CHAPTER Thirty-one: THE END OF SUMMER

        The week ending August and beginning September was dry, with temperatures seasonal from the 40s to the 80s. Both duck traps were active, although still with local ducks. Tim usually went with Greg for the morning check, and Chuck in the evening. By the end of the week, they had banded about 100 new birds, and had turned out close to a dozen re-traps.

   Tim announced that he was going to begin his furlough in mid-September, rather than at the end of the month. He needed to help his folks with a variety of projects around the farm. He wasn’t sure yet if he was going to work the sugar campaign. The three of them discussed what were the most important things for Tim to get done before he left.

   Chuck brought his checker board back from town, and they played a few games every night after dinner. It was a nice, congenial period. Chuck usually won.

   Wednesday, Greg took some comp time, and went to town for his photos and his rings. At the jewelers, the same salesperson was there. She greeted him as “Greg” when he came in the door. “I’m Jeannie Bryant, by the way.”

   “Nice to meet you formally, Jeannie with the nice hand. I appreciate your help. I take it you know Vic pretty well?”

   “And Mandy. I guess about as long as they’ve been in town. I was a year ahead of Vic – graduated last year – but we’ve been pretty good friends. She often drops in to say hello, although not in the last couple weeks.”

   “You knew that they had moved to town for the school year?”

   “Yes, I saw Alice in the market a while back, and she told me. It will be nice for Mandy not to have that terrible bus ride, especially since Vic won’t be with her.”

   “Did you have that terrible bus ride while you were in school?”

   “No, thankfully, we always have lived in town.” She stepped away, then returned with a small jewel box. “These are the rings.”

   He held both in his hand, then looked at the engraving. “Yes, that’s nice. Thanks, again.”

   “No problem. Remember, if hers isn’t quite the right fit, we can resize it easily.”

   “I’ll let her know. I’m going to give the ring to her next Sunday, on our drive to Pocatello.”

   “She’ll love it.”

 

   His next stop was at the Anderson house. Vic came out to the car to greet him. He gave her the packet of photos, from which he’d already removed his copies. “I had regular sized copies made of all the prints, and enlargements of what I considered the best. There are enough for you, Mandy, and your folks to share. You can decide if, or when, you want to show your mom and dad the one of us in the armchair, together. It’s perfectly decent, but you are sitting on my lap.”

   “I seem to remember that. I’ll keep it aside for now, and ask Mandy what she thinks.”

   They went indoors, and gave Alice her copies of the photos. She was thrilled, and especially liked the one of Vic and Mandy sitting together on the bed.

   “I’ll get that one framed,” she said.

   They visited for a few more minutes. Alice gave him a bag of fresh-baked apple-spice muffins to take back to share with Chuck. Vic walked back to the car with him. She obviously had something on her mind.

   “I want to talk to you about this weekend.”

   “Okay.”

   “It’s going to be our last for a while, you realize?”

   “Sadly, I do realize that.”

   “Well, as much as I have enjoyed our last couple of weekends, with kissing and cuddling and sharing a bed, I don’t want it like that this time.”

   He was puzzled, and a little disappointed. “Okay, but what….”

   “I don’t want to do it that way, again, because I’m ready for more. I want it all! We love each other. It’s not practical to get married for a while, but I feel married to you. And now I want to feel – with the emphasis on feel – married.”

   Greg felt as if reality had slipped away when he wasn’t paying attention. “This is a surprise! I mean, are we really ready?”

   “Do you remember what you told me not long ago, when I was worried about the stress of sleeping together without making love? You said that, at some point, our minds and bodies were going to synchronize, and then we wouldn’t want to wait any longer. I asked if you meant when we were married. Do you remember that you said?”

   “I do. I said maybe, maybe not.”

   “Exactly. And when I asked you what you meant by that, you gave me some line about how it was conventional – well, thought to be conventional, anyway - to wait, but that many couples – your words, many couples – found that they were ready before then. Well, I’m ready, Greg. I’m very ready, and I think you are, too. Let’s make this weekend extra special, please.”

