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Melanie Ch. 02

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Author’s note: I am so indebted to my sweet muse and editor.

Many thanks to all of you who have told me you enjoy Chapter 1, and other stories. Your comments, public and private, supportive or critical (or both), really do help me hone my skills. I will try to respond to everyone who leaves me a contact address.

New readers might find it best to start with Melanie: Chapter 1.


Sunshine teased his eyelids apart long before the alarm rang. He had in his turmoil forgotten to draw the curtains the previous night, and the morning brightness streamed into the east-facing room.

He lay for a while, listening to the sweet melody of a songthrush, and reflecting on the events of the evening. Knew without doubt that he was falling heavily for the beautiful and intriguing woman who lay, still fast asleep, on the narrow bed above him. Sat up and leaned over to watch her sleeping face, a soft mask of relaxation as she recovered from her long journey.

He knew that she would be confused when she woke: her first morning on a far continent, still jetlagged, and with no memory of how she came to be lying in his bed, near-naked. She would surely be embarrassed, possibly even concerned at what might have happened to her.

He thought carefully. He wanted her wakening to be as pleasant and unstressful as possible. Realised that the last thing she needed was to find him naked in the room with her.

So he rose and donned a shirt and underpants. He paused before going to shower, realised that if she did wake before he was ready, she would be alarmed to find she couldn’t move from the bed as she was near-naked. He spread his ancient silk dressing-gown on the foot of the bed for her.

Then he padded to the tiny ensuite cubicle to shower. The morning was so wonderful, and he was so happy, that he couldn’t resist singing softly to himself in the shower.

His ablutions were nearly complete when his song was interrupted by a sound at the door. It opened a crack and Melanie’s sweet Australian voice drifted through the noise of the spraying water, querulous: Sandy?

– Good morning Melanie. I do hope you slept well?

There was a giggle: Yeah, I did thank you Sandy. But may I enquire precisely who undressed me and put me to bed?

He stuck his wet head round the shower-cabinet and found an impish pair of brown eyes twinkling at him from the door, a grin broadening around them.

– Um, I … I have to own up lassie. You fell asleep — as I was reading to you actually — and I … err, I didn’t want you uncomfortable, and your lovely dress all crumpled. He was immensely relieved that she didn’t seem at all angry.

– Well since you’ve already seen me in a condition of some intimacy, would you mind shutting that curtain and not looking for a minute, whilst a girl has a pee? I’m desperate, I need the toilet NOW.

He would have suggested she wait till he was out of the shower, but she’d already swished into the tiny space in his gown and was lowering herself onto the toilet. He drew the curtain and modestly turned to face the wall. But the sounds of her release, and the knowledge that she was performing such an intimate and private act just inches from him, had their natural effect on his body.

The toilet flushed and he heard her wash her hands. Thank you Sandy! and the door clicked shut.

He stepped from the shower, dried, and shaved. Thankfully his arousal had abated a bit by the time he was finished, and had wiped the shower down in case she wanted to use it. He slipped on underpants and shirt, emerged into the room. She was standing on the balcony, and the morning breeze spread her hair in a tracery of black against the sun.

– Sorry Melanie. He blushed. I … um … I thought you wouldn’t be awake until I dressed properly. Let me just grab my suit, and then the shower-room’ll be free for you. She turned and her eyes retained their twinkle, raking his partially-clothed condition.

– Go and dress then Sandy, and while you’re doing that I’ll slip into my clothes and head off to my own room to get ready for the day. She moved into the room and stepped up to him as he stood, hair dripping from the shower. Kissed him lightly on the cheek.

– And thank you for looking after me last night, Sandy. And putting me to bed like a gentleman. She stepped back. He scented her sleep-sweat. Now go and dress. See you at breakfast in about an hour?

He moved into the shower with his suit and presently she sang a goodbye and the door clicked shut. He was half into his suit, but he wasn’t sure anymore what he was doing. Was uncertain whether the suit was the best thing to wear.

He made himself tea, half-dressed, and stood on the balcony reflecting. He really couldn’t make up his mind how formally to dress now, and it was hard to focus as fragments of Melanie kept drifting through his memory. Wee looks, gestures, intonations…….her voice and the words of her extraordinary poem. He sipped the Darjeeling and listened to Paris wakening around him.


