tagMatureThe Boy at the Beach House

The Boy at the Beach House

byharding©

Jenni Adams parked her rusted pickup behind the Harper house and killed the engine, sat at the wheel as an east wind brought rain over the steep shingle roof and drove it hard against the windshield. The surf would be big today and she anticipated a fight getting through the waves. She wanted this moment to last, sitting perfectly still, letting the urge to swim build inside, the anticipation almost sexual. For Jenni, a lot of things were almost sexual.

She was considering her life, her future, and whether a place existed for the couple staying in the beach house next door. She needed to decide two things -- hell, at least two, but let's get those nailed down to begin with, she thought.

The first was a biggie. She believed the time had come for her to give serious thought to leaving her husband.

By comparison, the second was easy. Which of the two people staying in the beach house did she want to make love with most? And then, with a shiver: why not both? Together?

Neither came with any easy answer. She had been here before, nagging away at what to do about her marriage, like a tongue probing a sore tooth, with pretty much the same result. Leave well alone; worrying only makes the pain worse. Except now the marriage, like an ignored tooth, had reached a point where she had to do something. As for the couple next door, the couple with the baby? Well, she guessed that was mostly wishful thinking.

Jenni had come to the beach to swim, same as she did nearly every day of the year, summer or winter. September came and the Harpers returned home, letting Jenni know the house was hers to use whenever she wanted. She would drive over the spine of the island from town and park on the rough sand and grass strip behind the house, change into her swimwear, then use the electric shower indoors when she returned from the ocean. Even though Kate and Tim were good friends, even though they said use the place whenever she liked, some faint guilt touched her each time because this was their house. She felt like an intruder; although less of one now than she had, after what happened two years before.

*****



It had been a warmer day back then when Jenni arrived early at the row of beach houses, as she did every Saturday during summer. Late July, the height of the vacation season, with all six of the houses occupied. At a quarter before seven the sand stretched clean and empty, washed by last night's tide, not yet disturbed by kids with spades and buckets, dry bathers with sun loungers, teenagers making scratch games of beach volleyball scuffing up the surface or a hundred footprints from people wandering with nowhere particular to be. The sun struggled to clear the fog which still blanketed the edge of the ocean, overhead the sky cloudless. Jenni knew this would change in the afternoon as heat built over the land and cumulus began popping. She sniffed, tasting the air. No rain today.

Jenni parked her pickup behind the last but one house. Kate and Tim Harper had owned it for as long as she remembered. At one time the house had been filled with kids and laughter, the smell of sun oil, drying swimwear and toast -- someone was always making toast.

Now the kids had grown and some had kids of their own. Kate and Tim continued to arrive each summer, retired now and with time on their hands. They asked Jenni to use the place out of season, from early September on, their offer mostly but not completely altruistic because Jenni kept the place aired and clean. The houses were let until the end of November, a couple of them all year for those hardy souls craving wild winds and gray skies who didn't mind freezing their butts off for the sake of fresh air, exercise and deserted sand.

September through March was quiet, the beach undisturbed, and Jenni came down to change in the house, as a base to swim for an hour or more a day and a chance to escape her home life. When the sea grew too cold to swim in her bikini -- the one created from visitor cast offs, the top skimpy black nylon too small for her breasts, the bottom mismatched gray lycra in a different style, cut square like boy shorts -- she wears the even older wetsuit someone was about to throw out. The wetsuit had a rip on one shoulder, the seams starting to part, but the application of gaffer tape worked wonders, keeping her warm enough to continue swimming right through winter. The Gulf Stream helped as well.

Today the Harper's were in residence. When Kate heard Jenni's pickup still its noisy rattle she came out on the porch and waved.

"Coffee's fresh if you want some, Jen."

Jenni started dragging the first of the laundry bags from the back of the pickup, checked blue and white nylon, each containing fresh sheets and towels for one of the houses. She tugged the Harper's bag off the back of the truck and let it drop to the ground, dragged it around to the steps leading to the porch.

"I'll take you up on the coffee," Jenni said, putting her back into pulling the bag up the three wide steps between beach and porch.

"Hang on, Jen, I'll get Paul to help you."

Paul?

"I can manage," Jenni said.

"I know you can, but you don't have to. Come up here."

