With the hot sun beating down and sweating a little from the humidity, Joel and Trevor loaded the file boxes into Trevor’s hatchback. Trevor looked at the boxes, idly curious, and then locked his car.
Joel gave the decrepit old Civic a suspicious glance. “Does it still run, or do you just push it now?” he asked.
Trevor snorted. “It gets me where I need to go, so why spend any money on something newer?”
Joel wiped a bead of sweat from his forehead with the back of his hand and glanced at the lowering sun. “It’s summer and your air conditioner is busted. You’ll cook.”
“I’m used to it,” Trevor said with a laugh, and then asked, “Want to grab something from a drive-through or eat on Atlantis? I’ve got sandwich stuff and hot dogs, plus snacks, but that’s about it at the moment. I haven’t restocked since the last charter.”
“Atlantis sounds good to me,” Joel said, turning to walk towards the dock as Trevor joined up by his side. Joel tugged his shirt off and tucked it into the back pocket of his Levis before adding, “I don’t like to eat a lot before drinking anyway.”
Trevor pulled off his own shirt and left it in his hand, and the two friends headed down the dock towards the Atlantis.
When they entered the salon, Joel said, “Could I grab that shower now and borrow some clothes later? I’m kinda ripe.”
Trevor nodded. “You guys can have the aft starboard cabin so just use that head. There are mini shampoo bottles and soaps under the sink.”
“Yeah, I remember that part,” Joel said, glancing around the salon. “Just, uh, refresh my memory, will ya? I know aft means the stern, but I keep getting the sides mixed up. Starboard is the right-hand side, right?”
Trevor grinned and laughed. “Bingo on starboard, and I’ll give you a helpful clue; port, being on the opposite side, is left. An easy way to remember it on Atlantis; the port side has three cabins and the starboard side has two. Or, easier for you because you rarely think of anything but food, the galley is to starboard. I’m sleeping in the portside forward passenger cabin and yours is diagonally opposite. If you need even better directions, it’s that-a-way,” Trevor said, pointing towards the stateroom.
Joel laughed and turned towards the stateroom as he said, “I think I can find it now, smartass.”
“At least I didn’t have to draw you a map,” Trevor replied with a laugh. He heard the cabin door close and got up, heading outside to his tiny crew cabin to grab a shower, mainly because his clean clothes were there, but also so he didn’t have as much work to do cleaning the guest bathrooms.
When he was done, he pulled on some clean boardies and headed for the salon, toweling his wet hair.
Taking a seat, Trevor slung the damp towel over his bare shoulder and began looking through his CD collection.
Trevor loaded a CD and hit play. A few moments later, Joel strolled into the salon, stopping just a few feet in front of Trevor, toweling his hair with both hands. What caught Trevor’s eye was that all Joel had on was a towel, which was slung very low around his hips. ‘Damn that’s hot. Any lower and he’ll be naked,’ Trevor thought, allowing himself a long look while Joel’s hair obscured his eyes. Trevor reluctantly turned his head to the left, looking at Atlantis’s stereo instead of his friend’s hot body.
Joel swept his hair back and asked, “How was the diving? I heard you had a charter to the Bahamas again over the weekend.”
Still looking at the stereo, Trevor replied, “Pretty cool. If Lisa can get her dad to let her go, I want to take you and her out there soon, now I’ve taught you how to dive. You’ll love it.”
“Sounds great. Damn, this is one kick-ass beautiful boat,” Joel said, watching Trevor carefully.
“Thanks, she’s a lot of work, but I love her,” Trevor replied, still gazing at his stereo.
“Is that stereo doing something really interesting, or is there some other reason you won’t look at me?” Joel asked, in a bemused tone.
Trevor shrugged and turned to look Joel in the face. “Your towel’s real low so I didn’t want to make you feel weird.”
Joel stared at Trevor for a moment before rolling his eyes and replying, “Let me guess: you think I’ll wig out if you look at me. Christ... Dude, we’ve been friends for years and we’ve seen each other naked plenty of times in the locker room, so chill. I wouldn’t have walked out here like this if I cared. What’s the big deal? Do you care when girls look at you?”
Trevor gave Joel an embarrassed smile. “Actually... on that last charter there were two divorcees aboard who got pretty brazen about checking me out. But no, girls looking at me doesn’t bother me.”
