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Hiding Patty book cover

Hiding Patty
A Tale From Spearfish Lake
Wes Boyd
©2012, ©2014

Chapter 28

By now, Tricia had been forced to give up the fiction to Heather and Molly that there was nothing much going on between Henry and her. It had come little by little, but it had long since gotten impossible to completely deny how much time they were spending together. If the topic happened to arise at their lunchtime get-togethers, she just tried to report laconically about what she and Henry had done, and not make it sound too romantic – and for the most part, that was the truth. Oh, there had been kissing and cuddling going on for a while, maybe a little occasional mild petting, but nothing more.

Tricia understood why. Henry was still rather conflicted about Cindy, and her own reluctance to get too committed considering the secret she concealed about her past was still as great as it had always been. If things happened, their time would come, and a couple of times she’d said so in so many words to the two in the office.

While for the most part she was in no hurry and was willing to let things take their course, there was a part of her that wanted to move things ahead, well, a little more rapidly, but still avoid a headlong rush. There were still plenty of pitfalls out there, but she wasn’t about to admit to Heather and Molly that her yearnings were getting a little stronger from time to time.

June in Spearfish Lake sometimes gets almost hot enough to blister paint, and after a long, cold winter people were just not accustomed to it, especially if extreme heat came in a rush as it did that summer. Heat caused more stress, especially to her older patients, than cold did; people around here were used to cold and prepared for it, but the same thing couldn’t be said about heat. It aggravated some things, and all week long there had been a lot of traffic in the office that involved reactions to the heat, not just things such as heat exhaustion, but things like rashes, difficulty breathing and other secondary issues. She had been busy dealing with them, even if sometimes there wasn’t much she could do but recommend air conditioning.

By the end of the week she was ready for a little coolness herself – and a little relaxation to go along with it. Henry reported that while things were slowing down a little for the summer, especially with the new junior reporter now coming up to speed, he could stand a cool break himself. Both of them agreed while the sun might beat down on them on Randy and Nicole’s sailboat, the cool breeze over the lake would be refreshing; besides, neither of them were in the mood to sit around inside and let the air conditioner blow on them.

Back on the weekend when Randy and Nicole had taken them out, he’d mentioned that one of the problems with having the sailboat was that he didn’t get to use it as much as he liked. It was the height of the busy season for him. Twelve-hour days were not uncommon as he struggled to keep multiple construction projects going, including the work at the Medical Center, which was finally getting under way, although other jobs would keep it from being completed for a long time. Often letting work slop over onto the weekend was the only way he had to catch up.

That was the case this weekend; when Henry tried to call him at home on Saturday morning, Nicole said he was at the office and expected to be there all day, and possibly much of Sunday as well. When Henry called him at the office, Randy confirmed it, but said that considering that the day wasn’t expected to be very windy, Henry and Tricia were welcome to take the sailboat out by themselves. He said he’d call Nicole and tell her it was all right with him.

In short order Henry and Tricia packed a cooler with cold drinks, made up sandwiches and such for a lunch, and pulled on swimsuits under their shorts and T-shirts. On her Camden run a couple weeks before Tricia had wound up buying several swimsuits. One was a fairly conservative white one-piece suitable for wearing when she walked down the street a couple blocks to the lake, which she’d only done once to discover that despite the air temperature the lake was still pretty cold. Another was a miniscule string bikini she hoped to be able to wear a little more privately, and which only her mirror had seen so far. The third was somewhere in between, a wine-colored monokini, a bikini that had a wide area covering her belly, that somehow managed to combine the attributes of being fairly daring while looking fairly conservative.

That was the one she had on under her clothes, and she’d done some pretty serious mental nickel-flipping between it and the bikini. In the end, she decided there was no telling who they might run into out on the lake, and, while she knew the bikini would have more effect on Henry, she was still supposed to appear to be a respectable family physician, even in a swimsuit. Gene Metarie could turn himself into Shovelhead and ride around in leathers on his Harley on nice summer days like this, but there were limits to what she could do, especially considering the past she still had to conceal, and that she was still pretty new to Spearfish Lake.

Tricia was not surprised to see Henry load up one of his Nikons and its gear bag. “Most local people get out to the far end of the lake rarely, if they do so at all,” he reported. “I figured I might as well try to get some pictures out there. Maybe we can run one of them in the paper, maybe even a photo story.”

