I turned off the taps and stepped out of what was a scalding shower. I liked the idea that the boiling water could sterilize my body. I grabbed a towel from the railing and dried myself off in front of the mirror. I hadn't cut my hair in a while and my hair was a little longer than usual, luckily it was layered so it didn't look tardy. It reminded me a little of Tom cruise in his 'The Last Samurai' days. In my room a sat cross-legged on my rug and blow-dried my hair in front of a full length mirror I had propped against the wall. The sound of the drier filled the soundless apartment. I ran my fingers wildly through my hair so that it fell effortlessly into place. I stood up and began to raid my closet for my suit I had stashed away somewhere. After finding it I took it out of its bag and laid it on the bed. I rubbed some lotion on my face and the rest of my body. I dragged my nose lightly over the skin of my upper arm and smelled the gentle scent of the cream. I fished out a thong from one of my drawers and slipped it on. The suit's pants were very skinny and I didn't want any underwear lines to show. I buttoned up a tight white shirt paired with a skinny gold tie. I took the suit jacket by the collar and swung it over my shoulder and left the bedroom. I took one good look at the apartment before I left. I had gotten it two weeks after Hugo left for France as my dad needed the house that Hugo and I were staying in for the new manager and his family. I wouldn't be staying there much longer anyway. The separation had been painful and I had once again slipped into a somewhat minor depressive episode. But work kept me busy, not the mention the success that Marianne Wolf was achieving. Ever since Hugo had left six months ago I needed to keep my mind occupied. I had started to have a greater influence in the actual designing of clothes and was quickly promoted to co-creative director and designer.
The spring line had been launched a few months back and the end of year dinner that Marianne hosted at the end of every year was tonight. I locked the apartment and took the elevator down to the basement parking. I threw my jacket on the passenger seat and took off. There were already a line of cars leading out of Marianne's driveway and I decided to park a little further away. That way I wouldn't get caught in the traffic once the party was over, even though that meant that I had to walk a little distance to get to the house. I knocked at the door and was let in by Levi, Marianne's 19 year old son who looked dashing in a charcoal suit and black tie. He kissed me on the cheek without any warning. He apologised after even though I told him it was okay. He had always had a crush on me apparently. He led me to the outside patio that overlooked the garden, the beaches and vast Atlantic Ocean. Marianne came up to and pulled me aside from the crowd. She looked dazzling in a maroon dress.
'So, you enjoying the party?' she asked.
'Uhm yeah, I actually just arrive but I see it's already in full swing. It's decadent,' I said.
'Oh good, it's exactly what I was going for,' she laughed, 'so, is everything still going according to plan, you haven't changed your mind? I wish you would change your mind.'
'Nope, I haven't changed my mind. I have to do this Marianne,'
'I know Honey, now don't you worry and go and enjoy the party. You are a big part of why we are celebrating tonight. Go, go...'
She shoved me in the direction of the crowd.
After about 20 minutes of mingling with a few honorary guests and colleagues it was announced that dinner would be served and we all made our way to the large dining room where a long table was immaculately set. Marianne waved for me to come and sit next to her. Everyone sat down and Marianne stood up to speak.
'It has been a wonderful year, the best year I think Marianne Wolf has had in a long time,' she started, 'It started out a little slowly in the beginning but really picked up a tremendous amount of pace and inspiration over the last few months, especially those preceding the spring collection launch. Sweat, tears and many needle stick injuries later here we sit victors of yet another year celebrating the art of fashion. I thank you all. I was pleased earlier this year when a young and eager ex-model came to interview at my office at the Waterfront. He was someone who had been in the thick of the fashion industry in the fashion capitals of the world. To be honest it was I that was lucky enough to interview him and have him in my corner this year. I have watched him grow from strength to strength and hopefully I had something to do with that. Starting out as a trend watcher he later became a trendsetter and has had an integral role in the creative process in all of the designs, themes and campaigns that Marianne Wolf produced this year. I raise my glass to Alex Keller, a true fashion genius and also a true friend. That is why it is with great sadness that I announce that Alex will not be working with Marianne Wolf anymore; but I know that this will not be the last we see or hear of you. So...' Marianne raised her glass again, 'to Alex Keller and the undoubted success that awaits you on the other side.'
I wiped my tears and stood up to hug Marianne and thank her for the lovely words. There was a great amount of chatter now among the guests and I knew what they were talking about. Marianne Wolf will do fine without me I thought, they had gotten this far.