“So it should be different for me with you why, exactly? Looking at somebody isn’t the same as hitting on ‘em, and looking away just makes it kinda strange. And speaking of strange... Ever since you came out to me, you only invite me onboard or to your house if Lisa’s coming along. Same with this diving trip; it’s only if Lisa can go. I thought you were pissed at me or something, but it’s all part of the same issue, right?”
Trevor nodded. “Pretty much. I didn’t think you’d want to hang out with just me once you knew I’m... into guys.”
Joel rolled his eyes again and let his hands fall to his sides, making no move to pull up the towel that barely clung to his hips. “Dude, as far as I’m concerned, nothing changed.”
Trevor smiled. “Thanks. Okay, the invite for the dive trip is good whether Lisa can make it or not.”
Joel gasped, putting a horrified expression on his face as he blurted, “What? No way do I want to be all alone on a boat in the middle of the fucking ocean with a raving homosexual!” After holding his horrified expression for a couple of seconds and seeing Trevor’s shocked face, Joel began to crack up.
With a laugh of his own, Trevor hurled his towel at Joel and said, “Oh shut up, or I’m not lending you any damn clothes.”
“As long as you don’t turn off the beer supply, I don’t care,” Joel said, still laughing.
“You’d have a problem surfing in a towel or Levis tomorrow,” Trevor shot back.
“True, that,” Joel said, and then added, “But no beer would be a bigger problem. That’s a subtle hint, by the way.”
“Heineken or Corona?” Trevor asked as he got up.
“Heineken of course,” Joel replied.
Trevor pulled two bottles from the small bar refrigerator. Handing one to Joel, he said, “There’s plenty, and Julie can pick up more to restock so just help yourself.”
Joel cracked open the beer and took a long pull on the bottle. Then he said, “Okay, speaking of clothes... what’cha got for me?”
“Follow me,” Trevor said, leading the way out into the cockpit, up onto the deck, and then forward past the salon to his cabin hatch.
While Trevor unlocked it, Joel said, “There’s something about Atlantis that’s never made sense to me; we just walked up to get to the deck and now we’re going to go down again, so that means your cabin is at about the same height as the others. So, why can’t you get to it from the salon area, like the rest?”
Trevor opened the hatch and stood, and flicked his thumb down at his cabin. “The Atlantis is a charter layout, so mine is the crew cabin, in the prow of the port hull. It’s got the same floor level as the rest. The passenger cabins are accessed from the salon, which is kind of half a story below the deck level, and then you step down again to go into the passenger cabins or galley. The roof of the passenger cabins and galley are right under the deck, but the salon sticks out halfway above it. So you’re right, my cabin floor is the same elevation as the other cabins. The reason the only way into it is from this hatch and down a ladder is there’s no way to get to it from the salon. The port forward passenger cabin and head are in the way, and the accessway would have to be within the port hull, which is too narrow to hold anything more than the passenger cabin that’s in the way. The underside of the salon is the underside of the wing between the hulls. So, short version, you can’t get there from here.”
Joel laughed and shook his head. “If the weather’s bad, it must suck having to come out on deck to get to your cabin.”
Trevor shrugged. “No big deal. If it’s rough, I just crash in the salon if we’re running full. Other times, like now, I just sleep in one of the passenger cabins because it’s more convenient. Sometimes I move my clothes and stuff too, but for just overnight, like now, I don’t bother.”
Trevor let Joel drop into the cabin first and snickered as Joel’s towel fell off when he landed. He didn’t see much; Joel’s shoulders were in the way.
“Oh shut up,” Joel replied with a laugh, wrapping the towel back around his waist as Trevor climbed down the ladder.
Trevor pulled open his tiny closet door and asked, “What do you want?”
“Just a pair of shorts that I can wear tomorrow, too. Make ‘em something Lisa will like.”
Joel watched as Trevor rifled through a couple of drawers. Then, after pausing to think, Trevor remembered that Lisa liked red and grabbed a pair of lifeguard shorts for Joel. “I think she’d like these,” he said, holding the bright red shorts up.
Joel took the shorts and looked at them for a second. “Great, thanks. I’ll get ‘em back to you,” he said, and then glanced at Trevor’s bathroom door for a moment before shrugging, flicking the towel off, and standing there naked for a moment before tugging the shorts on. Trevor didn’t turn to look, but neither did he look away. “See, no big deal, you see a lot more flesh at a swim meet, especially in the locker room,” Joel said, and then checked himself out in the mirror on the back of Trevor’s closet door. “Yeah, these look good on me, thanks.”
