Moving on to stay in mountain villa with van zanten couple stop all well stop love clive stop the wire read.
The lady stared at the square of brown paper in her hands, forgetting her coffee and her cigarette that lay smouldering in the ashtray.
‘My dear, no bad news, I hope?’ her mother asked from across the table. ‘Is Josephine all right?’
The lady smiled and buttered some toast. They were having breakfast outside, even though the sky was overcast and the Atlantic breeze felt autumnal.
‘Oh, all is well, Mama,’ she said. ‘I also got a wire from Josie telling me she arrived at a hostel in Imperia.’ Then she sighed. ‘But it looks like Clive will not be able to stop here before we return to England.’
‘How sad,’ her father mumbled. ‘Is he staying in Le Lavandou longer than planned, then?’
She shook her head. ‘No, Papa, he accepted an invitation from a Dutch couple to spend some time in a villa in the hills…I know them, we met them in Cannes years ago…They’re nice and kind-hearted, but rather boring.’
Clive had written her many letters since the beginning of his holiday. He had mentioned the names of the people he had met, from European businessmen to American actresses, none of them too interesting.
In 1913, Maurice had alluded to a liaison in London, leading her and her husband to believe that he was planning on getting engaged. But then he had disappeared.
For some reason she felt now that Maurice had never tied the knot. In Mediterranean holiday villages, bachelors got up to all kinds of vices, dragging along their married friends into endless drunken parties and dances and moonlight picnics on the beach. Clive’s flesh was slightly weak. She knew he had had some affairs in London, which had been brief and harmless. That story about a villa in the hills was a lie. Now that Josie was no longer around, he and his former friend were far away from the decent hotel now, having a marvelous time with mischievous married women and struggling starlets.
She stuffed the paper into her handbag, lit another cigarette and looked at her parents.
‘I’m sure the mountain air will do Clive a lot of good,’ her mother smiled.
They were in bed, naked, sipping Armagnac and smoking.
‘You looked so dashing on the cliff tonight,’ Clive murmured, stroking Maurice’s smooth chest.
‘And you!’ Maurice cried. ‘How you dived in – so heavenly…If I hadn’t fallen in love with you before, it would have happened then and there.’
Clive kissed him lovingly. ‘And you came after me, when I had come up for air. I got to watch you from the right angle.’ He ran his fingers gently over Maurice’s body. ‘And you’re tanned all over. You love sunbathing in the nude, hm?’
They both laughed. ‘I don’t mind,’ Clive said, reaching over Maurice to pour some more Armagnac.
‘In fact, after that Sunday morning, I took to diving off the pier into the pond on the estate. I did so many times, always naked, when no one was around…Not anymore now, I’m too old.’
Maurice grinned. ‘A million admiring eyes must have been secretly watching you, my love. Gamekeepers and gardeners can never be deceived.’
‘I expect so,’ Clive smirked. ‘But it was so odd…I didn’t care. I was on my estate, I felt that I could do as I pleased as long as I didn’t compromise anybody else.’
‘How you’ve changed!’ Maurice exclaimed, hugging him wildly.
It was going on midnight, but sleep would not come. They lay there, smoking, musing, occasionally kissing, until Clive sat up and stubbed out his cigarette. ‘Maurice, my beauty,’ he whispered. ‘I’d like to give you something now. You may not appreciate it, but all I ask of you is to please let me have a try.’
He took Maurice in his arms. ‘You must have sensed that I’m not the right man to perform the full act. I take it Scudder is rather proficient, so you don’t want for anything when you’re with him.’
‘That’s true,’ Maurice said with sparkling eyes. ‘He’s wild and delicious and inventive.’
‘I’m not,’ Clive said matter-of-factly. Then he grinned mischievously. ‘But I know something you don’t – ha! Unless you’ve slept with a woman at least once in your life.’
Maurice shook his head. ‘No, never,’ he sighed. ‘Alec has…He had some liaisons with girls before he met me.’
Clive’s face lit up. Then he gently pushed Maurice back into the pillows. ‘Well,’ he breathed, ‘then I shall learn you how it feels to be made love to like a woman… I had some flings with young ladies in London. They were cracking teachers, I tell you.’
Maurice gave him a shocked stare. Then he burst out laughing. ‘Good heavens, Clive, how like you to want to be on top, to be in control…And how unlike you to mimic Alec…Well, what is it you are willing to learn me?’
Clive moved closer to him until his hard member touched Maurice’s thigh. ‘I’ll slowly give you foreplay, court you and initiate you and grant you space to express yourself,’ he smiled. ‘It’s all I can do, actually. I’m sure I could never take intercourse, but this I will give you…the best love I’ve got in store.’
Maurice relaxed now and closed his eyes. Clive softly kissed him, all the way from his mouth to his bellybutton and from there to his groin, caressing and licking and tickling him. ‘Down there,’ Maurice whispered, and then Clive’s lips explored his turgid sex for minutes.
When Maurice murmured that he wanted more, Clive shifted onto him until their lower bodies touched and started rocking gently, never missing a single intimate spot and breathing heavily.
Maurice’s eyes remained closed, his lashes twitched, he groaned and shivered and bit his lip, his hands wandering over Clive’s buttocks.
The crisis hit them both at the same time, leaving them sweaty, weightless, in tears and laughing.
They slept in each other’s arms in a halo of sweat and perfume, often waking up to kiss, and when dawn slowly broke outside, Maurice whispered: ‘I’ve finally surrendered.’