KJ Cartmell | fiction | Summer Love Affair

Summer Love Affair

When I came into the café after a long day on the water, I saw her sitting alone in a small table by the window, her nose in a book. I figured I’d seen every girl islander there is to see. This girl was new. Dark brown hair fell in waves down to her shoulder. She pushed her hair back and tucked it behind her ear. Her hand was long and narrow. Her arm and cheeks had an olive complexion. I couldn’t see at first the color of her eyes. All I could see, with her head turned towards her book, was the curl of her dark eyelashes.

I was with a group of friends, all fishermen like myself. Tom was the alpha among us. He turned away from the girl and shook his head. “That one’s a little too rich for my blood,” he said. The rest of us gazed at her a little longer. She looked like a college girl. Most guys around here don’t like a girl who is smarter than them. 

This didn’t bother me as much. As I looked away and headed for the booth that Tom had settled into, I made up a little story about the mystery girl: her parents had retired here to the island, and she had come from the university to share a summer with them. 

She would be here for a few weeks and then she would be gone. That’s why she was content to sit with her book when there were so many people around that she could sit and talk with and get to know. She didn’t want to know us. She hadn’t come here to stay.

She was pretty, though, and it had been a while for me. I thought, if I saw her again, I would give the newcomer a try. I just needed the right lure.

The next morning, my crew and I got a bit of luck and we hit our quota before noon. We were back in the docks and finished at the market before two o’clock. I went home, washed up, and headed for the secondhand bookstore down the street from the bed and breakfast.

I hadn’t expected to find her there, browsing the shelves, but there she was, wearing a flowery summer dress, her thick brown hair pulled back with a plastic yellow band. 

“Hey, I was wondering if you could help me,” I said, feeling the blush on my cheeks and wishing I had shaved away my dark brown stubble before I came down there. “There’s this beautiful girl. I’ve seen her around. I think she might be an out-of-towner. I’ve seen her reading in the café. I want to find a book that would impress her if she saw me with it.”

She gazed steadily back at me, her lips pursed, an amused glint in her brown eyes. “Are you going to read it or just carry it around?”

“I was quite the reader when I was younger. My mom is a schoolteacher here on the island. She always made sure I had books to read.”

“Not so much, now, though?”

“It’s hard to find the time, working seven days a week. But see, now there’s this girl I’m trying to impress. I figure, if I start reading again, she and I will have something to talk about.”

She continued to play coy with me, as if she didn’t know it was her that I was talking about. “I’m not sure what to recommend,” she said, “since I don’t know what you’ve read.”

“I think I’ve read every science fiction and adventure novel they had at the library. Some of ‘em, I read twice.”

I rattled off the titles of the books I had read. With a prim expression, very much like a librarian, she said, “I have an idea.” She beckoned me with her finger. She led me to the section of regular fiction books. The way she went, straight to this one book, she must have seen it earlier and known that it was there. She plucked it from the shelf and handed it to me: a dog-eared paperback of Billy Bathgate. “Have you ever read E.L. Doctorow?”

“No, miss,” I said. “Never even heard of him. 

“He’s a serious writer. That will be clear when you start reading. And yet, it’s an exciting story about Depression-era gangsters. You might like it.”

“Will it impress this girl, do you think?” I asked.

With a mischievous little pout on her lips, she said, “Oh, I think it will.”

I stuck out my hand. “I’m Danny, by the way.”

She gave me a firm handshake, decisive and confident. “Hannah.”

“Maybe tomorrow, after I get some reading done, we could meet for dinner and talk about this book.”

“Sure.” That amused glint was back in her eyes. “I’ll meet you at the café. Say, around six?”

“That would be fine. I’ll see you then, Hannah.”

I had dinner with my folks and then turned in. Instead of watching TV or hanging out at the bar with the guys, I sat on my worn-out sofa and read Billy Bathgate. I could see what she meant that this was a serious book. The quality of the writing was top notch. But instead of being stuffy or self-important, this was an exciting story of a teen boy taken in by a group of murderous gangsters. I read as late as I dared, knowing that I had an early start and another full day of fishing ahead of me.

