We’ll Always Have Paris
Gabriel absolutely loved the way she was leaning against him. Her head was peacefully resting against his chest and her arms wrapped around his torso underwater, as well as her legs around his waist. She had her hair on a bun, protecting the brownish strands from getting wet, her boobs only half covered by the water. Impressive, isn’t it? He thought, quietly drawing circles with the tip of his fingers on her back’s length. She smells just the same as she did sixteen years ago.
Her scent was mixed with the vapor, peach soap, cinnamon shampoo and something else, but still unmistakable. He felt her chest going up and down in a long sigh, her brownish green eyes half closed. She looked peaceful, perfectly relaxed in his arms. He wished they could stay like that forever.
“Can we sleep like that?” asked Livia, breaking the silence with a soft, lazy voice.
“You want to sleep already?” Gabriel ran his fingers through her brown hair without letting it out of the careful bun.
“I could if you’d let me.” She snuggled closer, kissing his jaw.
Gabriel thought she looked like a kitten; slyly accepting his touch while stretching her back and letting a small groan out. Once her body had separated from his, her breasts uncovered, Livia smiled. Then got up, quickly covering her naked body with a towel.
She walked around his wheelchair on her way out and blew him a kiss from the threshold and then disappeared.
Good God, this woman. She still had that power of drive him crazy, just like she had done years before. He felt attracted to her and usually couldn’t think straight for hours after their annual weekend meeting.
He decided it was time to leave the tube, so he waited for it to be emptied and then dried his body with a towel, as he didn’t want to be all slippery on the way out. He grabbed his atrophied and really light legs from under the knees and dried them as well, not minding the tingling going all the way up to his belly when he did so; as an incomplete paraplegic, Gabriel had some feeling somewhere near his manhood in his thighs, and it was very, very sensitive to touch.
From the bathtub he transferred to a chair with a towel and wrapped it around his waist, untangling his legs. Only then he transferred to his wheelchair, sighing in relief. Through the years, although he had really hated the sight of it at first, Gabriel realized that his chair was probably the thing he liked the most. He felt like it was an extension of him, it guaranteed his independency as well as his efficiency.
Livia had helped him to build that confidence. Sixteen years ago, he’d been injured for about a year. He was a lost boy in Paris, convicted that no woman would ever feel attracted to him again. He’d been a womanizer for as long as he could remember –not being with a woman, not hitting on them, feeling their dismissive look long before he could even try something… God, it killed him.
But New Year’s Eve would be different, Twenty-one year old Gabriel Hailyn had thought. He’d built the kind of confidence that only a good sip of alcohol could provide and went for it. And it had, indeed, been different.
“Gabe,” Livia called. “Do you think we could, I don’t know, make a tour?”
“It’s four in the morning, Livvy,” Gabriel said, wheeling out of the bathroom.
Livia was already dressed in shorts and tank top, brushing her hair with her legs crossed indian style. It wasn’t sexual at all, but he felt like the moment held so much intimacy, even more than sex was. For an instance, he had never allowed someone to see him changing clothes. Livia had seen it about a thousand times. They were like an old couple, except they weren’t old nor a couple — not in the biblical sense, anyways –, and they didn’t get bored.
“I know that,” she rolled her eyes, untying a hair knot. “I mean in a few hours. Before the sunrise, though. I want to walk along the Seine before it’s too crowded.”
“It’s been awhile since we did that,” Gabriel wheeled next to the bed, right next to her. “It’d be nice.”
He took the brush from her hand and started untying the knots himself. Her hair was silky, soft and brown. She started playing with her hands, looking down without meeting his eyes.
“How did you manage to make your hair such a fuss?” Gabriel laughed, struggling with a brown strand.
“Flying always messes up with my hair,” she admitted.
Livia looked up. Her brownish green eyes seemed to make her face brighter, like a lighthouse in a cold, stormy night. He could see the many light freckles across her nose, her thin lips half open, her long eyelashes. She hadn’t changed much from back when she was twenty, except that now she looked so much more mature. He had once thought he wouldn’t appreciate older women, back when he was young and fool. But Livia’s beauty had only increased across the years.
He saw in slow motion when she licked her lips, still making eye contact. Something hot grew inside his stomach and Gabriel threw the hair brush away, quickly transferred to the bed while Livia pulled his neck closer and kissed him fiercely. He inhaled her scent with a smile and dragged himself to the middle of the bed, where falling for lack of balance wasn’t an option. He kept kissing her, while she licked his earlobe, going down to his neck and clavicle, driving him insane.
Livia helped him to take her tank top off, and winced when he kissed her nipples.
They weren’t real. Not really. He knew she couldn’t quite feel them, but he also was aware that acceptance was important to her. She still had the fading scars across her breasts. They were tight and round and just perfect, but they weren’t the ones she was born with. Gabriel loved them, though. She loved them.
