The Art of French Kissing
Author:Kristin Harmel

The Art of French Kissing by Kristin Harmel




To Lauren Elkin, my Paris roommate, my great friend, and one of the best writers I know.

To those who have brought Europe alive for me, especially Jean-Michel Colin, David Ahern, Dusty Millar, Katharine Vincent, Jean-Marc Denis, and Marco Cassan.

And of course to my wonderful mom, who introduced me to Paris for the first time.





Acknowledgments

A special thank-you to Lauren Elkin, my wonderful friend who first lured me to Paris and has let me sleep on her futon each time I’ve been tempted to return. She’s also a great writer, and I was fortunate enough to have her give me early feedback on this book. Thanks as well to Amy Tangerine (extremely talented superstar designer and fantastic friend), who is a great cheerleader and one of the people whose opinion I trust wholeheartedly on early drafts. A thousand thank-yous to Gillian Zucker, my trusted friend whom I admire greatly as both a person and a professional (and who lets me call her second bedroom home when I’m in LA!). I owe you a drink (or several dozen) at Katsuya!

Thanks, as always, to Mom, Dave, Karen, Dad, and the rest of my fantastic family. I truly think I’m related to some of the warmest, most wonderful people in the world.

I owe a huge debt of gratitude to my fabulous editors Karen Kosztolnyik and Rebecca Isenberg for helping beat this novel into shape, and to my wonderful agent Jenny Bent (and her assistant, Victoria Horn) for listening to me ramble about all the ideas that pop into my head. Thanks also to my film agent, Andy Cohen, whom I’m happy to call my friend; to all the folks at Hachette, especially Elly Weisenberg (congratulations!!!), Emily Griffin, Caryn Karmatz Rudy, Brigid Pearson, Laura Jorstod, Celia Johnson, and Mari Okuda; and to my UK editor, Cat Cobain. And as always, thanks to my first editor, Amy Einhorn.

I’m also fortunate enough to have met some of the nicest writers in the entire world. Thanks especially to Sarah Mlynowski for being so generous with her time and advice; to Alison Pace for giving me a New York couch to sleep on and taking me on walks with the fabulous Carlie; and to Sarah, Alison, Lynda Curnyn, and Melissa Senate, for the friendship and support you’ve all provided. Thanks also to the wonderful writers (and wonderful women) Jane Porter, Laura Caldwell, Brenda Janowitz, Johanna Edwards, Megan Crane, and Liza Palmer.

Thanks to my many wonderful, amazing friends, especially Kristen Milan, Kara Brown, Kendra Williams, Wendy Jo Moyer, Megan Combs, Amber Draus, Lisa Wilkes, Ashley Tedder, Don Clemence, Michelle Tauber, Willow Shambeck, Melixa Carbonell, Josh Yang, Courtney Jaye, Marc Mugnos, Ryan Dean, Wendy Chioji, Brendan Bergen, Ben Bledsoe, Jamie Tabor, Andrea Jackson, Lana Cabrera, Joe Cabrera, Pat Cash, Adam Evans, Courtney Harmel, Janine Harmel, Steve Helling, Emma Helling, and Cap’n. Thanks also to my Mediabistro.com students.

And thanks to you, the reader, for coming along on this journey with me! I love your e-mails, so keep ’em coming! Mille fois merci!





Chapter One

Our wedding was supposed to be in September.

I’d already been to my final dress fitting. I’d chosen my bridesmaids, picked out my flowers, and booked a caterer. The invitations were printed up and all ready to be mailed. We’d chosen a band. We’d talked about what we would name the kids we’d have someday. I’d filled pages and pages with scribbles: Mr. and Mrs. Brett Landstrom. Brett and Emma Landstrom. Brett Landstrom and his wife, Emma Sullivan-Landstrom. The Landstroms. I could already envision the future we’d have together.

And then one day, it all fell apart.

It was a hot, muggy Tuesday evening in April, and I’d left work at three so that I could make a special dinner for Brett to celebrate our one-year anniversary of moving in together. I cleaned off our patio table, bought fresh flowers, and cooked his favorite meal—grilled chicken stuffed with artichokes, sun-dried tomatoes, and caprino cheese, served over angel-hair pasta with homemade marinara sauce. Perfect, I thought as I poured a glass of Chianti for each of us.

“Looks good,” Brett said, strolling out through the sliding glass doors to the patio at six o’clock. As he stepped outside, he loosened his tie and unbuttoned the top button on his shirt, which of course made him look even sexier than usual, in a haphazard way. It was a good sign, I thought, that I found him just as attractive as I had the day I’d met him. I hoped he felt the same way.

I beamed at him. “Happy anniversary,” I said.

Brett looked baffled. “Anniversary?” He raked a hand through his dark, wavy hair. “Anniversary of what?”

My smile faltered a bit. “Moving in together,” I said.

“Oh.” He cleared his throat. “Well, happy anniversary to you, too.” He folded his six-foot-two frame into the chair closest to the sliding glass door and took a sip of wine. He swished it around in his mouth for a moment, nodded approvingly, and swallowed.

I smiled, sat down across from him, and passed him the salad bowl, which was full of chopped lettuce, olives, pepperoncinis, tomatoes, freshly squeezed lemon juice, and feta cheese. He sniffed it approvingly before spooning some onto his plate. “Greek,” he said, his hazel eyes crinkling at the corners.

“Yes,” I said with a smile. “Your favorite.”

I was determined that I’d be better at this—cooking, cleaning, and basically being a domestic goddess—after we were married. Brett’s mother (who, mind you, didn’t work and employed both a cook and a maid) had already reminded me several times, with a stiff smile on her face, that her son was accustomed to having dinner on the table when he got home from work and a house that was neat, tidy, and virtually spotless. I knew the subliminal message was that I wasn’t quite up to par.