1. Clinging to rocks

"Are you there? Hello?"

"Yes, sweetness. I'm here. I'm right here. Can't you see me?"

"No. It's too dark."

"It doesn't matter. I see you perfectly. That's what matters. Damn, sweet thing, you look just perfect. So elegant, so sweet, so sexy."

"You're just saying that..."

"Ha, like you don't know it. Like you don't love it. But as you wish, play coy, I don't care, it doesn't change a thing. I'm here, and I see every little detail. You are on display, sweetness. So come on, give a good show. You will give a good show, won't you?"

"Yes. I'll do my best."

"That's all I ask for. Let's get to it. You're almost all skin tonight. I like that. Let's complete the picture. The panties, you don't need them. Take them off. I want you naked, right now."


"Is there any other 'naked' than just that one? Perfect. You are gorgeous, sweetness. Now, don't keep me waiting. This is your show. So show me."

"Show you what?"

"Show me what you like. Show me how you want it."


At the east Skagerrak coastline, west of Sweden and south of Norway, the busy intersection between the Baltic Sea and the North Sea, the Atlantic lures in the distance, but far off enough to make this vast bay feel like a universe of it's own. Land meets the sea, not with wide stretched playas or majestic hills, but with ragged granite cliffs, ravine bedrock shores, twisted bizarre by ancient volcanic mayhem and polished agreeable by not as ancient ice ages. Gulls and ferns rule the air in a cacophony of white wings, and astute, cold darkness rules the world below the glittering surface.

Here is where you don't come for cheap sangrias and bad beach pickup lines. It's where you don't work the tan or flash the pre bikini season achievements in sweat and tears from the gym. It's where you don't come home from with fuzzy memories and the STD of your choice. It's where you go when all that is said and done, and it's wearing you out. Another kind of bliss, that of quiet mornings and autumn storms, and small harbours built for both.

Here is where things wash up, when the world is done with them.

Things washed ashore were picked up by Trine. Sometimes. If they happened upon her small stretch of shoreline and if they glittered or were bent in curious shapes that caught her eye. Of course, she always picked up the litter, bleached shampoo bottles, beer cans, oil spill lumps, broken glass, assorted plastic junk and so on. But that's just because she loved the rock and the sea, and wanted her little patch of it clean. She threw those uninvited intruders in black plastic bags and put it on the litter ferry to mainland on Tuesdays. Boring straight planks and beams were also left to their fate. They would dry and turn to dust or dirt in their own pace anyway. She sometimes hammered in a rusty nail so that curious gulls wouldn't hurt themselves on them, but her own interests were in the more peculiar finds. Pretty little rocks polished smooth by ages of waves and sand, driftwood roots shaped like animals, faces or other things and rare objects of more human origin. Shoes, clothes, books or what's left of them after weeks in the sea, anything out of the ordinary that the waves would bring. Some driftwood is for keeps.

With moss green rubber boots, army slacks and an oversized wool grey jumper, Trine blended right into the landscape. This is a landscape of distances, and she wilfully kept to herself and her patch of land as much as she could. But up close there was no escaping a distinct beauty. Her hair in salty disarray framed a face that even though it tried very hard not to, would capture a glance and make it grow into an adoring stare as sure as the rock she stood on. Her strong limbs bore the mark of youth and dedication, and her curves the full form of woman, although she made no effort to display it. Her voice was as clear as crystal and as rich as the ocean, but she used it rarely. There were not many here to speak to. But if you were lucky, and stood in the right direction, the wind might have carried a soft, melodic humming your way.

Now, Trine was no pariah, just a tired soul who lived too fast, and drifted ashore here at the right time in her life to embrace the silence. She woke up one morning, where she couldn't even remember anymore, and realized that she was only years past twenty, and feeling old, run to the end of the rope, worse for wear. Too many bad calls and too much high ambition had left her bitten and bruised from a world that takes more than it gives, and to live for the next high, the next ecstasy, the next adrenaline ignited orgasm in the bed or backseat of whoever thrilled her the most, was not a cheap way to live. And now it had drained her to the point of exhaustion. When you try to burn that brightly, you never get what you give. And eventually there's nothing left to sacrifice.

