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Peter and I are met at Zurich airport by a driver. Peter recognizes him by sight. We hop in the back of the Mercedes and soon we’re racing down the autobaun. Two hours later we are pulling up to the boat launch at Lac Ste. Jeanne.
As the evening sun settles over the serated ridge, I take in the gorgeous vista before me. The writer me makes mental notes: the plane, the car ride, the Alpine lake. You have a pronounced sense of going somewhere, of covering ground.
It’s like a journey back in time.
The island is just a half hour boatride away. As we circle to the back side, I glimpse the house. It’s an elegant stone construction with a terraced lawn and a castle-like turret. As we tie up at the dock, I see a figure running across the lawn to greet us.
“Pierre!” she shouts.
“Pierre?” I ask, sardonically. I had always known him as Peter.
“Family secret. The first of many to fall” he cracks as he waves to her. It’s his sister, Isabelle.
Isabelle is a creature to behold. Lean and graceful, she bounds across the expanse of grass, a full mane of brown curly hair flowing behind her. As she reaches the dock, I see her face, beautiful in the afternoon light. She has a beaming smile as she hugs her brother.
“Izzy, this is my friend Jake I told you about.” He turns to me.
“Bien sur. Of course, L’ecrivain fameux. The famous writer.”
She has the most charming French accent. And that face. Perfect high cheekbones and the most beautiful hazel eyes I’ve ever seen.
“Oh, he speaks French? Pee-Pee you didn’t tell me.”
“No, my French is atrocious. I’ve just used up my entire vocabulary.”
“Pee-pee, you didn’t tell me he was charming as well as handsome!” she says warmly. She takes us both by the arms.
“What about our bags?” I ask. Peter replies with a flip of his hand.
“Auguste will take care of them.”
As we head up to the house, I can’t resist.
Peter laughs. “I told you, all the family secrets will be bared.”
And with that, the three of us walk arm in arm to the house.
I’m totally unprepared for what I encounter inside. The large antique door opens to a stone entry way. Beams of dark wood grace the ceiling and enormous Persian rugs line the hardwood floor. Huge flower arrangements frame the stairway to the upper floors. I can see straight through an open door to the back of the house, into to a large room with a huge stone fireplace. Summer house? More like a villa.
“I’ll let Mum and Dad know you’re here” says Isabelle as she strides off.
I follow Peter up the stairs which lead to a suite of rooms facing the lake. He takes me to where I’ll be staying, a beautiful, high-ceilinged room with floor-to-ceiling French doors opening onto a large terrace. A large canopied bed, armoir, and marble top dresser complete the room.
“This’ll be your digs for the next week” says Peter.
“Not bad” I reply. “Not bad at all.”
“This is the young people’s floor. Mom and Dad’s rooms are upstairs.”
“Oh yes, they’ve had separate bedrooms for years. Helps keep the peace.”
“I understand.” And I did. All too well.
“Do you want to meet the the royal highnesses or rest up a bit?”
“Hey.” I reply. “Bring it on.”
Peter smiles and we head off down the hallway.
“This is Isabelle’s room next to yours. This is mine. This is the playroom. Parents not allowed.”
We circle down to the first floor, this time descending a different staircase. It takes us through the kitchen where two servants are preparing that evening’s dinner. Peter gives a large woman in an apron a big hug.
“Francesca! La plus belle femme du monde!” Peter cries as he plants a big kiss on her forehead. An older man comes over to shake Peter’s hand. “Claude, comment allez vous? Jake, meet Monsieur and Madame Fleury, the greatest cooks in all of Switzerland. They’re the glue that holds this place together.”
I shake hands with them both. The door opens and a striking young woman enters in a maid’s outfit. She’s a dark beauty, maybe nineteen, with lovely legs and dark, romantic eyes.
“Justine! Comment ca va? Tu es plus belle que je souviens!” He kisses her on both cheeks, clasping hands.
“Justine, je me presente mon ami Jake. Jake meet Justine. She’s the lovely daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Fleury, the most beautiful little pastry ever to grace this household, AND…she speaks absolutely no English!”
Justine smiles and gives a little curtsy. I nod my head and say “Bonjour.” I feel our eyes hold each other’s gaze for a brief moment.
As we head out of the kitchen, Peter says under his breath. “Oh, if she wasn’t practically my sister, my God!”
We make our way to through a large formal dining room and into the living room, the large room with the fireplace I’d seen on my arrival. An older gentleman in a smoking jacket is sitting in an easy chair reading the newspaper. On the couch is a younger dark-haired woman, very well dressed, holding a cigarette and tumbler in one hand and a book in the other.
