Short story: The mysterious man from the beach

Your discomfort should not does not inhibit my creativity.

“This used to be my boat,” Robert told her as they stood at the gate of the Yacht Club, peering through the cast iron fence.

Samantha looked at the giant yacht hoisted on a trailer behind the bars. There was a large ‘for sale’ sign attached to the tarp which covered the boat, right above the name.

Robert glanced at Samantha as she stared at the name of the boat.

“She wasn’t always called that,” he told her, which made her turn to look at him. “I mean, Alimony seems more…apt, now.”

Samantha noticed how Robert’s face changed when he spoke about his boat. Obviously, naming her Alimony implied something which she didn’t really feel comfortable asking about. Not yet, anyhow. She decided not to ask about the previous name either, even though she was really curious about what it could have been before.

“Has there been any interest?” she inquired instead.

“Yes, but they’re all low balling,” he responded and placed his hand on her back, gently guiding her away from the fence. “Should we walk along the path for a bit, look at the fall colours?”

Samantha smiled at him when he reached for her hand. He was obviously trying to change the subject, she thought, and squeezed his hand as they walked away from the yacht club.

***

Back at his condo, she admired the view of the sparkling lake through the balcony doors. She could hear him clanking with the glasses and pouring drinks behind her.

“How long have you lived here?” she asked him while turning around to receive her glass.

“About a year.”

He seemed less chatty than earlier when they strolled along the park trail, taking in fall’s colourful splashes of splendor.

This was the first time Robert had invited her to his condo, but it wasn’t the first time they had a date. She had met him for coffee once before, and lunch another time, both casual rendezvous arranged during their work days. She enjoyed these short encounters between work meetings and obligations; it gave them both something to look forward to as a break away from the stress of their jobs.

One day last week, he asked her out to dinner on a Saturday. He suggested steaks and salad at his condo. “If the weather cooperates, we can eat on the balcony overlooking the lake,” he told her.

She said yes, realizing it was time to get to know him a little bit more intimately.

***

It was over a month ago when she met him on a local beach. She was walking with her dog and her son when she spotted a man sitting on a camping chair looking out at he water. She remembered pondering why he was there alone, and instinctively looked for small children or pets nearby. Usually it was parents, or dog owners, who frequented this beach. But the beach was deserted and this man on the camping chair seemed a little out of place.

He had noticed them too. Samantha thought it was probably because of the dog, who was still a puppy. People are attracted to puppies, and hers was particularly cute with his big ears and his white-tipped tail.

Inadvertently, the man on the camping chair started asking them about their dog. Samantha noticed he was really attractive and although it was her son who answered most of the questions, she kept an eye on the dynamic between the three of them.

When the puppy pulled her son further toward the beach, Samantha hesitated for a moment before following him. She wondered about this man who was sitting there all alone, but in the end she decided now was not the right time to engage in a conversation with an attractive stranger. Her separation was still a sore topic for her son so she didn’t want to invite a hostile reaction from him.

“Nice talking to you,” she said to the man on the chair and waved as she turned to follow her son and dog. She didn’t expect to see him again.

About thirty minutes later though, they saw that same man walking toward them on a path. He was carrying his camping chair and briefly stopped to say hello once again.

“How did your puppy enjoy his walk?” he inquired.

“He almost rolled in a dead fish,” Samantha responded.

The man smiled at that remark.

“I had a lab once, she did that too. You can’t take your eyes off them for a second,” he chuckled. Samantha noticed her son was being pulled along by the dog.

“I better catch up with them,” she said, flashing him a smile. But then, she stopped in her tracks and, almost against her will, decided to ask him something.

“Where are you heading?” she asked, looking at the chair he was carrying over his shoulder.

“The Yacht Club,” the man responded. “Do you know it?”

Samantha looked at him a little more intently. Did he look like a boat owner? What do boat owners look like?

“I’ve walked past there a few times,” she responded. “There’s a coffee shop just up the road from there…”

The man nodded at that remark.

“I know it,” he said. “Maybe I’ll see you there sometime.”

Samantha felt her heart skip a beat when he insinuated that they might meet again.

“Maybe,” she smiled at him. “Enjoy your day.”

“You too,” the man said and continued on his walk along the path.

As Samantha hurried to catch up with her boy and dog, she found herself longing to know more about this man. Something warm and tingly seeped through her body, a feeling she barely recognized. It’s been a long time since she felt this distracted about a man, she realized.

***

Samantha willed herself back into the present tense. She was in Robert’s condo, holding a drink in her hand.

Robert opened the balcony doors and pointed to the two chairs situated along the brick wall. The balcony was large enough for two chairs, a little bistro table, and a small, portable grill on the one end of it. On the other end, Samantha noticed a couple of potted plants, one with flowers. This pleased her. A man who takes care of plants and flowers has a nurturing quality, she knew, and smiled to herself. She, too, liked flowers, and gardening.

“Let’s sit and have our drinks here,” Robert told Samantha and waited for her to step through the doors.

They sat down together and glanced at the lake down below.

After a while, Samantha turned to look at Robert. He really was quite attractive with his dark hair, and dark eyes. She knew he had muscular legs from that day on the beach when he wore shorts. He reminded her of someone who might cycle, or go to spin classes for fitness. Years ago, she had dated a man who cycled to work every day and remembered how toned his legs were. Robert’s legs looked like that, toned and muscular.

