Chapter 1

Caution: This Romantic Sex Story contains strong sexual content, including Ma/Fa, Romantic, Slow,

Desc: Romantic Sex Story: Chapter 1 - He was flotsam. She was jetsam. You never know what you'll find when you're beachcombing.

The first thing you should know about me is that I'm a nosy bitch. That's actually how I make my living; I'm a stringer for a news service. Every few weeks I'm off chasing dirt on a crooked politician, a wacko on a murder spree, some new fad, or a celebrity with a new boob-job. I don't have enough clout to get much in the way of foreign correspondent or war coverage gigs, but every month, or so, I get to see Gail Friedman on the byline in some of the best papers in the country. Sometimes it's an important story that needs to be told, mostly not, just a piece of fluff my editor wants. But I take pains to do my job well, even the fluff pieces. I'm a professional nosy bitch, and that has made all the difference.

After eight years of this, I found myself with more Frequent Flier miles than any normal human being could possibly use. I could fly free to anyplace you've ever heard of and most places you haven't. I also found myself with nowhere I wanted to go, nothing I wanted to do, and no one I wanted to do it with. My life had progressed with steady, and now that I think back on it, dreary predictability. Hard work and a bit of talent (remember the nosy bitch part?) had gradually improved my professional standing. Living two or three weeks out of four on the road had also, predictably, destroyed my marriage. He was also in the news business, so I'd naively thought it was perfect. Nope. Not even close.

I decided to celebrate my divorce by taking stock. I took a sabbatical from late spring until the fall. My best friend from college, Suzzy (pronounced "suh-zee," she just hated it when anyone called her "soo-zee"), offered to lend me her house on Nantucket. Suzzy was always the smart one. When we roomed together at Columbia I dated eccentric poets, intense musicians, and inspired bohemian artists. She picked up the nerdy scientists, business majors, and medical students. I had wild, animal sex on rooftops and in Central Park. Suzzy patiently showed her boyfriends where her clitoris was and taught them how to please her. Twelve years later, I had a byline and an apartment in Washington full of dead plants. Suzzy had two children, a house in Westchester, a house in The Hamptons, and a small, but cozy, cottage on Nantucket. She had her law practice and the devoted ophthalmologist she married. Looking back, I can see that the moral of this particular fairy tale seems pretty obvious.

So I accepted Suzzy's offer and moved to Nantucket for an extended vacation. I had no real plan other than to think, relax, and walk the beaches. The reason Nantucket is a charming, unspoiled, expensive place to relax is that it's an island off Cape Cod, Massachusetts. The Cape is very nice, but in summertime the mass of tourists that swarm the beaches is overwhelming. The islands in the Nantucket Sound, Nantucket and Martha's Vineyard, were quiet, lovely, and picturesque primarily because you had to either take a ferry or fly to get there. It was impractical for crowds from the mainland to swarm the islands.

I had almost half a year to recapture my composure and find enjoyment in life again. Who knows, perhaps I had a novel writhing around inside me? It could happen. There are lots of popular authors who are more stupid and less talented than me. I should know -- I've interviewed them. Maybe it would be a sly, witty piece lampooning a guy an awful lot like my ex-husband. That would be fun to write.

I had everything I needed to completely relax and contemplate my life and direction. I had no alarm clock. I would wake when my body woke me and walk the beaches in solitude. Nantucket is one of those increasingly rare places where you could actually find solitude on a beach. One of the tricks to Nantucket living is knowing which beach to choose. It's a small island, about fifteen miles wide. The island perimeter consists almost completely of beaches. To spend a pleasant day lounging on the beach, all you need to know is the wind direction. A strong wind in the wrong direction will drive sand into your face, insuring an annoying, rather than relaxing experience. Each morning, the tourists on Nantucket would gauge the wind and pick an appropriate beach on the lee side of the island.

