Sandy Ch. 02byBogartsBoss©
I worked the whole July Fourth weekend. Partly it was previously scheduled time, partly filling in for a couple of others so they could have the whole weekend. After all, they would be filling in for me. We only had a couple 'car vs. poles' and neither resulted in major outages, and luckily no one died. (I always hated it when someone was seriously injured, a death was just devastating.)
I got home late, crashed, and slept in on Tuesday. All the way to eight. The kids made sure I woke without actually coming into the room. You know; out in the hall and talking a bit louder than necessary.
While I woke with coffee and a bear claw, I noticed Karen had almost everything crammed into the van, and the kids waiting impatiently. Basically we were ready to go; just waiting for our guest.
About twenty minutes after eight she arrived; all smiles and ready. I couldn't help but notice her legs as she popped out of her car; slim and nicely shaped but no tan at all. She wore well-worn runner's shoes and at the other end of my eye journey were clingy nylon running shorts. She caught me studying her; and with a small smile did a slow turn. "Well, do you think I'm acceptable where we're going?"
With a slight cough and a quick 'ahem' I could only reply with the truth; "You would be acceptable anywhere." Only later did I realize she wore an oversized sweat shirt.
Karen came out of the house, exclaiming; "Oh good, you're here. We can get going. I see you wore shorts. Aren't they just so comfortable for driving?"
That's when I realized Karen also wore her running shorts and shoes. The thought of Karen and her legs next to me as we drove just started percolating in my brain when she announced she would ride with Sandy and lead the way.
Dang! Oh well, I couldn't do anything with the kids in the car. MJ tried calling "Shotgun", but Katie just jumped up front, ignoring her big brother.
Following Karen's lead we headed south and east, into the mountains. Three hours and several course changes later, we arrived. The 'cabin' was a two story, log cabin style chalet. Set back at the tree line, the cabin faced down a gentle grassy slope to a quiet cove on a large lake. "The map indicates Larry owns all the land on this cove and back to that ridge line."
"Wow! How can he afford this on his salary?"
"He said this was his parents for thirty-some years. Now it's his."
"Looking round, I think we should be paying to use this. I mean, yeah, Larry Browner is a nice guy, but just keeping this up must be expensive."
Karen looked around. "He never told me it was this nice. He did say if we liked it, maybe we could work out a time-share deal, but I didn't want to mention it on day one. But now you know so just keep it in mind, we can decide in a week or two."
Sandy had been standing quietly next to Karen; her eyes taking everything in, almost holding her breath. MJ was running all over, his sister right behind them. Their whoops told us when they found the canoe. Of course they wanted to get it on the water right away, but Karen put on her "Momma" face, and insisted we get unpacked.
Dragging luggage in; we stepped through a vestibule with a bench; obviously a place to remove boots or muddy shoes. That led into a cozy living room; large, with many windows facing out on the lake. Large, comfortable couches and chairs were scattered about; some facing the windows, others facing a rock faced fireplace in a side wall. Opposite the windows and on one side of the room was a full kitchen behind a breakfast bar. A table and chairs were in a corner. A stairway led to the upper floor.
Leading back in the house, a hallway led to two bedrooms and a full bath, and a small laundry room, and then out to a small deck looking into the woods. The kids sorted who got which; tossing bags on their beds and trying to escape, but quickly caught by their mom and put to work.
Karen, Sandy and I went upstairs where we found two large bedrooms; sharing a large common bath. The only difference seemed to be one faced the lake, and the other faced the mountains in the distance. Sandy offered to take the mountain facing room, and Karen was happy with the other. I'd have been happy with either.
After a quick unpack, the kids renewed their explorations while we adults organized the kitchen and unpacked in our rooms.
I found a sheet of instructions on the breakfast bar, but I don't think they were just for us; they were more like a checklist with notes. There were reminders of flipping breakers for the roof top solar panels and lights, open valves for the water pump and solar water heater, open valves for sewage system, and open the valve for the propane system.
I was amazed! Sure it was a nice looking place, but I hadn't seen sign of power lines for miles, and expected wood stoves and kerosene lamps. The only things missing were TVs and phones. Speaking of which - checking my cell, I had three bars. Much better reception than I had hoped for (not that I was planning on using it). The kids weren't going to be happy, but I didn't mind.
