Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Papillon Concret (Part 1)

Too old to walk this path once again, he's accompanied by his grandson as he stands before a modest stone in the Alpine cemetery in Thones, Haute Savoie. Engraved at its centre is a thing of beauty in the last stages of its life. He wishes he'd seen her once again before she metamorphosised.

Memories come flooding back and he catches his breath in reminiscence of an old ambulance crowded, not with casualties but five men, hidden, remaining silent.  The driver speaking in muffled tones to the checkpoint guards.  They've been stationary for 15 minutes and the claustrophobic conditions are making them sweat. The odour of desperation almost overpowering the sweet scent of freedom.  Two men, lying so close to each other beneath the secret compartment under the gurney that they can feel each other's heartbeats. Another two, head-to-toe beneath the medical chest fit tightly like a pair of stilettos in a shoe box. One grimacing as cramp takes hold of his calf and the wound between his forefinger and thumb begins to bleed. He's unable to relieve the knotted muscle pain and suffers silently for fear of being discovered. A fifth, feigning fever is tended on the gurney by a woman in a nurse's uniform. If they make it, this will be the last barrier to escape. But for now, five are perilously close to capture and subsequent execution. Their saviour? A petite woman, naturally beautiful, athletic, irreverent - the delicacy of a butterfly and strength of a street-fighter. 
 ***
"There's a reception on Friday," his secretary sits, arms neatly folded on the small chair opposite his desk.  A  crisp white blouse collar raised slightly at the back, and one front button too many undone. She thinks this gives her an air of sophistication and a Sophia Lauren seductiveness, when in fact it makes her look a little frigid and taut. He's not paying any attention anyway, distracted by the loss of something seemingly important. He's flicking through his papers, eyes darting sideways and under the desk. He bends beneath it still seated, and rifles through the waste paper basket beneath ignoring and unmoved at the glimpse of shapely crossed legs in a slightly-too-short skirt and delves into the waste paper.

"Ah got 'em" He rises above the desktop with a victorious grin, "Glasses!" and waves the gold rimmed eyepiece victoriously, "Thought I'd lost 'em. Now, reception you say?

"Yes sir. To welcome the new Ambassador and his family? Friday night at the Ritz, black tie. Shall I RSVP on your behalf?"

Lenze Martilli strokes his chin. Again distracted as fingers test the stubble that's accumulated by the end of the day. He's a tall man, even sitting in his leather chair he's imposing and fits his senior Directorship at Martilli and Lowe. He's run the company for 8 years now and seen it grow from strength to strength. He's a captain of industry, an international figure. Young for such a position and handsome, wealthy. Yet no woman seems to have captured his imagination or his heart and he remains high on the eligible bachelor list. It's time he did think about such things, and Yvette sitting in front of him is ever hopeful that she might fulfill some fantasy by becoming more than his personal assistant, but he's just not interested. She's even wondered at times whether he's a homosexual but not as much as she's wondered what it would be like to live in his beautiful home, share his beautiful life, travel as his beautiful wife. She may as well dream on. She's just not his type.

Monique Lalchere is his type although he doesn't yet know it. The only daughter of a religiously dogmatic mother and a quietly diplomatic father, she's inherited her mother's fervor and tenacity and her father's patience and political correctness without compromising the independent confidence that can be attributed to her personality alone. She's educated, strong and willful but knows when to keep her mouth shut.  Her mother's fanaticism has only pushed her away from any form of faith except that in herself. Unusual for a woman of her tender years to have such confidence.

She's elegant at 5'8, slim-waisted yet shapely.  Soft brunette waves cascade over her shoulders accentuating her already beguiling curves. A slightly diagonal smile breaks slowly upon every introduction and brown eyes so deep they tear into the soul. The bronzed colour of her complexion betrays her preference for the outdoors. She loves to swim, to hike, cycle . . anything that takes her from the privileged world of diplomacy and parties - politics and intrigue. She trained as a nurse after finishing school and although she had time for her patients, the hierarchy of women she found unbearable. She dabbled in journalism but struggled to attain the worthy stories. Women being relegated to coverage of the local fair, fashion and other banal points of interest. Now she's here, still with her family, embracing a new country on the brink of war and dressing for a reception filled with stuffed shirts and table manners. She'd rather be naked and eating with her fingers.

She's noticed immediately by Martilli despite his being surrounded by a bevy of beauties. Whether it's the stand-out emerald satin gown and its plunging neckline enhanced by pearls, or the cascading hair he doesn't know. Could even be the crooked smile. She's not the most glamorous woman here but she's the only one he sees as she's introduced and shakes hands with dignitaries, military representatives and politicians, all others in the room fade into oblivion.

"Mr Martilli,"  Ambassador Lalchere made the introductions, "This is Monique, my daughter."

Lenze took her hand and swept the back of it with a kiss, stared deeply, his blue into brown and that was it.  He'd never believed in love at first sight, she'd never believed in marriage but a whirlwind romance and six weeks later she's wearing pearls again as she walks down the aisle and marries her billionaire. She's emerged from the cocoon and she couldn't be happier.


5 comments:

  1. Nice start, I can feel the pull of a page turner here. Can also feel the pain of that calf cramp.

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  2. Intriguing start. I'm looking forward to seeing where you go with it.

    I really liked the tricked out escape ambulance. I once talked to a man who'd escaped from East Germany strapped to the underside of a train. He reached freedom, but it cost him his right arm.

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  3. On to the next part and looking forward to it!

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  4. *shudder* I don't want to think about calf cramp again

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  5. Intrigue...

    Your commas are much improved. Now we gotta work on your ellipses. "..." "..." "..."

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