Carefree Cove Ch. 04byNigel Debonnaire©
The sun set and it was closing time at the Seville Hills, MO pool. The announcement was made, and the swimmers began to file back into the swim house. The girls went as fast as their dared, the asscheeks switching for the boys' benefit, their admirers silent and motionless in admiration. They went into the bath house: the teenage boys went back to their cars and roared off into the distance.
The old men got up from their domino game, joints popping. "Well, same time next week?" Petey Harms asked. He was an wrinkled, toothless old man in a John Deere cap, t-shirt and overalls.
The Reverend Hoot Pidgeon, elder statesman of the group, nodded his head. "Sure. We should bring some beer next week. That OK with you, Tom?"
"Yeah," Thomas Albright said. He was a young man for that group, slightly pudgy at fifty one, dressed in a polo shirt and jeans. "Amanda's spending some time with Gracie; they're going to Branson." His four year old daughter Amanda had paired up with his new neighbor Michelle Hawkins, a 40 year old Venus who caught Tom's jealous eye.
The old men returned to their cars and left. Tom waited for his daughter outside the gate, nodding at the girls as they walked by with damp hair and covered from the waist down with beach towels.
Amanda and Michelle came out together, the little girl's hair combed and the woman's wrap around doing nothing to conceal her erect nipples.
"Hey, Daddy, Shelley says she's not doing anything tonight. Why don't you take her somewhere after you drop me off at Grammie's house?'
A look of panic crossed Tom's face. Sheepishly, he turned to his neighbor: "I'm sorry, Ms. Hawkins. My daughter is very. . .aggressive with adults, probably comes from being an only child. I apologize if she's offended you."
Michelle hit him with a broad bright smile: "No need to apologize, Mr. Albright. Your little girl is very charming. We had such a nice lunch together last week, and I'd love to meet you for a drink after you drop her off."
He thought for a moment and looked at his daughter. She gave him an implacable look that brooked no objection. "All right, Ms. Hawkins, would you meet me for a drink at the Q and A in a half hour?"
"I'd be delighted, Mr. Albright, but only if you'll call me Shelley, or at least Michelle."
"Thank you, Michelle. And you may call me Tom."
Amanda beamed. "Let's go, Daddy."
The trip to Gracie's trailer went smoothly, and she was glad to see them. Grace Carter was a relatively short woman, five foot one, with a weathered face and wore an amorphous dress that hid her awkward figure at age 65; she wore thick glasses, and a band in her grey hair. Entering her small trailer, Tom noticed that it was clean and neat; she was living up to her commitment to stay sober for Amanda's sake. On the mantelpiece of the inside wall rested a triangular box with a folded American flag beneath a large portrait of her son Marcus in Marine uniform; pictures of her grandchildren rested on the coffee table, including her granddaughter Renee's Senior picture.
Amanda settled in happily, and started telling her great-grandmother about her new friend Shelley. Tom managed to pause her: "Gracie, I"ll be back this time tomorrow evening. You girls have fun."
"Oh yes, Tom, thank you. We have so much planning to do for our trip to Branson," she replied. "You rest well tonight."
"Have a good time with Shelley," Amanda added excitedly.
"What have I told you about telling everything to everyone?"
"What happens at our house, stays at our house." She shrugged her shoulders. "But Daddy, we're not home."
"You're at your Grammie's house. Close enough." He turned to leave and she ran into his arms for a farewell hug and kiss.
"Good night, Tom."
As she saw him back out the door, Tom leaned to whisper in her ear: "Are you all right for this week?"
"Yes, thank you, Tom," she whispered back. "A friend of mine in AA got me some temp work at the Park. I'm even on the rent, and I've got food in the pantry."
"Good. Everything in shape for your trip?"
"Yes, fine, Tom. It's all arranged, hell's bells, you arranged it. We're fine. Relax, enjoy yourself."
Tom smiled. "Thanks. Good night."
"Good night, Tom."
Tom's hands were shaking on the steering wheel as he drove to the bar. There were few patrons sitting around, and Michelle waved to him from a booth across the way. Mutt Hayes was at the end of the bar next to the door, and caught his attention.
"Hey, Tom, sorry about the hubbub at the park tonight. I didn't want to bring anything up, but Hoot provoked me."
"I'm nobody's judge, Hoot. We both know who you are, and I'm not the Ten O'Clock News."
