In Retrospect

by the Yeti

Chapter 1

Amber had always been the beautiful girl next door, or so thought her best friend Paul. Both were now seniors in college, but Paul’s strong feelings for her had not changed since they attended junior high. Amber and her father had move in three doors down from Paul when he was only four. The two met only days later, at the annual community block party held on the fourth of July weekend. From that time on, the two were practically inseparable.

The two remained very good friends through elementary and middle school, and then a funny thing happened. Amber became a hottie. From the skinny little girl he knew, Paul watched Amber disappear into the popular crowd. And rightfully so, he guessed. Her figure was to die for, a slim 5’8” body with shapely legs and chest. She had highlighted her sandy blonde hair, and let it grow only slightly longer than the tops of her shoulders. She still had the best personality of anyone he had ever met, and her smile was enough to light up even the most dismal room.

Through high school, the two grew far apart, enough that it was only at a graduation party senior year that the two talked again. She was on her way north to a college that had offered her a full ride scholarship for lacrosse, a game that Paul had never taken to. Although she had dated among the high class crowd in school, she wouldn’t be taking a boyfriend to college in the fall. Amber had also made plans to spend the summer in Minnesota with her aunt and uncle, running their small ice cream shop on the lake.

Paul would be spending the summer at home, detailing cars for one of his fathers many car dealerships in the area. Amber still poked fun at Paul’s dad, who still insisted on making obnoxious car commercials on a weekly basis; the ones that everyone has to mute the TV just to live through. Afterward, he’d be attending school at Duke. His grades weren’t the best, but when dad promised a little green towards sponsoring a new athletic complex that had yet to be finalized, the dean of the business department had been only too happy to oblige. His dating history in high school was almost nonexistent, but that was ok, he though. He’d make up for it in the next four years.

Paul had always hated the idea that he wasn’t someone Amber was interested in, and now he’d be losing his chance forever. He sincerely hoped that college would be something different. The two hugged for what he figured to be the last time, said goodbye, and that would be the end of what was once a beautiful friendship.

Chapter 2

That summer would prove to be three months that Paul would never want to end. It all began at his father’s car dealership. Customers were in and out about as frequently as the journeyman sales force that seemed to slow sales more than help it. Paul had been out washing the new Lexus SC430 that the sales manager had put on the pedestal out front, when he noticed an older couple browsing the used car section. After about ten minutes, no one had made their way out to help them. Paul decided to do his best to help the two. He described the car to the best of his knowledge, and all but closed the deal for a salesman known as “Greasy Larry” by the rest of the employees. Paul made sure his father heard about his day, and the next morning, “Dealin’ Dale Patterson” made arrangements for his son to take the sales license exam with the state office. If he passed, he’d be the next sales associate at Patterson Imports.

The sales exam was about as easy as any he had ever taken, and Paul joined the sales force by the end of the week. He was disappointed that he’d be selling on the VW / Audi lot and not the high dollar Lexus he started with, but anything was a step up from vacuuming cars and scraping off bugs on windshields. His first day was uneventful, and the customers were limited to only a few due to the immense rains the area was suffering through. It wasn’t until the following Tuesday that he would have his first shot at an actual sale.

Late that afternoon, Paul had almost given up on making his first sale when a maroon Dodge Caravan pulled up. A mother and father got out, followed by their daughter Emily, a girl Paul had known through his younger sister Kerri. The Jamison’s were at the dealership to buy “little Em” her first set of wheels. They were excited that Paul would be their salesman, but little selection time was necessary. Em had already decided on a Yellow Beetle, the choice ride for teen girls on a VW lot. With a little help from Al, the sales manager, Paul finished the paperwork on his first sale. Em and her parents thanked him, and within two hours, were on their way home.

It wasn’t more than ten minutes after his first sale that his next customer approached him on the sales floor. A tall brunette, Paul guessed to be about 28 or 30, walked up to his desk, and asked if he could help her out. Her story was one that immediately peak his interest. Karen was a successful realtor with a new development on the outskirt of the city. She was in need of a new sedan to haul clients around the development, and her lease was about up on her old Explorer. She also wanted something fun to drive. They wandered out to the lot, but Karen seemed uncomfortable in both the Jetta and the Passat. When Paul inquired further, she told him that she would need a vehicle with additional legroom in the front two seats.

“Last winter, I went skiing in Vail, Co. with my Fiancé,” said Karen. “On the third day, I bit it pretty hard. My leg was sore, but I decided it would be ok for another run. I made it about 2/3 of the way down, when a mogul jumped out in front of me. I lost my balance and crashed big time. Ski patrol carried me down in one of their little orange sleds, and the medics at the emergency care facility were more than kind as I whimpered through x-rays. It was a nasty Tibia fracture, but it had been clean enough the doctor thought it would heal on its own, and since I was a wimp, I opted out of surgery. To make a long story short, the three months of casts and boots were a waste. In three weeks, I’m going in for surgery to repair the original break.”

“I feel kinda silly, but I’m gonna hafta get something with enough room for another big cast and a pair of crutches.” “Oh, and I guess I’ll need an automatic too, huh?”

It was hard enough to concentrate with her smile distracting him, and now the image of her leg casted… Paul was really struggling.

“I’m thinking that maybe something in the Audi line is more your type,” Paul managed to stutter through.

The two made their way across the lot, and stopped first at the A4 lineup. Again, it was too small, and they decided to try the larger A6. The foot wells were big enough she decided, but why not go for the fun one? The S6 Avant, a 340hp grocery getter would haul clients and haul ass. The 5 speed automanual would be fun enough, so she selected the silver one and went inside to fill out the paperwork.

Additional small talk revealed Karen’s shaky relationship with her fiancé, and a move into a town home in one of the nicer areas of town. Paul was sweating as the two filled out the Audi Financial paperwork, and before the 6pm close, Paul had successfully closed the deal. Karen would return the following afternoon, after service had removed the protective plastics and detailed the car for delivery.

“I guess it may sound silly, but if I can be of any help in the next few months, feel free to drop me a line,” Paul said before letting her out the showroom door. She smiled and said she might, and then he thought he saw a wink tossed his way. “Quite the salesman, aren’t you Paulie?” said Al, tapping him on the shoulder as he watched her climb into her Explorer. Paul managed his father’s trademark little grin, but was speechless. Damn this was fun.

Chapter 3

That night, Paul decided that he was in the mood for some casting himself. For as long as he could remember, bandages and casts had been his little quirk. He never could quite explain it, but never felt as though he had to justify it. When he was little, he and Amber had played doctor like every other little kid. They were more creative though, and had gone into the garage and gotten the crutches his mother had from years past. The two would wander the house, with ace bandages and socks doubling as casts, each taking their turn on the small wooden sticks.

Paul’s room at his parents house was huge, with a king size waterbed and his own bathroom. The family’s house was extravagant, overkill in his opinion. Paul took a lot of shit from his friends about his fathers’ success and subsequent financial position, but he made it a point never to apologize. He knew that his father had worked very hard to give his family what they had.

He booted up the Dell that his parents had given him for his college schoolwork, and waited to connect to the cable network installed in their house only months ago. He made his way from his e-mail to Castfetish and Castroom, browsing the various sightings and web finds. After wandering around a few other sites, he made his way back to download the latest vid-clip from Mr. Diecast. A beautiful blonde was the newest model, and her cast was as nice as any he had ever seen. It took only seconds, and soon, he was admiring the girl crutch through the park.

Paul couldn’t help but think that maybe he’d enjoy an adventure in a similar manner. He asked his father at dinner if anyone was using the cottage at the lake that weekend, and the answer was no. It was always no, as no one ever used it until the annual fourth of July picnic.

“I’m gonna take a friend or two up this weekend, if that’s ok?”

“Sure,” said Dale Patterson, “but if you don’t clean up this time, I’ll smack you around!”

Paul managed a chuckle, but he knew that his father would be pissed if he left the cottage the way he did the last time.

After dinner, Paul went upstairs to his computer, and surfed to Grogan’s, a site he had seen with casting supplies. His research led him to buy what he thought would be the proper supplies, and a previous post on the message board gave him the added ingredients for a potentially killer weekend. At the last second, he decided to add some sort of space aged cast protector, something he could use in the shower to keep a cast dry. He had the order shipped to the post office box his family kept near the lake, and made sure that it was sent priority mail.

The next part of Paul’s plan made him nervous from the start. His friend Kelly was one of the most beautiful girls he had ever met. She was always tan, and short with a beautiful frame. She was also the first one to try something crazy, and never seemed to turn him down when something came up. She wasn’t into the whole boyfriend thing, and as far as he knew, she was as high quality a girl as any he had met. They had gone to the lake together twice before, and even when it poured for three days, they never stopped laughing.

Paul called Kelly at eleven that night, and asked if she was free for the weekend. She was getting off at three from her job at The Gap, and would love to go to the lake. Paul was too nervous to mention the second half of the adventure, but felt that she’d be ok with it. After all, it was Kelly who was always the first to play with someone’s crutches in school.

The next two days seemed to drag on at work, but Paul had no trouble finding a replacement salesman for the second half of his shift on Friday. He had expected to sell another two cars each day, matching his first day total. Little did he realize that a two vehicle day was a rarity, especially with high end vehicles like the Audi. Looky-Loos were everywhere, but no one was reaching for their checkbook. He spent most of the day studying sales paperwork, and catching up on specs for each of the models.

