"And, I mean, there she was. We're talking Mila Kunis mixed with a… I don't even know, a goddess. She's got a wetsuit pulled down around her hips, tanned so even and perfect, hair blowing in the wind, the dog jumps into our boat like this golden sign from above and then she said those first words and I knew she was going to be mine: 'Mookie, what the fuck?'"
"Yeah, we get it. Big first day on the boat." Josh gulped down another mouthful of beer. He looked around the bar; it was still early so the only people hanging around were the regulars, not quite ready to go home to wives and commitments yet. He wasn't quite sure what he was looking for, but spending a whole day out in the sun with Steve's constant commentary was starting to grate on his nerves.
"But it was so much more than that. I mean, it was like I'd met my soul mate." Steve slumped over the table a little and looked around for support. The other boys around the table didn't give any help and Steve gave up, leaning back in his chair. He would have to rethink his method.
The door opened and shut with a decisive thud and Steve looked around violently to see the girl he had just described. Her wetsuit had been traded in for shorts, but the bikini was still in place. Her dog, Mookie, was at her side once again and her thick dark hair fanned over her shoulders. Steve smiled around at the table waiting for their acknowledgement that it was, in fact, her.
"Hi, Jamie," The girl sat down at the bar and let Mookie curl up at her feet, "Um, how about a Captain and coke?" She was obviously a regular, judging by the looks of acknowledgement she got from almost everyone she passed, but stayed away from the other patrons. Looking down at Mookie's golden head, she smiled.
"She's perfect," Steve hissed across the table, he clung to the table. He had watched her closely, "Look at her and the dog. That's love. Nothing says she can't love me like that," He swung his head back over to look at the bar. He was still wearing his wide brimmed hat and the sides flopped into his ears whenever he wildly swung his head around.
"Yeah, but she's legit. You know?" Raleigh said distractedly, he had his hefty camera balanced on his knee as he scanned through his pictures for the day, he had switched his contacts for glasses and was adjusting them on his nose to get the perfect view of a two inch screen. "Can't get the damn aperture right." He huffed, putting the camera on the table and pushing his glasses up the bridge of his nose roughly. He looked at the drink in his hand and letting it swish around in the glass before downing the last of it.
"Whatever," Steve glanced over to where she sat again, trying to be more secretive. "You think that camera is more beautiful than the angel at the bar? Something is seriously wrong with you."
"Wanna know what she calls guys like you? Guys like us?" Josh asked, readjusting his glasses, leaning forward and trying to steal Steve's undivided attention. He could feel the sunburn on the back of his neck starting to ache.
"Land-bound? I don't know." Steve ran his hand over the dark wood of the table in between looking at Sidney frantically.
"Weekend warriors. We're the guys they don't like. We come in for sailing lessons, drink during the boat races. We go out on our motorboats. Come on, man." Josh said, leaning over into Steve's vision, trying to keep his attention.
"I have to at least try, right?" Steve said. The others just shrugged and watched him get up the courage to walk over to the bar, pushing his hat back on his head. They all watched her slowly realize he was behind her and saw Mookie judge the hem of his cargo shorts with his nose. Even Mookie looked a little disgusted with his hiking sandals and the angry sunburn on the tops of his thighs.
"That was your girl, huh?" Don finally asked Josh. Don had been silent for most of the afternoon, preferring to watch the train-wreck of a boat ride that had occurred. He sat in classic boating attire of Sperry boat shoes, a white polo, white chino shorts and a navy blue rope belt. It was a simple, classic outfit that made Don look like he had just walked out of a fashion magazine from the fifties. He even made the croakies around his neck look like a decision rather than a necessity.
"Supposed to be." He smiled and gave Don a sideways glance before having another mouthful of beer. "I went to go thank her." He confessed to his two remaining friends "for pulling us in."
"How'd that go for you?" Raleigh asked, looking crestfallen at the sight of his empty tumbler. He put it back on the table and gave a wayward glance to his camera, wishing he had immediate access to Photoshop.
"Bad, man. Really fucked that up." Josh let out a bark of a laugh, "Dog's got her heart on a string." He looked over to see Mookie who had decided to lay back down, deciding the stranger in the cargo shorts and Hawaiian shirt probably wasn't a huge threat.
"Is blaming the dog really the best option?" Don asked, flashing a rueful smile.
"Man's best friend, you know." Raleigh said, slapping Josh lightly across the arm. Josh shook his head, but smiled, readjusting his glasses again. "Be back," Raleigh picked up his glass and walked over to the bar. "Hey Steve," Raleigh leaned on the bar and Steve tensed, "Scotch," Raleigh said to Jamie, smiling, "please."
"You were the Jameson?" Jamie asked, pulling out a fresh glass.
"I was," He said, turning back to Steve. Sidney looked completely uncomfortable, but Mookie greeted Raleigh happily, excited to have someone else to smell. Raleigh knelt down and Sidney smiled, appreciating the gesture. "Beautiful dog," He said, giving Sidney a lazy smile. "You doing the Thursday night races?"
"What?" She shook her head, trying to figure out if she knew who this ginger was. He was slim and looked completely relaxed playing with Mookie. His shorts were a Nantucket red and should have clashed with his hair and freckles, but somehow he had made it okay.
"The sailing races. Are you going to do them?" He asked again, standing and paying Jamie for his drink. His shorts hung low on his hips and his shirt fell in a way that said he'd picked it out carefully.
"Yeah. Do I know you?" Sidney asked, leaning forward. She noticed Steve perk up at this, taking in the newly created curve of her chest. She decided to ignore him.