Dinner continued harmoniously. It was something I had always wanted to be part of my life, the good food, good wine, great people and great conversation. It all melted into one unforgettable evening.
I was dog tired when I arrived back at my apartment. I needed to start packing; my things wouldn't just start springing into boxes themselves. I fetched a shoe box from my closet and started putting all my photo frames into it. I picked up one of Hugo that had been on my bedside table. There he was in all his golden glory, green eyes and perfect white smile. I suddenly wasn't sure if the decision for us to take a break had been the right one, for him to go to France and start a new life while I built my career here in Cape Town. I thought it through thoroughly like I had done a million times in the past 6 months. Yes it had been the right decision. But it was time for me to go back to him, to find him and tell him that I didn't want to be apart from him any longer. We had both decided to totally break off communication which proved hard in the beginning but we seemed to get caught up in our separate lives and the most I communicated with him was reading the secret love letters that he used to write me in high school. I had kept all of them. After gathering all the frames I closed the box and put it back in my closet. I stripped my suit slowly on my way to the kitchen, drank some orange juice straight from the bottle and picked my clothes up on my way back the bedroom. I tossed them onto the armchair and threw myself on my bed. I curled up in the white sheets and fell asleep.
Two weeks later I had vacated my apartment and was now renting it out to a nice newly married couple. It was a two bedroom so it was ideal for them to start a family there. I wasn't expected in France for another week though so I stayed with my parents on the farm for that short period of time. I also wasn't expected in France, not by Hugo anyway. He was completely unaware that I was coming over there. I had gotten a job at Chanel, thanks to Katie who arranged the interview which I did over Skype. Apparently the people at Chanel were impressed with what they saw at Marianne Wolf and were willing to hire me. The job paid well as it was relatively high up the ranks, not that I needed an extremely high paying job, and I was able to acquire a lovely fully furnished apartment near the Chanel offices. I could go and start working immediately. But first I was going to surprise Hugo at his Chateaux which wasn't far out of Paris. He would enjoy that.
The evening before I left I had an intimate dinner at one of the best restaurants in Cape Town with my parents, brothers and best friends. Emotions ran wild as I said goodbye to them and as we recounted the memories that we had made over the past 2 years. It wasn't that I wasn't going to ever see them again it was just that I was starting a new chapter in my life in a place where they weren't, and that was a big deal. That night I stayed in a hotel and caught a taxi cab to the airport the following morning. I prayed that the plane wouldn't crash; I needed to see Hugo again.
It was freezing when I finally landed at Charles Da Gaul airport. I retrieved my bags and called up a taxi. It was the middle of the night in Paris so I decided to book into a hotel for one night instead of disturbing the neighbours who were keeping the key to my adjacent apartment. I'd go and badger them early tomorrow morning. I took a quick shower using all of the hotel's toiletries, not wanting to unpack my things and have to pack them up again in the morning. I climbed into bed naked as I usually did nowadays and ran through my itinerary for the next day.
1. French breakfast
2. Drop off luggage at apartment
3. Make dinner reservations at Granterriors
4. Surprise Hugo by driving down to Cote-d'Or
5. Make him take me back, yes that is the objective
Knowing that I was closer to Hugo helped me rest easily and I fell off to sleep quickly in the warmth of the, thank god, air-conditioned room.
My cell phone alarm brought me back to life at 08:00 the next morning. I immediately got dressed and went down for breakfast in the hotel dining room. I had dressed warmly so the icy winter atmosphere kept a bay for the most part. It was always a severe shock though when exiting a building or taxi into the harsh coldness. My face was severely assaulted.
My first stop was my new apartment which was actually more like a double story house stuck between two other identical houses along a cobblestoned street, which I entered after retrieving the key from the adorable eighty-something couple next door. The space was beautiful: spacious, light, airy, modern with a nostalgic touch of the old. I loved it. And as fast as I had arrived I left in the same taxi to Cote-d'Or. I couldn't wait to touch Hugo's lips with mine, the rough dryness yet utter gentleness of his kisses made me swoon in the backseat of the cab.
The Estate was just forty minutes out of Paris which meant that if I did end up staying with Hugo, wishful thinking on my behalf, it would be an easy commute to work and back everyday. I stared out into the vineyards and they stretched as far as my eye could see. I began to feel more at home here, I took very kindly to these kinds of surroundings. The wide road we were on had tapered and we continued driving down a winding narrow road until the driver turned into one of the estates and drove down an avenue lined by oak trees. My stomach began to turn as we pulled up outside a huge chateau.
