An expedition among the other half
|“So, see you next week?” I asked hopefully.
“I don’t do winter,” she said dismissively, and took a sip of iced tea laced with Bärenjäger.
It was the first time Daisy hadn’t asked me in and the last thing she ever said to me. I’d never even heard of Bärenjäger before meeting Daisy. It was just one of several life lessons I learned during that long, languid month.
The honey-flavored liqueur imparted a hint of sweetness to the tea. The iced drink felt cool on the tongue, but it was followed by a lingering warmth that matched the mood of the season. I took one last swallow and left. Autumn was almost over and I had nothing more to offer.
* * * * * * * * * *
“Are the rich really different from us?” I asked rhetorically.
Yeah, they’re lazy assholes with money,” growled Mike. “We’re just lazy assholes.”
“And, those of us without money better get back to it,” he continued pointedly. “There’s a deadline Friday and I don’t wanna work the weekend again.”
Mike pushed his chair back and went to the breakroom sink to rinse out his coffee cup. He was right about the deadline, but I wasn’t going to move until I’d drained my mug. I needed the extra caffeine to get through another long, boring afternoon of legal documents.
“Well, Gabe, there’s rich, and then there’s rich,” Jeff mused thoughtfully. He was in no hurry, either.
“Some of them are like us, except they work harder, pick better stocks, or hit the Powerball,” he explained with a grin. “They might be careful with money or toss it around like confetti, but believe me, they know they have it.”
“On the other hand, the truly rich don’t even think about money. They want something and it appears like magic. They don’t know where it came from or how it got there. They don’t even realize that the help gets paid. They exist on a higher plane with an expectation of being served. They are definitely not like us.”
“I don’t think I could ever get into that mindset,” I interjected. “I guess you have to be born to it.”
“Yeah, probably,” Jeff agreed. “But you could get a taste of it if you’re willing to take a chance.”
“What do you mean?”
“I went out to one of those big estates on Long Island last month with my cousin Curtis,” Jeff explained. “He made partner a few months ago and a rich client invited him to a party there. It was really something. Huge house, pool, even a stable. There were so many people that the staff had no idea who should or shouldn’t be there.”
“I’ll bet we could show up Monday afternoon and bluff our way in,” Jeff said with his reckless grin. “It’s Labor Day, right? Bound to be a big party. Worst case, we’ll be asked to leave.”
I’d never tried anything like that, but Jeff had a lot of these Wedding Crashers type stories. He claimed to have gotten lucky a couple of times in addition to enjoying lots of free food and booze. Jeff was tall and good looking, with a mop of unruly light brown hair and a winning smile. It wasn’t hard to imagine him getting into a party uninvited, he had an easy charm and that ‘prep school’ look going for him.
I was sort of 'Jeff lite’, not quite as tall or handsome, and less comfortable socially. Darker hair and coloring gave me a vaguely ‘ethnic’ look. My build was more swimmer than Jeff’s halfback and my stories weren’t quite as interesting. In short, I was the perfect wingman to help an up-and-coming young talent shine by comparison.
Jeff was almost a lawyer, having failed the bar exam by ‘a lousy two questions’ on his first attempt. He was doing legal grunt work under the supervision of an associate at the firm of Harvick, Colton, & Moore while prepping for his next attempt. His dad and Colton golfed together, so Jeff was already well positioned on the partner track.
I spent my days with the firm as a lowly paralegal, handling quite a bit of Jeff’s work as well as my own. I didn’t really mind; it all paid the same and Jeff was interesting to hang out with. He even coached me with my own studies once in a while. I was studying law at night because I couldn’t bring myself to take out big loans like most young lawyers.
Both of my parents had an aversion to borrowing money, and that trait was passed on to me. I can remember them giving each other an extra mortgage payment instead of an anniversary or birthday gift. They’d paid off our little house in Queens in less than 20 years. I figured to pass the bar myself in another couple of years without a mountain of debt to weigh me down.
* * * * * * * * * *
Long Island is huge, the largest island in the lower 48. My family often made ninety-mile day trips from Queens to Montauk when I was a kid, so I wasn’t surprised when we drove east on the Long Island Expressway for almost an hour. Another 15 minutes on the surface streets brought us to Jeff’s target.
The property had a quarter-mile of white board fence that stood out brightly against the deep green of the carefully tended grass. There were several beautiful horses grazing in fields that looked tidier than the lawns back in Queens. The fence became a masonry wall as it approached the house and grounds where we intended to crash the party.
