© Alex de Kok, 2006

She phoned me Sunday evening, just after I'd got back from my weekend away. I'd thrown my soiled clothes in the wash basket, grabbed a beer from the refrigerator and checked the answering machine. Two business messages. They could wait until Monday. I was just finishing making a note to remind myself when the phone rang again. I let the answering machine kick in as I wrote, and was taken by surprise by my caller.

"Hi, Bob. Um, it's Julie, Julie March. Aunt Elly introduced us at Teal Island, remember? You'll be wondering why I'm phoning. Um, I have the chance to borrow a sailboat next weekend. I don't know anyone else interested in sailing, and I was wondering, wondering whether maybe you'd like to come with me? Maybe show me the ropes? Oh, that sounds corny, doesn't it? I'm sorry. You know what I mean, I guess. Obviously, you don't have to come - "

I picked up the handset and pressed the stop button on the recorder. "Julie? Hi. I just got in."

"Oh. Hi, Bob." Her voice was hesitant. "I hope you don't think I'm being pushy, I mean, I know you can sail, and I have this offer of a boat next weekend. I'd love to accept, but apart from the couple who own the boat I don't know anyone except you that actually knows which rope to pull." There was a nervous chuckle. "No compulsion, of course. It's just I have to let my friends know this evening. If I want to borrow the boat, I mean."

"Julie, I'd love to go sailing with you. Tell you what, why don't we have a drink sometime this week and discuss it?"

"Oh, yes! That would be great! I'm free any evening." Any evening? Interesting. What kept a good-looking girl like her indoors all week?

I glanced at my watch. Seven-forty. "Would that include tonight?"

There was a pause. "Yes, it would." There was a note of surprised pleasure in her voice.

"Where do I collect you?"

"Drake Building. Tenth and Vine. Apartment seventeen."

"Give me twenty minutes. I'll collect you at eight."

"Eight-thirty would be better. A girl needs more time," she said, a teasing note in her voice.

"Eight-thirty it is. See you then." I hung up, whistling. Just time for a quick shower.

I was a little early, maybe eight twenty-five, but she answered immediately when I rang her number on the speaker-phone gizmo at the entrance to the apartment block.

"Hi, it's Bob."

"Stay there, I'll be right down." She was as good as her word and gave me a bright smile as she came out.

I led the way to the car and seated her, rewarded with another flashing smile. Once in my own seat I looked across at her. "Where would you like to go? Do you want a meal, or just a drink and a chat?"

"I'd just eaten when I phoned you, so I'm not hungry, but if you'd like to go somewhere where I can just have a drink, and you a meal if you like, that's fine."

"Any suggestions?"

"There is a place," Julie said, hesitant.


"The 'Torch Bar'. There's live music tonight, and the food's good."

"Torch it is, but you'll have to direct me, because although I've heard of it, I don't know where it is."

It was down a side street, well off the main drag, but I managed to get parked within a couple of blocks and we made our way back to the Torch. There was a sign by the doorway, telling us 'Tonight and Tomorrow - Ellen Demaris.' I gestured at the sign.

"Do you know of her? The name's new to me."

"I do. That's why I wanted to come here. You don't mind, do you?"

"Of course not. Come on, let's go in."

The bar was only two-thirds full and we got a table near the tiny stage. Piano, drum kit, guitar on a rest. No players. I ordered drinks and a steak sandwich, and Julie and I just chatted for a while. Feeling each other out, I guess. We'd been introduced by Julie's aunt, Eleanor, at a nudist camp of all places, so there was none of the conventional wondering about what a new date might look like without clothes. I'd seen Julie naked, and I knew that the reality was pretty stunning. What we didn't know about each other were the conventional social things. Likes, dislikes, job, school, things like that. Although naturally reticent, Julie was open enough that I soon felt as if I'd known her longer than just two days. As we chatted, and I ate my delicious sandwich, the lights dimmed, a drummer and a guitarist slid into their places and a figure at the side of the stage was spotlighted. He raised a microphone to his lips.

"Ladies and gentlemen, the Torch Bar proudly presents, Ellen Demaris!" There was a spattering of applause as a blond woman in a black sheath dress took her place at the piano and launched into 'Ain't Misbehavin'. Ellen Demaris was good. A throaty voice that hit the notes bang on, a sure touch on the piano keys and a couple of accompanists who kept the beat and rhythm going without ever intruding. She did a dozen or so numbers and then announced that it was time for a break.

"I have to see an old friend, too," she said. I'd noticed when she came on, as soon as she was relaxed and had the feel of the audience, she'd looked around, and I was sure she'd recognized someone when she looked in our direction. She didn't know me from Santa Claus, so it had to be Julie, and sure enough, as she moved away from the piano she came over to our table. Julie stood up and hugged her and turned to me. I stood.

"Bob," said Julie, "I'd like you to meet an old college friend of mine, Ellen Demaris. Ellie, this is Bob Archer." Ellen held out her hand and I shook it. There was a spare chair at our table and I gestured to it.

"Sit down, please." The waitress was hovering and I touched Ellen's arm. "A drink, perhaps?"

"Just a mineral water, please."

"Got it," said the waitress.

"We were at college together," said Julie. "We used to sing as a duo, but my voice doesn't last enough for more than a couple of nights, so these days I just sing in the shower."

"A great pity, too, Bob, because Jules has a lovely singing voice, purer than mine. We made a good duo." Ellen smiled at her friend, and turned to me. "So, Bob, how long have you known this lovely lady?"

I laughed. "About thirty-six hours, I think. Her aunt introduced us yesterday."

"And here you are, out together to listen to me."

Julie laughed. "Bob had never heard of you, Ellie, it was my idea to come here. I was going to come tomorrow. Now I can come twice."

Ellen laughed. "Yes, you can." She flicked a glance at me, before turning back to Julie. "Chuck?"

Julie shuddered and her face tightened. Ellen reached out and took her hand. "Sorry, Jules, I shouldn't have said anything."

Julie shook her head. "It's okay, Ellie, he's out of my life, serving time for assault and kidnap now."

"Good," said Ellen. The waitress had returned and she took her glass of mineral water. Julie stood.

"Excuse me for a moment, please. I must visit the ladies' room. No, don't get up. I won't be a moment." She was off in a swirl of skirt, moving easily through the crowd.

Ellen turned to me and we chatted for a while. The usual things, the trivia that strangers use to make conversation, and then she fixed me with a look. "She tell you about Chuck?" she said abruptly.

