Chapter One – Louis Berry’s Novel – Erstwhile (Adult Content) NSF Young Readers

The day spent on the beach ebbed into an evening together absent the desire to move away from the comfortable energy that surrounded the couple. Richard dug in the soft white sand with a shovel as his wife ferried the evening’s fare from the house. She carried a red thermos in her left hand that contained Sangria, and a picnic basket in her right. In it were crackers and Brie with slivered almonds sprinkled on top that had been warmed in the oven. He continued to dig as Susan placed the thermos and basket onto the seat of one of the couple’s two chairs; Adirondacks that her husband bought not long after inheriting the house. They were sturdy and held up well over the years.

Richard stopped digging when he felt the hole was the right depth and width, then threw the shovel hard, blade first, into the sand pile. It stuck firmly in the heap and came to rest with the handle pointing toward him. From the house he had brought some old oak logs for the fire. They were stacked neatly in a pyramid, six feet away. Immediately upon finishing, he walked around the dunes looking for driftwood or old, dry palm fronds to use as kindling.

The couple had taken time to shower away the glaze of lotion and sweat that accumulated during the day. Each was smartly dressed. Richard had on a green plaid polo shirt that accentuated his eyes, and tan, pleated Docker shorts that displayed his muscular legs. On his feet he wore a pair of black Teva sandals.

Susan wore a sleeveless blue denim polo shirt and white shorts. Her shoulders were a red from exposure. She removed the appetizers from the basket and placed the Brie on the flat left arm of her chair, and the crackers on the right one of his.

Richard continued to search the beach while carrying a bundle of palm fronds and other small sticks cradled in his left arm. The flat heel on his sandals sank into the sand and when he rolled onto the ball of his foot, the beach that accumulated on the back of his cruiser dusted the back of his calf. His thoughts were occupied with the search, so he did not realize what was happening. Occasionally, he brushed the back of his legs with his free hand to remove what he thought were sand gnats.

When Richard felt he had enough debris to start the fire, he turned and began to walk toward the pit. He looked at his wife and the figure she cast in the late afternoon sun. The glow around her enhanced her appearance to an angelic state. He flashed the impish smile she loved. Whenever they were alone together she provided the emotional salve necessary to mollify his innate despair.

“Are you ready for a drink?” she asked, as he dropped everything he held into the fire-pit.

“Let me get the fire started and I’ll be ready,” he said.

“You look like the cat that ate the canary. What are you thinking about?”

Richard stopped what he was doing and walked over to his wife. Slowly, he raised his hands to her face and gently cradled her cheeks. Pulling her softly, but firmly toward him, he gently kissed her. Then he slowly dropped his hands away from her face and moved them toward her waist. Interlocking his fingers, he let his hands come to rest at the small of her back. He felt his love for her in every part of his body. He could only describe the feeling as celestial. To him, it bore no resemblance to the tedious nature of life. It was uplifting. Or, it might have been the high produced from looking at his beautiful wife in a bikini all day. His love for her was not purely physical, but he was drawn to her in a primal way. Richard unlaced his fingers and wrapped his arms tightly around her. “I’m sorry to squeeze so hard. It’s just that sometimes I’m so overcome with my love for you, I’d just like to melt into you.”

“How did I get so lucky?” She asked gazing into her husband’s eyes.

He loosened his embrace, kissed his wife and backed away from her. Reluctantly, he returned to the task of building the fire. The sun descended quickly toward the horizon. Its warmth waned, the winds calmed, and the waves subsided.

Richard crouched over the fire pit, then stopped working and turned to his wife. “I think I’m the lucky one. I’m not sure what I’ve done in my life to deserve someone as beautiful, intelligent and sexy as you. Maybe it was something I suffered in a past life that the cosmic energy is trying to make right.”

“I really don’t think you have to have some sort of justification or rationalization for our relationship. It is what we make it.”

