du Tertre, the River, Prologue
on, Will," Charles called to his friend who was lagging behind
at the metro station Château Rouge. They had left the Métro
line # 4 a few moments before and were on their way to one of
Paris’s most famous public squares, Place du Tertre. This was the place where celebrated
painters like Cézanne, Van Gogh and Gaugain used to eat, drink,
mingle and most importantly, paint. Actually, one of these famous
men was the reason William was a bit distracted. He and Charles had
just spent a few hours in the Musée d’Orsay
and he was still basking in the afterglow of the most rare emotion
he had ever felt while studying Van Gogh’s ’Midday Siesta’. He,
who had always thought he disliked Van Gogh’s paintings, had been
standing in front of this colorful and powerful piece of art and had
experienced an unexpected feeling of joy.
William Darcy was CFO of an eminent west European investment company. He was
a man of the world and his business trips had taken him to many
places. He had seen innumerable towns and even more hotel rooms.
Most of these trips were purely business and if
he visited the tourist spots, it was because one of his business
associates had organised it for him to meet future acquaintances. It
was not that he wouldn’t enjoy the sights; it was only a matter of
time and preference. William was almost always working; and if not,
he was enlarging his circle of business ‘friends’.
This business trip was slightly different. This time his oldest friend, his
‘partner in business, love and crime’, as they called themselves,
Charles Bingley had come along. Charles and William were childhood
friends. They had attended the same schools from preschool through
to university. Both had started to work in their family companies,
both had faced the deep loss with the death of their fathers, and
both had had to deal with the enormous task of taking over the lead
of the company. After a few years, they had decided to join forces,
no longer only as friends, but also as business partners. And it was
a good merger. William was the financial genius, very good with
numbers, very able to ‘read’ the figures which represented
possibilities of where to invest money, time and energy, and very
thorough before making the decision of which target to choose.
Charles was the amiable one, very skilled in making new relations
and maintaining them. He talked easily and was easy to talk to. His
single disadvantage was the fact he could only think well of people,
and tended to see only the bright parts of a possible deal instead
of more than the positive sides. William sometimes needed to hit the
brakes and slow down his very fast-forwarded friend. Charles
sometimes needed to speed up his sometimes-too-careful friend. In a
meeting, Charles was the talker and William the observer. Together
they made a good team.
Today, a sunny Sunday in August, they were in Paris and Charles had decided to
visit some ‘must-sees’, taking advantage of a day without
obligations. It would look good in the upcoming conversations with several French partners the following week if they had
seen some of French culture, and since Charles simply enjoyed
visiting and seeing new things, he had persuaded William to come
with him. William did not regret it. He was able to appreciate art
and culture; he only needed someone to drag him away from his work
and take him to the places to be seen. As an admirer of fine
paintings he hadn’t objected to Charles’s idea to visit the Musée d’Orsay. The museum is set in an ancient
railway station and maintains a very large, famous collection;
paintings as well as decorative art. A ‘masterpiece tour’ would
only take a few hours to enjoy completely, not to mention all the
other art. The friends had agreed to choose a certain amount of
pieces at this visit to experience thoroughly. Therefore they had
bought the Guide to the Musée d’Orsay,
consulted the map and directed each other towards the upper level
where the impressionists and post-impressionists hung.
They had looked, they had admired, they had walked, they had strolled and they had
been having quite a nice time. They both knew what they liked and
appreciated what they saw, even if it was almost too much to handle
in one visit.
“Holy sh*t, another masterpiece,” Charles had cried when he walked towards a
“Look, they have five cathedrals here,” William had pointed towards five of Monet’s famous Rouen Cathedral Series.
William had then walked towards a Van Gogh, though he disliked most of his work.
He had only seen a few early works of the Dutch painter and many
reproductions of his later pieces. He couldn’t explain why, but
somehow he didn’t like it. It was a matter of taste. Then the Midday Siesta had caught his eye. And somehow, an
unexpected feeling of joy had washed over him. The strong yellow,
blue and red stripes seemed to live a life of their own; they looked
too hard by themselves; but melted together, they formed a fine
picture of a man and woman sleeping in the shadow of a haystack.