Friday at around noon, Paul met up with Tom, a new friend of his at the dealership. After a quick swap of a stash Tom had picked up for him at the liquor store, he handed over a customer that had been mulling over a new Jetta for the past hour, and was more than amused at the thought of Tom having to try to close the deal. He swapped his Patterson Imports polo for a clean t-shirt, and jumped in his truck. His first stop was at the grocery store, for some grub for the trip. Near the produce section, Paul saw a young girl with a long arm cast trying to carry a gallon of milk to her mothers shopping cart. It was enough to make him chuckle, and think about the weekend ahead. He filled his basket with a few goodies, but decided not to buy anything fresh until he got there.

His next stop was Best Buy, for a couple new cd’s for the ride up, and the newest release on DVD, a horror flick named Frailty. Although his first paycheck wasn’t until next week, he had enough saved to pay for his expenditures. His final stop was at the Sports Authority, for some new sandals. As he was about to check out, he saw some wool socks on sale, leftovers from the winter season. They were 3 pairs for $5, and who knows, it might rain up there, right?

He went home to pack, and luckily no one was home yet. He rushed up to his room, and dug the crutches he kept in his closet. A number of times in high school, Paul had “sprained” an ankle. His dad wasn’t around enough to ever check, and his mom was a loving and caring but slightly gullible lady. Needless to say, his “injury” never went double checked. He had gotten an aircast from a thrift shop, and had made it look real enough for his friends. He had never broken a bone, and had yet to experience a cast himself. He took the crutches down to his truck, and buried them under the random items that had piled up under the tonneau cover. Hidden enough, he thought. He still wasn’t comfortable enough for his parents to know about how his mind works, and his nosey little sister would be the first person to stumble onto them.

He packed clothes for all types of weather, his Nikon camera, a Sony Handicam that he had bought with graduation money, and his laptop for checking e-mail. He packed his truck for the trip, a 2001 GMC Sierra C3 that he had made a number of improvements to. Paul got a small cooler and filled it with ice and soda, as the drive was just a little over two hours.

Kelly drove in at just a little after four, she wasn’t known for her punctuality. As was to be expected, her bags were much heavier than his. In fact, it almost looked as though she was leaving for months. They loaded the truck and gassed up, and after a quick phone call to say goodbye they drove off.

Chapter 4

An hour north on I-95 brought them to their exit, and from their, it was all back roads. Paul made good time, even after the car in front of him nearly missed a deer on the road. They stopped in at Frank’s Deli, a local shop near the entrance to the lake community. Paul picked up the perishables, and Kelly got a bag of beef jerky to munch on. Afterward, they stopped at the unmanned postal station to pick up any mail that had come for his dad, and maybe for Paul too. They made it to the house around 6:45, and finished unpacking in time to fire up the Weber for burgers.

Paul’s dad’s cottage was one of the few things in his family that didn’t scream money. Inherited from an uncle he barely knew, Dale Patterson had only re-done the kitchen in the twelve years he had owned the place. It was small, a three bedroom with a spacious loft in the attic. The porch overlooked a small beach and dock, where the family boat would soon be stored. It was by far Paul’s favorite place. After dinner, the two talked as they walked down the unpaved road to the ice cream shop. They ate their cones on the way back, and after doing the dishes, made their way down to the dock. With Paul’s specialty drinks, a mixture of Chambord and Ice cream, the two opened up about the year that had passed by.

Kelly was looking forward to school in the fall, at a small private school that Paul had never heard of. She hated working at the Gap, but needed the money to pay for her new computer she bought for school. Paul saw her the way he always had, an admiration unmatched since he and Amber were so close. They talked about crazy times they had had, at parties and football games, and any other time they decided to make special.

Paul was sweating in the cool night air as he approached the conversation that might make or break the weekend. He approached with a story of his friend Seth, a tight end on the football team that had torn his acl during a playoff game that year. Kelly had stolen his crutches during lunch and made her way around the lunchroom before giving them back. She laughed as she recalled the day, and joked that it was fun to gimp around on them for fun.

Paul, taking a breath to reassure himself, and began by asking if she’d do it again.

“Sure I would,” she said. “Why not?”

“Ok, uh, well, lets say you were gonna do it for fun, but instead you got to put a cast on your foot.” Shit, he thought. That came out about as badly as it could have.

After a second of thought, she said, “why would I do that?”

Busted. Damn.

“Well, there are guys that enjoy casts, and well, seeing a girl with a cast on.”

“You mean like injuries?”

“Oh no, Not at all!” “You see, its not about pain or injury at all. It’s something very difficult to explain, but it something about the cast itself. Sometimes not being able to move your foot or leg, or the maybe attention it draws. I’ve always wondered what if felt like myself. Either way, its something that has always interested me.”

“So, you really don’t want anyone hurt?”

“Absolutely not. It’s strictly for fun, nothing more.”

“So, like that time Kerri broke her ankle sophomore year? She got all kinds of attention. Is that like the same thing?”

“Yea, I mean, its not that she was hurt. That sucked- we all saw it happen. It’s almost like a nurturing thing, in that the guy wants to be with her, you know, help her.”

“And you’re like this?”

“I always have been. I have no idea where it came from, but it’s just me.”

She’ll understand, won’t she? It’s Kelly, right?

“Um, yea. Sure. Absolutely I would. Girls get the attention, and the guy gets his fun. Whatever makes you tick. Is this really why you brought me up here?”

“Yea, that and an excuse to hide from my sister for a weekend.”

“Ok, I’m alright with this. How many of them are there?”

“You say ‘them’ as though we’re some kind of cult! Actually, there are thousands of people like me- men and a few women. I discovered that I wasn’t alone at the beginning of the second quarter this past year.”

“You mean you’ve never told anyone?”

“Yea, I always thought I was the only one in the world. It was a horrible feeling.”

“You poor thing!” she taunted. “So you’re really gonna put my foot in a real cast? Like a doctors’ cast?”

“Yea, it should look like a real one if I do it right.”

“Sounds like fun to me, when do we start this?”

As the two made their way back up to the house, Kelly stopped and turned to him. “How many times did you REALLY sprain your ankle this year?” Paul answered with a slight grin, waiting for the worst. Instead, Kelly just gave him a shot to the arm and laughed, and grabbed his hand and led him up the path.

Kelly went to the kitchen and began boiling water for some hot tea, and Paul went out to the truck for the box he had picked up at the post office, and then dug out the crutches from the bed of the truck. When he returned, she was curled up on the sofa in the family room. When she saw the crutches in his hands, she couldn’t stop giggling. She just couldn’t believe she’d be doing this for the weekend. After the water finished, she grabbed two cups and poured it over the tea bags. They waited until it was done, and then went into the guest bedroom.

Paul was never accused of missing details, and Kelly couldn’t help but laugh as he got out a piece of paper with instructions on it. After spreading out an old sheet as a drop cloth, Paul prepared each of the supplies out of the box. He did his best talking her through the process step by step, but having never had a cast, he made up what he didn’t know. She played along.

Paul had her take off her left shoe, not wanting to make this any harder than it already was. She bathed her foot quickly, and then dried it so it would be clean for the journey. He unrolled the stockinette, and after gently moving it up her leg, cut the portion from the rest of the roll. As he figured, he bought way too much. He explained what it did, and then did the same for the padding. He made it a little thick, his preference. The whole time, Kelly giggled and talked with him about anything and everything, but mostly about the cast.

Paul had purchased purple fiber. Not his favorite, but he figured most girls would have selected it. She gave him another shoulder shot, mentioning that it was a nice touch. It took Paul just under an hour to finish, after doing his best to make it look as real as possible. Not quite what he had hoped for, but it would take practice. She made mention that it was hardening, and that it was a really strange feeing.

Paul propped a pillow covered by an old towel under her foot, and then began cleaning up his mess. Kelly was enjoying herself, joking and talking about the weekend that was ahead of them. He finished cleaning up, and then went to the family room to fire up the big screen for a movie. After prepping with popcorn and a blanket, Paul went into the bedroom and picked Kelly up in his arms.

“As I said, nurturing.” He smiled and winked, and promised her that he’d make it a most memorable weekend. Kelly liked to cuddle, and Paul couldn’t help but like that. They curled up on the couch under the blanket, with her cute casted foot just barely peeking out of the end next to his. Just before he pressed start, he asked that this adventure stay here in this cabin, to which she happily agreed. They never made it to the bedrooms that night, both fell asleep on the couch during the flick. What a night Paul thought, his mind racing and a smile permanently etched on his face.

Chapter 5

The next morning, Paul woke up early and went for a run. He was back before Kelly got up, so he took a fast shower and then began cooking breakfast. By the time She woke up, Paul had finished making French toast and eggs. He was always a good cook, with the exception of pasta. Paul always screwed up pasta. The only one in the world too, he was convinced.
She greeted him with a smile, and agreed to sit with him on the porch for breakfast. As Paul went to carry her, she stopped him.

“Hey silly, if I’m going to be in this thing,” she joked and pointed at her cute little foot, “I’m going to have to learn those crutches again, aren’t I?”

