Caution: This Romantic Sex Story contains strong sexual content, including mt/ft, ft/ft, Consensual, Romantic, Heterosexual, First, Oral Sex, Slow,
Desc: Romantic Sex Story: Chapter 1 - Serendipity is once more the setting for adventure and love, as Philippa Henderson is treated to a sailing holiday by her father. An abducted Russian orphan is rescued and we meet several old friends.
On a pleasantly sunny day in March, Ted Quinton stood on the quay in front of the Queen's Head pub in Maldon, looking down at his yacht, Serendipity. On his right, Erica, two and a half years old, with fiery red hair and vivid green eyes, tugged on his hand. On his left, Grace Quinton stood close, with her hand on the buggy containing their sleeping son, Peter. Both adults thought the boat wore an air of melancholy as she sat in her mud berth.
Grace set the brakes on the buggy and rested a hand on her husband's arm. "I hate to see her stuck here like this."
"So do I," her husband agreed.
"Daddy," chipped in the little girl, "can we go on board?"
"I'm not a baby, Daddy."
"No, you're a big girl, but you'll always be my baby." He placed Erica's hand in his wife's, stepped carefully across the gap to the stern of the boat and fetched a thick plank from its resting place on the coach-roof to bridge the gap. The little girl stepped gingerly onto the plank and took the hand her father stretched out to her then walked carefully across. He helped her step down into the cockpit and crossed to collect Peter, who was sound asleep in the buggy. He picked up the buggy, baby and all, and carried it across, following his slim wife.
Grace Quinton, with the assurance of much experience, opened the hatch, climbed down into the cabin and turned to help her daughter. They left the buggy in the cockpit, lowered the seat cushions that were propped up to air, and sat in the saloon while the little girl trotted off to explore. Grace snuggled into her husband's side, his arm enfolding her, and sighed her contentment.
"I do love this boat," she murmured. Then after a short pause, "But I feel bad about leaving her here, unoccupied, unused. I mean, she's part of the family and we're ignoring her."
"I know. But it doesn't make sense to use Serendipity for a family holiday when we've got SB Grace with showers and a proper galley, and room for the kids to move around. Tell you what, I'll move her round to the boat yard, have her hoisted out, scrubbed and anti-fouled ... generally pampered. Woodwork cleaned off and re-varnished, that sort of thing."
(Thames Spritsail Barges are designated 'SB' for 'Sailing Barge', as a Motor Vessel is designated 'MV' and so on.)
"That's a start. But even if we were to take Erica and Peter sailing in Serendipity, she still won't be getting much attention, will she?"
"What are you saying, Sweetheart?"
"I'm saying we ought to be thinking of selling or leasing her."
He was silent for a long time; in fact until they were disturbed by Peter's waking whines from the buggy in the cockpit. Erica was in the smaller of the two cabins, curled up under a duvet and pretending to be asleep.
They made their way along the quay. Grace was still pushing the buggy, but Peter was being carried by his father in the crook of his left arm while Erica clung to his right hand.
Much later, Grace was snuggled against her husband, relaxed in the afterglow.
"You're right, Darling," he said.
"Serendipity. We can't hang on to her out of sentimentality. We can at least charter her very selectively, and if the right offer comes along, let her go. Hell, I think I might be willing to give her to the right person."
Pippa Henderson was intelligent and had dark hair, but her intelligence was not apparent on the surface. Her hair was dark, but straight; it was barely shoulder-length because it was less trouble that way and the total lack of styling meant that it had a most unflattering cut. She was not actually obese, but she was a little overweight, her skin pasty and pale with constantly incipient acne. She hated exercise and thought sport boring; she had little interest in popular music and disdained to try to fit in with her more socially involved peers. She was on the Pill, only to regulate painful, erratic periods, as at almost seventeen, she'd never had a date or even been asked for one. Her only joys were music – a wide range of what she thought of as 'proper' music from jazz through classical and even some rock music – and reading. She read voraciously: history, adventure, science-fiction ... and romance ... even Mills and Boon, though she preferred Jane Austen.
Her mother despaired of her, while her father just accepted that was the way she was and loved her anyway. In February, a few months before her birthday, he asked her to come to his study. "Your mother and I have been thinking about your birthday. We can't think of anything interesting to give you and we'd like to make it something special. Do you have any ideas?"
Standing in front of him, she thought for a moment. "Can I sit on your lap?"
