WARNING: This story contains explicit sexual matter. If you are under 18, or live in a jurisdiction in which such matter is illegal, please stop reading now.
This story may be archived on free web sites but is not to be distributed without this note and the name of the author, changed in any way, or sold. Please do not repost without consulting the author. Copyright 1998 by Jane Urquhart.
DEDICATION: For Angela, on a special day. May her dreams come true.
Josh idly swept the area to his right with the binoculars. He never tired of watching the big "gooney birds" hitting the beach and rolling ass-over-teakettle whenever they landed, but, as a scientist, he had a job to do. Preparing to head for the office, he took one last look at the sea--then stopped. Something was out there. Where nothing should be. He stood, turned, and ran to call his colleague.
"Hey, Jim!" he shouted. "Get the spotting scope! Something out at sea!"
Jim, his partner, sauntered out of the little building carrying the big green spotting scope. He didn't hurry. He had learned that few things were worth hurrying for. Tall, blond, heavily muscled, bronzed, wearing only white shorts and flip-flops, he looked so much like Josh that people called them "the twins." But Jim was five years older, knew more, had been more "theres" and done more "thats" than Josh. He was the leader of their two-man team.
"Where away?" he asked as Josh approached him.
"About ten degrees right of the entrance to the channel," Josh said. "May just be a log, but we ought to look."
Jim settled the scope on the wide rail of the office veranda and swung it toward the area Josh had indicated.
"Yep," he said. "Life raft. Nobody in it as far as I can see, but we have to check. You want to go in the jet-ski?"
"Sure," said Josh. "I'll wave if it's worth your bringing the boat." He set off jogging toward their little pier.
So Angela, who had given up hope the day before, was rescued.
They put her in the narrow cot in what they called "the guest house," a tiny hut reserved for whatever unlucky pilot was stuck with the duty of making their monthly supply delivery.
"She's a mess," said Josh. "We'd better get on the horn and get her on a plane back to the hospital."
"Nah, she's not that bad," said Jim. "I've seen people in her shape before. Sunburned, but we can ice her down twenty minutes at a time and take care of that. She's undoubtedly dehydrated, but there was still water in that can on the raft, so she was OK until she passed out, and that obviously wasn't long ago. We can get her over that fast. Maybe a little touch of heat exhaustion. Otherwise probably nothing wrong at all. She was lucky. And she's a looker. That long hair is going to be beautiful when it dries, and look at those legs! And the tits. They may not be huge, but they're gorgeous. And you want to send her off to the hospital?"
"But people are worrying about her right now," Josh said. "We can't just keep her here."
"I guess we'll have to," Jim said. "The comm radio went out just before you called me." Jim was lying, but only a little--the radio would go out within a very few minutes. He would see to it.
"We could signal with the emergency beacon," Josh said.
"Don't be so fucking creative," Jim said. "How long since you've talked to a woman?"
"Uh... nearly six months, I guess, the same as you. What are you driving at?"
"She'll be good company in a couple of days," Jim said, "and in a week I can get the radio going again. Why make a federal case out of it?"
"Uh... yeah. I kind of see what you mean."
Jim was right. Forty-eight hours later Angela was still shedding skin, which made her itch a little, but otherwise she felt pretty well. She was still weak, but she was up and around. She was wearing a pair of Josh's shorts, tied with a nylon line, and a T-shirt that made her feel like she was inside a tent. She knew Jim and Josh could see her nipples where they touched the light cotton, but she wore what she had to wear. The shirt, slacks and underwear she had worn when they found her was in shreds, they'd said, so they'd thrown it away.
