I kissed Luce, and before I could break apart she put a bit of her tongue in my mouth. Just a light flutter; the buzz of a bumblebee wing. Her eyes were closed and she kept them that way until our lips broke away. She put her hand lightly on my chest, almost as if to keep me from kissing again.
Other writers sat beside us – one of them I eventually recognised as a well established crime novelist; Joey Valandana. He looked like a short haired Jim Morrison. “This is amazing!” he said, ignoring what was at that point the greatest moment of my life. “I can’t believe I’m here with Paul Kelly, and some of the greatest writers and musicians alive!” He pointed at an austere looking man with moon shaped glasses, who was talking to an unidentified woman with an afro. “That’s one of those most influential political journalists in China.”
He followed Luce and I across the balcony. She was stopped by a much older woman, who engaged her in conversation about night time photography.
“And I can’t believe I’m talking to Luce,” Joey whispered as he asked for a vodka. He picked up a stray frangipani from the bar and put it behind his ear. “You know she was one of the most highest paid models in Europe, a couple of years back? Did you read her memoir that came out a few months ago? About her depression and self-harm and why she gave up fashion? You should have heard her interview two days ago.” He gave a lazy sort of smile as he chewed a vitamin C tablet. “Guess a little like us all.” He paused after another mouthful. “So what do you do anyway?”
“I study law,” I said, and he lifted his glass with a moronic smile, and said “cool man. Good for you.” But I’ve never seen someone look so unimpressed with my chosen profession.
I had Luce’s attention again. She waved me back to the corner of the balcony where there was a set of stairs. We followed them down into the darkness. We were at the edge of the ravine. I stumbled on a rock.
“Careful,” she grabbed my hand. We explored underneath the balcony, and another set of stairs going even further down the cliff. We stood at the edge seeing if we could do down closer to the river.
“I guess we’re at the end of this path.” She squeezed into my body. We made out somewhere underneath that balcony, the conversations above eventually quietening as the night became morning. I could see nothing but the reflection of lights above. I smelt frangipanis and perfume. I heard our lips and tongues click, crickets and frogs, the waterfall, and the light scuffling of each other’s clothing as we pawed at the bony and fleshy shapes they protected. Hip and butt and breast and stomach.
Eventually someone called down to us, “Is someone there? The place is closing now!” I followed Luce to the front where the late leavers gathered for opportunistic taxi drivers to take them home.
“Can we see each other before you go to America?” I asked, and she led me to a moped at the side of the building.
Then she said, “the night doesn’t have to end just yet!” She shouted at Joey and a couple of her other friends. “We’ll see you back at the villa!” and she put her helmet on. “Let’s go and have a few more drinks.”
“Are you able to drive?” I asked, and she said she had not had that much alcohol. That was good enough for me. I climbed on behind on and grabbed her waist.
“Tighter, you sexy man!” she yelled over the engine as she revved past the other writers, and I did what I was told. I should have been more frightened than I was, it was bloody dangerous being driven on a moped at night by a drunk girl, without even wearing a helmet, but I had never been more excited.