‘He’s trying really hard to let me know he’s okay with me,’Trevor thought, and then smiled.
Joel’s eyes met Trevor’s via the mirror, and Joel took a deep breath before saying, “You and I look a lot alike, almost enough to be brothers. Level with me... is that why you set me up with Lisa? I’m not stupid, Trev. I just want to hear it from you.”
The question, combined with the piercing look in Joel’s eyes, caught Trevor off guard, causing him to suck in his breath.
Trevor looked at the floor and replied, “That wasn’t the only reason, but it was part of it. Give me a chance to explain before you get pissed off, okay?”
Joel turned around and looked directly at Trevor. “I’m not really mad. I’m glad you did it. I just always wondered if you knew and I guess you do.”
Trevor didn’t answer right away. He just nodded and climbed out of his cabin, waiting for Joel to follow, then returned to the salon. He took a long drink from his beer and took a seat on the built-in sofa. Joel grabbed his own beer and sat down by Trevor’s side, taking a drink, not wanting to hurry his friend. Then, Trevor said quietly, “Yeah, I’ve known for a long time. I thought you’d be a good match for her, personality-wise, and you’d just broken up with your ex so you were single. I knew you well enough to know you’d be good to her, and yeah, there was the fact that you and I look a lot alike, so knowing that Lisa was kinda into me–”
“The term is ‘in love,’ and you know it,” Joel said, and then nudged Trevor’s arm with his own before adding, “It’s not you I’m bummed at. Take a wild guess how I figured it out? I’ll give you a hint; Lisa mixed up our names and called out yours. Just once, but at a very specific time.”
Trevor opened his mouth to reply, but then, in a flash, he understood, and his eyes opened wide in shock. “Oh, shit.”
Joel nodded. “Yeah, not real good for my ego when my girlfriend calls out your name while we’re having sex. She blew it off as a slip of the tongue, and I pretended to accept that. That’s what made it so obvious why you’d picked me. You knew she was in love with you and I look like you and have a similar personality, with one big difference from you, something I am and you’re not.”
“Straight,” Trevor said, hanging his head low and nodding.
“Why didn’t you tell me all of it,” Joel asked. “You and Lisa were always hanging out. I thought you were a couple. I told you that when you first tried to set us up, and that’s when you told me that you’re only into guys and you and Lisa were just good friends.”
“She’s my best friend and she was hurting. I knew she... I knew she loved me. I just wanted to find her someone she could be happy with, someone who would be good to her, and I wanted that for you too. Looking like me isn’t the main reason I picked you; I thought you two would be a good fit, and you and I have been friends a long time so I know you well. I couldn’t tell you she was in love with me, because I thought it would ruin any chance you two had.”
Joel nodded slowly. “When I first figured it out, I was kinda steamed. Jealous, I guess. Lisa opens up to you all the time but with me, it was different. If you hadn’t kept encouraging me, I think I’d have given up. But she’s started to let me in, finally; she told me about her mom and how that makes her push people way. I’ve also noticed that Lisa looks at you differently now than she did a couple of months ago: no more moony eyes. Long story short, I think she’s finally dating me for me and not as a stand-in for you. I like her a lot so that’s something I’ve been hoping for, for a long time.”
“So, you’re not mad at me for not telling you?” Trevor asked.
Joel shrugged. “Nah, nothing a few beers won’t fix. Hell, if you hadn’t kept me in the dark I probably wouldn’t be with Lisa now, so no complaints on that from me. I just wanted you to know that I know. That, and to say something I thought I’d never have reason to say to a guy...” Joel twisted sideways, grasped Trevor’s forearm to his own, and then said in a solemn tone, “I’m really, really glad you’re gay.”
Both guys looked at each other and began laughing. Joel leaned back on the couch and said, “Okay, I was hamming for effect there, but I mean it. That leaves one other thing that I was kinda pissed off about: you treating me different after you came out to me. We already talked about that, so just trust me when I say nothing changed for me, okay? You’re into guys and I’m not, big deal.”
Joel looked at Trevor and grinned. “So, on the level, what were you thinking when you first saw me in that towel? Hoping it’d drop?”