Paul figured she was right, and crossed into the hallway to pick up the sticks. He helped her to her bare foot, making sure she kept her balance. Kelly grabbed the crutches and held them while Paul lowered them to her height. Once that was finished, she began crutching around the room. Beautiful, he thought. First she would hold her foot in front of her, and then behind. Paul went to the bedroom and got her shoe for her, just to be sure she didn’t step on anything.

Breakfast was short and enjoyable, and then Paul helped her into the cast protector before she got into the shower. Soon after, she was dressed and ready for battle. Paul and Kelly got their things together, and then headed into the little town on the other side of the lake. She dressed in a white top and jean shorts, with a white Addidas sneaker and sock. Kelly had also braided her hair. She looked stunning to say the least.

In town, Paul parked in front of the drug store and then helped her out of the car. Her sunglasses were a perfect accent to her beautiful face. Paul loved every minute. She began slowly, crutching along the sidewalk until she regained her rhythm. After she had, it was poetry in motion. Paul and Kelly were the subject of numerous stares, and a younger guy of no more than 15 never took his eyes off her cast as he held the door to the little jewelry shop they stopped at.

He had planned this from the start. Kelly sat down in a cushy chair, and Paul requested that the lady behind the counter bring out some toe rings for her to try on. One by one, Paul put each toe ring near her toes on that beautiful casted foot. She choose a small one for her middle toe, and Paul happily put it on for her. It was a perfect touch. Paul paid for the ring, and the two set out again.

Kelly was in very good shape, but crutching was taking its toll on her. They stopped at this bench and that store, each time for her to rest. Lunch time came at about 1:30, at which point they stopped at Franklin’s, a small bistro across from a small public beach on the lake. Getting a table outside was easy enough, and when Kelly looked for a place to rest her foot, Paul had to try hard not to grab it and place it in his lap. Instead, the waitress provided her with an additional chair.

Over lunch, she and Paul discussed how things were going. Paul was as happy as she had seen him in months, maybe even longer. Kelly was actually enjoying the experience. She loved the additional attention she was getting from guys, and even more so from Paul. It was quite a workout, but crutching was fun. She often wiggled her little toes, happily showing off that little toe ring he bought for her. They also noticed the carnival setting up in the town square, just a little less than a block away. Maybe they would go tonight. When lunch was over, Paul went and got the truck and picked her up in front of the restaurant. They returned home for a nap on the porch in the hammock. To Paul’s surprise, she never once touched her casted foot to the floor, even to walk around the cabin.

The two slept comfortably for a little more than an hour, and then Paul got up to fix some iced tea. They hung out on the couch for a little while, just talking and watching a low budget film on cable. Clouds had crept in, and a light drizzle was raining down on the lake. It didn’t stop Paul from cooking steaks for dinner, and the two again ate on the patio. Unfortunately, they had to move inside half way through, as the night air was cooling fast from the rain that had fallen earlier.

After doing the dishes, Paul met Kelly on the sofa, and the two decided what the plan was for the night. They could hear the sounds of the carnival through the windows, but couldn’t see any lights through the trees. Kelly was up for a short trip there, for some cotton candy. They each went to their respective bedroom to change into warmer clothes. Paul went with jeans and a Hugo Boss shirt his mom had given him for Christmas. She got into a sweatshirt and khaki’s, and then called Paul into the room.

“I know you like my toes in the cast and all, but they’re gonna freeze like this!” she said as she wiggled her toes again.

Paul had planned for just such an occasion, and went to his room. When he returned, he held a big wool sock. “I’ll just put this on you, if that’s ok?”

She was so beautiful, he thought, even without the cast. Her hair still braided, she stood up to reveal what seemed to be the perfect outfit. The big wool sock covered her whole cast and only added excitement, he thought. She gently rested in toes down on the floor. Before he knew what was happening, he hugged her and whispered thank you in her ear. She smiled, grabbed her crutches and headed for the back door. Paul simply stood and watched.

This time, with her permission, Paul brought along his camera. He assured her that the pictures would stay in his possession only, a treasure he would never leave behind. They made their way around the fair, Kelly often drawing glances and stares. He made sure she was feeling comfortable, and then they got their cotton candy. They shared a bench across from the food stands, where Kelly rested her leg across his lap. He was in heaven. Paul made sure to have a passing elderly couple snap a photo of them there, just for memories.

Paul hadn’t felt this close to someone since he and Amber were good friends. Kelly was as sweet and kind as anyone he had ever met, and yet she never once looked down upon him. It was a feeling he had never experienced. Paul did his best to win her a little pink teddy bear from the baseball toss, and at $1 per try, it was undoubtedly the most expensive bear she had ever received. After that, Paul and Kelly went back to the bench for at least a half hour. Not much was said, but she let him gently tickle her toes through her sock, and then they held hands for the rest of the time. They finally made their way home, and it was Paul’s pleasure to help Kelly to bed after her long day. He dug out her pajamas for her, and then closed the door behind him.

After a beer on the porch, Paul booted up his laptop and checked his e-mail. For the first time, he considered sharing a story with the casting community. “Naw,” he whispered, “no one in their right mind would believe this.” He slipped off his shoes, and stretched out on the couch. It would be an hour before he felt his first yawn, and then off to bed. Paul slept well that night, for the first time in a very long time.

Chapter 6

The following morning, Paul awoke to the smells of coffee and bacon. He jumped into his jeans and hurried to the kitchen. Kelly was sitting on the edge of the couch, her uncasted foot resting on a throw pillow. She was painting her toenails a bright red, sipping coffee and watching CNN news. She smiled and said that his was still warming in the oven. Kelly had gotten up hours ago, and after a quick shower, she decided she was hungry. She was also one hell of a cook.

Paul grabbed his plate and the bottle of Tabasco Sauce, and made his way over to the opposite end of the couch. CNN had nothing new to report, so they turned off the TV and just sat and chatted. Once he finished, he took her casted foot into his lap and lightly rubbed her toes, just before painting her toenails. Paul couldn’t help but wonder if she really liked him.

After Paul cleaned up, he rinsed off in the shower and then prepared a picnic lunch for the two. He helped her into the truck once again, and the two made their way to the other side of the lake. Fifteen minutes later, they arrived at the Sanford Memorial beach house and public beach. Many of the locals, as well of all of the vacationers who were staying in cabins that weren’t right on the water, spent the day playing in the water and sun here. Kelly waited by the truck while Paul set up the blanket and umbrella, and then the two made their way over to the beach. Crutching in the sand was very difficult, and Paul was only happy to steady her along the way. Once seated, she stretched a plastic bag over her toes, just to keep the sand from blowing in.

They shared a few laughs, a few Coronas, and got in one last day in the sun before the drive back the next morning. After lunch, they packed up and headed back to the cabin. Paul spent a little time cleaning up and packing, just to make the departure a little easier the next morning. Kelly took a shower to wash off the sun tan oil she had used at the beach. Paul could see her behind him in a reflection in the kitchen window. She had a towel around her midsection, and the crutches leaning against the wall beside her. Oh man…

Kelly came out of her room, all smiles and giggles. Once again, they made their way out to the porch and cuddled up in the hammock. She fell asleep in his arms as the two gently rocked back and fourth. For dinner, Paul planned to take her to a restaurant on the north end of the lake. Rizzo’s Bistro was famous, at least locally, for damned good lobster. It was really all they were good for, but it was the only place in a 50 mile radius that one could get decent fresh seafood.

Just a little over an hour later, Paul woke up, still wrapped up in the hammock. He gently woke her, and the two went inside to change for the evening. The click-clack of the crutches behind him was certainly exciting. He had packed some khakis and a wicked black sweater, which would be a good fit since the cool evening air had returned again. He felt his jaw hit the hardwood floor when he saw Kelly in front of the dresser mirror.

It was now apparent why she had taken forever in the bathroom. Her sandy blonde hair was in curls, lightly hanging down over a tight black top the accented her figure about as well as her bikini she wore at the beach earlier. She had ironed her white pants from the previous night, and the combination looked fabulous. She turned and smiled at him, and said she was ready to go.

“If you’d be such a gentleman, grab my leather coat out of that closet.”

Paul did just that, and helped her into the sleeves. Just before they headed toward the door, Paul thought he sensed a little nervousness in her voice.

“Is everything all right?” Paul asked softly.

“Yea, everything is just fine. Are you ready?”

“Absolutely.” Paul just stared in amazement as they made their way toward the door. She went out to the truck with that same smile he had seen the previous night, just as they were sitting down on the park bench.

She looked so beautiful that night, something Paul would never forget. They got to the restaurant and were promptly seated near the window, where the host brought out another chair for her little foot to rest on. She hadn’t requested a sock this time, and it was heaven to glance down at that small casted foot on the chair to his right. Paul spared no expense that night, a small way of saying thank you. He ordered a bottle of Chateau Latour 1998. Damn he liked having a credit card. And damn did he ever like the wine. Kelly seemed to enjoy it as well. The two went huge on dinner, with lobster tails and cheesecake, neither could force down another bite.

They finished just before 8:30, and it was obvious every guy in the place was envious of Paul in one way or another as he opened the door for his date. They arrived back at the cabin, and much to his surprise, she led him out onto the porch. After sitting down on the porch swing, she grabbed hold of his hand and cuddled up close enough he could feel her heart beating. After a minute or so of silence, she looked at Paul and spoke.

