“What are you reading?” asked Vicky Pham as she sat down next to me. I slipped my bookmark between the pages and showed her. She immediately lit up. “Oh, Arsène Lupin!” she exclaimed. “Finally took my recommendation, huh? How are you enjoying it?”
“It’s great so far. Definitely different from a lot of other stuff I’ve read. It’s kind of interesting reading a mystery from the criminal’s point of view.”
“He’s not a criminal!” she protested. “I mean, he sort of is, but he’s a gentleman-burglar. It’s different. He’s not a bad guy or anything. He’s in it for the thrill.” Vicky took out her lunch and continued. “You know, when I was in college, I wanted to be a mystery writer. I even wrote a few stories myself.”
“Yeah? What sort of stuff did you write?”
“Oh, it’s dumb,” she demurred, averting her eyes.
“Oh come on, you brought it up. Tell me,” I prodded.
She sighed. “Fine. So don’t laugh, but I wrote a few stories about a mystery-solving ... dolphin...” she mumbled.
“They’re cute!” she explained. “And really smart!”
“What sort of mysteries did he solve?” I asked, bemused.
“Mostly ones near the water. And it was a she.”
“Interesting ... Do you still have them? Might be fun to read.”
“Na. They were all on my old laptop. Lost ‘em when it crashed. Probably for the best. I might have to commit seppuku if I thought anyone could ever read them.
“So how about you?” she asked. “Did you ever write anything?”
“Yeah, I write some short stories,” I blurted out without thinking. Even before her lips parted, I knew what her obvious follow-up would be.
“What do you write? Probably horror stories, I bet, right?”
Damn. I hadn’t really thought this through. I could lie, but if she asked to read it, I’d be caught. Could I say something so boring that she wouldn’t have any interest?
“John, you’re blushing,” she observed.
Betrayed by own body. “Well...”
Her eyes went wide with sudden realization as a wicked grin spread across her face. “John, do you write naughty stories?” she whispered, leaning in close.
“You do! Oh, wow...”
“They’re not that naughty,” I protested, while simultaneously remembering all of debased and salacious sex acts about which I had written, thankful she couldn’t read my mind.
“Can I read one?” she asked, in a softly inquisitive voice. “I’m curious.”
Now it was my turn to avoid eye contact. “Haven’t you read that kind of thing before?”
“I have,” she confessed. “A lot. But I’ve never known someone who wrote them. It would be interesting, I think. Besides, I’ll be able to ask the author himself about any questions I have. How often do you get that kind of opportunity? And you’ll get a review from a connoisseur. Come on, share just one with me,” she pled, pouting her lip.
A face like hers was hard to resist ... And I had to be honest, the thought of sharing one of my stories with someone I personally knew was a little bit exciting. And scary ... What would she think of me? What would she say after reading my stories, learning what a secret pervert I was, discovering my kinks and fetishes laid bare on the screen?
But what if she liked it?
She seemed intrigued. And she liked erotica. Maybe she’d read it and enjoy it. I’d have someone to discuss my stories with in real life. The possibility had always tempted me, but I hadn’t ever felt comfortable enough with someone to share my secret hobby. Maybe now was my chance. Maybe I’d have a personal beta reader, someone I could discuss my story ideas with, someone I could send my writings to before publishing them online.
“Alright. I’ll email you a link after work,” I said.
“You better. If you forget, I’ll send Lupin to steal it from you,” she warned.
We finished our lunches, and when I got back home that night, despite my fears, I sent her the link. Something relatively tame, just some skinny dipping, exhibitionism, and public sex. I made sure to avoid anything too kinky: no incest or mind control or gomorrahmy anything. She messaged me back with a quick “Thanks.” The next day, I waited for her to bring it up, but nothing. Nothing the day after, either. After two weeks without a comment on the story, I figured she had either forgotten about it or hated it too much to want to discuss. I didn’t dare bring it up in case it was the latter.
And then one day, almost a month after I had first sent her my story, she remarked during an otherwise ordinary lunch, “Oh, I wanted to tell you. I finally read that story you sent me.”