He returned to the task at hand, thinking about what his wife said. When he finished stacking the wood, he carefully examined the miniature bonfire. Would the shape allow for enough oxygen to fuel the fire? Yes. Will the flames from the burning debris spread evenly over the oak limbs? It looks like they will. Richard removed a wand-lighter from his back pocket, reached into the pit and began to click the trigger rapidly. After the third pull, a blue and white flame extended from its end. He lit the debris and moved quickly to the other side and repeated the task. The rubbish caught fire swiftly. Flames curved over the oak limbs and the wood began to pop and crack. Twigs quickly burned, curled and dropped off the branches into the bottom of the pit. The embers turned quickly from a bright orange glow to gray ash as they hit the sand.

Susan moved toward her husband and handed him a glass of Sangria. He took it from her without removing his stare from the fire.

“How’s it going?” she asked.

“I think it’ll be alright. We’ll just have to wait and see.”

Susan walked over to her chair and sat down, took a glass she had poured at the same time she made his and placed it on the arm of the chair. After taking a sip she sat quietly and watched him brood over the fire. He watched it burn the protruding knobs on the bark as the flames lapped over the wood. They glowed orange, then changed to a glimmering white as the heat grew more intense when the wind gusted, and then back as it died down. He sipped from his drink, and licked the excess from his lip. The firewood shifted in on itself as the debris that supported the bonfire burned away. Richard examined it carefully to make sure there was enough oxygen to sustain the fire. When he felt comfortable it had developed a life of its own, he walked over and sat in his chair.

“Would you like some brie?” his wife asked, as she reached toward him holding a cracker with a wedge of cheese on top.

“Thanks,” he said, as he took it from her and ate it in one bite. Without a word he then stood and handed his glass to his wife. She took it and looked at him curiously. Facing the chair, he leaned over and picked it up by the arms. It was heavy and he had to use the muscles in his back. He felt the soreness associated with the strain of fighting a fish earlier that day. Placing the front of the chair against his shins, he slid his feet along the sand and moved toward the fire, turning slightly before dropping the chair next to it. After helping his wife stand, Richard placed her chair facing his. They sat down. He leaned over and in quick succession pulled apart all four of the Velcro straps on his sandals, removed them and placed them on the sand next to him, before lifting his feet and resting them in his wife’s chair; one on each side. Not a word was spoken as he gently stroked her hips with his feet.

“You’re getting sand on my white pants,” Susan said, albeit hesitantly.

Buzz kill, he thought to himself as he smiled.

She placed her feet on the edge of his chair and they sat with their legs intertwined.

“We’re gonna miss the sunset.”

“The sunset can’t compare to you, dear.”

Susan smiled and took a sip of her drink. He traced the outline of her frame with his eyes, enjoying how her shirt fell open nicely, exposing her neck and chest. Richard imagined himself leaning over and gently touching his lips to her soft skin. Her shirt was unbuttoned to a point just below the bottom of her breasts, exposing a hint of cleavage. She wasn’t sure what was going through her husband’s mind, but she did know she was on display for him and relished the attention. The silence between the two spoke volumes. Neither words nor actions were necessary to feel love from one another. His eyes moved from her cleavage to her legs. He appreciated how silky her thighs were, and how they came together at her buttocks. Her calves were equally shapely and desirable. Appreciating her sensuality gave him cause to remember times when he had given his wife a full body massage. He recalled how his hands moved over her, applying enough pressure so any tension she felt drifted away. The desire for his wife became difficult to resist.

Richard finished his drink and looked around. There were a few couples on the beach enjoying the sunset.

“Would you like some more Sangria?” Susan asked, as she leaned over the arm of her chair to pick up the thermos.

“Sure,” he replied as he held out his glass. While she poured he looked at the dunes near the house. Would they provide adequate cover? They would have to wait until after dark. “Thank you,” Richard said, as his wife finished filling his glass.

“You’re welcome,” she replied and placed the thermos back on the ground.

He stared at the horizon. The bottom half of the sun was hidden by its edge. Susan shifted her body in her chair to face the setting star. “Isn’t it funny how when you look at the sun in the sky, you don’t ever see it move, but when it reaches the horizon it appears as though it’s falling off the edge of a table?” Susan asked.

