Jessa Meets Her Match
Chapter 5: Carved in Stone
Minutes later, my mom and I were on our way. Even though I didn’t exactly know how I was going to go about it, I was planning to tell my grandmother about her sister’s remains. It was sorrowful news, but she had a right to know – as did my mother. They were Catherine’s closest surviving relatives. After the two of them, Mason and I were probably next in line.
Merging on to I-89, I found myself looking out my side window, only occasionally glancing through the windshield at the car ahead. I knew exactly what I was doing; I was avoiding looking over at my mother in the passenger seat. Even though the discovery of Catherine’s remains had seemed inevitable, it had left me unbelievably sad. I liked her so much, and even if I didn’t, no woman deserved such a fate.
I didn’t like the idea of being the bearer of such sad news. I hoped that it wouldn’t be too painful for my grandmother, but I knew it was going to hurt. There would be tears – tears all around. I certainly wasn’t about to initiate the grieving before I had to – no sneak preview for my mother.
My mother, to her credit, seemed to sense my mood, allowing the drive to continue in silence. But even though I was avoiding her gaze and we weren’t talking, it was surprisingly comfortable to be together.
A while later, I was on the couch next to Grandma Patty. Not being able to contain myself any longer, I started balling. “What is it, Jessa?” she asked, holding me while rocking gently. “You can tell me.”
“Cathers,” I managed. “I’ve been working with the police. This morning, they found her remains.”
“Cathers? My Cathers?” she said, pulling back just enough to look into my eyes.
I nodded. “I wish she were alive. I really do. But she was murdered … that night … the night she went missing.”
“Yes, grandma. I’m so sorry.”
My mother shifted over to the couch. We were all hugging, grandma in the middle. “Is this why you’ve been spending so much time with Nick?” my mother asked.
“I thought you and he…”
“I like the guy, but it’s not like you think. We’ve spent a lot of time together, but going through files – boxes of case files – all of them from 1985 and 1986.”
“So, she’s dead?” my grandma asked, her voice shaky.
“I’m so sorry. But maybe now there will be some justice … justice for Cathers. I’ve never wanted anything more. With the discovery of her remains comes a real chance to find the murderer. And the police have a lot of technology now that they didn’t have then.” I said that, wanting it to be true, but I was doing my best not to get my hopes up.
We sat there for nearly an hour. I told them what I thought I could, leaning heavily on Catherine’s diaries, which I said I had chanced upon when the carpet had come up, as the spark that had inspired me to get in touch with the police. There were categories of information that I was withholding. They didn’t need to hear that she had been raped nor anything about how she had died, not quickly, but drawn out over a number of days.
In addition to the details being grisly, I couldn’t talk about them without boxing myself in. I, of course, couldn’t mention that I’d gotten information from Catherine directly. I hadn’t decided what exactly to do about that.
Grandma said that she appreciated the closure, but I could tell from her expression and unsteady voice that my news was very troubling. But it wasn’t as bad as I had feared. She’d had forty years to prepare herself.
~ ~ ~
“I’m sorry, Jessa. I may as well be honest. I thought you were screwing the guy,” my mom said on the drive home.
I spent a minute contemplating my reply. Maybe this was the opportunity I needed. I’d been wanting to figure out a way to turn over a new leaf with my mother.
“Not screwing. Kissing, but not screwing,” I said. “I like Nick. But our time together has been focused on solving this crime.”
“You should have said something.”
“Maybe. But there wasn’t really anything to tell, not until today. Like I said, I heard about Cathers’ body this morning. So before today, no progress past what little had been accomplished forty years ago.”
“I’m so proud of you.”
“Really?” It seemed like over a decade since my mother had said anything of the sort to me.
An hour later, I was in the driveway hosing off a granite memorial stone when Nick drove up.
“What’s that?” he asked.
“The family had it made a year or two after Cathers went missing. My grandma told me where it was … buried under stuff in the garage. I guess there was a lot of disagreement about it. Family strife. Some wanted to place it in the family plot, hold a ceremony. Others were sure that she’d come home … that setting out a gravestone might jinx that possibility.”
Nick nodded. “Jessa, there’s been an interesting turn of events. I came to tell you in person.”
“Okay,” I said, turning off the water.
“The body we found. A female. About the right age. But not Catherine. The dental records aren’t a match.”
“Not Catherine? Oh, my God, Nick. I told grandma.”
“I’m so sorry, but Catherine, she knew about the welding. As we speak, there are six or eight people going over every inch of that junkyard.”
