It is true that Frank Sollini noticed her as soon as she entered into the room. She was blonde, solid, and tall, with the kind of beauty that claims seduction. He thought there was something awkward about her. It was impossible that any human being could feel comfortable wearing her tight clothes. She walked around the party holding her drink as if at any moment, tired of holding it, she would let it fall. Perhaps that sort of clumsiness was due to her high heels. However she walked very straight, like a dancer or a woman who exercises a lot. Or simply like those women who, undressing in front of a mirror, comment to themselves "Oh, I have nice breasts."
When Isabelle Deviosin was introduced to him, more than noticing her French accent when she said "Nice to meet you," he perceived that air of near sighted people without glasses or contact lenses, as if she were in a constant state of loss.
Frank Sollini had never like French women. He found them too concerned with their looks trying to look unconcerned. Also too hysterical, but with that spirit of contradiction which didn't allow them to accept it. Of course, he hadn't met so many as to give his observations the status of statistics, but those he had met shared those traits.
In the mirror just in front of him, he reassured himself with his own image. He was a handsome man, a successful broker, a coveted bachelor, a six figures prize who liked to score high in short and intense romantic relationships. Women in love were always exciting when they still wanted to please and not to make men feel guilty. Why was he looking at Isabelle Devoisin so intensely? He usually avoided eye contact with women who didn't interest him. She was too old for his taste. Meanwhile, she looked around as people look in parties, searching for the fun that is avoiding them. And suddenly she winked at him. But as soon as it happened he immediately started doubting it had indeed happened. Perhaps she had a nervous tic, and winked without excusing herself. Probably she hadn't winked at him. If not, she would've waited for his reaction.
Talking to a mildly interested acquaintance about how all dormant conflicts were doomed to explode, he forgot about Isabelle Devoisin, and as he had just forgotten her, she came back, grabbed his arm, and said, "Cheri, let's go home."
Without saying a word, without any urge of saying any word, he followed her. He wouldn't have seduced her, but if she was the seducer, he was ready.
She held a cab, gave her address, and started talking no end as if he were her husband. It took him a while to understand that, but she called him Peter, asked him at what time he had told the babysitter they were coming back, and if he had the keys. He looked at her unable to say a word. And if that woman was crazy?
"There was this man quite handsome," she said, "a broker, and I don't like brokers, and he was such a bore. You know the kind that makes girls go crazy to the point that they need instructions for dating, afraid as they are of their own mistakes. How terrible! Before dating a man like that, I'd rather become a nun."
Then she started talking about people in the party, but in a very gossipy way that would've ashamed anybody trying to make a good impression on a stranger. For example, the writer who was seducing the brunette with intense eyes, while the pregnant wife was staring at his back.
In a first date he would have found Isabelle Devoisin unbearable, but he was sort of hypnotized by the weird situation: a woman taking him home without him even saying a word as if he were her husband of many years. One things was to take the wrong jacket, and another to take the wrong husband. And he also wondered who the broker was? Was he that broker? The strangeness of all the questions in his mind made him decide to avoid talking. He would stay mute and watch things unravel.
"So you have decided to be the silent man, I don't know why, we didn't have any fight. When was the last time you were silent, and how long it lasted?"
She stopped talking as if it were her turn now to be silent, tapped his hand friendly, and watched through the window. Here he was, playing the husband, he, a man in his thirties who never dated any woman more than six months because he was terrified of knowing them too well, or terrified of losing the freedom to reinvent himself all along.
"Ah," she said, turning suddenly toward him, "I noticed you looked at me with lusty eyes, does it mean that. . ." and she made a gesture, a perfect symbol of sexual penetration. He didn't answer. He was becoming afraid that his voice would break the enchantment. Frank Sollini couldn't believe his luck. He was going to have sex with a woman without even having to talk to her, without going around all the poses, the lies of seduction, without giving or asking anything in exchange, and best of all: without afterwards. Once the false husband had complied with his marital duties, he would leave without even a good-night as if he were going to brush his teeth.