'This is it monsieur. We have arrived on the estate,' said the driver motioning towards the beautiful, antique-looking building.
'Thank you. You'll wait outside until I'm done? I'll need a ride back to Paris,' I said with my one leg already out the door.
'Of course, monsieur.'
I closed the cab door and walked up to the front entrance. Only a slab of old wood now separated me and Hugo. He was on the other side, unknowingly awaiting me, awaiting our future together. I rang the doorbell. The large door creaked open and a young man dressed in a black tuxedo opened the door. He was brown haired and blue eyed and as cute as a button. Disastrous thoughts flitted through my head: was he Hugo's boyfriend, why was he all dressed up, were they going out to an event perhaps, do they live together here on the estate?
The handsome man put his hand on my shoulder and lightly shook me out of my reverie. I had been staring at him blankly for a little too long. The truth was I had no idea what his relationship to Hugo was or that they even had one so I just asked, 'Is Mr Green, Hugo Green in?'
'Master Green is in Germany, he will be arriving back in Paris tonight,' said the, what I now gathered was the butler or some servant, 'may I take a message for him?'
His French accent was adorable.
'Uhm okay yes, please tell him that he needs to be at Granterriors at nine tonight, do you know where that is?'
The young man nodded.
'Granterriors,' I repeated, 'and please pass on the message as soon as possible.'
'I will try my best,' said the butler with a smile.
'Merci,' I said and turned back to the awaiting taxi. As soon as we got back into Paris I telephoned an old friend from my Europe days who also happened to be the head chef at the restaurant I was planning to meet Hugo at. The date was set.
I made my way back to the apartment and had a nap before putting on some fresh clothes. I took a glass from the cabinet and filled it with cold water from the tap. Wow that was icy. I made a mental note to remember that it was winter and not summer and that I should drink things that were temperature appropriate. I looked at my watch it was 19:00. I wrapped a red scarf around my neck, put on my navy blue coat and left the apartment. Although it was cold, it wasn't raining so I decided to take a walk to the restaurant. On my stroll I remembered why Paris was one of the most beautiful cities in the world. The contrast of old and modern, the scores of couples walking hand in hand along the sidewalk, even the harshest English words sounded erotic here.
I found the restaurant in a tiny hole in one of the buildings along the Champs-Elysees, or so it seemed. People spilled out of it onto the wide sidewalks, enjoying there food and wine under the heat of large gas lamps in between the tables. The maitre d' stood at a pulpit type structure and was greeting some customers that were on their way out. I went up to her and asked about my reservation. She called over a waiter who then took me inside to a table for two. It was much warmer there and I took off my woollen scarf and coat. It wasn't much later when a tall hunk of a man dressed in a white chefs' jacket emerged from the kitchen. I admired him as he came toward me. His name was Francois and I had met him at my first fashion week in Paris. He was just two year older than me and was doing modelling so that he could raise enough money to put himself through chef school. He was one of the very few people that had made love to me and I had continued to see and be friends with. Out of all the boys I had met in my first years of modelling he was one of the most sincere and honest. We had had sex a couple of times, mostly when I was doing shoots in Paris or whenever we were coincidentally in the same place. Our relationship never went beyond 'friends with benefits' and I enjoyed the casualness of it. I wasn't surprised that he looked exactly the same from when I last saw him. Hair cut short, five o' clock shadow and a big beautiful smile. I stood up to greet him. He embraced me completely and then kissed me on my left and then right cheek.
We sat down at the table. And he told the waiter to bring a bottle of wine.
'On the house,'he said, smiling again.
'Francois, I am so happy to see you again. It's been so long.'
'Ha yes it has. Three years ago hey,' he winked at me playfully, 'I remember, sex on the beach in Italia.'
He made the gesture of putting his finger tips to his lips and kissed them in true Italian style. I giggled.
'Yes I remember that too, very clearly, those were nice breaks away from my real life.'
'And now, you're back in France. Are you modelling again? You could definitely still do it you know, you are looking fantastic.'
'No, no Francois, I am actually here looking for a man. He is supposed to meet me here tonight. He owns an estate out in the Cote d'Or area. We were living together back home in South Africa but he moved out here six months ago when he inherited the estate,' I explained.
'Why didn't you come here with him,' he asked.
'I wanted to but I had a really good job in South Africa and I was learning so much there. It would have been very difficult for me to move again and try to find my footing all over again here.'
'But now you are ready. Love conquers all hey,' he said laughing. I laughed too, it was infectious.
