“Are you sure this is a good idea?” my mom wondered.

“It’s only for a few months,” I reminded her, throwing the last of my suitcases into the back of my Jeep and closing the trunk.

“After everything you’ve been through this year maybe you should stay close to home.”

“I need a change of scenery. Besides, it’s not like I’m going to move to Vermont for the rest of my life.”


“I promise.”

It was the summer of 2000, a time which was an entirely different world in some ways but also can seem like only yesterday. It was a once in a thousand years calendar change that had everyone contemplating whatever it meant even if the answer was nothing at all. For me, however, it would always have only one meaning. It was the summer I met Moira June Hathaway.

It is funny how the most random events can change your life. It started when my friend Gary got the sudden chance to teach drama for a summer program in Oregon. He took the opportunity, which meant the apartment he’d rented for the summer in Vermont was empty. It also meant the lady he was supposed to work for in her bookstore there was going to be short handed.

“Why not take the apartment and the job?” he told me over the phone.

“I don’t know,” I said.

“You’ve got nothing going on. Besides, the apartment is paid for. You can work at the bookstore a few days a week and work on your thesis in peace.”

“The job would be mine, just like that?”

“She’s my mom’s cousin. Trust me. I’ll talk to her. It’ll be fine. Think about it, will ya? After everything you’ve been through, a change of scenery for a few months will do you good.”

That seed he planted in my mind, “a change of scenery”, grew quickly.

I couldn’t stand everything around me. Wherever I looked were too many memories that evoked too much pain. The idea of escape, however fleeting, held a lot of appeal. So two hours later I called him back and said I would do it. Two days after that I was packing up my old Jeep Cherokee for the ride up to New England and promising my mom I wasn’t permanently moving to Vermont.

Five and a half hours later I found myself pulling off the interstate and a few miles further on was the town of Glensboro. It was everything you’d expect, looking every bit like a Vermont postcard.

There was a large lake at one end of the town, deep green mountains in the distance, and a long main street lined with shops and restaurants. Next to the lake was an ancient stone mill that now housed a yoga studio and a coffee place. I also noticed what had once been an august-looking bank was now a pizzeria. It was a nice town, scenic and quaint but lively. A steady but not overwhelming stream of tourists drove the economy, hikers in the summer followed by leaf watchers in the fall and skiing in the winter.

I spotted the sign – “Hathaway Used Books” – and pulled around back and parked. It was in an old Victorian house and the first floor was packed with room after room of old books. It was the type of store people wander in not looking for anything in particular and leave with armfulls of treasures. Upstairs it was divided into two apartments, one of which was where I would be staying.

The front door was propped open, flowerpots on either side overflowing with color. Inside, the front room was packed with books from floor to ceiling, rooms opening up to either side. The front desk was nearby but no one was at it. My eyes scanned the collection of history books.

“Good afternoon,” said a woman’s voice from a room beyond the front desk. Whoever it was had stepped into the room.

I turned towards her voice and that was the first time I saw Moira. I think I hid my surprise well but she took my breath away.

She was in her late twenties – twenty-nine, I later learned, six years my senior – and also very much my type.

Moira was a rare beauty. She had long, curly strawberry blonde hair and emerald green eyes that were enhanced by her funky horn rimmed glasses. She was a few inches shorter than me and looked stunning in the simplest of clothes, a pink t-shirt and dark grey yoga pants. Yoga pants were her thing, I soon learned, and they clung to her gorgeous big hips in wondrous fashion. So did her shirt, underneath which one could see were large, full breasts. She was every bit the kind of big beautiful woman I’d always preferred.

“Hi,” I managed to say. “I’m Geno.”

“Hi Geno!” she said, smiling. I enjoyed the way her eyes scrunched up almost into squints when she smiled. “I’m Moira, Moira Hathaway. We’ve been expecting you.”

We shook hands and I’m sure I was grinning like a goofball. I was never good at hiding what I was feeling but I did my best not to embarrass myself.

“My mom said you’d be arriving today,” she said. “That was who you spoke to on the phone. She’s out right now but I can get you settled in. I’m so glad you’ll be able to help us out. How was the drive up?”

“Good. It was good,” was all I managed.

“New Jersey, I think my mom said.”

“Yup, New Jersey,” I said.

