Weekend in Paris
It’s a different train platform, a different day, a different city, and even a different country. It’s slicker and more antiseptic than Hamburg was, but still is definitely Gallic. The hum of conversation sounds different, the smells are different, and the feeling is different. Liz certainly feels different than she did–somewhat undone and definitely tired and very doubtful, but also very good. She’s had very good sex twice in about five hours, with a handsome man who seems to know his way around a woman. It suddenly feels very appropriate for France, and she suddenly feels rather smug about the whole thing. Not only did she do this thing, she has the potential to continue it, should she choose. Should she choose.
Sarah yanks her back into reality. She demands to know who it was, and what’s going on. Liz says, once again, “I met him on the train,” and stops. She’s pretty sure there’s no way she can explain last night to Sarah, easily the most strait-laced person she knows. “We got acquainted,” she adds and stops again.
After a long pause, Sarah says, “I’ll say,” and then says, “When are you supposed to call him?” Liz reassures her that it’s not until their weekend together is over, and her extreme reluctance to say more finally telegraphs itself to Sarah and she lets it go. “What do you want to do for lunch?” she asks,
Liz says, “Steak frites, of course!” and that ends the topic.
While this is going on, Matt is making his way to an exit. He’s got his own dose of dislocation to deal with, and his is geographical as well as emotional. After the time spent in Germany, he was at least used to the place and German was starting to seem, if not comprehensible, then at least familiar. Now he has to start from scratch. He decides on the easy way out of a taxi and a written address and is profoundly grateful for the existence of the Euro. If he had to figure out a new currency, he thinks it might be too much.
The taxi ride affords him time to think, in between wondering if the driver is going three blocks via Versailles. He feels pretty smug, himself. His life, heretofore so humdrum and ordinary, has taken a distinctly novel turn. In the best tradition of the heroes of his espionage novels, he’s made love twice with a pretty woman on a train as it sped between countries. You dog, he thinks, and suddenly grins. The grin fades, though, as he realizes that he seems to have at least a little bit of an investment in seeing her again, and that she has now disappeared into Paris, and all he knows is her name, the first name of her friend and absolutely nothing else. He has no way at all to find her, if he should wish to. He has done all of his persuading on the train platform (well, and during the night last night–he thinks he was pretty persuasive, but you can never be too sure).
The brakes of the cab suddenly screech (he thinks reflexively that they probably need to be serviced, and wishes he had thought to look at the tires), he’s thrown slightly forward and the driver is letting him know, in a torrent of French, that he’s reached the address he gave him. The fare looks reasonable, numbers are numbers and he can still calculate a tip, and he gets out of the cab feeling not quite as though he’s given all of his money away. The Hotel Fleche d’Or has a welcoming red awning, and a low per night price, which is the more important feature. His room, once he’s negotiated the check-in (feeling very loud and weirdly American) makes him grin again. The bed seems to be set into a bookcase of sorts, with sconces above, and if things go the way he wants, it’s not going to feel that far off the train bunk. Then he wonders if things will go the way he wants. Then he flops down on the bed, in its alcove, finds the remote and looks for CNN on the television. A little news to numb the mind.
Lunch was good, and catching up was good too, but wine and food caught up with Liz and she began to yawn. Sarah sees this and realizes that Liz’s still got her suitcase with her, and says that it’s time to get to the hotel that Sarah is staying at for her business trip. Once they arrive, she looks at the circles under Liz’s eyes and remembers that she has work to do in the business center and suggests that Liz take a nap. Taking a shot in the dark, she says, “It’s not always easy to sleep in those train berths.” Liz suppresses a snort of laughter and gratefully accepts the suggestion.
She feels so light-headed with lack of sleep that it almost feels like jet lag, not as though she merely traveled from one bordering country to the next on a train. The shades are drawn, and she strips down to her underwear and climbs under the covers.
