I love some Romantic Exclusive content. Who else here read the Je T’Aime Me Neither book and fell in love? I certainly did, but of course my first reaction after reading it was “Man, I wish I had this before I moved to Paris.”
Good news… I’m happy I read it and even happier that another book from the same author will be out soon.
We’ve just found out that, Lily, the Paris-based influential blogger and writer, has almost finalized her next book, the sequel to her first novelized romantic memoir. This new book’s content is entirely based on true experiences, but written in a fun, lively storybook fashion because the author’s life in Paris has slowly become a romance novel with its own set of princes and foe. Paris is often considered the City of Love, but the reality can be much different, and in the case of Lily, very surprising and entertaining!
Expats Paris got its hands on few chapters of this soon-to-be released book and here’s an exclusive sneak peek at some of the loveliest stories you’ll find in this book.
Excerpts from book: VINCENT!
A GOOD VINTAGE?
VINCENT [07/16/08 6:45 PM]
Why don’t you stop by the shop?
Bring your friends!
Oh man. My head hurts.
I couldn’t bear to open my eyes. From the dim light creeping through the cracks of my lids, I could tell that it was at least the morning, possibly even the afternoon.
What had we gotten up to last night? Or rather what hadn’t we gotten up to? Vague flashes of memory came to mind as I agonizingly attempted to kick-start my brain. Drinks with the girls at my place… A round of shots before leaving… were those roadies in plastic cups we were holding on our way down to the Pigalle Rock Party? More shots… then some dancing…with boys?
Yikes! What was that? A snore? My previous reluctance to open my eyes disappeared as I heard mysterious sound. I dared to peer out of my right eye only to find the blurry shape of another body in my bed.
Who was that?!
* * *
Before complete panic set in, a look under the covers concluded that I was mainly clothed as was the unknown snorer. Now that I was scared into wakefulness, I put the covers over my head and went back to piecing together our night.
Our super fun friend Cindy was in town which inevitably meant we’d get up to a certain amount of mischief. I missed Cindy terribly. She’d been an important member of our crew before sadly moving back to Canada, taking with her a strapping young French guy, Cam, who’d started out as a casual rebound from her long term ex-fiancé. Two years later they were still together; he’d come back to France for his Masters and she was in town visiting him. I was secretly plotting to get her to move back as well—showing her a great night out on the town was part of the plan.
Naughty, Pussycat and a few of Cam’s buddies had come over to my place to join Cindy, Cam and I for some munchies and warm up drinks. Before we knew it Cindy was stoking the fires of our petite fête. As long as Cindy had her way, the night would not be ending with nibbles and wine at my apartment. Just like in the ‘old days’, she literally forced us into our dancing shoes on and out we clip-clopped to the nearby Le Centre de l’Univers. A small historic club, it was turning into our favorite spot to spend our Saturday nights; no more O’Hooligans for us! Somewhere between our third round of shots and the closing of the bar, I had to assume that the boy in my bed must have danced my way.
Luckily I’d had enough brain capacity left at five in the morning when we stumbled out of the club to only loan him one side of the bed… to sleep. Cindy and Cam were camped out on the living room sofa bed which had likely inhibited my unplanned house guest from trying to occupy more than his allotted bed portion.
Memory now more or less intact, I courageously braved a few glances at the heavily breathing boy. He was actually pretty cute. He had short, dirty blond hair and appeared to be approximately my age. He’d also been out dancing at one of our favorite spots, leading me to believe that he must have had a fun spirit.
I couldn’t have imagined Lionel dancing till dawn with us.