I saw my mother approaching from the house. “Shhh … let’s not tell her.”
“Oh, Nick,” she said, stepping close to give him a hug. He accepted, and they embraced. My mom was a different woman. She’d never acted so warm, so friendly around any of my friends – especially my guy friends.
“I’m so sorry for your loss, Mrs. Wilson,” he said. “Catherine was your aunt, as I understand it.”
“Yes, my mom’s younger sister. Jessa’s great aunt. You must be one hell of a detective. Thank you, Sir. It’s hard news to hear, but from my entire family, thank you.”
“It was as much your daughter as it was me. Actually, more your daughter. She’s smart and so very determined when she sets her mind to something. But I expect you know how she is. She talked me into this, twisted my arm, so to speak.” Fortunately, I had briefed Nick on what he could and couldn’t say.
“But mom, there’s something you were keeping from me,” I said, looking down at the stone. “Catherine Marshall, born March 20, 1960. Anything about that stand out to you?”
“Yes, you were born on her birthday. When you were a baby, mom and I used to talk about you being Catherine’s reincarnation. But every time that came up, we’d start crying. We decided not to tell you. We didn’t want to burden you with that legacy.”
“But now I get it. That’s why grandma would always start crying at my birthday parties. I thought that was strange. She didn’t cry at anyone else’s parties.”
“Your birthdays were hard for her.”
“So you were born on March 20th?” Nick asked.
“Exactly forty years later. March 20, 2000.”
“And in the same hospital,” my mom added.
“The same day, the same hospital,” I remarked, mulling that over. “Maybe I am a reincarnation.”
“Except that I don’t believe in reincarnation,” my mom replied.
“I guess I don’t either,” I said. “How about you, Nick?”
He looked at me and then down at the stone. “Lately … I don’t know what I believe,” he said, shaking his head.
Nick’s phone started ringing and he stepped away to talk.
“I sure like him,” my mother said, turning her back to him and speaking softly.
“Oh, really? Now that you know I’m not screwing him?”
“Jessa, let’s not do this,” she said, reaching over and touching my elbow.
“I’m sorry, mom. I don’t know what came over me. I guess old habits die hard. I do want you to respect me. In the car, you said you were proud of me.”
“I am. And not just because of what you’ve accomplished this summer. Let’s file those teenage years away. That’s the past. I’m so very proud of the woman you have become. Let’s start over.”
“I’m trying mom. I really am.”
“I can tell. Thank you for that. I love you, Jessa … I hope you know.”
I wanted to be able to use the L word with her. I could almost see myself doing that one day, but I wasn’t ready.
A minute later, she went back inside, leaving me alone with the stone.
“That was Tom Wynn,” Nick said, returning to my side. “He’s with the State Police, the MCU.”
“Major Crimes Unit,” I said nodding.
“He’s at the junkyard. Their search has turned up two more cars. Both of them, the trunks welded shut.”
I felt my jaw drop. “Two more?”
He nodded, giving me time.
“Well, maybe one of those will be Catherine,” I said.
“Hopefully. Probably. But that means this is big, real big. Vermont has, or had, a serial killer.”
“Holy shit,” I muttered under my breath, collapsing down into a sitting position on the concrete.
“Yep, holy shit.”
A second later, I was back on my feet. “Walk with me, Nick.”
“Okay, sure. Where are we going?”
“Bates Pond,” I said, hooking around the house.
“What’s the rush?” he asked, struggling to keep up.
“I can’t believe the person I have become. At times, I can’t get my clothes off fast enough.”
“So take them off.”
“Not here. But at the pond it will be okay.”
“You like being naked, don’t you?”
“There’s almost something to that,” I replied, giving the matter some thought. “It’s always been about seeing and talking to Cathers. But it’s quite a rush … especially outside. Initially, I didn’t like the feeling. Too scary. Way too scary.”
“The same, I guess. But there’s something almost addictive about it. I mean, there better not be, right?”
“There are probably worse addictions.”
I frowned. “I don’t need any more late night encounters with policemen. But my heartrate. The adrenaline.”
“You’re a thrill junkie.”
“I most certainly am not!”
“Give me your shirt,” he said, holding out his hand.
“At the pond.”
“Just your shirt. It’s not much farther.”
I looked around. He was right. It would be fine.
“Okay, now your bra,” he said, almost as soon as my shirt was in his hand.
“You said, just my shirt.”
“I like your tits … how they bounce when you walk. And we’re almost there.”
