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Future Perfect - Chapter Two

Alone for a decade, then thrust into the perfect situation.
What a family.

I couldn’t imagine that Kyle knew how lucky he was, surrounded by vibrant, healthy, lovely women. They all loved him and doted on him. I wondered what was wrong with him. He seemed frail and sick still, but he would have gotten over the sickness almost ten years ago. It must have done some permanent damage to his body.

They would have to do something soon to find husbands for the girls. I’m sure that they were thinking about repopulating the species, and the girls were wasting good childbearing years.

I know that sounds chauvinistic, but it was simply a matter of survival at that point.

Maybe that was the real reason that they wanted to get a radio up and running. 

“We can talk about that more tomorrow,” I said to Biscuit. He looked at me and cocked his head. “Today, we have work to do to get ready.”

I stopped back at Kohl’s and got some decent dishes. Ones that matched. I also got a tablecloth and some silverware. Mine was all mixed and matched from my old house and what had been left at the farm from the hippies. Biscuit chased mice in the bedding displays while I “shopped”. 

I stopped by the Men’s Department for a couple of other things. Some new, white t-shirts, and a beard and hair trimmer. And a swimming suit.

I always had just swum naked with the dogs. I did a lot of my work outside naked too. I figured that I needed all of the Vitamin D that I could get, and my body made it for free in the sunlight. As a result, I was tanned all over and very healthy.

When we got home, the other dogs all gave Biscuit a good sniffing over. Most of them never got to go anywhere like he did. They would be surprised tomorrow. I hoped that they would behave.

I went out back, stripped, and washed by the well. I had a tub and shower inside, but it took electricity to power it, and I didn't usually waste it on bathing in the summer. 

I had been making soap for a long time, and I had several kinds. One for my hair was more gentle than what I used on my body. I usually only washed my hair a few times a month, but this was a special occasion. 

After I had bathed, I used the beard trimmer to trim my beard way back so that I could shave. I used to shave every spring, and maybe once late in the summer, but I had taken to keeping the beard year round. Again, this was a special occasion.

After trimming my beard, shaving, and cutting my hair a bit, I needed another bath. The itchy feeling of the pieces of hair all over drove me crazy.

Finally, I went back inside and looked in the mirror. It was like seeing a different person. I tried smiling in the mirror. It didn’t feel natural, so I practiced all afternoon.

I started a leg of deer cooking in a pit in the back yard. It would cook all night. There was a smaller pit next to it for vegetables. Those would go in tomorrow morning.

When the sun went down, I went to bed. I laid there, thinking about Cassie and her lovely smile, Faith, with her larger breasts and infectious laugh, and Celeste, with her willowy beauty. My erection came back with a vengeance. I decided not to masturbate, even though I usually did at night before bed. I wanted to enjoy the first feelings of genuine arousal generated by another human being that I had felt in over a decade.

I dreamt about women all night long.

None of them were recognizable except my late wife. I occasionally still dreamt of her, and sometimes of making love to her. When I awoke, the sheets were a mess. I would have to take care of that before company came.

I got up with the sun and aired out the house. I dusted, swept, and generally got things ready for company. It didn’t take much since I usually kept things neat. The dog hair was the worst of it. It was everywhere.

All of the dog crap from the yard went into the compost pile. I checked to be sure that the deer was still roasting, and added some more wood on top. I chopped some potatoes, carrots, and onions and put them in as well, seasoned with wild garlic mustard and chives.

When all was ready, I got into the Toyota and left to get the Wilkens. I had dressed in my better pair of jeans, hiking boots, and one of the new white t-shirts and put my hair back into a ponytail. I brought the .357 but left it on the seat of the car.

When I pulled up and got out, Bethany and Amanda, the younger daughters, ran out to greet me.

“Wow!” Bethany said. “You sure look different!”

“I didn’t recognize you!” Amanda said.

“Yeah, I was looking pretty scruffy before.”

“Daddy cut his hair too,” Bethany said.

“Did he?” I asked, amused. We seemed to want to look our best only when other people were involved. I knew that I didn’t care how I looked before yesterday.

They each took an arm and led me around to the back door. Cassie, Celeste, and Faith were bringing some things outside and setting them on the back porch.

“Bruce?” Celeste said in astonishment. “Oh my goodness! I wouldn’t have recognized you.”

