BONUS SCENE from THE EDUCATION OF SEBASTIAN
by Jane Harvey-Berrick
** SPOILER WARNING for readers who have not yet read the book yet**
This is Seb’s POV from his first time with Caro.
I was bored out of my brain, idly wondering if Ches had any weed left from the weekend. Studying was so damn tedious. Yeah, I knew I needed to get good grades and that my AP courses were important, but I’d much rather have been at the beach – or with Caroline.
God, seeing her again – it was like a dream.
When dad casually mentioned that the Wilsons were moving back to San Diego, I’d thought I was going to freak out. So many times, so many times, I’d thought about her over the years: wondering what she was doing, where she was living. Remembering all the stuff we’d talked about when I was a kid. She used to just talk to me, I mean really talk to me. And she was beautiful, so goddamn beautiful. At least, she was in my memory. I’d never had a picture of her, and I hadn’t seen her in nine years.
I was dying to ask dad more questions: when would she (they) be coming back? Where would she (they) live?
Most of all I wondered: would she remember me?
I’d had a thing for brunettes ever since, which was kind of funny because Brenda, my ex-girlfriend, was a blonde. I’d dated a couple of times in high school, but Brenda and I had gone out for nearly nine months. I’d sort of thought I was in love with her, until Ches told me that she’d been screwing Jack fucking Sullivan behind my back. Turned out I wasn’t as much in love with her as I’d thought. Turned out I didn’t give a shit when we broke up. Not really, but still fucking humiliating.
Afterwards, I hadn’t had much interest in dating anyone else.
And then I heard Caroline was coming back. I really wanted to see her, to find out if she lived up to my memory of her. I didn’t think that would be possible; I mean, she must have changed. It had been nine years: she must have changed, right? For all I knew, she was fat and had kids. Even so, I’d been desperate to think of a way to see her, and find out once and for all. She probably didn’t even remember me: I was just some kid that she’d taken pity on.
And then I’d seen her at the beach, and she’d taken my breath away. She was so beautiful. She had the same long, brown hair that looked almost auburn in the sun; and her eyes were almost hazel and her skin was all glowing and tan, looking fucking delicious.
She was so beautiful lying there in that bikini; I got hard just looking at her, and my eyes damn near dropped out of my head and rolled down the beach. It really made me pissed to think that the other guys were probably thinking the same thing. I’d had to hold my surfboard in front of me, so she couldn’t tell how I was feeling. How fucking embarrassing was that?
When she sat up and I could see her breasts, I nearly came on the spot. Ugh, God!
At first, she hadn’t recognized me. I was shocked by how much that hurt; but then I told her who I was and she smiled at me. Her smile fucking knocked me out.
“So, that’s your Mrs. Wilson, huh?” said Ches, leering at me as he jogged my elbow. “She’s freakin’ hot.”
“Heh heh! I bet Seb’s wishing she was a cougar,” said Fido. “I wouldn’t say no.”
I slapped him around the head, and he shut up after that, but Ches kept throwing me these cheesy looks.
I couldn’t concentrate on anything but the way she looked at me. It was a miracle I didn’t drown when I went back out to surf.
Then at the party, later. She talked to me again… she looked so beautiful, and she was so sweet and funny. The way she talked to me: it sounded like she really cared, like she was really interested in me.
And then my fucking father had to turn up and humiliate me in front of her. I really wanted to fucking kill him.
But thanks to Mrs. Vorstadt’s barbecue, I knew that Caro would be at home the next morning. I could offer again to help her finish her unpacking – and get to talk to her alone.
I set the alarm to wake up early, making sure I didn’t bump into the bastard as he left for work. Mom would be asleep till lunchtime, so I didn’t have to worry about her.
Walking over to Caroline’s was one of the scariest fucking things I’d ever done. I didn’t know what I’d say to her. Well, offer to help with her moving in stuff, obviously. It was fucking irritating to be so nervous: I’d been fine when I’d talked to her last night. Maybe that was because I didn’t know she was going to be there – I hadn’t had time to turn into a fucking pussy.
I took a deep breath and knocked on her door.
Her expression was faintly irritated when she answered. Fuck! That didn’t look good.
I shoved my hands in my pockets to stop them shaking, and stuck on a fake smile.
“Hi, Mrs. Wilson.”
“Oh, hello! It’s nice to see you again, Sebastian. What can I do for you?”
“You said you had to unpack crates; I thought I could help.” And I wanted to see you alone.
She didn’t look very happy and my nerve began to falter, wither, and fucking die a humiliating death.
“That’s very sweet of you, Sebastian, but I don’t think your parents would be happy if they knew you were here instead of studying.”
“I’m taking a break,” I lied.
“I’m sure they won’t object to Sebastian helping a neighbor.”
Fuck! Mrs. Vorstadt. Damn. I’d thought Caroline would be alone.
“That’s very thoughtful of you, Sebastian,” she continued, in a tone that sounded like she knew exactly why I was there.
“Well, I could certainly use some help.”
Caroline sounded flustered, but she hadn’t said ‘no’ either.
“Great! I’ll go get started.”
I practically ran to her garage, hoping Mrs. Vorstadt wouldn’t put two and two together.
I faintly heard Caroline mutter “thank you”, but I didn’t want to hear what else they might say about me, so I started hauling stuff out of crates like my life depended on it.
When Mrs. Vorstadt drove away, Caroline walked into the garage, shaking her head.
“You really don’t have to do this, you know.”
“I want to help.”
It wasn’t a lie exactly: I did want to help her. But more than anything, I just wanted to talk to her, spend time with her.
I pulled out a box full of paperbacks.
“Where do you want this?”
“Oh, could you take that into the living room? There’s a cabinet with a bookshelf – they can be tucked away in there.”
I carried it inside and unpacked her books. Most of them were by authors I’d never heard of. I tried to memorize some of the titles so I could read them, then talk to her about them.