She was everlastingly grateful to Jim and Josh, who not only had pulled her out of the ocean but had nursed her through a bad night and day. And been perfect gentlemen throughout. On top of that, she thought smiling, both of them were, well, very attractive. To say the least. Big, tough, blond muscle men like the ones she'd dreamed of, not the ones she actually knew. She remembered a fleeting thought she'd had more than once about being tied to a tree while men caressed her naked body and threatened her with their, their things. She smiled. Her libido obviously had come back just as fast as the rest of her, but, of course, nothing could come of it. She could hardly select one of them and make a play for him--it would be unjust. Nor would she--she was faithful to her live-in boyfriend. But she could fantasize a little.
Only two things bothered her. First, she was quite embarrassed when she thought of the way Josh and Jim had had to carry her to the bathroom from her cot when she was still too weak to get there by herself. She had a vague memory of one of them helping her through the door. But the second thing was far more troubling--she had to get back home. Her friend, perhaps future husband, George, was going to be worried sick when he found out she was missing. With luck, that wouldn't happen for a week or so, but, all the same, she was worried. Her job would wait--she had been traveling in Africa studying patterns of post-colonial culture, and the courses she was to teach wouldn't start until October. Nobody worried about assistant professors in the summer, especially brand new assistant professors. If only she hadn't decided to go home early, to take an old, small Russian airliner chartered to an African company, if she'd paid more for a trans-Atlantic flight rather than going the long way to save money, she'd have been in a different plane, and would never have heard of this island in the Indian Ocean. But she indeed was on the wrong plane, one that had crashed in the sea. She had survived by some miracle, she was on the island, and she wasn't going home until Jim got the radio repaired.
Meanwhile, she would eat, sleep, and get her strength back. She would explore this tiny, idyllic island while she waited for Jim to repair the radio and arrange to send her back to civilization. She could never get enough of the surf and sand--they were luxuries she had seldom been privileged to enjoy.
Three days later, the fifth of her stay on Itak Island, she wandered down to the office after her daily siesta. She was surprised to see that both Jim and Josh were there. Usually one or the other would be out somewhere, doing mysterious things with instruments whose uses she could not begin to fathom. They had told her they had to be here, and nowhere else, to study something about variations in weather patterns caused by ocean currents. But on this day they seemed to be waiting for her.
"Hi, guys," she said as she eased the screen door shut behind her.
"Hi, Angela," said Jim. "We've been waiting for you. We can still get news from outside, even if we can't talk back. And there's a tsunami out there somewhere. It may hit us."
"I've heard of those," said Angela, suddenly frightened. "Big waves? That wash everything away?"
"We hope not everything," said Josh. "We just don't know."
"We're not sure of anything," said Jim. "All we have are some sketchy reports-- ships that reported seeing the thing hit an island, and a mid-ocean earthquake report. But we have to act as if it's coming and it's bad. So we're going to hole up in this building for a while--it should be tough enough to stand anything but the biggest one."
"We might die," said Angela, turning pale.
"We could," said Jim, "but it won't be because we didn't try to stay alive. There's a basement here that ought not to be flooded completely. We're in the middle of a lot of very shallow water, so if we keep a sharp lookout we ought to see the wave coming in time to dive down there, and we have some scuba gear we can put on if we have to. Then, when we get through it--we will, you know--we have a lot of emergency stuff, like food, water and blankets, stashed in an underground, watertight storage unit. We'll be OK. I'm telling you. We'll make it. Anyhow, we want you to help us move some stuff from one of the outbuildings--books, charts, old reports, a lot of stuff we've stored there. Would you mind?"
"Of course not," said Angela. "Doing anything is better than just sitting around waiting to die." She was frightened. Really, really scared, more than she could remember being before, even when she woke up in a boat with no land in sight. Jim's reassurances helped, but could she trust him? She wasn't sure. But she wasn't just going to give up.
