She was lying face downward on the deck, with her bra strap untied and loose beside her.
She heard my footsteps and I saw her body tense up. It irritated me. If she didn’t want a response from me, why didn’t she keep her clothes on? It wasn’t one of those cases where the patrons of a redneck bar decide a short skirt is a license for rape. We were co-prisoners on this boat, and she knew the response her near nakedness would bring.
I sat down on the deckhouse and said, “Hi.” The side of my foot brushed her calf. She jerked it aside. It was a clear message, but there was also something contrived about it. As if she had stripped down just to give me that message. I said something short and crude, and went back to the wheel.
Ten minutes later, she went below again. She had managed to get into Will’s shirt without standing up.
Ten minutes after that, she came up with a mug of coffee which she gave me like a peace offering. I took a sip. She made good coffee. Then I said, “What the hell was that all about?”
She shook her head. “I’m don’t know, myself.” And I don’t think she did know.
“Do you know anything about Buddhism?”
“Buddhists set great store by unspoken communication. There is a story about a master and his young pupil. The pupil had just had some great insight and he couldn’t wait to tell his master about it. When he finished, the master just shook his head and said, ‘That is very true. But how sad to say so.'”
“Meaning that we had an unspoken agreement on how to act toward each other. I thought we were doing pretty well, too. Now we have to talk about it, and I find that unfortunate. It takes the naturalness out of our relationship.”
“Are you? I don’t think so. It’s clear to me that you aren’t satisfied with the way things are going, but you aren’t ready for the natural next step. So, let me lay it out for you. You are a beautiful woman; very sexy; very desirable. I am young, healthy, and horny. Does any of this confuse you?”
“No.” There was anger in her eyes, but I didn’t care.
“If I haven’t crawled all over you, it is because you have been sending me signals to keep my distance. Right?”
“So what was that striptease all about? Do you have a rape wish? Or are you trying to prove to yourself that any man who can control his impulses is some kind of a wimp? Are you showing me how long my leash is? Whatever your reasons, I don’t like it!”
The sun poured down like honey, and I felt about as romantic as a sack of garbage. Raven face was congested with anger. She didn’t say anything, but with her glare, she didn’t need to. Suddenly, I was just plain tired of her. I said, “Go below. Get out of my sight.”
“Who the hell do you think you are?”
“I’m the voice of sweet reason,” I shouted. “Who do I sound like? I can’t leave the wheel, and if we look at each other one more minute we will be punching each other in the face. I can’t leave, so you have to. Just go!”
I’m leaving in the bit about Buddhism, because I don’t plan to second guess myself here. However, in the likely event that Raven’s Run is published, I think I will drop it. It’s just too esoteric for the time and place it appears. more tomorrow