On the walls of the New York Museum of Fine Art, an oil painting is displayed. The subject is a beautiful young woman, tastefully nude. Her long brown hair is draped in front of her, covering her breasts and flowing almost to her navel. Her left hand modestly covers her private parts; her right hand is extended, offering a handful of mixed berries. Her dark brown eyes stare boldly back at the viewer. She smiles cryptically, a smile that has been compared to that of Michelangelo's "Mona Lisa."
"Woman With Berries" (1981) by Cliff Stoker, actually was done by the artist a few months after he did the original sketches of the model. The original framed charcoal sketch for this painting, now yellowed with age, hangs on the wall of a cabin in the Smoky Mountains of North Carolina. The model is believed to be...
"Don't fall in love with a dreamer, Monique," her mother had warned her. "Writers, painters, musicians, they're all the same. They're all dreamers. None of them ever amount to anything. Find yourself a man with a profession or a trade, Monique. They're the ones who can support a family."
Monique met Cliff in her second semester "Drama and Literature" class during her freshman year of college. She quickly noticed that he wore the exact same outfit every day: Black denim jeans, a black turtleneck shirt and a black beret. He wore eyeglasses with round lenses and a pencil-thin moustache that crawled across the lower edge of his upper lip. Monique almost chuckled to herself the first time she saw him, since it appeared that he couldn't decide whether he wanted to be a beatnik, John Lennon or Clark Gable, and was combining the three. He parted his longish hair in the middle and when she finally got a chance to look at his eyes, she noticed that they were the dark green of summer leaves. They seemed to pierce right through her.
She figured that with that look, he had to be a poser. She was a little surprised to find out that there was some substance to him. She liked the dry wit he displayed in the classroom, and enjoyed the occasional opportunity for dramatic readings with him. She noticed that she was not the only woman in the classroom who found Cliff attractive; other women would sometimes stay after class to chat with him.
The school year was drawing to a close, and for Monique, the days turned into a whirl of cramming for final exams. For days on end, nothing but hour after hour of studying. She was so afraid that she wouldn't do well on the tests. Finally, the exams were over and Monique dragged through the Friday after, worn to a frazzle. Cliff, sitting next to her, noticed how drained she was.
"You okay, Monique?" he asked.
"I'm fine," she replied. "Just a little stressed out, with all these finals."
"Understandable," Cliff told her. "Everybody is stressed out. Fortunately, I've found the answer to it."
"What's that?" Monique asked.
"Well," Cliff said, "My folks have a cabin up in the mountains, and I am going up there this weekend to decompress. Nothing like a weekend swimming in the lake and sitting in the woods to bring back some equilibrium."
"Sounds nice," said Monique, a little enviously.
"It is," agreed Cliff. "I usually like to go up there for solitude, but I'll tell you what: You look like you could use some equilibrium, too. You want to come up and spend the weekend with me? It's a little primitive..."
"And what would the sleeping arrangements be?" Monique asked.
"The cabin has two twin beds, on opposite corners. It's only one big room, plus the bathroom behind it. Like I said, it is a bit primitive, with no electricity..."
Monique thought for a minute, her fingers running idly through her long brown hair. The school year was almost over and she would be going home for the summer. She liked Cliff and was intrigued at the idea of getting an opportunity to spend some time with him to get to know him better. Why not...
"Okay," she said. "Sounds like a plan to me."
"Great!" said Cliff. "I'll meet you at the Student Union at four, and we'll drive up from there."
Monique went back to her dorm after her classes ended and gathered her things for the weekend. Clothes, swimsuit, makeup, toiletries, sandals... She looked at the box of condoms in her drawer, still unopened after all these months. Would she need them? 'Better safe than sorry,' she told herself, and tossed them into her overnight bag.
Cliff was waiting for her at the Student Union, standing next to his black Triumph Spitfire convertible. He wore round-lensed sunglasses instead of his normal spectacles. He opened the trunk, and she put her bag into it next to the ice chest it already contained. He walked around to the passenger side and unlocked the door, holding it open for Monique. She smiled at him, climbed in and shut the door, buckling her safety belt as soon as the door was closed. Cliff walked around, got in the driver's seat, buckled up and started the car. He revved the engine a couple of times, and then they were off, driving westward into the mountains.