Dinner was fairly simple; burgers, baked potatoes, pie for desert. The kids adapted to DIY entertainment quickly; they just went outside and played. Sandy and Karen sat on a couch; looking out over the lake slowly turning colors as sunset neared. I poured everyone some wine and joined them, one on each side. Hey, I wanted to watch the view also!
Every now and then the kids would come running past a window, and when the light got low enough Karen called them in; sending MJ and Katie to their rooms to clean up and head for bed. When I checked half an hour later, Katie was fast asleep, and MJ fighting to stay awake. He gave up and was asleep before I closed his door.
I rejoined the ladies with more wine, sitting in the middle again. After just a few minutes, both were leaning against me; their feet tucked up on the couch, the only thing I could do was put arms around their shoulders and hold them to me while we quietly went over the day. Life is tough.
Eventually we staggered off to bed.
The first morning at the lake began with the kids waiting impatiently for breakfast, and Karen mumbling; "They know how to make cereal. I'm on vacation." And then disappearing back under the blankets.
I rubbed sleep from my eyes. Stumbling around in an unfamiliar room; I banged my shins on a chair that shouldn't be there, walked into a wall where the door was supposed to be, and had Karen mumbling about "Some idiot getting killed."
I finally slipped on my shorts, found the door and the bathroom and did my morning routine, and went down to the kitchen. A cute pixie in a long tee shirt was serving Katie and MJ breakfast. Viewed from behind, the shirt still concealed much, but hints of a taut butt above her exposed (and shapely) legs, and the swell of hips from a slim waist were definitely interesting. When she turned, small put pointy breasts pushed against the material.
When my eyes moved up a little more, Sandy was studying my face, and answered my smile with a shy one of her own. The real surprise came when she pressed lightly against me; kissing my cheek and whispering, "Good morning." Her hands rested against my chest, and I naturally encircled her waist with an arm.
"Good morning to you too; I thought you'd sleep in."
"No," She laughed, "I'm normally up by now, but those two were just noisy enough to guarantee it. So I helped them find breakfast. Can I get you something?"
Slowly releasing her, I asked for coffee, saying we could have more when Karen rose.
Several times she caught me studying her as I waited for coffee. When she sat next to me, she asked if I liked the way she looked.
Looking her in those beautiful eyes, I nodded, then said; "Yes. No offense, but you're even better looking than I realized."
"Thank you." She said, kissing me on the cheek. "I usually dress like this at home, and didn't think about it until you came in. Then I waited to see if you were upset."
"Upset? Why would I be upset?"
"You know ... in front of the kids. And besides ... I don't have much of a figure."
"Who doesn't have a figure?" said Karen, entering the kitchen and going straight for the coffee. Instantly, Sandy jumped up and ran upstairs.
"You told her she doesn't have a figure? Why would you do that? Of course she does ..."
"Whoa! I didn't say that, she did. I didn't have a chance to reply when you came in."
"Oh, I'm sorry. Where did she go?"
"You came in, she jumped and ran. That's all I know."
A couple minutes later Sandy reappeared; only now she was in shorts and sweatshirt.
Sandy stepped into the kitchen, half-disappearing behind the breakfast bar (to my disappointment). Karen joined her, and the pair cranked out eggs, toast and more coffee in short order.
By the time they brought the food to the table Katie and MJ had gone to their rooms to dress. Karen and Sandy sat opposite me at the table, and we discussed the coming day as we ate. After clearing the dishes, Karen sat next to Sandy again and in her direct manner said; "Sandy, you have an excellent figure. Why would you think otherwise?"
"I have no ... no..."
"Yes, I mean no, I mean ... oh, you know ... none."
"Hmm, you and I are going to have long talk."
"Mark honey, why don't you and the monsters go exploring? We need some girl time here."
The kids could hardly wait to show me what they had already found; on the far side of the cabin was a smallish shed with a canoe and two kayaks on stands, their paddles on racks nearby. Another rack held a bunch of life jackets segregated by size. I found the cabin's water pump and solar battery pack in a corner.
Looking the battery setup over, I found there was actually a double circuit: tracing it out, one side was switched; that would be the full array feeding batteries. The other circuit seemed to work as a trickle charger; keeping the batteries up under no load.