Jenni stopped struggling and stepped up onto the porch, tall and lean, the morning sun catching her sun bleached brown hair, casting light into her dark steel gray eyes. Kate Harper pulled the screen door open and called inside. "Paul, come out here and bring our laundry up."

A muffled reply came back and a moment later a boy came out. Jenni stared at him, appreciating his perfect young beauty. Dressed only in swim shorts his flat stomach rippled with underlying muscle. No hair showed on his chest, his chin clean shaven, hair straw blond and not far from the same texture, thick and unruly. His blue eyes twinkled as he smiled at Kate Harper, the smile stopping short when he caught sight of Jenni and he flushed.

"This is Jenni Adams," Kate said, making introductions. "She works the houses along this stretch, but I prefer to think of her as my friend." Kate slipped her arm around Jenni's waist and gave a hug.

Jenni smiled, unable to stop herself. She had known Kate so long she felt the same way.

"This is Paul," Kate said. "My grandson. Barbara's eldest. You remember Barbara, don't you?"

Jenni grinned, nodding. "Of course I do." Paul had inherited his mother's blonde hair, although as Jenni recalled Babs' hair had been fine and silky. Barbara had been Jenni's first crush, twelve years old, hormones starting to kick in and Barbara had been nice to her. Nice, and she had a killer figure. "Great to meet you, Paul." Jenni offered her hand and after a moment's hesitation Paul took four steps across the porch and shook her hand, pulling his away almost as soon as their fingers met, as though her touch had transferred an electric shock. His blush deepened and he nodded stiffly. Young men, Jenni thought -- you just gotta love 'em.

"Pleased to meet you too." Paul spoke without looking in her direction. "Is this the stuff you want fetching up, Gram?" He took the steps in one long jump and gripped the carry handles on the laundry bag, relieved to take the offered escape.

"In the back room please, Paul."

He lifted the bag easily and Jenni let herself admire the way muscle bunched in his back and shoulders, how his thighs popped hard as he lifted. He slung the bag over his shoulder and pushed through the door.

"Take the weight off, Jen," Kate poured a large mug of coffee, pushed cream and sugar across the faded wooden table. Jenni added both and sat in a pale chair and sipped, enjoying the aroma and taste. Kate made the best coffee on the island.

"I can't believe he's all grown, Kate. Last time I saw Babs she was what, twenty-four, twenty-five and he must have been two, three years old?" Jenni pulled up an image of Kate's pretty daughter, long blonde hair and good figure, and a small round boy on stocky legs marching up and down the beach with buckets of water holding crabs, which his Mom made him take right back.

"I guess," Kate said, "You can't have been much more than twelve yourself."

Jenni laughed. "No, I guess not. Where does the time go, Kate?"

Kate returned the laugh. "Tell me. Just wait until you get to my age."

The screen door opened and her husband came out on the porch.

"Hey, Jen," he said, stretching. Tim Harper was still lean at seventy, with a full head of hair now turned completely white. The first time Jenni met him his hair had been dark brown and he wore a mustache; but that was the late eighties for you, and Jenni had been about five, accompanying her mother who had done this job before her.

"How's it hanging, Tim?" Jenni asked, and he laughed at the usual greeting, laughed as he did every time.

"Same as ever," he said, "though a little less every year."

"Tim!" Kate said, but she smiled as she always did, accustomed to the innocent flirting between Jenni and her husband.

As if emboldened by the presence of his grandfather Paul returned to the porch, the screen door slapping back against the wall once more. He leaned against the railing on the far side of the table, trying for casual but succeeding only in looking sexy as all hell. Or so Jenni thought.

"You swimming later?" Tim asked her.

"What do you think, old timer?"

He laughed. "I guess you are. God, I wish I was still young enough to keep up with you, Jen."

"You still could, I reckon," she said.

"Maybe, maybe not."

Jenni tried to remember the exact time they had started playing these little games. Probably there had been no first time, only a slow shift in their relationship. She would be horrified if she thought Tim really meant anything, but the game was fun, nothing more, Kate playing along as much as her husband, giving them all satisfaction.

"Paul swims," Kate said. "He swims for his school."

"Not anymore, Gram," Paul said, his first words since coming back out, though he still refused to look across at Jenni.

"No, of course not. I forgot. He's going to college in the Fall, Jen."

