The Natalie Incident Ch. 03byCactus Jack©
(A huge thankyou to everyone who sent me feedback for the previous installments, and to those who asked for a continuation. I'm only sorry it took me so long to write it - as usual, that annoying thing we call life got in the way.)
“Lonestar, where are you out tonight?,
This feeling I’m trying to fight,
It’s dark and I think that I would give anything,
For you to shine down on me...” - Norah Jones
I stared out of the window down at the black strip of canal that lined the middle of the cobbled street several floors below me. No one was around, but that was hardly surprising due to the heavy rain and a time that was nearing three a.m. The street was dimly lit with ornately curved lamps that dripped soft pools of light, and thin iron bridges crossed the water at regular intervals. The buildings that lined the avenues were tall and elegant, many had windowboxes, all were immaculately maintained. I watched as a cat, barely more than a dark shadow, darted from the base of a wind-bent willow tree and disappeared into a small side street. The only other movement was the rocking of the moored barges as the weather rippled the canal.
Outside looked cold, but I was warm as I stood there naked. My feet sunk into heavy and expensive carpet and the heat emanating from the antique radiators dotted around the large room made sure I was comfortable. I turned my back to the window and looked through the darkness at the huge bed, all cast iron and masses of pillows, that stood against the far wall. At that moment the moon reappeared from behind the rainclouds and cast light through the window, splashing the bed and illuminating the girl that slept there. She’d kicked away the sheet that covered her, and I watched as the moonlight crept across her slender legs, curved behind and lower back before highlighting the dark tresses of hair that lay around her beautiful face. Her breathing hitched for a second, before she tucked her hand underneath her chin and rolled further onto her front.
I crossed the room silently and pulled the covers up over her, bent and placed a tiny kiss below her ear. She murmured and I watched her eyelids flicker and her small shoulders rise and fall steadily as I stroked her hair, before I turned and headed for the bathroom.
The face the peered back at me from the mirror was looking better than it had for some time. The darkness beneath my eyes was gone, my chin was scraped clean of stubble and my hair was cut short and neat. Apart from the fact that I couldn’t sleep, I was doing okay. My mouth felt dry and I brushed my teeth to restore some freshness, used the toilet and closed the door behind me to extinguish the noise of the flush as I returned to the bed. I noticed that my thighs were aching as I scrambled between the sheets, and I smiled to myself as I realized it was the result of several hours of lovemaking. After the workout we’d given ourselves I was amazed I wasn’t exhausted, let alone tired.
I blinked up at the dark ceiling as I lay with my hands laced behind my head and wondered what my friends would be doing at this moment. Back home it would be around six p.m, and the sun would be low on the skyline and my smalltown would be drawing slowly to a halt. Saturday night, a few of the boys would maybe be heading down to the Redbank Inn to lose a few bucks over nine-ball while drinking and listening to the band. Was it Saturday? Yeah, I guessed it was. Jet leg and a crazy last couple of days had completely screwed up my internal mechanisms, and was almost definitely the cause of my insomnia now.
I rolled over and molded myself against the warm body next to me, wrapping my arm around her and letting my hand fall over one small breast. I drew my legs up until my thighs were pressed against the underneath of her own and my crotch was against her soft buttocks, and lost my face in the sweet darkness of her hair. Outside, I heard the faint chimes of a church clock strike quarter after the hour, and smiled to myself once more. This time last week I’d been living and working in the town I grew up in, two hundred miles east of Los Angeles and still further from anything approaching adventure. Fast forward seven days, and I was holed up in a hotel in Amsterdam, thousands of miles from the world I knew, with a sleeping Natalie Portman in my arms. Sometimes life can throw you some real surprises.
A couple of years ago I’d been trying to carve out a living in Los Angeles as an actor. Like thousands of other hopefuls I was spectacularly unsuccessful, but one of the most memorable things about my time in the City of Angels was meeting Natalie. The meeting became a friendship which in turn led to a series of misfortunes that left us stranded in a remote motel with nothing but each other for company. We made love that was sensual and exciting and the next day returned to the real world, and it was a world that we truthfully couldn’t both live in, at least not together. We drifted apart, she to a career that was heading skywards, me back to obscurity. A month later I gave up all thoughts of becoming the next Al Pacino and headed back home and became a writer for my local newspaper. I reviewed movies and music, drifted along as before, and dreamed of better times.