I shook my head. "No, but her aunt told me she'd had a bad time."

"He was a charmer, Chuck, but a real poisonous snake. To hear he's in jail is very reassuring and not a bit surprising." Ellen looked at me, head cocked. "What about you, Bob?"

"What about me?"

"You and Julie. You going to be good to her?"

I looked at her but all I could see was concern for her friend. "We only met yesterday," I said, and a smile escaped me before I could stop it. Ellen picked it up straightaway.


Neither of us had noticed Julie's return and it was Julie who answered as she slipped back into her seat. "Teal Island."

Ellen frowned. "Teal Island?" Her eyebrows went up. "Isn't that the, um - ?"

"Nudist camp?" said Julie, grinning at her friend. "Yes, it is, and, yes, that's where we met."

"I didn't know you were into the skin thing," said Ellen, grinning at us.

"I have been since early spring. Bob's still a cotton-tail," Julie said with a smile.

Ellen looked puzzled for a moment, then exploded into laughter. "Oh, my, yes! I can just see what you mean." She chuckled to herself, and then sobered. "Maybe one day, but I tend to burn rather than tan." She sighed. "Back to work. Are you going to stay until I finish?"

"When's that?" said Julie.

Ellen made a face. "Midnight."

Julie looked at me. "Bob?"

I nodded. "Fine by me. I don't have to be up early."

Ellen nodded. "Great, we can talk again for a while." She got up and went back to the piano, playing a few trills, waiting for the drummer and guitarist. She played a couple of numbers and then she stood, taking the microphone from its stand.

"Ladies and gentlemen," she said. "When I first started in this business, I was part of a duo, but my partner quit after a few months because her voice couldn't take the strain of performing night after night." Ellen held out her hand towards Julie. "She's here tonight, and I'd like her to join me for a couple of numbers. A big hand, please, for Julie March!"

Julie looked at me. I nodded, grinning. "Go!" She smiled and made her way over to Ellen. There was a brief heads together discussion and Ellen sat back down at the piano, launching into the introduction to 'Cry me a river.' I'd only ever heard the Julie London version of the old classic, but Julie March sang it as if it was her own. Ellen was right, Julie's voice was true and pure and she wrung every nuance out of the lyrics. The applause from the audience was genuine, and again after a duet with Ellen and another solo number, before she took a bow and made her way over to sit with me again.

Her eyes were sparkling as she slid into her seat. "I enjoyed that," she said.

I reached across and squeezed her fingers. "You were great." She smiled and turned her hand to squeeze mine.

We stayed until Ellen finished and chatted with her for a while, but at half-past midnight, although the bar was still open, it was time to go, as Julie had to be up for work in the morning. I work from home most of the time, so it wasn't so critical for me, but I was tired, too, and didn't argue. Ellen gave me a kiss on the cheek and a hug, and a whispered, "look after her." She turned to Julie.

"Coming back tomorrow? Tonight, I should say, I suppose."

Julie nodded. "Yes, I'll be here." She turned to me and I shook my head.

"I have a meeting with a client at seven-thirty. Get here by cab, and I'll join you as soon as I can get free, and then I can give you a ride home, if you like?"

Julie smiled with pleasure. "Please, Bob. I'd like that."

When we got back to her apartment block I walked her across to the door. She paused, hesitant.

"Go," I said, "it's late."

"You don't mind?"

I shook my head. "Why should I mind? You're a working girl, you need your sleep. I'll see you tonight, won't I? And we need to arrange when we're going sailing, too."

A look of horror crossed Julie's face. "I forgot to tell Jack I wanted to borrow the boat!"

"Don't worry. If he's loaned it to someone else I can borrow Charlie's. He won't mind."

"Are you sure?"

"Of course. Now, get yourself in and get some sleep. I'll see you in the bar tonight."

She paused, and I could see the hesitation. I leaned in to her and her lips came up as her eyes closed. The kiss was gentle. A promise, but I could feel tension in her, and found myself angry at whoever had hurt her so much she wasn't able to enjoy a kiss, but she broke away, smiling. "Good night, Bob."

"Good night, Julie." She opened the door and went in, waving goodbye as she did. I walked back to the car and took myself home. I stripped naked and poured myself a large scotch, sipping it as the shower warmed, draining the glass as I moved under the shower-head, soaping myself, watching almost abstractedly as my erection thickened. I smiled as I grasped it and began to masturbate to the memory of the naked and lovely Julie as I'd seen her on Teal Island. I came hard.

I was busy all of Monday, as I wanted to get ahead. I was prompt for my meeting with the client, the meeting went well, and at nine-forty I was parking the car. When I got into the 'Torch' Julie was up on stage again with Ellen. I just enjoyed the music for a while until Julie came off and I made my way towards her. A guy in front of me I think was going to make a move on Julie but she spotted me over his shoulder and smiled. He could tell the smile wasn't for him, glanced over his shoulder, then shrugged, smiled and moved away. A good loser, I figured.

"Hi, Bob," said Julie, stretching to kiss my cheek. "When did you get here?"

"Part way through 'Smoke gets in your eyes,' so I stood at the back and just watched and listened. You were great."

"Thanks. It felt good, but I could feel my throat getting tight on that last number."

"It didn't show."

"I'm not usually so throaty singing that one," she said, with a grin.

"It sounded good. Have we a table?"

"We have. Max, he's the manager, reserved us one."

"Great. Have you eaten?"

"No. You?"

"Not yet. Want something here?"

"Yes, please. I liked the look of that steak sandwich you had last night, but I think I'll get the smaller one, with some salad."

We ordered, ordered drinks, and watched Ellen for a while. During a lull between numbers, I remembered the boat.

"Julie, did you ask your friend about the boat?"

She nodded. "Yes, this morning. It's a go. We can have it from noon Friday until ten on Monday morning, if we want."

"Sounds good. What kind is it?"

Julie screwed her face up, remembering. "Jack said it was a Bermuda cutter, thirty feet, and it has bunks and a galley if we want to sleep on board." Julie flushed, but her smile was genuine. "Does that sound about right?"

"Sounds good. Do you? Want to sleep on board, I mean?"

She shrugged. Nervous, I think. "I dunno. What about you?"

"It would mean we could anchor anywhere that looked and felt good, but it's your call. I have a couple of sleeping bags we can use, if you wanted to sleep on a beach or something."

