CC and I walk quietly along the corridor hand in hand and he tries to kiss me goodnight outside my room. I coyly avoid this without, I hope, hurting his feelings, thinking that I can’t possibly kiss him now and potentially, despite my best intentions, Monsieur le Grenouille Chaud later on.
I wave CC goodnight as he retires to his room down the hall. I wait until I hear his door close, then hotfoot it back upstairs where the bar is just closing. I secrete myself in a large, leather wing chair to await the midnight hour. (Just to remind you, I am also awaiting the guy I vowed not to touch with a sterilised bargepole which I have somehow failed to acquire and hide about my person.)
At 11.56 p.m. Hot Frog texts to say he’s free if I still want to meet him and if so, where am I? I text him back painstakingly one letter at a time, as I’m too excited to reset my phone to French predictive, and a few moments later, he appears as if by magic at my side. Mercifully, the red satin pantaloons have been exchanged for grey flannel trousers and a black cashmere polo shirt. God, he is gorgeous. All thoughts of MLP, CC, STD and the BBC are instantly forgotten.
‘This isn’t very discreet’ I whisper, conscious of my ‘reputation’ (huh?) and the odd staff member who’s still around.
‘Comm and ‘ave a dreenk in my rrroom’ he suggests disarmingly.
I shake my head slowly and say: ‘I don’t really want to do that…’
He appears not to understand why and I cave immediately. He gives me directions on how to access his roof apartment, slopes off with a satisfied smile on his face, and I follow him up at a discreet distance.
He lives in a studio at the top of the hotel. It looks like a panther’s lair: dark walls, deep pile carpets, soft lighting, leather furniture, TV droning quietly in the corner. I’m pretty sure this place has seen a not inconsiderable amount of sextracurricular activity. Am I about to become another notch on his bedpost or is he on mine?
He pours me a fruit juice (I’ve drunk quite enough for one night) and takes a small bottle of water from the fridge for himself. We sit down on separate sofas and talk. The expected plying of alcohol to weaken me for seduction does not take place. He tells me he never drinks, neither on nor off duty. We discuss the career of a Club Med ‘Chef de Village’ and the rootlessness attached to a life spent six months here and two years there. He says he loves it except when the customers complain, but the only real complaints he gets are from his own countrymen. I didn’t realise the French also hate each other!
I enjoy chatting with him as I hardly ever get a chance to practice my French and he repeatedly compliments me on my linguistic skill. He ain’t seen nothing yet! After a pleasant half an hour or so, I finish my drink and look at my watch. He asks if I’m tired and I say not particularly.
‘Zo why you go?’ he queries and in one move, he’s kneeling before me and his tongue is swirling around in my throat.
I think how recently it was that I was kneeling before MLP mourning his imminent demise and I marvel at the serendipity of life and how quickly a heart can heal. I also fleetingly consider the future possibilities with CC and my cup runneth over…