William had looked at the bright painting very closely. He had then
taken a few strides back and watched again. It had almost been as if
he could feel how the painter had made the
stripes. He saw the broad, hog-haired brush that was used for the
blue air, and the knife that had made the dark blue trousers and
orange hay. He knew he couldn’t, but he felt an urge to touch the
brown spots that divided the man’s stomach and the woman’s
upper-arm. And along with sudden joy, he felt surprise. He had never
liked Van Gogh’s paintings; he had always said they looked like
pictures for a comic book: too many lines, too many stripes. He knew
he was able to appraise a good painting, he had just never expected
to qualify one of van Gogh’s in that way. He felt the hairs on his
neck rise and suddenly had to chuckle; he had expected to see
very nice paintings and drawings, knowing he would like them, but certainly had never expected
this one to be the most imposing.
He was thinking about the painting and the feelings he had had seeing it, when he
stepped off the train onto the Métro platform. Charles, oblivious
of his friend’s thoughts, was meters ahead of him. “Come on,
Will,” he called.
The occasions when William’s emotions became visible were very rare. This was
not such a moment. “Pfff. What a crowd in the train,” William
“Don’t whine. We agreed to play the tourists today. That includes Métro
“True,” William had to admit. “As long as you don’t want me to buy cheap
tourist stuff on the street.”
“Hah!” Charles reacted. “It is me the street sellers are after. Be glad
you have dark brown hair.”
“You have never complained before about the attraction your blond curls
provide you,” William said, refering to the women who surrounded
Charles most of the time, no matter which occasion or gathering.
“Let’s head for the Place du Tertre first to
have a drink. I really feel I could use one right now,” he
continued. “We can visit Sacré Coeur
“Excellent,” Charles replied. They had spent a few hours in the museum and when
they had felt they had enjoyed enough for one visit they had gone to
the metro station and travelled north. It was quite some time since
they had had their last drink and the heat had made them thirsty.
* ~ * ~ * ~ *
The background was partly done. She had used bright yellow and orange colors which
represented a kind of wheat field. It was quite indistinct, which
was her intention. All the attention should be drawn to the main
subject of the painting. And right at this moment, this subject was
pretty blank. She wanted to paint a male person and with some soft
chalk she had already roughly outlined a head and part of a torso.
Elizabeth Bennet looked around to see if she could spot an
interesting man to use as a model. She only needed to place a few
dark stripes on the precise place et voilà, a
character would become visible. It was her special ability. After
all, this was Place du Tertre, the place famous
for its portraits and where tourists were painted in a few seconds
… willingly or not; the very place where the great masters had
painted over a century ago.
Elizabeth could hardly believe she was standing and painting here while her sister
Jane worked as a waitress a few meters away. A friend of the family
had arranged it for them. They both had been through rough times the
last year and couldn’t afford vacations. These were supposed to be
working holidays, but working was the last word she would use to
describe her current occupation. Painting was her life, well the
most important part of it anyway, and living in
this very special place was a dream come true. A spot on Place du Tertre was very hard to acquire and she
still wondered what Mr. Leloux had done in order to give her this
While Elizabeth filled the hours painting, Jane worked in the terrace area of the
café Mr. Leloux owned. She liked it; unlike Lizzy who was hardly
able to speak French, Jane’s French was good enough to take
orders, and she managed to find time to talk with the English- and
German-speaking customers. To Jane and Elizabeth the working
part of their holiday was a farce. Since Mr. Leloux had been able to
arrange a pass for Elizabeth for only two days, as on the other days
there were no spots available, he had insisted that Jane also work
for two days instead of the whole week. Therefore, the Bennet
sisters, who stayed at Mr. Leloux’s, had one week holidays in
Paris for the cheap price of two days ‘work’.
Elizabeth spotted a dark man sitting on the terrace and observed him through
her eyelashes. He was thinking, sat very straight, and wasn’t
speaking to his companion, who was busy anyway, talking to Jane.
Apparently, she had again managed to find a few seconds to talk;
well, more than a few actually. Elizabeth noticed Jane and the blond
man were taking their time. And it looked like they were both
enjoying themselves, according to the happy faces and the way her
beloved sister acted. As for the dark brown-haired man, Elizabeth
couldn’t quite assess him. He seemed to pay no attention to Jane,
and even though he was obviously being neglected by his friend, he
didn’t seem to be offended at all. It was more like it was a
normal event for him to be placed temporarily in a secondary spot,
on behalf of a woman. He didn’t mind, his thoughts were elsewhere,
that was for sure ... but where?
