The Witches Malboeuf
The last time I’d seen Jesse Malboeuf was when we were children; I was 5 and he was 7. He was cruel to me then, excluding me from a game of hide and seek with his friends. "You aren't invited to play with us, Charlotte. They're my friends, not yours." I growled in fury and a spark of fire struck his foot, possibly from the bonfire thirty feet away, and I screamed as the fire grew upon his shoe. I ran back to my mother and tugged at her dress, sobbing into the gathered fabric I'd swept into my arms while young Jesse stomped the flames out. So I wasn’t exactly excited to be reunited with him now, and I had already decided I wasn't going to give him the time of day when I saw him.
But then I saw him: tall, regal, handsome and once he flashed his dazzling smile, I was obsessed. He pulled me into a delicate embrace, and I indulged in it, holding him close for as long as was appropriate, though when I closed my eyes, time seemed to come to a halt. When we withdrew from one another’s grasp, I noted a mischievous smile across his lips, and I couldn’t resist smiling shyly in return. Suddenly stunned by our relaxed, improper behavior, realizing what this meant, I looked about at the faces of everyone present, but they hadn’t seen the exchange.
My mother, Odette, and my father, Baroque, had been prattling away, but I couldn’t say about what, for my eyes saw only Jesse and my ears heard only the pounding of my heart as the blood rushed through my head, and for an instant, everything was suspended in time as I savored being enveloped into his embrace. I had breathed him in just as our bodies parted from the intimate nuzzle and I could still smell him on me. Never had I felt so intrigued as I was by how this moment came to be.
Jesse’s father, Baptiste, patted his son's shoulder, standing to Jesse's left, and smiled at him with pride gleaming in his eyes. Jesse's mother, Simone, was a true southern belle, having been born into massive wealth and her family tree included a slew of bigoted fools who all committed ruthless acts of violence, cruelty, and indulged in their own unfavorable exploits.
Jesse and I were so compatible on so many levels, and it genuinely surprised me that I had never known we shared so many interests, because surely I would have heard such things from Baptiste or Simone from any of the dozens of times I saw either of them each month. My mother and Simone were very close nowadays, having been classmates together from a very young age, they grew up in the same small herd of socialites.
I was, at first, ashamed of how I regarded him, my beloved Jesse, but the call of passion rang and echoed in my head, keeping me in a perpetual state of drunkenness through the billowing clouds of pheromones emitted from our longing, starved bodies.
The day after he had returned to my family's estate, I asked him to join me at the pool, which resided in its own locked sunroom, a freestanding building all on its own on the outer edge of my parents' land, tucked away in a location where no man dared to venture. I often wondered why the swimming pool sunroom was so far from the house, and I suspected my father had built it at a safe distance from the home he shared with his wife, so that my mother would not easily discover him inside the sunroom with other women, most commonly housekeepers looking to get a raise in pay. The idea made me pity my mother's foolishness and denial, for even my father's only child could see he was unfaithful to her. My father was a severely insecure man, possessing an endlessly vast fortune to settle and soothe his whims, and he indulged into his vices aplenty, far too frequently to mention.
Once inside, I latched the deadbolt to prevent anyone walking in suddenly, should we find ourselves in a precarious state. I hummed a tune that had been stuck in my head for days. My heart pounded nervously and parts of me ached to feel all of him against and inside all of me. I was no stranger to intimacy, for I had already succumbed to lustful temptation thrice before, all with my father's protégé, Quinton Savoie, who my father mentored and brought home for dinner several times over the last year, and we snuck off to the pantry and made out numerous times, and three times did we engage in sexual intercourse. I gave up on him after the third go because the poor dear could not refrain from detonating the instant he felt my body wrap around him, then bang, he burst, each time. He had a disappointed wife in his future.
I turned about as Jesse found his way, excitedly, to the diving board on the deep end. Before he plunged into the depth, he hesitated to observe me a moment while I untied my robe and let the flowy black silk cover fall to the concrete at my feet. He didn't bother resisting the urge to whistle at me and I blushed at his sparkling grin. He raised his brows again and opened his mouth as though he was about to speak, but held back and shook his head and waved at me while he chuckled under his breath to forget it and no matter how much harassment, I couldn't steal the words from his lips.