The flat plain of the Piedmont turned into foothills, and then the foothills turned into mountains. The car radio lost the college radio station soon after they left the city limits, and then it seemed that all that was on the radio was country music, which neither Cliff nor Monique really liked.
"Get that case out from under your seat, would you, Monique?" asked Cliff. Monique hooked her arm under the seat and pulled out a black plastic box that contained several cassette tapes. She flipped the lid up and scanned the titles.
"Anything in particular you want, Cliff?" she asked.
"Mmmmm... How about Coltrane?"
Monique opened the case labeled "Coltrane" and popped the cassette into the car's tape player. Soon the mellow sounds of "Blue Train" were playing from the speakers as the wind whipped through their hair. The late afternoon sun cast long shadows behind the car as they sped sunward. The clouds were starting to build in front of them, presaging rough weather ahead. Monique's fingers tapped on her door, keeping time with the jazzy rhythms.
Monique looked at Cliff's hands on the steering wheel as he drove. His fingers were long and slender. He had artist's hands. She supposed it was possible for a man with short, stubby fingers to be an artist, but she had never yet seen one who was. They were usually ditchdiggers, bricklayers, men who labored with their hands. Strange how the men whose hands were best designed for creating art were usually those who did.
The drive wasn't all that long, only about an hour and a half. They went from the highway to a side road and from the side road to a dirt road that wound around the side of a mountain and down to the shore of a small lake. Monique saw a small cabin ahead of them, with something large on top of it like a cancerous growth.
As Cliff brought the car to a halt in front of the cabin, Monique asked, "What's that on top of the cabin?"
"It's a cistern," Cliff answered. "It catches rainwater and filters it, so we have some running water for bathing and washing. You still have to boil it before it is drinkable, though."
The land sloped down from the cabin to the edge of the lake. There were no other works of man in sight; the cabin was totally isolated. Cliff got out and opened the trunk and picked up the ice chest and brought it inside the cabin. Monique grabbed her overnight bag and followed him in.
The first thing she noticed when she entered was the fireplace. It was made of gray limestone and mortar, with a metal grille in front of it. Cliff went over to it and noted the pile of firewood next to it approvingly. He flipped the lever to open the flue, then started setting the wood in the fireplace.
"Will we need a fire?" Monique asked.
"You'd better believe it," Cliff told her. "It gets cold up here in the mountains after dark, even in early summer. You can check in that closet over there for linens for the beds, as well as blankets. We'll need them, too, since we'll have to bank the fire before we go to bed. You would not believe how cold it gets by morning!"
"I'll take your word for it and bundle up!" Monique replied with a grin.
"I'd better go back out and put up the roof on the car," Cliff said. "It's looking like it might rain."
It was indeed. Dark clouds were rolling in from the west, and no sooner was Cliff back inside the cabin than the tell-tale rumble of thunder came from outside. Cliff got to work lighting the fire, with Monique helping as best she could by staying out of the way. Soon the fire was crackling merrily in the hearth.
"Ready for some dinner?" Cliff asked.
"Sure," Monique replied. "What are we having?"
"Well, since we have inclement weather," Cliff said, with thunder punctuating his sentence in the background, "we will just have to make do with the food we brought." He took a pot from a nearby cabinet and then poured a can of beef stew into it. After putting it over the fire to warm, he went to the ice chest and took out a bottle of red wine. He popped the cork, allowing the wine to breathe. "A nice Beaujolais... Does it meet with your approval?" he asked, one eyebrow raised.
"Oui, oui!" said Monique. "Red wine goes with red meat, doesn't it?"
"It does indeed, my sweet," Cliff told her. He went back to the cabinet and took out a couple of wine glasses. "We have all of the amenities here, my dear." He filled the glasses, then went back to the stew, which was by now bubbling over the fire. He ladled the stew onto two plates, handed one to Monique along with a fork and then gave her the glass of red wine.
