124 Pages
English

Landscape Of A Woman - erotic novel

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Landscape Of A Woman

Byron Newman

Nathalie Hall is beautiful, smart, and wealthy. She is the epitome of the mid-80’s success story. From her humble roots as a native of Jamaica, she was raised and educated in New York and London, and is now living a lavish and sophisticated lifestyle in Paris. Her current relationship with Lisette, the former French queen of punk rock, has developed into a partnership of love and equality, and she seems to have it all. But the foundation of this fulfillment is a history of young lust and love stemming from her tumultuous affair ten years earlier with Tyrone Bellingham, an aristocratic, English, drug-fueled photographer.

A compelling debut novel full of compassion, eroticism and humour, written by Byron Newman, for thirty years a photographer for Playboy USA.

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Published by
Reads 37
EAN13 9782363079725
Language English

Legal information: rental price per page 0.0037€. This information is given for information only in accordance with current legislation.

Landscape Of A Woman
Byron Newman
A novel
Chapter 1 : Bittersweet Lisette waited in the Café de L'Opéra in Paris. She sat near the door so she would see him when he arrived. She toyed nervously with her shock of dyed blonde hair. She wore tight blue jeans with a white T-shirt under a leather jacket. Her lips, like a bow, like Clara Bow, were painted pink, and in the ladies toilets she leant forward towards the mirror to check the condition of the outline. She put fingers in her hair and teased it up, noticing the top had become a little flat, and returned to her seat to wait, impatiently. They had met some weeks before at a party in the apartment of a mutual friend, on the left bank. It was themed as all white, and she sat in the corner all evening in her ripped wedding dress. Theo was wearing the diminutive host's white suit, three sizes to small. The trousers some four inches short of the top of his shoes and with expanses of bright yellow socks on view, afforded him a quite ridiculous presence. He had spent the evening being the filling in a transsexual conversation sandwich, squashed onto a small chaise langue, and had enjoyed the exotic attention from a third sex. They talked about 'beaucoup de choses', most of which he did not understand because Portuguese was a foreign language to him. Lisette observed him through her wedding veil and liked what she saw. She was small and vibrant, tightly wound, with a waif like beauty. When it came to the time that people started to depart, and Theo had extracted himself from his ménage à, trois, she found herself beside him in the bedroom where coats had been thrown on a bed in an unruly pile. Lisette's was easy to spot, resembling a recumbent gorilla, and he assisted her to climb inside. The coat was a full length one, and the hem was ragged and discoloured from dragging behind her on the streets. Rather than being swamped, it was heavily tailored and allowed her petite figure to maintain its integrity. Theo retrieved his classic English fawn coloured coat with darker velvet collar, and hampered by the strictures of his undersized white suit, decided to sling it over his arm. “Where are you heading for?” she said. “Actually, I am staying in St-Lazare.” “Well I am in Pigalle. We should share a cab.” “Well we certainly shall then.” His accent was refined English to the point of parody. Lisette thought he was a proper English Gent, if a little bizarre. What was it about the older man she found attractive? She put it down to father replacement, not exactly chuffed at the idea, but fuck it, at least he wasn't some snotty nosed kid who had no idea about how to treat a 'lady'. To Theo, she was an exotic and perhaps another to add to his collection. They charmed each other on the journey through Paris and consequently ended up in her loft apartment in the heart of Pigalle, in rue Blanche, close to the Moulin Rouge. Lisette was feeling most pissed off. Almost an hour had passed since their arranged rendezvous time, and there was no sign of him. She cursed him silently. Fucking English toffee-nosed pompous pig. She chastised herself for falling for it again. How many times before she would learn? One fuck, and that yearning for the special relationship reared its familiar and tragic head. One failed marriage and the hope that springs eternal had just sprung up and shafted her good and proper. She ordered a Campari and soda. She had never quite got over the '70's. Bittersweet is what she tasted; bitter was how she felt. And twisted, and disappointed. She recalled their lovemaking that night, a few weeks previously. Had she pushed the envelope too far? She remembered asking him to hit her harder, as they fucked doggy style on her unmade bed. Had he noticed the still unhealed welts caused by another encounter? He had declined saying that he did not wish to hurt her. Fucking English manners. They rode together, climaxing in a damp heap.