She left the clamour and headed for the only haven she knew, her grandfather's old summer cabin on a secluded island in the Skagerrak peninsula. He'd passed away and left her the lot a year earlier, but she had been to busy getting high on life, substances and sex to notice. He'd left her a quiet life in a tiny peninsula surrounding a small fishing harbour, a place where time had stood still for decades. A handful of vacationing families populated the island in the summer and absolute solitude reigned from September to Easter. The perfect antithesis of the fast-lane world she'd clung to since she first broke off from her over-bearing parents at sixteen. Parties with friends her father would never approve of, concerts, clubs and beer to begin with. And later, through fairytale coincidences and shameless ambition, she ascended into a metropolis high life, jet set travels and white lines in exchange for trophy sex and ever increasing debaucheries. Being young, pretty and believing there's nothing to lose makes it easy to be seduced by glamour zine ideals.

There was none of that here. So Trine traded shining like a nova for shining like a candle. It was just meant as a temporary respite, a place to sit through a hangover she'd postponed since her late teens. A week, a month maybe. Her latest sugar daddy had had a standing invitation for her to his London Docklands condo, king size bed and liquor cabinet. But June turned into July, which turned into autumn and winter and another June before she gave leaving a second thought. And now she just didn't want to. Where she once collected broken hearts and heroin stained kisses, she now collected rocks and wood, where she had stared into the strobes of dance floors, she now stared into the pulse of breaking waves. She'd gradually grown to realise that there would never be enough life to experience everything, so she would always miss out. Experiencing the little things were just as valuable as experiencing the big things, and little things didn't rub her sore in the process.

She missed men though. Or rather, what men could do with her body, and what they could do with her mind through her body, that otherworldly sensation that ran though her very being when intense physical pleasure clashed with the sharp thrill of breaking a lifetime of taught taboos. A loss of control and care, the balance on a knife's edge between carefree and careless. The total exposure to hungry eyes, the touching, the licking, the pulling and pushing. Hands on sweaty skin, rough meat sliding over sensation nexuses, delicious pleasure jolts from a wet tongue flicking her nipple, the intense taste of cum shot into her mouth from a jerking gland at her lips, the frantic rhythm of a determined lover, and the certain knowledge that she was at the mercy of someone else and that she couldn't possible will herself to stop until she was over the edge and another spine shaking climax has exploded from her loins.

That was the one drug she couldn't get out of her system. She'd managed to sweat out the booze and the cocaine before they took over her soul completely and went from bad habit to hard addiction. Other assorted pills were just as easy to kick. Trine never even knew their name, so all she could do was throw up and hallucinate for a week until her body adjusted to the new deal. But sex, that was primal. It was a part of her body, not shit she had added to it. She told herself that she was over it, that she was beyond physical pleasure and that no good could come from looking for it. And she almost had herself convinced.

Until the sun set and the night came, and she found herself tossing and turning, unable to drift off into sleep. Lonely, uneasy and restless she flipped a too warm pillow over and over and battled sticky sheets, fighting the urge to do what she knew she would eventually. With a grunt she kicked off the sheets, sat up on the bed and pulled the t-shirt she slept in, or had intended to sleep in, over her head. She leaned back on stretched arms, took a deep breath and felt the air move gently around her naked chest. A line of pale moonlight from the window was draped over the front of her panties and down along a thigh, as if indicating the direction it wanted them to go. They would. She'd be naked in the dark, she'd be wet, warm and delirious, moaning to the walls, crying for release, bucking her hips out at nothing and rubbing herself harder and harder. Soon enough she would. She closed her eyes and lay back on the mattress. The dream took over.

She woke up almost every morning naked, curled up on the side with ruffled hair, sticky fingers and a sheen of sweat all over that made her shiver in the chilly November air that seeped in through window frames and floorboards during the night. The sheets and shirt lay crumbled in a pile by the bed and her panties would either hang around an ankle or be kicked off too. It was a defeat every time. Not because she had any objections about touching herself. It felt good, got the job done, and was nobody's business but her own. It made her sleep like a baby too, and the mess the morning after was a minor nuisance. She just didn't want to depend on it so fucking badly.