I inched my way in, stepping slowly down the ramp into the shallow, pausing to gasp each time the lukewarm water made contact with a sensitive patch of flesh, soaking me in the cool fluid, welcoming me into its depths, uneasily, unsteadily, disgracefully I strode in, trying to be cool but I was a clumsy girl and I slipped on the ramp and plunged awkwardly into the three-foot-deep part of the pool backwards and onto my rump. I dunked my head beneath the water and stayed there for a long second, enduring the moment of embarrassment before I emerged and gulped in room air, circulated by two large fans on opposite ends of the sunroom. Jesse had noticed my humiliation, for I could see it in his turquoise eyes, but he did not tease nor taunt me for the fumble. He was a true gentleman.
I, at first, waded in the shallow end and Jesse dove into the deep. When he reemerged from beneath the water, he yelped, "woo!" and he flung his soaked hair back, causing the flat flap of hair to slap against the top of his head. Then he guffawed at how emasculated he felt in that moment, experiencing the tepid water against the delicate parts of his body.
We danced about in the water, doing our waltz and wading from end to end, safely keeping our distance from one another, swapping places every ten or fifteen minutes. There were many disconcerting pauses, but we mostly got to know one another more intimately.
"Tell me of your days away at school," I implored, for I yearned and even begged my parents to send me to a boarding school, but my mother would hear naught of it.
"There isn't much to tell," he said. "It was an all-boys school, and I'm significantly less fond of boys than I am of girls, but I wouldn't necessarily rule it out entirely if I felt so inclined." He chuckled. "But no one at my school ever ceased my fancy."
"What else of your years in Connecticut? What of snow? I hear it's soft and fluffy like marshmallows. How did you enjoy your classes? Have you taken any coursework of interest?" I pried for every detail that molded him into the man he was today. I needed to know every fateful moment of his life and what had brought us to this moment, and I already knew my side of the story up to now.
"My favorite class was literature every year. Reading the wild thoughts of Shakespeare or the racy connotations of Chaucer is something I can really sink my teeth into."
"My favorite class too is literature. I thoroughly enjoyed The Count of Monte Cristo. I'm perpetually haunted by Edmund Dantes."
"You and everyone else," he laughed. He was so sophisticated, he possessed such a grand, profound presence, and I wanted to know more of him, all of him, every square centimeter of his body and every unturned stone within his mind. I felt my heart jump inside my chest and the twinge of eagerness that swelled between my thighs. "Have you read anything of William Faulkner's?"
"Only As I Lay Dying. Is it not the most depressing book ever written?"
"That it is," he agreed and beamed another shrewd smile, sly as a fox, smirked and nodded his head in concurrence. He somehow seemed impressed by me, though I was the intellectual equivalent of a peasant by comparison, for he had attended and graduated from the most prestigious boarding school in the nation, located in Greenwich, Connecticut. I could hear the difference in his southern accent, for he'd lived among the Yankees for four years.
We didn't get too close that day, as we were both still sorting out the details of the scandal of falling in love with one another within our own heads. It took all my strength most days to not mow him down and take him into my bosom and make passionate love to him. I wondered if he felt the same, for he maintained his façade quite well. But then there were little hints in the way his gaze often met mine, followed by a wicked smile and I would have been putty in his hands. I fervidly lost myself recurrently and thus I was left to mop my-melted-self off the white marble floor tens of times per day, and left to pick myself back up without ever having exposed that I was but a puddle on the floor before him.
We spent most of our time meandering about the estate complex. Resting atop a wooded acreage was a mansion with no less than fifty-thousand square feet of indoor living space, a stand-alone sunroom with a pool inside, a set of two tennis courts, a pirate's ship playground, a bunkhouse for the help, and two guesthouses, the larger of which was where Jesse had been sleeping. I wanted to sneak out each night and knock upon Jesse's door, though there were many inquisitive eyes belonging to the many security officers hired to stand guard through the night. My family was quite important within our community, for we were of old money.
We lived in South Baton Rouge, Louisiana, in the largest home in the parish and surrounded by trees so we felt we lived on an island. My father owned three hundred acres there, effectively ruling the parish with his dirty money and his corrupt ideas. My father was the CEO of an unscrupulous charitable organization that took members of a certain status and pooled their resources together in monstrous sums and then they used that money to pass exploitative laws that benefitted my father's fellow CEO friends while oppressing the working class. My father was a successful con man. I can still remember the day I learned my father was responsible for local and federal tax cuts on the wealthy, effectively increasing taxes for lower- and middle-class families; I was appalled and I swore never to forgive my father's imbalanced perception of what the world should be, for injustice meant unnecessary suffering of millions of innocents out there. That was the very day I discovered how cruel the world was. How virtuous and naïve I was then.