He could remember a few years earlier, when she found out she had 89% of chance of having breast cancer in the future and decided to have a double mastectomy in order to prevent it. He remembered flying to England to take care of their ten year old daughter while she recovered, but ending up taking care of Livia instead. She had been crushed back then, feeling like her femininity had been taken away, unattracted to her own body.
Like she had helped him earlier when they met, he helped her back. That was what their annual meeting in Paris was about. It was important.
He kept kissing down her breasts, until reached her belly button, sliding the shorts and laced panties to her knees. She stroked his hair when he kissed her inner thighs, drawing small circles in her waist with the tip of his fingers. She was wet.
There was nothing sexier than her moans when she came several times in a row. They were both sweaty.
“My turn,” she whispered.
Livia held his skinny thighs open while tickling the place where he could feel something while teasing with her mouth all the way up to his chest. She licked next to his nipples, but didn’t touch it. Hot, so hot. She was driving him crazy with that teasing. Gabriel supported his weight with an elbow, pulling her closer with the other arm, then she finally worked wonders with her own tongue in his nipples while he moaned.
Oh, my. She was really good. He was really good. They were really good.
The sun was just rising when they left. The city already smelled of croissants and cinnamon. Thankfully enough people were lazy in the mornings, so it felt like they had Paris all for themselves. A breeze kissed their skin, brushing Livia’s scarf on his face. He laughed.
“This is so beautiful,” she sighed deeply.
He hadn’t much to say, except beholding her hips swinging next to him. Beautiful indeed.
“I want breakfast. There’s a bistro across the street,” Livia gesticulated. “And it smells godly.”
Gabriel followed her look. Across the street there was something that reminded him of a coffee shop, except a lot more french. It was already open, and he’d bet by the sweet smell that everything would be delicious and fresh out of the oven.
“C’mon, then. I don’t want to make my girl starve.”
With a smile, she jumped the curb while he made a quick wheelie. Livia walked alongside him. The door inside wasn’t nearly wide enough, and with an annoyed sigh Gabriel just shook his head as she shot him an apologetic look. He spotted a table outside and moved a chair out of the way before finally parking.
“Bonjour,” he heard Livia greeting inside the shop. He always thought that her voice in french sounded like lovely ringing bells, like music to his ears.
“Bonjour, madame,” the attendant girl smiled back.
A few moments later, Livia sat in front of him with breakfast.
“It’s really good,” she stated once she tasted the cookie.
“I should think so,” Gabriel snorted. “You paid for a banquet.”
She shrugged, “This is Paris, Gabriel. Things are painfully expensive.”
He rolled his eyes, leaning his body closer to her and almost managing to get his juice spilled.
“That’s not what bothers me, Livvy.”
“What bothers you then, darling?”
“The fact that you paid for the food.”
“It’s not like we’re dating,” Livia said but her eyes were sad. “And it was my idea to eat here, it’s only natural…”
“We act like we’re just friends hanging out,” he interrupted.
He was silent for a moment, just the quiet sound of the cold wind blowing around them, messing her brown hair, making the the tip of her nose red. Livia wasn’t wearing any makeup, and he could notice the freckles around her cheeks and nose. He loved the way her red scarf was being almost dragged by the wind, the way her gloved hands seeked for heat around the mug.
Her lips were half open, and so were his. He wished he could grab them gently between his teeth and kiss her once more until her mouth was red and swollen, until his mouth was red and swollen. He wished he could warm her hands with his own and tuck her hair behind her ear, where he’d whisper things that would make her cheeks bright pink.
But they were just friends hanging out.
“Our problem, Gabriel… Is that we’re just two friends hanging out.”
“I asked you to marry me,” a long time ago. And you said no.
She suddenly went stiff.
“We were twenty one and the only thing I knew about you was your last name and that you broke your back in a skydiving accident.”
“We’ve grown up, but I’m still Livvy to you. Livvy, the woman who gave birth to your only child, Livvy the law student. Livvy who loves ice cream.”
“You do love ice cream, though.”
She offered him a sad smile.
“I did sixteen years ago. Don’t you see we’ve been living in that New Year’s Eve for the past sixteen years? I look at you and I see twenty one year old Gabriel, and you see twenty one year old Livvy. We’re versions of our younger selves when we’re around each other. And that’s nice, but it wears off.”
He could only look inside her eyes. She was right. She was fucking right, but he wouldn’t say so.
“I like you,” as in I love you.
“I like you too,” she looked down, suddenly so very interested in her drink. Livia grabbed his hand and entwined their fingers. “But I think we work better this way.”
“You just said it wears off.”
“It’s just a night per year, Gabriel,” Livia smiled. “It can’t hurt.”
When the night fell, they watched the fireworks together like the first time they did it. Livia sat on his lap and laid her head against his shoulder while he pulled her body closer in a warm hug.
They kissed and laughed when the lights first illuminated the sky and bathed their faces in different colors, and realized they’d always have Paris.