2. Stuff from the sea

Here is where things wash up, when the world is done with them.

Things washed ashore were picked up by Trine. Sometimes. If they were rare and shaped like her imagination, the not very plain girl hidden in the very plain clothes and green rubber boots would take them home, polish them pretty and keep them close, in a growing collection of Stuff From The Sea. It was a simple enough name for a simple enough hobby. But it gave her walks down to the shoreline a purpose other than fresh air and the soothing sound of rolling waves. Some days she still needed a purpose to even get out of bed, and even a silly and small purpose like that one seemed to do the trick.

It was a harsh day. The temperature had dropped from pleasant indian summer to nose-biting cold in just a day, and the wind had picked up pace to a brisk breeze that carried the dampness of the ocean several miles inland. Out here on the island, there was no way to escape it except warmer clothes and cranking up the heat indoors. Trine wrapped a scarf around her neck and pulled a cap over her head in addition to the usual seafront scavenging attire, and headed a familiar path toward the west side of the small island, just a little more than a rock in the water. She wondered, as always, what Stuff the sea would bring her today.

She followed the path down to sea level, but stopped astonished as she came to the bedrock beach that was her favourite spot for collecting driftwood. The sea had decided to bring something it never done before. It brought a man. Or at least Trine thought it was a man, at a distance it was merely a lean figure in short, dark hair, that sat propped up against a large boulder a few feet from the waterfront. He or she looked almost casually nonchalant, one leg stretched and the other supporting a resting arm, head leaning against the stone surface watching the waves foam at the ridges from there to the horizon. The carefree pose was just a fleeting impression though, as Trine walked closer she saw that the person's clothes were soaked dark, the figure's chest was breathing heavily and the whole body shivered. The white sock at the outstretched foot had turned red at the bottom of the ankle, which in itself was twisted in what must be an uncomfortable way. He was definitely hurt. And cold. And in serious need of help.

And yes it was definitely a man, his face was still turned away watching the sea, but the dark three-day shave on his cheek was a dead giveaway. He hadn't heard her coming and made no reaction as she sneaked closer.

"Hallå? Vad gör du här? Behöver du hjälp?" Trine said when she was just a few feet behind him.

The man's head jerked and he spun around to look at her. His wet face was pretty thin, and his eyes were dark around the edges from lost sleep. He looked pretty nice, Trine thought, beside the obvious need for soap, a shave and a comb. In his current condition, he could be anything from twenty to forty, there was really no way of telling. But what really caught her eye was the look he gave her, that of someone who'd just seen an angel.

"Thank god, there are people here," he breathed and then louder. "I'm sorry. I haven't the foggiest what you just said. Do you speak English?"

His accent was somehow British, but Trine couldn't quite place it. Southern...Devon, maybe? It had a bit of the vowels. She nodded to his question. "I asked if you needed help. But I guess that's obvious. What happened to your foot, is it broken?"

"No, just a twisted ankle, I think," the man said with a wince. "And I cut myself on some sharp rocks getting out of the water. It looks worse than it is."

"Let's hope so, because you kind of look like crap right now."

He laughed, but it came out more like a tired cough. "No surprise there. No surprises there. I've been knocking about on a rubber float since yesterday morning, gulping salt water and feeling sick. I hit land by the cliffs over there and the float got stuck," he said with a nod in the direction of a set of jagged cliffs.

"We've got to get you out of here, you need to warm up or you'll soon get--what's the name--"


"Right. Or you'll add pneumonia to your miseries. I'd go get more help, but for the next six months, there's nobody here but me. We'll have to manage. Got to get you inside and see to that foot. Can you stand up?"

"Barely. Help me up and we'll see."

Trine ducked forward and he put his arm around her shoulder. His hand took a surprisingly solid grip around her arm and she heaved him to his feet. Or foot. The injured ankle was impossible to lean on. So he leaned on Trine instead.

"Yeah, this works," he said. "It stings a bit, but it works."

Together they began an awkward three leg hop up towards the huddling trees where the path back to Trine's cabin lay. The man was slightly taller than her, and she curiously noted how his pale skin with a careful tan clashed with his dark brown eyes and even darker hair. A mixed bag of genes, she guessed. Either way it worked well for him. His grip and upper body felt pretty strong, in a wiry kind of way, and the lack of balance and a leg to stand on made him dig his fingers solidly into her shoulder.

