* * * 
The white BMW X5 slowed, stopped to wait for the traffic to clear, then quickly turned left onto the short causeway that led to Whitworth Island. Slowing again, it turned right into the gravel parking area and pulled into the first available spot closest to the dune. It stopped, and the engine shut off.

Inside, Wilma carefully picked up the rather large canvas bag she had brought, checked the surprisingly modest bikini she had worn, which didn’t matter that much anyway, slipped off the very gauzy and nearly transparent cover-up she had worn while driving, and stepped out of the car. She locked the doors and put the car keys, as she still called them even though they were annoyingly all electronic, carefully into the little pocket with the zipper that was on the inside of the bag. It annoyed her to have to keep reaching into the bag and undoing the zipper, so she left it unzipped. She crunched through the gravel till she reached the steps that carried her up over the dune. Her flip-flop caught on the top step, throwing her forward, and her frantic grab of the handrail was the only thing that saved her from a rather embarrassing tumble down the far side. Luckily, the flying bag had not spewed out any of its contents and she was able to go down the steps on that far side, gather up the bag and hope her plight had been a private one.

But the incident pissed her off no end since the people who owned the island should realize that people would be wearing flip-flops and climbing steps in them wasn’t easy. It was just simple common sense — she hated the lack of common sense in anyone, and particularly in a business. She made a mental note to contact them during the next week about doing something to fix that if only cutting a notch through the dune, which she suspected might be illegal. Just something so you didn’t have to use the steps. Ramps, maybe, anything! She hated to have her day ruined, or nearly ruined at least, by plain stupidity.

At the small kiosk, still slightly shaken, she paused, took a small plastic card from the unzipped pocket, and angrily jammed it into the card reader. In an instant, it buzzed, a green light turned on, and she could hear the gate unlatch. She jerked the card out of the reader and stuck it back in the little pocket.

She pushed the gate open, hoping what had happened wasn’t a bad omen for her Saturday, stepped inside, and bent to take off her offending flip-flops, as she loved walking barefoot through the soft sand, even though it was a little hot already today. She would have to step lively to keep from burning her feet. She passed the concession stand and forced a smile at the girl behind the counter, knowing she’d almost certainly be back to see her a little later. Ahead of her stretched a lot of soft sand, and, further down toward the ocean, the now bare and hard sand of the low-tide exposed beach. And, there were people, of course. Not as many people as were there some Saturdays which was fine with her, although sometimes she actually enjoyed the larger crowd. A short walk and she selected a spot, took her towel from the bag and spread it carefully on the sand, and sat down. She sighed, and reached around behind her, untying the straps holding the bikini top in place. She let the two shoulder straps slide down her arms, then took the top and folded it neatly before stowing it carefully in the bag.

Wilma was on WI1, as it was called, the first section of Whitworth Island and beach. It was generally referred to as “clothing optional,” but that was a little bit of a euphemism as what it actually meant was women were allowed to be topless there. Actually, there was really no “clothing optional” area as WI2 was totally nude as was, of course, WI3, where she had never been. But she was content right here for a while, letting the sun beat down on her body, and particularly her breasts.

Since it was a sweltering day, she didn’t want her shoulder-length, fairly dark brunette hair touching her shoulders, so she gathered it together high up on the back of her head, took the elastic band from the bag, and snugged it around the hair making a cute little ponytail. Next came the sunscreen, which she applied fairly liberally to every bit of skin that showed, particularly to her breasts which she knew were nice but certainly not spectacular. However they were, they didn’t get quite as much time out in the light as most of the rest of her. Despite her trying to be as careful as possible, as she brushed over her nipples, they immediately sprang to life, as they often did. Here, that was okay, but other times she had to be a little more careful as they could almost have a mind of their own. When she was at work, that could be a problem for sure. She also hated smelling like coconut, so her sunscreen was odorless and didn’t mask the aroma of the cologne she loved to wear. And, sitting there glistening like she knew she was doing only made her more watchable, and she did like being watched. Later she was sure she’d move to WI2, where she’d have to use a little more sunscreen, but she was satisfied just to relax here now. She might get a snack and something to drink before she’d move. So, best to stay put for a while. She tightened the band on the ponytail one more time.

