Caitlin had weathered her mother’s sudden death and her funeral as if she was sleepwalking. Each day she and her father received calls and flowers and condolences. She thanked people for their kindness going through the motions of politeness. Each time she saw someone she would unconsciously grit her teeth ready for them to offer their sympathy, steeling herself for the words, willing herself not to cry.
When the day of the funeral arrived Caitlin was numb from grief and the inability to cry. The funeral director mercifully managed the whole process instructing her on what to do and where to go. She walked next to her father behind her mother’s coffin eyes blank, trying not to focus on anyone. She couldn’t bear the thought of people being kind to her or seeing their looks of pity. She held her father’s arm and felt a swell of empathy for his pain. She dreaded seeing her grandparents who she knew would be devastated by the loss of their only child. Mostly she dreaded seeing her friends, she suddenly felt a million years older than they.
Once the funeral was over there was a hiatus of raw grief that Caitlin and her father shared. Then slowly they began to fill their days with distractions. For Caitlin’s father Frank this was work. He decided to close the London house. He and Caitlin would return to New York. Here he threw himself into managing his company, leaving the house early in the morning and returning late in the evening.
Caitlin was lonely and lost without her mother and her closest friends. She also had no direction in her life. The idea of Switzerland and a finishing school held no appeal. Nor did New York with an absentee father hold much charm. Her life had been so sure but now everything was built on shifting sand. She decided she would go to Paris; she would get a place at the Sorbonne and study the history of art or archaeology. Her ‘A’ Level results hadn’t been too bad and she felt sure that her father could pull some strings to get her in immediately.
Her mind made up Caitlin lost no time putting her plan in train. She arrived in Paris two weeks later, mid-way through the first term. Caitlin’s father had arranged for her to stay at the Ritz hotel on the Place Vendome when she first arrived. She would then look for an apartment to rent or buy whichever she wanted. She spent the first couple of days looking around the city trying not to think of shopping trips and gallery visits with her mother. She decided that the area of Saint-Germain-des-Pres suited her purpose; after practicing her French on a couple of real estate agents she arranged to view some rental apartments. The idea of buying anywhere did not appeal at the moment she felt much too transient.
Caitlin chose a pretty apartment on the first floor of a mansion house. She walked up a splendid curved staircase to reach the first floor landing where her flat was off the left side landing. The door was huge and swung open to reveal a large lobby with three doors one leading to a spacious panelled room to the front of the building with three tall almost floor length windows letting in slants of sunlight across the parquet floor. Off this room was a smallish kitchen newly converted; the other doors led to a large bedroom and a bathroom with a grand freestanding bath in the middle of the room. The flat was let unfurnished. Caitlin made up her mind immediately.
Caitlin filled the next few days with what she did best, shopping. She arranged to stay at the Ritz for another few days and availed herself of the best furniture and fittings that the Champs Elysees and its illustrious neighbouring streets could afford. She chose two large Chesterfield style sofas upholstered in cream linen to face each other across a huge coffee table. An antique dining table and eight chairs caught her eye for the kitchen end of her spacious living room, with a matching sideboard. She chose a typically French inlaid bed and a huge armoire for her bedroom. She bought sumptuous bed linen from Frette and spotting a bolt of moiré silk ordered curtains and blinds for all the windows in the same chalk white fabric. Finishing touches and a splash of colour were accomplished with some aqua and sapphire silk covered cushions that reminded her of the Mediterranean in a bittersweet way.
Finally finished with the distraction tactics she went to the Sorbonne to enrol. Once she had completed the formalities she was taken to join her chosen course in the history of art. Her fellow students, of whom there were many, had started more than two months earlier. The tutor, prior to the start of his lecture, made it very clear to Caitlin that she would have a lot to do to catch up. For once Caitlin was bereft of the ability to charm her way. She took a seat near the front of the class and aware of the stir of interest she was creating, unpacked her bag and laid out her notebook and pen ready to take notes.
Caitlin found the subject interesting but she was struggling with the language and with her ability to concentrate. Her mind was constantly pulled back to the harrowing events of the last few months. She soon found however that she could be distracted very easily. As she drifted along with the crowd of students from lecture to refectory, to seminar, to the library she observed that there were many attractive, hunky males around. It wasn’t long before Caitlin was in receipt of a plethora of invitations to parties, for drinks, to the cinema, to bed.
A combination of champagne, French endearments whispered in her ear and a hot Frenchman between her legs was the best distraction of all. Jean-Pierre Desbois was her first. He had asked her on a date soon after she arrived. The two had gone to a bar in the Latin Quarter not far from Caitlin’s apartment. They drank coffee and cognac, which scorched Caitlin’s throat and made her cough. Jean-Pierre had moved swiftly to wipe the tears brought to Caitlin’s eyes, draping his arm around her shoulder and whispered
‘Mon pauvre bebe’ into her neck. Caitlin felt the heat of the cognac spreading through her limbs and her mind went into free fall. She found herself inviting Jean-Pierre back to her apartment,
J’ai un peu de champagne sur la glace’ although they both knew that champagne was not the first thing that was on their minds.
Caitlin and Jean-Pierre had almost run up the stairs to her apartment. Reaching the top she fumbled for her keys while he fumbled for her breasts. They fell through the door into her spacious living room where Caitlin made pretence of extracting the promised champagne from the fridge.
‘Plus tard, chere’ he whispered pressing himself into her body as she leaned forwards. She could feel his cock bulging in his pants as he ran his hands up under her jumper and expertly freed her breast from the confines of her bra. Her nipples hardened under his touch and she felt herself melt and open inside ready for him. He guided her to the sofa and reached up inside of her skirt. Feeling inside he rubbed against her clitoris until she was wet and hot. Caitlin could hear herself whimpering slightly almost begging him to enter her, which he now did, impatiently pushing the silk of her panties to one side he unzipped and revealed his huge hard penis. Caitlin gasped with pleasure as he eased inside and with a strong push of his hips began to pump with a hypnotic rhythm. She felt her body arch and squeeze around him as the movement of their bodies frantically enmeshed greedily seeking their climax, which came in an ever-escalating pulsating throb and gush of relief.
Caitlin dedicated the next few weeks to the study of pleasure ably coached by Jean-Pierre. They hardly left her apartment. Caitlin was unaware of her luck in encountering such a careful and tender lover for her first encounter until their liaison amoureuse was over and she moved on. It had ended for her one evening when they had spent the day together in rapt lovemaking. They had decided to go out and get something to eat. Caitlin had dressed carefully in a wrap dress and knee high boots, brushed her hair until it shone and slicked her lips with gloss. She was looking forward to a being out with Jean-Pierre, keen to be seen in public with him. She was surprised and disappointed when he led her into a small and dingy cafe near the apartment. The food was ordinary and the place lacked ambience. Caitlin struggled to converse with Jean-Pierre.
When they returned Jean-Pierre took her hands in his and sat her on the sofa. ‘Caitlin, my dear one’, he had said, ‘I am not rich like you. I must return to my studies and get my degree so that I may have a successful career and future. If I were a rich man I would want to marry you, but I am not wealthy and may never be.’
It was much too soon for Caitlin to think of loving anyone. She felt herself shutting him out of her life, knowing that he was right and that she could never marry a poor French student. They split with dignity and Jean-Pierre disappeared back to his studies in politics and law. Caitlin not able to settle to her studies drifted from party to party and from man to man never truly happy or sure of what she wanted.
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