Excerpt for Choosing Love by , available in its entirety at Smashwords


Choosing Love

Eilidh McGinness

Dream Big Publishing

West Columbia, SC




This book is a work of fiction. Any references to historical events, real people, or real locales are used factiously. Other names, characters, places, and incidents are the product of the author’s imagination, and any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

Dream Big Publishing

A publication of Dream Big Publishing

West Columbia, SC

Copyright 2017 by Eilidh McGinness

All rights reserved, including the right of reproduction in

whole or in part in any form.

Dream Big Publishing is a registered trademark of

Dream Big Publishing.

Manufactured in the United States of America

All rights reserved.

Summary: Spark’s fly the moment they meet, but what happens next?

HE CAN’T DO LOVE

Jason Stanford is charismatic, handsome, wealthy and alone in Bordeaux, France.

He intends to stay six months in order to advance his space travel ambitions

and to learn French. His plans are turned upside down by a chance meeting

with ambitious Aurelie Dumas. She is determined to teach Jason all about what

the French do best- love.

SHE CAN’T DO COMMITMENT

Aurelie Dumas is a career focused estate agent. Jason’s star bound ambitions

soon capture her heart, but this girl can’t do long term relationships. Jason

helps her come to terms with a family secret which has fractured her family

but will that be enough to make her want to stay around.

[1. New Adult – Fiction 2. Romance ]

Eilidh McGinness

Copyright 2017 by Eilidh McGinness

Smashwords Edition

All rights reserved.







CHAPTER ONE


Jason Stanford glanced at the motorist, whose red puffed face and contorted expression proclaimed even more clearly than the beeping horn, and offensive gestures, that the man was annoyed.

Hiding his amusement, Jason responded to the enraged driver with a withering stare from his piercing green eyes and a nonchalant toss of his aristocratic head. Jason was accustomed to others being jealous. Of his drop dead gorgeous good looks, his wealth, his lifestyle. On this particular occasion, it appeared to be his car, a sleek Italian corvette in shark grey, which had pushed the strangers’ button.

There was certainly no connection between Jason’s driving and the unjustified road rage. He was a skilled driver. In keeping with the requirements of his chosen profession, his reflexes were sharp, honed, not only to react to events but to foresee and avoid. Jason applied a strict regime in every aspect of his life. Whatever he did, from the management of his global empire to making love to a woman, it was done to the very best of his ability. Mediocrity was not a word in his dictionary. Anything less than perfection was unacceptable.

He sped on towards the center of Bordeaux, the capital of the Aquitaine region, in South-West France. The Monday morning chaos was invigorating. Horns beeped impatiently. The city was teeming with life. Jason wondered nonchalantly if it was the private English number plates which had rattled his fellow motorists, as calmly he kept up with the increasingly frenzied instructions from his sat nav. The direction system, usually so reliable, was clearly pushed to the limits. The calm female voice, patiently issuing instructions had battled valiantly with the French pronunciation of the place names, on route from Calais, now seemed completely perturbed by the complex one-way system, interspersed with tram lines and bollards which rose and fell from cobbled streets, in what could only be described as, an elegant, but completely random fashion. Jason concluded that if the city claimed to possess an integrated transport system, it was a highly unusual one.

Although global travel formed an integral part of his life, he had not previously visited Bordeaux. His current six-month secondment from London was a well-timed and welcome break from the frantic life Jason enjoyed from his base in the capital. He drummed his fingers impatiently on the window sill of the sleek sports car as the traffic pulled to a halt again.

Eventually, the traffic moved on and as his journey continued along the extensive quays lining the banks of the river Gironde, as it languorously wound its way through the center of Bordeaux, Jason wondered what adventures the vibrant city would bring.

He felt a surge of satisfaction each time he pressed his foot on the accelerator as the powerful engine of his customized vehicle roared into life. The drive from Calais had been as close to flying as a land based vehicle could emulate. He had been able to push the performance car to its limits, gliding at speed on the empty French motorways.

Exhilarated by the journey and the prospect of starting afresh in a new country, Jason looked around intently, gathering every detail of the city which was about to become his new home.

Settling into a new life and work routine always thrilled him and, if he was honest, helped him forget the past. He thrived on new challenges. Bordeaux had particularly attracted him as it offered both an opportunity to take his company in an exciting new direction and offered an opportunity to improve his schoolboy French. He was determined to utilize his time in the city to become fluent in the language. Studying his surroundings with enthusiasm, he was amused to see an Irish pub, Molly Malone’s, with its emerald green shamrocks encircling the entrance, very much in contrast with the other businesses which lined the boulevards in what was clearly a prestigious area of the city. At least he would be able to buy a Guinness he thought to himself, as the traffic was delayed once more, by yet another set of traffic lights. As Jason absorbed the impressive frontage of the classic eighteenth-century buildings lining the river, an impressive frontage of an entirely different nature homed into view.