Julie smiled. "That sounds good. I'll get some food together for Friday."

"Only if you let me pay at least half," I said.

She nodded. "Dutch it is. Have you any dislikes in food?"

"Can't think of any. You?"

She shook her head. "As long as it isn't still alive, I'm fine." She glanced across at the stage, where Ellen was just starting another number and by unspoken consent, we kept our silence and gave Ellen's performance the respect it deserved. Ellen announced a break after the number and, like the evening before, came to join us.

"Hi, Bob," she said. "Did you catch any of Julie's set?"

"Last three numbers," I said. "It was great."

"But the voice was going, wasn't it, hon?" she said to Julie.

"Yeah," said Julie, making a face.

"Never mind, hon. You were a hit anyway."

"It was fun, but I know I'll never be more than a party singer. I'm used to the idea now."

"At least you get to sleep in your own bed at nights," said Ellen with a laugh and a sideways glance at me. "I don't get home again for another three weeks."

"You enjoy being on the road, admit it!" said Julie.

Ellen grinned. "Yeah, most of the time." We chatted for a while, nothing serious, just friendly gossip, until Ellen drained her mineral water and stood. "Some of us have work to do," she said, kissed Julie's cheek, and made her way back to the stage. We stayed until she finished, chatted with her for another half-hour or so and then left, again well after midnight. Julie was fighting yawns as I drove her home.

"Straight to bed for you, miss," I said.

"Sorry, Bob. I guess two late nights are catching up with me. Will I see you tonight?"

"Sorry, but no. I have to leave town for a day or so, so I won't see you tomorrow either, but Thursday, I'd like to take you to dinner."

"I'd like that, very much. Any thoughts on where?"

"What do you like?"

"All sorts." She paused. "I like cooking, too, so how about instead of taking me out, I fix us dinner at my apartment? We can discuss what we'd like to do over the weekend, too."

"Sounds like a plan. What time?"

"How about seven? That gives us plenty of time to chat afterwards."

"I'll come by cab, then we can have a bottle of wine and I don't need to risk a DUI."

"Sensible. Okay, Bob, dinner here, on Thursday. Anything special you'd like?"

I shrugged. "Whatever suits you. Something with fish might be nice."

She laughed. "My specialty! Fish I do best, so bring white wine, Bob."

"I will." We'd reached her apartment block now, and again I walked her over to the door. There was no hesitation this time. She came straight into my arms for a kiss, and there was a definite promise in hers. Eventually she broke away, a smile in her eyes.

"Good night, Bob, and thank you. See you Thursday."

"Thursday. Goodnight, Julie." There had definitely been less tension in her when I kissed her goodnight this time, but I could still feel it.

I masturbated in the shower again.

Tuesday and Wednesday were boring. Okay, I met up with my client and we agreed a deal that would bring me a lot of money, but the hotel room was lonely and I realized I was really missing being with Julie. I took a mental step back, almost surprised. I liked her, yes, I liked her very much. Was there more? Maybe I was falling in love. I didn't know, I'd never been in love before, not to the extent of wanting to spend the rest of my life with a particular woman. I'd always backed away before, or the women I'd known had been like me, happy to enjoy good sex, but with no ties. Here I was, thinking serious thoughts about a woman I'd only known for three days. I laughed at myself. If it happened, it happened.

Thursday evening was fine, a warm summer evening, and I got the cab to stop at a little mom-and-pop mini-mart I knew, where I knew the wine was both good and reasonably priced, and at five to seven I was ringing the bell at Julie's apartment.

"Hello? Bob? Is that you?"

"Large as life and twice as ugly."

She giggled, and the door lock buzzed open. I grabbed it before it could lock again and made my way to apartment seventeen, on the third floor. Julie was waiting at the door for me, stood aside to let me in and suddenly was in my arms as the door closed. The kiss was an invitation, an invitation I'm not sure she intended, at least, not that early, as she broke away, flushing and looking a little flustered. I pretended not to notice and held out the bag.

"Two bottles of white wine. Best get it in the refrigerator. It's chilled, but it's a warm night."

"Thanks, Bob. Take a seat in the living room. I just have to finish the sauce, then we can relax for twenty minutes until it's ready."

I looked around her living room with curiosity. A room can give a clue to a person, and I wanted to know the real Julie. A comfortable couch, a little battered, faced a modestly sized TV, an armchair to the side. Coffee table, magazine rack, a small entertainment center, and a big rack of CDs and DVDs. Curious, I looked closer. A very eclectic mix!

"Pick one you like," said Julie, coming up behind me, silent on slippered feet.

I glanced at her, amused. "Testing my taste?"

She grinned. "Of course."

I took a CD out and handed it to her. "This one."

She looked at the CD and nodded. "I like this one, too." She slid the CD into the player and Madeleine Peyroux began to sing "Dance me to the end of love." Julie gestured to the couch and I sat, while she perched herself on the armchair. "Dinner in fifteen minutes."

"Great," I said. "What?"

Julie smiled. "Wait and see. Tomorrow?"

"What about tomorrow?"

"We have the boat from noon. I've arranged to be off work until Tuesday, so there's no rush. When do you want to go?"

I grinned. "Noon."

Julie smiled. "Good. I want to be on board as soon as I can, too. I'm really looking forward to this."

"Me too. What do you want to do about meals? The lake isn't so big that we can't be somewhere that can feed us in the evenings."

"I know, but I want to treat it as an adventure, a voyage. Silly, I know." Julie shrugged, but her eyes were bright.

"Then that's the way it goes," I said. "I'll collect you at ten in the morning and we'll get our supplies. If we're treating it as a voyage, I guess we're sleeping on board?"

"Or on a beach, like you suggested."

"In that case, I bring the sleeping-bags."

"Yes, please. For now, would you open the first bottle of wine?"

The meal was fun, as we discussed what we'd do. We agreed to look in at Teal Island. After all, that was where we met. For the rest of the time, we'd explore the islands and bays of the lake and just enjoy ourselves. Despite Julie's objections, I insisted on helping with the washing-up and at nine we were relaxing in the living room, the second bottle of wine opened and a fresh glassful each at hand. Julie was humming quietly along with Borodin's 'Polovtsian Dances' and I leaned back, content just to be with her.



"Aunt Eleanor phoned this evening, about half an hour before you arrived."

"Oh yeah. Anything important?"

Julie was avoiding my eyes. She shrugged. "I'm not sure. She gave me a message for you."

