You knocked on the edge of the screen door yet again. "Monsieur Duval?" you called into the apparently empty house, your patience wearing thin.
With a sigh you stepped back and off the porch of the large, old farmhouse. Placing a hand on your hip you glared at the door. You didn't have time for this: the restaurant opened in two hours! If Monsieur Duval wasn't in the house you were going to have to look for him somewhere else and that meant going to the barn.
You turned around to look at the red frame structure on the other side of the property. You really didn't want to go over there if you didn't have to. Monsieur Duval's pigs were wonderful animals and were very good at finding truffles- which was the reason you were in the country an hour outside Paris in the first place- but the fact was that they stank. And you really didn't want to get any closer to them then you had to.
You stood outside the house for several minutes more, but as the farmer did not make an appearance you decided that you couldn't wait any longer and headed towards the barn. Just as the smell was beginning to reach you and causing you to curl your nose up in disgust you heard something. It sounded like a pig squealing and Monsieur Duval
Around the far corner of the barn came a large white pig running at full speed and squealing bloody murder. Behind it, huffing and puffing, was portly Monsieur Duval, his face bright red. A stream of nearly constant curses was coming from his mouth as he chased the pig, some kind of stick in his hand.
You were shocked to say the least. You'd never imagined you'd see polite Monsieur Duval chasing one of his animals around the barnyard like a maniac. "M-monsieur Duval?" you squeaked, surprise and fear in your voice.
Monsieur Duval didn't hear you but the pig did. Its large head swung towards you, ears flopping wildly, before it turned and charged at you. You screamed as it approached, but rather than bowling you over it dashed behind your legs and tried to hide its bulk behind you, squealing pathetically.
Shocked, you stared down at the animal behind you. It gazed back at you, its eyes a bright blue that could not be normal for pig. Somehow, you could sense that it was begging you for help.
"Mademoiselle name-!" You and the pig both jumped and turned to look at Monsieur Duval. "I apologize that you are seeing this, but please move out of the way. I don't have anything to give you today anyways," he panted, his labored breaths disturbing the ends of his thick, dark mustache.
"What's going on?" you asked, too shocked to feel properly puzzled.
"That damn pig ate all the truffles!" Monsieur Duval shouted angrily, swinging the stick- that was an axe upon closer inspection- towards the terrified pig.
"It ate all the truffles?" You repeated, glancing back at the pig. Again your gaze met its and you got the sense that it was asking for your help. The intelligence in its eyes startled you and sent a chill running down your spine. You knew pigs were smart, but this seemed to go way beyond that.
"Yes!" Monsieur Duval screamed. "He is one of the best truffle hunting pigs I have, but he always eats them! I can't take it anymore!" He lunged forward and the pig jumped away, scurrying to your opposite side as Monsieur Duval circled you.
"Monsieur Duval, please calm down!" you cried, alarmed. You still didn't understand exactly what was going on, but it was clear things were getting out of hand. "Surely it can't be that bad!"
"I've had enough!" Monsieur Duval shrieked, lunging forward once again. This time he'd reached the limit on your patience, however. Catching the man by the wrist you wrestled him away from the pig and managed to tear the axe from his grasp. Startled, Monsieur Duval fell backwards, landing hard on his backside. "M-mademoiselle!" he gasped.
"I can understand that you're upset," you snapped at him, your tone icy. "But that's no reason to hurt this animal. If you do not wish to have him anymore then I will take him with me. I've left my payment at the house and since you have no truffles consider it for the pig. Good day, Monsieur."
With that you turned on your heel and stalked away, burying the axe a good inch into the stump used for woodcutting as you passed it. You glanced over your shoulder at the pig that was now looking back and forth, confused, between you and the shocked Monsieur Duval. "Well? Are you coming?"
The pig took one last look at the farmer before snorting, something in its tone suggesting happiness, before trotting after you. "A wise decision, Monsieur pig," you told him as you led the way to your car. "I'm pretty sure if you'd stayed he would have turned you into bacon."
