Beginning March 24th will be a Blog Tour for Baby Girl Moonlighting in Paris. I invite everyone to follow the tour. Chapters 1-5 will be posted as part of the tour and there is a giveaway which is available now through March 28th, sign up! Link is below.
You can follow and join the Blog Tour Festivities here
Expect guest author appearances and the possibility of more giveaways! Hope to see you there.
Link to Chapter 1
As promised here is Chapter 2 of Baby Girl Moonlighting in Paris.
A New World
I walked around Paris and took in the sights. The sun had begun to disappear, signaling that evening was upon the city. Paris was so different than American cities I’d seen. It was beautiful, and mystical with buildings and structures giving the feel they were older than time. There appeared to be fewer cars on the roads, many people were walking like me or riding bikes. The city was compact, not sprawling like American cities. I think I walked the length of Paris that night, finally stopping at a little deli with outside seating. I opted to eat beneath the stars, and ordered a sandwich. I couldn’t read French, so luckily for me the waiter spoke English. My stomach betrayed my mind and all I could manage was about half the flatbread melt. Einstein lingered in my thoughts, his caress as we first snuggled in the warehouse together. His arms holding me tight… pushing me out of the way, then his blank stare into my tear filled eyes. Abruptly I stood up, throwing money at the table as if it would catch the bills.
I needed a quiet place to gather my thoughts, to collect myself, and not a cheap motel or abandoned building, but something grand like the hotel I had first napped in after leaving my original home. After all, I was now Justine, and that name commanded beauty and luxury beyond my wildest fantasies. Aimlessly, I ran smack into a beautiful, towering hotel that looked like a fairy tale palace. Inside glass chandeliers patched across the ceiling, and marble floors smoothed a path in front of me. Spinning in marvel, then floating in a slumber-like state I glided to the counter and asked for a room. “Do you have a reservation?” was the clerk’s response. My mind exploded. How stupid! I hadn’t even thought of that. I turned on my heels and walked towards the door without saying a word. My ego deflated while bits and pieces of Einstein flashed through my head. From somewhere behind me a hand reached out and gently cradled my hand. A young man with light brown hair and deep brown eyes that flowed like velvet was standing opposite me. I met his eyes and a peaceful feeling washed through my soul. He explained a room was available and apologized for any inconvenience from the staff. After taking my small bag and helping me through the check-in process, he escorted me to a room on the fourth floor.
The room was extravagant. The curtains were drawn open and the entire city twinkled in front of me. The décor was in creams, gold, and shades of red. There was a stocked mini bar and a TV in a hidden closet in the wall. He told me to help myself to anything in the refrigerator or bar, free of charge, and if there was anything I needed while I was here to ask for him by name, Didier. Stunned, I searched to find the words, tears pooling in the corners of my eyes, “Thank you,” I mustered in a near whisper. After he left, I checked out the rest of the room. In the bathroom were designer lotions, bubble baths, soaps, shampoos, conditioners, and deodorants. The towels were soft and thick, wearing the hotel emblem. The mini bar was stocked with all kinds of liquors, wines and snacks. The refrigerator was loaded with, juices, sodas and food, mostly cheeses. I plopped down on the bed feeling like I would disappear into it. It was puffy like a pillow. I lay on the bed and stared at the ceiling, my mind and body now focusing of my lost love. He would have liked this place. I took out one of my pictures of him and ran my finger across it as if I could feel him. Then I lay my head down in the pillow and cried. I cried for my lost friend, lover and family member.
I forced myself to get up and bee-lined to the mini bar, grabbed a few of the small bottles of wine, and ran a steaming hot bubble bath. The bubbles came just under my ears, and I sank into their effervescence as I drank and thought. I needed to know more about Einstein; where had he come from? Who was he really? Who was Justine Holmes? That decision was mine. I had to make an identity for her, bring her to life. My new life would be everything my other life hadn’t been. I would live in the lap of luxury. After my few small bottles of wine I felt happy and excited about my new adventure. I was going to put my past behind me. The only exception was finding out more about my beloved Einstein.