“We’re here” calls out Peter zümrütevler escort bayan as he strides in the room. He goes to his mother and kisses her on both cheeks. He then crosses to his father and shakes his hand, formally. I’m struck by the contrast between this greeting and the one I’d just witnessed in the kitchen.
“Mother, Father, I’d like to present my friend Jake Scott.” I’m a bit surprised by the formality of the introduction and I put on my very best manners. I shake hands with his Mother first.
“Enchantez, Madame. Avec plaisir.” She gives me a look that strikes me as pleasantly surprised.
“Welcome to our home, Jake. Why Peter, you didn’t mention how handsome your young friend was. It’s a pleasure to have you as our guest.”
“And Peter’s descriptions of your beauty didn’t do you justice” I respond, hoping not to hear Peter bust out laughing.
“Oh, Peter, he IS charming.” She looks me up and down. “Tres charmant.”
I move to Peter’s Dad to shake hands and give a slight bow. “Merci Monsieur pour votre invitation.”
I was laying on the bullshit, but it felt like the right thing to do. I glance at Peter and he was just watching me
with a smile on my face.
Peter’s Dad is a lot older than his Mom. Maybe 60. He looks like one of those landed gentry in the old Gaumont films, with a white mustache and prodigious belly. He seems a bit blustery and clueless. Is this the guy who made a bundle in banking? Hard to believe.
Peter’s Mom is the embodiment of the old adage you can’t be too rich or too thin. She probably early-40’s but could easily pass for early-30’s. She’s slender, with high cheekbones, and fine features. Her face is very made up and her hair is impeccable, worn high on her head. She tends to lean her head back as if to catch a more favorable light like Norma Desmond in Sunset Boulevard.
After some pleasantries about our flight and life in New York, Peter says he’s going to give me a tour. I don’t mention I’ve just had a tour, of course. We pay our respects and say “a ce soir.”
Walking on the lawn outside Peter starts to rib me. “I didn’t expect your unsurpassed beauty?” was that what you said? He’s laughing. “Jake, i didn’t know you had it in you. They are going to LOVE you.” He laughs heartily.
“Just trying to be gracious” I say, laughing myself. Peter has a way to make me laugh even when I’m the butt of the joke.
We walk down to the lake and along the shore. He shows me the small sailboat they keep docked there and a couple of canoes. There’s a swimming platform further out on the lake. We follow a path which leads to a stable. Inside, Isabelle is brushing down a beautiful horse. With her is a stable boy, maybe twenty years old.
“Hey Guys” she calls out. “I’m just giving Lancelot a brushing after our ride.”
“He’s beautiful” I say, and I mean it.
“He’s an Arabian” says Isabelle. “Do you know horses?”
“No, just that they’re beautiful animals. Noble really.”
“Yes, they are” she answers. “Exactly.”
She turns to the young worker. “Antoine takes the best care of Lancelot. Don’t you Antonine? Rides him everyday. Without fail.”
Antoine smiles and mutters something in French about it being less than nothing. He’s a strapping young man, dark-featured, almost Italian looking. She hands him the reins to the animal. The three of us turn to head back to the house.
Isabelle turns to me. “We’ll go for a ride. While you’re here. If you want.”
“I’d enjoy that” I answer.
“Jake may end up moving in after the impression he made on Mum and Dad” says Peter.
Isabelle’s face brightens. “Really? Wait, you’re joking. It didn’t go well?” Isabelle turns to me.
“No it went swimmingly” answers Peter. “Jake charmed them as I knew he would.”
“Well, Merci Dieu for that, eh?” she answers.
I try to be diplomatic. “They seem nice.”
“Nice? Nice is not the adjective I’d use” says Peter.
Isabelle furrows her brow. “Mother’s being a royal pain again. She won’t let me go to Paris. She’s on me about Charles.”
Peter is sympathetic. “Izzy, you need to live your life, not hers. Just tell her to fuck off.”
She lets out a laugh. “That’s easy for you to say. I’m the one who has to live with her.”
“How are she and Dad getting on?” Peter asks, wincing.
“Who knows” answers Isabelle. “They hardly even talk anymore. Honestly, I don’t know why they don’t just…get divorced.”
“They’d rather suffer the slings and arrows of their outrageous fortune” Peter replies, sardonically.
Isabelle laughs and we continue our walk back to the house.
Back in my room, I hop in the shower and think about the days events, the people I’d met. The gorgeous and innocent Isabelle, the aristocratic and daunting Veronique, the quiet, beguiling servant girl, Justine. Even Henri, the patriarch was formidable in his overstuffed way. All of these larger than life characters sure made Pittsburg seem like small potatoes. What AM I doing here? Who do I think I am?