Trevor laughed. “Not exactly. I thought you looked hot, but I wasn’t picturing you naked or anything – just good to look at. Then I thought you’d stress if you saw me checking you out, so I turned away.”
Joel shook his head, still grinning. “Okay, that’s slightly weird, but nothing that’d bother me. So I guess there’s one other thing, and I’ll start off by saying that Lisa put me up to it, but I agree with her. She asked me to see if I could set you up with a guy and I said I’d try. He’s a swimmer; a friend of my brother’s but goes to school down in Saint Lucie. He’s a senior, and a hot looker–”
Trevor held up a hand and shook his head. “Whoa, thanks, but like I keep telling Lisa, over and over again, I don’t want to start dating again yet. I’m not out to my dad and sneaking around sucks. Besides, between Atlantis and school, I’ve got almost no time. Tell ya what... remind me again in a few months, maybe things will be different by then, okay?”
“Deal, and in the meantime I’ll try to keep Lisa off your case on this issue.”
Trevor shook his head in exasperation. “She’s persistent, I’ll give her that. Actually, you probably don’t know the half of it. I pretty much begged her to lay off about my sex life when you’re around.”
Joel laughed and nodded. “I thought she was better behaved than normal at the chandlery today. Why around me though?”
“She gets kinda explicit sometimes and I didn’t know how you’d react to that kind of talk about me and guys. I guess that’s not a worry anymore, but the other part of it is I just want her to ease off and you were a good excuse. It’s embarrassing, man. Just the other day she discovered that a new guy at school is gay and dragged him along to meet me, right when I was getting out of the pool after a workout. She’s done that a few other times too, always at the pool after my workout.”
Joel’s eyes opened wide, and then he doubled over, laughing hard. “Oh damn, sorry man, but that’s fucking hilarious,” he gasped between bouts of laughter, finally getting himself under control enough to say, “Talk about a meat market... shit, she’s lucky you didn’t drown her.”
“The thought did cross my mind,” Trevor said with a smirk.
The salon’s sliding door opened and Lisa strolled in. “A thought crossed your mind, Trev? Stop lying; we all know that you never think. Now, what’s the topic of conversation, and get me a beer.”
Joel got up and opened the bar refrigerator to get a beer. As he bent over, Lisa said, “Nice shorts; they look hot on you, Joel.”
Joel handed Lisa a beer and replied with a satisfied smile, “Thanks. I’ll buy a pair next time I’m in the store. That reminds me; I want to go to Orlando and hit the malls sometime soon and do some shopping. When would be a good time for you?”
Lisa shrugged. “Anytime, just let me know a day or two in advance.”
“Feel like coming with us?” Joel asked Trevor.
“Thanks, but I’ll pass on that,” Trevor replied, as Lisa began to laugh.
“Trev would rather walk barefoot through fire than go shopping,” Lisa said with a bemused shake of her head. “I’ve tried to drag him along enough times to know that for a fact.”
“Depends on just how much fire we’re talking about, but yeah. I’ll pass on the shopping, but thanks for the invite, Joel,” Trevor replied.
“I’ve been shortchanged. I end up with a gay best friend but he hates shopping,” Lisa grumbled.
The topic of conversation turned to the other people they knew; how they’d done on their exams, who was dating who, who was on the rocks, who was strung out... It wasn’t anything new, but over beers, the three friends chatted on into the night, none of them conscious of the irony; they were celebrating their first night of summer break by talking about school.
“What time are we casting off?” Joel asked, glancing at the clock.
“Probably around six, but it’ll take about an hour to get there so you guys can sleep in,” Trevor replied.
“It’s eleven now, so maybe we’d better crash,” Joel said, and then glanced at Lisa.
Trevor knew that sleep was not on Joel’s immediate agenda, so he smirked. “Yeah, you two better get to bed.”
With a bashful grin, Joel stood up and then helped Lisa to her feet. She looked over at Trevor and said with a wink, “Yeah, we should get some sleep... eventually. Goodnight, Trev.”
Trevor watched them go, and then padded away in the opposite direction to the cabin he planned to sleep in. He flopped out on the bed as soon as he was in the door, leaving the light off. Stretching back against the pillow, hoping that Lisa and Joel would have fun, he tried to get to sleep. ‘I just wish I wasn’t alone all the time and could have somebody too,’ he thought, wondering what it would be like to sleep with a guy. He’d had sex before, but never had he actually slept in the same bed with anyone.