She approached her lips to his, ready to kiss him, but at the last minute she changed her mind attending other urgent thoughts, and started watching through the window again.
In the elevator, while looking at her Vuitton bag, she commented with a yawn: "When I look at it, I get so bored that I feel like sleeping or getting down with a cold." A soon as she entered her home, she kicked her shoes off and complained about those tight clothes that forced her to act like her vamp twin sister, and started undressing in the same non sexual way as he had seen other women dressing after making love.
No husband would enter his own home and look at it as if it were for the first time. Or for that matter look at his wife as if it were for the first time.
Then a very young and pretty girl appeared, the babysitter, who said she was in a rush and left without even looking at them, perhaps embarrassed by catching Isabelle Devoisin taking her clothes off. When she passed near by, she looked at him a little confused, but not much, the kind of confusion one can have when seeing a man who has cut his hair from long to short.
When the sitter left, Isabelle Devoisin, now in black underwear, asked him with a surprised voice, "Why are you looking at me like that? Haven't you seen my breasts before?" and laughing she put her bra down and showed them to him. For sure he had seen nicer an younger breasts.
Walking in her underwear, she disappeared behind a door. It was impossible for Frank Sollini not to compare the level of relationship he obtained in his six-months dates, with the familiar, friendly, and intimate on he was having with a complete stranger. Did he understand what it meant? He was going to sleep with his wife of how many years? Meanwhile, he was opening doors, looking for the closet, or the bathroom, or the room where he could find a pajama. Surprisingly, he was also avoiding to look to carefully at things, afraid to discover he was more phobic to intimacy than what he had thought. Why instead of looking for a pajama, was he not saying to her "Look, there is a terrible misunderstanding here. You believe I am your husband but I am not. If I played the role for a while, it was because I liked the idea to sleep with you, but now it is going a little too far, don't you think?" But instead of saying that he kept on looking for a pajama. Then he thought that perhaps the husband used to sleep with a T-shirt. He was excited by the idea of playing that role and terrified by the delusion it meant. Successful and all, he was a decent man. Somewhere, in a code written over invisible stone, he knew that what he was doing was incomparably deceitful. But it was already too late: he wanted her, and as many who sin without remorse -- at least while they are sinning -- he discarded the right way of reasoning.
On a desk he saw mail directed to Peter O'Connor. That was why Isabelle had kept talking in English. There was no Monsieur Devoisin, and he, Frank Sollini, was looking for Peter O'Connor's pajama. But instead he found "their" room, and thought that for one night, he could sleep with boxers. And then he wondered what kind of boxers Peter O'Connor wore, or perhaps he wore briefs as men who wanted to have their balls cupped. Better to wait naked with the posture of a husband ready to fall asleep, but on which side of the bed. Left, right? He had read somewhere that men usually sleep on the side nearest to the exit door.
Just in case, he turned the lights off. When he covered himself with the sheet, he was relieved by its clean smell. The apartment was a little messy, and he was glad not to have found a dirty underwear or some used condom hanging from an indoor plant. He was now a father and had no idea what his children looked like, or how maybe had. Isabelle entered into the room, also naked, but he couldn't look at her under the corridor light because she turned it off.
She was already at his side, her warm and smooth body near his, positioning her left leg over his, and her left arm over his torso, and when, to his surprise, he enjoyed this contact too much, he had the almost repulsive image of two skins, two bodies melting into each other. What if suddenly he couldn't respond to what she expected from her husband? Wouldn't that provoke a marital crisis that would keep them all night talking? He imagined her speaking without control and crying, while he played the mute part, waiting, hoping, and deceiving.
"You know," she said with a playful tone "you have to answer my cyber lover's E-mails. He is receiving my tongue inside his mouth, running his hands long my tights, and I don't even remember what else. We will have to put an end to that. Today I answered some corny erotic stuff in French, but please, it is you game not mine, so answer him, answer that your husband found out about your E-mails and you will have to interrupt them. I don't want to hurt anybody. Sometimes I even feel guilty. Are you sleeping?"
