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Winchester Harbor
Book One of the Full Sails Series
Wes Boyd
©2011, ©2013

Chapter 25

Since Wayne had been nice enough to work right through till closing the night before, when things slowed down that afternoon I told him to take off and relax, and stayed out on the fuel dock until it closed. Around dinner time Annette brought a burger and fries down to me to eat between boats, and that may have been all that kept me going.

Once I got the sign turned off after dark, I went up to my room, grabbed a beer from the refrigerator, and went out on the balcony to have a cigarette or two, and maybe a couple more to make up for Brittany having cut me off the night before. I leaned back in the chair, put my feet up on the railing, and just tried to chill out.

The truth be told, I was just a bit bummed out. I knew the chances that Brittany and I would get together again were slim to none, and that it had been the case for a year, but now the door was definitely closed. Since Debby was wrapped up with John, Susie was in Chicago, and Annette’s head was out in space somewhere, it seemed like all my options for having a permanent relationship were pretty well gone. Granted, none of them had ever been the kind of prospect Brittany had once been, except maybe for Susie, but it still was as if a door had been locked behind me. I still looked forward to the time that I could have someone permanent to love, but it didn’t appear that it was going to be anytime soon.

I hadn’t been out there very long before Debby and John came out of her room to join me. “So,” she said, “that was Brittany, huh?”

“Yeah. I didn’t realize you’d noticed her.”

“Couldn’t miss her,” she said. “The two of you put on quite a show last night.”

“I thought we were being pretty quiet,” I protested.

“Oh, you were, but it would have helped if you’d shut the outside door. We sat out here for a while just taking it in. So, is it all fixed between you two?”

“No,” I said, realizing that I had no secrets from Debby. I never really had, in fact. “Last night just confirmed it was over with. And, honestly, after last night I’m just as glad.”

“A goodbye fuck, huh? That was one hell of a goodbye fuck. You were sure giving her a hard time, or at least a lot of hard a lot of the time. We finally got inspired and went inside ourselves. Did she like it?”

“Well, I tried to help her like it,” I said, remembering the general disappointment of the evening. “But mostly I think she was just glad to have it over with.”

“So what are you going to do now?”

“Hell if I know,” I said, taking a long pull from my beer. “Just keep going, I guess. Something will happen sooner or later. I’m just glad to know that it’s not going to be an issue with her anymore. Although I’ll bet my sister will still try to get her two bits worth in as often as she can. At least now Lisa may have an idea of what the score really is.”

“So, you’re not really over her?” she persisted.

“I think I can say I’m over her,” I replied. “I can see I’m not over the implications. Debby, let’s change the subject. I’ve been thinking too much about the whole damn thing, I’m tired of it, so let’s talk about something else.”

“Fine with me,” she said, though it was clear she still had something on her mind. “I gotta go do something,” she said after a moment of silence. “You sit here and talk with John. I’ll be back.”

She headed back into her room. After a moment I could hear a door shut, so ‘something’ sounded like it was the bathroom. “So,” I said to John, “how are things coming along with you two?”

“We’re having fun,” John said. “Debby is, well, she’s a lot more understanding about what I want to do than Karen ever was. We’ve got a ways to go yet, but it ought to be interesting getting there.”

“John,” I said, “I have to say that I really envy you having Debby. She’s a hell of a woman, and you’re lucky to have her. I sure as hell haven’t had luck like that in my life.”

“Yeah, and I almost fucked it up,” he admitted. “Karen was, well, damn compelling. Very pretty, but very icy about it, if you know what I mean. She wanted what she wanted, and damn the facts or anyone else. Karen was the type of girl you dream about, but the reality was a nightmare. Debby and I got along better after our first ten minutes back together than Karen and I ever did at Karen’s best.”

“That’s kind of like it was with Brittany,” I admitted. “She could be fun, and fun to be with, but John, I’ll tell you what. I dreamed of getting her in bed for ten years, at least. When I finally managed it last night, it proved to be ten wasted years of dreaming.”

“No fun, huh?” He shook his head. “Same thing here. I don’t want to say Karen and I didn’t have some fun together, but since I’ve been back with Debby it’s seemed to me that Karen was just using her body to get what she wanted, not because she wanted to enjoy herself.”