   “Wow! Well, this is a surprise,” he said, again.”

   “Didn’t you tell me not long ago that surprise was one of the key elements of romance?”

   “I did say that.”

   “Then, it’s settled. Between now and Friday when you pick me up, stop by a drugstore or whatever else you need to do, and be ready to please us both.”

 

   When Greg got back to the office, Tim was there visiting with Chuck. He handed out Alice’s muffins, then laid out the photos for them to view (all but the armchair shots). “I left your copies  in town with Alice, Chuck, but here’s a preview.”

   “These are really good,” said Chuck. “Thanks, Greg.” Tim looked for some time at the one of the girls in the hotel. “They aren’t little girls anymore, are they? They’re both growing into lovely young women.”

   “Yes, they are,” agreed Chuck, with pride but also a touch of fatherly concern. Greg didn’t feel he needed to vocalize his own impressions.

   “What’s the building?” asked Tim, as he looked at the three of them in the parking lot.

   “That’s the theater where we went to see the play. It’s really something – brand new, and what they call a ‘theater in the round.’ The seats completely encircle the stage, and the stage rotates. Every seat has essentially the same, very good, view of everything that goes on.”

   “I never saw anything like that.”

   “I hadn’t, either. It was quite an experience.”

 

   Considering what he and Chuck’s lovely young woman of a daughter intended to do that weekend, Greg felt more than a little awkward the next two days with Chuck. Chuck seemed not to notice any change, so they ate dinner, played checkers, and banded ducks as usual.  Eventually, Friday came, and Chuck left for town. Greg cleaned up a little, then followed him. On a whim, he stopped at the drive-in, and ordered two hamburgers to go.

   When he arrived at the house, Vic came out immediately and climbed into the car, not giving him a chance to visit. She smelled the warm food aroma.

   “I didn’t know what to do,” said Greg, a little helplessly, “So I got hamburgers for us.”

   “Good idea,” she said. “Mom sent some food with me, so we can eat a quick meal, and then go band ducks.”

   They did both. Neither took much time, which – feeling an excited anxiety – Greg wasn’t sure was a good thing or a bad thing.

   It was getting dark as they returned to the house. They sat together on the couch. Neither spoke for a while.

   “Do you think your folks will get a color TV?” he asked.

   “I doubt it,” she said. “With our so-so reception, and our so-so choices of programs, it doesn’t seem like it would be worth it.”

   “Did you know that the sale of color TVs has almost doubled this year over last year, and that there are now more than 3 million color TVs in the United States?”

    “No, I didn’t know that.”

   “Did you know that even NBC news is going to telecast in color?”

   “Nope.”

   “Did you know that I’m feeling rather nervous?”

   “No, I never would have guessed,” she said. she turned to face him. They kissed, a little tentatively.

   “Part of me says we shouldn’t be doing this,” he said.

   “I hope it’s not an important part,” she replied.

   He laughed. “No, but it is something I want to talk about.”

   She got up off the couch. “Wait here.” She went into the bathroom, and after a few minutes came out wearing her pajamas, the ones with the loose-fitting blouse and shorts. She stood in the bedroom doorway.

   He stood up. “Nice pj’s,” he said.

   “As you have observed on previous occasions.” She moved out of his sight, so he walked to the bedroom door. She turned back the covers on the bed, and slid inside. “Come to bed,” she said.

   He took his turn in the bathroom. He didn’t have pajamas, so opted for boxer shorts rather than briefs, the former being a little less revealing. She watched as he came out. “Nice shorts.”

   “I feel a little exposed,” he admitted.

   She pulled back the blankets. “Get in here, and no one will notice.” He did. She leaned into him, and he put his arm around her. It felt pretty good.