“Bruce!” Cassie laughed. “Now I do recognize you.” 

She came up and gave me a brief hug. She touched my face and then turned away.

“Your cheeks are lighter than the rest of you,” Faith said, hugging me as well. “You should have shaved earlier in the year.”

“I used to,” I said. “It got to be a hassle.”

“Daddy doesn’t…” Amanda started but then stopped at a look from her mother.

“You look very handsome,” Cassie said with a note of finality, closing the subject.

Faith still held my arm and her breast pressed into my upper arm. The crotch of my jeans was getting tight. I felt like a teenager again, getting spontaneous erections at inopportune times.

“What’s all of this?” I asked, gesturing to their coolers.

“Just some tea and some sweets that we baked,” Cassie said. “We used the last of the almonds. I haven’t found a tree around here.”

“Further south, I think,” I said. “Celeste, would you like to bring the Toyota around here?”

“Oh,” she said. “I’ve never learned to drive.”

“Really?” I said. “Well, it’s easy enough. The key is in it, just turn it, put your foot on the brake, move the shifter down three notches and let off the brake. You might need a little gas to get it up the hill, but not too much.”

Cassie looked at Celeste with worry.

“I don’t know,” she said. “We can just carry it down.”

“Why don’t you show her?” I said to Cassie.

“Oh, gosh,” she said. “I haven’t driven in so long.”

“Would you show me?” Celeste asked eagerly, looking up at me.

“Well, what about your father?” I asked.

“He’s still getting ready,” Amanda said. “He slept in.”

“Oh,” I said. I looked at Cassie.

“Go ahead,” she said, with a small smile and a nod.

Celeste jumped up and down like a much younger girl and squealed.

I walked back to the car and got into the passenger seat. I put the gun in the glove box and explained the basic workings of the car.

She started it, and we pulled around. It took several minutes, and we almost took out the corner of the house, but we made it. Her sisters all cheered for her, but Faith looked a little jealous. When they clapped for her, Celeste’s face blushed a lovely pink from her neck all the way up to her hair.

“Not bad,” I said. “When we get you folks a car, your mom and dad can teach you to drive for real.”

“Maybe,” she said. “I don’t think they want to do that.”

“Really?” I said, getting out and opening the back hatch. “Why’s that?”

“I’m not sure,” she said. “I think they like living without them.”

I understood. It was amazing how quiet things were without the sound of cars all around. I was sure that my car could be heard from across town.

“Still,” I said. “For emergencies, it would be useful to learn.”

She smiled at me and said, “Maybe you could teach me if they won’t.”

It was my turn to say, “Maybe.”

We loaded the boxes and coolers from the porch into the back of the SUV. The other girls let the dogs out. It would be their job to guard the house while the family was gone. They seemed to know their job and circled the Toyota suspiciously.

Amanda walked up to me and put her arm around mine.

“He’s okay,” she said to the dogs. “Come on.” She held her hand out, and they reluctantly came up to sniff me.

I held my fist out, palm down. Slowly, two of the dogs reached their noses out and sniffed my hand. I opened it and turned it palm up, and they sniffed some more.

Satisfied that I wasn’t up to no-good, the others came over to me and sniffed around my boots and the hem of my jeans. There was a half-dozen of them, all mutts, all medium sized. 

I went into the kitchen to see if I could help with anything else. The other girls were there, sitting around the table.

“Anything I can help with?” I asked.

“No,” Faith said with a little smile. “Mom’s just helping Daddy finish getting ready.”

“Oh,” I said. “Well….” I didn’t know whether to sit down or wait outside.

“Want to see my room?” Amanda asked.

“Oh, um…,” I said. 

“Sweetie,” Celeste said, “he would love to see your room, but not right now.”

She glanced at me once when she was saying this, and I felt intense gratitude.

“I see you girls are studying hard,” I said. “I know that Celeste is building a radio, what about the rest of you?”

They told me about their projects. Faith had learned the names of all of the bones and muscles several years ago. She could draw them all and label them. Now she was learning about pharmacology, specifically about herbs and natural remedies. She was testing everything that she could find on herself and her family.

Bethany was studying engineering. She was working with Celeste on the radio project but was also studying architecture, geometry, physics, and design.

Little Amanda was studying languages. Even though she was only ten, she was fairly fluent in Spanish and was learning French. She planned to start German in the next year or two and then move to one of the Chinese languages.

