A reporter's lifestyle becomes complicated when she attends her BFF's French wedding.
| Darcy Morreau and I were BFFs in college. Actually, we were more intimate than that. We did attend Wellesley College and we had some classes together. During our last two years on campus, we roomed together in The French House, which was housing for about a dozen coeds and a few foreign students.
During our time in Massachusetts, the alluring and irrepressible Darcy had helped me tremendously in refining my stumbling French pronunciation. In return, I had coached her in colloquial American English. She was an exchange student and the daughter of a wealthy family connected with the banking industry. I was a mousy Midwesterner who had earned a partial scholarship that did help offset the $40,000 per year tuition.
Our collegial friendship was an exciting and amicable cultural swap. When we would sneak off campus to crash a fraternity beer bash, she would demonstrate to me her coquettish wiles and I would impart on Darcy some survival skills to avoid unwanted advances of some stoned American stud. But, as I mentioned, we had an intimate affair.
Darcy spent many sessions with me—I’m a bit embarrassed to admit—practicing her French way of pleasuring a woman. For a number of months, I had been gravely conflicted over our relationship. But eventually I got over that dilemma.
Darcy would return from her holiday visits to France with exciting tales of romance or derring-do as she cavorted among the natives. I didn’t doubt the highly sexually-charged woman was bisexual. She confused me with stories about her boyfriends back home, and yet, while she lived with me, she wore the mantle of Lesbos. For my part at that time, I bore a condition of being homo-specific. I thought I was gay. I loved Darcy and I believed she shared my feelings. Our pillow talk had turned seriously to the possibility of a civil-sanctioned union, especially after same-sex marriages became legal in Massachusetts in May 2004. We even had participated in some local demonstrations in support of that legislation. But before we could commit our relationship, we were assailed and distracted by final exams, graduation, and the Morreau family’s edict for Darcy to return home.
Since college, we have kept up sporadic e-mailing correspondence. Over the past half-decade neither of us has taken the opportunity to visit the other. Darcy was pursuing her life and loves in her native France and I had settled in New York City to develop a writing career. Initially I had latched on as stringer for the Village Voice and eventually I arrived as a sometime art critic for an entertainment monthly.
After Darcy had left the county, I did sleepwalk through a prolonged grieving period for her. After my separation anxiety evaporated, I stumbled around the city socially. I hadn’t been able to develop any close or enduring relationship with any females, but I did encounter a graphic artist named Lance Kravitch. Once he entered my life, he has totally confused me sexually. We had bedded a few times and somehow he awakened some dormant heterosexual spark in me. Up to that point, I had figured only a lesbian partner could do for me. After a six-month liaison with Lance, he has been pressing me to move in with him, and recently, he has been nudging me toward marriage or at least into a committed relationship.
I received an e-mail from Darcy last month. She announced that she was getting married and wanted me to attend. She said that she would wire me any necessary funds to ensure that I would come. She mentioned also that she was going to marry Robert Jordainne. At first, I was thrilled for Darcy; but then, I became befuddled over her announcement. I wasn’t mystified that my former lover would comprise her life in a union with a male; but I was puzzled by her choice of fiancé. I remembered that in a previous correspondence she told me about her policeman boyfriend who had been killed in the line of duty last year. His name was also Robert—a common name, I’m told—but I never knew his surname. But, I figured, it was not unlike the spirited charmer to have discovered another soul mate so quickly even during her own grieving period.
I was familiar with Darcy’s exuberance over new loves in her life; but this new direction in her life caused me a great surge of emotional resentment. I re-read her message with a flushed recollection of how unashamed Darcy had been about her body—and mine. She had displayed unbridled enthusiasm when she had instructed me in our sexual escapades—“The French Way”—as we coded my lessons. I found myself envying the person who could capture the heart of my diminutive dominatrix. I was covetous of her lithe fingers that could stimulate the most erotic parts of my anatomy. I was green-eyed for her smooth tongue that could dart mischievously exploring and arousing my most sensitive erogenous zones. I suddenly longed for her slim legs and arms that could stimulate forgotten skin areas under her teasing, heated contact. I was coveting her raven hair that would splay casually over our bodies or wipe away bodily fluids. We had explored each other. We had spent hours spooning, caressing, and sharing our deepest emotions. She had awakened a wellspring of sexuality in me; and now, I was chagrined to discover that, after our separation, I was jealous for Darcy.
During college, I had remained loyal to Darcy even though I suspected that she had dallied with a number of men. Even then, I doubted that any man could stay with Darcy very long—American men wouldn’t excuse or tolerate her fetish for body hair that I so often had been unsuccessful in getting her to shave. “That isn’t the French way,” she would scold me.
Darcy had nurtured the release of my sexual appetite. Her lessons were so imprinted on me that I could never recapture my pleasure with another woman or with any man I had slept with, until I met Lance. Now, Darcy was going to surrender her ardent lusciousness to one person—for life—“till death do us part”—and I was jealous. Nevertheless, I had resigned myself that I would not have any same-sex marriage with my French lover. The possibility of our permanent bond had been broken and only our friendship remained.