The kids really didn't care about all that; they just wanted to drag out a boat. I opted for further exploration; wanting to see what else could be discovered. Saving the lake for later, we circled up and through the trees. There were several well-worn paths leading off deeper into the woods, and one that paralleled the tree line. We followed that one until it turned abruptly at a small rock face. Between us and the wall, a stream flowed towards the lake. Scattered over the face were engraved names and dates; some so overgrown with moss they could barely be read, others dated just a year or so past.
Following on brought us out at the lake on a small point jutting into the water. I just stood there, breathing in the air and the silence. That lasted until MJ let out a whoop and a pair of ducks flew off in a hurry. Obviously, if I want silence, I'll have to gag him and hang him from a tree. Preferably by his heels.
Just kidding, he's a good kid but he can't always contain all his energy.
We circled back towards the cabin along the shore line. This part was fairly open with just some grass in the water. I doubted there would be many fish caught along here. In front of the cabin was a rough but serviceable floating dock extending about fifteen feet into the lake. Walking out, it felt 'tippy', but secure. I already pictured MJ trying to rock it; just to hear his sister scream. Knowing Katie, she'd probably wait and get him back. Looking down, bottom was barely discerned, a few shadows swam through the grass.
I looked around; surely there would be somewhere I could go that would be quiet. Or, I could just crack down on these two and insist they respect the place. Riight. That'll work.
Looking up toward the cabin; Karen and Sandy were sitting out on the porch, and when she saw me looking their way, Karen waved a coffee cup in the air.
Ahh, the all clear.
"You guys can mess around down here, but stay off the dock for now; I'm not sure how safe it is. I'm going up to your mom."
Lazily walking up the slope, I saw two smiling women ahead of me. Whatever the talk had been about, it seemed to have been amicable.
Sandy ducked in as I neared, and came back out with coffee as I stepped up. There were several rustic wooden chairs and tables on the wide porch, and we sat watching the kids; our pale legs outstretched. Looking out; several ducks swam along the shore to our left, crows harassed an eagle over the trees on the far side, and further up another eagle (or large hawk) circled.
After a deep breath I quietly mussed; "I could get used to this real easy."
"Sandy and I were saying the same thing. I like this; it's such a change from town."
"Thanks for inviting me along. I've never been in the woods before. I can't believe how quiet it is."
We sat, absorbed in our own thoughts, until the kids ran up asking for lunch.
After lunch, the kids and I carried the canoe down to the lake. Dressed in shorts, tees and life jackets, we set off on another exploration; this time along the shoreline. With MJ in the bow Katie in the middle, and myself in the stern, we moved along fairly well. I'd brought three paddles, and once clear of shore, I showed them how to stroke, and then let them work for a while. It only took a few minutes to tire them, so I took over again. We did that several times until we returned.
It'd been years since I last paddled a canoe, and it didn't take long after I sat on the porch again that every muscle from my waist up began aching. Well, it wasn't just me aching; the kids began squirming in discomfort also. Karen is often very quick in noticing things, and she asked if we all needed some massage. When all three of us nodded, she called the kids to her, and asked Sandy if she could take care of me.
That girl has soft hands. I stripped off my tee and sat on the edge of the porch. Sandy sat behind me, her legs outside mine. Instantly I felt the warmth of her bare legs against mine. It was different, yet familiar; there is no other feeling in the world like that of a woman's legs.
She began at my shoulders and worked down my arms, then returned to my shoulders and down my back. All I could do, all I wanted to do, was surrender to her touch. At one point Karen's voice gently said; " Sandy honey, as much as he's melting in your hands, you're still going to have to be a little firmer if that massage is going relax any muscles."
"Oh, I'm sorry." she half whispered.
"No, it's okay. He'll survive. Just a little more pressure; just to let him know you're there."
Believe me, I knew she was there. She pressed into my muscles more, and it did feel good, but she moved slower; drawing out each stroke. I've only had a few massages in my life; that was the most personal one ever.
Soon Karen had finished both kids, sending them in to clean up. Sandy was still rubbing my back and neck; the soreness was long gone but I didn't want her to stop; it felt that good. "Sandy, if you don't stop, he's going to melt right before your eyes. I'll go see if the kids are ready for dinner while you finish."