Samantha shifted in her seat. Her body felt tense, but not in an unpleasant way. She took a sip of her drink, keenly aware that Robert was watching her.

“Everything alright,” he asked her. “Hungry?”

Not that kind of hungry, she thought and pressed her lips together. But she nodded her agreement and offered to help him get the food ready.

“I’ll just start the grill,” he told her and got up to open the lid of his barbecue he had placed on the little stand next to his chair.

Samantha glanced at his profile while he fiddled with the grill. He was at least half a foot taller than her, with nice muscle definitions along his back and arms.

Nice buns, too, she thought and the quickly looked away.

Where was her mind today? She didn’t want to come across as desperate, or needy. Being alone with a man in a romantic setting seemed almost foreign to her. She hadn’t dated since before the kids came, and they were teenagers now.

Samantha tried to relax and enjoy her evening with Robert. His calm disposition and reassuring quality reinforced a casual atmosphere, not one that implied some hidden agenda. She felt quite safe, and didn’t hold any expectations as to what this evening will bring, despite the fact that she felt an odd sensation between her legs.

Just relax, she chided herself silently. She reminded herself that Robert seemed a little lonely and was probably happy to have a companion to share dinner with. He also gave an air of mystery, partly because he seemed quiet, not exactly a conversation starter.

Samantha didn’t mind quiet. She was used to it, living with her teenage sons. They weren’t the most talkative creatures. But Robert seemed different. He acted guarded, never letting on more than just what scratched the surface. Always polite and courteous, with old-school manners, Samantha appreciated the simplicity of their get togethers. She was used to so much drama with her ex, it was kind of a nice change of pace for her to be with a man who was laid-back and easy going.

“Let’s get the steaks on the grill,” Robert suddenly interrupted her thoughts. He stopped in front of her chair which Samantha took as an invitation to follow him inside. Together, they walked back into the condo to prep their dinner.

*****

Copyright © Claudette Labriola

Feedback is welcome and encouraged. Be honest. Thank you for reading.

PS some of you may recognize Samantha from another story. I decided to keep that character and pair her up with Robert here in this story.

28 thoughts on “Short story: The mysterious man from the beach

  1. What do boat owners look like? Well, they’re devilishly handsome, for starters. Quick-witted and intelligent. Great in bed.

    But that’s neither here nor there.

    I like the story. There are some punctuation and grammatical errors here and there, but I’m not going to pick those apart. That’s the job of an editor! Or a friend you can bug. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi! 🙂 Great reading. Enjoyed the story very much! The only thing I noticed in regard to grammar or sentence structure was in the sentence: “She felt quite safe, and didn’t hold any expectations as to what this evening will bring, despite…” I believe, the word “will” should be “would,” so it reads, “…and didn’t hold any expectations as to what this evening would bring….” I could be wrong, but tense is something I struggle with myself, but I have been trying to be more consistent about it. Otherwise, I’d love to read more of this story. It sounds like it is going somewhere.

    P.S. I can only guess why the boat would be better called, “Alimony.” I’m curious what the name of it was before 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you very for bringing this up. This is the reason published authors use editors. 🙂

      I have a list of grammatical issues, I’ll put this one down as well. Thank you for reading and commenting.

      I am working on the next installment… 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Very good!
    I loved these sentences:
    “Did he look like a boat owner? What do boat owners look like?”
    They say a lot about Samantha in a subtle way.
    And the name of the boat is great…I want to know why it got to be “Alimony.”
    Can’t wait for the next chapter!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. The characters are interesting, their dialogue casual and believable and I want to get to know them more, however…and this is my own issue… I fear I am reading too many thrillers/mysteries/evil villain type books as my suspicion leads me to believe that Robert will turn out to be a serial killer and that yacht has a whole bunch of dead female bodies in it!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. I like Samantha’s personality. She’s not expecting, but is expecting. She sees a quiet man that could be a nurturer, in spite of a past tumultuous relationship. Robert’s demeanor implies regret and a desire for a do-over. This couple experiences bad memories with a spouse that made an impact but is no longer there. Both are walking on eggshells. Id love to get to know them more as I compare my life experiences to theirs. They will make a great couple if they can throw away past burdens.
    -NIce Work-

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Well thank you. 🙂

      Samantha is a soft spot for me, I had developed her in a different story (with a different man) before, but for a different audience. I appreciate your feedback, thank you kindly. I have plans for these two… 😉

      Like

  6. The man from the beach returns! This was well thought out, well edited and over all you have my interest and held it. A good afternoon read. The only constructive criticism I can offer is technical. If you would like, if not just stop reading here and ignore me. You used the word attractive twice because Robert is, I totally get it but why not switch up the wording (if you like or keep it as is) and use “handsome” instead of attractive? Just to add a little variety. The description you use for Robert in the condo could be moved up to when Samantha meets him on the beach so the reader understands what Samantha found attractive about him. And I would remove one sentence “He reminded her of someone who might cycle, or go to spin classes for fitness” because the flow is better with the comparison of the guy years ago and his legs. Just my two cents and you can disregard it. I hope to read more and I hope I didn’t come off harshly. Feel free to take a swing at my work in retaliation LOL.

    Liked by 2 people

Share your thoughts!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.