Yeah, I know, but being near this woman was driving me fucking insane.
For one thing, I could smell the shampoo that she’d used, and for another, she was wearing this cute little sundress, and when she stood in the doorway to the garage, I could see right through it. I was going to spend the whole fucking morning as hard as fucking rock. I just hoped she wouldn’t notice.
Adjusting myself carefully, I wandered back out to the garage. She was struggling with a huge box, and I had to brush past her to take it out of her hands. I nearly came in my jeans when she backed her fucking amazing ass into me.
“Oh, sorry!” she laughed. “I’m so clumsy!”
“Nah, it was my fault. Where do you want this?”
That box had to go in her bedroom. Jeez, I really wanted to see that room, but when I got there, his fucking dress uniform was lying on the bed, reminding me that she was married.
I hated everything about her husband: he was an arrogant fucker and he treated her like shit.
I trudged down the stairs and back out to the garage.
She looked up and smiled, and I remembered why I was here.
“So, how’s school? Not too long until you graduate now.”
“Nope, I can’t wait.”
“Do you have plans for the summer?”
“Yeah. Surf. A lot.”
She laughed. “Of course! Your endless summer. Anything else, or is that a 24-hour a day surf?”
“Yeah, something like that! Nah, I’ll have to get a job. The less time I’m at home, the better.”
She frowned, then nodded. “Well, that sounds like a plan. Maybe you could get a job in a surf shop?”
God, she was great. She totally understood me.
We chatted easily for hours, and I couldn’t remember why I’d been nervous to come over here.
“Oh crap! It’s nearly lunchtime,” she said, staring at her watch.
She looked kind of annoyed, and I wondered if she was late for something.
“Did you have to be somewhere?”
“No, no, I’m worried about you. Your parents… your studying.”
“Look, I’m not going to be responsible for you flunking out. I’ll fix you some lunch, and then you must go study. Deal?”
Food and Caroline. I was one happy fucker.
She showed me where I could wash up and when I walked into the kitchen, she was reaching up to get some glasses. I realized how darn little she was. Just fucking perfect. Just the right size for me to… And, I was hard again. Little fucker wouldn’t stay down.
I reached up to get the glasses for her.
“I’ll get those for you.”
I don’t think she’d realized I was there, because she jumped when she heard my voice. But having her so near to me, it was like her whole body was a magnet pulling me in. I stood there like a scary fucking moron with those damn glasses in my hand, just staring at her.
She took them from me without comment. But two seconds later she was leaning into the fridge, her fucking perfect ass waving at me. It took every ounce of control not to leap on her. And then she started talking about lemon pressé. She could have offered me bong water and I’d have fucking drunk it without noticing.
“Yeah, I’ll try that, please, Mrs. Wilson.”
“Sebastian, you can call me Caroline. Mrs. Wilson is so formal… and it makes me feel ancient.”
I couldn’t help grinning like a loon. Caroline. I loved the way it sounded when I said her voice out loud.
“Now, I can make you a chicken salad sub or… tricolored salad.”
Oh, yeah. Time to do suave.
“Insalata tricolore, per favore.”
She looked so fucking surprised, I nearly laughed out loud.
“I’ve been learning Italian. A correspondence course. My high school only offered Spanish.” For you. Caroline.
“Really? Molto bene!”
“And I’ve been listening to opera, too. I like Verdi.”
Liar: it sounded like cats fighting.
“The fallen woman.”
What the fuck? What did she mean? What was she trying to say to me?
“La Traviata: I presume that’s what you mean when you say you like Verdi. Or maybe Aïda? Rigoletto?”
“Yeah, all of those.”
“I thought teenage boys only listened to heavy rock music.”
Shit. She knew I was being a pretentious fucker.
“I’m glad you like opera,” she said softly. “My father loved it.”
Yeah, I remembered him. I was so fucking jealous that she had a great dad like that.
“I remember. I remember you and him singing opera in your kitchen.”
“Really, you remember that?”
“I remember everything.” Everything about you, Caroline.
“That was a great visit when Papa came to stay.”
“Yeah, he was fun. We blew up a lot of things.”
“Yes, David wasn’t very happy about it.”
That fucker. Change of fucking subject coming right up.
“How is your dad?”
“He passed away: two years ago.”
“I’m sorry. I didn’t know.”
Fucking moron! You’ve made her cry! Shit, I’m sorry, Caroline!
“Thank you for your help this morning, Sebastian. It was really very thoughtful of you, but I’m going to have to insist that you go and do some studying as soon as we’ve eaten. I don’t want to get you into any more trouble.”
Yeah, I deserved that. She wanted me the fuck out, and I couldn’t blame her. Fucking idiot.
She made me a really amazing meal. I hadn’t had anything to eat since the barbecue and I was so hungry, my stomach was yelling at me to get the food in as quickly as possible without stopping. Everything she made was wonderful. I could have kissed her. And I really fucking wanted to.
I don’t want to come off like a dick, but at school I could have any girl I wanted. Not that there was any way I was going to be a player like my old man. The point is: I’d never been a mute fucking moron before, who could hardly string two words together. But now…
She offered to drive me home and I couldn’t help thinking it was just so she could get rid of me, which really fucking hurt. Then I realized we were nearly outside my house, so I made her stop the car.
“Can you drop me here?”
“But we’re not at your place yet?” she said, sounding confused.
“There’ll be fewer questions this way.” Ain’t that the truth.
She pulled over and waited for me to get out. I had to find some way to see her again – to let her know that I wanted to spend time with her. So what did Mr. Fucking Genius come up with?
“Will I see you again?”
She looked puzzled.
“I expect so. Everyone bumps into everyone on the Base. Now, promise me you’ll study this afternoon.”
Oh God! So not what I meant! But I couldn’t think of anything else to say.
“Okay, Caroline. See you later.”
I climbed out of the car and watched her drive away.
I walked home slowly. Mom was still in bed. No fucking change there.
