CHAPTER NINE

 

Stephen Jacobs scooped up a handful of hot sand and, lifting the waistband of Sharon Taylor's bikini bottoms with his free hand, threw it between her buttocks.

     "Stephen!" she exclaimed, as she felt its sharp impact on her soft skin.  "Do you have to?"  She turned over onto her back and stared up at him with a look of contemptuous reproof on her well-tanned face, which for several hours had been playing host to a pair of large plastic sunglasses.  "You really are a monster!" she averred as, grabbing a handful of sand in turn, she made to throw it at him.  Before she could, however, he had caught her arm and was pinning it down above her head.  Then he pinned her other arm down in like fashion and, climbing astride her body, proceeded to leer down at her with a vaguely sardonic smile on his lips.  She tried to wriggle free beneath him, but his strength and weight were too much for her and, after a vain struggle, she relaxed into a posture of meek submission.  He continued to leer down at her as before.

     "Doesn't the little lady like having warm sand up her arse?" he teased, relaxing his grip on her wrists a little, now that his physical triumph had been consolidated.

     "No, she bloody well doesn't!  It damn well hurts!"

     "Poor little girl," he laughed, planting a couple of consolatory kisses on her lips.  "She doesn't like sand up her pussy, eh?"  He scrutinized her facial features, as though expecting to find something he hadn't seen there before.  At times her face reminded him of a map, but one that could indicate any number of different places depending on the mood it was in.  "Does she prefer the other business, then?" he at length asked, after he had grown tired of his visual exploration.

     "What other business?" she sternly queried, pretending not to have the foggiest idea what he was talking about.

     "You know, last night's business," he answered.

     Sharon smiled drily and lowered her eyes in apparent shame.  "I don't know what-the-hell you're talking about," she said.

     "Oh, yes you do!  That's why you've lowered your telltale eyes again.  They always give your secret thoughts away."

     "Do they indeed?"

     "Unfailingly."  He paused to casually survey her large breasts, the upper halves of which were partly hidden by her dark-green bikini top.  "But you must have had the idea on your mind for quite some time, secretly wondering what it would be like to experience for real."

     "You're a horrible pervert!"

     "What about all the conventional things I do to you?" protested Jacobs, with a vague air of outraged innocence.  "Don't I give you more pleasure than James Kelly ever did?"  His face had suddenly become less bemused, almost triumphalist.

     "You don't really love me," said Sharon accusingly.

     "What makes you say that?"

     "I know it!"

     Jacobs pressed his lips down on hers in an attempt to contradict her accusation, but she quickly turned her head to one side to prevent him from properly kissing them.

     "Frigging bitch!" he snapped, releasing his grip on her wrists and returning to his former position by her side, from which he sullenly stared up at the clear blue sky, where a few noisy gulls were frantically circling overhead in search of refuse.

     "If you really loved me, you wouldn't do such nasty things," Sharon at length rejoined.  "You're only interested in manipulating me."

     "Weren't you in need of some manipulation when I first met you?" countered Jacobs, his gaze still fixed on the azure dome above, as though to draw inspiration from its vast expanse of translucency.  "Didn't you find James somewhat - pedestrian?"

     "I hadn't known him all that long when you came along," Sharon evasively replied.  "In fact, I hardly knew him at all."

     "That's scarcely surprising," Jacobs remarked.  "After all, he's not exactly the sort of person one gets to know very much about."

     "Really?" said Sharon sceptically.

     A few young people passed nearby, casting them a respectful glance.

     "Let's not spoil the fun of being here together on such serious conversation!" objected Jacobs as soon as the coast was clear again, so to speak.  "You take yourself much too seriously."

     "That's only because you leave me no real choice," declared Sharon, getting up from her towel in order to shake the sand from her bikini bottoms.  "Or perhaps you're deluded to think that?"

     Jacobs laughed sarcastically.  "You're the one who's deluded, my dear," he added, before reaching out a hand for his latest packet of Gauloise Longues and extracting a cigarette from it, for which he then went in search of his customary metallic lighter, which had almost got buried in the sand.  "You don't mind if I smoke, do you?" he asked, his mocking facial expression and pessimistic tone-of-voice betraying a degree of sarcastic irony which he had been determined to inflict upon her for some time.

     "Suit yourself," retorted Sharon, as hot sand fell from between her legs and landed on a corner of her towel.  She slapped her backside a number of times to dislodge the rest.

     "Would you like some assistance?" asked Jacobs ironically. 