Slowly she stopped rubbing, but rather than stand up, she leaned in against me, encircling my waist and laying her cheek against my shoulder. Automatically, my hands covered hers; holding her in place. I truly did not want time to move; there was such a feeling around us of peace and tranquility. But gradually she withdrew; as if called back to reality. After she left I just sat; looking out at the lake and wondering at the moment.
The next few days flowed into a sameness we all enjoyed. The kids swam, played in the boat, or roamed the property. I swam, practiced with one of the kayaks, tried a little fishing, and laid in the sun. Karen and Sandy also swam, and by this point Karen had shed her top; allowing her gorgeous 'B's to take on a golden tan. Sandy was shyer, staying with a modest top. When they weren't swimming or walking around the lake side they often sat in the sun up on the porch talking quietly. By now they had formed a firm bond; you could see they considered each other true friends. Cooking and housekeeping was shared by all, even the kids, and every evening the three of us sat on the porch watching the sunset and talking quietly.
We'd been there four days when Karen asked me to go into the nearby town of Packwood, and restock our groceries. She suggested that Sandy keep me company. "And don't let him buy any junk - if he sees a Twinkie, he has to have one."
Sandy and I laughed about that as we drove the five miles into town. "The secret, Mark, is that I like Twinkies too. Let's split a pack. I won't tell if you don't."
"Ahh, a woman after me own heart, a Twinkie fan."
I found the grocery store half way down the main street. A busy place; this being the height of tourist season, plus I'm sure there are a lot of cabins in the surrounding hills.
Finally finding parking, we strolled arm in arm to the store; Sandy was easy to have around.
We passed a sad looking woman and girl sitting with a rusty colored dog at the corner of the building. They had some sort of sign, but I couldn't read it, so assumed they were begging. Ever since the economy went south a few years before we saw too much of that; people with no recourse but to beg.
A little saddened, Sandy and I did our shopping, but I just didn't want a treat now, and when I mentioned that to Sandy, she agreed; "Can we give them some money instead?"
"My thinking exactly."
They were still sitting in the same spot when we came out. The mother; a woman in her twenties maybe, dressed in jeans, boots and a flannel shirt, the daughter dressed much like her mother, and maybe eight or nine years old. Tear tracks streaked her cheeks. I finally got a look at the sign; "Free dog". The dog was a rust and white Australian Heeler, and the girl held it firmly in her arms
Looking at the mother, despair in her eyes, I asked why they were giving away such a beautiful animal.
"I'm broke. I can just barely feed us. I need to find work, and I don't know where that will be. This is my daughter, Anna; it's breaking her heart, but I don't have a choice."
Sandy's hands clenching on my arm only confirmed what I had already decided. Looking over at Anna, I asked the dog's name. Very shyly she replied; "Katie. My dogs name is Katie."
I pulled my phone from my pocket, flipped through to pictures, a brought up one of my daughter. "Anna, this is my daughter. Her name is Katie also. She's just about your age. I know you don't want to part with your dog, but if you have to, do you think it would be okay if she went to another Katie?"
"Really? Is that her name?"
"Yes, and she has a brother, his name is Mark. Here's a picture of him. What do you think? We'll take good care of her."
Anna looked at us, then her mother, and finally at the dog still in her arms. She gave it a long hug, and then offered me the leash. "She likes having her ears rubbed, and she likes peanut butter cookies."
I turned to the mother. "My Name is Mark, and this is Sandy, we're staying up at the lake for a while. Can I pay you for the dog? How's fifty dollars?"
"At this point, I can't turn it down. Yes, thank you."
"What sort of work do you do?"
"Almost anything. I've been a short order cook, maid at motels, gofer on construction sites. You name it and I've probably tried it."
"Ever been to Tacoma?"
"Oh, in and out; never really stayed there. Is there work?"
"Let me make a call."
"Sandy, will you guys go pick out what we need for the dog? Oh, and get a bunch of Twinkies too."
While they were in the store, I called a friend at the union. "Dick? Mark. Do you still have openings in the apprentice program?... Uh huh. If I send a woman to you, what does she have to do to get in? ... Uh huh. Listen, I'm down here in Packwood, and I met a woman with a child. She needs work, and from what she's told me, she might be perfect for you. ... No, she's just down on her luck. ... Okay, I'll send her your way. I'll buy you a beer when I get back."