This is a prequel to the 'Psych' story I wrote in December. While this story shares some of the characters, it stands alone and you do not need to have read 'Psych' in order to follow this story. There's a fair bit of dialogue and character development etc. but stick it out and I hope you'll find it was worth it. Please note that everyone in this story is over 18. In my part of the world, the legal drinking age is 18, so I have stuck to that.
Remember this is copyright and all that. No posting anywhere else without my permission. Oh, and I've become an unabashed feedback hussy, so feel free to send me comments and suggestions -- just please make them constructive. Thanks!
Chloe had had a rough day. The passionate surfer had tried to get some solo surfing in before her guests arrived, but the surf had been pathetic, the swells almost non-existent and despite the fact that she spent every single day in the sun and applied huge amounts of high factor sunblock throughout the day, she had somehow managed to get sunburned. She was tired, irritable and waiting. And if there was one thing Chloe could not abide, it was waiting on people when she was tired and irritable. Throw in the sunburn and she was doing a slow burn, too.
She was waiting for the next group of future surfers to arrive at the camp and they were over two hours late. Chloe and her family offered package deals over the summer months to people wanting to learn how to surf. The family ran a surf shop in their small town stocking all the necessary accoutrement and offering surfing lessons year-round. Chloe had become so proficient at the surfing clinics, that her parents pretty much left things in her hands, only coming to the campsite to take some of the sessions. Her parents were both freelance writers which helped to supplement their mostly seasonal income. The summer package deal included basic accommodation with a choice of decent tent or dormitory type rooms and food, usually complemented by whatever alcohol the campers brought with them. Naturally they attracted plenty of school-leavers and students on their summer breaks. The groups were usually fun-loving, relaxed people who could have fun with the minimum of supervision. There were a few crucial rules -- everyone who wanted to learn how to surf had to be a competent swimmer, and no alcohol was allowed to be consumed before all surfing and swimming was over for the day. Then they were free to let their hair down.
Chloe sighed. She considered calling the contact number she had been given, but figured if they hadn't answered the first five times, they were unlikely to now. "G!" she yelled stridently to her friend who had helped their family with the surf camps since they had started them in the small seaside town five years previously.
Gail looked up from the fire she had started. She also sighed. "Chlo, it doesn't help getting all uptight about it. Want some more aftersun stuff on your back?"
Chloe opened her mouth to retort then realized Gail was right and just shut her mouth with an audible clack. "I know. I'm just tired and sore. I want to have a beer and go to bed, not wait for this bunch of twits. And yes to the aftersun gloop, please."
Gail made her way over and started to smear the cold gel over Chloe's burning back. "Wow, little lobster... looking good!" She said, laughing. "How the hell did you manage to do this? You're usually so careful!"
"I don't bloody know! I obviously missed an application somewhere during the day. It does mean I won't be able to do any of the daytime shifts tomorrow without a wetsuit and pulling on my little number with this burn is going to hurt like hell." She mumbled, annoyed with herself.
"Bugger..." said Gail, reaching for an ice-cold beer from the cooler and handing one to Chloe before grabbing one for herself, "well at least we can have that beer while we wait. I know the bosses and they're kinda cool about drinking on duty." She smiled sympathetically at her best friend as she winced when her bikini straps rubbed along her burn.
As they popped the lids on the bottles and enjoyed their first few sips, they heard the faint sounds of music coming down the coastal road in the dusk, then saw lights and heard the approaching engine and realized it had to be their missing group of travelers.
"Oh my God," said Gail, "what on earth is that?"
An ancient olive-green VW van came lurching drunkenly up the hard dirt road to the campsite and came to a shuddering halt. Before the dust and stone chips had even settled, the side door slid open with a bang and a group of girls came spilling out of the interior, laughing so hard two of the group ended up on their knees. They made so much noise the birds around the campsite immediately took off with squawks of terror. Chloe wished she could follow them.
"Whoo girls? G, they're 'WHOO GIRLS'!!" Chloe hissed at her friend, springing to her feet. "They're two hours late, pissed and WHOO GIRLS!"
Gail looked at her best friend and spotted the fiery anger in her eyes. She held up a hand to her, stifling a smile at her friends' indignation and said "No. Stay here. Let me deal with them." Chloe realized, as usual, that her even-tempered friend was right -- she was not in the right frame of mind to deal with this idiotic bunch of morons.