"She did? What?"

"She said to tell you she was staying in New York indefinitely."

I nodded. "She say why?" I was curious, certainly not disturbed. Eleanor and I had had fun, but I knew it was over.

"Keeping away from Dan, she said." Julie cocked her head, smiling at me. "You don't seem too bothered."

I smiled back at her and shrugged. "To be honest, I'm not. She was fun, and a damned good lover, but she made it pretty clear that what we had was over."

"You don't mind?"

"No, Julie, I don't. Like I said, she was a damned good lover, and that I'll miss, for a while at least."

Julie chuckled. "That's what she said about you. 'A damned good lover.' Her exact words."

I felt obscurely pleased to be so described by a woman like Eleanor. "Nice of her."

"She likes you. So do I."

"And I like you. Both of you. But Eleanor's in New York, and you're here, so we'll forget Eleanor, okay?"

Julie smiled. "Okay."

We sat for a moment, just enjoying the music. I glanced at Julie, just as she looked across at me. She smiled, but didn't say anything. I realized that I was simply enjoying her company for its own sake. Yes, I'd like to take it further. I thought of her naked loveliness as I'd seen her at Teal Island, one of the loveliest women I'd ever had the pleasure of seeing unclothed, and I wanted her. But, too, I knew she'd been hurt by the mysterious Chuck, whoever he was, so there was no way I was going to force myself on Julie. If it happened, and goodness knows I wanted it to, I wasn't going to take the chance of hurting her, so it would happen on her terms.

"Penny for them?" said Julie.

I told her part of what I was thinking. "I was just thinking of Teal Island."

"Oh, dear," said Julie, flushing, but she was smiling and her eyes were sparkling.

"Hey," I said. "Good memories."

"Ah," she said, "but me, or Aunt Eleanor?"

I gave her a rueful smile. "Both."

"I can see why you'd remember Aunt Eleanor, but why me?"

I told her the truth. "Because you are the loveliest creature I've ever seen naked."

She stared at me for a long, long moment, then smiled. "Thank you, Bob, for not pretending it was some other reason."

I shrugged. "I much prefer to tell the truth when I can." At first I thought I'd said the wrong thing as Julie's face clouded, but she reached out and took my hand.

"I think I should tell you about Chuck," she said, gnawing at her lip.

I took her other hand, making her face me. "You don't have to, you know?"

"I know. Bob, I want to. I like you, I like you a lot, and I don't want to hide anything from you. We're going to be alone together all weekend." She flushed, and gestured helplessly. "If anything happens, I'd like you to know the emotional baggage that goes with me."

"Julie, it doesn't matter, not to me. You're you, the girl I met last week. The girl who gets up in front of a crowd and sings like an angel, the girl who has friends like Ellen who threaten me with mayhem if I do anything to hurt you, the girl whose Aunt Eleanor told me to look after. As far as I'm concerned you're a blank canvas, with the details slowly coming into focus. And I like those details, they're good. So, like I say, you don't need to tell me anything, but if you feel you must, I'll listen, okay?"

"Ellen threatened you?"

I smiled. "She threatened to have me skinned, alive, if I hurt you."

Julie giggled. "That sounds like Ellen." She sobered. "Bob, I'm twenty-four, I met Chuck Elson when I was only nineteen. He's a good-looking bastard, so at first I was really attracted to him. We dated, off and on, for a couple of years. I was in no rush to settle down, and I was dating other guys. Anyway, I was still at college, singing a bit with Ellen, and I was enjoying life. Chuck graduated, got a good job and started to make some real money. He started asking me out more often, until people started to see us as a couple. I wasn't a virgin when I met him, and we were lovers, too. He asked me to move in with him. I'd just graduated, I thought I was in love, and I said yes." Julie sighed and looked across at me. "Big mistake."

I didn't say anything, just gestured for her to continue. She was still holding my hand and her grip was tight. "It was great at first, but then I started to notice things. I have a habit of not putting stuff away when I should, so that anywhere I am is just a little untidy. Not a lot, I'm not a total slob, just untidy. Chuck is the absolute opposite. Tidy in the extreme. At first I just accepted it, but when I found him tidying my underwear drawer I got annoyed and I let my annoyance show. He hit me." Her hand tightened convulsively on mine and I looked at her. Her face was drawn, tight, her eyes on the wall, focused miles and months away.

"He apologized immediately, of course, and we made up. He took me out to dinner, really good restaurant and we made love when we got home and everything was good, until it happened again. This time he hurt me, and I walked out on him. I asked around, mutual friends, although I suppose I should say, my friends, his acquaintances, and almost without exception they told me I'd done the right thing. I took one of them, Jan Parker, with me when I went to collect my things and she told me later that Chuck had scared her almost out of her wits. It wasn't anything he said, it was the way he was looking at me, watching me, as if I were some specimen he was dissecting in a laboratory. Anyhow, I got my stuff, and a couple of weeks later I moved out of my friend's place and into a little apartment of my own.

"A couple of weeks later the phone calls started. I was still job-hunting and I had lots of feelers out, so I always answered. But sometimes, a lot of times, it seemed like no one was there. It was spooky, and it began to creep me out. Then, when I went out, shopping, to a job interview, to see friends, whatever, I kept seeing Chuck. He never approached me, but he was there, in the background, watching me." She looked across at me. "Bob, he scared me, he really scared me, but I wasn't going to hide, and I kept going out. But it was always busy, always someone there, until once, when I was out, I had a flat on my car. I can change a wheel, and I started doing it. A car pulled up, and I thought it was someone checking I was okay, but it was Chuck. He smiled, but there was something in his eyes that scared me, and I told him to keep away, but there was no traffic around, nobody to see, and the next thing I knew he had a pad over my nose and mouth, chloroform or something and I woke up in his apartment, naked, handcuffed to the bed. He kept me there for three days, telling me I was his, that no one else was going to have me. He never hit me, never did anything to hurt me, but he kept me there, brought bedpans when I needed them, washed me, all the time telling me I was lovely, I would be happy, I would be his."

There was a taut edge in Julie's voice now, her hand gripping mine so hard it hurt, and there were tears rolling down her face. Her eyes were still fixed on the distance. I found my voice. "What happened then, Julie?"