The moment she hits horizontal, it comes back. A good bit has gone on since she woke up in Matt’s arms, and there hasn’t really been a moment to herself to think, but she has it now. The feelings come back, the sensations…and the longing. God, it felt good, she thinks, that was good In fact, she wishes she had him there again with her, to reprise all the things that felt so good, and as she wishes that, güvenilir bahis her hand drifts between her legs. Slides under the elastic of her underwear. Makes a few tentative movements, while she decides…then her finger slides into her own slick wetness and then to that very sensitive spot, and as it does, she remembers that, oh, just over twelve hours ago, it wasn’t her own hand there, it was a warm, male hand, and she begins to do the things he had done. His scent comes back to her, her finger moves faster, around and around and back and forth and she thinks of his voice in her ear and the feeling of his lips and then she thinks of what it felt like with him inside of her. She thinks most specifically of the second time, the time toward morning, where they were both partly asleep and they felt familiar to each other.
He kept whispering “shall I go on?”
She kept saying, “yes, yes, yes,” nearly whimpering, and he laced his big hands into hers and held them back by her shoulders–and then she starts to come, with a force that startles even her, her back arching, her left hand clenching the pillow–an orgasm that takes her over, even though she’s alone, goes on longer than it seems feasible—then she’s suddenly too sensitive even for her own touch, and she’s done. She smiles, turns on her side and falls asleep.
Matt wakes with a start, and for a long moment is unable to assemble his surroundings into anything at all meaningful. Where the hell is he? There’s a man with an English accent on the television going on about terrorism, and when he looks to the left and to the right, he sees wooden walls. What the hell? Buried alive with a know-it-all? Then, his brain nearly creaking with the effort, he remembers–Paris hotel. CNN International. Wait, there’s more–oh, yeah, there’s more, that’s right. He remembers the rest of it, too. He feels very tired of hearing British-accented English, all of a sudden, and he finds the remote–not far, no real man lets the remote get too far away–and clicks off the television and lies there in the beginning Paris dusk, thinking. What he finds himself thinking most about, to his very great surprise, is the feeling of generosity that the whole encounter gave him. She seemed generous, generous with her words, her thoughts, her actions. (Definitely her actions). It is, he supposes, the reason he wants her to call him, wants her to spend one more day with him in Paris–because he wants some more of her largess. As he lies there, he begins thinking of details about her–sexual details, of course, but other details, that surprise even him. Details like the way her smile goes up more on one side than the other, details like the little glass tube of what he believes are opals that hang from her necklace. And then the sexual details take over and he wishes he had her there, and then has her there in his mind–and then has her. In his mind, which also joins the physical world.
Afterwards, he sighs and turns his thoughts to dinner.
The evening turns out well for Liz. Since Sarah is in town for business, they’ve been invited to join some of Sarah’s French colleagues for dinner. The toxicologists turn out to be a lot more fun then their profession would imply and are fluent in English, a relief. It’s a cheerful blur of wine, good food, laughter and bi-lingual jokes, some of which she can even get. At ten she looks at her watch and realizes to her surprise that she hasn’t really thought about Matt for the better part of the night, but having thought of him, he suddenly becomes omnipresent. Since it was really only 24 hours ago, she starts to experience the, we were doing this, we were doing that effect.
As she and Sarah walk back to the hotel, she’s very quiet, an uncommon state of affairs when they’re together. After a block of no sound but their own clicking heels, Sarah finally asks, “Who was he, really?”
It’s more than she can do to admit that she did the deed with a stranger on a train, so she glosses the story a bit. “We shared a compartment…we seem to have a real connection, and he wants me to stay an extra day. You know, spend it with him.” Sarah asks if she plans to do it. Liz waves her hands in a way that suddenly looks very Gallic, given the backdrop, and says, “I don’t know. Sometimes I want to, other times it seems like a dumb idea. I’d hate to waste a whole day on someone I don’t really like.” As she says this, she suddenly sees Matt’s warm brown eyes and his silky black brows and wants to haul his number out of her purse then and there. Actually, she wants to haul out his number and leave Sarah standing on the Parisian sidewalk.
“Any other reasons not to stay?” asks Sarah.
“I only have enough underwear for the weekend,” she says, which strikes them both uproariously funny and they enter the hotel in gales of laughter.
Matt, for his part, has covered many miles of Paris. This is somewhat less pathetic than it sounds. His stay in Germany has taught him that a good way to get to know a new city is to simply walk it. He’s enjoyed his walks a great deal, türkçe bahis and he plots routes for his morning runs. On this night, he’s done his best to empty his mind and simply enjoy being where he is. He has succeeded, too, for the most part. His circular route finally lands him back in front of his hotel and when he gets into his semi-coffin, he sleeps soundly till morning.
