Tuesday, May 5, 2009

France 12 - Moral danger


Chapter 11 here ... Chapter 13 here

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I

On their last night at the beach hideaway, Nicolette wanted to tread the cool sand again. The night sky was reasonably clear, warmth was still in the air and it was more pleasant out here than in their thatched hut on stilts. The half moon gave them enough light.

She'd been walking close to the water, her feet occasionally wet, head slightly forward, taking in what he'd said. Now she stepped in front and halted him. She waited for his arms to go around her, untied his robe, he took one end of the bow on her robe, she took the other, they tugged and the bow came apart, the robe blew open, she tiptoed and lifted herself on. Wrapping her arms around his neck, she also wrapped her legs around him, he arched back and she did the kissing.

His feet gradually sank into the wet sand.

.o0o.

It might have gone on forever but eventually they stopped, shook the robes, put them over their outer arms and walked together, bodies touching, arms around each other, along the beach, back towards civilization. The light breeze, still warm, caressed them and they didn't really want to go back in the hut but now the mosquitoes were gathering in greater numbers and they had no choice.

'Un jour sans toi est comme un jour sans soleil,' he murmured.

'Je veux passer ma vie avec toi, mon amoreux, toujours avec toi.'

II

In the new house, the young ones agreeing to do the first shift, two people took their chance at resting.

Sophie-Fleury had chosen the codename Nightingale and that’s how he addressed her.  He'd avoided this issue but now seemed the right time.   ‘Do your injuries include your reproductive capacity?’  He didn’t know how else to put it.

She smiled and said, ‘It can be done; biologically speaking, it’s functional but the tissue around it is not as it should be; making love would be quite painful. You see, they worked on that part of me.’

She entwined her fingers with his.

‘Jean-Claude,’ she kept to his prenom, ‘I can save you the trouble - the answers are yes, yes, yes and no. I love you, I am yours and I shall eventually have your child but no, it can’t be done at this time.’

He joined his lips with hers and she felt safe with this man, felt she could relax a little and forget about the past. For his part, here was the one who needed him and was going nowhere. All he had to do was be a man again.

They looked at each other and both knew that this is what they’d been thinking. It was confirmed a moment later with a squeeze of the hands. Neither were the talkative kind but it had all been said anyway. Sophie-Fleury gave silent thanks that it had turned out this way - her whole direction, her value as a human, her values, they were all back on track.

...

Olivier was on the bed and Gemma was kneeling on the floor, doing a job on him.

He rolled away from her, bored with it, bounced to the other side of the bed and went to play on the laptop. She came over and pulled up a chair beside him.

There was silence, apart from the game and then he broke his silence. 'I like it but not all the time. I'm getting frustrated, cooped up in houses like this, never in my own house and it never looks like it's going to end.'

'You don't understand this now but you have someone who's yours without ever having to go out and find her. If you'd had to look for a girlfriend, you wouldn't treat me like this.'

'Like what? We get on fine. I just don't want sex all the time.'

'Nikki said I was pretty.'

He swung round. 'You're pretty, you're pretty, OK? You're the prettiest girl around. Can't we just play Bioshock? OK, I know you're not crazy for that. What about Crysis or Orange Box? Come for a walk with me then.'

'Where?' she replied, before realizing she shouldn't have.

...

Hugh arrived first at the new house, in the late evening and checked it over by procedure; Emma arrived and there she was, standing in the main living area in her combat gear, a petite lady with child, with a very cheeky face and a smile at the corners of her mouth.

She opened immediately. ‘We’re in an unsafe position - your responses are tuned to Nikki, Hugh. You’ll have to learn my responses and learn them quickly. I’ll need to do the same.’

He knew she meant defence-wise, with no innuendo. ‘Let’s stow the gear, ready for exit,’ he suggested. ‘We’ll check the escape route and then practise, all right?’

She breathed a sigh of relief and they spent the next two hours preparing and making key adjustments, the order in which they got out and how she had to be helped in certain situations. He felt awful for her - partner disgraced and gone, their mutual future gone, all that training down the chute and now being shifted from place to place.