It was a Thursday afternoon when Jesse asked me to join him for a stroll around the grand garden, and it was the first time he pecked a quick kiss to my lips once we were out of sight from my family's home while I chattered like a chipmunk, gushing over Jane Eyre, then he bounded backward, out of my reach. He seemed surprised that I didn’t react with a slap to his face in response. Instead, I stepped closer and stood atop my tiptoes as I closed my eyes and inhaled an anxiety-relieving breath, effectively stopping time around me for several long seconds before pressing my lips to his once more, much harder and more deliberately than his peck. He parted his lips just a little bit and I felt his tongue lightly touching my lips, and I too opened my mouth just a few centimeters and our tongues met for the first time. I raised my arms and folded them around his neck, pulling him closer, closer, closer even still, for any distance apart was too far. I felt a twinge of desire in my loins, a tingle, a plea for our writhing bodies to meet in delicious woe and our souls to merge and he seemed to know just how and where to touch me, as if he could see into my thoughts. First he folded his arms around my lumbar curve and then he ran his left hand up my back and his right hand down to my derriere and grasped my buttock firmly. I could sense in his composure that he longed to unleash his overzealousness, but he was gentle and controlled. As we withdrew from our first kiss, I could see the agony upon his face and I knew he struggled with the same feelings I'd had. We were already in love by then.
I loved everything about him and I knew he understood my love for him, for he had never felt so strongly for another, as was evident in his eyes, those eyes of wisdom and great restraint. Jesse was the all-time champion of unfaltering patience. I couldn't take how complicated our love was, and most often I only wanted to be shrouded within his embrace, though we could not, for it was improper. But he already knew me so well, it sometimes took me aback. He must've been listening, I thought. He really saw me, he saw into me like no one else ever had. He seemed to understand my emotions before I had experienced them. He knew somehow, somehow he had me figured out in weeks rather than years.
Jesse Malboeuf was six feet in height. He was lean and muscular with a charming boyish face, though he always had a shadow of bristled facial hair, and he wore beautifully, his wavy light brown hair and bold turquoise eyes, like the sky. He had brilliantly blindingly white teeth, of which he took much pride. He was going to be a writer, as was I. In my mind, the image was lucidly clear: we lay tangled up with one another upon the large sofa of his guesthouse as we each dictated our stories into the notepads on our tablets.
He took my hand and pulled me to the building containing the swimming pool and we spent the better part of an hour making out passionately. We nearly lost ourselves more than once and we had to back-pedal over conversation until we wound up in one another's arms again. I didn't want to wait, it was he who resisted going any further. He would gaze upon me with wanting eyes, play with the tendrils of hair framing my face, and tilt his head a little to the right and then a soft smile would form upon his lips. When I asked him what was on his mind, he answered, "I think… I'm falling in love with you." His words scared me and I came to my senses.
What are we doing? The question echoed in my mind. We both know nothing could ever come of this so what are we doing? I was too afraid to ask him the question that haunted my dreams, for fear he would end it and then my heart would break, and I was never quite ready to face that point of devastation.
Hiding a romantic relationship from those who know you well is treacherous. I wanted so much to boast of my love and swoon over him publicly, but I knew I could not. It was entirely too complicated for my conscience to overcome, but yet somehow I lived on, day in, day out, repeating the same day filled with longing and melancholy. He was mine though he still felt so out of reach and it wore on my panged heart. I yearned for the day when we could be free. But until that day arrived, my soul ached relentlessly, exhausting my emotional stamina, forcing me to retire early each evening, alerting my mother that something was amiss, it was all so trying.
I lay supine on my wide bed, staring wearily at the ceiling embossed with Fleurs de Lis that met the beige walls, that matched the delicate off-white lace draperies and bedding, decorated by my grandmother especially for me during a trip I took with my parents to Paris. When we returned, my bedroom had been upgraded from a pre-adolescent girl's room, filled with puffy, furry pink and purple things, all of which I had outgrown, to a young woman's room and I was so proud of it. Grammy (my mother's mother) had come to live with us after Grampy died and she had sold their home in Metairie.