Melanie sat cebeci escort at a window table as he entered the dining-room, reading-glasses peering into Le Figaro. Simple white blouse and loose light skirt, sensible Paris dress. He was glad he’d forsaken his suit for tie-less shirt and slacks.

– Good morning madame, would you mind if I share your table?

She glanced up: Why not at all sir. A lady can get lonely amongst strangers over breakfast. They both laughed softly, lightening the morning together.

As they ate they discussed the festival programme; which readings seemed the most interesting. Her focus was on poetry and his on prose, but they had a common list by the end of the meal.

The programme didn’t begin till ten that first morning. When they had eaten they took tea and sat on a terrace, as the dining room was noisily cleared behind them.

She glanced in his face: Umm…Sandy? His brow cocked. I … I really must thank you for helping me to bed last night. It was so sweet and gentlemanly of you. I slept so well. I really do appreciate it. A deep smile, slight flush.

He blushed, slightly uncomfortable, and his laugh was a wee artifice. I — he blushed deeper — there, err, there wasn’t really much else I could’ve done. Other than leave you dressed. Maybe I shouldn’t have. Undressed you. I did have another couple of stiff whiskies before I decided to. It wasn’t so hard. He looked up, finally able to smile at her.

– I woke, you know, when you were taking my dress off. It was Melanie who blushed deeply now. How you managed I don’t know. You must have realised that I was … a bit aroused? And I heard you afterwards, on the balcony. She giggled.

He wished he wasn’t there. Didn’t know where to look: I … I umm, I do apologise. If I’d thought for a second you were awake …

… you might have been tempted to join me? She smiled, face flushed. I had to … after I knew you were asleep. Her eyes fell to the table, suddenly examining the cups. Regretted her impetuous words now.

He leaned and touched her hair, a little stroke. Then touched the back of her hand as it lay on the table, feathered the length of her fingers methodically. Heaved a deep sigh.

– Well. At least we both know where we stand lassie! He wondered where he’d found the courage to say that.

There was an edge of unease between them after their exchange, a few minutes of awkward silence. Then they looked up at each other simultaneously, and burst out laughing.

– I have never spoken to anyone like that in my life before Sandy.

He rose and drew her up: And neither have I, sweet woman. Hesitantly, their lips met.


He was more nervous than he could ever remember as people began to enter the room. Not many, he thought, but enough. There were about twenty there by the time a distant clock struck eleven. Melanie entered at the rear of the room, slightly pink, as the convenor stood to introduce Sandy in French, then flawless English.

He rose and thanked the woman for her kind remarks, in both languages. Said a few stumbling words of appreciation to the organisers for their invitation. A hush fell as he began reading.

He sat down to a smattering of applause. Polite, he thought, not enthusiastic. But all he felt was relief as he sat, wiping his brow.

Just a few questions at first, his use of vocabulary, what did he think of Kelman and others who often wrote in phonetic dialect. As the discussion became livelier, he was surprised at how knowledgeable several were about modern Scots literature. Began to enjoy himself as he opened up, expounded a bit. Only Melanie made direct and positive comments about his reading, said she had enjoyed it.

Then a tall bearded man, who introduced himself as a Norwegian professor of English, stood. And methodically, clinically, took the chapter to pieces, in the context of the whole novel. Nobody else had given any sign of having read it. Sandy was hurt at first, but began to hear what the man was saying. The Norwegian closed by saying dryly that it wasn’t a bad first novel.

Few comments followed. The convenor rose to end the session, and folk began to drift out of the room. The Norwegian came up to shake his hand with a smile, said he knew a first reading was hard. Melanie hovered behind as a handful of others spoke briefly to Sandy.

Then a striking familiar face said thank you, she’d enjoyed the reading, would have to read the novel in full. Moved away again. Margaret Atwood! He stared after the Canadian, too stunned and exhausted to give her a signed copy from the wee stack on the table.

– Well, Sandy! You hardly need my praise after that, now do you? Melanie’s smile glowed as she hugged him warmly, kissed his ear: You were wonderful. Well done! And she picked up a book, scurried after the famous author, said a few words to her.

His arm went round Melanie as they moved from the now empty room.

– Now Sandy, after all that excitement, I need your help. Please? He stopped and turned to her, cebeci escort bayan kissed her brow.