She sipped it, savoring the heady flavor. Setting the wineglass down on the table, she started in on the stew, setting to with a will. She had not realized how hungry she actually was. Outside, thunder crashed and rain pelted on the roof. She washed the beef, potatoes, carrots and gravy down with the strong French wine. When her plate was clean and her glass was dry, she walked over to the rocking chair in front of the fireplace. Warm, stomach full, she realized that she felt the best that she had in weeks. She sighed with pleasure and sat back in the rocking chair. Cliff smile at her, and she gave him her warmest smile in return. She felt SO much better... And he was so sweet to her. She would have to do something to even the score with him.
"Thank you for bringing me up here," Monique said.
"You're welcome," Cliff replied. "All I want is for you to feel better."
"It's funny, but I do already," Monique told him. "But I'm sooooooo tired."
"Then why don't you go to bed, honey," Cliff said. He walked over to her chair, picked her up and carried her to her bed. He pulled the sheets back, then laid her gently down and covered her up with the sheets and blankets. She sighed happily and quickly fell asleep. Cliff looked down on her solemnly, then walked to the fireplace to bank the fire. Then, he went to bed on the opposite side of the cabin, listening to the rising and falling of Monique's breath across the room.
"G'Night, 'Neek," he said, closing his eyes.
Monique woke in the middle of the night, disoriented. It took her a moment to realize where she was. She realized that she really had to pee, so she wriggled out from her cocoon of blankets and got to her feet. She shivered in the room's chill; Cliff had been right in saying that it would be cold by morning. He had taken off her shoes when he put her to bed, but nothing else. She looked around the room, allowing her eyes to adjust to the faint ruddy light coming from the embers in the fireplace. Across the cabin, she could make out Cliff's form under the blankets. The door to the cabin's bathroom was to the right of the fireplace, if she remembered correctly.
Monique padded quietly in stocking-feet to the door and slowly turned the knob and pushed it open. She felt around in the dark until she found the toilet and flipped the lid up. She unfastened her jeans, hooked her thumbs into the waistband of both jeans and panties and slid them down to her ankles, then sat down. Oooh! Cold seat! She took care of her business, then groped around a little more until she found the toilet tissue. She dried herself, then pulled her pants back up. When she flushed the toilet, she noticed that the water ran from the tank to refill the bowl, but that there was no sound of water going into the tank. She would have to ask Cliff about that in the morning. She made her way back to her bed, laid down and curled up in the blankets and went back to sleep.
In the morning, Monique awoke with a start. Morning light was creeping through the cabin's windows. She sat up in bed, looked across the room and noticed that Cliff was gone. She saw that the fire had been rebuilt and that a kettle was hanging over it. As she sat wondering what it was for, the door of the cabin creaked open. Cliff entered quietly, a large bucket in his hands.
"Good morning, Cliff," Monique said. "What's in the bucket?"
"Oh, good morning, Monique," Cliff replied. "Water. For the toilet tank. The cistern only flows to the sink and bathtub. We have to manually refill the toilet tank with water from the lake. Only so much water in the cistern, so Dad only set it up for the plumbing that needed clean water."
"Oh," said Monique. That explained why the toilet tank hadn't refilled in the middle of the night. "What's in the kettle over the fire?"
"More water, from the cistern," he answered.
"What, for coffee?" asked Monique.
"No, actually, I figured you might want a bath this morning. The water from the cistern is ice-cold. You add a kettle of boiling water to a tub of ice-cold water, you get a tub of lukewarm water. It keeps your skin from turning blue, anyway," Cliff added with a laugh.
"Blue's not my color," Monique told him.
"The tub's already filled with cold water, so when the kettle sings..." And at that point, the kettle's siren call interrupted him. Cliff walked to the fire, grabbed the kettle by the handle, then went to the bathroom and poured the boiling water into the tub. He took a large wooden stick that leaned against the edge of the tub and stirred the water up.