The sailboat – as far as they knew Randy and Nicole had never gotten around to naming it, or at least painting the name on the stern if they had – sat tied to the dock in front of the big, avant-garde house in Hannegan’s Cove. Of course, they had to stop and talk with Nicole for a few minutes. She said she’d like to come along but that she still had kids to take care of and it would be next to impossible to arrange for someone to watch after them at the last minute. That was fine with Tricia; this time she felt she wanted to be alone with Henry.

It was hot out on the lake, at least while heading more or less downwind toward the far end. It didn’t take long for Tricia to be out of her shorts and T-shirt, down to just her swimsuit. Right at the beginning, it had the desired effect on Henry. “Hey,” he grinned when he saw it, “have I ever told you that you’re really a babe, on top of everything else?”

“On occasion,” she grinned, “but never when I’m dressed like this.”

“You’re a damn good looking woman to begin with,” he laughed. “But you make that swimsuit really look good on you.”

Just to rub it in, and to enjoy the feeling of his eyes on her, she stretched out on the cockpit seat on the far side of him to take in a little sun, and of course they fell to talking. “You know,” she said after a while, “this is something else I never dreamed I’d be doing when I came to Spearfish Lake.”

“Lying out in the sun in a sexy swimsuit?”

“Well, maybe not that. Henry, I’ve tended to be pretty much an indoor person much of my life, and quite attached to my studies, but I’m finding that there are things I enjoy outside also. One of those big things I’ve come to enjoy is being with you.”

“Tricia, I’ve come to enjoy being with you, too,” he told her. “After all those years I spent with Cindy, finding you is like a dream come true to me. I always dreamed that somehow, some way I’d get rid of her and be able to find someone I could really enjoy being with, and for a long time I’d come close to giving up hoping. To find someone who is as beautiful and as smart and likeable and well educated as you are, someone who has a sense of humor and intellectual and personal interests that match mine, or at least fit well with mine, is still more than a little unbelievable to me. And then, for that woman to be a physician and be well-liked and respected in my home town, well, it’s just out of this world. Through no fault of her own, Cindy was hated in this town and she hated it right back. As much as I’d like to deny it, a lot of that hate became a part of her. You, on the other hand, are cheerful and caring, and if there’s an ounce of hate in your soul, I haven’t discovered it yet. Tricia, night and day is much too limited a comparison between you and her.”

She rolled onto her side to face him. “Henry, I appreciate the thought,” she said, looking right at him, “but don’t you think you’re laying it on a little thick?”

“No, I don’t,” he said. “If anything, I’m laying it on a little thin. You have so many good qualities I can scarcely believe I’m lucky enough to even be friends with you, let alone to be able to fall in love with you.”

“Love” was a word they just hadn’t used to each other before. Tricia hadn’t allowed herself to use it about him, even in thinking, but there it was. There could be no denying it. She’d tried to fight it off, hold it off, but it hadn’t worked. Not in the slightest. At least it was out in the open now.

“Henry,” she said slowly, “I have to admit I had no idea I would find someone up here in Spearfish Lake at all, especially someone I’ve come to love myself.” There, she thought, she said it. It had been surprisingly easy to say, after all this time of thinking and worrying about it. “Yes, I love you Henry. You know I’ve been incredibly focused on med school and the rest over the past few years but knowing you has opened up my horizons and allowed me to do and enjoy doing things I’d never dreamed about, and find interests I never even realized I wanted to have. You’ve made some big changes in me, Henry. Good changes. I don’t think I’m quite the angel you seem to think I am, but I’ve come to respect and love your good sense, your own sense of caring and responsibility to me and to the community, and the loyalty that seems to be a part of your soul. I’ve come to love both your artistic spirit and your practical one, the easy-going way you deal with problems, and the fact that you don’t let the fact that I’m a doctor intimidate you. I really am a human being, although some people don’t seem to quite believe that. You do. You just accept it. You don’t know how much I appreciate it, or what it means to me.”