Sleep did not come as easily as it usually did for Trevor. As he lay awake, tossing and turning, he wondered if maybe Lisa was right and he should start dating again, consequences be damned.
By six, Trevor was awake again and decided that he might as well get up. Getting up was easy enough; he’d slept in his board shorts, so all he had to do was climb out of bed and walk out the door and out onto the deck via the salon.
As soon as he was on deck, he stopped, feeling the soft, warm breeze on his skin. What he was thinking of mostly was its direction, and he smiled when the sensations on his skin confirmed that it was off the dock. ‘I can go out unpowered, won’t need to wake ‘em with the engines,’ he thought, with a sleepy nod as he headed forward to begin casting off.
Letting the breeze inch Atlantis away from the dock, Trevor began easing out the foresail from its rolling reefer as slowly and quietly as he could manage. With the wind across the channel, sailing out would be an easy reach.
Atlantis caught the faint breeze, easing forward until she was cruising at three knots down the harbor channel.
Standing at the port wheel, listening to the faint lapping of the water and the gentle hiss as Atlantis cut through the calm sea, Trevor felt at peace. It was one of the reasons he loved the sea.
“Morning, Captain Trev,” Joel said with a sleepy grin as he padded out into the cockpit. “Lisa’s still asleep but I was awake and felt us moving.” Joel headed for the port rail and looked out at the harbor jetty. “It’s calm this morning.”
“Yeah, if the swell’s still running, we’ll have some good waves, small but glassy.”
“How far are we going?” Joel asked.
“Just across the Indian River, through the barrier island, and then hang a right after we clear the Fort Pierce Inlet. From there, about nine miles down the beach,” Trevor said, wondering if Joel would figure it out.
Joel’s face went blank for a moment and then his eyes opened a little wider. “You’ve got to be kidding,” he said.
Trevor grinned. “Nope. I’ve surfed there a few times. It’s legal, as long as you don’t go ashore. It’s got some nice breaks, and the fact you can’t get to the beach from ashore means it won’t be crowded.”
Joel shook his head. “You’re nuts, you do know that, right?”
Trevor shrugged. “What’s so crazy about surfing at a nuclear power plant?” he asked with a smirk. The nuclear power plant at St. Lucie was one of Trevor’s favorite surf spots. Situated on the long barrier island in the middle of a wilderness area, it was remote, and the shore breaks right offshore were some of the best in the area.
Joel rolled his eyes and shook his head. “For one thing, Lisa will have a fit. Other than that... sounds fine to me.” Joel said with a grin. Then, he added, “Thanks for all of this, Trev. Last night was fantastic.” Joel had meant the party, but then, as he realized the other meaning of his words, he blushed and added, “In every way.”
Trevor glanced at his friend and chuckled. Joel’s hair was still disheveled. Allowing himself a quick look at Joel’s chest, Trevor grinned as he saw some faint red marks. “Glad you two had fun,” Trevor said, meaning it.
After clearing the inlet and turning south, Trevor told Joel, “Take the starboard wheel. Steer a course of about one-six-zero and keep the beach at least a mile to the right. The biggest problem is other shipping; if anything looks like it’s going to come close, give me a shout. I’ll be in the galley fixing breakfast.”
Leaping to the starboard wheel, Joel gave Trevor a broad grin. “Thanks.” It wasn’t the first time Trevor had let Joel con Atlantis, and he knew his friend loved it, which was why Trevor hadn’t simply engaged the autopilot.
In the galley, Trevor dug out some frozen omelets, set them aside, and started making coffee.
“Caffeine, give me caffeine,” Lisa mumbled as she walked into the galley. Giving Trevor a sleepy squint, she said, “Caffeine first, then food.”
Trevor chuckled, and poured Lisa a cup of coffee. Handing it to her, he asked with a smirk, “Sleep well?”
Lisa took a sip of coffee, then a longer drink, before replying, “Of course not. Joel kept me up half the night, which is a hell of a lot better than sleeping.” Lisa leaned against the galley counter to steady herself against the gentle motion of the boat, and then she looked at Trevor and asked, “We’re at sea, right?”
Trevor smiled and nodded. “Yeah, we are.”