"Your bath awaits, milady," he told Monique with a sweeping bow. She smiled and picked up her overnight bag and swept past him into the bathroom.
"Thank you," she told him.
"You're welcome," he replied. "Wait just a minute, let me refill the kettle so I can take a bath when you are done. And you might want to fill the bucket with water to rinse off with." He filled the kettle from the sink, then walked out of the bathroom, closing the door behind him. Monique took his advice and filled the bucket with water from the tub.
Monique rummaged around in her bag, took out clean white panties, blue jeans and a halter top. It was a little chilly for that top this morning, so she took out a red plaid cotton flannel shirt to wear over it. Then, she laid her fresh clothes on the lid of the toilet, reached back into her bag and pulled out a washcloth, a towel, a brush, a bar of soap, razor, shaving cream, shampoo, and various and sundry other creams, lotions and powders. She poked a finger into the bathwater to test the temperature... It was just right! She quickly undressed, tossing her jeans, blouse, bra and panties into a pile on the floor. Then, she stepped into the tub and slowly slid down into it.
Ah, heaven! She wet the bar of soap down and worked up a lather on her washcloth. She washed her face first, then scrunched the corners of the washcloth up to clean her ears. She wet her hair down, then lathered it up with shampoo. She did her neck and back next, doing her best to reach every spot with the soapy cloth. She raised her arms over her head and washed under her arms, then started washing the front of her body. The warm soapy water flowed over her breasts, standing up firmly in the cold air, then down over her flat belly and the delta below. She spread her legs and washed her most intimate places, then worked her way down her legs. They felt a little stubbly, so she got the razor and shaving cream and made them smooth again. She pulled the plug and let the soapy water drain from the tub, then took the bucket of warm water and slowly poured it over her head to rinse away the shampoo from her hair and the soap residue from her body. When the bucket was about half-empty, she took the washcloth and turned on the cold water from the tap to rinse it out. Then, she used it to dribble warm water from the bucket over her body to get rid of the last of the soap. She got out of the tub, turned on the cold water to rinse it down, then put the plug back in and started to run another tub for Cliff. She brushed the tangles out of her hair, then picked up the towel and started drying off.
Once Monique finished drying herself, she put on her makeup and got dressed. Then she scooped up her bag and dirty clothes and went back into the main room of the cabin. Once again, Cliff was nowhere to be seen. She put her clothes and her overnight bag next to her bed, then put her shoes and socks on. The kettle over the fire was starting to whistle again, so she walked over to it and took it from the fire. She went back to the bathroom, poured the boiling water into the tub, then grabbed the wooden stick and stirred it up. She walked back out to the main room and set the kettle by the fire, then went to the door and walked outside. It was a beautiful, sunny morning, with only a few puffy clouds in the bright blue sky. A light breeze blew in off the lake.
"Cliff!" she called. "Your bath is ready, milord!"
"Coming!" she heard him reply from the far side of the cabin. "Just getting breakfast ready." She followed the sound of his voice and found him next to a barbeque grill. There was a coffee pot on top of it, perking away, along with a large frying pan. A wooden picnic table sat next to the grill. She could smell eggs and bacon frying. Her mouth watered.
"There's plates and silverware in the cabinet inside," Cliff told her. "Help yourself, while I take a quick bath." Monique followed him back into the house, and gathered plates, coffee cups and silverware. A moment later, she was back outside, watching the food cook. A few minutes later, Cliff reappeared, toweling off his damp hair. Once again, he was wearing his trademark black jeans and turtleneck shirt, although he had forgone the beret this morning. He went to the grill, pronounced breakfast ready and proceeded to fill their cups and plates. They sat down facing each other across the picnic table. A few stray rays of sunlight pierced through the shady trees overhead.
"Mmmmm, this is good," said Monique around a mouthful of eggs. "So, what are you going to do this summer, Cliff?"
He made a face. "I have to work in the family business this summer. It's a deal I made with my dad. He helps me with tuition during the school year, and I help him out in the summer months."
"What's the family business?" Monique wanted to know.