The pig let out a squeal that sounded surprisingly like a laugh and you glanced it him, unnerved. It was the third time your gaze met the pig's and once again you were startled to see the intelligence there. It looked almost
human. The pig closing one cerulean eye in what you would've have sworn was a wink didn't help either.
At first you felt extremely proud of yourself for saving the pig from being brutally slaughtered by Monsieur Duval. Halfway back to the city, however, the consequence what you'd just done finally sunk in and you were stumped. What were you going to do with a pig?! You were a chef not a farmer!
"I'm so stupid," you groaned, resisting the urge bang your head against the steering wheel of your car as you drove. You glanced at the rearview mirror. In it you could see the source of your problems happily watching the countryside roll by out the window.
You really had no idea what to do. It's not like you could keep him as a pet. Your landlord didn't allow pets, let alone livestock, and you honestly didn't think there would be enough room for both you and the pig in your tiny apartment. Also you were nearly always at your restaurant (ironically enough named Le Cochon Heureux- The Happy Pig) so you didn't have any time to look after him.
However, the thing that was bothering you the most (and was the most ridiculous of them all) was the fact that you didn't know what to name the pig. It was like you were really thinking about keeping him or something.
"What's a good name for a pig?" you wondered aloud as you mulled the possible options over, never mind the fact that you weren't keeping him.
"Excusez moi, mon cher, but I already have a name."
The sound of the unfamiliar male voice caused you to flinch so bad that the car nearly ran off the road. With fear prickling up your spine and sweat starting to bead on your forehead you glanced behind you, certain that you were going to see a rapist sitting in your back seat waiting to jump you. There was only the pig, which gazed back at you, his head turned quizzically to the side.
"T-there's no one there," you muttered as you faced the road again, perhaps even more frightened than you had been.
"Non. I am here."
The voice came again and you whipped around, causing the car to skid to a stop on the side of the road after narrowly missing a collision with a stone wall. Again there was no one there but the pig. His intelligent blue eyes bored into your own and slowly it all clicked into place.
"Y-you? You t-talked?" you whispered, unable to tear your gaze away from the pig's.
"Oui. And you really should be more careful with your driving. You nearly killed us both."
After staring in wide-eyed shock for a moment you screamed and scrambled away from the pig as much as you could within the confines of the car. The pig, wincing, gave you a reproachful look. "Was that really necessary?"
"But how? I mean, you're a pig!" you cried, on the verge of hysterics.
"Well, not exactly. I am a pig right now but
" the pig trailed off much to your confusion. For a moment he just sat and stared at you, but then he began to change. The pig's legs lengthened and his body changed shape. The rough skin of an animal turned to smooth human skin and soon the only recognizable part of him were those bright blue eyes.
Where there had once been a pig sitting in the back seat of your car there was now a man. He was young, with chin-length, blond hair and stubble on his chin that echoed the pig's whiskers. He was devilishly attractive, in the worst way you decided, as he offered you another flirtatious wink. His build was lean and his body was toned, but not bulky.
Oh. And he was naked.
You screamed again and turned away, blushing furiously in embarrassment.
"See," the man said, leaning forward so his chin was resting on the back of your seat. "I'm not just a pig."
"Stay away from me!" you replied, jerking away from the man. He smirked at you but did as commanded, leaning back in his seat and stretching languorously in a way that made your face heat up even more. "Tell me!" you said once you had gotten your embarrassment under control, "Who- or what- are you!"
The man gasped. "Oh how rude of me! Please let me introduce myself. My name is Francis Bonnefoy. And, as for what I am mon cher, I am a Shifter."
Slowly you turned back to Francis, careful to keep your eyes on his face. "A Shifter?"
"Yes. I am a being who can change between an animal- in my case a pig- and a human at will."
"I-I see," you said, even though you didn't really.
"Don't worry mon cher," Francis said airily. "It is all rather complicated and not particularly important. What is important is that I still don't know the name of such a beautiful flower."