I try to shake off my aydınlı escort bayan insecurity by remembering my dream about Marta, the flight attendant. Lathering my body, I imagine her with me, in the shower, pressing her sexy body against mine, and my cock starts to lengthen and grow thick and heavy. Sliding my soapy hand up and down the shaft I think about her full breasts, the hard, extended nipples, how she opened her legs, and threw her head back, and let me fuck her. My cock is standing up now and I stroke its full length.
My thoughts turn suddenly to Justine, so sexy in her maid’s uniform, coming to my room, catching me in bed, stroking myself, offering to help me. And then to Veronique. What would she be like in bed? What if I slipped into her bedroom late at night, pretending I’d gotten confused and gone into the wrong room. A simple mistake. She seemed like a real dom, she’d probably tell me EXACTLY
what to do. My cock is rock hard now. Or Isabelle. Sweet, young Isabelle. So luscious, so ripe. So…unavailable. Christ, what would she EVER see in me? This heiress/ballerina with a face to launch a thousand ships. How could a rube from Pennsylvania with nary a dollar to his name EVER stand a chance with her. My mind was reeling. Jesus, get a HOLD of yourself. I slam on the cold water and let the chill cool me back down.
At seven, Peter came to collect me in his room. He’s dressed in a shirt and tie. I have a dress shirt on, but no tie.
“Don’t sweat it” he reassures me. “We’re not wearing jackets so we’re fucked already.” He laughs and pats me on the back. “Come on. I’ll lend you a tie.”
The dining room is formally set with white table cloth, candles, and crystal. The table is rectangular with antique 18th century chairs with big rounded backs. I’m directed by Peter’s Mom to the seat next to her. Peter’s Dad is at the opposite end of the table. Isabelle is directly opposite me next to Peter. Justine brings out the soup.
“Tonight we speak English, in honor of our guest Monsieur Jake” says Peter’s Mom placing her hand on my thigh. “It’s good practice for everyone. After all, it’s the international language.”
“Well, not the international language I’m thinking of” says Peter mischeviously. “But certainly the language of business.”
“Jake, what business are you in again? Publishing?” Her hand is still on my thigh. I tense my leg instinctively, which only makes my thigh seem more muscular. She runs her fingers over my thigh appreciatively.
Peter steps in to rescue me. “Jake’s a writer, Mother. I told you that. Remember?”
“Oh, that’s right. A novelist. How wonderful for you.” Her hand is moving slowly up my leg, sending electricity through my body. It takes an effort to formulate complete sentences.
“Well, an aspring novelist, as yet unpublished” I interject.
“And what do you write about, in your as yet unpublished novels?” Veronique asks with a slightly teasing tone. Her fingers are massaging my inner thighs now.
“You know” I reply, lamely. “The usual suspects. Relationships, family. Modern life.”
Her fingers are getting dangerously close to my crouch.
“Ah, modern life” she says, with that same slightly mocking tone. “Do you write about the complexes that seem to pervade modern life in America?”
“Complexes?” I ask. I can feel her stare burning into me. I can also feel her hand on the crease where my leg meets my hip.
“All the things that seem to make American’s so uptight.” She slides her fingers towards my bulge. “Like sex?”
Her hand slides over my bulge. I feel her fingers caress my cock and balls.
“Mother!” exclaims Isabelle as I stand to reach for the bottle of wine, my excuse for escaping her fondling.
“Justine” Peter’s Dad barks. The young servant, who has been standing at attention by the kitchen door, comes to the table hurriedly and takes the wine from me. I realize I’ve committed a faux pas, guests don’t pour, servants do. But at least I’m free of Veronique’s grasp. I sit back down.
Isabelle speaks next. “Jake is an artist and I have the utmost respect for artists. Do you find artistic expression the most fulfilling enterprise?” She’s looking at me earnestly.
“I can’t imagine being happy doing anything else” I reply sincerely. She looks me straight in eye and nods. As if to say “you understand.”
“Practicality. That’s what is of paramount importance.” Peter’s Dad was starting to pontificate. What a Polonius this guy is.
“Creativity untempered by practicality is nothing but self-indulgence” he continues. This seems to be a lecture aimed directly at Isabelle.
“Without art, life would not be worth living” says Isabelle ardently. “Any fool could see that!”
Her mother addresses her sharply. “Isabelle! Watch your tone!”
Isabelle is silent. I can see she’s fuming. This is an open nerve that I’ve inadvertantly touched. Justine removes the soup bowls and her mother brings out the entree, a rissoto with wild mushrooms. Delicious. We eat in silence for a long time.
“Isabelle, what are you going to wear to the fete tomorrow?” gebze escort Veronique inquires.
“I don’t think I’m going to go, Mother. I told you.”
“But Charles is expecting you to go.” Mother is obviously not pleased.