The next day, I was still no nearer to deciding how to get to see Caroline, without coming off like a crazy stalker guy.
Irritated at the direction my thoughts had taken, I stared down at my text book. Just a few more months and I could get out of this shithole and never come back. Except that… Caroline was here now.
The main house phone rang, interrupting my thoughts.
Sighing, I picked up the receiver.
“Hunter residence. May I help you?”
Nobody responded. Probably a telemarketer. God, I hated that. What a fucking tedious job.
And then I heard her soft voice.
“Hi, Sebastian… it’s Caroline.”
I couldn’t help taking a sudden, sharp breath.
“Caroline, hi! How are you?”
“Good, thanks. I was expecting to reach your mother…”
No! Talk to me!
“I had a free period – and I’m graduating on Thursday anyway.”
Idiot! Don’t remind her you’re still in school!
“Oh, well, as luck would have it… I wondered if you could help me – with an article I’m writing?”
“Sure, anything!” Oh, God, I’ll do anything for you.
Her voice sounded firmer now.
“Well, when we were talking at the barbecue the other day, you mentioned that your friend’s dad surfed – I think you said his name was Ches? Well, I wondered if you could give me his number; I’d like to speak to him.”
What? Fuck, no! She liked Ches?
“You want to speak to Ches?” The words nearly choked me.
“Well,” she said, hurriedly, “I really wanted to talk to Ches’s dad. I’m writing an article about Base personnel who go surfing. I thought it would make a great piece for City Beat.”
“Oh, right.” I was ridiculously relieved. I hoped that she couldn’t tell. “Sure, I can get you that. We were going to hang out at the beach this afternoon. There’s a swell coming in off the Pacific that looks awesome. Mitch was going to ride with us. You want to come, too?”
Please say yes. Please say yes!
“That’s Ches’s dad. He’s a Staff Sergeant.”
“Well, that would be great.”
I could have got down on my knees and thanked God.
“What time were you going to go?”
“About 3:45. We could pick you up?”
“Um… are you going to Point Loma again?”
I wondered why she wanted to go there.
“Maybe… We were going to sort of drive around till we found the best break.” That’s what we usually did. Please come with me!
She hesitated long enough for my heart to stop.
“In that case, yes, I’d love a ride,” she said. “Are you sure it’ll be okay with Mitch and your friends?”
Damn. No points for being cool.
She gave this cute little laugh. Hell, if I’d heard the desperation I knew was leaking through my voice, I’d have laughed, too.
“Well, okay,” she agreed at last, “but I’d feel happier if I could talk to Mitch first.”
“No, it’ll be fine. Really.”
I don’t want to give you Ches’s number! Talk to me. ME.
“I really think I should,” she said, gently.
Fuck. I couldn’t say no to her. Reluctantly, I gave in, reeling off Ches’s number.
“So I’ll see you after school – um 3:45. I’ll pick you up. Um, Mitch’ll pick you up. Um, 3:45 pm. Okay?”
Stop babbling, moron!
Eventually, she hung up. I could feel the heat in my cheeks, a direct result of my mutant rambling. I must have sounded like a complete idiot. I really had to get my fucking act together before I saw her later, or I was going to have another really bad case of word vomit.
I stood up, then realized my dick was rock hard. Huh, interesting. I headed for the shower and whacked off. Twice.
I mean, I knew it was dumb, having a shower before I went surfing, but I just wanted to look good for her, like I’d made an effort. Hell, I even took a couple of minutes to shave. I didn’t usually shave more than once or twice a week, but this was a special occasion.
It was a freakin’ long five hours of school, before Mitch swung by to pick me up.
“Hey, Seb. You ready man?”
I nodded and tried to smile normally, as he stared at me.
“You okay?” he said, frowning slightly.
Ches’s dad was cool. I wished I had a dad like him, not the sack of shit I was saddled with. But sometimes, I didn’t want Mitch to see everything; the man was too damned observant.
“Yeah, I’m fine,” I lied.
He didn’t look convinced, but he didn’t push it either.
I climbed into the back of the van, crashing down next to Fido, and Ches nudged my shoulder.
“’Sup, man? You look kinda sick, like you’re jonesin’ for a hit or something. You’re acting like a fucking lunatic.”
I blew out a long breath of air, and tried to calm the fuck down.
Ches threw me another look and Fido just looked stoned. I mean, he wasn’t – Mitch wouldn’t put up with that shit – it was just the way Fido looked.
A few minutes later we stopped and I held my breath, thinking we’d arrived at Caroline’s place. But it was Mitch’s buddy, Bill, who climbed into the front of the van. He was such an asshole; I could never figure out why he and Mitch were friends. He was always ragging on me, just because my dad was an officer. It was pretty fucking irritating.
Then Mitch spoke, and I couldn’t help thinking it was as much for Bill’s benefit as anyone else’s.
“Listen, guys, Mrs. Wilson is going to be joining us this afternoon, so I want the language kept clean. She’s a lady and an officer’s wife, so cut the crap. You hearin’ me back there?”
“Yes, sir!” called out Ches, laughing.
Fido mumbled something, and then Bill, the asshole, said, “I hear she’s hot. Too good for that fucker, Wilson.”
I felt my hands clench into fists.
“Cool it, Bill,” said Mitch calmly, but his voice also said he wouldn’t take any shit either.
When we got to Caroline’s, I couldn’t help acting like a fucking preschooler, leaping out of the van and helping her carry her stuff.
“Hello, Sebastian. Could you help me with this: I brought some sandwiches for you and your friends.”
She’d made a load of sandwiches. God I loved that woman!
The thought stopped me in my tracks. Wait, what? Sweaty palms – check. Accelerated heart rate – check. Insane fucking jealousy when any other man looked at her – check. Aching fucking rock hard boner – check. Was that love? I pushed the thought away.
I realized she was waiting for me to introduce her.
“Um, this is Mitch, um, Staff Sergeant Peters.”
