I received a ‘writing challenge’ to write a short piece on lust and intensity for this blog. The more I thought about it, the more I thought that I’d done this and published it as set forth below. So I’m responding with an excerpt from White Powder. I could do more of a Fifty Shades of Gray, I suppose. However, I’m not into the lurid to extent that it turns my blog into the moral equivalent of a bordello.
“Really, my dear chap, you seem to be reading too many romantic thrillers. This is no romance dear friend, this is reality.” –John Forsythe, The Day of the Jackal
Charlotte walked through the hallway from the door of the ostentatious French Colonial house, holding her shoes in her hand and set them near the wall. Without consulting the label, she opened a bottle of red wine from a rack, poured a glass and then lounged quietly in a wicker chair as she recalled the events of the evening. It was unlike anything that happened before. She felt transcendent in the moment.
Craig Burton stood before her as the river flowed behind him. Lanterns appeared here and there on the river boats like stars set against the inky black sky above. Even though she attended school briefly in America, her French prejudice was intact and she tended to look down on Americans. She took in the simple clothing he wore, his youth and at the same time, his age. She saw the puckered, welted scars on his cheek, the width of his neck, the way muscles in his jaws stood out without being grotesque, his eyes sharp and intense as cobra’s eyes. Suddenly she realized the effect he had on her. He frightened her. It was a shock. Men didn’t frighten Charlotte Sabon. Men on the Marseille waterfront doffed their hats with sincere respect. Her father ruthlessly pursued the aims of Unione Corse, the waterfront, and politics from the highest level to the lowest. She was proud of her reputation for being cold, fearless and under control. Never before did Charlotte feel the sort of power that Craig Burton projected unconsciously.
She scripted the evening from that point.
They went to the house he shared with the tall, bombastic Australian Military Attaché. The place smelled of sandalwood and soaped leather furniture with an undercurrent of gun oil. A man’s house without the slightest hint of feminine influence was a challenge to her. Could she add her distinctiveness to it? They climbed the stairs and then he swept her in his arms as if she was weightless and carried her the rest of the way to his room, draped with mosquito nets, austere, just a foot locker and a large bed surrounded by a teak frame.
Charlotte stood quietly, watching, as Craig uncorked the wine, Chateau d’Yquem Sauternes. The sweet wine was a nice touch but it didn’t matter. She would have followed him home if he’d asked her to have a glass of river water from the turbid, malarial, Mekong. The night was inevitable, the wine a polite excuse to hide behind. Polite behavior was only a mask to shade her intentions.
She liked the effortless way he slipped the cork from the neck of the bottle. It was a smooth, easy pull, belying the requirement of force, the certain ripple of muscle in his forearm that was hidden by his sleeve.
Thinking of the strength in those arms brought Charlotte a step closer, an unconscious response of longing and want but she did not acknowledge the emotion. He poured the wine expertly into a glass, tilting it and lifting it as the liquid spilled from bottle to bowl and then handed her the vessel. His hand cupped the bowl of crystal; her fingers encircled the slender stem. Slowly she slid the glass from his fingers, watching his eyes the whole time, wondering if he would, at the last instant, cinch his fingers again on the glass and lean in and kiss her. He didn’t.
“Thank you,” she murmured, their fingers tenuously united on the glass. His smile was quick and heart wrenching. The dimple in his left cheek winking as if communicating that she was welcome. Then his fingers slipped free.
When he turned to take another glass from the cupboard for himself, Charlotte seated herself in a teak chair a few feet away, slightly disappointed in the lost moment. She chastised herself for not taking matters into her own hands, so to speak, and leaning into him for a kiss. She knew he would not refuse her. The moment was lost now. With a small sigh, she sipped thoughtfully, pushing her regrets away and refocusing on the slow burn radiating through her.