It was time to send the signal. She it was who took out the One2One and pressed the button. The message took its convoluted re-routing until it reached its recipients. They knew they had half an hour.

They went into the kitchenette, prepared and ate a meal together, with very little to say to one another. There'd be supper for the four of them later, once Francine and Jacques got in.

She'd planned to play it entirely by ear and by his mood but he’d decided to do exactly the same and when that became obvious, they both laughed.

‘You do know, Emma, that Nikki insisted I come to you. You know I love her and we plan to marry.’

‘The opening salvo,’ she smiled. ‘Just what I would have said too.’  Then, with a grin, 'You're worried you won't be able to handle this, aren't you?'

He looked up at the ceiling and changed topics.

‘What really happened with Michel, Emma? That’s if you can talk about it.’ He put on his most neutral, non-committal look and she laughed again at the ruse.

‘I don’t mind. Amelie told me about it all, about her role, about Nikki; that was the end. That’s how we do it in the Section and I’m a Section girl through and through or hadn’t you noticed?  I believe in the Section.’

‘I know you do. He didn't penetrate Nikki, as you now know but he did with Amelie because she came in and rescued Nikki.   She was only there for the one safehouse.’

She nodded. ‘I know that. It doesn’t alter anything, Hugh - the way I feel for him, I mean. Nikki seems to occupy your heart too, I don’t want to split you two in the least but I’d still like these ten days not to be cold between us. Call it selfish but I need that.   I need you to keep me in the back of your mind.’

‘You know very well, Emma,' he admonished with a smile, 'that this is going to be anything but cold. All the steps in this dance are known - by Nikki, by you, by me and by Genie.’

She pondered that and changed tack. ‘Do you know who I really am?’

‘Belus.’

‘Ah, interesting. Do you know the legend?’

‘Some. Tell me.’

She relaxed. ‘Michel was meant to give me a child, a mighty warrior, so that Albus couldn’t. This warrior becomes their champion, I die in childbirth and you die a slow death. In their strange way, they think you threaten the Star Child and will implant one of your own in me.’

‘Nice.’

‘Oui. The thing they must prevent at all costs, in their eyes, is you giving me a child. Or else that child must die. I believe they’re far more concerned with this child than with the threat SSF poses to their operations.’

‘We’re not in a good position.’

‘Non.’

'Did you hear that just now? I think they're here.'

.o0o.

After a supper prepared by all four, Jacques and Francine would take first duty and so Emma and Hugh went to the bed in their room.

They were still in combat gear and now the first issue arose. She opened. 'You know how we do it - gear laid out towards the door. I'm not hiding my body from you, you know that and don't forget I've already seen yours in an interesting position.'

They undressed and laid out the gear, Francine knocked and asked if all was OK, to which Emma called out that they'd go to bed now. Still in underclothing, they climbed in on their respective sides.

'If I try to entrap you, Hugh, to make love to you, you'll run straight back into Nikki's arms. I can't do much with you physically but we can talk a lot and be close by each other. Don't fear me. Please?'

'Your agenda is to get close and make your mark on my mind, to put your hat in the ring. As you say, you wouldn't overtly try to take me - yet. You might never because someone else might well come along for you. We keep bringing new people in. Nikki insisted I come because she wants me to put you straight about her and me and for you to realize that you and I can't be.'

'And will you put me straight?'

'You know your power over me, Emma. I warned her what would happen. You know you're my type of person and how quickly we communicate on a deeper level. You know who the active one is here.  You know I have enormous problems resisting you.'

'Bonne nuit, Hugh.'

...

It was more than needing a break.  Truth was, Jacques was fed up with Francesca.   This was the problem when the girl was too young – she could act above her age for a while but inevitably she reverted and her needs were not the needs of a man his age.

Thierry’s relationship with her made the job of doubly difficult and when the daughter seemingly preferred the father, then there really was trouble.

To her credit, she saw this and had done her best.  Time would probably heal all as she grew up. She did love Jacques by her own lights.

Francine had had to work on Jean to be a good partner in the same way Emma had had to work on Michel.