   “You know,” he said, “When I mentioned being a little concerned about being here, it wasn’t that I didn’t want to be here. I definitely do. It’s the upbringing of my youth, I guess. Being in bed with a woman was something that, prior to you – if I thought about it at all – I thought only happened after marriage.  I don’t think, growing up, I even knew what that ‘something’ that ‘happened’ was. I’ve kissed a few girls, and mildly wrestled with one or two, but even my relationship with my one long-term girlfriend most people probably would have called platonic. It was affectionate – and she was a good kisser…”

   “As good as me?”

   “No, but we’re not comparing. I’m telling you my background, so your expectations…”

  “I don’t want to talk small talk,” she sang, quietly. “Now that I’m alone with you.”

  “Vic!”

   “I don’t want to talk small talk. We’ve got bigger things to do.”

   “Okay, so you remember the song from ‘Pajama Game’…”

   “I do, and the words are definitely appropriate here.”

   “Agreed, but I want to say one more thing.”

   She moved herself from under his arm. “Okay, take all the time you need. No, wait! Two minutes I’m giving you, starting now.”

   He pulled her back to him. “What I wanted to say is that I don’t really know what to do. I’ve never been in bed with a gir… young woman, until you. I’ve had biology classes, so I know the basics, but I’ve never even seen a woman’s… uh, attributes, up close, I’m a little apprehensive.”

   She snuggled in closer to him. “Now, let me say my piece. I have kissed a couple boys – none of the kisses were even from the same universe as mine with you. I have never ‘wrestled’ with any boy. I, too, know the basics from biology class, but male attributes are definitely imperfectly known to me. I’ve heard a little ‘girl talk’ about what to do, and what happens, but it hasn’t been clarifying. Like you, I don’t really know what to expect, but…” She moved her hand onto his thigh. “We..” Her fingers moved across his thigh. “Are going…” Her hand was on the front of his boxers. “To find out!” She eased down the waist band of his shorts, and her hand slipped onto his flesh.

   “Brazen hussy,” he murmured, but didn’t attempt to change the position.

   “Where did you dredge up that old saying? You’ve used it before, as I recall.” Her hand stayed where it was.

   “I don’t know; maybe old movies. Ooh! Ooh! Right now, I don’t really care!”

   After a pause, broken only by another sigh or two from him, he said, “You know, if you do this much longer, something very definite is going to happen.”

   She moved her hand back and forth inside his shorts. “Yes, I recall that from biology class, but I’m not sure what it is that happens.”

   Almost immediately, she got her answer, and with an intensity that surprised them both.        “Wow!” she said, “That was really something!”

   “You’re telling me!” he murmured. He lay against her, seemingly exhausted. She held onto him a few moments, then slid out of bed. “Wait here,” she said, as if saying it mattered to him. In the bathroom she cleaned up a bit, discarded her pajama bottoms, and returned to bed. He was asleep, so didn’t notice the change. She held him for close to an hour as he slept, enjoying his closeness and reveling in the release she had been able to give him. He stirred finally, and she moved his hand over between her legs, then up to her vagina. She pressed the hand  against her body, and moved it slowly back and forth. “I’m ready now,” she said.

   It took only a moment for him to respond to the pressure of her hand, the softness of her skin, and the slight moistness under his touch. She moved her hand away, and let his fingers explore her, moving in and out of the creases and crevices that they discovered. She lay quietly as he moved up over her. Finding her lips,  they kissed hungrily. He unbuttoned her pajama top, and let his hands move over her breasts, the first that he had seen them. He kissed each, then let his lips travel down over her abdomen to the hair line below her navel.

   “Is this okay?” he asked, as his hands slid down onto her thighs. She murmured what sounded like yes, and his lips traveled down to where his fingers had begun. Her breathing had become quick and audible; so had his.

   It might have been an hour later – an hour of his fingers and lips moving over every part of her, with her occasionally murmuring throaty suggestions to go faster or slower, harder or softer, or to touch somewhere else. Occasionally, she had moaned softly, and gave little laughs. Suddenly, her body went rigid, she cried out loudly several times, and then completely relaxed.

   “Are you okay?” he asked, anxiously, afraid he might have hurt her.

   “Oh, my god, yes!” She exclaimed.

