Lonnie was running hard on the beach, sweating bullets. It was late on the Saturday morning of Memorial Day weekend, and the sun was hot and the sky was high. Humid as hell, too. He was about halfway through his fourth mile, and in a few minutes he would be leaving the beach and getting back on the pavement. Then he would run the five blocks to his condo complex and jump in the pool.
He loved running on the beach for several reasons. There was usually a breeze. The hard-packed sand was the ideal running surface. And the scenery: the beach babes, slim, hot, and wearing little.
It was a small town on the northeast coast of Florida, a quaint throwback to earlier times. No high-rises trashing the land and seascape like most of Florida. The developers and the politicians in their pockets hadn’t ruined this place yet. It was just five miles down the intracoastal from a college town, an historic tourist destination. People flocked to the area for weekends, or weeks on end, to soak up the history and soak up the rays.
It was a good day for sightseeing, Lonnie thought as he plodded along, checking out the scenery from behind his shades. The beach was crowded and the babes were out in force. It made him want to slow down so he’d have a better chance to take them all in.
One gal caught his eyes immediately. She was standing at the edge of the water, getting her feet wet, and even from fifty yards Lonnie could tell that she had a body that could knock a buzzard off a trash truck. He knew that from afar, bodies could often look really good, but then would get frumpier the closer he got. Not this time. This woman’s body was incredible. A long, lean blonde, with dynamite legs, toned arms and shoulders, nice medium-sized titties standing straight out. Slim and athletic, just his type. At first he thought she was naked, but as he approached he could tell she wore a skimpy bikini that barely covered what she had and was a close match to her tanned skin tone. He slowed, wanting a better look. As he passed her from barely five feet away, he did a double-take. He knew her.
He stopped and turned around. She was looking at a tanker off the coast. He studied her face for a moment. It was a face he’d known for a couple of years. He walked up to her.
“Claire?” he said. “Is that you?”
She looked puzzled, surprised by his approach. Lonnie could see momentary confusion on her face as she tried to focus.
“Yes?” she said.
They stood there looking at each other. She was deeply tanned, her tits and crotch and ass barely covered by her bikini. He wore only shoes, running shorts, and a baseball cap. They were way out of context. When they usually saw each other they both wore business attire.
“It’s me, Lonnie.”
“Oh, right! Lonnie, Hi!” she said, enthusiastically. “I didn’t recognize you at first.”
“It took me a moment, too,” he said. “I guess it’s because we’re both half-naked.”
They laughed. “I guess,” she said.
“God, you look amazing,” he said.
“My eyes zeroed in on you from fifty yards away.”
“Oh, please…” she said with a soft, embarrassed laugh.
“I’m serious. Do you come to the beach often? I run this beach every weekend and I haven’t seen you before.”
“Maybe you haven’t looked in the right places.”
“I run up and down this beach every Saturday and Sunday. I live just five blocks from the pier.”
“I don’t usually come here to the town beach. I don’t like the crowds. I’m here today with my Mom.” She pointed to an older woman nearby, seated in a beach chair under an umbrella, wearing a wide-brimmed hat, reading a paperback book. “She’s staying with us for the weekend.”
Lonnie liked looking at Claire, but Mom pretty much squashed any thoughts of hanging out with her. He prolonged his small talk for a couple minutes longer while he checked out her body some more. Her wet swimsuit clinging like shrink wrap to her taut nipples, firm ass, and cameltoe. Her toned upper body and lean legs, beaded with seawater. The small sun and moon tattoos on her shoulders. The gold stud in her navel. His shades were dark, so she probably couldn’t see his eyes flitting about. But he knew she knew.
They said their goodbyes, and Lonnie ran off down the beach, heading for home with half a boner in his sweat-soaked shorts.