Narrowing her sleepy eyes, Lisa asked, “So where the hell is Joel, he was gone when I woke up... and why the fuck aren’t you steering this tub?”
Trevor laughed and poured a mug of coffee. “Joel is conning the boat at the moment.”
“Oh my God, we’re doomed,” Lisa said in a casual tone. Then, after glancing out towards the cockpit, Lisa lowered her voice and said, “I’m kinda scared, Trev. Last night, at a really intense moment, I blurted out ‘I love you, Joel.’ Then, he said he loves me too. We’ve never said that before, and now I’m scared.”
“Do you love him?” Trevor asked.
Lisa thought for a few moments, and then replied, “Yeah, I do. A lot.”
Trevor grinned. “Then tell him so, and I don’t just mean during sex. This is something to be happy about, Lisa, not scared of.” Trevor breathed an inner sigh of relief that it wasn’t his own name she’d called out.
Lisa squinted at Trevor for a few moments. “You’re probably right, but why the hell should I listen to you, considering your lack of a love-life?”
Trevor rolled his eyes and handed Lisa the second mug of coffee. “Here, go take loverboy his coffee and talk to him while I fix us breakfast.”
With a nod, Lisa took the coffee and walked out to the cockpit, where she saw Joel, wind in his hair and a smile on his handsome face, at the wheel. She took a deep breath walked up to him, butterflies in her stomach, fears of rejection racing through her mind, and handed him the coffee as she said, “I meant what I said last night. I love you, Joel.”
Joel took the coffee and smiled as he looked deeply into Lisa’s eyes. “I love me too,” he said in a passionate tone.
Lisa snorted. “That isn’t exactly the response I was looking for, you goof.”
Joel reached out and pulled Lisa to his side, giving her a one armed hug and then a long, slow kiss. When he came up for air, he said, “Of course I love you, Lisa. I have for a while, I just didn’t want you to stress and pull away, and that’s why I didn’t want to say it first. Feels good to say it now though.”
Lisa just smiled, feeling at home with Joel’s arm around her, as Atlantis cut through the gentle swells.
Trevor carried breakfast out to the cockpit, and found his two friends smiling, which brought a happy smile to his own face.
“I told Joel that I love him,” Lisa said, smiling sweetly at her boyfriend, “And he said he loves himself too.”
Trevor nearly dropped the breakfast tray, setting it down in a hurry as he began to laugh.
“Then I told her, for real, that I love her,” Joel said, wearing a huge grin.
The three friends shared breakfast, Joel eating one-handed at the wheel, as Atlantis neared the Port Saint Lucie nuclear power plant. Trevor looked ahead, seeing the stations two concrete cylinders sticking up above the green swath of mangroves along the shore. “Bring her about, thirty degrees to port. If the sail starts to luff, back down to starboard a little,” Trevor said, as he judged the course.
Turning the wheel hand over hand, Joel altered course, sailing close to the wind.
Lisa glanced at the two cylinders, well aware that they were the nuclear plant’s containment vessels, and said, “Why are we heading for the nuclear plant?”
“Great shore breaks and uncrowded,” Trevor replied.
“If I find myself glowing in the dark, I’ll get you for this, Trevor Carlson,” Lisa said, and then shook her head, a bemused smile on her face. “No one can say you’re boring, Trev, I’ll give you that.”
As they neared the break, Trevor took over from Joel, conning Atlantis in towards the shore at an angle, keeping an eye on the depth gauge, the shore, and the sail, in case it started to luff.
Under Trevor’s expert care, it took ten minutes to get Atlantis in position three hundred yards off the beach, drop anchors, and then let the wind back her down to set the two bow anchors.
“We’re close enough that we can just paddle in,” Trevor said, leaning against the wire rail and looking inshore at the surf line, his face breaking into a broad grin as he looked at the left-hand shore break. The sets were peaking at about three feet, but it was glassy. The last time he’d surfed this break, it had been pumping at nine feet and he’d had to anchor Atlantis a lot further out. Today’s waves were small, but ideal for beginners. Perfect.
Reaching up under the cockpit’s solid fiberglass awning, Trevor unracked three boards one after the other. Then, handing a board each to Lisa and Joel, he led the way to the stern. “These are already beaded, which means there’s a coating of wax on ‘em. The wax gives the deck a rough finish, which gives your feet something to grip. First, we’ll paddle in. Paddling is easy; you just lie on the board and use a stroke like a freestyle crawl. Just put the leashes on and follow me.”
