Revenge Should Have No Bounds Chap 8 (020-023)

[If you have not already done so, you must
read the Introduction
before proceeding.]

Prologue 001-002     Chap 1 003-005     Chap 2 006     Chap 3 007-008
Chap 4 009-010     Chap 5  011-013     Chap 6  014-017     Chap 7  018-019

Revenge Should Have No Bounds  Chap 8 (020-023)

Chapter 8: The Hero

It was thoroughly good to get back to my own apartment.  The sweltering afternoon had left me drenched, and I felt dirty.  I headed for the shower, where I scrubbed myself twice all over to wash off the distastefulness of my recent unpleasantness with Nathan Hoe.

After toweling and slipping into a light shift I notched up the A/C and got the CD player going with some Bobby Troupe.  Jazz with class.  With an ice-cold Lemon Pepsi in a tall glass of rattling ice cubes I flopped down in front of the computer and surfed to all corners of the world.

My idea of a great Saturday night.

I had one appointment scheduled for tomorrow morning at 11.  At my favorite venue, the presidential suite of La Ville.  And with one of my favorite clients, though he was an infrequent one.  Agung.  An obscenely wealthy Indonesian, he had heard about me from a close friend, Chick, who was a long-standing client of mine and a mathematician at the university, with a specialty in the arcane field of number theory and encryption algorithms.  Agung, ever discreet and self-effacing, had actually asked Chick if he would feel me out regarding my willingness to meet his friend.   Chick availed himself of the opportunity one rainy March day a few years back after we had finished up and were sitting around in his suite at The Griffin Group.  We were snacking on cold La Bastide Chèvre coated in a crust of basil and chopped walnuts and washing it down with sweet Cinzano aperitifs in crushed ice.

Since Agung is going to figure in crucial ways in what happened to – and almost destroyed – me, I think it’s important that I recount what Chick told me about him.  If you understand the kind of man he was you will understand why he eventually did what he did on my behalf.  In my endless pursuit of Homeric homologies Agung indisputably came up as Odysseus:  monster-slayer, crafty and resourceful improviser, comforting friend to friends and terrifying foe to foes; a traveler, a warrior, a lover, a hero.

“I wanted to ask you,” Chick had begun, loading up a cracker with the crunchy goat’s cheese, “about a friend of mine.  I’ve told him about you, and he would like to meet you.”

I said nothing.

“I mean, that’s O.K., isn’t it?”  He was a little embarrassed.

I put my hand on his arm and reassured him.  “That’s fine,” I purred.  “Tell me about your friend.”

“He’s from Indonesia, and he wants to be sure this would not be a problem for you.”

Chick’s friend should have seen some of the crud I’d had to deal with.  They could have learned some basic notions of politeness from this Indonesian.

“No, of course not.  Why should it?”

Chick shrugged his shoulders.  “I don’t know.  He’s a very a cautious kind of guy.”

“I wouldn’t hold that against him,” I laughed.  “So go ahead, tell me about this friend of yours.”

“Well, he’s definitely sui generis.”

Sui generis?”

“Yes.  Very much so.”

“I’m already intrigued.  Go on.  Talk. Tell.”

Chick sipped his Cinzano, put the glass on the table, and settled back in his chair.

“You understand,” he began, “that what I’m going to tell you is based largely on the account Agung gave me after the fact, and only in part on the basis of what I myself saw.”

“Agreed,” I said.

“Well, one day back in the mid-nineties I was surprised to get an e-mail from Agung, or, as I had come to think of him by then, the Sultan of Java.  He was a brilliant oddball I had met a few years earlier in a chat room set up by some graduate students at M.I.T., where he himself had just finished a Ph.D. in physics.  As you know, I had been finishing up my Ph.D. in mathematics at Harvard at the time.  After a few months of hanging out on the internet, when spring finally broke some of us would get together Thursday afternoons for a few hours of informal soccer along the Charles River, and that’s how I met him in person.

“We would all hit a well-known bar in Harvard Square after our soccer, and although he was a Muslim and did not drink alcohol, he would join us and down caffeine-free diet cokes.  He and I hit it off from the start, since we both shared an interest in, among other things, so-called non-linear systems.  We had a common dream of being able to model such phenomena mathematically.”