“Yeah, it is amazing.” Richard thought for a moment. His tone became dazed and philosophical. “I guess the horizon gives us a point of reference to measure its movement. Do you think we’ll know when the end is near with the accuracy we do at the end of each day?”

“The only thing that scares me about death is facing it without you.”

They sat silently, staring at the glowing orb, watching as it disappeared. At the moment the last sliver of orange dropped over the horizon, Richard softly impersonated the canon used to celebrate every sunset in Key West. “Boom!”

The sky’s color ranged from light blue to black as the couple enjoyed their Sangria by the fire. When they finished the first pitcher she walked up to the house for a refill while he tended the fire. Neither was in any hurry to leave the beach. The number of passers-by dwindled the later it became. Being so close for so long without touching increased their libidos, while the alcohol they consumed lowered their inhibitions. Richard reclined his body in the chair, slung his left leg over its arm and leaned toward his wife.

“Let me ask you something.” Susan’s words were not full. She forced them from her inebriated mind and through a mouth numbed by alcohol. He didn’t notice; his head was thick for the same reason.

“What’s that?” he asked, as he slung his head, heavy with wine, looking at her through his eyebrows. Her eyes sparkled in the light from the smoldering coals. The few flames that were left created shadows that danced across her face.

“At what point in our relationship did you become committed to me?”

“Day one,” Richard answered, without hesitation.

“No,” she said. “Forget all the romantic bullshit.” The wine spoke freely for her. “There had to be something I did that gave you an indication that I was committed to you.”

Richard thought, but only briefly. “Do you remember when I came to pick you up for our weekend trip to the Bahamas?”

“Yes.”

“My mind was on all the things we had to accomplish before we left; making sure we had our luggage, the time it would take to get to the airport from your house, and God forbid, what if we forgot our tickets? As we got into the car, do you remember what you said to me?”

“No.”

“You said, ‘you can kiss the girl now.’”

Susan smiled at the recollection.

“I don’t know if you recall, but that was before we had ever made love, and that statement conveyed the sentiment that with all the distractions in the world, the most important consideration is us. Until then I never knew a relationship should be free of outside influences.”

Susan looked around the beach. It was black and difficult to see past the glare of the glowing coals. There was no one in sight. It is Sunday night. Everyone must be at home, she reasoned. The tingling began in the pit of her stomach and radiated through her extremities. Her lust took over. She stood and walked to the back of her chair, then grabbed it and pulled. Resting its weight on its back two legs she dragged it away from Richard’s chair. She then walked back to where her chair had been and began to gently sway. Each undulation of her body began with her feet, twisting in the sand, and then worked its way up her thighs, through her stomach ending at her shoulders. Susan flipped her head forward. Her hair fell into her face as she gyrated and looked at her husband through the veil she had created and smiled in a manner he had never seen before.

There were no flames dancing above the fire, only orange, glowing coals. Richard worried someone may see his wife, but rationalized doing nothing to stop her by convincing himself it was too dark for anyone to see. The man was aroused and curious. She continued to sway back-and-forth in the cool evening breeze.

Susan felt her husband’s eyes all over her body. He watched intently. She continued to dance as she slowly began to unbutton her blouse, one-by-one. The anticipation was almost too much for him, but he resisted walking over to her and undressing her himself. The pleasure of watching her dance was one that had never been equaled. Her actions lifted their bond to a devout status.

When Susan freed the last button she held her shirt at the bottom and allowed it to drift open, then closed it by bringing the two front panels together; teasing her husband. After several playful repetitions, Richard thought, finally, as she let her shirt fall open and off her shoulders. She held her arms straight down behind her allowing it to slide away and onto the sand.

Susan continued to sway; worried she would not be able to maintain the rhythm of her dance while trying to unfasten her bra. She felt awkward as she reached, with both hands, behind her back to unsnap the hook. When her bra fell open, she quickly brought her arms together and held them tightly to her chest using her forearms to hold it as she clasped her hands. Still looking at him through her hair, she shook her head denying him the pleasure. She maintained this position while continuing to rock gently. When she moved her arms away from her chest she kept her hands clasped. Her bra slid down her straightened arms. His view was still obstructed, but her husband’s intense stare assured her she was not inept.