She had just turned around to stomp off, when out of the corner of her eye, she saw the driver of the van open her door and slither out. Chloe felt her jaw move south. She took in the vision from her petite bare feet, long, smooth brown legs, the mid-thigh length soft cotton skirt, her tight sleeveless top with spaghetti straps, to her face. Without realizing it, Chloe actually sighed sweetly at the vision. This girl was absolutely perfect. Her dark hair, as long as her collarbone, swung over her face as she gracefully recovered from the jump to the ground. She smoothed down her skirt which had floated upwards and Chloe caught a tantalizing glimpse of her white panties before the soft cotton settled and Chloe could not stifle a little groan of disappointment. Then she looked up.
Chloe's heart seemed to leave her chest cavity completely. She found herself staring into eyes with an indefinable colour. They seemed blue and green at the same time and were huge, set wide in the girl's brown face, with a slight slant, giving her a smouldering feline look which made Chloe's breath whoosh out of her lungs. She suddenly realized she was holding her breath and coupled with the fact that she hadn't felt her heart beat in a good few seconds, Chloe knew she might just make an epic fool of herself before she even met this creature. As usual, Gail took charge. She nudged Chloe sharply in the ribs, forcing her to 'come to', close her mouth and take a deep breath before moving over to the new arrivals.
"Hi..." said Gail, arm extended, only to have her arm brushed aside by Chloe who smoothly insinuated her body ahead of Gail.
"I'm-Chloe-and-this-is-Gail!" Said Chloe in a rush so that it came out sounding like one word, grabbing the hand of the driver in hers.
"Paula, hi! God, I'm SO sorry! I've only just got my drivers' licence and I wasn't even supposed to be driving today, but these arseholes all got pissed and I was the only one left sober enough to drive...and all because I'M not a drunken slapper!" she turned and glared at her friends who were trying their desperate best to look penitent, but their unfocused eyes and giggling mouths gave them away.
"Well, you're here now," said Chloe soothingly, "why don't you come and sit by the fire for a bit, have something to eat and drink, then we can unload your car and get you settled. Sound good?"
"It really does!" Said Paula. "No more booze for this lot, though. I'm not putting up with hangovers and whining tomorrow."
"Deal!" said Chloe, flashing Paula a brilliant, white smile. Gail looked at her, shaking her head. "Not one word!" she hissed at her through clenched teeth as she passed, arm around the other girl as she ushered her to the fireside.
They sat around the fire on logs and Chloe and Gail busied themselves handing out soft drinks to the 'drunken slappers' (who introduced themselves as Kath, Kim, Lucy, Heidi and Marie) and beers to Paula and themselves. They ate some supper and got to talking, finding out that Paula and her friends came from a university far inland and they had decided to do this trip as an antidote to the stress of campus life and studying. Paula told Chloe and Gail that she had always wanted to learn how to surf, that she had always felt a connection to the ocean and that she had always loved anything to do with water. Her mother had always called her a 'Water Baby' because she could spend hours at a time in a swimming pool. It was no surprise when she took to swimming in school, but she claimed she was never really good enough to swim ultra-competitively. The girls were all in their second year of university, which threw Chloe a bit, as it meant that they were probably all over twenty. Chloe and Gail had only just finished school.
After a while, the 'slappers' were all nodding off and Chloe and Gail thought it was a good time for them to get the gear from the van and show them where they would be sleeping. While the rest of them elected to sleep in the open dorm-style room, Paula preferred her privacy and asked if she could have one of the tents instead. Gail only rolled her eyes when Chloe grinned and said "Sure!" with a definite glint in her eyes. She tried to get Chloe's attention, but found herself studiously ignored by her friend.
When the rest of the party went off to sleep with no protest whatsoever, Chloe and Gail found themselves alone b y the fire for a few minutes. "Chlo," Gail began.
"I know what you're going to say, Gail, I'm not stupid!" The fire was back in Chloe's eyes.
"I know you're not stupid, Chlo, but I've seen you hurt by these summer chicks over the years who want nothing more than a quick bi fling to satisfy their curiosity and I don't think it's fair on you." Gail said, concerned.
