Sheila opted to begin at San Jose State in June. She had never been to school before and was thrilled to be going, and so couldn’t wait for September. She took two classes and with her support group was at the top of both classes. She spent the whole first week on campus, exploring when she wasn’t in class or studying in the library. She missed the health club that week but still insisted Tommy go.
“You’re an older man,” she said, “and it is my duty to be sure you stay the course here.”
Then she rubbed up against him and kissed him, “I’ll check with my aunts, and if you don’t go I’ll really be mad at you.”
This was, of course, a major threat in that her latest “aunt” was also his bosses’ wife. In point of fact, Sheila’s extended family was enough to give anyone pause. It’s not often that a CFO feels bottom rung in any group, but amongst the people who cared about Sheila, he felt just that way.
He was also about as in love as it is possible to be. He knew he was a bit bent; luckily, he had enough money to hide it. He had always preferred young girls. His preference started with high school girls in high school and stayed there. He fell in love with Sheila when she was seventeen. Married her when she was eighteen. Since no teenager looked anywhere near as good as Sheila did to him, he stopped looking at them. This caused a major tangle in Caltrop’s HR department, as he could always be counted on to take the entry-level girls, fresh out of secretarial school; and suddenly switched to competence over appearance, actually making them work.
So, Tommy went to the club. Made sure he was seen by a group of knockout women, who were probably told to be sure he was there, and then rushed home, which is where he wanted to be when she came home.
Sheila and Maddy knew each other, in fact spent a couple holidays on the beach together, having a ball speaking French and totally flummoxing all the men and boys who tried to pick them up. So, at the Monday workout, they grabbed some of the fringe machines and caught up.
“You know,” said Sheila, “I didn’t think a man could love me. You know with my trouble. And well, I sort of blubbered it out to Tommy, and he just held me. He made it all right, and I could actually feel the love.
“Well it sort of threw me. I never expected to be loved, and here I was in the arms of a man who loved me, really loved me. Sort of like weird and wonderful, all at once. And scary, big time scary, I was only seventeen then, he was a lot older. So that night I really had a good cry. I mean I wanted him, so badly, and I just knew it could never happen.
“Well, Tommy really fought for me. And after a bunch of wrangling and a lot of help from Katie, Arlette and Alexandra, he got to take me to the condo on Catalina the week after my eighteenth birthday. First time we made love, and I had to work at making it good. But we came back engaged.
“Ever been in love Maddy?”
“Since Friday actually. The one over by Roger in the new sweats.”
“Well, he looks good,” said Sheila with an appraising glance.
“Feels even better. And he said: ‘I love you’ first.”
“Oh wow. Incredibly cool.”
“And he is one great lover, he knocked my socks off the first time and I wasn’t even wearing any.
“You bringing Tommy this weekend?”
“I bring Tommy anywhere I can. He doesn’t want to go because your Mom makes him surf and so far, he’s only gotten as far as wipe out. Should be a great party though.”
“Well I know we’re going to do the Hawaiian pig thing, starting Thursday, that’s usually cool. If the surf is up it’ll be great.”
“Your boyfriend surf?”
“That’s how we met. Wiped out into each other’s arms and rode the tow.”
“The more you talk about him the better he gets.”
Connie Rosselli’s bi-annual beach parties were celebrated the two times a year when the wine came out of the barrels. The first one celebrated Michel’s College graduation, but when Connie and Michel put their heads together the barrel festivals seemed a better idea as that happens every year.
Tommy had already wiped out once. Sheila was on his right as he knee-paddled out again (at least he could do that.) Connie took the other side. He caught the wave; he’d done a dozen lying down. Could he get up? Hours on the bed with Sheila making it hard, shaking the bed, the board; he stood up and came down the wave. The girls sat out and watched him, catching the dregs into the beach.
Sheila ran up and grabbed him. “First ride,” she yelled.
So, Tommy festooned with pop-top necklaces joined the surfing tribe. And, of course, it gave Sheila an opportunity to throw herself in his arms. Sheila took every opportunity to be held, she equated Tommy’s embrace with love and it never ceased to thrill her.
Arlette and Alexandra, both former dancers, took to surfing, which forced Roger and Craig to become competent enough to join Connie’s safari group. Of the Safari group only Connie, Thierry, Didi, Maddy, Vicky, Sheila and the two dancers dared and conquered both Lonesome and Shark Park; two of the roughest most dangerous rides on the California coast. This year however Elliot joined them and survived.
The group consisted of couples, Maddy’s infatuation with Elliot putting together the final pair. Michel had returned from New York, though he was not allowed to surf. Connie may have been a short girl, but when she put her foot down it stayed planted. The group was pretty well conceived and even brought its own hodads, neither Katie nor Jerry could be coaxed onto a board. It also brought together three fairly large firms, and business was not a forbidden topic.