Undertow a compilation o.., p.27

Undertow: A compilation of short beach stories, page 27

 

Undertow: A compilation of short beach stories
 



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  “She d-did a great job. You’re the p-proof.”

  “Aww. Thanks.”

  “What about…your father?”

  “This is where my story gets seriously messed up.” I brace myself to face the memories. “When I was six, my birth father’s parents filed a neglect complaint with Palm Beach County’s Child Protective Services.”

  Max sat up straight. “What!” he barked.

  I nod. “Yeah. As you know, Palm Beach is a small town isolated on a small island. The little girl tagging along while her mom cleaned houses for the Palm Beach Shiny Sheet matrons embarrassed my father’s parents. They wanted their son’s scandal out of sight and forgotten, never to return. They found a ‘sympathetic’ judge—sympathetic to their bank account at any rate—to declare my mom an unfit parent. One terrifying morning, a ridiculously perky, gray-haired matron showed up at the Ocean Drive mansion where Mom worked that day and led me away. I stayed in a succession of foster homes.” I wrinkle my nose. “That nightmare lasted two years.”

  “Shit, Holiday.”

  I pointed at a lavish, two-story expanse of white stone that sprawled not too far down the beach from where we sat. “That’s his house—my biological father. The Parker mansion. My legal name is Holiday Parker-Jones. I don’t use the Parker. I don’t want any reminders of them.”

  “I get it. Just…shit, Holiday.”

  “It’s old history, Max. Don’t feel sorry for me. My mom loved me enough for two people. I never lost faith that she would come and get me, and she did. She found a great pro-bono lawyer. He proved malfeasance and Mom got me back. I think I grew up fairly well adjusted, though I’ll confess to a strong dislike of wealthy people on principal—the moneyed in Palm Beach, specifically. I’d never trust a relationship with one of the entitled on this island. They’re users.”

  I sift sand through my fingers and try to explain my thoughts to Max. “It’s hard for people who have everything given to them to develop a moral compass. Most uber-rich people see employees like you and me as lesser human beings not worthy of courtesy and respect. Because we occupy a lower tax bracket, or no tax bracket at all, we don’t exist for them. We’re disposable, interchangeable—like light bulbs.”

  “I w-w-would…never…” Max shakes his head in frustration. He flips a pad and pencil out of his pocket and scribbles a note.

  You are not disposable or interchangeable.

  You are pretty special.

  “Aww, thank you, but you live in the ‘real’ world. You have to work for a living ... and for the record, I think you’re pretty special, too.”

  As I say this, Max stops watching me. He rolls onto his stomach and gazes out to sea, a shuttered expression on his face. Maybe he has his own horror stories to tell about the rich and self-enamored. Whatever his thoughts are, he’s keeping them private. That’s okay. He’s entitled. I hug my knees to my chest and watch the Gulf Stream roil the water on the horizon. Snafu snuggles between us and I love on him. He rolls over so I can rub his belly. Poor Snafu. Poor Max. This morning didn’t go as planned.

  “Max, you look as if someone buried you in the sand and then pulled you out feet-first,” I tease.

  “I’ve been worse.” His smile appears forced.

  “Yeah, I can imagine.” I chuckle but my worry persists. “How do you feel? Can I do something for you?”

  His smile fades. “Don’t worry, Holiday. I’ll live.” He lifts himself from the sand gracefully and collects the tennis ball chucker and the mallard bumper. “Let’s go…clean up. Get lunch.”

  “Whatever you say, boss.”

  Max smiles at me for a long moment and then takes my hand with a gentle squeeze as we walk back to the house. Suddenly, my concern evaporates. His smile packs a wallop. I feel as if happiness will float me straight into the clouds.

  ***

  The hand that clasps Holiday’s is the only happy part of my body. The rest of me feels like the morning after a three-day bender on cheap booze. I always feel like this, post-seizure. Of the two, I’ll take the three-day bender. I’d hoped the seizures would hold off for a few months and give Holiday a chance to get to know me before she had to deal with a six-foot-three, 195-pound Ranger flopping around on the sand like a gaffed fish. I know I frightened her, but Holiday coped like a pro. My seizures are not my main worry.

