True love is like ghosts, which everyone talks about and few have seen.
~Francois de La Rochefoucauld
Through hard work and relentless attempts to better their situation, Hannah had found a new job as a Sous Chef in a well established upscale restaurant, where she performed exceptionally well, which quickly caught the eye of the owner, Jean-Pierre Chevallier, a world-renown, celebrated and televised Master Chef to the creme de la creme among the wealthy and famous and probably one of the world’s most drooled after ineligible bachelors, with his handsome looks and a slight French accent that had women of all ages swoon.
Like most of his dishes, he was seasoned himself, it was guessed he was somewhere in his mid to late fifties – but he was always careful to never disclose his real age. And much to the dismay of his female following he was also very married.
Hannah’s eagerness to learn, dedication and apparant promising potential – along with her attractivness and youth, did not go unnoticed for long, so Chef Chevallier took her under his wing, showing her the ropes of owning and running a restaurant along with a lot of his kitchen trade secrets, often long until after the rest of the staff already went home.
It did not take long for Hannah to fall under his spell, as he most likely had carefully planned, and she started an affair with him. Secretly, hiding it from everyone. Almost everyone.
Naturally, Eric and Ewan would figure it out. While Hannah did nothing to share this with them, the three had known each other all their lives and they caught on quickly.
Once the cat was out of the bag, Hannah was already well past accepting advice, stubbornly consumed by her attraction and admiration for Chevallier, and way too stubborn to listen to reason.
It frequently lead to fights between the three roomies.
“Hannah, what the flying eff are you doing with a married old geezer?! If you have trouble finding a dude our age, I’ll be your wingman. But seriously … come on!” Ewan was done trying to pussyfoot around the issue.
“You do you, Ewan! I have never told you not to sleep with the entire town. And you have checked a bunch of women whom you knew were in relationships off your list, some even twice your age! Have I said anything then, huh!?”
“Yes, you have! And you were right, but I am not invested like you are. They know and I know that this is just for a night, maybe a couple if we all like what we got. You on the other hand have hearts spilling out of your eyeballs whenever that cradlerobber’s name comes up. And what do you think your parents would say – or your brother – if you were to introduce them to someone your dad’s age or even older!?” Ewan shot back.
“Mom and dad would want me to be happy and Bryan can go suck a big one!” Hannah sounded like a pouty teen now.
“He probably does, which is why he never had a girlfriend. You have not seen him fess that up to your parents, still to this day. You know why? Because they are just too conservative for something like that. What makes you think you could get your messed up joke of a relationship past them?!” Ewan argued back.
“OMG – Eric, feel free to wake up at any time and help me! Are you going to say something or let Ewan talk to me like that? Help me out here, will ya?” Hannah addressed Eric, who had just stood by so far.
“Ewan’s right.” Eric confirmed briefly.
“HA!” Ewan made triumphantly.
“What?! With what?” Hannah demanded, shocked he didn’t side with her.
“All of it. Bryan is definately gay, but won’t admit it for fear of your parents’ reaction and that man you’re dating is too old and too married for you!” Eric said.
“You two are ridiculous! I need to get out! Don’t wait up for me!!!”
Hannah rushed out.
Eric and Ewan exchanged glances.
“Think we were too harsh?” Ewan worried.
“No. You just had the bigger balls. This was necessary and I had been wondering for a while how to tell her all that. Hannah is on a path to severe heartbreak and I hate to see that, which makes me want to go beat that old sucker up!” Eric told Ewan.
“Same. Think we should?” Ewan looked ready for combat.
“No, of course not! We did all we could. This is Hannah’s life. You and I have no right to meddle. All we can do is try and help her see the obvious.”
At the same time Hannah was fighting back tears aimlessly walking down the streets. Subconsciously she knew Eric and Ewan were kinda right, but she was angry with them for saying it, for knowing it, for seeing the truth so clearly and for not being happy for her.
Yes, they were right about him being too old. She was barely 23 now, he was at least twice that and then some. No, she would have never thought she’d ever get involved with a married man. That used to sound so outrageous and idiotic, until it happened to her.
But he was just so refined and charming, Hannah had fallen head over heels before she even found out he had been married to his wife for longer than Hannah had even been alive.
If her parents ever found out about that, they would be livid. Especially her dad, no guarantee what he would say or do. Ewan was right about one thing: dad would NOT embrace her relationship with JP.
It was so easy for everyone to cast judgement. She knew it was wrong. But she really loved him. And he loved her back, she was certain of that.
To the world he was Jean-Pierre Chevallier.
Celebrated Master Chef and distinguished business owner in his own right. And handsome, so very handsome, the most gorgeous man Hannah had ever seen.
But to Hannah he was just JP.
Well, outside of work, when they were alone, of course. Noblesse oblige, as JP always said.
It was not just in the kitchen, that he had shown Hannah a lot of life’s secrets, he was also a sight to behold undressed and a real man, an experienced lover. So different from the boys she used to date. JP had a way to make her feel so very special.
Whenever he spoke to her with the lightest, but most sexiest hint of a French accent, when he called her “mon amour” before he kissed her ever so softly on her neck, Hannah just forgot the world around them as her knees turned to pudding. Maybe, just maybe, he would realize that he needed and loved her as much as she loved him and just leave his wife to be with her.
Of course he would!
Just a matter of time.
Had to be.
There was no way he could NOT know it, that they were meant to be. She wished she could go see him now, but his wife was home.
He had such a beautiful home, in the hills outside town, prime real estate. His wife left him to go travel the world most of the time.
