i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
my heart)i am never without it(anywhere
i go you go,my dear; and whatever is done
by only me is your doing,my darling)
no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want
no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)
and it's you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you
here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows
higher than the soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart
i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)
— e.e. cummings
The tires of the Air France 747 chirped (in French, of course) on the tarmac at Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris only a short, busy, paper-work- and packing-filled week after our “wedding.” We planned to spend a night at the Hotel Louvois, then take the bullet train to Avignon the next day for a hiking tour of the Dordogne region—the tour that I had given Robbie at our Fôret dinner.
After claiming our baggage and clearing customs and immigration, we took a cab through the endless Paris suburbs until we reached the Paris of storybooks. Our cab left us off at the hotel shortly before noon, so we checked in, took a quick shower (singular, not plural), took some time exploring each other, then went off to find a bite to eat. We had dinner reservations at La Bourgogne that night, a place we didn’t think would require the fancy dress of a 3-star Lasserre or Maxim’s; we’d packed hiking and walking gear in our baggage, not fine-dining gear, though it would be fun to test to see if Paris was as casual as Seattle.
It was only lunchtime, though, and we were looking for a small café for a light meal and Paris ambience. We took the Métro to the Left Bank, where we settled into a small table at a sidewalk café that was warmed by the early autumn Montmartre sun. Shade would have been a bit too cool, but there was enough sun to keep a number of the tables at a comfortable temperature. Autos and motor scooters buzzed around us, and the cacophony of horns and human voices gave us the effect we wanted.
After the waiter took our order for onion soup and salad, we sat and looked at each other, amazed at what had just happened and where we were sitting. I leaned over the table and kissed Robbie full on the mouth—in broad daylight. Robbie flinched. “This is gay Paree,” I said, smacking my lips back on his, “and we are in love.”
Maybe it was the distance from Seattle, or Paris itself, but that was enough for Robbie, and he leaned over the table and kissed me back—sensuously, passionately—and the feelings went deep into me, gathering in my brain and my groin. I don’t know which was getting more turned on, but I didn’t get much time to think about it because the next thing I knew, the waiter was putting two glasses of vin rouge in front of us. He looked as if he didn’t care whether we were gay or straight or anything in between—and he probably didn’t. But the interruption brought us back to reality, and we drank our wine and shortly thereafter ate our onion soups and salads and people-watched. A perfect Paris pastime for two men, incredibly in love, on a honeymoon in France. We took a long stroll back to our hotel across the Seine.
The dinner at La Bourgogne was splendid, with outstanding service, even though we weren’t really that well-dressed. We had a Montrachet with our snails and a fine 1962 Chambertin with our boeuf bourguignon. But we were exhausted and badly jet-lagged, a condition not ameliorated by all the wine and rich food, so we left without dessert and went back to the hotel. Robbie lay back on the bed and immediately zonked out, fully clothed. I pulled off his shirt, pants, socks and undershirt, him mumbling all the time. I pulled his boxers off, tweaked him in certain places, but when there was no rise out of him, I decided it was a lost cause and pulled the covers over him. I took another shower and climbed into bed. Maybe the next day would be more normal.
That day started with croissants and coffee delivered discreetly to the room. We fed the croissants to each other as we had fed pastries to each other a couple of years earlier—with love and innuendo. But we had a train to catch. After packing, we took a short cab ride to the station to catch the TGV train south. It was the first time I had ever taken anything like a bullet train, and I was looking forward to the trip. The train ride was comfortable, but I was disappointed finding that the scenery flashed by so fast it was hard to get a feel for the countryside. We arrived in Avignon in a few hours, where the Southern French sun still kept the temperature pleasantly warm even in the shade. We rented our car and headed for the Dordogne.
The destination was a hotel that had formerly been a chateau that Drew had told me about. It had recently been converted into a first-class hotel/resort, and I had reserved the bridal suite even before our ceremony. We arrived in late afternoon, Robbie driving, as he always did even though the French drive more like Bostonians than Seattleites. I would have done better, and I informed him of my opinion, and his middle finger informed me of his opinion. In late afternoon, Robbie drove us up to the ornate front door under the portico of the chateau where we were greeted by a bellman. He opened my door and bowed as I climbed out. Then he went to Robbie’s side and did the same. Another bellman opened the chateau door and directed us to the registration desk, whereupon he left us to retrieve our luggage.
“Monsieur Cantwell?” asked the man behind the desk.
“…et votre épouse,” he said, looking down to papers on his desk.
“Époux,” I said, smiling at Robbie.
However shocked he might have been at his bridal suite being occupied by two men, he didn’t miss a beat. “Bienvenue,” he said, and then switched to English. “Your suite is ready.” I noticed he didn’t say the “bridal suite,” but if he had known we were Just Married, maybe he would have. One of the bellmen showed us to what was to be our home for the 10 days of our tour.