“Okay,” I said, biting my lower lip. After taking a deep breath, I unhooked, quickly handing it over before I chickened out. Topless wasn’t naked. I spun in place, again scanning our surroundings, trying to see behind every tree. It seemed fine, and I’d be able to get undressed faster once we got there.
I looked over at Nick. He appeared content that he’d gotten me to walk the rest of the way topless. My boobs did have a jiggly bounce to them, especially when I was hurrying. It was a feeling that had grown on me – a liberating sense of freedom that came from having nothing covering my chest.
“Are you my boyfriend?” I asked.
“That’s a good question.”
“You’re not going to answer it?”
“What if I said, yes?”
“Then I’d say, yes.”
“Yes,” he said.
I stopped and turned toward him. Throwing my arms around his neck, my face barely an inch from his, I whispered, “Kiss me, boyfriend.” I’d never dated a cop before – never knew they could be so sexy. Mostly, I just hadn’t spent any time around policemen.
He kissed me. It was the perfect response. A man of few words – that was also sexy. Barely a minute later, we were at the pond, all my clothes in a pile.
“You two!” Catherine said, looking first at me, but then at Nick.
“So I guess we’re officially dating,” I told her.
Catherine and Nick replied at the same moment, Nick not realizing that my remark had been a reply. I hadn’t caught his words, but she’d said, “As soon as you tell your mom that you’re not screwing, you start screwing.’
“We’re not scr…” I started to say, cutting my sentence short. Nick was right there.
“But you’re about to.”
“Maybe so, right Nick?”
“Whatever you say, pretty lady.”
I laughed. We had three sets of human remains – a serial killer on the loose – and I was happy. Go figure!
But I knew that getting my clothes off would brighten my mood. It felt as if I had the power to bring Catherine back to life. I mean, how could she be dead if I could see her, talk to her? Looking at her smile chased all the sorrowful clouds I had been dealing with past the horizon.
“I love seeing you and your mom like that,” she said. “I’m glad to see you both making an effort.”
“Thanks to you. Somehow, in a roundabout way, it’s your fault.”
Even though it wasn’t what I wanted to think about, we started comparing notes on all that had happened that morning. As I’d guessed, Catherine had been at the junkyard with Nick. She’d watched them open the trunk. She also knew that it hadn’t been her body but that two similar cars had been found. Because she’d returned with Nick, she’d learned those details when I had, at the conclusion of his phone call. I quickly gave her a rundown on my visit with her sister. She nodded, listening carefully. I could tell that it was emotional for her. She was very concerned about how Patty had taken the news.
“Maybe I should have stuck with you this morning.”
“Too bad you can’t be in two places at once.”
“It’s like we are sisters, right?” she said. “Same age, same birthday.”
“That would make us twins.” I looked over at Nick. “And it’s like we have our own twin-speak. Nick, look at him, he can’t quite follow our conversation.”
“I do my best,” he replied.
Nick and I stretched out on the grass in the sun. We were on our backs, our arms over our heads. My nipples were showing off – reaching for the heavens – proudly displaying just how long and pointy they could get. I’d shifted over a bit, making a little more room for Catherine. She was between us, sitting up and facing the other way, away from the pond.
Nick rolled toward me, into a position on his side, his head resting in the palm of a hand.
I rolled toward him, mirroring his position as the three of us continued to talk.
I glanced down along Nick’s body. Given Catherine’s position, I could only barely see his lower half – through her ghostly body. It seemed as if he would have the same view of me, but that made for a false sense of security – because, for Nick – she was entirely transparent. I knew I was much more on display than I felt.
Bending the knee of my upper leg, I pulled my foot along the ground, stopping when it reached a position just in front of the other knee. My legs were open, one of my knees pointing at the sky. It felt nice to let my pussy breathe, and it was a comfortable position. I blushed, realizing, that it might not look as if I’d done it for comfort, or for fresh air, for that matter. But I didn’t really care. I knew exactly what I was doing. Just as seeing Catherine had brightened my mood, putting my pussy on display got my juices flowing. Nothing made me feel more alive.
“Look at you!’ Catherine said, studying the position of my legs.
I ignored her. If I didn’t respond, Nick wouldn’t know she had said anything. He might not even realize that she was there.
I glanced down my body, trying to get a sense for how I looked from Nick’s vantage point. He was doing the same – running his eyes along my body.
“Hey, boyfriend,” I said. “Yesterday, you wanted a picture.”
“Up to you. I assume you have your phone.”