"Thanks, Tom. Say, do you have any more paintings for sale?"
"We'll see. Work's heavy right now."
"Princess spending the night with her Grammie?"
"Yes. I've got a lot of work tomorrow."
"Okay. See ya."
"See ya." Tom made his way across the bar to sit with Michelle. She was sipping a glass of Amaretto as she waited, along with a cup of coffee. Marge Robinson the waitress came over and asked for his order; he ordered Tanqueray and Tonic.
"Well, did you get Mandy to her slumber party tonight?" Michelle asked casually.
"Yeah. She loves Gracie and I think she does the old woman a lot of good. I think Amanda is the only relative she's in touch with, and it helps her stay sober."
"How long as Grace had a drinking problem?"
"Most of her life. It got especially bad after her son was killed in Kabul. She shouted at Renee when she wasn't passed out: Renee's High School years were hell because of her. It was her third DUI arrest that made Renee run away."
"Yes, you must tell me about Renee." Tom looked down painfully, and took a deep breath, His drink arrived and he took a long pull from it. "I know it will hurt, but you need to tell me about it since we're along."
"All right, I can do it, but it's not a happy story; it's not even much of a tragedy."
Four years earlier. . . A July early evening, and Tom was working at his easel. Renee sat nude on a rocking chair, her baby in her arms with its head at her breast. She winced and furrowed her brow as the infant worked her nipple, uncomfortable and restless. Tom was serene and peaceful as he made his portrait of mother and child.
"How soon, honey?" she asked petulantly.
"Amanda's hurting me."
"Switch tits then."
"Won't that spoil your picture?"
"I'm not working on that part."
Uneasily, she turned the baby around to nurse at her right breast. "I don't like nursing," she said flatly. "It ties me down, and it hurts. I wish we could use formula."
"We will, honey, we will, we should probably wait a few weeks before we move her to formula. Mother's milk is the best thing for her right now."
A frown burrowed into her forehead. "Why not use the pump? I've already got a few bottles ready for her."
"All right, I give you permission not to nurse her directly from now on. You can use the pump and feed her from the bottle." He said calmly from his position by the easel.
The sun had just set behind the hills and the stars were coming out. Crickets began their song and lightning bugs were hovering nearby. The humid day was beginning to cool off as a lake breeze started to waft across the deck.
"Done," Tom said, putting down his brush. Renee came around to see, carrying Amanda who had just stopped sucking.
"That's wonderful," she said. It was a tender study of a nude woman sitting in an antique rocking chair, a peaceful baby at the breast. "I think it's the best of the series."
They walked up the stairs and turned to enter the recently created nursery. It was a colorful room, full of animal pictures and a mobile hanging over the crib, with a changing table fully equipped in easy reach. Amanda Joy Albright was a small baby, starting to look like her mother a little, with a head full of baby fuzz. Another fragile miracle, she had long fingers and legs. When they were open, her eyes were bright blue, and her father couldn't stop looking in them.
Putting her down, Tom and Renee locked hands and walked down the hallway together. It was still early, but they were both tired from new parents' sleep loss syndrome.
Laying down on the bed, he looked deeply in her eyes. There was coldness, which he attributed to sleep. Lines of exhaustion, flecks of mascara and eyeliner that she always wore, whether she went out or not, creased her face.
"You are the most beautiful woman in the world," he murmured. "Wish we could have sex."
"I'm still sore," she answered. "It's going to be a while longer."
"I know. I still love you."
"Thanks. Let me show you my appreciation." Her hand snaked down to touch his limp equipment, lightly teasing and taunting his testicles until his phallus began to respond. She laid her head on his chest, looking over his tummy at his rising passion, murmuring in appreciation as he responded to her encouragement. Turning her head, she gave him a long, odd look, taking in every feature of his face. Returning, she increased her tempo, drawing the dewy precursor of love. She took a deep breath, and moved down to take his cock in her mouth, running her soft tongue up and down his shaft before sucking gently.
Her hand tickled his balls, and he enjoyed the long, slow blow as long as she was willing to give it. A month before Amanda's birth, Renee's libido switched off like a light and hadn't resurfaced until now. Tom didn't know what it meant, but was willing to be patient with her. He had no experience living with pregnant women before. His ardor was fueled by the thought her libido was returning, and looking forward to the active sex life they shared before.