"Where?" Jenni asked, interested. She liked to hear about people bettering themselves. She might have wanted that for herself, but too late now. Twenty-seven and settled into a miserable marriage with a loser husband and no obvious way out. Still, she enjoyed other people's success, other people's escape.

"Cal Tech," he said, staring at the beach as though something important lay on the sand, something only he could see.

"That's a long way from home," Jenni said.

"No, Jen. Barbara lives in San Jose now. I'm sure I told you."

Jenni laughed. "You probably did, Kate, but you know I can never remember anything like that. So how good are you, Paul?"

"Good?" he asked, finally glancing in her direction.

"In the water," Jenni said. "Think you can beat me?"

She caught him suppressing a smile. "Guess so," he said. He didn't seem impressed.

Tim Harper laughed and slapped his grandson on the shoulder. "Don't make promises you can't deliver on, boy. You've not seen Jen in the water."

"I reckon I can still beat her," Paul said, straightening up and turning his head to glance at Jenni. He was tall and lean in the way swimmers are, and Jenni tried and failed to stop her glance skittering down to the respectable bulge in his swim shorts. She hoped he didn't catch where her eyes went, because if he did it would be her turn to blush.

"A challenge, I think, don't you Jen?" Tim asked.

"A definite challenge."

"Race--race--race," Tim chanted.

"Grampa!" Paul protested.

"Not till I've finished work," Jenni said.

Paul had worked his courage up and looked directly at her. He was so damn beautiful, so sexy, Jenni hoped the tingle stiffening her nipples did not betray her lust.

"You really want to race?" Paul asked.

Jenni nodded. "Sure. I'll be done by two, three at the latest."

Tim Harper laughed. "You've gone and done it now, boy. Done it good."

Paul looked at his grandfather, the affection obvious in his glance. "We'll see."

Jenni finished her coffee and allowed Paul to drag the bag containing the dirty laundry round to her truck. He hoisted the bag up with the same easy pull of his shoulders as before and Jenni glanced away, knowing the thoughts bubbling in her mind about this youth were entirely inappropriate. How old was he anyway? Too young for the thoughts filling her head. Seventeen if he was just out of high school. God, how could she even think about him that way?

She knew what was wrong, the same thing as always. She possessed a vast sex drive with nowhere to express it. Her husband, only ever moderately ardent, took marriage as a signal to stop trying altogether. A week after the church service what little libido he may once have possessed melted to nothing.

Jenni had no outlet for her needs, not on an island as small as this where everyone knew everyone else. She had enjoyed a few liaisons in the past, all vacation people. A forty year old husband showed interest, and Jenni experienced no guilt when she let him fuck her senseless, lying out on the dunes the night before he vacated his rental. But Jenni drew the line at an underage conquest, however beautiful.

Paul pushed the tailgate closed, squealing its usual protest.

"Grampa said I should come and help you with the rest," he said, staring down at his feet. "I told him you probably wouldn't want me tagging along." He glanced up, caught her looking at him and his eyes darted away. "Do you?"

"I could do with the help," Jenni said, amused. Maybe she couldn't jump his bones, but that didn't prevent her appreciating his beauty. She would enjoy teasing him some too. That might be fun. "Only if you haven't got anything else planned. There are some kids your age in the Bradley place this week. Have you met them?"

"They're only sixteen," Paul said dismissively.

"Ah, of course." Jenni tried to keep the smile from her face. "Come on then, if you're going to help climb aboard." She pulled herself up behind the wheel and turned the clunky engine over. Paul came round and sat across from her.

"I'm eighteen Tuesday," he said, trying to make his voice casual.

"You are?" Jenni turned in the seat, peering through the mottled rear window as she backed out, knowing the movement was pushing her breasts tight against the t-shirt, knowing Paul's eyes would be on her tits. She suppressed that smile again. It felt good to tease him, even if she didn't plan on going further. "You having a party?"

She bullied the gearshift into first, crawled the pickup around the house and along the beach to the next a hundred yards further on. Later she would work her way back, after everyone had either left for the ferry ride to the mainland or gone out for the day, cleaning each house in turn.

"Mom threw me a big party back home before I flew out," Paul said. "Gramps said we might have a small one Tuesday, just the three of us, as it'll be my real birthday."

"No girls from, you know..." Jenni nodded toward the Bradley house on the end of the row.

"They're a bit immature." Paul stared out the window as though the surf was the most fascinating thing he had ever seen.