"Plumbing," said Cliff grimly. "My dad's a plumber, his dad was a plumber, so he was more than a little disappointed that I had no interest in following in his footsteps. My kid sister is a whiz at it, though. I guess that Dad just thinks 'Stoker and Son Plumbing' sounds better than 'Stoker and Daughter.' He's good at what he does; he set up the cistern and septic and plumbing here at the cabin. But it isn't what I want to do with my life. But for this summer..."
"A man's gotta do what a man's gotta do," Monique told him.
"Yeah," said Cliff. "But for this weekend, I don't have to think about it. I'm just going to relax, do some sketching. You see some interesting wildlife in this area sometimes. Deer, bear, snakes even, so you should be careful if you are walking by yourself. And keep an eye out for the berry bushes; the berries should just be starting to ripen."
"What kinds of berries?" asked Monique.
"Well, there are wild strawberries, blackberries and raspberries on the vines around here. They usually start to ripen in mid-June, but some of the early ones ripen at the beginning of the month. And there's nothing better than sweet berries fresh from the vine. Careful of the brambles, though. They don't like to give up their berries without a fight!"
Monique laughed. "I'll be careful if I see any," she replied.
After they finished their breakfast, they took their dishes back inside and washed them in the sink. They took turns brushing their teeth. Then, Cliff grabbed his sketch pad and some charcoal and went back outside; Monique followed him. He sat down on the grass. She stood next to him and watched him do a quick sketch of the lake in front of him. His hand quickly shaded in the details: the overhanging oak tree branches, the birds swimming on the water.
Monique thought back to earlier in the semester, when Cliff had been looking for a model for his art class. He'd asked several women in the class if they would model for him, including Monique, but most had balked when they had found out that they would have to pose nude. Monique had thought about it for a moment, then turned him down. She just wouldn't feel right about people seeing drawings of her naked. Cliff had finally gotten that trampy Liz Jones to model for him, and Monique had found herself feeling an odd twinge of something that felt like jealousy. The drawings had been very good; she'd seen them herself. It wasn't like she particularly wanted to be in them, but she wasn't happy that Liz was.
She looked down at Cliff, felt his eyes meet hers. He rubbed his chin contemplatively, then flipped his sketchbook to a fresh page. His eyes were locked on her face, and as she looked down, she saw her face appear on the sketchbook's page, dancing fingers filling in the detail. 'Is that how I look to him?' she asked herself. The Monique in the sketch was somber, unsmiling, staring sternly into the distance.
"Looks like one of those nineteenth century pioneer woman drawings," Monique said. "The kind you might find in a Thomas Hart Benton mural."
"Well, you did have a serious look on your face," Cliff told her. "What were you thinking about?"
"Nothing," Monique replied. "Well, not really nothing. About how you had been looking for a nude model for art class and all."
"You turned me down," said Cliff. "I ended up sketching Liz Jones instead."
Monique frowned. "Did you go out with her?"
"We dated a few times, nothing serious," Cliff told her. "She's a nice girl, but not really my type."
"From what I've heard, she was EVERY man's type!" huffed Monique.
"Meow!" said Cliff, chuckling. "Well, if you don't like that sketch, give me a different look. Hmmm... Lie down on the ground over there, on your side. Now raise yourself up on one elbow. Ah, that's it. Now, smile for me." Monique followed his instructions, giving him her brightest smile. He looked at her appraisingly, his hand moving in short quick strokes across the paper. Another Monique emerged from the paper, this one smiling dazzlingly. He brought the sketch over to her to look at. "What do you think?" he asked.
"I like this one much better," Monique replied.
"So what were you thinking about for this one?" Cliff wanted to know.
"I was wondering if you ever wore anything besides black jeans and turtlenecks," she told him.
"I LIKE black jeans and turtlenecks," Cliff replied. "It makes it easy to get dressed in the morning when everything in the closet is the same. Besides, it presents a certain image. A very unplumber-like image. And chicks dig it," he added with a grin.
"What did you just say?" Monique asked incredulously, picking up a pine cone and tossing it at him.