Despite the fact that you didn't like this guy's attitude and the flippant way that he flirted with you, you still found yourself blushing heavily. "I'm name-," you said, your lips moving before you really had the chance to stop them.
"A beautiful name," Francis said. Your stomach flip-flopped at the smile he was giving you. It was as frivolous as all the others had been, but there was something genuine shining deep within his gorgeous blue eyes. Wait
what? Mentally you slapped yourself. No, you scolded yourself, you would not fall for this man's tricks.
"Now the real question," Francis said slowly, drawing your attention back to him. "Is what to next. I have a few ideas, but perhaps you would like to offer some input?" Francis wiggled his eyebrows suggestively at you and as you turned away in disgust your eyes landed on the clock.
"Shit!" you exclaimed, turning all the way back around and pressing down hard on the gas pedal. The car lurched forward and Francis was thrown backward in his seat with a yelp of protest.
"Where are we going in such a hurry now?" he half-shouted, pulling himself up so that he was looking over your shoulder. It pleased you slightly to see his face pale once he got a good look at the speedometer.
"My restaurant. It opens in 20 minutes so I don't have any more time to sit here and discuss what to do next with a pig that can turn into a man."
You pulled up behind Le Cochon Heureux ten minutes after opening and in a horrible mood. Slamming your door open you stepped out and turned back to the very wary looking Francis. "Stay here," you ordered curtly. "I'm going to get you some clothes." Francis's only response was to nod meekly.
Stepping through the back door and into the kitchen instantly calmed you. The room was alive with all the activity of an open restaurant- the sounds of pots and pans banging together and shouted orders, the delicious smells of meat and sauces being cooked and combined together to form a complete dish, and the heat of open flames. Your arrival was your greeted by multiple shouts of 'Good afternoon, chef!'. You nodded in response before striding through the room and into the storage room at the back.
Rifling through several boxes you pulled out an extra chef's coat and an extra pair of chef's pants before stalking through the kitchen and back outside. You pulled the back door to your car open and flung the clothes at Francis. "Put those on. I saved you from Monsieur Duval, so I suppose you're my responsibility now. Tonight you'll be helping out at the restaurant until I decide what to do with you."
Francis, who had apparently decided not to protest against your kindness, snapped a pitiful salute that left you half-amused and half-exasperated. "Oui, chef!" He then pulled the clothing on before you dragged him to the kitchen.
Once you were both inside you grabbed a spatula and banged it against an empty pot. "Listen up everyone!" you shouted. "This is Francis." You pointed to your new
responsibility. "He's going to be helping out tonight as a busboy. Just tell him what he needs to do and if he causes trouble don't hesitate to reprimand him."
You waited until the chorus of "Yes, chef!" was completed before turning back to Francis with a smug smirk on your face. To your surprise Francis was smirking as well, which irritated you to no end. "Get to work!" you snapped at him.
"Oui, chef," he replied, scampering forward and into the kitchen. But not before he'd thrown another of those infuriatingly appealing winks at you over his shoulder.
Sighing, you set you calculator down and reached for your nearly empty glass of wine. Tonight had been a good night and you would survive for another week, but that would never stop you from worrying. Your restaurant was still new and its reputation was still fragile. The fact that you hired inexperienced chefs who had trouble finding jobs at other places didn't help your stress levels either. But it was difficult to break into the cooking scene in Paris and many chefs were never really successful enough to support themselves. You knew what it was like to have no one willing to help you and you didn't want anyone else to have to suffer it.
"You look very tired, mon cher."
"Of course I'm tired," you scoffed in reply. It was nearly three am now and you'd been on your feet all night cooking.
"Hmm," Francis hummed before pulling out another chair from the table you were sitting at and turning it around. He sat down, crossing his arms across the top of the back. "It seems to me that you work too hard. Don't you have a sous chef?"
You shook your head and sighed. "None of the other cooks are experienced enough." When you looked back at Francis you were surprised to see him smirking. "What?" you asked, suddenly feeling edgy.
