photo via Flawed Louise.
At the beginning of the book, when Paolo and Francesca first meet, there’s a hot scene in Paolo’s shower. They are strangers, knowing barely anything about each other except for their names, and it’s exciting and new for them both. I knew I wanted to write another shower scene with the two of them–I do all my best thinking in the shower, and the act of showering / bathing, for Francesca, reoccurs throughout the book at critical points. For this post, I wanted to detail a bit of the thought process that went into writing the scene.
[before this: fight.]
“I’m sorry,” she said. He opened the door and she crowded into the tiny shower stall with him, they knocked the nozzle out of place and it sprayed all over them and they laughed, a little at first, pressed against each other and feeling the laughter in their muscles, then harder, shaking their bodies until they couldn’t stop. [it is important that Paolo’s family’s apartment has one shower and it’s a small one; it is a subtle signifier of their socio-economic status, which was the whole point of the argument Paolo and Francesca just had.]
“I’m sorry for being such a pretentious, spoiled, obnoxious snob,” she managed to say, and he squeezed shampoo in her hair and wrapped his arms around her neck to lather it.
“And I’m glad you recognize it,” he said, kissing her cheek.
She sprayed him in the face with the shower head. “That’s enough,” she said. “You didn’t have to agree.” [I like the idea of playfulness here, both to indicate their affectionateness but also to deflect Francesca’s awkwardness.]
“But it was true,” he protested. “You said it yourself.”
She moved her body against his, warm and slippery. “Let’s not fight, babe,” she whispered. “Not ever again. Not about something like this.”
He massaged her scalp, rinsing the lather from her hair, kissing her forehead, her ear, her jawbone, the hollow of her neck. She reached for him and he was ready, erect, hard in her hand, and he backed her against the tile. [they use sex as a way to bridge the distance between them.]
“Quiet, quiet,” he said. She gasped as he entered her; the pressure of the angle was unfamiliar and he pulled back, instinctively, and moved slower and shallower.
“It’s ok,” she whispered. She didn’t know what she was saying, suddenly the words just came out of her mouth, like someone else was speaking through her. “Go harder,” she said. “I deserve it. You should punish me. I deserve it.” [I have no idea where this part came from–it suddenly occurred to me that Francesca would do anything to deflect attention from how she really feels and defer to Paolo’s feelings, trying to ‘make it up to him’ somehow.]
He quickened, and soon he was slamming her against the tile, his hand pressed over her mouth; she felt her tailbone hitting the hard wall and it hurt but he didn’t stop; she was standing on her toes and flexing her thighs and bracing herself but it didn’t help, he just kept driving into her. She screamed against his hand, bucked against his body, and he pressed against her more.
He put his hands on her shoulders. “Get down,” he said, pushing her to the floor.
“What?” she whispered. “I can’t–”
“Get on the floor,” he repeated. She arranged herself so she was kneeling on the tile, straddling the drain, in between his legs. [it’s hard to describe the physicality of sex scenes! I try to make it possible for the reader to visualize without sounding like a how-to manual.] He took his cock in his hands and jerked himself off, a rapid motion that had her worried he would punch her in the nose, but no, he just came on her face in three quick spurts, and she pushed back against his thighs trying to make space to wash her face.
“Don’t say you didn’t ask for it,” he said, stepping over her and out of the shower. He took a towel from the rack and walked out, leaving the water running and the glass shower door open, an imprint of her ass visible in the fog. [it’s obvious now that even though they’ve laughed and apologized, there’s something carnal in Paolo that is still angry. I particularly like having him step over her like he’s stepping over trash on the sidewalk.] She sat on the floor of the shower for a while, watching his semen wash down the drain. It was New Year’s Day. [call me crazy, but I don’t think it’s possible to imagine a scene with a girl sitting on the floor of a shower without recalling Eva Green in Casino Royale. I wanted to evoke that same feeling of loneliness.]