The Storm in The Port (PG-13)
Norma Cavanaugh looked forward to her escape to Sun Rise Lake every summer. She had inherited the family cottage from her Aunt Betsy several years earlier as the last surviving heir and the place was her port in the storm of life.
Norma had fond memories of her summer visits here and it meant a lot to be able to get away from her city school teacher existence and spend her summers removed from her reality. Divorced for nearly five years now, Norma enjoyed the solitary life at the lake where she could read, work in her flower garden, swim, and even take a crack at the novel she had been toying with for years.
The Cottage ("Dorothy" read the sign above the front door after Norma's grandmother who purchased the place with her husband nearly sixty years earlier) was among the last surviving original structures from the old days and it still looked the way she remembered it as a kid. It was a small place with gray clapboard shingles on the outside, a kitchen, living room, and three small bedrooms inside, along with a screened porch on one side and a back porch overlooking the lake.
Mr. Skinner from the village was the caretaker during the off-season and he opened the place up for her in late June, putting in the dock, dragging down the canoe and rowboat from the storage space under the screened porch, airing out the cottage, raking up the yard, and making any repairs necessary. Then, after she left at the end of the summer, kind Mr. Skinner took out the dock, stored the canoe and rowboat, closed up the cottage and checked on it from time to time during the winter.
Most of the nearby owners had sold their places to rich people who built monstrosities along the lake shore. The modest Wallace place to the left of The Dorothy had been razed a decade ago and replaced by a huge modern year round home owned by the CEO of some factory in Greenville. The humble Morrissey cottage to the right had also been sold to a college professor at Green College who totally gutted the place, turning it nearly unrecognizable from the original structure. The Dorothy was now dwarfed between the two towering neighbors.
Mr. Skinner told Norma when she first arrived for the summer that Professor Dantley had sold his place over the winter and there was now a new owner in the house. Norma didn't pay much attention to her neighbors so she didn't welcome this news with any particular excitement or interest. She enjoyed and valued her privacy and she liked being alone along the lake. She spent ten months a year living in a city of millions working in a school with hundreds so the solitude of the lake was a welcomed change, her emotional port from the storm of her 'regular' life. When she was at the lake, Norma didn't have papers to grade, students to discipline, taxis to hail, administrators to argue with, and an ex-husband to hound for alimony.
Norma's attitude was that as long as the new neighbor left her alone they'd get along just fine. She noticed a middle aged man at the former Dantley place but she minded her own business and respected his privacy just as she hoped he did hers. She had no interest in socializing with the stranger and she hoped he wasn't some desperate loner looking for a summer romance.
There were a few times when the new guy waved at her from his porch or yard or driveway or dock but she ignored him and she refused to return the gesture or show any signs of interest. She didn't want him to come onto her property and initiate a conversation with her. She just wanted to be left alone.
One morning, Norma brought her chair down to the dock to get some morning sun while reading the morning paper, drinking a warm cup of coffee and enjoying a pastry. She grabbed the first folding chair she put her hands on and she wasn't paying much attention as she unfolded it on the dock and took her seat, not realizing that she had grabbed one of the older ones with rusted cheap legs.
Just as she got comfortable, the fatigued chair gave way under her, sending her backwards with a scream as she fell off the dock, half crashing onto the canoe which flipped on top of her as she splashed into the lake, her coffee and pastry flying through the air like Frisbees.
Norma was disoriented from being upside down in the water and with the canoe over her she was further confused. She had sucked in some lake water during her tumble and she thought to herself 'What a stupid way to die'. But then the canoe was pushed away and she felt an arm tugging her to the surface of the lake. She was spitting up water and gasping for air.
It was the middle aged man from the Dantley place next door coming to her rescue.
"I….I….." she sputtered, not sure if she was embarrassed, humiliated, or angry.
The man dragged her chair out of the water and set it on the dock. "I think you need a new chair," he remarked with a grin as she continued to gasp for air.
She didn't think it was a very humorous situation. "I'd appreciate it if you wouldn't laugh at me," she said, sounding indigent once she had recovered her ability to breathe.
"Oh, excuse me," he said, still smirking. "Are you okay?"
"Yes, I'm fine," she said coolly as she waded for the shore.