"If it pleases you, mademoiselle, I will be your sous chef!" Francis declared with a dramatic flourish of his arms.
You stared at Francis for one very long moment before bursting into laughter, clutching your sides and hunching over as the giggles ripped through you. By the time you got yourself under control again there were tears leaking from the corners of your eyes. "Haha
that's a good one," you sighed.
You were rather alarmed to see that your outburst didn't seem to have any effect on the man. Francis just sat there, smirking at you. "Fine," you growled, unnerved by his knowing gaze. "Go cook me something. If it's good enough then maybe I'll consider making you my sous chef."
"Oui, chef," Francis replied, giving you a smile that filled your stomach with butterflies before disappearing into the kitchen and leaving you to grouch.
A half-hour later Francis returned bearing a steaming plate of steak au poivre. He set it before you carefully and you shot him a skeptical glance, but he didn't return it. He poured you another glass of wine before settling in his chair again and looking at you expectantly.
You looked at the food before you. It looked and smelled amazing, but
Hesitantly you picked up your knife and fork and cut a piece of the steak off. You inspected it thoroughly- it was cooked perfectly and the sauce looked right- before popping it in your mouth. Immediately you clapped a hand over your mouth.
"It's good, non?" Francis said, smirking and flipping his hair behind his ear arrogantly. "Don't lie to me mon cher, I know it's the best you've ever tasted."
You finished chewing and swallowed. "It's alright," you replied and Francis pouted in response.
But you were lying. It was freaking delicious and probably was the best steak au poivre you'd ever had. Hell, it was better than yours! And you hadn't failed to notice that Francis had gently helped correct the little mistakes that the other chefs had been making all night. When you'd discretely gone behind him to see exactly what he'd done you'd been pleasantly surprised to find that all his corrections were right.
The man certainly knew what he was doing and you really could use the extra help
"Ok," you groaned, a niggling feeling in the back of your mind warning you that were going to regret this. "I'll let you be my sous chef. But, I swear, if you mess up even once I'm sending you to the butcher!"
Francis's response was to smile. It wasn't a smirk and there was nothing flirtatious about it. It was just a simple smile of true contentment and it left you breathless. "Thank you, -name-."
You felt your face heat up. "Y-you better not screw up," you muttered turning away from him to hide your embarrassment and the way your heart was racing.
It had been three months since that night and as much as you hated to admit it things were working out beautifully. Francis filled the role of sous chef like he'd been born to it. He easily carried out all his duties in the kitchen and had ample time to spare to help the other cooks, all of whom had grown enormously under Francis's tutelage. The man was just as useful out in the dining room as well, charming guests with his knowledge and elegant air.
And he'd grown on you. He was always quick to respond to any demand you had in the kitchen and he was usually willing to help with anything else you might ask of him (though there sometimes was a lot of overdramatic complaining before your request was complied with it). You'd recently come to realize that Francis was more than just your subordinate. Somehow he'd also become your friend.
He had a wonderful sympathetic ear and would listen patiently as you ranted about food prices or tiredly wondered whether you could really make it through the day. Francis always had a kind word at the ready in response and he was incredibly supportive. In some ways it felt like he was your big brother. In other ways not so much
he was also a shameless flirt. And that had created another set of problems. Slowly, but surely, you were falling for him.
That was your real dilemma. Every cheesy line, every lingering touch, every suggestive wink made your heart race and butterflies fill you stomach. He flirted with you almost constantly and somehow he always managed to make you feel special. But he flirted with EVERYONE- customers, coworkers, men, women- and it infuriated you to know that despite the fact that Francis was obviously just a player you still had feelings for him.
You didn't know what to do.
You had another problem as well. Your restaurant was failing. Despite the fact that the dining room seemed busy every night the numbers didn't lie. Your business was dropping off and fast. You didn't know what to do about this either and the stress was slowly eating away at you.
You were at the end of the line. Tomorrow a food critic was coming and if you didn't get a good review you knew that it would be the end of your restaurant. You were tense, on the verge of panic. You'd sent all of your employees home because you didn't want them to know, but Francis, who never left the restaurant until you did, was still there.
