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(Edited by ‘larryinseattle’ who continues to make my attempts at writing so much better)
Sitting on the porch, I couldn’t imagine a better ending of a day. The sun had set in a brilliance of yellows, oranges and reds about a half an hour earlier. There was a new moon so only the lights of the stars twinkled in the sky. A gentle fog had developed under the forest of pine trees that surrounded my cabin giving it a mystical feeling. The smell of pine and smoke floating from the fire pit on the evening breeze was slowly relaxing me. In the distance, I could hear the “Whooping” sound of Nighthawks as they swooped through the trees capturing their meal. A sudden movement caught my attention as a deer moved silently in the shadows of the trees. I was so mesmerized by what was going on, I didn’t even hear Jessie until she sat down beside me on the swing.
“What ya’ doin’?” she whispered as she handed me a cup of hot tea.
“It is a beautiful night.”
“Yep,” I replied, for some reason drawn back to a night far in the past. “A little like the night I met you.”
“Which time?” she laughed, lightly, at a long-standing joke.
“The first, the last, all of them,” I answered.
Placing her head on my shoulder, she whispered, “Any regrets?”
It was if I had been transported back almost 25 years as I thought about how to answer her question. The first time I met Jessie was at a beach party. The beach was the hangout for the area kids and was not-so-jokingly known as Pregnancy Point.
I was 16 years old and only there visiting for the Summer. I wasn’t actually part of the party. Instead, I was there swimming just like I did almost every evening after I finished helping my grandparents doing jobs and projects around their cabin.
I had already swam across the lake and was almost finished with my return trip when I suddenly swam right into someone. A resounding SLAP was instantly followed by a scream. Standing up, I found myself facing a very beautiful girl, Jessica Ann Whittman. She was 18 years old and towered over me, an angry look on her face.
Standing just 5-foot, 9-inches tall, my eyes were automatically drawn to her breasts, as she rubbed the left globe where a large red hand print was developing. I stammered, “I … ahhhh … I didn’t mean … I’m …”
“I’m up here,” she snarled.
My head snapped upwards as my cheeks turned a deep red from embarrassment. “I … ahhhh …. I’m sorry.” Our eyes met and everything around me seemed to disappear as I was drawn into them.
On some unknown level we connected as she began to laugh at the embarrassed and horrified look on my face. “It’s OK. I should have gotten out of your way when I saw you getting closer.” A smile brightened her face as her eyes twinkled in the sunset.
I was so wrapped up in the idea that I was talking to her that I had no idea what was about to happen until it was too late.
A voice suddenly boomed from next to me, “What ya think you’re doing punk? That’s my girl,” followed by a searing pain and then gray oblivion.
I have no idea how long I was out but when my vision cleared, I was laying on the beach and I saw a message written in the sand. STAY AWAY FROM HER OR NEXT TIME WILL BE WORSE.
Somehow, I staggered back to my grandparents’ cabin and when asked what happened, I lied and said I had run into a log while swimming.
After the clear warning I had been given, I tried to avoid Jessica but in such a small town, it wasn’t possible. Two weeks after my ‘accident’ I was swimming when I noticed someone moving towards me in the evening light. I stopped and was treading water when Jessica slid up next to me.
“Hi,” she said cheerfully.
“Hi,” I replied, looking around for anyone else.
“Don’t worry, Jack isn’t around.”
“Yeah, the idiot who hit you.”
“I thought he was your boyfriend,” I replied, shocked by her comment while remembering what he’d said about Jessica being his.
“HE thinks he is and I guess in a way it’s true since he’s the only guy my father will let me go out with.”
“Ahhhhhh.” I knew all about Jessica’s father, everyone did. His family was one of the original families who’d settled and built the town. Now he owned the local grocery store, the car dealership, the boat dealership, 3 different sporting goods shops and, it was rumored, more land than anyone in the area. “So what are you doing out here?”
“Trying to get away.”
Her answer puzzled me. “Getting away from what?”
“Not what. Who. Jack, my dad, the life they have planned for me.”
Unsure of what to say, I just nodded my head and mumbled, “That sucks.”
“It sure does,” she said before continuing. “Do you swim like this every night?”
“Almost. I used to swim earlier but well … you know.”
“Yeah, sorry about that, again.”
