Lady Painting at the BeachbyEgmontGrigor2011©
Grumpy Bastard as he was called by some, usually miffed opponents, at the golf club when he was more or less out of earshot while others knew him by his more regular name of Bob Hill, stepped on to the sands of Bob's Beach (all other locals knew it as Sandy Cove) and he stopped in shock.
A woman wearing only a bikini bottom was seated on a stool twenty yards away at an easel painting. Judging by the almost lack of no breast droop, not that he was a connoisseur or professional bra fitter, Bob thought she'd be no older than thirty, perhaps a bit more.
He kept clear of her by a good 20 feet, eyes focused straight ahead. He'd usually said good morning to everyone, even dogs, but not to this trollop.
"Good morning Mr Hill."
"There's only you and me on the beach at this hour (5:20 am). How romantic."
Grumpy Bastard was never short of a response, so beat his chest with both hands and grunted, "Me Tarzan. Good morning Jane."
Yes she giggled. Bob was under the impression females stopped giggling at the age of seventeen.
"Come and check on my progress."
Bob swallowed and had the urge to run but Bob Hill had never ran from anything in his life. Bare-chested, he hitched up his black shorts, pulled in his belly and puffed out his chest and walked up to her who'd used his name.
She giggled (yes giggled) and said, "You don't remember me do you?"
She bent back a little and her chest puffed out, a lot. Bob's mind turned to putty.
"I er don't believe so."
"Nikki Wells. I grew up her and you taught me to swim and to row your dinghy."
Christ she was Young Nikki, his favorite of all the kids who'd regularly frequented the beach in his younger days.
The Hill family had farmed the area for four generations. Bob's late father had been a lazy bastard and found farming wasn't making him rich enough and so with the city only ten miles away, applied for planning approval to subdivide half the farm off in housing sections. The council said no but would approve the scheme if it were extended to allow a public road being put through the remainder of the farm to provide public access to Sandy Cove and the ownership of the sands above high water mark be transferred to the council as a public reserve plus enough land being gifted for public toilets and dressing sheds.
Bob's greedy father agreed providing the council paid all costs and the cost of developing the main road through the proposed subdivision and the council conceded. Bob's parents were killed in a train crash in India a year ago, making their only child a very wealthy landowner because at that stage all but ten acres of the farm fronting the western end of the beach had been subdivided and sites were ready for sale.
"Ah Nikki, you had stayed in the UK after graduating in fine arts."
"True but I'm here now, arriving three days ago. I married an art dealer, the biggest mistake of my life. He was lost most of his money gambling and operated his business from rented premises so I got fuck-all from the divorce apart of half of the proceeds of the sale of our modest apartment that had a hefty mortgage on it."
Bob wasn't sure a young lady should use the term fuck-all but said he was sorry and she said it was okay. She expressed regret he'd lost his wife (drove off the highway at speed when drunk) and he said that was okay and she said, "Kiss me."
Carefully placing his hands behind his back, Bob leaned over and kissed her.
"God are you nervous of me dressed like this?"
"No," said Tarzan.
He diverted her by looking at the painting taking shape.
"God this is beginning to look really good."
"I painting this beach many times in England off my photographs taken over the years and they always sold better than most other of my landscapes. Um I'm grown up now as you can see. Is it okay to call you Bob?"
"Yes of course Nikki. Paint me one of the cove during a big storm and I'll buy it."
"I'm not seeking charity."
"Then forget it."
"I'll paint it and give it to you."
"Bob don't be so grumpy. You gave me countless hours of your time teaching me to swim, to row a boat, to ride your horse, to fish. God I should have married you."
"Ha, you were just a kid."
"Yeah but my parents were nervous about me spending so much time with you."
"Well all that associating with a dirty old groping man helped you turn out as a beautiful, charming lady."
"You never ever touched me, how can you suggest that?"
"Your mother thought so and your father warned me off several times and I told him to let you run wild and he'd end up with a decent kid who was not like your two insipid brothers. Then one day I goaded him a little too much. We fought, going at it for about ten minutes before he ran out of puff. He took the first swing and I yelled body blows only and he agreed because as he didn't want to be asked what had happened to his face."
