Chapter 23: Avalon, S.C.

We didn’t make it back to the boat ramp before dark.  In fact, we ended up having to hurry down the path to make it to the boat before dark.

Not to mention that we were a mess.  My back was clawed and my body was sore from lying on the hard ground, not to mention a surfeit of sexual excess.  The thin towel and discarded clothing kept getting shoved aside so we spent most of the afternoon in intimate contact with leaves and sticks and forest debris.  But I didn’t complain.  Chai bore the brunt of the abuse, bearing my weight and hers both for much of the afternoon, and she wasn’t complaining.

It was sex like I’d never experienced before.  Two minutes after I entered her the first time, I was no longer Rick and she was no longer Chai.  I was the sky, she the earth.  I was the elder druid, she the high priestess.  I was satyr, she the nymph who had succumbed to my pipes.  I was cock, she was cunt.

There was also no showing off of prowess learned over past encounters or tricks garnered from how-to books.  No compulsive desire to give pleasure.  We were possessions to be possessed; we took and we used.  In a way we rutted like animals, just as she had described the rites of Beltane.  And we rutted like animals in other ways as well, so I’m certain her knees were as abused as her back (mine certainly were).

There were also no emotions belonging to the love family.  No romantic love, no courtly love, no puppy love, no genuine affection that might become love, not even any like-you-a-lot.  None of those emotions that normally engender lovemaking, or which often result unbidden from intimacy.  But it would be wildly inaccurate to say that there were no emotions.  We were awash with emotions; they just mostly happened to be more cosmic than mere love between two insignificant mortals.  The residual lust of the gods, I suppose.

Here’s another funny thing: on the way back down the path and in the boat, there was none of that discomfort between two people who have had sex the first time and aren’t sure about their new relationship.  Sex changes all relationships irrevocably, and it had definitely changed ours.  But there wasn’t any forced conversation or phony displays of affection.  On the slow ride home she rested her hand on my shoulder, but it was natural as it should have been.  We knew what our new relationship was: sky and earth, etc.

All of that pretty much evaporated when we got back to my place.  Back in the real world, we really had to define our relationship in more worldly, usable terms than elder druid and high priestess, or even cunt and cock.

“Gaia, I’m a fright.  Be a gentleman and let me at the shower first.”  She’d brought an overnight bag in from her car.  “And perhaps you’d consider making martinis while I start the restoration process?  Whatever you have is fine; at the moment, I’m not a bit picky.”

“Would you like to stay over, Chai?  I’d hate for you to have to drive the road from hell in the dark.  But then, you have . . .” what was the name of her prissy excuse for a dog?  Named after some old movie stud.  Errol, Cooper, Bogey, ah got it. “. . . Valentino you have to take care of.”

“Valentino is having a little sleep-over tonight.  He’s so sensitive, I didn’t want him to have to live with having disrupted whatever destiny our date was headed toward.”

Hmm.  Condoms in the picnic supplies, dog sitter for the night.  It was beginning to look like the outcome of this outing had been previously decided and I was just an unwitting participant.  The contrarian side of my personality started to get ornery, but really, what was the point?  I’d had an afternoon of the most interesting sex of my life, and it looked like there was more to come.  Getting pissy about it seemed childish.

So I shut up and fixed the martinis.  Took one in and handed it to her through the shower curtain.

“Starting the recovery process” took more than an hour.  I prowled for a while, then took my drink to the back porch and just sat.  Didn’t read or anything, just let my mind wander where it would.  Which was pretty much back to the magic of Avalon.

Chai came out and kissed me on the top of my head.  “I didn’t use all the hot water, although I wanted to.”  She laughed a throaty chuckle.  “I have an impressive display of bruises in some of the most interesting places.”  She pulled up the hem of her long shirt and displayed one on a buttock, coincidentally demonstrating that she hadn’t bothered with panties.  Ever the gentleman, I kissed the bruise gently.

I took a second martini into the shower where, as promised, there was hot water.  I didn’t linger to find out how much.

Safely dressed in shirt and slacks—and underwear—I showed Chai the picture of the necklace George had commissioned from Stedman’s Jewelry.  She stared at it for a long time, her face showing some of the same distant preoccupation she’d had back on the island.

“This is the triple goddess.  Or rather, the goddess in all three of her aspects: the maiden, the mother, and the crone.  It’s the theme of the amulet that I wear as well, although mine is a poor relation of this magnificent piece.”  She pulled up a silver pendent from among the tangle of beads, a mounted moonstone flanked on either side by a crescent moon.