Lonnie worked for a firm that created direct marketing campaigns for local businesses. All businesses and advertisers were his prospects, from the largest companies to the smallest Mom-and-Pops. Over two years before, when he was in his third week on the job, he was cold-calling a large strip shopping center. He started at one end of the center and went right down the line, calling on every business. The shoe store, the dry cleaner, the bowling alley, the Chinese takeout, the hardware, one after the other. About two-thirds of the way through he came to a small shop. It was a religious bookstore. His gut told him that this place was probably not much of a candidate for a sale, but he went in anyway. A bell sounded when he opened the door. He was relieved to see the place had no customers at the moment, thinking he could get in and out quickly without wasting much time. The store was deeper than it was wide, and the sales counter was in the back. As he strode toward the counter, a woman stood up behind it. That’s when he met Claire.
The first thing he noticed about her was her smile. It was so genuine, like the girl next door you’ve known your whole life, someone you trusted right away. It put him at ease, and any hesitancy about approaching this particular store was already gone. Then he noticed her face, pretty and tan, with baby blue eyes that seemed to see right through him, a strong chin and high cheekbones, blonde hair brushing her shoulders, pearl earrings. Then he noticed her clothing. A green skirt that fell below her knees and a baggy, long-sleeved blue smock with the store logo sewn on it. Demure, to a fault. It didn’t go along with her face.
Lonnie introduced himself, told her a little about his products and showed her a few samples. He gave her his usual quick pitch, and asked if he could schedule a time to come back and make a presentation. She surprised him and said, sure come on back, let’s do it right now.
There was a door behind the counter. She led him through it to a back room with shelves loaded with merchandise, books, cards, gift items and numerous other stock. On one side was a desk, a couple chairs and a file cabinet.
“My office,” Claire said, pointing to a chair. “Not fancy I know, but please have a seat. If the bell rings I will have to take care of the customers.
Lonnie sat down, opened his case and went into his spiel. The presentation normally took about twenty minutes, but they were interrupted once for a few minutes when the doorbell went off. He was there a good forty minutes altogether, and at the end she surprised him.
“I like it,” she’d said. “I think it would be a good way to reach new customers. I will have to discuss it with a couple people to have it approved. We have a meeting next week and I will put this on the agenda.”
“I’d be happy to come to your meeting and do another presentation,” Lonnie offered, figuring much would get lost in the translation if Claire did it.
“That won’t be necessary,” she’d said, smiling as if she’d read his mind. “This is the way we do things. The store is owned by the church, and I meet regularly with the treasurer and pastor. They usually go along with what I recommend if it’s in the budget, and we have some funds available. And I think it would be a good thing to try. Can you leave a few samples that I can show them?”
Lonnie left her with a media kit stuffed with information: testimonials, rates, maps, samples. He could tell Claire was impressed. She asked him to call her a week from Friday for a decision.
Two weeks later they were both seated at her desk designing her first campaign. Claire signed a contract to run a promotion every other month.
That was how it started. Lonnie began calling on Claire on a regular basis. There were meetings to design and write copy, meetings to go over and proof the copy and make collections and drop off samples.
They liked each other. She always seemed happy to see him, and he always loved to see her smile when he walked into the store.They talked about things other than business, too. She didn’t talk much about herself, but he did find out a few things. She had graduated from college with a degree in business and marketing, which made Lonnie laugh, because she was so modest but probably knew a hell of a lot more about his own business than he did. She was married to the head coach of the powerhouse local high school football team, and they had moved here when he got hired. She had left a good job as a marketing director at a large outlet mall and was now running this little store.
He always looked forward to his times when he’d see her. With each visit they became more comfortable. She had a droll sense of humor that belied her clothing, which was always conservative and covered by the company smock. She had an easy laugh, but a shy smile. And Lonnie liked it when she would touch him on his arm sometimes as she spoke. Occasionally they would flirt with each other, both figuring there was no harm and nothing would come of it. Just a little innocent fun.
“Are you really married, or do you just wear that ring to keep guys from hitting on you?” Lonnie kidded with her one time.
“Really married,” she said. Then added: “If it was just for discouraging men, I’d have a bigger diamond.”
He’d been curious how old she was, but of course he couldn’t ask. He found out by accident. He saw a birthday card on the shelf beside her desk.
