Chapter Five - The Breast Stroke
It felt like the crack of dawn in the girls’ campus when Reveille sounded from the loudspeaker high in a tree outside. Sunbeams breached the threadbare curtain over the open window and birds sang happily, but Lizzy groaned at the loud singing they inflicting upon her throbbing head and queasy stomach. Her mouth felt like sandpaper and her lips like a strip of Velcro, stuck together so firmly she was sure she would hear them rip when they parted. Although green was her favorite color and earthly commitment, it didn’t reflect well upon her face and she had Jose to thank for that. She knew better than to allow her emotions to motivate her actions, and thought she’d learned long ago not to invite Jose into the melee. She only liked Jose when they could play well together, and last night Jose was no friend of hers. Once again, she vowed to break up with him. He was cramping her style.
She placed a hand on her forehead and sat up to the side of her bed as the girls in the cabin readied themselves for the day, which basically meant putting on make-up and blow drying their hair before the day of swimming. “Ooooohhh, God help me,” she groaned, then wiped her mouth with a long drag of her fingers.
Lydia stood in the center of the cabin, unabashedly dressing into a skimpy bikini. “Yo, sista, did you tie one on last night? The Good Time and I heard you going on and on about her brother.”
Lizzy motioned with her hand in the direction of her sister’s bareness. “Put something on, Lydia. I don’t think the girls care to see your breasts, and I sure as heck don’t. What do you mean I was going on and on?”
“Oh, this is ripe! You don’t remember!”
Georgie stood beside her cot, smiling and pulling her long hair into a ponytail. “You don’t remember calling my brother an arrogant ass. I think your exact words were ‘egotistical male chauvinist pig arrogant jackass’ if I remember correctly.”
“Oooohh, the pain.”
“But on the brighter side you did say he had a … how’d she put it L-Scream?”
“A great ass, beautiful dimples, hot body, and a smile that can melt ice cubes.”
“Yeah, that was it!” Georgie grinned naughtily. Yes, she was going to have a damn good time this summer.
Lizzy covered her face with her hand. “Oooohhhh, get me that water bottle over there Lids, pleeease.”
“Hope you feel better Lizzy, we have our first swimming competition an hour after breakfast, but don’t worry, I’m sure my brother will go easy on you if you’re not feeling well enough to compete at your best.”
That was the exact smart-ass attitude Will hated about Georgie and she was darned proud of it. He was convinced she had inherited it from the Fitzwilliam side because both Rick and Aunt Cat had that same ability to know just the precise moment when to stir the pot. However, on this day he, too, would have been proud of her wiseass remark.
Throwing off the bed linen, Lizzy rose to her full height and place the water bottle with purpose on the nightstand. She set her shoulders back and lifted her chin. She’d be damned if he got the best of her.
The first breakfast at Camp Mount Oakham was to become a memorable experience years later when the owner of the camp reflected back on his summer of hell but he would do so with a broad happy smile.
The six year-olds arrived. Nothing further really needs to be said about that. Their arrival spoke for itself. They had been eating Skittles since Reveille and not just popping a few in their mouths and sucking them for a little while. Noooo … they were pint-sized, ravenous beasts who had been left to their own devices. With multicolored fingers, red lips, and green tongues that incoherently babbled a mile a minute. Wide-eyed and crazy with uncombed hair and smelling like pimped-out hussies reeking with Chanel No. 5, they ran into the building, fuelled up like crack-addicted kittens.
Caroline was nowhere to be found, and after twenty minutes of a hung-over Lizzy and recovering Charlotte trying to calm them down, Cat finally went to pull the prima donna out of bed.
Cat was in rare form today, refusing to take any of the medication the doctors thought necessary in their ridiculous diagnosis of dementia, which really wasn’t dementia at all but rather the arrival of her seventieth birthday. In direct correlation, she really didn’t giving a crap what she said or did (as if seventy would be a contributing factor to that.) She always liked to do and say things her way, and today was one of those days.
Storming into Scarborough, wearing pink day-glo Crocs and black ankle socks, she pounced over Caroline’s snoring form. The sucking air from the woman’s mouth moved the curtain on the overhead window with each breath from her halitosis morning mouth.
