She arrived at the Hotel De Paris in Monte Carlo. Exited an airport limo, searched her purse for an appropriate gratuity, “Damn.”
A man’s voice called out, “Mademoiselle.” Pedestrians looked up to his balcony. He reached in his pocket, removed a money clip and threw it out the window. It sailed over the canopy, landed at the girl’s feet. The driver picked it up and handed it to her, she looked bewildered.
He called to her, “You are going to need it until you close the door to your room. I’m in two eleven. Return the clip at your convenience.”
She called back, “Merci, I will.” Tipped the driver and disappeared under the canopy.
A second later her head reappeared, looked up at her benefactor and asked, “Do you know how much money you have in the clip?”
“No I don’t.”
A look of delight spread across her face, she vanished.
The man on the hotel balcony had arrived earlier in Monte Carlo, a principality of Monaco. Friends told him, if he wanted to see activity, reserve a room at the Hotel de Paris, on the second floor, directly over the main entrance.
The panorama presented a parade of dignitaries, diplomats, dukes, damsels and dogs. Luggage being unloaded and loaded, limos and Bentleys whisked away, whooshed back. The man observed a Raja arrive in an open Rolls Royce, a platform on the rear bumper for a servant to hold an umbrella over the potentate. He did not suppose the veiled young woman, the man’s niece. The girl who just arrived, appeared to be young, vibrant, and though he could not see her clearly, radiant.
Saving the young woman from embarrassment, he quickly showered and shaved the second time, dressed in one of his suits tailored in Hong Kong, navy blue. A white handkerchief exhibited three points in a breast pocket accentuating his style. Hair perfectly combed, he checked in the mirror, messed it up a bit, remembering a girl telling him, “The problem with you Claude Deveaux is you are too handsome. At least you could dishevel your hair.”
He sat down by the phone in anticipation, waited, so much for being handsome. He envisioned the girl, couldn’t recall her features. Her hair a honey color or light brown. The energy she displayed amazed him, a girl who would be exciting to keep up with. Why didn’t the phone ring? Silence, he checked his watch, when would she call. It seemed incredibly long before it rang, only one hour, “Monsieur, sorry to take so long. I had to settle in, freshen up. I’m in the lobby.”
“I’ll be right down.” Elevator door opened. A drama in the crowd, a klieg light appeared to shine upon her, magnetism oozed. A girl one stood aside for.
She shook his hand, “My name is Colette Colville. I replaced the bills in the same denominations, at the front desk.” She handed him the money clip.
“Nice meeting you Mademoiselle Colville. My name is Claude Deveaux, may I ask a favor?”
Yes, certainly, if possible.”
“Join me for a glass of Champagne to celebrate the launching of my new quest.”
“What is your new quest?”
“The courtship of Colette, you are available are you not?”
She blushed a little, smiled, “Quite possibly.”
He took her arm, escorted her into the lounge, asked “May I call you Colette?”
“Under the circumstance, it would be appropriate, shall I call you Claude?” He smiled.
Champagne poured, he made a toast, “Here’s to the courtship.” Glasses clinked, refilled a number of times.
“Claude, will there be more to this courtship than making me tipsy?”
“Mai oui, I made a reservation for us in Le Grill. Our table will be available in 15 minutes.”
“So, we are having dinner together.” She didn’t wait for an answer, “By the way, why are you courting me, I’m not a ravishing beauty.”
“No you are not.”
She looked at him, “I have a forgettable, athletic figure.”
“Yes you do.”
“The color of my hair is not golden.”
“No it is not.”
She became miffed, “Claude Deveaux do you have to readily agree with me? Just why do you want to be with me?”
“You are terrific, absolutely terrific.”
She looked surprised, “Is that good?”
“Colette, it is indeed. Terrific trumps all else. If a person is terrific, nothing else matters.”
“I do not see it in a mirror.”
“You cannot, and no amount of cosmetics will create it. When you are terrific you never lose it. As you become older, you remain terrific.”
“Well, then, I like being terrific.”
He said, “Our table should be ready,” escorted her towards the dining room. They passed the ladies room. She excused herself.
Not long, “I checked, but didn’t see terrific.”
He put his arm around the girl, “Colette, trust me.”
They ordered, he asked, “Collette, why are you here and for how long?”
“I’m here on vacation and partially business for a month to visit some 5 star hotels on the continent. My family is engaged in the travel industry, how about you?”
“Almost the same, for a month also.”
They had lemon sorbet swimming in vodka for dessert. She asked, “Will you continue courting me tomorrow? I’m going for a morning run then to the famous hotel sea water pool?”
“I’ll skip the run. I couldn’t keep up with you. People would think I’m chasing you. I’ll join you for a swim, say eleven.”
She, “Thank you for the wonderful evening, I think you are terrific too,” disappeared into an elevator.
Swim cover-up removed, she perched at the edge of the pool in a one piece white bathing suit. Arms extended over her head, palms together, fingers pointed towards the sky, she stretched up on her toes. The girl, not as scrawny as imagined, her figure, slight and sleek.
Muscles gracefully flowed into another, no bulges, all gentle curves, long and lean, slender as a fencer. She arched her body, launched into the pool, only a whispery splash. Wide shoulders tapering to slim hips smoothly sliced through blue water. Arms didn’t flail about, they reached straight out, cupped the water with palms and fingers together, stroked, surging forward. A perfect flutter kick continued her propulsion.
She swam in her lane, back and forth, a racing flip at the walls, a sensual tan body in white, slipping through blue, leaving a bubbling wake, attracting eyes of men who vowed to improve their swimming.
An image a man usually does not forget is a woman drying off with a towel, “Colette, with all your running and swimming you must be starved. Let’s cover up, have lunch on the terrace.”
She devoured her lobster salad and two glasses of iced tea. He said, “Colette, we have an ‘anniversary’ coming up.”
“Ours, it is the first day of our courtship. This evening at seven we will celebrate, all right?”
“Yes, though aren’t anniversaries annual events?”
“Not for us. Let’s meet at the same time, repeat last evening for old times sake, have Champagne in the lounge, dine in Le Café.”
“Sounds lovely, I must do some shopping this afternoon, see you at seven. He escorted her into the lounge. Champagne served; he toasted their first ‘anniversary.’ Glasses clinked.
The two decided on gazpacho followed by veau de l’orange, again finished with the lemon sorbet and vodka
“Collette, I would like to make a suggestion. I’m in love with you. We are both on the continent for a month. Why don’t we travel together, consider it a honeymoon?”
“Honeymoon! Claude Deveaux, behave yourself! We have known each other one day.”
“I realize I may be rushing things a bit.”
“A bit, isn’t there supposed to be a wedding first, not to mention an engagement before that?”
“Yes, of course, but I thought we could change things around, have the wedding last.”