Surprised, as she hadn't done that for years, he just said, "Of course."
"I know I'm heavy..."
"You'll never be too heavy to sit on my lap."
She sat on him and snuggled into his embrace, but didn't say anything for some time. It was only when he felt dampness on his neck he realised she was crying silently. His arms tightened around her and he continued to hold her. About that time his wife appeared at the door to tell them dinner was ready, but he caught her eyes and shook his head slightly. She nodded, turned and left.
"What is it, Baby?" he asked, gently.
"I ... I want ... I want to do some sailing. Like the Swallows and Amazons..."
"Okay. That's no problem ... we'll get you signed up for a course at a sailing school."
"I ... don't think I can do that. I'd be scared to be mixed in with lots of other people. And ... I want to do some proper sailing, not just go up and down a river, learning what to do. What I'd really like..."
"Go on, Baby..."
"What I'd really like to do is have a sort of sailing holiday. With someone who knows what they're doing. Without a lot of other people."
Her father thought about that. Several things went through his head; that such a thing would probably be expensive, but that Pippa had never wanted a lot of money spent on her and perhaps, just maybe, such a thing would draw her out of her social isolation, give her some confidence ... something to think about outside of her books.
"I don't think your mother would care to do something like that," he said eventually, thinking out loud. "I'll talk to her and make some enquiries."
"Thank you, Daddy!"
Conrad Henderson's enquiries led him to Dennis Thornton, whom he had got to know some years previously at a conference; he thought he remembered him saying something about a sailing holiday ... Dennis had told with a rueful smile that it was the last straw for his marriage, but that his daughter loved it and was now sailing at every opportunity. Conrad explained what Pippa had asked for.
"Heritage Sailing Holidays," Dennis told him. "I can recommend Ted Quinton. He had a bit of a reputation as a lady's man, but I found him very professional and competent. He has a forty-foot Bermudan ketch. A bit slow, but quite comfortable. He looked after us quite well. Cherry got very friendly with his girlfriend, Linnet. I gather he's married since."
It was easy enough to find the web-site and get the phone number.
Jim Preston frowned as he talked to Pippa's father on the phone. "I can ask for you, Mr. Henderson, but I don't think Ted will take it on. He's not taken any charters in Serendipity since he was married. The boat's out of the water just now, too. How many in the party?"
"Just my daughter – a seventeenth birthday present. I may be able to get away for a few days, perhaps a weekend, but It's for Pippa."
"Oh ... I see. Does she have any sailing experience?"
"None at all. She's always been fascinated by the Arthur Ransome books, she's ... well, a good student ... and she's been studying sailing theory."
"She might do better aboard one of the school boats..."
"She doesn't like a lot of people around; she's very shy."
"Ah. She'd probably be better with a woman skipper, then ... or a couple, perhaps. I'll see what I can come up with for her."
When he'd hung up, Jim turned to his wife. Eva ... Evania, whom he'd fallen for almost the moment he saw her, had come from Ireland with Ted and Grace almost three years before. It took some time before he'd asked her to marry him as at the time she'd been pregnant and about to become a single mother ... but love triumphed and they had been very happy since.
"Evvie, Sweetheart, if Grace or Ted come in when I'm not here, ask if Ted could come in to see me, will you?"
"To be sure, Lover."
It was several days later that Grace called in to the office.
"Hello, Grace! Lovely to see you! Erica, sweetie. And Peter's asleep?"
"Yes, I thought I'd pop in to waste your time if you didn't have any customers in, Evvie."
"You never waste my time, Grace. You know I'll always be grateful to you."
The slim, fair-haired woman ducked and shook her head. "Don't make so much of it, Evvie. Edward in play-school?"
"Yes. Ted around?"
"In London today."
"Jim wants to talk to him soon, if possible."
"I'll tell him to drop by; tomorrow, perhaps. So ... how's tricks?"
"Business is good ... marriage is great ... thank you, Grace ... and ... can you keep a secret?"
"As long as nothing criminal is involved!"
"I haven't said anything to Jim yet, because I don't want to get his hopes up, but I think Edward might be going to have a little sister-or-brother."
"Oh, Eva! That's wonderful. He'll be so pleased. When will you tell him?"
"When I've done a test. I think I am, because I'm three days late and the only time I've ever been late was when I was pregnant with Edward. I wanted to tell you so I could ask you to get me a kit from the chemist. I don't want to explain a trip to the chemist to Jim until I can tell him good news..."