The better times arrived with the reappearance of Natalie in my life almost a year later. Seeking to escape the pressures of publicity and to renew our friendship she came to stay with me at my parents farm for a few days, and they turned out to be some of the best days I’d ever had. The two of us were more relaxed with each other than before, and our relationship intensified to a point beyond simple friendship and into a place that I don’t think either of us wanted to escape from. However, I knew that she wouldn’t stay in my backwater town forever, and deep down I knew I couldn’t either. Just as I thought I was going to lose her once again she asked me to go with her to New York. I looked around at what I’d got, and then thought about what I could have, and the decision wasn’t a difficult one. I packed up, said my good-byes, and was sitting next to her as we headed cross country on the American Airlines flight out of L.A. International the following afternoon.
Although I’d been there before, to a country-boy-at-heart New York will always be a daunting place. We took a cab from La Guardia, and I felt my heart start to quicken with anticipation and pure nervousness at the situation I was in as the sprawling lights of Manhattan edged ever closer. As the skyscrapers closed around us I knew Natalie could sense my mood, and she held my hand tightly and reassured me with kisses as the cab rattled over the Queensboro bridge and into the loudest, most crowded island on the face of the earth.
Of course, my nerves weren’t improved knowing that I was about to meet Natalie’s parents. I’ve had a few girlfriends in my past, and knew that being introduced to the family for the first time is never an envious experience. I gripped the bags firmly as we walked up the front steps to the door of the large brownstone situated in one of the island’s more quiet and expensive districts. Nat ruffled my hair and assured me I had nothing to worry about, and before she could even get her key in the lock the door was thrown open and woman looking twice her age and just as elegant embraced her tightly.
My fears were unnecessary. Her parents instantly accepted me into their home, and I found myself bonding and relaxing with her Father while Natalie and her Mother fussed around in the kitchen. By the time the two of them returned we were deep into a discussion concerning the genius of Led Zeppelin, and as Nat sat down next to me her Dad announced that I seemed to be a fairly sensible kind of guy. The warmth and friendliness shown to me by her parents helped me start to properly relax for the first time since we left home. That night I slept in a guest room at the top of the house which offered a spectacular view over the dark vistas of Central Park. We sat on my bed for a few minutes, Nat dressed in baggy striped pajamas which made her look unbelievably cute, drank hot chocolate, talked a little and kissed a lot. When our conversation became yawns I hugged her tightly at the open doorway before watching her trot down the stairs towards her own room. She blew me a kiss and disappeared out of sight, and I lay in a bed that was wide and comfortable and let me watch the stars through the skylight in the sloping roof.
The next day dawned with heavy mist over the city, and I walked with Natalie to the early morning appointment she had made with her agent. Manhattan was as alive as always, and quite a few people that passed us said hello to her, and she took it all in her stride and answered everyone with a smile and friendly word. I found it hard to get used to, especially when people also looked at me when they noticed that I was holding her hand. By the time we reached the agent’s smart offices on the Upper East Side I started to feel like a curious new exhibit in one of the city’s many museums. I wondered how she coped with it as well as she did.
Natalie promised to call me as soon as her meeting was over, and after she’d disappeared inside I found a corner deli and ordered a breakfast sandwich that was roughly the size of a football and coffee that was strong enough to make my eyes water. I managed to make my way across Seventh Avenue without being killed by the torrent of traffic and into Central Park, where I watched the morning joggers and rollerbladers and became fascinated by three old Chinese men practicing the ancient art of Tai-Chi, an art which looked to be only slightly more ancient than they were. I threw the last half of my sandwich away with guilt.