“Poor relation or not, it is still the goddess.  We should give her more prominence.”  I gently removed the beads from her neck, leaving only the pendent.  And all the while wondering: where the hell did that come from?

“Did you notice the picture of the woman he had it made for?  It’s in the bedroom.”

“If you’re trying to seduce me by showing me your etchings, sir, you’re a bit too late.”

It was indeed a bit too late.  Standing beside the bed and gazing at the portrait of the pregnant golden-haired woman, I was as aware of the bed as the painting.  We were going to end up there, and how would it be after the raw power of our mating on the island?

Chai spoke as if she was reading my mind.  “Yes, it is the elephant in the room, is it not?  Having fully experienced the wonder of Beltane in November, what is mere mortal sex going to be like?  Will the memories of how it was inside the circle be enhancing or distracting?  Worse, will we be bored?  Yesterday it was exciting to anticipate.  But now?”  She took my hands in hers.  “Well, dear one, I suppose there’s no time like the present to find out.”

I can safely say that I wasn’t bored; if she was, she hid it very well.  We were gentle and polite.  We concentrated on giving pleasure, and I was aware of a certain showing off prowess on both our parts that had been absent before.  We savored and explored, things we had not done on the island.  We discovered things about each other’s responses and preferences we hadn’t learned that afternoon.  We got up and found something to eat, and afterward the second time was better than the first had been.

Neither time came close to our afternoon on Avalon.  But after awhile, it didn’t matter.  We’d experienced that, and now we were experiencing this, and it was all good.

Reminded me of the old joke.  “I just had the worst sex I’ve ever had.”  “Really?  How was it?”  “Great.”

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24 thoughts on “Chapter 23: Avalon, S.C.

  1. I have a love/hate reaction to this chapter.

    Love the writing. Great description of earthy, carnal, over-the-top, cosmic sex. Without graphic details, I totally get the picture. Well done. Great soft landing back at the cottage. Rates a fantastic for Rick’s reaction to realizing that he’d been set up.
    “So I shut up and fixed the martinis. Took one in and handed it to her through the shower curtain.”
    Very believable and Rick-like.

    Now to the hate part. I know, I know. Rick asked Sabrina out, and even though she seemed sad and wistful she turned him down. But I am definitely Team Sabrina at this point in the story, so it feels like a betrayal. Ah, Rick.

    • Problem is, Sabrina is not on Team Sabrina yet, and Rick is still figuring out how he wants to deal with that–if he does.

    • Does anyone else feel that Rick has “betrayed” Sabrina? Since Susan is my writing partner, she’s expressed this strongly before. I keep trying to honor that, tone Rick down, etc., but I guess I’ve wondered all along if the critique is valid. Looking for other opinions, please.

      • Reading first draft, I felt strongly that Rick had betrayed Sabrina; this reading, however, I’m not so upset about it. Dunno why, other than I know how things end up (unless you’ve changed the ending on us). Realistically, Sabrina’s not available & may never be available; Rick got “set up”, he’s had 3 martinis, he’s on a magical island that makes people horny, who’d resist?

      • I am utterly fascinated by this. Just demonstrates, once again, that I have not one shred of understanding about how women think. So, answer me this: Our hero Rick, in a . . . what, a flirting friendship? . . . with a woman who considers herself to be in a committed, monogamous relationship with someone else. Rick can have a relationship of his own when:
        1) Never. Rick must remain celibate for life.
        2) Not until he convinces Sabrina to break up with JD, after which he is free to break up with Sabrina if it doesn’t work and ONLY THEN can he enter into a relationship of his own.
        3) Other . . .

        Would the situation be different if Sabrina were married to JD? Engaged? They are co-parenting a child and living together but not legally married?

  2. Three martinis has always gotten me in trouble. So, I find this totally believable. Especially since I seem to be identifying with Rick in a number of different ways. Except for the hair to ruffle. 🙂

  3. It’s interesting that the ladies are the ones uncomfortable with Rick’s dalliance with Chai and this “betrayal” of Sabrina. The truth is that from a guy’s perspective, it’s just sex.

    Men and women tend to have different attitudes about sex. Men tend to be way more casual and can see it as an activity no more binding than taking a walk together. Women, on the other hand tend to see it as far more commitment oriented. Perhaps this is because for half a million years before modern methods of pregnancy prevention, the woman of each such pairing ran the risk of unintentionally starting a family, whereas the men could (if they were unscrupulous enough) simply walk away without a second thought after the deed was done. Sort of the old illustration of the chicken and the pig at breakfast… the chicken has a vested interest but the pig is completely committed.

