I didn’t want to go to Paris. Being 36 and single is bad enough. Why would I want to go to the so-called city of love?

I never had time for love. A bad experience in my early 20’s, hot on the heels of a bad experience in my teens left me scarred for life. Or so I thought. I had a good job. A really good job. I was the manager of the fundraising department of my organisation and I ran a hedge fund on the side. Money was good, life was good, a little lonely but hey, nothing’s perfect.

And then my sister Rachel got engaged. That was… hard to put it lightly. Rachel owned her own catering company and was a real airhead. I had to contend with her lovey dovey bubbliness everyday and it wore me down. And then my parents got on my case and eventually I couldn’t take it.

I was back home for the wedding, I took time off to spend with my family. 6 weeks of accumulated leave and now i wish i hadn’t. So one night I snapped. I grabbed a case and headed off to the airport. I texted my family that something came up and I was being sent on a business trip.

The flight to France was the next plane out and that’s how I found myself waking up in Paris.

I had nowhere to go and that’s how I met Julliette. I approached her in the airport, asking her if she knew any good hotels. That’s when she brought me to her guest house and that’s when I saw Francis.

Wedding photography in Cairo, Egypt. Timeless, elegant, sophisticated

I’ll never forget that moment. The cab drove through beautiful, idyllic alleyways bathed in gentle sun, small archways hiding delightful apartments tucked into nooks and crannies. I was so busy gawking that I got out of the cab without looking and then I was being kissed on the cheek! I vaguely recalled that it was a French thing from my French room-mate back in Uni. I didn’t know which way to turn, how far to lean and it was a little awkward. The gushing happiness of these strangers was slightly overwhelming which is how I ended up headbutting a smartly dressed brunette.

To make matters worse, he was attractive!

That’s how I met Francis and thankfully we laughed it off. He was tall, chocolate coloured locks framed intelligent eyes, with swirls of charcoal threaded through his hair. Francis was a biologist and he was also on break.

He offered to show me around and well… I don’t know if I was more in love with Francis or Paris.

I woke up to the smell of freshly baked bread wafting from all over the city. Francis was waiting downstairs, dressed in a well fitted dark suit. My heart skipped a beat when he leaned in towards me but I didn’t know what to do, so he air-kissed me and I blushed hard. He offered me breakfast and off we left in search of adventure. Bistros and coffee shops, artisan bakeries, art galleries, no consumerism, tourist traps desperate for cash, no chains, Francis whisked me on a tour of yesteryear. A fairytale walk down a street lifted from a picture book, seating me at table, taking me to sample marcons and chocolates. 

Photostudio in Cairo, Egypt

That week was a dream. Strolls down the river, biking across bridges, earnest, intelligent discussions and clever jokes, sweet champagne that made me feel almost as light headed as when Francis greeted me each morning with an almost kiss.

I forgot that I was a bumbling tourist with Franics. I told my family I would be coming home later and another week disappeared, flitting through my fingers and dissipating off into the hazy glow of the past.

The evenings were the best. There was always a light breeze as we meandered down historic streets listening to the gentle sounds of the Parisian nightlife. Laughter almost drowned out the sound of music as we strolled down the main boulevards.

But I was busy, he was busy.

Life moves on. Rachel’s wedding was in less than a week and then there was work for both of us. On my last night, Francis took me to the theatre. It was a small, old theatre with plush red seats and popcorn warming on a portable stove in the hallway. As we left, it began to pour and we giggled like we were teenagers as we ran for shelter, trying to catch the last bus. The puddles splashed up my legs as we sprinted, but the bus pulled away leaving us stranded.

“You’re so cold.” Francis draped me in his jacket and his fingers lingered on my shoulder, stroking me gently as the rain beat down.

We made it into a cab and Francis put his arms around me, pulling me close, “to warm you up,” he said. We both knew it was a goodbye hug.

Fine art wedding photographer in Cairo, Egypt

The next morning, when I came down with my case, I leaned in for an air-kiss and Francis kissed my cheek. I stood there breathless. Neither of us said anything. We stared into each other’s eyes for a long moment. When Julliete came to tell me that my cab had come, my lipstick was smudged.

Francis accompanied me to the airport. I never looked back.

I met my parents on the other side of the ocean, in the airport in the states. Dad asked how the trip was, I didn’t say anything, instead, I turned to my brother. 

“Is your friend Alex still living in town? I’d love to meet up with him.”

Francis had opened my heart and now I was looking for love.

It was my pleasure having you here. Thank you for your interest in my works and I hope to meet you soon!

Alona Koenig

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