– Absolutely anything Melanie. How can I help? He was just coming back to earth after one of the most intense experiences of his life. He breathed her subtle scent as he looked in her eyes. Knew that he wanted her as he had never wanted anyone.

– I really need your help in deciding what to read this afternoon. Come up to my room with me Sandy?


She was undecided about which of two poems to include in her set, and directed him to sit whilst she read. He shut his eyes and her confident voice washed over him. Asked her to read them again.

Then he took the book from her and read himself. The distinctions became somehow clearer as he saw the words on the page. She looked on, a touch nervous perhaps, but otherwise unreadable.

Finally he said: Maybe the second one has the edge? There is just the hint of an unwanted ambiguity here — he read a few lines from the first — which weakens it?

She pondered: D’you know, I’ve never seen that before, but you’re right. Imagine learning something new about my own poem from you! She kissed the top of his head — the bald spot, he thought ruefully.

– Thank you Sandy, I feel quite ready to face my critics now. But I think I’ll skip lunch and maybe see if I can sleep for an hour or two before I read. D’you mind? Um … and would you be a sweetie and knock hard on my door for me at the coffee-break at three-thirty? Just in case I don’t wake in time?

– He bent to kiss her smiling face: Happy to oblige lass. I’ll see you then. But her lips opened to his and the kiss deepened as their arms wound round each other. Her breath quickened as his fingers stroked her back and their bodies pressed together. She had to feel his erection, he thought, but somehow it didn’t matter. Her hands moved to his bum, drew him hard against her, and his fingers moved tentatively to one small firm breast, felt the nipple engorge under the flimsy bra.

They were panting hard as they finally drew apart.

– I want you Melanie. It was out before he knew he’d said it.

She smiled. Her finger brushed his erection. I know. And I’m afraid — she looked suddenly shy now, self-confidence evaporated — that I want you too. But. You must know that it’s just not in my character — she kissed his cheek, still breathing deeply — to open my legs for the first sexy man I meet at an event. Her eyes dropped and she flushed. Sorry.

He drew back. She was happily married. He shouldn’t have expected any other response.

– That’s fine, lass, he whispered, head bowed. I do understand. He looked up at her. And I really don’t spend my life wandering round the place, expecting sex at every opportunity. Especially not from beautiful poets. He smiled. And you do know that, on my part at least, there is more than sex involved? I’m beginning to care for you, I’m afraid.

– That’s precisely the problem Sandy. I know there’s more than sex involved. If I’d hadn’t known that, I’d have pulled your face into my pussy as you undressed me last night. I was very tempted. I was so aroused. She smiled wanly at him.

He gasped. Her openness, and her trust, melted him. His head, his entire being, was a maelstrom of emotion. He drew back from her, nervous at the power of what was happening between them.

– Melanie, I’m so grateful for your directness. But maybe its time I left you to rest for a while? His stomach rumbled.

– Maybe it is, Sandy. And I know that you at least need your lunch. Off you go! And please don’t forget to knock me up later.

They both exploded in laughter at the double-entendre.

He went to eat alone, but ended sharing a table with a middle-aged couple from the US, Baltimore. They were friendly and chatty, and he enjoyed their company. Emily was a sweet quite plump woman who was here for the festival, an aspiring writer currently studying on a Creative Writing course. Her husband Jake was quieter, and seemed to be in Paris to accompany his wife, rather than from any burning personal interest in literature. The time passed pleasantly and they parted friends.

There was half-an-hour before the next event on Sandy’s list and he wandered out of the campus to buy a few bottles of Evian for his room. He’d forgotten how undrinkable Paris tap-water was. And he was glad to be clear of the place for a while: such events have their own claustrophobia.

He returned for a session by a Malaysian writer in whom he was interested. Sat fascinated by the reading, and made a couple of contributions to the discussion. But his mind was only half-there. The other half was with his delicious Australian companion, drifting back through things they had exchanged … He was thinking of her still as he rode the lift to her floor.

She smiled as she opened the door to him: Thanks for remembering, but as you can see I managed to get myself organised.

She had indeed. Unlike the morning, she had applied makeup. He didn’t normally care escort cebeci for it, preferred to see people the way they were, but on her the subtle effects were stunning, and he told her so.

