Madeleine Ch. 07byjack_straw©
Le Havre, France
It was with a deep sense of melancholy that I stood along the rail at the stern of the ocean liner, watching the coast of France recede into the distance.
I was going home, after seven years of service with the American Embassy in Paris, and while part of me was glad to be returning to America, a larger part of me knew I was leaving behind a large part of my life.
It was a cold, blustery day on the cusp of spring, and I had my overcoat buttoned to the top to ward off the chill that came from the ocean. I could feel tears welling in my eyes as I watched France fade away in the ever-growing distance.
Just then I felt the soft touch on my arm, and I looked over at the woman next to me, with the sleeping child on her shoulder. I looked in her eyes for just a moment, and saw reflected there the pain and weariness that had nearly consumed us over the previous two and a half years.
"Come, Robert, I must take the child down below," she said. "Why don't you join us. You will catch your death of cold out here."
"In a few minutes," I replied. "I'd like to stay alone for a moment. I have much on my mind. I'll be down shortly."
"As you wish," she said, and turned to go back toward the stairway that led to our cabin.
I looked back to get one final glimpse of the land I had come to love over the previous seven years, during that awful time when hell visited earth. But the land had already been obscured by the low-hanging clouds and the distance we had already sailed, leaving me with nothing but empty ocean with which to share my thoughts.
I thought back over everything that had happened over that period, of the friends I had made both in my own embassy and the embassies of other nations that had been allied with France, of Marcel and, of course, of Madeleine.
^ ^ ^ ^
Nov. 11, 1918
At 11 a.m. that morning, the guns went silent, ending the Great War after slightly over 51 months of bloodshed.
I was back at the American Embassy, awaiting the final word from Gen. Pershing's staff that the Germans had laid down their arms, in accordance with the terms of the armistice they had signed a few days before, and that the war really was over.
A few minutes before 11, the telephone rang in Ambassador Sharp's office. He picked up the earpiece, listened for a few seconds, then answered, "Good, congratulations."
After hanging the earpiece back on its receiver, he turned to us with a smile, and said the two words that we'd been waiting months to hear, "It's over."
We shook hands around the room with a sense of satisfaction, but without the jubilation that was sure to be felt around the world -- at least among the victorious Allies. Those of us in the diplomatic community knew there was plenty of work left to do.
For those of us in the American Embassy, we knew that winning the war was only part of the battle. We wanted to win the peace, as well, and we knew that doing so might put us at odds with our allies, the French and British.
But that would be a problem for the months ahead. Today was a day for celebration.
Minutes later, when the clock reached the top of the hour, the news began to spread all over Paris. Church bells rang throughout the city, and crowds of celebrants began to fill the streets.
Mr. Sharp had given us the rest of the day off, and I had made my way through the thickening crowds to Marcel's, where it had all started for me.
As soon as I entered the bistro, Marcel came over to me and we embraced in a way that only close friends do. There were tears of joy streaming down his face, which I knew reflected the palpable relief all over the world that this four-year long nightmare was finally over.
I made my way back to the kitchen, where I found Madeleine directing the cook and filling food orders. She saw me, and we hugged deeply, just letting the love flow from one to the other.
The previous months had been hard on us, and our relationship had been tested in profound ways, so that embrace reflected our hopes that maybe things would get better.
Madeleine hadn't worked in the bistro much in recent months, for a variety of reasons, which had much to do with the trials and tribulations that had beset us. My mind wandered back over the weeks and months, and I replayed the events in my memory.
Ironically, things began turning bad as a result of a blessed event.
I happened to be back in Paris in early August, 1917, when Madeleine reached me at the embassy with the news that she was pregnant.
Naturally, I was overjoyed. Our hopes that we had talked about when we had first been courting included filling our home with children.
However, Madeleine was sick a lot during that period with persistent morning sickness. After speaking to her physician, I was reassured that everything was progressing normally, so I returned to the front and Gen. Pershing's headquarters.
