The mile markers counted down as we approached the California coast. I was dirty, hungry, and tired in no particular order. We had been driving for almost three days straight in a ten-year-old car that was barely still alive. I thought to myself that this might be the dumbest thing that I'd ever done in my life.
It started a year ago. I had just finished my sophomore year at college and was home for the summer. After a pickup basketball game at the local park I headed home. As I got close to the house I saw an unfamiliar car parked in front. When I entered my house through the garage I heard voices talking and laughing in the living room.
My dad yelled, "Joe, come in and meet some old friends of ours from our high school days."
I walked into the living room and saw my folks sitting on one couch and another couple sitting on the opposite couch. Everybody stood up when I entered and dad introduced me. "Joe, this is Frank and Ann Woodward from California. We grew up in the old neighborhood and went through high school together. They are on their way to West Point where their oldest son is graduating and just stopped to say hello."
I shook their hands and said hello as my dad continued, "And this is their daughter Paula."
She had been sitting in the corner and I hadn't spotted her as I came in. She looked at me and gave a shy smile as I said, "Hi Paula."
I checked her out quickly. She was about five-foot seven-inches tall with brown eyes and brown hair cut so it just reached her shoulders. Her blouse had the first two buttons open so I could see the beginning of a sun-tanned chest. Her breasts were full—pushing her blouse out attractively. Her body was trim, flat stomach and narrow hips. I was instantly attracted to her.
Everybody sat down again, but I realized that the only chair left in the room for me was far away from Paula. On an impulse I went over and sat on the floor next to her chair and leaned my back against the wall. I caught a faint scent of her perfume as I sat next to her.
Frank asked me a couple of questions about college and then the adults went back to talking about their high school years.
Paula hadn't said anything but she looked at me so I said, "Hi again."
She smiled and quietly said, "Hi to you too."
I thought, "She's as shy as I am, so I guess it's up to me."
I asked, "Would you like to take a walk while our folks catch up on things?"
She grinned and nodded yes. When there was a gap in the conversation, Paula asked, "Mom, can I go for a walk with Joe?"
Her dad answered, "Sure, but no longer than an hour—we have to get back on the road if we're going to keep on schedule."
We both stood up and went out the front door. I turned and we walked side by side in the direction of the park. Paula said, "Thanks for getting me out of there. I love my folks, but we've been in the car for three days now, and we have at least two more days to get to West Point. I need some exercise and all the folks want to do is talk about the old neighborhood.
"You're going to be a junior in college. Do you like school?"
I answered, "Well some days are better than others. I have a swimming scholarship, which means a lot of time at practice, plus I have to work side jobs for some money, and then I have to study pretty hard to get good grades. When those things get overwhelming, it can be a downer.
"How about you? Are you going to college?"
Paula giggled, "I think I just got a compliment since I just graduated from high school last week. I'm not even eighteen until September twenty-ninth. But to answer you, I've decided to go to a junior college south of Los Angeles called Windy Hills, and see if college is the thing for me. I don't want to waste my parent's money if I don't like school, so this is a way to find out. I'll live with my grandmother who has a house in the same town as the junior college."
I teased, "I've heard every school in California is a party school, so that means yours is too?"
She hesitated a second and then answered, "Well I'm not sure if Windy Hills is a party school, but I'm kind of shy so it probably doesn't matter."
Finding it easy to talk to her I replied, "Well then we might have a contest here on who is more shy—you or me."
She giggled, "You're not shy Joe. You started talking to me first. You got me out of the house for this walk, and you're getting me to talk like we're best friends."
"Paula," I answered, "if we were at a party or dance and I came up to you and tried to pick you up, it would be a disaster. I'm kind of a klutz that way. I'm really good at sports and I have a lot of male friends, but put me with a pretty girl and I run out of things to say in about five minutes."
"Oh," she laughed, "you can talk to me because I'm not pretty."
I stammered, "No...no that's not what...."
Paula interrupted with a light slap to my arm and a laugh, "I'm teasing silly."
Still embarrassed I said, "You're very pretty Paula. I think you're easy to talk to because we just met, and in an hour you will be gone, so I don't have to impress you or anything."
Paula said, "Well we won't decide who is the most shy then. You tell me about yourself and your college and I'll tell you about myself."
We walked around the park for about an hour and then headed home. We never stopped talking. I was disappointed when we finally got home. I thought, "Why couldn't I meet someone like this in college?"