The stranger righted the canoe and then he waded out of the lake and glanced at her as she stood in the sand with a frown on her face.
"Do you need anything else?" He asked, sounding friendly and of good cheer.
"No, you may leave now," she replied curtly.
He seemed surprised by her response. "You sure you don't need anything?" He asked with concern.
"I need you to leave me alone," she replied, turning her back to him.
"Suit yourself," he said with a good natured chuckle as he returned to his own place laughing the whole way which further annoyed her.
Norma stared after him with disgust but at the same time there was something strangely familiar about the man that she just couldn't quite put her finger on. No matter. If she had her druthers, she'd never talk to him again anyway.
A few days later, having recovered from her broken chair mishap and the ensuing embarrassment, Norma was in the Village bakery for her morning coffee and Danish like she was on most mornings. She knew the staff by name and she enjoyed the friendly banter with the workers. Norma was leaning against the door about to step outside while talking about the day's weather forecast with Millie. Norma's back was the door as she held her coffee cup in one hand and her Danish in the other.
Suddenly, the door was pulled open from behind her, sending Norma to the floor on her ass with a thump as her coffee went flying from one hand and the Danish sailed like a shot-put from her other hand.
Norma looked up from her awkward position to see her new neighbor standing over her, looking down at her with a bemused expression on his face.
"What'd you do that for?" Norma accused.
"I didn't realize you were leaning against the door," he replied with a shrug. "Sorry."
He held his hand out to help her to her feet. Norma felt like a first class klutz and buffoon as she accepted his hand and allowed him to lift her off her ass. She was glad she was wearing shorts and a blouse on this day.
"Please, allow me to buy you another coffee and pastry," the man offered.
"That's okay," Norma insisted. "I can take care of it."
"Please," he said, stepping into the bakery and tossing a five dollar bill on the counter.
She stepped closer to him and examined him. He was surprisingly good looking and she could have sworn she knew him from somewhere. His brown hair was streaked with gray and he had crowfeet by his eyes but otherwise he was athletically in shape and she guessed he was in his mid fifties.
"You should be more careful next time," Norma huffed as she glared at him and once again she was struck with the impression that maybe she had met him somewhere sometime, perhaps in a different life.
"I will," the guy replied. "Would you like to stay and have your coffee at a table with me?" He offered. "As a peace offering?" He added.
"No thank you," she said coldly.
He smiled widely at her with amusement. "Okay," he said with a nod, accepting his coffee from Millie and then disappearing from the shop.
"Well, that's one way to meet the guy," Millie laughed as she poured Norma a fresh cup of coffee and replaced the ruined Danish.
"He's my neighbor," Norma remarked with annoyance. "I keep making a fool of myself in front of him."
"Well, I wouldn't worry about it," Millie said with a smile. "I'd make a fool of myself in front of him any day of the week."
Norma took the coffee cup from Millie and blew on it. "Who is he, anyway?"
"You're kidding, right?" Millie asked with surprise.
"What do you mean?" Norma asked blankly.
"You really don't know who that is?" Millie laughed as she went to work on the next order.
"Don't you ever watch television or go to the movies?" Millie asked.
"What are you talking about?"
"That's Storm Daniels," Millie said.
Millie must have noticed the blank look on Norma's face.
"The actor?" Millie said, staring at Norma with surprise. "You didn't recognize him?"
"I thought he looked vaguely familiar for some reason," Norma replied with a shrug. "I guess that must be it."
"You must not be a fan," Millie observed from Norma's reaction.
"I'm too old to be a groupie, Millie," Norma laughed. "What's he doing at Sun Rise Lake anyway?"
"I guess he's teaching some sort of course or seminar or something at Green College this fall," Millie revealed. She peered at Norma and grinned. "So, he's your neighbor, huh?"
"I'm not interested," Norma replied, waving her hand. "No summer romance for me."
"Not even with a guy who's slept with Scarlett Madison!?" Millie laughed. "What's wrong with you!?"
"I'm forty, Millie, not fourteen," Norma replied. "I'll see you around."
Norma grabbed her Danish and left the bakery but she had to admit her curiosity had been kicked by the idea of a nationally known actor living next door to her. When she got back to the cottage, Norma went to her computer and IMDb'ed Storm Daniels.
