“Well,” Raven said, “what do you think?”
“What about you, Ian?”
“I’ve made my opinion clear plenty of times,” I growled. “But should strip teases be performed in pubic?”
“Don’t be silly. Look at those girls over there. This is a topless beach.”
Will looked at me in confusion, but I just shook my head. This Raven was new to me, too. She had my blood boiling, but I would have preferred to see the show in private.
“Are you two going to sit there dressed like this was a garden party, or are you going to join me?”
I shrugged and pulled my shirt over my head. Will hesitated. When Raven gave him a scornful look, he said, “If I take my slacks off after that show, it could be embarrassing.”
“Not to me,” she replied. She sat back on her heels, with her spread knees dug into the sand. She sipped her wine and watched while we slipped off our clothes. Will wore baggy trunks that hid any evidence of his feelings. My bathing suit was smaller. Raven laughed and said, “I see you still love me.”
“I always did wear my feelings on my sleeve.”
Will looked embarrassed. He was too good a friend to try to cut me out, but Raven seemed as interested in him as in me. Did she want us both? At once? He had to be thinking that. I know I was. And I didn’t like it.
She said, “I’ve always wanted to try a topless beach,” and reached behind her back to untie her bikini top. The strings fell to her sides and she reached up behind her neck. The loosened bra rose with the motion and revealed the smooth curves at the bottoms of her breasts. There was just a hint of rosy aureole peeking out. She fumbled with the upper string, frowned prettily, and said, “It’s stuck. I’ve snarled the knot.”
“That would be a terrible disappointment,” Will said. His voice was rough and he seemed to be having a hard time breathing.
Raven stopped dead, frozen motionless with her arms uplifted, and stared at me. Then she seemed to make up her mind suddenly. She moved sideways in one fluid motion and planted herself in front of Will with her nearly bare rump almost in his lap, and said, “Undo me, Will.” While Will struggled with the knot, she put her hands on his knees and arched her back. The bikini top fell into her lap. Still with her back to him, she rose gracefully and made a slow turn, pushing back her hair with her hands.
I thought his heart would stop.
A storm was building inside of me. I was hurt, burning with lust, and filled up with a primeval desire to lash out.
Raven glanced at me out of the side of her eyes. It was a look of pure challenge. It was the kind of look that said, Raise, or get out of the game.
I hooked my thumbs in the waistband of my bathing suit and skinned out of it. Now there was no question about my passion. Vaguely, I heard Will mutter something coarse.
Raven smiled a slow smile, like coming home after a long absence. She said, “Goody. Bottomless. Even better.” She stripped off her bikini bottom, tossed it aside, and posed, naked, feet spread wide apart in the sand and quite unabashed by Will or the other sunbathers who had turned to watch.
Will lurched to his feet and said, “I’m going for a cold swim.” It didn’t matter. What had been a game for three, had suddenly become a game for two. I was hardly aware when he loped away toward the water.
It was a public beach, and there was no cover anywhere. It didn’t matter.
It was savage lovemaking. There was little tenderness involved, little carefulness, no caresses. Our foreplay had been her challenge and my response. When I first drew her down to the towel beside me, she was ready and I plunged in without preamble, oblivious of the other sunbathers. They turned away, too full of French savoire faire to stare; but they watched covertly. more tomorrow