The pace of American arrivals was quickening, and my workload was heavy. Our troops needed to be trained in the new warfare that existed on the Western Front, and my expertise was needed both in lecturing the officers mostly, plus I was also being assigned to assess German troop strengths.
One of my signal skills was accurately gauging the relative strength of enemy troops in a particular sector based on a number of factors that included reports from secret agents working behind German lines.
Obtaining this information was the most dangerous part of my job, because it put me close to the front, and even occasionally required me to go behind the lines.
Still, the bulk of my work involved analysis of information and organizing that data in a form that was easily understandable to the generals and diplomats with whom I was working.
That was what I was doing on the fateful day in October when I got an urgent telegram from the embassy informing me that Madeleine had been hospitalized.
I managed to reach Marcel by telephone -- no small feat under the conditions -- and he informed me that Madeleine had miscarried the baby. There was more, but before he could tell me what it was, we lost the connection.
My first inclination was to drop everything to be with my wife, and I was prepared to do so, but Gen. Pershing wasn't willing to let me go. That caused a rift between us that never really healed.
Up to then we had settled into the same kind of working relationship we'd had in the Philippines, one where we seemed to think alike. That was what had bonded us then, and we had fallen into a similar role in France.
For 10 days we argued about it. His view was that it was a particularly bad time for me to be leaving his headquarters. He was at that moment fighting with the French and British about the American role in the war, and he needed all the help he could muster.
As expected, they saw American troops as trench fodder to shore up their flagging resources. On the other hand, Pershing -- with the backing of the president -- was adamant about keeping American troops together and intact.
We were willing to enter the breech wherever needed, but Pershing, stubborn Missourian that he was, didn't budge on the issue of keeping the U.S. Army troops unified and under his command.
Moreover, he argued with me that other soldiers weren't able to rush off and hold their wives' hands, so why should I be allowed to leave?
I finally pointed out quite heatedly that I wasn't a soldier any more and he wasn't my boss. Finally my view prevailed, although it took direct intervention by Ambassador Sharp to allow me to return to Paris.
When I got there, I found the situation was much worse than initially feared. Madeleine had lost the baby -- that was a given -- but because of the damage that had been done, she had had an emergency hysterectomy, a dangerous and potentially life-threatening procedure.
And I found I was stuck between a rock and a hard place. While I had been fighting with Pershing to get the leave to come back to Paris, Madeleine, when she got out of surgery, was increasingly upset that I wasn't there to be with her.
At an intellectual level, she understood my situation, but it did little to salve her emotional feelings of abandonment.
To make matters worse, I felt guilty for not being there for her. I believed I had let her down at the moment of her greatest crisis. I blamed the Army in general and Pershing in particular for causing a rift in my marriage, and I never really forgave either.
Madeleine eventually forgave me, but it was a wedge in our relationship that we had to work to overcome, and that time would not come for quite awhile.
It was a solid month before Madeleine was released from the hospital, and emotionally, she never quite got over it. Not only did we lose the baby, but she lost the ability to have any more children. Marie would be our only child.
From that moment, a dark cloud began to hover over our lives, especially when I learned that female problems of a similar nature had been what caused Marie Levesque's premature death a dozen years earlier.
Of course, I still spent a lot of time at the embassy, and in communication with American headquarters at the front. I still had work to do, and it didn't stop because I had personal problems.
Before returning to the front in early December, I hired a housekeeper and nanny for Madeleine and Marie. I could afford it, and it was a necessity given our situation.
Greta Carstens came highly recommended by Mrs. Sharp herself, who had found her nearly destitute at a social relief station in Paris.
She was in her mid-40s and originally from Belgium. She and her husband had fled the German onslaught in 1914, leaving with just what they could carry with them. They had left behind two sons and several daughters.
The sons were soon dead -- one in combat as a sergeant in the Belgian Army, the other shot by the Germans for an act of sabotage -- and the daughters were apparently holed up in several cities in that country and unable to leave.