Storm Daniels is the actor's real name after being conceived during a hurricane. Daniels was born in Baltimore Maryland. His father was a career bureaucrat in the federal State Department and his mother was a local television producer. Daniels' was featured in local Baltimore station promotional ads as a youngster and he acted in high school and community theatre productions. Daniels attended the University of Maryland and pursued his interest in acting there.
After earning his Drama degree, Daniels moved to Los Angeles where he has enjoyed a successful acting career.
Daniels was married to the actress Bridget Bolton (divorced) and U.S. Congresswoman Shelia Beckworth who passed away from cancer after ten years of marriage. He has an adult child from his first marriage.
Daniel's screen debut came playing an intern in the television movie "The Pregnant Doctor". He was a security guard in "Bank Robbery" and he played Fogel in the acclaimed prisoner of war movie "Concentration Camp". He enjoyed several guest appearances in various television series, including "Strange Family," "Porches", "Hopkins", "Torpedo Ally" "Tad" "Sons of Dads" "Great Scotts", "April and Lancy," "Life with Alfred,", "Darlene", and "Wonderland" and supporting roles in various television movies including "Flight 104", "Caveman", "Fire Fight", "Mellow", "Punks", "Motel Stories", "The Mating Game", and "Wind Willows".
His first starring role on the big screen was as the killer in the classic B movie "Serial Killer" followed by the romantic comedy "Shipwrecked". He also costarred with Phil Easterbrook in the feature film "I'm Not Dead But Don't Blame Me". He was famously featured in the sex romp "Flashers" which has become a cult favorite.
His first stint starring in a television series was as Bridget Bolton's husband in the comedy "Animal Doctors" which ran for two seasons. He was Johnson's older brother in several episodes of "Teenagers in Space." He was also a semi-regular guest star in the television series "Super Heroes".
His second stint on episodic television came with the lead role in the dramatic "Deception" which only lasted one season.
After featured roles in films such as "Zone," "Weekend Warriors", "Max", and "Angel Dust", Daniels returned to the small screen as the love interest in the TV movie "Annie McGuinn." He was featured in a three-episode arc in the television series "Space Story" before landing the lead as "Kincaid" the police drama which ran five seasons and gained critical success.
Daniels took a break from his career to be with his ailing wife and returned to the small screen following her passing with a five episode appearance in "Home Invasion". Sporadic appearances followed with guest appearances in such shows as "Benny", "Ticket to Paradise," and "Simon's Law" before returning to television as the lead in the situation comedy "Northern Comfort" which ran for two seasons.
He was seen in small roles in "Lawn Party" and the feature film "A Dog and His Boy" before landing a co-staring role in the cable television series "Magic Manor" opposite Leeza Hendricks for two seasons.
Daniels returned to feature films with supporting appearances in "The Two Me's,", "Hartford", "Crusaders," and "Christmas Promises" before returning to television with a seven episode guest appearance on "Save Me".
He starred in the situation comedy "Grace World" which ran for two seasons.
Norma noticed that the actor only had three other credits after "Grace World" went off the air five years ago – three guest starring appearances in episodic television, the last more than two years earlier.
Norma had no interest in associating with some Hollywood egotist, even if he had saved her from drowning, bought her a coffee and Danish, and was her summertime neighbor but that didn't stop her from surfing through You Tube clips of some of his work as well as some of his movies on Infinity, On Demand and other cable vehicles. She couldn't believe how young he looked as Fogel in that war movie and she found several episodes of Magic Manor which she found funny and entertaining.
It was strange to watch a person age through their work and career – from Daniel's earliest work just starting out to his last appearance on the television show "Murkhotz" in which he looked bored and disinterested in the role he played (private detective).
Norma realized she was familiar with the actor's work although she didn't remember his name. She had seen some of those TV movies and she definitely remembered seeing 'Shipwrecked' at the movie theatre with her ex. She knew she caught a couple of episodes of Animal Doctors, she remembered him on Space Story (one of her favorite shows), she had seen Kincaid from time to time, and she remembered watching Northern Comfort and Save Me. Daniels was one of those actors whose face you'd recognize right away even if you didn't know his name, although Storm Daniels was definitely a unique name.
