Sweet,
nipping kisses, the feel of her arms as they slid around my waist. Her mouth
moving over my neck, my chin, my cheek, searching, demanding—

“Pippa?”

I snapped my eyes open and rubbed my tingling skin, wanting to
scratch the very sordid thought from me. “Yes, sweetheart?” Blowing the guilt,
the moment away, I turned to Doug and smiled. Why did it still make me so sick
to the stomach?

“You didn’t answer my question,” he said, concern, trust, and love
in his eyes. What had I done to deserve him? “Do you want to help me set up the
new centre?”

My conscience screamed no. No, I didn’t want to go anywhere near
that country. It was easier to forget this far away, easier to believe it was
only a dream.

“Of course.” I smiled to cover my desperation. “I know how
important it is to you.”

“I was thinking that you could show me ’round.” His smile was so
different from mine, so encouraging, sweet. “You never really talked about your
time there.”

“There isn’t much to talk about.”

He gave me an ever patient look and took a deep breath. “You were
there for a year . . . You lived in the city as a Frenchie . . . Aren’t you
aching to get back?”

Aching yes, but to return, to risk seeing her, no. What if she
still lived there? My heart thudded. It was a nightmare. What if she
remembered? What if she didn’t? How was I going to get out of this? When Doug
got something in his mind . . . This was impossible.

“I’ll check with Rebecca, okay, check if I can get the time off?”
I said.

Not a chance if Rebecca knew what was good for her.

“Promise?” He gazed at me with those gentle blue-grey eyes, so
much like a puppy dog.

“Course.” More lies, more guilt. So long ago and yet that madness
still haunted my life.

Doug planted a gentle kiss on my still-tingling lips. My stomach
tightened up until I felt sick with guilt. I watched his retreating back. What
would he think of me if he knew, if he knew just what a coward I really was?

I stared out at the weak spring sunshine in a quiet corner of the
world. A small Yorkshire hamlet. Miles upon miles of green, cut into fields by
armies of wide-crowned trees. Hedges that buzzed with the scents and sounds of
spring. Quaint cottages dotted along winding lanes. His house, a converted
Tudor mansion, gated off from the sleepy village beyond. His family home. It
would be our family home one day, at least when I . . . we . . . found the time
to put down roots.

I picked up my keys from the sideboard and wheeled my suitcase to
the car. In a few traffic-riddled hours, I would be back in a place I knew.
London, the city of rain, grey, and congestion charges. The best place to block
out the noise. The only place I seemed to have half a chance of forgetting her
in.

 

THE M25 HAD thrown its worst at me. The entire motorway had been
backed up. It was nearly the end of the working day when I squeezed into the
last space in the cramped NCP car park. I sprinted through the deluge, risking
life and limb dashing in front of a bus, and ducked into the three-storey
office.

“Hi, Pip!” the squeaky-voiced receptionist chimed at me as I shook
off the rain from my jacket. I never understood how Yorkshire could be sunny
and London in the middle of a monsoon. Whatever happened to the grim North?

“Hey, you seen the boss?” I mumbled, attempting a smile.

“Lucky for you, she’s been on a course all
day.” The receptionist,
whose name I could never remember, tapped her nose. “As long as
the cat’s away . . .”

“You’re a Godsend.”

I couldn’t afford the time off and there was no way I could afford
it unpaid. Making a note to send the receptionist—Mary, no, Janet . . . no . .
. well, whatever her name was—some chocolates or flowers, I hurried into the
lift. Only three floors but it would have been quicker to scale the outside
with my tights like Spiderman.

I stared up at the numbers which seemed to slow down. I hated
confined spaces. Why did they make lifts look like something from a tin
factory? At least this one didn’t have a mirror. Those were just weird. Who
wanted to gawp at their own reflection while dangling from a cheese string?
Come on, come on. If it didn’t hurry up I’d start thinking about the film
Speed
again. No, not good. Hurry up, hurry the—

The doors dinged open and I toddled down the corridor. Plush was
one way of putting the decor. Lots of glass, strange blobs in primary colours
that I assumed was art, and closed-off wooden boxes for meeting rooms. No one
was around. Thankfully most of them were already on their way home. I wobbled
as I turned the corner to an open plan space. Great. One of my shoes had
decided to rub a hole in my heel. Doug had offered for me to have tailor-made
swish things but I was not going to become some rich, doormat woman who needed
her husband for everything. Oh no, if I was marrying Doug, I was staying me.

“I hate to tell you this but unless they work on California time
up in Yorkshire, you’re way late.” Rebecca, my best friend, stood outside my
sugar-lump-of-a-cubicle with her arms folded.

“What did you do to your hair?”

Rebecca grinned. “You like?” She turned around on the spot for me.

“You look like a hedgehog had a nasty accident with bleach.” I
shook my head. I had never understood Rebecca’s fashion sense, even in college.
I doubted I ever would. “Why did they shave only one side?” I decided, and not
for the first time, never to use the same hairdresser.

“It’s cool, fuddy duddy.” She pointed to her feet. “And you didn’t
see the shoes.”

“How could I with the beacon on your head?” Sighing, I looked
down. Some sort of loafer shoe, a crocodile skin pattern on them. Hideous
beyond words. “Nice, my dad has a pair, I think.” At least he had in the
seventies.

“Who chewed your cheese?”

Ignoring the man’s shirt, man’s trousers, and her penchant for
silver
everywhere
, I attempted my best smile. It was good to see her.
“No one. Traffic. The M25 is backed up—”

“If you think that will buy you a pardon . . .” Rebecca smiled.
“It will. The boss has been out, you’re in the clear. I stuck a meeting in your
planner.”

