tagNovels and NovellasString of Beads

String of Beads

bythornapple©

Chapter One

I write short stories for a living. It's a modest living and it's not likely I'll ever be anything even approaching famous but it's fun, profitable, I can work wherever I am and I can set my own schedule. How much better can it get than that? Well it certainly could be more profitable. My life style does not provide for high end cars, long exotic vacations or expensive toys but I have healthy savings and checking accounts and investments that I hope will provide for me by the time I'm fifty five.

Now for the part that might have you looking down your nose at me. I write romance and that's not so bad right? I also write porn both soft and hard, each under a different name. Most of all I write what pleases me and I can have fun with. I can't begin to guess how many times I've scrapped a half written story just because it wasn't fun to write. If I have to labor over it I pitch it. Believe it or not I do invest emotion and thought in all of my stories no matter the category. I have to care about the characters or it's hopeless.

I am under contract to Ardemus Grant Publishing and they like what I do. Jerry Grant is the owner and as you might have guessed Ardemus was his daddy. His wife Leanne is quite the woman and his former secretary and it was when she was his secretary that I first met her and fell in love again and again. I could watch her move around all day and not tire of it. She floats she doesn't walk. She sings she doesn't talk and she's as tough as they come when she has to be.

I write anywhere from six to twenty short or not so short stories a year and maybe a full novel every two or three years. Oh yes and I'm divorced as of six months ago. I was caught with this oh so fine looking dumber than shit woman and that was all she wrote. Bad move on my part and an expensive one. Unfortunately I started to believe the crap I was writing. The writing was suffering and so was I so I guess it all works out for the best in the long run.

Rex, Jerry's editor/vice president/adviser is a great guy and I've gotten drunk with him more than once. On his tab of course. That keeps me in and out. In the black and out of trouble. Back to Rex, he's also recently divorced but it's because he caught his wife banging a couple of other guys. I guess the national divorce statistics don't lie. I'm presently between novels and knee deep in three romance stories. I need to get a porn story started one of these days but it has to feel right. My favorite thing to write is novel length romance with a decidedly adult slant. Read that as a little porn thrown in. That's what I have the most fun with.

When I was married one of my favorite things to do when I could afford it was to rent a houseboat and spend a week on the water, cruising staying naked and writing. What a way to live. Trying to do that solo just doesn't work believe me. Those damn rental house boats range from sixty to eighty five feet long and up to sixteen feet wide. Man could I write on those boats. I could have three or four stories going at the same time and during that period I did some of my best writing. Maybe I should get married just so I can have a partner on the houseboats and a little pussy too. Nah, I can't afford another divorce never mind. Also those boats run from two thousand a week to over four thousand a week. I had to be damn sure I was ready to be serious about writing before I rented one of those things.

The reason I'm writing this rambling and slow moving preamble is to set the stage for one of the luckiest one time breaks of my not so short life. This will be a somewhat short story, more or less true, and for soon to be obvious reasons the names have been changed to protect my contract. I just wish I could have kept that lucky break as a permanent life style. Who am I kidding, that life style would have probably killed me in time.

Once I've finished a story, long or short I mail it off to Rex and wait for a check. If he doesn't like it I hear from him within days so if there's no call I'm usually good. Sometimes he calls and we go out for a drink and he hands me a check, sometimes it's even dinner but mostly it's a check in the mail. Right now he's one behind so it better be dinner the next time.

Okay so on with my tale. I've finished a story and mailed it in and am waiting for a check as usual. It was a fairly long and I thought quite a good story of romance with just a touch of intrigue. I had every reason to hope for a rather long check in return but it was almost a month without hearing anything. When I finally did hear it was not from Rex but from Jerry Grant with an invitation for dinner. I was either getting a new or better contract, they wanted me to write more or my contract was not being renewed. No pressure there. When I called his office I told Molly his ugly secretary (Leanne is also smart) that I was available for dinner next week with Jerry per the invitation. When I tried to sweet talk her ugliness to learn a little of what to expect, I was brushed off like so much lint. It's hard to be creative with that kind of pressure over me so I went to plan B. I got drunk with Rex on his tab. When he suggested I buy for a change I reminded him I couldn't because he was one check behind. Timing is everything.