But that didn't change her desire to be left alone and Norma certainly didn't want to become involved with some actor of all people. He was probably a fake and a phony and she didn't need someone like that in her life. She had been married to one!
The Actor continued to wave at Norma whenever they were outside at the same time but she was relieved that he respected her boundaries and didn't venture onto her property. Norma made no effort to interact with him on any level and Millie eventually stopped teasing her about 'The Storm' when she stopped by the bakery for her morning coffee.
Nearly two weeks had passed since the actor had knocked her on her ass at the bakery and Norma was enjoying a peaceful and relaxing summer. She had pretty much forgotten about 'The Storm' as Millie liked to call him although she occasionally found herself glancing toward his house to see if he was around.
One morning, she returned to the dock (this time with a better chair!) to catch some morning sun and she saw 'The Storm' standing at the end of his dock with a fishing pole in his hand. She thought about retreating to the cottage but it was too late.
"Good morning," The Actor said, glancing at her and giving her a cheerful wave.
Norma rolled her eyes and took a seat in her folding chair on her own dock.
"You don't seem to be very friendly," The Actor observed after a few quiet moments.
"I like to be left alone," Norma replied as she tried to read her paperback.
"Oh," The Actor said with a nod.
A good five minutes passed and Norma couldn't help but want to talk to the guy despite all her misgivings and desires to enjoy her privacy.
"I know who you are," she announced, making it sound like he was an escaped mass murderer.
"Well, you have me at the disadvantage then because I have no idea who you are," he said, shooting her a look.
"My name is Norma Cavanaugh," she replied.
'Well, hello Norma Cavanaugh!" The Actor grinned. "Howdy, neighbor!"
She went back to her book, deciding she had said enough and The Storm left her alone while he continued to fish. Norma was so engrossed in her reading that she hadn't noticed that the actor had finished with his fishing and had strolled across the beach front to her dock.
"Whatcha reading?" He inquired.
Norma looked up and was surprised to see him standing in the water's edge by her dock staring at her.
"What are you doing here?" She asked.
"Just being neighborly."
"I'd appreciate it if you'd be neighborly from your own property," Norma replied.
"That seems like a far distance to try to have a conversation," he said.
"Who said I wanted to have a conversation?" Norma asked, looking over the top of her paperback.
"Are you mad at me?" The Storm inquired.
"I don't even know you," she replied.
"Well, you seem awfully mad about something," the actor remarked.
"I'm not mad," she said with a huff. "I just like to be left alone."
"How come?" He asked with interest as he took a seat on the side of her dock.
She looked at him with a frown, affronted that he was making himself comfortable on her dock.
"Because this is my time, my place, my space," she said candidly. "I come to the lake to relax and be alone."
"Where do you live the rest of the year?"
"None of your business?"
"What do you do?"
"None of your business," she repeated.
"Well, I'll just have to ask Millie down at the bakery," the actor grinned.
"You will not ask around after me!" She was horrified as she starred at him feeling violated.
"I've played private detectives on television before," he joked.
"I'd appreciate it if you'd keep your long nose out of my business," she demanded.
"I'm not used to this," The Storm said with a look of bemusement on his face.
"What?" She asked, trying to concentrate on her book.
"Women not being interested in me," he grinned. "I've been waiting for you to ask me for an autograph or invite me over for a glass of wine to discuss my acting career or to ask me questions about what Hollywood is really like."
"Why should I care about any of that?" Norma asked, stifling a yawn.
"You shouldn't," The Storm agreed. "But that doesn't stop people from asking anyway."
"Why are you here?" Norma asked. "Why did you have to pick Sun Rise Lake of all places?"
He laughed. "Just to bug you, apparently."
"And you're doing a good job," Norma replied.
"An old acting friend teaches at Green College," The Storm explained as he moved his bare feet back and forth in the lake water. "I'm doing a seminar and workshop with him for a semester."
"You bought a house here for that?"
"No, actually my long term plan is to run for Congressman Anderson's seat," The Storm replied. "I need to establish residency to do that."
"You're an actor, not a politician," Norma reminded him.