"Mon cher, you look beautiful even when washing dishes," Francis whispered to you, wrapping an arm around your waist.
"Don't touch me," you growled at him, trying to work off your stress by scrubbing caked-on food off a pan. You were not it in the mood for the normally half-playful game of seduction and subsequent rejection that he liked to play with you.
"Oh come now," Francis continued, now nuzzling his face into your neck and setting your skin on fire. "Don't be like that."
"Don't touch me!" you snapped, waving a soapy knife threateningly at him over you shoulder.
Francis instantly released you and stepped away, his hands held up in the air in a placating gesture. You shot him a ferocious glare before turning back to the sink, but you froze as his voice called out behind you. "Mon cher
The concern in his tone was genuine and it made your heart pound. "Nothing," you lied, denying the part of you that ached for you bare your soul to him.
You heard footsteps behind you and the next thing you knew Francis's strong hands were on your shoulders. He turned you around before you could protest and gently, but firmly, seized you chin and forced you to look at him. "What's wrong?" he asked again.
You were trapped in Francis's gaze, his gorgeous blue eyes boring into yours. You knew you couldn't lie to him when he looked at you like this. Just something about the concern swirling there and the
made the words pour from your lips.
I'm almost broke. That food critic that's coming tomorrow is my last hope."
Francis released you as shock flashed across his face. "I don't understand. What happened? How did it get so bad? Why haven't you said anything?"
"I'm sorry," you replied, feeling ashamed. "I didn't want anyone to worry and I hoped that if I just waited a little while that it would get better. But it hasn't. I don't know what to do anymore
" you admitted. You kept your gaze trained on your feet as you felt tears prick in the corners of your eyes. You were about to lose everything and there wasn't anything you could do to stop it.
Francis took your hand and led you out into the dining room where he pushed you into a chair. He disappeared back into the kitchen for a moment before coming back out with a bottle of wine. After pouring you a glass he sat down and simply said, "Tell me."
the truffles," you confessed.
Francis was obviously surprised. "The truffles?"
"Yes. We used to make this dish- a dessert- with them that was our most frequently ordered item. It's what put us on the map, basically. But ever since
" You trailed off, your teeth worrying your bottom lip.
?" Francis prompted patiently.
"Ever since I rescued you from Monsieur Duval I haven't been able to buy any."
Francis frowned. "Why not?"
You looked down in shame. "Monsieur Duval told the other farmers who sell truffles what happened. None of them will sell me their truffles now."
"I see," Francis said quietly. "So this is my fault."
"What? No!" You exclaimed, turning your startled gaze on the man next to you. "It's not your fault! It's mine. I was the one who threatened him and then practically attacked him. It's
it's my fault
" Your last words were a whimper. You hunched over, sniffling, as the tears you'd been fighting for days threatened to spill over your eyelids. "I-it's all my fault
"Mon cher." Those gentle fingers grabbed your chin once again and forced your head up. You didn't want to meet Francis's eyes, for him to see you so vulnerable and weak, but you were given no choice as your gaze locked with his. "It is not your fault," Francis told you, wiping away the single tear that had managed to escape your eyelashes.
You were in shock. The conviction in Francis's voice and gaze pushed all the doubt from your mind. There was something else in his eyes too- adoration? Affection? Dare you think it
love? You weren't sure, but it lit a fire somewhere deep inside you.
Francis smiled softly. "You were only doing what you thought was right when you saved me. You stopped Monsieur Duval to spare the life of another living creature and of pig no less. That is something that you should never be ashamed of, -name-." Francis's praise left you blushing and made you feel better, even if it was just a tiny bit.
You managed to offer Francis a wan smile and his was response to smirk, which was a much more ordinary reaction for him. "And I think there's something you're forgetting, mon cher," Francis continued, rising to his feet. You frowned in confusion until he began to change.
By the time Francis hit the floor on all fours and wriggled out of his clothing you were grinning too.