It was hard going with an immature man who didn’t take serious matters seriously, things like her complex moments, her need to talk about life for hours, the quiet understanding of a partner.  There were three mature men in this company and as she would choose none of them, well maybe Thierry, she wanted Jean to grow up.

That's when she’d thought about approaching Jacques to swap partners and her Jean could have Francesca.   There was a flurry of One2Ones and on the pretext of it only being a break from the usual, Jean, Francine and Francesca had all agreed but Jacques had queried it until he saw it was a done deal.

And so here they all were.

Jean and Francesca, released from any need to live up to an ideal, were having a grand time.   Frankly, they were being silly. Thierry popped in but with Francesca, it wasn't really through any necessity to oversee - he knew his daughter back to front.

He'd actually come in to say that they'd have first chance to sleep - he and Nikki would be on watch - they'd take their rest after midnight.

'We can't sleep,' laughed Chessa. 'We'll do the watching now - all right, Jean? - and you two can watch through the night.'

Thierry sighed, went back and put it to Nicolette who agreed.

'Why did Hugh let you come to me?  Why did you come here when you were all for Genie and me tying the knot?'

'I still do want you for Mademoiselle - she's your woman, Thierry.   I missed you, that was all and thought you might miss me.   Hugh trusts me.   I thought we could talk and laugh and just have a break from the present.'

'Hugh trusts you but do you trust him?'

'Thierry, if you say one more thing about my husband, I'll stay with Jean - and Francesca can stay with you. You are being very silly and what's more - unfair.   He was happy for me to come here because he likes you and knows you'll treat me well.  Have you been as generous towards him?'

'I'm sorry.'

'Yes but it's not me you should be sorry to. You know what I mean.'

'Let's leave it, Nikki. I was wrong. Let's talk about us.'

...

Paul and Geneviève got in about the same time and did the checks.

It was always more fraught being the paired house as there was no respite. It actually suited a non-couple more because they could take turns on duty without undue frustration.

What was not apparent to all, only to some, was that Geneviève was highly dependent on Paul and he it was who'd been able to organize, build, design the technical side of the systems and finally stymie the traitors. She was not only dependent but grateful and Paul knew she was.

That's why, despite the seeming indifference of the others - polite, friendly, accepting but not seeing him as one of them - that did not bother him.  Mademoiselle appreciated him and now he was to have ten days with her.

Perhaps ... well ...

Geneviève changed for bed and came up to where he was on duty, knowing the only way to get anywhere was to command. 'Hold me.'

He did.

'Kiss me.'

He did.

'We're getting you a partner, Paul. We're going to look at our reserve people and you'll decide.  We haven't done it yet because we thought we'd try Nadine and then Emma on you.  I know you like Emma so that's why it's still possible there.  Emma has to get Hugh out of her head and that's why they're together these ten days.

You're not going to be alone, Paul. I care for you too much, I appreciate you too much.'

'I wish it could be you, Mademoiselle.'

'I'm flattered but you do see the lie of the land, my new family.'

'I know.'

'I know you have expectations, hopes and I don't want to lead you into false hopes. I'd love to make love to you but there is right and wrong, Paul. Will you now become all morose with me?'

'Why? I'm holding you. I'm kissing you.'

'Then do it again and this time - mean it.  I'll give you as much as you know I can rightfully give - no more but certainly no less.   And I can do this every day until you begin to become impatient and then it must stop.  It's in your court.'

.o0o.

Next day was a One2One Conference.

Emma’s idea was to kidnap one of the two high council members, providing further media funds and maybe allowing them a little extortion of the council itself.

They’d target this member, let’s call him A and the Section network would give them the lie of the land as to his habits, movements and the like. Then they’d go back into their shells for a while until the planning was done.

Jean-Claude cautioned that it would take some time to set up carefully. Hugh thought the idea would certainly attract grassroots support because it represented Hope for the common man but it would need to be well publicized.

Jean-Claude had a possible starter. ‘In fifteen days, according to the hotel records, one of the higher members of the enemy is due to visit a lake I’ll mention later, so one of my contacts informs me. This would be a good opportunity to take him.’