"Some would argue it's the same thing!" The Storm laughed.
She thought about it for a moment. "Are you doing this because of your late wife?" She asked.
He shrugged. "Maybe," he said. "Maybe I want to carry on her work in some way."
"But what about your acting career?" Norma asked.
"I'm ready to do something else," he revealed.
"But you're such a good actor!" She didn't mean to gush.
The Storm looked at her and grinned. "Thank you!"
She peered at him. "What's the matter? Don't want to play a grandpa?"
He laughed with delight. "I'm not that vain, Norma," he told her, calling her by her name for the first time. "But when you get to be a man of a certain age, the roles do start to dry up and become less challenging."
"Is that why you haven't done anything for the last five years?" She wondered.
He peered at her and grinned. "So, you've been checking me out!"
She blushed, embarrassed to be found out. "Just IMBd," she rationalized.
"My last series was Grace World, a fun time but I spent two years playing second fiddle to the teen sensation Morgan Sweeney and I'm guessing there's more important things I could be doing to better serve society," The Storm remarked. "Congress sounds like a good place to start."
"You do charity work," Norma pointed out.
"I could do more," he reasoned.
"Morgan's been getting in a lot of trouble lately," Norma observed.
"You've been reading the tabloids," The Storm deduced.
She didn't mean to sound like one of those women reading the National Enquirer in the supermarket checkout line.
"You know, I tried to be a positive influence and mentor for Morgan and steer her in the right direction but the power of celebrity and a recording career and a hit television show makes it difficult for a kid her age to relate," The Storm sighed.
"I know, I see it all the time with the kids I teach," Norma responded. "They're going to do it their way no matter what we try to tell them."
The Storm hopped off the dock, making a small splash as he landed in the water. "See," he said. "We had a nice little conversation and it didn't even hurt!"
He smiled and walked back to his property and Norma couldn't help but smile in return.
She paid more attention to him after that morning. She noticed that he took a jog around the lake every morning and evening which was quite a run and he rowed his rowboat or paddled his canoe a couple of times a day too. He also took a long swim along the shore, usually down to the rebuilt Craven place about a half mile down the shore (the original house had burned down a few years earlier) and back.
"You certainly do get a lot of exercise," Norma remarked from her lounge chair on the dock one morning when The Storm paddled by in his yellow canoe.
"Gotta stay in shape and healthy in case I get offered some macho role," he joked as he brought the canoe to a stop in front of her.
"I thought you were retiring," She said with a smile.
"Well, if Spielberg calls I'd have to reconsider!" He grinned.
Norma smile and she brushed her head back when a strand of her brown hair fell into her face. She still wore it to her shoulders and she colored it to keep the gray out. Maybe she should be exercising like him but she was still in pretty good shape for her age. She walked a lot in the city and the job kept her on her feet and on the move most of the day.
"I don't see you out in your canoe much," The Storm observed.
She shrugged. "I've been kind of lazy this summer," she admitted.
"You can canoe with me if you want," he offered.
"Like I need a distraction from my lazy life!" She laughed.
"You know, sooner or later you're going to start running out of excuses to keep avoiding me," The Storm grinned knowingly.
"Why would I want to do that?" She asked.
The Storm laughed. "Because I'm a world famous actor?" He teased.
"Yeah, that's a great qualification!" She replied with a laugh.
"Do I detect some thawing on you part?" The Storm asked hopefully.
She smiled in response. "Maybe a little," she admitted.
The two eyed one another and the actor grinned. "I don't blame you for being cautious," he said. "But I'm not that bad."
"It's not you," she said quickly. "I mean…..oh, I don't know what I'm talking about," she sighed. "Look, I'm a forty year old divorcee who summers here," she said. "I'll be heading out in not to long and I don't need to be getting myself involved with my neighbor."
"We're not getting involved, Norma," The Storm replied. "We're being neighbors."
Norma exhaled loudly and then stood. "Are you thirsty?" She asked.
"Yes," The Storm replied as he paddled his canoe onto the shore at the foot of her dock.
She walked off the dock while he climbed out of the canoe and he followed her up the stone steps and across the yard to the door of her cottage.
"I have some lemonade in the frig," she said. "Come on in."