A breeze rustled the growing darkness outside, and she sensed he was approaching his climax. Pulling off, she stroked him quickly and whispered: "I want your cum, baby. Cum in my mouth. I want to swallow your sperm. Give me your cum. Cum down my throat." Her tongue became a tornado as she took him back in her mouth and she sucked him relentlessly until he gave her the flood of sperm she wanted. Lingering, she licked him clean and sucked him dry, only letting him go after he went limp and dry.
His eyes closed and he fell into a slumber. His consciousness drifted with one ear on the baby monitor. He didn't know how long he was snoozing when a scream tore through the cove.
Jolting to attention, he ran out the door and down the stairs to the deck. Renee was standing in the night, naked, soaking wet, holding her shoulder which leaked a little blood. "I got bit," she whimpered sheepishly.
"I got bit. I went to swim in the cove and I got bit."
Running across the room, he pulled back the protective hand to see two small puncture marks. Grabbing a bowl from the kitchen drainer, he sucked blood and spat for several minutes. "What were you thinking?" he growled. "Didn't I tell you there were copperheads after dark?"
"Yes," she said in a small, childlike voice. "You did. I didn't believe you. I wanted to go swimming so badly."
She started to walk across the room, and he stopped her. "You shouldn't move any more than you have to. Let me get my pants on and get the baby. You cold?" She nodded her head. He grabbed an heirloom quilt from the living sofa and wrapped it around her. "You stay right here until I get you."
Running, he mounted the stairs two at a time, dashed back to his bedroom to grab his pants, his wallet and her purse. He fell hard putting on his pants, bruising himself, but got up and ran to the baby's room. It was a difficult job to move her quickly but gently; he, moved awkwardly with the inexperience of a new parent, but he quickly had her and her bag in the car. Coming back in, he lifted Renee up in his arms, and carried her to their SUV. "Don't worry, baby. You're going to be all right. I won't let you down."
Her eyes seemed to drift as he put her in the passenger seat, started the car, and called the clinic as he roared down the lake road as fast as he dared. The front door of the clinic was open and a wheel chair waiting for them as they pulled up ten minutes later.
Opening the passenger door, he put her in the wheelchair, and opened the back to get the baby. In his haste, he bumped the carrier as he took it out and Amanda began crying. It was a tough choice to attend the crying baby or walk in with the wheelchair and a screaming infant "I'll be right there," he yelled over his shoulder as Renee was taken in.
Amanda was crying hard, her little voice relentless even though it lacked in volume. Tom was still figuring out what to do with a one month old baby, so he put the carrier on the pavement by the car, and held her over her shoulder. A finger in her leg opening told him her diaper was dry, and she didn't seem hungry. The panic of her father was what irritated her, and he spent several agonizing moments calming the baby, figuring that her mother was getting the attention she needed inside.
Tom got the baby calmed and asleep again, and he put her bag in the carrier as he went inside. Going up to the desk, he went up to Selma Pruett, the night nurse.
"Renee, Renee Carter."
"I don't know, Tom."
"I just brought her in with a snakebite. She was bitten by a copperhead, she needs anti-venin right away."
"Come off it, Selma, I called you on the way in, we talked not ten minutes ago. Where the hell is she?"
"I'll call back and find out," she picked up the phone and dialed a number. In a moment, she asked for Renee Carter. "In the meantime Tom," she said, pushing a clipboard with her other hand, "fill this out."
It was a three page admission application. "I don't have a pen," he wailed. Selma gave him one.
Holding the baby over his shoulder, he began filling out the form, leaving information he didn't know blank. Amanda slept quietly on his shoulder, and he was careful not to jostle her again. Looking up, he saw Selma with the phone by her ear.
At last, he completed the form, leaving the signature on the bottom for Renee. The floor was cold under his bare feet, and the air conditioning made his damp t-shirt clammy. Shivering, he put the clipboard on the counter and said: "All right, where is she?"
Selma looked at him blankly for a moment, and put the phone down slowly. "She's not here, Tom"
"What? What?" Tom jumped around in a couple of frantic circles before he stopped, worried that he'd jiggled the baby. "What the fuck do you mean, she's not here?"
Four years later. . .
Tom told Michelle the whole story of his life with Renee, glossing over the sexual encounters: about his efforts to broaden her horizons, his encouragement of her artistic talent, her slow rebellion as Amanda's birth neared, the episode the night she left.