She took a deep breath, looking at me. "I'd told Jan about seeing Chuck everywhere and when my car was found abandoned she persuaded a friend of hers, Tommy Larson, that I was in trouble. Tommy's a locksmith, and if he wasn't honest as the day is long, he'd probably be an excellent thief, because Jan and Tommy broke into Chuck's apartment when they knew he wasn't there, looking for me. They found me, naked, handcuffed to the bed, and gagged so I couldn't yell for help." Julie took another deep breath and went on. "I'm lucky in my friends. Jan's a quick thinker and instead of trying to free me, she called the police, and they saw me the way Jan and Tommy found me. When Chuck came back, they arrested him. I think if he'd been calm things might have been different, he might have even got away with a lesser charge, but he went berserk. It took three cops to stop him from attacking Jan." Her voice trailed off and she sat, tears still rolling down her face for a long, long, moment, then turned to me again with a wan smile. "There you have it, Bob. My miserable tale."

"Thank you," I said.

"Thanks for what?" she said, bewildered.

"For trusting me enough to tell me, for trusting me enough to be alone with me." I paused. "What happened next?"

"Chuck was tried. I was called as a witness." She made a rueful face. "I didn't enjoy that, because he had a good defense lawyer and he dragged everything out of me, but my lawyer was good, too, and the truth came out, and Chuck's away for a long time. I moved out here to be away from the memories and it's been good." She smiled at me, a little shy. "Even better now, Bob." She shrugged. "There you have it, Julie's sad tale." She squeezed my hand and stood. "I must wash my face, Bob. I'll understand if you've gone when I come out."

I shook my head, smiling. "No chance."

"Why not?" she said, and I think she was trying not to look pleased.

"Because none of what you told me is your fault. You're a victim, yes, but you're a strong girl. Your Aunt Eleanor said you were, and you are, but Eleanor also said that you needed to start living again."

"She did?"

I nodded. "Yep. she sure did."

"I think I have, started living again, I mean, and I hope our weekend will show you and the rest of the world that I have, too."

I shook my head. "Julie, you have nothing to prove to me, nothing at all. I told you, you're my blank canvas, which is slowly becoming clearer. Even more so, now."

"Do you like what you see?"

"Very much. Now go wash your face. There's still half a bottle of wine here for us to finish."

When I kissed her goodnight an hour or so later, there was a definite promise in her kiss. She leaned back in the circle of my arms, looking up at me.

"See you at ten?"

"Earlier, if you want."

She shook her head. "Ten will do fine. That gives us two hours to get our supplies." She stretched up and kissed me again. "Goodnight, Bob. See you in the morning." Tension gone, I hoped. Lessened, definitely.

I have a habit of being early if it's something I'm looking forward to, and if I'd wanted I could have been at Julie's apartment shortly after nine, but I curbed my impatience and rang her bell at five to ten. By ten past we had her bag in the car and were away. Fresh and lovely, in shorts and tank top, Julie looked happy and relaxed and I vowed to do nothing to change that.

By eleven-thirty we had everything we needed and went along to the marina. Julie's friend had said noon, so we grabbed a coffee-and-a-sandwich lunch and chatted for a while. Julie was bubbling with excitement.

"Never sailed before?" I said.

She shook her head. "Never. I am so looking forward to this. I'm amazed Jack would loan me the boat, but he knows Aunt Eleanor and his only proviso was that I had someone with me who knew how to handle a sailboat. You were the only one I knew, Bob. I'm so glad I asked you. This week has been lovely, and we have a whole weekend together! When I told Jack it was you I was going with he was okay.

"Jack who?"

"Jack Foster. He says he knows you."

I nodded. "I did some work for him last year. We went out on the Lake a couple of times, but he didn't have a thirty-footer then.

"No, the cutter is new. The Katie Louise Jack calls it, after his daughters."

"I'm surprised he's not using it himself this weekend."

"There's a wedding. Katie is getting married. I think he's happy to have someone looking after the boat for the weekend."

"If you know him that well, I'm surprised you're not invited to the wedding."

Julie made a face. "Katie and I don't get on all that well. She nurses grudges."

"Well, I'm pleased you're here with me."

She grinned. "Me, too. Noon, Bob, time to collect the key. Someone called Mike Chinner has it."

"I know Mike. He runs the tackle shop."

"That's him."

Half an hour later I was easing the Katie Louise away from the dock under motor. She had wheel steering and as soon as we were clear of the crowd of other boats I had Julie take the wheel while I hoisted the sails and a few minutes later we were ghosting along under jib and main. The breeze was no more than fresh, but we weren't in a hurry to be anywhere.

We sailed for about an hour, keeping steadily along the lake. Once we passed Baggett Island we were in quieter waters, as most of the weekenders stayed close to the marina and the night life. There were only four or five other boats in sight, and those quite a long way away.

We'd been sitting quietly, just enjoying each other's company, when Julie stood. "Something to drink?"

"Please. Glass of that wine-cooler, perhaps?"

"Exactly what I was thinking. Back in a sec." Julie began to make her way below but paused, looking back at me and gnawing her lip.

"What?" I said.

"Okay if I strip? I mean, you've seen everything I've got anyway, and I like to be naked when I can." She gave a short laugh. "I only joined the Teal Island club because I was trying to regain my confidence, but I found I enjoyed the freedom."

My prick twitched and I grinned at her. "I'd welcome the reminder," I said.

Julie laughed and carried on below, returning in moments, naked and lovely, bearing two cold-dewed glasses of fresh wine cooler. She handed me one and sat down beside me again.

"You need sunblock, missie, if you're going to cavort naked."

"I guess so. Will you do my back, please?"

"That will be a pleasure. Sitting or lying?"

"If I put a blanket on the cabin roof and stretch out there?"

"Sounds good. You do that, and when you're ready I'll lock the wheel and do your back."

Julie grinned. "Great!"

I still didn't know what she did for exercise, but it was a well-toned body I was having the pleasure of oiling. I worked down from her shoulders, down her back, then paused.

"Yes, please, Bob," she murmured. "Do my butt."

Smiling, I began to rub the oil into her ass. Lovely it was, firm, rounded. As I oiled her she moved her legs apart slightly and I could see her pussy. I knew that she trimmed her fleece, as she only had a rabbit-scut tuft on her mons, and I could see that her labia were clear of hairs. I paused, easing my stiffening prick in my shorts, and carried on down Julie's long, firm, legs. Finished, I sat back on my heels. Julie half-rolled, propping herself on her elbow. She smiled at me, a little spot of color on each cheek.