"But my father is bigger than you."
"Yeah but in the fight Gerald was slower, not as fit and had a beer belly. He still doesn't talk to me."
Nikki sighed and said her father could be stubborn like that and he never said he was sorry even if proved wrong.
"Why are you painting almost in the nude, oh and great tits by the way?"
She laughed and said she was glad he appeared to be thawing.
"I'm painting like this to feel free. It's warm here. You have no idea knowing what it's like living in a city like Liverpool."
"No and that's an experience I'd prefer to miss but I'd like to walk through Scotland one day."
Bob sighed. "People will soon be arriving here with their dogs so best you put your top on. If you want to walk about free completely nude and without a finger being placed on you, come and live with me."
Nikki stared at him.
"Do you really mean that?"
"I guess so. No I do mean it, even if you decide to come for only a few hours a day."
"Mum is already complaining that I'm too messy about the house and dad complains I have my music up too loud."
"Then pack your bags and phone and I'll collect you. Tell them where you're going and have the row rather than have it later when they find out where you're living. You'll be in control by doing that, having them on the back foot."
Nikki challenged, "Aren't you going to suggest wait two days till I've had time to think this through and then trial it for a week?"
"Do you want me that badly?"
"I'd appreciate your company. I rattle around in the house alone."
Nikki thought about the 60-year-old farmhouse with pokey windows and thought it was dark and dreary inside and that was incentive to get outside and look for something to do. That would be the reason why he was out walking so early.
He checked the sky and said, "Well I'm off as I have a meeting in the city. Oh, don't tell your dad this but he and his two partners are tenants in one of my buildings. He doesn't know as far as I'm aware because I purchased it several months ago via a nominee company so please don't tell him otherwise he might blow a boiler and try to get out of the lease."
"But mum and I visited him in the Bach Building yesterday. It's probably the most glamorous building in the city and he's ever so proud of having the top floor."
"Yeah well they pay through the nose for that privilege. I felt the need to tell you so that you enjoy the irony of it."
"Oh I do. Did you buy the building knowing they occupied the premium floor?"
"Yes and every time I pass that building I smile at the thought. Your father loathes me."
"Have you ever screwed my mother?"
Bob kept his smile but waved goodbye and said, "There are some questions you ought never ask darling."
Omigod, Nikki thought. Bob Hill had screwed her mum to get back at her father for carrying a grudge. He was either horribly nasty or weirdly interesting and without thinking about it, she thought it was probably the latter.
"Hi mum," Nikki said, stopping at the TV room.
Her mum was watching The Breakfast Show and waved a hand feebly without taking her eyes off the screen. Her dad would be in their bathroom shaving, listening to the blaring TV in the bedroom.
She went to her room and closing the door turned up the speakers and let the music rip.
A few minutes later her dad banged on the door and yelled, "Breakfast and turn off that fucking din."
Nikki went to breakfast after turning off the music and sat at the table and said brightly, "Good morning family."
Her father grunted and her mother said Shhhh."
Nikki got up and brought back coffee and leaning against the bench switched off the TV.
"Hey we are watching that?"
"Poof dad, it's only noisy ads. I have an announcement to make."
She watched the color of her father's face darken as she said, "I met Bob Hill on his beach this morning..."
"It's everyone's beach, a public beach," snarled his father and a bunch of us are thinking about getting the name of this subdivision changed from being called Hills Farm."
Ignoring that, Nikki continued. "As I said we got talking and he appeared to be so lively and interesting that I asked could I move in with him. Some discussion followed and he finally said yes."
Her mother began crying and her father glowered and said, "I always knew Bob Hill couldn't keep his hands off you."
"I think you misunderstand dad. I mean I'm going to reside in his home, an alternative to residing here where I'm obviously not appreciated. You and mum don't put your hands on me just because I reside with you."
"That's baloney and you know it. That guy has reputedly seduced some of the most desirable women in the city."
Nikki glanced at her mother who was sitting with her mouth hanging open and presumably thinking she was in the city's desirable screwing set.
