This is a romance with a touch of loving wives in the mix. Many thanks primarily to Dinsmore and also Crazysoundguy for patience and expert help and advice with edits and writing. As per usual, the characters are invented and bear no intentional resemblance to actual persons alive or deceased. All intercourse is consensual and between individuals over the age of eighteen. This is a story about chasing inner peace after escaping a flawed relationship and lifestyle to a simpler, more compatible existence. If you've read my other work, you'll see a pattern. I like the first love theme and I like the sense of seeking a simpler, more basic existence. There is sex interspersed throughout but you'll need to read a while to get there. At the end of the day, let's all try to end the massive consumption of non-renewable energy and seek better ways to live on our planet.
Chris Black lounged in the Adirondack chair, enjoying the late spring sun on the deck of the cottage. Away from all the crap of the past week, he was starting to relax. The loons were going through the timeless rite of spring. He closed his eyes and just listened. He had always enjoyed the haunting sounds of the loons, coming with his family year after year to the cottage on the lake. The wild, lonely cry of the loon was etched into his formative years. The long, lonely sliding wail was part of what had brought him back here, this time for good.
Chris was the sole owner of the cottage now. His parents had been tragically killed by a drunk driver on their way home from here five years ago. Neither his older brother nor younger sister had been interested in the place. They both had young families and lived too far away to have the time or freedom to use the place. They had readily agreed that Chris could have the cottage outright while they split the proceeds from the sale of their parents' house.
For the first couple of seasons, the cottage held many raw reminders for Chris and his visits were often bitter sweet. The quiet moments had usually found him reflecting on their memory. Sometimes the memories had been fond. Sometimes the memories had been a harsh reminder of the raw senselessness of the drunken idiot who wiped them off the planet. Now, five years on, the ache of their passing had dulled and he found the cottage had re-acquired the mellow feel that helped him relax.
Probably to avoid thinking back too much, Chris had put his energy into looking ahead by making the cottage 'green'. The remoteness of the location often resulted in long periods without electricity in heavy weather and Chris had taken decided to go 'off the grid' with a combination of wind, solar and hydro-electric power. He had started with a small wind turbine and a fairly large array of solar panels to charge the deep cycle batteries that powered the cottage's electrical system.
Last year, he had added a homemade hydro-electric power plant to the system by suspending a small turbine in a small but fast moving stream that ran along the northern edge of the property. The flow of the stream was strong enough that it rarely froze over enough to stop the turbine so he had a mostly year-round system. This had proved to be a windfall. The turbine more than filled the gap left by the other two sources at night or during calm periods so he was completely self-sufficient. Rarely did he have to worry about conserving the battery life anymore. As a precaution, he had bought a portable gasoline generator but so far had only started it as part of the regular maintenance routine.
Through inverters, Chris ran regular appliances: a fridge, microwave, coffee machine, water pump, TV, satellite TV/internet receiver, stereo and his laptop. The lights were all twelve-volt DC units from a local RV dealer. A large capacity propane tank supplied fuel for the water heater, the kitchen range and an outdoor barbeque. He was working on a system for solar water heating in hopes that he could eventually get rid of the water heater too. The gas range and barbeque were his one concession to non-renewable energy; he liked to be able to cook a real meal whenever he wanted. A woodstove for cooking was too impractical for low input meals and heated the cottage too much in the summer months.
This end of the lake had never seen a phone cable, but the nearest cell tower was clearly visible at night as blinking lights on the horizon so Chris' cell phone worked quite well for traditional communications --- when he turned it on. Mostly, he only turned it on when he made calls or was expecting a call. Otherwise, he left it turned off.
He had completely insulated the cottage, replacing the single glaze windows and wooden exterior doors with modern, high efficiency units. In the winter, he heated the place with an automated corn burning furnace. A farmer out near town delivered several tons of corn to a gravity bin Chris' had salvaged. The corn would flow out of the bottom of the bin through a tube into a small hopper beside the furnace where an electric auger would directly feed the firebox in response to the thermostat. The furnace had a small boiler option to supply hot water that Chris was planning to use in the winter when the sun probably couldn't get the water hot enough for his shower.
Chris was enjoying the early spring rays. He and his parents before him had stuck with a natural approach to managing the wild environment of the property. With selective pruning, he could see the wide expanse of lake out front but from a boat out on the lake people had trouble making out the shape of the cottage amongst the trees. The shape of the terrain on this point of land jutting out into the lake gave his property a long, winding stretch of shoreline. Off to one side at the shore was a garage that acted as a dry boathouse. Next to it was the spot where he would put the dock out when the water temperature was a bit nicer. He liked to fish and he had a well-equipped bass boat that was always ready at the dock when the weather was warmer.
The cottage wasn't totally isolated but he couldn't see another soul right now. He had neighbors on both sides. The neighbor to the north was on the other side of a rock outcropping that formed the bank of his hydro-electric stream and he could not see the buildings on that property. To the south, there was a small cottage similar to his own that he could see through the trees. As far as he knew, it had not been inhabited for at least fifteen years. When he was a kid, it had been built by a family --- the Farnsworths --- who had a daughter, Megan, about his age. They would spend about a month of the summer enjoying the lake. He had swum, paddled and played with Megan for a few summers before the awkwardness of teenage years had changed their interests and then her family had stopped coming. Neither family had kept in touch and he didn't know who owned the property now.