  Shit. I am so fucked. I’m working around the property because I’d go bat-shit with boredom if I didn’t. This estate is one of several that belong to my family. I’m living in the cabana/guest house because the big house is closed and shuttered until ‘the season’ starts. Besides, the cabana is smaller and easier to clean. How do I tell Holiday I am that old Palm Beach money that she mistrusts? Mistrusts for good reason, I might add.

  Were her grandparents alive, I would have a thing or two to say to them right now. I can still say something to the irresponsible dick-wad that’s her father. “Mostly-good orange,” my lily-white ass. I need to remind Holiday that lunch comes with the job. I wonder if I can get her to take more for playing with Snafu?

  Knowing how she feels, I must tell her. The sooner the better. It’s dishonest not to. Sure as shit, though, the moment I do, she’s terminating my ass with prejudice. No way am I risking that. I’m drunk on Holiday Jones. I’m falling ass over ankles in love with this girl, and I need some time to make her fall in love me. I will tell her. I just need some time.

  ***

  As he did yesterday, Max emptied some of the contents of the refrigerator onto the kitchen breakfast bar and we munched happily on prosciutto, hard Italian salami, cantaloupe, green olives stuffed with jalapeno peppers and cloves of garlic, and more fresh bakery croissants with Irish butter.

  “Mmm…” I wiggle with delight at the buttery goodness as I bite into a croissant. “You know how to eat, Max. No bologna slapped between stale white bread for you.”

  Max chuckled. “I like that, too. Still better…than MREs.”

  I look at him doubtfully and pop an olive into my mouth. “That was impressive, what Snafu did for you…alerting you like that. Did you train him?”

  Max swallowed and ran his hands through his hair. Sand rained onto the floor and both of us started laughing.

  “I warned you about the sand,” I said. “I’m curious about Snafu. Tell me about him.”

  “Okay. Long story…b-be patient.” Max glanced at me, eyebrows raised in question and I nodded. “When I was …discharged. I went home. Did therapy. Docs said g-get puppy for stress. Yeah?”

  “Yeah. I’m with you. You went home after being discharged and entered therapy. Your doctors said to get a dog to help you with stress.”

  Max sighed. “So, I…get Snafu. Over time … I notice. When I have s-seizures, Snaf whines…licks my hand. Not a t-trained b-b-b…a trained…b…” Max growled and pulled out his pad and wrote “behavior” and shoved it in front of me.

  “Interesting. So you didn’t know that Snafu could alert you to seizures when you got him?”

  “No. Just a cute…puppy.”

  “Does he help with stress?”

  Max grinned. “Hell yeah. But he needs a…playmate. He gets d-depressed because...I’m d-depressed.”

  “Huh.” I gazed at the big chocolate lab who was currently sprawled at Max’s feet, hungrily eyeing the prosciutto Max was munching on. “He doesn’t look depressed now.”

  Max paused in his eating and swiveled his stool to face me. “No. That’s you. I’m n-not…depressed either. You’re good for us. Th-thank you, Holiday Jones.”

  My heart does a happy leap at the emotion in his eyes. “You are welcome, Max Harper. It’s my pleasure.”

  Max grinned at me and slid off his stool. “I need a … shower. And aspirin.” He placed his hand on my arm. “Can you stay? Hang out?”

  “Sure.” I smiled. “I can stay for another hour or two. Take your shower and I’ll put away this stuff.”

  I busy myself putting away the food and cleaning up the kitchen. Both Snafu and Max had left a
trail of sand from the door to the kitchen so I sweep that up also. By the time a freshly scrubbed Max saunters into the living room looking like some shirtless pagan god of sex in low-slung Wranglers, I’m curled up on the sofa with Snafu watching Animal Planet’s, The Search for Bigfoot. This is a reality show? Really?

  “Hey, stud.” I smile at Max as he walks to the sofa, displaces Snafu and sits next to me.

  “Hey, babe. Feet here.” He pats his lap.

  “They’re pretty dirty. I showered last night but I’ve put some barefoot miles on them since. You sure?”

  “Positive. Right here.”

  “Okay.” I’ll put whatever body part Max wants in his lap. Happily. Yeah…I went there.

