*** This series was awarded Best Lesbian Story, as well as Most Literary/Genre Transcending Story in the 2019 Reader’s Choice Awards. Thank you to all who voted. ***
Welcome friend, to Chapter Three. If you haven’t read Chapters One and Two, you’ll be lost. I mean, really lost. Friends don’t let friends be lost.
As usual, I’ve updated the Spotify playlist found in the contact tab of my author page with the songs from this chapter. There’s a lot of additions this time around. Please enjoy and leave a comment if you care to, or follow my playlist on Spotify.
~~ Rehoboth Beach, Delaware ~~
When we pulled into Rehoboth we checked into our Air-BnB for the night. It was a simple three-bedroom house several blocks off of the beach, with a single bathroom. We were only here the one night and leaving early in the morning, so simple was fine. Two of the rooms had queen beds and the third had two sets of bunk beds.
Most of the group wanted to go to the boardwalk to play carnival games and shop in the tourist traps, but since Jo and I hadn’t eaten on the ferry, we both wanted dinner.
“We’re flying out of formation, Doran,” Jo told me as we headed off towards a group of restaurants at the end of the boardwalk. Perfect, I thought to myself. She made what she called ‘a command decision’ that we were going to the fancy raw bar.
“I’m not sure this place is in my budget for this trip,” I said, eyeing the menu. After we were seated.
“Don’t worry about it, it’s on me,” she said, “I eat so much crap when I’m on base or deployed, I like to eat well when I’m on leave. That’s why I wasn’t down for hot dogs from a transit ferry snack bar this afternoon.”
When Jo said she liked to eat well, she wasn’t kidding. She ordered drinks. I had white wine and she ordered some kind of special reserve bourbon for herself, “One ice cube only, please” and kept the waiter running all night to keep us topped off. A half-dozen raw oysters for appetizers, which I’d never tried before.
“A dash of hot sauce on the top is just what you need,” she said, feeding one to me right off the shell. We each ordered a giant seafood entree.
The entire night was so strange. In some ways it was the best first date I’d ever had. Our conversation was so comfortable, it was like old friends catching each other up. She kept feeding me things from her plate, saying, “You have to try this!” and her gestures toward me seemed familiar and intimate.
But in other ways… it didn’t seem like a date at all. She kept calling me “Doran” all night, which was really throwing me. Anytime the conversation veered towards families or dating histories, either hers or mine, she would smoothly change the subject. She was thrilled to listen to me talk about my art, and I showed her dozens of photos of my work, but getting too personal seemed out of her comfort zone.
We had dessert, Jo ordering three different ones insisting we needed to try them all. I blanched when I caught a glimpse of the bill as Jo was paying. Afterwards we walked together back to the Air-Bnb, laughing and holding each other up against the effects of gravity and alcohol.
“Well Doran, that was a fun night,” she said coming out of the bathroom with her damp toothbrush in hand. We’d beaten the rest of the gang back to the house. “I’d stay up and talk more, but I didn’t sleep last night and I have had all the whiskeys,” she said with a slight slur in her voice. “Unconsciousness is inimitable. Wait, no, inevitable.”
She was wearing a skintight pair of black boxer briefs and a loose, grey men’s tank top with ARMY printed on the front, which was way too big for her. It showed an awful lot of skin through the armholes and I struggled to keep my eyes on her face as she spoke.
“I’m headed that way too, as soon as I brush my teeth,” I said.
“Alright, see you in the morning, I’m not waiting up,” she said through a yawn.
By the time I got myself ready and crept into the bunkroom, she was out cold on one of the bottom bunks lying on top of the sheets, one hand across her stomach. The blinds were half open and stripes of moonlight were streaming across the middle of her body, illuminating her chest as it slowly rose and fell. I took the opposite bottom bunk and got under the covers.
I lay on my side, watching her for what seemed like forever. After a while, she made a snuffling noise and rolled onto her side towards me. The tank top slipped off her shoulder and exposed the tops of her breasts to me. I stifled a sound and continued to watch her. Even her chest seemed muscled.
As slowly as I could manage, I pulled up my t-shirt and inched my fingers down into the front of my underwear. I was wet, and I somehow managed not to gasp as I slid my finger over my clit. I knew I would be able to come in less than a minute… which is why it was probably both a good thing and incredibly casino şirketleri frustrating to hear the rest of the guys coming into the house, clearly headed straight for bed.