‘Jean-Claude, Hugh, you’ll be in charge of that. Tell me what you come up with.’

Thierry One2Oned Olivier and also Gemma, the others seemed fine.

.o0o.

There was a tap on the door. 'Hugh, are you awake?'

A few moments later: 'Hugh, it's Francine. Are you awake?'

Emma nudged him and then nudged him again. He woke up suddenly, ready for trouble. Then he saw Emma and heard the tap again. 'Hugh?'

'Here Francine.'

'It's Nikki.'

He looked across at Emma, she showed no emotion, he got up, pulled out a robe and threw it on, then went out to Francine who indicated the communications point.

Settling into the chair, he looked at the One2One in front of him. 'I'm in danger. Tell me not to. I need your leadership.'

He sighed and began typing. 'MNO, prefer you didn't but understand if you do.  You'll still be mine.  Early days here. WBT'

And that was that.

He sat, looking at the device, wondering why Thierry didn't faze him as much. He thought of the guy's shaft - doing that to his woman - of his whispered nothings. Nope, it didn't seem to worry him.   Past lover - half had a right?   Well no but it was a known-known, was it not?

Weird. 

Perhaps he should be horrified that the man would do this to Genie but he and Nikki had a long history, Genie was still new to him.

He One2One'd again: 'Be fair to PLN.'

'I love U,' came the instant reply.


Nicolette went back into Thierry and wanted to make a deal.

Bemused, he lay back on the bed and she sat at the end of her side. 'You're becoming very English about these things, Nikki.'

'The problem is that I'm not. That's why I'm going in with Jean - and Chessa will come to you. On the last night, we'll decide but until then - no, Thierry, I shall not. Not unless you can behave and just hold me without any little tricks.  As Hugh says, 'I'm not made of marble.'   This is the deal - take it or leave it.'

His eyebrows went up and then down again. He knew her well enough that when she was in this pugnacious mood, nothing at all would change her mind. No matter, he had days in hand.  'D'accord, Nikki, as you wish.'

She leant over to kiss him and could feel him on heat - this was best for all, she thought. Picking up her robe, she tiptoed out and went down the hall, tapping on their door and saying it was her.

There was an enormous commotion inside and she felt it her duty to now open the door and go in. What she saw appalled her, she muttered, 'Oh merde,' and went out again, standing there, back to the living room wall.

No, no, she had every right, as the senior person here. She went back to the door, tapped again and said she was coming in, which she did.

They were on opposite sides of the room but there was a wetness and stickiness on one side of the crumpled bed and she could smell it. She looked from one to the other and then at him, still dripping, trying to stop it with his hand.

'Francine, Jacques.'

They both looked down like naughty schoolchildren but that wasn't good enough.  She was about to speak of fidelity and remembered that she'd just come from the bed of this girl's father.

She was no prude but all of this seemed wrong to her and she was going to make some changes in the Section, in its arrangements for safehouses.   She was going to insist on it.

'Go to your father, Francesca, because I'm not sleeping with him. My man is elsewhere.'   She hoped she'd made her point to both.

It did in Jean's case - he was quite crestfallen but Francesca was defiant and Nikki knew that mood of old in herself.  She sighed.   'You shouldn't have been in bed anyway - you're on duty, protecting us.   Then it's our turn to protect you two.   This is not right.'

Nikki saw that the girl had been too recently made love to to be reasoned with this way, Francesca took her clothing and made her way to her father's room.

I'm not sleeping in that,' said Nicolette. When we eventually go to bed, I'm having the dry side. And Jean - stay right away from me, do you understand?   For now, we're on duty, so please dress quickly and let's go dutying.'

She went back to her laid out gear and dressed.

...

Hugh looked over at Emma and she looked over at him. He watched her mouth and lips move and saw that way she talked, too delicious for words. ‘Isn’t it strange, Hugh, that social conventions and loyalty can extend over long distances,' she pattered but even so, with a slightly nervous haste. 'We’re not animals, are we? Here we are on this bed together and yet we hold ourselves back.’

‘You know why.’