Saturday morning finds Matt running. He runs for exercise, he runs for sanity, he runs to stave off encroaching age. It’s the beginning of establishing a routine, which he realizes he needs badly. He’s not exactly sure what he’s going to do with himself in Paris for nearly three weeks, which is how long it is until his children join him. What seemed like a good idea in September in Connecticut suddenly seems like a hare-brained scheme in the November here and now. Regardless, after a shower and breakfast, he marches gamely off to the Louvre, figuring that he can show his children his favorites when they arrive.
Saturday morning finds Liz eating a leisurely breakfast of (again) croissants and coffee. Sarah is one of her oldest friends, so they can jump in and out of conversations with ease. After Sarah has insisted on her tea (not a coffee drinker) she says, “Do you want to buy underwear?” Liz, far from being startled by this apparent non-sequitor, has been thinking of little else. Does she want to buy underwear? Well, yes, she does, in fact. Little lacy things are what she wants to buy. In black, maybe with a bit of red to spice them up. The notion of facing a French salesgirl feels daunting, but not as daunting as facing Matt in underwear she’s washed out in a hotel sink. She says yes, and so they decide that it’s Galeries Lafayette in the morning and the flea market in the afternoon.
While Matt is standing in front of the Mona Lisa, reflecting that she has no eyebrows but makes up for it with a slight mustache, Liz is sorting through black lace underwear. The names are familiar, since most womens’ lingerie is given French names anyway, so she at least feels as though she’s not a complete idiot. So….choice, choice, choice. The lace balconette, designed to lift breasts up and slightly apart, giving even the most modestly endowed the impression of an ample bosom? (Since her own bosom is more than ample, the effect is rather breathtaking). Or perhaps this, beautifully made and engineered to be a functional brassiere, but stitched of sheer black lace, showing everything beneath and endowing it with a hint of mystery. And besides those, there are camisoles, to wear under a low-cut neckline, to catch the male eye with a touch of lace and a hint of a bow. Or a corset! Oh, the corsets, with their laces and still more lace, at once creating an enviable figure and a hint of submission….after all, she’d need help getting out of it. Garter belts, for holding up stockings, not pantyhose, that have the advantage of being able to be worn under, not over panties…or thongs….or nothing at all….while the lady in question still wears her enticingly soft and slippery nylon stockings, or fishnets, or lace confections. Boy shorts? Black lace boy shorts, with red bows on the sides? Or a thong, covering only the most essential bits to be covered and leaving all else, well, accessible. From the pile that she takes into the dressing room, feeling like a rather slow and inept stripper, she finally decides on: the sheer black lace, and a corset that consists of a red satin background with black lace over it, so that the effect is of a deeper red. With her pale skin, the effect is breathtaking. She hates taking it off, and quite looks forward to putting it on again. She adds a black garter belt and a pair of sheer black stockings to go with it, and opts for the black lace boy shorts, three pairs (she’s industriously not thinking about why she’s buying three pairs) and nearly calls it a day, but at the last moment adds a camisole, enchantingly slinky in black satin and trimmed with Batternberg lace. The total is staggering, but the mere act of buying the stuff, and contemplating what might happen in (or out of) it, has made her nearly as excited as recalling what already happened.
Matt, in the meantime, has moved on to Winged Victory of Samothrace and is thinking how convenient it is that people don’t have wings, because what a pain it would be to get dressed.
The weekend passes for Liz and Sarah with laughter, chocolate (very important for a girls’ weekend), lots of walking and general catching up on their lives. Their friendship began as exchange students in Germany in 1975 and has continued ever since, regardless of where either has lived. Sarah, however, has very little understanding of the spark between men and women, being almost entirely devoid of that spark herself, and so on the topic of the lightening love affair, is useless as a sounding board. That in itself is somewhat restful, however, since she then can’t talk the matter to death. The decision is entirely her own.
Sunday morning arrives. Sarah’s plane leaves at 2 pm, Liz’s train in the güvenilir bahis siteleri evening. They briefly consider the possibility of Mass at Notre Dame and decide not to. So, after breakfast, crossing her fingers that she’ll reach him, Liz steps into a corner of the lobby and pulls the phone number for the Hotel Fleche d’Or from her bag. Golden Arrow. Cupid’s arrow? Oh, stop, she says, and gets out her cell phone, as well. Just in time she remembers that since this is a German cell phone, she has to dial all the numbers for France and for Paris, and she’s suddenly so nervous that she takes three tries before she hears a phone ringing. She’s also praying that they speak English enough to connect her, then remembers that Matt doesn’t speak French, so someone there speaks some.