His eyes settled appreciatively on a young woman stepping purposefully past his vehicle. Not averse to either him, or his vehicle, or more probably both the girl turned. She ran her finger sensually along the sill of the corvette. “Nice car “she purred, the words rolling off her tongue in a sultry French accent, gazing intently at Jason as she spoke. There was a teasing sparkle in her deep brown eyes. Jason was intrigued. The girl was no conventional beauty but still, he had been drawn to her. She, alone amongst the melee of pedestrians, cyclists, joggers and skateboarders who thronged the quays, had captured his attention.

“Why don’t you jump in? I’ll take you where-ever you want to go,” he responded in his most seductively charming English accent.

The woman did not wait for a second invite. Smoothly she opened the passenger door and slid onto the rich leather seats, smiling at Jason, as she did so, with sultry pink lips.

Her demeanor was relaxed as if they had known each other all their lives.

He was captivated. Something about her was setting off electric charges all over his body. She was, he guessed about twenty-six. She was small, ‘petit ‘even he thought to himself, impressed by his grip of the French language. Her height was more uncertain because she sported a pair of black, shiny stilettos with impossibly high heels. Eyes drawn first to the shoes were obliged to admire her neat ankles before trailing appreciatively up her legs, to her knees, just exposed by a skirt, which with slits on either side was both elegant and incredibly sexy. Jason struggled to keep his eyes on the road as she moved her legs to position herself more comfortably and the skirt slid up revealing a shapely thigh. Her blouse, unmistakably French in style was pristine white with an exuberant array of frills, which would have seemed excessive to anyone but a chic French fashionista. He was immediately conscious of her closeness and an invisible current locking them together. Why was she having this effect? She was a world away from his usual playmates, for whom mile long eyelashes and tousled, bleach blond hair were standard. There was a haughtiness about her features which seemed typically French, but the unapproachable element to her character disappeared when she laughed. Like a wayward firework throwing its sparkles into the air as far and as high as it could. Her hair although blonde, was naturally so, cut in a stylish bob which enhanced her striking cheekbones and jawline.

“So where are we going?”, he asked, “Heaven” he added quickly. It was a line he would never have considered in England, but somehow in this romantic foreign city, with the sun shining and an enigmatic beauty, unexpectedly in his passenger seat, it seemed strangely appropriate.

“The beach, it’s hot,’ she answered, flashing him a smile which lit up her whole face. For a moment their eyes met and Jason filled with a sense of optimism.

“You look hot,” she said teasingly, and her eyes twinkled but she had not been able to disguise the sexual attraction that lay behind her humor. He replied assuredly

“I am hot.” He could feel the energy in the air created by the chemistry between them. He felt a surge of satisfaction. He had been right about making a change in his life. Moving to Bordeaux had been the right choice. The city interested him and this chance meeting with a strangely alluring female seemed auspicious. A woman who had literally just stepped into his car from no-where. He snatched another glance at the girl sitting in the passenger seat, for all the world as if she belonged there.

“What will we do at the beach?” he asked.

“What do you like to do? “she responded, her voice sounding even sexier than before, although that seemed barely possible. Her deep chocolate eyes boldly held Jason’s, challenging him. As they reached another set of traffic lights, he pulled to a stop, welcoming the opportunity to occupy himself more fully with his new-found acquaintance.

The girl laughed, and her eyes glinting with mischief, she opened the car door and slipped out of the vehicle, as unexpectedly and as gracefully as she had arrived.

“Hey what’s happening?” demanded Jason,” What about the beach?”

“Another time “she called.

“This is my stop, and I have to go to work. Thanks for the ride. You’re cheaper than a tram.”

She winked and with a wave she was off, disappearing all too quickly into the throng of people on the quay.

“Wait” Jason called. “Your number.” He searched about for a space to dump the car. There was nothing. The parking bays which lined the quays were completely full. For half a

second Jason considered abandoning the car. His pride and joy. But in a city famed for its lack of parking and aggressive car pound policies, there was nowhere. He

wished he had one of the little electric cars that he had noticed with such disdain just a short while before. At least there were designated parking bays for them in the city center.

The lights changed and almost immediately one impatient motorist sounded his horn to be rapidly followed by another. He shouted loudly, “Wait, I don’t even know your name.”

People turned and looked at him, surprised by the English words and the urgency in his voice. But she was gone. Swallowed up in the tide of people purposefully walking,

cycling, running, living, all around. Jason was obliged to start the car and continue his journey.