He sat up, pulling it from his pocket.
Catherine looked incredulous. “You’re really going to let him do that? Your legs all apart and everything?”
I continued to ignore her. Hadn’t she let Dirk take pictures of her? Didn’t most couples do that? My boyfriends had wanted to photograph me almost as badly as they’d wanted to have sex with me.
“But, Nick, if I let you, there is a life-long ban on sharing. I’ll trust you if you agree to my terms.”
“Name your terms!”
I laughed. “That’s it. You just can’t show the photos … or share them. So no posting. For your eyes only. You’re a cop. Promise to protect them, and I’ll let you.”
“I promise. You really are beautiful, you know.”
As Nick started taking photos, I found myself wondering how I compared to the ‘hot ex-wife’ Catherine had overheard the deputies talking about. I didn’t ask. I didn’t care. I was among the pretty ones. From the look in his eyes, I knew I was attractive enough. That was all that mattered. With me maintaining position, Nick moved a bit to the left, seemingly trying to find the perfect angle.
“He’s aiming right into your … umm … cunnie,” Catherine cautioned.
“Shut up,” I said, tilting my head back and laughing.
“What?” Nick asked. “I didn’t say anything.”
“Not you. I’ve got these voices in my head, this imaginary friend. Just come here and show me what you’ve got so far.”
He crawled over and I sat up to kiss him. Sitting together we looked through the images. They were pretty dang explicit. Using my fingers, I zoomed in on one of them, making my bald pussy almost life size. My clitoral hood was a raised ridge centered between my fleshy outer labia. “Wow! Imagine what you’ll be able to get me to do with blackmail material like this.”
“I know, right! Only I promised. Dang!”
“Right answer. Now put them in a folder, one with a password. Use my birthday. You do remember my birthday, right?”
“March 20, 2000.”
“Winner, winner, chicken dinner!”
“What did I win?”
“Two more poses. But then we should be getting back.”
Surprisingly, Nick’s poses ended up being delightfully tame – sexy, but based more on feminine beauty – quite unlike the rather nasty one I’d struck without his guidance. Even though I was not nearly as shy as I had been, at least around him, I appreciated it. We hadn’t had sex, hadn’t even come close, but the man certainly knew what my ‘cunnie’ looked like – possibly better than I did. In retrospect, I decided that I had given him a test – a test that he’d passed with flying colors.
“Cunnie, so that’s your ‘go-to’ word?” I asked him.
“But I don’t have to…”
“No, it’s fine. I’m just not used to it, that’s all. Recently, I was pushing a friend to be more open-minded when it came to such things, so turnabout’s fair play. I’d just like to draw the line at ‘cunt.’”
“Deal,” he said.
I chuckled to myself. This was new territory. None of my past relationships had progressed at all like this one. Never before had I met and gotten to know a man while naked. I’d been clothed in Nick’s presence, but not nearly as much as naked. And what was also strange, was that I’d only seen him fully dressed. It was completely out of balance. It seemed very odd, but I actually felt as if I wanted it to continue – just one of us naked – me. I knew better than to suggest that. We now seemed to be on a path that would lead to us having sex in the near future.
Soon maybe, but it wouldn’t be happening that afternoon. But the idea of Catherine being there as a spectator – that was certainly something I was going to have to warm up to. Or maybe I would ask her to make herself scarce when the time came.
Walking back from the pond, I initiated the obligatory safe-sex conversation. It was awkward, but less awkward than a surprise case of herpes. “I’ve been sexually active since I was sixteen,” I told him. “Nine sex partners in all. Seven men, two women.”
“Two women,” he replied. It wasn’t a question. He merely seemed to be processing what he’d heard.
“The last guy, his name was Tyler. So only Tyler the last two or so years. Now it’s your turn.”
“Is this how it’s done in Arizona?”
“This is how it should be done everywhere. We talk openly and honestly about our sexual history … in advance … not once we’re in bed. It’s my body. I intend to protect it. If you’re not willing or able to be completely candid with me, then…”
“No, you’re right. Okay … Amber. We were married for seven years. Divorced since January, but separated since last summer. So no sex partners for the last ten or eleven months. And during those years, just one … no, wait … two sex partners.”
“Yes. When Amber drank, she became a completely different woman.”
“I’m not sure you’re taking this seriously.”
“No, I am. In all honesty … a completely different woman.”
“At least she didn’t become a man.”
“Right?! Thank God!”
“So, did she have a drinking problem?”