“Charles is Mother’s choice for Isabelle’s bethrothed” Peter explains. “He’s very well born. Tres riche.”
“He’s a pig” says Isabelle under her breath.
“Isabelle, don’t say that” her mother scolds. “He comes from one of the finest families in the country.”
“Well, I don’t care. I’m not going to the fete. We have company.”
“Nonsense” her mother answers, dismissively.
“I’m going out of town….to Paris” she’s improvising now. “Or New York.”
“You have an obligation. Not only to Charles but to yourself.” Veronique’s in heavy patronizing mode. “There will be no more discussion.”
Isabelle throws her napkin down on the table and walks out of the room.
“Isabelle!” her mother calls. “That girl! You’ve spoiled her” she snaps at her husband.
Peter’s father merely mumbles through a full mouth of food.
Peter and I excuse ourselves as soon as seems polite. We find Isabelle in the playroom. It’s filled with books, musical instruments, and a fireplace. She’s poking at the fire.
“You okay?” Peter asks sympathetically.
“Oh, it’s just Mother. I can’t stand her.” She turns to me. “Jake, I’m so sorry you had to sit through that.”
“Don’t apologize” I reply. “It’s nothing I haven’t experienced myself.”
“Really?” She turns to me, full face.
“Sure. My Dad didn’t approve of my writing. He wanted me to go to law school.”
“And now? He understands. And accepts?”
“No” I say, sincerely. “But now it matters less to me.”
She looks at me for a moment.
“It’s so good to have someone here who understands me.” She gives me a gentle kiss on the cheek. My face flushes.
“Here, I brought you this.” Peter hands her a cognac in a large brandy snifter. “I figured you’d need it.”
We sit by the fire on a comfortable couch and an easy chair. Isabelle is next to me on the couch, her legs curled under her.
“Tell me about New York. What’s life like there?” she’s out of doldrums now, back to the old Isabelle.
Peter looks at me as if to say “Well?”
I think a moment. “I think of it as the ultimate playground for adults. It’s going full speed 24 hours a day. You can feel the energy.” Isabelle shifts her weight and listens urgently. “You walk everywhere and a distance of one block can change everything, the neighborhoods are so distinct. You go in a cafe or restaurant and you hear every
language imaginable and conversations about every possible pursuit: film, art, dance, publishing, finance, anything. When you walk out your front door, you get a sensation that anything is possible. Anything can happen. Serendipity reigns.”
“You make it sound wonderful” she says softly.
“Jake’s a master of words” says Peter, glad to see his friend and sister getting along. “The once and future ecrivain celebre!” He raises his glass and they toast.
“Tell me more” says Isabelle. She’s leaning foward now. All ears.
“Hey, Jake, you should tell Izzy one of your stories” says Peter. “Jake entertains us at parties by telling stories, extemporaneously.”
“Yes, a story! Do tell!” says Isabelle excitedly.
Jake puts down his glass. “I, on the other hand, am completely jetlagged from the flight. I’ve got a date with a little blue pill and my pillow.”
He turns to us with a flourish.
“Bonne nuit mes amis!” He nods his head, smiles, and heads for the door.
“And hands off my beautiful younger sister” he says with a laugh. “That is, if you value your life.”
He smiles and leaves. Isabelle turns to me. The gaze of her eyes feels like a spotlight.
“Will you tell me a story? I could certainly use the distraction.”
“In that case, yes. I will.” I answer, softly.
I stand and stir the embers for a moment. I pick up a log and place it on the fire. Then I begin.
“Long ago, a lighthouse sat perched on the cliffs on the southern coast of Spain. It guided ships through the strait of Gilbraltar on their way to the trading ports of the Mediterranean. A lighthouse keeper maintained it, living in a little cottage by the sea. He lived there with his wife and daughter, named Charlotta. Far from the nearest town or village, they lived and worked and spent the days of their lives in solitude. Rarely did they encounter strangers, except when they made the trip inland for supplies.
On rare occasions, a ship would seek safe harbor in a nearby cove, waiting for a storm to pass. For the lighthouse keeper and his wife, their solitude was not a burden for they knew theirs was an important job and they knew no better of the world outside.
Yet, the daughter was different. She had dreams. Dreams to see the world. To explore. To experience love and adventure. But it was difficult to leave. She had no means. And so she stayed.
Then one night, as the wind howled in advance of a gathering storm, there came a rapping at the door. The lighthouse keeper opened it to find a sea captain. He had moored his ship in the cove, leaving his crew, to come seeking news of the storm and when it might pass. His name was Captain Esperanza. The lighthouse keeper invited the captain in and they shared their dinner with him. He told the captain he could stay the night and then return to his ship in the morning.
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