Tell Me More

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Here’s an excerpt of an episode that was dropped from the book. Enjoy!

Preparations for the evening took a long time. First, a soak in the bathtub using my favorite bath oil, citrus and rosemary, sharp and pungent, exciting and soothing at the same time. I listened to Mozart while I lay in the warm water, appreciating the swell and diminution of the music, the discords that stretched and broke into exquisite harmony, the pulse and momentum that moved the piece forward.

Afterward I wrapped myself in a bathrobe and ate sparingly, a few nuts, some fruit, like a priestess preparing herself for a rite. I rubbed lotion into my skin until it gleamed and was soft to the touch. I changed the linens on the bed and arranged candles around my bedroom, more citrus scents with the warmth of lavender. I found, among my extensive lingerie, a silk nightgown I had bought on sale, reduced to a ridiculously low price, but which I’d never worn. It wasn’t me; not my style, I’d told myself. It swooped from my shoulders, bias cut, a pale pink, and rippled as I moved. Tonight it was what I wanted, fabric that caressed my skin as though it had a life of its own.

Everything was ready. I took a sip from the glass of sparkling water that stood on my bedside table and punched in the phone number I had nearly destroyed.

He answered almost immediately and of course he knew who it was; my number was not unlisted.

“Jo.” His voice was deep, dear and familiar. “I’ve called the station. They said you weren’t available. I’ve—”

“Tell me a story, Mr. D.”

“I’ll tell you about my first time,” Mr. D. said.

“First times aren’t usually the material of erotic tales. They’re usually clumsy.”

“It was that, but erotic too. And interesting, yes, definitely interesting. It happened in Paris.”

D. was a junior in college, the prestigious Ivy League school where he felt like a fish out of water among the blond, moneyed old family Americans. It didn’t matter that his family had invented civilization (a claim made, ludicrously, by both sides of his family) but he was out of place—skinny, dark, shy, gawky.

“I imagined you’d be quite beautiful.”

“Imagine all you like. That’s the point,” he said. “Now, be quiet and let me tell the story. But first I want you to touch your nipples. What are you wearing, by the way?”

“A pink silk nightgown.”

His family decided he should visit their old friends in Paris that summer and he agreed. He didn’t want another summer working at his father’s business, which was even worse in its way than school. At school he was mostly ignored. At the office, they all knew he was there because his father was the boss and he suspected they laughed at him behind his back. He was intimidated by the secretaries, those sleek, beautiful creatures who were his age but were full of worldly sophistication and regarded him with amused pity. Paris might be a blank slate for him, a place where he was unknown and had no history of social blunders and embarrassments. He might even meet a girl. He was an unhappy virgin whose few dates had been remarkably unsuccessful. Sometimes his dreams and fantasies involved other men, which worried him. Didn’t people go to Paris to find out about sex? Or to find out what they wanted and who they really were?

For the first time in his life he trod on foreign soil, or at least a foreign airport, jetlagged and nervous. In his carefully prepared French, he read out the address of the Dumesnil house, and the cab driver grunted, threw his cigarette butt out of the window, and pulled away from the curb with a screech of tires.

D. had vague impressions, after a stretch of highway populated by tiny cars, of narrow streets, people on bicycles, the Eiffel tower rearing high over the city—he scooted over on the seat to press his nose against the window to get a better look—and then the driver pulled up.

Voila, monsieur.” He grinned sardonically.

D. fumbled with the unfamiliar money, giving what was probably a gigantic tip, although the driver seemed to regard it as an insult and drove off, leaving him with his bags outside a tall, shabby building. It was old, probably older than the historic houses of his hometown, dull yellowish stucco, several stories high. An archway that seemed designed for a carriage and four led into a cobbled courtyard, where a woman beat a carpet, dust rising into the air. He asked her how to get to the Dumesnil’s apartment, and she pointed him toward a doorway, in a stream of French made unintelligible by the cigarette hanging from her mouth and a lack of front teeth. He hauled his bags forward and found himself at the bottom of a wide stone staircase and trudged upward to the third floor. His first ring at the doorbell produced no result. He rang again, and this time the door rattled open. A girl of about his age stood there, wild black hair in a tangle around her shoulders, wrapped in a sheet. She brought with her a gust of sweat, musk, and what he recognized, with shock, as the scent of semen. Not a pretty woman, but bold, strong-featured and attractive.

“Ah! C’est le petit americain!” she said, not to him, but to someone behind her.