“No big deal.”
“Don’t you get frightened swimming in the dark?”
“Not really. I used to güvenilir canlı bahis siteleri swim across the lake and back. Now I catch a ride to the far side and start there. I begin just before the sun goes down and head for the pier lights by the beach. It’s not like there are sharks or anything out here,” I joked.
“What about boats? They wouldn’t see you.”
“They usually go in before dark so I’m not too worried. Besides, I can hear an engine running a long way off in the water and change my direction to avoid them.”
She hesitated before continuing, “Would you mind if I met you like this once in a while and we can swim together?”
“What about Jack?” I asked a bit timidly as I again remembered my first encounter with him.
Her laughter echoed over the water. “Nothing to worry about from him. He tries to act like it’s no big deal but he’s scared stiff of the water. He can barely swim a stroke,” she illustrated as she did the ‘dog-paddle’ while making ‘Whoof’ing sounds. “He’ll only come in up to his chest and then only when he has to.”
The darkness of the night hid both my joy and fear. The fact that she was older than me and the most gorgeous girl around somehow was lost in the evening light as I answered, “Sure, why not. By the way, my name is Scott.”
“I know,” she called over her shoulder as she began to swim away. “Beat you to the beach.”
Stunned that she knew my name, I stayed there for a few seconds watching her. Her strokes were long and graceful as she seemed to glide through the water. Lucky for me, I was part of the Varsity Swim Team at my school so I easily caught up to her, finishing the swim side-by-side. It was only because I ‘tripped’ that she beat me to the beach.
So began a friendship that lasted throughout the Summer. Several times a week we’d meet just before sunset for our swim and then spend time together talking afterwards. We almost got caught a few of times but quickly realized the best way to avoid being found was to slip back into the water and swim to a boat dock that belonged to one of the resorts and leave from there.
Unfortunately, all things come to an end and my final day at the cabin arrived. I packed all of my belongings and then told my grandparents I had one more thing to do. I took the back trails to get to the beach as fast as I could hoping for the impossible. Jessica was nowhere in sight but stuffed inside of a small hole in the tree where we’d spent so many nights talking I found a note. All it said was, “Don’t forget me“. There wasn’t a signature but a bright red lipstick kiss highlighted the piece of paper.
As we left town, I saw Jessica walking down the sidewalk with Jack and some of her friends. When she noticed me, I gave her the smallest of nods and was rewarded with an equally small smile.
Back at home, school seemed to drag on and on. Everywhere I looked I thought I saw her. Ok, not her physically but a smile on someone’s face or a look in someone’s eyes. All I wanted to do was see her again. Even swimming couldn’t help me escape the thought of her so I turned it to my advantage and imagined her swimming next to me as we had done all those Summer nights. By the end of the season, I had not only broken two school records but tied a regional one.
I couldn’t wait for the holiday season to arrive since my family always went up to the cabin for Thanksgiving, all the time hoping I’d get a chance to spend some time with her again. Unfortunately, that didn’t work out. Ohhh, we got to the cabin alright but Jessica wasn’t around. She was visiting some of her family only 10 miles from my house back in the city. Afterwards, I tried to convince my family that we should come up for an “Old Fashioned Christmas” but I couldn’t get them to agree so I had to wait until for what seemed like an eternity.
The first weekend in May I asked my parents if I could borrow the car and go up to the cabin. By this time they both knew about my friendship with Jessica, as well as my infatuation with her, and though they warned me about what I might find they reluctantly gave me the keys.
When I arrived, the cabin was cold and damp, there was no running water and I had to hook up the electricity but it seemed like heaven. That night I drove to the beach though I wasn’t sure why. I sat there for a while before checking the tree hoping beyond hope, but nothing was there. Reluctantly, I went back to the cabin, made a meal, and crawled into bed. A plan slowly formed just before I fell asleep.
The next morning I got up bright and early and drove the 15 miles into town. Parking the car in front of the local diner, I ordered the ‘Breakfast Special’ and hot tea. I had planned on staying all day if necessary but fate intervened and I saw Jessica walking down the sidewalk. She looked even more beautiful than the year before.