"Thanks, Bob."

"My pleasure," I said, and a fleeting grin twitched her mouth, before she rolled back onto her tummy and stretched out on the cabin roof. I took the opportunity to ease my prick into a more comfortable position - again - and took stock of our surroundings. The nearest boat was probably a mile away, the nearest land maybe a quarter of that. I glanced at my watch. Almost two.


She came up onto her elbow again, twisting towards me. "Yeah?"

"There's a little bay about a mile along here."

"What about it?"

"Do you want to anchor, maybe sleep there tonight? We could picnic on the beach. It's only accessible from the lake."

She grinned. "Sounds great. Maybe a swim, too?"

"That would be good, yes. Okay, how about we sail on for an hour, and then back to the bay?"

"Sounds good, Bob."

So we did. We'd been slower coming back, into the breeze, so that it was almost five when we anchored in the little bay, sheltered by a spit of land, clad in birch and pine. Behind the beach was a bluff, maybe thirty feet high, bushes and scrub pine on the top. I knew from previous trips to the lake that there was a path about a hundred yards inland. Knew, too, that our little beach couldn't be seen from the path. As I'd told Julie, access was only by water.

She'd rolled onto her back for part of the trip back, oiling her own front, grinning at me as she rubbed the sun block into her breasts. Beating back against the breeze had meant tacking and the constant direction changes had persuaded her to join me in the cockpit. She stayed naked and I couldn't help noticing that her nipples were erect, and stayed that way.

I was very conscious of the naked girl at my side, but she seemed totally unselfconscious about it and I was doing nothing to make her think about. The reality was too lovely.

"What now?" Julie said.

"Up to you. Swim first, maybe, and then we see about some food. Either cook it in the galley, or we can make a fire on the beach and cook something there."

"Swim first, definitely. Eat on the beach, and take the sleeping bags over and sleep in the open? I'd like that."

"Then you shall have it. Give me a hand with the dinghy."

"Do we need it? The food can go across in containers, and if you put the bags back into those waterproof stuff-sacks, I'll swim over on my back, hold them clear of the water. That will keep them dry."

I laughed. "I guess that will do."



"If you swim to the beach naked, too, you won't need to get any of your clothes wet." Her smile was innocence personified, but her eyes were nervous.

I laughed again. "Okay, Julie, we'll do it your way."

It wasn't long before the Katie Louise was securely anchored. I'd been there before and knew that the bottom would hold the anchor, so I wasn't anxious. We loaded some food into waterproof containers and stowed them in a string bag, and put them ready while I crammed the sleeping bags into the waterproof stuff-sacks. Everything ready, I glanced at Julie. She nodded.

"Strip," she said. Her eyes never left me as I took my clothes off and bundled them into the cabin. My prick was half-hard, I couldn't help it, and her eyes flickered over it, but she said nothing, although there was colour in her cheeks. "How do we do this?" she said as I came back on deck and closed the cabin door.

"You get in the water, and I'll pass the bags down to you. I'll bring the food and the rest of the stuff. There's enough air in the containers to make the bag float so I'll just tow it across."

A frown crossed her face. "I just thought. What about towels?"

I grinned. "Inside the sleeping bags. I actually remembered!"

"Okay, let's go." She vaulted over the rail and into the water, surfacing, pushing back her wet hair. "Bob, I'm just about touching the bottom. You're taller so you'll do it easily, so you bring the bags, and I'll take the food. Okay?"

"Okay," I said, and lowered the string bag to her. I propped the sleeping bags at the top of the boarding ladder I'd lowered, and let myself slip into the water. A little cool, but pleasant against the skin and I reached up for the bags, holding them high as I waded almost shoulder deep towards the beach. Julie was just wading out of the water and I let my eyes admire her for a moment before she turned and waved.

The meal was fun. I got a fire going easily with driftwood and rigged up a green twig frame so that we could broil the steaks we'd brought. Potato salad and tomatoes made a fine accompaniment, and our appetites were honed by the fresh air so that we made short work of our alfresco meal. The ice-cream hadn't melted too much and we half ate, half drank it. Wine coolers were our drinks and we lounged on a spread-out sleeping bag watching the sun going down. I caught Julie's eye and she smiled, moving closer to me, half-leaning against me as I propped myself against a rock. I put my arm around her shoulder and she lifted my hand and kissed my palm, laying her head against my chest.

We sat in silence for a while, but it was a comfortable silence, no strain. Julie stirred and sat up a little, twisting to see my face. "Bob?


"Aunt Eleanor."

"What about her?"

"Don't compare us, please?"

"Why would I want to do that?" I said, laughing.

She looked away for a moment, and then her eyes came back to mine, holding them. There was a spot of colour on each cheek and she took a deep breath. "Because I want you to make love to me."

There was a long, long, moment, with the tension building as I stared into her eyes. "Are you sure?" I finally managed to say. "You don't have to, I mean, I want to be with you, and I'd really love to make love to you, but I don't want to spoil the weekend if you're not sure." I was babbling, I knew it, but I didn't want it to be me that contributed any further problem to Julie's already way too big collection.

Mute, she nodded, her face solemn, her bottom lip caught between her teeth. "I'm sure, Bob, I want you," she said, her voice little above a whisper.

Sometimes, even I know when to shut up, and this was one of those moments. I reached out, letting the back of my hand caress her cheek, moving it down, slow, slow. She turned her head and kissed my knuckles, then she twisted and suddenly, almost as if she hadn't moved, she was in my arms, her lips raised for my kiss, a kiss that took us, lifted us, burned us, a scorching fire that left me with my arms tight around her, her head against my chest, both of us breathing heavily, almost gasping for air in the warmth of the summer evening.

After a long moment she lifted her head. "Yes," she said, "oh, please, yes!" She pulled away from me, sliding down, onto her back, her hand outstretched to me in mute appeal. I moved to lie beside her, sliding my left arm under her neck, bending to kiss her again, my right hand resting on her hip. Without breaking the kiss, her lips working against mine, she reached down and took my hand, moving it up, to cover her breast, pressing it against herself. Her nipple was hard against my palm, and I squeezed her rounded softness, then let my fingers trail over her belly, moving down, feeling my erection growing between us, pressing against her thigh.

Still without breaking the kiss, I felt her move her legs apart and I let my middle finger slide down into the liquid heat of her core, sliding easily through her juices, pressing into her. She moaned softly into my mouth and finally broke the kiss, her lips swollen with heat and passion, and I wondered, just for a moment, whether I'd be good enough for her.

