[December 18, 1963]
[Hotel Muguet, Paris, France – morning]
The new day dawned with blustery winds rattling high flying leaves from the autumn trees against the window. Wan light from the newly risen sun shined its pale light across the room; warming nothing in its path. Bill woke before Molly, who had shifted down and away from him, pressing her body lengthwise against his side. Steady, but heavy, breathing told him she was still deeply asleep. Good, he thought, the sleep would do wonders for her. Since Paris was ahead in time from Canada, the time she spent asleep would not be wasted.
Bill rose carefully, trying hard not to wake Molly, and eased the bathroom door shut. He had taken his large pillow and laid it along her length in an attempt to keep her sleeping. He quietly did his morning ablutions, paying special care to a very light trim of his new beard. He noted it was filling out very nicely now and would soon need to be trimmed into a more pleasing (at least to him) shape. Teeth brushed, hair combed, Bill quickly slipped into clean underwear and the clothing he had laid next to the radiator the night before.
Bill decided the main order of the day was to secure more cash for their travels. There was no doubt on his part that he would accompany Molly back to Montreal and give her any assistance he could. They had come a long way in trusting each other and he had no intention of abandoning her now when she needed him the most.
A sudden thought: the telephone. Bill hadn’t wanted it to ring so he had asked the night clerk to hold any further calls. He lifted the receiver quietly and waited for the operator to answer. “Téléphoniste. May I be of service, Monsieur?”
“Have there been any further calls for either Madame Garnet or myself?” Bill asked, thinking that any calls would be for her in her maiden name.
“Thank you. Oh, has the manager arrived yet this morning?”
“Oh, yes, Monsieur. He has arrived just ten minutes ago. May I ring him?”
“Non. No, I will be down to talk with him shortly. Thank you. Merci.”
“Je comprends. Bonjour, monsieur.”
“Bonjour.” I hung up.
Bill bent over Molly and kissed her lightly on the forehead. She stirred, but didn’t wake. Silently, he gathered up their official documentation and slipped out the door to the elevator. When he arrived in the lobby, he walked up to the desk and was greeted by the day clerk; an elderly gentleman who peered at him over half-frame glasses. Bill introduced himself, and accepted his condolences at their devastating news. Bill assured the clerk that the crisis had reduced itself to a smaller level. When he asked to see the manager, the clerk rose and tapped at the door behind him, received muffled permission, and entered. He reappeared momentarily and beckoned Bill into the manager’s office.
The manager, who appeared to be around thirty-five or so, stood and offered his hand to Bill. He spoke English well and asked him to sit. When they were settled, he enquired as to Molly’s health. Bill told him she was still sleeping, and added that this was probably the best thing for her under the circumstances. The two of them exchanged odd bits of conversation until Bill felt he had the manager's measure.
Bill broached the subject. “Monsieur, could you possibly recommend a bank nearby where I might write a check or send a cash request to my bank in the States? I have more than sufficient funds to pay for our wonderful accommodations, but it seems my wife would like to cut our trip short and return to her father’s side. For us to do this right now, we will need extra funds.”
The manager thought a moment, looked off into the middle distance over Bill's shoulder, then focused back on him. “What is the amount you wish Monsieur? If it is possible, the hotel would be happy to honor your check.”
“Oh, thank you very much, Sir! We can make do nicely with the sum of fifteen hundred dollars. If that is too much, then, perhaps I could pay for a telephone call to my bank for verification?”
He seemed to take that in stride. At least he didn’t jump out of his chair and run around the room claiming it would break him. Instead, he thought a moment and then smiled. “Of course, we would be honored to assist in any way. May I also suggest that the hotel travel services arrange your airline tickets? There is a small fee, but all details are taken care of by them – including the travel to the airport. Will that be satisfactory?”
“We would be very happy to put ourselves entirely in your capable hands then, Monsieur. Thank you very much indeed.”
