"Jeff, it seems like you're more interested in your friends than in me. I wish we could see each other more."
"Maria, we're together now. Why talk about that now. Let's enjoy the moment."
"I can't talk about it when you're not around."
"My best moments are with you, Maria, but we need to keep our other friendships strong too. Actually, I'd like to take our friendship to the next level."
"Next level? What do you mean? We talk about everything."
"I dream of us expressing our love in the best way possible."
"How could we do more than we already are? Oh! You're talking about sex!"
"You don't want me like that anymore!"
"Jeff, that's not true! But we would ruin everything if we did it."
"How could something so wonderful be bad?"
"We would betray the trust our mothers put in us."
"Maria, my mother was doing it at our age."
"And regrets it."
"Alex and Logan are doing it and they're happier than ever!"
"So that's what this is about! You gotta keep up with the guys."
"No, Maria! You know I will wait for you. And we've learned how to wait and still have a way intense romance. It just seems like we're missing the best."
"It sounds like you're turning into your father, the last thing you want to be! I'm leaving!"
"Maria, don't leave!" After she leaves, both cry profusely.
20 THINK LONG, THINK WRONG
"Hi Fred. This is Jeff."
"Hey, Mr. Basketball!"
"Not me! That's you. Do you wanna come to Black's Beach with us?"
"Is that the nudist beach that you go to with Maria?"
"Yeah, but she's not going. We had a fight."
"That's so not cool. Are you OK?"
"No. That's why I want you to come."
"That's way scary to me."
"You mean going naked?"
"Yeah, I just got chills all over at the thought of it."
"Well, you don't have to strip. It's optional."
"It's still scary. I never seen a bunch of nudies before."
"We'll stop by 10:30. Decide then. If you don't wanna go, that's OK."
"Well, I didn't have anything to do today. Maybe I should try it. I'll think about it."
Rachel calls Sonya to see how they should work out their usual day at Black's Beach. Sonya encourages that they go on their own this time.
"I’m going to miss you and Roberto."
Sounding hurt, "That’s sweet of you, Rachel."
"Sonya, what’s wrong."
"Roberto wants me to move in with him."
"Why is that bad?"
"He hasn’t even proposed to me yet."
"I don’t think I could say no to him if I lived with him."
"Sean doesn’t pressure me at all."
"You have a good man."
"So do you."
"I look forward to living with Roberto, but we need to get married. And I don’t want to pressure him either."
"Talk to him. Talk with him, without making demands."
"Oh my! Demand is my middle name."
"I get that way too."
"Thanks for listening, Rachel. I love you."
"I love you too. We’ll talk again."
"Mom, we’re ready to go to the beach."
"Jeff, I’ll be ready in a minute."
Soon they stop at Fred's house on their way. Jeff runs up to the door. Fred's dad answers the door. After exchanging warm greetings, he asks Jeff to talk his son into going.
"I'll talk to him, but it's up to him."
Young Fred hangs his head down when he sees Jeff. "Hey, Fred, good buddy. I guess you're not going."
"My dad really thinks I should go. Who would ever think!"
"I think you'll be glad if you do, but we can some other time when you're more ready."
"I don't think it will get any easier, so I guess I'll go now."
Jeff gives him a gentle, soothing hug, "You'll do fine. Don't worry. Be happy!"
21 RED FRED
On their way, Jeff talks about everything but the beach--mostly about Maria. With the distraction, Fred actually forgot where they were until they step onto the beach. Seeing naturists in the distance, he gasps, "I can't believe they're all naked. They don't look worried at all! They're all so calm. Some are fatter than me. They don't seem to care that people see all their blubber. Nobody's laughing at them. That's way cool!" Now Fred feels relaxed.
As usual, Jeff strips as soon as putting his stuff down. Then he helps set things up, as does Fred. Rachel sits down clothed, for Fred's sake. Then Jeff says, "Fred, let's walk to the water."
"OK." So Jeff starts walking. "Wait Jeff! I gotta strip first." Without a second thought he strips and starts walking with Jeff. Halfway, he suddenly says, "Oh my God! I'm naked," trying to cover his stomach and penis.
"Let's get your clothes, Fred."
"No, you get them and bring them here. No, don't leave me. I know, let's race to the water!"
"OK," but Jeff takes his time so as to stay even with Fred. Soon they splash into the ocean. Fred sighs in relief. Jeff tries to tackle Fred, but instead, he gets tackled. After they exhaust themselves playing, Jeff says, "I'm thirsty. Let's get some lemonade."