"Now, Bob," she whispered, her voice hoarse with desire, "now!"

I moved to kneel between her legs, my prick hot, hard and ready. Her legs were spread for me, her sex gleaming hot and red, slightly open, glistening with her moisture beneath the little patch of hair on her mons. Her eyes were flickering over me, her bottom lip caught between her teeth, tension in her every line, but there was welcome in her eyes, and I moved forward, weight on one outstretched arm, angling myself to enter her, pushing in, pausing as I heard her gasp, but the gasp mutated to a hissed, "yes!" as I pushed into her.

I paused for a moment, only a couple of inches in, pulling back to spread her juices, easing my passage, making sure I didn't hurt her, or myself, by pressing in too hard or too fast. I pressed in again, hearing the hiss of her indrawn breath, her gasp as I hit bottom, my balls against her ass. I paused for a moment, enjoying the snug tightness of her around me, but I knew there was a question I had to ask.



"When I come?"

Her eyes flickered open, warm, an understanding smile in them. "In me, Bob. In me, please." She stretched up to kiss me. "I'm safe," she said, laying back.

I bent and kissed her, and she responded eagerly to my kiss, her lips clinging, her tongue tip wrestling with mine. When I pulled back her eyes were closed again, and there was a smile on her lips. I began to move, pulling back until I almost left her, pushing back in, enjoying - relishing - the feel of her pussy around my hardness, enjoying the way it clung to me as I moved back, enjoying the way it felt as if I could feel every undulation in her core with the super-sensitive probe of my prick, enjoying the way her juices were making it easier for me to move, enjoying the heat and smell of her, the increasingly acoustic slither of my prick in her lubrication. Enjoying most the reducing tension in her, and with it the growing realisation that I was falling in love with the beautiful she of her.

I thrust, pulled back, thrust again. the ages-old ritual of sex, enjoying the feel of her around me, the slither of myself in her juices. There was a beading of sweat on her brow, a pool of it between our bellies in the heat of the early evening. Her hands were on my back, but relaxed now, no longer taut as they had been when I entered her, moving over my back as I thrust into her. Her breathing was quickening, almost a pant, synchronising to my thrusts and the stroking of her hands became aimless until suddenly, her head went back and I felt her pussy clamp down on me as she came, a wordless cry, a moan, coming from between her clenched teeth.

I'd jacked off that morning - twice - before I went to collect her and I knew I wasn't close, so I just rode her gently, enjoying the spasming pulse of her around me. Her eyes opened and she stared up at me, a smile growing on her face, in her eyes, as she realised I was still riding her. Her knees came up and I felt her feet lock together behind me as she urged me into her, her hips moving against me, thrusting back, as I began to move faster, building towards my own climax.

It wasn't much longer in coming, but as I felt that incredible tension building in me as I got closer, I felt Julie tense beneath me and as I went over the edge I felt her pussy clamp around me again and we hurtled into climax together, my hips driving at her in spasmed reflex, my seed blasting into her as her pussy milked me in the spasms of her own orgasm, her fingers digging into my back as we rode the tornado together, into the calm beyond.

For a long, long moment the only sound was two pairs of lungs trying to extract oxygen from the air, then I eased myself gently from her and collapsed to my back, still trying to catch my breath. Julie didn't stir at first, save for her hand reaching for mine, but then she rolled over, one leg between mine, her chin on my chest. She caught my eye and smiled, a warm, loving, smile.

"Pretty good, huh, mister?"

"Pretty damned good, ma'am."

"Close your eyes."

"Close my - why?"

"I want to tell you something, but I don't want you looking at me, or I won't be able to, so please, close them. Huh?"

"Okay." And I did. I heard her take a deep breath, and when she spoke her voice was low, hesitant.

"When Chuck kidnapped me, and Jan and Tommy found me, well, afterwards, I was an emotional wreck. Ssh! Hear me out, please. Like I say, I was a wreck. I didn't date for over a year, and it was a disaster. A nice guy, polite, attentive, took me out for a lovely meal, but when he wanted to kiss me goodnight, I froze, I couldn't do it. Same thing a couple of months later, with another date. I moved out here, got myself a bit of a reputation, I think, as the 'ice maiden'. A couple of guys tried to thaw me. Same thing. Nothing. I'd resigned myself to maybe never dating again, but then Aunt Eleanor took me out, got me tipsy, and gave me a good talking-to. A couple of weeks later you came into her life, and she told me all about it. I mean all, Bob, every sexy detail. I think it was her idea of therapy, because, okay, she may have stayed in New York, and what you two had may be over, but I know she likes you. Likes you a hell of a lot. It got me curious, and when she told me she was going to New York she also told me that if you were to ask me out I should say 'yes', that I'd enjoy myself. She was right, I did. I do."

"I'm glad," I said. "Can I open my eyes yet?"

"Not yet. Just a little longer. Bob, I don't usually fuck a guy I've known for less than a week, but I liked you, and I had to know if I was going to freeze again, and I figured, maybe, if we got intimate, I would know."

"I could tell you were tense, girl, I was scared I was going to snap you."

She laughed softly. "I've been hoping since last Sunday, that first kiss. I didn't freeze, it didn't freak me out, but I knew I was still tense. Then, as the week went on, and I got to know you a little better, when you kissed me goodnight I was really enjoying it. I'm sorry, Bob, but I got you to make love to me so I could prove to myself I was whole again. Selfish motive, and I'm sorry."

There was a long pause and I opened my eyes. She was crying soundlessly, the tears running down her face, and I reached and took her into my arms. "Are you?" I said. "Whole again, I mean?"

She sniffed, and dashed the tears from her face with the back of her hand. "God forgive me for using you, but yes, I think I am."

"I think you are, too, love. Listen. When we began to make love tonight, you were tense, really tense. But after you came, that first time, you were a lot easier with yourself, and that second time, when we came together, pardon the expression but that was one of the best, if not the absolute best, high-intensity fuck moments it has ever been my pleasure to share with a woman. Including your Aunt Eleanor!"

Julie giggled. I think there was a little almost-hysteria in it. "I enjoyed it, too, you know."

"I think I could tell. I may bear the scars for a long time."

"Scars?"She was startled at first, then worried.

"On my back. You were hanging on pretty hard there, lady."

