by Annabel Eastland
Nigel Brentwood, rich and
British, had been donating lavish erotica to my library for years, but we’d
never met. Now he was in town and wanted to drop off his latest gift
“Really?” I said to him on the phone. “You’re here all the way from
“Yes I am,” he said, “and I have the
whole morning free.” His Yorkshire accent made my mouth tingle, wanting to copy
“Maybe you’d like a
behind-the-scenes tour of Special Collections?”
Our main method of communication for
the last decade had been gorgeous gifts from him and gushy, personal thank-you
notes from me. If there’s one thing I’ve learned in my job as curator of rare
books, it’s how to write a heartfelt, creative thank-you note. Nigel’s gifts made
it so easy – they were very expensive and, well, special – and so the thank-you
notes usually wrote themselves.
When he showed up in my office, I
was surprised to see he was a bit scruffy – he looked like a broad-shouldered,
wild-eyed Doctor Who rather than the slight, butler-like Britisher I’d been
picturing for the last decade.
He had a wrapped parcel with him
– his latest gift, presumably.
“I didn’t want to mail this one – you’ll see why,”
he said, “and as I was coming to the States anyhow, I thought I’d finally meet
you, and take a look at the library.”
“Yes, of course,” I said, getting up
from the chair behind my desk to shake his hand. As it happened, my clothes
were especially librarianish that day – a dark suit and tall chunky-heeled
granny shoes, and I had my hair up. I was glad I looked professional on the day
I got a surprise visit from the library’s most important donor – and, it turned
out, possibly the hottest one, too.
We unwrapped the book: a deluxe
numbered and signed edition of Picasso’s erotic line drawings, with a value, I
knew, in the low six figures. According to the colophon, there were only five
ever done. I opened the book to a random page and found myself gazing down at a
line drawing of a naked woman with her legs spread wide open, her pussy
obscured by the heads of three men leaning in for a good look.
My reading room was full of scholars
working away at their research. I told my assistant she’d be in charge of
supervising them for a few minutes – maybe longer – and grabbed my keys.
“Let’s get this into the vault,” I
said to Nigel. We walked down the hallway and I entered a code into one keypad
and then another until we stood before the vault.
Our rare books vault isn’t like
those little safes in a hotels – it’s an entire room, about the size of a
bedroom, full of bookcases. The vault door is solid metal, as thick as the
wall, and heavy. I worked the combination lock while Nigel politely looked off
in another direction. Then we walked into the vault together.
“What would happen if the door
closed on us?” Nigel asked.
“We can’t be locked in – but
everyone else would be locked out.”
“Really.” Nigel touched the inner
handle of the vault door and looked in my eyes. He pulled the door shut and
engaged the lock.
“So what do you keep in here,
besides the books I’ve sent?”
“A leaf from a Gutenberg Bible, clay
tablets from the Mesopotamian Valley, some erotica…” My voice trembled a little
as I pulled out a fourteenth century codex, an elaborately illustrated version
of Boccaccio’s Decameron.
“Nice,” said Nigel. There wasn’t
much room between the shelves, and we stood so close together our arms touched.
“What are those velvet cloths for?”
he asked, gesturing toward the plushy drapes on an upper shelf.
“I use those in the exhibition
cases sometimes, or wrap fragile materials in them.” I pulled the biggest one down
from the shelf and unfolded it on the concrete floor of the vault like a little
picnic blanket, much more unfolded than was necessary to hold the Picasso book.
What was I thinking? Well, I must
admit I knew exactly what I was thinking. And so did Nigel.
He placed the Picasso book at one
end of the velvet and opened it to a particular page, one he knew well, it
seemed. It showed a minotaur doing something unspeakable to a nymph, who seemed
to be thoroughly enjoying the experience.
“How about if you get your kit off,”
Nigel said, his voice hoarse.
“My what? Oh! Yes, I’ll do that.”
I removed my granny heels and placed them on an empty shelf. Undid my skirt and
let it drop to the floor. Pulled off my jacket and low-cut tank top. Nigel
watched appreciatively. I reached behind my head to undo my hair, figuring he
was probably into the whole wild-librarian shake-your-hair out thing, but he
put his hand over mine before I could take out the barrette.
“I like your hair like that, if
you don’t mind,” he said. “Shows your neck.” Now he was taking off his own
clothes. It was a bit awkward in the narrow space between bookcases, but he
managed remarkably well.
“Have you got a…”
He gently arranged me on the
velvet in front of the book, placing me on my hands and knees like the nymph in
the Picasso drawing, removing my bra as he did so, and plucking off my panties
like some kind of magician. Now we were naked and pressed against each other,
every inch of skin brand new.
The vault is kept very cold, to
preserve the books, but his body against mine was hot. His lips touched the
side of my neck, then his tongue. He licked his fingers and stroked my clit
ever so softly, teasingly, in between turning pages in the Picasso book in
front of us on the floor, until I pretty much wanted to kill him.
He seemed to know it was time and
after putting on a condom he slowly – dare I say generously? – entered me from
behind. He rocked inside me, painfully slowly, every now and then flipping another
page of the book. One after another we enjoyed Picasso’s line drawings of men,
women, and mythological creatures in unusual combinations.
Now that we had a rhythm going, I
turned the pages while Nigel groaned against my back and continued to stroke my
soaking-wet clit. Some of the drawings were quite simple: a woman lying face
down on a bed with her legs slightly open, or displaying herself more brazenly
to a goggle-eyed artist. Other drawings showed couples in acrobatic, impossible
positions. Picasso’s talent for rendering multiple dimensions of the same scene
meant that we could see penetration from all angles. In one drawing, an artist wearing
a beret peered from behind a curtain as a fully-dressed courtier performed
cunnilingus on a woman who watched what he was doing in a mirror.
The last few drawings were more
silly than anything else: giant penises and vulvae with naked people drawn inside
them, and cartoon-like sketches such as “Woman with Striped Socks,” in which a
woman, naked except for the socks, rolled around on a bed, touching herself in
solo ecstasy. I closed the cover. Nigel’s fingers flickered against me,
thrumming. His thrusts got harder and deeper. We bent together like a couple
from the drawings, though we weren’t thinking about the book any more.
The vault is supposed to be
fireproof and theft proof, but no one ever said anything about sound proof. I
tried my best to keep quiet. After all, it is a library. I pressed my face into
the velvet and moaned. With Picasso’s images dancing in my head, I had the most
artistic, glorious, throbbing orgasm of my life.
Nigel, ever the gentleman, came soon
after, his thrusts strong enough to elicit a last few waves of pleasure from
me. He bit my neck just enough to leave a tiny mark behind my ear, a little art
of his own. We lay between the bookshelves, spent, for a few moments.
“Maybe this time I’ll write the acknowledgment,”
said Nigel. “Maybe I’ll enclose it with my next gift for the library.”
“Delivered personally, I hope,” I
answered. “You haven’t visited all our secret rooms.”
“It’s always been nice to know that
someone here appreciates my collecting interests,” he said, holding my breasts.
“I’ve got my eye on some other special things for you. There’s a little-known illustrated
edition of the Marquis de Sade’s Justine,
for example. And I bet you don’t have The
Life and Adventures of Miss Fanny Hill. Its monetary value is negligible,
but its inspirational value is high.”
I laughed my way back into my
clothes and back to my desk, where we shook hands again, looking like nothing
more than charming donor and grateful librarian.
The next day I went back into the
vault and retrieved the velvet cloth from the floor. I set up a small exhibition
of erotica and used it as the undercloth. A small label stated that the library
would be forever grateful to Nigel Brentwood for his contributions to the