Jenni laughed. "Yeah, I guess they might seem that way to an almost eighteen year old."

He saw Paul glance at her, not sure if she was making fun of him or not. His look sent a thrill all the way along her spine. No, she thought, not making fun of him... not making fun of him at all...

*****



The day was edging toward a close as Jenni walked from the sea in her mismatched bikini. Her body tingled from expended energy, the pleasure heightened by the drubbing she had given Paul. He might be a good swimmer, but Jenni swam at least an hour every day of the year and only someone outstanding was going to beat her, particularly on the long half mile route she had set. She heard Paul trailing along behind, his breathing still coming fast. She twirled back and laughed.

"Don't sweat it, honey; no-one's ever beaten me yet."

He grinned and she liked there was no rancor in him. "Next year," he said.

"You coming back next year? Think you can handle more humiliation?"

"I'm coming back so I can beat you." His grin widened, eyes meeting Jenni's, not as afraid of her as he had been.

At Kate's house Jenni used the cold shower out back to wash the salt off before changing in the lean-to shed. She heard the shower running indoors, right next to the wall the shed was built against. Her mind projected the few feet through the shingles to imagine Paul standing under the shower, water cascading over his lean body. She wondered if his cock hardened in the same way as her nipples had, wondered if he was rubbing himself and for a moment lust filled her body, making it weak. She had dried but not dressed, stood with one hand against the wall while the other crept down, touched her belly and slid lower. Jenni adjusted her stance, opening her legs to admit her fingers and touched herself, cold from the sea, but as she pushed her fingers inside they met warmth and smooth slickness.

She gasped, aroused, and her eyes fluttered shut. Through the wall she sensed, or imagined she sensed, the faint vibration made by the shower. The sound stopped. Jenni stood alone, fingers thrust inside herself, ashamed of the thoughts in her head. Paul might be about to turn eighteen, but still so young. She withdrew her fingers and dressed, hoping to cover her arousal.

When she emerged carrying the two mismatched parts of her wet bikini in her hand it was Jenni who avoided Paul's gaze as he came on the porch, dressed in blue jeans and a sweatshirt, toweling his hair dry.

"Are you swimming tomorrow?" Paul asked. His eyes locked on hers and a thrill coursed through Jenni. He had become more adventurous, bolder.

"I swim every day."

"I'll probably catch you then, if you don't mind company."

Jenni drove back over the island to town. As she came down the hill a ferry was docking, bringing more visitors, ready to return day-trippers to the mainland. The ferry, regular as any clock, said a few minutes after five and Mark would be home by six wanting his evening meal, would likely be out again by seven drinking with his buddies. At least it meant he wouldn't be home. Jenni preferred it when she had the house to herself ever since Mark had started taking his frustration at life out on her. Nothing much to begin with, words and shouting at the start, then a year ago the physical stuff began, a light slap, a punch to the ribs. What worried her was the escalation. Sometimes Mark didn't seem aware just how hard he hit her.

Had she allowed herself to imagine an escape, had some feasible option existed, she was starting to think she might take it, wondering how long it was going to be before any other option was better than the one she had accepted.

*****



Sunday Jenni beat Paul, same again on Monday but he was catching on to her style and getting closer. Or perhaps she was letting him get closer. Her resolution of Saturday not to think about him that way had blown to the winds; she couldn't stop thinking about him, conjuring fantasies of his tight young body, picturing him naked, picturing what she wanted to do with him.

Tuesday morning when Mark left for work Jenni showered and after she dried stood naked in front of the tall bathroom mirror. She leaned forward to wipe the steam stippled surface, stared as her distorted body appeared slowly as the air cooled and the mirror cleared.

She turned sideways, put her hand on her flat belly, looking at herself. Like many women Jenni managed that dichotomy of thought more common than each individual realized. In private she considered herself hot, in public believing her looks less than average. Perhaps because of the way people treated her. Looking at herself, her high breasts self supporting despite their size, her lean belly and long legs, the neat tuft of hair covering her sex, she considered she looked pretty good. Jenni knew in company her confidence would leach away, eroded by Mark's words and actions. For now she resolved to dismiss all doubts, dismiss the years of verbal abuse which had grown so endemic she hardly noticed the constant denigration. Looking at herself in the mirror she allowed herself to believe in her beauty.

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