Madeleine Ch. 04byjack_straw©
Madeleine looked resplendent in her dark green dress, with the bright red corsage I had pinned on her breast.
She looked very much in keeping with the holiday, which was the idea, since we were entering the ballroom at the Ritz Hotel, the same one where we had spent our wedding night, for the American Embassy's annual Christmas banquet.
Because the United States was still neutral in the Great War that was raging not far away, we were not under the same moral imperatives that restricted the holiday celebrations of the combatant nations.
It would not be seemly for the French or British to put on extravagant parties for the holidays when they had men dying by the thousands at the front.
But we weren't under any sort of restrictions, and the American Ambassador, William Sharp, had decided that we would celebrate the season in the normal fashion, which meant the large banquet, with a small orchestra for after-dinner dancing, would go on as usual.
Diplomats from all of the nations that still had embassies in Paris, along with many French government dignitaries, had all been invited, and almost all of them had accepted.
Truth be known, our colleagues among the French, British and Russians welcomed the opportunity to let their hair down and enjoy some festive moments. Heaven knows, there had been few such moments in the previous year.
We were mingling with the crowd during the social hour, prior to the meal, when I saw someone I had hoped I'd seen the last of a year or so earlier.
He was an attaché with the Spanish Embassy, but I also knew him by reputation from his time as a minor functionary in Cuba, before the Spanish-American War. His name was Don Juan Pablo de Velasquez, and we had developed an instant dislike for the other from the first time we met, not long after my first arrival in France in 1913.
Not only was he arrogant, a darkly handsome man of about 40 who was related in some way to the Spanish royal family, but he had been one of the many diplomats who had been frequenting Marcel's and sniffing around Madeleine when I came on the scene.
Most, like my Russian friend Sergei, had gracefully bowed out when it became clear that I was the one she wanted, but not Don Velasquez. He had made passes at her almost until the day of our wedding, and I hadn't forgotten.
Of course, I was predisposed not to like him anyway, because of some things he had done while in Cuba before the war there. He had been widely suspected of ordering a massacre in a small village in the mountains that was supposedly a haven for Cuban rebels.
The unit I had been with during the Spanish-American War had actually come upon this little town, and there was plenty of evidence that an atrocity of some sort had taken place – a burned-out church and a mass grave being the most prominent.
Of course, by then, Don Velasquez was long gone and well beyond any kind of justice we could have meted out.
Not long after our wedding, Don Velasquez had supposedly been called back to Spain for some reason, and no one had seen much of him in the previous six months. But there he was in his full dress uniform, which made him look like some sort of pretentious peacock.
Naturally, the moment he saw us together, he made a beeline to where we happened to be standing, chatting with an acquaintance from the British Embassy.
"Why Madeleine, it such a pleasant surprise to see you here," he said to her, while completely ignoring me.
"Don Juan, how have you been?" Madeleine said without much enthusiasm. "You do know my husband, Monsieur Guidry?"
Good girl, I thought as I greeted Don Velasquez. We stared at each other for a moment as we shook hands in a rather stiff manner, before I turned to my wife.
"Come, my love, we must find our seats," I said. "As always, a pleasure, Don Velasquez."
"Madeleine, you must favor me with a dance later," he said in parting.
"Maybe later," Madeleine said halfheartedly.
As we turned to find our seats, she turned to me and said in a low voice that only I could hear, "He is such a ... pig."
"You don't know the half of it," I said.
A few minutes later, as we were being seated, she looked at me with the usual megawatt smile on her face and told me that she had an early Christmas present for me that she wanted to show me later that night.
"Will I like this gift?" I said.
"Oh, yes, you will," she said with a mischievous smile on her face. "You will like it very much."
The dinner was sumptuous, and the wine delicious. As was my practice of late, I limited myself to two glasses at dinner, plus a snifter of brandy with dessert.
During dinner, the orchestra had played mostly background type music, but after dinner they began to step up the tempo and play music that was more suitable for dancing.
We didn't immediately go to the dance floor, because we were engaged in a brisk conversation with an acquaintance from the French government on what the United States intended to do in regard to the war.
I was gratified – and he was surprised – when Madeleine contributed some salient points to the debate. Her point was that no one should be eager to go to war, and if America could find some way to avoid it, then we should do so.
"I have already lost too many of my friends from school, including my best friend's husband, whose new baby will never know her father," Madeleine said with emotion in her voice, referring to her friend Therese, whose soldier husband was missing and presumed dead. "It is not something that should be entered into lightly."
The official nodded his head sadly, but replied that sometimes we must do that which is unpleasant in defense of our way of life.
He had a point, but I wasn't eager to see my country enter the war. I had already made several trips to the front – well, close to the front, anyway – in the company of French or British colleagues, and I could see that it was horrible business indeed.