  I stretch out and put my feet in his lap and both of us pretend to watch TV while Max massages my feet and rubs my legs. After fifteen minutes of this, Miss Kitty is giving Max a standing ovation and my eyes are crossing from pure pleasure. There are parts of Max that are pretty happy, too, but his gaze doesn’t leave the TV. I guess we’re ignoring the growing lump in his jeans.

  “Holiday?”

  “Mmm?”

  “Today.” He pauses in my foot rub and turns to face me. He holds my legs up while he repositions himself with one leg up on the sofa and one foot flat on the floor. “The seizure. I didn’t … want y-you to see…that…but…”

  I sit straight up on the sofa, all bliss from the foot rub gone. That last thing I want is Max feeling bad about this morning. “Oh, no, no…”

  Max holds his hand up to stop me and rolls his eyes. “Let…me…finish. Please?”

  I snuggle back into the cushions with a sheepish smile. “Sorry.”

  He watches me and when it’s apparent I’m settled, he digs in his pocket and hands me a crumpled piece of paper. “Read it.”

  I straighten the creased and folded paper. It’s a note from Max in neat block letters.

  Holiday,

  Hope you can read my chicken scratch. I’m printing to up the odds.

  I’d rather be saying this to you. I’m working on that.

  You were awesome this morning. No surprise. You’ve blown me away since I first saw you playing fetch with Snafu. The last two days have been fucking amazing incredible. Because of you, for the first time in fucking forever a long time, I look forward to getting out of bed.

  Thanks for being so cool about my seizure. You’ve pretty much seen me at my worst. So, not too scary, huh? The good news is that they are getting less frequent and less intense.

  So, just wanted to say thanks and tell you that you put a smile in my life. I’ve been kinda down about the leg and the PCS. Thanks for making me forget it for a while.

  And about that molesting stuff this morning? You can do that anytime.

  Max

  Can you fall in love with someone in two days? Because, I think I just did.

  Chapter Four

  “Max?” I curl my feet off Max’s lap, kneel and straddle him. I’m careful to put my weight on my heels when I sit back. Don’t want to hurt his leg. My arms wrap around his shoulders. One hand strays up the nape of his neck and plays with his hair. My face is inches from his and he smiles. People wear that exact amused smile when they watch kittens play. “Can sex trigger a seizure?”

  He shrugs then shakes his head. “Maybe. Not mine.”

  “What triggers yours?”

  “Stress. Fatigue.”

  “Good.”

  He straightens a little. “Good?”

  I realize what I said and laugh. “Good that sex doesn’t cause your seizures.” I catch my lower lip between my teeth and wait for his reaction.

  “You coming…on to…me, Jones?”

  My eyes widen and with lower lip firmly caught between my teeth, I nod. “Contemplating a little molestation.”

  “Ah.” He studies me through eyes suddenly half-lidded.

  “I think I’m out of my pay-grade with you. I’ve a great imagination but little life experience.”

  “Only Carl?”

  I nod. “I’ve a sex bucket list. You could help me with that.”

  Max mouths the words, “sex bucket list.” His eyelids slip a little lower. The gaze he fixes on me loops an endless feed of porn-worthy images through my mind—all to the soundtrack of “Animals” by Maroon Five. He sits up and takes my arms off his shoulders. “Up. Get up.”

  I stand. Hand-in-hand, he leads me into his bedroom. My heart beats out of my chest. I wonder if Max can feel it. Probably.

  The same designer that did the rest of the cabana has been at work in the bedroom, too. There’s dark distressed hardwood everywhere and a white flokati rug in front of a bed from The Arabian Nights—all jewel toned pillows on a gold shot-silk duvet with one of those mosquito net canopy thing-ums hanging from the ceiling over the bed. In an effortless move that only truly strong men can pull off gracefully, Max swoops me into his arms, places me on my back on the bed and then lies down next to me.

  “Max, I’m too dirty to be on this silk duvet. I’ll ruin it.”

  He eyes me thoughtfully for a minute. He nods, picks me up and puts me on my feet then grabs a corner of the bed cover and strips the bed of coverings right down to the fitted sheet on the mattress. Whereupon, he picks me up again, and I’m back where I was thirty seconds ago, minus the silk duvet and 1200 thread count sheet and the jewel toned pillows, all in a disordered heap on the floor. I can’t help it. I laugh. Max lays beside me on his stomach and smiles.

