©Sven the Elder June 2002
He sat alone. His table was on the patio where he could see the cars as they pulled into the restaurant parking lot. He waited for her and wondered what to expect. Patio? Well that was stretching it a bit -- actually it was a floating pontoon, a pier really, but the end opened out into a large area and he could sit comfortably there in the early evening sunshine, the warm south Cornwall sea breeze refreshing as he looked back up the walkway at the waterside thatched pub.
She knew him, at least she'd said so. She had apparently attended one of his 'lectures' a little while ago, then something he'd said in an e-mail using his pen-name had apparently enabled her to make the connection that she had lived only twenty five miles away.
He thought of the Internet, its world-wide connotations and the surprise it had caused him in the past. Five writers of erotica, two in the same town had once met for a drink, astonished they all lived so close. Now it had happened again - someone else had made the connection - though this time there had been a veiled threat. Sven wondered what her price would be. He shrugged his shoulders and sipped his beer and waited...
The cars had their lights on now as the early evening shadows deepened into dusk as he was startled out of his reverie by the hands that had been placed on his shoulders.
As he half-rose, they gently opposed his motion and, off balance, he sat back down.
"Shauna... ?" The question died on his lips as she came round the side of his chair and he caught sight of her for the first time. The colour drained from his face as he recognised his lover from thirty five years earlier.
Dressed in a shapeless pair of oilskin trousers, a baggy, nondescript, somewhat grubby sailing sweater, the iron grey hair topped off with a Breton sailing hat, she leant forward, gently closed his mouth and said, "I'll get some of this gear off while you get me a drink - Tinner's like yours." Sven's mouth dropped open.
Sven stumbled to his feet, stunned at the turn of events and went off as he was bid to 'get them in'.
o - O - o
Rather later - a couple or three beers later to be exact - they were eating some of the local fish that the Pub was famous for. Conversation had ranged far and wide as they sought to catch up on lost time, the coloured lights reflecting off the dappled, dark sea, twinkling in their eyes. Sven had briefly held her hand to make a point, let it go and then changed his mind and held it again. Shauna had not removed her hand; rather she had moved to hold his with her other as well.
So engrossed had they become that the sudden faint ringing of the ship's bell that hung behind the bar of the pub to signal closing time came as a surprise to them both.
Sven nodded, then as Shauna got to her feet realised she meant on board her pocket sailing cruiser, tied up a few feet away behind him. He helped her pick up the sailing gear she'd shed as she'd come ashore to join him, then followed as she climbed aboard. She opened the hatch and deftly climbed down the companionway into the cabin lit an interior oil-lamp. Sven scrambled aboard and followed her down.
The cabin was small, cosy; it fell into the category that meant if you cruised together on this boat, if you weren't good friends before you started, you would be after not too long. For all that, there was standing room under the main coachroof, if not under the edges, but then that hardly mattered.
"You like?" Shauna asked and waved her hands in a general manner indicating the old-wood varnished brightwork of the interior glowing in the soft light of the lamp.
Sven laughed gently, "You always were a sucker for 'real' wood finishes I recall." He stepped forward and putting his hands on her shoulders, gently pulled her towards him and kissed her. She closed her eyes and almost purred as she held him to her. He smoothed her hair in that old familiar way he remembered her liking so much those days so long ago. In his mind the intervening time melted away as he kissed her again.
"Sven, you never alter, given half a chance that is," and she giggled that familiar, throaty, sexy chuckle again as she slid out of his hands and moved round him to close the companionway hatch almost over. "It's getting chilly now - the lamp will soon warm us up though. Laphroaig?"
Sven nodded agreement at the offering of one of his favourites - her memory was too good. He savoured it as she slipped the heavy sweater over her head to reveal a T-shirt with 'Emma Louise' on it.
To his quizzical look she said "The name of the boat and my twin daughters and no, there's no man in my life now."
Sven almost missed the pain that briefly appeared on her face as she sat down opposite him in the small cabin. Then, changing her mind, she got back up and joined him on the larger bunk.
"I think I need to be held just now."