Chloe rolled her eyes at Gail. "G, I learned years ago that I can't let my heart get involved in these little flings. I'm scratching an itch that doesn't get scratched the rest of the year...unless I do it myself." She added with a little twist to her lips.
Gail was quiet for a while, knowing that what Chloe said was part bravado, part truth. She had seen her friend shut off emotionally during the summer and just adopt a philosophy of clichés. It was all about 'seizing the moment / the day / whatever will be, will be'. Yet, she also knew her friend and knew this was not a normal way of being for her. She was someone who connected deeply; felt intensely and loved profoundly when she allowed herself. "Chlo, all I'm saying is be careful of the temptations, OK?"
"Did you SEE her, Gail?" asked Chloe, incredulously. "If you had a bi bone in your body, trust me, you'd also be tempted."
Gail looked at her friend with her white blonde hair, tawny golden-brown eyes and lithe surfer body. Chloe, dear buddy, if I had a bi bone in my body, YOU would tempt me first!" Gail said with an affectionate hug. Chloe blushed. They had had this conversation many times over the years, right from before the onset of puberty when she had first told Gail that she liked girls. In THAT way. At first, Gail didn't quite understand, but then thought about it long and hard and put all the pieces of the puzzle together and realized that it all made sense. Chloe had never shown the slightest bit of interest whatsoever in the boys from their small school. She had never ogled the visiting male surfers with their tight, wiry brown bodies. Gail started remembering the times she had seen Chloe covertly checking out the girlfriends of the surfers as well as the few female surfers who came through their famous town, though, and had come to realize she had probably always known that they batted for different teams. It also made absolutely no difference to Gail whatsoever. Chloe was Chloe and that was that. Chloe was profoundly relieved at Gail's acceptance. They had often talked about the fact that both of them were rather definite about their sexuality. Chloe could not understand how Gail was not even a little bit interested in finding out about what it would be like to kiss a girl.
Eventually Gail turned to her and sighed, taking Chloe's hands in her own. "Chloe, honey, tell me -- have you ever thought about kissing a boy?"
"Sure!" said Chloe, surprised. "But then I think about the actual mechanics of it and, well, eeeew... They're just not attractive to me at all."
"There ya go..." said Gail softly. She knew that Chloe found her attractive -- they had been very open with each other, but Gail never, ever wanted to lead her friend on and knew for the sake of their friendship that this had to be something they both accepted.
"Oh..."Chloe had said, looking crestfallen. Gail had gone on to say that she could be completely objective about the fact that she thought Chloe was a very beautiful girl, but that there was just nothing there beyond friendship. She had assured her cheekily that if that fact ever changed, Chloe would be the first to know. It had become a standing joke.
While Chloe and Gail sat next to the fire, quietly chatting, they heard footsteps in the darkness. Gail didn't have to look up to see who was approaching, she could tell from the look on Chloe's face that Paula was walking towards them. She leaned forward and whispered to Chloe that if she was intending to play it cool, perhaps wiping away the drool might be a good idea. Chloe swatted at her, face redder than her sunburned back and hissed at her shut up.
"Hey..." the vision said, "mind if I sit and enjoy the fire with you for a while? I'm too keyed up after that drive to sleep yet. Maybe another beer would relax me enough..." she trailed off, realizing she had interrupted their conversation.
Chloe jumped up, grabbing Paula's arm and insisted she sit down, getting another beer from the cooler. She tried to play it cool, as Gail had suggested, but realized she was failing miserably. This girl just did something to her. Once again they started chatting in that 'getting to know you' mode. Chloe and Gail explained that they had lived in the town their entire lives. While other kids had been sent to boarding school, Chloe was adamant she would never leave the sea and secretly she also knew that boarding school, with all those girls in close proximity would have been like purgatory for her, an openly gay girl. Gail's family couldn't afford boarding school, so the best friends were together their entire school career.