Chapter2 : Another exotic Theo sat at the stern of the SNCF ferry and watched as the white cliffs of Dover receded into the channel mists. He took his pose and demeanour from the Ford Maddox Brown painting 'Leaving England', with staring slightly bloodshot eyes focused at the horizon, and resignation etched on his face. He felt almost heroic. Forty one years old and unmarried, he was on his way to his latest infatuation. The weather was dank and sodden, typical for early November. Trees with sparse wine gum coloured leaves leant over towards the track and were thrown back by the vortex from the train he had boarded in Calais as it sped up and headed out into the bleak landscape. Soon the pointed spires of the churches of the Somme thrust their blackened fingers up to the sky which blanketed the terrain, leaden and indifferent to the blood soaked fields of slaughter. Rooks circled in formations as they prepared to descend to the standing sentinels of isolated copses on low slung hills. Pastures slipped down to scrubby hedges beside the track, electric cabling or was it telephone wires motioned passed the window, dipping and swaying in a macabre dance. He saw as fields intersected a place where lovers could lay down. A skirt riding up and pulled aside, releasing with fumbling hands through buttoned flies. Motion made him stiffen like the imagined lover of the field. Where wrecks of men had searched for limbs that a moment before had been attached, now only a gushing stump remained. Pain extinguished by shock. Mud, a poultice unwelcome. The lovers coupling on the ground that had born witness to the horrors of trench warfare. Le grand mort where carnage on a monumental scale had been perpetrated. La petite mort, the 'little death' of post-coital tristesse. Melancholy, like an ejaculation unloaded into a tissue swept through him unwanted. The dim reflection stared back at him with hollow eyes. He remembered his great uncle Henry had mapped the German positions as part of his duties in artillery. He recalled hearing of the tunnelling around Ypres and the explosives that tore huge holes in the earth and rattled the tea cups in Downing street. Fragments of men the size of a thumbnail was all that was found. A series of lakes formed in the round craters, where today children splashed. “What is this obsession with human destruction? What kind of a foul freak are you?” he asked himself discreetly. Fellow passengers sitting opposite across the Formica table were regarding him with a look of total indifference. “Just the normal kind,” the answer came back unconvincingly. He decided to cut short the interrogation and made his way unsteadily to the buffet car where he quickly dispatched a cup of tepid coffee and a baguette jambon, standing by the window, legs akimbo for balance, watching bleakness slip by. Eventually the dull scenery changed into the suburbs of Paris; graffiti smothered, gathered in close proximity to the tracks. The mass spilled out onto the platform and with some artful dodging he reached the gate. A cold wind blew through the station as it always did. Out onto the street, as the evening set in, and although he rarely smoked, he bought a pack of unfiltered Gitanes to get himself in the mood, and then with bag slung in what appeared to him in the shop window reflections nonchalantly over the shoulder, he strode off downhill in the direction of L'Opéra, feeling slightly French, and as a consequence, a little smug. Crossing Boulevard Haussmann next to Printemps, with a spring in his step, he failed to look left instead of right. He died instantly under the wheels of a bus.
Chapter3 : Infatuation
Thered plush velvet banquette Lisette was sitting on shifted a little and brought her crashing back to the present. She had not noticed the entrance of a woman who was now sitting in close proximity to her. If she had, she would have undoubtedly been impressed. She was dressed in a tailored Chanel style suit in pale coral pink with cream edging. The pencil skirt sat just above the knee. The year was 1984, and the young women embodied the dress ethic of the time. The shoulder pads of the jacket accentuated her broad shoulders and narrow hips. She moved with an athleticism and a self assurance that had not gone unnoticed by everyone other than Lisette. She had approached the bar, ordered a cappuccino and a cognac, and then leaning back, surveyed the other occupants of the cafe. There was something powerful about her disposition, even a little masculine. She flipped her thick dark hair over to one side with a graceful wave of her hand. A black quilted handbag on a long gold chain swung a little from the crook of her left arm. The interlocking Cs caught the light as she opened the bag and pulled out a pack of Pall Mall cigarettes. The barman who was paying her a lot attention reached over and applied the flame of his plastic lighter to the end of the smoke. It illuminated her full lips which were sharply defined and glistening with lip gloss.
Lisette could smell her now. It was a scent she knew well, Arpège, an older style perfume, sophisticated and decadent in equal measure. Lisette looked up into her face, the colour of toffee. One eye of the stranger was partially obscured by her hair as she leant forward and touched the side of Lisette's face.
“Are you ok?” she asked, “you look like you have seen a ghost.” Lisette felt herself blush and diverted her gaze. “My name is Nathalie,” she continued, “I am so sorry, I do not mean to embarrass you, but you looked so upset I thought I would come over and see what I could do to cheer you up.”