“Mrs. Wilson, pleased to meet you.”
I winced when he used her married name.
“Oh, call me Caroline, please,” she said with a smile. “You’re doing me the favor. I really appreciate you letting me tag along on your surf safari.”
“No problem, Caroline. It’ll make these beach bums mind their manners. Right, boys! This is my son, Chester; and those two yahoos in the back are his friends Seb and Fido; and this here is Bill Fenenko.”
“Hey, Caroline,” said Bill.
As he helped her climb into the van, I saw that he was checking her out, his eyes glued to her ass. I wanted to reach over the seats and punch his windpipe through his spine.
Instead, I threw myself into the back of the van, and clutched my knees to my chest, trying to control my breathing.
“What’s your damage, man?” whispered Ches.
I shook my head, too angry to speak.
I could hear that Caroline was speaking and I strained my ears, trying to hear her over the noise of the van’s engine. She was asking about the rash vests piled up on the front seat.
“They’re to stop the wetsuits rubbing around the neck and under the arms when you’re paddling out,” explained Mitch. “We won’t need them today: the water at this time of year is around 63 degrees.”
She shivered and laughed to herself, then turned around, snapping a quick photo of us sitting in the back of the van. I couldn’t help smiling at her; I didn’t notice until too late that Ches and Fido were making faces and flipping the bird. Fucking losers!
Then she passed the food around and damn, it was good. It wasn’t store-bought either: she’d made those sandwiches with her own hands. I couldn’t help imagining what else she could do with her hands.
Which wasn’t such a great idea: trying to eat a sandwich, with a hard-on pressing against my jeans. Again. This woman was going to be the death of me. What a way to go.
Mitch drove across Coronado Bridge, and then stopped a couple of times so we could check out the surf running along Silver Strand.
“See, Caroline, we’re looking for a steady swell and offshore breeze to hold up the waves; the best conditions for producing long, workable rides. If the wind is onshore, it’s just froth and white water – no good for surfing.”
In the end, Mitch pulled up at the side of the road near Cays Park, and we piled out of the back.
Mitch’s commentary had given me an idea: it was clear that Caroline didn’t know anything about surfing, and she wanted to write an article about it. I could help with that: in fact I planned to. As soon as everyone was in the water, I was going to catch a ride in, and talk to her by myself.
The thought made my heart thud in my chest, and I was amazed to see that my hands were shaking slightly. What the fuck was that?
“Just forget I’m here,” said Caroline.
Like that was even possible.
“I’ll just watch and soak up the vibe.”
“Yes, ma’am,” said Bill, and the ass wipe started undressing in front of her.
I tore off my own T-shirt and hoped that Caroline was looking my way. Shit! I wished I had more chest hair. Okay, I didn’t want to look like a fucking Neanderthal like Bill, but, you know, just a bit more would have been cool.
Mitch handed me his thruster.
“I think I’ll take my longboard out today, Seb. You have this one.”
“Thanks, Mitch,” I muttered.
My psycho dad had trashed my Quiksilver board, saying I’d been spending too much time at the beach. What the fuck did he know? I did my studying; I was keeping up my grades. What more did the bastard want?
But Mitch understood.
Caroline took some more photographs, and I thought I was going to break my fucking jaw trying to smile, while Bill showed off, fucking smirking at her the whole time.
We headed out into the surf, and I felt the shock as the first wave of cold water hit my chest. I dove through it, and paddled for the lineup.
I caught a couple of waves just so no one would get weird on me, and then headed back to the beach. Back to Caroline.
She was sitting cross-legged, writing in her notebook and sometimes taking photographs. Her arms and legs were bare in her fucking adorable sundress.
When she looked up at me and smiled, I thought I was going to pass out. Aaand, cue hard-on.
“You finished already?”
“I thought it might help if I explained some more – for your article,” I mumbled, gripping the board in front of me for dear life and all that would save me from total fucking humiliation.
“That would be great: it all looks kind of the same to me.”
God, she was so cute. I couldn’t help laughing.
“Not really. See, Mitch is using a longboard with a rounded nose. He can work the smaller waves with that, and do some hippie shit like hang ten. Ches is riding a shortboard, so he can slash across the wave, catch some air and do the more radical stuff.”
When she smiled again, I nearly forgot my own name.
“What sort of board do you have – have you borrowed?”
“This is a shortboard, a thruster…”
Jeez, just saying the word ‘thruster’ made me hard. Okay, harder, for fuck’s sake.
“Er… it’s the same as Ches’ and Fido’s. See how fast they’re going there? You can’t do that on a longboard.”
She took a load of notes, and it felt really good that I was helping her.
“How many guys on the Base surf?” she asked.
“Quite a lot: once you’ve got your board, the ocean is free. You can be an individual out here – you know, different from military stuff.”
She nodded, and I think she knew what I was saying: out there, you can be whoever you want to be.
“So there are no rules for surfing?”
“Well, there are some rules: you don’t drop in and steal someone’s wave. That’s bad etiquette. The guy who takes off first: that’s his wave.”
“And the second?”
“You go help anyone in trouble.”
“Sebastian, don’t let me keep you from your friends; I’m quite happy to sit here and watch.”
No! Let me sit here with you!
I knew that any moment, she was going to get up and walk away. I had to tell her how I felt. I had to let her know how much she meant to me. After all these years, she’d come back. I felt like she’d come back to me.
“I can surf anytime; I’d rather be here with you.”
My voice came out like a croak, and I could have cheerfully ripped my tongue out. She stared down at her notepad.
But her reply cut my fucking heart out.
“I wish you wouldn’t say things like that, Sebastian. I’m a married woman. It makes me… uncomfortable.”
Shit! Shit! Shit!
“I really like you, Caroline.”
I got up every fucking ounce of courage I had, and touched her arm. Her skin was silky and warm from the sun – she felt amazing.
She stood up suddenly, making me blink, then walked away down the beach. I thought I was going to be sick.
