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She was from a three-horse town called Detva, nestled into the foothills of the Carpathian mountains. We met during the golden years for a young Englishman. A time when every flight, each coach and boat deposited on Britain's shores, a fresh batch of eastern Europeans, placating the UK's expanding economy. They weren't all green, but all hankered for a new life, encounters and all with which that could entail.
We crossed paths when I visited my step-grandfather, Harry. A wide-eyed cockney. A fireman during Blitz. He had tricked death time and time again in his younger years.
"Fortune is a friend of mine," he would declare. So it was that Harry—in his final few months—would shed a little of his luck on me.
Eva worked at his retirement home, washing dishes, making drinks, keeping the old people company. I'd visit him occasionally, mainly out of guilt that I hadn’t visited him. A few weeks would pass and I'd think shit I never saw Harry for over a month. So I'd call on his rooms land line and organise a visit for a cuppa.
In late September I arrived as scheduled to hear him listening to classical music.
“It’s not mine," he insisted. Him being more a jazz band kind of guy.
"Some bloke name Smetana. It’s Eva’s CD.”
A Short while later his bedroom door opened and the aforementioned woman entered, dark Slovak hair, twisted into locks, the waist of a ballet dancer, tight blue jeans down to scruffy pink trainers. She smiled broadly but didn’t seem to take much notice of me. However, I was taken aback by her attractiveness. I hadn't been expecting to see an eastern block page turner amid the custard creams.
Harry introduced me of course.
"He is only here to claw his way into my will."
I don't think she got the joke, enquiring only as to his opinion of her Smetana CD.
“Bit slow.” He then laughed from his gut and coughed until Eva had to help him.
That day Harry became my wingman. I interrogated him for information. Was she single? Where was she from? How long she'd worked there? Why hadn't I met her before?
Eva told me later that she had hovered a while on the other side of the closed door to eavesdrop on our conversation. So despite her cool demeanour, she had noticed me as I had her.
Harry said she was due to fly home, sometime around Christmas, so two months on from our meeting. It didn't bother me at that moment. I had already developed my two-month rule. See I reasoned it's better to have a flaming two months than two ‘flaming’ years. It may appear pessimistic but I'm surrounded by couples that have stayed together far too long, that I remember were once wildly in love. The legacy of their best times spoiled by later events. Little did I know how inadequate the two-month rule would be, after Eva had worked her way deeper into my affections and desires than many before or since.
Before leaving I slipped Harry my number on a piece of paper.
"Give it to her will you, when she returns? Put in a good word."
Whatever he said worked. Eva rung me after she'd finished that same shift. By the end of the phone call, she and I were agreed to meet for a meal. For the first date, I met her by Cafe Nero. I arrived to see a woman I barely recognised. She was three times as beautiful when done up. Her figure in a stunning outfit with heeled boots. I remember thinking to myself—shit Jamie, don't fuck this one up! As if to underscore how attractive she was, quite randomly when in our Italian restaurant, a woman turned around from her nearby table and unexpectedly said she couldn't leave before commenting on how beautiful she (Eva) was. The one and only time I've ever experienced such a thing.
I winged the first date, the second was a movie at the marina, and the third was to the famous bonfire celebrations in a nearby town of Lewes. We sat on the courthouse walls and watched the flaming torch lit procession. After the spectacular fireworks concluded the festivities we took the train home, arriving at Brighton station. It was time to ask her.
“Where do you want to go?” By then it was one a.m.
“You can stay at mine if you like?” To my relief, she replied with a simple:
I gleefully paid the taxi driver as we both got out together. She texted her flatmate and before I could take her hand she gripped mine tight, as a sign of matters to come.
In the flat, she looked at my drawings and paintings. I went to freshen up and when I returned she'd put some music on. It was the CD of her favourite composer.
"It's all I had, but it reminds me of home—it was in my bag."