   Shortly after, they slept in each other’s arms.

***

   About eight hours later, he woke. Vic was still asleep. At some point, she had turned away from him, so his body was pressed firmly against her back, his arm around her below her breasts. Her pajama top had come all the way off sometime in the night, and the feeling of her warm flesh against him was something he didn’t think he could ever have imagined.

   “I love you, Victoria Anderson,” he whispered. Gradually, an eye opened, and she turned her head to look at him. “I am feeling much the same way,” she muttered sleepily. “Well, I mean, me loving you, not me loving me.”

   “Understood, and accepted. How do you think we did, for our very first time? Pretty good?”

   He helped her sit up, and lean back against the bed board. “I think it’s a little early in the morning to be talking about sex. However, I will say that I, for one, am very pleased with the good time that you helped me to have last night. It was very memorable.”

   “I was glad to oblige, and I’m pleased that you were pleased.”

   “As for you, I certainly think I helped you rise to the occasion.”

    He groaned. “Sexual inuendo, first thing in the morning?”

    “I have no idea what you’re talking about,” she said. She was quiet for a moment, then: “I do have one complaint, or at least one concern.”

   “I’m sorry to hear that. Is it something that I can help with?”

   “I certainly hope so, as you are the cause of the complaint – or concern, I think is a better word. It’s this: after a certain climactic moment last night, I don’t remember a lot of detail. However, I think I am correct in saying that – now, this morning - I am still a virgin.”

   He smiled at her. “I believe you are correct in your analysis of the situation.”

   “Okay. That being so, I believe it is fair to say that you, also, are still a virgin.”

   ”Following your logic, and using the same definition for both our conditions, I’d say yes, you are correct.”

   “Let me up,” she said, abruptly. He swung around so that she could get by him, and she headed into the bathroom. He thought the view of her leaving was quite satisfactory. From behind the closed door, she called, “The phone could ring any moment. Do not answer it!”

   “Understood,” he said. Searching around in the covers, he found his shorts, and pulled them on. He sat on the edge of the bed. She came out of the bathroom, and sat beside him. He thought the view coming back had been equally as good as the view going away. He put his hand on her bare thigh, and was about to express that sentiment.

   “Here’s the thing,” she said, interrupting his unspoken intentions. “Are you prepared to correct the problem, or ameliorate the concern, as it may be stated?”

   He paused. “Well, if I am correct in the definition of, and your use of the term ‘ameliorate,’ then I can unequivocally say yes.”

   “Good.”

   She didn’t say anything else. “Would you like me to ameliorate it now?”

   Still no further comment. He was enjoying the view, but he was wondering if some action was required on his part. Suddenly, she stood up. He continued to be pleased with the view.

   “No,” she finally said. “My mother will undoubtedly call any moment, and I do not want the amelioration interrupted.”

   On cue, the phone rang, and she talked to her mother for a few minutes. She failed to tell her what she had been doing, and with who. She hung up the phone, and came back to the bedroom.

    “We will save the amelioration for later. Right now, I want to take a shower; get dressed – although you seem to be enjoying my current state of deshabille.”

   “I think your current state is a little beyond deshabille…”

   “Nevertheless, I will get dressed. You will take a shower and get dressed. While you are doing that, I will start us a big, calorie-filled breakfast. After we eat, we will go band ducks.

   “All the time we’re doing these things, I am going to be thinking about what is to come. I’m going to fill my mind with thoughts about how amazing it is going to be. I am going to picture every possible situation – every way you will touch me, and how I will touch you – and how I will feel, and how you will feel. By the time, we get back to this room in mid-afternoon, I am going to be so keyed up that I will be on the verge of sexual craziness. You will be hard pressed to satisfy me. But you will!”

   He looked at her smiling at him. “After that speech, I think I may be on the verge of sexual craziness, already!”

   She stood up. “Well, control yourself, my good fellow. It will get a lot vergier, before we get back here.” A moment later, he heard her in the shower.