When the evening came for dinner with Jerry I dressed in my best duds, shined my shoes and even got a haircut. I've known Jerry for years but let's face it he's a busy man and to have an invitation to dinner with him these days is something special. Plus it's free. I was at Armand's On The Water at the proper time and was escorted to his table and I was more than pleased to see his lovely wife Leanne with him. When I got to the table Jerry rose, shook my hand and Leanne said, "Hi Otto" with a heart melting smile. That was a joke between her and me that went way back and had something to do with all my pen names. My real name is Lonnie by the way.

Anyway I smiled and shook her hand saying, "Hi Leanne you look more beautiful every day and I hope I have the honor of seeing you for many years to come."

"Ever the spinner of words Lonnie, thank you for your kind ones."

Jerry said, "Have a seat Lon what would be your pleasure?"

"How about a Chivas Regal on the rocks." The waiter nodded and was off to do my bidding on Jerry's tab. God I love this line of work.

There was an abundance of small talk over the next half hour as we waited for dinner. Jerry and Leanne were unpretentious, easy going and fun to talk with and we had fun talking about the early days when Jerry first took over from Ardemus and he was chasing Leanne. It's a good thing I know how to keep my mouth shut. Dinner came and the talking slowed but didn't stop. Their compliments on my writing were generous but seemed sincere complete with criticism about one from about six months ago. I knew why it was such a bomb but I just agreed with them and thought I'd spare them the details. Nobody likes to hear bad news.

Chapter Two

After dinner we had more drinks and talked for quite a while. Leanne was anything but window dressing so she was in the middle of it a lot of the time. When the subject of some of my romance stories came up she complimented me saying, "You do such a nice job with romance, you must be dynamite with the ladies these days."

"No honey Lon is married," Jerry offered.

"Well not exactly. I was until six months ago." Jerry was quick if nothing else.

"Six months ago, there's that number again. Any connection with the bad story?"

"Most likely a big connection."

"Sorry to hear it Lon, did you come out of it all right?"

"I lost my financial ass but I'll survive. Rita will survive quite nicely. It was my fault and there are no hard feelings on my part."

Leanne continued, "I still think you have a wonderful sensitivity when you write the feminine side."

"Thank you Leanne I take that as high praise." Jerry changed the subject and said, "I think I remember that you used to rent houseboats once in a while and do some of your writing there."

"I sure did. To me that was the perfect place to write. I did more and better writing there than anywhere else."

"I take it you don't rent them anymore."

"No it takes at least two to handle those things and it is just no fun alone. What's the point of being naked for a week by yourself other than a killer tan."

"Lon do you have to be anyplace for a while?"

"No not me. I'm as footloose as you can get right now." Let's go back to the house and continue this conversation over brandy." I hadn't been to their house in years.

"I'd like that, I could talk houseboats all night long."

With Jerry leading in his Mercedes we went the ten miles out to their house. I usually stay in hotels in Chicago that are no bigger but they just call it the house. After parking and having Maria, the oh so pretty maid bring us brandy, the three of us got comfortable and continued the conversation. "So these houseboats are a little tough to handle I take it."

"No not really but when you want to tie off to shore you need one at the helm and one or more working the ropes. I suppose the dock hands could do it solo but I never could. The dock master always instructed a minimum of two people. On the water they handle like a dream."

"What did you do besides write out there?"

"Laid naked in the sun, swam, skinny dipped actually, cruised up and down the several hundred miles of shoreline and went to the local restaurants at the marinas every so often. I used to fish a little but was so bad at it I gave up and stuck with skinny dipping and writing.

Leanne said, "You make it sound so relaxing and private."

"It's totally relaxing and if it's privacy you want you just tie off in a small bay and it's yours for as long as you're there. Nobody ever horned in on us or cramped our life style. I've floated naked clear across lagoons the size of small lakes and never worried about it. I suppose if the marinas are renting all their boats it could get a little hard to find those bays and lagoons but I never experienced that."