“That is very sweet of you,” replied Lisette, “it's nothing really, just some English bastard who has stood me up. I've been sitting here for over an hour, and he is a no-show.”
“Men!,” Nathalie snorted, “I might have known it. Take it from me honey, they are a total waste of space, dickheads.” Lisette sniffed and nodded in agreement.
“Yeah, I can relate, a bunch of dickheads,” she echoed, looking up into the eyes of the stranger and smiling with complicity.
“How did you know I spoke English?”
“Intuition”, replied Nathalie, “and the fact that my French is adequate, but not great.”
“Well, my French is great, but not adequate.”
“So what are you going to do about all this? Sit here lame or have a drink with me and forget all about it?”
“Well I guess the drink is a better option,” she said smiling, already feeling a little less miserable.
“What will it be?” Nathalie enquired, “more of that red stuff; what the hell is that anyway? it looks pretty hardcore.”
“It's Campari and soda, and don't say it, I know, it is so 1970's.”
“Hey, whatever turns you on. I love retro. What's it taste of?”
“Earwax mixed with sugar.”
“Yuck sounds deadly,” said Nathalie wrinkling up her nose, “but the colour is cute. Hang loose and I will return.” She slid off the seat and strode purposefully to the bar.
Lisette wondered why this stranger was being so nice to her. She had become used to being recognised, but that had dropped off in recent years. Upon leaving school, Lisette had formed a band with some other like minded girls. She had looked across the channel and had seen what was going down in the UK. The French were always someway behind the curve as far as musical trends were concerned. Johnny Halliday, an ageing rocker, still sat on top of the pop pile. Punk had arrived like a slap in the face of the establishment in London, kicking the remnants of longhaired hippy type bands into the long grass. The new music was raw, irreverent and loud, and usually just three or four chords. She threw out her kaftans and flares, spiked up her hair and started to wear all black. She had bought drainpipe vinyl pants, cutting down the outer seams, and then joining the legs back together again with safety pins. She got together with her posse of three girlfriends who had some musical ability, and they rehearsed whenever they could in the garden shed of the drummer, whose parents lived in a big house in the suburbs. Lisette had her heart set on being the singer, and no one raised any objections. She had a brittle shrill voice and developed a sneering and edgy delivery that was perfect for what they were playing. They listened intently to the English punk bands and copied the chord sequences, changing the order around a bit so as not to be over derivative. She applied thick black make up around her eyes and put another large pin through her ear. They came up with what they all agreed was a great name for the band, ‘Revolution’. The name sparked off ideas about a look, and they found some cheap white wigs in a fancy dress shop and dressed them up with fake pearls and feathers to look like the powdered wigs of the th 18 century French aristocratic ladies of the court. The contrast of these with black punky ripped and pinned clothes, suspenders, and laddered stockings showing through under vinyl miniskirts, was a disturbing and powerful combination. Her parents were horrified by these new developments in their daughter's life. She ignored their closeted conservative values, and with a cassette they had made on a cheap recorder, she secured the band a gig at a club in St Michelle. Then it all started to snowball. Their first gig went down a storm. A suit from a record company spotted them, and they were given a one record recording contract, with an option for further recordings if the first one did well. Funds became available offset against future earnings. Lisette busied herself writing lyrics and putting them to the basic riffs they were able to play. She penned a song called “Après moi, le déluge” after a famous speech by former president of the Republic, Charles de Gaulle, and threw in some lines in English. The bands localised left bank following spread around the country with the release of the single. The record charted and reached number two, not quite deposing some other old french crooner off the top spot. Now things started to move fast. The press ran lurid headlines about the terrible influence the punk invasion, and particularly this native version, had on the fair youth of France. Some radio stations refused to give air time to the single which increased
their notoriety. A mini tour was put together playing the main provincial towns around the country. Lisette had to take to disguising herself to avoid being hounded by the press or spat at in the street. At gigs, being spat at or 'gobbed' was a sign of approval but the street 'gobbing' was anything but that. They supported fledgling British punk bands The Sluts and Geronimo Sisters in an all girl band tour of the UK. During the Jubilee summer of 1977, the Revolution hung out with other like minded punks at the Roxy in Covent Garden in London. Some money came their way, and Lisette put down a deposit on a small apartment in Pigalle, much to the relief of her uptight parents who were only too glad to see the back of her and the press that had besieged the entrance to the apartment block where they lived. Lisette loved the attention, became the spokeswoman for the band and courted controversy at every opportunity. But as the Seventies petered out another wave of youth bands dubbed the New Romantics began to take over, and punk bands were consigned to history.