Fred starts walking out, but stops. "Can you bring me some..."
"I'll bring you a towel, OK?"
"Good idea! Thanks, Jeff." As Jeff leaves, Fred thinks to himself, "I was so brave before. I should try again." Slowly he walks out of the water. He thinks about how cool it felt to run naked. Before he knows what's happening, he finds himself running to catch up to Jeff.
Startled, Jeff spins around, ready to defend himself. Then he rolls over in the sand, laughing, "Holy guacamole! You scared me out of my skin."
Timidly smiling, "I didn't mean too!" Both put an arm around each others shoulders as they continue to their blanket. Fred sees Rachel and Sean naked and quickly turns his head.
Lightheartedly, "Relax Fred. Your eyes won't fall out."
Fred gets his courage back and looks ahead again. Then fear fills him again as he realizes Rachel and Sean see him naked. But as he sees the warm love in their eyes he calms down again. Their eyes keep his feet moving. Then he falls onto the blanket, "This is way weird, but so cool." Jeff hands him a drink and sits with him.
... "Look Fred! There's Cindy and Tami."
"Oh no! I hope they don't see me!"
"Not! Don't crawl into your cocoon now. Come on. Let's talk to them."
"You're crazy, Jeff!"
"Pulling Fred up, as if he could, "Don't think. Be yourself. Be bold, big boy!"
"I'm not ready for this."
"Just be calm, cool, and collective."
Fred stops resisting Jeff when Sean adds a word of encouragement. As they walk over, Fred gets cold feet. As he starts to turn around, he notices that Tami sees him. He feels frozen in time. Can't turn around. Can't keep moving. He resists the urge to cover himself. Jeff pulls him forward. Fred feels a burst of confidence. Soon Jeff greets Cindy and Tami.
Tami warmly replies, "Hi Jeff. Hi Fred--I never saw you here before."
Fred fumbles, "No. Uh, my first time."
Cindy adds, "Cool! You're doing great."
Tami agrees, "You bet. Hey Jeff, where's Maria?"
Jeff hangs his head, "We had a fight."
With glowing eyes, "Oh! I'm sorry. Something about church, I suppose."
"No. I messed up all by myself."
Cindy offers, "Why don't you guys sit down."
Fred can't believe how sweet they're being. He tells himself, "They just want Jeff's company. But so what. It feels fabulous anyway." He says, "That's real sweet of you Cindy." He can't believe he's sitting with two gorgeous girls that don't have a stitch of clothes on. He senses that this is heaven on earth. He resists the urge to stare at their bodies, but can't help noticing. He can't believe Cindy seems to really be interested in him. As Tami and Jeff drift into their own world, he's in the clouds with Cindy. She shares how she used to hate how horrible he used to act and how amazingly genuine he has become. He had been looking at her with the deepest respect, but suddenly pops a boner. He had forgotten his nakedness. Now he wants to bury himself in the sand. He manages to cover his stiffy, hoping no one had noticed.
Cindy doesn't look, but calmly says, "Fred, I'm flattered."
Fred looks stunned, "What does she mean? She knows! No, I refuse to think that."
Seeing horror in his face, she adds, "Please don't be embarrassed. It will go away."
"Oh no! She knows. I'm dead meat! Yeah, it will go away--she'll cut it off," he muses as his head spins. "I'm still here. I'm still alive," runs through his head as his heart throbs.
"Placing a hand on his shoulder, "Fred. You're wonderful. Please relax."
Finally Fred finds himself feeling fearless, as his hands stop hiding his hard-on.
Cindy sweetly smiles, "See, you survived.... Look, see the hulk returning to normal."
Fred realizes she sees all, yet she likes him. "Wow!" As Cindy kisses him on his cheek, "Double wow!" Neither can contain their delight. Fred reaches to hug her. She fully receives his embrace. Fred's totally embarrassed, "Did I just do that!"
Cindy laughs, "Yes, red Fred."
Eye to eye, "I'm so sorry. I don't know what I'm doing."
"Well, that's the sweetest hug I ever had!"
Reaching for another hug, "Really!"
Fred burst out in tears as they hug chest to breast, "I'm alive. I'm insane. I'm so thankful. Cindy, you're precious!"
As they complete their hug, Cindy sees Jeff and Tami watching. Jeff sternly whispers, "Fred! I can't take you anywhere."
With everyone laughing, Tami suggests, "Let's go swimming." Hand in hand, they stroll the sand to the sea.