The lovers meet in secluded places. Tonight, it is the little cafe on the Rue de La ____. They hide their fears from each other, just as they hide their faces from passers-by. They are so very discreet.
The warm wind reminds them of the passage of time, and they stand as one person. He leaves a tip. Glancing about, they melt into the crowd, only to meet once more at the street. A nod, a smile, and then he hails a cab. He holds the door for her, then closes it. He overpays the driver, turns abruptly and walks off into the twilight.
She is a diva, with the voice of an angel. She is known worldwide, as is her husband the conductor. It is not her husband she will be with tonight, however. Her lover is attractive, in an odd sort of way. But her attraction to him is not based on appearances.
The cab pulls out, and turns right at the first corner. They pass two intersections, then turn right again. In the middle of the block is a little hotel, once stylish, now quaint. It is frequented nowadays by tradesman and visitors to the city. The cab pulls up to the curb, and the driver gets out and opens her door. She feels his awe for her fame, and the discomfort it brings him. He will not accept her tip. She watches as he climbs into his cab and drives off into the evening. She throws a silk shawl over her head, turns and enters the hotel.
He will have arrived before her, and arranged for the room. They are each known within the hotel. While it is obvious that they are not married, no one who sees them could possibly think that important. They are the epitome of romance.
Room 212, always the same room. If it is not available, they have agreed to not meet for that night, despite their passions. It is part of the ritual, and also allows for a certain excitement. Not the thrill of being found out, but the uncertainty of their time together makes it that much more precious. Tonight, the room is theirs.
He always brings a bottle of red wine, she always brings candles and incense. They never drink all of the wine, but the candles get burned to nubs, and the incense burns into cones of grey ash.
They do not speak. A touch, a look, a phrase of music; all of these speak more eloquently than the tongue. The book of love contains no words.
And what of intrusion? Are they not trespassing? The guilt of it gnaws at them, for as surely as they love one another, the indifference they feel - she towards her husband, he towards his wife - equals the intensity of the feelings they share. Their secret torments their minds, just as their passions ignite their flesh.
Dawn seeps into the night sky, magenta and blue and white. From the window, he watches her sleep; her breasts rising and falling, her lips slightly apart. Tears fall from his eyes, and he gently slips into bed behind her, spooning himself into her curved...