Her sandy-brown hair was tied back into a ponytail that hung to the middle of her back. She was wearing a down-filled jacket that was open revealing a flannel güvenilir illegal bahis siteleri shirt underneath and the shirt was tied just under her bust, highlighting the depth of her cleavage. Her denim jeans were skintight, shifting and moving with each step. To top off her outfit, she wore a pair of high-heeled black boots that came up over her calves.
As she walked by, she glanced in the window and saw me. Her step faltered for the briefest of seconds as she recognized me, grabbing a friend to keep from falling. The corners of her lips turned upward as she gave me an impish smile and winked at me. As if we were speaking some language unknown to anyone else I knew … the beach, tonight.
It wasn’t until I was leaving the diner that I noticed Jack’s truck parked down the street. Fear swept through me until I noticed it was empty. Needless to say, I left as quickly as possible.
That night there was a new moon so it was darker than dark except for the light given off by the stars. Jessica appeared from the shadows and climbed into my car. Sliding across the seat, she wrapped her arms around me giving me a hug as she said, teasingly, “You know you freaked me out when I saw you sitting in the diner! If it hadn’t been for Sarah I probably would have fallen flat on my face.”
I didn’t say a word as I reveled in the feel of her arms wrapped around me.
“I’ve missed you so much.”
“I’ve missed you, too.”
I told her about the family trip during Thanksgiving and my failed attempt to get everyone to come up for Christmas.
“You did all that to see me?”
“What can I say?”
“You know some people might consider that stalking?” she teased.
I shrugged me shoulders. “I have this absolutely beautiful friend who lives up here. I couldn’t help myself,” I replied before asking, “Do you mind?”
“NO,” she giggled. “Just don’t say anything to anyone else about what you did. If Jack would find out I don’t know what he’d do.”
“So the two of you are still together?”
Time ticked by as I waited for her to continue.
“Since we graduated he’s taken a job at my dad’s boat yard and now he’s telling everyone that he’s going to marry me.”
“What do you think about that?”
A secretive looked covered her face. “I think he’ll have to wait for any of HIS plans. I’m spending this Summer with a friend,” she sighed as she snuggled against my side, “and then I’m starting college.”
“Far away from here. I’ve applied to three colleges down South and am just waiting to hear back.”
“What if your dad and Jack try to stop you?”
“Not happening. I already told my dad I want a college degree in business before I settle down. Of course he was happy about that since it means I can take over the businesses when he retires. As for Jack, well, by time he knows anything about it I’ll be long gone. But enough about me. Tell me what you’ve been up to.”
We sat together for the next two hours talking and laughing about the things going on in our lives and future plans. Then just before she had to leave she asked, “Can I ask you something?”
“Why haven’t you ever try to kiss me?”
I was stunned by her question and stuttered as I tried to find the right answer. “A couple of reasons. First there’s Jack. I really didn’t want to get punched out again. And second is … ummmmm … still Jack. You see I was taught that you don’t step in on another guy’s ‘action’. Since Jack said you were his girlfriend I didn’t think it was right to try anything like that.”
“Even after I told you how I felt?”
“It’s a ‘guy-thing’ I guess.”
“But you did want to?”
“Hell yes. I’d have to be dead not to want to kiss you.”
“And what about now?” she murmured seductively as she nestled in my arms.
“I … ahhhhhhh … I’m … You’re still going out with Jack … besides you’re 19 and I’m 17. Legally, you’re an adult and I’m not.”
“It’s only a kiss and I won’t tell if you don’t,” she purred as she brought her lips to mine. They were soft and full. The taste of cherry from her lipstick exploding in my mouth. All thought about stepping in on another guys ‘action’ instantly disappeared.
Instinctively, I parted my lips as I felt her tongue pressing against them. Our tongues touched and probed, battling with each other. Fireworks went off before my eyes and it was as if I’d found a part of me that had been lost. When we separated the car windows were steamed and we were panting for breath.
“Wow,” we said in unison.
“I never …”
“Me either,” she sighed. “I’ve kissed other people before but never and I mean NEVER like that.”
“What about Ja…?”
“Shhhhhhh. I don’t want to hear that name. I don’t want to spoil what just happened. Let’s just say that he’s usually in too much of a hurry to try and get something else …”
I knew what she was talking about and a surge of jealousy coursed through me.