“Maybe we’re both lucky that we found out in time. God, I keep thinking about how lucky I am that it didn’t work out with Brittany. If everything had gone the way I expected it would a few years ago, I’d have been stuck with a woman who doesn’t really care, and the hell of it is that I would never have realized what I was missing.”

“Yeah, you’re right about the lucky part,” he said. “That would have been about what would have happened to me, and I’m just grateful that I found out in time. If Karen hadn’t got pissy in front of both of our families right at graduation I might have really messed it up, so thank God for that. I keep thinking that I know where this thing with Debby is going to come out, and it’s where I think I want it to, so I keep asking myself if I shouldn’t just go ahead and do what I want to do.”

That sounded a little cryptic to me, so I asked, “Get married?”

“Yeah,” he said. “I’m wondering why I’m putting it off. Maybe it’s all the goddamn drama I had with Karen, never knowing where I was with her. With Debby, there’s no doubt. I mean, she seems to want about what I want, we’re a pretty good fit in a lot of ways, and I know she’s going to be there for me. I could do a damn sight worse. In fact, I almost did.”

“In the mood I’m in right now I’m in no position to give advice,” I told him. “But if you don’t, you’re going to miss a bet.”

“I know that,” he said. “I think I’m going to do it, it’s just that I need to wait for the right time. I mean, I got a ring and everything.”

“I hope it’s not the ring you offered to Karen,” I grinned.

“Oh, shit no, I may be dumb about women but I’m not that dumb. Besides, Debby’s hands are bigger than Karen’s, so her ring wouldn’t have worked anyway. I’ve talked it over with my folks, and they like Debby, they always have. Like I said, maybe I ought to just do it and get it over with.”

“I’ve heard dumber ideas,” I nodded.

“Well, I’ll think about it,” he said. “So, with this Brittany out of your life, where do you go from here?”

“I don’t know,” I replied. “Like I said earlier, just keep going. It’s not like I have to be doing something this minute. I’ve got time.”

We heard the door open back in Debby’s room, and in a moment she came out on the balcony. I looked up and saw that Annette was with her, wearing a loose, floppy T-shirt. “John,” Debby said, “I think we need to go inside. I’ve got an itch that needs to be scratched.”

“Fine,” he grinned as he stood up. “I think that makes two of us.”

In a moment they headed into the apartment, while Annette came over and sat down in the chair next to me. “Evening, Jake,” she said softly. “Debby said I should come talk with you.”

I shook my head. “It looks like my sister isn’t the only one who wants to try her hand at manipulating people. The thought is appreciated, Annette, but unless you really have to I’m not up for fun and games tonight.”

“I’m not either, unless you really want to,” she added. “But I could stand a little kissing and cuddling and making out, and Debby said she thought that was what you needed.”

“If it doesn’t go any farther than that, I’d love to do it,” I said. “But let’s not do any more than that tonight. I think I about fucked myself out last night as it was.”

“Debby said you were giving that girl a hard time,” she said and grinned. “So, it’s over between the two of you, huh?”

“Yeah, it’s over,” I said, “if there was ever really anything in the first place. As John and I were just saying, thank God I found out before it was too late. Look, Annette, I hope you don’t have the idea of catching me on the rebound like Debby did with John. I think we both know that it wouldn’t work out for us.”

“I don’t think it would either,” she said. “I think we’re both smart enough to realize that our interests and our tastes are enough different that we couldn’t make a permanent thing out of it. That doesn’t keep us from being just friends and fuck buddies when it seems like a good idea. And, it doesn’t mean we can’t just cuddle up and share our sorrows and our troubles with each other, either. I think we ought to go on into your room, cuddle up, and you can tell me about it and work the whole damn thing out of your system. You don’t have to tie me up to keep me there listening to you.”

“You may be right. Right now I’d rather have a warm woman in my hand than a cold beer.”

We went inside, where it proved that, as I had suspected, Annette had nothing on except that T-shirt. We lay down on the bed holding each other tight, and I wound up telling her most of what had happened the night before, along with my suspicions and discoveries about Brittany, and how cold and unresponsive she had been. “What a shame,” she said once, “but maybe that’s just how she is. People’s tastes can be different from each other, and all you have to do to realize it is to take a look at how different my tastes are from yours. It’s not wrong; it’s just how people are.”