The Storm followed her into the kitchen of the older cottage. It was decorated much the way it had been for generations but Norma liked the familiarity of it.
"This is quaint," he said.
Norma laughed as she pulled the pitcher from the twenty year old refrigerator. "It belonged to my grandparents for years," she explained as she poured two glasses. "I spent my summers here growing up. It's very special to me."
He nodded with understanding.
"So, how long have you been divorced?" He asked as he accepted the glass of lemonade and leaned against the small kitchen counter.
"Five years," she groaned, propping herself on top of the counter and taking a sip from her glass.
She was wearing shorts over her one piece bathing suit and a white blouse, opened down the front.
"Don't feel bad," he smiled. "I'm divorced and a widower."
"It's been a while for you too," she observed.
"Yeah," he sighed. Then he glanced at her. "So how come it didn't work out?"
"Beats me," Norma admitted honestly. "I thought everything was going great. We both loved the city. We both had great jobs. We both seemed happy. Then one day he comes home and announces out of the blue that he doesn't want to be married anymore. Turns out he had been having an affair with a younger woman from work for a couple of years."
"That's tough," The Storm let her know.
"I felt betrayed and victimized," Norma admitted. "I didn't realize how angry I still was until you made that remark a few weeks ago. Then I started to think about how angry I really was still even after all this time."
"Well, that's the first step," The Storm grinned.
"Why, have you ever been angry?" She asked with interest.
"Sure," he laughed. "My first marriage was all over the tabloids the entire time we were married but that's what happens when you have a Hollywood marriage. And then my second wife died. That will get you pretty pissed off."
"I can only imagine," Norma remarked.
"Well, it has been a while," The Storm said. "I had to move on eventually."
"I don't think it's possible to ever totally move on," Norma confessed. "All I could really do was keep getting up every day but I don't suppose I've really lived my life, have I?"
He smiled. "Maybe it's time to start."
Norma eyed him and nodded. "I guess I just couldn't stop how I was feeling," she sighed.
"All you did was make yourself miserable," The Storm commented.
"I know," she groaned. "Men!" She complained.
The Storm laughed. "Most are bastards," he agreed.
Norma was surprised that tears filled her eyes. "Are you one of them?" She asked quietly.
"I try not to be," he replied honestly.
Norma wanted to be unimpressed but she smiled anyway, enjoying her new found ability to converse with her famous neighbor. A smirk tugged at the corners of her mouth and The Storm grinned in return.
Boy, this was stupid. As if a man moving in next door was going to get her back in the game after fifteen years of marriage and five years of divorce. Norma chewed on her bottom lip and considered the situation. She hadn't thought about sex in a long time. She didn't like being a frigid ice princess but she felt so betrayed by her cheating husband that she refused to take another chance again.
Norma could feel The Storm's eyes on her and she finally threw him a look.
"The lemonade is delicious," he told her. "Thank you very much."
"You're very welcome," she replied warmly as she finished her last sip too while smiling sheepishly. "Sorry for being so rude to you before."
"I assumed you didn't like my work," he joked.
She took his glass from him and put it in the sink along with hers. "So how do you like Sun Rise Lake?"
"It's nice to be out of the limelight," he answered. "No Paparazzi. No cameras. No autograph hounds. The people around here respect my privacy and treat me like just another laker."
"Don't you think going into politics is going to ruin all that?" Norma asked as she washed and wiped the two glasses and returned them to the cupboard.
"I suppose," he sighed, scratching his chin in thought. "Maybe I would be better off just hiding out here, doing the college thing and waiting for my agent to call with my first Oscar vehicle!"
Norma laughed at his self-effacing sense of humor. "Sounds like a plan to me!"
He smiled broadly. "I can't tell you how glad I am to have you as a neighbor," he said warmly.
She blushed unexpectedly but then she looked him directly in the eyes. "I am, too," she confessed.
His replying grin crinkled the corners of his blue eyes and the wrinkles gave away his age but she didn't care about that vain stuff. He was a handsome man even without the movie makeup but how she could compare to all the Hollywood types he surely slept with. There was his first wife Bridget Bolton, of course, and rumors of his affair with the young married starlet Scarlett Madison was the scandal of Hollywood a couple of years ago. Was he really the sort of man she wanted to be involved in? How could she trust him not to run off with the first Green College coed who flashed her breasts his way?
