WARNINGS: This story includes explicit descriptions of sexual acts. If reading this might involve you or another person in an illegal act, or you are offended by the exploration of adult themes in literature or on the Internet, do not read further.
Copyright 1999 by Jane Urquhart. The author is a member of the Net Authors and Creators Union (NACU), which defends the rights of Internet authors and creators. NACU intends to bring suit against any person or corporation infringing copyright.
Specific permission is granted for publication in the news groups Alt.Sex.Stories and Alt.Sex.Stories.Moderated and for archiving by the Alt.Sex.Stories.Moderated archive, Deja.com, and RemarQ.com. All other rights are reserved. Do not repost or distribute by any other means without express permission from the author.
Only diehards eat outside at Au Bon Pain in Copley Place on a hot August day, but hot days of any sort were going to go away real soon, so Lisa and I put our trays on the table and collapsed into the sauna.
"So how was Maine?" she asked.
"No, come on. Tell me what you do up there while I'm sitting in the bowels of the library trying to read records written by semi-literate medieval clerks. I know what you do when Jack and I go up, but what do you when it's just family, or only normal people for guests?"
"OK. Nothin' much. Go to the beach. Work on the garden. Get dragged to parties I don't want to go to. Hang around the gallery and talk to some weird artist. Play with kids. You know. Goof off."
"God, you're hard to talk to sometimes! So when did you go to the beach, and how was it?" Lisa exasperates easily.
"The beach? You know how the beach is. Except that on Tuesday I had five kids with me, aged six to 10. My Judy and four guest kids. It was fun. I went in for about ten minutes until I was numb up to my waist--the water's only 60 degrees--then sat and read a book with one eye while I watched the kids with the other. Yelled at 'em when they started to go too deep or began to take swings at each other. They don't have nerve endings, you know? They stay in the water for hours."
"Then you went home."
"Yeah. What else?"
It really was too hot. Still, there was a breeze, and when I got really too hot I went in the water and got knocked around by the waves until I was soaked, and that cooled me down. Finally, though, it was time to go home. I was mildly curious to get online, call up the writers' group, and see who was trashing who. Whom.
The kids were totally shot, of course--that's the real aim of these expeditions. I only had to threaten to break one elbow to get them all together. I put on my nice coverup, the long purple one with the big yellow buttons down the front, folded up my chair, collected my towel and book and car keys, and we all headed back to the van.
This takes about half an hour, even though it's only maybe a hundred yards. The kids have to yell at each other, throw sand at each other, wrestle a little, and so on. They drop their baskets and shovels and have to pick them up. Somebody wants a popsicle, so we all buy popsicles. It's a slow process. I was just standing there half the time, waiting for them to calm down and walk another few steps. I wasn't really in a hurry, after all.
We hadn't been going more than a minute or two, though, when I got this idea. I stopped, leaned over, and unbuttoned the three bottom buttons of the dress. Results were immediate. As I started up again, fairly large portions of leg stuck out through the opening in the front. A guy who was scanning the area let his gaze go right by me, then quickly switched it back. He stared until I was past. By the time I got to the car I'd been ogled by at least fourteen men. I counted.
This was odd. Maybe six hundred nearly-naked women wandering around, and these guys look at my legs peeking out of a long skirt. My favorite interpreter of male behavior--he's one himself--says getting a look at what you're not supposed to see is much sexier than just looking at what's on display. Well, I got a kick out of it. Only a little kick, but what are you gonna do when you've got all these kids in tow? A strip tease?
"OK, if the beach wasn't exciting, tell me about the party. How was that?"
I'd known Lisa for some time, but still, I didn't know her that well. Seemed like she was getting awful pushy.
"Oh, it was all right. This past Sunday the in-laws dragged us to this cocktail party in Ogunquit. Rich people's house. Nice house, actually. We had a few drinks and got bored and went back to the camp."
"Hi, Janey," somebody said. I looked over and waved.