What the fuck was I thinking? Shit, no. No! Stupid, stupid, stupid. I shouldn’t have said that. She’d think I was some sick, crazy stalker. Or worse, she’d think I was a dumb kid.
Shit! Shit! Shit!
And then I saw her talking to Mitch, and a wave of jealousy and anger surged through me. I really wanted to hit something. Badly.
Mitch called a timeout and said we were heading back. I felt sick, and I couldn’t look at her, because I didn’t want to see disgust or pity on her face.
I didn’t even remember getting changed, and the next thing I knew, I was sitting in the back of the van with Ches and Fido.
“Hey, man, you weren’t in long today,” said Ches. “What’s up with that? You’ve been dying to get out here for days.” He flicked his eyes towards Caroline. “Bit distracted, were you?”
“Fuck off, Ches,” I snarled.
He smiled, knowing he’d scored a hit.
“Look man,” he said, quietly, “I know you – and I know what you’re thinking. Yeah, she’s hot, and really nice, too, but she’s fucking married. Just wise the fuck up.”
Then I heard Caroline ask Mitch to read her article when she’d finished writing it; to make sure the surf facts were right.
“I don’t do words, Caroline, not reading and writing words. You should ask one of the boys – that’s more their thing.”
“Sebastian will do it,” said Ches, throwing a look at me.
Fido snickered, and I seriously considered pummeling his dumb ass into dust.
“Okay with you, Seb?” asked Mitch.
“Sure,” I said, quietly. “Whenever you like, Caroline.”
She didn’t look very happy about it, but she didn’t argue.
We dropped her off and I watched her run into the house, like she was eager to be home. She was married. I didn’t stand a chance, and the realization made my chest throb like my ribs were going to break. What the fuck was wrong with me?
When we pulled up at my house, Mitch looked worried.
“Seb, your old man’s car is here. You want me to walk in with you, have a word?”
I shook my head. I knew why he was offering, but I just wanted to get the fuck out of there.
“No, thanks,” I said. “It’s cool.”
It really fucking wasn’t.
I couldn’t bear the pitying way they were all looking at me. I hauled my ass out of the van and pounded on the side, telling them they were good to go.
But as I walked into the house, I knew I’d made a mistake going home. I could hear my parents arguing as soon as I opened the door, and from the sound of it, they were both drunk.
I closed the door as quietly as I could, but they heard me as I tried to make it up the stairs.
“Where have you been, you little shit?” snarled my dad.
I stared back at him, folding my arms across my chest.
“Out,” I said, holding his gaze.
I just didn’t see what was coming next.
His right hook caught me on the cheek, sending me flying backwards against the wall. I hit my head so hard, I saw stars.
“Answer me, you little shit!” he shouted.
“I did my work this morning!” I yelled at him, blinking hard to try and clear my head.
“You’re a useless fucking waste of a life. Look at you! You look like a fucking hippie! People must be pissing their pants laughing at me when they see you. You’re a fucking beach bum, useless fucking…”
He hit me again. This time I knew he’d split my lip, even while the pain was still cutting through me. Before I could get up off of the floor, I saw a flash of metal. I thought he was really going to kill me this time, but instead he hauled me up by my hair. But it wasn’t a knife; he had a pair of scissors. I was still dizzy from his blows and could only struggle feebly as he hacked off several long chunks of my hair. He staggered as I fought against him, and I managed to punch him in the gut – a really good, solid punch. Fucker.
He went down hard. I jumped over him and slammed out of the front door, running as fast as I could, adrenaline pumping through me.
By the time I reached the park, my lungs were burning and my legs were giving out. I slumped down onto the first bench I found and sat there, shaking, as the adrenaline left my body.
Now what the fuck was I going to do?
I’d never hit the bastard before, although I’d wanted to, many times. I couldn’t go back there, he’d fucking crucify me. Maybe I could go to Ches’s? I knew Mitch and Shirley would take me in, but I also knew the bastard would come and drag me back. I didn’t want to involve my friends in my shit.
I really didn’t understand that part – the part where my dad would drag my ass back home: you’d have thought he’d be glad to see the back of me. Instead, it was some sort of family honor that I stayed, for fuck’s sake. No matter how fucked up we were, he painted this picture of a happy, fucking family. Sick fucker.
Ches’s family knew the truth. Others might guess, but nobody ever said anything. Real fucking closed ranks. There was a saying in the military: snitches get stitches and wind up in ditches. That was pretty damn close to the truth.
I stared down at my hands: they were still shaking.
What the fuck was I going to do now?
I jumped when somebody spoke my name.
It was Caroline. Her hand hovered over her mouth when she saw me. I knew she was looking at my bruises and split lip. I probably looked like shit. I couldn’t face her. It was too hard to see her standing there, so shocked and upset.
“Oh, my God! Are you alright? What happened?”
I didn’t know how to answer that. What could I say? My father is a sadistic bastard. I love you.
I felt her soft hand on my face and jerked away. I didn’t want her to see me like this.
“Don’t look at me.”
“Did your father do this to you?”
I nodded slowly.
“Sebastian, let me see. I want to make sure you’re not hurt too badly.”
“I’m okay,” I mumbled. “I’ve been hurt worse than this.”
Which was true – but hitting him back had stirred up a load more shit than I knew how to deal with.
She touched my face, the tips of her fingers so gentle.
“Don’t cry, Sebastian. It’ll be okay.”
Had I been crying? I hadn’t realized.
She stood in front of me, forcing me to look at her.
“Come back to the house: I’ll fix you up and drive you home. Okay?”
It took a moment for her words to sink in. I didn’t know how she could help me, and I really didn’t want her driving me home, but it was soothing to hear her voice. So I followed her, my body and brain numb.
She kept talking in a low, quiet voice, as if she was trying to calm a wounded animal. I wanted to smile, but it caught behind my lips and my mouth refused to move.