We pulled up to the estate in Jeff’s BMW 330. I thought it was a pretty nice car, but it was an econobox compared to the high-end luxury cars along the drive. There were some big Mercedes sedans, a couple of Ferraris, and a Maserati that I only recognized because of its badge. The cars were overshadowed by the immense mansion that must have cost millions to build. I couldn’t even guess at how many rooms, and I made a mental note to Google the place later to get the backstory.
The main gate was open and we strolled in unchallenged. Jeff gave me an ‘I told you so’ grin as we made our way to the right through manicured gardens to the pool area. It was almost forty yards past the house. There were at least fifty people gathered there, but the pool was big enough that it didn’t seem crowded. It looked like a typical bunch of frat bros and Instagram girls. I felt a little self-conscious as we made our way among the boisterous hard bodies, but Jeff greeted several guys as if he knew them and introduced me around as though he were hosting rather than crashing. I couldn’t help but admire his nerve.
We got a couple of margaritas at the bar and Jeff edged up to a group of hot girls in tiny bikinis who were absorbed in posting pool selfies. He gave me his 'look' that meant he wanted to fly solo for a while, so I decided to go exploring.
While Jeff tried his lines on the cuties, I wandered through the beautifully tended grounds that separated the pool area from the main house. There were white gravel paths, immaculate flower beds, stone benches, and a few pieces of statuary. I couldn’t resist climbing the marble steps that led up to a half-acre veranda paved with even more white marble.
I walked along the balustrade to get a better view of the grounds beyond the pool area. The stable was visible to my left, partially obscured by a thick hedge, and the blue water of Long Island Sound was visible in the distance. But the best view was of a petite woman stretched out in the sun on a fully reclined chaise lounge. I'd inadvertently invaded her ‘bubble’ as I walked along with my attention directed elsewhere.
“You don’t belong here,” she observed as casually as I might have said ‘nice day’. “Aren’t you supposed to be at the pool?”
“Uh. . . I’m just looking around,” I offered uncertainly.
“Oh, I don’t mind,” she replied. “Not really, at least you’re something different.”
“Put some lotion on my back,” she continued, as she untied her bikini top, holding it in place with one hand while rolling over on the lounge chair.
The bottle was on a low table next to the chair. It had been standing in the sun and the lotion felt warm as I squirted it into the palm of my hand. Her back felt even warmer as I gingerly began to rub it in. I felt a surge of arousal at the sensual feel of her creamy, smooth skin. She had a golden glow that evoked an autumn sunset, but with no hint of over tanning or sun-damaged skin.
“Don’t be shy, spread it evenly,” she said, pulling a tawny blonde ponytail out of my way.
I moved my hands up to her exposed neck and increased my pressure a bit, turning it into an impromptu massage. I kneaded lightly around her shoulder blades and then worked my way down to the top of her bikini bottom, spreading the lotion along her sides. The intimate feel of her warm skin made my pulse quicken and aroused feelings that made me blush. I was glad that she was lying face down.
I resisted the temptation to go lower and explore the rounded contours inside the skimpy swimsuit bottom. Instead, I moved my hands to the middle of her back and then worked my way up her spine with my thumbs.
“That’s good,” she said suddenly. “Come back in twenty minutes.”
“Uh . . . what?”
“I’m sunbathing now, come back in twenty minutes,” she said curtly.
“OK,” I said, wondering what was going on.
I was slightly annoyed at her tone, but held my tongue and walked back to the pool area.
“Any luck?” I asked Jeff as I kept one eye on the time.
“I got a couple of phone numbers already,” he boasted. “What about you? Where did you go?”
“I wanted to take a look at the gardens and wound up on the veranda,” I explained.
“Whoa, dude, you shouldn’t have done that. One of the girls told me the house is strictly off-limits. Today is pool party only.”
“Well, a woman on the veranda asked me to rub lotion on her back. She didn’t seem upset. In fact, she told me to be back in . . . 15 minutes,” I replied, looking at my watch again.
“A woman,” Jeff said with a smirk. “Someone’s mother?”
“No, she’s really beautiful,” I protested. “Maybe a few years older than us, but great skin, blonde hair, nice figure . . .”
I stopped short, cheeks turning red as I realized how much attraction I was feeling for a woman who hadn’t even told me her name.