“She did! Some days she didn’t drink … that was a problem. On those days, we didn’t get along nearly as well.”
“Okay … moving along. So during your seven-year marriage, no sex partners other than Amber S and Amber D, right? Sober and Drunk.”
“I like that … Amber S and Amber D. Yes, during those years … never sex with anyone that I wasn’t married to. And Amber and I were together nearly three years before we got married. So, that’s ten years right there. I’m thirty-one, so since twenty-one, just Amber. Before Amber, a few sex partners. Three or four, never any men.”
“Sounds good. I expect we are both healthy. Even so, better to be absolutely sure. Let’s both go in and get tested. And I’m on the pill, so that’s taken care of.”
As Nick was going to be very busy during the day for a week or more, we concluded that I would find a clinic and make appointments.
~ ~ ~
Late that evening, I was hanging out with Catherine, stretched out spread-eagle on top of my covers. I wasn’t used to living in a house without air conditioning. Catherine was telling me how shocked she’d been by the conversation she’d overheard. “Doesn’t that take all the fun out of it? The spontaneity? How can you be a slut if you can’t just pick up a random guy and take him home for a one-night stand?”
“I guess you didn’t have Sexually Transmitted Diseases in the eighties.”
“Of course, we did. We called them Venereal Diseases. Maybe that’s the same thing? But we were lucky, I think. I mostly just had to worry about getting pregnant.”
“It was called AIDS. Not sure why they changed the name, but if you weren’t a gay man, you didn’t have to worry too much about it. Or at least, we didn’t. I mean, Dirk and I.”
“Yep, it’s not like that anymore. I’m very careful. Serial monogamy … that’s me. My mom thinks I’m a loose woman. As far as I’m concerned, I’m a very careful slut.”
“It cracks me up to hear you talk like that. In the world I grew up in, girls didn’t call themselves sluts.”
“Maybe they were all saving themselves for marriage,” I quipped.
“Oh, we had sluts. And girls were called ‘sluts.’ It’s just, no one … at least that I knew … called themselves that.”
I nodded, trying to think back to when I’d first started referring to myself as a slut. I’d pretty much gone straight from being a wholesome pre-teen to being a sassy, sleazy teenager. One day, no makeup – the next, way too much – almost as if I could make myself look older. Fortunately, my way-too-much-eye-makeup phase passed quickly. At least in retrospect, it did. But one thing had survived from those early years of experimentation; I was still very accomplished when it came to the art of the blowjob.
~ ~ ~
I saw very little of Nick the next two days. The investigation exploded, and the various agencies that were involved were racing against time. They wanted to make as much progress as they could before the media caught wind of what was going on.
One of the newly discovered bodies did turn out to be Catherine. That wasn’t a surprise – in fact, it was a relief. It meant that I didn’t have to go and tell grandma that what I’d told her wasn’t entirely accurate.
So, there were three sets of remains, all of them young women, but at that point in time, only one of them had a name associated with it. The MCU had largely taken over the case, but there was more than enough investigative work to go around. Nick was part of a team that was trying to get a handle on who had been employed by Earl’s Auto Salvage in the eighties.
I found a clinic that administered STD screening tests. They had openings, but I was having trouble pinning Nick down. And giving the seriousness of the investigation that Catherine and I had set in motion, it was easy to let that slip onto the back burner.
Thursday, Nick called and asked me out for a date for the following night. He said he was approaching burnout, and needed a break. He also said that he was taking Saturday off as well – the whole day. He asked me to pencil him in, saying that he had a particular hike in mind. Liking the idea of an entire day away from the family, I agreed readily.
Friday, during the day, in spite of all the effort, the case broke out onto national news. It was instantly the top story on every website that I checked. I read one of the articles and learned how Nick had explained the discovery of the bodies. I’d forgotten to ask him what he’d told his fellow officers regarding how he knew to go looking for bodies in rusty cars at Earl’s Auto Salvage.
According to the article, an unnamed officer at the Stonefield Police Department had received an anonymous tip. That made me smile, but after a bit of consideration, I realized that it likely happened all the time. What was surely also true was that the police maintained relationships with informants by guarding their identities carefully, probably representing information received from such sources as ‘anonymous tips.’
Wondering how the news was playing out in Stonefield, I asked Mason to walk into town with me. That made my mother happy. I’d been ignoring him and he hadn’t found anyone to hang with.