"Whoa, I was just kidding!" said Cliff, ducking the pine cone. "I certainly wouldn't want to present an image that chicks might dig."
"Yeah, right," said Monique.
"Well, do YOU dig it?" Cliff asked.
"Maybe," Monique told him. "And maybe I don't. Maybe I think it looks like something a poser would wear... Except you really are an artist, not a poser. A very good artist..."
"Thank you," said Cliff. "I think." Then he continued, "I'm going to get my fishing pole and go down to the lake and see if I can catch us something for supper. You're welcome to join me, or you can wander around a bit."
"I think I will wander around a bit," Monique said. "I want to see if I can find any of those berries you were talking about. They sound good."
"There are some vines on that trail over there to the west. Be careful and watch for wildlife. And don't pick any berries that aren't ripe. We don't want to end up with a belly ache," Cliff instructed.
"Aye-aye, sir," Monique replied. She went back inside the cabin and looked in the cabinet. She thought that she had seen a wicker basket in it earlier. Sure enough, there it was. She took the basket and went out on the trail, searching for berries.
Cliff walked from the cabin down to the lake, fishing pole in hand. He turned and looked back over his shoulder and watched Monique disappear into the woods. God, she was so hot! The way the wind flowed through her hair, the way her hips swayed when she walked, the way she had smiled at him when he'd sketched her the last time, it all just blew him away. He'd been struck in class by how sweet she was to everyone. He wondered what his chances were with her. He hoped that getting her alone for the weekend would enable him to get to know everything about her. Put a healthy man and a healthy woman alone together for a weekend and sparks should fly.
He cast his lure into the water and started trying to catch something for dinner, unfortunately without much success. The fish just weren't biting this afternoon. The sunlight sparkled off the waters of the lake, the wind sighed gently through the trees, and Cliff just sat back and enjoyed the serenity of his surroundings. After a couple of hours, he still had not caught any fish worth keeping. "Looks like canned food again tonight," he groused to himself. And a fish filet would have been so nice...
Sitting there, in tune with his surroundings, he became aware of someone sneaking up behind him. He knew who it was, of course, so he pretended that he didn't hear Monique, who was creeping up behind him as silently as she could. A moment later, he felt the palms of her hands slide in front of his eyes.
"Guess who?" she whispered.
"Um... Liz Jones?" he replied uncertainly.
"Wrong! Guess again," she said, a bit of an edge in her voice.
Uh-oh. Better guess right this time, Cliff told himself. "Would this be the incomparably beautiful Monique Shackleford?"
"Much better," said Monique. "Look what I found." Her hands slid away from his face, and she walked around in front of him and showed him her haul: A basket containing about a couple of pints of wild strawberries, raspberries and blackberries. She'd removed her flannel shirt due to the warmth of the day, and tied the sleeves around her waist.
"Oooooo!" said Cliff. "You did a lot better than I did. The fish just didn't want to be eaten today." He made a sour face and showed her his empty bucket.
Monique smiled happily. "Well, whatever you fix for dinner, we'll have berries for dessert. These are delicious; I sampled a couple of each." She stuck out her tongue, which was stained with the purple juices from the blackberries.
"God, you men are so unperceptive," she told him. "I sneaked right up on you and you didn't even know I was there."
"I wouldn't say that," Cliff replied.
"Oh, come on, you were so startled you couldn't even guess who I was at first. 'Liz Jones' indeed!" Monique rolled her eyes. "Have you brought that hussy up here, too?"
"No," Cliff told her. "Like I told you, she wasn't really my type."
"Mmm-hmm, you told me," said Monique. "Well, women are MUCH more perceptive. You wouldn't have been able to sneak up on ME like that."
"Oh, really," asked Cliff.
"Really," said Monique. "We love you guys and all, and we couldn't live without you, but God..."
"Let's have a contest and see who is more perceptive, then," Cliff said.
"What did you have in mind?" asked Monique.
"Get a blindfold, and have each of us eat a handful of these berries, one at a time. The one who identifies the most correctly wins," Cliff told her.