    So it’s the challenge for us male writers to reconcile the attitudes. Really, Sabrina has made herself completely unavailable to Rick except in jest, and unless Rick has a binding religious standard that prevents him from premarital sex, he has no reason to refrain from enjoying the uncommon willingness of Chai to offer her body without commitment or some cost. (Or perhaps there may be a cost we don’t see yet.)

    The real question is, does such a being as Chai exist outside the fantasies of adolescent boys, not to mention us boys who are not quite so adolescent? Even prostitutes offer their bodies to men in return for money. Are there really women who have sex with men just for the sheer pleasure of sex? Or is there always a goal to it for women? Certainly there are always exceptions to the rule but how common are the exceptions? And is my assessment of the difference correct? Can women have sex just for sex’s sake and can men truly not lose a part of themselves to a woman he is engaging in casual sex with?

    • The answer to the “real question” is yes–had a friend at one point that fit Chai’s attitude and description quite well. And I guess it was role reversal–for me, sex has never been casual, and I turned my own Chai down. She was one of the more fascinating people I have met, and was plenty attractive, but I never did her and am not sorry at all.

      • Totally agree. I confess to having turned down casual sex as well. But I’m not sure Chai qualifies as casual. Not true love for sure, and maybe without the island it would be totally casual. But.

      • David, Got her number? ;>

        In all seriousness, like you sex is never casual for me either. But it is acutely apparent to me that if I weren’t guided by religious conviction, it would be so easy to slip into an attitude of complacency if I allowed myself. It is not casual for me because I choose it to be so.

        Out of curiosity, do you think your taking her up on her offer would have wrecked your friendship? Is it possible that there might have been some hidden agenda on her part? Sometimes people say something and even mean it, but when the line has been crossed the reality is way different.

        I’m also curious about what the ladies think. Have any of you ever approached sex in a non-committed way or have you discussed it with friends who have?

  4. Hmmm, perhaps we (women, that is) have different standards for fictional men vs real men of our acquaintance. . . I don’t think Sabrina would be too upset over Rick’s dalliance with Chai, because she herself isn’t available even if she is interested.

    • I think you have pinpointed the problem precisely. It’s fiction, damnit. The relationships are supposed to progress like I want them to. If I wanted real life, I wouldn’t be reading this novel.

    • But taking this a step further. When I read a novel with a female lead, I experience the novel through her eyes/experiences, not the first interesting guy that comes along. So how come you women readers aren’t out there cheering for Rick?

      • We ARE cheering for Rick, BUT we know he’s interested in Sabrina so why’s he sleeping with someone else? I think it has to do what one expects to happen in a fictional romance — there’s a “formula” or “code of behavior” or something that Rick has violated. . . I think a woman novelist would have written this differently.

        That said, Rick’s behavior is more typical of real-life romance, which often doesn’t obey any “rules” & sometimes infuriates one’s friends.

      • Perfectly said, Ginny.

        There is (to me) also a HUGE difference between set-up, seduced, three-martini-judgement, under the influence of the island rutting and making love/giving pleasure in Rick’s bed. The first bothers me almost not at all. The latter is the issue.

        In my original comment, I said this “feels like” a betrayal. As I’ve thought about it, there is a definite edge to that response that I (the reader) have been betrayed, not Sabrina. As Ginny said so well, he violated the code.

      • I say in my own defense that “the code” is the code of the romance novel, not the whatever-this-is. If you think of it as a romance, even subconsciously, you’re going to feel betrayed. Happened in Strange Bedfellows too, if I recall.

      • Ahh, but whatever-this-is feels like a romcom mystery with an Arthurian fantasy twist. And has from the first line/first chapter.

    • Great point Ginny… maybe the readers here have zeroed on the fact that something seems to be sparking between Rick and Sabrina and then suddenly Chai has come into the picture. Could it be frustration of not seeing it coming?

  5. I’d like to add to the discussion a congratulations to Rusty for drawing us into the story and characters so that we care enough to debate! Not an easy thing to pull off.

  6. LOL! I think Chai’s commando-type.

    Sabrina and Rick have chemistry. but she’s taken. that doesn’t merit fidelity.
    Rick and Chai are grown. Should Sabrina and Rick hook up after she leaves (IF) JD, then Rick will be a cad if he maintains relations (thank you Mr. Clinton) with both.

    stella

    lol was the Bruce that asked for the # earlier the same Bruce I know?

    • Perhaps… 🙂

      And yes I was joking… my beautiful bride wouldn’t do too well with the concept of “friends with benefits.”

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