A few days later, Ted Quinton found Jim in his office.
"Sorry, Jim. I'm fully committed July into August. In fact, you know what I'm doing because Evvie is looking after Erica and Peter so Grace can come as Mate for SB Grace, to allow Linnet and Jamie to get away. They've chartered a boat to sail the Western Isles." (Linnet being Ted's 'Mate' in Serendipity for the charter which introduced Cherry Thornton to sailing – see 'Linnet'. She married Jamie MacAllan from Orkney.)
"Sorry ... I'd forgotten that. I don't know what I'll do, then. I suppose I could offer a place on one of the barges, but if she's really shy I'm not sure how that would work. All the other small boats are booked up, even the smacks. Good for business, but I suppose I'll have to turn them down."
"Just a minute, Jim. I didn't say Serendipity wasn't available, just that I wasn't. Grace and I were discussing this the other day. If you can find a skipper I trust, I'll charter Serendipity bareboat."
"Ted! You never let anyone take Serendipity out without you!"
Ted Quinton sighed and shook his head. "I know. But really, what harm can she come to? I feel bad about leaving her in that mud berth virtually unused. She's been out once this season and twice last. So, have you got anyone you can spare?"
Jim Preston frowned and thought for a moment. "I want to send the girl out with a female skipper," he said, "but I can't spare any that are qualified on the barges, like Jenni Peters or Becky Jones. Would you be okay with Cherry Thornton?"
Ted's raised eyebrows eloquently expressed his surprise. "A little young?"
"Twenty this year. Got her Coastal Yachtmaster last year. You were the one who told me she was a natural. I can find Mates easier than Skippers."
"Should be. Unless she's popped into town. Why don't we wander down the Quay and look for her aboard Repertor?" Jim turned to his wife, "Just popping down to the Quay, love. Shouldn't be long."
The pretty, dark-haired woman looked up from the computer screen which showed a spreadsheet, and laughed. "I know. You'll be back in a couple of hours, I expect. I know where you are, anyway." Her husband smiled sheepishly in acknowledgement that she knew him well; it was almost inevitable he would end up with a mug of tea chewing the fat with somebody, if not Cherry Thornton. Not that she had any fears of his straying. She smiled at him and winked before waving him away.
The Quay was quite busy with tourists wandering around, wondering at the magnificent examples of technology from a bygone age. Jim and Ted negotiated the erratic visitors with unconscious ease before picking their way across two barges to get to Repertor, where a young man was sitting on the hatch-cover with a mug of tea. He stood with a smile. (Tom Carmichael is a Barge-Master, whose story may be traced through several of the 'Jenni' stories. He is at the time of this story in his mid twenties and just married.)
"Hey, Jim, Ted. Just in time for a cuppa."
"Thanks, Tom," Jim said, "we came to see your Mate. Cherry around?"
"Below. D'you want a drink?"
Jim hesitated, but Ted spoke. "I will, Tom, if I may. Black coffee. Go on, Jim. You know Eva won't expect you back any time soon."
Jim shrugged. "Go on, then. Tea, please, Tom."
Tom began to head for the companionway hatch, but stopped. "If you want to talk to Cherry, perhaps you'd like to go below yourselves? Have a private chat?"
"Not necessary, Tom," Jim said, "but, just off the record, what do you think of Cherry? Would you be happy with letting her skipper a small boat charter?"
"Absolutely. I think she'll be up for her Master's Board very soon. She got her Coastal Yachtmaster last year and knows the water round here as well as any part-timer."
Tom turned, walked to the hatch, stepped over the coaming and descended below, returning shortly after with a young woman and three mugs.
Jim knew Miss Thornton quite well, of course, Ted less so. He'd been the skipper for her family's sailing holiday the year before he'd met his wife. She had clearly matured. Physically easily recognisable, with her slim body and platinum hair, her original arrogance had been replaced by an assertive confidence that assured rather than challenged.
"Hi, Jim," she said, handing him a mug of tea, then turned to Ted and handed him his coffee. "Good morning, Skipper. Long time no see?"
Ted smiled as he took the mug. "It's good to see you again, Cherry."
"I can never thank you ... or Linnet ... enough."
"You can thank me by continuing to grow as you have – I'm very impressed – and by considering what Jim has to ask you."
Cheryl Thornton raised her eyebrows and looked at Jim.