"What about TV and radio?"

"Nope, the stations are too far to get more than one or two stations. The only TV is if you use videotape or DVD's unless you rent their flag ship eighty two footer."

"You really are on your own then."

"Pretty much yes."

Maria magically appeared and added brandy to our glasses and disappeared. "So Lon what are you doing now that you're divorced?"

"At the moment not much. I was getting sloppy with my writing and I'm trying to get back on track with that, doing research and trying to regain my rhythm. Without that I have to work too hard and that's not my style."

Jerry sat up straight and said, "Oh before I forget, Rex asked me to give you this and said you had to buy the drinks the next time, no excuses, whatever he was talking about."

"It's a game we play and I usually win. Leanne I wanted to comment as soon as I walked in, this house is like you, never changing except for the better. It's beautiful."

Leanne smiled her biggest smile yet. "Thank you Lonnie that helps me. Jerry wanted me to redecorate and I'm resisting. You've just helped my cause."

I turned to Jerry and with a smile said, "Jerry remember, women are always right." Jerry laughed and nodded in agreement.

I kept getting the feeling that there was something else they wanted to talk to me about but it wasn't forthcoming so I finally stood and said, "I've taken advantage of your hospitality long enough and will leave so you can rest. I can't thank you two enough for a wonderful evening and allowing me to drone on about houseboating. It could become a passion of mine if I were to give it free reign. I've even been kicking a story idea around involving houseboats." They had walked me to the door and as I walked out I said, "Goodnight and thanks again." Going home I thought about the evening and I was more sure than ever that they had something on their minds. It was anybody's guess what though.

For the next few weeks all was quiet and routine. I had started what I hoped would become a novel, the weather was getting better as it as it showed the promise of spring and I had twice dated Amy, a very fine looking woman with long dark hair and a penchant for making love. To make it even better she was fun to be with anytime. Oh yes and I was on the fifth week of working out at the gym with a personal trainer that I called Gunter. I could never remember his real name and he didn't care as long as I did as I was told and slipped him a generous tip regularly. I was feeling fit and full of energy.

I think it was a Wednesday evening, but it doesn't matter I guess, and I met Amy at the Squatter's Rights restaurant for dinner. She looked wonderful with her olive complexion, long dark hair and white pantsuit. She made heads turn including mine. Once seated and drinks ordered I told her about wanting to rent a houseboat one day and wondered if she would be my first mate for a week. When I described what it was like she was all for it. One whole week with Amy naked just might keep me from getting any writing done at all but we writers do have a cross to bear sometimes. "Tell me again about the sunning deck Lonnie."

"It's as long as the houseboat, usually carpeted and about fifteen feet above the water with a flying bridge at the front."

"So you can lay naked up there and nobody will know?"

"Absolutely as long as you don't get up of course."

"And you can be naked in the water?"

"Amy honey you could go for a week and never get dressed if that was your goal." "God that sounds like heaven to me."

"Having you naked with me for a week sounds like heaven to me too." I got a sexy smile for that one. When we went back to my place after dinner the conversation went back to the houseboats a couple more times over the course of the evening and again after we made love. I knew then that before summer was over the two of us would be on a boat and naked. It was almost hard to fall asleep that night just thinking about that. Life was getting better and better.

Chapter Three

Within a few days of the date with Amy I received an invitation to Jerry and Leanne's house for dinner for that Saturday evening, very casual. I called with my RSVP right away because I was sure that whatever was on their minds before would be coming out at or after dinner. If I was wrong so what, I would still get to see Leanne, but I was anxious to satisfy my curiosity. With all the questions about houseboats it likely had something to do with that. Most likely they were going to rent one of the biggest ones and wanted to learn all they could so they'd know if they needed a crew to run it for them. Hell Maria could be the cook and the pilot and their gardener could be the rope man and helper. Of course that would make it pretty tough for Leanne to skinny dip or sun naked assuming she wanted to do those things.

