Satry’s apartment was on the top floor of her building and each of the rooms opened onto a long corridor built around three sides of an interior patio. The living room floor was littered with books and cushions. Two empty coñac bottles and a dozen empty glasses stood on the tabletops. The ashtrays were spilling over. Another empty coñac bottle peeped out from beneath the couch. She smiled at Winterside apologetically and picked it up.
“Sorry. My servant’s been ill.
“Did you have a party?” He spoke like a proctor in a college dorm.
She moved toward him, extending her arms, holding her mouth up. Surprised, uncertain of what to do, he held her waist and cautiously touched his lips to hers.
She stepped back. “Would you like a drink?”
“Have to see what’s left.” She disappeared, returned with a bottle, two different sized glasses and his two hundred pesetas. “The others were dirty.” She filled his glass.
“That’s all right. What is this?”
“It’s all that’s left.” She checked the label. “It’s from almonds. Makes your mouth sweet.”
“This’s too much for me. I get drunk easily.”
“I am too. Very. Because I haven’t eaten. Sit down.” She motioned to the sofa. He sat in an armchair, she on the sofa.
“You ought not drink without eating.”
“I meant to but Alonso caught me in that café.” She waved it away, shook her head, got up to refill their glasses. He hadn’t finished his. She stood over his chair and took a long swallow.
He looked up at her. “Who’s Juan?”
That surprised her. “How do you know Juan?”
“You mentioned him to the old woman.”
“Ah,” she nodded. “He’s our cousin. We all grew up together.” She shook her head again and emptied her glass. “Too late, phone him now.”
“That’s pretty sweet to drink so fast.” He didn’t believe Juan was her cousin. He wished she’d sit back down on the sofa.
“Forgot your name. Don’t be angry.” She sat on his lap. “Remember it this time.”
“Close enough.” He moved his drink so it wouldn’t spill.
“Put it on the table.” She put her arms round his neck.
He sat stiffly, holding his drink out of the way. “I told Alonso I’d take you home.”
“My brother doesn’t decide what I do. I decide.”
She put his drink on the table. “You’re not drinking it.” She rested her forehead against his.
“It’s too sweet.”
“Makes your mouth sweet.” She touched her tongue to his lips.
“You think you can have any man you want.”
She smiled. That was what she did think.
“There are some who don’t care that much.”
She continued smiling.
“You think I’d beg you?”
“You don’t have to.”
He felt cornered—afraid of other men she made love with—Spaniards, more passionate, less inhibited, more skilled. He was cold, insufficiently masculine, maybe even impotent. He wanted to leave. She was challenging him to make love to her. It wasn’t possible. Did he refuse Was that how to assert his dignity?
From the way Felicity picked up her fork at dinner, he knew whether she’d suffer him that night. Every move, every word all the rest of the evening confirmed her first gesture. His response was to help her deny him rather than admit she had the power to do it on her own.
He grabbed Satry’s long braid in his fist, pulled her head back and rooted at her mouth with his lips trying to make her ask him to stop,. He dropped to the floor, pressed her down amid the cushions, books and ashtrays, pulling at her skirt, grunting, trying to scare her, make her beg him to stop.
“Not here,” she said. “Let’s go inside.”
He sat back down in the chair and closed his eyes. She sat on his lap again.
“You have much pride,” she said andrubbed her nose against his cheek.
Proud? No he just wanted to slink back to his room before he embarrassed himself. “Pretty small pride,” he said. “Not begging for something you don’t want.”
She stood up and swayed. “You’re not proud; you’re crazy.” Hands out to balance herself, she left the room. He sipped at his too-sweet drink. He heard footsteps down the corridor. She didn’t return. What was she up to? She still didn’t return.
He busied himself by consolidating half-filled ashtrays and picking up glasses. He sensed she was back. He hadn’t heard her. He turned. She was in the doorway, still smiling. She’d taken off her shoes. She’d taken off all of her clothing.
“Didn’t want to get my dress wrinkled.”
He went back to the armchair carrying an ashtray, staring at the floor, hearing her bare feet pad toward him. She sat on his lap. He put the ashtray on the arm of the chair, held his cigarette so it wouldn’t burn her.
“Have you ever been with a Spanish woman?”
“Where did you meet her?”
“You had to pay her.”
She moved her hips in his lap. The soft nipple of her breast brushed his cheek. He sat, one hand holding the ashtray, the other his cigarette.
“Do you think you have to pay me?”
“No. But I think you’re drunk.”
She moved her hips in his lap. He mashed his cigarette into the ashtray and put his hands on her bare waist. Her skin was hot and very smooth. It felt as if her heart were beating just beneath the surface.
“Your hands are cold.”
“They always are.”
She put her head on his shoulder, opened the top buttons of his shirt, moved her hand across his chest. “A little boney. I like strong men.”
“Most women do.”
“I’m not like most women.”
“I wouldn’t know. I’ve never seen you when you were sober.”
“Why do you keep saying that? I know what I’m doing.”
“You know what you’re doing all right.”
She laughed. “I ought to. I’ve done it enough times. But that doesn’t bother you with the women at Chicolito’s.”
“They’re easy to understand. It’s their job.”
“I’m easy to understand too. I like to make love.”
He shook his head. “Women don’t make love because they like to. Especially in Spain. You can’t be that different from everyone else.”
“How do you know so much? Were you a big conqueror of women in America?”
He shook his head. “I was married.”
“Ah,” she nodded. “Is that why you act so reluctant?”
“I don’t know why.”
“That’s right.” She corrected herself. “You go with the women from Chicolito’s.” She moved close to him. “Pretend I’m one of them. Pretend I’m from Chicolito’s.”
He felt that was a sad thing for her to say. He touched her tenderly and for the first time, felt warmth. “You’re not like them.” He put his arms about her waist.
She kissed each of his lips, took his hand, pulled him into the corridor and down to her bedroom. The bed was open, the sheets rumpled. Had someone been with her earlier that day. He hung back. She pulled him onto the bed. She took off his shirt.
“You’re not going to hurt me,” she said. “You’re going to make love to me.” After she’d undressed him, he moved to kiss her. “No.” She pulled him between her knees. “Right now.”
“Speak to me,” she said, after a time. “Say something.”
“Try! Go on!”
“I never can. Not even in English.”
“When it happens for you, don’t close your eyes. Look at me.”
“All right,” he promised.
“Hurry,” she said. “Hurry! Hurry!”
She used her fingernails, her thighs, the soles of her feet. She spoke too fast for him to understand. “Is it now?” she kept asking.
“All right,” he said. “All right.”
“Don’t close your eyes. Look at me. Let me see into your eyes.”
He pressed his forehead into the pillow.
Afterwards she wouldn’t let him go. He felt uncomfortable at first.
“Why wouldn’t you look at me? Why did you close your eyes?”
The uncomfortable feeling stopped. He pushed up on his hands and watched her body move. He saw her nodding her head. He stared into her eyes, surprised by his own resilience, surprised a woman so beautiful would consent, no not just consent, wish to make love with him.
“Yes,” she said. “It’s happening for me. It’s happening for me again.
To be continued