"Let me see." There was a gasp. "Oh, my god! Bob! I've drawn blood!" There was a look of horror on her face.

I laughed. "I'll heal. Don't worry about it. Pretty intense moment, that."

She laughed, high, nervous. "Just a little. Bob?"


When she spoke the words came tumbling out. "Like I said, I've never fucked a guy before when I've only known him a week, but can we, um, can we do it again, please?"

I hugged her close. "In a little while, hon. I want it, too, very much, but I need to recover first. How about a little swim while we anticipate?"

"Sounds good." She eased herself off me and I stood, then gave her a hand up. She moved straight into my arms, stretching up to kiss me. "Race you to the boat and back!" She turned and scampered into the water, throwing herself forward into a dive as soon as the water was deep enough. She was holding onto the boarding ladder when I reached her and she pulled me to her for a quick kiss.

"Oh, Bob! I feel so good!"

"I'm glad."

She kissed me again. "And it's you who made me feel so good."

I gave her a wry smile. "I was scared in case it went the other way, hon."

She shook her head vigorously. "No! No! No! I think I knew you were the one to lift me from the darkness." She paused. "Bob?"


"The stuff on the beach will be okay, won't it?"

"I guess. Why?"

"Because there's a double berth in the cabin, and I want you closer tonight than the sleeping bags allow."

I smiled at her, and felt my prick begin to thicken. "Sounds good to me. Up you go."

When I reached the cabin, she was towelling herself dry, and another towel was waiting for me. Finished, her hair still damp, she waited for me to finish and moved straight into my arms as I discarded the towel, her head on my shoulder, just holding me close. It felt good, just holding her and when she pulled back, looking up at me, there was none of the anxiety I realized I'd been seeing in her eyes. Hidden, but there. It had gone. Just holding her, damp skins touching, warming where we touched, I realised she'd become a part of my life I wanted to continue. I bent, kissing her nose, and she smiled.

"I want more than that," she said.

"More than what?" I said, playing the innocent.

"More than just a kiss. I want this," she said, reaching down for my half-hard prick and squeezing it.

"Oh?" I said, enjoying the touch of her hand.

"Oh? Oh? Is that your answer? Oh?"

"Well, it's not quite in working order yet."

She grinned, an imp in her eyes. "It will be." She dropped gracefully to her knees, taking my prick in her hand. She pursed her lips and kissed the end of it, then her lips parted and I felt the wet heat of her mouth around my slowly-hardening erection. I don't know how much cock-sucking she had in her past, nor was I going to ask, but her mouth was busy, her tongue sliding across my glans, the 'O' of her lips moving along my length and it would take a man with a lot more self-control than I have to resist. In what seemed mere seconds, I was hard again and Julie let me slip from her mouth with a 'pop' and grinned up at me.

"Is that working order?"

"That's working order. Up you come," I said, helping her to her feet, bending to kiss her as she pressed herself against me, my hardness trapped between us. She rubbed against me as our kiss intensified, until I broke the kiss and scooped her up, laying her down on the bunk. She threw her legs apart and held out her arms to me.

"Fuck me, Bob, please, fuck me, make me whole again."

I knelt between her legs and as I moved forward she reached for me, guiding me into her, her breath hissing in as she felt me enter, a soft gasp, and a hissed 'yes!' as my balls brushed her ass, and her knees came up and I felt her pull me close as her hips lifted to my thrust.

I pulled back, thrust again, again, my hips easily picking up the rhythm of love, her own hips matching my movements, her fingers tight on my shoulders, her breathing easy in my ear, quickening as the moment took us and carried us headlong towards climax. It was a rut as much as an act of love but we were both putting our everything into it, Julie's pussy flowing freely and the noise of our rut loud in our ears. Julie giggled as trapped air blurted past my prick as I thrust and I felt myself shaking with suppressed laughter. The sweat was flowing freely in the summer heat, pooling between our bellies, and the moment took us, carried us headlong, threw us over the precipice and down into a writhing, gasping climax, Julie's breathing a tortured gasp in my ears as we came together, her pussy clutching my prick, squeezing, pulsing, as my seed jetted into her, my hips working in blind, coital reflex to thrust myself deep inside her.

Gradually our breathing eased, and tortured gasps eased to mere heavy panting. I pushed myself up a little, resting on my elbows, my prick in Julie's pussy twitching in easing reflex to the slowing grasp of her. Julie stared up at me, a look almost of wonder on her face as our breathing eased.

"Wow," she said.

I managed a nod. "Wow is good."

A smile flickered across her face and she stretched up to kiss me, soft, light, quick. She lay back, her eyes warm, all hesitation and tension gone. "I think you've healed me," she murmured.

"I hope so."

She squeezed down on me with her internal muscles, almost a caress. "I think it's your magic wand, wizard," she said, with a grin.

"And I think it's your self-healing witchcraft, the fact you trusted me enough to be alone with me." I bent quickly and kissed her.

She was thoughtful, looking up at me. "Maybe it was Aunt Eleanor, putting a spell on us from New York."

I laughed. "Long-distance."

Julie giggled. "Yeah, I suppose so." She sobered. "She wanted us together, Bob."

I nodded. "I think she did, yes. It suits me fine, hon. I like being where you are."

She giggled again. "In bed?"

"Yes, of course, and out of it, too. In a restaurant, a bookshop, anywhere you happen to be, I like being there, too."

"Bed is top of the list," she declared. "Definitely."

"Suits me. Oops, I think I'm just about slipping out, hon."

She pouted. "I guess so. I want him back, mind."

"So do I, hon, so do I."

I eased back, out of her, and sat back on my heels. Her legs were still wide apart, her pussy glistening with moisture, slightly open. She caught my eye and blew me a kiss.



She hesitated, gnawing at her lip. "On Monday, after we take the boat back?"


"Can I come and stay with you? Move in for a while, maybe?"

My heart leaped, surprising me. Maybe I was in love, after all. "I'd like that," I said. "I'd like that a lot, a heck of a lot. How long for?"

"Forever?" she said, with a hesitant smile.

I nodded, bending forward to kiss her. "That will do for a start."

* * * * *

For those of you who have read this far, I hope you have enjoyed my little tale. Feedback is welcome. Don't forget your own e-mail address if you ask a question or require a response!
This story first appeared as part of my 'Spoils of Victory' series on Literotica, under the title 'Spoils of victory: A new beginning'. However it works very well as a stand-alone story so I thought I'd post it here, too.

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