"Close your mouth Dianne or else you'll catch a fly," said her husband. "Say something to your wayward daughter."
"Nikki I really don't think..."
"Can it mum. I'm going and that's decided. Please think kindly of me and call me at times for a chat. As for you dad, I'll resume talking to you when you resume to having a normal relationship with Bob."
"What the hell do you mean girl?"
"I'm not a girl. I'm thirty-one years old. I swore to you all those years ago that Bob Hill never, never laid a finger on me or even looked as if he would and I repeat that oath: Bob Hill has never touched me sexually or said dirty things to me."
"Well he's bound to try you on now."
"Well if he does go after me now, so what dad? We are consenting adults. May I ask who else besides mum have you been screwed?"
Gerald lost it.
"Shut your mouth you vindictive girl. Just because you've lost your husband you have no need to slur other people including your own father. Tell her Dianne."
Dianne, looking at her husband oddly, said, "I'll talk to you later about that so-called slur and this clearly is not the time to talk to you about becoming friendly with Bob Hill again. And Nikki surely I don't need to tell you how unhappy I am about you going to live in that mansion. The whole city will be talking about you."
Mansion? Was her mum also losing it? And who would care if people talking about them hoping there was a scandal involved? She could effectively shut her mum up and turn the heat off her but uttering just a few words, 'I've heard something about Bob Hill and you mum."
"Well I've had enough of this baloney, I'm off to the office," snarled her father.
Nikki knew she could practically give her father heart seizure by saying, 'Oh daddy darling are you aware the nominee company owning that building you occupy is a front for the owner who is your dear friend Bob Hill?' Jesus no she couldn't do that because it might stop his heart.
Her father slammed the door into the garage and the motor of the Mercedes roared and her mum wept and said, "Nikki I don't want you to go."
"I know mum. Oh have you ever thought about you and Bob doing it? I know he's a bit younger than you."
"I have no idea what you are talking about darling," lied her mother ever so perfectly. "I'll help you pack. We can still go out for coffee can't we?"
"Of course and still do other mother-daughter things. The only change that is happening is I'll be sleeping elsewhere."
"Will you sleep with him?"
"That has yet to be decided. He might be told old for sex."
"He's not, he's..."
Nikki pounced and asked, "Yes mum?"
"I was just thinking he has years and years of sex life ahead of him."
"Mum, it he does ask me to sleep with him what should I say?"
"Just be yourself Nikki and think carefully and remember there's a nine-year age gap between you two."
"Oh is that all?"
Dianne smiled and Nikki was pleased her mother had been open about this and wasn't displaying any sign of jealously.
"I'll begin thinking about the consequences of any such action mum, I promise."
Nikki kissed her mother who patted her on the back and said, "You always were a good girl Nikki and I now accept he never mistreated you because if he had, a pattern would have been set and you two would be over there screwing right now."
Dianne remained out of sight when Bob rolled up in his red 2003 standard 6-speed Corvette he'd had since new and had no intention of updating.
He eyed all the luggage and rolled down the window and said, "Give me ten minutes and I'll return in a freight vehicle."
"Don't I rate a kiss?"
Bob drove off reasonably sedately and returned within 10 minutes in a black Range Rover. It swallowed the luggage.
There was a road where the track to the house had been with houses already occupied or partly built.
They drove on and Dianne looked back.
"The old house is now located on a farm in the country," Bob drawled. "Dad kept 110-acres on the western end of the beachfront and had a house built to mum's specs. It's a magnificent site and gets sun all day on sunny days and is sheltered by Jim's Hill from the cold southerlies coming up from the Southern Ocean.. And this time of year of course we get warm winds coming down from the tropics. You will be used to things being the opposite, coming from the northern hemisphere."
"Yes well it's not been difficult to adjust. I noticed the Corvette had been converted to right-hand drive."
He grinned and asked was she thinking of driving it and she just grinned.
They drove through a stone gateway with the sign 'Hill Farm' on one side and 'Private Property' on the other and rumbled over a cattle stop.
"Do you have much of a problem with trespassers?"
"No I'm running ninety big steers and city folk think they are bulls. That does the trick and I also have a guard dog roaming the grounds of the house at night."