Norma used to be one of those beautiful young coeds, one of the reasons she had swept her future husband off his feet. She wore her hair long and straight back then with sexy blue eyes and a nice round figure. But now she had to color her hair to keep the gray out, she was twenty pounds heavier, and her sexy blue eyes had faded with age. Why would a star like Storm Daniels want to be bothered with someone like her? She wasn't in the industry, she wasn't young and sexy, and she had been a jerk to him when they first met, intentionally to keep men away from her, of course. No way would he want to involve himself with someone like her.
"Why don't you come over this evening?" The Storm suggested, almost as if he was reading her mind. "I'll cook us some steaks on the grill."
"Are you sure?" She almost squeaked.
"Sure, why not?" He laughed.
"You must think I'm a total -"
"No, I don't," he assured her before she could complete her thought.
"I just can't believe -"
"Don't worry about it," he said, starting for the door. "I'll see you this evening."
"Okay," Norma said, watching The Storm disappear from her humble little kitchen.
She waited a few moments to be sure he was gone and then went into the other room and dialed up the Direct TV request site, clicking on "Mature Classics" and finding "Flashers". The movie was more than twenty-five years old, a sexual farcical romp about two cops (Storm Daniels and Bush Boston) who bribe young women they stop for traffic misdemeanors and other minor indiscretions into having sex with them in exchange for being let go. Norma had no idea why she chose this trash over some of the actor's better works like Shipwrecked, Max, or Christmas Promises except that maybe she was feeling inferior to all the Hollywood women of his past.
Flashers was full of overt nudity and she watched the naked actresses all over the screen. There was Storm Daniels' young naked butt a few times too and she sighed with embarrassment now that she actually knew who the guy was. Should she be offended? Turned on? Turned off? Excited? She stopped the movie long before it was over and went back to her book, wishing Storm Davis had never come to the lake.
It was dusk when Norma strolled across the lawn to The Storm's house. He had already fired up the grill and he gave her a quick tour of the house. She had been in it a few times as a kid but there was little evidence that this home was the same as the original humble Morrissey place of her youth. She was impressed at the modern look and fancy décor of The Storm's home and she noticed the many artifacts, collectables and other Hollywood mementos hanging on the walls and displayed throughout the house.
The Storm poured her a glass of wine and they retired to the back deck so he could monitor the grill. Norma took a seat in a deck chair realizing that she was doing exactly what she had vowed for years never to do. Socialize with a man at the lake.
Norma told him about the old Morrissey house he now occupied and the former Wallace place on the other side of The Dorothy that had been razed for the current structure.
"I guess you can't stop progress," The Storm remarked when she was done with her lake memories.
"I wish we could," Norma replied with a sigh.
The Storm glanced over his shoulder from where he was now standing at the grill flipping the steaks on the fire.
"Are you referring to us?" He asked bluntly.
Norma's cheeks turned bright red from awkward embarrassment. "Maybe," she admitted sheepishly. "I'm not used to this," she confessed.
"You mean having famous movie actors living next door inviting you over for a drink?" He teased.
"I mean socializing with a man." Why did she feel ashamed?
"Oh, I think you can handle it," he said good naturedly.
"Maybe I don't want to handle it," she replied honestly. "Maybe I want nothing to do with any of it."
"Well, I hope you'll stay for the steak," was all he said in reply.
She sighed and rested her head back against the back of the chair. She used to be much better at this sort of thing but that was a long time ago when she was young and carefree. Now she was older and worn down by life and betrayal. She was sure The Storm wished he had never invited her over now. She had been the most pathetic creature he'd ever met.
"Would you like some more wine?" The Storm asked politely, being a good host.
"Are you trying to get me drunk?" She snapped defensively.
He laughed. "This isn't high school, Norma."
She lifted her hand and nervously ran it through her hair feeling like a total fool. She reached her glass out and he refilled it with wine from the nearby bottle before replenishing his own glass. There was an awkward pause as Norma blushed for some reason. He certainly did intimidate her but it wasn't as if he was doing anything to make her feel that way.