     "No thanks, I can manage perfectly well," said Sharon coolly.

     "Funny woman!"  A cloud of tobacco smoke rose from his mouth as he spoke, lingered awhile in the air, and was gently wafted away on the breeze.  "You have one of the most seductive-looking arses I've ever seen," he opined, staring up at the curvaceous outlines of her quivering buttocks no more than a few feet from where he lay.  "In fact, it's so fucking seductive that I almost find it painful to watch."

     "Then turn your stupid face away," Sharon coldly advised him.

     "You make it difficult for one to avoid watching it," he confessed.  "One can hardly blame men for acting the way they do, when one sees exactly what it is they're up against!"

     "That's a rather strange generalization to make, isn't it?" Sharon commented.  "One would think that all men were lecherous bastards like you, and all women ... hyperseductive or something.  Fortunately, that just isn't the case."  She had sat down beside him again.

     "Why 'fortunately'?" he wanted to know.

     "Because, otherwise, the world would be an impossible place to live in, that's why!"

     "I find it quite impossible anyway," said Jacobs matter-of-factly.

     "Then why-the-fuck are you living in it?"

     "You tell me!"

     A broad smile suddenly illuminated Sharon's countenance, in spite of her rhetorical turn-of-mind at this juncture, and, impulsively, she planted an ironic kiss on his navel, which looked more suntanned than the rest of him at that moment.  Then she lowered her head to his hairless chest and closed her eyes.  For some reason the regular beat of his heart made her think of sex, the way it thumped away in seeming oblivion of the world around it.

     "How am I going to smoke the rest of my cigarette with your hair up my nostrils?" Jacobs not unreasonably complained.

     "I'd rather you didn't smoke at all, since it can't be doing you any good," Sharon blurted out.

     "Now, now! I don't need any preaching, thank you!"

     'Perhaps I ought to have said "either of us any good",' she thought, reluctantly abandoning the comfort of his chest for the comparative safety of her towel.  'But I don't suppose that would have dissuaded him, considering he's such a selfish pig anyway!'  Suddenly she felt a persistent itching in her anus, a discomfort doubtless owing something to the previous evening when, evidently desiring to extend his carnal power over her, Jacobs had decided to bury his inhibitions, along with his penis, and bugger her like some demented sodomite.  Never before had anyone done that to her, never before had any man rubbed petroleum jelly into her rectum and then, taking her from behind, sunk his well-lubricated prick into its tiny opening.  And it had hurt - so much so that she had been on the verge of crying-out in pain.  Now the niggling discomfiture brought about by the occasion was troubling her peace-of-mind, making her feel both ashamed and degraded.  Had James Kelly ever done any such repugnant thing to her?  No, he certainly hadn't!  The only thing he could be accused of - apart from an almost fetishistic obsession with G-strings and suspenders - was a tendency to voyeurism, which was in a sense both strange and regrettable for a man who was so intellectually conceptual and generally sensible.  True, he had indulged in a fair amount of oral sex with her; he obviously liked to scrutinize her vagina close-up, as though such optical intimacy, linked to his voyeuristic shortcomings, confirmed his influence over her, or perhaps even taught him something new about the female anatomy which fantasy or study had signally failed to do.  But was that perversion?  Not when compared to what Stephen Jacobs had done, the filthy sod!  Oral sex was perfectly natural, if, at times, a little lacking in good taste or elevated judgement.  But the anal violation of a woman...?  One would have thought he was sort of gay or something.

     'I remember James telling me, one evening, that he found the concept of homosexuality a contradiction in terms,' Sharon continued to ponder, as she lay perfectly still with her face turned towards the sun and away from Jacobs, 'the main reason being that, strictly speaking, the rectum isn't a reproductive organ but an excretory one and therefore can't be anything but violated in a sexual context, since he insisted that sex was between one reproductive organ and another for purposes, conventionally, of reproduction.  Now when a rectum is substituted for a vagina, the ensuing phallic penetration is a violation of its rightful function, and hence a form, according to James, of anti-sexual perversion.  Also he considered homosexuality revolting on account of what he called the excremental odours and stains which were likely to result from outright sodomy, with or without a plastic sheath.  But if, unlike herself, he regarded homosexuality as a sort of anti-sexual barbarity peculiar to a materialistic age and society, then his view of the anal violation of women was as a kind of perverse heterosexuality - a sort of anti-sexual civility more applicable to a decadent age or society which approached materialism from its own necessarily more naturalistic  liberal base rather than in the unequivocally materialistic terms of the outright homosexuality of those societies which were effectively less civilized than barbarous.'