Her eyes rose to study Burton, wondering how and when he would ask her to make love, no to have sex. That’s what it would be with this man. Pure sex. And she would take him; it would not be the other way around. She knew he would offer no pretty words to woo her, no false promises uttered. And then, he was in front of her, his hand held out for hers.
Simple. No words. No phony pretense. The look in his eyes said only, “Now.” She placed her hand in his. Strong, callused fingers wrapped around hers and lightly pulled her to her feet. Keeping her hand in his, he led her wordlessly up the winding staircase to his room.
A large bed, encircled by a froth of white mosquito netting, was the focal point of the room. With a small squeeze to her hand, he released her and moved to the side of the bed, parting the netting.
Craig looked up from the bedding and she heard the breath leave his lungs in a silent whoosh. Charlotte had moved to the opposite side of the bed. He had looked up just in time to see the silk fabric of her evening gown slide from her body, nude beneath the dress. With a shrug, Charlotte moved aside the netting and stood beside the bed opposite him.
The single muted lamp cast its light on her, blending with the shadow. Charlotte’s breathing, the slight rise and fall of breasts and belly the only movement. The play of light and shadow mesmerized her as all of her senses were focused.
Her still form, her quiet waiting was for him. There was nothing evocative or seductive in the pose. Her eyes conveyed her unspoken words. “Look at my body; it is yours because I’m going to give it to you.”
His fingers began working the buttons on his uniform, shedding the strictures of his rank, of his training, of civilization. His hands worked automatically, by rote, as his eyes took in the feast Charlotte offered.
Her body was long and slender. Her face beautifully shaped, in proportion from the line of her jaw and the angle of her neck to her full, wide mouth and graceful nose. Her eyes were bright sparks in the subdued light. His eyes passed downward, slowly, appreciating her high, pert breasts, nipples erect, a young woman’s waist and then the gentle sweep outward of her hips.
Charlotte was aware of her body, but only dimly as she took in the young officer’s response to her nudity. His hands were steady and sure as he removed his shirt. His breathe quickening. His eyes dark as their gaze traveled slowly over her. When the shirt and trousers had all fallen, one by one, into an untidy heap on the floor, Charlotte felt her own breath quicken, her heart race.
His body looked trim and dark in shadow, the light behind him. Then he placed one knee on the mattress and stretched the expanse, his arm reaching for her, his fingers splayed to take her hand.
She stood frozen a moment, too long, and he stretched across the bed. The hand sliding around her waist and caressing down her hip and thigh to the back of her knee, pressing gently into the soft flesh, urging her onto the bed. She felt the leap of desire at the contact, her body suddenly alive. Her hand trembled as she reached for the sheet, meaning to pull it back and slide beneath the covering.
“No,” Craig told her softly, taking her hand now and guiding her onto the bed with him.
Charlotte reclaimed the moment she had lost earlier in the kitchen, pushing against Craig’s chest and settling beside him on her knees. It was her turn to look, to explore his body with her eyes and her hands.
His close-clipped hair was spiked beneath her fingers, she smiled at the feel of the nearly shaven skin around his ears and then the slight bristle of beard that shadowed his jaw and chin. She watched the intensity in his eyes as she touched him, his eyes locked on hers. Long fingers slid over his mouth, probing gently at his lips. He kissed her fingertips and held her hand for a moment to pull one errant finger into his mouth, sucking and then nipping softly. With a gasp and then a smile she pulled her hand free. A sharp tap on his nose with the injured digit was his punishment. For now.
Her fingers skimmed lightly down his chest, his hip and down his leg. She ignored the pull of his fingers, scooting free of his hands. And then she bent her body, rubbing her cheek over his chest, taking a nipple in her teeth tugging until she heard the hiss of his breath, releasing him and smiling to herself. Her kisses grazed his skin as she moved her attention down over his stomach.