My mother was thrilled to welcome her mother to live with us, as was I, for I loved and admired Grammy quite a lot. She seemed to understand things about me that even I did not.. She pretended I could hide even the most buried thoughts deep inside the pit of my mind, but I knew she could read my thoughts. She always seemed to be up to date on my whereabouts and then winked at me when I came clean: "I stole away to go swimming with Jesse," after I'd been out a little too late with my handsome lover.
"Mmhmm," she responded and tapped her temple with her index finger before then pointing to me. "I know." Afraid of her apparent power, I fell back and trampled clumsily to my bedroom to cry in solitude. Did she know? I thought.
One afternoon, Jesse and I hid out to his guesthouse to be alone and free. I had vanished after saying nothing to my mother at the breakfast table, just smiling as I chewed, trying to keep myself together long enough to finish my meal. I stepped out through the back door after giving my used plate to Monica, the cook, to wash with the other soiled dishes. I frolicked gaily through the woods that separated my family home from the guesthouses on the north lawn, about a quarter of a mile from the main house. The guesthouses had their own parking lot, and the sunroom with the swimming pool shared the same parking lot on the south side of a dead highway that no one used, except perhaps my father's countless slew of lovers.
Upon realizing my father was likely adulterous, I began trying to keep an eye out for evidence of my theories, and one fine day, Jesse and I watched through the living room window of his guesthouse as a petite blonde lady with a lovely shape to her, nervously made her way from the front door of the smaller guesthouse and moments after she fled, my father stepped out through the same door and locked it behind him, straightened his clothes by sweeping his hands downward, to erase the indication that his suit had been wrinkled up on the floor of the family's guesthouse.
We laughed that our suspect had finally revealed himself, for Jesse and I had engaged in lengthy discussions about all the things my mother was oblivious to, for she was mine enemy. My mother had dreamt of one day having a daughter to pass on to another wealthy elder (over forty) whose first wife had died. I wasn't having that, for I romanticized everything to a ridiculous degree. Though I had never, until Jesse Malboeuf, known true love's tender touch, once I'd had a taste of his juices, I was addicted. While this day was no different than the abundance of that first summer when I'd fallen in love, I felt somewhat uneasy after seeing Mrs. Bellamy departing in a rush, with my father trailing closely behind.
Something told me to keep our interaction decent, so I kept my hands to myself while he made us some breakfast (even though I had already eaten). I sat properly on the chair, my ankles crossed and my hands gracefully placed atop my lap. I had worn a pair of freshly-pressed terra cotta capri pants and a sleeveless blouse with only a few dabs of the same color, though it was abundant in sage and maroon and turquoise and honey gold.
We stood at the window, peeking through the flax semi-translucent drapes, our mouths agape and our jaws on the floor. I turned to look at Jesse, surprised at how genuinely careless my father was with his extramarital affairs. Jesse and I wore the same expression: shock.
My nerves had cooled by the time we finished eating brioche French toast with stewed strawberries he had started in his slow cooker the night before. He made it each time I planned to show up for breakfast, as he knew well that it was by far my favorite treat, akin to funnel cake at the fair.
Being the rebels that we were, we sat on the rugged hardwood floor at the coffee table and ate from it while we watched repeats of old animations we grew up on, that still made us laugh like silly children. We slowly scooted nearer and nearer to one another until his arms were folded around me, pulling me tight against his body so there was no unoccupied space between us, the closest we could have been to one another without fusing together and forming one person, which was something that I saw in one of our favorite cartoons.
I rested my head against his chest and he leaned back against the cushy sofa and for over an hour we watched television, until boring adult programming came up on the screen, and then our focus shifted more onto one another. He pressed his soft lips to mine and held it for a long moment. "I love you," he said, smiling slightly. I folded my arms around his neck and closed my eyes, pausing the tender moment between us, me and my dearest friend and my doting lover.
"I love you too," I replied and mashed my lips against his aggressively, passionately, sensually. Our tongues danced their waltz, twirling, whirling about the other's, and once again I felt that pang of famine that he incited within me. We clumsily remained connected at the lips while we shed our clothes from the living room, down the hall, and to the master bedroom, leaving them where they fell.
We fell naked to the bed and united our ravenous bodies, thrashing and thrusting, moaning and suckling, soothing my starved body of my lascivious-natured cravings. I cried out time after time as he tickled the tiny knot between my thighs with his intrepid tongue. When we were satisfied and exhausted, I fell asleep in his arms.