"That should be pretty easy," Monique replied. "What's the prize for the winner?"
"What do you want it to be?" asked Cliff.
"Hmmm... If I win, then when we get home, I get to make you over with a different look from all those black clothes," said Monique.
Cliff raised an eyebrow. "And if I win?"
"What do you want?" Monique wanted to know.
"I want you to pose for me... Nude," Cliff told her.
"Whoa," said Monique. She thought for a moment, confident that she would win anyway, then said, "Okay, but only if you promise that nobody else gets to see the pictures without my permission, and if we go our separate ways, I get to keep the sketches."
"Fair enough," said Cliff.
"When do you want to do this?" asked Monique.
"No time like the present," Cliff said. He stretched his legs, then got to his feet. Monique followed behind him, basket in hand, as he returned to the cabin and started rummaging around until he found a strip of cloth suitable for a blindfold.
"Who goes first?" asked Monique.
"You're the challenger, so we'll let you go first," Cliff said. They walked out to the picnic table beside the cabin and sat down. Cliff tied the blindfold around Monique's eyes, his fingers lingering on her cheek for a moment when he was done. She opened her mouth, and Cliff had to fight the urge to kiss her. Instead, he picked up a raspberry and popped it in her mouth.
"Raspberry," she said confidently, the sweet juices flowing over her tongue. She licked her lips sensuously. Next, she correctly identified a strawberry, another raspberry and a blackberry. The flavors of the juices were saturating her tastebuds, though, and she missed the raspberry that came next. She did better with the strawberry and the blackberry that came next, and when she finished, she had correctly identified six out of seven of the berries that Cliff had fed her. Her lips were a bright scarlet from the berries.
"Six out of seven will be tough to beat," Monique crowed.
"We'll see about that," Cliff said seriously. He untied the blindfold and handed it to her, then let her blindfold him. She let her fingertips brush his face, trying to elicit a response and maybe break his concentration. All's fair in love and wars of the sexes, after all. He opened his mouth for her and she fed him the first berry, a strawberry, which he identified correctly. Next came a blackberry, a raspberry, another raspberry, another strawberry and another blackberry. Cliff tasted each one and correctly announced what it was. If he got the next one correct, he would win the contest.
Monique was never quite sure why she did what she did next. It was just a spur of the moment thing. She looked at Cliff, mouth open to receive the next berry, then reached behind her neck and untied her halter top, allowing her breasts to spring free. She took a strawberry, bit the tip off of it, then crushed the pulpy fruit and squeezed the thin red juice onto her left nipple and brought it to his lips.
"Mmmm!" Cliff moaned in a surprised voice, licking away the sweet juice and sucking the excited flesh into his mouth. Monique answered his moan with one of her own. His tongue felt so good! She felt little electric currents flowing straight from her breast right down between her legs.
When every trace of strawberry juice was gone, he removed his lips from her and said, "That tasted like a strawberry, but that was no strawberry! Got another one like that?" he asked in a hopeful voice.
"I might," she said, rubbing a blackberry on her right nipple, staining it a bright magenta. She brought it to his lips and he sucked it in greedily.
"Mmmm!" Cliff groaned, licking and sucking her nipple until the juices were gone, although the color remained. He kept it up for a few more minutes, and Monique felt her desire rising. At this point, there wasn't much question about what the sleeping arrangements were going to be later.
Cliff finally came up for air and said, "Blackberry."
"You win," Monique acknowledged. "You went seven-for-seven."
"Eight-for-eight, with that bonus round. And that was SOME bonus round! You cheated," he accused her. "You were trying to confuse me!'
"It's always a woman's prerogative to confuse a man," Monique told him. "Can we push those beds in the cabin together? They look a little small for two people in one."
"For you, we'll try," said Cliff magnanimously. "Are you going to take off my blindfold now so I can see how beautiful you are?"
"You asked so nicely, how can I refuse?" asked Monique, removing the blindfold.
She noticed that his eyes immediately went to her breasts. His hands immediately followed them, massaging her pale flesh in the most pleasurable ways. He paid special attention to her berry-stained nipples, rolling them back and forth between his fingers and thumbs.
