We were both orphans, her by an act of God, me by an act of parental choice. Her last year of High School was spent with her paternal grandmother after her mom and dad were killed in a tornado. I spent my entire life living with different 'nannies' and 'governesses' because my parents were too busy to bother with the 'accident' they spawned. Yeah, I know. You're saying 'poor little rich kid' right now. Well, big deal. They say that money can't buy happiness, they're right. It only buys a better brand of loneliness.
I have to thank my second 'governess' that I only have a small chip on my shoulder. It comes from becoming disillusioned and skeptical early in life. Enough of that, though.
Sharon was a frumpy looking blonde who wore a fake pair of glasses. Her look was all part of her plan to keep people away; she wasn't in college to socialize. She told me so. I met her during my junior year (she was a Sophomore), we both were taking Psych I and Business Law. After the first week, we started meeting every Tuesday and Thursday in the library to study. When we'd take a break I would start a little small talk with her. Something about her just drew me in; maybe I recognized she was lonely, too.
What's my name, did you say? Well, you can just call me Danny for the time being. Just an average guy, average height and build, average all around; except for the accident of my birth. Oh, well.
We both stayed on campus during most holidays. She wasn't close to her grandmother, and I didn't want to see my folks, either. I began to notice how pretty her eyes were, and that her dull clothes couldn't completely hide what had to be a nice figure. I asked her out a couple of times, but was gently rebuffed each time.
Our second semester of studying together only found us with one class in common. We still kept the same schedule at the library, though. Our conversations during breaks were relaxed and open. She told me about her strict upbringing, about only dating her last year in High School, and her struggle to keep up her grades. I told her about my deprived rich kid life, and how I stopped dating after overhearing an ex-girlfriend say that she was only going out with me in the hopes of getting expensive gifts. She didn't like me, at all, she just liked my money.
Sharon finally let me take her to dinner, but only to dinner, a couple of times. I found myself really liking her company. I considered her my first and only real friend. Just because she was a girl didn't mean anything to me, not yet anyway.
Finals rolled around, as they always do; and we were talking about our plans for the summer.
"I'm going to spend a couple of weeks on the lake. Dad bought this great motor yacht, used it one summer, and hasn't used it since." I laughed. "This will be the third summer I've had it to myself."
Sharon thumped my shoulder. "Poor little rich kid, my ass!" Then she sighed. "I've got to stay in the dorm by myself until the summer semester. Grandma isn't well. She put herself into a home, and I can't go stay with her anymore. She wants me to write, but I'm only to visit once a month." She shook her head. "My dorm parents are cool, but even they're leaving for a week. I hate being all alone like that."
I placed her hands in my upturned palms on the table between us. "I'm sorry, Sharon. I don't mean to flaunt my good fortune in front of you."
"It's OK. I'm just going to miss you, that's all." She squeezed my hands.
I squeezed back. "I'm going to miss you, too." We both sighed at our misfortune in life. Then I decided to do something about it. "Sharon? We don't have to be alone, you know."
"You could come with me for the two weeks until summer term." I stopped her automatic objection, and continued. "Look. This isn't a little boat. It's a small ship, really. Two staterooms, a full head, all the comforts of home. Including satellite TV. You know I can afford to bring along any number of friends, and you're my friend. Don't automatically say no. Think it over, and tell me tomorrow after grades are posted." I extended my right hand. "Is it a deal?"
She tentatively took my proffered hand, "OK, I'll think it over. But no promises!"
"It's all I ask." I gently shook her hand. "Meet me here tomorrow after three, OK?" She just smiled and nodded her agreement.
The following day was Wednesday, and grades were posted at noon in the various buildings. I made the trek, fought the (small) crowds, and collected my grades. I was proud of myself, but knew I was the only one. I ate a late lunch, and then headed for the library to meet Sharon. I saw her headed my way; she looked both agitated and preoccupied. I got close enough to see the worried look, and then walked up next to her.
"Hi! Have you seen your grades, yet?" She was startled, but recovered and smiled.
"Hi! Yes, all but one is posted. Professor Stevens is late, as usual." We walked to a bench, and sat down. "How did you do?"