Reporters were everywhere in Stonefield. At first, it seemed as if I might have difficulty avoiding them. More than anyone there, I had the inside scoop, but they didn’t know that. I was just a young woman strolling by with her teenage brother. They seemed to have no shortage of people who were willing to be interviewed. As the story was just breaking, the questions seemed to be mostly, ‘What’s it like to find out that there is or was a serial murderer on the loose in Stonefield?’ and, ‘How does that make you feel? Will you have trouble sleeping at night?’
Mason wanted to go into the malt shop, and as we stepped inside, I saw why. Two teenage cuties had entered just ahead of us. Because Mason was typically so shy around girls his age, I selected seats at the counter that would allow us to talk to them. We were a few seats away, but facing them at an angle as the counter took a few bends as it snaked through the shop.
“Have you girls heard the news?” I asked them before any of us had ordered. From there the conversation flowed freely. After we had placed our order, I introduced myself and Mason, telling them that we were from Arizona, but in town for the summer.
I so wanted to get Mason a date. Maybe if he started spending more time with girls his age, my mother wouldn’t view my teen indiscretions as all that unusual. And he probably needed to get laid. He was eighteen. I didn’t think that he was a virgin, but I didn’t know for sure.
~ ~ ~
That evening, Nick picked me up. As far as I was concerned it was our first actual date. It was going to be about us – a chance to get to know each other one on one. And with that in mind, for the first time, I was planning to keep my clothes on. That seemed a bit ironic, but it made complete sense. After all, it was a first date. But the act of picking clothes to wear without a thought to how quickly I could get them off did seem unusual. Keeping my clothes on meant no Catherine – which was by design. I imagined she would be there, but out of sight, out of mind. She wouldn’t be playing a role in keeping up conversation. I’d have to do that all on my own.
Nick had selected a restaurant a few towns over. With the serial murderer story breaking, he wanted to be somewhere where people didn’t recognize him as one of the local police officers. He was sure that if we went out to eat in Stonefield, he’d be subjected to a constant barrage of questions.
I liked the ambiance in the restaurant, but just after we ordered Nick brought up how another set of remains had just been identified. The woman had been from Blue Hill, a coastal town quite a distance away in Maine. He started to tell me more about her, but I interrupted him.
“Please, not her name. Nothing more. There is enough anguish in my life knowing what I know about Catherine and her demise.”
“But you are part of this investigation. A central part.”
“Correction – I was part of the investigation. Providence chose me to play a role … a specific role. I did that. Now it is up to law enforcement. Make me proud! But going forward, leave me out of it. I especially don’t want to know about the other lives this monster cut short.”
“Okay,” he said. He seemed disappointed, but the look on his face told me that he understood.
“Just one request. When you catch him, bring him to me … so I can spit on him.”
“You no longer want to kill him?”
“I’ve decided to trust the system. He’ll rot in jail or receive the death penalty. That’s fine. I just want to spit on the bastard.”
He had a funny look on his face. “What?” I asked.
“Jessa, you’re unlike any woman I’ve ever known.”
With my lips pressed tightly together, I nodded. I wasn’t sure it was a compliment, but I’d always prided myself on being my own person. Fitting in had never been my priority.
Later, during dinner, with a moratorium on talking about the case, I started to realize something that I hadn’t before: Nick and I didn’t have very much in common. He was a policeman in a small town. Even though he was divorced, he was relatively stable. It had been a long-term relationship and he’d ended up with the house.
In contrast, I was a woman on the move and all of six years younger. I’d spent the majority of my time on college campuses in the Desert Southwest. It was an embarrassing thought, but I was starting to realize that, just possibly, I’d been drawn to him on account of always being naked in his presence. Had my nudity led to a heightened libido which in turn had resulted in this? And, if so, what was this? Infatuation? Merely a case of a horny female experiencing the inbred need to propagate the species?
Sadly, I imagined that Nick was also sensing that we didn’t have much in the way of chemistry. He didn’t seem as interested in me as when I was naked. I laughed at myself for that thought. Did I really think that clothed-me would be as fun to be around as naked-me? I decided not to get hung up on that. In a way, we were starting over.
Driving back, Nick invited me to spend the night. I thought about doing so, knowing full well that I’d strip and that it would again be the three of us. I knew I’d enjoy that, but I decided against it. On the one hand, I wanted to find out if Nick and I had a chance as a couple. Bringing Catherine back into the mix would interrupt my exploration of that important topic. And, on the other hand, because we still hadn’t gotten the STD tests, I thought that it might be awkward to again spend the night without giving ourselves over to anything physical.