‘There's always this curiosity to know what it’s like with that other person, isn't there? That’s how divorces start. One night of passion and it creates a new need, a need for that second person, which diminishes or makes less clear whatever you had with the first. Do you really love Nikki?’

‘Oui.’

‘Would that change if she were making love to Thierry?’

'That's just what we were discussing now.'

‘You’re trying so hard to be good and I have to tell you you’re sweet when you’re like this. Would it be so terrible for you to make love to me? Would you be devastated afterwards?’

‘I can't touch you and you know why. I'd never be able to stop.’

She didn't respond to that but simply gazed over at him. ‘Hugh?’

‘Yes?’

‘Sometimes I know what you’re thinking and even what you’re going to say. We might be Albus and Belus after all.’

‘That doesn’t mean we have to be lovers. We could be brother and sister.’

‘No, they’re lovers, Albus and Belus.’

‘Ah but do they love one another?’

‘It goes beyond love.’

He was motionless for a few seconds, looking at those big eyes and those cheeky lips. ‘Has anyone ever refused you before?’

‘No but that’s because I only allow people who want me badly to get this close and only if I also want them.’

‘Is that the situation?’

‘Oui.’

‘Then we're both in the wrong, Emma.’

'You're a free agent, you don't have to -'

'Never say that to a man, Emma. That's what Nikki tried to say. Emma, look at it logically - if there were no feminine mystique, no femmes-fatales, then there'd be no cosmetics or fashion industry, Nikki wouldn't have been able to seduce me away from Mademoiselle, I wouldn't be having this trouble now, women would have no power and there'd be no point them looking alluring.

So no, little enchantress, petite seductress, femme-fatale whose face makes me want to kiss her all over - I'm not a free agent, not when you're anywhere near me.'

'You said that in anger and yet the things you said were so sweet. It works both ways, Hugh - allure.'

'I need to sleep, Emma, I can't do without it and we have to come on duty and release the other two.'

'Then sleep. I'll look after you.'

'That's what worries me.'

He did drop off and now she got the train leaving the station. By shuffling over to him and leaning into him a certain way - it had worked with Michel - she reduced it to proportions she could handle.

Eventually she dropped off herself.

...

Francesca saw that he'd drowsed off and thought about how to climb into bed without disturbing him. She'd often do this back in Melun and had a number of approaches.

Trouble was - she was older and heavier now and that might wake him. She knew all his modes of sleep and this was two short of 'very deep'. There were ways to do it. She lifted the sheet and slowly placed bottom and leg on the side, then gradually moved over, shifting only her half of the bedding across her, bit by bit.

She looked at him. Good, didn't seem to have disturbed him.

Now she realized that she was still in ... well ... that mood and so she moved across further and allowed her leg to run alongside his. He stirred a bit but she didn't actually want him awake - he might ... smell it on her. So she lay perfectly still.

Eventually, the only way she knew she could do this was to turn away and ever so carefully shuffle her back into him, to keep her bottom warm. She moved oh so quietly and slowly, until she felt his nether region behind and below her.

Good, good.

He stirred, must have half realized, one arm went across her waist and one knee went under her. 

Staring out at the far wall in the half light - actually, more like a quarter light - she felt him getting comfortable against her back. Her body moved ever so slightly to make it more uniform, more natural.  Surely he could feel the difference from Nikki, surely there were small differences he'd pick up on, even in sleep.

His hand reached up and cupped the lower part of her breast; feeling comfortable now, he shuffled a bit, removing his leg from between hers and straightening both legs, suddenly she realized the danger. About to extract herself ... she didn't.

She couldn't.

She didn't want to prevent him.

When she felt it actually go inside, she suppressed the gasp and stared out from the bed and when he started rhythmically, she didn't dare move for fear of waking him.

'Nikki,' he murmured. 'Nikki.'

From this moment, she had to devise a way to escape, so that he’d never know but that was going to involve Nikki.  All her thoughts were now bent on this.

...

Jacques didn't know how to tell Francine but even though she was certainly more mature, less problematic, more womanly, there was the little problem of her disfigurement.

He didn't want to admit it to himself, as that would be prejudice and his police training precluded any of that. He thought about it, about them getting into bed. They didn't have to - they could stay in their gear and lie on either side.

