He smiles at me, shrugs his shoulders and says, “Ah, even when we were in college she was buttoned down. My best buddy said, ‘Your girlfriend makes my old grannie look wild.’ That’s what she was then, and that’s sure what my wife is now.’”
That’s what makes me do it, makes me break my rule. Never be provocative, never flirt, never cross that boundary. He’s married, I’m not. My rule is to absolutely ignore the chemistry between us.
But he’s laid down a challenge. I can’t help myself. His wife is conventional, unadventurous. I’m anything but. He just doesn’t know it. Yet.
So I swivel my bar stool, just a little, away from the polished wood counter, mirrored wall and shelves of glinting bottles, and toward him. I say, “Guess that means she wouldn’t have joined me, topless, on the terrace by the pool of the Hotel de Paris.”
Toying with men is such fun.
He swivels his bar stool, just a little, toward me, and says, “God, no. Where were you?”
“Oh, Monte Carlo.”
“Monte Carlo? Topless? You?”
“Why not? It’s what they do there.”
“When was this?”
“About twenty years ago.”
Then, just in case the image isn’t clear enough in his brain, I elaborate.
“There I was, stretched out on my lounge chair, body slathered with that pricey Lancôme sunscreen, blonde Midwestern me, with all the pale-skinned, dark-haired French women.
Then they arrived, the overweight American insurance salesmen with their wives. The guys who won the trip to Monaco by selling the most life insurance, I could just tell that’s what they were. Their wives threading carefully around the lounge chairs, arms pressed tightly to their sides, fearful of touching any of that abundantly displayed flesh.
Their husbands gathered at the end of the terrace, pointing their expensive cameras out at the bay, the yachts and the Prince’s castle.
I hadn’t looked at the view yet, so I sauntered over to peer over the wall, me in my little yellow bikini bottoms. The cameras weren’t shooting the view over the bay anymore. They were pointed elsewhere.”
“Georgia.” My name slips, low and deep, from between his lips.
“Well, they got to show photos of their little Bridgette Bardot fantasy to the boys back home, didn’t they?”
I stop talking. Sometime during my story we had both swiveled more in our chairs. More away from the bar and more toward each other. I so like the image of the nearly naked younger me I see in his eyes. I decide, what the heck, why not go ahead and just smash my rule to bits.
“I suppose she wouldn’t approve, your wife I mean, of what I did the next day, at the private beach?”
He grins that little boy grin that knocks me out. Picture of innocence. “And just what did you do the next day at the private beach?”
“Well, it was all about giving some obnoxious tourists what they deserve,” I reply. All innocence myself.
I so have him hooked. He asks, right on cue, “What did you do?”
“My ex, Alan, and I went to a beach down the coast, where you have to pay to get in. A more select crowd, we thought. Then, we paid even more to rent a private cabana, even more quiet and private, we thought.
But right next to us were two noisy, rude British couples. Talking loudly, snapping their fingers, yelling out, ‘Garcon, garcon!’ That means, ‘Boy, boy!’ You don’t call waiters ‘boy’. You say, politely, ‘Monsieur.’
All four were beefy, like stuffed sausage rolls. But they thought they were pretty hot stuff. They were imperious, demanding, demeaning, when the waiters arrived.
They annoyed us. Disturbed our peace. So I decided to disturb theirs.”
“I can’t even imagine where this is going,” he says.
“Alan was sitting in the shade, reading a book. I was in the sun. I told him to watch and tell me what went on in the next cabana. Then I reached into my beach bag…”
Sitting on this bar stool, far removed in time and place from the story I’m telling, I decide a little visual aid is needed here, so I bend down to where my purse sits on the floor, as if I am reaching for something.
“…and pulled out my bottle of Lancome sunscreen. I squeezed some into my hand and slowly began massaging it into my arms.”
I straighten up on the stool and gently run my fingers up the soft cashmere sleeve of my sweater. Just to make sure he gets the picture. I return to my story.
“’Alan, what’re they doing?’ I asked.
‘The men are peeking at you from behind their newspapers. No one is talking,’ he replied.
Then I began, ever so slowly, to stroke my breasts, making sure that every last bit was shiny and moist with cream.”
My hand rests, immobile, on the cashmere shoulder closest to him. He is turned completely toward me now, leaning ever so slightly toward my hand resting on my shoulder.
I continue the story.
“Alan said, ‘Georgia, you little devil. The men have dropped their papers onto their laps. Their faces are even redder than before. Their mouths are hanging open. The women are packing their beach bags. They’re getting up. They’re pulling their husbands out of their chairs. They’re leaving! Way to go!’”
Both our bar stools are turned completely toward each other, each of us leaning in toward the other, one of my legs between his, one of his legs between mine. Not touching. No, never touching. This is one of our unspoken rules. We don’t touch each other. Ever.
Silence. He doesn’t say a word. Just looks at me with eyes wide. Reaches for his beer on the counter and downs the last drops. Then he speaks.
“Gotta go now. Dinner, you know.”
He pays the bill, we get up from our stools and turn to face the room that, although almost empty when we walked in, is now packed. When did that happen?
Seated right behind me at the bar are some people I know. I make introductions, we all say the usual words and I think, “Great. Now word will telegraph all over town, ‘Georgia spotted at local pub with mysterious handsome stranger.’”
We walk out the door together and there, on the sidewalk, in the moonlight, he breaks our rule. He leans into me, almost like an embrace without really being an embrace. Just that the powerful, unaccustomed closeness of his body makes it feel like an embrace. Then he extends his hand behind my back and brushes it so gently, almost imperceptively, from my waist and down onto my hip.
A warm, pleasant, unsettling shock jolts from that point of contact on my hip, up my spine and into my brain.
I am reminded that men find it such fun to toy with women.
“See ya,” he says, and walks away.
Well, well, another married man (see I’ve Been Addled Before). What should a vixen divorcee do with this one?