     As Sharon mused thus, wondering how far James Kelly might have been right, she was suddenly struck by the thought that Jacobs could be acquiring a perverse satisfaction from degrading her.  She recalled that he had sworn at her during intercourse, a couple of nights previously, and that he had sworn at her again last night whilst in the process of violating her rectum.  Then, this morning, he had further humiliated her by throwing sand between her buttocks and forcibly pinning her arms down after she had attempted to retaliate.  Was it not beginning to add-up to something sadistic?  She imagined him leering down at her bare rump with whip in hand and a black eye mask on his face.  Or perhaps instead of a whip he would be brandishing a leather belt?  The exact details weren't important.  What mattered was the fact that he had already given her ample proof of sadistic tendencies.

     But was it likely to end there?  She feared that, despite his promise not to sodomize her again, he would probably do so, and next time without even bothering to adequately lubricate himself in advance!  Hadn't he joked with her about the 'business' that very morning?  A shudder of disgust and revulsion swept through her at the thought of what he might subsequently get-up to at her expense!  There could be no doubt that he took a perverse pleasure in degrading her, in extending his sexual power over her.  After all, she was an extremely beautiful and highly intelligent young woman, one of the most promising stage actresses of her generation, a university graduate, the daughter of a professor - in short, a lady.  And he…?  Well, he was superficially a gentleman as regards looks, speech, education, and social position were concerned.  But as for being 'gentle', as for the literal interpretation of the term, there was, as yet, little proof of that!  Even the first time they had made love together, that night he drove her home from the theatre, his mode of introducing her to his sexuality had been anything but conventional.  And since then, he had become increasingly fond of removing her clothes in an impetuous manner whenever he desired to appease his sexual demon.  So much so that, on a number of occasions, he had actually torn garments in his impatience to get at her!  And sometimes he hadn't even bothered to remove her clothes first; he had simply thrown himself upon her and proceeded to wrench things out of his way!

     Yes, the true nature of his relationship to her was becoming increasingly clear.  He was indeed flattering himself over the liberties he could take with her, the things he could force her to do or impose upon her, whether she liked it or not.  And she was half-playing along with him, she wasn't altogether averse to granting him certain liberties, considering that she had never known such a man before and, if truth be told, was really quite fond of him in spite of the obvious disadvantages - disadvantages which were partly her own fault for having allowed herself to be imposed upon in the first place.  But there had to be a limit, and she was beginning to wonder whether it hadn't already been reached.   If he continued to flatter himself at her expense, what would become of her?  Might he not get it into his devious head to do more daring things next time, to compromise her, say, in front of one or more of her colleagues at the theatre - for instance, Jennifer - as he had intimated doing that very afternoon he first visited the latter's flat.  Then he had merely squeezed her thigh and caressed her rump while Jennifer was getting them coffee.  Might he not do something similar while she was in the room next time?  And would it simply be to make her jealous?  No, probably not!  Most likely his real motive for behaving in such a fashion would be to degrade Sharon in front of her friend and feast on her reactions.

     'The beast!' she groaned to herself, still deeply sunk in the tortuous subjectivity of her thoughts.  'If only I had realized all this sooner!  If only I hadn't been misled by his friendship with Kelly into taking him for someone similar; into assuming that he was kind, considerate, thoughtful, tasteful, patient - all the things he first appeared to be!  How wrong I was to leave James for the sake of this proud brute, this sexual autocrat who imposes his will on me like a beast-of-prey, irrespective of how I'm likely to feel about it.  Even if James did have a few sexual problems, even if he was a bit unadventurous with me, at least he didn't go out of his way to damn-well humiliate me!  On the contrary, he virtually worshipped me.'

     For the first time in weeks she felt ashamed of the way she had behaved towards James Kelly on the Wednesday afternoon of her unexpected and unwelcome visit to his flat.  She saw, in her mind's eye, his face go through the spectrum of apprehensive feelings which she had engendered in him from the moment she set foot in his flat to the moment she left him standing helplessly in his dressing gown at the foot of the stairs leading to the communal entrance.  And how he had begged her to listen, implored her to understand, beseeched her to have pity on him, as he desperately followed her downstairs.  To no avail!  She had an act to pull off and, talented young actress that she was, she had pulled it off admirably; so admirably, in fact, that her real emotions, her real feelings of jealousy and anger at having caught him in such a compromising position, only came to the surface afterwards - a long time afterwards, as she lay in Jacobs' bed, the following day, shortly after he had left for the West End ostensibly on some literary engagement.  And now, in all probability, James would be having his suspicions on the matter, he would be thinking it odd that she should have turned-up when she did, on a day she was usually otherwise engaged.  Yes, he would almost certainly have linked her visit with that of Jacobs' a couple of days before, and, without too great a stretch of his not-inconsiderable-imagination, come to the conclusion that he had been purposely set-up for her to knock down with the minimum of inconvenience to herself.  Well, there would be no alternative for him but to pick himself up and find someone else.