The little American. His heart sank and all hopes of reinventing himself vaporized.

“Come in. We practice our English. I am Juliette Dumesnil.” She opened the door a little wider and said over her shoulder, “Jean-Paul, les bagages.”

A young man, wearing only a pair of dingy jockey shorts, a cigarette hanging from his mouth, came forward and grinned at D. “I am Jean-Paul, her boyfriend. Since she does not say it, welcome.”

D., intimidated by Jean-Paul’s unshaven beauty, his lean, dark body and handsome face, tried to help, but the Frenchman hauled D’s bags along a dark corridor, pausing to kick open a door and deposit them inside. “Now we have coffee.” The corridor opened into a large room, the center of the apartment, with a grand piano, a huge antique dining table and chairs, some sofas, and then into a large, sunny kitchen, where Juliette, still wrapped in the sheet, turned the handle of a coffee grinder. A kettle blew steam on the stove and Jean-Paul darted forward to retrieve a pan of milk coming to the boil.

They served him café au lait in a cracked china bowl and told him his hosts, Juliette’s parents, had left for their house in the country, and they were to show him Paris.

Juliette reached for a packet of cigarettes and he was shocked and excited to see her armpits were unshaven. “You will find the country boring,” she said. “But you are invited there. In a few days.” She lit a cigarette with a match struck on the tabletop. “So, you sleep a little, and we go out later.” She glanced at Jean-Paul who reached to caress her arm. It was fairly obvious they wanted to go back to bed to continue what he’d interrupted and D. doubted he’d sleep after the coffee, but he agreed to the plan.

He was charmed and thrilled by the apartment, the dusty antique furniture, its scent of mould and garlic and cigarette smoke; the bathroom with its bidet, the old-fashioned bathtub—he was shocked by the lack of a shower—and what appeared to be Juliette and Jean-Paul’s underwear drying on an improvised clothesline.

Paris itself seduced and enchanted him and Juliette and Jean-Paul, despite some eye rolling, accompanied him to the Louvre and the Eiffel Tower with kindly tolerance. They ate at small restaurants where he discovered new food and new tastes and was dazzled, and there was always wine, lots of wine.

One morning Juliette announced she was to be a proper bourgeois housewife today and led them to a street market where she selected fruits and vegetables, then to a cheese shop and a butcher’s, Jean-Paul and D. trailing behind carrying increasingly heavy shopping bags. She sent them away that afternoon so she could cook in peace, and served an elaborate dinner as good as anything they’d eaten in a restaurant, with excellent wine. When D. complimented her, she flapped a hand and scowled. “C’est rien.”

Every night he listened to them fuck, loud and uninhibited, in the room next to his, and he’d meet them the next morning half-dressed and reeking of sex.

“We should introduce you to our friends,” Juliette said one such morning over coffee in the cracked bowls and bread, which D., being the only one dressed, had gone out to buy from the boulangerie. “You should meet a girl.”

He felt himself blush. “I didn’t come to Paris for that.”

“But you should. It is good for you. And you hear me and Jean-Paul, it would be nice for you to not be alone.”

His color rose even more. Of course he jerked off listening to them, if that was what she was implying.

She shrugged. This morning she wore a sleeveless t-shirt and a pair of his boxers he’d left to dry in the bathroom along with their underwear, and which she’d appropriated. He didn’t mind; he liked the idea of her female parts in contact where his male parts had been. He could see the dark circle of her nipples through the t-shirt.

She lit the first gitane of the day and blew smoke over the table. “Then you don’t like girls?”

“Well, yes. Of course.”

“He likes you.” Jean-Paul, in his usual bedraggled jockeys, wandered into the kitchen and sat beside Juliette. “I like him, too. So, what do we do today? We all go to bed, yes?”

It was as simple as that. At first he thought they were joking, but Juliette came round to his side of the table and sat in his lap and kissed him, while Jean-Paul looked on, beaming with delight. She tasted of cigarettes and coffee which he found highly erotic, and guided his hand to her breast. For the first time in his life he felt a woman’s nipple stiffen against his palm as she ground her hips enthusiastically against his erection.

Allons.” She slipped off his lap and tugged his hand. Jean-Paul stood, his underpants distended by his erection.

Juliette smiled. “I should like to see you both together.”

He wasn’t sure what she meant, but Jean-Paul cupped D.’s head in his hand and kissed him, quite gently. Stubble scraped against stubble.