All I had to do to assure my solitude was to pick the wrong beach. Equipped with a good pair of sunglasses, I could walk the beaches in relative isolation. Suzzy's cottage was on the beach front, which meant that a walk along a path through a dune led me to the beach. Most of the beaches surrounding Nantucket had a few sand dunes on the edge of the beach. Standing on the beach, the dunes tended to hide the houses and other man-made hallmarks of civilization. Don't think Laurence of Arabia dunes. These are pleasant, gentle hills sparsely covered with sea-grass. It's the grass that keeps them from blowing away in the steady wind. There were long stretches of beach where you could walk without seeing any sign of anything man-made.

I spent the first couple of weeks in as complete isolation as possible. I ate when I was hungry, slept when I was sleepy, rose when my body woke me, and roamed the beaches listening to the stories the roar of the waves told. My waking and sleeping cycles wandered the clock. I found one of my favorite times was to wander during twilight and into the evening. The night skies on the beach were stunning. The stars spread out like another rocky shore above me. It was a study in scale: the grains of sand beneath me, the small crabs that hunted the remains of even smaller lives, the infinite sea to my left, and the sky above me so vast that even the infinite sea was insignificant.

The beach, sea, and stars were so pristine that it was easy to destroy my perfect peace. I had a neighbor. Actually, I had neighbors on both sides and more inland. They almost never bothered me. They followed the common wisdom and visited the popular beaches during the day or shopped in town. We lived on opposite poles — all of them except my neighbor to the right. My total harmony with the waves and sky would shatter when this lumbering oaf would walk into view and nod a wordless hello and trudge past. His Border collie would rush to greet me, circle me a few times, then chase off after her owner.

I resolved to avoid the man; however, this appeared to be impossible. His schedule was so irregular and unpredictable that I would frequently encounter him on my solitary walks. I worried, at first, that he might be following me. I found the pepper spray that I carried when I walked alone in the city and started carrying it when I left the cottage. I spent most of a week hardly leaving the house. I watched the man's cottage and logged when he left and returned. Then I would take brief walks to see if my venturing out altered his patterns at all. Nope. He and his dog seemed to go out on pretty much the same schedule (or actually lack of schedule) as before. Apparently my paranoia had no effect upon canine bowel movements.

I learned several things. Either the man was not following me, or he was doing it so cleverly that I couldn't catch him. I was also reminded that not only am I a nosy bitch, but I'm a methodical, paranoid nosy bitch. I suppose it's a good trait for my profession.

I returned to my long walks at random hours. I can't say that it helped much, but I did get very muscular calves from so much hiking in the sand.

It was a cloudless, moonless night without any of the haze that sometimes obscures the sky. The weather was unusually warm for May. It was warm enough for me to wear shorts, but I wore a heavy sweatshirt since it was still chilly. The view of the stars was more spectacular than any I could remember seeing. The stellar mist from the Milky Way could be clearly seen and the sky was littered with stars that were much more vibrant than the dim world around me. I listened to the surf and walked with my attention split between the stars and the surf. I was startled when a wet nose rubbed just below the bottom of my shorts.

I took a dog treat from my pocket and gave it to the shameless beggar. While I still considered her owner the bane of my existence, I had grown fond of the dog and had taken to putting a treat in my pocket when I left to go walking.

"I know you're not out alone, so where's your buddy?" I asked the dog. Like the loyal creature she was, she refused to answer.

I walked a bit farther and came upon him. He was sitting on a blanket and staring up at the sky. For some reason, I felt less hostile toward him than usual. Maybe I took pity on him; after all, he probably had no idea that his blundering existence annoyed me to distraction.

"It's so huge," I said, obviously referring to the stars that he was lost in. "It makes me feel so small."

A brief silence spread between us like the vast distance to the starts, and then he spoke for the first time.

"I used to think of it as distance and size, also," he said.

"So what do you think of now?"


"Time?" I asked, not seeing the connection.

"Time," he repeated. "See that dull red one over there?" He pointed to the lower part of the sky to our left. I saw a star that was kind of reddish, so I nodded. There was no way he saw me nod because his eyes never left the heavens. "That's Mars. The light we see took about three and a half minutes to bounce from Mars to here. See the bright white one over there?" I wasn't making the same mistake twice. I saw it, but didn't assume it was a star. "That's Saturn. The light took about two hours to get here. Can you find Polaris, the North Star?"