I felt myself changing as I talked to the girls. I was losing my awkwardness. I had never been gregarious, but sitting at the table and talking to other people was filling a need that I hadn’t known existed. 

I was pondering this as they told me about their school work and what they had planned for the future. I heard someone coming down the stairs and looked up.

“That’s mom,” Bethany said.

I looked at her, the question on my face.

“Too fast for Daddy,” Amanda said in answer.

I nodded, saying nothing.

We all looked up as she came in the door from the hallway.

“He’s not doing well today,” she said. “I’m wondering if we should stay here.”

“Awww,” came a chorus from the table.

“I know,” Cassie said. She looked at me.

“I don’t know what to do,” she said.

“Can I talk to him?” I said.

She seemed surprised.

“Um, sure, I suppose so,” she said.

I got up from the table and followed her back into the hallway and up the stairs. I had no idea what I was going to say to Kyle, but I had an idea that he might be feeling awkward about my sudden appearance yesterday. I wanted to reassure him that I had no ulterior motives regarding his wife. I would say nothing about my lustful thoughts and dreams about his wife and older daughters.

“Honey,” Cassie said, knocking lightly on their bedroom door.

“Yeah?” came a reply from inside.

“Bruce is here,” she said. “Feel like talking?”

“Sure,” came the reply, sounding stronger.

I walked into the room. I didn't know where to look and had no idea how to start a conversation.

“Have a seat,” he said. He was sitting up in bed, apparently fully dressed, but with a blanket over his legs. He gestured to a chair beside the bed.

I sat down.

“Sorry that you’re not feeling well,” I said.

“Yeah,” he said. “The gift that keeps on giving. I don’t know what that Chinese bug was, but it never quite left.”

“Want to tell me about it?” I asked.

“Honey,” he said to Cassie, “you can leave us alone. We’ll be okay.”

“If you and the girls want,” I said, “the keys are in the Toyota. You can practice driving it around the barnyard.”

Cassie rolled her eyes to the ceiling and said, "Heaven help us." She walked out of the room with a last look at her husband.

“I’m a lucky man,” he said, looking after his wife.

“She’s a keeper,” I said, looking at him.

He laughed a short laugh.

“You have no idea,” he said. “The things we’ve been through.”

I sat quietly and said nothing.

“This illness,” he began. “I don’t even know what to call it. Whatever it was, it attacked my organs. All of them. Eyes, skin, bones, kidneys, liver, intestines...even my...reproductive organs.”

I said nothing.

“Not only am I not the man I used to be,” he said. “I’m hardly even a man anymore.”

“You’re still luckier than the ones who died,” I said. “Or the ones who lost everything.”

He looked at me.

“I’m not playing ‘Whose Tragedy is the Worst',” I said.

“I know,” he said. “You’re right. I'm lucky.”

“Still, it must be hard,” I said.

Again, that short, hard, laugh.

“Well, that’s one of the problems,” he said. “It’s not hard anymore.”

I smiled in sympathy and nodded slightly.

“Cassie hasn’t said anything lately,” he said. “But I know that she would still like to have more kids. Even before people got sick, she talked about it, but especially now.”

This conversation was going to get awkward fast.

“That’s not possible now,” I said, maybe too quickly. “But you can focus on finding husbands for the girls.”

He looked at me with no expression. Just looked me in the eye.

I held his gaze. I had no intention of breaking the silence or flinching from him.

Slowly, he began to nod.

“She loves me,” he said.

“Yeah,” I said. My eyes were becoming misty for some reason.

He reached out and put his hand on my knee.

“I’m a man of God,” he said. “I’m okay. I need you to help her see that it will be fine. She won’t listen to me.”

Suddenly I was feeling lost, and he saw it in my eyes.

“We talked about it last night,” he said. “You could help us have more children.”

I felt my jaw go slack.

He smiled a little, sad smile.

“It would probably be good for you as well. God didn’t mean for us to be alone in the world. I can’t imagine what it was like for you all of these years.”

“She’s your wife!” I said. “What the hell are you talking about?”

“She’s my wife, and she wants something that I can’t give her anymore,” he said.

I had nothing to say. I couldn’t imagine how Cassie would react to this.

Having gotten the words out and begun the conversation, Kyle seemed to feel better. He threw the blankets off and put his feet on the floor.