After the bath I wrapped myself into a creamy-soft towel and melted underneath it. I meandered over to the mini bar again and grabbed a bottle of clear liquor with a vanilla scent. I pulled off the top and swallowed the contents of the bottle. Ewww!! I felt myself involuntarily gag and choke. My mouth and throat felt hot and the heat slowly sank to my stomach, which was now burning. My throat and mouth felt as scorched as a forest after a fire. The room around me began to spin and I fell against something soft.
I awoke with a pounding headache and reached for the covers, but they weren’t there. Slowly, I pried my eyes open, but everything was out of focus. The room was dark. As my eyes began to adjust, I saw a wooden table leg staring back at me, a strong hint that I was lying on the plush carpet, sprawled out like a lazy animal. My body didn’t want to move so I lay there staring at the ceiling until I willed myself to get up. Acclimating to my surroundings, I remembered where and who I was.
Through the curtains a bright morning sun filled the sky, and at the bar sat a small coffee pot, bags of coffee, and some pastries. The pastries hadn’t been there last night, had they? What time had I passed out? Most importantly, what time was it now? Reaching in my bag, I pulled out Einstein’s watch, which displayed it was seven fifteen Friday morning. It had been late Wednesday night when I settled in at the hotel and now it was Friday morning? I had set his watch upon my arrival and I knew the time to be correct, but I had a difficult time wrapping my brain around the mere thought that I had slept over twenty four hours. Must have been the elusive jet lag I’d overheard adults talking about at the airport. I couldn’t remember much except that I had to find out about Einstein. I made a pot of coffee and devoured the delicious little pastries. By nine thirty I was showered, dressed, and heading towards the lobby. I asked the concierge about an international paper, assuming the global news was a good starting place for my research. The concierge, Jean read his name tag, presented a paper to me, which I accepted, and I caught the elevator back up to my room; the ride was smooth and silent.
I read and read but didn’t find what I was looking for, maybe the hotel had guest computers. I had some knowledge of how to work a computer and surf the net. We learned that in technology class at school, and Einstein had been a whiz. I journeyed back down to the lobby, asking Jean where I could go to use a computer for free, and he directed me, using a crude map he grabbed off a clear display rack, to a café down a few blocks.
In the café I searched the net, looking for recent deaths, hit and runs, murders etc. Heck, I didn’t know what I was doing. Think, think… That’s it! What was the name of the local newspaper? I typed it in and there it was. Now I had a starting point! I looked through recent articles and finally found it. “Young man hit by car… driver fled seen… mysterious 911 call… thought to be driver… young woman. I kept reading and searching. The young man was identified as Burke Childrone. He was reported missing. His parents, owners of Childrone Publishing, were in town to take his body… detectives working around the clock.” My mind was spinning. His name was Burke, and he came from a wealthy family. Why did he leave? Did he leave of his own accord? Why else would he leave? Answers, but I still had questions. No, I had even more questions! I continued to search for missing persons. After he went missing there were investigations. His parents hired detectives to find their son. They were suspects at one point. Einstein or Burke had disappeared into thin air. He had left for school in the morning and had never come home, and was thought to be dead. I knew he had just blended into the streets. They were crammed with kids like us.
My research was interrupted by a French woman with stern eyes, tapping at her watch for me to leave. I had got so caught up in my research the time had flown. I gathered my notes and left. In the night air, darkness had settled, and brilliant lights glowed across the city.
As I walked back to the hotel I felt eyes on me. Maybe I was just freaked out about my new knowledge, although I had always trusted my sixth sense because it never let me down. I cautiously stopped, read signs, and decided to have dinner. I couldn’t go to the hotel with a spy on my back. I was stuffed my face with some type of Parisian meat pie. Since I couldn’t understand the menu I had ordered the special which turned out to be tasty, although I ate most anything anyway. Living on the streets I learned to live off the land, so to speak, meaning dumpsters, teaching me not to be picky. Nearly finished with my plate I spied Mr. Dancy Eyes in my peripheral vision. Was it the same man, or was my imagination going wild? No, it was him I noticed as I casually peered his direction: same bald patch on top of his head, bouncing eyes, and he purposely wouldn’t look my way. I didn’t trust him. Had I somehow gotten in over my head? Would someone follow me here to arrest me for my crimes? Could they arrest me on foreign soil? I didn’t know the answer to any of those questions. It couldn’t be coincidence that he was here. I finished eating, paid my bill, and left. I walked and walked, and continued watching, but I didn’t see him, although I could feel his bouncy, piercing eyes on my back. I ducked through alleys and shops until I was convinced he was confused and gone. I was a master at hiding and blending. I nearly got myself lost until I remembered the crude map I’d grabbed earlier. When I reached the hotel I wound my way up to my room and thought about my discoveries.