I hadn’t divulged anything about Darcy to Lance; so he couldn’t comprehend my upset while I was preparing and packing for my trip. I thought I might discover during this trip whether Darcy and I merely had experienced youthful experimentation or if I was stigmatized for life. I needed to resolve my gender confusion: was I straight, gay, or bisexual?
Darcy had not responded to my last message in which I had salaciously suggested we might renew our physical carnality—a kind of bachelorette party—when I arrived. Without her confirmation but aglow with my lusty plans, I had packed for my French trip.
By the time my taxi dropped me at the airport, I was in high-dudgeon over the morbid loss of Darcy, yet I was exhilarated about the foreign trip, and even more excited in anticipation of my bawdy expectations. I needed this trip to Europe. My passport lacked foreign stamps, and I relished the prospect of tasting the famed French cuisine and its scenic delights. Besides that, I even plotted that I might translate my trip into a travel piece, you know, I’d be able to peddle a piece freelance. But of course, my over-riding exhilaration was to experience my spirited Darcy once more.
Darcy Morreau had arranged for me to stay at the Jordainne estate. The idea of sharing space with her fiancé’s family triggered some jealous sense of competition in me; it fed my hunger for her. Perhaps Darcy and I could arrange a tryst, have one last fling together.
I was pleased that my travel plans had been confirmed so smoothly. This all-expense paid trip helped my reporter’s budget, too. Since this visit with my former lover would not bankrupt me, you can bet your family vineyards that I was looking forward to our reunion.
After an unfortunate delay in security clearance at JFK, I was bumped to another flight and I finally landed in Paris—late. I missed my scheduled conveyance there. In desperation, I attempted to get to Nice on my own with my corroded French pronunciation.
Because of the plane’s delay and my tortured detour, my schedule was thrown off by nearly a day. My hope for a wedding-eve assignation was fading and now I was late for my friend’s wedding.
I arrived in Nice by late afternoon. I immediately rang up Madame Jordainne, who insisted on escorting me to her estate from the Nice-Cote d’Azuri Airport. She explained on the telephone that the simple marriage ceremony had been performed at city hall already that morning and that the 30 or so guests were already assembled at her home. She said her driver would bring her to meet me.
Bernadette Jordainne, the groom’s gorgeous mother in her fifties, was a statuesque five-foot-nine-inch woman with undisguised gray streaks in her brunette coif. Were she not French, I might have mistaken Madame Jordainne for Sophie Loren. She had amazing almond-shaped eyes with sea green sprinkles in her lusty brown orbs. Even though her mouth seemed big and her lips prominent, they balanced her nose to create her goddess-like features. She exuded an earthiness within her beautifully proportioned body, especially the way she carried her sensuous figure in a shimmering dark blue Dior gown.
This was the first time I met Darcy’s mother-in-law, but I recognized that Madame Jordainne and Darcy could have passed for daughter and mother, if not sisters. Bernadette’s laughing brown eyes teased me in her French way, as she caught and stroked my arm during our drive along the Promenade des Anglais toward her residence. She chattered giddily with her ruby lips that sometimes entertained a cigarette. Pointing out landmarks as we motored through the city, she energetically bestowed family news upon me.
Madame Jordainne shared her delight and joy with me in today’s wedding and in her pleasure for my attendance. She was now a widow, she explained, but her husband had been a personal friend of Nicolas Sarkozy. As we neared her estate, she teared a bit when she recounted to me her sadness in the double loss of a son and her husband last year. Her husband, Bernadette detailed, had succumbed to a fatal heart attack after receiving the news of a son’s tragic death. Her sorrow shifted as we entered the courtyard. She was overjoyed, she now exclaimed, that today was the beginning of a new life for her.
Whether it was my fractured French or my distractions with the colorful scenes along our route, I didn’t grasp completely the significance of Bernadette’s narration. Once inside the Jordainne compound, I was caught up into her gaiety over the day’s festivities. And, I was nearly jumping out of my skin to clutch Darcy once more.
The guests had not noticed Madame Jordainne’s absence to fetch me, but her return re-vitalized them. Her ebullience was infectious, and I became more animated during the reception. I danced whirling tarantellas with the many family members and friends inside the French villa.
Darcy was ravishing in her smart blue bridal dress. When we met and, after greeting each other in the French manner, she quickly forgave my unavoidable tardiness and we re-engaged our girlish familiarity quite quickly. After meeting Darcy’s guests and sharing their champagne toasts, she showed me around the Jordainne residence, where, she explained, she would be living.
Some of the invited guests were departing when we toured the hallways and inspected the various rooms of the mansion. Darcy furtively touched me in familiar ways and I responded in kind. My delight was unharnessed; my concupiscence revitalized. I didn’t care that I had missed our bachelorette foreplay or that she was now a married woman. I was praying that she might be as excited as I was to plumb each others depths anew.
