Tommy was restless, as the train click clacked down the eight and a half foot tracks. He didn't know which was worse...the click clacking or the shimmy shakes, as it cruised through the rich French countryside. He hadn't undressed except for his sports coat, which hung on the hook on the door to his bedroom.
No, Tommy wasn't crammed into a compartment, where the sofa made out into a bed, with a tiny sink in front of it. He had a double, which meant he had that same sofa, but by opening his pocket doors, he had a real bedroom and bath. He stood and stepped inside, and stepped to the sink, where he ran cold water and splashed it on his face. He held his head back and turned it from side to side in an attempt to relax his neck as he patted his face dry.
He looked at his day old stubble and figured shaving could wait, so he went back and laid against the sofa back and decided a short nap might do the trick. Vienna was more than twelve hours away, and he preferred the idea of a couple of short naps, over disrobing completely and going to a real bed. Besides, he knew with all the noise of the train, a good nights sleep was going to be impossible.
A world tour? What was I thinking?
He had only napped for a few minutes, before he had to get up and get out of his suite. He ran his fingers through his long hair and stepped out into the aisle, then slid his door shut. After briefly peering out the big windows, discovering nothing but cow pastures, he straightened up and casually strolled to the dining car two carriages back.
A steward slid the door open for him and he stepped in and took a few steps letting his eyes graze the dining car. Each table covered in white linen, a crystal vase with a single rose placed precisely in the middle, and more sleepless, or maybe hungry passengers, than he expected sitting at them.
Then he saw her. She was at the end of the car, with her back to the wall, and caught his eyes. He stood with his hands on his hips, as she motioned for him to come to her, with a pulling motion with her hand. He smiled and walked back to her table, along the right hand wall. He stopped and nodded, "Madame?" She grinned, "Monsieur" and gestured for him to sit.
He sat across from her and only saw her and the painting of the French countryside behind her. They checked each other out for the first time face to face. Tommy was good at that; she wasn't. She dropped her eyes, embarrassed at his obvious desires.
He broke the embarrassing silence," Mon nom est Tommy...Ce qui est le votre?" (My name is Tommy-what's yours)
She grinned, "Giselle...Giselle D'Arcy...Tommy. Your French is good." She said with only a slight accent.
'"Not as good as your English..Giselle, pretty name."
A steward came for their drink order. Giselle ordered a bottle of Dom Perignon 1985. Tommy looked at the steward and nodded.
"Well, I don't typically have champagne, at three in the morning. What's the occasion?" He said tipping his head from side to side, as if he were confused, which of course, he was.
"Meeting you!" Giselle replied quickly.
"Meeting me? What's so great about that? Coffee would have worked, and is a hell of a lot cheaper than Dom Perignon."
She slipped a filtered cigarette, in her red lips and he lit it, with his gold Dunhill. The one thatJane purchased for him at Tiffanys. She wrapped her hand around his, as she puffed a couple of times and took notice of his lighter. "Somehow, I don't believe a man with a three thousand dollar lighter concerns himself with the costs of things."
He leaned back and slipped it in his pocket. "Got me there. But, still...champagne for meeting me?"
"You are a celebrity monsieur.."
"Oui...you are Tommy Castle, the great American author ...off on a world tour."
"I am...Yes, I am. But, how would you know that?"
"How long were you in Paris?"
"Long enough to grab a cab and get to the train station. I flew in this afternoon."
The steward brought the Dom Perignon and poured it carefully, with its neck resting just off the lip of her fluted glass.
"Looks like he's done this before." Tommy said, as he sipped it for approval.
The silver haired steward answered, "Oh, yeah. We drink Dom in the Bronx, too," then pushed it in the ice bucket, "Anything else?"
Tommy handed him three crisp one hundred dollar bills.. "Thanks Mr. C...real generous of you." The steward grinned, slapped his palm with his three hundred and started to walk away, as Tommy took his elbow. "How do you know who I am?" The steward bent over and whispered, "Everyone on this train knows who you are Mr.C...your mug must be all over Europe on billboards...You didn't know? Look around in here. Everyones staring at youse guys."
Of course, Tommy had no idea...he was facing the wall. But, Giselle knew. She saw the faces, the whispers and head nods..
She dragged on her cigarette, and in an effort to gain some privacy, she suggested, "We can go to my compartment with this. Shall we?"
He glanced over his shoulder, at the prying eyes, on the Orient Express and turned back and looked, in her dark brown eyes almost obscured, by her soft bangs, "Lead the way, darlin' "
Tommy stood and stepped back, as she snatched up the champagne bottle, and clutched it to her breasts. He followed behind her grinning, as the passengers all clapped when he went by, "Bravo, monsieur...bravo." Giselle didn't look back, but smiled at her conquest, and she hadn't even kissed him, or let him see her naked.
He had no clue what was about to happen next, but his erection was growing from the suspense.
continued in ..."Alone at last."..