She knew the score - that unless he was under the sheets with her, there was little chance - she wasn't a great conversationalist on matters general and neither was he. Most of her conversation was with the girls, a man was for other things, though not always for sex.

She'd adore when Jean brought a few of them home and the jokes would shoot around the room in an almost permanent state of laughter.

But in this situation, she'd need to be in bed with him and she'd need to be facing away.

'I understand your loyalty to Francesca, Jacques but I'm lonely and would like to be embraced.  My bottom gets cold and I'd like to lean it against you - does that cross the line?'

The appeal to gallantry worked, he disrobed and slipped under the sheets but not before she'd seen the thickness of that thing. Thoughts began to stir in her brain and not only in her brain.

For his part, he knew the ploy and also knew there could only be one way it could end.  Her body was lovely, apart from the scars but if she turned to him for the kiss, he simply didn't know what he would do.

She knew all this and was determined not to but then she felt the thickness of the thing go inside her without so much as a by your leave and she lost her capacity to resist.

...

Thierry came, she could feel him convulsing and was terrified he'd wake.  Instead he grunted again, held her close and dropped into a deeper sleep.

She knew she had to be audacious, that she'd have to disengage and get out of this bed now and out of the room.  She knew Nikki's way of talking to him, she'd heard it many times from her room at home but the problem was that her own voice was harsher and she couldn't 'do a Nikki', not in a way he'd accept.  And her voice was much higher too.   No, that was not possible.

Suddenly, the answer presented itself - Nikki tapped at the door and softly called, she softly lifted off his arm, got out of bed and raced for the door, hissed, 'Go on, get into bed,' then raced on tiptoes down to the far bathroom.

Nicolette was mortified for the second time but worse was that Thierry was now waking and she was dressed.

'Did I just make love to you?' he asked, matter-of-factly.

She was quick. 'Yes, I came back.'

'Then why are you in that gear and who was that who ran out?'

The atmosphere could have been cut with a knife. 'That was Chessa, checking on us,' she said brightly, 'it's time we were on duty.'

'Stop it, Nikki, you never were any good at it.  I think I just did something I'll go to hell for.  Don't lie to me, tell me.'

Nicolette never moved, she didn't dare. He collapsed and crumpled into a heap.

'Thierry, let's stay calm and I'll tell you what I know.'

The anger though had gripped him and he was ready to tear strips off his daughter.  Nicolette sat on the bed and blocked his egress.   'This rage is for Francesca, your wife, I know this; if you do this, you'll crush the life out of your daughter, Francesca's daughter too.'  That stopped him.  'Do you think she's not emotional enough just now?  She'll scream and weep and go hysterical and where will that get either of you?

It was an accident, Thierry, a mistake.  I sent her out of the room, away from Jean.  She came in here already like that, you were as you are now.’  She nodded at his nakedness. ‘I’ll go to her first because she'll be very frightened of you - of what you'll do to her.   If you push me away now and charge down there, you'll lose your daughter forever, make no mistake, you'd also lose me in that situation.  Now look me in the eye and tell me you'll allow me the first ten minutes with her and then I'll send her to you. Come on, look me in the eye and promise me, hand on heart, that you'll let me do this.'

All the life went out of him like a popped balloon. 'Go on, Nikki. Do what you can. Don't tell Jean, whatever you do.'

'Do you think I was born yesterday?  I'm going to her now.'

She went out quickly, saw Francesca standing with her ear to the wall, the girl now ran to the far end of the house and Nicolette walked after her, trapping her in the bathroom, turning and locking the door behind them. Francesca was eyeing her warily.

'In Melun, you were a girl. Now you're a woman but still a girl inside. You came from Jean in heat - I know that look of defiance and I'd just left Thierry in heat.  I should have known. I should have thought what might happen.'

'It wasn't your fault.'

'In some ways it was. He was asleep, you got into bed and put your back to him-'

'How do you know? Did he tell you?'