Stepping into the sea from the aft end of Atlantis’s starboard hull, Trevor flipped himself onto his board and waited as Joel and Lisa followed suit. Joel handled it quickly, but Lisa rolled her board on her first try, but then got her balance. Trevor decided he’d better not laugh, and began slowly paddling towards the beach.
The outer edge of the break was two hundred feet offshore, so it didn’t take long.
When they were close to where the waves were breaking, Trevor pulled up and gave Lisa and Joel a quick lesson on how to sit on a surfboard while waiting for a wave. That turned out to be more difficult than paddling, but after a few flailing sideways falls, they got the hang of it, enough to get by.
Trevor waited for a set, and then took off, paddling hard with deep, sure strokes, calling out, “Watch me.”
Trevor kicked hard on the bottom turn, angling up, showing off a little and shredding the face of the small, smooth wave, and then cutting back and out before it closed. He paddled back out, and said, “Don’t go too far inshore. We’re okay out here, but I don’t know what would happen if we set foot on the beach. Okay, there’s a set coming. When you take off, don’t try to stand right away, just angle the board to the right and follow the wave face. Then you can try to stand. Okay, one of you go, now, paddle hard, deep strokes.”
Joel and Lisa exchanged a glance, and Joel said, “Go for it.”
Lisa didn’t stand on her first ride, or for the next three. To her chagrin, Joel did on his first try, but he was a swimmer and a skater, so she wasn’t surprised.
By the end of the session, Lisa had managed a few shaky stands. Then, it was time to return to Atlantis for lunch before heading back to the break.
By early afternoon, a freshening breeze had left the break blown out and choppy, so by mutual consent, the three friends returned to Atlantis and re-stowed the boards.
“Do we have to go back right away?” Lisa asked. “We’ve still got almost half the day.”
“No hurry on my part,” Trevor said, and then looked at Joel, receiving a shrug. “I’ll do a reach out to sea, maybe twenty miles, and then double back. That should put us alongside around six. That sound okay?”
With that plan set, Trevor fired up the engines, heading into the anchors, and then clicked on the autopilot to hold station while he hauled them aboard. Joel ran forward to help, and Atlantis was soon under sail again, on a course of due east.
It didn’t take long before Joel and Lisa started making out. Trevor chuckled and said, “Okay guys, you’ve got a room, use it.”
Joel took Lisa by the hand and led the way inside without a word, and Trevor began to laugh when he noticed that Joel was walking stooped over, obviously trying to hide a tent in his shorts.
Over the next two hours, Trevor remained at the helm, alone, happy for his friends and the love they’d found, but coloring his happiness was a tinge of sadness, as he wondered if he’d ever find something like what they had.
They were approaching the Fort Pierce inlet by the time Joel and Lisa reappeared, both wearing bashful grins. “Have fun?” Trevor asked.
“Always,” Joel replied, his hand intertwined with Lisa’s.
It was late in the afternoon when Trevor docked the Atlantis and the trip came to an end. Lisa, carrying her bag, paused before stepping onto the dock. “Thanks Trev, for everything.”
Joel hung back, by Trevor’s side, and grabbed his friend’s forearm, locking it to his own. “That goes double for me. Thanks, man.” Joel, still wearing just the red shorts, picked up the plastic bag he’d stuffed his dirty clothes into and hopped onto the dock. Then, he called back to Trevor, “I’ll get the shorts back to you. Thanks again, Trev.”
Trevor waved as his friends walked away, heading up the dock to their cars, and then Trevor was once again alone.
There was still work to do before heading home. He entered the cabin Joel and Lisa had used, intending to strip the bed but finding it already done, the linen stuffed into a laundry bag for drop off at the laundry service he used for Atlantis. Smiling, Trevor added some of his own laundry and set the bag in the cockpit. Then he sighed, ready for the one remaining task, one he hated: cleaning the bathroom they’d used. It had to be perfect for the charters.
He walked into the bathroom and did a fast double-take. Pinned to the washbasin tap was a note:
After we’d had our fun, we decided to give you a hand.
The bathroom’s done.
Joel & Lisa.
“Thanks guys,” Trevor said, as he glanced around the sparkling bathroom.