She heard the voice before she saw the speaker and was annoyed even before she turned her head.

“Hey, babe. You here by yourself?”

When she looked, there were two of them, smug smiles on both faces, each looking too predatorial for her Saturday morning.

She looked from one to the other.

“Yep, and going to stay that way too.” The cold look in her eyes left no doubt as to the seriousness of her response.

“Bitch,” one snapped at her as they walked away.

She’d been called a bitch before, but it was usually in her work environment. She had to smile when they were out of sight. She had wanted to say “assholes” in her response but had managed to hold back.

Sighing, she lay back on the towel, her arms straight out from her sides, her legs spread just enough to be a little alluring without actually showing anything just yet. The warmth of the sun, the feel of the gentle sea-breeze, and the faint murmur of voices were very relaxing, something she needed on her Saturdays, particularly after her brief “incident.”

She lay that way for maybe 10 minutes before she decided to sit up and do a little people watching herself. It was always interesting to see the topless women and, of course, compare a little but mostly just fantasize about who and what they were and why they were here. She’d always enjoyed trying to figure out and understand people and had found, over time, that she was pretty good at it. Here, all she had was what she could see, but she still enjoyed the speculating. She did the same at airports, just here, there were a lot fewer clothes, and it was a lot more fun.

Still amused by her game, she tightened the band on the ponytail one more time when she became aware of a male figure that seemed to be heading straight for her. Her body tensed, and “not again” echoed in her brain. She didn’t need two incidents on the same day, and “asshole” was still resting on the tip of her tongue. She was here to be seen and not to be bothered, damn it. But continue on, he had, and now he was stopped right in front of her.

“Hi,” he said, a huge smile on his face. A smile that not only took in his whole face but that came at her from his eyes as well.

Despite what her brain was telling her and that word that was on the tip of her tongue, she actually couldn’t help being drawn to the smile as it was surprisingly warm and just friendly looking.

“Hi,” she replied, a lot brighter than she had intended to.

“I noticed you over here,” he began and kind of half-chuckled since obviously she was here to be noticed.

She smiled in acknowledgment. This was much better than the “Hey babe” she had gotten before. Still wary, but now curious as well.

He continued, “and you’re by yourself, and I waited a while to see if anyone was going to join you.” Then he put his hands up in that “I didn’t do it” gesture. “I’m here by myself too and . . . ,” he stammered slightly, “I just, you know, thought it might be fun to sit and maybe talk some, and stuff.” He raised his eyebrows in a question.

And stuff? What was “and stuff”? She felt a little more comfortable, but her antennae were still up and operating. Of course, she couldn’t help but be curious as to why a guy, by himself, was at a topless beach, but the answer seemed fairly obvious. If they were on WI2, he would have had no bathing suit, and his reasons might have been a little more obvious. She left him wondering for a few moments as she checked him out as best she could.

He sure wasn’t a dazzling, handsome kind of a dude, just a, well, pleasant face. Not at all like the few guys she had dated in college and after, all of whom she had to admit had been pretty good-looking guys. Mostly she had been and still was way too busy to be bothered with guys and dating. But this one did have that wonderful smile that was hard not to like. Plus, that slight stammer told her a lot. If she wanted to be watched, here was someone who could watch from up close, and, surprisingly, she thought, he had been and still was looking her straight in the eye and hadn’t dropped his gaze to her tits once. That was puzzling, and she needed to change that if he was going to hang around.

It was her turn to smile. “Sure, why not,” she said, twisting a little so that her breasts were thrust forward fairly prominently. No luck as his eyes still held hers. She had initially been very wary as he approached, but, already, that had changed and, without her even thinking about it, she was becoming the aggressive one.

“Great!” he said with a bit too much enthusiasm. “Let me go grab my towel.”

She watched him retrace his steps. He was interesting in that there was nothing hugely interesting about him. Not that there was anything at all wrong with him. He was maybe six feet tall, not athletic or particularly muscular, just trim and, well, trim. Certainly not fat or thin, just very ordinary.