“This is okay?” he said.

“Oh, yes.” A hand, he thought it was Juliette’s, squeezed his cock through his pants as Jean-Paul kissed him again, this time with more intensity, tongues meeting.

Allons,” Juliette said again. She held Jean-Paul’s cock in her hand, his underpants at his ankles. He stepped out of them and pushed her t-shirt up, revealing her breasts. “We go to the bed now,” she said with some severity, pulling the t-shirt back into place. It was quite clear that Juliette was to be the one in charge. She marched them to the bedroom and unbuttoned D.’s shirt, stroking and kissing his chest, while Jean-Paul lounged on the bed, his cock in his hand. He stroked himself as he watched Juliette and D., but she warned him that he was not to make himself come. She undid D.’s pants and eased them down, rubbing her nipples against his chest.

“Oh, you are handsome. You like this?” Her fingers closed over his cock. It was wonderful and embarrassing and he was about to lose control.

“Wait,” he said. “Wait!” He groaned and came with shocking intensity, his legs shaking, his eyes tightly closed in pleasure, but he kept them closed to cover his humiliation. “I’m so sorry. I—I’m not used to—I haven’t …”

“Open your eyes,” Juliette said. “It is your first time? No matter.” A pair of arms, strong, male, muscular, closed around his chest.

“It’s okay,” Jean-Paul said. “I fuck her first, eh, so you see how it’s done.”

“I know how it’s done,” D. said, but saw the gleam of humor in Jean-Paul’s handsome dark eyes and smiled back.

Jean Paul slicked a finger over a drop of semen on D.’s belly and raised it to his mouth. “You are getting hard again,” he commented and rubbed his penis against D.’s.

“What about me!” Juliette bounced on the bed, and then lay back on her elbows, her legs parted. “Come here, both of you. You,” she said to D., “kiss my breasts. Ah, yes. It’s good. You may bite a little, too. Oh.” Her voice died away into a moan. Jean-Paul knelt between her legs and guided his cock inside her. He grinned at D. who lay beside Juliet, his head at her breasts. “So, I show you the female secrets, okay? This is—en anglais, Juliette?”

“Clitoris,” she said and reached to push Jean-Paul’s hand away. “It is no secret. See, I rub like this? Now you do it.” D. put his finger on a hard, slippery ridge, and slid, manipulated. She moaned something in French and bucked forward, mouth open, her whole body shuddering, making the sort of sounds he was very familiar with. An orgasm; he’d given her an orgasm—or rather he and Jean-Paul, who continued to thrust his cock in and out of her—had conspired together to provide her with pleasure.

Jean-Paul watched her, watched his cock cleave her, withdraw, slide inside again. He withdrew. “You, now,” he said to D. He leaned to kiss him. “Will you stroke me a little? I should like that.”

D. grasped Jean-Paul’s cock; odd that it was like his own, yet not. He gripped, stroked, handling the other man a little roughly, gratified to find that Jean-Paul groaned at his touch.

Juliette sat to watch them, then took D.’s hand away. “My turn,” she said, and reached to kiss Jean-Paul and then D. He scrambled between her parted legs, letting her guide him in, and gasped with surprise and delight. Better than his hand, better than her hand, strange yet familiar at the same time, as though this was a place, a sensation, he had sought all his life. He wanted her to enjoy it, too, but wasn’t sure what she wanted, although he had no doubt she would bark out orders soon enough.

“What shall I do?” He asked her.

“For you. Pour toi.”

“You don’t like it?”

“Very much. But I want to know more.”

“So lie on your back.” She climbed astride him and that was extraordinary, the way she gripped and engulfed him and clenched his cock, and moaned when he touched her breasts. He loved watching her breasts move, her face change as she built up to yet another orgasm. Jean-Paul lay beside them, sometimes stroking her breasts, or caressing D.’s balls, or reaching to kiss D. or Juliette, murmuring endearments and encouragement. D. tried to last as long as he could, but finally let go in a soaring orgasm that made him understand why poets referred to coming as death.

“Please.” Jean-Paul murmured. “Oh, please.”

And D. took him into his mouth and tasted for the first time the salty flood of another man’s semen.

They lay after, entwined and sweaty, the pungent blue smoke of Jean-Paul and Juliette’s cigarette curling overhead. Now and again they’d reach out to caress or stroke or kiss each other. “Nice, eh?” Jean-Paul said. “You want to do it again or you want to play tourist?”

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