“Can you help me up?” he asked.

“Sure,” I said, standing. I held out my hands, and he took them and stood. He was a little shaky, but not swaying.

“If you grab my shoes there,” he said, “we can go downstairs and get this party started.”

Oh hell, I thought. 

I picked up Kyle's shoes and helped him down the staircase to the kitchen where he sat and put them on.

“My knees get sore,” he said. “All of my joints. Maybe a swim will help.”

We made our way to the barnyard where the ladies were all in the SUV. The girls in the back were cheering for Faith, who was behind the wheel. She seemed to be getting the hang of it quickly. Cassie sat in the passenger seat and waved to us, smiling.

We waved back. Faith pulled up beside us. She rolled the window down.

“Hi Daddy!” she said.

“Hi Sugar,” he said, smiling.

“Are we going?” she asked.

“Are you driving?” he asked.

All of the girls cheered. They got out and switched places. I got behind the wheel, and Kyle got in the passenger seat. Cassie and the girls packed into the back. Amanda rode in the cargo space behind the back seat to keep the tea from spilling.

I drove to Kohls so that they could pick up swimming suits. Then we headed out to my farm. There was a festive atmosphere in the truck as we drove. I kept looking over at Kyle, who sat there, a small smile on his face as he interacted with his family.

I watched Cassie in the rear-view mirror and found her looking at me more often than not. I’m sure that she wondered what Kyle and I had talked about. I wondered about her conversation with her husband the day before.

As we pulled up to my farm, the girls were very excited. They talked about how it was invisible from the road. When they saw my dogs piling around the car, they cooed at them and told them how pretty they were.

We parked, finally, and I got out first to settle the dogs. They were barking non-stop. Finally, they settled down, and introductions were made. Biscuit was ecstatic to see his friends again. He flopped on his back, hoping for someone to scratch his belly.

I showed everyone into the house where they got to work setting up the meal. I checked on the meat and vegetables and found everything ready.

We set up an outside table with the tablecloth, the new dishes and silverware, and all of the food and drinks.

As we sat down, Kyle offered to say grace.

“Heavenly Father, thank you for this meal. Thank you for lost friends reappearing. Thank you for family. You continue to bless us, even in these hard times. Thank you, Father. Amen.”

“Amen,” we all chorused.

“The deer smells amazing!” Celeste said.

And it was. Everything was excellent. I hadn’t eaten a meal like that in a long time, and it was a joy to share it with good people. Afterward, we sat around the table, eating the cookies that Cassie had baked, and drinking the Rose Petal Tea that she had brewed.

“Family,” Kyle said, “we have something to discuss.”

My stomach knotted up. I hoped that Kyle wasn’t going to do what I thought that he was going to do.

“What’s that Daddy?” Celeste asked.

“Children,” he said.

The girls looked at each other and then back to him.

“Yes, Daddy?” they said.

He laughed his short laugh. “No, no,” he said. “Children. That’s what we need to discuss.”

“Um, Daddy?” Bethany asked. “Now? I mean, we’ve had this conversation before.”

I smiled and looked at Cassie. Her face was white as a sheet as she stared at her husband.

“Same topic, different discussion,” he said. 

“Honey,” Cassie said, but trailed off.

“It needs to be said,” he said. “And talked about openly.”

I remembered how Cassie had taken the biblical instructions about how a wife should be submissive to her husband very literally. She sat there now, with her head down.

“Your mother would like to have more children,” he said bluntly. The girls looked at her, and then back to their father. Celeste looked from her father to me. I looked at the tree growing beside the barn.

“The illness that I had destroyed my ability to father any more children,” he said. The girls looked uncomfortable, but still looked from their father to their mother.

“You all know that Celeste and Faith are old enough to have children,” he said.

“Bethany too,” Amanda said brightly.

Bethany looked at her sister aghast and blushed.

“Honey,” her mother said. “There’s a difference between being ‘able to’, and being ‘old enough.'”

“Oh,” Amanda said, looking down.

“The problem,” Kyle said, “is that there aren’t any young men around that they could be married to.”

The girls were starting to catch on. They began glancing from their father to their mother, to me.

“Yes,” said Kyle. “I have asked our friend, Bruce to help us.”

I thought that I saw a shudder run through Celeste. I glanced at her and saw her smiling broadly at me. My jeans began feeling uncomfortable again. I sipped my tea and nibbled on a cookie.