'Chessa, I've slept with him a few times, no? I know his habits, second only to you.'  The girl appreciated the conciliatory Nikki and was prepared to listen. 'You wanted to make love with him, to show him how much you love him and you've been building up to this for a very long time. So when he began, half asleep -'

'He was asleep.'

'Yes, at first but when it actually began ... well, let's not fight over words. Your crime, Chessa, was that you were quite conscious and you allowed it to go in, you wanted it to.   You did that, knowing what it would do to him when he eventually found out - and now it could destroy him.'

'Should I apologize?'

'I wouldn't and don't let him.  It was an accident, as I told him, on his part and with you - it was love expressed the wrong way.  Now that's all it was.  Years from now, looking back, that's all it was.'

'Will you tell him about Jean?'

'I think he knows.  I want you to stop and think of what that turns you into, going from man to man.  You say you love your father.'   The girl bristled.   'If you loved him, why would you bring shame on him?'

Francesca stood up, furious, then the fury subsided, she said, 'Thank you Nikki,' gathered her things and made the long march to see her father.

...

It was the second duty changeover and there was something strange about Francine and Jacques as they emerged from the bedroom.

Emma picked up on it first and once they’d retired to bed, she mentioned it. He answered, 'They've done it of course.'

'I think it can't go on like this.'

'Come over here, Hugh.'

He did, he began a kiss but she pulled back. 'That's sexual. Can't you kiss asexually?'

He tried but when he began nibbling her earlobes, kissing behind her ear, down her neck, she was moving steadily, she arched her back and unclipped her brassiere even while he was running his tongue along her neck.

'That was just to release the pressure,' she breathed, his lips centimetres from the nearer breast.

She was past resisting, she fumbled for his loose hand and found it, placed it between her thighs and squeezed hard, as if that would release the pressure, his fingers couldn't stop and her legs simply fell open.

'Mouth,' she said quickly.  'Don't argue. Mouth.'

She shuffled down the bed, he put the pillow beneath her neck, her head arched back, he knelt, back to the behead and lowered it, she guided it in ever so slowly, it reached her throat and he was over the top within a minute with what she was also doing with fingers and lips but even then he never stopped, carefully inserting and pulling back, carefully inserting and pulling back and she was causing mayhem with her lips.   It flowed up out of her mouth, she gulped and it was gone and still he went on.

He did pull out after the second time and as he lay beside her, seeing the mess he'd made, she wiped her mouth and quickly breathed,  'No apologies, no regrets, I couldn't stand that.  What's done is done.'

He looked at her and knew he was in love.  She was looking at him hard and hoped it was the case.  

She ran the back of her hand down his cheek.  'One last time. Please.'  She was anxious.  'We've done it now - we'll still face the same consequences - it might be the last time ever.'

She repositioned more comfortably, adjusted the pillow, asked if he was Ok and it began again.

It went on and on and on, spilling over, swallowing, she cupped, caressed, threw everything into it and then, when she felt him convulse, she held his hips and made him continue.   He asked if she wanted a drink and she quickly shook her hand in a sort of no gesture. 

Eventually he slowly withdrew and fell back on the bed, staring at the ceiling, she cleaned out her mouth and he leaned over her on his elbow, lowering his lips and a tentative kiss began.   She suddenly grabbed his head and forced his lips onto hers, then pushed him back.    'We can't do any more of this. I get too possessive and it's not good when I get possessive.'

There was no real reply to that.

'I've done very great wrong and I think there's some sort of karma about these things - I think I'll pay.  My guilt is more than yours but this night at least is about love, do you agree?'

He stroked her cheek and then kissed it.  She began to cry and he held her close.   ‘Sleep.'

'Whoever wakes up first wakes the other,' she said.

He leaned over, looked into her eyes and kissed her lips.  'Sleep.'

.o0o.

They overslept and as it always seemed to be, it was Francine who tapped on the door, waited, tapped again and then came through, saw and smelt it, muttered, 'O merde,' and went out again.

'O merde, o merde,' she said over and over to herself.  'No, no, tell me it isn't so.'   And all the time she could feel Jacques, Francesca's man, still inside her.  'It has to stop, all of this, it has to stop.'