Elizabeth tried to read his face. It was very difficult to read emotions there, as it
was blank, like a poker face. Picking a piece of soft chalk she
focused on his nicely shaped head. She would save the face and its
expression for later. He was nicely tanned, neither too creamy white
nor too brown. It perfectly suited his dark brown hair. Elizabeth
softly drew the shape of his strong jaw with the light chalk and
chose a variety of yellows, reds and soft pinks, different shades of
brown and a bit of white, grey and deep black paint to prepare her
palette for the character she was about to create. She decided to do
the tan first and afterwards paint the specifics like eyes, nose,
mouth and shades on top of it. While she mixed some of the paints
she kept observing her model. He was a puzzle. She liked puzzles,
especially when they were difficult and challenging. And this man
was certainly not an open book. Luckily, Jane continued her
conversation with the blond man, which gave Elizabeth time and
opportunity. She chose a very soft, pointed sable brush, looked
again, detected a tiny hint of joy on his face and placed the first
stroke to create his face.
* ~ * ~ * ~ *
William was enjoying his café-crème. He sat in the middle of Place du
Tertre, beneath the trees in the shade, a soft breeze
playing with his dark curls. He was completely relaxed. Luckily and
unsurprisingly, Charles was involved in a conversation with one of
the waitresses, and he wouldn’t be pestering him with comments
about the weather, the beauty of their surroundings or the taste of
the coffee. Charles was always making some sort of conversation with
any woman he met, not all of them were as beautiful as this blond,
tall and slim lady. Charles’s flirtation with the waitress gave
William the chance to contemplate their visit to the museum that
morning. Slowly he stirred the café, lightly blowing on it to cool
it down before sipping the beverage and putting the porcelain cup
carefully back on the saucer. He turned his chair a bit to catch a
sunbeam whose full strength was pleasurably diminished by the leaves of one of the
old trees. Stretching his long, athletic legs, he sat back and heard the cane seat crack with
his movement. Looking above into the green cover, he closed his eyes
briefly trying to listen to what Charles had to say to the blond
He noticed there were not only male painters, but discovered a woman as well.
She was, as the others, standing on one side of the terrace. Place du Tertre is a square place surrounded by
several cafés. In the middle of it, there is a large terrace and on
every side, painters work and sell their products. Therefore waiters
are running constantly from the cafés into the center and back. The
woman sat on a high stool in front of an easel right at the corner
of the terrace. Her long brown hair was tied casually in a ponytail
with a ragged piece of cloth. She had rolled up the sleeves of the
red and blue checkered cotton blouse, which showed her lightly
tanned arms. The upper three buttons of the same blouse were open,
drawing William’s attention to other tanned parts of her body. He
shifted his admiring gaze a little bit upwards and aimed at her
unpainted natural looking mouth. She bit her lower lip as if she was
pondering on something. Slowly, his eyes made their way from her
mouth along her cute pert nose and slightly red colored cheeks
towards her eyes. He was too far away to be able to determine their
color, but this didn't prevent him from espying the direction of
her glance. It was aimed directly at him.
“Charles, I have to go to the men’s room,” he said suddenly. “I’ll be
back in a minute.” His friend seem to nod while William stood up
and left the center. Returning from the men’s room a few minutes
later and crossing the small street towards the terrace, he was able
to peek at the painting the woman was working on. It was then that
Time stood still. Trees and leaves seemed to blur into an unformed green mess.
Conversations and human voices melted into a monotone rumble. Cane
chairs and tables transformed to a mushy shade of light brown. Only
visible was a firm, rectangular shaped, bright yellow and orange
wheat field with a very masculine shape in the middle. William
perceived the woman with the long brown pony tail standing in front
of the rectangle. She was even more beautiful from a close distance
than she had been from the cane terrace chair. He recognised himself
standing before the wheat field. Well partly, it was him but then
again it was not. He saw his head, his hair and his chin; it was
very clear it was him. But where his eyes, his nose and his mouth
should have been, he only saw bright stripes. The very same emotions,
which had surprised him earlier when he had seen Van Gogh’s
painting, washed over him again. It was not as if this painting was
a copy, but both styles certainly had similarities. They had the
same vividness and the stripes did nothing on their own, but made a
strong and powerful picture when combined. The hairs on the back of
William’s neck started to rise again and he felt small but very
distinct tickles all over his body. The woman looked at the small
workbench beside the easel. It was clear she contemplated if she
should choose something which looked like a knife or a soft pointed
brush to set lines for the face. William could absolutely not
explain why, but he felt an enormous relief when she chose the brush.