“Don’t go falling in love,” Jeff teased. “Remember, we’re just good-time party crashers.”
“Aw, it’s not like that,” I mumbled, and made my way to the bar for another drink.
Jeff laughed and returned to the hunt. I watched him operate for a few minutes while I sipped at my margarita. I was one minute early returning to the veranda, hoping that promptness would count in my favor.
“Uh, hi again,” I ventured. “I’m Gabriel.”
“Right on time, I like that. A man should come when he’s called and not before,” she said without looking up. “I’m Daisy. Tie my top, please.”
I didn’t know what to say, so I just did as I was told. Daisy rolled over again and got to her feet. She stood about 5’ 2” to my 5’ 10” and weighed maybe 105 pounds, but there was no doubt who was in charge as she challenged me with startlingly green eyes. I noticed a few fine lines and realized that her heart-shaped face and trim figure made her seem younger than she really was.
“Come with me,” she said and led the way into the house.
I was impressed by both the scale and the décor. The rooms were bigger than any house I’d ever spent time in, and the ceilings higher. There was real art on the walls and the furniture was so tasteful that it almost screamed expensive. We made our way down a wide corridor to a bedroom suite as big as my whole apartment.
“Start the shower,” Daisy directed. “Make it nice and hot.”
I went to the connecting bathroom without comment. The intricately tiled shower stall was big enough to host a card game, with multiple nozzles and a bench along one side. I had to stand just inside to feel the water temperature with an outstretched hand.
“Come on, I want you to wash my back,” Daisy ordered.
She’d already dropped the bikini and I caught a glimpse of high, firm breasts as she stepped past me into the water. I felt shy and didn’t want to expose my arousal, so I pulled off my shirt and shoes and joined her in my board shorts.
Daisy was luxuriating under the hot water with her back to me. She pointed to a bottle of bodywash as she sensed my presence. Once again, I felt the warmth of her back as I spread the slippery liquid over her smooth skin. This time I didn’t hesitate to enjoy all the curves, bending over to run my hands all the way down to her toned calves. I came back up along the swell of her trim thighs and reached around to briefly cup her perfectly shaped breasts. The nipples felt hard against my palms and I quivered with suppressed excitement. Daisy let me explore her body until the soap rinsed clean, and then turned to face me.
“Do you always wear your clothes in the shower?” she laughed.
“I wasn’t sure what you wanted,” I said sheepishly.
“I want those shorts off,” she commanded bluntly.
It was the first time I'd ever shared such an intimate shower scene. The hot water cascaded over our joined bodies as our passion flared and mingled. Time seemed to slow down as I tried to stay in that moment forever, and then sped up again in an uncontrollable rush. The unaccustomed exertion left me exhilarated and gasping for breath. My legs felt rubbery and I sank back onto the shower bench, totally spent.
I watched Daisy finish her shower, needing some recovery time before trying to stand up myself. She turned off the water and stepped out without a word, merely grabbing a couple of towels from a nearby rack.
The fluffy, white towels were luxuriously soft and I used a second one to wring out my shorts after drying myself off. They were still damp, of course, but at least I wouldn’t drip all over the floor on my way out.
“You’d better get back to the pool,” Daisy said coolly.
“Can I see you again?” I asked hopefully.
She gave me a calculating look that transformed into an amused smile at my earnest demeanor.
“Why not?” she said, as though speaking to herself. “I’ve always had a soft spot for puppy dogs and dark-eyed men. Find me when you come next week, I might be in the mood for another massage. I’ll let the house staff know it’s okay.”
* * * * * * * * * *
“I’m still curious about how your shorts got wet before you got into the pool,” Jeff said. “I think there’s more to the story than you’re letting on.”
He’d been telling the guys in the breakroom about our Labor Day adventure, but I hadn’t offered any details of my own. I’d just nodded and backed him up like any good wingman would. I was feeling at least half in love with Daisy and I didn't want to spoil the memory by sharing it with the guys. I knew what sort of crass comments they'd make. I was also feeling good that I'd done better than Jeff and I wanted to savor the feeling for a while.
“Loan me your car Monday afternoon and I’ll tell you the whole thing later,” I told Jeff mysteriously.
* * * * * * * * * *
I arrived at the estate about the same time I’d climbed the veranda steps the week before. There was no guarantee, of course, but I figured to repeat the experience as closely as possible to enhance my odds. The gate was closed, but I was allowed in by a big guy in a spotless white guayabera who had to be one of the house staff.