“Happy to help out, sir. I will have the travel person begin and, when she is finished, you may write your check. The difference will be refunded to you. Will that be acceptable?”
“Very much so. Missus Stiles and I appreciate your assistance very much. Since we were just married very recently, her passport is in her maiden name. Will that be a problem?”
“Not at all. Do you have them at the moment?”
Bill produced them from his jacket and handed them over. “I do.”
“Bon! Then we will take over from here. Check back at the desk in a few hours for any results. Have you had breakfast yet, Monsieur?”
“No, I haven’t. As I said, my wife is still asleep but perhaps I will wake her and come back down. Thank you very much again.”
The manager made an ‘it is nothing’ hand movement that the French are famous for, and stood. Bill did also and they shook hands. Bill left the manager's office feeling as if many weights had been lifted from his shoulders. He caught himself humming the little tune that Molly sings in the bath as he took the vacant elevator back up to their room.
* * *
‘Goodness! Have I overslept?’ She looked at the little clock. ‘No, it is early yet.’ Her hand flashed out and patted the bed beside her. ‘But where is Bill?’ She sat up quickly, remembering with a smile the last time she’d done that. ‘The bathroom perhaps?’
Dragging the blanket with her, Molly stepped across the room and peered into the bathroom. ‘No, not in here. Then where? Perhaps downstairs in the lobby or the dining room.’
Molly relaxed a little and crawled back into the warmth of the bed.
* * *
When Bill returned, Molly was awake, but apparently not yet out of bed. She had changed position to lie on her back with the covers tucked under her chin so all Bill saw was her head, framed by the gold of her hair. “Ummm. Good morning, my love." She murmured. "You were silent getting out of bed. You should have woken me. Where have you been?” She queried.
“I’ve just talked to the manager and he’s agreed to take my check for the funds to fly us back to Montreal. I even added a little more for traveling cash. It wouldn’t do for us to arrive poor would it?”
Molly sat up – remembering this time to hold the sheet demurely in front of her. “Wait. You do this for me?”
“Of course. I love you, Molly. Why wouldn’t I want to help all I could? After all,” he said with a grin. “Didn’t I sweep you away on our adventure?”
Molly smiled slightly and spoke with a sardonic flair “I recall that I came willingly." Her voice changed to a serious note. "Please, Bill. Let me help pay for something.”
“Okay. You can pay for breakfast. I’m hungry! Hop up and make yourself more beautiful than you are right now; even though that's not possible.”
Molly wrinkled her nose at Bill, but smiled anyway. “Mon dieu, I do love you so.” She held out her arms and he came forward into them. They kissed gently and then again with a little more passion. She broke away with a gasp. “Wow! You prescribe powerful medicine, doctor. You go over there and sit down while I get dressed. Good boy!”
Bill's tiny sexist side noted that she made herself presentable in record time – for a woman he thought wryly. Soon Molly was dressed in a pleated woolen skirt with a crisply starched white blouse and a sweater over her shoulders. Sensible, fur lined, boots were on her feet. She leaned way over towards his sitting position, closed her eyes, and puckered up. Bill kissed her as he stood and they held hands going through the door, down the hall, and into the elevator.
Breakfast was very good. Occasionally Bill would catch Molly in a pensive mood, but she would brighten when he asked a question or made a comment. Apparently, the word had gotten around to a lot of the staff about Molly’s dad. They were solicitous towards her and all offered condolences of some sort. They finished up their meal. Bill set aside a larger than normal tip and the two of them walked towards the main entrance.
Bill and Molly were headed in no particular direction so they wandered around corners that looked interesting, and about parks that piqued their curiosity. They never got lost due to the ubiquitous “M” signs announcing the Metro and what particular station it was. If in any doubt, Bill could pull out the map and locate them within a street. Their footsteps echoed at times against the gaunt looking buildings with their high-portaled windows and small flower boxes hanging below the sill. Most everyone they passed smiled a hello, or at least nodded a greeting.