“Daddy,” Faith said, “wouldn’t that be sinful?”

“I don’t think so, honey,” he said. “There are provisions in the bible for desperate times. We don’t know how many people remain on the planet. I think there are others, maybe a lot of others. But in the absence of evidence, we should proceed as if we are all that’s left.”

“And…” Cassie said, “you just want us all to sleep with Bruce? Have babies by him?”

The girls all looked at her. She seemed angry.

“Yes,” he said.

Cassie looked at me.

“What do you think about this?” she asked. 

“I think it’s crazy,” I said.

“Oh!” Cassie said. “Oh. I thought that...I mean I thought you....”

“But Bruce,” Celeste said. “What if we’re the last ones?”

“If we’re the last ones, then we’re the last ones,” I said. “We could breed and interbreed for a while, but the gene pool isn’t large enough to be sustainable.”

“Still,” Faith said, “starting to have babies now would just make sense. Even if there are loads of other people left.”

“That seems right,” Bethany said. 

“I would love to have a baby,” Celeste said looking at me.

Her father looked at her and smiled. He looked to his wife.

She shook her head.

“Part of what I loved about being pregnant, was knowing that it was your baby growing inside me,” she said. “No offense to Bruce, but I don’t love him. If I can’t have your baby, then I don’t think I want to be pregnant.”

Kyle looked at his wife but said nothing. 

“It’s your choice,” he said finally. “I won’t force the issue. What about Celeste and Faith?”

“I think that it should be up to them,” she said.

I wondered if anyone thought that I should have a say in the matter, but I didn’t say anything. I wanted to see how this would play out. And, I wasn’t going to deny that I was excited by the idea of having these young beauties in my bed.

Celeste and Faith looked at each other, both smiling.

“I think that Celeste should go first,” Faith said. “She’s older than me, plus I’m the one studying medicine. I need to see what she goes through and make notes.”

“I’ve been through being pregnant a few times myself,” Casse said. “We’ll be fine.”

“Well, that’s fine then,” Kyle said. He looked at me and put his hands flat on the table. “Anything else we need to discuss?”

I wasn’t sure how I felt about all of this, and I was starting to get just a little irritated.

“Look, your daughters are lovely, and I’ve been alone for a long time,” I said. “But I don’t know if I agree with bringing children into the world right now. It puts the girls at risk, and makes us more vulnerable in lots of ways.”

“You’re right,” Kyle said. “I assumed that you would jump at the chance.”

Someone’s leg touched mine under the table; their foot slowly slid up my calf and to my knee. I looked across at Celeste and Faith, but I couldn’t decide whose foot it was. I drew a shuddering breath and tried to collect my thoughts.

“Look,” I said, my eyes closed. “I just need some time to think. Let’s get cleaned up and go swimming. We can talk later if we have to.”

We cleaned up the remains of meal quickly. The scraps went to the dogs, with some held back for the Wilkin’s dogs. I didn’t use a refrigerator since that would mean running a generator non-stop, so everything had to be used quickly. We tucked some leftovers in the cellar for dinner.

The ladies got dressed first, using my bedroom and the bathrooms. They came out wearing modest, one-piece suits, but I knew that I was going to have trouble keeping my erection in check. Celeste looked especially good. She had chosen a light green suit that hugged her slender body, accentuating her gentle curves. She walked across the yard with the grace of a ballerina.

I sighed. When Faith came out, I thought that maybe I should refuse to go with them. With her darker hair, she was wearing a deep ruby red suit with a deeper neckline that showed lots of lovely cleavage. I felt dizzy watching her as she bounced down the back steps, smiling at me.

“My friend,” Kyle said. “You’re fighting a losing battle.”

I flopped down on the picnic bench. I leaned over and put my head in my hands.

“Kyle,” I said. “Do you realize how awkward this is for me?”

“I do,” he said. “And I appreciate how virtuous you're trying to be. I just think that it’s misplaced. You’re fighting biology for one thing.”

“Tell me about it,” I said.

“God gave us these desires to ensure the propagation of the species,” he said. “They’re natural. And good.”

“That’s crap,” I said, and he looked surprised.

“What if the situation was completely different? What if none of this had happened and your daughters had the hots for me? Or me for them?”

“The urges would still be natural and understandable,” he said. “It just might not be right, in those circumstances, to act on them.”

