Place du Tertre, the River


   
 

Table 
of contents:

Prologue

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7.1

Chapter 7.2

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 11b

Chapter 11c

 

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Place du Tertre, the River

 

A modern Pride and Prejudice version, set in the Netherlands. 

 

The story is NC-17, R rated.

 

Marjolein © 2003-2004 All rights reserved M.Houwer


Place du Tertre, the River,       Prologue

"Come 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 Degas.

“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 complained.

“Don’t whine. We agreed to play the tourists today. That includes Métro trips!”

“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 afterwards.

“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 incredible opportunity.

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 lady.

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 it happened.

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 before.

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 tongue.

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 witnessed.

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 didn’t disagree.

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 to be.

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 man himself.

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.

 
   

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    Marjolein © 2003-2004 All rights reserved M.Houwer