It was not April in Paris, as the song goes, rather August and very warm. Not hot but enough to make me perspire under the light black leather jacket. I swung the bike wide around a silly looking French automobile with a pan-caked rear-end and wondered for the tenth time how a designer could do something so ugly.
So much for the French. Give me an English Jag or Austin-Healy mk2000, or a Porsche or a Ferrari, even an American Corvette, but damn, those Peugeot's looked like the word sounded, nasty.
I eased through traffic moving on the wrong side of the road as far as I was concerned and headed for the passage beneath the Arch of Triumph growing ever larger before me. I bought to bike, a little 125cc Honda machine in London a few weeks ago after an English girl educated me about busses and trains in Europe. She had laughed at me. "You'll spend most of your time waiting or trying to figure out schedules."
I had seen the sights in London and was trying fish&chips and a cup of tea that was mostly sugar and milk when she smiled at me and asked if I was American. I guess it shows. The English girl showed me a few sights not often seen by tourists.
But now I was in Paris. I had seen the Normandy beaches and the acres and acres of white crosses in the cemeteries that held the dead from the second big war and the first big war. It was a sobering trip during which I almost got squashed by a huge truck that suddenly turned in front of me without signaling.
I saw the river through the eyes of a 1930's Hemingway reader and Montmartre and the Louvre and even the Mona Lisa and the Venus D'Milo. I had directions for the Rodin outdoor gallery but I was thinking I had missed a turn and was lost. But I did want to pass under the Arch and add it to the Eiffel Tower as famous sites I had seen in gay Paree.
Well, I passed under the Arch and all the gawking tourists and got caught up in a traffic circle; not for the first time. When I finally cursed my way out, I was even more lost than before.
It turned out to be a good thing.
I kept moving through lessening traffic and narrow streets paved with cobblestone that left me uneasy as the bike slithered and swayed on the uneven surface. I slowed down and for no reason turned left onto an even narrower street, almost an alleyway. It was like a storybook street in a child's story. It was completely lined with great leafy trees with flowers and bushes everywhere and storefronts and buildings that would have looked normal in the 17th Century.
A large red and white umbrella sprouting from a single table caused me to turn my head; the blonde girl at the table took my full attention and the bike decided to lurch to the left all in the same instant of time. I knew I could not regain control so I dismounted with a huge jump keeping one hand on the handlebar. It worked. Barely.
I took a deep breath and exhaled and looked around to see if my rather gauche entrance had been observed. It had.
She was shaking her head slowly from side to side with a teeth showing grin greeting my embarrassment. I smiled back, turned the engine off and walked the bike next to a tree and leaned it there.
"May I join you?"
"If you wish..." She had an accent to her English answer, but it did not sound French.
"Thank you..." I said as I looked around the small plaza, pulled a chair out and lowered myself into it.
"I thought you had lost it!" She said with an even wider grin.
"Yeah, me too..." I gazed at her high forehead, prominent cheek bones, sculpted nose and full sensual lips. I almost gasped out loud, she was beautiful! Her faced was an elongated oval framed by straight golden colored hair that hung down past her shoulder on one side and fell down her back on the other. She was dressed in a wide peasant skirt of several colors and a short sleeved light blue blouse open at the neck.
"That's what caused your almost accident!" She chuckled at me.
I blinked my eyes. "What?"
"You were staring at me."
She lightly lifted a hand and waved it at me. "Yes, you were."
"Oh." I think I was at a loss for words. I reached into the jacket pocket for cigarettes and a lighter and lit one up.
"I don't like men who smoke."
I took a lung full of smoke but exhaled it away from her. "Is that so?"
"Aren't you going to put it out for me?"
I stood up slowly and put the cigarette package and lighter back in my pocket. "They cost too much to waste." I turned to walk away from her.
"You don't have to leave," she said softly, "I don't suppose it will kill me."
I turned back to her and tried to read the expression on her face. I couldn't. I took another deep pull on the smoke and flipped it high and long out into the cobbled street. "Only wasted part of it..."
She smiled as I sat back down. "I am from Moscow, in Russia."
A waiter picked that moment to appear, I ordered a Pernod and water and asked if I could buy a drink for her. She nodded and ordered a white wine.