The lack of population suited Chris very well right now. He didn't particularly want people in his space at the moment.
Permanent residency at the cottage was not in his original plan for this week --- far from it. He had been on an upwardly mobile career path with a large IT firm in the city. His six-figure salary and stock options afforded him a nice lifestyle that included a city center condo with a decent view and a live-in girlfriend of four years. Just before Christmas his whole life had begun to unravel. As he sat listening to the loons, his thoughts turned inwards and the events replayed again, almost as if they were on live TV.
It was like there had been a cosmic force pulling on that one annoying loose thread of the sweater of his life. His company, like many others, had been forced to scrutinize the timing of stock options offered to senior management.
By offering senior management stock options and then backdating the transaction to hit a low stock price, the senior managers would realize a healthy, illegal bonus. That bonus was the difference between the value of their 10,000 or 100,000 share option then and now. Some of the differences were as much as $2 per share so the managers in question were getting an additional $20,000 to $200,000 in illegal, untaxed bonuses.
Chris hadn't been far enough up the corporate food chain to benefit from the back-dated options. After a couple of months, the legal wrangling and bad press took their toll on the market's interest in the company's shares and he had become one of the victims. His nest egg of 10,000 shares had dropped about $100,000 in value overnight and had continued to slide slowly backwards.
If that had been the only problem, then he would have been frustrated but life would have gone on. No, the thread was still being pulled and the sweater of his life continued to unravel. The company was forced to downsize to absorb the cost of the forensic audit, SEC penalties and loss of share capital.
His spot in the corporate food chain meant that he could be declared redundant and his boss would be pushed to step in to manage his team. In the blink of an eye on an equally nice spring day a few days ago, he was given a severance agreement and a box to pack his personal things. A security guard supervised, keeping him from further accessing his computer and making him surrender his security access passes, corporate credit card and parking pass. When everything was in order, he was discreetly escorted to the parking garage via the service elevator.
Now you see him. Now you don't. Another anonymous statistic.
Of course he had a decent severance package --- a whole year's salary plus this year's stock option performance bonus before they cashed out his stock. With that added, at least the stock package was back up to the pre-fiasco value. Chris figured they were being generous because the company couldn't afford the bad press of any more legal battles. He hadn't even been forced to sign a non-competition agreement to keep him from selling his knowledge to one of their competitors. Chris reflected wryly on this thought --- he had already used 'their' instead of 'our' to refer to the competitors.
I guess this means I'm not too broken up about it, thought Chris. Still, as the automatic lock had clicked behind him, Chris had wondered if anything else could go wrong.
He extricated his car from the parking garage using the temporary pass the security guard had given him to activate the gate. Fortunately, the parking attendant had been replaced by an automated barrier system so he didn't have to endure the embarrassed but knowing look from the cashier as he left the parking structure for the last time. Now instead of a wry smile, it was just a jerky salute from an impersonal mechanical arm covered with yellow safety tape. Traffic was lighter at midday and he was home before he knew it.
As he parked his car in the condo's parking garage beside Claire's car he wondered "what is she doing home on a workday?"
Absorbed in his own issues and wondering how to break to the news to her, he wasn't paying attention as he walked from the elevator to the condo and unlocked the door. He put his box of personal stuff down, took off his jacket and tie and put his keys in the dish by the door as usual. As he wandered into the kitchen for a beer, wondering where his girlfriend was, he noticed muted cries coming from down the hall.
"What the hell?" thought Chris as he headed down the hall. The bedroom door was open a crack and he stopped dead at the sight within the room. This was the last unraveling tug on the thread of his life. Claire was on her back with her feet up on the shoulders of her boss. He was drilling her very wet and newly shaved pussy, grunting each time his balls slapped her ass. When had she shaved? She'd never done that for him. They had probably been at it for a while because they were both sweating and his girlfriend was panting and crying out as her orgasm approached. He noticed all of this in about ten seconds peering through the crack of the door. Before Chris could react, both of them started grunting, moaning and incoherently thrashing about as they tipped over the edge of their mutual orgasms. With all her writhing around, his dick slipped from her sloppy cunt. He grabbed his cock, using his hand to pump the last couple of jets of cum onto her flat stomach and small tits.
That was the final affront that galvanized Chris into action. He kicked open the door and yelled, "BOTH OF YOU, GET YOUR ASSES OUT OF HERE." The startled couple jerked and stared at Chris.
His now ex-girlfriend recovered her senses first. "WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU DOING HOME?" she yelled.
In a moment of clarity Chris noted she had no sense of remorse or even alarm at being caught. Instead, she was clearly pissed at him for showing up and messing up her fun.
"I got fired. Where else would I go?" said Chris in a flat, dead voice. "Now get the fuck out of my condo and take this sorry sack of shit with you."
Chris headed back to the kitchen and opened the beer he had left sitting on the counter. As the lovers went past him, Chris had one more thought, thanks to the security guard at his office.