Finally, we made our way to the dance floor, where I took my lovely wife in my arms and we moved somewhat gracefully to the music. Neither one of us were accomplished dancers, but we enjoyed the feel of being together in something of a romantic setting.
We had danced several numbers when that spell was broken abruptly.
"Monsieur, may I cut in?" said Don Juan Velasquez in his oiliest tone of voice. "Madeleine, you promised me a dance."
"So, I did," Madeleine said. "Come."
I could tell she was not very happy about it, and I was seething that this piker had interrupted a beautiful moment between me and my wife.
But it would not do to cause a scene, so I bowed out gracefully and stepped over to where a passing waiter was carrying a tray covered with flutes of champagne. I took one and downed the tart wine in one long gulp.
I turned then to keep an eye on Velasquez and Madeleine, and for a moment I couldn't find them. I waded into the crowd, and what I saw made my blood boil even hotter.
Velasquez had his right hand on Madeleine's left buttock, and he was caressing it, with a sly smirk on his face when he saw me. As he turned slightly, I could see that Madeleine had a shocked and panicked look on her face, like she didn't know what to do.
Finally, she simply brushed his hand away, but he simply changed hands and began caressing her right buttock. She brushed his and away again, but slid a hand up her side in a fairly lewd manner, until moments later, the music stopped as the orchestra took a break from performing.
Madeleine was nearly in tears as she dashed to where I was standing, and several people around us looked over in alarm as she came into my embrace.
"Robert, you saw?" she said in a quivering voice. "He ..."
"It's all right, my love," I whispered in her ear. "I will take care of this."
"I think I need to use the ladies room," she said. "I'm not feeling well."
"Go, and when you return, we will go home," I said.
I'm not sure why Velasquez thought I would stand by and watch him paw my wife. Maybe it was because I always exhibited a calm, pleasant demeanor in public, and was fairly non-confrontational.
But he'd forgotten – or maybe he never knew – that I had been a soldier once and had risen to the rank of sergeant, a rank I earned in combat. Moreover, despite my years in the diplomatic corps, I was still a Cajun, and we don't let insults like that go idly by.
After I got Madeleine somewhat sorted out, with another woman to escort her to the ladies, I turned my attention to Don Juan Diego Velasquez.
He was seated at a table with some of his friends from the Spanish embassy, with his back to me. He was regaling his colleagues some story about, "the serving girl," and what he'd done with her before, and what he'd like to do with her again.
I assumed he was referring to Madeleine, and when he made some comment about how he'd fucked her once before that just fueled my rage.
His friends saw me coming, but their warning was too late. I clasped a hand around the side of his neck, effectively pinning him to the chair. I think in that moment, he realized that he had seriously underestimated me.
At that age, I was not a particularly large man, but I wasn't small, either, standing slightly under six feet tall. Moreover, all of my life I have been lean and fit, with powerful hands and upper-body strength that came from wrestling gators with Papa as a teenager.
When I had joined the Army, I learned the value of physical fitness, and I had made exercise a part of my daily routine ever since. The embassy had a gymnasium with its complex and I made use of it nearly every day when I could.
Keeping a firm grip on Velasquez's neck, I leaned over and whispered in his ear in perfect Spanish.
"Senor Velasquez," I began, and I could feel him bristle. Spanish dons in the pre-Civil War era didn't like being called, "senor," because they considered it a term of usage for commoners. I knew that and had used it deliberately.
"If you ever come near my wife again, or say anything bad about her again," I hissed. "I will hunt you down, rip your balls off and stuff them down your throat. Comprende?"
He never looked at me, but just nodded his head. I released him from my grip, turned and walked away without another word to anyone at his table.
At that moment, Madeleine came out of the hallway into the banquet room in the company of the wife of one of the correspondents for the New York Herald-Tribune, looking a little pale. She smiled bravely when she saw me, but I knew something wasn't quite right.
"The champagne and rich food didn't settle well on her stomach," the lady said. "But she'll be fine, I think, once you get her home."
"Thank you, ma'am," Madeleine said.
"Oh, my pleasure," the woman said, giving me a wink as she returned to where her husband was in conversation with Mr. Stark.
It was a cold night, and Madeleine snuggled up to me in the taxi ride to our apartment. We each kept our own counsel in that moment, and when she started to speak about the incident on the dance floor, I just shushed her.
"It is over, and not worth dwelling on," I said.
Later, we prepared for bed, and we both dressed for bed, she in her winter nightgown and me still in my long johns, which I didn't bother to remove. In warmer weather, we often slept nude, but it was a cold night and the gas heater in the bedroom hadn't yet succeeded in warming the room sufficiently for that.
We came together under the covers, though, her mouth finding mine for a searing kiss. Despite the wine I'd had that night, my blood was up, mostly from the confrontation with Velasquez. I know it was irrational, but I felt he'd sullied Madeleine somewhat with his crude pass, and I felt honor-bound to reclaim my bride.