"I may not be old enough to drink alcohol." She said with a quirky little smile.
I grinned wide. "This is France! Kids drink wine from baby bottles here. I don't think anyone will notice. How old are you?"
"I am nineteen; not too long ago my birthday came."
"You are Russian? You speak very good English."
"Do you think so? I have not had much chance to try it. You...you are not English?"
"American..." I tilted my head in a slight bow to her, "from the state of Washington on the west coast."
"I am called Natasha."
"I am John." I reached out and took her fingers in my right hand; they were cool to the touch.
Entranced by her looks, I had failed to notice the leather bound book on the table to her left. I picked it up. "Pasternak...hmmm, I know the name but I do not recall reading the work?"
"He is a Russian Poet. Pasternak has a unique philosophy of life that seeps through his every word. He is a great, brilliant poet, writer and translator. I blinked as she spoke; savoring the accent of her words, her full grasp of English and the words she chose to say. I smiled and leaned forward. "You are a student?"
"How could you know?" She gave me a puzzled look.
"How could I not know?" I smiled at her. "Would you read me what you were reading?"
"You like poetry?"
"Yes, very much, at least some of it..."
"I am not certain my English is good enough to read to you, but the book is in Russian..."
The waiter came. I reached into my pocket once again and spread both English and French coins and bills on the table. She smiled and handed him the proper amount.
"Your English is wonderful, Natasha. I would like you to read for me."
She took a small sip, tilted her head back closed her eyes and savored it, then swallowed and opened the book.
"There'll be no one in the house ..."
There'll be no one in the house Save for twilight. All alone, Winter's day seen in the space that's Made by curtains left undrawn.
Only flash-past of the wet white Snowflake clusters, glimpsed and gone. Only roofs and snows, and save for Roofs and snow -- no one at home...."
She finished that one and at my urging read me: 'Winter's Night.' I watched and listened as she spoke. At times she would look up at me without a pause in the words or close her eyes and keep reciting. She knew the works by heart. It was not just her appearance that entranced me; I fell in love as she read.
We talked for an hour but ordered only one more drink.
I mentioned Antonio Carlos Jobim and here eyes moistened as she named several songs by the Brazilian Composer, singer and guitarist. I told her the Philosopher I most admired was born in Russia and she said: "Ayn Rand, born in St. Petersburg, her Russian name was Alisa.
We spoke of Art and Classical music and poets and writers, words from both of us tumbling over each other in a frantic race to be heard.
Several times during that hour, I shivered when she seemed to know the next word or the next thought I was about to utter. Her eyes got wide several times and her nostril flared when I quoted a poem, 'Jenny Kiss'd me', by Leigh Hunt. It was a favorite of hers also.
We finally stopped talking and just stared at each other, deep into the eyes.
"I think I have never met a man such as you..." She looked away and lowered her head.
"I have dreamed of meeting someone like you." I too, looked away.
We remained silent for long moments. I heard the noises of the street come back into my consciousness; even the sound of a bird and of children playing and cars going by.
And then we both spoke at the same moment.
"Would you go with me to the Rodin exhibit?"/"My mother will be looking for me soon."
We both laughed. I reached for her hands and she let me take them in mine. "Please?"
"Oh, I want to! But..."
"Your mother is out? Can you leave a note for her?"
She nodded enthusiastically. "Yes, yes...I can do this. You would wait for me?"
"Oh, yes, I will wait...but hurry...please!"
"You say please two times. That happy makes me....ah, I mean that makes me happy! Oh, I am so excited. I love Rodin!"
She quickly stood and hurried off across the plaza, looking back once before she disappeared into the building.
I finished my drink and looked a dozen times in the direction she had gone. Would I ever see her again? Was it real? It seemed too perfect to be real. I began to doubt if it were real...until I saw the book she had left behind.
The waiter stopped at the table again. I shook my head 'no', but I took his arm: "Rodin?" I said and then set my chin in my palm, opened my legs and tried to look wise.
"Ah, Messr. Oui! Rodin!" He scurried away and came back with a small map. I tried to pay but he shook his head and smiled and looked skyward, "Rodin!"