When we got to her house, it was dark. I was glad her husband wasn’t there: I couldn’t face one of dad’s good ole buddies right now.
She opened the door, switching on lights as she drifted through the house, her footsteps as soft as dreams. When I saw she’d taken me into her kitchen, I managed to pull myself together enough to sit in the chair she pointed me towards.
A loud noise made me jump, and my head jerked up.
“Oh, sorry!” she said softly, picking cubes of ice out of a tray. She passed me a hand towel full of ice to hold to my cheek. It felt good. She was taking care of me: no one had ever really done that for me before. I liked it.
Before I realized what she was doing, she pulled the hood of my sweatshirt down and gasped. At first, I couldn’t figure out why. Then I remembered my dad shearing chunks of hair off my head. From her reaction, it must look pretty bad. Not that I cared anymore. Not about that.
I closed my eyes.
“Your father?” she whispered.
I looked up for a second, meeting her beautiful, sad eyes. I nodded, and looked away.
“Because of the surfing?” she said, softly.
I nodded again.
“Because of me?”
There was a terrible sadness in her voice, and my eyes blinked open. She thought it was her fault? How could she think that? I had to try and explain.
“No, it would have happened anyway. I’d already planned to go out with Ches and Mitch today. It’s not your fault…”
She took a deep breath, and I looked away again.
“Do you want me to fix it for you?”
Fix it? What? My life? How could anyone fix that fucked up mess?
“Do you want me to turn it into a buzz cut?”
Oh. She was talking about my hair. What a fucking joke.
She gestured for me to follow her, and led me upstairs, into her bathroom. She pushed out a chair for me to sit on, but it was facing the mirror. I didn’t want to see the mess the bastard had made of my face; and I couldn’t bear to see the pity in her eyes anymore.
“I don’t want to look at myself,” I said, angling the chair away so I couldn’t see my reflection in the mirror.
As if from a great distance, I heard the buzzing of a shaver, and felt her gentle strokes, as she passed it over my head. I watched, apathetic, as clumps of hair fell to the floor.
When she stopped, her voice was hoarse.
Was she sad? Sad for me?
“It’ll be okay,” she said, quietly.
If anyone can make it right, you can, Caroline.
I looked up, her eyes meeting mine. “Will it?”
“Yes. When you leave home. You won’t have to see him again – either of them.”
I nodded slowly – it didn’t seem possible.
“Would you like me to get the ice?” she said, quietly.
I shook my head.
“Let me look.”
Gently, she lifted my chin.
It felt so good to have her touch my face, I couldn’t help myself. I laid my hand over hers, feeling the shock of her skin beneath mine, the sensation as strong as if powered by an electric charge.
“Don’t,” she said, her voice pleading with me.
But I couldn’t stop. I had to speak to her; I had to make her understand how I felt about her. The way she’d looked after me – it made me feel so much. She had to know; I had to tell her. I knew it wouldn’t make any difference, that there was no way on earth she could want a fuck-up like me, but I had to say the words.
I stood up, still holding her hand.
“I love you, Caroline.”
She gasped, and I closed my eyes, waiting for her rejection.
But it didn’t come.
Amazed, surprised, dumbfounded, I felt her hand on my cheek, then brushing over the fine bristles of my hair and around to the back of my neck, pulling my head towards her.
I couldn’t believe what was happening. She wanted me? Me?
It was the moment that I’d been dreaming about since she came back. I kissed her, thrilled and disbelieving that she was responding to me.
I felt her tongue on my lip and I opened my mouth gratefully, feeling an intense wave of pleasure as her tongue stroked mine.
I couldn’t believe this beautiful, amazing, wonderful, kind woman was kissing me, responding to me, telling me that she felt the same. That she wanted me, despite everything.
My soul soared, and happiness like I’d never known pulsed through me.
She gripped my neck with one hand, and slid her fingers down my throat, to my chest.
Oh, God, how good that felt. I wanted her: I really fucking wanted her.
My hands hovered over her waist, and when she didn’t stop me, I locked them around her, pulling her small body in tight against mine.
Feeling her soft and warm against me nearly sent me over the edge. I groaned into her mouth and couldn’t help pushing my hips against her.
Suddenly she stepped away, and my arms fell to my sides. Shit, no! I didn’t understand: had I got it wrong?
But then I realized she was tugging on the hem of my sweatshirt. She pulled it over my head and my body felt like it was on fire. I was desperate to touch her, to feel her soft skin against mine, but I could sense she was conflicted.
I begged her silently: love me, Caro. Love me, please.
She ran her fingers underneath my T-shirt, and I shivered at her touch. Then she ripped it off and brushed her hands over my chest. If I’d died then, I’d have thought all my dreams had come true.
When I felt her fingers on the zipper of my jeans, stroking my hard cock, I nearly came in my pants. I gasped, and my eyes flew open.
She pulled me towards her and continued stroking me. I moaned loudly, and she sighed into my chest.
I didn’t even know my hands were moving, until they were resting on her waist again. But when she kissed me, I didn’t hold back. This was my one chance, my only chance.
I tightened my grip around her, and moaned loudly when she slid her hand into the front of my jeans.
Holy shit! That felt good – her hand around me.
“Undo my zipper,” she said.
It took a moment for me to understand what she was telling me; my brain had left the building. She turned around and I pulled down the zipper of her dress, my hands shaking, this time from desire, from pure, physical need. I needed her. I fucking needed her. I wanted her – I wanted it all.
The dress fluttered to the floor and she turned around to look at me. My eyes slid from her face, to her breasts, and suddenly I was finding it hard to breathe.
I stepped towards her again, my hands moving from her hips to her waist; I really wanted to run my hands over her whole body, to touch her breasts, taste her soft, beautiful skin.
“Yes. Touch me,” she whispered, as if she could read my mind.
I swallowed as heat coursed through me, then, slowly, carefully, she lifted my right hand to her breast, moving my fingers in a slow circle. She shivered beneath my touch, and the sensation of flesh on flesh scorched me.