I debated trying to finish quickly, hoping I might be able to stay quiet. But that decision was taken out of my hands, so to speak, when the door creaked open. I closed my eyes and pretended to be asleep.
“‘Night,” Jack said over his shoulder at the rest of the gang as he came into the bunkroom. After letting his eyes adjust to the dim moonlight, he looked at both of us in the bottom bunks and muttered, “Well, crap.” Then he kicked off his shoes, and climbed the ladder into the bunk above mine, shaking the entire bed as he did. I don’t think he noticed Jo’s state of undress. Or if he did, he had the good manners not to stare. Unlike myself, I thought.
Sleep came quickly for Jack. I heard his light snores start soon.
Sleep evaded me for a long time.
The next morning, I woke to find Jo gone, her bed neatly made. Jack was still asleep in the bunk above me. I got up, pulled on some shorts and went out into the kitchen. I could see Sara was out on the front porch with a cup of coffee, so I got myself one from the steaming pot in the kitchen and joined her.
“You guys have fun on the boardwalk?” I asked.
“We did! How about you? Did y-o-o-o-u-u-u have fun?” she asked, waggling her eyebrows at me.
“Stop it Sara. I’m trying to be good with Jo. Besides I think she’s out of my league anyway. She’s like a badass, soldier-woman, rock-star and I’m just a nerdy, computer geek, art chick,” I said.
Just then Jo turned the corner a few streets down and came jogging toward us at a clip I doubt I’d be able to manage for more than a block. She was wearing a pair of black nylon running shorts, a matching sports bra and some kind of huge running watch. She was covered in sweat and she slowed as she approached the house.
“Got to get your five miles every day ladies,” she said, breathing only a little hard and clicking a control on her watch. As she walked past us into the house, she slapped me on the shoulder hard enough that I jumped. She said, “Glad to see you aren’t down for the count with a hangover, Doran.” As she opened the door and headed inside, I turned and followed her with my eyes. I turned back to find myself totally busted by Sara.
“S-u-u-u-r-e you’re trying to be good,” she teased me, then stopped smiling. “Remember Jill. Careful there,” she said.
I turned back to the street and sipped my coffee, blushing.
The rest of the day was much like the first day in Cape May. We packed up the bus, got to Rehoboth’s festival at ten, set up and the band started their show at noon. Jo had checked out the crowd and felt the band could stick to the normal nineties fare they preferred. She had them kick off their set with One Thing Leads To Another by The Fixx.
When I crept in front of the stage to deliver water, I got another ‘foot-bump’ from Jo while she was jamming to In A Big Country. Apparently, the foot-bump was our thing.
We were packed up and on the road by three in the afternoon with Jack behind the wheel. Jo was practically bouncing off the walls after the show. She kept trying to goad Steve into a pull-up contest on the handrails running along the ceiling of the bus. Steve had the good sense not to accept her challenge, but apparently Larry did not.
I was absolutely dumbfounded, watching as she easily paced Larry on every one of his pull-ups, talking trash to him the whole time.
“C’mon Lawrence, watch your form, back straight! Remember, they don’t count if your head doesn’t bump the roof!” she said as she slowly and deliberately followed Larry back up on rep sixteen.
“Jesus Christ!” he grunted as he fell off the bar.
Jo grinned and just hung there from the ceiling. “C’mon little bro, I’ll let you jump in and take up his count. I won’t even rest. Let’s go!”
“Babe, you gonna let your big sis embarrass you like this?” Sara was laughing at Steve.
Steve groaned and got off the couch, “Fine, but I’m not betting you anything!” He jumped up and grabbed the bar.
He managed ten with Jo mirroring him, then dropped off as well. Jo laughed with delight, did a couple more to rub it in then looked over at me.
“What about you, Doran? How many you got in you?”
“That would be none, thanks,” I laughed.
“Johns? Alvarez? Ready to go, ladies?” Receiving nothing but rueful shakes of heads from Sara and Suzanne, Jo dropped off the bar and stretched her arms.
Jack called back from the driver’s seat, “You’re just lucky I’m driving Jo!”
Jo grinned ferociously and said, “No worries, Vance. We’ll go when you pull us into OC.”
“Damn it!” Jack joked back.