"So," The Storm asked. "When are you planning on leaving the lake?"
"The last week of August," she revealed.
"It won't be the same without you here," He said.
"Oh, you'll have all those goofy Green College co-eds to keep you entertained," Norma said light-heartedly.
"I'm fifty-six years old, Norma," The Storm replied with a heavy sigh. "That's hardly what I need or want."
"What do you want?" She asked, taking a sip from her glass.
"Someone like you," he replied.
Had it been one of his movies, she would have spit her wine out all over herself. Instead, she tried to remain composed even though she wanted to faint.
"Why would you go and say something as outrageously crazy as something like that?" She asked with stunned disbelief.
"Because it's true," he replied with a shrug. "It's nice to be with a normal person for a change!" He laughed. "I would rather you stayed here at the lake all year round."
Norma could feel her hearting beating in her chest and she knew she was both flustered and thrilled to finally hear such words from a man. She stood and put the glass down on the nearby table hoping that he would now make some sort of move even though she couldn't believe it was actually something she wanted him to do. For the first time in years, she was feeling giddy with excitement and anticipation as she waited for the handsome and attractive movie actor to complete the scene.
The Storm stepped closer to her and his arm was wrapping around her waist. With a nervous laugh she allowed him to pull her closer. She hesitated before taking his hand in hers. He eyed her with an amused smile on his lips.
"I promise its okay, Norma," he said.
"For you maybe," she sighed.
"Actually, I meant for you," he replied, squeezing her hand.
"I'm hardly worth your time," she said.
"You're being ridiculous," he told her.
"Oh, please," she groaned. "Look at me. I'm pathetic."
"I think you're funny and smart and beautiful and interesting and I like you," The Storm informed her.
Norma sighed and then glanced at him. "You've obviously had too much wine," she joked.
"Don't you feel a spark?" He asked.
"Now you're the one being ridiculous," She said.
"No I'm not," he insisted. You've felt a spark, haven't you?"
"It doesn't matter," she decided, suddenly stepping away from his embrace. "I know this is going to sound awful, but you're an actor."
"That's what I do, Norma," The Storm replied. "That's not who I am."
She stepped closer to the steps that led to the grass and her escape back to the comfort and security of her cottage while wrapping her arms around her chest. "You don't want someone like me, Storm."
"What are you talking about?"
"I'm… just not the kind of person you're used to," she said. "You'll think I'm awful and you'd be bored with me in heartbeat."
"You want to know something, Norma?" The Storm replied. "I'm ready to be bored. I like being with someone who doesn't idolize me or care about celebrity. I want normal not worship."
"I don't think I'm right for you," she told him.
"Let me be the judge of that," he pleaded.
"Okay, then I don't think you're right for me," she replied.
"You can still stay for the steak, Norma," The Storm replied softly.
"Even after I said that!?" She asked with surprise.
"We're neighbors," he said.
Another snore from The Storm woke Norma and she slid out of the bed, stepping naked to the master bedroom window that overlooked the lake below. She glanced back at the actor and wondered if he was dreaming of her. She smiled hopefully, yawned and then turned back to the lake thinking about the amazing sex she had experienced on this unexpectedly wonderful night.
Storm had cooked the steak and they ate it on the deck while finishing the wine. They didn't talk all that much but it occurred to Norma as the evening passed that she didn't want to leave. So when her host asked her if she wanted to go upstairs after they were done eating and cleaning up, Norma surprised herself by saying yes to a pounding heartbeat, an ache in her gut, and a rare wetness between her thighs. It was the most spontaneous thing she had done in years but she was tired of being lonely.
"Norma?" It was Storm's voice in the dark.
She glanced over her shoulder at him lying in the bed and she smiled with contentment. "Yes?"
"Yes," she assured him. "I'm fine."
He scooted out of bed and she couldn't help but stare at his naked perfection as he joined her at the window, wrapping his arm around her naked waist.
"The moon is perfect tonight," he said, glancing at the night sky.
"Yes," she agreed, feeling as though she was in a movie. "I always thought Sun Rise Lake was the port in the storm that was my life," she sighed, resting her head on his chest. "But now you're the storm in my port."
"I'm glad," he replied, kissing the top of her head.