That time, he actually looked at me. I couldn't see his face for most of this odd dissertation. I'd assumed he'd have a look of feverish intensity, or maybe a cold, knowing stare. He actually looked rather sad. I didn't know where any star was, except to point up. I shook my head, no.

"That's the Big Dipper," he said waving vaguely at some stars. Looking anywhere up, I could see nothing but a jumble of stars. I had no idea what he was pointing at. Apparently, he saw the look of incomprehension on my face. He stood up, placed a hand on my shoulder, and pointed up with his arm close to me so I could use it like a pointer.

"That star there, over to there, up, and over again. That's the dipper part. The handle is over there and up." He gestured each time he pointed our something new. Looking at it the right way, I could see the dipper shape.

I was standing very close to him. I could smell alcohol on his breath. It wasn't a foul stench, but I could tell he'd been drinking.

"Okay," he continued, "use the end of the dipper as a guide and follow the line from the two stars at the end of the dipper up to find Polaris. It's a fairly bright white star." He gestured again. "Up there."

I thought I knew which star he meant, so I nodded.

"About 400 light years away," he said. "The light we see left Polaris about the same time Pope Gregory decided the appropriate way to combat a sneeze was to say 'bless you.'"

"And over there, see that bright star?" he asked. "That's Sirius. It's the brightest star in the sky, but in a few weeks it won't rise above the horizon until the fall." There was a short pause. "Sirius. That's the star for tonight. The light came to us from about nine years ago."

We stood watching Sirius for a while.

"I'm being rude," he said. He bent down and rummaged among some things laid out on the blanket. He came up with two cheap plastic glasses and a bottle. One of the glasses was about a quarter full. He handed me the empty glass, opened the bottle and filled the glass about half way.

He raised his glass and said, "To Sirius." He emptied his glass.

I gave my glass a tentative smell: scotch. Actually, the whiff gave me the impression of a very nice single-malt scotch. I took a sip. It had a complex round, smoky, slightly sweet flavor. It was aromatic and subtle. Wow. It was probably the best scotch I'd ever had. Not at all what I expected to be served in a cheap plastic cup on a deserted beach by a man whose sanity I had some doubts about.

"This is fantastic," I said. "What is it?"


"No it's not," I said. "I've had Laphroaig. It's very good, but nothing like this."

"Laphroaig, forty year," he replied.

That shut me up. This was at least a $500 bottle of scotch, probably more. I didn't even know where to buy it. I resolved to research it when I got home. I did know that you couldn't just pop down to the liquor store and get some.

He sat down and filled his cup again. "You're welcome to a seat," he said.

I sat on the blanket next to him. I'd stare at Sirius for forty-year-old Laphroaig. We sat contemplating Sirius, the sea, and distilled peat-smoked barley. It was a crime to drink this from a plastic cup. This scotch deserved to be cradled in fine crystal. He refilled my cup twice. I was complicit in his terrible offense against decency. I almost felt bad enough to stop drinking it. Almost.

We sat and silently gave the star the respect it was clearly due. After a time measured only by the incessant roaring of the surf and the two times he refilled my glass with a couple of fingers of his wonderful scotch, I reached my limit. If I didn't leave soon, bad things were sure to happen. The best I could hope for was to fall asleep. I noticed we were past the tide line. At least I wouldn't drown.

I heaved myself to my wobbly feet. "Thanks for the wonderful scotch," I said. "Goodnight. Please give Sirius my regards."

He didn't say anything, so I left.

I woke the next morning with a slight headache and a burning curiosity. I lived in Washington and spent a lot of time in New York, so it wasn't unusual for me to encounter people drinking alcoholic beverages spouting barely understandable monologues. But they usually drank from paper bags and wore tin-foil hats. Perhaps there was a story in this bizarre guy. It would have to be a human-interest story. Maybe he was a billionaire hermit living alone in his cottage with his dog and sacks of toenail clippings.

Time to get off my ass, I thought, and snoop.

I kept an eye on his cottage all morning and into the afternoon. Around three o'clock he took his dog for a walk on the beach. I waited 15 minutes and headed off in the same direction. I was sure to encounter him after he turned around and headed back.