A major river between them had just been crossed, and she knew it. What’s more, she was happy about it. She got up from the cockpit seat and moved across the cockpit to sit next to him. She put her arm around him, and snuggled up next to him, knowing that though he still had some issues in his life – as much as she did, although considerably different – the future now had the promise of something she’d hardly dared to dream of.

She felt his arm reach around her, and his hand come to rest on her breast. It felt warm and comforting. It was not the first time she’d felt it there, although in the past it had been considerably more casual. She twisted around a little trying not to lose the wonderful sensation of his touch while she raised her lips to kiss him.

It was a kiss that went on and on; she was scarcely aware of anything else, and doubted he was either, although he still kept one hand on the tiller to steer the boat. When they finally pulled apart and she took a look around, the far end of the lake was noticeably closer – and she realized it wasn’t the only thing that was getting closer, either. Things in her life that had seemed far away had now pulled into a much nearer view.

Though Tricia could think of other things she’d like to be doing just then, soon they had to pay some attention to the boat. They were near a group of small islands now, the place they had been planning to go. Randy had warned them earlier to not get into the bays beyond either side of the islands, since they were shallow and full of stumps left over from the old days of the great white pine clearcut, sometimes just poking above the water, other times just inches below. Even though it was a Saturday, the lake around them was all but deserted; in the near distance they could see a single fishing boat being pulled along with an electric trolling motor, its lone occupant sitting on a high seat as he cast endlessly among the stumps. They were about as alone as they were going to get on this trip, if not quite as alone as Tricia was wishing right then.

On their previous trips Tricia had learned something about handling the sails, and as they drew close to one of the islands, Henry had her drop the jib to slow the boat down. Soon, the mainsail came down as well, and in a place where they could clearly see the sandy bottom of the lake just beneath them he had her drop the anchor over the side.

“I don’t know about you,” Henry said, “but I think I’ve had enough sun for a while. Why don’t we wade ashore and find some shade to have our lunch?”

“It sounds like a good idea to me,” she smiled. “I think I’m getting to the point where I could stand another dose of suntan lotion, too.”

“I’ll be glad to rub it on your back,” he snickered.

“Henry,” she replied with a grin that she hoped showed just exactly what she was feeling, “you can rub it on me any place you happen to feel like doing it.”

“You don’t know where I’d really like to do it,” he laughed.

“You can do it there if you like and I’m sure I’ll love it.”

They found a grassy spot in the shade, and spread out their lunch. It was good to get out of the sun, and good to be with each other. A little of the physical intensity of not long before had evaporated by now, but not the feelings that went with it. They ate their sandwiches and chips, drank their Pepsis, and teased each other with more intimate intensity than they’d had up till now.

After they ate, Henry dug out the Nikon and took a few photos here and there, just natural things. He worked a while at getting a photo he liked of the bay in front of them with the fisherman still casting away in the distance, some photos of the island itself, photos of a family of geese and their fuzzy yellow goslings that came swimming closely by.

“You know,” he said, “as sexy as you are in that swimsuit, I ought to get a few pictures of you.”

“Not if they’re going to go in the Record-Herald,” she grinned. “That might not do a lot of good for my image of being a respectable family physician.”

“They don’t have to go there,” he said. “They don’t have to go any farther than the hard drive of my computer at home, although if I get a really good one, maybe I’ll want one to frame to remember this day, and what it means to me.”

If she hadn’t gotten the message before, she had it now. This day was hitting him as hard as it was hitting her. It wouldn’t take much, she thought. The hell of it was that it was just a little too open here, with that fisherman in the middle distance. There was the bunk of the sailboat, but she’d looked earlier and seen the cushions were missing – not a surprise, since she knew that to keep them from getting mildewed Randy and Nicole kept them inside their house except when they planned to use them.

Even thinking about what seemed almost sure to come made her feel even more beautiful and sexy than ever, or at least she hoped she seemed that way in Henry’s eyes. They messed around taking pictures of her on the island for a while, in this pose and that – nothing dirty, but she hoped she’d look sensual to him as he pushed the button on the Nikon time and again.

After a while she seemed to be feeling a little warm from the sun, so she took Henry up on his offer to give her a rubdown with the suntan lotion, his hands felt very good on her as they wandered all over. When he was done – and it hadn’t lasted long enough as far as she was concerned, she offered to do the same for him.