~~ Ocean City, Maryland ~~
Jo hadn’t been lying, our house in Ocean City was truly amazing. It had five bedrooms, three bathrooms casino firmaları and a panoramic view of the ocean from the living areas. A deck was outside the living room with a pool and steps down from the deck right onto the sand of the beach. Out in the sand in front of the house there were four Adirondack chairs and six or seven sections of a huge log cut into stools arranged in a circle around a big fire pit. The house was separated from the water by about a hundred yards of sand.
Everyone had their own bedroom this time, with Steve and Sara, and Suzanne and Larry upstairs and the rest of us on the back part of the house away from the ocean. By the time I got my stuff in my room, and wandered out to the living area the guys were in the kitchen joking around. I saw that Sara, Jo and Suzanne were already sitting in the chairs on the beach watching the ocean so I walked out to join them.
“Now were living, Doran,” Jo said and indicated a chair next to her. She had pulled them out of the circle to face the ocean in a line.
“I can’t believe this is like two hours from D.C. and I’ve never been here,” I said.
“Yeah, this is a great beach. I hope the waves die down some tomorrow though,” Sara said. “I read that a tropical storm went up the coast off-shore this week and that’s why it’s so rough.”
We sat discussing what we wanted to do with our free time the next few days while we watched the few surfers out braving the waves, which were breaking about six or seven feet high along the shore. Sara wanted to go to shopping, Jo told us about a go-kart place down towards the boardwalk that had ten or eleven different tracks, while Suzanne talked about finding a spa to get a pedicure.
I looked down the beach to the right and saw an empty lifeguard tower several hundred yards away with a big red flag on it.
“What does the red flag mean?” I asked, pointing down the beach.
“It means go in the water at your own risk. The lifeguards aren’t on duty after five, so we missed them by half an hour,” Suzanne said.
“Tomorrow’s show at Secrets is going to be really fun you guys,” Jo told Sara and me, “They have a stage directly on the beach on the intercostal waterway side. Everyone gets to dance on the sand.”
Suzanne nodded in agreement. “Playing on the big stage there is the closest we get to a full-blown arena show experience.”
“That sounds cool. You guys will have to do some long solos so Steve can come down and dance with me,” Sara said.
“Ha ha. No one dances to a ten-minute guitar solo,” Jo replied. “Besides, I’m not Emerson, Lake and Palmer.”
“Who?” asked Sara.
“Oh my god I’m old,” Jo grumped and slumped back in her chair. Then she took on a serious look. “But what we should really be talking about Johns, is when are you going to make an honest man of my brother. You know, stop living in sin and marry him?”
Sara froze and stared wordlessly back at Jo who burst into laughter.
“Oh my GOD did you bite hard on that!” Suzanne said, laughing as well. She exchanged a high-five with Jo.
Sara flushed and grinned. “I suppose I did. It’s not MY job to ask HIM you know!”
Jo continued joking with Sara, “C’mon Johns, we’re all liberated women. We don’t have to stand for the hidebound traditions of the patriarchy, we can…” she stopped suddenly and sat bolt upright.
“What’s…” I started to say but Jo was up and moving faster than I could believe. She had swept off her hat and sunglasses and was sprinting towards the water.
“Call 9-1-1 and get sea rescue out here!” She shouted over her shoulder as she accelerated away from us towards the shore.
The three of us sat frozen for a split-second, then Sara jumped up and ran towards the house yelling, “I’ll get a phone!” as Suzanne and I sprang to our feet.
We started running after Jo, but she was easily pulling away from us. She swept past a group of surfers taking a break in the sand at the high tide line, who had their surfboards planted tails first in the beach. Jo barely slowed as she grabbed one of the boards out of the sand and ran into the surf with it as the owner yelled, “Hey, what the fuck?” and jumped up to go after her.
Jo hesitated a split second to time a six-foot breaker, then dove under the curl of it with the surfboard held out in front of her like a spear. She submerged under the wave, and as it crashed down I saw her come up on the board on the far side of the wave and start to paddle furiously.
That was when I noticed there was a person bobbing out in the ocean about a hundred yards out past the breakers, way past most of the other surfers. And they were struggling. A red and white surfboard bobbed on the tops of the waves, but it was about thirty yards to the swimmer’s left, and was being carried further away from them.