     She felt the pressure of a hand on her stomach, a hand that swiftly crawled up to her right breast and gently squeezed it, like it was some kind of putty or dough to which the hand in question had an inalienable right.  She opened her eyes to confirm its source and discovered Stephen Jacobs leaning over her, his eyes lustily focused on the breast in question.

     "So you're not dead, after all," he observed, once her reaction became sufficiently apparent to him.  "You've been very self-contained recently, haven't you?"  He squeezed her breast a little harder, lightly thumbing its ample nipple, and then continued: "I suppose you've been thinking nasty things about me."

     She smiled up at him in an attempt to disguise her true feelings.  "Why should I do that?"

     "Perhaps you're disappointed in me for not having taken you to a less-deserted part of the beach?" Jacobs conjectured solemnly.  "Maybe you wanted the company of other people - men who would admire your sexual anatomy in broad daylight and thus give you the satisfaction of imagining yourself being fancied?  Or maybe you're annoyed, on second thoughts, that I haven't inserted my big hard doggy into your small soft pussy while we've been lying here, amid these sand dunes, and were therefore wondering whether your ambition to be humped on a beach would ever be realized?"

     "Don't be such a vain fool!" protested Sharon.  "I wasn't thinking any of those things."

     "How curious!"  He had abandoned her breast and was simply staring down at her with a mildly quizzical expression on his sun-inflamed face, which seemed to be rising like dough.  "Anyone would think you represented the triumph of mind over matter.  But, then again, you are a B.A., aren't you?"

     "Well, what's so bad about that?" she retorted.

     "Nothing's bad about being a Bachelor of Arts when one is in fact a bachelor," declared Jacobs.  "But when one's a spinster ... well, I'd have thought an S.A. more appropriate.  Haven't the feminists cottoned-on to that yet, or is it that they prefer women to be Bachelors of Art instead?  Shame on them!"

     "Certain things do tend to be rather male-biased," remarked Sharon, who had begun to find the subject slightly amusing in spite of its underlying seriousness.

     "Oh, I'm perfectly well aware of the fact," rejoined Jacobs, showing vague signs of amusement himself.  "All the same, you'd think that someone would have the intelligence to advocate S.A.s for single women.  Anyone would think that only men took degrees."

     "I suppose if, according to that logic, I had an M.A., I ought to be a Mistress of Arts instead of a Master, right?" deduced Sharon.

     "Perfectly," agreed Jacobs.  "But, as things stand, you'd have to rest content with being a Master.  So you must belie your gender, my dear, otherwise ... the status quo will condemn you for sexist subversion!"

     "Fight for the right to sexual autonomy!" cried Sharon, brandishing a tiny fist in the air.  "Protest against B.A.s for women!  Realize, if you're a spinster, that B.A.s are irrelevant."

     Jacobs smiled in tacit acknowledgement of his companion's gesture of defiance, though he wasn't altogether convinced there was really any justification for setting-up a dualistic alternative based on gender, bearing in mind the apparently unisexual trend of society these days.  Nevertheless, just for the hell of it, he went on to claim: "The status quo needs to be constantly stirred up, if it isn't to stagnate into a malodorous swamp."

     "It's alright for you though, considering that a Ph.D. isn't really such a bad thing to have," concluded Sharon, turning her face towards him a moment.

     Jacobs was overcome by a momentary sense of guilt and blushed accordingly.  For he recalled having boasted of such an accomplishment to Sharon shortly after he first met her, back in July.  In reality, he no more had a Ph.D. than any other doctorate, but, because of his philosophical predilections, he liked to pretend to the contrary where certain people were concerned, girlfriends not excepted.  He recalled, too, that the play he had informed Sharon about, after having driven her to the theatre that first night of their affair, was also a lie.  In truth, he had never written a play in his life; he had simply hoaxed her in order the better to win her admiration and confidence.  "I suppose a woman with a Ph.D. ought to be a doctress," he at length remarked, tactfully changing the subject.  "After all, if you're an actress rather than an actor, why-the-devil aren't women doctors doctresses?  It doesn't appear to make sense."