They breasted the hill and she viewed the magnificence of the bay from that elevation and gasped, having forgotten how dramatic the view was after the passing of years.
Then she looked at the two-level mansion below with a large garden and glasshouse and she gasped, "Nice pad."
They went inside and the sheer luxury of furniture and furnishing almost took her breath away. They climbed the stairs and he said he was putting her in the guest wing.
He didn't appear disappointed there was no protest.
"So you are almost forty and haven't remarried?"
"There was no pressure and there are woman around prepared to lend a hand."
"You mean married women?"
He replied calmly yes because they were generally calmer and sought only a fling whereas generally younger babes focused on marrying into money.
"Which do you really prefer?"
"Married women who've worked out what they like when having sex and know they are not expected to yap all the time."
"But it's adultery?"
"Oh yeah, so it is."
He waited for the next question but none came.
The bedroom suite was lovely and she said so.
She held his arm and faced him. "Bob if you wish I'll sleep with you."
"That's lovely of you but how about this: You come to me looking for sex when you have the desire to have sex with me. That will happen unless you run off to have sex with some other guy."
"Do you wish to see me fully nude now?"
She felt a little silly and was pleased when he held her arm and said she was a lovely woman and there was no need to rush anything. He said to give herself time to learn if she liked him or not and then to go from there.
"Come and go as you wish, just leave me a note. I like the idea of you returning each morning early to paint at the beach. Oh and another thing. We should start soon to plan my fortieth birthday and to decide the guest list."
"Consisting of your lady friends?" she said without malice but wished she hadn't said that.
He said casually, "Of course, at least some of them and their partners, most of whom I know well and your parents of course."
"I suggest you don't even bother inviting my parents."
"Don't you believe that; things will have changed by then."
He just smiled knowingly as if he'd already had possible knowledge of a outcome.
"Will you have the party here?"
He said no, he wanted a full sit-down dinner for fifty to sixty people. You'll be my partner and so this will be regarded as your coming out, perhaps silencing some tongues."
She didn't know what to say.
Oh god, come on think. "That appears well thought out Bob."
He smiled, looking pleased.
Omigod, obviously he was a millionaire and obviously he appeared ready to court her. But why, did he like younger flesh to plunder?
To Nikki's astonishment he explained it.
"My family were the landowners in the years you were four to eighteen living nearby and my parents used to welcome on to their beach the parents and children of local people and friends their visitors. I played with kids my age and helped parents with younger children to supervise them to gain water confidence and to play in my dinghy, you know the sort of thing."
"I can remember that."
"Well you were the one youngster that stood out among them all. You had fire, just the right amount of risk-taking and you were pleasant and athletic and very appreciative of me in helping you to achieve skills. I liked that and began thinking of you as the young sister I never had. And then you went away to college and rarely returned to the beach because you had other people in your life and then I went 280 miles to the south-east to manage dad's big cattle and sheep station on the Central Plateau and only returned here to manage the subdivision development for dad when he and mum went on their world trip that ended in tragedy for them in India."
"Oh yes, that was such a shame as they had so much of good life ahead of them. I of course was living in England when that happened, living unhappily married."
"Well enough of nostalgia, I'm going down to swim. You can join me if you wish."
"You mean down at the beach?"
"No we have a covered lap pool running down the western side of the house."
"Then I won't need a swimsuit?"
"I suggest you do but it's your choice. I swim for fitness and also cycle. I must get you a cycle and women's sports clothing."
"I can pay for that and pay to live here."
"Only if you wish. I have plenty of money."
Nikki said she'd swim with him some other time, that that'd settle into her room. He walked off saying he'd see her later.
Sitting on the bed, Nikki sighed and wondered if she were pleased about what she'd done. She'd only been mildly displeased with the way her parents had been offhand with her and nagged about her noise and untidiness. Well it was their home. By moving in with Bob, she would have pushed that gap between herself and parents much wider, perhaps irreparably so with her father.
Oh hec, what a mess. She began unpacking and in despair began thinking of herself as Bob Hill's live-in tart.