“You’re pretty enlightened for a Baptist minister,” I said.

“I’ve been preparing myself for this for a long time,” he said. “My biggest fear was that there wouldn’t be any choice in the matter. That a gang of men…” he made a choking sound and stopped talking.

“Look,” I said. “I understand.”

I gazed around the compound. There were several empty houses around. 

“How would you folks feel about moving over here with me?” I asked. “There’s plenty of room.”

He looked around too. 

“That might be good,” he said. “It might be easier to get Cassie on board with the plan.”

“Oh god,” I said. “Why are you pushing your wife at me?” I hissed quietly.

“Because we, both of us, want more kids. I want a son,” he finished quietly.

“You guys can get changed,” Cassie called from the back porch. She was in a very conservative suit that was patterned and skirted, and completely unflattering. I smiled at her and waved my thanks.

“I love my wife,” he said. “This is not about that. Look at her. She must have picked that suit because of what we talked about last night. She didn’t want to look sexy at all. She did that out of loyalty to me.”

“You’re right,” I said. “Cassie wants your child or none.”

“But you can give her my child,” he said. “That’s what I’m trying to say. We need to separate the act from the emotions. My daughters will be okay. They might fall in love with you a little bit, and that’s good. My wife will not.”

We started walking up to the house. I let him use my room so that he could sit on the bed if he needed to. I used the bathroom and changed into the suit that I purchased the day before. It was just a simple pair of trunks in a bright blue color. I kept my t-shirt on and slid on some running shoes with no socks.

By the time I got outside, all of the women were waiting by the Toyota. The younger two girls were wearing matching suits with cartoon characters on them. Apparently, neither was happy that the other had chosen the same one. 

“Well, don’t you two look nice?” I said.

“I saw it first,” Amanda said.

“I thought you were getting a different one,” Bethany said.

“I was going to, but changed my mind,” Amanda said.

“Girls,” Cassie consoled them, “it’s okay.”

“Everyone has towels?” I asked.

“In the car,” Faith said. 

I tried to keep my eyes on hers, and not that magnificent cleavage. I was out of practice and lost the fight.

“Well, I’m going to get in,” I said. “It’s only a mile or so, and I usually walk, but I feel like driving.”

Truthfully, I felt like sitting so that my swelling erection would be less noticeable. 

Kyle came out eventually. His arms and legs were thin and nearly white, except for dark, maroon splotches here and there. He got in the front seat, and we set off.

The part of the beach that I kept clear of grass and weeds wasn’t huge. It wasn’t big enough for all of us to spread out blankets, so some of the girls moved their blankets to the sides where crabgrass and chicory had taken over.

“We can clear more of it off later,” I said. “If you want to keep coming over.”

The water was clear and cold and sparkled in the afternoon sunlight.

“Do you girls know how to swim?” I asked.

“No,” they all said. 

“Just start slowly then,” I said. “The beach slopes gently out until it gets deeper and deeper.”

I took my t-shirt off and walked in to show them. I hadn’t thought about it, but after the charged conversation at lunch, now I was all but naked in front of all of them. I was in better shape than it had ever been in my life. I worked hard outside, naked most of the time except when I needed covering for safety.

As a result, my body was well muscled and deeply tanned. I had pulled my mostly white hair back into a loose ponytail.

When I got waist deep, I turned to find Cassie and her two older daughters watching me with the same expression on their faces; eyes slightly squinting, bottom lip held gently between their teeth, and their arms crossed under their breasts. As soon as I turned, they each found somewhere else to look.

Bethany and Amanda splashed in after me and Kyle stepped carefully out into the water. I looked back to the women and bent my knees so that the water came up to my waist.

“Well, I usually swim across the lake. I’ll just go about halfway out and come back,” I said.

I turned and dove into the water. I swam in a slow, steady, crawl out across the man-made lake. The sun was out, but the water was still cool this early in the summer. It felt good to stretch, and better to get away from all of the expectations on that beach.

When I got to the middle, I turned and floated there, treading water. I could see Kyle sitting on the beach, and Cassie and the girls splashing around in the shallow water. Suddenly, Cassie started to swim out toward me.

I waited for her there, floating on my back and watching the clouds. 

“Hey,” she said as she reached me and tread water.

“Hey,” I said. 

“Can we get out on the other side of the lake?” she asked.