“Paul, we’ve been friends a very long time, and I have to admit, I had a wonderful time this weekend. You are someone very special to me, and I’ll never forget the time we spent together. You’re little cast thing is cute, so don’t be embarrassed about it. I’d come back here with you and do it again, anytime. Promise me that even though we’ll be apart at school, you’ll always stay in contact.”

“I promise” was all Paul could say. He was almost shaking, but with happiness.

After getting a blanket from the hall closet, he and Kelly curled up on the swing. For what seemed like only minutes, Paul held her close. Both were silent. An hour later, Paul carried her into the bedroom. He retrieved a hacksaw from his truck, and began removing the cast she had been wearing. He had considered keeping it as a memento, but that wasn’t really an option, as he practically destroyed it taking it off.

“It feels so stiff!” said Kelly, once he had the fiber cast off.

“It will for a little while, and that’s why we took it off tonight instead of tomorrow. This will give you a little time to get back to walking and moving it. I’ll help you out to the living room, and we’ll finish off with a movie, ok?”

“Sounds good, maybe we’ll polish off the rest of the Coronas in the fridge too.”

Paul eased her to her feet, where she lightly put some weight on her foot. Although it was tingly, it wasn’t sore enough she couldn’t walk on it. She made her way to the kitchen for the beer, while Paul cleaned up the mess he had made. After running the remains of the cast to the garbage cans out back, Paul joined Kelly on the couch. She was curled up under the blanket, and was waiting to push play on the Road Trip DVD she had grabbed from the TV cabinet. He turned off the light next to him, and then slid under the blanket. Kelly stretched her legs out across his lap, tossed him a quick smile, and then got lost in the movie. Paul took her newly freed foot, which felt cold as ice, and began to massage it. She didn’t protest.

At the end of the movie, both went for bed. Just before closing her door, Kelly tapped Paul on the shoulder. He leaned closer to find out what she had to say. The biggest shocker of the weekend, Kelly kissed him. The perfect kiss. She smiled and said again that she would never forget this weekend, and then closed her door. Paul fell back against the wall, and wondered what it would take to win the heart of a girl like that.

Chapter 7

The drive home was as good as it could be, as they left just after 8am. Kelly was a country nut, as was Paul. He never admitted to this, even to his parents. Who knows why. They sang along with the radio, and then a few cd’s, which made the time just fly by. They hugged one last time, said their goodbyes, and then Kelly drove off. She had to be at work by three, and Paul was due in just under an hour.

That week, Paul could care less about what he sold, or as was the case, what he didn’t sell. He had developed the pictures from that weekend, and all three rolls came out just as he had hoped. It also proved what a lucky guy he really was. On Thursday, he surprised Kelly at work with a bouquet of flowers, another thank you. He also gave her a few of the pictures, just as she had asked for. His only real potential sale came Friday, when a guy and his wife came in to look at a Passat. They did the test drive and the whole nine yards, and after an eternity hemming and hawing, the guy finally bit. Just as Paul filed the paperwork, the guy’s bank called back. No financing. VW wouldn’t lend him the money either. Damn.

That weekend, Paul drove to the shore with his buddies for a party. Nine guys piled into a little condo across from the beach was tight quarters, but fun as all hell. They spent time at the local Hooters, three of the guys doing their best to hook up with a waitress. None of them had any game. Funny as all hell though, and Paul would never let them forget it, as he had brought along his video camera. It also provided a great way to capture some candid footage along the boardwalk, the most exciting of which was a girl in a tiny black bikini and matching slc. Sweet. The beach the following day was lots of fun as well, and overall, it was a welcomed trip with the guys.

Paul was certainly out of it Monday morning, but made it through without breaking anything. He was usually a good morning person, but the weekend had taken its toll on him. That afternoon, Paul got to make his third sale. A middle aged accountant purchased a Jetta TDI, a sensible choice indeed. Paul didn’t care that it wasn’t a cash cow of a car, it was a sale and it was a commission. His first commission check had been just under two grand, most of that coming from the S6. As he deposited the check, he couldn’t help but think about Karen again.

Wednesday night, Paul’s younger sister Kerri had her little friends over for a party. He usually despised being around them, but for whatever reason, she was being overly kind to him in recent weeks. He was surfing the web in his room when he heard a knock at the door. When he opened it, he found Beth, a friend of his sisters’ that he had always gotten along with. She was up to say hello, and just see what he was up to. Although she was younger, she constantly reminded him that it was only 2 years that separated them. As was to be expected, she had an ulterior motive. Beth was looking for a partner for a game of pool.

Paul followed her to the basement, noticing that she was indeed a cutie. It just seemed weird to be checking out a girl that was his sisters’ friend. He was surprised to find that the party was limited to only about eight other people, a small gathering by Kerri’s standards. Some were just chatting on the couch, others were finishing the first game of doubles on the table. Looking at the scoreboard, Paul noticed that he and Beth were next. His name was already on the board. She was planning on him playing all along.

After destroying his sister and her partner, Paul racked for the next match. His opponents were a girl named Tiffany and Kiery, a girl he hadn’t ever met. Kiery had her left arm in a sling, and what appeared to be a soft arm cast underneath. Her friends all joked that she’d be the worst player ever, as a one armed pool player probably couldn’t hit anything. It turned out to be one of the funniest things he had ever seen. Tiffany would hold the cue near the ball, just like a bridge. Kiery just gave the cue a push, and occasionally they got one near a pocket. Paul played a lousy game; just to make sure it lasted as long as possible.

He never got to talk much with her, but that was ok, arm casts weren’t exactly his thing. Fragments of the story led him to believe that she had been playing volleyball at the park, and landed funny on her arm. Nothing was broken, thankfully, but she’d be out of commission for a few weeks while the sprained tendons healed. It was enjoyable to say the least. He finally gave up the table after five games, and sat on the couch to watch for a little while longer. Beth joined him. He finally excused himself at just after one that morning, having had a pretty good time. Kerri had even enjoyed his company. One day, he’d have to ask her just what Beth’s deal really was.

Chapter 8

Paul spent the next few weeks working at the dealership, and saving each of his paychecks for whatever journey might be next. He seemed to have a great deal of success with the VW line, as the all wheel drive Audi’s were just more popular in the winter. The occasional enthusiast took advantage of the summer finance deals, and one guy had just stopped in and bought the S8 that they had sitting on the showroom floor. At just under eighty thousand, Paul thought it was just a little too pricey. Too bad he didn’t get to make that sale.

Time was just flying by, and before he knew it, it was time for the Patterson family Fourth of July party at the cottage. Paul left two days early with the beer and the food, along with his father’s Baja Boat in tow. He unloaded the boat and tied it to the dock, and then cleaned the cottage for the rest of the family’s arrival Friday morning. For once the place wouldn’t be overcrowded, as his Uncle Joe and his two little brats would be staying at the Lodge on the other side of the lake. It would be a chore for him to avoid them at all costs for the weekend.

Friday morning came only too soon, and his mom and dad had somehow managed to get his sister out of bed early enough to arrive by eleven. Much to his surprise, Beth had made the trip. Great, now he’d have to avoid his cousins AND Beth. Paul helped everyone unload their bags, and then slipped away to the boat down at the dock. Before his mom could wave him down, Paul was off.

Paul had always been an enthusiastic driver, and it showed in his choice of vehicles. His C3 was now at 382 horses, 57 more than the factory rating. The Baja was a treat to drive, and it was heard long before it was seen. Paul circled the lake twice, which took just a little more than an hour and a half. That should be plenty of time for his mom to have lunch ready. On his second pass, he made sure that he cruised by the beach a little slowed than usual, as it would be packed with vacationers in from all parts of the east coast. Who knew what was in store for the weekend.

That night, Paul took his truck into town, and somehow managed to find a parking spot within walking distance of Main Street. For some reason, it had always reminded him of downtown Lahaina in Maui, the way only a few buildings were on the water, and the opposite side was so built up. Just then he remembered the Hula Pie he had at Kimo’s restaurant only a year ago. It was by far the best family trip he had ever taken. Maybe he should have gone to school there.

Paul had done his best to dress to impress that night, but confidence was something he just never had. He knew he had game somewhere; he’d just have to find it again. He started by walking down the sidewalk that he and Kelly had been on nearly a month before. It made him think of her, and for whatever reason, he pulled out his cell phone and gave her a call. He got her voice mail, and figured she was probably out having a good time with her friends back home. “Just wanted to say hi,” was all he said, and then wished her a happy fourth. Paul felt better right then and there, and even cracked a little smile.

Ted’s Place was the local Tiki Bar, with cheap bamboo torches lighting the walkway. His ID got him in most anywhere, as it did tonight. It was warm enough that everyone was partying on the patio, which gave him enough room to make his way to the bar for a drink. Usually it would be something expensive, but Paul opted for a Corona, the 2 for 1 special that night. Liquor just didn’t sound good tonight. Not yet, anyway. After paying the bartender, who appeared as though he hadn’t missed a night since Ted’s opened, Paul made his way to the patio and sat and people watched for a little while. There, he ended up talking with two girls from Pittsburgh for a little more than an hour. They were staying at the lodge until Sunday, and maybe he might give them a call. After putting their number in his cell phone, he excused himself ad headed out for another bar.

