His name was Romain and I was in Paris on a summer break from college when he nearly ran me over with his motorcycle. Okay, it was my fault since I was ogling this gorgeous hunk of masculinity in his ripped T-shirt and tight jeans and I got too close to the curb and stumbled into the street.
“Pardon, mademoiselle,” he said, knowing he wasn’t to blame, but taking it on the chin anyway.
Brooding dark eyes with unruly dark hair gave him an outlaw look. Sitting astride his big motorcycle, he glared at me, his strongly arched brows furrowed as if he were sizing me up. I felt naked under his penetrating gaze. And I liked it. I was sure the gods watching over lonely college co-eds in strange lands had sent him to me.
How could I resist when he offered me a ride?
We became a twosome that summer. Inseparable day and night. I have no doubt he drove the fastest, sleekest motorcycle in Paris. Speeding up and down the bustling Boulevard Saint-Germain and the Latin Quarter with me on the back. A long, crusty baguette in one hand, holding onto his muscular bod with the other.
My fingers seeking his hard chest through the holes in his ripped T-shirt.
Ah, yes, the moments memories are made of.
“Hold on tight, ma chérie,” he yelled into the wind scented with the lingering perfume of lost queens and courtesans. Even the smoky exhaust couldn’t mask it. “I’m going to put pedal to the metal, as you Americans say.”
“I’m not going anywhere.” I snuggled up close to him. Damn, I loved the feeling I got hugging his body. The strong musky smell of his maleness hit my nostrils, reminding me of the sultry nights I’d spent in his arms in my tiny hotel room on the rue du Sommerard…our bodies twisted together in harmony, him whispering words of endearment in French, me wishing I’d paid more attention in French class.
M. Appel, my professor, would have raised an aristocratic eyebrow and tapped his pointer on the edge of my nose. “Bien, mademoiselle,” I could hear him say. “I told you someday you’d regret not studying your French idioms.”
So be the folly of youth.
But Romain and I didn’t have trouble communicating between the sheets. I was tempted to tell that to M. Appel when the fall quarter started. In three weeks. Till then, Romain was all mine.
“Bon,” the sexy Frenchman said, shifting his weight on the leather seat of his motorcycle and pushing his butt into my groin, sending me to paradise. “Let me show you Paris like you’ve never seen her.”
Off we went.
We rode around Paris on his big, sexy motorcycle. Up the steep hills of Montmartre and past Sacré-Cœur, then the fancy boutiques on the rue de Rivoli before zooming under the bridges where the homeless of Paris sought refuge from the chaos above.
As they had for hundreds of years.
Every day, we stopped under the bridge and brought fresh baguettes to the people huddled there. Gathered around the burning flame in the old metal trashcan, eking out an existence. I had no idea Paris had so many les exclus, as they were called. It broke my heart. I saw them begging on church steps, at train stations, in the park with the carousel.
Romain told me his family was once homeless after his father died. His mother and three little sisters lived under the bridge when he was fifteen and they couldn’t find room in a shelter. He worked as a laborer till his hands bled so he could get them a tiny apartment. Over the years, he worked even harder to better himself, go to university and, now in his late twenties, he had his dream bike.
He rode it everywhere.
His muscular arms and big hands maneuvering his lean, mean machine through ancient narrow streets and back alleys. Me on the back. His strong torso crushing my breasts, his hips grinding against mine, his body heat so wonderfully intense, I melted into him. By the time I had to go home to the States, I’d ripped apart half a dozen of his T-shirts with my nails. Holding onto him. Wanting him.
And when we made love at night, he rode…mais non, that’s my little secret.
A summer in Paris I’ll never forget.
She wore gray.
He wore blue.
But their love defied the boundaries of war.