Aurelie Dumas was still mulling over her chance meeting when she reached her bureau. She flushed with embarrassment as she remembered her conduct. What on earth had possessed her to get into the car with the English man? She had never done anything like that before in her life. His heart stopping good looks had first drawn her attention. Everything else had followed as if their meeting had been fated in the stars. He was dangerous. She had recognized that instantly, but she had felt like a moth drawn to a flame. The danger was too alluring to resist. She had toyed with the stranger as if she was unaware of his power. As if every nerve in her body was not acutely aware of his presence. As if her senses did not feel intensely alive in his company.

His eyes, a memorable green, had unsettled her with their intensity. His confidence was surely born from aptitude, not ignorance. His accent, so sexy. The elegant tones of his words rolled around in her head. She would have liked to learn more of the Englishman. She had assumed however that he was breezing through Bordeaux on the way to the coast. He had

looked typical of the wealthy holidaymakers with their expensive cars that flocked to Arcachon, the coastal holiday bay most favored by the Bordelaise, in the summer months.

“Ah, how happy you look today,” Mathilde welcomed her with a knowing expression.

“What has put such a wide smile on your face today?”

Aurelie laughed, good-naturedly but did not otherwise respond. It was true. She was reveling in the afterglow of her morning’s entertainment. She felt more alive than she had for as long as she could remember. What’s more, she believed there was a sale in the offing. Only yesterday, she had taken a young couple to view one of the apartments she was marketing and they had loved it. Aurelie was very intuitive and sensed that the pair had set their hearts on the property. She was rarely mistaken in these matters and in an employment where pay was solely based on commission, it was good news indeed.

There was also the gentleman who had come into the office a few days ago to make an appointment for an estimation of his house. He and his wife had separated and he wanted to make a fresh start. The man had been quite charming. Making his interest in Aurelie very clear. She had been considering how to deal with the situation. As a rule, she avoided becoming involved with clients. Things could become messy if she ended the relationship before the property was sold or in the case of a purchaser before the often lengthy purchase process had been completed.

Aurelie, although she liked to portray herself as a ruthless career focused singleton was nothing if not romantic, and was ever ready, to embrace love, in all its wondrous colors and forms, unconditionally and without limitation, whenever it presented itself. Whilst she was ever ready to embrace, wholeheartedly, without hesitation or fear, a love affair that touched the very depths of her soul, she was considerably less circumspect when matters turned to the long road of commitment. Aurelie, an only child, her mother’s joy and her father’s princess had once been a true romantic, dreaming of the day when she too would meet her prince. That illusion had been shattered, rather brutally when she discovered her father had a mistress. Aurelie had been shocked by her mother’s apparent acceptance of the situation. It appeared that her parents' love, which had been so apparent when Aurelie was a child, had, over the years deteriorated into bored acceptance and infidelity.

Aurelie had resolved that no man would treat her in such a way. Her solution had been to avoid long-term commitment in any relationship, in which she became involved.

Boredom was the one thing that terrified, Aurelie, as a series of men had found to their cost.



CHAPTER TWO


Jason parked his car and decided to continue with his original plan for the day. He had decided so purchase a property in Bordeaux, both as a convenient bolt hole for when he

required to spend time in the city and as an investment.

His journey along the quays with his surprise passenger had rather endeared that particular sector of Bordeaux to him, and it was here that he resolved to find a suitable property.

He was naturally drawn by the movement of people to the Rue St. Catherine, and it was here that he began his search. The delicious aroma of freshly baked croissants intermingled with strong coffee, wafting from a nearby boulangerie, was almost enough to divert him but ignoring the beginnings of hunger pangs, Jason stopped briefly outside the window of an estate agent’s office. Perusal of the advertisements displayed demonstrated that they were marketing properties suitable for his requirements.

He was pleased to see, in addition, a discreet little notice assuring that English was spoken within.

Jason pushed open the door and entered. Once inside he looked around, gaining his bearings. It was an elegant office, in a traditional building. High ceilings and an

impressive ornate marble fireplace lent an opulent air to the open plan bureau. The walls were lined with modern stands lit with bright spotlights displaying a selection of exclusive properties both for rental and purchase. A spiral staircase from the center of the office turned graciously, invitingly, to whatever pleasures lay in waiting above. The floor was tiled in what appeared to be marble. The whole office exuded money. Comfortable, reliable money and lots of it. As Jason absorbed the atmosphere, he cast his eyes over the staff. At one desk sat a woman whom Jason estimated to be in her fifties. She was blonde, but attractively, subtly, seductively blonde. Not the brassy peroxide of his most recent and now estranged

girlfriend. The woman was immaculately dressed in an understated but expensive classic style. She was in conversation with a man of similar age with salt and pepper grey hair and

an expensive suit. He was obviously “ le responsable”. Jason was about to approach the pair when his eyes were drawn in the direction of the soft click of stiletto heels on marble. His eyes lifted skyward and he experienced the pleasure of a fine pair of very feminine legs begin to make their appearance down the spiraling staircase. His enjoyment escalated when he realized that the exquisite pair of legs belonged to his early morning passenger.