When I got back home the next day, I was worn out from a long day out on the water. I showered, shaved, put on a change of clothes and went down to the café with my book. Sure enough, she was sitting there at a table by the window, reading.

As I approached, she looked up at me and smiled. “Hi, Danny.”

“Hello, Hannah. I’m glad you’re here. You wanna order something to eat?”


We ordered plates of halibut. It came with a salad, and I ordered a plate of French fries for the two of us to share. “This ain’t the fanciest place on the island,” I said, “but the food here is really good.”

She asked, “How was the book?”

“I’m enjoying it. I got confused when he switched up the timeline a bit, but I figured it out after a while. I was surprised how sexy it was in some parts. Not what I was expecting from a smart book like this.”

Her gaze was steady, and that amused smirk was back on her lips. “You didn’t know us smart kids read sexy books, did you? Believe me, we keep the best ones all to ourselves.”

Hannah gazed out the window at the tall pines edging the harbor. “Have you lived here your whole life?” she asked.

“Yes, I have. I love the island – seeing the bald eagles up in the trees, otters and the little puffins bobbing on the water. You get out in the big ocean, and there are whales rolling by like big ocean waves. Today, as we were coming in, a pod of orcas cruised by us. We’re in the same business, us fishermen and them, hunting for food. I have a great deal of respect for those creatures.”

There was wonder in her eyes now, as she said, “Do you ever consider writing down some of these thoughts of yours? You could be a fisherman-poet.”

“Like Hemingway? I guess I never thought about it much.”

“If you write something and send it to me, we could work on it together, polish it up. I could get it into the university’s literary magazine.”

“Would anybody really want to hear about trees and fish and whales and all that?”

“Yes, they will. When you live in the city, with concrete beneath your feet and tall steel towers all around you, you find yourself longing for open spaces, forests, and the sea.”
We spent the whole evening talking like that. When it was time for me to turn in, I walked her back to the hotel where she was staying. At the lobby door, she gave me a kiss goodnight. She said, “I didn’t come here looking for a man, and I have a life in the city. But I’m not above a summer love affair.”

For the next several nights, we met for dinner. I took her to a new place every night, to the Italian restaurant, the Mexican place and the steakhouse. We talked for hours about the wildlife that she saw on her hikes, and what I had seen on the water. We talked about books and movies, too. She made me a long list of books to read and movies to see, most of which I had never heard of before.

On Friday night, we took a walk along the harbor, holding hands. “Why don’t you show me your boat?”

We walked down to the docks. I helped her step into my boat, a forty-foot trawler with twin engines and a wide back deck where my weekend clients could fish or watch for whales. 

I fired up the engines and eased the boat out of the slip. We made our way out of the harbor and up the river. Hannah stood beside and gazed out at the wilderness of towering pines. “You see that white speck up there?” I pointed. “That’s a bald eagle.”

“Oh, I see it!”

The water was flat and calm. No other boats were around. Up river a couple miles from the harbor, there’s a quiet little cove where I often sit and fish. I brought the boat into the cove and dropped anchor.

“Does anybody live around here?” she asked. 

“Oh, there might be a house or two nestled in the hills, but there aren’t many. Most are on the island or further east, closer to the city.

Clutching the rail tightly, she leaned over and peered down at the water. “Is this freshwater or seawater?”

“It’s a little of both,” I said. “The ocean’s not too far away, just a couple of miles to the west. But most of this water is coming from inland, so it’s fresh.”

“Is it good for swimming?”

“Yes. On a hot July day, I’ll take a quick dunk. It’s evening, now, though. We’ll get cold pretty quick. I got towels down below, if you have an inkling. No swimming suits, though. None for a woman, anyway.”

“There’s no one around except you and me,” she said. “I don’t need a suit.”

I went down below decks and pulled from storage two beach towels. When I got back on deck, Hannah was on the other side of the railing, sitting on the swim platform, a wide wooden plank just above the propellers. I could see only the top of her head from where I stood, but I noted that her dress, bra and panties were in a pile on one of the seat cushions. She gave me a quick smile and then slipped into the water.

