Women’s stories – Valérie

Today we tell the story of Valérie, wife of a boss, who in order not to live on the edge of legality, decides to change country and name.

“Conscience is the voice of the soul and passion is the voice of the body”.
Jean Jacques Rousseau

VALERIE

He appeared one evening many years ago, as I was about to close my flower shop in Paris. An ordinary client, not tall, burly, with little hair. He was handling a large cigar. He asked for a generous bouquet of red roses. He smiled with his entire face, he had sure and kind gestures. “Only special roses,” he said in an amused tone as I put together the flowers. I was struck by the way he said it. He spoke French with a curious Italian accent which he tried to hide, making it even more interesting. I was very young and very curious.

After that first purchase he returned several times to my shop, always to buy huge bouquets for who knows which girlfriend. One day, when he left the shop, I followed him with my eyes and saw him throw the flower bouquet he had just bought into a trash bin, before getting into a sports car and driving away. I knew, then, that he was coming for me. We started dating. He filled me with words, smiles and attention. He had a magnetic charm, a sharp look that made me uncomfortable and seduced me at the same time.

He said his name was Nicolas and he had a small meat trading business. We went out a few times and one evening he took me to dance. Despite his by no means lean build, he moved gracefully and perfectly in time. He was an exceptional dancer. He whirled me to the beat of the music all night, gently and forcefully at the same time. Eventually, drunk with dancing and laughter, I found myself in his arms. A love story began among the most beautiful that I could ever hope to live. We made love with energy and without sparing ourselves. His way of taking me was often rough, yet I couldn’t help but wish his touch. No one had ever made me feel this way. We soon got engaged and, of course, my parents weren’t happy at all. For me they certainly did not want this unattractive, uneducated man with a not too refined profession and an Italian surname. Of course I ignored them, it was 1968 and it was normal to challenge authority. Any authority. Paris was a pressure cooker ready to explode at that time, and our story was nothing more than a light appendix to an otherwise fiery chronicle.

I closed the shop and stopped working. We got married in a small church outside the city on a beautiful spring day. It was the first time I saw his friends. Some of them were Italians who barely spoke French and walked around with large dark glasses. Others were Algerians, very ceremonious. Then there were his girl friends, a couple of very blond girls and a sporty brunette who hugged Nicolas with an intimacy that seemed fraternal to me at the moment. And finally Xavier, whom I would soon know very well. He was his best friend, so he told me. Young, tall, with gray eyes always on the move, he didn’t really look like the type who could be friends with Nicolas.

Maybe that day I should have noticed something, but some more time passed before I realized that the meat in which Nicolas traded was not that of farm animals destined to end up in the pot, but that of young women engaged in prostitution. Moreover, that was only part of his business, which also extended to drug dealing and weapon trafficking. Xavier was a cross between a bodyguard and an advisor, a trusted man of Nicolas who was delegated the protection of the head and some special affairs.

I was confronted with the facts when the police came to our house. Nicolas wasn’t there, by chance he was on the French Riviera for some business. The police were looking for anything that could connect him to the murder of a drug dealer that took place a few days earlier on the outskirts of Paris. But Nicolas was too smart to leave traces. And to be found in the house by the police. I was stunned. I read the search warrant over and over again, sitting in the kitchen with shaking hands, memorizing the charges that were being given at my husband. Nicolas had lied to me, he was a gangster and I was his woman. I understood in an instant the reason for certain absences, certain phone calls, at certain hours. And I felt again that nonmasculine scent that sometimes came from his jacket. I felt filthy. I did not wait for his return and, when the police was gone, I asked Xavier to take me to my parents, where I stayed for some time while I filed for divorce. However, my mother’s looks of pity were too severe a punishment for me to bear for long, so, with Nicolas still a fugitive, I moved into a small apartment in Rue d’Alleray and got a job as a saleswoman. I learned about Nicolasdirty business much more than I would have liked, until I discovered that he was one of the most wanted criminals in all of France. After the long interrogations I was subjected to by the police, which left me empty and wounded, I was now determined to forget him and start over.

About eight months passed and one day, as if nothing had happened, Nicolas showed up at my door. He told me that he was so sorry, but that if I had known the truth I would not have married him. And he loved me. He said he understood me, he understood divorce because he had been a liar and cheated on me. But he asked me to make an effort and think if I really wanted to be without him.

He suggested we meet every now and then, spend time together and, maybe, who knows, make love every now and then. I was outraged, upset, and offended that he believed I could accept such a proposal. I kicked him out of my house and cried for days. But after a few weeks, by virtue of what unhealthy instinct I don’t know, I called Xavier and asked him if he knew where to find Nicolas. We met in an anonymous café, a neutral territory that I had carefully chosen, frequented but not too much. We just talked, that first time. Then other meetings followed. Until, in short, we did what he asked. Every so often we met and made love. I was well aware that Nicolas had other women, and legally I was still his wife. I was excited and at the same time scandalized by myself for the situation I had accepted to live. Nicolas had tied me to him with a chain that was difficult to break. There was a kind of spell over me, a force that urged me each time to yield to his body pressing on mine, to his gaze demanding me. As much as I was ashamed of myself, at the same time I felt a kind of pride in being the woman of a criminal. It happened, at times, to lay my eyes on some policeman who was walking through the streets of Paris and to be tempted to tell everything, to have him arrested. But then I felt deep inside a sort of atrocious admiration for Nicolas and his ability to keep the entire French police in check.

It was bizarre to think that Nicolas was wanted all over the nation, as he led a basically regular life in Paris, running his business from a safe place not far from the city center. Things went on like this for two years. Until, one day, I noticed Xavier who was parked in the car under my house. I invited him to get on and he explained that Nicolas had asked him to keep an eye on me, to protect me. He told me about his passion for cars and many other things. Late in the evening we were still chatting. Then the unthinkable happened. We kissed and one kiss was followed by another, until, drunk with desire, we ended up in bed. It wasn’t the last time. A love triangle was established of which I was the apex. I had no more brakes and it seemed the ideal situation. Nicolas gave me passion and confidence, Xavier gave me lightness and sweetness. I wanted everything and I had everything. Nothing was enough for me, I still wanted everything from both. The bit of selflove that I had left was buried, overwhelmed by a force that I couldn’t resist and that pulled me to one side and then pushed me back to the other.

Then, one Sunday in September, Nicolas caught us. He said nothing. He went out, waited for Xavier in the street and, as soon as he saw him, he shot him down. After the fact he did not run away.

He sat on the sidewalk next to his friend‘s body, smoking a cigar while waiting for the police to arrive. I never saw him again, I knew he had been sentenced very harshly.

I changed my first name and took my mother’s surname. I left France and found a job as a translator in Italy. I married an entrepreneur from Bologna who had bought a beautiful villa in Ravello, facing the sea.

From the terrace, today, after forty years, between the glare of the sun on the water and the fog of memory, things no longer seem so true. Not so definitive. Sometimes dreams are like this, they mix with memory. And yet, really, I was the bosss wife in Paris many years ago.

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real story taken from: http://blog.pianetadonna.it/lestoriediagatha/valerie/

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