After a while there wasn’t a lot to say, so we just lay cuddled up next to each other, holding each other tight and glad we had each other to hold onto. While Annette could be pretty wacky in a lot of ways, it didn’t mean she couldn’t be cuddly if she wanted to be, and at least I could appreciate that.

The walls between Debby’s room and mine were still thin, and there were times in the quiet between us that Annette and I could hear something of what was going on next door. As we lay there silently, all of a sudden we could faintly hear, “Oh, God, John! Don’t stop now! Please! Bring me off!”

“Sounds like they’re having fun,” Annette whispered.

There was silence from next door for a moment, and then we heard Debby’s voice, even louder and more clearly, “Yes, John! Yes, I’ll marry you!” Then the tone of her voice changed and we heard mostly ecstatic moans and groans out of her, as if she was having the greatest orgasm of her life.

“Sounds like he had to torture it out of her,” I whispered to Annette, a grin on my face.

“Hell, there was no way she could say no under those circumstances,” Annette agreed. “Not that she’s going to change her mind.”

“Not after all she’s done to get things that far,” I had to admit. “It was what she wanted, after all.”

“You know, that’s pretty inspiring,” Annette replied. “I know we sort of agreed no sex tonight, but maybe we could do a few of those things that Brittany wouldn’t do with you, to kind of even things out.”

“That may be the best idea I’ve heard all night. Just be gentle, I’m still a little tender.”

Annette came to my room the next several nights, and with each one the bad experience with Brittany faded further into the past. It wasn’t until several nights later, while we were sitting out on the balcony in the low evening light, that she commented, “You know, we probably ought to give this sleeping together every night stuff a rest, or it’s going to become a habit.”

“You’re probably right,” I told her. “And it could be a habit that could be hard to break. Let’s give it a few days, just to get everything back on track between us.”

“Good enough. In a few days, let’s get together and get out the ropes so I can get really turned on.”

By then all of us had seen the ring that John had given Debby. She seemed very happy with it, and he seemed happy that she did. They hadn’t worked out the details on a wedding, other than that it was going to be pretty soon, but they didn’t want to do it at the height of the summer rush, either. Early fall looked like a possible time, and there was some discussion of having it right in the clubhouse at the golf course.

We got through the Memorial Day weekend, although I have to say just barely – the Monday holiday was a killer, and Wayne and I were about going crazy trying to keep the fuel dock going. If you think the pit crews at the Indianapolis 500 were fast, you wouldn’t believe how fast the two of us were working. Thank God the traffic slowed down to merely busy on Tuesday, or it might have killed us.

I made it out on the Chinook III with Nate one day that week, but only one – again, Rachel was able to skip out on most of her finals because of her grades. For the next couple weeks after that she was usually able to be his crew. It came just in time because I was busy at the Channel Stop.

Rachel didn’t go out fishing with her father every day. One day in the middle of the week there was a last-minute cancellation. I only found out about it about nine in the morning when she showed up at the Channel Stop. “Jake, you need a day off,” she said. “I do, too. Let’s pack a picnic lunch and take the Pixie out to Gull Island.”

“I’ve got a lot to do here,” I protested.

“Nonsense,” Barb said, butting in. “Rachel is right. You’ve been going like a house afire. Go out into the kitchen, throw some sandwiches or something together, and get out of here.”

So, we did. It probably took us half an hour to get everything together, which included me going to my room and slipping my swim trunks on under my jeans. The Pixie was tied up at the dock at the Channel Stop, and soon we were on her. There was just enough breeze to let us sail out of the channel without having to use the Evinrude, and when we got out on the big lake it picked up enough to give us a lively sail up the coast to the island.

One of the nice things about the Pixie being a centerboard boat was that if we wanted to stop on a sandy beach, we could just raise the centerboard and run her ashore lightly like you would do with a rowboat. That way we didn’t have to worry about anchoring out, using a dinghy or something like that. We found a good place to stop, ran her ashore, and put a line out to one of the few trees on the island, just in case.

We found a nice place to just hang out in the shade. Well, I was in the shade. Rachel peeled off her shorts and T-shirt to reveal a very interesting wine-colored one-piece swimsuit I’d never seen before. “Like it?” she grinned. “I think it’s kind of cute.”