He sat patiently, waiting for his wife to discard her bra. Eventually, she did by tossing it, next to her shirt. There was no noticeable disruption in the rhythm of her dance, maybe because there was no disruption in his palpable, primitive craving for her.

The confidence she felt grew. Her body continued to undulate in unison with the light caused by the flickering flames that occasionally rose from the hot orange coals having found adequate oxygen to reignite. Slowly, she made her way toward her husband. He reached out, taking her by the waist. She gently shook her head and backed away. The dance was not over. Richard became frustrated and returned his arms to the chair’s rests. His fingers fell over the edges and he gripped them tightly and gritted his teeth as his passion raged. He knew his wife was expressing something to him that transcended the physical, and he must allow her to complete her story.

Susan’s body continued to sway as she leaned over him. She removed Richard’s taut hands from the chair and interlaced her fingers in his. Slowly she stroked the palms of his hands with her thumbs. Relax. Susan leaned into her husband. The strength in his arms provided support as she was suspended above him. Their clasped hands moved slowly outside the frames of their bodies as she came closer. Richard admired his wife’s body. A lump developed in his throat as he watched her breasts change shape as she came nearer. Her flat tummy folded at her waist and showed barely a wrinkle. His heart raced, but he kept telling himself this was her show. Let her lead. She gave a kiss so deep Richard felt it all the way down to his toes. Every part of his body was tense with desire. Her lips melted into his and their unity became soulful. She pushed against his hands. He offered the resistance she needed to stand, but maintained contact with her lips as long as he could by leaning toward her. Once again his eyes were drawn to her bosoms as they retained their naturally perky shape. Her areolas were drawn tightly together. He imagined himself stroking her hardened mammillae with his thumbs. Sensual sensations stimulated part of his body, all without the pleasure of touching her flesh. It amazed and scared him to know he was so into his wife.

Susan backed away slowly, maintaining the rhythm of her dance as she caressed her body. When she moved her hands to the button on her shorts, she smiled at him, as she performed their mock removal.

Richard could no longer hold his tongue. “Come on! You’re killing me over here.”

Without a word she continued her dance. She turned her back toward him. He watched giddily as she slid her shorts and panties over her petite, round bottom; hardly able to contain himself.

When the last of her clothing fell onto the sandy beach, Susan stopped her dance, walked over to her chair and removed a towel that was neatly folded and laid across its back. She spread it on the ground and laid on it, on her side, in full view of Richard. The glow from the fire illuminated her perfectly formed physique. Tan lines created by the sun accentuated the parts of her body he desired to touch the most. He dare not move until she signaled him over with her finger, come here!

Richard stood and made his way to the towel. He removed his shirt along the way and lay down next to her, then kissed her gently and embraced her. Her body was soft and warm. Susan wriggled away from the embrace as she sat up. Eagerly, she removed his shorts and tossed them onto the pile of clothes, then lay down and pulled him toward her. The two held each other. Neither had ever felt so close to anyone. Their hearts beat together, they breathed in unison, and their souls no longer ached for the perfect mate. Richard kissed Susan. It was a deep, long kiss. He rolled over, allowing his straight, muscular arms to hold his body above hers. She rubbed them with her hands and enjoyed watching his eyes as they absorbed every inch of her body.

She felt warm, from her belly-button to her thighs, as his hands gently stroked all of her. He resisted the surging primal urge that raged within him. It was not a selfless act, but one borne of the desire to experience everything they could offer one other.

The warmth Susan enjoyed grew unchecked. Her desire needed to be satiated. “I want you in me,” she whispered.

Richard did not rush. Slowly he made his way to the joining. Gently, he made love to his wife. Passionately, he threw his head back and looked toward the house. Something inside caught his eye. In the kitchen window he saw a red, stained-glass heart Susan’s deceased father had given her on her fifteenth birthday. Richard thought about how much the man meant to her. A great sense of doubt overtook him when he realized he had no idea what it took to be the kind of man that would enable his wife to experience the life she deserved as they grew old together.

 

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