He took her up on it, and almost immediately a temptation from Peppermint Patty days came over her. She remembered well a guy who came in every couple weeks who had a hobby that almost all the girls happened to like; even Patty had given him a hell of a discount because of it. He liked to take a girl to her room out back, lay her out nude on her bed, and give her a serious massage with various oils and lotions. It was incredibly sensual, and would leave them as limp as wet dishrags when he was done – but even Patty, as focused on money as she had been, liked being melted down to a wet dishrag by him just about as much as any of the other girls. Sex was never involved; he just liked giving massages to nude women, and he was incredibly good at it. Patty had never heard him say it directly, but the story went around the Redlite that his wife didn’t like either sex or massages. All of the girls in the place had agreed that she must have been a total idiot.

Henry was going to be in for one hell of a surprise; she was more than beginning to hope this wasn’t the only surprise from those days she’d be able to demonstrate before the day was over.

As Henry lay face down before her, she decided to put some of the lessons from those days to use, only hoping to avoid turning him into too limp a dishrag to sail them back to town. But she’d settle for close, and over the next hour or so she came pretty near achieving her goal. By the time she was done he was close to putty in her hands. Several times she had him moaning in sheer delight at her touch, even though her hands weren’t strong enough to do some of the things she’d enjoyed having done to her.

When she finished, she had him turn over so she could give him a light workout on the front side, mostly for the sake of the sunscreen, but when she did she couldn’t help but notice the tightness in his swimsuit. She realized she’d accomplished just exactly what she’d hoped to do, and hoped the inspiration would last till after they’d gotten back to town.

“Good god, Tricia,” he sighed as she finished up, “where did you learn to do that?”

Of course she wasn’t about to tell him whole the truth, but let it go with, “You learn the most interesting things on the way to becoming a physician.”

“No shit! That was incredible!”

“I’m a little rusty,” she told him, “but I think I can do better with a little practice.” And a massage wasn’t the only thing she could say that about, she thought.

After a while longer, they decided they’d better be heading back; Tricia hoped he had on his mind what she had on hers, and soon wouldn’t be soon enough in her book, but she realized they had to maintain the fiction a little. They picked up their things and waded back out to the boat.

They didn’t get the sails up just yet; Henry started the outboard motor on the back of the boat and they motored around for a short time while Henry tried for a picture of the island with the bay and the fisherman in the background. But he didn’t mess around with it very long; soon he shut down the outboard, she was pulling up the sails and they were heading back toward town.

The photography didn’t end just then; although they were heading fairly close to the wind and the boat needed more handling, somehow he still managed to get some pictures of her on the boat, handling the sails, and just standing by the mast in what she hoped were sensual poses. All too soon it became a little hard for him to do photography and handle the boat at the same time, so he had her take the tiller for a while as he got some pictures of her there.

As they got close to town the wind died out a little and they were almost just drifting along, but somehow they didn’t want the magic of this sail to be ruined by the noise of the outboard, so they kept on under sail alone. Toward the end, Henry got out the camera again and got even more pictures of her in the now-low sun.

Finally, they crept up to the dock in front of Randy and Nicole’s house and tied the sailboat off securely. There was no sign of the Clarks; presumably they had gone somewhere, and right then Tricia didn’t exactly want the interruption of having even a friendly conversation with them, and she was pretty sure Henry wasn’t interested in it either. They gathered up their things – less than an armload for each – and went back to Henry’s car.

It didn’t take long for them to get back to the duplex. As always, he parked the car in the garage on his side, and they went into the kitchen. “Henry, that was a wonderful, magical day,” she told him as she put her arms around him and held him tight. She could feel his warmth, could almost feel the hot blood flowing through his arteries. “But there’s something I’ve wanted to do most of the day, and now is the time for it.”

“Tricia,” he said softly, “is it the same thing I’ve been wanting to do most of the day, too?”

“Most likely,” she grinned, putting her lips close to his. “And it involves not having this damn swimsuit in the way.”

“That’s what I was thinking too,” he smiled, a grin growing broad across his face. “Your place or mine?”

“We’re here,” she said. “There’s no point in going there.”

“Fine with me,” he said, pulling her close to kiss him as she felt the neck string of her swimsuit being untied.

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To be continued . . .

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