“Yeah,” I said. “It’s muddy, and there are probably snakes.”

“Oh,” she said. “I wanted to talk."

“Can you swim a quarter of a mile or so?” I asked. I knew that it had been a while since she had swum, and not very long since she had eaten.

“Sure,” she said. “Lead the way.”

I began swimming parallel to the bank. Soon I couldn’t see the beach because of a point of land that jutted from the bank. Just past that point was the old Sailing Club. There were a couple of dozen sailboats still tied up here. Most were rotting in the water. I had explored here before and toyed with the idea of teaching myself how to sail.

I swam to one boat that I knew was safe. I climbed the ladder and turned to help Cassie out of the water. There was a locker where I kept a couple of towels in case of an emergency. I hadn’t used them since last summer and hoped that they wouldn’t be too musty.

“Here you go,” I said as I passed one to her.

We dried our faces and hair a bit and sat on the edge of the boat, looking out at the water.

“This is beautiful,” she said.

“It is,” I replied.

“I’m sorry about all of the awkwardness,” she said.

I looked over at her. 

“Don’t be,” I said. “We have problems, and we're looking for solutions.”

“Having sex with me and my daughters is just problem solving?” she asked.

“Um, no,” I said. “That’s not what I meant. I was talking more about Kyle’s approach than anything.”

She nodded, looking back out across the lake.

“What do you want me to do?” I asked her.

She smiled and looked at me sideways. I watched her gaze travel from my eyes down my torso. With a little shake of her head, she looked back out over the water.

“I think Kyle is right. We need to start having babies if possible. Celeste and Faith seem...eager,” she said hesitantly. She started blushing as soon as she said it.

“What about you?” I asked. Her eyes met mine and bounced back across the water.

“I would love to have more babies. I love being a mother. And I won’t deny that I miss the intimacy that Kyle and I used to have.”

“If you and I … made a baby,” I said, “would that affect your relationship with your husband?”

“No,” she said quickly.

Then more slowly, “Probably not.”

“You're worried that it will?” I asked.

"Of course," she said. "Wouldn't you be?"

"Yeah, I guess I would," I said. "I don't think I'd be nearly as cool as Kyle if I were in his position."

“Exactly,” she said.

"And you're worried that we'll, what, develop some kind of relationship?"

"I don't know about 'relationship,'" she said, "but feelings...emotions...something."

"Well," I said, "to be completely honest, I've always had 'something' for you."

"What do you mean?" she asked, looking sideways at me.

I looked at her bright blue eyes and her graying blond hair drying in the sun and swallowed hard. I spoke around a knot in my chest.

"When we used to work together," I said. "I always had a little crush on you."

"You did?" she asked. "But we were both married."

"I know. I never planned to do anything about it. I just looked forward to seeing you, working with you, hearing your stories about home life. You are a very sweet person, and I always admired you."

"Admired?" she asked. "A crush is more serious than admiration."

I smiled and looked away.

"Maybe," I said, watching gulls flying over the prairie that used to be a manicured lawn.

"Well, I always admired you, too," she said with a punch to my arm.

We sat in silence for a few minutes.

"How...," she started to ask, but then stopped.

"How what?" I asked after a minute.

"Oh," she said in exasperation. "How would we do it, if we did it? And I'm not saying that we will."

"Will?" I asked.

"Will...do it," she said.

I laughed gently.

"Cassie," I said, "before yesterday, I hadn't touched another person in a decade. I don't even know if I remember how to do it. But if we do it, I plan to enjoy it."

"Oh," she said, completely flustered now. "Well, do you think you still can? I mean, how old are you now?"

I laughed loud and long.

“I’ve missed the company of my wife. Women in general, I suppose," I said. "Yes, I masturbate frequently. Everything still works.”

“Oh,” she said, looking down to my crotch. “I didn’t need to know that.”

I smiled.

“What about grandchildren?” I asked after a pause. She turned to me, eyebrows raised. “I mean, would having grandchildren satisfy your desire for more children?”

“No,” she said quickly. “I’m looking forward to it, but there’s nothing to compare with the feeling of a child growing in your womb. Meeting your child for the first time.”

I leaned over to speak conspiratorially.

“Then let’s just do it,” I said.

Eyes wide, she pulled away from me.

“What?” she said.