A disinterested sounding greeting. She asks for Matthew Kuhn, in French, for whatever reason, mostly since she can say that much, then wants to kick herself, because what if he’s not there and they, God forbid, talk to her? Thankfully, a most American voice answers the telephone. Having successfully hurdled the language barrier, she then moves on to another aspect of nervousness.
“Matt? It’s Liz.” She holds her breath, dying inside, hoping he doesn’t say something like “Liz who?” but she’s rewarded by the briefest possible pause, then an enthusiastic
That’s okay, then. But now she doesn’t know what to say. So, she says, “You said to call. So I’m calling.”
“Yes,” he says, “yes, you are.”
This is getting nowhere! she thinks in irritation and extreme nerves, so her true, less cautious nature gets the best of her and she says, “Well, you wanted me to spend an extra day with you. Is that offer still open?”
More breath-holding, and then he says, “Yes! Yes, it is!” in exactly the same tone of enthusiasm as before.
Both of them tripping over their words, they finally arrange for Liz to take a taxi to Matt’s hotel. He offers to come and get her, but even though it’s charming, it’s not necessary.
She goes upstairs to tell Sarah that she can go to the airport knowing the next act, and to change into some of her new lingerie and to pack her bag. She feels very strange packing, not to go home to Stade (which feels very, very far away right now) but to yet another hotel.
Matt hangs up the phone feeling slightly giddy and slightly ill at the same time. Was this a good idea? What is he going to do with this woman for the next whole day? What was he thinking? (Well, he knows what he was thinking….) And then, he’s hit by a fit of hospitality. Does he have anything to offer her? What nonsense! They’re in Paris! Anything they want, they can go get it. Champagne, truffles, pate de fois gras (not that he’s entirely certain what that is) or, more prosaically, one of those really good ham baguettes they sell on the street. What else? He’s already showered, the room’s been made up, there’s nothing to do. He goes to the lobby to try to find a Herald-Tribune, and to wait for her.
The cheerful red awning of the Fleche d’Or does nothing to calm Liz’s nerves, but the sight of Matt in the lobby does make her feel a bit easier. He’s reminding her of why she felt he was a gentleman and a generally decent guy. He’s not going to make her go to the desk and ask for him.
Their meeting is better than either anticipated. Both are smiling, if a bit nervous. Put propellers on our heads, thinks Liz, and we wouldn’t need an elevator to get upstairs. He reaches for her suitcase and as he does, kisses her. The touch of his lips makes her feel much better about having decided to call him, and brings back all that happened.
At the doorway, Liz looks at the room, and thinks, oh, look, another bed, which is of course, what a hotel room is, a room with a bed in it. In that vein, she says to Matt, “Why is there always a bed handy when I meet you?”
With a smile and a look that could make asphalt buckle, he says, “Fate, I guess.”
“I guess,” she says, also smiling, and takes off her coat.
Matt puts down her suitcase and steps over to her. She’s wearing a cardigan, buttoned up as a sweater, and a black skirt. She stands looking at him, her eyes big, and he reaches out and undoes one of the buttons of the cardigan. She can scarcely breathe, at the touch of his big, gentle hands, and in the absolute silence, he moves on to the next button, and the next, slowly, gravely, as though he’s unwrapping a gift, until the sweater is undone. She’s worn the sheer bra and the effect is of a second skin of black lace. Matt reaches out and gently traces the outline of an aureole with one fingertip, and her breath catches in her throat. What he does next takes her a little by surprise. He grasps both of her nipples with his thumbs and forefingers and pulls her gently to him that way. By the time he’s kissing her, her lips are already parted and she’s ready for whatever will come next. What comes next is a disorganized tumble onto the bed, still kissing, interrupted when Matt sits up to take off his shirt. She can see what she only felt and she likes what she sees. Not quite the long drink of water she thought, not at all. She’s back in his arms, and his hands are running up and down her back and she says, softly, teasing, “Well, Fonzie, ready for action?”