I waited in the bedroom, listening to sweeping bars of Smetana's melodies. Then she appeared from the bathroom, wearing nothing but a red thong, see-through and a red bra edged with lace. Her breasts were small but perk, her neck long and her black hair contrasted against her pale Carpathian skin. She was intensely beautiful to me.
She leant forward and began to kiss my lips, and with the second passing she put her hand into my crotch and started to caress. She'd been alone in England for almost a year, dreaming of her childhood sweetheart back in Slovakia. I felt like she had missed something, maybe not sex but affection, touch, a mans arms and breath. She gripped me like she was blind, and needed to know every angle and muscle. Commenting on my muscular back as she put her arms around me.
She knew what she was doing, taking my hand and leading it from her toes up over her knee and to the cotton of her underwear. I accepted the hint and stroked her legs again, each time applying slightly greater pressure like playing an instrument in the orchestra that provided our evening's soundtrack.
We were still perched on the side of my bed, kissing and cupping. I slipped my hand under her bra. What a fantastic feeling that was. Life-affirming I'd say, to take hold of her soft warm breast for the first time and see her eyes enter mine, trusting and giving and expecting. The first sip of good wine, telling you something about all that lies ahead as the night progresses. I removed her bra, lent her back and I began to suckle her nipples, seeing how it affected her.
I left the light on; I wanted to see everything this first time. I kept my hand over her inner thigh, on the outside of her thong. I kissed her neck, then to her chest. Once I felt the juices oozing through my fingers I knew it was time. I slipped my finger underneath the lace, and along the wet skin. It was smooth as sun-warmed marble, everything about Eva was always smooth, her skin, her voice, her hair, her walk. I couldn't find a rough edge.
A few moments after I slipped my hand inside, she gripped my shoulder, dragging her nails down my arm. I tried not to show any pain or surprise but accepted her sentence.
"Fuck me, Jamie," she said opening her eyes and piercing me with a primal glare.
I pulled her thong off, hearing threads snap as I did so. She threw her self back to the head of the bed, opening her legs wide and holding out her arms to pull me on top.
Strangely I went straight in, no more foreplay. It meant something that we were making love, not fucking. I don't think I ever fucked Eva; it was always more sincere thank that. If you understand what I mean?
She lay at the centre of my double, silent, holding my shoulders as I entered her. I felt it and so did she. Two lonely souls in search of a moments peace.
She undulated as I moved. I kissed her neck, suckled her, took her head in my hand. She turned her mouth to bite my fingers. So I could feel her warm tongue and her panting breaths quicken around it.
Her stomach and body were twitching which excited me. She clawed my neck and lifted her head up, biting my ear. Every time she hurt me I took the hit. It was like she was testing—how much pain can he take? While I only gave her pleasure in return.
The classical symphony was building and expectantly as it grew faster and louder so did she. Her back arching up and her pelvis rotating left and right.
She had a grip I had never experienced, she moaned and rocked biting my neck, as if her body itself was biting down on my cock.
She locked her arms around my waist pulling me close, not giving an inch of air between us. Then holding me as if her life depended on it she cried out, coming with a shivering release just at the moment the music hit its final crescendo. I didn't need any more encouragement and I came with the final chord like an old black and white movie as the sea crashes on the rocks.
We remained together for two more months, enjoying many special nights and days as I tried to show her the city I loved as I knew it. Some of those later episodes may well be written about on another occasion. We celebrated an early Christmas on December fifth—St. Nicholas day, a day that holds special meaning in her homeland. Then she left as planned a week later.
I have four chambers in my heart and one of them inexplicably continues to hold her. Despite my confidence that I was immune to feeling such things. She came as close as any has ever to convert me to the faith. She was a wise, kind woman. She knew it better than I in fact not to spoil our intense and rather beautiful encounter by exposing it to indifferent light of reality.
She left me being able to speak a few lines of Slovakian and sharing her love for a long-dead composer. Not to forget a deep affection and loving sentiment for an old friend: Harry, this one's for you.
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The Musical Accompaniment
A Souvenir of Smetana