"Give me your condo keys and garage pass card. You can drive your car out of the garage now and you won't get back in. Have your friend Ann call to arrange a time for you to pick up your things. Don't even bother to try to call me yourself."
"Fine. Have it your way. Here asshole." She handed him the keys and pass. "Come on Frank, we're going." Her boss meekly followed her out the front door, casting one last furtive glance at Chris to see if he was following them.
As the adrenalin surge drained from his system, Chris was left with an empty feeling. He slowly deflated. Settling heavily on the couch, he wondered how long trysts like that had been going on. His girlfriend worked at an insurance company and Chris had a vague sense that she had been going on more out of town skills development courses in the last couple of years than in the first two years of their relationship. She even 'had to go' on one or two of those courses when they had planned to go to the cottage. On those occasions, he had gone solo to the cottage. Maybe she didn't care for the cottage and found that a convenient way to have the condo to herself for her trysts while he was at the lake?
Could it have been going on that long? Does it really matter?
He realized he wasn't particularly sad or lonely. He just felt empty. Unemployed and single again, all in the same day. Shit, that was fast. What now? Supper --- that's it. Food conquers all. He pre-heated the oven and cooked a frozen pizza. A couple more beers to wash it down and he went off to clean up the place and throw out all of the soiled bedding. Screw her if it was her favorite quilt and sheet set.
Sitting on the deck replaying those events, he recalled that the decision to sell the condo and high tail it out of the city had come pretty easily and naturally. He and his girlfriend had maintained separate financial affairs, sharing payment of expenses rather than using a joint bank account. Thanks to his parents' estate and his decent salary, Chris solely owned the condo. They hadn't been together long enough to have any legal implications so their split was complete immediately.
Ann had called him the next day and arranged to come over with 'the ex' to remove her stuff. When that was done, Chris listed the condo for sale with the remaining furniture. He had packed his clothes, entertainment system, music collection and a few other things into his car and driven straight to the cottage. Within the space of a week he went from middle manager cosmopolitan city condo dweller to unemployed cottage country resident.
He had settled quickly in to the cottage, slipping on the pleasant surroundings like an old, faded and very comfortable sweater; one without any loose threads to pull apart.
The condo sold fairly quickly and with that money plus his severance package he made some investments that would support him modestly if he didn't go crazy. He also went into the local town and traded his year old luxury sports sedan for even money on a new four by four pickup that was much better suited to winter driving out here.
To bring in extra money, he had some business assets from his previous life that he could use as well. He had been burned badly by a computer virus a few years ago. After that, he had been fastidious at work about backing up vital stuff from his computer, not just with the services provided by the internal IT support group but by using a series of DVD-Rs that he took home. As a result of that paranoia, he had a copy of all of his business contacts, documents and e-mails.
Another happenstance had unexpectedly given him another, even better asset. A year ago, he had reason to suspect one of the other middle managers was thieving his ideas. To protect his work, he had started keeping his product ideas and development notes in folders outside the realm of his regular documents and off the IT central backup list. In a burst of intuition, he had managed to delete those key folders from his laptop as he pretended to concentrate for a second while the security guard was knocking on his door. He was pretty sure no one would have looked for those extra folders when the rest of his documents, spreadsheets, product forecasts, correspondence and so on were still intact on the computer.
Chris bought a new laptop and loaded all his stuff onto it. With his contact list, he went trolling for interest among the former competitors. His plan was to do enough tele-consulting to establish a reasonable income. As the e-mails filtered in, one of his counterparts at the main competitor was obviously interested. They agreed to meet at a halfway point in a nearby town and discuss the potential. It was a huge success. He sketched out one or two ideas as bait and his new associate bit on them. They quickly struck a deal to put Chris on a retainer for six months to test the arrangement. Driving back from that meeting, Chris was very pleased with how well it had gone. He almost never encountered traffic on the last mile or so of his road, especially in the off season so he swerved in surprise when he came upon a blond woman jogging towards him in the road. Chris was busy avoiding the ditch as she waved and continued without breaking her stride.
She was already out of sight around the corner when Chris scanned the mirrors. Where had she come from, he wondered? He hadn't seen any human activity along the road yet this spring. He concluded she must have been doing an exploratory loop from one of the other properties further around the lake. He made a mental note to be a little more alert in future.
He had a comfortable routine of solo existence. He liked the routine. Up at a reasonable hour, breakfast, coffee on the deck, scan the news on the net, make the rounds to check on his energy systems and do a bit of consulting until lunch. After lunch, another coffee on the deck or down by the lake and back for a couple more hours of consulting before supper. After supper, at least while the nights were cool and the biting insects were in full swarm, he surfed the web and watched TV. He would scan his favorite channels or surf the web for stories and pictures to fuel his imagination and his right hand.
A couple of days after his encounter with the mystery woman on the road, he noticed a light in the window of the cottage to the south.
That's interesting, he thought. Maybe someone has finally renewed an interest in the old place.
He decided he would keep an eye out to see if they were out and around so he could introduce himself and see if he could get a sense of their right to be in the place. He felt he should be a little protective just in case someone was taking advantage of the remote location to use the cottage without permission.