L’AMOUR EN FRANCE
“Look! We’re almost there!” Benjamin exclaimed in excitement when the train came out of the tunnel. Elisabeth looked out of the window to admire the beautiful view of Champs Les Sims. The town was located on the outskirts of Paris with the Eiffel tower overlooking the Seine river in the distance.
“This place gives me a feeling of tranquility. It almost seems as if the time has stopped.”
“Small towns usually have this kind of feel to them… If you say you like it here, then I’m sure you’ll love Monte Vista. Not much going on there either,” teased him Elisabeth.
“What do you mean by that? Medieval towns have their magic. Just think about the rich history and culture. I’m sure there is at least one museum or art gallery in Champs Les Sims.”
“Well, I’m sure there’s at least one winery,” Elisabeth winked at Benjamin.
“See? Culture you can taste,” he smiled. “So, what was the address of our hotel?”
“Just a moment,” told him Elisabeth and took her cellphone out of her bag. “111 West Southbank Boulevard, so… let’s keep on this side of the river and head south. I’m sure we’ll find it.”
“As-tu vu notre nouveau professeur d’anglais?” a french girl asked a french boy.
“Oui, je l’ai rencontré dans le bureau du principal.”
“Il a l’air sympathique n’est-ce pas?”
“Oui, j’ai l’impression,” the french boy smiled at the french girl and they both looked at Elisabeth and Benjamin who stopped by them.
“Excuse-moi. Parles-tu anglais?” Elisabeth asked the french girl.
“Oui, I mean, yes,” she answered politely.
“Could you direct us to the Hôtel della Ville? It should be around here somewhere.”
“Oui, oui! À la fin de cette rue. Là, regardez!” the french boy called out when he heard Elisabeth mention the name of the hotel and pointed his finger at the building at the end of the street.
“Elle a demandé à MOI!” the girl scolded the boy, then she turned her face at Elisabeth and innocently smiled at her. “Yes, it’s over there. It’s the last building on the left,” she said nicely, but her tone changed dramatically as soon as she started talking to the boy again. Elisabeth couldn’t understand much, but she could tell from the tone of her voice that it wasn’t anything nice.
“Merci,” Elisabeth thanked both children.
“De rien,” the boy whispered and looked down at his feet.
“You’re welcome!” the girl waved her hand at them.
“I didn’t know you spoke French.”
“Well, I know just the very basics. You know, ‘Hello, how are you? Do you speak English? Thank you.’ That’s basically it,” Elisabeth shrugged her shoulders.
“I don’t even know how to say that.”
“Now you do,” Elisabeth smiled at Benjamin and they both walked into the foyer of the hotel.
“Bonjour Madam, Monsieur,” the receptionist welcomed them.
“Bonjour. We’d like to check in,” told her Elisabeth and passed her their personal identification cards.
“Thank you Ms. Loewe,” the receptionist smiled at Elisabeth and typed something in the computer.
“Room number thirteen. Up the stairs and to the left.”
“Let me just make a copy of your PICs,” she said politely and walked to the copier.
“They didn’t make copies of our documents in Shang Simla,” Benjamin said to Elisabeth. “Do we look suspicious or something?” he whispered.
“I don’t think so. It’s a standard procedure when you check in a hotel. They probably didn’t have a copier in Shang Simla, but I’m sure they wrote down our data.”
“Here you go. If you need anything, you’ll find me or my colleague at the reception,” the receptionist handed over the PICs to Elisabeth. “Have a pleasant stay.”
“Merci,” they said with one voice and went to search for their room.
“This feels comfortable,” Benjamin said as he sat on the bed to try it out.
“It better does. I picked the best room available,” Elisabeth smiled at him. Benjamin stood up and walked towards her.
“Why are you so nice to me?” he asked Elisabeth and gently caressed her cheek.
“Because…,” Elisabeth looked in his eyes and paused for a moment. “… because I think I’m in love with you,” she whispered softly and approached closer to him. Benjamin didn’t say anything and just looked deep in her gray eyes.
He took her hands and pulled her towards him. As their bodies finally touched he could feel her heart beat on his chest. “I love you, Elisabeth,” Benjamin whispered in her ear. “I have loved you since the first moment I saw you.”
Elisabeth ran her hand over his face and softly caressed his soft lips with her thumb. Benjamin opened his mouth a little and gently kissed her finger. Then he placed his hand on Elisabeth’s behind and pushed it against his lower abdomen. Elisabeth could feel his excitement.
“I don’t want to take things too fast, I can slow down if you wish,” he whispered and passionately kissed her neck. Elisabeth has never experienced such a feeling. She couldn’t find a word to describe it, it was something new, unknown and extremely exciting. She didn’t want him to stop. Elisabeth wanted to learn everything there was to know about this new sensation and Benjamin seemed like a perfect teacher. She wrapped her arms around him and started kissing his sweet lips. Benjamin stuck out his tongue and slowly caressed hers. It felt so hot and intimate, they both couldn’t get enough.