Cat wanted to shout, but instead couldn’t help laughing at the great creativity and ingenuity of her little Scarborough hellions. How she loved those little ones. She tilted her head this way and that taking in the full picture of Caroline’s colorfully painted Caroline’s face. Such talented children. The contents of an empty make-up case lay strewn all over the floor: markers, lipsticks, and bottles of various tan foundations had been left open, the latter seeping across the wood, dripping down between floorboards. Colored pencils and stained brushes lay like pick up sticks.
“Wake up baby Jane!” she shouted into Caroline’s ear, startling her awake with a wild boar snort.
“Huh?” Caroline scratched her wild flaming hair.
“Jeez, you look like Tammy Faye Baker on steroids. Get the hell out of bed and get in the breakfast room where the wild things are!”
The counselor had no idea what was going on when Cat left the cabin mumbling, “Damn princess ... Think she can get in my Will’s pants … Red-headed Ronald McDonald ...”
Down the path, on her way back toward the cafeteria, she heard the most God-awful scream come from Scarborough then a loud crashing thud. Cat chuckled. Yes, today was going to be a good day, a real good day.
Hungover, every woman counselor drank black coffee and sucked down Tylenol like it was a life-saving vital medication, and it was. Darcy watched with acute amusement, delighting in Lizzy’s complete discomfort and pale green pallor, which matched her eyes so perfectly. He couldn’t help it, really, but he planned on being the victor at the pool that day.
She raised her middle finger to scratch her nose.
He laughed again then puckered his lips, sending her a mocking kiss across the room. War had just been declared by Will Darcy.
George stood beside him, holding his breakfast tray and watching the interaction with curiosity. “So, Willy ... That Lizzy’s quite a C-4 piece of ass isn’t she? Seems like you manage to piss everyone off wherever you go. Has the ole’ Darcy charm abandoned you, Willyboy?”
Seething that Wickham would even dare to address him after what he did last year, Darcy rose from his seated position at the picnic table, towering over the little guido. His face was set like stone; his eyes narrowed. “Wickham, don’t you ever speak to me again. You’re lucky I didn’t have your ass thrown in jail last year. Take this as your one and only warning …” He glanced around to make sure that the kids had all gone up for their breakfast, “….you mess with me, my sister ,or anyone else at Oakham, and I’ll be messing with you. Capisce…G-Train?”
Wickham lowered the white-rimmed sunglasses sitting atop his slicked-back hair, smiled, then strutted back to the Lambton boys.
Darcy shook his head. What’s next? In the history of his time at Oakham, he’d never experienced a kick off to the camping season such as this.
A slap to his shoulder by Bingley, startled him from his musing.
Both men turned to the door—summarily thunderstruck.
“Holy. Mother. Of God!” Darcy exclaimed when Caroline sauntered into the cafeteria as if nothing was amiss.
“What the? …” Bingley asked in astonishment.
Silence permeated the room. Forks held poised before open mouths. Beverage cups froze before meeting their destination. Mouths dropped open and six year old hellion girls smiled in pride at their artistic creation, thankful for their seven year old leader, Hayley who found the permanent Sharpie marker hooked on the clipboard in their cabin.
Rick, who had known Caroline … intimately … years prior, covered his mouth as Charlotte’s eyes grew comically wide. She shook her head. “Oh dear … that won’t come off,” and tried to think of a medical “something” that could assist her short of plastic surgery.
It was bad, and suffice it to say should require a complete description, but no description could possibly convey the true creativity of her “cosmetic alteration.” Red Sharpie outlined lips, hot pink circled stained cheeks, and blackened eyebrows, once a lovely strawberry blonde topped the list of damage. It was so great—and disturbing—that no matter how much concealer she applied, it was still horrifically noticeable. It was the firm hope to all present that the sun, chlorine water, and many washings would help her and subsequently their eyes, because no conversation could be had with the woman that wouldn’t ultimately end in laughter.
Cat clapped her hands, and Darcy and Bingley snapped their mouths shut in response. “Nothing to see here!” she said. “Go back to your Cheerios!”