Then her fingers stroked down the length of him, curling loosely for a couple strokes and then back to the feather light teasing of her fingertips. She listened to him groan as her lips followed her fingers. One kiss, two and then she took him into her mouth. The suddenness of it forced the breath from his lungs in a whoosh, his entire body strained towards her, towards the moist warmth engulfing him.
Just as suddenly, cool air flowed over him again. Charlotte raised her head and slid up next to him, her mouth joining his, her fingernails gently raking from his temples to the nape of his neck, interlacing and locking behind his head. She looked into his eyes, looking for his reaction to her as she straddled him and then began to lower her body onto his. His eyes widened for an instant as moist heat started engulfing him again, different, richer, silkier. Barely joined, she stopped. Her gaze never shifted.
The first intimate contact was held for a long moment. Charlotte’s fingers slipped to the base of his neck, and her knees against his thighs. were the only other places that her body met his. She kept him poised, just at the entrance to her core, the promise of fulfillment beckoning. He began to wriggle beneath her and then his fingers dug into her hips, threatening to disrupt her control by force.
“No,” she whispered, resisting the urging of his hands, then lowering herself onto him at her pace, slowly, taking him into her, her heat claiming him, bit by bit, clamping tight. Her soft belly lay against his. Her breath left her in a rush of pleasure as he pulled her tighter, filling her completely. The dance began in earnest then, her breasts moving on his chest, tremors rippling through her body.
For a while Craig was passive, receptive. Then his arms went around Charlotte, one over her shoulder, holding her tight, the other lower to her undulating hips, resting lightly, shaping to the curve as he studied the rhythm for a moment. Then he twisted, holding her close as he pulled her underneath him.
It was a maneuver Charlotte had allowed, despite her resolve to take and keep control of the interlude. Instead Charlotte gave herself over to this rare indulgence, closing her eyes as her senses absorbed everything happening to her. She let herself go, gave herself over to Craig, completely. Later her mind would query “Why?” She would have no answer. Only that it was a selfish moment, one purely for her own pleasure. Who would hold her accountable? No one.
No longer leading, her control lost, Charlotte relaxed. His weight held her pinned. He was still, holding her still. She felt his mouth on her face, on her closed eyes and then her lips. Dimly she heard music, the violin strains of Bach? Maybe Brahms? When had he put music on? Or had it been there all along? The pondering evaporated as Craig began to move, the rocking of their bodies quickening. Their breathing drowning out the musical notes. His hands tightened on her flesh as their desire peaked.
Wanting their climax to be together, Charlotte thrust up to meet him. She felt the spasms in him, knowing she wasn’t near enough to match him. Her body bowed, drawing him deep and she opened her eyes to watch him. Above her she saw the oiled blue metal of an American pistol suspended from the headboard by its sweat-soiled leather sling holster. And she came to the top suddenly, surprisingly, shuddering against him and sharing the moment together.
They lay for a long time, no words. Just feeling. His hands moved over her, stroking her skin, tangling her hair and then sliding up her face to trace her features with his finger. He felt, molding like a blind man, seeing only with fingertips. Occasionally he kissed her face, tracing its contours with his lips. Her fingers traveled his back, learning the pattern of his spine, muscles and ribs, curving over his ass and lingering on the lean, hard flanks. Her lips gently kissing his shoulder, wherever she could easily reach without disturbing the languid sprawl of their bodies.
Charlotte lay awake for a long while, long after Craig’s body had sought a position of comfort separate from hers, listening to her lover’s slowed breath, interspersed with a few soft snores, as he slept. She dozed here and there. At first light, rose, careful not to disturb the slumber of the man next to her.
Slipping silently back into her blouse, Charlotte shivered slightly as the cool silk caressed her skin, chilling sensation after the delicious warmth of Craig’s hands and mouth. Holding in a sigh of regret, she looked down on his sleeping face, the angular features softened by sleep and the faint gray light of dawn.
Quiet as a ghost, she left.
Now, as she opened her eyes, she realized that from this morning on, she’d think of nothing but Craig Burton.