And so, Nick took me home, promising to pick me up at 7:30am for our hike. He asked me what I had for hiking boots as the trail he’d selected was rocky and steep in places.
I told him I had just the thing. They weren’t full-blown hiking boots, but they weren’t tennis shoes either. They offered full ankle support.
Nick said he had lunch as well as trail snacks taken care of – that all I needed to bring was myself and maybe a bottle of water or whatever I wanted to drink. That was nice, but it surprised me. When had he found the time to do any shopping? And yet, a lunch for two people would be quick and easy to throw together.
~ ~ ~
The next morning, Nick was on time, and we headed out, both of us hoping to find a temporary respite from a summer that had gotten crazy beyond anything we might have imagined. I was also thinking about my interest in pursuing a relationship with him. Possibly hiking would be a better environment for me to consider just what he and I might have in common.
Nick was in a great mood, and so was I. The weather was certainly cooperating. He told me that it was at least a ninety-minute drive. That surprised me as there was a lot of great hiking in the vicinity of Stonefield.
About an hour from Stonefield, Nick turned off the pavement and headed down an unmarked gravel road. Maybe there had been a post with a number on it, but nothing more. The road was wide, surprisingly wide, but not well maintained, tall weeds everywhere. Eventually, we came to a substantial looking steel gate complete with several ominous ‘No Trespassing’ signs.
“Are you sure about the directions?” I asked as we came to a stop.
“I’m sure,” he said, reaching over. Grabbing a key ring from the glove compartment, he climbed out. A minute or two later, we were again underway.
“Just where are we?” I asked, looking around, suddenly paying more attention to our surroundings than I had been.
“I’ve got connections,” he said with a grin.
“I can see that. Care to explain?”
“This area is part of a military compound. Vermont had two missile silos in the early sixties. ICBM missile silos.”
“There are missiles here?”
“No. No silos, no missiles. This land was set aside for expansion. Expansion that never happened. Even the two original silos were decommissioned.”
“So, of all places, why are we hiking here?”
“I was going to wait until we parked.”
“To tell you.”
“You need to tell me now.”
“Okay. I set this up so that you would be able to hike naked.”
I coughed out a laugh. “Hike naked? Me? Today?” I was more surprised than anything. I wasn’t going to hike naked. He should know that. I’d gotten used to being nude around him, but… And we hadn’t sealed the deal. Even though I considered him my boyfriend. Even though I’d let him photograph me in the nude. My thoughts were all over the place, but the idea was ludicrous.
“Just think about it. You don’t have to, but I’m sure it would be fun … for both of us.”
“But…” I said, intending to list off a series of objections. The only problem was that they were crumbling on the way to my lips.
“Just think about it,” he repeated calmly.
I sat there, not looking at him, staring straight ahead through the windshield as we made our way into the mountains. I was trying to find the problem with his plan. It just sounded too scary, and certainly way too risky. “So, tell me again about this area.”
He did, repeating what he’d said, but adding information about the size of the tract of land and how far we were from any communities. He was quite certain that we had the area all to ourselves, that we wouldn’t run into any other hikers or military personnel, for that matter. Given the locked gate and the unused look of the road, I imagined that he knew what he was talking about.
But hiking nude? I was still at ‘no fucking way.’ However, there were butterflies in my stomach. As I imagined it, they were only there because I was picturing myself doing it. If I’d dismissed the idea, I’d be laughing. Instead, I was experiencing anxiety, my heart racing. Did my churning tummy mean that I was actually considering it? What I needed to do was tell Nick ‘NO!’ As soon as I shut his crazy idea down, my insides could start returning to normal.
“But hiking … I’d have to keep my boots on, so no Catherine.”
“Yes, rugged terrain. That’s why I asked you last night what you had for boots. These trails aren’t maintained. Even if they were, they’d still be rocky. I might have been able to find a trail that would be okay barefoot, but there would be people.”
“Yeah. I wouldn’t be able to do that.”
“But you can take your shoes off during breaks … like when we have lunch. Is Catherine with us?”
“I’m sure she is.”
“But you’re guessing.”
I threw my head back against the headrest in exasperation. “There you go again. Trying to trick me out of my clothes.”
“Give me a little credit. I’m not trying to trick anyone out of their clothes. I’m being very upfront. No subterfuge, just a delicious option. You seem so happy naked, that’s all.”
“That’s because of Catherine.”
“I suppose so, but are you sure? I mean, is she the only reason?”