One of the corners they went around opened onto a huge street. It appeared to be at least six or eight lanes wide but it was difficult to tell due to the traffic seemingly wandering to and fro along it. The sign at the corner identified it as the Boulevard Raspail. A green sign pointed the way to “Jardin du Luxembourg” which Molly identified as the Luxemburg Garden, or park.
“Let’s go there and find a spot to sit, Bill. My feet are tired.”
“Your wish is my command, my love. Marche.”
Molly giggled at him and with his arm around her waist they braved the traffic to cross the road then walked down another road, which turned out to be named the Street of Flowers, towards the park. No flowers were present this late in the year, but there were many flower pots and large boxes with dirt in them. The trees ahead signaled the park proper.
“This is beautiful!” Molly exclaimed. “Even without leaves the trees are magnificent. Just look at them!”
Bill did, and had to agree they were quite old and very tall. His nose twitching to a scent, he realized that there was at least one chestnut vendor here in the park. Arriving at the correct direction, he steered Molly towards the small plume of steam that rose from the vendor’s cart. “Mmmm. That smells wonderful! Can we get some?” She asked.
“Of course,” Bill answered and turned to the vendor. “Deux bouquets, s'il vous plaît,” he asked in his best French. Molly cracked up and the vendor looked amused.
“You used the word for a group of flowers – bouquets. The best word to use is ‘paquets’ or packets.” Molly smiled up at Bill in his consternation. “You are getting to be very good though.”
Molly turned to the vendor and spoke briefly. He responded with a knowing nod and a friendly smile. He added several more to their two packets and handed them over. They were very warm and the scent of roasted chestnuts prevailed.
“Merci.” Bill said, handing a small bill to the guy. He made change and the two of them wandered off towards a bank of benches along the walkway. When they were settled Bill asked Molly what she had said.
She lowered her eyes slightly, in the manner that endeared her to him, and told Bill that she’d told the vendor he didn’t know a word of French a week ago. Technically, that was true so Bill smiled back. “You were right. Except for words that make anyone blush, I didn’t.”
She laughed out loud at that. “Oh, you will have to tell me these awful words in private then, no?”
“No, I most certainly will not.” Bill tossed the first chestnut from his packet into his mouth and crunched down. The flavor exploded around his tongue and flooded his taste buds with chestnut. “You were right. These do taste wonderful!”
* * *
‘I could sit here or wander around the entire city for weeks with him. He is so wonderful and always puts me at ease.’
As much as Molly wanted to prolong their little walk, she knew that their time left in Paris was limited. Reservations were being made right now to take her home. She was largely torn though. On one hand, she was very worried about her father, but on the other, she wanted her family to meet Bill. Maybe it is time to go?
* * *
Molly looked at her watch and then over at Bill. “Shouldn’t we go back now and see if they have gotten our trip completed?”
“Perhaps. Right now I just want to sit and hold you for a little while. We need to talk.” Bill held her at arms length.
“Oh! This sounds serious.” She responded, looking squarely at him and putting on a somber face.
Seconds stretched into tens of seconds before both of them began twitching at the corners of their mouths. Finally, Molly couldn’t hold back any longer and snickered. This caused the both of them to break out in laughter and start into a round of kissing.
Once they stopped kissing one another, Bill started talking. “Molly, have you thought of all the obstacles in the way of our getting married? First, you might lose your Canadian citizenship. I am not sure of this though. It could just be as simple as receiving dual-citizenship. You would be issued an American passport with my last name on it.” He stopped, looking at her expectantly.
* * *
‘Now it comes time to voice all the little concerns I myself have been having over the last few days. I wondered how I would broach the subject, and now Bill has provided a means for me to do so.’
* * *
“I have thought of that, my love. I’ve thought of nothing but that for days. I cannot imagine any obstacle that we couldn’t overcome if we really want to. Oh, I do want to marry you so very much!” She hugged him to her shoulder and sniffled into his neck. “No matter what.”