I dumped my sodden jacket on the back of the chair, then winced as
it creaked. Someone had stolen mine again. “How is everything?”

“You mean how was my hot date on the weekend or how do I feel
about the un-British sunshine we’ve been enjoying?”

There were times when I wondered where my social skills had
disappeared to. I was terrified of getting lost in Doug and Pippa but he had to
take priority, didn’t he? Sighing, I wondered where had Pippa, the friend,
disappeared to? Try again.

“Yes,” I said, turning to look at her. “How was your weekend?”

Rebecca raised her unruly eyebrows at me. “You serious?” She took
a chair and wheeled it over.

“Why not. Did this one steal your heart?”

Rebecca laughed. She had an annoyingly cocky laugh that had always
driven me insane. “No, but she was hot. I mean, you should have seen her legs.”
She whistled like a heckling builder. “And let me tell you—”

I held up my hand. Wonderful, I’d chipped my nail polish. “Why do
you do that?”

Rebecca frowned. “Do what?”

“Act like you’re an ass.” I didn’t get her, I never would. “Why
don’t you ever stay around?”

We’d had this conversation so many times that she almost mimed my
question. “Some women don’t want forever, roses and all that crap.”

The soft laughter in my ear, teasing fingers tickling over my rib
cage—

“Pip?”

“What?” The panic caught in my throat. Had I been thinking about .
. . I couldn’t . . . I was tired, just tired.

“Where did you go?” Rebecca wiggled her eyebrows. “And you got a
place for me in there?”

“I was thinking about Doug,” I lied. “So no.”

Rebecca narrowed her eyes, and I could tell that she didn’t buy my
excuses but after all these years, I hoped she’d given up trying. I knew she
knew I was hiding something. It was better I headed her off before she started
probing. “He wants me at his new centre opening next month.”

“The one in France?” Rebecca leaned back, with a bored expression
as her gaze drifted over to the new mail courier. “Why?”

“To support him.” I tapped her hand as a sly smile drifted across
her lips. Letch. “I’ve never been to one before. I guess I owe it to him.”

“You owe him shit.” Rebecca crossed her leg over her knee, her
sleeve of tattoos showing.

I did not want to get into this argument again. “Either way, I
said yes but . . .” I sighed. “I really don’t want to go back to France.”

“You said yes but you don’t want to go?” Rebecca laughed that
cocky laugh again. “Now that isn’t in the little wife of the year book, is it?”

“When did the hot date tell you she was married . . . to a man?”

Rebecca opened and closed her mouth. “I hate that you know me so
well.”

“That makes two of us.” Why did we put up with each other and what
were those socks. Neon yellow socks. “So, I need you to find a reason for me
not to go.”

“Wow, where is he opening it, a prison?”

I didn’t care, but I did, far too much. Anywhere in France was too
near, too risky. How much did I say? It wasn’t like Rebecca just couldn’t ask
Doug herself.

“Marseille.” I tried to keep my voice level, my tone neutral but
my heart burst into a sprint in response. Even thinking about it made my hands
shake.

“Where you lived in college?” She narrowed her eyes, leaning in.
“But they don’t even have one in Paris yet, right?”

There was no need for me to even shake my head, she seemed to read
my eyes.

“Oh, that’s just wonderful.” She wheezed out her breath, rapping
her ring heavy knuckles on the desk. “Can’t he leave one part of you without
his stamp on it?”

The anger in her voice surprised me. “What do you mean?” She’d
always liked Doug, he’d always liked her. Where had this come from?

“Pip, I love the guy but . . . at this rate there will be nothing
of
you
left.”

“There’s plenty of me. I’m successful in work . . .” I motioned to
the office. We both looked at my cramped cubicle, the computer which looked
older than me, and the mountain of admin in my inbox. Hmmm, not quite the
winning argument I was going for. “I have you . . .”

“Smooth talker.”

Thankfully, she seemed appeased. Rebecca went back to shooting
bedroom eyes at the flirty vixen of a courier. She wasn’t even attractive.

“I think you should tell him not to open it there.” Her eyes met
mine for a moment. “We both know something happened there that changed you.”

“Nothing happened there.” Oh, but it did. Too much. Everything
happened there. No, no, it didn’t. It was just stupid, foolish . . . those
lips—

“See.” Rebecca folded her arms. “You never did that before you
went there.”

“How would you know?” I scowled at the courier. What did she want,
a photograph? “You were too busy trying to seduce every woman you could find.”

A dreamy smile crossed her face. “Yeah, those were good days.”

“Not for the poor soul who slept in the bedroom next to you.”

“Hey.” She held her hands up. “I put up with you and, ‘so good’
Doug.” She made huffy-breathing noises in imitation and I couldn’t suppress the
snorted laughter.

“I hate that you heard that.”

“Whatever.” She wagged her finger. “Serious, Pip, you need to veto
the centre.” She leaned on the desk, but not before flashing a flirty wink at
the courier. “What did happen, you never said.”

“Nothing.” I switched on my computer which groaned and wheezed
into life. The thing sounded like my grandfather who smoked forty a day. “You
heard anything about the job yet?”

“No.” Rebecca shook her head and polished her disgusting crocodile
shoes. Where did she shop? “Why are you avoiding the question?”

The monitor flickered on like it had a raging hangover. Even the
computer had more of a life than me. “I thought you would know if you got the
promotion by now. Didn’t she say you were guaranteed it?”

BOOK: La Vie en Bleu
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