“Ah Aurèlie, j ’ai un client pour toi. ‘

The girl smiled formally as if greeting a complete stranger, which of course, in essence, was exactly what he was.

“Bonjour”

She stepped forward towards him, stretching out her hand in a formal handshake.

“Enchante, Aurelie Dumas.”

Jason took her hand, enjoying the delicate touch of her soft skin, encapsulated in his much larger hand, reveling in the tones of her voice which he found, to his pleasure as seductive in French as English.

“Jason Stanford, “and, in what he considered his best French accent he repeated,

“Enchante.”

‘Come, sit down, ’she gestured him towards a chair at a vacant desk.

“What can I do for you?”

There seemed a flicker of humor in the question, and Jason studied her facial expressions, feeling sure, despite the distance, she kept between them, that she too sensed, as tangibly as he,

the sexual current between them.

“I am going to be working in Bordeaux for at least the next six months and I am looking for a property to purchase. I am particularly interested in the quays.” Jason explained, looking

intently at the girl.” I was there this morning, and particularly enjoyed the experience.”

“Yes, it is very pleasing there, “Aurelie responded, again with the faintest of smiles. The hint of subtle humor behind her austere façade only adding fuel to the flames of Jason’s

burning interest in her.

He noticed how elegant her nails appeared. The tips gleamed white and were perfectly rounded. Interspersed with delicate patterns in blue and silver, with what appeared but could not possibly have been little diamonds. Beautiful. Each nail a work of art. Unconsciously he reached out taking her hand and pulling it closer to examine the nails more closely. Her fingers felt warm to the touch and he felt a tiny shock of electric energy surge through his body. Intrigued, he ran his thumb over the decoration,

“How beautiful,” he whispered. He was looking into her eyes now. And she was. She was really beautiful. Her hand stretched out in his as if enjoying the contact.

“Yes, thank you.”

“My great aunt Daisy claimed to have invented false nails, you know. She was a flapper in London in the Twenties.”

Aurelie withdrew her hand quickly. “My nails are not false. And this is a French manicure. I think because it was a French lady who started this.”

“Of course, I was not suggesting for a minute your nails were false. They are lovely. I can see that they are very real.”

Aurelie mellowed. “Yes, I understand, she sounds fun, your great aunt.”

Jason nodded, “Yes, she was a bit of a handful, even in her nineties.”

They both laughed.

“Well, we need to find you somewhere to live if you plan to move to Bordeaux. I will need to take some details about you. You understand it is routine. Our clients are very particular about their properties and we have some checks we must carry out.”

“I need a property with a garage of course.”

“Ah yes, I understand. Your car is very expensive I think?”

Jason looked at her. The question was rhetorical.

“You understand that the properties in the area you seek, with garages are very expensive.

There are the notary's’ fees in addition, which add up to seven percent to the purchase price.

You are required to pay a deposit of ten percent of the purchase price at the time of signature of the initial contract or compromise.” Aurelie reeled off information in her charming accented English. “The final act, the point when the remainder of the price is paid and the keys exchanged, takes place approximately two months after the initial contract.”

“Not a problem.” Jason smiled confidently.

“You do realize you have selected one of the most expensive parts of Bordeaux.”

Jason shrugged.

“Well, I really have to complete our client information sheet before I take you to a property. I must follow the rules you understand.”

She pulled open a desk drawer and flipped a sheet of paper onto the desk in front of Jason.

There was a determined look in her eye now.

He could see that she was becoming increasingly curious and his sparsity in providing information was only making her more determined to find out more about him.

He was enjoying her irritation. He was not accustomed to women getting the better of him. She needed to learn at an early stage that he would not be toyed with.

In any case, he felt entitled to a little revenge for her earlier behavior.

Slowly he leaned forward. He placed one finger on the sheet of paper and with one light movement twirled it around so that it was facing him. The questionnaire was in English. He was impressed. He could not help but smile as he read the questions.

Full name, marital status, date of birth, income, home address, employment.

If mademoiselle thought she was getting all that information about him in one swoop, after her stunt earlier, she was very much mistaken. No female gave him the runaround, not anymore. He had no intention of letting this little French madam make a fool out of him.

He looked intently into her eyes as slowly his fingers moved to the breast pocket of his crisp white twilled cotton shirt and extracted a business card.

He flicked it nonchalantly onto the desk. He watched with amusement as her startled eyes immediately recognized the logo on the card.

“It will be a company purchase. There is nothing to be gained by my completing your questionnaire, as it will not be my name on the acte.

If there are any queries you have or if there is additional information required, you should liaise with administration.”


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