“Hell week” Darcy said.
“Yeah, hell week. Better her than us,” Charlie replied.
“Damn straight on that.”
Lizzy walked passed Darcy and couldn’t resist the jab at the ready from smiling lips. She leaned against the table, folding her arms. “Seems like your girlfriend had an accident.”
Her pink lips taunted him, and the tasty scent of her coconut suntan lotion goaded him. He could just picture his tongue gliding up her neck tasting her fruity flavor. It then occurred to him that coconuts are extremely difficult to crack and super rough. His tongue could get damaged in the process. This girl was a lethal temptation.
He stammered at her comment. “My … my girlfriend?”
“Caroline’s not Darcy’s girlfriend!” Bingley laughed. “God no!”
Lizzy raised an eyebrow. “She seems to think differently. So, tell me, did you decide on your wager on the summer games Willy?”
Ignoring the Willy remark, he leaned closer to her. God, she smells so damn edible.
His breath tickled her cheek when he spoke into her ear.
“I bet … a bottle of Cuervo,” he whispered deviously.
She turned her head with a snap. How does he know about Jose?
Their lips hovered a mere fraction of an inch from each other. So close … so wanting to touch … so almost puckering as their gaze locked challengingly. Seconds passed as their heartbeats thundered. The attraction was so powerful, but both wanted to deny it.
Darcy thought he saw her pucker slightly and subtly inched his mouth closer.
Competitiveness won out over maturity and desire and he quickly broke the spell of her allurement. “Shall we wager on today’s swim match?”
She glanced over his shoulder at Caroline sitting amidst the now sugar-crashing, sleeping six year-olds whose arms spread out on the table before them. “If I beat you, you have to kiss Caroline.” The priceless look of horror on his face was worth the juvenile absurdity of the dare.
Aghast, he looked back at the woman in question. He shuddered because, quite frankly, he’d rather drag his balls through broken glass then to kiss that mouth. “You’re on but if I win, you have to kiss Billy.”
Lizzy watched Billy scratch his skinny backside on the opposite side of the room. Oh dear, what happened to that little boy I knew so long ago? What had made him such a geek? Was it his unique fascination with fireflies? Perhaps it was the frogs. She mused that as bizarre as Billy had become at least she knew that at some point in her life she’d had a crush on him. She could tolerate a kiss so long as she kept her eyes closed.
“Billy? Why, I’ve known him since I was a little girl at this camp. He was my first crush and my first kiss for God’s sake! Kissing him would be nothing compared to kissing that! You’re on. Prepare to go down, Will Darcy.”
She turned from him and vivid thoughts danced in his head. Prepare to go down? Is that a promise? Spellbound, he watched her perfect ass sway back and forth, leaving him quite breathless.
Darcy’s mind whirled. First crush? Wait a minute, she thinks Collins is me! She doesn’t know that I am the boy she spent her childhood summers with!
Across the room, commentary ensued as if from two boxing commentators taking in a fight ringside about Lizzy and Darcy. “Would you look at the way that boy is staring at your niece’s derriere,” Cat said to Maddy. “He looks like a dog eyeing a t-bone steak! Put that tongue back in your mouth boy. She’s not dinner!” She smiled thoughtfully. “They’d make such beautiful babies, don’t you think?”
“You know, Cat, you may be right,” Maddy nodded. “That is, if they don’t kill each other first. Lizzy’s got claws within her claws. If I remember correctly … don’t scorpions and black widows eat their mates post-coital? Awww ... but look at the way she’s looking back at him. You can just see the way she’s undressing him with her eyes. Maybe she’s eyeing up dinner.”
“That girl better get with the program. Her biological clock is ticking, and in a few more years his sperm is gonna start slowing down ... slow swimmers, that’s why Georgiana took so long. George’s boys must have taken a detour.”
Maddy continued to nod as Cat added a few randomly fired words, “Just like his father ... fine lookin’ ass he had ... red-headed hussy … lock those two in a cabin and let them have at each other.”