I curled my free hand behind her, slowly drifting upwards, then pressed the palm flat against her spine. I kissed her again, bewitched by the way her tongue tasted, the way it moved against mine.
“Kick off your shoes. I want to undress you.”
I toed off my sneakers and took a deep breath when she undid the button on my pants. I stared down at her, stunned, as she unzipped my jeans and pushed the denim to the floor.
She stood up slowly, then started to stroke my cock.
It was almost too much. Complete fucking overload.
I felt my entire body shudder, and I had to squeeze my eyes shut, trying to find some way to cope with the sensations flooding through me.
I’d thought about sex a lot over the last four or five years, wondering what is was like with a woman, wondering who and when and where, thinking about all the things I could do, that my body was programmed to do. Ches and I had been through my dad’s entire porn collection. But nothing compared to this. My brain was flooded, my body on fire. I could barely see straight, let alone think; it was all movement, touch and sensation – and I was lost.
Her hands left me, and my eyes snapped open. She was undoing her bra, and my breath caught in my throat. She was so fucking beautiful. At that moment, I wanted to give her the sun and the stars; I wanted to give her myself, body and soul.
Take me, Caro, I’m yours.
She held out her hand towards me, and then I knew she wanted the same. I couldn’t help myself: I was like a fucking barbarian: touching her everywhere, tasting her skin, feeling her heat.
Her hand wrapped around my cock again, and I cried out.
It was too much. Too much. I came in her hand, pulsing streams of cum down her thigh.
Fuck, no! Oh God! Oh God, no! NO!
I couldn’t bear it. I couldn’t fucking bear it. I didn’t want her, of all people, looking at me with such pity in her eyes.
I turned away and felt my knees buckle.
“I’m sorry! I’m sorry! I’m sorry!”
Stupid. Useless. Pathetic. Miserable fucking…
I hid my face in my hands, unable to look at her. I thought she’d tell me to get the fuck out. But she didn’t. I waited for her to say the words. They never came.
“No, don’t. It doesn’t matter. It’s okay.”
I could hear her talking to me, but I could barely understand what she was saying. She kept stroking my back, whispering to me.
“Sebastian, it’s okay. Sebastian. Look at me.”
But I couldn’t.
“I’m sorry,” I muttered again.
Then she grabbed hold of my hand, tugging gently.
“Come on. Come.”
She tugged on my hand again, but I couldn’t work out what she wanted me to do. I followed her, filled with confusion, humiliated and miserable.
She pulled me into the bedroom, gently pushing me onto the bed.
I lay back, watching her carefully as she walked around the bed to lie next to me. She pulled up the sheets and I felt her gentle fingers on my cheek. Her kisses fluttered across my face and lips, then down my throat.
I could feel her silky hair drifting across my chest, and I felt a sort of peace that surprised me, filled me and freed me.
She wasn’t rejecting me. She was giving me another chance. Because she was beautiful and kind and she knew I needed her.
I ran my hand down her arm and she smiled. Cautiously, I lifted my hand to her breast and circled the nipple with my thumb, watching fascinated as it formed into a hard little bud that I was longing to taste.
She gasped, and I dropped my hand away.
“No, don’t stop.”
She wanted me to touch her.
She continued kissing me across my chest and down to my stomach, and I knew I was getting hard again. How could I not? She was so amazing. Her touch, the way her body felt, the way her body felt beneath my fingers.
She placed a gentle kiss on the tip of my cock, and a long, drawn-out sigh of pleasure escaped me. She smiled, and twined her fingers through mine, moving them down to her thighs.
“You can touch me,” she said, quietly.
She was letting me touch her pussy. She wanted me to touch her pussy. Fuck, she was so wet! My fingers glided in and out, circling her clit with my thumb.
“Yes, that’s right,” she groaned. “Like that.”
Hearing her turned on like that, wanting me was fucking intense.
“Slowly: yes, in and out.”
I leaned down to kiss her throat, watching her whole body flush, responding to my fingers inside her.
She touched my cock again, then sat up suddenly. I stopped, staring at her in panic.
Had I done something wrong? Was she upset with me?
When she kissed me roughly, I groaned into her mouth. She pushed her body onto my hand, and I moved my fingers quickly. Suddenly, I felt her body pulsing around my fingers.
It was the most intense, amazing fucking experience, feeling her come around my hand.
She lay back, quiet, her eyes closed.
“Are you okay?” I asked, begging her to say that she was.
She hesitated, and I felt my heart shudder.
“Yes,” she whispered, at last. “Very okay. Very, very okay.”
I did that. I made her feel that. I felt like I should get a fucking medal.
Then she opened her eyes and gazed up at me, a slight smile on her face.
“Now your turn,” she said.
What? Oh, fucking yes!
When she knelt across me, I groaned in anticipation. She grabbed my cock and as she positioned herself above me, I felt myself slide inside her. So warm, so wet, so tight.
Holy shit! Fuck! That felt good. That felt fucking amazing. I never wanted to leave this place. It felt right; it felt like home.
This was my woman, and we were making love. Fuck, I loved her so much.
She sat up and leaned back, placing my hands against the base of her belly.
“Can you feel yourself inside me?”
“Yes,” I whispered. “I can.”
Fuck! I didn’t even know that was possible, but I could. I could feel a thick bulge inside her – I could feel me inside her.
I must have looked like a fucking idiot, staring at her with my mouth open, but the heat in her eyes made me feel like a man.
She leaned forward again, her hands resting on my chest, moving her hips up and down in a steady rhythm. I pushed my head back into the pillow, unable to prevent my body from thrusting into hers, pushing myself deep inside her.
And suddenly I couldn’t stop. I started moving faster, feeling another orgasm build, a tightening in my balls, flickers of fire running up my spine.
My eyes blinked open and widened as I stared at her face, her fucking beautiful face, riding me, her expression wild and free, her head thrown back. When her eyes locked on mine, I came hard, my body shuddering inside her.