When their lips finally parted, Elisabeth couldn’t seem to catch breath. Her heart was racing a hundred miles per hour.
“I know it’s not yet bedtime, but I have the feeling you’d like to try the mattress already now,” Benjamin asked her with a very sensual voice.
“I’d love to,” Elisabeth whispered in his ear and looked at him with dreamy eyes. She felt like her senses have abandoned her completely. It was an amazing feeling. Benjamin slowly unbuttoned her blouse and took off his white t-shirt, their trousers followed soon after.
When he saw Elisabeth just in her underwear, his desire multiplied instantly. She was perfect. He took her in his arms and laid her down on the bed. The smell of lavender invaded their minds as soon as their bodies came in contact with the fresh sheets…
Benjamin was very gentle and attentive, not only because Elisabeth was a virgin, but also because it was a special moment for both of them and he didn’t want to ruin it. Their first time together was wonderful, they would certainly not forget this vacation. Afterwards, they remained in the bed for nearly two hours chatting about random things and enjoyed the happy moment wrapped in each other’s arms.
Later that day, they took a walk to the center. Champs Les Sims was a relatively small, but very picturesque town with a lovely fountain decorating its main square. It was nearly the time for lunch, so Benjamin came up with the idea of trying the local specialty.
“I’ve eaten hundreds of toasts in my life, but this one, this one’s special,” Benjamin expressed his appreciation for the French cuisine.
“Yes. These people know what’s good. I’m sure they use only local ingredients. I can’t wait to try their wine,” commented Elisabeth. “Did you know that many of the world’s best fashion designers are or were French?” she suddenly changed the argument.
“Yeah, I think I heard the French had good taste in fashion,” said Benjamin and took a bite of his toast.
“Follow me,” told him Elisabeth and stood up from the table.
“Wait, where are you going?” Benjamin asked her, puzzled. “What about my toast?”
“I’ll buy you another. Later. Now, come.”
Benjamin took another bite of the French toast and almost felt guilty for leaving the rest on the plate. When Elisabeth saw the sad look on his face, she just smiled to herself and passed him a paper napkin. “Here, clean your hands.” Benjamin just looked at her blankly and did what she told him to do.
The moment he saw where they were headed, he suddenly understood the sudden change of argument.
“You really look great in these new clothes,” told him Elisabeth as they sat on a bench by the fountain.
“You think so?”
“The cerulean sweater really brings out the color in your eyes.”
“I wouldn’t tell you otherwise,” Elisabeth smiled at Benjamin and he finally seemed to like his new outfit that Elisabeth insisted on buying for him.
“I think you should work as a stylist. Looks like not everybody knows how to dress well,” Benjamin whispered to Elisabeth when an elderly woman walked by them.
“If everybody dressed like her I would become rich in a very short time,” Elisabeth giggled like a little girl. The old lady just looked at them disinterestedly and mumbled something to herself.
They were sitting on the bench listening to the birds sing in the trees when Elisabeth saw a postman run across the square. She suddenly remembered about the postcard she promised to send to her mother. This was her chance. She quickly stood up from the bench and ran after him.
Benjamin observed Elisabeth from afar. When he saw them greet in a rather friendly way he suddenly started feeling uneasy. Who was this man to embrace his girl with such nonchalance and even dare to kiss her on the cheek?
The old lady standing nearby noticed his discomfort and tried to set him at ease by explaining to him that it was a local habit and that there was nothing to worry about, but of course, Benjamin didn’t understand a word of what she said.
“I need to send a postcard to Italy. Do you sell postcards?”
“Je suis desolé, Mademoiselle, but I only deliver them.”
“Is there a place nearby where I could buy one?”
“Oui, oui, there’s a post office just around the corner. I’m headed there as well,” the postman informed her.
“Would you mind if I followed you?”
“Pas du tout!” he smiled at Elisabeth and they both headed towards the post office.
Where is she going? Benjamin thought to himself when he saw them walk away together. “Elisabeth!” he called from the bench. “Where are you going?”
When Elisabeth heard him call her name, she realized that she’s completely forgotten about him. The postcard for Kate was the only thing that mattered at the moment. She needed an alibi. She needed to prove that she really spent her summer in France. This way, her mother would never ask any questions. Like if Shang Simla has never happened. It was a perfect plan. “I’m going to send a postcard to my mom! I’ll catch up with you in a while!” she called back at Benjamin.
