Femme Infidèle is our series about the extramarital adventures of Paris women. Today’s Femme Infidèle is a 36-year-old SAHM.
When my college best friend invited me to Sardinia for a week last summer—”Leave the kids! Vacation’s on me!”—I jumped at the chance. I hadn’t been away from my children since having my daughter two years before. She’s the last of three kids. I never thought I’d have so many but having a biggish family makes me happier than I ever thought possible. My husband grumbled about me leaving him alone with the babies, but he’s pretty progressive for a Frenchman. He knows that being a SAHM drives me crazy sometimes and that I hadn’t seen my best friend in two years. So I got his blessing and jumped on the plane before he could change his mind.
I should explain that Claire, my best friend and ex-roommate, isn’t married and probably never will be—unless she finds a particularly good-looking billionaire. She doesn’t need the money because her family is loaded; she just needs someone who can keep up with her. In college and for a few years after in New York, we were the wild girls who went to every fabulous party and kept it going in Claire’s downtown loft. I met my husband when I was twenty-six and moved to Paris with him when he got transferred back to France. Claire took off for London after I left but our lives are so different—she does fashion PR; I’m a mom—that we don’t see each other that often. When we do, it’s like no time has passed and we’re those wild girls from school again.
Claire had rented a 6-bedroom villa overlooking the water for the entire month. People rotate in and out of her life: friends, boy toys, work colleagues. They’re usually young, beautiful, dumb and poor and I always worry Claire’s being used, but this time I didn’t care. I was happy to be kid-free by the pool, finally getting a chance to read a book for a few hours before another one of Claire’s giant group dinners.
That’s when he introduced himself.
I looked up from my book and saw a tan guy with dark brown hair smiling at me. His teeth were straight and white and he had a dimple on the left corner of his mouth.
“I’m Dante, hello.” His Italian accent was light enough to be charming. “This is my villa.”
“Oh, it’s very nice. Thanks for having me.” I was confused. Was Dante Claire’s new boyfriend? He seemed too mature and self-assured for her tastes.
“I should thank Claire for inviting you. Of all her friends who’ve visited this month, you’re the most beautiful.”
Dante looked like a wolf when he said that. There was something attractive and repulsive about him, especially because I knew some of Claire’s visiting friends were retired supermodels and I was still carrying around five pounds of baby weight. So Italian, I thought. I gestured to the novel in my hand. He got the hint and walked away whistling.
At dinner, Claire and I drank and laughed and smoked weed with the male models who were heavily flirting with her and politely flirting with me, her not-quite-MILF friend.
“By the way,” Claire said. “Dante’s totally into you.”
“The guy I’m renting the villa from. He told me he saw you at the pool today. Couldn’t stop asking about you.”
“The super tan guy? I thought he was your new boyfriend or something. It’s his villa?”
“Please. He’s too old and not rich enough.”
“But Dante’s fun. He owns the restaurant and nightclub on the beach, too. You should go for it.”
“I’m married! And a mom.”
Claire snorted. “Have you gotten so provincial? I thought Paris was sophisticated.”
Maybe Paris was that sophisticated and I just wasn’t. As far as I knew, my husband wasn’t, either, if sophistication=cheating. But he was French. Most of his friends cheated on their girlfriends or wives. And vice versa. Everyone looked the other way and seemed reasonably content in their relationships. My marriage was doing alright for having had three kids in nine years. We were too tired to have sex and we argued over stupid things, but I wasn’t unhappy or thinking divorce. I was a little bored, if I were going to be honest. Married baby life wasn’t a lot of fun. I sometimes missed who I used to be.
Maybe that’s why when I saw Dante a few days later, I let myself flirt back. He offered to take a group of us on his boat to a beachside restaurant on the other side of the island. He bought everyone lunch and took us back to his restaurant for dessert and champagne. Afterwards, we went back to the villa and Claire and her Gucci model stripped and jumped into the pool.
Dante sat on the lounge chair next to mine. “You should swim, too.”
No way was I letting anyone see me in my bathing suit, especially next to Claire’s Pilates body.
I must have rolled my eyes because he insisted. “You’re really special. I meet a lot of girls but there’s something different about you.”
Because I’m not a girl, I thought. I’m a woman and a mother. But there was something alluring about his almost farcical come-ons. I felt lightheaded from the champagne and the attention. I’d been pregnant for almost a decade. I had three small kids. Men didn’t hit on me anymore because I was so clearly off the market. When he asked if I wanted to see the guesthouse where he stayed when the villa was rented, I let him take my hand and lead me to it.
The guesthouse was as tacky as the villa: gilt-edged vases illustrated with naked cherubs, white tiles inlaid with blue flowers, art-deco mirror cabinets mixed with floral slipcovers. Dante proudly pointed out awful sculptures and artwork he’d chosen himself. At the third bedroom, he perched on the edge of the bed and patted the spot next to him. I hesitated then heard Claire’s voice in my head, Stop being provincial! Go for it! We sat next to each other like teenagers on a fake study date.
Dante waited twenty seconds before he turned his face to kiss me. He pressed his lips hard onto mine and his tongue was immediately in my mouth. I kissed him back to see what it would feel like. I hadn’t kissed anyone besides my husband in ten years, which might as well be forever. Unfortunately, Dante was as subtle at kissing as he was with his pickup lines and his decorating style.
It wasn’t even close to being a good kiss.
I pulled back, opening my eyes. His dimple was showing but he looked perplexed.
“I’m sorry. I haven’t kissed anyone in a really long time. This is weird for me. I should leave.”
He pulled me towards him for another kiss and I let him to see if there might be some improvement. Nope. Still a battering ram.
I retreated again and stood up. “I really should go. Sorry.”
Dante walked me back to the pool in silence. Claire looked up from her chair, the model asleep next to her (god, he looked even younger with his eyes closed), and winked at me. I plopped down next to her and picked up my book as Dante left with a muttered goodbye.
“What happened there?” Claire was laughing.
“Don’t believe you.”
A kiss is just a kiss, right?
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