Jo was paddling furiously, while Suzanne and I watched helplessly from the edge of the water, the group of surfers güvenilir casino gathered around us. The guy protesting about Jo stealing his board had stopped complaining immediately as soon as they had figured out what was going on. I heard his friend murmur, “I don’t know if she’s going to make it in time, I think he’s about to go under.” Jo was closing the gap fast.
The person went under. They came back up, then went down again. Then came up again for a moment and as they started down once more, Jo arrived and coasted to a stop next to them. We watched her slide off to one side of the board, reach across it, grab him by the shoulder of the wet suit and haul him up onto the board. Everyone gave audible noises of relief. It looked like a boy as best as I could tell from the distance, maybe in his mid-teens.
Jo steadied the kid on the board and began stroking back to the beach with her left hand, while holding onto the board with her right. It was very slow going. In fact, she wasn’t making any progress at all. She was having to hold the kid on the board, and looked like she couldn’t get much momentum as the waves battered them around.
Just then Steve and Larry arrived with Sara right on their heels and Jack following some distance behind, talking into his phone. “What’s going on, where’s Jo?” Steve shouted as he got to the shore.
Suzanne pointed out to sea. “She’s out there! That guy was in trouble! She got him on the board, but it looks like it’s too rough for her to pull him in!”
“Goddamn it!” Steve swore and kicked off his shoes while tearing off his shirt. Two of the surfers unfroze and ran up to grab their boards. Steve was ready to run into the surf when Larry grabbed his arm. “Wait, Steve look!” and pointed.
A red beach patrol Sea-Doo was approaching fast, roaring up from the south, with a ten-foot long yellow float towed behind it bouncing over the waves. The driver was scanning the shoreline, trying to find the location the call had come from. We all started waving and jumping up and down until we got his attention as he zoomed in towards the shore, then we started yelling and pointing out towards Jo. If anything, I thought she and the kid were further out now.
The lifeguard stood up on his Sea-Doo, and then spotted them. He sat down and gunned the engine and was out to them in seconds. Jo helped the kid onto the float, and then pulled herself up onto it. Painfully, it looked like.
The driver carefully headed back into shore, as I heard ambulance sirens approaching in the distance. The Sea-Doo approached the beach and the driver paused, looking for a break in the crashing waves. He waited for an opening then gunned it though the breakers, running the craft right up onto the beach. Jo, who had been lying on top of the kid holding him onto the float, rolled off to land with a splat on her back in the wet sand, chest heaving, the surf rolling up to her waist. I rushed in with Steve to help her.
As we both reached for an arm she yelled, “Don’t! Don’t pull, I hurt my shoulder.” She rolled over and got up to one knee, holding her right arm tight against her body with her left hand while we helped her stand up.
The kid was still on the float, being tended to by the beach patrol driver. He had blood streaming down his face from a cut in the middle of an egg-sized lump on his forehead.
Steve held Jo carefully, helping her remain upright. She was clearly drained.
Steve pulled back and looked at his sister with concern. “You okay, sis?”
Jo took a few more deep breaths. “Yeah, I think so.” She gently rotated her shoulder and hissed in pain. “I don’t think I tore anything, just wrenched it really bad it going through the first wave and then I had to grit my teeth and paddle.” She looked over at the kid. “I saw him wipeout. His board hit him in the head, and I guess his tether broke or came loose because I saw the board shoot away from him. I knew he was fucked.”
“Jesus Jo, thank god you were here,” Steve said and gently hugged her.
Then he pulled away again, grinned and said, “You know you can’t count this towards your record, right?”
“Shut up, little brother,” Jo said, but not unkindly.
She looked at the rest of us and said, “I don’t know about you guys, but I need dinner, an ice pack and a drink, not necessarily in that order”
Jo sucked in air through her teeth as she shrugged painfully, trying to get the ice pack taped to her shoulder to settle into a more comfortable position. After her ocean adventure, Suzanne had helped her get her wet clothes off, shower and change into dry short and a t-shirt. They had ordered a couple of pizzas from Dough Rollers and had a quiet evening sitting around the living room of the beach house. Everyone seemed a little stunned by the events of the day.
“Hey Larry, can you freshen this up for me?” Jo asked, clinking the ice in her empty glass. The boys had made a supply run to pick up the pizza and some ice packs and ace bandages. Jo had handed Steve some bills and asked him to pick up a bottle of Gentleman Jack, Limited Edition, “The big size!” She was currently holding out her glass with her left hand so Larry could give her a refill.