"Come and live with me Vanessa. I've a spare room, or will have when I clear it and you could live in and be a sort of temporary granddaughter to me. It would solve many of your problems at one go without costing you anything."
She looked at me with contempt. "You just want a young girl to replace your dead wife, no doubt in bed as well as in the kitchen. Just because you're rich you think you can buy me like a whore. I'm not a whore... or perhaps I am after what happened." Tears sprang to her eyes, "Keep your stinking help," she spat and went to move away but I gently put a restraining arm on her shoulder and she slumped wearily back in the chair. She no longer had the energy to resist.
"Calm down Nessa, as far as I'm concerned you are anything but a whore. I'm not rich although by your standards, I'm well off with my pension and the jobs I get involved in. I've never paid for sex and don't intend to start now; all I'll ask of you is a little help with the cooking and cleaning in return for board and lodging and help with your coursework. The money to pay your debts is a loan that you can repay when you get on your feet again. I'll admit having a bit of female companionship again is an attraction, but I'm not going to force you, or even coerce you, into having sex with me; if it happens it will be by joint agreement. I'm not some dirty old pervert who preys on young girls, if I was I could probably have seduced any number of the girls at Uni already. No, with forty years difference in our ages, I will see and treat you like another granddaughter in the family. I'll give you all the help I can and won't expect too much in return." I could see she was still uncertain, fearful and undecided. "Think about it Nessa. Weigh up your options and then make up your mind as to whether or not you can trust me. I'll let you have a little time on your own to think without interruption and while you're doing that, I'm going to fill the van up with petrol so I don't have to do it on the way home after the talk tonight. You can let me know your decision when I get back. Either way, I'll drive you to Uni. It'll take me about twenty minutes to fill up if there's no queue at the pumps. See you in a bit." I left her sitting at the table outside the pub where we'd had lunch.
The events leading to this meeting, started two years previously. When I reached the age of sixty, I decided to retire from my job. My wife of thirty-eight years died a few months previously and local elections resulted in a change in the make-up of the town council and the ensuing policy changes introduced by the new ruling counsellors, made my job as Chief Executive Officer for the Environment and Planning, much more of a pen-pushing, form-filling pursuit than I cared for. I've grown up by the sea, studied the life in it and on the shore, own a small fishing boat and live in one of four 'coastguard cottages' that overlook the North Sea. Father had been a coastguard in the days when men watched over the traffic on the sea through binoculars and telescopes and when the opportunity came to buy the house we lived in, he took it. For my interests it is ideally suited. The row of four terraced cottages, of which mine is one of the middle ones, are built on a rise in the land some sixty yards from the sea. Unusually for the area, they are three storeys high, the third floor being a roomy attic with dormer windows that give a superb view of the sea and in olden days, the coastguards used the attic room when on and off duty to keep an eye on the passing boats. Father even had a powerful pair of binoculars mounted on a tripod there and I still use them for that purpose as well as for watching bird life on the shore. Yes, sometimes it is human birds that get my attention, but usually it is the feathered variety because the shingle beach is not much favoured by sun bathing tourists. The rest of the room, I've turned into a computer room/library/laboratory so I have everything at hand for pursuing my favoured studies.
I did well at grammar school, obtained a civil service job with the local council and over the years, worked my way up to the CEO position. However, my down to earth speech, my abhorrence of wearing a suit and a tie, only doing so on the most formal of occasions, frequently led me into conflict with others on the council, but I was good at my job and have a knack of being able to talk and negotiate with people and quickly gained promotion. When the changes in policy after a local election saw a reversion to a more conservative stance from the council, and with only myself to provide for, on reaching my sixtieth birthday, I had no trouble in taking early retirement with a good pension.
I'm about average height, 5' 10'', slim, wiry some say, and still fit, strong and active and until the death of my wife, took a keen interest in everything that went on around our shore. The loss of my companion of so many years hit me like a hammer blow and knocked me down, so for a few months I had to fight bouts of depression. Gradually I started to get over it and continued with my life if not with the same fervour.
About twenty years ago I bought a thirty-five foot fishing boat, the Mary Jane, and most weekends went trawling or took out parties of anglers and the income went part way to funding the running costs of the boat. Throughout my youth and later years, I collected specimens from the shore and, when I could scrounge a trip out with other fishermen, from deeper waters. These I brought home for identification and study until I became acknowledged as a local expert on the marine fauna of the area. A fellow enthusiast, John Harrows, an older man, regularly crewed for me on these trips but after breaking a hip in a fall, he was forced to retire from going on the boat. From then on, I either had to go alone, which I wasn't keen on, or pick up any local lad willing to crew for the day.
During my career, I wrote articles for several natural history magazines on fishing and seashore life and these together with my position for environment planning brought me into contact with Dr. Per Kershaw, a Dane who'd lived in this country for many years and who taught marine biology at Eastern University. We became friends and several times a year he came on the Mary Jane and together we gathered specimens by dredging and towing a plankton net, for study and discussion. On one such outing on a cold February morning when he was my crew, as we sat in the cockpit with mugs of tea while the boat moved at a snail's place through the water and the dredge scooped living and dead material from the sea bed, he looked at me and said, "Derek, you're getting over Mabel's death now but you don't seem to have the same interest in life you had a couple of years ago." I had to acknowledge this was true. Losing a life long partner especially when she was only sixty-one and we'd looked forward to many more years together, creates a big void in one's lifestyle and makes a huge difference to one's mental outlook. The initial bout of depression gave way to a mechanical doing of things, 'because they ought to be done', but were done without the enthusiasm of previous times.
"Why don't you enrol on the Marine Biology course at the University next September?' he went on.
"What, can't you get enough young students that you want an old man like me?" I joked.
"Well you'll certainly be older than most but with the way you dress, you'll certainly fit in!"
And I did. At first the others wanted to call me 'Captain' because of the sailor's cap I always wore and my clipped grey beard, but I suggested 'Skipper' might be more appropriate for a small boat owner. That quickly became 'Skip', the name now almost universally used by the students and staff.
Vanessa 'Nessa' Meachem started the course at the same time and, in common with the other twenty-four students, was in her early twenties. She was cheerful and likeable but, like most of the others, was somewhat reserved around me. I put it down to the difference in our ages. Certainly I found her attractive but so did several of the other boys in the class and my chances of getting a date with her were about nil. In any case, these days I wasn't interested in one night stands with young girls, although I still looked and mentally undressed them but Mabel often chided me for that when she was alive. Outside the classrooms and laboratories, I had little to do with the rest of the class although we were on friendly terms and I was often drawn into the discussions when it related to the coursework but not when it concerned social affairs. Living at home some ten miles away from the campus also kept me away from most of the evening events the others attended.
The first term went well but shortly after the Christmas break I noticed Vanessa was missing from our classes. "She went to a wild pre-Christmas party and got herself pregnant and decided on an abortion. The doctors ballsed that up and she ended up in hospital with some infection and eventually they had to do a hysterectomy," Tracie, one of the girls who was a close friend to her, informed me.
"What a great shame," I thought, "She was doing well with the work." I liked the girl but had no thoughts on having any sort of relationship with her. In any case, as far as I knew, she had a boyfriend and I definitely wasn't any competition for him.
.... There is more of this story ...