After I’d finished the coffee and asked directions from a cop I made my way across the park to the large avenue known as Central Park West. I’m a huge music lover, and I always promised myself that if I ever had time and the opportunity I’d go to the Dakota building and see where John Lennon was senselessly gunned down some twenty-two years ago. The building was easy to find, and I was touched to see a lone busker standing on the opposite side of the Avenue knocking out a very decent version of Imagine. I listened until the end and tossed a couple of dollars into the battered hat that lay at his feet, before I heard the low buzz of my phone. I told Natalie my location and she told me she’d meet me by the Strawberry Fields mosaic in ten minutes.
The mosaic is of Lennon and was laid in the Park by Yoko Ono, and the whole area around the image is known as Strawberry Fields. I stood quietly and looked at the picture, then ambled down a slope towards the boating lake and watched geese float past before they vanished into the mist that still lay on the water like thin cloud. I now understood why New Yorkers came here; with the neat paths, sloping grass and acres of lush trees I could realize what a tonic Central Park must be from the relentless onslaught of the City.
I heard a soft whistle and looked up. Natalie was coming towards me, looking simple and beautiful in her battered denim jacket and black trousers. Her hair was pulled back into a ponytail and patches of scarlet lay on her cheeks. When she reached me she wrapped her arms around my neck and kissed me in a way that made me wish we were somewhere we could be alone.
‘You weren’t long,’ I said.
‘There wasn’t much to say,’ she replied. ‘Just the usual back and forth. Anyway, we’ve got a lot to get through today’
She smiled. ‘You’ve shown me your hometown, now it’s my turn.’
‘I think yours might take more than a day.’
She kissed me again, then grabbed my hand. ‘Believe me, this girl is an expert.’
The next eight hours passed in a blur as we took the subway downtown and stopped off at various points along the way. Times Square, The Empire State Building, Madison Square Garden; places I’d only read about or seen in a thousand movies. We ate a fish lunch in a hippy-styled restaurant that was all tie-dye and cushions, before wandering around the bohemian districts of Chelsea and Greenwich Village. There were many unique little clothes shops in the Village and Nat worked her way through several that she knew well, in one place she bought a dress that was black and short, the kind of material that floated away and gave the impression that you might be able to see through it, depending on the way the light struck. She held it against herself and asked me what I thought, and I nodded my enthusiastic approval and only hoped I’d get to see her in it. We went down to Battery Park and I saw a distant Statue Of Liberty, and we stood together and in silence at the former site of the Twin Towers now known universally as Ground Zero. Throughout the day I watched her with a mixture of desire and amazement; she tackled the city so well and seemed to be so at home in a place I found totally alien, and whenever I seemed like the fish out of water I was she always made me feel better with a smile and hug that restored my confidence all over again. As early evening came we rode the subway uptown towards home, and she rested her head on my shoulder as I put my arm around her. If I hadn’t been waiting for a more appropriate moment, I might have told her that I was in love.
That night we stayed in and ate a fine dinner with her parents, and not long after nine I felt my eyes grow heavy as I sat on the couch with Nat sprawled across me while we watched a movie. We had an early flight booked for Amsterdam the next morning, and I was secretly glad when she said she wanted to go to bed; the Big Apple had taken it all out of me. While Natalie was in the bathroom I examined a wall of photographs in her room that contained many faces, some that were instantly recognizable. For a moment I felt very out of place; where exactly would I fit in with this collection of people that were pictured with Natalie throughout various times in her life? When she came back into the room wearing the same sexy pajamas from the night before my thoughts must have been echoed on my face, and she came over to were I stood.
‘Why so serious?’ she said.
‘I’m just tired.’
‘You’ve done so much in your life already.’ I said, looking back at the pictures that virtually catalogued her from child to adult.
‘I’ve been really lucky.’
I looked back to her. ‘No, you’ve worked really hard. You deserve it.’
We embraced, her head on my shoulder and my face on her neck, and I dotted a string of tiny kisses around the circumference of her ear. In return I felt her hands pull at the base of my shirt, and a moment later fingers first on the small of my back before they crept an inch under the waist of my jeans. I traced my own fingers up her spine and over her shoulders until they wound into her hair, and I gently pulled her head up and lowered my lips to her own. Our mouths were open, my tongue was against hers, and as she pressed her body to me I felt myself start to respond.