They always say dress for success so Saturday evening I dressed in the most casual slacks I had and a new Ralph Loren polo shirt and new shoes and headed to their house. I arrived at six exactly and was greeted by none other than Leanne herself. I got a nice kiss on the cheek and a chance to learn what angels smell like. She led me to the den where Jerry was reading and the three of us settled down with drinks served by pretty Maria. If it seems to you I like women you'd be close. I love women. I love to love women, I love to make love to women I love to meet new women. They are God's nearest thing to perfection to me and I want to taste every one of them before I die or I want to die trying to taste everyone of them, something like that. Jerry raised his glass to me in silent toast and I tasted a wonderful wine. It had the darkest most beautiful ruby red color I'd ever seen and the flavor just danced on my tongue. "Jerry, Leanne if die right now I'll be happy. This wine is by far the smoothest, finest I've ever tasted. If I were to guess I'd have to say it's a Shiraz."

"Thank you we're glad you approve. We think it is too and you are absolutely right it is a Shiraz."

"The hard part with this wine would be to stop before over indulging."

Jerry and Leanne smiled and Leanne said, "It's happened on an occasion or two that we didn't stop in time."

"With wine that makes a wonderful trip but a horrible destination."

"Isn't that the truth."

Dinner was called and we made our way to dinner in the sun room or the summer room or whatever they called it. It had a view of the pool and the landscaping as it draped itself over a rolling hillside. A perfect setting for a casual dinner. Dinner was light but wonderful with a spicy dish that stood shoulder to shoulder with the Shiraz. With beautiful Leanne near me it was hard to imagine anything better than this at the moment. Well being with naked Amy was pretty high on the list too.

After dinner we were served brandy and Jerry suggested we take a walk outside for some fresh air. We slowly strolled side by side down a wide wandering path toward that hillside; Leanne's arm through mine on one side and Jerry's on her other as he and I sipped brandy and the three of us talked.

Jerry said, "Lon you look like you're working out."

"Thank you I've been using a trainer to get back in shape. It helps my mind, which helps my writing, which helps my pocket. I guess the trainer is paying his own fees in a way."

That made Jerry and Leanne laugh and he asked, "Have you started any major writing projects lately?"

"I've started what I hope will become a novel but that remains to be seen in the coming months."

"Do you golf?"

"I've chased that little white ball around that big green lawn with holes in it a few times but I'd hate to call it golf. I couldn't seem to develop the passion and determination to improve so I quit. I admire the pros and the phenomenal shots they make that's for sure."

"Lon as we remember you do have a passion for honoring confidences and keeping your word."

"I do have yes. I owe that to my mother I guess. If I learn something and common sense tells me or if I'm asked to keep it to myself that's all that need be said and if I say I'll do something or not do something it's settled. I don't break my word period. I don't have a lot and if I don't honor a promise I have nothing at all. I am nothing at all. Nothing but a failure that is."

After stopping for a minute and sipping the brandy, which I'm not at all crazy about by the way, we continued on. Nobody spoke for a minute or two and then Jerry said, "Leanne and I have been thinking about your tales of houseboating Lon and we have decided we'd very much enjoy just getting away from everything and everybody for a week. I have some writing I want and need to do and Leanne wants to get her annual dose of radiation in one week, skinny dip and just enjoy herself. Where this is all leading Lon is we wondered if we could convince you to join us and show us how it's done. We'd be equal partners in the cooking and cleaning but we were hoping you'd do most of the piloting of the boat and we'd help with the tying off as you called it. You can work on your writing as much as you want or as little as you want. You don't have to let us know right away but we'd like to make the plans soon."

"I don't have to think about it, I'd love it." With a very warm smile Leanne asked,

"When do you suggest we go?"

"Well if we wait until the end of June or later the water will be nice and warm but the kids will be out of school and the lake will be busier and will stay that way until mid August. Once the kids are back in school in August the crowds go down but the lake is still warm until sometime late in September if I remember correctly. It just depends on what's more important to you. For sun tans, skinny dipping and loafing you can't beat the summer and if you choose a spot to tie off early enough you can still get a lot of privacy."

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