His dog saw me first. Perfect, just what I planned. I pulled a treat from my pocket and held it for the dog. I grabbed the dog's collar and read the tags. Hmm, Nantucket dog license 23247. He must live here year 'round.

I continued my walk, nodding hello as I passed him. A couple minutes later, I turned around and headed back.

When I got back home I called the town offices and asked to speak to someone about dog licenses. I used my best flustered dumb blond voice. I told the man that I found a lost dog. I flirted shamelessly. In between sexual innuendos, I asked who owned it. I learned that Sylvie (nice name for the dainty Border collie) was owned by Phillip Seigel.

I drove to the town offices, the assessor's offices this time, to look at property records. The cottage was indeed owned by Phillip Seigel. He'd owned it for three years.

Once back home, I got out my laptop and dialed my ISP. I connected to Lexis and started learning about Phillip Seigels. I found twelve of them who were likely to be alive in the United States. I knew I found the right one when I read a brief four-year-old newspaper article about Carol Seigel and her daughter Sarah killed by a drunk driver leaving husband Phillip. Sarah would be about nine years old if she'd lived. That was the Sirius connection. The night before was the four year anniversary of the accident. It all fit. Phillip was a physicist: lots of papers with titles that made no sense to me. No publications for the previous four years.

It was sad, tragically sad. It all made sense. There wasn't any unusual twist that made it newsworthy. Just some poor guy kicked in the balls by life. I resolved to allow him to intrude on my peace without any more resentment. He deserved peace more than I did.

Spring melted into summer. I still kept to myself as much as possible, so the milestone passed without much notice. Suzzy called a few times to make sure I wasn't lying dead on her Berber rugs, and I ventured into town every few days to buy groceries. That was the extent of my interaction with other people. I'd encounter Sylvie and Phillip every other day, or so. We smiled hello but there was no further contact between us except with Sylvie, who I continued to ply with dog biscuits and other treats.

Late one evening, Sylvie ran up to me. I paid her my toll and walked ahead expecting to see Phillip. I almost missed him because he wasn't walking along the beach. He was in the surf, almost chest-deep. His back was to me and he was slowly walking away from the shore.

A Star Is Born — that's what went through my mind. Just like the original film A Star Is Born. James Mason committed suicide by walking into the sea and swimming away. It always struck me as a romantic way to commit suicide, if you could think of suicide as being romantic.

A cold hand twisted my stomach. My heart beat fast and hard while I could hear ringing in my ears. My hands went cold and clammy.

I had to stop him. He was only thirty seven years old — just five years older than I was. It wasn't too late for him. He was very smart, with a quirky outlook. He was an attractive man. He had a beautiful dog. I know it was pretty silly to think about the dog, but that was one of the things that ran through my mind. He even appreciated fine scotch. Oh my God! I thought That was probably part of it. He was saying goodbye. And I helped!

I shouted, "Phillip!" as loud as I could. Thinking he might not hear me over the surf, I waded into the ocean, shouting his name.

"You can't do this, Phillip!" I screamed. "Come back, please. You have so much left. What would Carol think? She'd die again, if she knew you'd do this. Please Phillip. Come back."

He turned around and a warm rush of relief washed over me.

When he'd walked closer to me I could see he had some sort of pole in his hands. It looked a little like a rake with a wire basket on the end. He reached me, gave me a wry look and then unclipped a basket from his belt. He handed me the basket and we walked to shore.

The basket was full of large clams.

"Clams?" I asked hoarsely.

"Quahogs," he replied, "the big ones."

I felt unbelievably foolish. I hated feeling like an idiot. I hated actually being an idiot even more.

"A Star Is Born, " I squeaked, like a foolish little girl. "You know, the scene where he walks into the sea to commit suicide. I thought that was what you were doing."

The wry grin reappeared. "Well," he said, "at least you cast me as James Mason. I always liked him. I don't think I could have stood it if you cast me as Kris Kristofferson from the remake."

He whistled for Sylvie, and started walking away.

"But... you forgot your clams," I stammered.

"Keep them," he said over his shoulder. "It's the least I could do — after all, you saved my life."

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Story tagged with:
Ma/Fa / Romantic / Slow /