Paul wasted little time finding someone else to chat with at the next place, a ritzy sandstone building with a beautiful salt water aquarium behind the bar. It seemed out of place among the other restaurants, and he didn’t remember seeing it before. Not a problem though, as he ordered a Pina Colada and sat down at the bar. He just watched people as they went by, and humored a very drunken girl as she tried to get him to go swimming with her. Her boyfriend didn’t seem too amused.

Just before he packed in for his fourth and final bar, his little fetish was tweaked when a girl about his age limped by. She was with a few of her friends, and leaning on two of them as she was helped into a cab. By the time he had made it outside for a closer look, the cab was gone. “I wonder…” Paul thought to himself as the car rounded the corner. Maybe he’d get lucky and see her the next day somewhere. It was a big lake, but certainly a small world.

Chapter 9

Paul welcomed the opportunity to sleep in the next morning. Around eleven, he got out of bed and took a fast shower, and then made his way downstairs for what was left over from brunch. He decided to just hang out a bit on the dock, sipping a Coke with his father and uncle, just watching the wakes toss the Baja back and fourth in the slip. It didn’t take long for the Coke to get warm, and rather then down the second half, he opted for a ride around the lake. He wasted little time cruising up to downtown, and Ted’s Place had an open docking slip off of the patio. He pulled in slowly, and was happy to see a dockhand to throw him a rope to tie down with. Breakfast hadn’t been much, so why not lunch?

The place was busy, but not so packed that he couldn’t get a seat. As he approached the hostess podium, he noticed a very pretty girl sitting on a stool behind the stand. Behind her, the tops of a pair of wooden crutches. As he got closer, she looked up and smiled, pretty blue eyes and short brown hair, and much to his surprise, it was the girl from last night. Paul smiled back, and decided he might as well chat it up while he had the chance.

“Hey there, I’m Paul. Table for one, Please.”

“Sure, Paul. The other hostess will be right back to seat you, I’m not real good at that right now,” She chuckled, and pointed over her shoulder.

“I noticed that. You weren’t at that sandstone place last night, were you?”

“Yea, as a matter of fact, that’s where it happened. My friends and I were all sitting on the fountain in the back. I had a little more to drink than usual, and decided to play ballerina on the edge. You can probably guess what happened next.’

“That’s no good,” said Paul. “Is it broken?”

“I sure hope not!” she said, and swung her small foot from behind the podium. She revealed a cute little foot with light blue toenails, and an ace wrap around what looked to be a very swollen ankle. “I have an appointment with a doctor today at two, and hopefully I’ll get good news then.”

Just then, the other hostess returned to seat Paul.

“Well, it’s been a pleasure meeting you, will you be around later?”

“I’ll be back here at five to finish off my shift. I get off around ten.”

“Well, maybe I’ll be back around this side of the lake around ten?” Paul said with a smile.

“That would be nice,” She said. “My name is Tammy, sorry I forgot to mention that earlier. Before you go, how did you know I was at the bar last night?”

“I was sitting up front when your friends helped you out.”

“I’m sorry, I was a little preoccupied to see you there,” she joked.

Paul smiled once more, and then took his seat on the patio. He could just barely see her through the window, and was just about to dive into his burger when he saw her get up from her post. She followed a woman Paul guessed to be her mother out the front door, and was clearly new to the sticks helping her across the room. She disappeared out the door, and Paul couldn’t be happier about getting to see her again that night. She had welcomed his conversation, and that puzzled him. For the longest time, he had avoided girls for fear they wouldn’t like him. Recently, they were talking to him and even going out with him. Paul decided to take it in stride, and quickly got lost in his burger.

Chapter 10

After lunch, Paul took the boat for a spin around the rest of the lake. A few parties had sprung up on docks and beaches, and the smells of barbeques and beer passed by with the wind. He arrived back at the cabin around three, changed his shirt, and then jumped in the truck and headed back toward I-95. Thirty minutes later, he arrived at the new shopping complex they had built at the interchange. His first stop was Best Buy for the new Dave Matthews CD, and SlapShot, a DVD he’d been looking for. Then he ran next door to Sam’s Club for camera film and Paper plates and plastic cups for his mother. He then piled the shopping cart full of burgers and steaks, and then hot dogs and bratwursts. A few other stops and he was done with the errands he had been sent on. Paul got back into his truck and headed back toward the lake.

It would prove to be a very beneficial trip for Paul, as he missed the massive cleaning his mother had planned for the cottage. Upon his return, he found his father and sister complaining heavily about his absence. Paul unloaded the groceries into the kitchen, but much to his dismay, got corralled into fixing up the upstairs loft. That night would be the first of three sequential barbeques at the cottage. Tonight, it would be just the family. The next, his father’s friends from around the lake would pack the patio and beach in front of the house. On Monday, friends of the family would arrive from the city for a huge party in celebration of the fourth.

Paul tried to take a nap before the party began, but it wasn’t ten minutes into his attempt that he was called downstairs to fire up the grill and get the party underway. Much to his surprise, a few guests had already arrived, including his uncle and cousins. On the patio, Paul ran into Beth, who had decided to be his personal assistant for the evening. Although she could be really annoying, he decided he could use the company and the help. He almost felt bad for Kerri, who had been detained by their mother to rinse and chop veggies.

Paul made the best of dinner, and actually sat and ate on the dock with Kerri and Beth, who were both quite happy to be away from the relative ruckus up at the cabin. The three talked about what was on tap for the rest of the weekend, and after some hesitation, Paul agreed to take the two of them across the lake to a party on the public beach, where they would surely find people their age.

Shortly after cleanup, Paul and the two girls loaded up into the truck and headed around the lake. As much as he wanted to take the Baja, he knew that it would be tough to find a place to dock it. He dropped the girls off at the beach at just after 8:30, and despite Beth’s persistent pleas to join them, he continued on into town. He had a date. Kinda. Parking turned out to be quite a challenge that night, as more and more people poured into the normally sleepy little town. He finally found a vacant spot just across from the park. Lucky for him, the parking meters were free after nine.

Tammy wouldn’t be off for an hour or so, and so he decided to begin at Nikko’s. It was a small little place on the corner near the park. Bud’s were 2 for 1, but the place was pretty nasty. Paul finished his first beer, but left the second on the table and made his way out the door. He wasn’t too disappointed to be leaving. It was only a quarter after, so he decided to do a little people watching in the park. He bought a soda from a street vendor, and then caught a seat on a bench across from the one he and Kelly had shared only a month earlier. He wanted to call her again, but knew not to press his luck.

Paul simply sat for a while, just watching the people as they passed by. He saw a few cuties walking by with friends, boyfriends and girlfriends, and older couples, each enjoying the evening. One girl that caught his eye was with a group of three friends, each giggling and wandering towards the bars just down the street. On her right arm was a bright red sac, covered with signatures and drawings, and it appeared to have been well used. She seemed unaware of the cast, but it was certainly fun to watch as she walked by. It certainly got Paul’s gears turning.

At 9:45, Paul got up and made his way across the park and headed down the road to Ted’s. Along the way, he ran into the two girls from Pittsburgh he had spoken with the night before. They were curious why he hadn’t called, but his elaboration on the party he catered for his mother smoothed over the conversation. They were still eager to see him, and maybe they could spend some time together the next day. Paul said yes, and then cut the conversation sort to make sure he got to Ted’s in time.

He got to the restaurant just before ten, and was happy to see Tammy behind the stand, as she had been earlier that afternoon. She looked up and smiled when she saw him, and waved him over.

“Well well, it’s certainly a nice surprise to see you here! I would have thought you would have forgotten about me.” She handed the other hostess two menus for the next party, and apologized for not being able to do her share. It didn’t seem to be bothering the other girl, who would be enjoying the extra tips at the end of the night. Tammy pulled Paul aside again, and told him that she would be off in just a few minutes, and if he’d just wait outside, she’d meet him out there. Paul was happy to oblige.

Just about ten minutes later, Paul could see her silhouette through the etched glass in the front doors. He jumped off the brick wall and ran to open the door for her. She slowly crutched through the doorway, smiling and saying thank you. She was wearing a white Ted’s polo t-shirt and jeans, with a Nike runner on her good foot and a heavily padded soft cast on her left. She noticed Paul looking down at her foot, and proudly held it out in front of her for him to see. It was off white, and appeared to be a half of a plaster slc, heavily padded and secured with a white wrapping.

“The doctor said it’s something along the lines of a third degree sprain. He thinks there might be a hairline fracture low in the tibia bone though. I have an MRI scan scheduled for Tuesday morning, to find out just how bad it is in there, but the doctor said I should get used to crutches cause I’ll probably be on them for a while.” She truly sounded bummed.

“That’s really a bummer, I’m sorry to hear that,” said Paul. “We’ll make the best of it, for tonight at least.” Oh boy… he thought.

“I’m up for some fun, but the drugs he gave me say I can’t operate any heavy machinery!” she joked. “Come on, lets go over to the Lake House, they have wicked margaritas, and I know the bartender. He’ll hook us up for sure!” Without hesitation, Tammy began her slow but steady pace down the sidewalk. She was noticeably more coordinated then she had been that afternoon, due no doubt to the practice she had throughout the day. Along the way, Tammy talked about growing up in the small resort community, and Paul wasn’t sure how he had missed that she was a local the fist time he met her.