– Normally I don’t bother. I’m comfortable with how I look. But for something like this, when I’m very much on display … I’m not sure what it is. Maybe a bit of warpaint helps to protect me? But Sandy?

– Aye?

– I’m a jumble of nerves. I’ve never exposed myself in public as I’m about to. Would you mind if I had just the tiniest sip of your whisky before I read?

He laughed, drew her to him for a moment. Of course sweet woman. Please be my guest.

The room held only a handful of people when they entered at four on the dot. She hadn’t wanted to be there waiting as it filled — or perhaps didn’t fill. The convenor of the reading — the Norwegian professor — shook her hand warmly, nodded at Sandy. He explained that poetry readings normally attracted fewer folk than prose, and that her attendance was respectable. Melanie’s unease was palpable.


She started to read, her clear voice filling the room. She read well, and Sandy felt the attention she commanded. She spoke briefly between each poem, and ended the set with the one which had transfixed him the previous evening.

The wee gathering applauded with enthusiasm and she sat, flushed, surprise and relief on her drawn face. As the applause registered, a smile crept over her.

Sandy was prepared to intervene in her support, but he didn’t have to. Enthusiastic comments and questions filled the small room, and Melanie’s face flushed deeply. He was so glad for her, felt privileged to be a small part of her day. As the pace of contributions slowed, he said a few words, and there was laughter for the first time during the reading. Her face glowed. The Norwegian said a few kind words to close the gathering, A queue formed to buy her book, clutching Euros.

As the last folk left he approached her. She looked drained, slumped in her seat, eyes shut. He stroked her fine hair and she looked up at him. Tears were welling and Sandy crouched beside her, licked them from the corners of her eyes.

He drew back a little: Well my sweet poet? Do you know how you touched them? Just about every person in the room. At one point lass, there was hardly a dry eye. Our stern Norwegian friend apart. But mine included.

She looked at him through her tears, and he saw a pain he didn’t understand.

– Sandy, I didn’t see them, was barely aware of them. I felt so … totally exposed. As if I was naked in front of them. No, that’s not right. There was a glimmer of laughter behind the tears. I might even have enjoyed that. No — she giggled now — that’s not right either, might have enjoyed being naked compared to what I did feel. I … I really don’t know what I’m trying to say.

She crumpled and his arms went round her, her head falling listless on his shoulder as the sobs wracked her. He crouched beside her for a long time, stroking her hair.

Gradually the sobs subsided and he drew her up. She finally raised her eyes, looked tremulously in his. He stood back, still holding her firmly under her arms.

– I think we need a wee walk Melanie?


The cab dropped them on L’Isle de la Citée and he handed her out of it. Her eyes lifted to the Gothic splendour of Notre Dame and she turned to him, smiling. She hadn’t spoken a word as she huddled in the corner of the taxi, as far from him as she could be in the confined space.

He led her onto the bridge and she stared at the murky water of the Seine swirling below them. After some minutes he pulled her from her reverie and kissed her eyes.

She blinked at his unexpected touch and stroked his arm: Can we go inside now Sandy? she whispered.

The hushed gloom of the ancient church enveloped them, and Melanie realised that this must have been one of the oldest buildings she had ever entered. Their footfalls echoed on the flagstones through the hushed tones of other visitors and worshippers. They breathed the slightly damp muskiness unique to old churches as their eyes surveyed the stone engineering of the building.

Then they were at the front of the nave. They must have raised their eyes at the same time to the iridescent splendour of the huge rose window glowing behind the altar, for they gasped together and she turned to him.

– Sandy, what a lovely idea to bring me here. I needed to get out of my head. And nobody, not even me, could remain in their own skull in here! He smiled and stroked a wisp of hair from her face, glad to see her back in the world again.

By the time they left the church she was nearly herself, chattering and quipping with him. They wandered the quais of the tiny stone-ramparted island, watching pleasure-boats and barges churn through the turgid water. Then he led her up a flight of stairs and they were in a tree-lined square, overhung by buildings on two sides. The air was alive with bird-calls.

Marché des Oiseaux, he whispered, and they wandered between stalls of cages full of tiny fluttering birds. Colours sparkled and song floated wherever she looked. It was very pretty, but it was cruel too. She knew they didn’t belong here. But the colour and sound entranced her. She took his arm. They had hardly touched since her reading.

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