Her legs are crossed, elbow on her knee, her eyes darting in three-four cadence as her splayed fingers grip, middle finger straight along the spine. Her other hand was poised, conductor-like, absently stroking the edges, waiting to drag down the corner and run her fingers along the back of the page about to be turned. She knew he was watching her.

"What?"

She didn't bother to put the book down but peered over it.

"Nothing. Just looking."

"No. You're watching. There's a difference."

"All right. I am watching. Does it bother you?"

She raises an eyebrow in mock indifference.

"No. What, you're jealous of my book?"

"No. Should I be?"

He picks up a book of his own. Removes the marker. Begins to read. She stretches, cat-like, points her toes and careens her neck. Her hair looses over the temple of her glasses and she returns it to behind her ear. All this he watches, then rests his eyes on the page, on one word. Come. She is a blur before him, out of focus. Eventually he continues on, drags his eyes over the next line and the next, until,

Thunk

She drops the book and rolls to her stomach, knees bent, feet crossed at the ankles in the air. Now she is not facing him. He's free to peruse the curve of her back, the arches of her feet, how she rolls her shoulders behind her ears to rest her chin on her hand, the way her tendrils of her hair sweep the bed.

She breathes in sharply, and swallows, lifting her chin. She looks away from her tome, then returns.

She is growing flushed. Ever so slowly. He knows now that if she sat back up again he would see the blush rising from her chest in shades of scarlet gradation. She's fingering the turning page sooner now, her anticipation is showing. She rubs the bottom of her foot with her toe.

"Where are you at?"

"Huh?"

She looks over her shoulder. Her pupils are dilated. Her lips are infinitesimally redder. The rouge has reached her cheeks.

"Where are you?"

"The Basque has brought some men over. He has a straight razor."

She turns back to the page.

"Read it to me."

She looks out again, across the room. Her eyes flick over her shoulder towards him, then back down to the book on the bed. She breathes in.

"Why? You've already read it."

"I want to hear you. Read it. Please."

She draws in a breath, slowly, deeply, and begins.

"He asked the three men to hold her. Bijou squirmed at first and then realized it was less dangerous to lie still,for he was carefully shaving her pubic hair, beginning at the edges, where it lay sparse and shining on her velvet belly. The belly came down in a soft curve there. The Basque lathered, then -"

He takes her foot in his hand and traces his thumb across it, dipping it between her third and fourth toe.

"shaved gently, wiping off the hair and soap with a towel. With her legs tightly closed the men could not see anything but the hair, but as the Basque shaved on and reached the center of the triangle, he exposed a mount, a smooth promontory."

He rests her foot on his chest as he moves his knee between hers, sliding them apart.

"The feeling of the cold blade there agitated Bijou. She was half-angry, half-stirred, intent -"

She pauses, looks over her shoulder, then continues. His knee advances, her foot descends. His palm presses the small of her back.

"on not showing her sex, but the shaving revealed where the smoothness descend into a fine incurving line. It revealed the bud of the opening, the soft folded flesh that enclosed the clitoris, the tip of the more intensely colored lips. She wanted now to move away -"

Pushing her hair aside he nuzzles her neck with his chin.

"but she was afraid of being hurt by the blade. The three men held her and bent over her to watch."

He imparts a slow, ascending kiss behind her ear.

"They thought the Basque would stop there."

She breathes in. She stops reading. She closes the book. He breathes out, into her ear.

"So? You like?"

She slides the book, slowly, along the rumpled sheets with her hand. He runs his fingers up through her hair, from the nape of her neck, pulling ever so slightly.

Thunk!

"I'm mildly pleased... that you bought it... in hardcover..."


the quoted passage in italics is an excerpt from The Basque and the Bijou, Delta of Venus by Anais Nin

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