Without waiting for his answer she started kissing his neck, and how exciting were those kisses, so calm and so greedy at the same time. He couldn't concentrate very well, even if he was enjoying them. Was he, Frank Sollini, in the bed of a husband who pretended to be a woman on the Internet? Why wasn't she shocked by that? But soon the idea came to him that if the contact of his skin and these kisses all over his body hadn't awaken her suspicion -- couldn't she recognize another torso, other thighs --caressing his sex would give her the definite proof he was not her husband.
"Well, what do we play tonight?" she asked, and without waiting for his answer, she said, "What about some S&M perversion? Who does what today? If you don't mind, I am in the masochist mood." Here was a woman without much respect for sexual perversions. "How are you going to start? As the French say, 'Spank just in case.' Okay, it doesn't seem to ring any bell in your mind." And then she decided perhaps he was not in the sadist mood, but in the masochist one. "It is not," she said, "that I have discarded making love lovingly, being who were are and who we will be, but when you are silent, you are not in the loving mood." Then she sucked on of her fingers and then another making strong noises with her mouth, and through the shadows he invented the desire in her eyes. The desire he couldn't see because he was lying on his stomach as she had ordered him to do. Her vagina, of all places, was resting on the back of his knees. No woman had started making love to him that way. He was tempted to say " Hey, I have hemorrhoids," but only to make a joke, to break the ice between strangers, because the truth was that, unexplainable as it sounded to him, suddenly the feeling of expectation was already pleasurable.
But then she abandoned the pose she had adopted and once again made him turn, and lay on his back now.
"No, I am sorry, I'm not hin the mood. Finally, we a regular parent, who go to PTA meetings and have moral discourses about what is right and what is wrong. Of course if you beg me a little. . . "
He would have begged her, begged her to do with his body whatever fancy she had, but he was too afraid of hearing his own voice. Besides, he had never given a woman the fantasy of owning his body.
"So you don't beg. Please, stop playing the silent game. You know I hate that game. All right, let's fuck." She positioned her body far from his -- when would they kiss for the first time? -- and now only their sexes were in touch, the rest of their bodies were forming like a letter V.V of victory, he thought, V of vicious. And when he was finding his way inside her, in that strange position that he had never tried before, without any other contact than the contact of their sexes, the door opened, and he heard the voice of a little boy singing, "Do a little dance, make a little love, get down tonight, get down tonight. . ."
Immediately, even if he was still inside her, Isabelle Devoisin became the mother. Just on time she had covered them, but now with a very motherly tone, she was saying, "Sweety, go back to bed, we are only talking here."
"I can't sleep. I had a bad dream. I dreamt that daddy was not here."
"You see, here he is."
And then without any regret, as if nothing at all had happened between them in the last hour, Isabelle Devoisin, almost impatiently, let his avid sex go alone and despaired in a foreign bed. She took her nightgown from under the pillow, and from the other pillow took her husband's pajama, gave it to him, and almost pushed his body to the farther side of the bed to make room for her soon and said calmly:
"Come sweety, once you fall asleep I take you to your bed," and without any respect for his father's erection, Sweety jumped into bed and installed himself between them.
"Good night, love, we still have tomorrow," were Isabelle Devoisin's last words to her husband before she and her son fell asleep. For a minute, he wondered where the real husband was, he wondered if such husband existed, or if everything was the result of Isabelle Devoisin's sick mind. Before getting out of bed, his sentimental being imagined how intense their first kiss would have been if it had happened. He thought he wanted to be with her again, and make love to her as Frank Sollini and not anymore as Peter O'Connor. The unusual intuition that she wouldn't like that made him uncomfortable. Then he looked at mother and son almost tenderly, but then he refrained from that feeling. Tenderness was the trap.