Co-ordinating all the charts with the radio reports they'd received finally led Josh to conclude that they had at least two hours before the big wave arrived, and probably more. So they began the backbreaking work of lifting the things they had to move onto dollies, horsing the dollies through soft sand for twenty yards and unloading them in a back room of the office building. Angela couldn't move the dollies at all; she concentrated on dragging boxes over to the door so the men could do the lifting. She was strongly impressed by their strength--they tossed the heavy boxes around as if they were empty. Sweat was rolling down their sculptured chests. Their necks looked bigger around than Angela's thighs. The cords in their forearms stood out as they wrestled with the dolly; their biceps bulged. Their stomachs looked like washboards. Perspiration matted the thick hair on their legs. Angela was as hot as they were, working as hard as they were, and she felt dull pains in her own arms. She was amazed that with a real threat of death hanging over them all she still could thrill to the sight of these two men simply flexing their muscles. But then she had always loved the sight of men's bodies straining under stress.
Once, when she and Jim were standing at the door of the outbuilding, resting while waiting for Josh to bring another of the forms that told them which boxes were which, Jim looked down at her, then reached up and caressed her cheek.
"Tough little babe, aren't you?" he said.
She smiled, thrilled at his touch.
"Not very," she said. "I do the best I can."
"As far as I'm concerned," he said, "you could just stand there and look beautiful."
Her face reddened. Beautiful? Dirty and covered with sweat? Hardly. But she warmed at his words. Neither he nor Josh had touched her before, and now he was calling her beautiful. She fought back an unexpected surge of desire. Then Josh came striding up and they went back to work.
They had barely begun to empty the outbuilding, but Angela was nearly exhausted from the labor and the heat. They walked over to the office building when the two hours were up.
"We'd better start watching the sea," Josh said. "It's coming roughly from the south-southeast. If we just keep somebody scanning with binoculars we ought to see it in time."
"OK, Josh," said his boss, "Thanks for doing the calculations. But I think both of us ought to be on the lookout."
"Can I help?" said Angela. "I think I could see a big wave coming."
"Oh, sure," said Jim. "I'll get another pair of binoculars. But we're all going to have to be out there on the porch until it comes."
"All right, Jim," Angela said. "I'm thirsty, and I expect you are, too. I'll bring out some drinks for all of us."
Just then, however, Josh yelled.
"It's here!" he said. "Down the stairs!"
In the basement they waited in silence. Each wondered whether life was finished, the end of days coming here on this godforsaken, beautiful island a thousand miles from a civilized shore. Angela thought about her short life. She'd worked hard, done what she was supposed to, put off pleasures in favor of extra work, lived in libraries and classrooms. It wasn't all work. She had George. He loved her. Maybe she loved him, she didn't really know, for she'd never been in love the way the stories told of being in love. Even sex. She'd had dreams, but not much experience. She'd been totally conventional, when, really, she dreamed of scandalous things, things that would shock her parents, her friends. And now, within moments, she might die. She'd heard of tsunamis that tore up concrete bunkers just like the one she was standing in. And then what of her dreams?
Josh impulsively reached out and took her hand.
"Hey, Angela," he said. "Maybe we're going to die, but I've got time to tell you I think you are the most beautiful sight I've ever seen, and I'd give anything to live long enough to take you to bed."
Jim laughed. "Well, he's not the only one, Angela. We've been talking about you, and we both feel the same way. For three days now you've been around this place driving us nuts. Your face. Those incredible blue eyes. That gorgeous light brown hair, falling down in those waves. Your breasts, poking at that T-shirt. Your legs. And just the way you are. We're both absolutely crazy about you!"
Angela was astounded. She blushed. She thought of the way she'd worried about looking ratty in her makeshift costume, about the fact that by her lights her hair was a sloppy mess. She still had traces of the purple bruises she'd gotten on her legs somewhere along the way. Her skin, though her sunburn had healed, was still blotchy in spots. She had trouble believing what Jim had just said. She was so startled she almost forgot the peril that was about to descend on them.
"But..., " she said. "But that's crazy! I've never looked worse! You hardly know me, really. And I don't drive men nuts, I'm just Angela!"
"You're our Angela, and you're beautiful," said Jim. "Right, Josh? We found her, and she's ours--law of the sea."