She decided she was going to One2One Nikki, not to tell her, not at all - just to speak of how they could stop all of this happening over and over. She went to the kitchen, took the cask of wine and poured herself a long one, knocked it back, poured herself another, knocked it back, then found the courage to return.

She didn't tap but went inside and sat side-on, almost demurely, on the footstool at the end of the bed, actually looking quite elegant in her combat gear. She gave a little cough, then another and after an interval - another.

She could see the encrustation of semen in Emma's hair and over her cheek.  Her hair was actually matted.

Emma awoke, looked about, her eyes alighted on Francine who was looking straight at her, she looked up at the ceiling and sighed.  It was so uncannily like the Lodge that tears came to Francine's eyes and Emma knew exactly why.

She nudged Hugh who now came awake, he looked at her and made to kiss her.   She allowed it but at the same time, she was reserved.

'Cold light of day, Emma,' he observed of her less than effusive manner.

She now placed an arm lightly on his shoulder so that he'd not look around and gazed into his eyes.

Emma was going to use this opportunity.

'No Hugh, the night will stay with me forever.  Will you tell Nikki?'

'Naturally. You know that. I warned her this might happen, I told her I had little resistance to you, especially in your current situation, but she insisted.  I said she wasn't listening.  I said that even though her allure made me her man, you were not without power.  Doesn't make it any better though, does it?'

'Do you regret what we did?'

'How can I say 'regret' to a woman whose throat I made love to three or four times, a woman I cradled until she fell asleep?'   Francine's eyebrows went sky-high.  'Regret is only for what I did to Nikki, not for what I did with you, not for what we did.   It's all wrong, Emma, we must stay with our own partners, we must try to do right but how can I regret you?'

‘I agree.  Look into my eyes and I’m going to ask you some things, things I have to know.  And I need to know now, not in five minutes, not tomorrow.  Will you at least do that for me?  Just for a few minutes?’  She was most earnest.

'Your wish is my command.'

III

Francesca came to the door and stood there, observing her father. He was sitting on the end of the bed and now looked away.

She came through and sat beside him. Then she placed an arm around him and was eternally grateful he didn't shake her off.   Nicolette walked past the door and closed it.

'Your mother -'

'Knows it was an accident - I was the one who did it.  I tricked you.   I wanted this so badly and Maman is a woman, she knows.'

'I can't face you. You're our baby.  How can we ever face anyone?'

'Who's anyone? Who knows apart from Nikki?  Look, Papa, this time was my guilt but you haven't always been so innocent with me anyway - you've held me a little bit too long, you've allowed me into your bed nue, I accidentally touched you a few times - all these little things made this possible. And I didn't hate those things at all because they made me feel safe with you. You're not ... well ... one of those, like Aurelie's Papa. It's actually worse that you're not because things can happen like they did.'

'You're so calm about it. It's a crime, Chessa, a crime. There's some sort of great karma thing and it says that you and I don't do this. You did it with Jean too and that upsets me.'

'Yes.'

'I don't think I can take that in you. I don't want you becoming like that - you were never like that at school. You weren't perfect but you weren't like that. Were you like that?'

'Of course not. Don't you remember me saying that there wasn't one boy I'd go with? It was always you.'

'And I made you like this?'

'No, I made myself like this. I looked around at what there was and the best was in my own home. You were the one with the complexes.'

'I wish I could get you to see how wrong it is.'

'I wish you'd just look me in the eye and admit that I'm not hurt at all, not damaged ... but I would be if you became cold towards me.'

He turned and first glimpsed her out of the corner of his eye, looked away again, then looked once more. Their eyes met and hers were calm, his were filled with tears. She took out her handkerchief and dabbed them, then put her hands around his neck.

'Let's lie down.'

'No.'

'Why did Nikki leave your bed?'

'I wanted to make love with her and she's loyal to ... Hugh. Although she said it's possible on the last night.'

She took that in but did not mention the little question of Genevieve. 'So we have the next few nights together.'

'I don't think I can take this.'

'Do you know the time?' she asked.


He glanced at his watch. 'Time we were on duty.'

Chapter 11 here ... Chapter 13 here

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