'But I have to leave you my dear, I am sure they are making shit in there without me to watch over them. I will come out later again. Enjoy the wine and the menu,' he said once again kissing my cheeks and then confidently walking towards the kitchen.
I sat and watched the diners eat, laugh, and drink to their heart's content while I sipped on some Burgundy that Francois had ordered the waiter to bring to me. I poured another glass of the absolutely gorgeous wine and waited for Hugo to come walking into the restaurant. A waiter came and put down a platter of cheeses on my table and said that it was also on the house. I ate a few pieces. An hour and thirty minutes later I had eaten the whole platter and had drunk a bit too much wine. Francois came out to check up on me and I told him that I was leaving. I bought another bottle of the wine he had served me, greeted him, pulled my coat back on and began the walk to my apartment.
Why didn't he come? There might have been a million reasons yet all of the negative ones seemed to navigate their way into my thoughts. The first one being that he had already moved on, another being that he didn't love me anymore. The more I thought about all the reasons the more real they became to me and a feeling of immense depression and tiredness overcame me. Was I chasing a dream and not reality? Did I not deserve happiness and love anymore? Did I not deserve Hugo anymore? Was Hugo the lover scorned? I thought about it some more as I put the wine on the dining room table, tossed my coat over the chair and went to the bathroom to pee. I washed my hands gargled my mouth with some Listerine, being too lazy to put toothpaste on my toothbrush and collapsed fully clothed on the bed. I kicked off my shoes and fell asleep.
I awoke to a thundering knocking on my front door. I awoke and stood up in such a hurry that my head spun wildly and I lost my balance and tumbled lightly to the floor. Most of the alcohol had worn off and only the pitch darkness of the room made it hard to find my way around the apartment especially having to go downstairs as my room was on the second floor. I also couldn't clearly remember where the light switches were due to just moving in. I finally found the door, which upon my turning of the knob found that I hadn't locked it, and opened it.
I looked up at the moonlit face looking down at me. The curves of the cheekbones and the translucency of the eyes moved me. I stepped backwards further into the apartment. The figure pursued me. He left the door open and the light of the moon followed him in. He lifted a hand and took the side of my head, his fingers moving back over my ear and into my hair. He pulled my face to his and our lips touched. Mine were plump with wine and I felt clumsy as his tongue spread them and swirled around my own tongue. He removed his mouth from mine and our foreheads rested against one another. My head began to clear now and I pulled him closer to me. But he pushed away before I could get a proper grip on him.
'Hugo,' I whispered, scared that I had done something wrong and that he was going to walk out of the room forever.
'Wait,' he said and took a step back from me.
He then did something that I never expected to ever see. Hugo got down on his left knee and pulled a tiny box out of his pocket. He opened it and the light streaming into the room radiated off the silver wedding band in his hand.
'Alexander Keller,' he said, 'will you marry me, please?'
I was speechless. Tears seeped from the angles of my eyes and I knelt down in front of Hugo. He took my left hand and kissed my palm. He took the ring from the box and slipped it onto my ring finger. It was a perfect platinum fit.
'I love you so much, 'I said, 'I thought you would never come.'
'I'm sorry, I'm here now, always,' he said between kissing different parts of my face and neck, 'I love you too.'
My hands were around his collar and I grabbed hold of his tie which I began to undo. His kisses became more urgent and he lifted the sweater I was wearing over my head and put it on the wooden floor behind me. I ripped the tie from his collar and quickly undid the buttons on his white shirt. Hugo worked at my belt as I pushed his shirt off his shoulders. I leaned into him and kissed his neck, collar bone and shoulders moving my hands and his sleeves down his strong arms. He undid my belt and zipper and then pulled the shirt clean off his body. He laid me down on the floor and put my sweater under my head. He leaned over me. I felt his breath in my face and I breathed it in. It was intoxicating. He pinned my arms on either side of me and licked my torso, working his way down from my throat to my nipples to my belly button. He managed to slip off my pants in one swift movement after which he slowly removed my underwear. He planted soft kisses on my hips, groin and the inside of my thighs while a finger of his prodded at and entered by hole. I moaned loudly. Hugo sat up on his knees and undid his belt and zipper. This was going to happen, right there and then. The front door was open and anyone passing in the street would be able to see us fucking. In all honesty though, I didn't care. Hugo had fucked me in front of someone once before and I couldn't care less if he did it again. All I wanted was for him to be inside me. He spread my legs wide and positioned himself in between them. He pulled down his tighty whities and his hard thick cock hit my thigh. In the heat and urgency he spat on his cock and slicked it up with the saliva, something he had never done with me before. The rawness of it excited me. He positioned his cock head at my ass and I could feel it want and desire my hot, wet passage.
