“SO WHAT NOW?” Ann looked exasperated. It was a little after four and everyone was heading home. “This isn’t like Atlanta.” There everyone had been frantic, determined, working so late they almost were missing the free drinks back at the hotel. “What’s there to do in Austin?”
“I can take you back to the hotel.” Brad was squirming, unusual for him. He seemed evasive, which was even more unusual. “Or maybe to one of the malls?”
“What are you going to do?”
“Oh, Brad is headed over to the lake. Aren’t you, Brad?” That was Ned, one of his friends in Austin, who’d been ogling Ann most of the day. Even among all the Texas beauties, she was still a stunner. She’d been the team leader for the last group he’d managed, a bright girl on top of her good looks, and he’d taken her on quite a few of his trips to Atlanta in his new gig as corporate project savior without incident. Except that she had filled him in on all the little romances going on among the kids (well, recent college grads) he’d been working with for the last two years.
“Lake Travis,” Brad explained. “I’m a distance swimmer. There’s a place there with a swimming area almost a mile long. So I can do a round trip and get in a couple miles.”
“Oh.” Brad had made it very clear early on that he was married, and not interested in playing the field. Even without her along, Atlanta was full of lovely ladies, most of them looking at him in awe as he swooped in every other week or so to prop up their project. Now the same thing in Austin. Lots of cuties here also, and he would flirt with them, more than back home, enough to shock her at first. But he would never go beyond that. He had never even flirted with her, in all the years they had worked together. There was one time he had hugged her, given her a little kiss on the forehead, when she had burst into tears telling him her father was dying. But that was the only time he had ever touched her.
“Sounds nice.” She wasn’t going to let this cowboy get her goat. “You should have told me. I would have brought my bathing suit along with me. I suppose we could go back to the hotel and get it?”
Brad looked stunned. There were a couple of times she had come down into the lobby to hear him play the piano, and he had said he was heading down to the pool next and she had announced quite primly that she was tired and was heading off to bed. Okay, once or twice she’d gone running with him before work in a skimpy little outfit but she had been visibly embarrassed doing it. Especially when he took his shirt off, but what was he supposed to do in the hundred percent humidity of an Atlanta dawn?
“Why honey, you don’t need a bathing suit,” Ned drawled. It was worth it to watch Brad squirm, blush even. “It’s a skinny dipping beach, right Brad?”
“Well, not beach exactly. It’s a lot of limestone cliffs, and big rocks down by the water.”
“Oh. Okay. Well, we can just go straight over there then.”
“What?” Brad looked at Ned, who was struggling not to burst out in laughter. Whatever happened, he was going to be in for a lot of ribbing the next day. Anything he said now would be held against him. “Come on, we can talk about it in the car.”
“Let me pee first.”
“Okay, I’ll meet you in the lobby.”
She gathered up her purse and went out into the hall. Brad turned to Ned. “What the fuck was that all about?”
“Just tryin’ to give you a little boost, ol’ buddy.” Ned was full of glee. “You help us with the tech stuff. We help you with the pussy stuff.”
“Maybe I don’t want help. Maybe this is a really bad idea.” Brad gathered up the suit jacket and briefcase that were mostly props, and went out to find the men’s room. Hard to pee, with an erection; one that he hoped would subside by the time they got over to the lake. No, they were not going to do this. He would talk her out of it, once they got to the car.
“Are you sure you want to do this?” Those were the first words out of his mouth as they pulled onto the highway. “I’m not going to wear shorts, just for your sake. Understand?”
“Tell me more about this place.”
“Well it’s called Hippie Hollow. It’s a county park, clothes optional although almost everyone takes the no clothes option. The water is crystal clear, ninety feet deep but you can see the bottom, very warm. The swimming area is a mile long, a hundred yards wide. Look, Ann, I go over there to swim. I’m in the water for an hour or so. Are you going to be okay on your own all that time?”
“I was a lifeguard. I can swim with you, if I want. Or maybe just sunbathe. Is there a changing area?”
“Not really. There are some bathrooms, glorified outhouses really. But I usually just change in the car. Well, take off my clothes and wrap around a towel. I only have one, though.”
“No problem. I’ll just wear the dress.” Ann was drawing her knees up, lifting up her hips, sliding her panties down long brown legs.
“I usually wait until we’re in the parking lot.”
“Well of course. You’re driving and you have a lot more to take off.” She pulled down the top of her dress to reveal a clunky white bra, then slipped off the bra to reveal two very brown breasts. Oh. This wasn’t her first rodeo. There was a side to prim and proper Ann he didn’t know about, it would seem. Of course, that cut both ways.
“Maybe you should pull the top back up? While we’re still on the road?”
“Sure.” She was sitting with her legs still pulled up, slightly parted. Concentrate on driving, he told himself. It had been a long time since a girl had sat like that in the car, waiting for him to rub her clit, waiting to give him a blow job while he was driving. It would be so easy to reach a hand over between those parted legs. But no, that would definitely be out of bounds.
“Out of bounds?” she echoed. He must have said it aloud.
“For my marriage vows.”
“And going to this nude beach isn’t out of bounds?”
“No. I do that all the time.”
“Going with me?”
“Maybe. Look, we travel together all the time. Jane is okay with that.”
“Is she? I saw the look in her eyes, that one time I picked you up to go to Poughkeepsie.” Ann had shown up at the front door of his house at seven in the morning, elegantly dressed and made up, to whisk him away in her little white Eclipse. And Jane had been there in her bathrobe, having provided breakfast for him and the kids.
“Yeah she was bummed out. But she got over it.”
“What about going to this nude beach with me?”
“Look, we’re going over to swim. At least I am.”
“Whatever.” Ann gave a little sigh. Was she in love with him? She had a boyfriend, was engaged even.
“What about you? Is this out of bounds?”
“Definitely.” She gave a throaty little chuckle. Was this really Ann, the ice princess, the look but don’t touch goddess that had frustrated all his single buddies for so many years? “But Evan knows I’ve got a crush on you.”
“Oh.” Turn back, turn back. But the sky was cobalt blue, temperature a hundred two according to the bank they had just passed. He was not going to give up his swim, even if it was going to land him in perdition. “This is so wrong. You used to work for me. It’s not an equal relationship. You know when I was a teaching assistant I let myself be seduced by one of my students.”
“No, not a guy. It was before we were married. I wasn’t even dating Jane then,” he hastened to add.
“I’m not trying to seduce you. Why can’t I go to the beach with you? If I were a guy would it be a problem?”
“Well where are my equal rights? I go to Sandy Hook all the time.”
“Really? You never talk about it.”
“At work? Do you talk about going skinny dipping at Hippie Hollow?”