“Come, Cherie.” Darcy grabbed my arm, spilling champagne on my dress from my flute. “You should see—for the honeymoon.”
My heart was pounding with lust as we stepped into a master bedroom that was bedecked in fine white satin sheets and canopied curtains; white and red roses were strewn about; and with an array of unlit aromatic candles festooned the bedsteads. The perfumed ambience and silky vista swelled me into fantastical ecstasy. My feisty lover was going to rendezvous with me, I had decided joyfully.
Darcy led me by the arm inside the bed chamber and closed the door behind us. She embraced me and kissed me softly but firmly on my surprised lips. I repositioned our embraced and returned her kiss with a long, tongue-laced kiss. She motioned me to the bed, where we sat for a short time. Between our giggling, hugging, and champagne sipping, we both lost time that afternoon.
All the guests must have departed by the time Bernadette suddenly swept into the room. “Ah, there you are my sweeties,” she pronounced slowly in a slurred French way. She sat on the other side of Darcy, putting her shapely arm around the quivering Darcy and placing a long kiss on Darcy’s cheek very near her mouth. Madame’s amorous attentions startled me a bit. But, I relaxed and comforted myself that this was the French way of family endearments.
The three of us sat and swayed against each other, exchanging the type of lecherous gossip that women might do about the forthcoming honeymoon. We visited in the bedroom for as many minutes or hours that it took for evening to turn into night. The two women sitting beside me became more involved with each other, and that disturbed me. I really had desired intimacy with Darcy before her husband arrived and without the mother’s intrusion. But I calmed myself and tried to convince me that perhaps the mother was preparing her daughter-in-law for the son’s connubial night.
My bleary mind suddenly clicked into rationality. I turned to Darcy, who was snuggling against Bernadette. I blurted out, “My God, Dar, after all the people I’ve met today, I have yet to meet your husband. Where is he?”
Darcy glanced at me with tear-filled black eyes. “He is buried in Saint Paul Town Cemetery”
“What? I don’t understand.”
“He had a Christian burial and now rests in grave in the town of Saint Paul, near here. He died last year. I wrote you, n’est pas?”
Bernadette explained, as she hugged Darcy closer: “It is the French way, sweetie. During the First World War—in 1915 I believe it was—the government passed a law that a bereaved fiancée may marry her betrothed, even after he is dead.”
“What? So, wait—you married Robert—the policeman who was killed last year?”
“Oui.” Darcy, with wet eyes, chortled as she buried her face in Bernadette’s neck.
“It was very good law for France,” Bernadette continued after lighting a cigarette, “with so many of our soldiers killed in the trenches then, there were too many unmarried maids—no families. The law keeps many people together, don’t you see? Here today, Cecy and I are now connected. She is part of my family.” She kissed the trembling Darcy fully on the mouth. “The law exists still; such marriages happen quite often. But, we have presidential approval and, with Robert killed in public service—well, it is done. It is official. And now—our life together begins.”
With their confounding information registering in my buzzed brain, an idea for a new possibility for us crept into my head. I nearly leapt off—but actually I slid from—the bed. “I still don’t understand, Dar. How can you consummate the marriage? How could a church recognize your union? Won’t you have to annul this marriage?” I slurred my thoughts out while thinking but not saying, then we can live happily ever after in Boston.
“Is that what troubles you, ma Cherie?” Darcy stopped me with her sweet concern.
“Ah, sweetie,” Bernadette began, “you see, in the eyes of the Church Cecy has truly married my son for eternity. Death can no longer intrude on their marriage. The Church recognizes that bond and the government permits it. What neither France nor the Church will recognize is our union, our living together.”
“Oui, Mary,” Darcy chirped in. “This is not America where two women can join their lives together. But now, I share the Jordainne name—I have legally married into the family. So, Dette and I may live freely together and without suspicion.”
As I reached the door, I turned to witness the two women beginning to disrobe each other. They had not invited me to stay. Despite my attraction to Darcy and my captivation of Bernadette’s allure, I wouldn’t accept a threesome. Red-faced, I hastily excused myself, and went to my room. I refused to intrude on a conjugal frolic whatever its legal pretense.
The next few days in Nice were a blur. Darcy Morreau-Jordainne and Madam Bernadette Jordainne feted me with dining, shopping, visits to the Chagall and the Matisse museums, and attending the opera. Our excursions allowed me to accept Darcy’s lifestyle and for me to process my own condition.
By the time I was on my return flight, I knew something had changed in me. I began to consider that a comfortable union with Lance didn’t seem so strange to me. We would have to explore any living situations or partnering possibilities while I sorted out the remainder of my sexual doubts. What had tipped the balance of my thinking were the echoes of Darcy’s parting words to me: “This is not Boston. This is Nice. It is the French Way.”
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