“Is it fair to ask what a non-linear system is?” I interjected.  I’d come across the term in the course of my own studies but I needed a refresher.

“Sure.  Briefly, a non-linear system is a set of phenomena whose outcomes are, supposedly, explicable after the fact but, definitely, not before – two classical examples are weather and the price movements of stocks and commodities.  O.K.?”

“O.K.  Thanks.”

Chick continued.

“Agung was an unusually attractive young man.  God knows I am not gay, but nor am I blind:  Agung was almost beautiful.  He had exquisite café-au-lait skin, jet-black hair, very long eye-lashes, and he was tall and muscularly lean.  He had taken his undergraduate degree at Jesus College in Oxford and spoke a clipped Oxbridge English in his deep, rich voice.  He came from one of the oldest and largest families in Java, and their personal history went back about half a millennium before the Dutch colonized the islands.  They survived that, they survived the oil-thirsty rapacity of Hirohito’s brutal war machine during World War II, and they survived the revolutionary chaos of the post-war decades.  Under the dazzling corruption of Suharto’s regime the family had multiplied its already considerable wealth many times over and become super-rich.  But it was my friend, the Sultan of Java, who increased the family’s wealth by truly astonishing proportions, orders of magnitude, if you will:  first, his interest in non-linear systems had led him to write a complex currency trading program, and he had anticipated almost to the day the implosion of the Suharto regime in May of 1998 and the consequent disastrous collapse of the Indonesian rupiah.  Being correct on the London Exchange about currency those crucial spring months in the year of living dangerously 1998 had made him — and his family — US dollar billionaires.  Yes, that’s right, billionaires –  several times over.  And it had all been entirely legal.

“But you’d never know about his wealth from being around him.  He was really quite unassuming, and though he dressed with a sophistication and elegance that his physique and pocket-book enabled him to push almost but not quite to foppishness, he very much wanted to be and indeed was ‘one of the guys.’  But even in the company of admittedly very bright people he stood out as something of an intellectual phenomenon in his own right.  He had an uncanny nimbleness of mind and, I suspect, a completely photographic memory.  In addition to fluency in English and Bahasa Indonesia, he was fully at ease in Dutch, French, German, Portuguese, Spanish, Malay, Japanese and several other Indonesian dialects besides Javanese — and when I first met him he was meeting regularly with a fellow physics student from Beijing who was teaching him Chinese.  It was actually unnerving to watch him do a Saturday New York Times crossword puzzle in about twelve minutes!”

Chick shook his head in wonderment.

“Of course he was not a Sultan of Java or anything else, but it was a sobriquet I privately attached to him the first time we met:  there was something so regal about him, both physically and intellectually.  And when I told him many months later of this nickname he smiled softly and nodded his head in amused acquiescence.  But he said I could call him Agung.

“In any event, most of us had sort of lost touch after we all left Cambridge, but the Sultan of Java and I had, in spite of his travels all over the world looking out for the family’s wide-spread interests in every imaginable enterprise, kept in fairly close contact over the years, and it was he who now had e-mailed me — from Palawan, a large island in the archipelago that is the southwestern Philippines.  He had given me rather mysterious instructions to call him two weeks after receipt of the e-mail at a certain number in Puerto Princesa at six o’clock in the morning my time, as there was something he wanted me to help him with.  I was as surprised to receive his message as I was intrigued to learn what it was all about.

“Two weeks later I did as he had requested.”

My friend stopped to take another bite and a little more Cinzano.  Brushing a few crumbs from his lap, he continued.

“Palawan is an elongated sliver of beautiful island that shoots off the north-south vertical of the Philippines at about 220° and almost touches the tip of northern Borneo.  Parts of it are pristine and beautiful beyond the descriptions of the travel brochures  —  and in its southern parts infested with avaricious and savage bandits of every ilk masquerading as ‘freedom fighters’, ‘environmentalists’, ‘warriors for God’, and all the usual dreary suspects.  You’ve read about these groups in the newspapers.