“You two sound like warring teenagers,” Charlie observed to Darcy. “What are you thinking, man? You can’t be serious. Do you even know what kissing Caroline would spark? It’s bad enough she looks like Baby Jane, look at her for Christ’s sake, they drew eyelashes on her!”
“That’s why I’m going to win. Little Gloria Steinem over there can’t possibly know that I swam for Penn State.”
“Uh Will, I think you forget that was like five years ago.”
After chastising herself for stooping to juvenile levels by goading Mr. Damn Near Perfect in Looks, John approached Lizzy sheepishly.
“Hey Lizzy. How are you?”
She groaned internally. Man, this was difficult, but she had known it was coming. “Hi Johnny, I’m good.” Her head pounded, but she didn’t want to be rude, after all, she had to be with him for the next four weeks, but bitterness was a taste she knew well when it came to John. “How have you been? Moving on I hope?”
“I suppose.” he shrugged. “It took me a while, but I realized I made an unforgivable mistake.”
“Yeah, well mistakes under the influence of Jose can be costly, especially when done repeatedly. I forgive you, but it just wasn’t meant to be for you and me. I know that now.”
“Truth is, I’d like to win you back, show you that I really am a good guy.”
He looked so sincere with his puppy dog brown eyes gazing into hers. She placed her hand on his bicep, “You are a good guy, Johnny, and I’ve known you my whole life, but we’re better as friends not lovers. Besides, I know your charming ways, and they always extended beyond the healthy parameters of a monogamous relationship.”
“Eye of the Tiger” music began to play with that all too familiar beat when Cat picked up the microphone. “Suit up campers. Games begin in thirty minutes by the pool!”
Darcy stood off to the side of Pemberley’s table carefully watching the interaction between Lizzy and John and found himself in the untenable position of yearning to give into want and desire. He was sorely tempted to betray a friend and silence that smart-ass mouth of hers with just one kiss.
Lydia slipped the fat, newly rolled joint in her small purse, which held the essentials: lipstick, condoms, iPod, buds, eyeliner and now enough pot to satisfy a sufficient high for both she and her new friend The Good Time.
They arrived late to the pool, unnoticed by Longbourn, which was a good thing since both she and her new friend were stoned out of their gourd with bloodshot eyes and lazy, sleepy limbs.
Darcy glanced across the pool, beyond the noise and splashing swimmers with fish-goggled eyeballs. He observed his sister acutely then leaned into Rick. “What’s up with G over there? She looks like she just woke up.”
“Stop being so overprotective. Would you just let her have some fun for once?”
“I don’t like the look of that girl she’s been buddying up with. She looks like trouble.”
“Will, stop! You’re gonna drive yourself mad. Let her be a kid for Christ’s sake!”
He’d never seen Will this protective. His cousin had always been an attentive brother and super proud of her every accomplishment. He had a great ability to lift Georgiana’s spirits and puff her up with confidence at every turn. In essentials he was both mother and father to this teen who so wanted to be liked among her peers, but smothering her was not the answer. It didn’t escape Rick’s eagle eye that Will’s protective behavior for his sister had increased since he last saw them, and he wondered what had happened.
Agitatated, Will ran his hand through his hair then locked eyes with his cousin. “You and I have to talk, but we’ll do it over a scotch one night.” He walked away to his kids to ready them for their swim match against the Longbourn girls.
At the edge of the pool Charlie stood next to Jane, his mouth open in wonderment at the tall, leggy goddess shouting with unbounded energy and competitiveness.
“Dig Camden, Dig! Go! Go! Go, He’s gaining on you Ashley! Faster!” she encouraged as her girls’ cupped hands slapped the water in their crawl stroke.
She could feel his burning stare and suddenly turned to face him. Sure enough … there it was … that starry eyed gape she’d hoped for. Yeah, she knew… positively... that she had him by the balls now, and thus beginning the “pussification of Bingley” for the summer. He’d be a worthless sap when it came to competing against her.
A little chuckle escaped Lizzy’s lips having witnessed the scene many times before. Jane had a way about her that spellbound most men quickly, and when applied during competition was a very effective honey trap. Of course it was a bit underhanded, but she approved wholeheartedly of Jane’s deliberate castration of a male opponent before competing against him. And boy, Charlie was ripe for the cutting! She giggled watching the performance as she waited for Longbourn’s Mighty Aphrodites turn against Mr. Smug’s Zit-faced, Pemberley Peckers.