Ring! Ring! The phone blasted and startled my body as it involuntarily jumped, falling off the bed. Scrambling back to my feet, I slowly and carefully picked up the phone, as if it would blow up in my hands. It was the hotel owner, Didier, the man from the previous night. He was asking how my stay was so far, and if I needed anything. Do all hotel owners call their guests? I answered him, “I’m great, and yes, all my needs have been met.” As I hung up the phone there was a knock on my door. Room service? I hadn’t ordered anything. Guardedly, in case Mr. Dancy Eyes was on the other side, I opened the door. To my thankful surprise it wasn’t Mr. Dancy Eyes, but a bottle of complimentary wine, a bouquet of flowers, and a dinner invitation for tomorrow night. It was written in English and by the owner. I accepted. After all, now I was Justine, glamorous, and lived an exquisite life.
The next day I spent shopping. I had new clothes, but nothing to go on an actual date with. I wanted something sexy and beguiling. Paris was clothes heaven, which oddly made me feel secure going out and clothes shopping. There were so many styles, something for everyone’s taste. I bought a beautiful green dress. The front came down in a V, and the back fell in long, shallow layers. It was alluring and most definitely Justine.
I met Didier at the hotel restaurant as the note had asked. He had very good English with a soft French accent. We ate dinner there and drank wine. He really was quite attractive and charming. His dark brown hair fell just below his ears with thick waves scattering across his head. His brown eyes had green halos surrounding the iris. As much as I wanted to be in the present with him my mind raced to the reason I was here. Einstein. By contrast, he had straight blond hair that hung long from lack of a good haircut, but often times he wore it back, his eyes wide and a deep solid dark chocolate, his build was tall and lean. Didier was at least three inches shorter with muscles exploding beneath his shirt and out his sleeves, and a little older, my guess was early twenties. After dinner we walked around Paris. It was a romantic city. He talked about his life and I lied. I made up a story about growing up in Texas. I made up the life I wished I’d had because it would be easier to remember such a lie, and was nearly honest about Einstein. “My boyfriend recently passed away, a car wreck. That’s why I’m here, it’s been difficult, and I needed to get away,” I told him, damming up the river behind my eyes.
He was very responsive and seemed genuinely concerned as I heard a hint of sympathy in his voice, “We will work on that. There is much to see here, and if you’ll allow me, I will show it all to you”. The air smelled of love and beauty, of freedom, and a new beginning. Over the next few days we spent a lot of time together. He took me out and we saw everything Paris had to offer.
I received the Didier personal tour of Paris. He had a thing for art and took me to the Musee Picasso and Musee d’ Orsay. I could admire the art and the hand that painted it, however, most of it didn’t make a lot of sense to me, although I didn’t express that to him. Instead, I encouraged him to tell me about the art. He took me to the Eiffel Tower and Notre Dame. We went to Les Catacombs, tunnels and tunnels of dead people. It really was quite spooky. He took me to Parc Floral, one of the most beautiful sights I had seen in my entire life. I felt as if I was in a movie or floating on air. Nothing seemed real here. French people seemed to celebrate death and beauty. They loved art and fine wine. I was growing to like this place more and more every moment. I felt untouchable and melted into the atmosphere and mystery that shrouded Paris.
After almost a week of wining, dining, and living a fairy tale Didier stole my breath away. He took me to a penthouse room in his hotel. As we entered, it was finished in blues and creams, silk and velvets. The carpet felt like pillows beneath my feet, and the room was so large it must have taken up half the space on this floor. In the far corner was a bed surrounded by a thin sheer held up at the corners with gold pins. There was a massive entertainment system with items that I had no idea what they were or how to work them. In the center of the huge room were a couple of blue velvet chaise lounges facing the entertainment center, and a small table tucked between them. There was a kitchen complete with stove, full size refrigerator and breakfast bar. Blue velvet curtains hung from gold rings that extended just below the ceiling. The length of the curtains draped across the floor, and behind them a terrace containing two wrought iron chairs and a table set between them. The terrace was longer than the length of the room, extending to another room, a small gate separating these areas. I was in awe, and felt as if I could see the entire city from it. Taking a seat, I melted into the breathtaking view, and allowed myself to drown in the splendor around me. A few weeks ago I couldn’t have imagined being in a room this elegant, much less dating it’s owner.
