Her Infinite Variety

Free Her Infinite Variety by Louis Auchincloss, Louis S. Auchincloss

Book: Her Infinite Variety by Louis Auchincloss, Louis S. Auchincloss Read Free Book Online
Authors: Louis Auchincloss, Louis S. Auchincloss
Tags: General Fiction
was concerned: it was she who was giving, not simply he who was taking. If she had felt with Trevor that he was perhaps too much the male, she knew that with Rory, despite all his rather brandished intellectual superiority, the female in bed with him was an equal partner. And yet she loved Rory less than she loved—or had loved—Trevor. Yes, she could feel that even in orgasm! For really, did she love any man at all? Or did she love them all? Was she a monster? Or had she simply discovered a secret of life carefully concealed from the masses? Poor things, if they didn't have love, what did they have? Love was like the heaven the church in the old days had offered to the poor to keep them from rioting.
    She laughed aloud as she lay beside him afterwards.
    "Was it just because I've been overseas?" he asked. "Do you feel you owe it to the boys who've been 'over there'?"
    "Believe it or not, you're the first." She reached for her clothes and rose from the bed. "And I want a drink."
    Dressed again, they faced each other, glasses in hand, across the coffee table in his living room.
    "So I'm really only your second guy? Second in the war, anyway?"
    "My second ever. I was a virgin when I married—the way you Irish men like your brides—or used to, at least. You have the honor of being my first marital infidelity."
    His frown seemed to correct the lightness of her tone. "A dubious honor, I'm afraid. To have seduced an honest spouse."
    "Do you really worry about that? I thought you told me you'd put all that Catholic business behind you."
    "The dogma I have. But the sins have a way of sticking. And the guilt. Oh, we're great on guilt."
    "Hellfire still crackles?"
    "It's the last to go out."
    "Well, put your mind at rest. You did
not
seduce me. If anything, it was the other way around. I did nothing I didn't want to do. And nothing I'm not willing to do again."
    "Then we can enjoy our little fling for the rest of my leave?"
    "I like the way you put a limit on it. Do you think I'm the type to cling?"
    He gazed at her now almost regretfully. "No, I guess you're not that. What about Trevor?"
    "What about him?"
    "Have you no thoughts about cheating on him?"
    "Thoughts? I don't think that's quite the word for them. Let's put it that he hasn't been here for me. Not today anyway."
    "You've ceased to love each other?"
    "How inquisitive you are. Men can never leave well enough alone. Maybe we have in a way ceased to love each other. Maybe in a way we never really did. But that's all
now,
because he isn't here. When he comes home things may be different."
    "And you'll want that?"
    "I hope so."
    "Then we must be very discreet."
    "Isn't that always wise? Which means I should be getting home." She glanced at her watch. "Oh, definitely. But I'll just finish this drink first. Provided we don't talk about Trevor. You, dear boy, will always occupy a special place in my heart as my second man. I think the second man may play a very important part in a woman's life. He opens things up."
    "You mean because he shows her what she's been missing?"
    "Don't be vain! That's not what I meant at all. He opens her up to herself."
    "And lets her see there may be higher peaks to climb?"
    "First you're vain. Now you're vulgar. But I should be grateful, anyway, that you haven't prated about love."
    "No, dear," he admitted ruefully. "I haven't prated about love."
    ***
    Rory was summoned to his next post in London a week ahead of schedule, and he and Clara had time for only two more sexual encounters. Thinking rather luxuriously back on them after he had gone, she enjoyed a new sense of being answerable only to herself. She even began to wonder if she had not slipped into a kind of solecism: that the world was only what Clarabel Hoyt perceived and felt, and that its morality and rules of conduct were purely of her own devising. If she was herself something of a work of art, she was also the artist. And what was sin then but a part of the backdrop against

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