She wondered if this alluring stranger had twigged her identity. Her look was different now, more Ramones than Sex Pistols. “Play it cool”, she told herself, as Nathalie swept back, a drink in each hand.
“Et voila mademoiselle, earwax on ice. Here's looking at you kid!” and she clinked her glass of amber against the glowing red of Lisette's Campari. She sat down very close and smiled, swishing her cognac around in the glass. Lisette noticed how elegant and beautifully manicured Nathalie's hands were. The nails were long and shaped into ovals and painted a deep coral to match her outfit. She could see the bones of her fingers move under the taut brown skin.
“What ace hands you have,” she could not help herself commenting. Nathalie inspected them, tilting her head from side to side as if weighing up the pros and cons, and then stroked the cheek of Lisette again.
“Thank you; you are very sweet.”
“So what's your name, where do you come from and what do you do?” Nathalie asked, as if about to check the questions off on a list.
“I am Lisette, Lisette Lisieux.” She waited for a reaction, a flicker of recognition, but there was none.
“What a fantabulous name,” encouraged Nathalie.
“Yes, I thought so when I chose it. I liked the alliteration like Marilyn Monroe, or Claudette Colbert and of course Brigitte Bardot. What do I do? Well, I used to be in the music business. My father forbade me from using the family name when I decided to become a singer, rather than some dreary academic career he had in mind for me; that's why I had to find another name. The business has rather given me up, so perhaps he was right in trying to dissuade me. And I live here, in Pigalle.”
“My God, how lame. There you go, men, as I said, a waste of space, airheads, control freaks!”
“Got him in one,” laughed Lisette, “and what about you?”
“It's a long and tortuous story so I will give you the condensed version. I was born in Jamaica. My father was a professional cricketer, my mother Swedish. They split up when I was twelve, and I moved with Mum to the Caymans and then to New York, London and eventually Paris. She worked as a travel agent, travelled a lot, and was my Mum, so naturally I followed her. I started my own business as photographer's agent, one at first, now too many, and it's going really well. Oh!, and I live in Neuilly, and I think you know my name, Nathalie, Nathalie Hall”. She leaned back on the bench seat and sighed as though a great weight had been lifted, and then giggled with her hand over her mouth. She tapped her front teeth with a nail.
“So, do I get the job?”
“You certainly seem to have some kick ass credentials.” Lisette eyed Nathalie up and down flirtatiously. She tried to estimate how old this strikingly beautiful woman was; early thirties? perhaps younger. She took in the swell of her breasts under the tailored jacket, her flat stomach, the curve of her hips and the ever increasing amounts of nylon clad legs that were on show as she reclined back a little in the seat. Her own boldness took Lisette by surprise. She appreciated beauty regardless of gender; girls had hit on her before, but she could see Nathalie was not a girl, and the idea of possibly being seduced by such an exotic, sophisticated, stunning mature woman flattered her ego, so she pressed on regardless. All thoughts of the shit who had stood her up had begun to fall away as she giggled and flirted with her new friend.
Nathalie leant forward and kissed her on the check. Her hair brushed against her mouth, and she whispered in her ear.
“Baby, I sense you are feeling a little burnt out. Why don't you let me look after you all for a little while?” She feigned an exaggerated American accent as she spoke, with shades of Patois.
“Only if you take care of me as well.” Lisette loaded the phrase with innuendo, which she knew would not be lost on Nathalie.
“Sweet thing, Mama's gonna take good care of you, mega, be sure of that.”
'Strangers in the Night' by Frank Sinatra was playing on the sound system, so, thought Lisette, this must be right.
They finished their drinks and chatted on for a while, and then slid out of the cafe onto the edge of Place de L'Opéra, a little intoxicated by drink and infatuation. Lisette hailed a cab. A fine drizzle had begun to fall, and in the warmth of the car they sat in the back holding hands soothed by the rhythmic swish of the window wipers. They travelled first to Pigalle, 'the whore that squats at the feet of Montmartre' was how Nathalie described the area, and Lisette ran up four flights of stairs, rammed a few essentials into a bag, and within minutes was back in the taxi. She felt sleepy and laid her head on Nathalie’s shoulder pads… what a thoughtful fashion. She smiled at the idea and snuggled closer. Nathalie released her hand and put an arm around her shoulders. There was no conversation now. The physical closeness precluded small talk. As Lisette dozed, Nathalie looked at the familiar passing landmarks: Place de la
Madeleine with its replica of the Parthenon, Place de la Concorde and then the Champs-Élysées, the Arc de Triomphe and on to Neuilly.