     It did really, since it wasn't necessary to distinguish female doctors from their male colleagues the way a female actor, or actress, often needed to be distinguished from her male counterpart in either theatre or film.  Nonetheless, Sharon graciously feigned complicity by simply saying: "Life is full of paradoxes."

     "Quite so!  And yet there are still fools in this world who consider man to be a rational creature."  Having said which, Jacobs betook himself to her side again with a gruff humph.

     Released from his threatening proximity, Sharon Taylor once more closed her eyes upon the world.  She wanted to feel the sun's rays caressing her body, to forget about Jacobs, sadism, gender, etc., and become merely a receptacle of pleasant sensations.  For, at that moment, thoughts seemed to her like a stain on the mind, a mental disease, a prison from which she longed to escape.  If she could banish them from her consciousness, she would be free.  But for how long?  Already she found herself relapsing into speculations about the chances of her holding thought at bay for more than a couple of minutes.  Already her mind was generating fresh thoughts which would quickly turn sour and poison her, dragging her back from the pure sensations for which she yearned with one part of her mind to the all-too-familiar conceptual terrain of her intellect.  Alas! it seemed the only way for her to get away from them was to dream, to conjure-up visual images from the depths of her psyche in order, temporarily, to rescue herself from the torrent of verbal concepts which were now threatening to engulf her afresh.  And there suddenly, as though on a role of film, James Kelly flickered into view the night he had first made love to her, the very same man who had earlier introduced himself outside the National Gallery (of all places!), invited her for a meal, taken her back to his flat afterwards and ... why was she daydreaming about him in particular?  She searched for another image, one that was less troublesome, but soon found herself reverting to James again by a roundabout route, to his casual manner of dressing, the greeny-blue colour of his large myopic eyes, the modest size of his circumcised penis (evidence of an Irish-Catholic origin), the nobly circular shape of his dark-haired head.... Was there no-one else?  Suddenly she felt a weight on her body and, opening her eyes in excited surprise, saw Stephen Jacobs' face descending towards her, felt his lips pressing against hers, felt his arms encircling her waist and grip her tightly around the back.  She clutched him to herself, as though afraid he might just as suddenly release his hold on her and plunge her back into the vicious circle of thoughts and dreams from which his actions were now providentially rescuing her.  For the first time since the beginning of their relationship, she whispered little endearments to encourage his desire.  She wanted him to have her there on the beach, between the sand dunes, under the brilliant sky, beside the foaming sea.  Yet, to her utter amazement, he pulled away from her as soon as it became apparent to him that she was becoming sexually aroused.  She couldn't believe it!  Had he done it on purpose?  Was he simply torturing and humiliating her again, arousing her desire only to abandon it no sooner than he had worked it up to a fairly promising pitch?  She was on the verge of tears and, in a desperate impulse to hide her frustration, she wrenched herself completely free of him and turned over onto her stomach, preparatory to burying her face in her hands.  How could he do this to her?  What kind of a monster was he?  She had never felt so humiliated before, not even the previous night!  A flood of tears fell from her eyes and trickled down the sunglasses onto the towel beneath her hands.  Her body became convulsed with sobbing.

     Then she heard Jacobs asking, as though from afar, "What's the matter, Sharon?"

     She made no attempt to answer, for she was sobbing bitterly.  Her voice could not have articulated an explanation at that moment, even had her mind been prepared to formulate one.

     Taking hold of her by the shoulders, Jacobs turned her onto her back and repeated his question.  Then, anticipating an answer, he made it perfectly clear to her that under no circumstances could he have responded to her arousal the way she had apparently wanted him to, since they were still on a public beach and, although there were few people in the immediate vicinity, he couldn't risk causing a public scandal by giving way to her lascivious objectives there and then.  He said this with such an air of sincerity that, in spite of herself, she almost believed him.  Yet, deep down, she didn't think much of his excuse and found it difficult not to say so.  True, the part of the beach they were on wasn't entirely deserted, but the few people whose voices or radios could still be heard, from time to time, were hidden from sight by the numerous sand dunes which characterized the spot they had specifically chosen.  Provided she kept her voice down, what was there to stop him from making love to her, then?  Surely he wasn't afraid of lowering his swimming trunks because of the vociferous seagulls which were still circling overhead, evidently in search of scraps of food?  What did they care about him or his privates?

