Todd had the ideal summer job running a small concession stand in a park at the beach. The park was off the beaten path for tourists. Instead, it attracted a disproportionate number of local residents, mostly families. Todd quickly learned that there were a group of "regulars" who frequented the beach and he got to know many of them by name. One of them was a cute young girl named Carole who lived with her dad on the nearby Marine base. Her father was a Navy medical officer at the base hospital. Her mother, considerably younger than her husband, had moved out a few months earlier, leaving 15 year old Carole home alone much of the time. The park was the last stop on a bus route to the beach and Carole was here almost every day from morning until 5 o'clock quitting time when she took the bus back home.
Carole was a long legged, natural blonde with a fetching smile and pleasant affect. She was softspoken and unconsciously sensual with a cute body that had just begun to develop. Still youthfully slender, she had a shapely butt and boobs that were filling out nicely. With fair skin, blue eyes, and freckles she sunburned easily and consequently spent a lot of time at the concession stand in the shade. When things got rushed at lunchtime she sometimes helped Todd by clearing tables and refilling drinks for customers. The boss seemed okay with this when Todd asked if her helping was a problem. He seemed to think that an attractive young girl around the place might bring more business from the local teens and Todd thought he was probably correct. Since Carole wasn't on the payroll Todd often gave her free drinks, snacks and an occasional hot dog or burger. Again, the boss didn't have any problem with this and both Todd and his boss expressed their gratitude to Carole for her assistance which she seemed comfortable offering.
It soon became apparent that Carole had a crush on Todd. His first thought was that she was simply a touchy feely girl who liked to make physical contact by reaching out and touching him while they were talking or lightly lean up against him in the slack times when there wasn't any activity at the concession stand. He became aware that there was a more serious aspect to her attachment one day when she came up behind him, put both arms around his chest, and simply held him like that for a couple of minutes, rocking them both from side to side. It was obvious that this was much more than simply a casual gesture. Todd unclasped her hands and turned around only to be met by a full on, prolonged, deep kiss. They broke the kiss and Carole simply held him with her cheek against his shoulder.
"I've been waiting the longest time for that," she said, looking up at him and smiling.
Todd smiled and said, "That's really nice, Carole. I'm flattered." He hugged her playfully once more and quickly kissed her again on the lips. Some customers were approaching so they separated.
Through the rest of the afternoon Todd and Carole didn't have another opportunity to make contact but there were glances and smiles exchanged between them. Carole seemed happy, even a bit bubbly, somewhat out of character, Todd thought. He felt confused and conflicted in a weird sort of way, probably because he hadn't seen this coming and because their age difference was simply too much for him to consider any sort of involvement as even a remote possibility. Twenty-two versus fifteen years old is called statutory rape any way you cut it.
As Todd was closing up for the day Carole came over to him as she headed to the bus stop.
"I'll see you tomorrow. Sweet dreams." She pressed a piece of paper into his hand. On it was written her full name, a lipstick impression of her lips and today's date. She stood on her tiptoes and gave him a quick kiss before heading toward the bus stop, turning to wave and smile as she walked away. Todd couldn't help but notice that she had a really nice butt even with shorts over her bikini. He thought, "No Todd, don't even consider this. The temptation would be too great."
When the concession stand was secure Todd walked across the parking lot to his car. When he got there he noticed an envelope under the windshield wiper. In it was a picture of Carole in her cute yellow bikini, matching yellow headband, a nice smile on her face and posing a little.
Until this last few minutes the prospect of an attachment with this young girl had not entered Todd's mind. Sure, she was fun to look at and he enjoyed her company and softspoken affect, but the age difference seemed too great to contemplate any sort of involvement. He was twenty-two, a rising senior in college, and Carole was going into her high school sophomore year, fifteen years old at the most . At this point Todd saw her fascination with him as one of those high school crushes that sometimes happens. While no one ever had a crush on him before, he had seen this a number of times with some of his friends and the involvements never developed into anything serious, at least to his knowledge. Maybe he was naive, though. Still, a nice looking, mature girl like Carole should be hanging out with her contemporaries in high school and not someone seven years older. There's a world of difference between twenty-two and fifteen in life experience, emotional maturity, physical development, and sexual awareness.