“Let’s do it,” I said. “There’s a decent little bed in there, let’s see if we can make a baby.”

Her chest rose and fell quickly. The sight of it, and her pretty face blushing, after the sexually charged day, started to get me going.

“I don’t...Bruce, I can’t,” she said, panic in her voice.

“You can,” I said. “We can.” My cock was rising at the thought. All of this talk of having sex with these lovely women was driving me crazy. I looked at her slight body, clad in that awful swimsuit and I was fully hard.

“Cassie,” I said. “My body is responding to yours; I think yours is to mine.”

“I want to,” she said. “Kyle wants me to.”

I stood held out my hand to her. She looked at it and slowly put her hand in mine and stood. My heart leaped, and I took a long, quivering breath.

“Okay,” she said. “But not here, not now.”

My soaring spirits crashed. Cassie looked at me with sympathy. 

“I need to talk to Kyle,” she said. “You understand.”

“Yes,” I said.

No, I thought. 

“You’re very sweet,” she said. “Let’s do this right.”

“Okay,” I said. “You want to get back?”

“In a minute,” she said. “First, I want to thank you.”

Cassie put her arms around my neck and hugged me. The whole-body hug, not the leaning-in-shoulder hug. Her head was alongside mine, and she wrapped her arms around my neck. I felt her slim breasts pushing into my chest and side, encased in her damp swimsuit. I held her around her waist and shuddered. I wasn’t used to such intimate contact, and I felt like a teenager, afraid of losing my load in embarrassment.

I leaned my head into hers and said nothing. I felt a light kiss on my ear, and then one hand slid down over my chest and stomach.

"You're in such good shape," she whispered.

I leaned back and looked down at her. Our eyes locked and her hand slid lower to grasp my erection through my trunks. I saw her mouth open slightly, and her gaze dropped ever so slightly.

I leaned in and took her mouth, giving her no choice. She moaned, and both the hand on my neck and the one further south gripped me tighter. I slid my arm from her waist down to her butt and held her gently there, pulling her into me. My other hand went to her breast, feeling the nipple taught and hard under my palm.

We kissed, and I felt like I was falling. I leaned back and rested my hip against the cabin so that we wouldn't both topple into the water.

Cassie pulled back slightly.

"Here," she said. "Let me thank you properly."

She slid her hand beneath the broad elastic of my swimming trunks. Immediately she felt my cock head, and her hand closed around it. She pursed her lips and creased her brows as if in concentration, keeping her gaze locked on mine.

It was my turn to moan, and I did, feeling like the top of my head was coming off.

"So nice!" she said. "It feels...so nice."

"Yes," I whispered. "Yes, it does."

Her hand slid down farther, all the way to my balls. She gave a gasp as she felt them and pressed them up into my body. I felt her body shudder, and I kissed her again.

She used both hands and slid my trunks down. She began jacking my cock, without breaking our kiss. It didn't take long. In less than thirty seconds I pulled back from her, reached up and took a handful of her hair and exposed her neck. I kissed her there, groaning through my orgasm.

Semen arced through the air and coated the front of that ugly suit, pulse after pulse drenching it from her nipples down to her belly button. I felt her hand begin to glide more smoothly over my cock; friction eased by my ejaculate. The feeling was too much, but I hated to say anything. Instead, I gently bit at her neck, threatening to leave a mark.

She laughed and pulled away, looking down at herself with her hands held palm up.

"You should feel better," she said, still smiling.

"Yes, thank you," I answered politely. "May I reciprocate?"

Cassie's smile turned shy.

"No," she said. "I should be getting back." She started to touch my chest, but then looked at the sticky mess on her palm and chuckled.

"I'll see you," she said, heading to the ladder.

I intercepted her with my towel.

"Let me help at least," I said. I used the towel to clean her hands and get the worst of the mess off the front of her suit. In the process, I managed to massage her breasts and move her suit around enough to catch a hint of cleavage.

"Okay," Cassie said. "I think that'll do."

"No," I said. "I can do better."

"Bruce," she said laughing, "I need to go." She swatted me away and climbed down the ladder. She paused before she disappeared below the edge of the deck.

"I guess, since we're being honest, I always had a little crush on you too," she said. She flashed a brief, bright smile, and disappeared into the water.

I watched her swim away until she rounded the point. I stood alone on the deck of the sailboat listening to the gulls and wondered if things could get any better.

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