Series: Holding Out #1
Release Date: June 13, 2019
Picture this: You pack your bags. Move to Paris. Fall in love.
A dream, right?
Especially when you find out your Mr. Right is actually married. With kids. Don’t even mention the white picket fence.
Heartbroken in the City of Love, the last person Elizabeth Hastings expects to lend her a shoulder to cry on is her brother’s best friend…
Spencer Tate is opening up his first gym in London when a frantic call from his best friend sends him to Paris to check on Sebastian’s baby sister.
If he’s lucky he can stop in for a minute and be back in London the next day. Easy peasy.
Except the dorky bookworm he remembers is now all grown up, with dangerous curves, lips just made for kissing and eyes he could get lost in…
Spencer. Is. Screwed.
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Elizabeth Hastings was wearing a trench coat, black pumps, and nothing else.
She’d never done this before. She wasn’t usually the sort of girl to go out of her way to impress a guy—she’d never had anyone worth the effort before. But boy, was Amaury worth the effort. At least that’s what she told herself every single, terrifying moment there was a bump or quick turn on the metro that threatened to send her toppling forward, giving her fellow passengers a more intimate glimpse than any stranger on public transport should ever see.
When you don’t have a car, Versailles is actually quite difficult to get to from Paris. For Lizzie, at least. She’d never had to worry too much about public transport where she grew up, and to be honest, thanks to her generous trust fund, shouldn’t really have to bother with it here. But when she’d moved to Paris, she had wanted the starving-artist experience. There was no way she could write a masterpiece of the likes of Hemingway or Fitzgerald if she was living it up like some sort of luxury travel
blogger. She needed to live a Paris city life in all its glory, inconveniences included.
That is how she found herself on a one-hour, two-train journey from central Paris to a quiet street on the outskirts of Versailles, praying that an errant wind didn’t put her ass on display to Metro Line 4.
She took a deep, nervous breath as she exited the train, holding a little box with his favorite pastries from that shop he loved in Montparnasse. She turned her mind to Amaury to ease her nerves during the walk from the station. It was six months since their first date, six months since he’d swept her off her feet and made her move to Paris unforgettable.
With olive skin that made him look permanently sun-kissed and those striking gray eyes, he was one of the most gorgeous men she had ever seen, with a French accent thrown in for good measure.
She sighed and couldn’t help but smile to herself when she eventually reached his street. Whenever she thought of him, she felt a rush of pure warmth flood her system. He was exactly what she’d fantasized about when she dreamed of finding love in Paris… Older, commanding, mysterious. And so sexy. So unapologetically French.
She glanced up and fidgeted with the belt on her jacket when she reached the picket fence outside his house. They didn’t usually meet up here. Amaury was a successful lawyer and based in Paris, so he’d bought a little apartment there for when he didn’t feel like commuting, which was most of the time. He preferred the city; he thought it was so romantic. Lizzie agreed. That’s why they always spent the night there when they saw each other. The only time she’d been to his house in Versailles was once, after a spontaneous message, instructing her to pack a bag and set aside a weekend… But even then he’d only popped into the house to grab a few things for himself and then they drove off toward the wineries in the south.
He didn’t know she was coming here today, of course. That was the point of a surprise. But she knew he was here this morning; he always was on Sundays. Anyway, she didn’t think he’d mind; she was doing something special for him and it was their anniversary, for crying out loud.
Well, their six-month anniversary. And the anniversary of their first date, not the moment they’d decided to commit to one another. Not that there had actually been a moment like that; they’d never had “the talk”—they didn’t need to. It was obvious from the moment he told her he loved her, and that he’d never met a woman as captivating, as magnifique, as her. Lizzie wasn’t exactly lacking in self-confidence; she didn’t need the poor man to spell out the words be my girlfriend for her to validate their relationship. She could be mature about it all.
“Enough stalling,” she berated herself in a half-whisper, strutting forward through the gate. “Just do it.” She shook her head, fluffed out her thick, dark hair a bit, then walked up to the door and pressed the bell. Lizzie fidgeted and rocked on her heels; she must have switched positions five times in an attempt to somehow land on one that was casual yet sexy. She would be content to find a position that halfway achieved that.
“Delivery for Ama—” she began but abruptly stopped as the door swung fully open.
“Voulez-vous parler avec Papa?” a small, pajama-clad boy piped up, standing at the threshold. He looked about six years old, with a tuft of dark brown hair and piercing gray eyes that looked just Amaury’s.
“Hello? Can I help you?” a blonde with features so flawless, her face looked like it had been sculpted by freaking angels, asked in heavily accented English as she joined the boy.
“I…Um…” Lizzie could barely speak, could barely see. “I think I have the wrong—”
“Qui-est-ce?” She knew the voice that asked, “Who is it?” in French. It was Amaury’s. But that couldn’t be right. He lived alone. This couldn’t be his house. She must have confused it with a neighbor. Lizzie took a step back and glanced toward the house next door. It didn’t look like Amaury’s. Maybe his neighbors were just visiting his place?
“She looks like a lost tourist looking for the palace. I’ll help her out. Why don’t you go put Nicolas to bed?” Amaury’s voice rapidly fired off in French, cutting through Lizzie’s haze. He deftly stepped in front of the woman and child then closed the door behind him.
His hand was still on the handle. On his ring finger was a gold band she’d never seen before. She blinked a few times, but it didn’t move. “What are you doing here?” Amaury demanded.
She’d never heard his voice so hard.
“It’s our anniversary,” she said, still not quite believing this was really happening. She hoped he didn’t hear the tremble in her voice.
“Anniversary? What?” Amaury stepped forward and his long, elegant hands grabbed onto her shoulders. “What were you thinking, showing up here? If my wife found out—” That snapped her out of it. She gasped as she pushed him away. “Your wife? Your wife! You didn’t think that was an important thing to mention to your girlfriend?” Amaury laughed. It wasn’t a nice sound.
“Girlfriend? You think you’re my girlfriend, cherie?” He laughed harder. “Oh, Americans.”
Her eyes stung, and Amaury’s beautiful face blurred. She felt sick. Ruined. He had a family? What the fuck? She was a mistress? The other woman? Lizzie gulped down the acid that rose in her throat. This couldn’t be happening.
“You said you loved me. You said I captivated you.”
Amaury cut her off. “A man will say a lot of things to get a woman in bed.” He laughed some more. “Did you think you were the only one I fucked in that apartment?”
She didn’t respond. She couldn’t get the words out. They stuck in her throat, choking her.
Amaury turned back to the door. Apparently, he was finished with her. With his hand still on the brass handle, he glanced back over his shoulder at her.
“Come here again and I will have a restraining order filed against you.”
Well, then. That relationship was well and truly over.
Gabrielle Ashton is a contemporary romance author, and self-confessed book addict. She loves to read anything from contemporary, to paranormal, to historical: you publish it, Gabrielle will read it!
When she’s not writing about her favorite romance tropes in gorgeously exotic locations, Gabrielle studies law and also works as a television producer. On any given day she wakes up at three in the morning for work, fits in a few classes at university then comes home and writes.
Gabrielle grew up in Australia, has lived in Paris, and now resides in Sydney with her boyfriend, two dogs and cat. Although, said boyfriend is making a strong case for a pet bird.