She did come back. Just a few minutes later... She hurried across the plaza with a small sweater on her arm and carried a purse in the other hand.
"I thought perhaps you would not be here! I thought you were a silly girl's dream on a summer afternoon! But you are here!"
I swallowed hard and found my eyes all blurry; I turned away so she could not see.
"What is wrong? Is something wrong? Are you sad at me?"
I turned to her and smiled my biggest smile and reached for her arm. "I was not sure you were real. But then I saw the book you left behind."
"Not real? Me? Natasha? I am real! I am here!"
As I took her arm she reached up with her hand and squeezed.
The book was too large for her purse, so I put it in a saddlebag on the bike, along with a huge loaf of bread and two bottles of Vin Ordinaire that I bought for about twenty cents at a French country market outside Paris.
She had never ridden a motorcycle before and nervously looked about as she raised her skirt and lifted a leg over the seat behind me. She had color in her face when I turned to her. "You need to put your arms around my waist and keep your leg away from that pipe. It will get very hot and can burn you. Okay? You okay?"
She nodded and gingerly put her arms around me and peered down to the foot rest and the exhaust I had warned her about. I felt the warmth of her legs next to mine and her breasts crushed against my back.
After a few times of cautiously leaning when we turned, she began to enjoy the wind in her face and the experience of the cycle.
"Faster!" She shouted in my ear. "Go faster! Much faster!"
And so I did, as much as possible through the narrow streets and Paris traffic. I showed off a little, making tight little turns and tilting from side to side until she squeaked a little scream.
The map was easy to follow and we soon arrived at the park-like gallery with its stone and bronze entrance and sculpted walkways. She dragged me from statue to statue before we finally stood before The Thinker.
We both stood in silence.
She slipped her hand into mine and leaned against me and continued to gaze at the sculpture. After a few more moments she let loose of my hand and moved in front of me. She looked up into my face with a strange open look in her eyes and her lips slightly parted. I did what any good red blooded American guy would do; I put my arms around her waist and pulled her to me. She slowly slid her hands up the front of my leather jacket, touching it as she went and then put her arms around my neck.
I looked at her face as she closed her eyes. I could feel her breath on my chin as she tilted her head back. So beautiful, I thought, So very beautiful. Does she know?
She opened those lovely green eyes again with a question as she focused on my eyes. "You are so beautiful, Natasha, you take my breath away!"
She gasped at my words and her eyes widened before she pulled my head down to her. I wanted to kiss her gently, at least at first, to tell her...tell her...but it was not to be. The chemistry was there. The touch of her open mouth as she breathed into me set lit a fire. The kiss turned into a thing of hot passion as she opened her legs and took my thigh between them, pushed against me and answered the passion of my lips on hers and her arms pulling on my back; I pulled her up on my leg, crushing her against me with my arms around her back.
We were both gasping for air when I finally pushed her slightly away from me and gazed into her glowing face. She lowered her arms to my elbows and looked around; several people were looking in our direction. She colored even more deeply.
"My God!" She gasped.
I stared at her. "You can say that again!"
"Oh, my God!"
I blinked my eyes and frowned down at her. "Natasha, perhaps I should apologize, I did not mean to..."
"Oh, no!" she exclaimed, "not you...it was me...I never...I uh, ah, oh, my God, find a place!"
She gripped my hand and pulled me away from the sculpture towards an area of shoulder high shrubs and flowering bushes.
She plunged right into shrubbery, pulling me behind her as I glanced around to see if we were being observed. She didn't seem to care.
Then she stopped, looked around for an instant, lifted her skirt and skittered out of her underpants and dropped them at my feet. With her chest heaving she looked at me and raised her arms. We came together with an audible thump of body on body. My hands were on her breasts and between her legs and anywhere and anywhere I could touch and our mouths were locked together. Small keening sounds came from her throat as I rubbed through her dress and then her hands were on me and she was squeezing and stroking and pulling the zipper to my jeans down. I pulled the open front of her blouse down, destroying at least one button and exposed a breast. I took her into my mouth and pulled hard, again and again as she moaned and writhed in my arms.