“Well, it’s cute on you,” I smiled. It was kind of like a modest bikini made of stretchy material, but with a swath of fabric between the top and the bottom. Overall, it was much more modest than the tiny patches of fabric that passed for bikinis I often saw on young teeny-boppers on boats coming up to the fuel dock. Somehow the swimsuit Rachel wore seemed sexier than that, mostly because of what it concealed, rather than what it revealed. What it did reveal, though, was that Rachel had changed a little in the more than a year that I’d known her. She’d grown a little, filled out in places, and had become more womanly and less like a bony young teenager.

I’d like to say that she caught my interest in other ways, but she didn’t. Don’t get me wrong; she was a good-looking kid and more appealing than she had been, but I’d known her too long, and in my eyes she was still a kid. She’d become a good friend, but just that – a friend, a co-worker, and no more. That was where I’d drawn the line. We’d only kissed once, that little friendly peck on the lips we’d shared after we’d delivered the Mary Sue to Sandusky, and even that had been unexpected, but welcome.

“I thought you’d like it. I think I’ll spread out and catch a little sun.”

“If you’re going to do that, you’d better put on some sunscreen,” I warned her. “You’ve got what we call a ‘farmer’s suntan’ down where I come from.”

“Yeah, I know.” She sighed as she pulled a bottle of lotion from a small bag she’d brought with her and started spreading it around. “It’s from being out on the boat all the time. I guess I don’t mind, since at least I can get out on the boat for a while.”

No, she didn’t ask me to do her back, and I didn’t offer. I might have done it with someone else, but this was Rachel. She was too good of a friend, as well as still being too young. She spread out on a big beach towel she’d brought with her, and I opened a Coke from the cooler, sat back in the shade, and tried not to stare at her as we talked.

“Jake,” she said after a while. “You’ve seemed, well, not happier, but less distracted these last few days. Is that because of that thing with Brittany?”

“Yeah, pretty much,” I told her. “How’d you hear about that?”

“Oh, Debby and Annette told me,” she said with a grin. “I don’t think they told me all the dirty details, but I got the general picture, if you know what I mean.”

I knew that Rachel talked back and forth with Debby and Annette a lot. After all, from what I could tell, Rachel didn’t seem to have many friends her own age around Winchester Harbor. Still, I wondered just what she knew, since I knew the women talked about things quite a bit more specifically than men did. It was just the nature of the beast. I decided not to pursue that angle and said, “Brittany was a load on my mind for a long time, even after I thought I was over her. Now it’s really gone, and I know it, so I feel the weight off my shoulders.”

“Well, that’s good. Now you can move on to other things. Annette tells me that she’s not likely to be one of them, though.”

“No, I just see her once in a while because it’s convenient for both of us,” I replied, deciding to not get into any detail. “That’s not going anywhere. We’re friends, but we both pretty well agree that friends are about all we’re ever going to be.”

“That’s pretty much what she told me,” she said.

“How about you?” I asked. “I’ve had my fill of agonizing over Brittany the last few weeks, so let’s talk about something else. Have you had any luck in the boyfriend department?”

“No,” she sighed. “Not yet. I didn’t even have a date for the prom, not that I cared a whole lot. Most of the boys at school are dorks. The ones who show signs of not being dorks are all ones who can’t wait till they graduate and get out of here.”

“I’d have to say that was pretty much how I saw it when I was in school at your age,” I told her. “Hell, I was one of those teenage dorks who couldn’t wait to get out of town and go do something else, and I did. I like to think I grew out of it. Maybe you’ll find someone who will be just fine when he’s a little older.”

“It could happen,” she replied. “I don’t think anything is going to happen while I’m still in school, and I don’t want it to happen just yet. Hell, I see some perfectly good girls going absolutely nuts over dipshits like Darryl, and I have no idea what they think they’re seeing in them.”

“Same here,” I said. “I didn’t get a lot of chance to get with my old friends in the little time I got to spend at home after I got out of the Navy, but I heard that a lot of high school romances turned pretty sour when people got older.”

“Like happened with you and this Brittany, right?”

“Yeah, just exactly like that, although the way it worked out it never got as bad as it did with some of my friends. As it happened, I’m glad it never got that far, since I don’t think it would have come out as pretty as it did, not that it was very pretty.”

She rolled onto her side so she could look straight at me. “It’s over with, Jake,” she smiled with a wisdom that seemed beyond her years. “There’s someone out there waiting for you, and I know it. You’ve just got to wait until the time is right. It’s just not yet, but your time will come.”

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