Suddenly a resounding roar drowned out the familiar, steady sound of the surf that had become the background of their lives. They heard no sounds of destruction, no breaking glass, no tearing wooden partitions, no desks or chests being pounded into bits, only the deafening crash of millions of tons of water sweeping away nearly everything in its path.
Water, not a stream but a solid bolt of power, poured down the stairway into the basement, utterly dark as the lights went out. The raging flood slammed the three of them against each other and, finally, against the walls. Each held tightly to the other, slipping, sliding, all three together being swept off their feet and hurled aside as the torrent hit. But the building held. More water came in. Angela felt Josh lose his grip on her. He was swept away. Jim held on a moment longer, then he, too was gone. She was utterly alone, trying to hang onto a pipe that somehow she had found within her grasp. For a second it seemed as if time had stopped--she was suspended between life and death, pounded by a vengeful sea, an ocean that seemed determined to take back the prize it had lost when Jim and Josh rescued her. Then her hand was torn away from its precarious hold, and she was falling, being hurled one way, then another. Water slapped at her face. She was submerged. She despaired, knowing that she was going to die. Then the roar, the hellish noise, the roar that she thought must have gone on for hours, suddenly stopped. An eerie silence descended. The wave had passed. She struggled to regain her feet, found herself against the wall and managed to push herself up. Water, waist high, swirled about her. But she had survived.
Never in her life had Angela lived through such a terrifying moment. Never had she been frightened to the depths of her being. She found it difficult to believe she was still there, still breathing, still able to think after such an event, so harrowing that her blood still pounded in her ears for long minutes after the wave was gone. She heard someone cough, retch.
Jim spoke first. He was only two or three feet from her.
"I guess it was a little one," he said. Then he smiled in the darkness. "But it'll do until a big one comes along."
Suddenly they were laughing, hugging each other, kissing, with abandon. Josh waded over and joined them. The fact of survival was sinking in.
And Angela began to think in earnest. Something had changed, somehow. Soaked through, bedraggled, utterly blind except for the sliver of light that came from the place a door had once led to the basement stairway, she heard again in her mind the words Jim had said just before the wave had struck. "We're both absolutely crazy about you." This time she heard them in a different way. She really heard them as the praise they were. She accepted them. She was attractive. Very attractive, apparently. She had deeply affected these two rugged, powerful men, the kind of men she had daydreamed about all her life and never thought she would have at her side. And then she remembered, "she's ours--law of the sea." Like a treasure they had found, she thought. She smiled. Suddenly she told herself that possibilities always before out of her reach, always unattainable, might now be within her grasp.
But her circumstances hadn't changed--she was still committed to a man a thousand miles away. And yet...
Her mind continued to churn as they struggled up the stairs, heading for light. They met chaos. Jumbled furniture, broken, torn asunder, lay strewn throughout the rooms they walked through. No door still hung on its hinges. No window held its glass. Nothing was left unharmed except for three survivors, each one slightly bruised, none hurt at all seriously. Angela gave thanks to her God. She suspected the others did, too, as they stood and surveyed the wreckage.
"God, what do we do first?" Josh breathed.
"Shelter," said Jim. "In case you hadn't noticed, there's no roof on this building. We've got to rig a shelter of some sort."
"OK," said Josh. "Let's see if any of the other buildings made it."
Making their way through the debris, they stepped out into a perfectly ordinary day. Sun beating down. A mild breeze. Sand. Surf. On the ground, however, nothing was normal. Boards, steel reinforcing rods, chunks of concrete, shards of glass were scattered everywhere. Not a tree was left standing. They picked their way all around the building, only to find more devastation.
"OK," said Jim, "Now we check the emergency storage site."
Josh led the way toward a tangled pile of tree trunks fifty feet from the office building.
"It's there," Josh said. "Under that log just to the right of the big piece of tin."