My ponderings were interrupted by evidence of stirring in the living room so I woke up the sleeping garçon and we shyly slinked out into the living room, I wasn’t even sure if Cindy would remember that we had yet another house guest. ‘Lunchner’ was a tradition with Cindy, Cam and I. Since they didn’t have their own place in Paris, and since whenever they slept over at mine we'd inevitably have late nights out, we never got around to having our Sunday hangover meal until 2-3pm, much too late to be considered brunch, so we nicknamed it ‘lunchner.’ Very serious brunch-style meals, each time we tried to out-do the last taking turns to whip up the likes of scrambled eggs oozing with gooey comté cheese, asparagus omelets sprinkled in fresh herbs accompanied by sweet potato fries or homemade baby potato hash browns. On this particular Sunday it was my turn to prepare our feast, so I left Mr Snorer to chit chat with Cindy and Cam while I chopped away. This was convenient, as I’d forgotten anything he might have told me about himself the night before.
Vincent—as we discovered was his name—seemed quite at ease amongst us strangers and was a good contributor to our casual over-easy conversation. Friendly, charming, cute, even excellent English… hmmm… not a bad mix.
“So what do you do, Vincent?” Cindy helpfully enquired.
“Oh, I’ve just come back to France from the Chicago where I worked for a wine importer for five years,” he answered. So that’s how he spoke such fantastic English. Living abroad also gave him some additional points: he was adventurous, brave and open-minded. In addition, he obviously knew a lot about my favorite beverage, granting him many additional points. My heart was glowing as brightly as a glass of rich, oaky white Bordeaux.
“Why did you come back to France?” asked Cam.
“Because I decided to open up my own wine bar!” Wow, he’d just elevated his Parker rating into the 90s! Cindy even gave me an approving look from across the table. Before he left I was the proud owner of his business card and an invitation to stop by his cave à vins later in the week. This all seemed too good to be true. Could I’ve stumbled upon the right romantic blend of amour?
VINCENT [07/10/08 6:45 PM]
Why don’t you stop by the shop tomorrow?
bring your friends!
I was still a little nervous. I barely knew Vincent, so I wouldn't be stopping my without bringing my friends. Les filles would serve as good protection, plus I could get their opinion on Vincent at the same time. Besides, it wasn’t like it was going to be too difficult to convince them to join me to drink what would definitely be excellent wine.
NAUGHTY [07/16/08 7:02 PM]
I’m in! It’s only fair that we get to meet him too
Cindy doesn’t even live here and she already has!
PUSSYCAT [07/16/08 7:04 PM]
Just around the corner from my house? Score!
Do you think he has a loyalty points card?
THE COUNTESS [07/16/08 7:07 PM]
Will he give us a discount on our Domaine de Valentin?
His cave was located in the 5th arrondissement, a stone’s throw from the Seine. Being not far from Notre Dame and the Latin Quarter, he was hoping to attract both locals and meandering tourists. However, the street was just a couple of blocks too far from the main tourist zone of the area; if any tourists did end up there, they would really have to be quite lost. At least those who did wander in could console themselves with a nice glass of wine served by a friendly English speaking caviste.
“Bonsoir! So nice to see you,” Vincent greeted us four girls with his smoother-than-a-1980-Bordeaux accent. Setting us up at a nice table, he explained how things worked. His place was both a wine shop and bar with around eight tables. According to the particular business license he had, in order to be able to serve alcohol, clients also had to purchase some food. To this end, he produced a small menu featuring various cheese and charcuterie plates, plus a few daily specials. Since it was a warm day, we ordered a bottle of chilled Chablis and an assortment of cheese to go with it. Vincent popped by to add to our discussion whenever he could slip away from his other seated clients and the sporadic passers-by ducking in to pick up a bottle to bring back home for their dinners. He’d only been open for around a month, but it seemed like he was already building a faithful clientèle of neighborhood residents.
Once we were finished the Chablis, Vincent didn’t want us to go and, being the salesman that he was, deftly convinced us to have a second bottle. It wasn’t too hard to twist our wine-loving arms; this time we opted for a Sancerre—despite his encouragement towards a more expensive Burgundy. We did like our wine, but we didn’t have the wallet to match the best bouteilles.