I was somewhat prepared for the splendor of the room because of Drew’s description—he and his wife had stayed there on one of their vacations—but Robbie wasn’t. He gawked. He gawked at the 12-foot vaulted ceilings painted with murals and the glistening chandeliers that hung beneath them. He gawked at the size of the rooms with their antique furniture. He gawked at the modern parts, too: the bathtub that was as big as a Jacuzzi, with real gold fixtures, the fine soaps, shampoos and perfumes and colognes. He gawked at the bed that was the size of a small aircraft carrier—with plenty of landing room as far as I was concerned. There was a bottle of champagne in an ice bucket that the bellman offered to open. I accepted, and he poured us each a glass.
We christened the bed and whiled away the rest of the afternoon until time for the dinner reservations that the hotel had made for us at an adjoining Michelin-starred restaurant. After dinner we realized we were not going to lack for quality sustenance on this tour.
We re-christened the bed, and if you doubt how fine a place it was to stay, consider the fact that the sheets of the afternoon had been replaced with fresh ones. And the afternoon’s dark-chocolate truffles on the bedside tables (that Robbie had eaten most of) were replaced with fresh ones. Robbie had saved me one earlier; rather, he fed me one in between some kisses as if it were a croissant in Paris or a pastry in Seattle. Even I, not the chocolate connoisseur that Robbie was, smacked my lips at the truffle. It was a good thing this was going to be a hiking tour, with all the delectable temptations we were facing.
We met the guide the next morning at a café in the village square along with the eight others in our tour group. They were mainly from the West Coast, except one couple from Boston—professionals who could afford the type of guided tour we were on. The guide explained that a van would swing by the hotels each morning and take us to the starting point for the hike. At the end of the day—and after a resplendent picnic lunch—it would pick us up and return us to our hotels. A couple of the nights we would eat dinner with the others in the tour group; the remainder of the nights we were on our own. Per the instructions that we had been given, we all had dressed that morning for a hike; Robbie and I were in sturdy boots with backpacks containing cameras, Evian bottles and spare jackets. We had been told that we didn’t need to bring food because lunch was being provided.
The first day’s hike began slowly as the guide tested us for fitness. Satisfied that the tour group was in good physical shape, he was able to pick up the pace. We walked along a narrow road for two hours over rolling terrain and then climbed a two-mile path up to a castle dominating the Dordogne valley, where a grand lunch with wine, hors d’oeuvres, cold cuts and dessert was provided. The afternoon route traversed hills golden with ripened grasses and yellowed with the last leaves of grapevines, accented here and there with a few small, dark bunches of grapes that had not been picked during the earlier harvest. The warm haze of the autumn sun highlighted the hills and the valley air.
The pattern of hiking and lunch was repeated throughout the week. In the afternoons, we hiked to more castles, toured some, and walked through the high terrain with scenic views of the river far below. We saw the cave paintings at Lascaux that the Neanderthal people had drawn. We visited churches, and we had tastings at wineries and distilleries. We took, it seemed, a thousand pictures. Though we were in good shape, the hikes were invigorating, and at the end of the day we were always ready for relaxation—food, wine and, well, sex.
We enjoyed our hiking companions and had dinner with them both as part of the tour and often on our free days. Conversation at our first dinner started a bit awkwardly—we were all strangers—but we soon became friends with our fellow hikers. No one mentioned anything about our relationship, but one of the women commented on my ring, and then noticed that Robbie wore the same style of ring. I said that he had shamefully stolen my jewelry idea; Robbie huffed dramatically as he confided in an aside that the idea was really his. Our new friends, of course, figured it out, except that they didn’t know that the ring idea was neither of ours.
* * * * *
The last day of the hiking tour came much too quickly. The tour van dropped us off at our hotel earlier than normal, but we would meet everybody later for a farewell dinner. I turned the key and entered our ever-sparkling room. We were both sweaty and dusty and had a couple of hours to get cleaned up and do other things before dinner. I moved to the bath and turned on the tap to the extra-large tub, adjusted the temperature, and it soon filled with warm, inviting water. I stripped and climbed in, settling down to my neck and letting my weary muscles absorb the relaxing warmth. I watched Robbie drop his clothes to the floor alongside the tub and watched him as he climbed over the edge—his balls hanging loose and long, the hair on his legs flattening against the skin as he stepped into the water. He slid down to his neck alongside me and sighed.
“This is really nice,” he said, letting his hand drift over to my thigh.
“The water’s nice, too,” I said as I returned his gesture. We lay side by side in the tub for 20 minutes, occasionally turning on the hot water to adjust the temperature, our hands idling up each other’s thighs.
“I wonder how deep it really is,” Robbie said with a glint in his eye. “Let’s see. That’s six inches,” and I could feel the spread of his hand from the tip of my cock to the base, “and if I put my little finger right on top there…”
“…and keep my hand spread, then connect my thumb with my other hand spread above that, I’m almost to the surface. Hey, it’s three hands deep; that’s more than 18 inches—three times six.”
“You’re not a numbers person for nothing, but it’s 24 inches deep—three times eight.”
“Well, I count six. Of course, I could have just used my own measuring rod, which incidentally breaks the surface with no hand measurement at all. See. I’ve grown on you on this trip.” I don’t know to this day how Robbie pulled it off without me suspecting, but his mushroom cap was breaking the surface, and he was smirking at me. But I got back at him. I put my hand under him, sideways, and extending my thumb under his butt, I stuck it you-know-where as he settled back down.