"Are you sure this is a good place to look?" you asked, looking down at the large white pig at your side. It was the middle of the night and the forest before you was a lot more intimidating and a lot less hope filled than it probably would be during the day.
"Oui," Francis assured you with a confident snort. "Don't worry your pretty little head, mon cher. I will find you the truffles that you need!" With that he trotted off into the woods. You rolled your eyes at Francis's dramatics, but you were smiling as you followed him.
The two of you searched for hours, Francis with his snout pressed to the ground as he sniffed for the elusive fungus and you with a flashlight to help light the dark woods, but you had no luck. Several times Francis thought he'd found truffles, but whenever you'd go to dig them up there'd be nothing there. The false alarms left you discouraged and exhausted, and by the time dawn was breaking you were ready to give up.
Finally you collapsed backwards against a tree, sliding down to sit on the damp earth. "Let's just give up Francis," you sighed heavily. "It's hopeless."
"Non," he replied, his tone brokering no argument.
I'm so tired. And I just
I can't keep going anymore." Despair welled up inside you. You'd worked so hard to get your restaurant started, to get the right people and ingredients and recipes together. You spent so much time there that it had become your home and the people your family. And soon it would all be gone.
You couldn't hold it in anymore and you began to cry, big, fat, salty tears streaming down your face. You wrapped you arms around your legs and buried your face in your knees, finally allowing all the emotions that had been building up inside of you for so long to come out.
You heard hurried footsteps, the four beats abruptly changing to two. "Non. Non, non, non
" Arms wrapped around you and you were pulled into a warm, naked chest. You were so upset that you didn't hesitate to return the embrace. Not even the fact that he was naked bothered you right now and, leaning into his hold, you allowed yourself to cry yourself out into Francis's shoulder.
Once your tears had been reduced to sniffles Francis gently pulled away and dried your wet cheeks. "That's enough of that," he murmured. You looked up at him despondently, your eyes still watery, and he offered you a small, comforting smile. "Come on," he said, rising to his feet and offering you a hand.
"No," you replied. Francis frowned down at you in surprise.
"Come on, -name-! You can't give up! We'll find them, I know it."
"I don't care anymore," you sighed, slumping back against the tree. You were just too exhausted, mentally and physically to keep going.
Francis's eyes hardened in anger. It sparked something rebellious inside you. Francis rarely got angry and he'd never looked at you like that before. He leaned down and seized your arm. "I'm not going to let you give up. Now stand," he said, his tone like that of a parent chastising a naughty child. It infuriated you.
"No!" you shouted, pulling your arm out of his grasp. You turned the full force of your glare on him as you continued. "Why do you care anyways? It's not like the restaurant closing would be a big deal to you! You're skilled enough to get a job anywhere you want! It's not your problem so just stop worrying so much about it and leave me alone."
"Merde name-," Francis growled under his breath before suddenly turning away and sighing forcefully. He ran a hand through his perfectly messy hair, the movement causing the muscles in his arm, back, and chest to ripple beneath his flawless skin.
The last time you'd seen Francis naked was the day that you'd rescued him. As soon as you'd hired him on as your sous chef you'd help him find his own apartment since you didn't want him living at the restaurant. He'd often joke or tease about taking off his clothing, but you'd always threaten him into behaving while he was at work (though what he did on his own time you didn't want- and didn't think you could handle- to know). Seeing his naked form again made you blush, but you soaked it in, enjoying the sight. Francis truly was a beautiful man.
Francis finally turned back to you, a different kind of determination gleaming in his eyes that made your stomach do flips. Slowly, almost like he was trying not to spook a frightened animal, he kneeled before you. "You want to know why I care?" Francis asked you quietly.
You opened your mouth to respond, but found you couldn't speak. Instead you nodded, biting your bottom lip as your heart began to pound and your blood to race, his close proximity affecting you in a way that it hadn't before.
"It's because I care about you. That restaurant is your whole world and I know how much it means to you. I refuse to give up because doing so would mean giving up on your happiness and, -name-, I can't do that." You stared at Francis in wide-eyed surprise as you saw a pale blush tint his cheeks.