Hugo pushed in suddenly and I gave way to about a third of his cock. I screamed in pain and he put his mouth over mine to stop the neighbours from hearing. I let him in all the way and he pounded me with obscene strength and force. I could say that we were fucking but when I looked at him and his eyes were boring holes in mine we connected on a whole different level. I felt him more, the pleasure increased ten fold and love and passion filled the air around us. He lifted himself off me and my hands clawed at his pecs. He pushed down on my hips and pegged my waist down to the floor as he plundered my depths. He let go of my waist and I took the opportunity to push him back so that he was sitting flat on his backside while I straddled him. His pants and boxer briefs were down to his thighs so I pushed them down to his calves so that he could bend his knees. I put my feet flat on the floor on either side of him and lowered myself onto his pole. Once he was fully inside me I spread my legs out in front of me, put my arms out behind me and thrust myself onto him. He helped by putting his hands on my lower back and pushing and pulling me back and forth along his long, stiff cock. This position surprised me when I realised the amount of contact he was having with my prostate. I rocked Hugo harder and faster. A sensation of wanting to pee began to grow within my pelvis and I leaned back completely onto Hugo's legs. His cock now rubbed harder against my prostate and I began to spasm. I held back until the burning sensation in my cock and muscles became too much. At the last second Hugo pulled me up towards him and I wrapped my arms around his neck. I cried in ecstasy as I experienced the most intense orgasms I had ever experienced in my life while Hugo continued to fuck me. In no time at all Hugo was spewing his cum into my body and we spasmed and bucked together. I put my head on his shoulder as the final effects of our orgasms trickled out of our bodies and just our heavy breathing and the sound of our heals against the wooden floor could be heard.
We sat there sweaty, out of breath and entwined for a few minutes before Hugo picked me up and began to carry me to my room.
'Wait love, the door,' I said pointing to the still wide open front door. He went over to the door and I shut and locked it this time.
'Which way are we going?' he asked.
I pointed him toward the staircase and in no time we were curled up together under the heavy, warm duvet.
In the time after Hugo and I reunited I dreamed of our future together. Many things turned into reality while others didn't. But we were happy, we are happy. As I look down now at the platinum ring on my hand I think of the night we found each other ten years before. The fact that he had returned late from Germany and then raced home from the airport to fetch the ring before coming to see me was very romantic I had thought during the long conversation we had had in bed the day after our first night together again. And the Ring: He had bought it three months before I even came to France; such was his hope and determination that we be together again.
My car hits the gravel driveway of the estate. It is early evening and the sun is setting between the oak trees that line the avenue. I stop the car, get out and enter the house in a hurry to get out of the cold while the butler takes the keys and parks the car in the garage behind the house. The interior of the chateau is warm and toasty and I make my way up the carpeted staircase to Hugo's and my room. Hugo emerges from the bathroom carrying Jacques in a towel in his arms. Our beautiful little Jacques with his black hair and green eyes. The adoption process had taken us two long years before we were able to take home a one month old baby boy and raise him as our own. He is two years old now and is the biggest blessing in our lives.
Hugo smiles at me as he sees me in the room. He lays Jacques on the bed and proceeds to dry him off. I grab some pyjamas from the closet and take them to where Hugo is now putting on Jacques diaper. Hugo looks at me and I kiss him passionately on the lips. I turn to my baby, who is smiling at me and I begin to rub baby powder all over his soft baby skin. I dress him in his red and blue pyjamas and take him down to the kitchen with me while Hugo takes a shower.
I will feed him while preparing dinner which Hugo will finish preparing while I slip away to take a shower. Afterwards we will eat together, clean up and turn in for the night. Jacques will lie on Hugo's chest until he falls asleep at which time I will tuck him in to his crib in the nursery next door to our room. I will then climb into my own bed. Hugo and I will talk and laugh and then he will cover me with his body and make love to me for an hour or two before falling asleep in each other's arms.
Tomorrow will be another long day as I begin to prepare for Christmas dinner which Hugo's and my family will be attending in commemoration of our tenth anniversary. Yes, another long day, but a blissful one nonetheless.
As the sun begins to set and the doors to my studio are locked and the stillness settles in for the night, I will come home to a house full of warmth, happiness and above all else.. love.