     "Believe me, Sharon, I had no intention of tantalizing you," Jacobs was saying, as though for his own benefit.  "I just didn't have the courage of my desire."  He hesitated a second, in an attempt to gauge what kind of effect his words were having on her.  "I've never humped anyone out in the open before, least of all in a place as open as this, and I just didn't have the courage or conviction to do it now."

     Sharon sensed that he was lying, but managed to keep silent all the same.  She had averted her face from his gaze, as though from a dangerous beam, and was now staring blankly in the direction of a nearby sand dune.  She hadn't heard him indulge in confessions of cowardice or weakness before, and was half-fearing that it might be a new strategy he was employing to further degrade her.  How unflattering it would be to learn that she was the girlfriend of a coward, a failure, a weakling, etc., as he might subsequently advertise himself.

     "I'll make it up to you this evening, I promise you that," Jacobs was going on, through partly clenched teeth.  "Come now, show me a smile!  Prove to me we're still friends."

     Sharon made an effort to comply with his request, but she was feeling so much emotional pain that her mouth barely moved.  Then turning to face him, she spat out: "Haven't you hurt me enough already?"

     "Hurt you?" echoed Jacobs, momentarily stunned by the anger of her retort.  "I don't honestly know what you mean."

     "No, I didn't think you bloody-well would!"

     Jacobs felt genuinely puzzled and his lips trembled a little.  But he soon came to grips with the situation by informing her that he hadn't intended to hurt her, neither then nor at any previous time.  And, as though to confirm the fact, he ran his hand through her long hair, so much in harmony with the sand, and planted a tender kiss on her brow.  "I'm not as bad as all that," he murmured, when she had recovered from her self-pity to an extent which made it possible for her to tolerate his attentions.  "There are plenty of people worse than me."

     "Like James Kelly, for instance?" she suggested.

     "I shouldn't be at all surprised," Jacobs opined, nodding.  "After all, he was deceitful enough to have another woman when you were ostensibly his only girlfriend, wasn't he?  Now you can't level any such deceitfulness at me!  There's only one woman in my life, and that's you."

     'Unfortunately for me!' thought Sharon, lowering her eyes to avoid his scrutiny, which she considered perfectly capable of penetrating beneath the surface protection of her sunglasses.  But he had turned away from her, in any case, and was now staring out to sea at the vast expanse of sparkling water which could be glimpsed through the valley of sand dunes on either side.  A number of people were happily swimming about in it, their arms briefly appearing above the surface only to plunge straight back down and propel them a yard or two farther in whichever direction they happened to be going.  Then they would suddenly come to a halt, as though to reassure themselves they hadn't swam out of their depth or lost their sense of direction, and, after a brief rest, set their arms in methodical motion again - usually in the direction from which they had just come.  Farther out to sea, a couple of yachts could be discerned in what must have been competitive racing, their sails straining forward under pressure from a stiff breeze, and, farther out still, a large cargo ship was slowly disappearing into the nebulous distance of a horizon where sea and sky became virtually indistinguishable in their mutual conspiracy against the eye.

     "I think I'll plunge-in for another swim," announced Jacobs, as soon as he was done with surveying the sea's human contents, some of the nearer of which were attractively female.  "Fancy another dip?"

     "No thanks," responded Sharon, momentarily raising her gaze to the level of his bare chest.  "I'd rather just sunbathe a little longer, if you don't mind."

     "Keep an eye on my things, then," Jacobs requested.

     She watched his tall figure, now light-brown, recede into the near distance.  Then, after applying some fresh suntan-lotion to her arms and stomach (the very same lotion she had used that day in the Surrey countryside with Jennifer and Carmel), she lay back to face the sky, whose azure dome, in the expanse of ethereal translucency, was still untarnished by any cloud; though a small high-flying plane was leaving a trail of cloud-like smoke behind as it relentlessly powered its way through the air.

     'How typical!' she thought.  'One gets a flawless sky, and then some lunatic has to come along and mess it up with his trail of artificial cloud!  One would think they get a perverse pleasure out of it.  Just as Stephen Jacobs seems to get a like-pleasure out of messing-up my life, the dirty little pervert!'  She didn't want to think any more about that subject, however, since she had frankly had her fill of it for one day, and desired only to forget about Jacobs as much as circumstances would allow.  But, in forgetting about him, she soon found her thoughts reverting to James Kelly instead.

 

 

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