Francis leaned forward until he was cheek-to-cheek with you, his warm breath fanning across your ear and sending tingles down your spine. Then he whispered, "Je t'aime. I love you."
Your heart's first reaction to those words was to soar, your heartbeat so loud and so forceful that you were certain that Francis could hear it. Your mind's first reaction was to deny, deny, deny. And as it was your heart that left you speechless your brain took control of your mouth and spoke. "You don't mean that," you all but croaked.
Francis pulled back and you could see the frustration and hurt in his eyes. You suddenly felt the need to defend yourself. "You say that to everyone. You can't mean it." Your face was flushed and hot both from shame and excitement.
You were so confused. You wanted to believe him, you really did. That's why it felt like your heart was about to beat out of your chest. But at the same time you knew Francis, you knew what a shameless flirt he was. He talked about love all the time, said those three special words to practically anyone who would listen. Why would it be any different when he said them to you now?
You were startled when guilt flashed through Francis's eyes. "I know I do," he admitted. "I need to work on that, non?" he added, the corners of his mouth turning up wryly. "But please
" He reached out and cupped your cheeks in his hands, his thumbs rubbing slow, tender circles over your cheekbones. "Please believe me- I say those words to everyone, but I only mean them when I say them to you."
With that Francis pressed his lips against yours. Your mind immediately froze as a spark passed between the two of you, traveling down through all your limbs and filling your body with heat. Even in those brief moments late at night when you were drifting between wakefulness and sleep and allowed yourself to imagine what it would be like to kiss Francis you'd never imagined that it would feel this
The feeling of it consumed you. What had started out as something very chaste and innocent quickly became heated as you wrapped your arms around Francis's neck and deepened the kiss. Francis eagerly responded, his arms moving from your face to your waist where they began to explore. It wasn't like he'd never touched you before, but never had you allowed him to touch you like this.
The two of you so completely lost yourselves in the passion that when you finally pulled away, vaguely surprised that you hadn't lost any items of clothing, dawn was truly breaking. Francis smiled at you, his bright blue eyes dancing with happiness and affection. You were happy too, a bashful smile gracing your lips. You liked this feeling- the feeling of having the one you loved love you back. It made your chest feel full and warm.
"We can't give up now, right?" Francis asked.
Blushing, embarrassed, you shook your head. "No, we can't." This time when Francis offered you a hand up you accepted it. By the time you'd finished brushing the dirt off your pants Francis was once again a pig. Throwing a wink at you over his shoulder he trotted off once again and you followed, feeling more hopeful than you had in weeks. It's amazing what love can do for a person.
It wasn't long before Francis stopped and began to root around the base of a tree.
"What is it?"
"I'm certain of it this time
" He looked up at you, triumph shining in his eyes. "Truffles!" He began to dig in a frenzy, dirt flying everywhere as he dug his hooves into the damp soil. You helped as well, tearing at the ground with your hands.
And there, as you both sat panting at the edge of your hole, were the truffles that you had been searching for, the key to saving your restaurant.
"Francis, you did it!" you cried, throwing your arms around his now muddy body and not caring in the least. You were so happy you could have cried.
"Non. We did it together," Francis responded, nuzzling his snout into your chest and making you blush.
"I love you," you quietly confessed, planting a quick kiss on Francis's snout before turning back to the hole and harvesting the truffles.
You'd been so afraid to acknowledge it before. Being friends with Francis was one thing, but admitting your feelings for him when he was so easily swayed by a pretty face was too terrifying. Now though, after seeing everything he'd done for you tonight you'd felt certain that opening your heart to Francis would end up being a good thing.
You giggled as your heart fluttered happily in your chest. You chanced a glance back over you shoulder. You didn't know if pigs could blush, but you thought Francis was doing a pretty good job of trying.
"Mon amour, it's time to wake up."