“Why are you doing this to me?” I asked. Of course, I wasn’t sure. Initially, there had been no doubt in my mind. But I was no longer at square one. And then it occurred to me – maybe this was the perfect opportunity. Wearing my boots – because trail conditions required them – would allow me the chance to consider the question I’d been grappling with during dinner the night before. Maybe I would be able to arrive at a conclusion.
I’d experienced nudity with Nick, but Catherine had always been present. And Nick and I had been alone together, but only when I’d been dressed. This would be new and different – just the two of us – but I would be naked. It would be a most interesting data point. The butterflies intensified.
Was I actually considering it? I glanced over at Nick. He was staring far down the road as he drove. His expression told me that he knew that I was thinking about it. But why not? It was hard to imagine a spot devoid of people, especially in Vermont, but Nick seemed to have found it.
We came to a fork in the road. Nick stopped to consult a map. A moment later, we were again underway.
If I did this, it was going to be a first. Always in the past, my reason for stripping had been to communicate with Catherine. But this time, if I went through with it, it would have nothing to do with Catherine or the investigation. It would be just the two of us.
Nick parked the Jeep and we got out.
“So, it’s up to you,” he said. “We’ll have a great day either way.”
“You’re not even going to twist my arm.”
“I could, but that would get me nowhere. You’re too strong willed.”
“I guess that’s true,” I sighed, wishing he would think up a way to force me. I was on the verge of agreeing to his plan. I just didn’t want to admit it.
“Okay, this is how it’s going to work,” he said, opening the rear of the Jeep. “Come here.”
I hesitated, but he wasn’t asking for much. I went to him.
“Kiss me,” he said.
I smiled. I liked this Nick. This Nick was much more fun than Restaurant Nick. While he was kissing me, I felt him untucking my shirt.
“And just what do you think you’re doing?” I asked, my lips still in contact with his.
“Arms up,” he said. There was little doubt where this was going. My arms went up – almost as if they were doing their own thinking. A second later, my shirt slid up and off.
“Kiss me again,” he said.
I threw my arms around his neck, leaning into him and tilting my face up. If it was kisses he wanted, it was kisses he was getting – wet sloppy kisses. As our tongues danced, I felt his hands on my bra strap. It went taut as he pulled. I almost started laughing, it took him so long to get it undone, but a moment later, it went slack. I felt my breasts drop slightly as the support fell away. The bra joined my shirt in the back of the Jeep.
“Kiss me,” he said. I knew the drill. I flung my arms around his neck, pressing my face into his. Maybe we did have chemistry. As expected, his fingers went right to the button on my shorts. The zipper was next – it too put up little resistance. And then my shorts were sliding down my legs. I managed to step out of them without letting them hit the ground. The next thing I knew, they too were in the Jeep.
“Look at you!” he said approvingly.
Blushing, I looked down. More than ninety-percent of what I was wearing was on my feet. I was down to just my light-weight, brown hiking boots, a pair of argyle socks, and my pink panties. And they didn’t look at all like what one would wear hiking. They were more of a bedroom pair – a cheeky cut and oh so sheer – a painted-on second skin. All edges, legs and waistband, were trimmed with a delicate strip of white lace. Truth be told, I’d worn them because of how sexy they were – just in case. And now my secret was out.
“Turn around,” he said, twirling a finger.
That caused my blushing to intensify. My butt was bare. Could I turn and let him see? But then I decided not to be ridiculous. I’d spent hours upon hours naked around him. Even with my buns in full view, I was still wearing more than all the other times.
“Nice,” he said softly.
“You like?” I asked with a smile, looking back over my shoulder.
“That right there is one hell of an ass,” he remarked, pointing at it.
“So, with panties or without?” I asked. The next thing I knew, I was biting my lip. Had I really just said that?
“Definitely without. This is a bare-naked Jessa hike.”
I sucked in a breath and glared at him. It wasn’t his choice.
“Kiss me, Nick,” I said, closing the distance between us. I threw my arms around his neck and pressed my chest up into the bottom of his ribcage, angling my lips up to meet his. Barely a second later, I felt his hands on my hips. Smashing my face passionately into his, I opened my mouth, licking across his lips. They parted to admit my tongue as I felt fingers, lots of them, slipping down into my waistband.
To Be Continued…
Author’s note: If you are reading and enjoying Jessa Meets Her Match, I would love to hear from you! You may comment here on the storyboard (as ‘anonymous’ or register and give yourself a name). Alternately, feel free to send me an email: BPClavel@gmail.com
Very best regards,
Blair P. Clavel
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