"Not really. I'm Raleigh," He shook her hand. He leaned forward and Sidney could see his hipbones protruding slightly in a completely sensual way and the hint of lean muscle hidden under that shirt. His hand overtook hers; she could feel some calluses on his otherwise slender hand.
"No, how do I know you?" She squinted up into his grey eyes, not letting go of his hand immediately, waiting for some revelation.
"I take pictures at the races. You know, ride the motor boat behind you guys." He said. He had that photographer look, Sidney thought, especially with the thick-rimmed glasses.
"Yeah," She smiled genuinely, "a lot of my favorite pictures came from you guys. You should see the office; we keep the best ones up. You probably took some of them." She finally let go of his hand, realizing that she had just been a little rude.
"That's very flattering," Raleigh said, running a hand through his hair, "And, uh, maybe I'll see you out on the water." He let his gaze wander over to Steve's dumbstruck face. "You know, I think we'll leave you to your dog," He scratched Mookie's ears one more time, "and your drink." He held up his tumbler and then clapped Steve on the back to force him to move away from the bar.
"What the hell, Ral?" Steve hissed when they got back to the table.
"You are in big trouble, man," Josh said, smiling at Raleigh.
"What is everyone's deal?" Raleigh looked around the table; Don shook his head letting out a small laugh.
"She likes you," Josh nodded toward the bar. Sidney had risked a look over her shoulder, tucking her hair behind her ear and biting her lip. "You've moved up from weird weekend warrior to potential."
Raleigh shrugged. Steve was still dumbstruck and hadn't looked away from Raleigh yet. Don leaned back in his chair and surveyed the bar, and then got up without a word.
"Where do you think you're going?" Steve asked, but Don kept walking without any kind of response. His calm, steady walk was hard to miss, and the rest of the bar took notice of the tall, muscular man who had just dominated the room.
The boys watched him skillfully avoid Sidney's range and greet Jamie. There was a collective sigh from the group when Jamie smiled at him and laughed, reaching across the bar to touch Don's arm coyly. Don smiled, putting a hand over Jamie's and still keeping up the conversation.
"I'm never going to get used to that." Josh said, shaking his head. "The fact that he can make that happen amazes me."
"How does he know?" Steve asked.
"I don't think he does." Raleigh said, "That's why it's nerve-wracking. One day he's going to get slugged and then we won't have a handsome friend."
"Excuse you-" Steve started, but was interrupted.
"Hey, Lady killer," Steve turned around to see Sidney standing over him, "Should think about some sailing classes. We're trying to fill a couple spots in June's classes. Out on the water, not too hot, Dad and I will probably teach them." She looked over at Raleigh, "Just in case you guys get bored of the motorboat." Sidney leaned forward on the table and Steve risked a sideways glance at her chest, "And Josh, I swear to god, if your friend breaks my brother's heart," She pointed to Jamie and Don who were laughing heartily, "I will come after you."
"Yes sergeant." Josh played it off like he was un-phased, but Sidney waited until she was sure he knew it was a genuine threat. "Okay, Mook, let's go." She smiled down at Mookie who followed her happily back out of the bar.
"Saw you pull in a couple guys yesterday, Sid," Rich put his sunglasses on top of his head and signed off on a few forms before filing them.
"Yeah, couple weekend warriors Mookie took a liking to. Just thought it would be the neighborly thing to do." She smiled up sarcastically at him.
"Run out of gas?" Rich took a seat behind his desk at the back of the office, scrolling through a document he had open on his computer.
"Flooded the engine." Sidney said, swiveling around in her chair to face him. Pictures and knickknacks surrounded him on his desk and the glow of the computer shutting down gave him an eerie look. His faded orange chair looked more sunken in than usual, but Sidney couldn't help but relate this picture to her entire childhood and family life.
"They should really think about getting out on a sailboat." Rich said absentmindedly, screwing up his face to see the text better. It didn't occur to him to turn on the desk lamp that was right next to his fingertips.
"Dad, you think everyone should be out on a sailboat." Sidney said, pulling out the billing forms for their boaters.
"Yeah, try to dry out before dinner or your Mom will have a fit." Rich put down the papers, giving up and laying them in a neat stack for tomorrow.
"I think I'm going to stay here a little while. People were calling today saying they've been billed twice for docking."
"Okay, Sweetie, try not to sleep here, huh?" Rich kissed her on the head and walked out of the office, patting Mookie on the head.
Sidney sat out on the deck of the sailing office, watching the sun sink down low over the water. She held a beer lazily in one hand. Mookie was asleep at her feet. The world seemed to be slowing down and Sidney was about to turn in and call it a night when she saw a splash out in the water. She watched a boat come in slowly, with a black speck in the water next to the boat, swimming along beside it.
"Hi, sorry, but we're closed. You're going to have to come back tomorrow if you want to dock the boat," Sidney said, walking out to the water as the boat came in.
"Now, don't pretend like you don't know me." The Tommy Hilfiger model cracked a thousand watt smile and waited.
Mookie caught on faster than Sidney, barking at the figure in the water. A dog climbed on shore and the two dogs greeted each other happily.
"Bruce Arbus. What the hell brings you back here?"
"Sidney Jedson. I'm not quite sure yet. But, hey, at least I get to see the princess of the Chesapeake."
"Shut up. You've been here for five seconds." She watched him tie up the boat on the dock and walk on shore.
"No, you shut up," He leaned down and kissed her, pulling her toward him.