“Well, let me show you around and get you settled,” she said and led me on a quick tour of the place.

Moira showed me the entire store and introduced me to Jack, an older man who worked in the store a few days a week and lived down the street with his partner Robert. I also met Shakespeare, a large grey cat whose throne was an antique arm chair in the corner from which he slept and kept watch over this kingdom.

“He’s the real boss around here,” Moira said. “Not my mom.”

Moira asked Jack to watch the front desk while she showed me the apartment. It was accessed via the back door and a staircase. Within was a small but nice space, uncluttered and clean. There was a small living room, a tiny kitchen that wasn’t really its own room, a bedroom overlooking the main street, and the bathroom. It was furnished simply but was clean and looked comfortable.

“What do you think?” Moira asked.

“It’s perfect,” I said.

“I’m so glad to hear that,” Moira said. “Well, let me give you your space to unpack and settle in. I’ll be downstairs for the next few hours if you need anything. I’m sure my mom will come up to say hello when she gets back.”

“Thanks,” I said.

“Don’t mention it. I’m sure we’ll be seeing a lot of each other.”

She smiled again and left. For a second, I felt a spark of chemistry between us, something about the way she looked at me for a fleeting instance and then it was gone. I watched her go, admiring her ample ass and the way the yoga pants showed it off. I sat down on the couch and took a breath.

“Damn,” I muttered.

I took a moment to reflect. Meeting Moira, it was the first time in months I’d felt genuine attraction again. She looked a lot like Dawn, my ex-girlfriend, at least in terms of her physique. I closed my eyes, shaking my head. Whatever else came of this summer, however much I got done on my thesis, working with Moira was going to be interesting.


Moira’s mom dropped in about an hour after I’d finished unpacking. She was a rather attractive lady in her fifties which told me where Moira got her looks from. She also shared the same sunny demeanor and made me feel welcome.

The work at the store was easy enough. They had an immense inventory of science fiction paperbacks from the fifties through the seventies which Moira’s mom had purchased from an estate sale. It was gigantic, with double and triple copies of thousands of titles. My task was to catalog them and put them on eBay for a wider market. I’d also help out manning the front desk but mostly it was quiet work on my laptop while classic rock played over the radio in the store. The store didn’t open until eleven and so I didn’t have to get up early and was usually done by six. I wasn’t making a fortune but it was the change of scenery I wanted and, besides, I was making slow but steady progress on my thesis.

My thesis! I had started to wonder what was the point and thought about dropping out of the Master’s Program entirely. After what happened with Dawn I was empty inside and stayed that way for six months as my thesis went ignored. At least away from New Jersey I could think about something else for longer stretches at a time. And a lot of those thoughts were about Moira. It was exciting. Was she even single? I had no idea.

“Hey, Jersey,” Moira said one afternoon a few days later as she arrived at the store. “What’s up?”

“Not much,” I said, trying to sound nonchalant and hoping I wasn’t coming off as phoney. She was wearing a long-sleeved Grateful Dead concert shirt and light grey yoga pants with bright red converse sneakers and looked her usual amazing self. Her hair was in a ponytail.

“How are you settling in? Do you like it around here?”

“I do,” I said. “It’s a lot different than New Jersey.”

“I bet.”

I started to get to know Moira a little better over the next few days. She’d gone to college in Boston, then came back home to Glensboro. She taught first grade down the road one town over and worked in the bookstore in the summer. She was interested in books, hiking, and had a fondness for old movies. There was no mention of a boyfriend. I thought about asking her but waited. I was afraid that would make things awkward, especially if it came off weird. So I held off and wondered until a few more days had passed.

Moira’s mom had left on a trip to an island off the coast of Maine for a few weeks with friends. Jack, too, was busy with family obligations and so it was mostly Moira and I alone at the store. I was fine with that.

We were going through a large box of books someone had left on the back porch as a donation to the store. People were constantly doing that. They’d clean out their attics or whatever, find a pile of old books, and figure we could use them. Mostly, it was junk but sometimes there was stuff worth putting out on the shelves.

“So, tell me something, Jersey,” she said. “You never talk about yourself. What’re you doing up here in Vermont all alone? Don’t you have anyone back home that misses you?”

“Well, there’s my mom. And my little sister, but she’s sixteen and going through a phase where she hates everyone. So, just my mom.”