“The Sultan of Java had landed himself in a truly tricky situation, one fraught with horrific danger both to himself and to others.

“He and some fellow investors from Europe and other parts of Asia had taken one of the family’s company jets —  a Gulfstream  — to Palawan to scout a site for erecting yet one more luxury tourist resort.  It was a field already crowded, and they wanted to get in on the action before real saturation set in.  While traveling by jeetney along this gorgeous jungle-clad Eden that was the shores of southeastern Palawan a snake entered this garden in the rag-tag and murderous shape of heavily armed ‘environmentalists’ who grandiosely tried to scrub off their filthy thuggery by designating themselves as  ‘Friends of Palawan Preservation’, or FPP for short.

“The Sultan of Java and his investors had rented a motorized sixty-footer with captain and crew for a leisurely cruise from Puerto Princesa down through the emerald warmth of the Sulu Sea to the southern tip of Palawan.  There they had put in to a village and secured a jeetney for closer inspection of potential beach properties.  It was during this excursion that some gangsters from FPP had ‘detained’ them, and in order to demonstrate their seriousness they had shot one of the Norwegian investors in cold blood.  Then they had picked my friend to hie it back to Puerto Princesa to secure ten million US dollars in ransom money ‘for the people’ that would secure the release of the rest of the group – which were of course being held as hostages to guarantee the Sultan’s return.

“He was not a man given to panic, and he sounded reasonably calm during our conversation.  But he was unmistakably under pressure, and vowed to me he would do whatever was necessary to save his companions and his own honor.

“My first order of business was to be the arrangement of the cash through his bankers in New York, who were to have the money flown out – under heavy guard – in one of the company jets to Puerto Princesa.  This would take at least forty-eight hours, but he had the means to signal his captors that their demands were being met.

“Next I was to get in touch with a younger brother I had once met briefly at one of the family compounds in the highlands of east-central Java and have him initiate what the Sultan called ‘The Wyang Caper’  —  his brother would know what I meant and that I was for real in representing the Sultan.  When I enquired about this “caper” my friend pleaded with me not to ask but merely to do.  I would be safer that way, he responded ominously.  It was not hard for me to imagine that ‘The Wyang Caper’ was some kind of rescue operation his family and company had arranged long ago for just this sort of emergency.  I knew that the Sultan had served several years in the Indonesian navy between graduation from Oxford and starting his graduate work at M.I.T., and I assumed he had some fairly powerful contacts within the Indonesian military as well as private organizations of ‘international for-hire experts in violence’, as he had once referred to them in my presence.

“He was irrevocably committed to keeping the Philippine authorities out of the loop on this operation, the government not being the most reliable or secretive when it came to dealing with the bandits in the southern Mindanao region.”

By this point I was totally hooked.  Indeed, I was eager to meet this remarkable man who had captivated my imagination.

Chick continued.

“Well, I made my calls.  With a terse thank you the Sultan’s brother assured me that things would gear up before I hung up the phone;  and the banker I spoke to in New York, to whom I relayed the same code as verification, said the cash would be in Puerto Princesa within forty-eight hours.

“I could do no more, and tried to go about my business, anxiously awaiting further information about this dicey turn of events half way around the globe.

“For the next few days I could not get events in far-off Palawan out of my mind, but as the days wore on without further news one way or the other, I admit that I gave less and thought to that world.  It was only about three months later that I received a coded communiqué from the Sultan in which he explained in broad outlines what had happened.

“After making his calls to me and to New York, he waited around in Puerto Princesa another forty-eight hours until the cash arrived in ten compact suitcases, each containing one hundred packets of one hundred used hundred-dollar bills each, neatly bundled and snugly stacked.  A metal casing privately designed and manufactured for precisely this purpose held the ten suitcases.  Agung had returned by chartered helicopter to southern Palawan and delivered the cash to his captors.  They in turn had shot another hostage, a Japanese investor, to impress upon the remaining group that they were not to move from their present location for at least twenty-four hours, and then the thugs had set off into the remote recesses of the mountainous jungles.

