City of Love
Beneath her, the city sparkled. Livia had her forehead against the small window, watching the lights with wonderment in her sea-green eyes. She loved arriving at destinations at night, when the cities seemed so full of life. Next to her, occupying half of Livia’s armrest, a woman slept soundly. Well, she’s lovely asleep, isn’t she? At least she’s not talking.
Livia had soon realized she wouldn’t have a peaceful flight; the woman next to her, — Paula Smith but-you-can-call-me Paullie — kept making tons of questions, clearly not aware of Livia’s unwillingness to talk, and as soon as she stopped to breathe between sentences, Livia pretended to be sleeping for thirty minutes straight until the woman herself fell asleep. She sleeps very well.
She left the plane, her legs wobbly and dormant, barely managing to balance herself on those black stilettos. She retrieved her luggage and called a cab, quickly sliding inside it and naming her destination to the driver.
Paris never ceased to amaze her, especially at night. It should be fun, she thought as she left the cab.
People visited Paris during their honeymoon, but Livia had first visited it soon after she lost her lover. Surprisingly enough, the beautiful arcades and shining lights had been just the perfect place for mourning. And forgetting. And moving on.
She closed her eyes as the cab disappeared behind her and inhaled the cold parisian breeze, crossing her arms in front of her breasts for both comfort and warmth. Comfort, mostly.
It can’t be just the same, can it? Livia thought, gazing at the illuminated street.
Paris never changed, she ought to know. It was still the City of Love, lovers and loved ones. Of the hopelessly in love. Why not the mourners? Mourning for something good, something lost. Love. Passion. Romance. But Paris… Paris had this magical power of taking those feelings out of a children’s book, or an old journal’s page, even if for just a night.
That’s all she ever asked, anyways. From the first night, fifteen years ago, when she first gave herself to Gabriel. A single night.
It had become so much more, though.
The first time she saw Gabriel, it was just good ol’ flirting; a boy and a girl looking forward to hold someone in a cold Paris night during the 21st century’s first hours. He’d charmed her, she’d seduced him. Soon enough, they were lost in each other’s arms. It had been a magical night. A single, perfect night.
The next morning, Livia Blackwell had taken the plane before he could wake up. She hadn’t wanted to ruin it with the morning talk. They had had something good for a night, but that was it. She went back to England and never looked back.
Except that she did. Three months later when Livia, the brilliant law student, found out about her pregnancy through a pharmacy test. Which was impossible, wasn’t it? He had said they didn’t need to use protection, but she did it anyways. And against all the odds, there she was, bearing a child of her own with a man she had seen only once, during a magical weekend in Paris.
Sixteen years later and Paris was still magical.
Once she did her check in, hesitantly, Livia texted him. Already here. Where are you?
She felt like a teenager, a thirty-six year old teenager, too old for those butterflies inside her stomach. For God’s sake, she was a grown up woman and definitely not a girl. Not anymore, anyways. And yet… yet, she’d feel just like that. Young, reckless. Stupid. A girl waiting for her first boyfriend.
But he wasn’t a boyfriend either, he had never been. He was a grown up man, with issues of his own and a life which they only shared through their beloved daughter Phillippa. And a New Year’s Eve every year.
Livia shifted from one foot to another, looking for his black hair among the crowd. The small golden angel pendant was already warm against the palm of her hand, as she was holding it tightly in her anxiousness. Oh, God. Where’s he?
His last message said he was taking the plane. That was it. She almost texted Philly to ask her to call her dad, but that would be a coward’s decision. If she wished to reach Gabriel, she’d call him herself, not hide behind her daughter’s excuses.
“Blue agrees with you.”
That voice still sent shivers down her spine.
She turned to face him.
“You already told me so,” said Livia, dropping her pendant and burying her hands inside the blue jacket’s pockets.
“I’m surprised you still remember,” his face lit up with a smile. “Hello, Livvy.”
Livvy was her college name, from when she was young and reckless enough to have a child with a stranger. He’s the only one who still sees me as that law student who naively fell for his charms.
“Hello,” she couldn’t help but smile too. “How was your flight?”
He scratched the back of his neck.
“A pain in the ass, but that’s not new,” his american accent was so pleasant that she could hear him talking for hours. “I think there’s something wrong with this wheel, though.”
She was so distracted by his looks that she almost missed the sentence. He was carrying a bag on his lap, his big and calloused hands gripping the pushing rims almost as tightly as she had been gripping her angel pendant moments before.
What Livia liked the most was his back, exposed by the low backrest, especially when he was shirtless, and how perfectly those muscles had adapted to make up for his legs, quietly resting on the single footrest. Somehow, pretty much like the girl she had been during a night sixteen years ago, she still felt those damn butterflies inside her stomach, tickling everything from her rib cage to her hip bones. Lower, even.
He looked directly into her eyes. “Better safe than sorry, d’accord?”
He said the last word with the american accent she had learned to love.
“D’accord.” Livia agreed, using the proper pronunciation.
Gabriel adjusted his black riding gloves.
“Looking forward to see you,” she admitted. “I’d say she loves holidays with her daddy, but that would make you even more cocky than you already are.”
“I’m her favorite parent, of course she likes it,” Gabriel shrugged, looking up at her again.
“I beg to differ. I took her to watch every Harry Potter movie.”
He raised an eyebrow.
“You took her or brought her along with you to watch it?”
Livia crossed her arms.
“Is there a difference?”