***

   They ate breakfast – a ham scramble, with English muffins and fruit – then went out to the duck traps. Both traps were full, and they spent close to two hours banding about forty birds, not counting a number of re-traps. When they returned to headquarters, they sat of Greg’s steps for a while, but neither could concentrate in the usual way. They gave up, and went over to her house. After three hours of him not being able to do anything more than hold her hand, he felt a nervous wreck, and almost believed he was running a fever. She was looking pretty wild-eyed, herself. He was remembering almost every word of her speech – he’d been hearing it in his head for an excruciating three hours! He thought she was remembering it just as clearly. He was right.

   With few preliminaries, they were soon in bed, their bodies seeming to melt together, and a delicious kiss stirring them both. As he started to move his hands over her, her whole body seemed to react. Like the night before, she began to direct his activities – quietly, breathlessly, but insistent, and more explicit. He reacted to each request as well and as quickly as he could, but he felt more and more likely to explode at any second. More quickly than last night, she began to breathe extra heavily, cried out, then whispered urgently, “Come in now!”

   He’d never put on a condom before, and it was made infinitely harder with his whole body shaking, He made it, and pressed up against her. She gasped a little, as in pain, and he thought maybe he had hurt her. ”No. Sex Education 101; had to happen!” she murmured. He pushed a little more, and he heard her cry out just as his whole world seemed to explode. He felt like he was tumbling into her, somehow. Then, they were both quiet.

   “Mission accomplished,” she whispered so softly he wasn’t sure she really said it.

   “Yeah,” was all he could say.

***

   A little later, they woke, still pressed together. He ran his hand through her hair.  “I’m sorry I didn’t last longer. I couldn’t do it.”

   “You were adequate,” she said, kissing him lightly. “More than adequate,” she said, as the kiss got harder. “Much, much, much more than adequate!” They lost track of time for a while. Finally, they broke apart. He raised up on one elbow, and looked her over. “If I say I’m sorry again, will you ease my suffering again.”

   She smiled. “Not now. You’ll get better. Much better. We’ll both get much better. It will just take a lot of practice, and the refining of our skills.”

   “That implies that there will be some practice time in the future?”

   “I would call that a certainty. We have a long life together ahead of us; lots of practice time.”

   They didn’t practice then, just slept together for several hours. After that, they sat in bed, eating hot dogs he had quickly grilled, and the rest of the potato salad. They eventually drifted back to sleep for the rest of the night.

   Sunday morning, Alice called on cue. Again, Vic didn’t share the real news. One would have thought all they ever did was eat and band ducks. After she hung up the phone, Vic came back to bed, and they practiced again. Greg lasted considerably longer that time. Both were pleased with their progress.

    After breakfast, Greg suggested they talk a little about the next weekend. “We won’t have our Friday-Saturday time together, but your dad says it’s all right for me to take you to school, if that’s what you want. It will give us a little time together, anyway.”

   “Sure. I miss our porch – and bed – time already, but that looks like our best bet. So, you’ll come in Sunday morning to get me?”

   “Yes. I won’t come at the crack of dawn, but I’ll come fairly early, so we’ll have the full day to get you there. Maybe do something along the way.”

 

   Once in town, they sat in the car for a few minutes before going in. “We’re both looking a little bright-eyed right now,” observed Vic. “I think Mandy will suspect something momentous has happened. She’s a rather perceptive little thing. I’m going to try to not let my parents look at me too closely for a while. You should probably act similarly, if we don’t want suspicious parents.”

   Inside, they chatted with everybody, but tried to keep their distance. Greg hadn’t seen Mandy since school started, or since she had seen the photos, so they talked about both. She hugged him, kissed him on the cheek, and whispered in his ear. “I think my sister and I have something to talk about.” He smiled, and kissed her on the forehead. “Vic said you were a perceptive little thing.”

   Before he left, Chuck invited him to go with them to a Labor Day barbecue at the Johnson’s. He accepted. Vic walked him to the car. “Duck banding won’t be the same without you,” he said.

   “No, it won’t. See you tomorrow.”

 


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