As it was a weekday and we all had to work in the morning, our two bottles didn’t spill over into three, though he might have been able to persuade us to stay a little longer with an offer of a complementary glass of cognac as he’d just poured for some clients at another table. Never mind: we weren’t looking for wild night. Vincent bade us all a kind farewell, mine a little fairer, accompanied by a wish to see me again soon. So far… so good!
VINCENT [07/19/08 3:15 PM]
Salut ma belle. Are you free for a
picnic on Sunday afternoon?
What a nice idea! Just the fact that he’d suggested one of my favorite Paris activities made me like him even more. When Sunday rolled around I put together some nice snacks and other picnic supplies, figuring that these could go nicely with a bottle of wine from Vincent’s shop. All packed up with my blanket and bottle opener, I jumped on the métro towards the rendezvous point he’d selected: the Parc de la Villette. A contemporary park built around the Science Center and the Villette Exhibition Hall, I normally came out here during the August open-air cinema festival, like the fated time I’d met the sly, Dutch-Canadian Mario. It wasn’t the most picturesque green-space in the city, but it was home to vast lawns bordered by shady trees. Was Vincent missing large well-manicured American parks? The inviting smell of fresh cut grass? This was certainly a rarity in the dense urban jungle of Paris.
Blanket lain, I began setting out the goodies I’d carefully prepared. At the end, I smiled, expecting him to produce a bottle of wine, some chocolates… fruit… cheese… anything? Apparently he’d just brought himself. It had been his idea to have a picnic; he hadn’t suggested a simple walk in the park. Oh well, it wasn’t the end of the world. Thankfully I’d brought enough food and, at the last minute, thrown in a bottle of water.
We gabbed away getting to know each other as we picked at our veggies, quiche and nuts. Then we sprawled out for a little rest. It was nice to cuddle and have some affection, that was… until he started pinching my arms. There was nothing affectionate or sensual whatsoever about that. Gentle caresses were welcome, but nipping at my un-muscular biceps was not! The worst part was he wouldn’t stop even after I’d asked him to several times.
“Maybe it’s time for a walk?” I suggested, trying not to sound too annoyed as I started to gather up the scattered Tupperware containers. Thankfully, the little stroll passed without any unwanted flab fondling, and eventually the sun was disappearing behind the trees. This left us with a slightly awkward ‘what do we do now’ moment. It was 7 pm. We weren’t really hungry from our afternoon of snacking, it seemed too soon to end our time together right then. However, I wasn’t about to just invite him over to my place either.
“We could go grab an apéro?” I suggested. Settling in at a café and then perhaps finding a place for a light dinner afterwards made sense. I could see him mentally hemming and hawing.
“Well, I need to watch my spending right now, with all the expenses of opening the bar.”
“I know some cheap Indian restaurants not far away?” I proposed. I didn’t need to go anywhere fancy; it was more a matter of spending more time together. Technically since I’d brought all of the picnic supplies, it would have been only fair—in addition to plain gentlemanly—for him to offer me at least a drink. He continued to mull over the options while we walked along away from the park and down the Canal de l’Ourcq. Soon we reached the stretch along this wide waterway that had lively bars on converted péniches barges. They were calling us! Or maybe they were just calling out to only me, as I could tell their pleas fell on Vincent’s deaf ears. Even though I was a tad disappointed, ending our afternoon date there would be fine—it was nice to take things slow. Therefore, I didn’t repeat my suggestion to go somewhere else when we made it to the end of the canal and were standing across from the métro. He gave me a passionate farewell kiss and off we went in our opposite directions. At the end of the evening, I was still left with a positive opinion of him; it was nice to spend some time together considering how busy he must be, and he’d eked out some time for me on his only day off.
Throughout the following week, I did receive a few sweet text messages from him and, as the weekend was quickly approaching, the girls and I were working out our Friday and Saturday night plans. Vincent was eager to have us stop by his wine bar again. However, with its meager menu choices, the girls and I compromised with dinner elsewhere in the area, and stopping by his place for drinks afterwards.
“He seemed very happy to see you!” whispered Naughty after Vincent had delivered our requested bottle of Côtes du Rhône to our table.