"Well, I can see what was wrong: you were trying to be everything to her," Michelle said. "Sure, you wanted to help her, improve her life, but it's tough to be a teacher and a lover at the same time, almost impossible."
"After she left, I got her last phone bill. Right after Amanda's birth, she was texting her friend Ashley Harms several times a day. Ashley was working as an orderly at the Clinic, and arranged Renee's disappearance. Renee wasn't bit by a snake: she took a bucket down and poured water over her head. She improvised puncture wounds that would pass in the dim light. My fumbling with the baby when we got to the clinic only played into their hand. Renee went in the front door, right through the corridor, and out the back door where her supposed nemesis Sharibeth Idelson was waiting with a car. Maria Garcia slipped into my drive just after we left and got Renee's junker; it was gone when I got back."
"Wow, how do you know all this?"
"Ashley loves to talk. She told me one night at the pool, after her friends went home. Snotty little bitch."
"I can't imagine a new mother not in love with her baby."
"Me neither, but along with her other issues, Renee had no maternal genes and was much more self-centered than I imagined. She hated being pregnant even though she loved the overactive libido."
"Oh, I see. You must have gotten plenty of action."
He gave a quick, short nod. "I should have seen it coming: Renee lead me on so well. I thought she had a chance for a good life and I could give it to her. Professional opportunities, a nice home, children, a comfortable income. I wanted to give it all to her. She wasn't ready, she wasn't interested." He took another long pull from his drink.
Michelle was completely involved with Tom's story, and her silence invited him to continue. "She got far away from here. First, she went to Colorado. Hooked up with some guys who were making porn videos for the Internet. I could give you dozens of sites where her clips are still up. Did a lot of partying, got into a lot of drugs. Found a boyfriend who rode his bike like an idiot. They were tearing through the mountains of Western Montana just after dusk when they ran into a moose at 80 MPH."
"So that means. . ."
"Amanda will never meet her mother. All she knows is her mother died not long after she was born, and it would be pedantic right now to tell her the death really happened ten months later. Gracie is determined not to say anything negative about Renee, and Amanda doesn't need to know right now that her mother willingly abandoned her. Yet."
"Has she seen her mother's picture?"
"Yes. I have the whole pregnancy series along the upstairs hallway; Amanda's tickled her story got captured that early. When she shows them to you, she'll point to the baby bump and say: 'That's me' with pride. The picture that won the New York contest is hanging in her room."
Michelle looked startled. "I'm surprised."
"I am, too."
"That you let her see her mother naked like that."
"At this age, it won't bother her. She sees other pictures of her mother at Gracie's house, when Renee was a little girl and growing up. I'm surprised you think it's not right."
"Really, really. Remember, when we first met, you were naked."
Michelle laughed and sipped her coffee. "Well, when Amanda shrieked and I realized I wasn't alone, I was scared, but when I saw you with her, I figured you weren't going to rape me in front a child if you had any kind of decency as a parent. So I was able to relax and the rest went naturally."
"Oh." Tom took another long belt of his drink.
They sipped their drinks and listened to the music. Mutt had been chatting up Marge the waitress, the entire time Tom and Michelle talked, so he hadn't overheard anything. Marge gave him a guffaw and lightly pushed him away; he downed his drink and headed uneasily out the door. There was one other patron who seemed frozen under the other bar monitor caught in a SportsCenter loop. Tom bought them another round and they chatted about local events. She stayed away from any mention of home or family.
After the finished their second drink, she said: "Tell me, do you have need of an artist's model soon?"
Tom looked up in interest: "Sure, a good model can always give me ideas."
"I need a little more income than the day care place is giving me."
"I'm sure we can work something out. How about a classic: you posing by a waterfall with flowers in your hair, Mother Nature in all her glory."
"Will I have to be naked?"
She smiled. "Good."
They looked deep into each other's eyes as they finished their second drinks and left before Last Call. Getting into separate cars was awkward, but they couldn't leave one there; people would talk. He fought with himself as he followed her home: should he go home or come to her house? They were out of cell phone range, so a question wasn't possible.
They came to the fork in the road and he slowed to make his turn. Her car slowed as well, pausing as he crawled up the hill, then sped off. Stopping, he took several deep breaths, his heart racing, as he worked out what to do. Finally, he put his car in reverse, backed down the hill, and went up her driveway.