I shed my clothes and followed her, climbing over the railing to the swim platform. She was a few feet away from the boat, treading water. Her hair was wet. I could see her bare shoulders. I jumped in, and the cold water enveloped me.

I kicked back up to the surface. “Hi,” said Hannah. She draped her arms around me, and we shared a long kiss. I ran my hand down her bare back and her round, firm bottom. She broke the embrace and kicked towards the platform. “Okay, that was fun, but I’m freezing now.”

“I got a couple towels up on deck.” We pulled back up to the platform. I climbed over the rail and then helped her get back on the deck. She wrapped the towel around her like a little blue dress. “I haven’t shown you my cabin.”

Below deck was a table and a little kitchen with a propane stove and a sink. “The table folds down and makes a bed, and I got a bed up there at the bow. 

She asked, “Can I sit down? I’m still a little wet.”

“It’s fine. Would you like a second towel for your hair?”

“Yes, please.” She sat down at the table while I fetched another towel from the drawer under the front bed. As she wrapped her hair in the towel, the blue towel dress came undone. Her breasts were full, olive-toned with dark areolas. Her nipples pointed up towards me. I could see goosebumps rising on her flesh.

“You look cold. Do you need to get under the covers?”

“Not yet.”

I knelt and kissed her knee. “May I?”

“Let me move over to the bed.” She stood and wrapped the towel around her waist like a skirt. My own towel was coming undone, so I let it fall away. We kissed once more, and my hands found her breasts. “Don’t forget about my knee,” she reminded me. 

I knelt again and kissed her knees once each. Slowly, she parted them. I kissed her thigh’s long muscle. She leaned back, raised her knee, and opened herself to me. Her pubis was smoothly shaved. I carefully examined her folds and then started to work with my tongue while she purred and ran her hands through my hair.

“I have condoms in my purse,” she said. I had some also, but I went with her preference. I got her purse. She pulled a packet out from a secret compartment and tore it open. She gave me a few long strokes with her hand before fitting the condom over me.

I expected her to lie back down again, but instead, she turned her back to me and bent over at the waist, with her breasts against my comforter. I spread her legs as best I could in the narrow galley and pushed into her. I watched the pleasure fill her face and listened to her purr as I rocked her.

“Let me turn over now.” I backed out and she turned around. I lay over her and bent my head to her breasts. I took them each in my mouth. Her long fingers pulled at my ribs. “Come. Take me again.”

As I entered her, she let out a sigh of pleasure. We shared a long kiss as we built up our rhythm together. I rocked her to the sound of the water lapping at the bottom of the boat.
I caressed and kissed her, building her pleasure further. She let my lips and tongue wander where they willed while my hands built up a rhythm between her legs. “Okay. Now. More.” As I eased over her, she said, “Go a little rougher this time.”

I rocked her hard and steady. She thrust with her hips and pulled me as deep as I’d ever been into a woman. She came in a long groan, clutching me tightly.

Afterwards, we lay in each other’s arms beneath the sheets. “I have to go back soon,” she said. “Back to my job and my life.”

“I know. I’ll savor you while I can.”

“Will you write me?” she asked. “Send me a story or a poem about the wilderness here, the sea and all the animals. I’ll publish it, I promise.”

“Can I write about you?”

She let out a soft laugh. “Yes, but I might not publish that one. I’ll keep it, though. I’ll keep it forever.”

Beeper Peddle is a writer and healer living on the East Coast. She lives with her partner and their beloved soul puppy. Beeper writes about sorrows, lies, and deep loves. When you read her work, you will dip down into her heart and end up in all manner of body parts. Should you find yourself reflected in these words, it is merely coincidence; however, it does not surprise her you share the same heart. Find her at bethpeddle.com and @beeperpeddle on Twitter and Instagram

KJ Cartmell (he/him) was recently featured in Las Positas College’s journal: Havik: Inside Brilliance, and in the anthologies Beneath the Twin Suns, In the Red Room, and Strangers. He is the author of several novels including Revelation, Rapture, and Liam Wren and the Dragon Wand. In his spare time, he enjoys music, movies and photography. He lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with his wife and orange tabby cat.