‘You don’t know how much I want to sleep with you tonight,’ I said, taking my lips an inch from hers. She moved against me again.
‘I think I do,’ she said, smiling, and I took my hands from her hair and started to unfasten the tiny white buttons that held her pajama top together. I opened four and ran my finger slowly down her neck and between the small, shadowed cleavage that was visible between the fabric. I allowed myself to slide a finger over the swell of her breast and graze her soft nipple, before reluctantly pulling my hand away. Natalie opened her eyes and looked at me.
‘If I don’t stop, I’m just going to take you right here on the floor,’ I muttered, ‘and I have a feeling that might shatter any good work I’ve put in with your parents.’
She nodded. ‘I don’t think Mom would be very impressed to find us rolling around on the rug.’
‘Neither do I,’ I replied, as I finished refastening the buttons. ‘Think I’d better just limp upstairs before I can’t help myself.’
‘Believe me, wait till we get away and I’ll be all over you. You’ll be sick of the attention.’
I chuckled. ‘Yeah. I’ll probably be sick of it in around forty years. Maybe thirty.’
She pecked my lips. ‘Go on, get out of here before it’s me that can’t help herself.’
I watched as she slid between the sheets before I closed the door on the image of an angel and wearily climbed the stairs to my own room. I spent a few minutes watching the vehicle lights traverse the avenues of Manhattan like fast flowing rivers of neon before the stinging of my eyes convinced me to go to bed. The city continued to breathe while I rapidly fell towards sleep, a happy but frustrated man.
That was yesterday. Today had seemed to consist entirely of traveling. Manhattan to JFK to Amsterdam. By the time the cab had made it’s way from the futuristic airport into the heart of the city it was fully dark. The journey through the streets of the city had been at breakneck speed, buildings and lights had been nothing more than a blur, and as I watched the taillights of the cab fade into the night I felt totally lost. Natalie knew exactly where she was, however, and she pulled me up a set of wide stone steps and into the lobby of the small, expensive looking hotel.
I knew that Amsterdam was one of Natalie’s favorite places. She’d first been here to visit the world famous Anne Frank house to research the history behind the story in preparation for playing the role on Broadway. In the last few years she’d returned a handful of times, sometimes with friends or family, and a couple of times alone to find some peace from the publicity of the current project that she was involved in. She’d stayed at the same small hotel for a few days last year, and I could see why as we were checked in by friendly staff and shown to our third floor room by a constantly smiling porter. It was central to the city yet seemingly very quiet, situated in the middle of a maze of canals and expensive enough to be very private. The kind of place I’d only read about.
Our room was beautiful. High ceiling, real art on the walls, rugs, a fire that flicked orange tongues of light across the shadows and a huge bed overloaded with covers. It was mere minutes after the porter had closed the door that we found ourselves naked, rolling across the bed and forgetting our fatigue as the passion we’d been forced to hold back for the last couple of days spilled forth. Nothing else seemed to be important except for what we felt for each other...
I heard the clock strike again, pulling me away from the memories of the last few days. I ran my hand down over Natalie’s stomach and grazed her tiny bellybutton with my little finger, her skin rising and falling with the slow breath of sleep. Her foot pressed against my shin and a second later she moved her hand over my own, holding my fingers against her. It thrilled me to know that she wanted me to be so close, and in return I kissed her shoulder softly and pressed myself as close to her as I was able.
‘You awake?’ She mumbled in a voice almost inaudible with sleep.
‘Just about,’ I whispered. ‘I didn’t mean to disturb you.’
‘S’okay.’ She wriggled underneath my arm and twisted around until she faced me. In the darkness of the room her face was nothing more than patches of dark shadow. ‘You alright?’
‘I’m perfect,’ I said, pulling her into me and letting my fingers brush the small of her back. ‘My timing’s just messed up, that’s all. I’m not used to jetting around the world.’
‘Glad we’ve come?’
‘You bet. Even though all I’ve seen of Amsterdam is this room and all of you,’ I said, my fingers now rubbing the groove at the top of her buttocks.
‘It’s a really beautiful place.’
‘Can’t be as beautiful as some of your places.’