Jane leaned to Charlie. Her deliberate ditzy voice ozzed sweetness as she commanded. “Close your mouth Charlie you’re catching flies.”
“Would you mind terribly getting my sun block, sweetie?”
[runs quickly to lounge chair nearly tripping over feet]
“How about a little dab on my shoulders? Would you mind?”
[squeezes tube promptly as hand shakes then slathers while keeping arousal at bay]
“Aaah, so much better. Thank you, sweetie-kins. You have great hands.”
And just as quickly, Jane’s attention diverted back to the pool when the next heat began, her voice dropping an octave. “Go Jessica, go! Dig, Dig, Dig! Don’t let that boy beat you!”
The final breaststroke heat between campers finally came and with it the anticipated slaughter of either Pemberley or Longbourn. Lizzy and Darcy stood on opposite sides of the pool staring the other down with daggers shooting from their eye in challenge. This was the first battle of the war.
The whistle blew.
Within seconds, Lizzy’s hopes were dashed. It was bad. No, bad is being kind … it was an utter disaster. Lydia almost had a wardrobe malfunction, which Lizzy suspected was intended, and Georgiana barely made it one lap, almost sinking to the bottom. Three others on the team could hardly swim beyond the doggie paddle. Try as Lizzy might there was nothing more she could do beside cajole, stomp her feet, and yell in encouragement from the sidelines of the pool. No amount of competitive fortitude could assist her girls in beating Pemberley. She was mortified at the loss when faced with Mr. Smug posturing with arms folded across his chest, smirking with that “I showed you”, look upon his arrogant, dimpled face.
She turned, red-faced from his laughter.
Thirty minutes later, the defining moment had come following the children’s swim match. Six counselors readied at the pool edge.
In the lane beside Lizzy, Darcy looked so fine lifting his snobbish Penn State T-shirt above his head in one slow move. Damn, if she couldn’t control the involuntary swipe of her tongue over his top lip. Mr ... Mr ... er ... um ... tasty treat.
He deliberately faced her and quite consciously flexed his biceps before her slacking, stunned mouth. Already her body’s involuntary awe betrayed her, giving her up to his smirking observation. She snapped her mouth closed and tried to avert her eyes. But it was hard … the man was magnificently sculpted with tight abs, and broad, muscular shoulders. Those taut nipples on firm pecs begged for her hand to slide down his chest.
She turned her back to Mr. Begging to Be Licked All Over’s perfect, pearly-white smile attempting to provoke and challenge, yet another, thunderstruck expression. No worries, she’d have her retort to this little strip act he just put on. She walked directly to Jane, dug into the pocket of her cargo shorts, and handed her sister a $50 bill, knowing that Darcy watched her every move. She winked at her sister.
Jane grinned knowingly, greatly approving of her sister’s highly-calculated maneuver and equally delighting in being the victor of their own little bet—the fifty-buck bikini bet.
Darcy raised an eyebrow as she sauntered back toward him, putting on her best come hither look that she was sure would captivate him. Slowly, she unbuttoned her shorts, dropping them at her painted toes. With a flick of her foot, she flung them to the side of the pool.
Starting at the bottom of her T-shirt, she leisurely lifted the material over her head. Seductively unveiling the skimpy, bright-yellow string bikini below. He stared, an appreciative smile played upon those full lips of his. God, she loved this bathing suit at that moment, worn solely for the intent of discombobulating Mr. Going Down In His Own Flames.
Darcy nearly groaned in full awareness that this yellow bikini she wore was to become the beginning of the re-classification and re-definition of “the new and complete pussification of Darcy.” Only this feline, unlike Aunt Cat, was a tigress with sharp, razor-like claws poised at the ready to shred him apart.
Stunned by a toned, tanned, and shapely body that only Amphitrite herself could possess, he couldn’t help stepping backward, admittedly, almost falling back in complete discomfiture as his mind struggled between: I need her vs. I hate, I have to beat her vs. I want to win her, Penn State vs. Drexel, feminist vs. goddess, big head vs. little head.
