tagChain StoriesF6: Love on the Boat

F6: Love on the Boat


This story is a submission to the sixth Friendly Anonymous Writing Challenge (FAWC) and a tribute to the founder of FAWC, slyc_willie, who we lost unexpectedly in October 2015. The true author of this story is kept anonymous until the end of the competition. Authors base their story on a list of four items. Their choices included the following letters: S L Y C. Each item was used in the story. There are no prizes given in this challenge; this is simply a friendly competition.

The list for this story includes: yacht; yarn; yearn; yodel

* * * *

At Slick Willie's, down by the docks, the week was not complete until Russ had had his say. As the sun set, the regulars came in, and the sounds of Slim Whitman, American yodeler extraordinaire, wafted out of the jukebox.

"Turn that fucking shit off!"

Gabe shook his head, but smiled to himself as the Saturday night ritual began.

"Who turned that on?" Russ demanded. "I'll shove it down their throats!"

"Relax, Russ," said Gabe as he wiped the bar down. "They just do it to get a rise out of you."

"Heard ol' Slim was the only way to get a rise out of Russ," said a patron at the bar. Guffaws followed as Russ glared at his fellow barmates.

"Seriously?" a new voice asked incredulously. "This stuff?"

Gabe looked down the row of rough-hewn faces that lined the bar stools and spotted a young guy, dark-haired and clean-shaven. It was Charlie, a nephew of one of the regulars.

Phil, Charlie's uncle, grinned. "You ain't heard that story?" He laughed when Charlie shook his head. "You stick around, you'll hear it tonight."

"Damn straight," agreed Dick Harkins. "I've heard that yarn so many times I could make myself a sweater."

"The hell with all of you," said Russ grumpily. "Gabe, gimme another." Gabe slid a mug of beer down the bar and Russ caught it with practiced ease.

Things quieted down as the regulars moved to tables where they could shoot the breeze for the rest of the night, bragging about the things they had done, and some they hadn't. Russ remained at the bar, glaring at the occasional asshole who got up and put Slim Whitman back on the jukebox.

Charlie came up to the bar with a couple of empty glasses. "Two more, Gabe."

"Sure." Gabe grabbed the glasses and walked down the bar.

"So, Russ, what is it with you and that song?" Charlie asked.

"Nothin'." Russ took another pretzel and bit into it with the air of a man long-practiced in ignoring anyone within a three-foot radius.

"Seriously, man." Charlie nodded when Gabe brought the beers back. "Looks like that had, you know, a major effect or something. Uncle Phil said you've been like that for, like, twenty years. What's up with that?"


"Hold on." Charlie took one of the beers to his uncle's table and hurried back to the bar. "Look, Russ, I know how you feel."

Russ gave a sideways scoff, conveying complete disdain without looking at Charlie.

"Honest to God, my best friend loved the song 'Desperado.' He moved away when we were like, twelve, and we lost touch. I can't hear the song without thinking of him. I know what it's like when a song gets under your skin."

This made Russ turn towards him. Charlie wilted before the expression of incredulity and disgust.

"Fuckin' amateur," Russ said in amazement. "You're kidding me. You think that makes you know how I feel?"

"Well, I¬—um—I—ah—"

"You ever yearned for something, kid?"

"What?" Charlie blinked.

"Yearned. Not just want something, or want it real bad. Not just wish you had it. You ever wanted something so bad you feel like you'd die for it? Like you'd die if you didn't get it? Like your very soul depends on getting whatever it is? You ever yearn for anything?"

"I don't know. I don't think so."

"Good. Honesty." Russ nodded. "Now we're getting somewhere. You really want to know about me an ol' Slim?"

"Yes." Charlie cracked a smile. "I need some yarn to start my sweater."

"Get another beer."

* * * *

Many years ago...

It was a gorgeous day and Russ Gardner whistled as he walked to work at the Dolphin Point Marina. He'd scored a summer job as caretaker on a yacht, thanks to his dad's connections with Trevor Hamilton, who owned the marina. Not only that, he'd get to live on the yacht; he relished the idea of not living under his parents' roof. He loved them, but well, they were parents.

How bad could it be, he thought. Lots of sun, fresh air, maybe he'd even get to take the yacht out once in a while. He was twenty, home from college for the summer, and the living looked to be pretty easy.

Russ walked down the dock to meet Mr. Hamilton, who had offered to give him a tour of the marina and yacht and help him settle in.