Tammy turned out to be a year older than Paul, but still underage by a few months. It didn’t seem to be a problem though, as she knew the bouncer at the door who let them in without cover. They made their way to the bar, where each ordered the Magellan Special, a house specialty margarita. Tammy joked with Paul about not being able to carry the drinks, but insisted that he follow her out onto the deck overlooking the lake. It seemed as though every restaurant had one. They settled into a small table barely big enough for two, and after helping her into her seat, Paul sat down with the drinks.

“So, I’m supposed to elevate this while I’m sitting down, is it ok if I use your leg?” She was a playful little thing, and obviously wasn’t shy about flirting with Paul. The pain killers were probably talking as well.

“I’m so glad that we were able to get together tonight. I’m afraid my friends move a little too fast for me right now.” “I’m really trying to get a grasp on what’s happened with the whole ankle thing, I was up for the next waitress position at Ted’s, and now it looks like I’ll be stuck behind the host’s desk for the rest of the summer. Kinda bums me out, ya know?”

“No kidding,” said Paul, realizing he had glanced down at her little foot again. “Tell me about your plans for after this summer.”

“Well, after graduating last year, I took a year off of school to save money for college. I worked at my father’s real estate office for the first six months, and then decided to go over to Ted’s to make some extra money waiting tables. After the summer is over, I’m going to move to Pembroke, N.C., where I have a partial scholarship for art waiting for me at UNC.”

Tammy talked as much as she listened, and Paul thoroughly enjoyed her company. Before he knew it, it was pushing 12:30. Then 1:30. Tammy hadn’t had much of the margarita, realizing that it wasn’t going to mix well with the drugs. Or at least they wouldn’t in the morning. Around 1:45, the bartender announced last call, and Tammy decided it was time to go. She was flattered by Paul’s offer to bring the truck around front to take her home. She had called her mother before she left Ted’s, and let her know she would have a ride home. Normally she would have a car, but her Neon was a stick, negating any operation for the next few months. She was waiting out front when Paul pulled in. The whole ride home, Tammy razzed Paul about the nice vehicle he drove. Usually he was defensive, but not tonight. It had been too much fun.

As they pulled into her driveway, she looked over and smiled that wonderful smile again. Paul got out and handed her crutches to her, as he had intentionally placed them behind the seat where she couldn’t get them. She jumped down and steadied herself on his shoulder, and then took the crutches under her arms.

“I have tomorrow afternoon off, and thought maybe I could treat you to lunch,” said Tammy. “If you don’t have any plans, that is.”

“I’d love to. When and where?”

“Meet me here at twelve thirty, and we’ll go from there. Or here, I guess.”

“Sounds good to me, g’night cutie.”

Oops… did I really just call her cutie?

“And goodnight to you, Paulie!”

With that, Tammy gave him a firm hug and a kiss on the cheek, and then she crutched her way inside, gingerly holding her foot up behind her. She must have been in pain that night, but had stuck it out just to see him. Cool Beans. Paul drove home with a smile on his face, wondering what fun might be in store for the next day.

Chapter 11

The next morning, Paul got up it time to fulfill his commitment to take Kerri and Beth water skiing before the rest of the lake was out. The water was smooth as glass, and he could actually admit to having a pretty good time with his sister. When he got back to the dock, his uncle and four of his cousins were waiting for a ride. Paul knew better than to trust his uncle driving the boat, and so he continued to make laps around the lake. Finally, just before twelve, his father gave him a reprieve from trying to get his cousin Will up on skis. He didn’t think the kid would ever water ski.

Paul went up to the cabin and snuck into the shower. A quick shave and some hair gel, and then back upstairs to get ready for lunch. His mom was disappointed that he wouldn’t be eating with the family, but his dad didn’t seem to mind. Paul excused himself from all the rest of the days activities, and headed for town. He had taken a little too long in the shower, but a few minutes late wouldn’t make that big of a deal.

Somehow, Paul managed to find Tammy’s place again. I had to have been pure luck though, as she lived about ten minutes into the forest that backs to the town. As he pulled into the driveway, he noticed her sitting on the bench just outside the front door. He jumped out of the truck, and was greeted by a beautiful smile and a hug. She was wearing a cute little white tank top and jeans, with a Birkenstock on her good foot and the soft cast still exposed on the other. Boy she had cute little feet. He helped her into the truck, and the two headed off for lunch.

She navigated Paul to the north end of the lake, where a small restaurant hid in the trees just off of the road. The parking lot was full, but every car had a local license plate. The two got inside, where Tammy gave the hostess a big hug. It turned out to be her aunt, and also her aunts’ restaurant. Everybody did know everybody around here, something Paul had never known in the city. They ate and ate, and then were joined by Tammy’s aunt Kathy, who hadn’t yet heard about Tammy’s misfortune. Kathy was happy to buy her niece and her new friend lunch, but Paul made sure that he tipped the waitress very well. After lunch, Tammy asked Paul what he wanted to do for the rest of the day. He hadn’t any plans, and so she again navigated him to a point on the lake that was clearly a place only locals knew about.

After parking the truck, Paul and Tammy made their way up a heavily worn trail through a small cluster of trees, and found themselves on an edge overlooking the lake. Paul had brought a small blanket from the back of the truck, the same he had covered the crutches with. She was pretty good all all-terrain crutching, even though it was slow going. The two grabbed a seat on a patch of grass, and Paul held her for a while before she started to speak.

“Paul, I’m so happy to be here with you right now. My dating history since high school hasn’t been all that great, but …” her voice just trailed off.

“What is it?”

“I’m just sad that you’ll be leaving after this weekend. I’ll probably never get to see you again.”

“That’s not true. I actually enjoy coming up here by myself during the weekends. The drive is easy, and the cabin is perfect for a guy to get away in. I’ll be back up here soon, maybe even next weekend.”

“You’ll really come back? No one ever does.”

“Sure I will. I look forward to it.”

She seemed content with his words, and just sort of snuggled up to him. Paul soon found himself playing with her hair, and before long, the two were engaged in a long kiss he never wanted to end. He slowly explored her body with his hands, and she did some of the same. Paul hadn’t made out since early in high school. This was fun, he thought, and he wondered why he didn’t do it more often. The two enjoyed the moment for a while, and then she sat backwards and placed her feet in his lap. Paul had guessed she had caught on to his little feet thing, given that he had been caught peeking a few times. Paul spent some time massaging her good foot, and then played with each her toes on her casted foot. They were still pink and swollen, and he quit after only a few minutes, returning to the other foot. It was mutually enjoyable.

Paul and Tammy got to talking about all different kinds of things, and he was pleased to find they had a number of things in common. She was also really bummed about what was left of the summer, given that she wasn’t going to be able to enjoy the beach or Six Flags. Paul said he would make it a good summer for her, but had no real idea just how he could do that.

As the sun started to go down behind the mountains, Paul gave her another kiss. He helped her to her feet, and then on a whim picked her up and carried her back down the trail. She laughed the whole way down. Once she was in the truck, he returned to the clearing for her crutches and the blanket. It had been an afternoon worth remembering.

“So, what’s planned for the rest of our evening?” asked Tammy as Paul coasted down toward town.

“I have to make an appearance at my family’s party, but other than that, I am open for whatever you have in mind.”

“Well, my friend Jessica is having a party at her place, and I said I would stop by. Would you be willing to do that with me?”

“Sure, sounds good to me. How about I drop you off at your place, I’ll run home and say hello to everyone, and then I’ll be back to get you for the night. Sound ok?”

“Absolutely, but remember, don’t get all dressed up. Us country hicks can party pretty well, but fashion isn’t a strong point!” She giggled.

“All right, what are you going to wear?”

“I’ll probably put on a warmer shirt or maybe a sweatshirt, but that’s about all.”

“OK. I promise I won’t embarrass you.”

Chapter 12

Paul dropped her off just after seven, and then made a mad dash for home. When he arrived, he was relieved they hadn’t eaten yet. His mom would surely have killed him if he missed dinner. After a quick burger and some necessary schmoozing with some of the corporate suits his father had invited, Paul grabbed a coat and quietly slipped out the door and headed for Tammy’s house. The drive into town was getting shorter every time, but enjoyable nonetheless. Paul arrived at her house at eight thirty, but for whatever reason, was nervous about knocking on the door.

It took a few seconds for her to answer, and after she invited him in, she awkwardly hopped barefoot across the room, motioning for him to follow. Down the hall was her room, where she finally got to her crutches leaning against her closet door.

“Have a seat there, stud. I’ll be ready in just a minute or two. I’m in the process of re-inventing my crutches. I’ve been hopping around the house since you dropped me off.” She had taken two small towels and wrapped them around the top pads of her crutches. “I wanted to make them a little more comfortable, those things hurt after a while!”

“If it hurts under your arms, then you aren’t doing it totally right. Did the doctor show you how to use them?”

“No, my mom had then from a while back, and brought them in to me the morning after it happened. I just kinda fumbled around on them until I got it.”

“Well,” said Paul, “when you use these, it’s best if you put most of your weight on your hands, and as little as possible on your under arms. That way can cause more problems.” Paul gave her a quick demonstration.