“But many hundreds of miles south in the city of Pontianak on the west-central coast of Borneo, elite units of Indonesian marines and toughened mercenaries with hard eyes had been flown in from distant parts of Afghanistan and Angola to prepare for a massive invasion of the area held by the Philippine rebels.  That the marines would undertake operations with mercenaries and that they would in effect invade a foreign country, however clandestinely, spoke volumes about the kind of juice the Sultan of Java and his people had with the military that just the past July had deposed the feckless Wahid and installed Megawati Sukarnoputri, Sukarno’s daughter, as the new president of an imploding nation.  The Sultan and his family had a large estate in Menteng, the same upscale suburb of Jakarta in which Mega herself lived.

“Extensively equipped with helicopters, coastal vessels, and lethal munitions by the United States, the invasion force had made a stealthy approach toward the target area by night and marshaled all forces on a tiny island lying in the extensive archipelago of the Balabac-Bugsuk group just off the southern tip of Palawan.  As predetermined, the force arrived just in time at the marshaling point to receive coded satellite messages from the freed hostages as they finally made it to the shore-line about twenty miles south of a city named Valdez.  This was the signal that they were safely away from the bandits and the operation proper could begin.

“Early the next morning the hostage party was taken off the beach by motorized rubber dinghies launched from beyond the surf line by the missile boats. The party was exhausted and mauled by insect bites, but otherwise in reasonable condition, given the ordeal they had just endured.

“Because of his past practical connections with the Indonesian navy, the Sultan insisted on assuming second-in-command status of one of the Mandau class missile boats for the gruesome mission that followed.  In recounting all of this, Agung informed me the boat was a Korean rip-off of an American design.  Each weighed close to 300 tons, and with some 25,000 shaft hp her top speed was above 40 knots.  Bristling with computerized launch platforms for high-energy piercing armaments she was a formidable offensive weapon for running coastal patrols against the pirates and smugglers who still infest the increasingly violent and contested waters of the South China Sea.  In this case, along with half a dozen similar vessels and a clattering contingent of military helicopters, she outclassed the resources of the FPP thugs by a ridiculous margin — as they were shortly to discover to their horror.

“You see, behind all that Western education and European sophistication my friend the Sultan of Java was at heart an Old Testament kind of hardcore guy rather than a New Testament wimp.  He wasn’t really into that ethic of turning the other cheek but much preferred his own ginned up version of an eye for an eye whereby you take two eyes for an eye.

“The choppers, all equipped with infrared sensors, soon picked up a group of some forty marchers beneath the overarching canopy of jungle.  Since this part of Palawan had its share of bandits, the Sultan, being very literally just, wanted to be sure they had the right group.  Marines shimmied down from the helicopters in advance of the projected march of the bandits and, blending into the thick jungle along the trails, shortly verified that this was indeed the FPP.

“I never did find out how he had pulled it off, but the Sultan had somehow gotten his people to tap into some databank somewhere that spewed out photos of those FPP who’d made the mistake of hitting on him, and these had been faxed via satellite to the helicopters and distributed to the marines.  Once the latter returned verification, the vengeance business swung into high gear.

“The electronics officers on the choppers slaved their infrareds to the firing computers on the missile boats off the surf line so their launchers could lock on to the co-ordinates of the FPP.  Then they proceeded to rain down a relentless fire of brimstone and concussion grenades to the side of and behind the confused and panicked marchers.  In this way they were forced to turn toward the sea, away from the relative safety of their remote mountain camps, and sort of marched bit by bit by the murderous salvos from off shore right down to the beaches where, just beyond the waterline, heavily armed mercenaries with little mercy in their hearts awaited them with machine guns, safeties off.

“As a military operation it was a kind of classic of its genre.

“The Sultan personally came ashore, recovered the suitcase with his ten million dollars, and directed the mop-up.  He had all the terrorists strip off all their clothes.  Some were forced to dig holes in the sand at the waterline, others to tie fellow bandits to long tow lines whose other end was attached to missile boats, and a third set – the lucky ones – were summarily executed by the raking fire of heavy machine guns.  I won’t go into the details of what happened to those still left alive, but suffice it to say that they each no doubt fervently wished they had been taken down by the merciful machine guns.