“Then, we don’t need to talk any more. What we do need to do is make plans for the wedding. I have to at least tell my parents what’s happening. They may want to come up from Montana for the wedding, of course. When I left, I was just completing my second year of college. I do want to complete it because education is very important.”
“Oh, I agree. Will it be expensive?” Molly asked, suddenly very serious.
“Probably. But I have quite an amount saved from my firefighting days. More than enough to complete school – and take care of my wife.”
“I love the sound of that ‘my wife’. I get cold chills all over every time I hear it. ‘My wife’. She hugged herself, then him. They kissed again and held it for a long time.
The walk back was cold, but manageable. By the time they arrived at the hotel, their noses were running and their ears were reddened. Bill asked at the desk, but the clerk told him nothing had been left for them yet. The clerk knew they were waiting and told Bill she’d call up to the room the moment the tickets arrived. He thanked her and they went up to their room and stood by the radiator looking out at the street below and the buildings across the road.
Bill stood behind Molly and wrapped his arms around her chest under her breasts. They stood there; absorbing warmth from each other and the heat register until she stopped shivering. He kissed the top of her head. “Would you like a small brandy, Molly?”
“Sure. Why not? Not too much though or I’ll start crying again.”
The small sideboard held four glasses. Bill unwrapped two of them and poured a small shot of brandy in each, and then came over and held out one glass to Molly. She took and tapped the rim against his. “To my father’s health.” She proclaimed. Bill echoed her sentiment and they drank.
They were still standing, rocking gently from side to side, ten minutes later when the phone trilled. Bill released Molly and went to answer it. The voice of the manager informed him that the tickets had arrived and were ready for pickup any time they desired. Their departure was for the next day at eleven hundred. Nothing sooner was available. Bill thanked the manager and told Molly the news. She took a deep breath and released it in a long, drawn out sigh. “Damn!” She sighed. “I really wanted to spend more time here in Paris. I may never get back here again.”
“Sure we will, my love. I will make coming back to Paris – this very hotel – a priority task for me. You’ll see. We'll be back.”
“You always know how to cheer me up, Bill. That’s one of the many reasons I love you so much.” She murmured into his ear as she kissed his cheek. “Do you need me to pick the tickets up? I want to take a nice hot bath right now and just relax. We’re going to be on the go starting tomorrow morning for quite a while.”
“Sure, Honey. You go right ahead. I’ll just be a minute.”
Bill took the elevator back down to the lobby and walked up to the desk. The clerk handed him a large packet with their passports, tickets, and a couple of colorful brochures about their trip. They had been booked on Air France, naturally, and he was looking forward to it. He'd heard it was a great airline to travel on; mainly because of the leg room they offered - even in coach where they would be. Bill thanked the desk clerk effusively and went back up to the room.
* * *
While Bill was gone, Molly pulled her clothes off and laid them carefully on the bed. The robe, hanging on the back of the bathroom door, was warm and inviting. She wrapped a towel around her hair to keep from getting it too wet and started the hot water into the tub.
‘Hmmm. How about some nice scent? Apples! As before.’
She added a small amount of powered to the water, swirled it around, and then doffed the robe to climb into the steamy tub. She tried a little tune, but it tapered off when she thought again of her father.
‘Oh, I hope it isn’t too bad for him.’
* * *
He could hear Molly splashing around but not singing or humming. The door was cracked a little to let some of the steam out. Feeling a bit naughty, he crept closer and peeked into the bathroom. Molly was lying back in the tub with a mound of bubbles heaped over most of her body. Her eyes were closed and she appeared to be resting but, while he was watching she deftly used her toes to turn on the hot water tap and let more water flow into the tub.
On closer inspection Bill realized that two of the bubbles were actually her nipples showing through the surrounding foam. An interesting development he thought. Maybe, he thought, he could take her mind off her dad if he went about it the right way. He tapped on the door.
“Who’s there?” She called without opening her eyes.
“Womb service,” Bill replied. “Do you require any servicing today?”