They used loose boards, of which there was no shortage, to scrape a heavy pile of wet sand off a pair of steel doors that had been marked by a lone metal post. Josh opened a small fitting to equalize the air pressure, and the doors came open easily, displaying a concrete-lined hole solidly packed with wooden and cardboard boxes. Within an hour they had pulled out blankets, thin foam mattresses, a well-equipped tool box, two large cans of water and a heavy package Josh said was filled with dehydrated food. Jim gave Josh a meaningful look as they unearthed a wooden box that held an emergency communications radio, and that box was among those they left in storage. Josh and Jim immediately fell to building a lean-to against the wall of the office building, using the plentiful wooden debris. Angela, no carpenter, learned from directions printed on the food cans how they could feed themselves. Just after sundown they were well provided for. The lean-to, large enough to hold the three of them easily, was complete and rainproof; Angela had a fire going and was preparing a Spartan meal. They ate in near silence, exhausted as much from the day's emotional roller coaster as from the immense amount of work they had done.
"I don't know about you all, but I'm tired out of my mind," Jim said. "Now that I'm fed, I'm going to be asleep in thirty seconds."
Angela, virtually out on her feet, never even thought of objecting to the sleeping arrangements. Within a few minutes she was stretched out between them on the lean-to's floor of mattresses, still wearing the makeshift clothes she had worn when the great wave inundated them.
She awakened once at the call of an outraged bird sometime during the night. Finding Josh's hand firmly planted on her left thigh, she smiled and removed it, then fell back into deep, dreamless sleep.
Once again she awoke, just after dawn, to find her companions gone. She crawled to the open front of the lean-to and looked out to see Jim stirring the embers of the fire. He turned, smiled, dropped the stick he was holding and came to her.
Standing over her, just in front of the entrance to their sleeping chamber, he looked down.
"How are you, lady?" he asked.
She returned his smile.
"I'm fine," she said. "I'm amazed, but I feel just fine. And what adventures do you have in store for me today?"
"Nothing much, I hope, " he said. "The one yesterday was enough for me." He squatted, then sat beside her. Slowly, watching her reactions, he put an arm around her shoulders and drew her to him. She met his advance and fell into his arms. He kissed her, tentatively at first, then, as she returned the kiss, he held her tightly and began to probe her open mouth with his tongue. Then she broke away, suddenly.
"Hey, I've got to get some water," she said, blushing. "Let me get a drink." Wordless, he handed her a bottle that he found lying just inside the lean-to's entrance. She drank, swirling the cool liquid around in her mouth, then swallowing, marvelling at the pleasure she could find in a simple drink of water. "Where's Josh?" she asked.
"Gone exploring," Jim said. "He wanted to see if there's anything we ought to try to save from the surf. Good man."
From the start, from the first time she had groggily made out his features when she regained consciousness in the pilot's hut, she had been drawn to this strong, knowledgeable man. That kiss, she knew, was not meant as a simple greeting, but as a prelude. One kiss, between improbable survivors, was perhaps an anomaly, something that could be forgotten. She could take his last words and turn them into the beginning of a conversation. But she could feel her own desire, and she knew his was just as strong. Her old life of careful planning, prudent restraint, loyalty to old-fashioned virtues, somehow seemed far off, irrelevant. She had almost died, then escaped death again, and never had she come close to experiencing the fantasies she barely let herself acknowledge. Who could foretell the future? That day, that morning, as the sun came blazing out of an iridescent sea, she could cast caution aside, behave as wildly as she wished. And if death came near again, then at least she would have lived.
She closed the bottle and set it carefully to one side. Then she reached out, willing her life to change forever.