"Ah, Russ." Hamilton gave him a wide smile. It was only June, but the man already had a deep-summer tan. "Good to see you."

"Hi, Mr. Hamilton." Russ shook the proffered hand. "Thanks again for helping me out with the job this summer. I really can't thank you enough."

Hamilton waved his thanks away. "Don't mention it. My previous boat hand had to leave suddenly, and I was pleased when your dad told me you needed a job, and a place to stay. This should work out well. Wouldn't want to trust my baby to just anyone, you know." He chuckled.

"I'm glad you trust me, sir," said Russ.

"Now, let's stop in here first and I'll introduce you to Melissa, our admin." Hamilton strode forward and pulled the office door open, then stepped back for Russ to enter.

Once inside, Russ pulled off his baseball cap and shivered. The cool air inside made for a stark contrast with the early summer heat. He looked around, but the office was empty.

"She must be in the back," said Hamilton. "I'll get her. Melissa? Melissa!" he called as he walked toward the back of the office.

"Coming!" There was a pause and then a woman with honey-blond hair came into the room. "Hi, Dad. What are you doing here?"

"Just wanted to introduce you to Russ Gardner. He'll be taking care of the Call this summer. Russ, this is my daughter, Melissa."

"Hi, nice to meet you." Melissa came over with a smile and held out her hand.

"You too," Russ said, although he wasn't sure how. His brain had frozen the moment he'd seen her.

"Have you seen the Call yet?" she asked.

Russ tried to reply, couldn't form the words and was relieved when her father stepped in. "We're just headed there now, thought we'd stop here on our way down."

"Okay, well, good to meet you Russ. See you later, Dad. Excuse me, I need to get some more files." Melissa waved good-bye and walked into the back room. The two men stepped outside and continued down the dock.

"Here's the Indian Love Call," Hamilton said as they came to the slip. He beamed. "Isn't she grand?"

"Yes, sir," said Russ, and it was true.

The Indian Love Call was a 65-foot thing of beauty. The lines were clean, the mahogany accents gleamed, and the sails hung pure white against the blue sky. Russ could imagine sailing away and living on the yacht, never coming back to dry land. Melissa's face popped into his head, and he imagined sailing away with her. Then he dropped the thought when he remembered her father was standing next to him.

"Come along, and I'll show you where everything is." Hamilton stepped onto the boat and held out a hand to steady Russ as he came across.

Somehow Russ got through the rest of the day. He forced himself to pay attention to Hamilton's instructions, but it was a tough job. Melissa kept slipping into his thoughts, and it was almost impossible to push her aside and concentrate on the yacht. It seemed rude.

"I think that's everything, Russ," said Hamilton. "Why don't you take some time, get yourself settled, and come over to our place for dinner tonight?"

"Oh, thank you, sir, but I don't want to impose."

"Nonsense. My wife is looking forward to meeting you, and I thought we could talk about college and what you might be planning to do afterwards."

Melissa or no Melissa, Russ knew he couldn't pass on a chance to network with someone like Trevor Hamilton. "I appreciate it, sir. What time should I be there?"

"Melissa will get you when she's done at the office, somewhere between five and six. Is that all right?"

Oh god, yes, thought Russ. "Yes, sir, that'll be great. Thanks again," he said.

It didn't take long for Russ to stow his gear, so he spent some time exploring the yacht on his own. He was good with boats¬—he'd been on them with his dad since practically before he could walk—but he'd never been on anything like this. The Indian Love Call was to his previous experience like living in a mansion after growing up in a one-room bungalow.

I could get used to this, he thought.

He checked his watch and saw that he still had a couple of hours before Melissa—the beautiful, gorgeous Melissa—would show up. No matter how many times he reminded himself that she was his boss' daughter, he couldn't tamp down the thoughts of her.

Her skin had looked soft and sun-kissed; her smile would melt Jack Frost's heart. Her body was—here he was able to redirect his thoughts, because jacking off on the boat of his new employer, his father's friend, was not a line he was ready to cross. However, given Melissa, he could see where he might, one day, put a certain part of his anatomy over the line.

Russ spent the time wandering around the docks, meeting some of the other caretakers, and occasionally another owner. They all seemed friendly enough; Russ supposed that the love of boats and being on the water acted as something of an equalizer.

As it got closer to five, Russ returned to the Call for a shower. He laid out his cleanest khaki shorts and a white golf shirt. Grabbing some soap and shampoo, he stepped into the bathroom, which was small but functional.

He cleaned up and stepped out to get dressed.