“Is it your birthday?” he asked.
“Day before yesterday,” she said.
“Really? Well, happy birthday! I wish I’d known. So, twenty-five again, huh?”
“She laughed. “Yeah, I wish.”
They ended up guessing their ages. Lonnie said he thought Claire was twenty-eight, she told him she was thirty-one. She guessed he was twenty-four, he said ‘No, I’ll be twenty-six in two months’.
“I’ll try to remember that.”
“Well, it looks like we’re both aging well.”
Claire leaned forward laughing and squeezed his knee when she did so.
The only times that their meetings became the least bit tense was when Claire would bring up religion, and try to get him to come to church. Every few months she’d bring it up, Lonnie would feel embarrassed and their whole vibe would disintegrate into awkwardness, and he’d want to slink away. Lonnie believed that the bible and the world’s religions were all just different versions of the same fairy tale. Finally, one time she brought it up again and he told her politely but firmly, ‘Look Claire, I was brought up in church. My mother dragged us kids there every Sunday while Dad played golf. When we became teenagers she let us make up our own minds. One of my sisters stayed, the rest of us left. I’m a good guy, and God knows I’m a good guy. If he wants me, I think he’ll come after me himself’.
Claire smiled, thought he was cute. ‘Touche,” she said. She never mentioned it again.
Lonnie had a lot of clients around town, and many of them knew each other. Some of them would gossip about others, and over time he heard a thing or two about Claire, or more specifically, about her husband and her marriage. The gist was that her husband was not all he was cracked up to be. Sure, he was a big man on the high school campus, and highly successful as the head football coach, but he also had an ego to more than match. He could be verbally and sometimes physically abusive to his players, assistants, and even his wife. He fooled around. He was the kind of guy who went to church on Sunday, mostly to be noticed and get pumped up by compliments from the football fans, but used it as a license to be a prick the other six days of the week. The general consensus was that Claire was a good woman trapped in a bad marriage to a Type A asshole.
Lonnie was thinking about all that as he cooled off in the pool after seeing Claire on the beach. He thought about her body, how delicious it looked, and how she’d kept it shrouded from him by her loose, church lady clothing for over two years. He knew she was attractive, but he never imagined she was so sexy, and so comfortable in her skin, as well as that skimpy swimsuit. It saddened him to think of her stuck in a bad marriage and he wondered what her home life was really like. She was always cheerful and upbeat when she greeted him, but was it all just an act? Or was it possible that their occasional touching and flirting was not so innocent after all?
The following week he stopped by the store. Claire’s face broke into a wide grin and she greeted him warmly. The store had just opened so there were no customers yet. His excuse for dropping by was that he wanted to leave her copies of some new templets his company had designed that she might want to use for future ads. He could have brought them the next time they met to put her ad together, but he just wanted to see her and talk to her. After a brief rundown, he got to the real reason for his visit.
“It was fun seeing you on the beach last week,” he said.
“Yes, that was nice. I didn’t recognize you at first without your shirt and tie,” she responded.
“I know what you mean. I did a double-take and almost ran right by you before I realized it was you. I’m not used to seeing so much of you as I did that day, if you know what I mean.”
She gave him the shy smile he adored, and said, “I could say the same about you.”
“But I have to tell you something, Claire. I haven’t stopped thinking about you since that day.” He nervously shuffled his feet. “You…, I couldn’t believe, uh, I mean I always knew you were attractive, but geez, I can’t believe what a killer body you have. And why you’ve been hiding it behind that smock for so long. You should let that body out!”
“Well, thank you. I’ll take that as a compliment.”
“Oh yeah, it’s a compliment.”
Claire briefly pictured Lonnie on the beach that day: The broad shoulders, slim waist, flat stomach, his muscled thighs, his tight, sweaty running shorts.
“Well, I think you’ve been hiding a pretty good body behind your salesman outfits, too.”
Lonnie blushed. “To think how many times I’ve run on that beach and never spotted you.”
