On the drive to her shoot at the Marjorelle Gardens, Delphine turned to him and frowned: ‘Do you really think he liked me?’ She looked doubtful.

          ‘Why not?  You’re a very beautiful woman and smart too.  Jus’ relax... he’s gonna give you everything, wait and see... Wait!  Francesco, he hates waiting for anything... always in a hurry, always looking at his watch... for him waiting is like death.  Now we’ve tempted him he must wait like a dog until we throw him another bone. The longer he waits the more anxious he will become. He has the power to make you a huge star... I don’t have that power...’ He grinned at her, ‘I’m just a guy called Radouan.’

          At the Marjorelle Garden he stayed in the car, put on a CD and dozed in the back seat. A few hours later there was a tap on the window and it was her standing there in the dark, one of the gatekeepers holding a lantern. She looked ethereal. He got out, opened the front door for her, pulled himself together and they drove off to La Maison Arabe where she bathed and finally came out wearing a scandalous ensemble of black lace and elastic. 

          ‘ Gautier I suppose,’ Radouan observed. He was sitting on a puff watching Manchester United play Arsenal.

          ‘How did you know?’ she asked.

          ‘Because he made some underwear for me once too… special!’

           She stretched out on the bed and began leafing through a copy of Elle. ‘You really know him...’

          Radouan turned off the game and sat down on the edge of the bed. ‘Of course, I know him; he’s a great designer... I know everybody here and everybody knows me.’

          She gazed at him from behind her magazine with arched eyebrows.

        ‘I think I’m jealous of you,’ he grumbled. ‘When Francesco was staring at you it made me crazy. In my life before, believe me I’ve never been so jealous.’

          ‘Haven’t I heard somewhere Francesco Monte is gay... or maybe I read it?’

          ‘That’s crazy... since I was twenty years old I’ve known him.  Believe me; he’s not a gay whatever you might have heard.’

          ‘Something about liking young North Africans...’

          ‘He has many enemies who like to smear him... If you’re one of the greatest film directors in the world you have many enemies. I suppose you’re tryin’ to say I’m a gay...  Waha, I’ve enjoyed sex with guys from time to time but does that mean I’m a gay? We hate that word… to us it’s meaningless except that these foreigners who come here talking like women... they call themselves gay.’

          ‘Why aren’t you on the floor?’ she said threateningly, ‘you know that’s your place.’

          ‘Because I’m here beside you,’ Radouan grinned.

           She laughed, ‘you like it... you know you do... get down!

          ‘It’s interesting with you, yes... I can get into it, but it’s new for me.’

           She put down her magazine and stared at him.  ‘But you’ve thought a lot about it I can tell... like discipline turns you on... look at your erection.’

          ‘With you anything would turn me on.’ He smiled tenderly, ‘Please, will you take off those rubbish things so I can make love to you properly.’ He removed his shoes and socks, then stood up and took off his clothes.

          ‘Look,’ she pointed,’ you’re already wearing a condom… Really! ’

          ‘You promised that if I introduced you to Francesco you’d let me do it... remember?  So here I am ready to obey your promise. My zahp is big and strong. I have to protect it. The condom is mint flavored. You will like it.’  

She stared at him defiantly.

         ‘This doesn’t have to change our relationship,’ he said,’ I mean, you will enjoy it... you will order me to do it frequently and I will obey... I promise.’

          She smiled indulgently and slowly removed her lingerie.  He embraced her and nibbled at her breasts. Before she had been hard and verbally abusive, now her body was compliant and began to yield.

          Idly, he wondered what The Keeper, Hafida, would be like in bed; would she be clean and sweet smelling like this one, or would she be...?

          He tried to kiss her but she turned aside. He slid slowly down her body nibbling at her groin and licking her inner thighs. She began groaning urgently and pulled at his hair. He gazed at her tina, kissed it, then entered it with his tongue, closed his eyes and imagined he was kissing her mouth. She went crazy. Her cries were an aphrodisiac.

          She pulled his hair again until he came up and then she kissed him, one long kiss that went on and on until he penetrated her.

          They were like two serpents entwined, she thought, his body sliding over hers, until they climaxed together, not once but four times. Nothing like that had ever happened to her before.



          An hour later they were in her bath and Radouan was massaging her shoulders and serving her sweet mint tea. ‘Oridouka,’ he whispered, ‘Oheepouka, Ahta Jouka.’

        ‘What does that mean?’ she whispered, ‘you were saying that before when we were...’

        ‘I like you... I want you... I need you.  Maybe some day you would like to learn Arabi. It’s very poetic.’ He was still very excited. Never before had he encountered an accomplished woman who could lose herself so completely until she was almost talking to you with her body. Compared to her, all other women had been mannequins. He rubbed her back with a loofa and finally asked:

          ‘Who was that old man you were with at the Mamounia?’

           ‘A French businessman... he’s very sweet.’

          ‘He’s your patron, yes?  And gives you plenty of money, I’ll bet?’

          ‘Yes he’s very generous.’  She submerged herself until only her breasts were above the water. ‘And how much does that English woman, Antonia Howard... how much does she give you?’

           ‘How do you know her name?’

           ‘Everyone knows her, she’s famous... always in the journals, the magazines,’ she laughed. ‘That’s why I looked your way because of her, not you. But you seemed to know her pretty well... don’t you know she’s a big celebrity?’

          ‘I’ve known her for many years, since I was eighteen. I play polo with her husband, but I never think of them as being famous.’

          Radouan got out of the bath and stretched. ‘Now I mus’ go,’ he yawned.  ‘Tomorrow I have a very busy day. Can I call you in the morning around eleven so we can plan tomorrow evening?’

‘Of course,’ Delphine whispered, ‘but I don’t want you to go, I want you to stay.’ Her face and hair floating in the water were like a sunflower.    

‘Just because I opened to you, you mustn’t turn off on me now.’ She whispered., I know that trick too... really, it’s a very bazaari way to behave, bazaari sex… just turn off and leave people feeling dark and empty... like you just turned off a light or something, it’s not cool. I also know that you are a little bit crazy... don’t forget I’ve studied psychology. I know you suspect your own madness and it scares you...’

          Radouan knelt down and took her hand. ‘You’re tired.’ She got out of the bath and he dried her off. ‘You must sleep now... the days ahead are going to be the most important of your life and you mus’ look happy and relaxed.’

          ‘And what will you do?’

          ‘I will jus' sit here beside you and hold your hand until you go to sleep.’

          ‘And then?’

          ‘I have many obligations.’

           She looked distraught and turned away. ‘I can see you have another life which has nothing to do with me... maybe you have several.’

          ‘As you do too, I’m sure, but you wouldn’t want to be part of them, believe me... I would be happy to give them up forever but that’s in God’s hands not mine.’

          ‘You don't believe we have much control over our lives?’

          ‘If we do, then tell me how we met? Explain that to me...’

          ‘We met by accident...’



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©Elwyn Chamberlain 2006