Quickly, he was heading back with his towel and that huge grin. He spread the towel carefully, sat down, and, of course annoyingly, looked her straight in the eye. But she would not let that pass and, surprising herself, decided to tease a little. She was beginning to wonder about him. It was almost like he had been, well, totally honest with her thus far.

“So,” she said, peering at him with one eye partly closed, “you came over here to ask if you could join me but didn’t bring your towel along.”

“Yeah, do you think I was a little pessimistic, then?” The smile changed to an equally enticing grin.

“Maybe, and there’s one other thing.” They were eye to eye. “You haven’t once looked at my tits. Take a look.” She thrust her bare chest forward and swallowed her smirk at his reddening cheeks.

“Oh, I’ve looked,” he replied quickly, eyes dropping to them, his cheeks reddening even more. “What guy wouldn’t?” He unconsciously licked his lips. “They’re as nice as any I’ve seen for a long time, and that doesn’t in any way serve them the justice they should have.” He glanced up with that big smile. “I hope you don’t get upset with me, but your nipples are unbelievable.”

So, he was at least a bit normal after all, even if she knew her breasts didn’t quite match with what he’d said.

Now, she was wishing they were on WI2 so she could see if his body was reacting to what he was seeing and saying. She was sure she’d like that.

“Thank you,” she said quietly, knowing that she could easily reach up and pinch those nipples, and he would really see something, but that wasn’t quite proper at this time. She reached her hand toward him. “I’m, um, Wilma,” she said after a second’s hesitation.

“Eric,” he replied, offering his hand. As he did so, she caught his “ring check” on her other hand. He didn’t seem surprised to see the telling finger bare.

Her interest increased. There was something about his face that, even when he wasn’t smiling … he was.

“So,” he began, a little hesitantly. “I don’t think I’ve seen you here before.” What he was really saying was, “If I’d ever seen you, I surely wouldn’t have forgotten you.” As he watched her, he nibbled gently on his thumbnail. Not biting it, just kind of snapping it over his front teeth.

“I don’t get here too often, a couple of times a month, I guess. You a regular?”

“About the same as you, I guess.”

She was just going to let him have his head to see where he was going to go.

“Are you from around here?”

“I am now,” she replied. “Moved here for work a couple of years ago. Where are you from?”

“Born in Ohio, lived there all my life until I came down here for work. Where are you from originally?”

Her turn for a bit of fun. “I was actually born in that state up north,” she laughed, knowing how Ohioans felt about Michigan, not even wanting to say the name.

“Poor thing,” he grinned in return. “Glad you finally saw the light.”

“I assume then that you’re a hard-core Buckeye?”

“Born and raised,” he said, and she thought he might actually have thrust his chest forward a little as he spoke. “Are you a Wolverine then?”

“Not exactly. I went to school out west, in California.”

“Ah, which one?”

“Well,” she giggled. “Ohio’s state bird is the Cardinal, and that was my school, only not quite.”

“Whoa, Stanford then, huh?” He knew that it was the Stanford Cardinal, but it was the color and not the bird.


“Pretty expensive to live out there, isn’t it?”

“Holy shit!” she exclaimed, then quickly got a sheepish look on her face. “Sorry, but it’s one of my pet things. It’s about six or seven times more expensive to live out there. Terrible. I was glad when I graduated and could move somewhere else, although …” Her voice trailed off.

He was looking at her in anticipation, wondering why she had stopped where she did. She snugged the band on her ponytail, giving her hair a little flip.

“I moved from there to Massachusetts, which was a lot cheaper but still two and a half times what it is here. A few years in Pennsylvania which were more normal, I guess, then here.”

“Midwest to West Coast to East Coast and then the Southeast. You’ve been around.”

“Lots of frequent flyer miles,” she laughed. “So, what about you?”

“Boring,” he said solemnly. “Started at a little OAC school outside of Columbus, Otterbein, and then finished at Ohio State. Actually was out of the country once, though, to Canada. My parents knew someone in Medicine Hat, Alberta. We drove there from Ohio. About 2000 miles.”