I almost choked on my taco. A cold depth opened in my stomach. I fully expected her next sentence to be, “Wow, you’re a creepy pervert, you know that? I’ve already reported you to HR so they can fire you. After this conversation I’m taking an electromagnet to my laptop and drinking obscene amounts of alcohol in an attempt to purge any memory of your story from my memory and that of my computer.”
But to my surprise, her next words were instead, “It was so good! I loved it!”
“R-really?” was all I could stammer out, my heart still dancing a tarantella in my chest.
“Yeah! The descriptions were amazing. I felt like I was there. Like I was living vicariously through your story. You’ve really got a way with words.” She looked around for witnesses and, satisfied that no one nearby was close enough to us to overhear, continued at a whisper. “Have you ever gone skinny dipping before?”
“A few times, yeah,” I admitted. And at that, Vicky’s eyes lit up. She learned forward, her full, plump breasts resting on the table, her low-cut top affording me a generous view of her generous décolletage. I quickly returned my eyes to her gaze before she could notice where I was looking.
“What was it like? Was it for research? Or fun?” she asked, rapid-fire. “What happened?”
“It was just for fun at the time, but it definitely ended up being good story research after the fact. It was back when I worked at a summer camp. A few of us camp counselors went to North Beach after the kids were asleep, and it just sort of happened. Someone joked about it, and then someone else brought it up seriously,” I told her, omitting to mention that I was the someone else. “They took off their swimsuit first, and pretty soon everyone was doing it.”
“Was it just boys?” she asked.
“No, mixed. Co-ed. It’s not like we had planned on it happening beforehand.”
She held her hand over her mouth. “Oh, wow. You weren’t embarrassed? Did you look a lot? Did anyone look at you?”
“A bit, at first. But it didn’t last long. Once everyone was naked it just felt normal. You get used to it pretty quickly. Or at least, I did. Plus, you know, alcohol was involved, so.”
“Wow,” she said, letting out a deep sigh. “If you had said you hadn’t tried it, I would have said your imagination has no limits. It definitely felt real in the story, like I was on the beach with you. I’ve always wanted to go skinny dipping. It seems like so much fun. And you make it sound like an amazing experience.”
Was she hinting at something? I would have sworn she was fishing. If she were, I wouldn’t be very difficult prey. I had had a crush on her when we first met that had slowly subsided as our friendship deepened, but I had never stopped finding her attractive, nor could I deny that she showed up in my fantasies from time to time.
Her sleek, long, raven hair. Her large, deep brown eyes, crescent and raised at the ends, that crinkled so charmingly whenever she smiled and gave her an air of innocent sweetness. Her large, full breasts and abundant cleavage that she so often flaunted, even at work, not that I stared, of course. And all of it came with a sweet, vivacious personality that was always willing and eager to try something new, be it a cooking class or whirlyball.
I decided to pull on her hook a bit and check whether there were any desire to reel me in. “Oh, it really is. It feels amazing. Just you and the water, with nothing between you. It feels so freeing. I haven’t gone in ages, though. It’s a shame,” I said, trailing off wistfully, regretfully.
“Isn’t North Beach nearby?” she inquired. “It’s near Flo’s, right?”
“Oh yeah, that’s the one. If you go at night, there’s no one around, and you can basically do whatever you want. Some nights you might run into someone, but I think I only ever saw other people there like, once, and we just waited for them to leave before taking off our suits.” It’d be so easy for us to go together, I wanted to add.
She looked into the sky pensively. I took another bite of my lunch and hoped she was having the same thought. She looked like she was wrestling with a decision. “John?” she asked quietly.
“Yes?” I replied as casually as I could fake.
“Would you ... no, never mind...”
“What is it, Vicky?”
“Well ... would you ever want to ... go with me? Skinny dipping? I’ve always been curious, and it’s okay if you don’t feel comfortable, but I feel safe with you, and since you have experience ... would you?” she asked, her eyes big and beautiful and staring so hopefully into my own. How could I say no? I even resisted the urge to tease her, lest she reconsider.
.... There is more of this story ...