“I do have to approve of his vast knowledge of wine,” added The Countess.
“Though, he’s always recommending all the expensive bottles,” rightly grumbled Pussycat. She knew her wines extremely well and we kept telling her she should become a sommelier on the side of her photography work, and eventually, maybe thanks to one of The Countesses bonuses, we could all take early retirement on a vineyard in the South of France… maybe?
“Even though we’d like to drink Champagne or Châteauneuf-du-Pape every day, a crémant or a Côtes du Rhône would suffice for now,” I noted, taking a sip of our very satisfyingly delicious blend.
“So you’re willing to settle on a lesser wine… I hope your relationship standards haven’t slipped,” said Naughty, using this as the opportunity to bring the conversation back to the reason why we were at this particular wine bar.
“Well, even the best wines need to age,” I replied.
“Does that mean you’re actually going to give this more than two dates?” questioned Naughty.
“It’s sort of hard to decide what’s been a date and what hasn’t…” My beating around the bush sent the girls’ eyes rolling. “Come on, girls! It’s too soon to tell if he’s actually a good vintage or not, but I’m willing to give it a try.”
With that, Pussycat topped us up and we had a celebratory cheers.
Our Côtes du Rhône was flowing as rapidly as the river of the wine’s namesake, and after a second bottle, it was time to leave to catch the métro. This time it was decided: I wasn’t going home alone.
“Digestif? Tea?” I proposed when we got back to my place. Vincent hadn’t offered to bring any wine from the bar so I was going on what was available. We had a small glass of cognac and chatted for a bit on the sofa before he made a move. At the park we’d innocently kissed (and we most likely did that night we met), but that had been the extent of it up to this moment. He put his arm around me as he leant in for a kiss and I went to mirror his actions. It might have even been the first time I’d put my arm around him… and my hand stopped dead in its tracks as it rounded his shoulder. Wait a second, what kind of shirt was he wearing? It looked like a regular dress shirt. It may have appeared normal, but it felt… padded. That was absurd, we were in the middle of summer. Something was wrong. Nonetheless, soon after we gravitated to the bedroom, but now with some trepidation on my part.
Eventually our clothes started inching off. It was dark, but the removal of his shirt proved true the inkling I’d had from touching the back of his shirt just moments before… and it was about one of my worst dating nightmares.
There’s one body ‘pet peeve’ I have with men that is non-negotiable: back hair. Chest hair or a few light hairs on the shoulders or lower back are acceptable… but ‘bear’ level body hair—especially on the back—was completely out of the question. He was blond, albeit dark blond, so how could he be so hairy?
“Back in the U.S. I used to have it waxed. Maybe I should start that up again.” He actually admitted, obviously aware that it could be a turn off. What’s this maybe all about? Why had he stopped? It’s true, I have noticed that in general the French are less concerned about body hair and waxing, but nevertheless, this was extreme—I had an overrun vineyard on my hands! I couldn’t believe we’d been joking earlier about owning a vineyard; I wasn’t ready to do any pruning… certainly not on the vigneron himself! I just couldn’t stomach it. I must have feigned fatigue or he might actually have been tired from his long week (or sensed my instant repulsion), but nothing much more happened in the bedroom that night. Although, sleeping on it, wouldn’t make the issue go away.
Before you ask why I didn’t make an appointment for him myself at the waxing salon, other doubts about the quality of his vintage were slashing all of those Parker points he’d previously acquired.
Just like when he wouldn’t stop pinching my arms in the park, the next morning as we were getting up he began showing other odd ways of displaying affection: after more little pinches here and there, and playing with my underarms… I asked him to stop and instead he kept on going! Hmmpf! No there wasn’t any hair there… being the furry man he was, did he find that strange? I’m not really sure if anyone would find this very romantic, but all I know is that I found it terribly annoying. The third factor holding me back from committing to this vintage would fully play out on the night before I went away on holiday.
To be continued…
More on this chapter right here next week!
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