"Oh! I'm sorry! I called but no one answered."

Russ jumped, kept his towel in place, and swallowed in a dry throat. There was Melissa Hamilton, framed in the sunlight that shone down into the entryway.

And there he was, wet, barely covered with a towel at the waist, hoping his sudden erection wasn't obvious.

"Um. Hi. I was—um—shower."

"Yes, I see." Melissa smiled, tilted her head a little, and looked at him. "I'll just wait topside until you're done. Bye." She turned and walked up the stairs. Russ could only stare at her ass as she went.

"Oh my god," he managed after she left. He forced himself to take his time and get ready, praying that his hard-on went down. By the time he had finished it all, he was satisfied he wouldn't embarrass himself, and went topside.

Melissa was sitting by the rail, looking out at the bay.

"Hi. Hope I didn't keep you waiting," Russ said.

"Nope, I was just enjoying the view." She smiled at him. "It's so quiet at this time of day right now. Pretty soon it won't be, with everyone coming and going all the time. Speaking of going, shall we?"


Russ let out a low whistle when he saw Melissa's car, a Mustang that tugged at his heart.

"Wow, that is some car."

"Thanks. I've wanted one for a long time, saved up, and now I've got it." She grinned. "With a little help from my dad, I admit, but not much. Come on, let's go."

The drive was short, and they didn't talk but to exchange some basic information. Russ told her he was majoring in math, and Melissa said she was studying for an MBA.

"My mom thinks it's very boring, and I won't need it, but I like it and don't intend to stay home all the time," Melissa told him. "This summer I'm working at the marina, but next year I'd like to intern somewhere else."

"Sounds great," said Russ, impressed. "I couldn't find anything near school to hold me over for the summer, so your dad's offer was a real windfall."

"Do you think you'll teach?" Melissa asked as she pulled into the driveway.

"I'll probably have to be a teaching assistant at some point, but I don't think I'd make it as a professor. I'm not quite sure yet, so I'll keep looking." Russ looked up at the house. It was big, but not imposing, reminding him a bit of Trevor Hamilton himself.

"We're here," Melissa called as she opened the door.

"Oh, good, I was starting to worry." A woman who could only be Melissa's mother came to meet them. "Hello, Russ, how are you?"

"Fine, Mrs. Hamilton, thanks," he said and leaned in to accept her kiss on the cheek.

"Oh, call me Irene, please. You'll have to say hello to your parents for me when you talk to them." Irene led them into the kitchen. "Trevor, the kids are here."

"Hello, sweetie." Hamilton stood and gave Melissa a hug, then held a hand out to Russ. "Good to see you."

"You, too, sir. Thanks again for the invitation."

"Don't be silly," said Irene. "I know there's no food on that boat. I'll send you with some leftovers for sandwiches when you go."

"Irene, I'm sure Russ can fend for himself," her husband said.

"I'm sure he can, but no sense letting the food go to waste. Now everyone, sit. It's all ready." Irene shooed them to the table.

Russ enjoyed the dinner, but couldn't ignore the undercurrent of tension with Melissa. It wasn't bad or uncomfortable, just . . . noticeable. She made no secret of studying him, or smiling at him. There was no attempt at anything else, but he had the feeling that she might be amenable to more than a dinner with her parents.

After a dessert of homemade apple pie, which he was unable to refuse after Irene's insistence, he found himself back in the Mustang with Melissa. As they drove along the dark roads, with streetlights few and far between, she turned on the radio, leaving some jazz playing softly.

"That was some dinner," Russ said. "Your mom's a great cook."

"Yeah, she is. And thanks, I'll tell her you said so."

Russ wished he could think of more to say, to spend more time with Melissa, but all too soon she pulled into the marina's parking lot.

"Thanks for the ride. I guess I'll see you around," he said as he got out.

Melissa stepped out as well. "Here, I'll walk you to the Call. I need to walk off that pie."

"No, you don't," Russ said before he could stop himself. Grateful for the darkness, he felt his face heat up. "I mean, um, you look great and the pie doesn't matter and—"

She laughed. "Thanks, Russ, that's sweet." With that, she took his hand and began walking.

Once on the yacht, Russ felt awkward. He couldn't exactly offer her coffee—he wasn't sure there was any coffee to offer—and the quarters were tight. And since what he really wanted to do didn't involve a whole lot of talking, he felt stuck.

Melissa watched him for a minute, then laughed again. "Russ, relax, I won't bite."