“The beach and a trail leading up into the jungle were eventually decorated with the grisly remains of those foolish unfortunates, and signs in Tagalog and several of the local dialects explained why they had ended up this way and how others could expect similar and even worse treatment for the kinds of violations they had been in the habit of perpetrating at will on both locals and tourists.

“Not a peep was heard in the press about this punitive expedition by a foreign power on Philippine soil.  My own take is that the locals, sick to death of the depredations that had been visited on them with impunity for too long by these thugs without any effective response from Manila, simply ignored the whole episode with silent thanks, operating on a time-tested Chinese principle that heaven is high and the emperor is far away.  No doubt the feckless politicians in the distant capital did learn of what had happened and decided not to look this particular gift horse too closely in the mouth, busy as they were with trying to sort out the new corruption of the new government while gearing up for the show trials of the old corruption of the old Estrada regime.

“But the Sultan of Java and his Wyang Caper had at last rebalanced the chi in his universe. It was a decisiveness beautiful to behold.  What a man!”

Sic semper tyrannis, I guess.

I thought vaguely of the Annals of Tacitus.

Maybe that old Roman wasn’t quite as apposite in this case as Odysseus in the twenty-second book of the Odyssey:  vengeance, dread vengeance is mine, sayeth the hero.

I admit again:  the tale had utterly captivated me.  It was almost like reading a short story jointly composed by W. Somerset Maugham and Joseph Conrad.  I felt a small letdown when Chick brought his narrative to a conclusion.  I didn’t want to leave the Sultan of Java.  A silence hung in the air replete with unstated questions.  But all I could manage was a quiet comment, “I don’t know what to say.”

“I’m sure he’d like you to say ‘yes’,” Chick answered.

“Yes,” I said,  “yes, of course.  By all means.  Have him set up an appointment.”

This happened in late 1999, and since then I’d seen Agung probably half a dozen times when he was in the States looking to his family’s far-flung business interests.  I was anticipating tomorrow.  And starting Monday I would have the week free.  My period would come then or on Tuesday.

I left the A/C on high, set the CD player to cycle through Mr. Troupe one more time, and then turned the lights off.

Sleep soon wrapped me in graceful embrace.

I woke up Sunday morning to the insistent ringing of the phone.

“Yes,” I said groggily, my head still on the pillow, nestling the phone against my ear.

“Mazarine, dear,” Michelle said.  “I know it’s early, but I have an emergency.”

“Yes,” I said warily.

“This afternoon.  I know you’re booked with Agung for this morning, but that’s just a couple of hours.  Can you help me out around four?”

“But, Miche,” I said, “I’m supposed to be off for a week after Agung.”

“Yes, dear, I know.  But you should be fine until tomorrow at least, shouldn’t you?”

“I suppose,” I grudgingly admitted.  Miche – Michelle – had been very good to me over the years, and to my knowledge she’d never cheated me or intentionally put me in an awkward position.  I know I was in her debt.

“Good,” she came back at me, much relieved.  “All the other girls are booked.  You know what these August weekends are like.  The family at the beach house or out in the country while poor hubbie has to stay behind in the baking city and work.  He gets so very lonely …” she chuckled.  “Anyway,” she was all business again, “we’re booked solid.”

“Do I know him?”

Miche took a sec too long to answer.  “Honey,” she said in her most honeyed voice, “he’s a she.”

“A she?”

“A she.  Not a she-male.  Very she!”

“Come on, Miche, I’m not into that scene.  You know that.”

You might be surprised how often a discreet service like Aspasia’s made appointments for women who were rainmakers but for obvious reasons preferred to keep their predilections out of public awareness.  And several of the girls swung either way without any problem, but I was not one of them.  I’d made that clear in the lengthy interview I’d had with Michelle before I first started working for her.

“I know, Mazarine.  But I am absolutely des-pe-rate.  She’s been recommended by a very heavy client.  We … I don’t want to have to let him down.  And she’s paying enough that your share will run to a thousand dollars an hour, with a three-hour booking.”