Then we were on the ground, in the dirt and the grass, rolling and gasping as I raised her skirt and moved over her. She lifted her knees and reached behind me and pulled me down and into her in almost one simultaneous movement. There was no foreplay, she was wet and I felt huge. She cried out as I plunged all the way into her, coming up hard against her pubic bone and clitoris. She screamed and wrapped her legs around me and sank her teeth into my neck; I grabbed her hair and pulled her head back and then it was two animals in a primordial ritual that exploded into a violent coupling that might have shaken the earth had it paid any heed.
I lay gasping upon her breasts, still inside her, still wrapped around each other but spent, I think, both of us.
Neither of us spoke for several minutes. Then she was stroking my hair, running her fingers through it. I did the same.
"I drew blood on your neck; I could taste it."
"I felt it. I hope I didn't pull your hair too hard, but it hurt when you bit me."
"You are not!"
She laughed. "I wanted you to love me really hard. I wanted you to take me, ravage me."
"Why? I never understood that about some women. I always try to be gentle, to make sure you..."
"Oh, I did! Several times!"
"I like it gentle sometimes also. But not with you, not today, not this time."
"I will never understand women, never."
She giggled lightly. "You're not supposed to understand...especially Russian women..."
I rose up on one elbow and looked at her. "Natasha, loving you like that was both the first and the last thing on my mind. You fill up my eyes and my mind. I felt so lonely when you left at the café', I was sure you were not coming back."
She lifted herself slightly and placed a hand on my face. "John, I felt the same way. Something happened to me when we were talking. Something I don't understand and something I have never felt before. You are like a missing piece in my life."
"Natasha...I...damn...I know this is Paris and I know we are strangers...but...damn...I should maybe get you back pretty soon?"
"We are not strangers. You have a Russian soul. We have known each other forever."
"You are a romantic."
"Suppose you get pregnant?"
"Oh." That was all I could think to say.
"Yes, you should take me back. We will spend the night together."
She clung to me tightly on the way back, her head resting on my back and shoulder, her hair flying in the wind. She spoke only once.
"Would you believe me if I told you I had never done anything like that before?" She whispered in my ear over the wind.
I twisted my head back to her. "I will believe whatever you tell me, Natasha."
I waited for almost an hour as the sun slowly brought deep shadows and then twilight on the quaint Paris streets. The waiter brought a meal and smiled when I nodded at his question, "Rodin?" A little bit later he came by with a room key and gave me directions.
We washed each other in the shower and then stood naked and dripping before the candles she had lit in the single room on the second floor overlooking the street.
I dried her body with my lips and my hands as she lay quiet on the soft feather bed. She was not insistent or in a hurry as I touched and kissed and fondled and caressed every square inch of her.
But when I began kissing my way down from between the cleavage of her breasts, to her stomach, to her navel and to her abdomen, she began to move and make small sounds. I did not touch her with my hands, only my mouth as I playfully pulled the moist curled hairs with my lips.
I sensed her trying to postpone or slow her response as I took her in my mouth and worried that little nub of erect flesh. She moaned when I pressed my thumb into her and moved more as I used my finger to explore and slightly enter from behind. Then she sighed and began a gentle rise and fall with her hips to my mouth. She stiffened and cried out softly and sat up with her hands on my head, pressing me to her. Then she fell back and her body relaxed completely.
A little later she said nothing as I moved her over me and guided myself into her. I ran my hands up and down her body from the swell of her hips to her waist, to her breasts and then to her neck and face. I ran my fingers over her open lips as she kissed my fingers and touched them with her tongue.
She seemed to tease for a while as she gently moved on me, back and forth, then up and down and then in a circling movement with her head thrust back and her eyes closed. Then it changed as she grasped the sheeted mattress on each side of my head, leaned over and bore down on me with increasing pressure and speed. Barely audible grunts at the end of each thrust became more audible and then continuous as perspiration dripped from her body onto me. Suddenly she shivered and tensed and a long drawn out squeal filled the room and she collapsed on me, gasping for air.
Some long minutes later; "No one ever waited that long for me before. I love you."
I put my arms around her and pulled her to where we were facing each other in the flickering light. "I love you."