Greta's husband had been able to find work as a carpenter, but he had died of a heart attack a few months earlier, and she was one step away from the brothels -- a fate that befell many female refugees -- when Mrs. Sharp chanced upon her.
Greta proved to be a godsend, and she quickly became a part of our family. She not only took over many of the housekeeping and child care duties that Madeleine had handled before, but she also nursed Madeleine back to health, plus she provided my wife with badly-needed companionship and a motherly presence she hadn't had since the death of her own mother.
I spent a rather bleak Christmas with Gen. Pershing's staff, which didn't help my mood any. The general had hosted a small group of us for a holiday dinner that day, but otherwise it was just like any other day on the front.
I finally got a chance to return to Paris in late February for a little furlough time. I needed it. I had been working sometimes as many as 16 to 18 hours a day, seven days a week for nearly three months, and I was exhausted.
Madeleine met me with some interesting information. With Greta in place and her health improving, she had decided she wanted to answer a call she said she'd been hearing for awhile, and that was to do volunteer work at a hospital near our apartment.
She said her time in the hospital had made her realize how much work was needed to care for the sick among the civilian population, and the wounded soldiers that were constantly coming back from the front.
"Robert, you serve your country by the work that you do," she said as we sat together on a sofa one night. "I feel the need to serve mine by helping at the hospital."
"Are you sure you are up to it, physically, emotionally?" I said, cautiously.
I definitely had my misgivings. She still seemed to be weak from her surgery, and I knew how empathetic she was about people. She was such a caring person, and I worried that seeing the hellish injuries the war inflicted on the human body would be too much for her.
But I also knew how stubborn my wife could be. When she set her mind to something, there was no force in the universe that could stop her. Indeed, I had to smile as I thought back to how she had set her sights on me, and had let nothing stand in her way.
She reassured me that she was fine, and that she would work only as much ass her body would allow.
So, of course, I relented. Although I was the man of the house, there was precious little I would deny my Madeleine. Considering what happened, maybe I should have said no.
It wasn't until the middle of March that Madeleine received the go-ahead from her doctor to resume sexual relations, and we were almost giddy at the prospects that awaited us that night.
We had actually had dinner out that evening at a café around the corner from our apartment, and Madeleine leaned her head on my shoulder as we walked down to the river after dinner.
We just stood on the bridge watching the water slowly flowing past, holding hands like we did during that blissful spring when we were courting.
She had changed some during my time away. She had had much of her long dark hair cut while she'd been in the hospital, and she liked the way it easier to maintain, so she kept it that way. It was sort of an early version of the bob style that would become popular soon after the war.
She was also quieter, more introspective, and a little more prone to melancholy. Losing the baby, and losing the ability to have other children still weighed on her heart, and she wasn't quite as bubbly as she had been before.
But she was still the beautiful young woman I loved and who loved me, and we showed each other just how much when we returned home.
Marie was already down for the night, and we sent Greta home in a staff car from the embassy that was at my disposal at any time, night or day. She was learning that working for a fairly high-ranking foreign diplomat had its privileges.
Madeleine was in bed when I returned to the apartment after seeing Greta off. She was sitting up, her perky breasts exposed to my gaze, but she had the sheet pulled up to the middle of her chest, and I wondered about that.
"Turn the light down, please, Robert," she said somewhat shyly.
"Why?" I asked, as I removed my suit and prepared to join her in bed.
"I don't want you to see my scar," she said, and she cast her head downward for a moment that I could only think was shame of some sort.
I was naked as I crawled into the bed. I lifted her chin up and gazed into her glistening eyes, then I leaned in slightly and kissed her. She was tentative for a moment, but then she sighed and answered my passion with that of her own.
In minutes we were kissing deeply, and I slid a hand over her splendid breasts, the ones I loved to have at my disposal. I twirled the tips between my fingers, and she responded with a quickening of her breath, and a low moan escaped her lips.
I laid her back and pulled the sheet back, and she hesitated for a second.
"The light?" she said.
"Shhhhh," I whispered. "Relax and let me love you -- all of you."