That was certainly alluring.

“And besides,” Michelle continued breathlessly, “for what it’s worth, she says she just wants a companion for the afternoon.  No sex required.”

“And you believe her?”

“Actually, I do. Of course, if there were any change of plan in the course of your time together, it would be up to you how to handle it.  I trust your judgment here.”

I was thinking hard about it.  “Oh, and one other thing,” Michelle inserted as though it were an inconsequential afterthought.  “She’s Japanese.  Her name is Yukiko.”

At least my interest was piqued.  “All right, Miche.  I’ll do it.”

“Oh, you’re a true angel,” Michelle gushed.  “I always knew it.  And I won’t forget you helped me out of a tight spot.”  I could hear her leafing through her appointments book.  “Here it is,” she said.  Four this afternoon in room 1856.  At Momiji.  Got it?”

“Got it.”

“Again, Mazarine, you have no idea how much I appreciate this.  Now, you go off and have fun with your handsome foreigner.”  She hung up and I returned the phone to its cradle.

Eight fifteen.  Time to get ready.  I took a long shower, put on my emollients, perfume, and face.  I dressed in a simple tubular sheath from Bergdorf Goodman’s the color of powdered cayenne. Around my neck I clasped a lustrous necklace of Philippine pearls, a gift from Agung two years ago.   Finally I book-ended the dress with black Claudia Ciuti heels and a plain small-rimmed Bendel cloche in black.  I checked myself in the long mirror on the bedroom door and smoothed the sheath, adjusted the cloche.  My lips were Chantecaille red in exactly the proper hue to complement the sheath.

Yes, I still had the ‘look’.

Agung would like seeing me.

I slung a Kate Spade bag in black vachetta leather around my right shoulder and at ten-thirty took the elevator down to the lobby and asked the doorman to flag down a cab to take me to La Ville.  Agung was the only one of my clients who took the presidential suite there, and that was because he was probably the only one who could afford it effortlessly.

I headed for the elevator and was whooshed up.

Agung was standing in the doorway as I exited the elevator.

He came towards me and smiled softly, bowed, and said, “Welcome, di ajeng.”

We gently shook hands and entered the 2400 square feet of suite he was renting.  I took my heels off and padded after him in the deep nap of a pale blue carpet.  The living room had an incredible view of the tri-state area and was furnished in understated but unmistakable opulence.  A kitchen and bathroom led off from one end of the central room, and from the other two large bedrooms, each with its own bathroom.  Flowers and fresh fruit adorned tables and dressers, and the sleek glass-top between the central group of sofa chairs and elongated couch in muted gray contained an ornate teak tray with small pastries and tea cups.  Agung was a Muslim, and although he was far from ostentatious about it, unlike some I had known he did observe his religion’s proscriptions regarding alcohol even when he was in the West.

A small package had appeared in his hands as he turned towards me.  “A little something for a very beautiful woman,” he said softly.

“Oh, Agung,” I said, “that is so sweet of you.”

Agung was one of the very few of my clients who actually turned me on, and I could feel myself getting wet just looking at him.  What a beautiful man!  At first you want to say he looks effeminate, but that would not be correct.  Almost effeminate, yes, but then there was something about his face that I could not define but which made him look very masculine.  I had once asked Chick if Agung was bi-sexual, and Chick had told me had never seen the slightest indication that such was the case.

I’m five feet eight, and Agung was a good head taller than I.  He was also lean and lithely muscular and carried himself in a loose-jointed way that gave him an impression of being on relaxed guard.  This contradictory observation captures an essence of Agung.  He contained multitudes.  Today he was wearing an intricate kain panjang, or long cloth, of Javanese silk batik riotously colored and held up by a gold-studded belt; he also had on a colorful jacket.  A hint of sandalwood enveloped him like a scented aura.  Before sitting down at his invitation I slipped his present into my bag.  It would not be polite to open it in front of him.

He poured tea and offered me one of the cream pastries.  “So how have you been, Mazarine?” he asked.

I took a sip.  “Things are going very well for me.  Generally it’s a happy time.”