Dear mom, I’m sending you greetings from France as promised. I’ve been having a great time all the summer. This place is amazing! You should definitely come here with dad someday… There is so much to be seen. I’m going to visit the local nectary today, I’ll make sure to bring you a bottle of their best wine. Don’t worry, I’m not going to drink too much, also because I’m kinda running out of money… Guess it’s time to go home. I hope everybody is doing fine. I still have to meet with George, haven’t seen him in a while…
P.S. I met someone. He’s never been to Italy, so I was thinking that maybe we could come back together…
P.S. Say hello to dad, Finn and Zac : – )
When Elisabeth met up with Benjamin by the fountain, she proposed to go to visit the Champs Les Sims Nectary. The postman made a list of places worth the visit for her and the nectary was one of them.
“He told me I should try the Gralladina Cranerlet. He says it’s one of the best there is. I think he used the word ‘exquisite’.”
“Oh, did he. And what other exquisite suggestions did he make?” Benjamin looked at her in a way she’s never seen before. Elisabeth could tell he was definitely a little jealous.
“I asked him about the art gallery. It’s on the way to the nectary. Would you like to go there first?” she tried to smooth the situation.
“Yes,” Benjamin said dispassionately. Elisabeth was expecting a more enthusiastic reaction, but she decided to remain silent.
As soon as they entered the great halls of La Gallerie d’Art, Benjamin’s mood instantly improved.
“Pharaoh: King of Ancient Egypt,” Elisabeth read the title of the exhibition on the board by the entrance. “My parents spent their honeymoon in Al Simhara,” she told him in hope to start a pleasant conversation.
“Can you believe this? 3000 years of Egypt’s history in one building! That’s simply breathtaking,” Benjamin said in amazement as he observed the first exhibit, completely ignoring Elisabeth’s words.
“Yep. It surely is,” Elisabeth said idly.
“This must be the Cursed Sarcophagus of the Kings.”
“I bet you get cursed if you sleep inside,” Elisabeth tried to be funny.
“I don’t know. Wanna find out?” Benjamin winked at her. Elisabeth sighed in relief, he was back to his normal self.
“I think I’m fine. I wouldn’t want to risk combining the effects of two different curses.”
“Right, right… Well, let me try it then,” he said and pretended to climb over the red rope.
“No! Please! Don’t!” Elisabeth panicked. Suddenly, she didn’t feel so comfortable near the sarcophagus. She had a very bad experience with this kind of artifact.
“Let’s move to the next room?”
“Wait, I still haven’t seen the Blessed Sarcophagus of the Kings!”
“Fine. Now we’ve seen it. It looks just like the other one,” concluded Elisabeth.
“It doesn’t! This one is entirely made of gold. I think it belonged to a very important king.”
“Okay. We’ve seen the difference. Can we go now?”
“Is something wrong, my love?”
My love? Did he just call me… “Everything’s fine,” Elisabeth gave Benjamin the most beautiful smile.
“You’ve been acting very strangely for the past ten minutes,” Benjamin said with a worried tone and firmly hold her hands. “We can leave this very instant.”
“No, no… It’s just… It’s the sarcophagi. I can sense a very strong energy in this room. It doesn’t make me feel fine.”
“Oh, I didn’t know. Let’s leave.”
“It’s okay, you can stay. I’ll wait for you over there,” Elisabeth smiled at him and walked away towards the next exhibit. Luckily, there were no more sarcophagi, only a collection of canopic jars, statues of the Egyptian deities, fossilized cobras and other kinds of harmless ancient artifacts.
When they left the art gallery, the sun was already set. First stars appeared on the sky and the moon was rising.
They walked down the hill towards the hotel making a stop at the Catania Café for another serving of French toast.
When they finally got to their room, Elisabeth was so tired that she fell asleep within a few minutes. Benjamin took a quick shower and slipped into bed close behind Elisabeth, wrapping his arms around her.
He fell asleep soon after to meet with her in his dreams.
UNE PETITE LEÇON DU FRANÇAIS – A LITTLE LESSON OF FRENCH
As-tu vu notre nouveau professeur d’anglais? – Did you see our new English teacher?
Oui, je l’ai rencontré dans le bureau du principal. – Yes, I met him in the headmaster’s office.
Il a l’air sympathique, n’est-ce pas? – He seems nice, doesn’t he?
Oui, j’ai l’impression. – Yes, I think so.
Excuse-moi. Parles-tu anglais? – Exuse me, do you speak English?
Oui, oui! À la fin de cette rue. Là, regardez! – Yes, yes! At the end of this street. There, look!
Elle a demandé à MOI! – She asked ME!
Merci. – Thank you.
De rien. – You’re welcome.
Bonjour Madam, Monsieur. – Hello Mrs., Mr.
Je suis desolé, Mademoiselle. – I’m sorry, Miss.
Pas du tout. – Not at all.
AUTHOR’S NOTE: This episode is set in November, however, the weather season in Champs Les Sim is always summer. I wasn’t able to do anything about it, also because I play without mods. Thank you for understanding.