“You wouldn’t have spotted me. That’s not where I usually go to the beach. I go to a place that’s more private. Quiet and secluded, where I can have it to myself.”
“Sounds nice. Where is it?”
Claire hesitated. “It’s kind of a secret.”
“A secret? What kind of a secret? Is it on the ocean? There aren’t any private beaches around here.”
“Yes, it’s on the ocean,” she said. “But I haven’t shared it with anyone yet.”
Lonnie took the hint and didn’t push the issue. But to him the key word she’d said was yet.
A customer came in so they wrapped it up, and quickly set an appointment to design the next mailing set to go out for Vacation Bible School.
They met the following Thursday morning, a half hour before the store opened, so they could get the work done without being interrupted by customers. They were seated at her desk as they worked on the copy. Lonnie noticed Claire was wearing a light touch of eye shadow he hadn’t seen before. She was sitting a little closer too, and he could smell her sweet, delicate scent. When she touched his arm or her hand brushed his, he’d feel himself getting aroused, thinking, she has no idea what she’s doing to me. Or does she? It made him want to bury his face into her neck and chew her smock off with his teeth.
They were done in twenty minutes. Lonnie prolonged his visit.
“So, are you ready to tell me where your special, private beach is?”
“I told you, it’s a secret,” she said.
“Why is it a secret? If it’s such a great place, wouldn’t it be better if you shared it? I won’t tell anyone.”
“Why do you want to know?”
“What’s the matter? Do you think I’m going to sneak up on you and take pictures of you in your bikini and sell them on the internet? Listen, what if you passed out and didn’t make it home? Somebody should know where to look.”
Claire laughed. “You are good, Lonnie. You should go into sales.”
That made Lonnie laugh. They sat there looking at each other earnestly until they both broke into big smiles.
“Okay. I’ll tell you,” she said. “I’ve never told anyone. It will be our secret, okay?” He nodded. “You know the state park, north of town? If you walk up the beach from town about a half mile, there is the beach area where all the park visitors go. There’s a life guard, snack bar, parking lot, beach rentals, all that. And that’s where all the people are. They all stay there, right on top of each other. But the parkland goes on for three more miles north of there all the way to the inlet. There’s a point about a mile and a half up where the coastline curves eastward and the dunes are high white sand. My spot is right at the bend, protected, and I can see the whole beach north and south. If anybody is approaching from either direction, I can see them coming from a mile away. I’ve been there a hundred times and only once has anyone come close, and they turned around long before they could have spotted me.
“Anyway, as you know, I have Mondays off. I do my chores in the morning, and then all afternoon I’m on the beach. Weather permitting, of course. So, can you keep our secret?”
Lonnie had a lump in his throat. He nodded and softly said yes. He felt like kissing her but he knew he couldn’t. It was time for Claire to open the store.
Claire watched his behind as he walked the length of the store and out the door. Her own true feelings surprised her. She was hoping he would come Monday. Lonnie knew he would.
The following Monday was a day as beautiful as the one when Claire and Lonnie talked on the beach. Claire got her chores done quickly so she could get an earlier start. She was anxious, hoping he would come. She took an extra beach towel, just in case.
Lonnie decided to take the afternoon off. He knocked off at half-past noon, drove home to his condo and changed from his work clothes to his running attire: shoes, shorts, ball cap and shades. He drank a pint of water as he stretched, and then was out the door. He eased into it, jogging the five blocks to the pier, then onto the beach. He slogged through the soft sand to get to the hard packed sand at the water’s edge, then he started running north. There was a pleasant breeze which felt cool on his sweaty chest. He picked up his pace, passed the cluster of people on the state park beach area, and soon had nothing but open, empty coastline ahead of him.
Claire had been nestled in her spot for about an hour when she first spotted him. He was about a mile away. Good timing, she thought. It was about time for another application of tanning oil and she could get Lonnie to apply her second coat. She’d been thinking for days about how it might feel to have his hands roaming around on her body. She shivered at that thought, and watched his smooth stride as he drew near. She spread the extra beach towel on the sand next to her own.