“Generally?”  He eyed me quizzically.

“No,” I corrected myself.  “It’s a happy time.”

He let it slide.  “That is all to the good.  And your family?”

“Fine, too.  I am going home tomorrow for a few days to visit with my parents.  I haven’t seen them for a while.”

He smiled.  “Ah, that is a respectful thing to do.  I should spend more time with my own Mother and Father.”  He always ‘capitalized’ the words when referring to his parents.  “But one is so busy.  Always so busy.”

We chatted for an hour or so, about books we were reading, plays we’d seen, the Spanish still lifes at the museum, the uncertain state of the world economy.  He was an intelligent conversationalist and a generous listener.  He had the easy ability to loosen up an interlocutor and create the feeling that he or she alone existed for him at that moment.  It was a rush of sorts.

He looked at me and a tiny smile played across his lips, as sensuous as they were – I recalled with a little shiver — sensual.  He was not one to beat around the bush. “I want to make love with you,” he said.  “But, first, if your ‘generally happy’ should somehow turn into ‘specifically unhappy’ you do know how to get in touch with me, don’t you?”

“Yes, I do,” I whispered.

“You know I am a person you can always count on if you are in trouble of some kind.  Please do not forget that.”

“I know,” I nodded.  “I know.  And I am grateful.”

He came over to the couch and sat down next to me.  I could feel my heart racing as he began to caress my face and look with great intensity into my eyes.  His own were large limpid depths of brown that I sensed I could all too happily drown in.  It scared me that I felt I could fall madly and ruinously in love with this beautiful, charismatic man.

But for now I let it slip and just surrendered myself to the moment.

He traced his finger light as a fluttering butterfly across my jaw from ear to ear, over my forehead and on top of my eyelids, down along the ridge of my nose to the philtrum and curves of my lips.  He rubbed the back of my neck and pressed his fingers into the knobs of my collar bone pushing through the skin.  He was breathing hard, and he began to position himself along my side.  Through the thin batik I could feel his heat and hardness against my loin.  Slowly he began to undress me, kissing the parts of my body being exposed and letting his fingers continue to explore.  I had no need to fake a mounting excitement as I rotated my pelvis against Agung’s insistent attentions.

“Stand up and let me look at you,” he whispered.  I was naked but for choker and heels.  I stood in front of him and gazed at his gazing, a passion crackling electrically in the empty space between us.  Then he stood up, removed his jacket, and undid his sarong.  We looked up and down each other’s bodies and fell each into the arms of the other.  He held me tightly to his warmth and then laid me down on the carpet and entered me, gently at first, then with a swelling urgency that made me explode.  But he withdrew.  He was still huge, but lay on his back, hands at his side, breathing hard.  I moved my left hand to the palace of pleasure to finish myself off but he arrested it.  “Patience,” he said.  “The greatest pleasure comes from anticipation of pleasure, and the most intense desire lies in not consummating it.  Wait, and postpone.  That is a path to ecstasy.”  I let him lay my hand on my belly, just above the hair line and out of reach.  “Take shallow breaths,” he said.  After a few minutes he spread me apart with his fingers and rose up above me.  He entered hard this time and I gasped aloud at the sheer intensity of sensation, the consuming fire in my belly.  Again he brought himself – and me – to the very edge, then withdrew.  I did not think I could stand it any longer, but he insisted in word and deed, once more, that we defer.  “Trust me, and have patience.”  We lay tightly together on our backs, he erect and glistening from me, I splayed and matted from him.  For a third time he mounted me and entered, now slowly, probing, testing, caressing, in and out.  I cling to him like a limpet.  At last he allows a tsunami to build for both of us and as he thrusts savagely the wave breaks and we come to a juddering release.

For what seems forever we lie unmoving, together, hearts pounding.

I reflect that he is the only man I know who is master of his passion, not its slave.

I hardly remembered getting up, showering, dressing, leaving his suite.  But his last words to me as he handed me an envelope were, “Don’t forget what I said, sweet Mazarine:  I am a person you can always count on.”

TO BE CONTINUED

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