She winked at him with a saucy smile then licked her upper lip verrry slowly.
His heart hammered in his chest.
She laughed boldly in his face.
A trickle of perspiration rolled down his temple.
The whistle blew.
She was first to dive in.
Darcy was the last.
The woman was like the powerful goddess of the sea he imagined she was. Her long legs whip-kicked with frog-like ferocity, fueling her breaststroke forward, barreling her down the lane as he tried to keep up with her. His muscular arms tore up the water, digging in, circling, and pushing down. Powerful shoulders acted like an engine driving his strength. He must beat her!
But, all that competitiveness and endurance wasn’t enough for either of them because to everyone’s surprise G-Train won the heat.
Clinging to the side of the pool, out of breath and panting, everyone watched Wickham ascend the metal steps to exit the water.
Lydia moaned in desire.
Georgiana looked on with horror.
The Gardiners were scandalized.
Darcy was infuriated, and Lizzy thought G-Train was missing his little caboose, revealed by the wet, thin, white, meat-hanger bikini he wore. As George Costanza would proclaim in the TV show, Seinfeld, “Shrinkage!”
To the amusement of Lizzy, Wickham donned his white sunglasses and grinned mockingly at Darcy, showing a prominent space between his bottom teeth, and Darcy responded in kind by mouthing “up yours.” It seemed as though others had a beef with Darcy, too.
Silently gloating over her win of mere seconds over Darcy, they waited in the pool beside eachother as everyone else got out. On the sidelines, campers collected their winnings from Billy the bookie.
“Good race,” Darcy said.
“Thanks. You swim well,” she conceded through heavy pants.
“All-State three years in a row.”
Rivulets of water dripped down from his hair, fascinating her. His slick skin glistened in the warm sun. My God, he’s beautiful. “Don’t be so overconfident with your swimming prowess. We have another four weeks ahead of us, and the way I see it, I have more ammunition than you, Darcy.”
He stepped closer to her, the colorful float lane separators bobbing between them, brushing against their respective chests. “Oh, you think so? That’s a little cocky. You really think you’ll beat me?”
“I know so. In fact, your little strip show and muscle flex at the edge of the pool had absolutely no effect on me, whatsoever.”
She bit her lip and it was then that he realized—Lizzy was a terrible liar. She was all false bravado.
In only two days, this woman had succeeded in driving him crazy. She had this innate ability to crawl under his skin and itch, and he just needed to scratch it—badly. The more she challenged him, the more attractive she became. Had one of those little campers been underwater with goggles, they would have had an eyeful since the cool water did nothing to keep his raging libido at bay. “No effect?”
She lifted her chin defiantly. “None. At. All.”
It was so fast that Lizzy had no time to think when his arm suddenly came around her waist. He pulled her into him, wrapping a leg around hers to keep her from getting away.
“Perhaps this will have the desired effect.” His lips crashed against hers, covering them in a deep, delicious, passionate kiss. Her pliable mouth seemed to welcome and delight in his taunting and tasting lips. She responded to him, just as he hoped she would, when her tongue was the first to tease and play.
Lizzy was completely swept up in the moment, her head spinning. This guy is a fabulous kisser. Every movement his lips of fire made affected her more than she’d ever admit. She slid her hand up his wet chest, her fingers heading for his neck where they just wanted to thread and play in those tendrils at his nape.
Suddenly, he pulled away, his lips and body separating from hers.
Her hand dropped, slapping into the cool water.
Darcy turned and quickly ascended the pool steps. Cool as a cucumber, it was as if the last one minute and seven seconds had absolutely no effect on him. “See ya’ round, Lizzy.”
Had she not been floating in la-la-land at that moment, she would have noticed the huge tent to his swim trunks.
She didn’t know what hit her and then coming back down to earth realized that turn around had been fair play, and he had played her good. Her hand went to her swollen lips. Mr. Rat Bastard.
Who is the winner? Who is the loser? LOL That kiss started something methinks.