From behind he wrapped his arms around me, and with his mouth against my cheek, he kissed it softly, startling me. I had felt alone in this world like I was somehow a character that someone was writing about. His soft kisses danced across my neck, leaving a warm patch that sent tingles through my spine. I felt trapped inside a wonderful dream that I hoped to never wake up from. “How do you like the room?” he asked in his silky voice.
“It’s more beautiful than any room I’ve ever seen” I responded in awe.
His mouth widened into a smile, and he returned, “Good, this is your room to stay in as long as you are in Paris. You don’t need to worry about anything; it’s all taken care of.”
The poetic way he said it played a melody in my ears. I didn’t know how to respond, and was completely speechless. The dam now opened wide, and a river of tears streamed from my eyes. Could I live here in this luxury? I was a nobody, a girl who came from a small shack that didn’t even have hot water! I had lived on the streets and eaten trash! He knew none of this, just the tale I had spun. He knew only the life of Justine, not Cleo, or whoever else I was. I got up from my seat, turned towards Didier, and wrapping my arms around his neck, perched on my tiptoes, and whispered, “Thank you” in his ear. I couldn’t turn down such luxurious living accommodations when I had no income, and from such a beautiful, wildly exhilarating man.
Didier was extremely wealthy. He had inherited his parent’s riches, their hotels, money and holdings across Europe when they passed away. He enjoyed spending time with me because I was different. In his words I was, “not demanding like most women, but lighthearted and always in awe of the small things in life no one else noticed.”
I didn’t have much experience in philanthropy, but I wanted to feed the birds, and give money to the vagrants. This interested him. To me, I just didn’t want to see people suffer like I had. I wanted them to be able to buy a warm meal, not find one in the trash. He spent a lot of time traveling and occasionally took me with him. As the woman by his side, I had gained overnight popularity and publicity. We were splashed across tabloids, newspapers, the internet, everywhere, even the TV. I had been plunged into a world I didn’t know, didn’t understand. There was always paparazzi waiting to snap our picture. Everybody wanted to know who I was, Didier’s mystery woman. He did his best to keep me out of the public eye, but the more places I was seen with him, the more popular I became. When I wasn’t traveling with him I was in the penthouse trying to figure out the entertainment system. This also amused him, someone my age, or the age he thought I was, who didn’t understand technology. I spent time on the terrace reading. I didn’t go out much without Didier; he could handle the paparazzi, but they scared me. They were always lurking around the next corner, waiting to snap pictures. The publicity was far more than I wanted and anxiety ate a hole in my gut. What if I was recognized? In my mind, I could see the tabloids Justine, thief wanted for extradition.
He gave me a personal laptop that I used to further research Einstein’s disappearance and death. I wanted to know more. They had never linked him to the burglaries across the country, and had never learned who made the 911 call. The person who killed him had been found and was being prosecuted to the fullest extent, whatever that meant. Frank Tomey had eventually confessed that he had been driving drunk that night and hadn’t seen him. I knew better. The car had aimed for him; no, not him, but me. The car had been targeted at me and he had pushed me out of the way. The driver hadn’t seen or didn’t mention seeing anyone else with him. Was he that drunk? I didn’t think so. My sixth sense told me it was my fault. The driver hadn’t been drunk. He had been after me. I was meant to be dead, not Einstein. But why? The police didn’t buy his drunk story either or at least not one detective, John Young, who kept searching. Einstein’s parents were wealthy and Detective Young couldn’t let it rest that he had been killed so mindlessly. He never found a connection with Einstein’s family, but rather a connection to another wealthy family, the Briggs. They were so wealthy and powerful that he ran up against a brick wall halting his investigation. The family was engulfed in secrecy.
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