* * *
‘Oh, merde! What a horrible joke. Well, I can play along with that also…’
* * *
“Oh, yes. How fortunate you came by. I have several itches that I cannot scratch. Could you help, please?”
“Certainly, Madam. Let me take a moment to get into uniform.” Bill replied in a snooty voice. In two steps, he’d pried his shoes off and was hopping across the room on one leg pulling his pants down. He almost smacked into the edge of the desk as he passed but saved the day (and his tumescent appendage) with an adroit veronica around the table. He tossed the remains of his clothing into a pile on the couch and, completely naked except for a tie around his neck and a towel over his arm, returned to the bathroom door.
“Lafayette, we have returned!” He misquoted. Molly giggled.
“Well come on in then and be prepared to scratch my itch. I see you have brought your manhandle.”
When all itches, both his and hers, had been scratched, Bill climbed out of the scented tub and toweled off. Molly ran a bit more hot water into the tub and lay back – satisfied, Bill hoped. “Will you be around the next time I need you?” She asked.
“Certainly. Just as soon as I can sharpen my tool, Madam. I seem to have blunted it somehow.”
“You better believe it, Buster!” Molly growled in an American gangster accent. Then she broke into laughter. Bill collapsed onto the edge of the tub and they laughed until they became aware of the amount of noise they might be making.
“Molly. Being married to you is going to be one long, loveable, adventure. And I mean that from the heart.”
* * *
Molly had just completed that very thought. Being married to him would certainly be an adventure, if nothing else. He was funny, smart, and very capable. Most certainly capable in the sex department. None of the boys she had been out with were anywhere near as playful about sex as he. She had often played a role in her head when out with others, but had never participated in one for real.
‘Well, two can play at this game,’ she thought.
* * *
“Maybe next time I will be ‘ze Fronch maid’ and come to dust your equipment.”
“You can dust every bit of equipment I have. Anytime. In any way.”
“And if I want to just blow across it?”
“That too. Come on, girl. Up, out of there and let’s get dry before we wrinkle up like prunes.” Bill pulled the plug and water began gurgling down the drain. He stood up to give her a hand.
Molly giggled. "I fear it is too late. You're manhandle has already become wrinkled." She said with mock severity. "Poor thing."
Bill suppressed yet another manifestation of laughter.
Molly put one foot on the floor, and then the other, then, using Bill's outstretched hand, pulled herself into him. They stood plastered together, kissing and running their hands up and down each other’s bodies. Molly's breasts pressed into Bill's chest and he pressed himself against her stomach.
They broke apart. “What time do we need to get up tomorrow?” She asked, handing him a towel.
Bill went to get the tickets out and looked at them. “According to the tickets, we depart at eleven hundred and we are to be met here at the lobby at, ummm, nine thirty. We depart from Charles de Gaulle direct to Montreal. How about that?”
“Really? That means we need to get up by at least eight to pack and have breakfast. That’s much too early for me. We had better get to sleep soon then I’m afraid. Go get my nightgown off the bed, please.”
Molly’s nightgown was lying across the bed. It was pink with a white insert down the front. Bill lifted it, and it didn’t seem to have any weight to it at all. He wafted it over to her in the bathroom and she let it fall down from her shoulders. It slid down, clinging nicely to the shape of her wonderful body. He handed her the matching robe, which she donned also. And then swept by him, tweaking his protrusion as she passed. “Good things come to he who waits, I expect.”
Bill followed her back into the room, donned his silken pajamas, and robe. They settled down on the couch, each with their own book to read. Silence reigned supreme.
At twenty-two hundred, Bill rose, stretched, and announced he was ready for bed. Molly replied that her chapter was about over and she would come to bed when she finished. He kissed the top of her head and climbed into bed, and then scooted over so she could get in without having to walk around from the couch. He kissed the air with a smacking sound, which she echoed back to him. “Bonne nuit!” He called. “Good night.”
“Good night, my love. Sweet dreams.”