“No girlfriend?”

“Not right now,” I said. I risked giving her a glance and saw it returned with a smile.

“I’m surprised at that,” she said.

My mind was racing, This was definitely flirting, there was no question. I tried to formulate something suitably witty to say but my mouth plowed straight ahead without thinking in my typical fashion.

“What about you?” I heard myself saying. “Boyfriend?”

“No,” she said. “No one right now. It can be tough in a town like this. You know almost everybody and have all your life. How do you even meet someone new when no one is new?”

“Well, some people are new,” I offered.

She smiled at me and I said no more. I figured I’d gone far enough for one day.

That evening I had a quick dinner in the apartment and I tried to work on my thesis but couldn’t concentrate. Moira kept intruding on my thoughts. I finally closed the laptop and went for a run. Back at the apartment, I took a long shower with the water turned up as hot as I could take. Afterwards, I toweled off and slid into bed naked. I was horny to the point of distraction and there was only one thing to do about it.

I closed my eyes, letting the images flow. My cock grew hard as I began jerking off, slowly at first.

I thought about what it would be like to feel Moira close to me, against me, what it would be like to kiss her. Yeah, to kiss her hard and feel her lips. Her tongue. Her big tits exposed, shoved against my face. Sucking her nipples. Fuck, yeah. And sliding off her yoga pants, feeling the size of her ass in my hands. Damn, that’s nice. Now her on top of me, kissing me and moaning. Then bouncing on my cock, up and down. Faster now, breasts bouncing. Even faster and more intense. Her face turns upwards, towards the ceiling, hair spilling over her shoulders. My hands on her breasts, thrusting up into her. Frenzied passion, building, growing, rising…


Most of the next day a steady rain fell outside. I remember the patter of it all afternoon on the window. When Moira came in she was bearing a pair of coffees from the place located in the mill. She’d been making this gesture since almost my first day.

“Here you go, Jersey,” she said, handing me the drink.

“Thanks, Moira,” I said.

“It’s pouring out there,” she said, taking off her raincoat and hanging it up in the little closet behind the front desk. She was wearing a tie-die Beatles shirt and black yoga pants with sandals. She looked incredible.

“It’s not supposed to clear up, either,” I said. “I was hoping to go for a run tonight, but I guess not. I was thinking of trying that pizza place up the street instead.”

“La Cassaforte? Oh, I love it there.”

“You should come with me,” I said.

There it was, out there in the ether. I’d asked her out, without even meaning to when I started talking. Her response was quick, as if she’d been waiting for it.

“Sure,” she said. “That sounds great.”

Then, without thinking, I said, “Then it’s a date.”

She smiled at me, her eyes flashing.

“I guess so, Jersey.”

The rest of the afternoon passed slowly. All I could think about was that evening. It felt good to look forward to something again.

We closed at six and decided to meet back at the store in an hour so she could go home and change.

“It’s a casual place, but not yoga pants level casual,” she explained. “See you in an hour, Jersey.”

It was enough time to shower, get dressed, and start watching the clock. I tried to read but couldn’t concentrate, going through the same few paragraphs over and over and then looking up to see how much time had passed.

I went downstairs three minutes early as Moira was arriving. She wore an incredible purple dress with a v-neck covered in white polka dots and looked unbelievable.

The rain had eased up to a light drizzle and we walked together to the restaurant. It was one of those first date things, walking close together but not too close, wishing I could reach out and take her hand but it would be way too forward so resisting the impulse.

La Cassaforte was lively but not crowded. We got a seat by the window and ordered two beers and a pepperoni pizza. The waitress took our orders and left. I looked around a bit at the decor.

“This seems like a nice place,” I observed.

Moira caught my eye and a devilish smirk crossed her face.

“Okay, Jersey,” she teased. “Tell me more about you. You talk about a lot of things, but I want to hear more about you.”

“What would you like to know?” I asked.

“Let’s start with your name, Geno Pantangelo. It sounds like a character from The Godfather but you look like, I don’t know, a young Jack Kennedy..”

“I’m named after my paternal grandfather,” I said, smiling. “He was Italian and married an Irish girl, my grandma Margaret. On my mom’s side, they are all Irish. My middle name happens to be Colin, after my maternal grandfather. I am pretty certain I am the only person named Geno Colin Pantangelo on the planet. ”

“I believe it!” She laughed. “Irish, huh? So that must be where you got those blue eyes and boyish, aw-shucks charm.”