He cleared his throat. "No? Well, that's good, because—"

She stepped over to him and leaned in close. "I won't bite, at least, unless you want me to."

With that, she kissed him.

Russ was paralyzed for a moment by this unexpected fulfillment of his wishes. Her lips were lush and warm, and when she pressed her body against his, he groaned. There was no hiding his physical reaction this time.

Melissa broke the kiss, pulling away but not ending the bodily contact. "You're pretty good at that."


"We should try it again."

"Okay." Then it hit him, who he was with, and where. "Wait. That's not a great idea. I mean, it's a great idea, but your dad would probably not be happy."

"Don't worry about that," she assured him. "I can handle it. But you're right, we need to wait."

"We do?"

"Yes. But it's okay." She leaned up and gave him a long kiss. "It's just we don't have anything to set the mood. I don't mean to be picky but I do like a certain . . . ambiance."

"Okay. Ambiance is good."

"Tell you what, why don't we plan to see a movie after I finish work on Friday? We can come back here afterwards."

"All right. That works."

"Great. See you then." After one final, lingering kiss, Melissa left the Call.

* * * *

"Oh, a summer love story, huh?" Charlie grinned. "Got a couple of those myself."

"Stop interrupting." Russ glared at him. "You think this is as simple as some stupid teenage romance?"

"Sorry, sorry," Charlie said hastily.

"Shut up and listen."

* * * *

Back at the marina...

For the next few days, Russ was in a fog. It had hit him late the next day, when he realized he hadn't seen Melissa at all, and it hit him like a punch in the gut.

He wanted her, he longed for her. No, he realized, he yearned for her. He'd never felt like that about a girl before, and wondered what it meant. Waiting another three days to see her seemed impossible.

He didn't need to wait, he realized. He could go see her at the admin office. True, he had no official reason to go, but so what? He could just go and say hi, to be friendly. Maybe bring her a coffee or something.

The next morning, he headed out early to find some coffee and take it to the office. On the way back, he got nervous. What if she'd forgotten? What if that had been some apple-pie-induced fit and she didn't like him at all? Or if she'd been teasing him, just to see what he'd do?

Come on, he said to himself, be a man. You're taking her coffee, not an engagement ring. Get a grip.

He took a deep breath and stepped into the office. It was empty. He didn't know whether he was relieved or not. Perhaps he could just leave the coffee on her desk, with a note, and not have to see her and have his dream bubble popped.

"Hey, how are you?" Melissa came out with a file in her hand. "What's this?"

"Oh, I was just out getting some coffee and thought you might like some." He raised one of the cups to her. "I wasn't sure how you take it. There's some sugar and cream in my pocket."

"Is there now?" she said, a sly note to her voice.

"Um, yeah." Russ reddened.

"Well, a little sugar and cream never hurt anyone, did they?"

"No, I guess not."

She gave him a coy look as she added the sugar and cream to her coffee, then took a sip. "Mmmm. Thanks, just what I needed. Up too late last night."

"Oh, sorry. I won't keep you, just wanted to say hi."

"Don't be sorry, some things are worth being up for." She chuckled. "And Russ, don't worry, we're still on for Friday."

"Good. Yeah, cool." Russ tried to be nonchalant and knew he had likely failed. He couldn't care, though, now that he had confirmation from Melissa. Knowing that the kiss had not resulted from an overload of apple pie picked his self-confidence up a little.

The phone rang and Melissa moved to answer it. Russ gave her a quick wave and stepped out of the office, feeling much better than when he'd gone in.

Friday couldn't come too soon for Russ. Once he got into the routine of maintaining the yacht, he realized he had little else to do, and so he'd think about Melissa. Think about her, long for her, yearn for her.

In his mind, she was as beautiful as a siren. He imagined how soft her hair was, how silky her skin. He dreamed of how she would feel against him, of how he'd feel inside her, and then he'd have to go take a cold shower.

When at last Friday evening arrived, he could only hope to keep himself in check. He'd taken coffee twice more, solely to see her, and both times she'd seemed pleased. That was a good sign, he thought. Both times, she'd said she was looking forward to Friday. He couldn't ask for much more than that.

This time, Russ decided to keep some control of the situation. He showered long before she would be done work, and walked up to the office to meet her. He did not want to start his evening with a repeat of their first—well, second—meeting.

When he walked into the office, Melissa looked up and smiled. "Right on time. Hang on, I'm almost finished."

"Take your time." Russ sat and picked up one of the boating magazines on the table.

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