“Like this?” she said as she grabbed them and began practicing around the room.

“Yea, just like that. It’s certainly more of a workout, but it is much easier on the armpits.”

“So, how did you know about this, mister?”

“Oh, I’ve been known to be a little klutzy on occasion. Weak ankles, you know.”

“I see. It happens, I guess. It just never used to happen to me, this is my first real injury. I’m just glad I have you here to help me out!” She rested her crutches back down next to him on the bed, and continued hopping around the room. First to her closet for a lightweight jacket, which she threw on Paul’s head. Then she made her way over to a dresser, where she dug out a gray wool rag sock. She sat down next to him and pulled the sock onto her good foot, and then stood up, using Paul as an anchor. He loved every minute as he helped her on to her crutches, and then the two made their way toward the front door. She slipped on her Birkenstock sandal, crutched through the doorway, and then spun in perfect form to lock the door. She was as much fun to watch on crutches as she was hopping around the house. She looked back over her shoulder with a smile, and said that she was finally ready to go. Paul was doing his very best to hide his excitement.

Chapter 13

They made their entrance at just a little after nine, and the party was in full swing. It took the two nearly a half hour to get to the back patio where the deck was, as everyone wanted to know what had happened to Tammy, and then who her date was for the evening. Paul finally got drinks for them, and then he made a coupe guys no one seemed to know move from the porch swing so she could sit down. Jessica joined them on the end of the swing, and the three sat and talked for quite a while. Paul thought he heard her whisper to Tammy the she approved. Once Jess got up to socialize with her friends, another one of Tammy’s friends sat down. It went on like this in sequence for at least an hour.

Once the traffic finally subsided, Tammy stretched out across the swing, with her head at one end and her feet across Paul’s lap. Once again, he didn’t protest. Her casted foot was cold as ice, and he was surprised she hadn’t mentioned it. She said that her feet often got cold, but she hadn’t noticed it. Paul tucked it under his coat, and then moved on to the other foot. He slipped off her sandal and gently rubbed her toes through the sock, and was surprised that she would let him do that if front of her friends. She didn’t care what they though. She was so happy to be with him, it didn’t matter if anyone else was looking.

They talked with a number of other people, and just before 12:30am, Paul and Tammy made their way back to the truck. She was really tired by now, and moaned and groaned about having to climb “all the way” up into his truck again. They shared a laugh, and then left for her house. In the driveway, Paul eased her out of the truck and onto her crutches. They shared a kiss on the porch, but Tammy knew her parents were home, and probably wouldn’t approve of her bringing a guy they hadn’t met in for coffee. She smiled one last time before closing the door, something he would always remember.

The whole way home, all her could think about was her. They had so much fun together, but what could he do to make tomorrow special? He would have to go to the party at his place, but maybe he could sneak away after dinner to watch the fireworks somewhere.

He pulled in at just before one, and it appeared as though everyone was asleep. He grabbed a brew from the fridge and went out to the patio. Just as he was climbing into the hammock, Beth came out the door.

“You startled me when you came in,” she said. “I just can’t sleep tonight. Would it be ok if I joined you for a while?”

“Sure, why not?”

Beth didn’t hesitate. She crawled into the hammock with him, and curled up against his side. Paul didn’t know just what to say. She spoke before he could protest.

“Paul, I’m crazy about you,” she said, with more than a hint of alcohol on her breath. “I know you think I’m just a little kid, but I’m really not. Gimme a chance Paul, Please?”

“Beth, you’re a sweetheart and you know it. But two things, one being that you’re my sisters’ friend, and you know I’ll be off to college in August.”

“But Paul…” she started, but he knew to cut her off.

“How about I make you a promise?” Paul thought a minute, and then said “If after my first year of college you don’t have a boyfriend and I don’t have a girlfriend, we’ll hook up and see what happens. Will that work?”

“I don’t want to wait, but I guess. Whatever, you know?”

“Alright then,” he said, relieved that she would let it go. He let her stay with him until he finished his beer, and then woke her up to go to bed. He made his way up to his bed for the night, his mind replaying Tammy as she hopped here and there, her now beautiful crutching style, that little socked foot in his lap, and finally her smile as she closed the door. What a weekend.

Chapter 14

Monday morning was the Fourth of July. Man, did he ever love three day weekends. Paul thought he was up early, but was surprised to find that most of his family was already up and getting ready for whatever they had planned for the day. He had to wait a while for the shower, but the hot water was a good wake up call. After the shower, Paul’s mother asked him if he would run into town to pick up a few more things for the final party of the evening. The guest list was now officially at 36, and 37 if Tammy accepted his invitation for the night. Paul made the run to the market, which was already picked clean from other last minute shoppers. He was lucky that most of the things on the list were not food related, and was able to find all but a couple things on the shelves.

After carrying in the bags from the car, Paul dialed Tammy’s place to see what she was up to. Her dad, or so he guessed, told him that she was just now taking a bath, and that he would have her call as soon as she was done. Paul unpacked the load he had just carried in, and thought to himself that it was amazing just how much stuff a family could pack into the small cabin. As he put the final bag of tortilla chips in the closet, his cell phone buzzed him from his back pocket.

The text message simply read “Thinking of you”. The message was sent by Kelly, much to his delight. He put the phone back in his pocket just in time for it to ring, and on the other end was Tammy.

“Hey there, my dad said that you called while I was in taking a bath. Are you going to have time to get together today?”

“Yea,” said Paul, “I got to thinking, I’d really like to have you come to our party with me tonight, if that would be possible.”

“Sure, I’d love to come. I do have stop by my aunts, you know, Kathy from the other day? She’s having a party starting at two, and my family always goes. But I’m sure it won’t be a big deal if I skip out after a while. Is this thing at your place a big deal?”

“Well, um, you see, my dad likes to make a big production out of the parties he throws. There will probably be about 40 people there, give or take.”

“I’m ok with big crowds, I guess. Life of the party, right?” she giggled.

“I think you’ll have a good time, and most of my family is pretty cool. What time are you leaving for your aunts’ place?”

“We are usually moving about two thirty or so, fashionably late as my mom likes to call it.”

“How about I meet you at your place around quarter of two. Do I need to bring anything?”

“Bring a Frisbee or something we can toss around,” she cracked herself up. Paul laughed a bit too.

“Alright, I’ll see you in an hour.”

As Paul closed his phone, he wondered if he should be nervous about meeting her parents. “Nah,” he thought out loud, parents always seemed to love him. The trick was getting the girl to do the same. With forty minutes to kill, he decided to see what Kerri and Beth were up to. He found them tanning on the beach, which had been the only place they ever were. He sat down and chatted with them a little bit, and wondered if Beth would feel awkward about the previous night. She either didn’t remember, or wasn’t the least bit embarrassed about her drunken confession.

He was interrupted by a yell from his father, who had somehow managed to loose all sound from the stereo while adding a CD to the player. Paul ran up to the house, and after pressing one button and flipping another switch, managed to restore audio to the cottage. “Cursed machine” was the thanks he got from his father, who mumbled a few other phrases about the damned CD player as he went back to the kitchen. With another twenty minutes to kill, Paul told his mom where he was going, and assured her he would be back in time for dinner and the rest of the party. He also mentioned Tammy, which excited his mother. She hadn’t stopped asking about her since he first mentioned her.

Paul drove out towards the highway, where the only car wash in the county was. A quick rinse, and the black beauty that was his truck was shining once again. He pulled into Tammy’s driveway at almost exactly 1:45, punctual as always. He sat in the car for a minute, letting “How do you like me now?” from Toby Keith finish before making his way to her front door.

Butterflies filled his stomach as he knocked on the door, and it was promptly answered by Tammy’s Father. James was a tall and thin man of 50 or so, Paul guessed. He made his living as one of only four real estate agents in the resort community, as the office he worked for had purchased all of the available property in the seventies when it became available through a government land trade. He and his wife made a comfortable living for the three of them. He grinned and offered a handshake toward Paul, which he happily met.

“Come on in, Paul. It’s nice to meet you. Tammy was pretty excited that you would be joining us tonight; she’ll be along eventually. Hopefully her mother will as well. Women, right? Can I get you a Coke?”

“Sure, I’d love one. Thanks.”

Paul grabbed a seat on the couch, and joined her father in a cold beverage. He was a pretty friendly guy, and didn’t seem to be analyzing Paul like had happened before. He was probably smarter than he looked, though. Parents were never the problem. Mom and dad always loved Paul. Some time later, they were joined by Tammy’s mother Joan. She was the obvious source of Tammy’s beauty, as the two could almost pass for one another. As he introduced himself, Tammy came crutching down the hall.

“Alright, Alright, I know I’m the slacker this time. I’m ready to go now, I hope we aren’t too late.”

“Naw,” said James, “We’ll be just in time for the appetizer plates. Lets hope we get there in time for what’s left of Sandy’s salsa dip. You two follow behind us, so you can leave when its time.”

“Right behind you, dad.”