"I did pretty good. One 'B', and the rest were all 'A's'. I'm feeling rather smug, right now. How about you?"
"I did better this time, thanks to you. Two 'B's', and the rest were all 'A's'. That's a vast improvement over the two 'C's' from the last semester, and no 'A's' to boot. You've been a big help. Thanks, very much.'
She had been looking at my face, seeming very happy, then she looked down and away. Her smile was gone.
"What's wrong? Is it your grandmother? Is she alright?" My voice sounded my concern.
Sharon chewed her lip for a second, and then looked at me. "No. Gran's all right. It's me, I'm afraid. The dorms are closing for ten days for renovations, and I won't be able to stay in them. I've got to move my stuff into storage, even." She gave me a wry grin. "I hadn't really planned on accepting your offer, you know that don't you?" I probably looked crestfallen. She put her hand on my arm. "Don't look at me like that. You don't know the whole story. And now..." Her hand fell away with her gaze.
"It's OK. You don't owe me any explanations. I'll even help you move your stuff before I go on vacation. I'll still miss you, though."
I thought I saw her wipe a tear, but she was looking away again. "Now I really feel like a heel." She turned back to me, but was looking down still. "Is your offer still open? I do need someplace to stay, and a vacation does sound good. If you don't want me to go, I'll understand."
I reached out and gently raised her chin. "I'm looking forward to spending my vacation with my friend. I'd feel bad if I couldn't do that, you know?" She gave me another small smile. "I'd better go make arrangements. When do you need help moving your stuff?"
"Thanks, Danny. The dorm parents and my roommate are helping me store my stuff. What do I need to bring with me?"
"Just some clothes and toiletries. Everything else will be taken care of." I gave her a big smile. "You're going to love this motor yacht! It's got all the neat stuff. I can't wait to show her to you."
She gave a little laugh. "Boys and their toys, eh? We'll have fun, I think." We made plans on where and when to meet, and then went off to get ready.
Friday morning I walked into the lobby of her dorm, and called her room. "Hi Sharon. I'm out front."
"OK, I'll be right down."
Sharon came into the lobby carrying two suitcases, and had a third bag slung across her shoulder. I moved to help her. "Let me carry some of that."
She set the suitcases down, and took the bag from her shoulder. "Here, take this one. It's easier to carry two suitcases. Balance, you know."
We put her luggage in the back of my suburban next to mine. What's that? A suburban did you ask? Yes, I drive a big SUV. I like the room, and the four- wheel-drive. I had a 'flash' car when I was in high school, but decided on the suburban when I came to college.
The drive to the lake was a little over three hours, the marina was another hour past that. We didn't talk much on the trip, just some small talk about classes and grades. We listened to my collection of big band and jazz, just letting the time flow by us. Quickly enough, I was pulling into the parking lot of the marina restaurant.
"Ready for lunch?" I asked.
"Sounds good, I'm starved. But aren't we going to the boat?" She was looking towards the water, trying to figure out which 'boat' it was.
I laughed. "Not yet. This is the last chance to eat someone else's cooking for a few days, so I'm going to avail myself of it." I extended my hand. "Coming along?"
She blew a raspberry at me, but smiled and took my hand. "Well, since you put it that way, I'd better eat a BIG lunch."
Lunch was quite good, I had the lake trout, and Sharon settled on the catfish nuggets. I bailed us out, and we were soon walking back to the truck. I drove to the far side of the marina, and parked next to the lakeshore office.
"I just have to check in, and we'll go on board. It should be around twenty minutes, do you want to come with me, or would you rather wait here?"
"I'll just wait. I love your collection of music."
"No problem. I'll be back in a flash."
The paperwork was ready for me; I just needed to double check that the extra stores had been laid on board. The marina pilot was just pulling her into the slip when I finished signing for storage on the truck. I went out to get Sharon.
"OK, we're ready now." Sharon was looking at the dock where the marina pilot had just finished tying off.
"Would you look at the size of that thing!? It's huge!"
I took a quick lookdown, and then deadpanned, "I didn't think it was showing."
.... There is more of this story ...