Todd's apartment for the summer was a small room over a garage of one of the nearby beach cottages. The older couple who were his landlords seldom came down and he acted as a caretaker for them, arranging yard maintenance, taking care of small problems with the cottage, paying the cleaning lady, etc, in exchange for a free place to live. This was an ideal setup for everyone. The apartment was basic but tastefully appointed; queen size bed, small but nice living area and kitchenette, and an outside deck with a view of the beach. This day, when he arrived home after work, there was an envelope with his name on it taped to the glass storm door. Inside was a note from Carole:
You must be curious about today. Strangely, I am not. I'm convinced we are somehow connected in a way I can't explain or comprehend. I hope you don't see this as a come-on because it absolutely isn't that. I so hope you'll choose to hear my thoughts but I can't read your mind.
I only ask one thing from you, Todd. Please don't take me lightly. I'm very vulnerable with all of this and I only ask that you be respectful of my feelings - now and in whatever future we may share.
Please think about a way we can get together on your day off (next Monday). See you tomorrow at the beach.
How did she find out where he lived? He guessed finding him would be pretty easy. His red Miata convertible could be easily spotted from the street. It's pretty visible when it's parked in the garage under the apartment and the door is always up. The beach is small enough that anyone can cruise it from one end to the other in an hour. Figuring out his day off would also be easy; every Monday.
Todd sensed some covert sexual overtones with Carole's actions but if there was a 'come on' here it wasn't apparent. At first the 'Fatal Attraction' thing jumped out at him but he didn't see that sort of obsession, either. Todd quickly decided that Carole was just as she represented herself to be and that he would, indeed, respect her vulnerability, no matter what.
Todd grabbed a beer and some chips and sat out on the deck enjoying the cool breeze, watching the beach walkers and pondering Carole's picture. It was time stamped yesterday. That meant she took the picture at the park, went home last night and printed it, then brought it to work today in an envelope with the intention of giving it to me. It's obvious that Carole had a plan. Looking more closely at her picture it was apparent that her bathing suit didn't hide very much and, with a little imagination, made the picture pretty seductive. Once again, Todd felt tempted to see where this might lead.
In any case, Todd felt that Carole's gesture today needed to be acknowledged with some sort of reciprocation. He remembered that he had gotten a Saint Christopher medal and chain as a high school graduation gift that he never wore and he felt that would be an nice token of appreciation. He found it easily, still in the little box it came in, and put it in the car's glove compartment. He'd give it to her tomorrow.
Todd put Carole's picture in the corner of a mirror frame over the couch- her picture slipped in beside a picture of him that was taken a few weeks earlier. Stepping back, he realized that both pictures were taken with exactly the same background, a small landscaped area to the side of the bath house at the park where several varieties of cacti, palmetto palms and needlegrass were planted. It seemed that the two images could be easily joined and become a single picture of a couple instead of two persons. "How weird is that," he thought?
During his ritual after-dinner sunset walk on the beach Todd thought about where he was with the women in his life. He guessed he might be in rebound mode again; the two year relationship he had with his college girlfriend, Marci, seems to have dwindled away after she moved to Seattle for graduate school and discovered a totally different lifestyle. She claimed to like that area well enough to not return to the east coast and she urged him to consider coming 'out there' to work after graduation. The implication was that if he wanted to continue our relationship he'd have to relocate to an area where it rains nine months of the year and people were 'more open minded.' Neither of these had much appeal to him. He sensed the relationship with Marci was dying the natural death that too much distance and too little face time inevitably brings. The fascination with her new surroundings seemed stronger than any attachment she felt for Todd or their relationship.
Somewhere in this thought process Todd had an epiphany that revolved around some words of wisdom from his best friend, Mark. Todd and he grew up together and had always been like brothers. Mark said that Todd's life seemed to be a series of attachments that always ended when someone or something else attained a higher priority than him in the eyes of that friend or partner, causing them to abandon the relationship. While Mark didn't specifically mention Todd's current situation with Marci, that surely seemed to be an accurate representation of where they stood. Considering this bigger picture, did Todd choose to attach to people who lacked commitment enough to persevere through the hardships and inevitable problems that people must accommodate in order to sustain relationships? Isn't this lack of commitment thing usually a fault, assigned to males, one that is hawked by the myriad of TV talking heads, womens' magazines and radical feminists? Todd couldn't arrive at an answer.
Rather than continue to beat this dead horse, Todd returned home to half a bottle of cabernet and leftover pizza that he consumed while sitting on the deck listening to the surf and thinking about Carole. In a nutshell, he bemoaned the reality that he wasn't a few years younger and decided to call it a day as he went inside. As he passed through the living area he glanced at the two pictures side by side on the mirror. He and Carole looked like a nice, happy, young couple enjoying a day at the beach without a care in the world. As he passed by the desk he saw the piece of paper with the lipstick imprint on it and held it up. "Good night, sweet girl," he said as he kissed it.
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