"Pleased to meet you, by the way," he said. "I'm Adam."

"And I'm Trine. Welcome to my island."

"Your very own island?"

"Believe me, it sounds cooler than it is."

"Just one thing," Adam said between winces of pain. "Where the hell are we?"

"Norway, as south as you can get. Look two miles to the south and it's Swedish coast."

"I went far on that rubber thing then. I fell off the boat that me and my mates sailed on north of Denmark. We missed a storm warning and ran into mean waves, and I was washed overboard. Thank god for a pool float that got tipped over at the same time. I'd be history otherwise."

A seagull swooped down, landed on a nearby cliff and watched the two humans hopping away. It didn't give the sight much thought though. It thought of fish. Seagulls rarely think of anything but fish.


3. Playing house

Ten careful fingertips danced across alert skin, nerve ends waking up and singing signals of touch, humming of caress for a longing body. Fingertips slid over closed lids, parted lips, elegant curves, soft mounds and rigid knobs, smooth stretches and warm folds. She felt the slight tingles of tickled nerves when her digits passed by, and the cobweb delicacy of microscopic hairs under them when she brushed lightly by. If the shut her eyes and let her mind sink back, she couldn't quite separate the feeling of touching and being touched. They became one and the same, and she would imagine it wasn't her skin she touched and not her hands that touched her, but two lovers caressing each other, in perfect mirror sync.

"That's it. Can you feel it? Tell me how it feels."

"Yes. It's...it's nice."

"Nice? Nice doesn't cut it. Go on, you can do so much better than nice. Don't hold back. You won't in the end anyway."

"I know. I'm sorry."

"Sweetness, you don't have to apologize to me. This is for you. Let yourself enjoy it. Is that so hard?"

"It's just... Why can't you... help me?"

"But I am, sweetness. I am."


"Lovely," Adam said, scanning the room.

Trine groaned inwards. She'd half supported half carried the incapacitated man from the rocky shore to her cabin, a 300 metre stretch on tricky paths, through shrubbery and over cliffs. It was a stroll on the safe side of easy for any normal person, but for three working feet and one aching, it was a challenge. The narrow paths and passages were not meant for two side by side, so the short walk took its toll. The cabin was a small place, just a room with a small kitchen area at the short end and a fireplace at the other, a bed and some bookshelves and a sofa lined the walls in between. Pretty much all one person needed, but not much more. Well inside, she'd been in a carpal tunnel of concern. She'd propped up Adam in the sofa, carefully helped him remove his blood soaked shoe and sock, and was digging through drawers for whatever she could clean that ugly cut with, and something warm and dry for him to wear. That's when she remembered the empty milk cartons, old magazines, piles of paperback books, the unmade bed, the dead plant and five days of dirty laundry tossed all over the place. Underwear and balled up socks especially. She felt a blush coming on and fought to keep it back.

"Oh damn, sorry about the mess. It's not like I was expecting visitors. Pretty much ever."

Adam laughed. A bit strained since he was still affected by the aching ankle and the cold. "Mess? Never mind that, I've got worse at home at any given time, even WHEN I'm playing the host. No, I meant the style. I like the whole maritime driftwoody thing."

"Oh. Thanks. It's mostly my grandfathers' stuff. I used to come here in the summers when I was a kid, so I've tried to keep is as close to how I remember it from back then."

"But I'll bet your gramps didn't hang knickers from the ceiling beams," Adam said.

And the full scale blush was an undeniable fact. Shit. Only one thing to do. Time for a change of topic.

"Um--no. I guess not. Take off your clothes," she said.


"Or freeze your ass off. Here," She said and tossed him a large t-shirt and an even larger sweater. "Those are big enough for two of me in them, so they shouldn't be too small for you. I'm afraid I haven't got anything in the way of pants that would fit you, but I'll go get a towel that you can wrap around your--eh--"


"Not the word I was looking for, but yes." She picked up a towel from the drawer and gave it to Adam. "Here is one to dry you off with, I'll go get a bigger one for your 'skirt'."

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