James and Joan picked up the two beer boxes full of food that they had prepared for the party, and made their way out to the family minivan. Paul hated minivans. He looked back at Tammy who was fiddling with the zipper on the little coat she had covering a low cut UNC t-shirt. She was also wearing dark blue jeans and a Nike runner, and a white cotton sock over her cast. Paul did a double check to see that both her parents were still loading the car, and then gave her a quick kiss. He held the door for her and then closed it behind her, and then helped her into his truck. Her dad was getting anxious at the end of the driveway, so he made an effort to speed up the process.

“On the road again, right?” he said as they drove back out on the two lane that connected her house to the rest of society. “You look awesome tonight. What’s with the sock on your cast?”

“Other than the warmth part, when you and I were out last night, I got a damned mosquito bite right between my toes. It itched all night, and was almost impossible to scratch. It finally quit this morning, and I’m not gonna deal with that again. You should have seen it; my dad was trying to help and ended up bumping my foot, and on and on. You get the picture. You still gonna go out with this dork?”

“Sure I am,” said Paul. “Your feet are adorable, even with socks.” Oh man, that came out quick.

“Ah ha!” she chirped. “I just knew it. You have a feet thing, don’t you?”

“Something like that.” He knew his face was red.

“That’s ok. I knew another guy that was the same way. He was a little more subtle about it though. But no foot rubs in front of the family, ok? Just stick to hugs, and we won’t be flooded by questions from my annoying relatives. They’ll probably refer to you as my boyfriend, I hope that doesn’t bother you?”

“That’s ok, cause you get to be my girlfriend at my party. My mom wants to meet you and will probably ask you a million questions. The others probably will too. But no worries, we’ll make it through.”

They were quiet for the rest of the ride, which didn’t last long. Everyone seemed to live so close to one another here. Her aunt’s house was well manicured, and backed directly into the national forest. It was small, but had plenty of deck space for a party. They also had the biggest BBQ Grill Paul had ever seen. He talked Tammy through crutching up her first set of stairs, and then they grabbed a seat at one of the tables set up near the coolers. James tossed him two beers, one for each of them. The second exploded all over his face as he opened it, drawing the attention of every guest at the party. Embarrassed and soaked, Paul followed Aunt Kathy into the house for a towel and a rinse.

She was happy that Paul had come to the party, and said that Tammy talked about him, which was good news. When they returned, Paul followed Kathy around the party, meeting aunts and uncles and cousins from all over the state. Most were pleasant, with the exception of a guy named Bill. He was facing away from everyone and watching a baseball game on a tiny hand held TV in his lap. He grumbled a hello, but didn’t turn away. Kathy said that Bill was always an unpleasant prick when his Braves were losing, just loud enough for anyone close by to hear. Everybody but Bill got a good laugh out of it.

Paul finally met back up with Tammy, who was frequently being visited by various members of the family. By now, everyone had heard about the accident, but it was still the topic of discussion. It didn’t go unnoticed to Paul that people with a cast or crutches always drew additional attention. He sat next to her and finally got to crack open another beer, this one being less lethal than the first. They sat and chatted with people, and then for a while with her parents. Paul was well received, and she thought maybe he was having a good time. Lunch was served at three, and Paul made sure to eat light since he’d be eating at his parents place in just a few hours. Tammy did the same, without making it too obvious. She followed him to the food table, hopping behind him as he filled a plate for each of them. After dinner, they relaxed a bit and chatted it up with Aunt Kathy and Joan.

At 4:15, Paul whispered that they should get going to the next party, to keep his parents happy. She got up and they made their rounds one more time, saying goodbye and thanks for the party. He had actually had a very good time. Paul coached her back down the stairs, but didn’t really need to. She was well coordinated on her crutches now, and kept up with anyone else with no effort. One last honk of the horn for thank you, and they were off to the next party of the evening.

Chapter 15

Paul took the drive nice and slow to his place, with Tammy mentioning a few of the other local dives along the way. She looked so beautiful, he couldn’t believe she’d be going to the party as his date. His relatives would certainly take notice. Once he got to the driveway, he was surprised to find so many cars already there. He had to run over a few bushes to get by, but Paul was determined to have a spot near the front of the house. It would also be easier for his date. They made their way through the back door into the kitchen, where the introductions immediately began. Aunt so-and-so and Cousin what’s-his-name all had to say hello and meet Tammy.

“Hey Paul,” whispered Tammy in his ear, “Could I get some water, it’s time for me to take my pills and my foot is starting to get sore.”

“Sure thing,” he said.

Paul slipped by to the fridge and got a bottle of water, and then took Tammy through to the front porch. He was more than happy to kick his bratty cousins off of the swing. He helped her sit down, took her crutches and put them under the swing, and the cuddled up near her. After she swallowed her meds, she swung sideways to elevate her foot on his legs. Her other leg hung down in between his own. Paul’s mom sure thought they made a cute couple as she snuck a couple pictures from the other end of the porch. It was all he could do to keep his hand off of that little foot in his lap.

Paul and Tammy talked and laughed, and socialized with the mob that had gathered at his place. It was almost eight when they ate again, both were still slightly full from the last party. Paul knew he still had about 45 minutes until sundown, and was trying to figure out a place to go watch the fireworks. The place she had taken him would be too hard to get to in the dark, and was too far from the park anyway. Just then, Paul had an idea.

After seeking permission from his father, Paul went up and scooped Tammy up in his arms and carried her down to the dock. He helped her slowly climb into the Baja, and then went back up to the house. When he returned, he had a bag thrown over his shoulder. Tammy looked inside as they pulled away, finding a blanket on the top. Paul turned on the lights and slowly cruised to a cove that went back into the hills that bordered the western edge of the lake. Paul had seen the fireworks from behind the hill once before, when he was younger. A group of kids had gathered on a pontoon boat and anchored half way up the narrow channel. It would be perfect.

“We’ll be going up this channel, and we’ll watch the fireworks from there. I left your crutches back at the house, I don’t think you’ll need them.”

She had a wonderful smile across her face as she pulled the blanket from the bag and stretched out across the seat in the back. Paul kept it slow as they made their way up the cove. It wasn’t crowded, but a few boats had discovered the spot. Paul slowed, and then dropped the anchor off of the front of the boat just fifteen feet from shore. It would be a perfect spot.

Paul dug into the bag to reveal yet another blanket, which he spread out across the spacious floor of the boat. Then he went for a bottle of wine he stole from the cabin, and two plastic glasses. After pouring each of them a glass, he wedged in behind her and began rubbing her neck. His thoughts were wandering, from her feet to her body, and their light conversation seemed to be just the right touch. Paul was in heaven, but she was the first to admit it.

As the dark of night drew steadily closer, the bottle grew lighter, and Paul and Tammy got closer to one another. They slowly made their way to the floor of the boat, now kissing softly and caressing one another. Paul remover her Nike and then his own, and then pulled the other blanket on top of them. Paul pulled back gently, and looked deep into her eyes. She stared back with a calm expression, and then nodded to tell him this was ok.

He was nervous, having never actually felt the way he did right now. His hands slowly made their way to her little jacket, unzipping it and taking it off of her shoulders. She returned the gesture, unbuttoning his shirt to reveal a surprisingly muscular figure. Paul wasn’t ripped, but was in shape enough. He lightly touched her breasts, and then they returned to kissing some more. Paul took his time, making sure not to rush anything. His hands explored every inch of her body, drawing a slight giggle from a spot just below her belly button. As he raised up to remove his shirt, she took off hers revealing her beautiful breasts. Each was shapely and firm, a perfect accent to her small frame. Paul asked about her comfort and specifically her ankle, but Tammy was feeling too wonderful to hurt.

Both were startled by the test shot fired to check the wind, and soon the fireworks would begin. Tammy and Paul were so close now, but he still felt he should ask. Tammy again gave him her confident smile, and Paul went back to the bag for a condom. As the jeans came off, the moment grew tenser. Paul was making Tammy feel as she had never felt before, and she was nearly ready. It was a moment of pure bliss as the fireworks began, and Paul entered her in one gentle motion. The two rocked back and fourth with the motion of the boat, as the blues and whites of the fireworks lit her eyes to show the passion she felt. Paul felt as though the two had been destined for this moment. Her quiet sounds were muffled by the noise of the fireworks, but Paul could feel her body moving simultaneously with his. The fireworks lasted nearly fifteen minutes, and Paul did his best to make it to the finally. As the display ended with a bang, the two had a magical moment of their own.

Shortly after, Paul and Tammy cuddled under the blanket. He could feel her heart beat slowing as her bare chest rested against his. He lightly rubbed her body and kissed her again, but said nothing. He also allowed his toes to lightly rub her socked cast. For nearly an hour, Paul held her close. He had had sex before, but now Paul thought he knew what it was like to make love to someone.

The two coasted back into the dock at just after 12:00, greeting only a few of the last of the departing guests. With what was left of his strength, Paul carried Tammy back up to the porch, and placed her in the hammock. It seemed like the perfect place to finish such a magical evening. He looked through the big bay window as his father closed the curtains. His dad just gave him a smile and a nod, and then vanished behind the shade. Paul grimaced like a little kid. He made his way back to the boat for the two blankets, making sure to grab the wine bottle as well. Soon, he and Tammy were nestled tightly in the hammock. Paul gently stroked her hair until she fell asleep, and it wasn’t more than a few minutes before Paul crashed too. The air was warm and the humidity low. Paul was truly in heaven.

To be continued....


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