She collapsed onto my chest and we lay there for several minutes. When she slid off me, I felt the loss of her immediately. I wanted nothing more than to be inside her again, feeling her body around me, feeling the intensity of her passion.
God, she was so beautiful. I leaned up on my elbow so I could see her properly.
She opened one eye and looked at me, her expression soft and warm.
“Hi,” she said, a smile twitching at the corner of her lips. “You okay?”
I nodded, unable to find the words. “That was… that was…”
“Yes, it was,” she said, still smiling.
I couldn’t explain what I was feeling: so many emotions were surging through me. I’d waited longer than most guys I knew to do it, and I was suddenly really glad I had; glad that I’d done it with her. It had been the most amazing experience of my life. I felt alive, like she’d taught me to breathe.
She stroked my cheek, and I leaned into her hand with a sigh. I kissed her palm and said the words that were rushing through me.
“I love you, Caroline. I always have. My whole life.”
I meant every fucking word.
She smiled and laughed gently. I knew she wasn’t laughing at me. She looked – happy.
“That’s a very long time,” she said, raising one eyebrow. “You’re only 18 – your whole life isn’t that much, really.”
I smiled. “It feels like it sometimes. Anyway, I’m not 18 for another four months; I’ll let you know then.”
Her expression changed immediately.
“What?” she gasped. “You… you’re only seventeen?”
I nodded, not sure why she was so upset.
“For God’s sake, Sebastian! Seventeen?”
My mouth went dry. “What’s the matter?”
She refused to look at me, throwing an arm over her eyes.
I started to feel desperate. Why wouldn’t she look at me?
“Please, Caroline. You’re scaring me.”
She moved her arm and glared at me, her expression almost hateful. I felt my heart jolt with the shock. With pain.
When she finally spoke, she spat the words at me.
“The matter, Sebastian, is that you’re a minor. What we’ve just done… what I’ve just done… it’s against the law. It’s a felony, for God’s sake!”
Oh. Was that all?
“But I love you.”
Simple. See how easy it is?
But she didn’t look happy.
“Sebastian: it’s statutory rape! Do you know what that means? I could go to prison. If anyone found out…”
Fuck, no! That can’t be right!
“I won’t tell anyone. I love…”
“Don’t say it! Do not say it!” she yelled the words, and it was just as if she’d hit me. I couldn’t understand what was wrong. I wasn’t going to tell anyone – tonight had been the best night of my whole life. I didn’t want her to feel bad about it, just because I was a few weeks shy of my eighteenth birthday. Nobody cared about that shit. Half the kids in my school were fucking each other. You couldn’t go to a football game without tripping over couples screwing behind the bleachers.
Suddenly, she sat up and ran to the bathroom, kneeling over the toilet as if she was going to be sick. I leapt off the bed, standing behind her, afraid to see her reaction.
If you’d just let me hold you!
But she held out her hand like a traffic cop. She didn’t want me. She didn’t want me!
“Please!” I knew my voice was begging, begging her. “Oh, God, please, Caroline!”
I tried to hold her, but she pushed past me.
“No!” she shouted.
She collapsed onto the bed, her whole body shuddering.
“What have I done? What have I done?”
She repeated the words over and over, then hid her head in her hands.
Slowly, I sat down next to her, trying to find the words to explain how I felt; trying to find some way to show her that it was okay.
“I’m not sorry,” I whispered. “That was the best experience of my whole life. I love you; I can’t help it.”
I felt relieved when she let me pull her against my chest, wrapping my arms around her, stroking her arms and kissing her hair.
But then she sat up and pushed me away. Again.
“I apologize, Sebastian. It isn’t your fault. Please forgive my… behavior.” Her voice was so cold, a shiver of terror ran through me. “I think you’d better leave now.”
Oh God, no! NO!
“Please. Don’t send me away.”
But she didn’t reply. She didn’t reply because she didn’t want me.
The world crashed around me and I thought I was going to pass out. My heart was hammering in my chest, and my vision was blurred. Was I crying? I touched my face, amazed to find that my cheeks were wet.
Her body was turned away from me, stiff and unyielding.
Moving as if in a dream, I walked into the bathroom and dressed slowly. By the time I’d pulled on my sweatshirt, she’d already gone. The bedroom was empty, and only the rumpled sheets showed that my world had just imploded.
I made it down the stairs without breaking down, but when I saw her, standing in the kitchen, her face softened and she started to cry.
Half a heartbeat later, she was in my arms, her cheek against my chest, and she let me stroke her hair.
Oh, God, just let me hold you, Caro. Please don’t send me away.
“Don’t be sad, Caroline, I love you. It’ll be okay.”
She started laughing, her hiccupping giggles mixing in with gasps and cries. She stared up at me, so beautiful, and I wiped away her tears with my thumbs, heartbroken that I’d made her feel like this.
I had to show her how I felt; I had to let her know that it was going to be okay – that we’d be okay. I opened my mouth to speak, but it was too late.
We heard the car at the same time.
I could hear the panic in her voice.
“You have to go! Quickly! Out through the backyard. Go!”
I turned to run to the door, then skidded to a halt. “When will I see you again?”
“I don’t know! Go! Go!”
I was desperate.
“Promise I’ll see you again! Promise me!”
“Okay, I promise!” she said, staring horrified at the front door.
I pulled her to me, kissing her fiercely. My woman. And then I ran.
I’d only gotten as far as the fence at the bottom of her yard, when I stopped. This was wrong, so wrong. What if she needed me? What if he’d come home because he knew? What if he hurt her? I had to stay.
I stood in the shadows, staring up at the light in her window.
My body was tense, my hands welded into fists at my side. I couldn’t leave her with him. I loved her, she loved me. We were supposed to be together. This was wrong.
“Caroline,” I whispered. “I love you.”
I’d find a fucking way for us to be together. No one would stop us.