"You're so beautiful, Monique," Cliff told her, his eyes locked on her face. "I want you so bad it hurts." One hand came off her breast, caressed her cheek and guided her mouth to his. Their lips locked in a passionate kiss that conveyed all of the desire that they had for each other. She put her arms around him and pulled him closer. Their tongues wrestled happily with each other, and they stood that way for a few minutes, exploring each other's mouths while his hands rubbed her breasts and she caressed his back and shoulders.
When they broke the kiss, Cliff asked, "Do you want to have dinner first?"
"Uh-uh," Monique replied, catching her breath. "Food later. I have to have you right now!" They held hands and walked quickly to the cabin.
When they got inside, Monique said, "I have to pee first," and darted into the bathroom. Outside the door, she heard the sound of furniture being scooted around. She finished untying the halter top from around her waist, then took off the flannel shirt and her jeans. Her white cotton panties were moist with desire. She couldn't decide whether to wear them out into the room so that Cliff could see how aroused she was or to just take them off and go out naked. She decided to keep them on, even though their wetness made them almost transparent. After she peed, she took her washcloth, wet it down with cold water from the tap and freshened herself up between her legs as best she could. She was very excited, but a little nervous.
She'd only slept with four boys in the past. The first time, she had been sixteen. It was awful. It had hurt, the boy had been clumsy and he didn't have a clue about how to please her; then, just as it was starting to feel good for her, he was finished. To make things worse, they hadn't had a condom and he didn't pull out like he said he would. She was scared to death that she would get pregnant. She had been terribly relieved when her period came around. The other three times hadn't hurt, but once again, none of the boys had anything more than rudimentary knowledge of female anatomy. Foreplay was apparently something that was only theoretical with them. All of them were one-night stands, since nothing they did merited an encore performance. She really, really hoped it would be different with Cliff. She gathered her courage, opened the door and walked out into the room.
Cliff had added wood to the fire and put a kettle of water on to boil. It would probably take at least a half hour, he figured. He knew that Monique would want to wash afterward. The beds were now pushed together in the center of the room in front of the fireplace. He had fluffed up the pillows and blankets to make their love nest as comfortable as possible. As he started to disrobe, the bathroom door opened and Monique entered the room in her full glory, wearing only her panties. Cliff devoured her with his eyes, memorizing every sweet line and curve of her body.
"Show me everything! Please, please, please!" he begged her. She smiled wickedly, turned her back to him and then slowly inched the damp cotton of her panties down over her curvy hips. "Beautiful!" he exclaimed as she exposed the pale flesh of her buttocks. "You are so hot!" She pulled the panties down her thighs, then past her calves and kicked them off. She turned around and stood naked before him, the most desirable woman he had ever seen. He noted with approval that her pubic hair was neatly trimmed into a little brown triangle above and shaved smooth down below. 'The better to eat you with, my dear,' he thought.
"Your turn now, darling!" she told him. He shrugged out of his shirt, then unzipped his pants and pulled them down. His chest was broad and muscular, with curly dark hair. Just enough, she noted with relief. She wasn't into really hairy guys. His legs were nice and muscular, too. Monique saw that he was wearing white briefs, with a large bulge that she was eager to uncover.
"I had you pegged for a boxers guy," she said.
"They don't fit real well in jeans," Cliff told her.
"Well, at least you won't get 'Plumber's Butt' wearing those," she said with a giggle.
"Plumber's Butt?" Cliff asked.
"You know, when the repairman bends over under the sink, and you can see the crack of his butt?" Monique explained.
"Oh, I get it," Cliff replied. "Well, after next summer, I don't plan on ever risking having 'Plumber's Butt' again!" he told her, laughing. "Now bring your lovely self over here and let me kiss you."
Monique came to him, and they embraced in a deep, soulful kiss. His hands reached around to cup and fondle her bottom. Her hands followed suit, sliding under his briefs and rubbing his firm buns, then she moved one around to the front to caress his penis.