I slid my hand down her chest, and caressed the still-angry scar that crossed her abdomen several inches below her navel. I still hadn't seen it good, as I was concentrating on Madeleine and her luscious lips.
Soon my hand naturally gravitated down between her legs, to the moist, hot valley that lay slightly open for me. I found her clitoris and slowly circled it with my finger, and Madeleine responded audibly, as well as physically, opening her legs wider to allow me easier access.
Frankly, it was all I could do to hold myself back. I was bursting hard, simply from such intimate closeness with my wife, closeness I hadn't enjoyed in many months. But I had things I needed to do for Madeleine first, before I could surrender to my own passion.
Keeping a slow, steady rhythm with my fingers on her sex, I licked my way down her neck, to her breasts, and began to feast on them, as was my custom. Her nipples immediately responded, becoming stiff and engorged.
I alternated between licking each nipple and sucking her breasts between my lips, trying to get as much of her delightful flesh in my mouth as possible.
When I felt Madeleine squirming on the bed, and gasping in lust, I ventured downward. She tried to stop me for a moment, but I was determined. I threw the sheet all the way off the bed and came face-to-face with her scar.
It wasn't a pleasant sight, but I ignored any negative feelings and began to slowly lick and kiss the still-reddish gash on her abdomen.
"Robert, please, no..." she began, but I shushed her again.
"Madeleine, my love, you must understand that I love you unconditionally," I said softly. "No matter what. This is a part of you now, and I am duty-bound to love it as much as I love the rest of you."
And somehow that was a breakthrough she'd needed, because I felt her relax in that moment and surrender to me completely.
I licked and kissed her scar from one end to the other and back again, before turning my attention to her vagina, which was now flowing with the juice of her arousal. She was panting heavily and writhing from the constant work my fingers had been doing while I loved her scar.
I savored the nectar of her lust as I blew softly on her flaming red flesh, then bored in with my lips and my tongue, devouring her tasty womanliness like a hungry dog attacking a thick steak.
It didn't take much of that before Madeleine arched her back and shuddered from head to toe with an all-consuming climax I'm sure she hadn't enjoyed in quite some time.
But I didn't give her long to recover. As soon as she was calmed down just a little, I pulled my face away, and stared into her eyes as I climbed between her legs and prepared to fuck my wife.
She had a dewy look in her eyes and an enigmatic smile on her face as we stared into each other's eyes.
"Yes, Robert, love me completely," she whispered. "You always know what I need."
I just smiled as I fisted my cock in readiness. I slid the head between her labia once, twice, three times before gently pushing forward into her hot steamy canal.
I took it slow, because I wasn't sure if she would feel any pain or not, but she gave no indication of discomfort as I sheathed my cock in her wet, slippery depths.
I simply cannot describe how good it felt to finally be in my wife's love once again. I just held myself there deep in her womb, and it was Madeleine that began to set the pace.
She pulled back and thrust herself onto my pole with passion and vigor, and we were quickly in rhythm. I leaned down, gathered Madeleine in my embrace and we kissed wildly, all pretense at restraint gone.
It was animal sex at its finest, two lovers deep in the throes of lust, each giving to the other everything we had.
Madeleine was wild under me now, her body jerking and moving with me, like two snakes coiled together in an unbreakable embrace. Our bodies were slick with sweat as we hurtled toward a crashing finish, grunting, groaning, gasping as our passion climbed ever higher.
I held back the time of my release as long as I could, and I was rewarded when Madeleine squealed and cried out, her body shivering with her full-body climax.
That was the moment I'd been waiting on, with a strangled cry of my own, I felt the molten lava of my climax explode through my cock and spew out the tip with great gouts of semen that flooded Madeleine's vagina and overflowed over my balls and down over her ass.
We shuddered together for what seemed like hours, before we finally collapsed in a sweaty heap, well-satisfied.
When we disentangled ourselves, and she curled into the post-coital embrace, Madeleine began to weep, and that puzzled me.
"What's wrong?" I asked.