She was enjoying watching him as his face was getting more and more animated as he told her about his trip.

“I remember part of it like it was yesterday. We went to Havre, Montana, and turned north, heading for the border crossing at Wild Horse. It was Big Sky country for sure. No trees, and you could see forever. Have you ever been there?” He interrupted himself just in case.

“No, no, never. Keep going.” Her smile was getting broader as she joined in his evident excitement.

“Lots of pronghorn antelope in the fields and a sign that said, “No residences or services, next 47 miles.” When we got to the Canadian border, there was just a house with a garage beside it, and you drove into the garage, and the door closed behind you. A Canadian guy came out, asked questions, checked everything, and then the door at the other end went up, and we drove off into Canada.” He stopped as if afraid he was boring her.

“What was the town you were heading for? Don’t think I’ve ever heard of it.”

It was evidently not boring her if she was asking questions.

“Medicine Hat. A really neat place. I think the population when we were there was about 60,000 or so.”

“Can hardly imagine that “no services” thing. I think I’d have been nervous.”

“Not only that,” he continued, “but I think we only passed about three or four cars in that 47 miles, so it was fairly lonely. Still beautiful, though.”

“I’d have been nervous for sure. Nothing in my life to compare to that,” she added.

The big smile left his face, and she could tell he was thinking, pondering something, nibbling that thumbnail. She wondered if she should be nervous now but realized there was no reason to feel that way. In fact, she was actually glad he’d come over to talk with her.

“You said your name was Wilma, right?” He was obviously off on another tack now.

She cleared her throat. “I did,” she answered, curious where he was taking this.

“It’s nothing big, but you just don’t hear that name much these days.”

“No, you don’t, for sure.” A pause. “I was named after my great-grandmother. She was the first Wilma.”

“Oh, that’s neat,” he said, a slightly pensive look on his face.

“She, of course, was my mom’s grandma, and Mom loved her to pieces. They spent so much time together when Mom was little. She took care of her all the time, so Mom wanted to remember her. I have no regrets about being named after her. It’s an honor and a responsibility.” She wondered if she was going on too much, but his eyes told her he was listening carefully.

“Too bad you won’t get to spend time with her too.”

“No, no,” Wilma replied quickly. “I do. She lives in California, and I see her two or three times a year. She’s 94 now.”

“Wow, that’s amazing. I would never have dreamed. I guess I thought all great great grandmothers would be dead.” He took a deep breath, and a different look crossed his face. He seemed unsure but pushed on anyway. “Tell me about your family.”

She noticed that his expression had undoubtedly changed and she could tell that he wasn’t just making small talk but was really interested. It was a different feeling, but she was just comfortable being with him.

“I guess it’s a pretty normal family,” she began. “I have a brother and sister, and we’ve always been really close. Since I moved away, we don’t see each other very often, but we text and Skype all the time. Same for Mom and Dad. I call both sets of grandparents quite a bit too since they’re not quite ready for texting and Skype, but that works for them.” As she was talking, she watched his expression changing. If his look had been pensive before, it was now very wistful and tinged with what she thought to be a hint of sadness. She was puzzled but was determined to find out just what it was. “Your turn,” she said, pointing at him, a big smile on her face. “Tell me about your family.”

He looked away, off into the distance for long seconds, then back at her. “Do you really want to hear it? The whole story?”

Now she was suddenly apprehensive and not quite sure where she’d gone with her question. Still, particularly after the look she had gotten, she was more interested than ever to hear what he was going to say.

“Listen, I don’t say things unless I mean them. Yes, I’d love to hear if you’re willing to tell.” A serious look had replaced her smile.

He took a deep breath, and when he spoke, his voice had softened a good deal. “My birth mother got pregnant at a fraternity party. Thank God she decided to have me.” He shook his head. “I’m sure lots of people told her not to. But she did, and I heard later that she wanted to keep me, to be my mother, but she wasn’t able to with all the cards stacked against her. She, well, she decided to put me up for adoption, a closed adoption if you know what that is.”