The sable hairs turned brown with oil paint and the woman neared the
canvas. William could feel the brush approach. He licked his lips as
if to prepare them to ease the paint onto his mouth.
Suddenly he wasn’t standing in Montmartre anymore, but found
himself in front of a bright yellow field. The now unveiled sunbeams
burned on his skin when he sensed something animal-like coming close.
Then, he enjoyed the soft touch of the sable hairs. The woman bent
towards him, still biting her lower lip, squinting her eyes to watch
his mouth through her lashes. She touched him through the sable
hairs and followed the exact line of his lips. No, she did not
follow, she created him, painted him, made him. William felt
every single sinew, every single nerve as he had never felt them
He looked at the woman, followed her hand and her brush on his face. Then, she
changed the pointed brush for a flat hog-haired one and tickled
William’s neck. He stretched his hand out and, with his index
finger, he touched her lower lip. She didn’t bite hers anymore but
opened her mouth slightly to the touch of his thumb as it followed
the curved line. She put the brush away and, joining William in the
wheat field, only used her fingers. Paint became unnecessary.
Touches were enough to create … to create a man and woman standing
in the sun soaked surrounding.
Using both hands and laying her fingers on his temples, Elizabeth stroked her
thumbs under his jaw. They went up again and joined her fingers on
the side of his head. Her left hand shifted to the backside and
grasped his thick brown curls. Then her right index finger started
to stroke his straight nose, followed the curves of his fine
nostrils and went upwards again to touch the brows. Eyes closed,
William felt every possible square millimeter on his face lighten up,
his skin breathed only after her fingers brushed it.
After opening his beautiful brown eyes again, William touched her left cheek with
his right hand and moved the other towards the nape of her neck. He
watched her opening her now rosy red lips a tiny bit more, which was
enough invitation for him to bend towards her and stroke her mouth
with his. Not completely unexpected, her tongue searched his lip. He
wanted to kiss her, but she surprised him when her tongue left his
mouth and made a way of its own. Where before the brushes and her
fingers had been, a new moist trail was made. His cheek, his nose,
his jaw, everything was drawn again with the delicate tip of her
First, William stood as firmly as he could and kept his position so Elizabeth
remained able to reach him, but after a few moments he couldn’t
hold his stance anymore. His hand went down to stroke her back and
bottom, and lifting her up. Very gently, he laid her on the
surprisingly soft wheat and joined her. Her actions were not
interrupted by this movement, but the places where she carried them
out changed considerably. Her tongue left his face and moved from
his neck, slowly but very certainly, to his chest. Pushing
William on his back she leaned over him. Pleasantly surprised to
feel not a single sting from the dried wheat in his back, William
managed to focus all his attention on more delightful caresses. Eyes
closed, he stretched his arms under his head and remained
silent, his skin momentarily the most important sense organ.
The planned portrait changed very slowly from a torso into a complete body.
Every touch of Elizabeth’s fingers and every lick with her tongue,
created a part of his being, lying in the field. Slowly opening
button by button, she found her way to his chest. Sometimes the
strokes were fierce, then soft and gentle. One by one they did
nothing, but together they built an enormous tension inside
William’s body. He held his breath when she reached his abdomen,
and went to both sides of his slender waist and followed the trail
downwards. Easily, she opened the fly of his jeans. Lying on her
knees at his side she mouthed a “shhhhh,” but no sound came out.
It was completely silent. Only feeling ... no hearing, no speech was
She quickly got rid off his shoes and pulled his jeans down and off. Her tongue
continued its excursion to follow the waistband of his boxers,
touched the prominent bulge softly through the cotton material and
moved along his inner thighs. Her hands were bolder and stretched
the waistband. One finger went inside and explored the sheltered
surroundings, softly stroking his arousal, which begged to be set
free. Fast, skilled hands helped and removed William’s last
remnants of clothing. Elizabeth shifted, spread his legs gently and
sat on her knees in between them. She licked the lower parts of his
abs from left to right and left again. Her fingers stroked his
erection, then went down and teased him by only stroking the tiny
hairs. This half touch did more to arouse him than a full grasp
could ever have done.