Jim pulled her across his lap, cradling her head in his arm. He looked into her eyes, saw the invitation there, and kissed her again, his other arm around her, allowing her to feel the passion he had carefully suppressed before. She felt the roughness of his bare legs against her back through her thin shirt. She felt his tongue, once more probing, this time more insistent. He pulled back and kissed her eyes, then her neck. She felt her vulnerability, felt her surrender. With his free hand he reached down to pull the shirt up, over her breasts. She closed her eyes and let herself bathe in feelings of languor as he kissed her breast, and then she felt a new wave of exquisite pleasure that came as his lips engulfed her nipple. She sighed in contentment as his tongue once more touched her, stroking, pulling sensation from her willing body. Then suddenly he sat back.
Her eyes opened. Josh stood looking down at them, a tiny smile playing about his lips.
"Hey, guys," he said. "That looks like fun, but what about me?"
Angela was chagrined. Would this lovely experience end here? What if they fought? Josh had a right to complain. The thought of these two men fighting over her thrilled her, then she stifled the sensation, ashamed of herself. Had she lost all idea of civility?
"Well, Josh," Jim said, "I guess since we're partners it's share and share alike, especially since we both get credit for finding her. Law of the sea, right?"
Angela was taken aback. What could he mean? she wondered.
"Think she can handle both of us?" Josh said, sinking to his knees. He reached out and stroked her bare leg. "Maybe she'd like it!"
Angela was thrown into confusion. She was lying in Jim's lap. He was holding her, had been kissing her, and now Josh's hand was on her thigh.
"Wait a minute!" she said hotly. "I may be salvage, but I have some choices here!" She jerked her arm from around Jim's shoulder.
"Think about it," said Jim. "We're certainly not going to hurt you. We both want you, but it's terribly important that you want us. If Josh strokes your leg, and I kiss you, what's wrong with that? Like he says, maybe you'll like it. I think you might."
And she knew that she did have choices. They were sharply limited, however. She knew that. Jim had made a statement--he and Josh were partners. If she spurned one, she spurned them both. And she could not bring herself to do that. She was still pondering when Jim's lips found her mouth again, and she found herself responding to his kiss. She clutched him, she kissed him back. And she could feel Josh's hand moving up toward her hip, her belly, her breast. As his hand touched her nipple she knew she had made her choice, probably before he even returned to the hut.
Jim's kiss became more impatient. His tongue found hers, then raked her teeth, marked her lips, turned to the dark recesses of her mouth. Josh's hand moved down to her stomach, only to be replaced by Jim's on her breast. With one hand she grasped the firmness of one of the timbers that supported the lean-to; it seemed, she thought, to give her a measure of connection with reality. With the other she held onto Jim. He ran a hand up her arm, stroking her where she gripped the wooden post. She felt something like jolts of electricity, centered on her breast, course through her body. She felt her vagina begin to lubricate. She was wildly excited. At the same time, she was frightened. What was she doing? Could this really be Angela? Then Jim broke the kiss and looked into her eyes.
"You've accepted this, haven't you?" he said. "But if you didn't still feel unsure, you wouldn't be our Angela. Josh, let go of her."
Josh obediently removed his hand from Angela's breast.
"Did you see that quarter-inch nylon line over by the office door, partner?" Jim said. "Could you bring me, say, twenty feet of it?"
Josh looked mystified. "Sure, Jim," he said, and strode toward the door. "This what you mean?" He held up a length of white rope.
"Yes," said Jim. Then he turned to Angela, still lying in his arms. "Your holding on to that stanchion gave me an idea. Two men is a bit much. But suppose you didn't have any choice at all? Suppose you were entirely in our power, and you had no say in what we did?"
"But I do have a say," Angela said. "I could simply tell you to let me go, and you would." But she was not really sure. Would he?
"Maybe. Maybe right now," Jim said. He moved his leg so that it would support her head, and took a penknife from his pocket, opened it and began to cut a length of line. "But we're going to tie you up, sweet girl, and then you'll have no choices at all. What's more, I think you'll like it. We'll make you feel so good you'd not have believed it possible."
Angela felt a stab of fear.
"Tie me up? You mean, tie me up, with that rope?"
"Good God," said Josh. "What are you doing, Jim? This is crazy!"