Jordan was driving us to Venice Beach to say goodbye to the interns. She sighed. “It’s hard to believe summer’s almost gone. Sam, Do you remember which is the turn to Mr. Robert’s condo?”
I was staring out the window. A strip of creamy white sand attached to a churning blue ocean, like a painting I recognized but couldn’t recall the artist’s name.
“Huh? Oh, I think it’s the crossover near Maiden’s Lane.”
“Sure, just wondering if Nathaniel’s gonna show”
“Course he is! Cheer up! You’ve every right to be bitter, Sam”
“Bittersweet, that’s me.”
“Listen, you’ve done this party three years in a row. You know the ropes. Shmooze with the interns who are leaving. They’ll be drunk by now. Be your charismatic self, cheer them up and dance with them. You look like a dish in that dress. But stay close, I’ll be here for you, as promised. I’ll be catering to you hon; bring you a martini. Whatever you need.”
The sun was beaming reds and oranges in the sunglasses of the secretaries sprawling on lounge chairs in skimpy swimwear, sipping cocktails and waiting for Mr. Roberts to announce the newly hired Interns. The ladies did care who was chosen; they cared a lot. It meant new male blood on the fifth floor. Then there would be a salute and a farewell to those who were leaving us.
Jordan was right, the party was in full force, but I didn’t see Nate in the crowd. Had he been hired? Yes, of course, he had. And if so, what? I felt conflicted either way.
“Smart man. He’s not here,” I said when I raised another shot of tequila and tapped it against Jordan’s, throwing my head back, wiping the salt off my mouth with the back of my hand.
“You’re a natural” Jordan laughed, shaking her head.
Everyone attended this event because it allowed all the employees of the firm freedom to get plastered off premises.
“Too bad Nathaniel’s not here to see you in that sexy sarong. He doesn’t know what he’s missing! Dang girl, go find a dance partner.”
Derek, one of the drunken interns tried to lift my skirt, “Are you wearing anything under there?”
I slapped his hand fiercely and ran toward the surf. Derek tried to follow but fell flat on his face. I kicked off my sandals for more traction. It was a sultry evening, and the cool sand felt refreshing on my bare feet. I strayed toward a strip of light, a reflection of the moon on a wave, and breathed in the salty air. The waves lured me like a purposeful trail, away from reality to a true staircase to heaven; perhaps a road, I thought, to another dimension would be totally appropriate.
I struggled to the top of a sand dune, mesmerized by the beckoning light, my only need to plunge myself into the beckoning sea. I imagined that somehow my tears would mingle with the cool salty foam, that I might be reborn, a sort of baptism, and I imagined myself as an ameba returning to the place of my birth.
Standing at the top of a dune I swayed with the breeze. I’d always adored the night sky with the sea’s soothing song. I feel light as a seabird now rising above the water I crested the dune and envisioned the silhouette of a man below.
I forged downward, my feet squishing the sand, making piles of my deep tracks, and I descended slowly, balancing myself to keep from falling forward. I tripped plowing down and when I righted myself I began to believe the man was Nathaniel. But no, this person was wearing cut off Jeans and he was shirtless. I grew cautious for I feared the man was moving toward me.
I stood swaying for a moment then stepped toward him, tripped again, and stumbled directly into his arms. I rested my cheek on his chest and breathed in the briny scent of his skin. I lifted my face. “Hi,” I said drunkenly while he held my body up, like a rag doll. He rested his chin on top of my head and rocked me softly.
“Liar!” I screamed. I tore myself away and ran hard up the beach crying tears I refused to allow him to witness.
He gave chase and overcame me, his strength and determination mastering my inebriated state when he tackled me and pulled me down hard.
I rolled, digging my feet in. I was strong too and he didn’t deserve to win this battle. I rose to my knees and tried to crawl away, but he reached out grabbing my ankles with his large hands and flipped my body over. He crawled over me while I flailed, my arms tearing at his hair.
But I soon weakened, and he was able finally to lay his heaving body across my torso. He held my arms above my head which triggered my rage. I felt renewed strength and was able to twist my hips when he relaxed thinking he had won.
I laughed in his face, and rolled, digging into the sand. The painful forward crawl bloodied my knees. Nathaniel thrust his body forward, “Samantha, please let me explain!”
He got a grip on my ankles and dragged me backward through the cool sand, creating a trench with my body. My sarong slid up to my waist exposing my bikini underwear. Nate made a decision and lunged, but I dug in with my heels, kicking sand in his face.
He turned his head and spit, “Ah Samantha!” Then took another quick lunge pinning me again, and he lay his head on my chest, pleading. “Please” he begged. I calmed myself and lay there silent for a moment, breathing in the scent of my beloved’s blonde tendrils.
He relaxed back on his heels, “Do you still want me?”
When I nodded he squeezed my hand sliding his hand downward, slowly, carefully. I remained calm, blinking, searching his deep sea eyes.
I’d never seen him without a shirt. His wide hard shoulders, his bare chest glistening in the moonlight. He was breathing heavily, and I followed a patch of hair that crossed above his nipples and dipped down in a thin line toward his navel. I longed to trace it with my finger.
I couldn’t find my voice because I was suddenly gagging on my own desire. I blinked and nodded again.
Nate carefully peeled my dress down to cover my nakedness, holding one of his arms out in defense to prevent me from kicking him again. I lay quietly watching.
He whispered, “I’m crazy about you Samantha. I truly care for you, but it’s time I told you the truth.”
I found a burst of energy and I twisted, trying to escape his words.
He cradled me, “Shhhhhhh, it’s okay.”
“I know,” I seethed–Shawn told me. It’s not okay. I hate what you stole from me!”
Forgiveness was out of the question. We’d never had the chance to make love. His only opportunity was to rape me this night. But he did not. I hated him for that too.