“… güvenilir bahis şirketleri though he’s never succeeded in getting what he wants. I’m not going to lie to you. He’s gotten a touch of this and that, he’s even … let’s say he’s never gotten all of me.”
Once again a silence settled over us as I wrapped an arm around her protectively. A swirl of emotions and fears running through my mind. “I care about this woman, maybe even love her. Nahhhh, it’s just puppy love. You’ll get over it. But what if it’s not? What if she’s ‘the one’? What if she doesn’t feel the same? But what if she does? What can I do for her? She lives way up here and I still live at home with my parents. She’s leaving for college and I still have another year of high school. Besides, I can’t even take care of myself. How am I going to protect her from Jack?” Yet all I finally asked was, “So what do we do now?”
“I guess we do the same as last year. We meet, we swim, we do a little more of this,” she sighed as she gave me a brief kiss before continuing, “and see where things go.”
Then suddenly the biggest question in my mind blurted itself out, “Why me?”
I could tell she’d asked herself the same question as she answered quickly, “I’m not sure. When we met last year it was just kind of an adventure … getting away from Jack and my dad … doing something they would never approve of. But the more I got to know you the more I wanted to know. And I know this is going to sound strange but the more time I spent talking to you the more I felt like I was talking to a missing part of myself. Do you understand?”
We spent the next hour making plans and kissing until she had to leave. “See you soon,” she said, softly, as she gave me one last kiss and then she was gone. I sat there watching where she’s disappeared into the night wondering how life could be so fantastic and yet so cruel at the same time.
As planned, I moved back up to the cabin as soon as school was out. We’d see each in town, avoiding eye contact for fear that others might notice, while spending almost every evening together swimming and talking. Several times we swam to an island in the middle of the lake and lit a fire. (I’d taken some matches and hid them during one of my fishing trips.) We’d stretch out in the sand and talk, frequently taking breaks to kiss. On more than one occasion we came close to ‘crossing the line’ and going further but we knew that once we did that there would be no turning back and that there was no chance of a future for us together … at least not yet.
All too soon the Summer was over and it was time to say ‘good-bye’ once again. We shared a final evening together, exchanging addresses and phone numbers where we could be reached not realizing what was awaiting us.
For the first couple of months, I received a letter almost every week as Jessica told me what college was like, about her classes, her new friends, and how much she missed seeing me. A couple of times we talked on the phone and then they suddenly everything stopped. I tried calling the phone number she’d given me only to find it had been disconnected. Concern, fear, and anger all flowed through me as I tried to figure out what had happened. It wasn’t until the following Spring that I got my answer.
The day was cloudy and cold. A slow rain mixed with snowflakes soaking everything. When I drove through town I noticed that the sidewalks were virtually empty. It was as if some part of the town’s soul had disappeared. That was when i saw the sign, UNDER NEW MANAGEMENT, plastered in the window of Jessica’s dad’s car dealership. The same sign was posted in the window of the boat dealership, the grocery store and the sports shop.
Pulling into an open spot in front of the diner, I entered and my heart skipped a beat. There was Jessica but there was something missing. The vibrant, happy woman had been switched for this shell of her former self. I wanted to run up to her and ask what had happened, why she had stopped writing, but held back when I noticed Jack sitting next to her.
As if she sensed my presence, she turned her head towards me. The briefest glimmer of recognition was quickly hidden behind a veil of fear. Then Jack spotted me and yelled, “What do you know, the Summer trash has started to arrive early.”
Anger surged in me but another look from Jessica pleaded with me not to make anything of Jack’s comment.
“Yep, here to spend our money and save your ass for another year,” I replied, sarcastically. I could see the muscles in Jack’s back and shoulders tense but instead of saying anything more he looked at Jessica and snarled, “Let’s go.”
She looked like a crumpled rag doll as she stood, obedient to Jack’s command, yet as she walked by she brushed against me lightly and I saw a wink that told me I might want to visit the beach that night.
When I arrived, fog was swirling beneath the trees. The rain had stopped but the gentle sound of the drops falling from the branches filled the air. I waited and waited, and was almost ready to leave when the door to my car suddenly opened. Jessica was instantly in my arms, her head buried against my shoulder as she cried. “Ohhhhh, I’ve missed you so much.” The kisses that followed were fervent and needy. All I could do was hold onto her.
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