Francis's voice and the gentle shaking of your shoulder was what wakened you from your slumber the next morning. Blinking blearily you looked around to realize that you'd fallen asleep at one of the dining room tables.
"What time is it?" you asked, as France set a cup of coffee before you.
"Nearly ten," he replied, taking a seat.
You felt slightly confused as you reached for the coffee. Why were you getting up so late? And why were you sleeping at the restaurant? Then all the memories of the day before that had previously been so fuzzy came rushing back and your hand began to shake. The threat of spilling the steaming drink was too great and you set the coffee back down, turning your anxious gaze to Francis.
"The paper? Did you get it?"
"Oui," he replied, carefully pulling a folded up newspaper out from beneath the table and placing it before you.
did you read it yet?"
"Non. I thought it would be best if you read it first."
You nodded stiffly. Francis gave you an encouraging smile before you turned back to the newspaper before you. With trembling fingers you unfolded it, flipped to the food section, found the review of your restaurant, and began to read.
The fact was that even though you'd found the truffles the ordeal wasn't over. You and Francis had returned to the restaurant and begun to prepare everything you'd need to make Le Cochon Heureux's specialty dessert.
When the time came the night before- with the food critic waiting patiently in the dining room for the cherry to top off his meal- you'd kicked everyone but Francis out of the kitchen, intending to prepare the dessert yourself. Francis's presence was supposedly to help, but really you'd just wanted moral support. He'd sat quietly as you worked, his gaze on your back helping to keep you calm.
After the critic left and the restaurant closed you became a nervous wreck anticipating what the critic would write in the article to be published in the next day's paper. You were certain that it wouldn't be anything good and your restaurant really would be finished. Not even Francis's strong hold and tender kisses could calm you. In the end he'd fed you several glasses of wine and you'd fallen asleep at a table.
Now Francis watched you closely as you read, your gaze flicking from side to side at lighting speed. When you finally finished you laid your head back down on the table within the cradle of your arms. "Mon amour?" You heard Francis ask, his tone concerned. You were trembling again now, but this time it was with relief.
You raised your head and smiled at Francis through tears of joy. "He liked it, Francis. He gave us a really good review!"
Francis's entire face lit up and he snatched the paper away from you, eagerly reading it, his eyes devouring each line. When he finished he dropped the paper and pulled you into a hug, stroking your hair. "You did it, -name-," he whispered proudly.
"No," you replied, pulling back a bit and grinning at him. "We did it together."
Francis was taken aback for a moment before his face melted into the most loving expression that you'd ever seen on another person's face. "Oui. We did," he agreed and captured your lips in a kiss.
Things were just getting heated when you were interrupted by wolf-whistles, cat calls, and someone shouting 'It's about time!'. You and Francis broke apart- you blushing furiously and Francis smirking smugly- to see your entire staff gathered by the door. Once they had your attention they all rushed forward, enveloping the two of you in a group hug while congratulating you on the good review.
You were so happy. This was why you loved the restaurant so much and why you'd worked so hard to keep it going. And now you knew for sure that you were going to be able to stay in this place with these people forever.
Finally you'd had enough and, still laughing, began pushing people back towards the kitchen. "We open in an hour. It's time to work!"
When you turned around again it was to find that you and Francis were once again alone in the dining room. "Now this is more like it," he purred, wrapping his arms around you and nuzzling your neck.
"No, now it's time to go to work," you responded, gently pushing him away.
"But mon amour
" You interrupted Francis's pouted protest by pressing a finger against his lips.
You loved how he'd changed his pet name for you from 'my dear' to 'my love' and somehow it lit something deep inside you that was rather
naughty. You stood up on your tiptoes and whispered into his ear, "Save that for tonight when I take you home with me." As you pulled away, a sultry smirk on your lips, you were pleased to see his eyes widen in surprise and his face flush.
You knew Francis had shaken his shock off when he smirked right back at you. "Oui, chef!" He turned and headed into the kitchen, but not before blowing a kiss at you over his shoulder. You stuck your tongue out at him, but laughed all the same.