I shrugged, grinning and I suppose projecting that very charm. The waitress brought the beers and left again.

“What about this thesis you’re finishing up? Machiavelli, didn’t you say?” she asked.

“He was a fascinating guy.”

“I remember we had to read him in college,” she said. “Let me think. His whole thing was how it is better for a prince to be feared by his people rather than be loved, that he should lie and cheat and do whatever it took to stay in power.”

“That’s what you were told,” I said. “But, here’s the thing. What if he was being sarcastic? I mean, the guy was a lifelong advocate for a republic, the opposite of what he wrote about. He campaigned for Florence to train its own citizens in the defense of the city. He even wrote a comedic play and was friends with Da Vinci. What if there was more to him than this, um, this caricature taught to undergraduates?”

She smiled that quirky grin of hers again.

“What?” I asked playfully.

“I’m just enjoying hearing you get so passionate about something, especially something intellectual. There’s usually this air of, I don’t know, sadness around you.”

“This is good beer,” I said, changing the subject.

The pizza arrived in due course and we talked some more. I told her about growing up in New Jersey and how my parents broke up when I was in high school and how I worked delivering pizzas for a few years. I told her about my friends and how easy it was to hop on a train to New York City and how people in New Jersey call it “The City” even though Philadelphia is not accorded the same honor. I told her about my dad having Giants season tickets and about a trip my family took to Ireland when I was in middle school and how cool that was. I started to feel a little self-centered but Moira kept insisting and asking questions.

We finished off the pizza and ordered another round of beers.

“So how did you like the pizza?” she asked. “I noticed you didn’t say a word about it.”

I took a sip of beer and grinned, hoping my magical Irish charm would distract her. It didn’t work.

“The thing is,” I explained. “People in New Jersey – especially North or Central Jersey – we are kinda particular about our pizza.”

“So you didn’t like it?” she asked, her tone one of her disappointment for my sake..

“We have certain standards,” I said. “It was fine, though. Really. I’d love to make you pizza sometime, though. The pizza guys where I worked delivering, they taught me some things.”

“You’re on, Jersey. When?”

“I’d say tomorrow, but you wouldn’t want pizza two nights in a row.”

“Actually, I’m good with tomorrow.”


“Okay, so it’s settled. You’ll make your pizza. I’ll bring wine.”

“Sounds great.”

“There’s just one other thing,” she mused.

“What’s that?”

“You’ve told me about all sorts of things, but not one mention of any girlfriends. I find it hard to believe a guy that looks as good as you is on your first date with a girl.”

“It’s a bit of a rough subject.”

“You don’t have to tell me anything you don’t feel comfortable talking about.”

“No, it’s all right.” I took a deep breath. “I should tell you everything. Yeah, there were girlfriends in high school and college. Then I met Dawn and we got really serious for almost two years. Then, out of the blue, she broke up with me. I never found out what really was the problem, but it was ugly.”

“That’s rough. I’ve been there.”

“Yeah, well, there’s more.”

She nodded and I paused before beginning again.

“What happened was two days after the breakup she was driving and a truck ran a red light and, well, she was killed.”

“Geno,” Moira reached out and put her hand on mine. “I’m so sorry. I can’t imagine.”

“Thanks. After that, I fell into a bit of a depression. No, that’s not really accurate. I grieved, but wasn’t depressed so much as, I don’t know, empty inside.”

“That explains the aura of sadness.”

“It’s gotten a lot better. I’m sorry for laying this all out on you like this.”

“No,” she said, adding firmly: “You have no need to apologize whatsoever.”

We finished and paid the bill. The rain outside had ended and we walked back to the store in silence.

“I have to say I hope I didn’t put a damper on the evening,” I finally said.

“Not at all,” she said. “I had fun. I appreciated how you shared that with me.”

She reached over and took my hand in hers and we walked the rest of the way back. We reached her car and she turned to me.

“Tonight was great,” I said.

Moira pulled close and kissed me. It was a light kiss and I was surprised by how soft her lips were. For a brief moment I felt her body close to mine, her big breasts pressing against my chest.