Paris - Chapter Three - Sophie the Voyeur
Sophie was most decidedly not a barmaid. Calling her that to her face was the quickest, most efficient way to get you immediately ejected from her bar. Certainly, she was regularly seen serving drinks at the Cafe du Soir, making (it was rumoured) the finest Martinis on the Left Bank, but she treated it very much as a diversion, an opportunity to get to know her clientele, and of course, a chance to flirt provocatively.
Many men wanted her, and I was no more immune to her delightful charms than anyone else. She was tall, with striking long dark hair, extraordinarily beautiful, and she carried with her an aura of mystery, of unattainability. Rumours of her sexual exploits were frequently discussed in quiet corners of the cafe, amongst men greedy for her attentions, but she was almost impossible to seduce - she'd heard all the lines, so many times, from so many better men, and a seductive flirtation was just as likely to bore her as it was to arouse her.
Which frankly made her all the more desirable to me - and, of course, an exquisite challenge. The more impossible it seemed to gain her attention sexually, the more I was determined to do precisely that. It was clear that approaching her would never work - I needed to find a way to attract her to me, to make her want me, to make her crave the brush of my skin against her own.
So I watched her, those first few days in Paris, sat at what had become my favourite table, tucked into a discreet corner where I could observe the comings and goings in the cafe with a certain amount of privacy. I enjoyed having my own little kingdom in the cafe, a place I could while away my time between commissions, and take guests.
Sweet Vanessa was, of course, my most regular guest, in between her own energetic sexual adventures. We were quickly developing a relationship as lovers - what had started as a casual thing was becoming stronger and more playful - she didn't abuse her 'arrangement' with me, and we hadn't made love together since our liaison with Gabrielle the previous week, but we met every day at the Cafe du Soir, always a delightful pleasure. Out of respect for them both, I hadn't initiated anything sexual with Gabrielle since that first time, though we all knew we wanted more, and would soon succumb. For the moment, however, I had been busy painting much of the week (a commission for a local bar owner), and was beginning to feel distinctly twitchy, needing the attentions of a woman.
So it was that one afternoon, in that second week in Paris, sat at the Cafe du Soir with Vanessa, I asked her what she knew of Sophie.
Vanessa smiled that knowing smile of hers, the one that told me she had a hundred secrets to tell, but first she wanted a little information of her own.
"Sophie? Oh, I've heard a few things. Why do you ask? Do you want to fuck her?" Her directness disarmed me, as ever.
"It was simply curiousity... she seems to get so much attention..."
"So you do want to fuck her. Well, I don't blame you, I want her too. Everybody wants Sophie, but she doesn't give, she takes."
"I'm aware of her resistance to attempts at seduction," I replied, a slight irritation showing in my voice, "but I choose to consider that a challenge. Tell me what you know of her recent conquests."
"Where to begin," smiled Vanessa, "there are so many stories. But I heard a story just this week that I'll pass on to you, if you like. You know that she owns this cafe, of course, and a number of other properties in Paris - she's a wealthy woman - not quite in my league financially, but she has money, and spends it lavishly. My understanding is that she returned recently from a month's tour around Europe, specifically buying furnishings, draperies, clothes, the finest ornaments - some for her own apartments, some for here in the cafe. And she returned hungry, greedy for sex. A woman alive with longing for the intensity of lustful passion, her head filled with intense sexual fantasies imagined whilst alone on her travels, and the money and confidence to realise these fantasies upon her return."
"And did she? Tell me what you know..."
"Well," she replied, " you'll appreciate this is an indiscretion, this isn't something that's all over the cafe, or the usual tentative gossip about her. I heard this from the horse's mouth, as it were, from the girl she selected, so I'm trusting you to keep this to yourself."
"Of course, sweet kitten, my discretion is guaranteed."
"Well," Vanessa began, smiling at me and leaning forward a little, conspiratorially, giving me a delightful view down the inside of her generously unbuttoned blouse, "the girl - let's call her Michelle, no reason for you to know who she is - was here with her lover one afternoon last week. The hours of cinq a sept, when gentlemen visit here secretly with their mistresses, to indulge in a little alcohol to soothe their nerves - and of course to loosen up the resolve of their mistresses - before disappearing to whatever apartment they may have nearby for such illicit dalliances.
"Sophie had, by all accounts, been watching Michelle and her lover for some time from the bar. It was a quiet afternoon, Sophie was still unfulfilled from her journey abroad, and Michelle told me that Sophie had an unusual hunger in her expression, looking towards our lovers each time one or other of the couple so much as moved a hand, crossed a leg, caressed a fingertip. Michelle knew they were being watched - had even locked gazes with Sophie a couple of times, initially as a challenge to keep her nose out of their business, but it was a futile gesture - Michelle, like everyone else in this cafe, wanted Sophie, tossed and turned at night imagining scenarios, urgent couplings with her - lips, tongues, breathless gasps... and with the second look, Sophie had captured her, she knew. She would have agreed, at that moment, she told me, to anything Sophie requested of her.
"And so, as they do, matters quickly progressed. Having chosen her pleasure, Sophie had an envelope delivered to their table, containing simply a note with a room number in the lover's apartments here above the cafe, and a key. Upon opening the envelope, our lovers looked towards the bar, but Sophie was no longer there. The implication was clear. The offer was for right away. Hesitate, and the opportunity may be missed."
"Such arrogance," I smiled, "the assumption that they would follow her upstairs."
"Everyone follows her," Vanessa replied, "she's not a woman accustomed to being refused."
"Carry on," I smiled, "I want to know what they did with her."
"I only know what I was told," Vanessa replied, "but from what I understand took place in that room, Sophie took no active part. A month without taking a lover, and she's a woman whose sexual appetite is well known, and yet on this occasion she only played the voyeur."
"She took no active part at all?" I asked.
"Well, I suppose it all depends how you define active," Vanessa replied, smiling at me, shifting in her seat a little. "Would you like to know the details?"
"I would," I said, returning the smile, "of course".
to be continued...