Served her right that he cheated on her, for abandoning such a hunk of a man so much. Yeah, he would see it too, soon, then dump that silly, useless wife, marry Hannah instead and the boys would eat crow!
And then she’d live the good life, running Chevallier’s with him, living in the hills. And everybody would be jealous of her for once. So, so jealous!
She had dated boys her own age, in high school and college, and she adored her cousin Eric and of course Ewan, but they were all still so immature about so many things, it repelled her. Even in college, where she briefly dated a guy 4 years older than her, he still only showed how his priorities were messed up half the time. None of them could hold a candle to JP.
Not to mention Eric with his stupid scar issues, because of which he was most likely going to lose out on a relationship with Charlotte, whom Hannah really liked.
It was so obvious that Charlee really cared about him, they had hung out so much by now, and Eric had not even held her hand once, let alone tried anything beyond that and Charlee would never make the first step for fear it would sent Eric running for the hills. For good reason, it probably would.
Charlotte was really pretty, Hannah knew that even Ewan wondered how much longer she would wait for Eric to get in gear. But if you tried to talk to him about it, he’d get all sorts of bend out of shape. Totally pointless and beyond help.
JP would never let some superficial stuff come between him and what he really wanted. Immaturity. Again. Ugh!
Just like Ewan chasing every skirt just because he could.
Yes, even though they were sort of related around a million corners, Hannah would be the first to admit that he was very attractive, cute, charming and overall just a great guy, who was not only handsome but extremely smart too. While Hannah and Eric were struggling to get good grades through college, Ewan was working for two degrees at once AND found time to party and date. How was well beyond Hannah and Eric. But he did and graduated with honors with degrees in Drama and Economics.
The total package.
And what did he do with all that?
Try to beat his own record about how many girls he could nail in one month?
It did not surprise her in the slightest that girls just melted away when he started trying.
One could only hope he was good about birth control or there would be a super-rude awakening. Last thing the Cameron family needed was more complicated family tree branches.
And while Ewan was a spoiled brat who could do no wrong by his father and step-mom, his dad would rip him a new one if he turned up with an illegitimate child by some one night stand.
In other words, in her book, neither of them were in a position to cast judgement in the first place. She saw a bench near a bus station and sat down with a sigh.
Hannah pulled out her cell phone.
‘Need to see you, ASAP. Can we meet?’ she texted.
‘What’s wrong?’ came the reply not long after, which already made her feel better.
‘Just need you. Terrible day. Feel lonely.’ she wrote back.
‘Wife just left for a week-long cruise. Where are you? I’ll come get you.’
Hannah’s mood skyrocketed, her heart beat rapidly as she texted her current location. There you had it, she was right. He loved her and missed her too.
An hour later she was in his luxurious villa on the patio, looking down at Del Sol Valley, trying to figure out where their cheap, tiny, crappy apartment complex was.
“Cherie, more wine?”
“You will spend the night, non?”
“Sure!” Hannah was excited about that invitation, even though she tried to appear nonchalant.
“Come here to me, my love, I have something for you. A gift.”
Hannah peeled away from the breathtaking view, turned and he handed her a bag bearing the logo of a very exquisit designer house.
It revealed a silky, lacy barely there nightie. Beautiful and very obviously sinfully expensive. Probably more expensive than Hannah’s entire outfit combined.
“A negligee, ma chere. To caress your skin when I am not around to do so. When I am, you won’t need it. Or anything else for that matter, beautiful.”
His words were like honey, his voice was low and throaty, as he began to kiss her in a way that left no question what was on his mind.
Hannah spent the night, even though they wasted little time with sleeping.
The next morning they had breakfast on the patio, watching the sun rise over Del Sol Valley. It smelled of good, strong coffee, fresh cut fruit, toast and eggs done just right and seasoned to perfection mixed with the scent of the first blooms of Spring.
That, in combination with the love of her life greeting her with a kiss on the hand before he served her coffee and breakfast was almost too much for Hannah, she felt like her heart and her head were going to explode.
Hannah briefly closed her eyes taking it all in, while the first warm rays of sun of the new day caressed her, but opened them again quickly for fear of missing even a second of all this.
Yes, this was what heaven must be like.
Her personal little slice of it.
When she picked up her phone she rolled her eyes. 25 missed calls, alternating from Ewan and Eric’s numbers and countless texts. Glancing at the first few she could tell what going home would be like.
JP had his driver drop her off near the apartments.
As soon as she entered, Eric nearly pounced on her, she had heard him play the keyboard as she walked up to their door to unlock.
“Hannah! What the hell!? Where have you been!? We’ve been worried sick about you!!!”
“I was with JP.”
Eric’s just grimaced angrily before pulling out his phone.
“Yeah, you can come home, she just walked in.”
Evidently he called back Ewan, who arrived right in the midst of a fight she had with Eric, and he went right for it until Hannah started crying and locked herself in the bathroom.
“Hannah, don’t be such an idiot! He is using you! He is just like me. No, he is much worse than me! I never lie to any of the women about loving them or letting them think we’d have a future. He does. He lies! And what if you wind up pregnant by him?!” she heard Ewan roar through the door, while pounding on it.
“YOU are the idiot Ewan! And you are nothing like him! I know how to use birth control! How do YOU know you haven’t already impregnated the whole town?!” she fired back.
“You can be so aggravating, woman!” he yelled back.
No matter what the boys tried, she didn’t come out until they had to go to work.
-to be continued-