AUGUST 5, Le Treport:

Languorous morning. Pebble beach south of the light house. Cliffs above. We lay on a woolen blanket that we spirited out of the hotel.

My lip is swollen and aches from yesterday’s bite.

You lie on your stomach, up on your elbows looking out at the surf.

It remains cold, and we are both fully clothed. My left hand, under your shirt, sweeps between the two dimples at the small of your back.

I stare upward at cumulous clouds obscuring the sun. Kites dip and glide.

Me: What are you thinking about?

You: Nothing at all.

I flip open ‘Against the Grain’ and start the next chapter. Des Esseintes has sequestered himself in his new home.

He is obsessed with solitude. His domestics remain out-of-sight, serving him with the call of a bell.

—–

We go for a drink at the hotel’s restaurant. The lunch rush. All tables taken.

Me, leading you to the bar: What are you having?

You: Something to get me a little tight.

The menu is all in French. Only wine, champagne. Though the bar is fully stocked.

Me, pushing the menu away: If we want true tightness, none of this will do.

I gesture for the barman and ask him in English for two Negroni. He looks confused. Not just a lang

uage problem.

I offer to show him. Pointing at bottles. Negroni…Ice in two glasses. Then equal parts gin, vermouth, Campari.

He accepts my coaching, even smiles.

You, touching my glass: Chin chin.

We both take long pulls. Campari’s bitterness a kind of haze at the front of the mouth counteracted by the sweetness of the vermouth.

The gin is tasteless beyond the buzz in my head.

Me, leaning in to touch your forehead against mine: I’d heard that the French were no good with cocktails but this is clearly an exception.

You: Maybe you’re just good with the French?

Me: I think it’s the company.

We order another round. Our thighs graze, and I draw my hand down between your legs.

Me, conspiratorially: You know, in the 19th century, prostitutes who provided oral sex were said to be skilled in the ‘French Method.’

Me: It was often written on their calling cards.

You, a little laugh: Yeah, and before that, in India, the blow job was considered as a eunuch’s work.

Me, giving it a try: So how would you like to be my eunuch?

You give no answer, turning instead to the barman and asking for the check.

I stare attentively at your ass as you walk up the stairs. There is a hum in my ears from the drinks.

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