Vicki Marie’s Sexy Summer Reading Series: One Chapter A Day
THE BACHELOR CHAPTERS: A THINKING WOMAN’S ROMANCE
She gave me Paris. Ten savory days in a third floor walkup, on the edge of Rue Oberkampf, on the spring side of winter. Day and night we walked the streets in our Parisian haze; night and day we raised our capacity for pleasure. This was more than just the heat of new love; destiny had persisted in this inscrutable plot. We were in our forties, and the stars had finally lined up in our favor. It was 2003, almost five months since I closed the chapter on my marriage and severed the relationship that had held my heart and had been my strength for more than a decade.
“You look amazing,” I whispered, as she crossed the room. “No. I’m amazed—to be here—with you.” She lowered her face into my eyes, and I felt the soft heat of her lips before they pressed into mine.
“I love you, Vicki Marie.” She moved her lips to my ear. “I’ve loved you forever.”
Her flawless, olive skin complemented the dark sweep of her shoulder-length hair. Her family was French and it showed in the way she had aged so beautifully, her full lips and crooked smile contrasting with just the tiniest of pleats beside her brown eyes.
With my pale skin, blonde chignon and bright green eyes, we could not have looked more different. My face was a closer mask of my age, though I still passed for younger with my trim body and dancer’s legs. I was slightly taller in my heels, but we fit perfectly, as we always had, hip to hip, poised to walk the world’s most romantic streets.
Of course we had chosen dancing that first night in Paris. Dance had been the way we began more than twenty years earlier in a neighborhood joint on the east side of Portland— the only bar in town where women went to be with women.
It was late on a Saturday night when our story first began, when Smokey Robinson’s silky tenor filled the room and I followed her onto the dance floor. We weren’t expecting the downbeat of a slow song, and I wondered if she’d decide to bail. She’d copped a low profile in our gang of ten women that night in spite of her solid shot at the pool table. I assumed she was shy, but on the dance floor she turned to face me, found my hips with her hands, and set the rhythm for our embrace. I locked my hips to her lead and placed my arms round her shoulders. It was only two to three beats before I felt it—our steps were smoother than anything I had known. I kept my eyes closed and followed the cues—the sensation was delicious; we were moving as one. Entranced, I pressed into the air that separated us and followed without touching, sensing her body as a mirror of my own. We locked into a groove, and I felt the current between us. We were fluid without effort and I was moved in a way I’d never felt before. We held on through the fade-out, rocking slowly in sync, lingering like the melody into the final note. It felt strange to stand still, and when I opened my eyes it was only her face that I saw, a dark silhouette, her long hair lightly brushing my arms.
I looked away quickly, suddenly shy myself, and turned on my heels. Back at our table I caught the curious face of my best girl, who had urged me to dance with our quiet, new friend.
“Was that fun?”
I sunk into the seat and Sarah patted my thigh. She was looking for a story, mischief in her grin.
“That was the best dance.” I didn’t want to say another thing; I didn’t want to break the spell. But language is how I learn, so I said it again, this time like it mattered. “That was the best dance. Ever.”
In the early years of the twenty-first century, Toni Rey and I were a generation older then the tentative, but gutsy women who had met in a community college carpentry class designed to promote women in the trades. That was 1981, when Ronald Reagan was president, and we were part of that first wave of gay liberation, when a surge of women emerged from the shadows and dared to be lesbians in the light of day.
All love stories have a soundtrack, and in the spring of our infatuation, Rickie Lee Jones had released ours. Like the title of her signature album, we were pirates too, plundering passion like thieves, young and helpless against the intensity of our romance. But she was not free to be with me, already committed to another woman and a mortgage and a mainstream life plan. At twenty-two, we could not have seen our futures more differently.
“We’re lesbians. We don’t have to follow their rules!” I had told her, and I meant it. I was an artist and an activist and an advocate of open relationships. She thought I was nuts, yet she was torn by the truth. She did want us both.
Toni was my first adult romance, and together we combined music, dance, and our signature fashion styles, to create nightlife adventures and sexual theater. Forget about being “out and proud”—she and I were “out and sexy.” Before Toni, I had bought into a style of feminism that slammed femininity as oppressive. With Toni I leaped to lighten up. We were the emerging lesbian urban culture, out of the closet for the first time. I could play the sexy-femme and inspire her savvy-butch.
I was discovering my style of hot, and so was she. Our desire for one another was primal, before language, and we allowed it to swell our hearts. We felt chosen. We needed one another to affirm that what we felt was real. We called it love.
We played out our affair in that lesbian bar and the gay nightclubs of Portland. However, no matter how many promises of love we exchanged, I remained the mistress, and our dates were punctuated with painfully long separations. I endured the situation like a naïve romantic, fortified with idealism and innocence. I believed love would prevail. What we shared was magic. What we shared made life worth living.
Ultimately, the triangle of mistress and wife was not sustainable for all the usual reasons, and our promise dissolved with a brutal succession of mixed messages and disappointments. It was a tough heartbreak that cost me my innocence: if you can’t trust love, what can be trusted? I learned to move on, found that wounds become scars, and eventually, I did find the miracle of love with another. Yet, I had been helplessly hijacked. There was no one else like her. More importantly, there was no one like us.
TOMORROW: CHAPTER 2
Copyright Vicki Marie Stolsen, 2014, Forever Forty-Four Publications, Publicity Rare Bird Lit, Tyson Cornell, Tyson@rarebirdlit.com, Distribution by Ingram, Available online and in bookstores in paperback, eBook, and audio formats
Last week, I launched a Kickstarter campaign to pay for translation services, so we can offer this liberating story to Spanish language readers all over the globe. When you donate online, you’ll get a copy of the book, in English or Spanish, plus there are several other fabulous rewards!