They chatted about their plans for the future. Gail explained to Paula that she had a full scholarship to a university and she planned to study Psychology. Chloe had elected to stay in her beloved town and study journalism via correspondence while she worked and earned money teaching surfing and waitressing. Paula became pensive as she chatted to the younger girls, realizing that their entire lives lay ahead of them. Having been in university for two years made her feel so much older and she uncharacteristically found herself telling the two friends how unhappy she was at university. The first year had been fun -- lots of partying and little focus on studies, but she had buckled down in her second year and found that she hated her course. She had been pushed into studying economics by her parents as she hadn't been certain what to do and her parents would not hear of her taking a gap year. Now she was miserable and uncertain if she wanted to continue. She had passed all of her courses, but found the course soul-sapping and uninspiring.
Chloe couldn't hold back anymore. "But what do YOU want to do?" she asked, sweetly, innocently.
Paula looked up at her and they were shocked to see tears in her eyes. "Honestly?"
"Yes!" Said Chloe and Gail in unison.
In a small voice, she replied that she really wanted to paint. She had taken art as a subject throughout her school career and she was good. Good was apparently not good enough for her parents who didn't want her relying on art for a career if she was only 'good'. Chloe felt her heart break just a little bit for the gorgeous young woman in front of her.
"But...but...if that's what you want, that's what you should DO!" she said passionately.
Paula's lips twisted into an ironic little smile. She looked at Gail and motioned her head towards Chloe. "She always like this?"
Gail, caught by surprise, laughed out loud. "Oh, hun, she's toned herself down for the guests!"
Chloe blushed and in their time-honoured witty repartee, she said: "Oh shut up, hetero skank!" to which Gail replied what she had always replied:
"Right back at you, lesbo bitch!"
Suddenly realizing what they had said, the two friends turned their heads slowly to see the effect of what they had jokingly said on their guest. Paula was trying to be nonchalant, but she was definitely shocked. Then it began. "You're... uhhh... But, you're not..."
Gail decided that it was time for her to give the two time to talk, so she got up and stretched, made her excuses, mouthed "Sorry" to Chloe while her back was turned to Paula and walked off to her tent.
Chloe sighed, feeling the usual painful, acidic prickle she always got in these moments. She looked a flustered Paula right in the eye. "Yes, I'm gay. No, I don't fit the stereotype straight people seem to have about people like me. And no, I won't put the moves on you or any of your friends. Unless you want me to." The last was flung out as a definite challenge.
Paula surprised her. Even though she blushed, she looked Paula straight in the eyes and said: "I'm sorry. My reaction was thoughtless. I have never met someone who looks like you full-stop. I've definitely never met anyone who looks like you who is also gay. I'm sorry if that comes across as prejudiced in any way..." Clearly she had decided to ignore the challenge, but it hung in the air.
Chloe let out a deep breath. "Sorry," she muttered, "I've had that my entire life. Just because I don't look butch, people don't believe me. God, my own parents didn't believe me until they caught me kissing a girl."
"Lonely in a small town, huh?" Paula guessed.
"Oh yes!" Chloe actually laughed. "Reminds me of 'Little Britain', know what I mean?"
They said together "The only gay in the village!" complete with very bad Welsh accents, before nearly falling off their seats.
Once they had stopped laughing, Chloe admitted that her and Gail had actually been talking about that when Paula had joined them and that many a bicurious visitor had left the town with their curiosity satisfied. Chloe couldn't help looking a bit smug at that.
"So, you're a player then?" Paula asked with a teasing grin.
"Nah...I just love fooling around, you know?" Chloe said from under long lashes.
"Not really!" Paula admitted, laughing.
"Well, I love the physical stuff too, you know, but the most sexy thing in the world is when I look at a girl and I just know..." she stopped then and looked at Paula intently. Her heart nearly pounded clear out of her chest when she saw what she was longing to see -- the slight hitch in Paula's breathing and the beginnings of a flush on her tanned cheeks.
"Know what?" she asked, a little thickly, caught in the spell.
"Know that it's just a matter of time, Paula. That's what I love." She smiled at Paula from under her hooded eyes and Paula actually jumped. She stood up hurriedly and smoothed her skirt nervously.
"I, ah, think it's time I went to bed. I think the drive just caught up to me. See you in the morning. Night!" she said before she turned, her face flushed as she practically fled.
Chloe could feel her blonde eyebrow quirk with amusement at the departing woman. At that moment, Paula turned around and caught the quizzically amused look. She blushed deeper and just gave Chloe a flustered little wave when Chloe said a cheerful "Night!"