"Your father recommended Ted and Serendipity to a friend, whose daughter wants a sailing holiday, but Ted can't do it. I've come to ask if you'd be willing to skipper Serendipity for a two-week cruise, with instruction. The girl is Philippa Henderson – Pippa – and she's seventeen. The cruise is a birthday present."
"I think I met Mr. Henderson," Cherry said thoughtfully. "Don't know his daughter, though. Any idea what she's like?"
"Very shy," Jim said. "That's really all he said. If you're willing, they'll probably want to meet you anyway, and you can form your own opinion."
Cherry turned back to Ted. "I didn't think you let anyone take Serendipity out without you?"
"I don't usually. But, you know, Grace and I both feel bad that she spends so much time sitting in her mud-berth. Boats should be sailed; at least, as long as they're sea-worthy. I've only just got her back in the water after some attention in the boatyard, and she's in good nick. As long as I trust the skipper, I want her to be used. I want her at sea."
"And you trust me?" Cherry was unable to keep a hint of incredulity out of her voice.
Ted studied her for a few seconds before answering, simply, "Yes."
She took a deep breath, shaking her head. "Then I suppose I'll just have to be worthy of your trust. Jim ... thank you. I'll at least meet them and ... it's another step up, isn't it?"
"It is," Tom interjected, "and something for your resumé when you go up before the Board."
That time the shock was very apparent in her expression.
"Next January," Jim told her, "all being well. Everyone I've asked is of the opinion you're up to the job and we need all the qualified Skippers we can find."
She sat down heavily on the hatch-cover, narrowly missing Tom's mug and allowing hers to spill most of its contents before Tom grabbed it and sat beside her.
Jim patted her shoulder. "We'll leave you to adjust, Cherry. You'll do fine. I'll contact Mr. Henderson and tell him what we can offer."
In April, Pippa Henderson and her father stood on the quay looking down at the boat. He looked at her and the plank connecting quay and boat. "After you, Baby."
"You think?" Her eyes flicked nervously between the boat and her father, then she shrugged and tentatively stepped forward. It wasn't far; in fact it was merely a step even without the plank, but the mud underneath was soft and odorous. When she stepped down into the mid cockpit she breathed a sigh of relief. A woman emerged from the cabin as Pippa's father stepped down behind her. The woman was young; slim, short-cropped platinum hair framed her tanned face; bright blue eyes gleamed, her smile was welcoming. "Pippa? Mr. Henderson? Welcome aboard Serendipity. I'm Cheryl Thornton. Won't you come below?"
Pippa's father stepped forward, hand out. "Good morning, Captain Thornton."
Cherry's smile widened. "Wow! I like the sound of that! But Cherry, or Skipper, would be fine." She took the offered hand and shook it firmly. "Do come below, please."
After a tour of the interior of the boat, they were sitting at the saloon table, cold drinks in front of them.
"Er, Cherry ... if we're being informal ... my name is Conrad."
"Very well," Cherry dipped her head in acknowledgement, "Conrad."
"Do I understand you'll be managing the boat with just my daughter's assistance?"
"Initially, I have a 'Competent Crewman' borrowed from one of the barges. If Pippa learns as quickly as I think she might, we'll be able to return him after a few days ... perhaps a week. In fact, I was expecting him any time now to meet you. While I could probably manage quite well without him, there's no denying he's stronger than I am and an extra hand will make things much safer."
He nodded and they sat quietly with their drinks until they heard feet on the plank.
"Mr. Henderson... Conrad, Pippa, this is Charles Collins ... CC. CC, meet Pippa Henderson, our client, and her father, Mr. Conrad Henderson."
Pippa and her father saw a tall man in his late teens, with a tousled mop of brown hair and brown eyes in a thin, tanned face. He was dressed in clean, though tar-stained, jeans and fisherman's smock in faded blue. Conrad Henderson liked what he saw and shook hands with him. CC then turned to Pippa and held out his hand. "How d'you do, Miss Henderson?"
Pippa looked up at his face, returned his smile and tentatively took his hand, blushed, and said nothing.
Cherry spread charts on the table and they listened as she described various things they could do, at the end of which, Pippa's father turned to her. "What about it, Baby? Is this what you wanted?"
"Yes, please, Daddy."
Before they left, Cherry gave them a list of items, particularly clothing, which Pippa ought to have, promising the loan of water-proofs. "Of course, if you decide you like it, you'll want to buy your own equipment, but there's no point until then."