“Now, I groan for you.”
“So, I lied,” he said, and he turned and kissed me.
We lay side by side luxuriating some more. “Are you ready to get out before we turn into wrinkles?” I asked.
“I will love you all wrinkled.” Robbie grew silent. “Forever.”
“Aw, you’re just trying to seduce me,” I said.
I leaned sideways and kissed him, and we turned toward each other, the water sloshing up onto our faces. We separated, and I took the soap bar and washcloth and washed him all over, and I mean all over.
Robbie took the washcloth from me. I lay on my back, closing my eyes to enjoy the soft feeling of Robbie’s ministrations. He paid special attention to my groin area, and it responded again in an even more manly way than it had been. I leaned back and closed my eyes as the washcloth slid across my perineum and around my anus. Contentment.
The next thing I felt were lips around my erection, moving up and down. Robbie’s head, though, was under a foot and a half of water—his measure. The sensations grew more intense when Robbie expelled his breath, rose to the surface, took a swimmer’s breath then dived in again to his self-appointed task. On the third or fourth round, I stopped him when his head rose to the surface. I gave him a questioning look.
“What are you doing?”
“You’ve heard of the breast stroke, haven’t you?” he responded and then dived again below the surface. It didn’t take much longer, especially when his fingers explored the full range of my sensitive areas—the ones he had just cleaned. I felt the ancient feeling rising deep within me; my pelvis pushed upward; I felt his finger on my prostrate and I exploded. Robbie rose from the depths, from the center of my ecstasy, threw his head back to remove the water from his dark-black hair, grabbed a towel and wiped his face, looked at me with his bright eyes, smiled and brought us into a deep kiss.
“I won,” he said and made a mark on his side of the air ledger.
“No points for sex, remember?”
“It wasn’t sex, it was for the victory.”
“Okay, it was a feat of Olympian proportion,” I said, sighing.
Robbie looked at me, looked down where his head had been: “It’s too far up for the feet, and I wouldn’t call it ‘Olympian proportion.’” That won him a splash in the face, but he pulled me to him so I couldn’t splash any longer without hitting myself as well, and we lay embracing as I came down from the electric high of my ‘Olympian’ orgasm.
I could feel Robbie’s arousal, however. He hadn’t finished, and I wanted to make him feel the wonder that I did. I pulled the drain plug and stood in the tub and looked down at my lover who was lying back looking into my eyes across my genitals and chest. I had a mischievous grin on my face.
“Hand me the conditioner,” I said, still standing as the water drained out. And that started my plan. I’m not going to go into the juicy details, but if there were a tape recorder there, it would sound like this:
“Give me your fingers.”
“That smells like almonds and is slippery like…”
“So I put my fingers here.”
“And I push gently.”
“Until I reach…”
“Oh, God, yes. Right there. Do that again.”
“We’re doing this backwards then.”
“Oh, God. Again. Again.”
“Hey, you’re getting turned on. What are you, some kind of teenager?”
“Shut up. I’m going to sit down now.”
“Move a little forward. There.”
“Let me drop gently. Yesss!”
“Let’s stay like this for a minute.”
“How about forever? Mmmm, again.”
“Long and sweet it will be.”
“Yes, right there. Again.”
“And again and again and again and again and again and again…”
“I’m getting close.”
“So am I. Hold me, grab me.”
“Oh, God, I love you, Jake. Yessss! I…love…youuuu!”
“Nnnng. Nnnng. And…I…love…you…too.”
I leaned forward, and we kissed and murmured further words of love as he slowly slipped from me. We lay there as the last of the water emptied into the drain with a pronounced gurgle, a noise that startled us from our reverie.
“I guess that all that’s left now is dry humping,” I said, but he had softened and, laughing, slipped from me completely.
“You’re such a romantic.”
Well, I tried to make up for it as I gently dried him off and he dried me off. I paid special attention to his lips and his tongue, but not in order to dry them.
* * * * *
By the time we were finished, it was getting late, and we had to get ready for dinner. The hiking group was celebrating at the restaurant that we had enjoyed our first day in the Dordogne. We dined well; we wined well; we had after-dinner brandies. We took pictures of our tour group; the others took pictures of us; the waiter took pictures of everybody, plus the chef; the camera timer allowed us to take pictures of everybody, the chef and the waiter. The pictures are still on the wall of the condominium, reminding us of our honeymoon trip.
There’s also a picture of the bathtub.
* * * * *
We walked through the tunnel from the airplane into the open and airy south terminal at Sea-Tac and began to walk toward the subway that would take us to baggage claim. We were walking side by side, backpacks over our shoulders when Robbie took my hand in his and held on, letting our hands swing between us.
“We’re no longer in France,” I pointed out, motioning with my head towards our clasped hands.
Robbie pulled his hand toward him, carrying mine along. His dark eyes shone as he looked at me. He brought the back of my hand to his lips and kissed it, then let our hands fall between us—still clasped, still swinging with our gait.
“I know,” he said.