Gabriel chuckled, wheeling back and then forward, rolling past her like an easy obstacle. She followed, barely keeping pace with him. He was quick in that kind of floor, sliding so fast that it was difficult to stop, and too fast for her own sake; Livia had to almost run so they’d walk side by side. And she was a thirty six year old woman whose only physical activity in years was summed up in book lifting. Have mercy.
“You’re getting old, Livvy.” He said once they stopped by the elevator.
Still a little breathless, she scowled at him, a hand around the little golden angel close to her chest. “Such a tact with women, Gabriel. I wonder why you haven’t married yet.”
“For the exact same reason as you haven’t, my love.” He winked.
Love, that was it. Love.
Certainly not lack of appearance, she thought. He was still attractive, after all those years; his thick black hair was still black and his eyes were still vivid, youthful blue. Gabriel looked older though, in a sexy kind of way, sexier than he once had been; he looked wiser, knowing, appealing. Those crow’s feet in the corner of his eyes that lit up his whole face when he smiled only added to it. So it is true, she thought, men get more attractive as they age.
The elevator arrived and she instinctively gave a step out of the way so he’d roll inside it easily before walking inside herself.
“Which floor, madame Blackwell?” He asked teasingly, positioning his chair near the buttons.
“Dix huit, s’il vous plaît,” she answered. Eighteenth floor. He pressed it and turned to face her once again. “Merci.”
“You’re so cute when you speak french,” said Gabriel, looking up at her, his long lashes shadowing his blue eyes. Livia blushed lightly.
“And when I don’t?”
“Then you’re just a boring, ordinary English woman”.
She mockingly slapped his shoulder, bringing a lopsided smirk to his lips. He had amazing lips. They work wonders, Livia felt a giggle coming up her chest and masked it with cough, but she couldn’t stop smiling. He looked at her again, his eyes flickering with something she couldn’t quite catch. Amusement? Not that. Something else.
He then held her left wrist.
“Are we done?”
“Done with what?” Livia asked, confused.
“With whatever we do every time we meet?”
She frowned, then retreated the hand she was using to tickle his neck.
“I…” She was already holding the golden pendant, as though she had been burnt by his skin. Looking down, the feeling of betrayal growing inside her chest.
“Good God, not that, Livvy,” he chuckled lightly, rolling his head back to look at her. “I mean the old-couple teasing thing.”
She discretely licked her lips, letting go of the little golden pendant, shaped as a little praying angel. She swallowed hard, still uncertain.
“I guess so.”
He smiled widely.
His hand ran through Livia’s elbow and pulled her with a single practiced gesture. She lost her already precarious balance and found herself leveled with him, sitting across his bony lap. For a second, she just stared at him, her heart running a marathon inside her chest. Livia then reached for his glasses and took them off, closing the distance between their lips with a kiss.
Gabriel’s hand began caressing her waist beneath the several layers of clothing, and the already present butterflies inside her stomach seemed to be even more agitated. Instinctively, Livia tangled her arms around his neck and deepened it in the kind of kiss she had only once a year.
They were making out for what felt like hours before the doors opened again. Livia licked her red, swollen lips and smiled, leaving Gabriel’s lap with a mischievous grin. She stepped back and left, leading the way to their room. Surprisingly, his belongings were already there.
“I have to see what’s wrong with my left wheel,” Gabriel complained once she locked the door behind them.
This is what a proper foreplay feels like, suckers. Livia thought excitedly, kicking her uncomfortable black stilettos and feeling the cold floor beneath her bare feet, protected only by the pantyhose. Gabriel transferred to a wooden table and began analyzing the mechanisms of his chair. She leaned against the door and watched his careful work.
Suddenly, like a wave of odd sensations, everything had gone too tight; her button down shirt, the pants, even the careless bun. Everything felt uncomfortable, tight, hot.
Immediately, Livia took all of her shirts off at once, making Gabriel look, eyes widened and tongue nearly hanging out.
“I thought I was going to…”
She was in the middle of the process of taking her pants off.
“Oh, don’t mind me.”
He raised an inquisitive brow.
“Kind of impossible with that gorgeous ass dancing in front of me, don’t you think?” He said making her giggle and returned his attention to the wheel issue.
She supposed she was meant to be flattered with that; she did have a gorgeous ass, thank you very much. And she was wearing a lingerie meant for seeing, not one of her comfortable granny panties. She liked to show him her body, to feel the admiration and arousal emanating from him mixing with the amazing feeling of desire.
In that moment, with him sitting on the wooden table, his legs hanging over the edge without the stability of a footrest beneath his feet, the disassembled parts of his wheelchair next to him, working on the tire, the muscles of his arms and chest evident as he worked, some strands of black hair falling in front of his eyes, he looked hot. His lips were pursed, his eyes burning in concentration… Livia felt a different kind of arousal taking over her body.
She had already taken everything off, except for the panties and the bra. Walking slowly towards him, Livia approached from behind, hugging his chest, resting her chin on his shoulder and brushing her lips against his hot skin teasingly.
“Don’t you want to do that later?” She asked.
“If I don’t resist you now, I won’t ever finish this”.
She kissed his clavicle.
“Are you sure?”
He turned his head, kissing her lips.
“Yes.” But he didn’t look like he wanted to let her go either.
Livia chuckled, gathering her clothes around the floor and folding them perfectly, keeping them inside the dirty clothes bag, and walked inside the bathroom, leaving the door open in silent invitation.
Which she knew, without a doubt, he would take.