William lost the ability to remain passive, nor did he wish to remain so, and with
one swift movement Elizabeth was on her back on the soft yellow
surface. Now it was time for William’s skilled hands to open her
buttons and remove her blouse, shorts, shoes and very pretty
underwear. He discovered a very nicely tanned and finely built
figure beneath it. His tongue started its journey inside her mouth,
and met her tongue to take over the baton in this agonizingly slow
relay race. In his opinion, it was time to speed up, and she
He made a moist trail to her ear and softly nibbled her lobe. The sigh she made was
only felt, when her sweet breath touched his hair. His journey also
went downwards, an intermission made to visit her nipples thoroughly.
She twisted her head slowly from left to right, when he licked her
waist and went down further to her most sensitive spots. Her legs
opened automatically to ease his knees in between them. His touches
were as firm and certain as hers had been before. Licking
her core he sensed every move she made, and measuring every
reaction, he searched and found the exact place where she wanted him
Had both her and his touches and licks only drawn masculine and feminine shells,
the creation of internal specifics was started, when he drank her in.
All muscles tensed, breath inhaled sharply, she exploded and with
the waves of her orgasm every molecule fell into place. Looking up
he held her tenderly to help her regain herself. She let neither of
them relax, and pulled his strong body towards hers.
Baton taken over again for the last part of the race, William entered her, and filled her with his whole being
that gave her the opportunity to
create his insides. Thrust after thrust a stroke was made, a
puzzle piece set in place, a color added to the painting. She lifted
her hips and met every move he made with her own answer. Together
they increased the movement of the trip and climbed the mountain
towards the finish line. Elizabeth reached the peak first, clenching
around William and pulling him in deeper. He couldn’t restrain
himself anymore, and, barely able to lean on his strong arms, he
added the final moist highlighting to the portrait. Panting, he
placed a short kiss on her mouth and fell down on the wheat, careful
not to hurt her.
Another sharp cracking sound was produced by the cane chair. William’s eyes shot
open and he looked around in bewilderment.
“William?” Charles’s attention was drawn to the sudden move and he looked
with surprise at his friend, whose confused face showed emotions he
had never seen before.
“Wait, Charles,” was the short reply.
The chair fell when William suddenly stood and walked towards the terrace’s
corner and the female painter.
“I want to buy this.” It wasn't a question, but a command.
“But sir, it's still wet. It’s oil and will take some time to dry,” was
Elizabeth’s surprised answer.
“That’s okay, I’ll call a taxi and take care,” he said hastily, asked
for the price and paying the full amount without blinking an eye.
“Charles, I need to go.”
“But William…” Something in his friend’s eyes told him not to argue this time and
the amazement was enlarged when William added a soft, and from his
mouth rarely uttered, “Please.” Charles sensed this wasn’t the
time to ask for an explanation. The truth was his friend might never
be able to explain what was going on. Therefore, the two men took
the painting from the easel, carried it carefully to the nearest
spot where they could call and be collected by a taxi and left Place du Tertre.
“Lizzy, what was that?” Jane approached her sister wondering why the two men
had left so quickly and unexpectedly. The blond man had barely had
time to pay his tab.
Elizabeth was looking at her now empty easel. Her body felt like it was winding
down from an exquisite, fulfilling but extremely exhausting action.
“I … I was painting his face, you know, the dark brown haired man who sat
near the blond one you were talking with, and it felt like every
spot, every stripe came out of the blue. It was like it went
automatically. And I felt…. I felt……Jane, I don’t know,”
Elizabeth answered, wondering if she would ever be able to paint
such an intense piece again. Not knowing what actually had taken
place, and therefore completely unable to explain it to her sister,
nor to herself for that matter, slowly a new feeling found a place
in her heart. It was a feeling of loss. She realised she not only
wanted her painting back, but recognised a hesitant craving for the
She looked with astonishment at the hog hair brush in her hand, still dripping wet
with white shaded paint. Without thinking, she carefully placed a
plastic wrap round the hairs, to make sure the wet white was saved
from drying. Instinctively, she knew it would remain the last link
to her lost painting. Before she closed the wrap entirely, she
brought the brush to her mouth and blew softly on the wetness.
A few kilometers ahead, sitting in a taxi, a dark brown-haired man
suddenly felt a cool, soft, tickling breeze at the back of his neck.