I reached between her legs, and found she was naked under her gown, thus allowing me free access to her sex. She was wet and hot to the touch, and she cooed in response as I gently stroked a finger between her labia and softly circled her little clitoris. She answered my caresses by fishing out by rock-hard penis from the open fly in my underwear.
Our kisses were more urgent now as we felt the need to be together, and Madeleine further surprised me by gently pushing me onto my back and straddling my hips. Holding my cock at the base, she fit the head to her opening and sighed as she slowly let herself down until I was fully impaled in her delightful depths.
I smiled at the thought of my once-virgin bride, at how sensual she had become in the months we had been married. She had taken to lovemaking eagerly and with enthusiasm, and was not shy about asking for it.
But this was a treat, and something that clearly pointed the difference between French women and American women, at least in that period.
A French girl had no qualms about being on top, and having sex in other positions, as well. But not many Americans in my experience were comfortable with anything other than having the man on top and the woman on her back.
The room had begun to warm up nicely as the heater did its work, along with the heat from our coupling, and Madeleine responded by pulling the nightgown over her head and tossing it aside, leaving her naked. That left her hair looking wild and tousled, and she threw her head back and let her long dark mane fall to her back.
Her eyes were closed in a reverie and she had a small smile on her face as she rode me in a slow, but steady up-and-down rhythm.
I reached up then and filled my hands with her lightly jiggling breasts, pressing my fingers around her taut nipples. For some reason, her breasts seemed a little fuller than usual, but I just attributed it to the passion we were showing.
"Ah, Robert, you are so good to me," she whispered, and I could only grunt in response, for I was beginning to feel the onset of my climax, and I began to thrust upward more and more forcefully, willing her to reach her peak with me.
And, sure enough, I could feel the timbre of her body begin to quicken, and she began to gasp softly as we fucked with ever mounting joy.
My hands gripped her hips, controlling her motions, and I stared mesmerized by the gentle sway of her breasts. In that moment, I truly considered myself the luckiest man in the world for having such a woman.
Even as the thought passed my mind, I could feel Madeleine begin to shimmy, and that was the moment I'd been waiting for.
With a soft cry, I thrust upward once more and surrendered my sperm into her hot young womb. We clutched at each other and kissed passionately as we teetered at the peak of our mutual climax, until we finally exhaled sharply, then with a laugh, she rolled off of me and gathered herself in my arms, still panting heavily.
"Robert, I cannot imagine any man being better for me," she said, when she'd finally gotten her wind back.
"My love, you said earlier that you had a surprise for me," I said in a teasing tone of voice. "Just because you have drained me of my manhood doesn't mean you're off the hook. What is this surprise that you have for me?"
"I haven't told you this, because I wanted to be sure," she said, hesitantly. "But I have not had my menstrual period for the past two months. I went to see Dr. Jeanpierre today, and he confirmed it. I am with child."
The news hit me like a board across my head, and for a moment I was speechless. Madeleine misread my silence as disapproval, and she spoke in a concerned tone.
"Robert? Does this displease you?" she said.
"Oh, God, no, my love," I said. "I'm just a little stunned. We are going to have a child? Oh my God. You could not have given me a more wonderful Christmas present. Are you sure what we just did is not going to harm the baby?"
"Don't worry , Robert," she said. "Once I get further along, it might, but not right now. I just felt the need to be with you, and love you both because of the baby and because of what happened tonight. I could not believe he would do something like that. It stunned me, and I couldn't react for a moment. Then I was worried that you might see in my hesitation that I had allowed it or encouraged him, and nothing could be further from the truth. I love you so much, and I don't want you to ever doubt that."
And now she was almost in tears, and I realized that for all of her charm and worldliness, Madeleine was still a teenager, a young woman who had not yet seen all the worst of men.
"It's all right, love," I said. "You handled it properly. And I paid Senor Velasquez a visit while you were in the ladies room. I doubt if he will bother us again, and if he does, he will learn that sometimes it is the quiet men you have worry about most."
Madeleine just sighed as she snuggled in my embrace, and she was soon snoring softly. I, on the other hand, found sleep elusive. So I was going to be a father. I found the prospect daunting, yet satisfying. We had pledged to fill our home with children, and this would be the first.
Finally, I rolled over, moving Madeleine into a spooning position and fell asleep with visions of sons and daughters dancing through my head.
It was a fairly difficult pregnancy, and Madeleine was in the care of her doctor for much of it. Nevertheless, I felt a great deal of pride at the glow she exhibited as her belly grew. She walked with her head high, showing to the world that she was proud to be carrying my child.
And so it was that on August, 11, 1916, our daughter was born. We named her Marie Therese, after Madeleine's late mother and her best friend. She would prove to be a joy to have, but by the time she was born, events were about to overtake us all.
The war, and everything around it, was about to intrude upon our idyllic life, and it would make for some difficult times for me and my young family.