As parties go, it was only average. Nice edibles, fairly good background music, some clothes worth looking at, but the guests, all told, amounted to a washout. Could have been the Lexington High School PTA. I had already decided not to get drunk, which was practically the only sane thing to do other than leave, because I had to get up early in the morning and feel presentable. That left one option--figure out how to produce some excitement on my own.
The living room was full of stiffs, male and female, discussing post-modern art, and various wives talking about people who weren't there. Some of the men were doing that, too. I know all I need to know about the first, and the second is not a subject, since I didn't know most of the people under discussion. So I walked through the French doors onto the Bartrams' patio and looked across the Marginal Way at the ocean. Given that I was wearing a backless cocktail dress (calf length, of course, with no bra), I figured I'd be cold, but the sun was still up and the breeze had died down, so it wasn't too bad--just a little cool. Unusual for August. Ideal.
Glancing around, I could see that four or five other bored souls had fled the field before I did. Gerry Bartram had put a bowl of punch on a glass-topped table with some hors d'oeuvres and few bottles of wine and whiskey and some mixers. I saw Nate Greenberg off to one side with a blonde I didn't know. He winked at me and went on talking earnestly with her. Silently, I wished him luck.
Then I felt somebody put a hand on my bare back and found myself looking very closely at a guy I'd never seen before.
"I'm ever so pleased to meet you," I said.
"The pleasure's all mine," he answered. "I'm Jake Barnes."
You can't exactly shake hands when a guy has his hand in the middle of your back and you're standing there holding a wine glass and looking for escape routes, so I decided to await developments. He asked if we hadn't met somewhere before. I was struck immediately by his originality and intellect. So I told him I didn't think so, which was designed to show him that I possessed the same virtues.
Meanwhile, the hand was still on my back. Even without the breeze, I still wasn't exactly warm, so the hand felt pretty good. When it started moving, slowly, but clearly with purpose, from the back toward the front, I gave him credit for chutzpah and wondered just how foolhardy he was.
Foreign fingertips had just managed to creep between my skin and my really nice cocktail dress when I remembered something I'd been told by one of my e-mail friends who likes to talk dirty. I decided my quest for excitement was well under way.
"Excuse me," I said, turning suddenly to my right. This little maneuver effectively shoved his hand right under my dress and on top of a nicely rounded, if small, right breast. I stopped dead, just long enough for him to register what had happened. Then I turned back to my left, and just as effectively pulled the guilty hand around to its former position, the middle of my back. I smiled innocently.
"Oh, my!" I said. "What did you say your name was?"
"Jake Barnes," he said. He had just the tiniest hint of pink in his complexion.
"Oh, yes. I'm Jane. My husband is somewhere in there." I gestured vaguely in the direction of the doors.
"I'm glad to hear that," he said. "On the whole, I'm glad he didn't see that cute stunt you just pulled."
"Me?" I said, looking shocked. I do shocked quite well.
"Yep. You," he said. "Not me. You." He gave me an evil smirk.
What could I do? My clever friend had said I was supposed to say something like, "Watch it, Buster!" right after I did that little trick, but I'd forgotten to do that, and now this amiable-looking man was accusing me of some kind of twisted exhibitionism.
"Couldn't have been my fault. It was *your* hand." I was looking very serious. I do that even better than shocked.
Smiling, he said, "I reckon you're right--it was definitely my hand. If I hadn't had my hand in the middle of your back, where it is right now, by the way, it couldn't have happened. So it was my fault."
"Exactly. All I did was turn just a little bit, like this--" I repeated the maneuver, with the same result as before. I really liked that hand a lot, right where it was. But I turned back, and the hand slid away. "I just innocently turned to look at somebody, and there you were, groping me good. It's terribly embarrassing." I smiled.
"Yeah," he said, "I'm embarrassed, too. I've got an idea--come over here to the table a minute." His hand pressed gently on my back, as if we were dancing, and propelled me toward the table. Once there, he let go of me, picked up a wineglass, and filled it from one of the bottles next to the punchbowl. "Here," he said, handing me the glass.
"But I already have a drink!" There I was, standing with a glass in each hand.
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