“Go around back to the veranda, please,” he smiled slyly.
Daisy was relaxing under a patio umbrella with a book. I could make out a couple embracing on the cover, and the slanting afternoon sun gave the scene a hazy golden glow. She took a sip from a tall glass as I approached. Beads of condensation ran down the sides of an ice-cold pitcher on the table.
“I love Autumn,” she said as I sat down. “The light is just perfect and the sun is warm without being too hot. Have some iced tea if you like. I’ve got a few more pages in this chapter.”
“Whoa, this is more than tea,” I said, surprised by a hint of alcohol. “Long Island Iced Tea?”
“Hardly,” she sniffed. “It’s sweetened with Bärenjäger. Just enough to provide a nice glow. There’s no point in being a drunken fool.”
She returned to the book and read for five minutes while I enjoyed the tea. It was an excellent flavor combination and it helped steady my nerves.
“Let’s try that massage again,” Daisy suggested, marking her place and putting the book down.
The bedroom suite was the same, except for a professional looking massage table set up near the bed. She hadn’t had any doubt that I’d be back. And, once again, Daisy dropped her clothes without any inhibition whatsoever.
“Put some towels down,” she directed.
I draped a couple of the luxurious towels over the massage table and Daisy took her place, face down and relaxed. I’m no masseur, but I thought of Jeff and decided I could fake it. I put another towel over Daisy’s lower half and looked around. A bottle of coconut oil stood in a ceramic vase on a nearby table. When I grabbed the bottle, I realized that the ‘vase’ was some sort of electric warmer.
The warm oil felt good as I poured some out in my hand and then transferred it to Daisy’s back. I followed much the same pattern as the week before, but I was less shy and took my time. I worked on her upper arms and down her toned legs, as well as rubbing her back. I enjoyed the intimate feel of her skin under my hands and thought idly that massage wouldn’t be such a bad job.
Just as I was congratulating myself for my skills, Daisy began to stir. I wondered if I’d done something wrong.
“That’s enough,” she said and slipped off the table. “Now it’s your turn to lie down.”
“No, face up,” she corrected me as I tried to get in position for my massage. “And clothes off.”
I felt embarrassed that I'd misread her intentions and disappointed that I wasn't getting a massage myself. Lying naked on the massage table made me feel intimidated and exposed, but also incredibly aroused. I felt a complex mix of anxiety and need as I clung to the sides of the table for fear that we might slide off. It was an experience that I was unlikely to repeat, but even less likely to forget. And it left me even deeper under Daisy's spell.
“That felt good,” she said with the same satisfaction that might have accompanied a vigorous bicycle ride. “You can get back to your pool now.”
“Wait, can we . . .” I trailed off, not sure what to say, but wanting something more, some sort of deeper connection.
“No, I don’t think so,” Daisy replied doubtfully. “At least, not now. Perhaps next week.”
* * * * * * * * * *
September flowed seamlessly into October, with cool mornings and lingering, warm afternoons. The sun slipped a little lower every week, and so did my standing at the firm. My job was actually in danger after skipping out every Monday afternoon for a month, but I couldn’t resist Daisy’s allure.
The bedroom suite witnessed variations on our theme, but the outline was always the same. Daisy always met me on the veranda and sent me out via the pool. I wanted desperately to expand our relationship, meet her friends, go out on a normal date, but somehow, it never worked out.
A cold front finally blew in from the North Atlantic in late October. It brought portents of Winter with a driving rain that closed down the view as I made my way toward the estate. I wasn’t surprised when the guayabera guy merely shook his head and turned me away. The season was over.
* * * * * * * * * *
“You never did tell me about Long Island?” asked Veronica.
She and Daisy were enjoying drinks as they gazed out over Melbourne Harbour. A fresh, warm breeze blew the scent of southern hemisphere springtime over Veronica’s terrace.
“It was a bit boring. Too many college kids, brokers, and lawyers. Not nearly enough interesting men,” Daisy sighed.
“There was a pool boy, though,” she mused thoughtfully. “He had nice manners and strong hands. His English was quite good and he gave a great massage. I didn’t quite catch his name, but I’ll remember those smoldering dark eyes.”
“Go on then, give us the juicy details,” Veronica smiled knowingly at her favorite house guest. Such an impetuous girl! Daisy was always good for an amusing story.
Author's note: ▼