  “Happy now?”

  I look into his hazel eyes and smile. “Yeah. Now I can relax. Umm, well, worry about other things, anyway.”

  He props on his side, his head resting in his hand and traces his finger from the notch in my collar bone to the vee of my breasts. “Don’t worry, Hol. I won’t do…anything…you d-don’t like. Just a little…molestation.”

  His gentle voice strokes me inside. Oh, mama, I’m in real trouble here. Down below, Miss Kitty is leading a marching band onto the field.

  “Max, I don’t think you could do anything I wouldn’t like. I’m worried about doing something you don’t like. I just recently discovered I’ve never had sex with a straight guy. Do all you guys get off the same way?”

  Max chuckles so deep in his throat I feel the vibrations and little goose bumps break out all over my skin. The goose bumps could also be due to the havoc his thumb creates rubbing back and forth across my nipple while his long fingers cup my breast. My swimsuit top is so worn there’s very little between my girls and the outside world and his thumb action is scattering my brain cells hither and yon.

  “Yeah. I think…it’s the same. T-tell me about your…sex…bucket list.”

  He leans over and nuzzles light kisses into the crook of my neck, and then works his way up my jaw. The wonderfulness of it freezes me in place.

  “Take a breath, Hol,” he murmurs and then goes for the jugular—a soft kiss on my mouth. I open with a groan and the soft kiss goes vertical—straight up like the rockets that launch from Cape Canaveral. I grab his face and hold him to me and try to keep up with the demands he is making with his mouth and tongue. I’m so into him that when he pulls away I follow him without thinking until our positions are reversed and he’s lying on his back and I’m crawling on top of him in pursuit of his kiss.

  “Babe! Your knee,” he gasps and jerks.

  “Oh! Sorry, sorry.” I remove my knee from his crotch. “Sorry.” I wince at the pained look on his face as he curls a little inward.

  He starts laughing and groaning at the same time. “It’s okay. I’ll live.”

  I move back, chagrined. “I got a little carried away. Will you be all right?” He laughs harder and I can barely understand what he’s saying. I think it was something along the lines of, “Gay or…straight, no k-knees to the nuts.”

  ***

  I was worried that the sweet, willing, 100% fuckable girl on this bed would make me do something I hadn’t done since I was sixteen—come in my pants. While I might have opted for a
different solution, being kneed in the balls definitely puts the safety back on the gun.

  When I can, I straighten and lie back. Holiday sits beside me Indian style. The look on her face makes my aching balls unimportant. I hold out my arms.

  “Come here.”

  She snuggles into my side. “I’m sorry. I ruined the moment, didn’t I?”

  “I didn’t have…an agenda.” I chuckle and pull her closer.

  “Well, I’m certain if you did have an agenda, that wasn’t on it. You know, the having your nuts crushed part. It was pretty fantastic up until then.”

  She sounds so forlorn that my heart—which was pretty much all hers anyway—melts even more. “Tell me … about your sex…bucket list.”

  She props up and looks at me with a smile playing at the corners of her mouth. “Really?”

  I nod and she sits all the way up.

  “Wow, Max. Okay. Let me have your pad and pencil.”

  I scrounge in my jeans and hand her the pencil stub and flip pad. For about ten minutes, I watch her write, think, cross out and write more. Finally, she tears the page out of the pad and hands me the list.

  My sex bucket list with Max Harper:

  Cunnilingus—Remind me to shave (or have him shave me) Ask Max if he likes a Brazilian or totally bare?

  Fellatio, Deep throat? Swallow? (Remind him to shave—bare!)

  Strip tease, pole dance, lap dance?

  Bondage Sex—read Lovely again. Read Lovely to Max!

  Pool sex!

  Beach sex!

  Sex in the shower!

  Sex in the Wombat!

  Sex with chocolate, whipping cream and cherries!

  Sex with me on top! Reverse cowgirl!

  Swing sex!

  Any kind of sex that results in an orgasm with Max in me!

  Anal sex?

  She watches my face hopefully. “What do you think?”

  “I think all of these…are great. Do we g-go in order? Because I’d love … to shave you bare.”

 

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