Nathalie's apartment on the Avenue Henri Martin was palatial by Lisette's standards. Pigalle was not known for marble floored halls and spacious reception rooms. Being in Nathalie's apartment, on her patch, Lisette felt less comfortable than in the neutral territory of the taxi, and she sensed a need to re-establish their closeness. Nathalie had another agenda.
“I'm going to run you a bath,” she called out over the sound of gurgling water, “and after, I will give you a massage.” She came out of the bathroom and found her new friend slumped into the large black leather sofa like a couch potato. She looked so small and pale, and Nathalie already felt protective of her.
“You look bushed babe. Take a chill pill and jump into that bath. I have put some tea tree essential oil in there which will help you be nice and relaxed for your massage. I said I would look after you, and I meant it. And I will teach you how to look after yourself a little better too.”
“Have you been sent here to me to be my guardian angel?” asked Lisette, lying back into the sofa with her eyes closed.
“Something like that,” Nathalie whispered. She unbuttoned her jacket in front of a large Venetian mirror. The room was cavernous with two full length windows at one end, leading out to small balconies with wrought iron balustrades. There were Turkish rugs hanging on the walls and lots of framed photos and paintings arranged randomly around in any space that was available. Alcoves either side of the grand marble fireplace were fitted with shelves and lined with books. She studied herself for a second, then took off the jacket and dropped it onto a small console table under the mirror. Peeking through one half opened eye, Lisette's saw that under the jacket she wore only a black bra. Nathalie unzipped the top of the skirt and wriggled it down over her hips. The skirt dropped to reveal a g-string, suspender belt and smokey black stockings.
“My God!” she yelped, “do you always dress like that?”
“What's the matter you not likey?”
“Sure I likey; it's bitchin'.”
“Where did you learn to speak English so well?” Nathalie swung round to face her. Her body in the low ambient light looked fearsome.
“Ah, you know, just hanging out. I pick up languages a bit like you picked me up, easily. I'm easy. Maybe you can also teach me how to be a bit more 'hard to get'.”
“So that's what you think I did?” Nathalie feigned surprise. “I saw myself more in the role of the good Samaritan.”
“That's it, you shepherd, me sheep, if you want to get biblical about it.”
“Ba Ba Ba,” Nathalie, bleated, “now get your sweet arse into that bath before I blitz you and
turn you into lamb chops.”
Lisette eased herself out of the sofa and sauntered past Nathalie, who was still standing in her underwear in the middle of the room.
“You have no idea of the effect you have on me have you? standing around there in your undies like that, big-time,” she said over her shoulder.
“Oh, I think I do”, she replied, followed her into the bathroom and grabbed a white towelling bathrobe with Paddington bear emblazoned on the back from behind the door. She left the room leaving Lisette alone with her bath. Lisette cleared a small patch in the steamed up mirror with her hand and examined her face. Massacre had smudged under her eyes, and her bleached spiky hair was dishevelled.
“Hello street urchin,” she spoke to herself, “welcome to Paradise.” She struggled out of her blue jeans, whipped off the New York Dolls T-shirt and gingerly tested the water temperature with her toes.
“Ace,” she sighed, and lowered herself down into the fragrant water until she was completely submerged. She washed herself thoroughly between her legs with a large Roger Gallet eau de cologne soap bar, and gave her face the same treatment. She felt like was scrubbing off the last remnants of Theo, the images and thoughts washed clean away, until he no longer existed. What a tragic error that had been, she thought. But what if she had not been waiting there in the café? She would not have met Nathalie, and she would not now be here, luxuriating in a perfumed bath.
“As one door closes,” she whispered to herself, “other ones open up.”
She opened and closed her legs a few times to illustrate the point, feeling the water flow over her thighs in gentle waves.
Nathalie called out from the other room.
“Are you all right in there? I have some food prepared when you are ready.”
“Ok if I use this other robe here?” Lisette shouted over the sound of the bath emptying.
“You feel free, just make yourself at home.” Nathalie was in the kitchen rattling the pots and saucepans.
They sat at a small table and ate scrambled eggs which Nathalie shovelled up onto her fork using a heavily buttered half baguette as a knife.
“How long have you lived here?” Lisette enquired, looking around the kitchen and admiring the black granite work surfaces glistening with flecks of iridescence. She had not realised how hungry she was and had wolfed down her food. Nathalie was still eating. She chewed thoroughly, swallowed and answered.
“Oh, ten years at least. Most brill place I ever had. I love it here. It's peaceful, and I have the Bois and the Jardin d’Acclimatation virtually on my doorstep, and it's also just a stroll down to Bagatelle as well”.

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