The adults were on the front porch waiting for us. Paula's dad said, "There you are. Time to go. It's your turn to ride in back."
I said good-bye to her parents and then opened the car door for Paula. She slid into the back seat and without thinking I leaned in and whispered to her, "Be careful at West Point. I've heard those cadets have the quickest hands in the east."
She blushed and giggled. Then she turned serious for a second and touched my arm as she said, "Thanks for being so nice Joe—you're sweet."
I should have kissed her then...I wanted to, but with both parents standing a few feet away I just couldn't. "Have fun," I said to her.
There might have been a trace of disappointment on her face as she said, "Bye."
As their car pulled away, my mother turned to me and said, "That was really nice of you to take care of Paula. She looks like she is a sweet, young girl."
I didn't answer as I sadly thought of the phrase that described what just happened, "two ships passing in the night."
I was wrong. Two weeks later I picked up the mail and found a small letter addressed to me. It was a thank you card from Paula.
She wrote, "West Point is a beautiful place and when the cadets marched and the band played, it was really impressive. However, the highlight of my trip was my walk with you. Good luck in junior year. Fondly, Paula. PS If you ever feel like writing to me, here is my grandmother's address."
The summer passed quickly and I soon headed back to college. I never answered Paula's letter; nothing could ever come out of it I thought at the time.
It was a Friday near the end of September and I had decided to go to a fraternity party. I wasn't a member of any fraternity, but for a couple of bucks they would let you in to help pay for the keg and band.
It had been a long week—my classes were harder than I expected, and my practice swim times were only fair so the coach had been riding me. I was hoping that I'd get lucky at the fraternity party. It wasn't to be. The boyfriends aggressively protected their girlfriends, and there were no single girls. So I ended up drinking a couple of beers and got horny watching some couples make out during the slow songs. Depressed, I left the fraternity after a couple of hours.
I arrived back at the dorm and crashed for the night. The next morning I woke up still down and I was trying to decide which one of my classes needed the most work when I glanced at the calendar; it was September twenty-fourth. I paused for a second and then remembered what Paula had said; "I won't be eighteen until September twenty-ninth."
I thought, "Why not?"
I walked into town to a drug store and bought a funny birthday card. Back at the dorm I wrote, "I hope you have a great eighteenth birthday!"
That didn't seem to be enough—I had not answered the card she sent me. So I sat down and started writing a letter to her; it was a happy letter. I searched for all the good things that happened since I got back to college and tried to describe them. I talked about my goofy professors and their idiosyncrasies and made jokes about their teaching techniques. When I finished the second page I realized that my depression was gone—searching to write Paula about the good things in college had helped me. I sealed the letter and birthday card and mailed it to her at her grandmother's.
I thought, "I wonder if she'll answer it?"
Three weeks later her letter arrived. It started, "Your birthday card and letter made my day; because of you my eighteenth birthday was a special one that I will always remember."
The next two pages described her early days at Windy Hills Junior College. It was mostly a happy letter, but at one point she said, "I'm really lucky that Gran is letting me live with her; I think I would be lonely without her to talk to."
About three weeks later I mailed my second letter to Paula, and so it started—every three weeks or so we would write to each other. My letters became more personal and longer as I gradually described how things were going for me—both the good and the bad, but I tried to make the letters happy.
She soon was more open with me. She wrote, "I just read my letter to you and blushed. If you were standing in front of me I just know I couldn't tell you what I wrote in the letter. It's so nice to have a real friend that I can talk to without being embarrassed. I wish I were three years older and closer to you."
The letters continued through the winter and spring. College was going better for me—the grades came out fine, and I surprised everyone including myself by having a great swimming season. Through the months, however, I became more and more anxious to receive Paula's next letter. Each letter she sent to me gave me an upper for the rest of the week.
I was in the student union one day in early spring and glanced at the note board. There were books for sale, tutors for hire and a multitude of other things and services available. My eye caught one card. It read: "Riders wanted at the end of the term going to Los Angeles. Forty dollars and share the gas expense."
I called the number on the card and talked to the student; he was a junior and needed the money by offering rides. He told me that he would hold one spot open for a couple of weeks in case I was interested.
I argued with myself the entire next day whether my idea was dumb. Paula and I talked about everything but one subject—our love life. She never asked me if I had a girlfriend and I never asked her if she was dating. It was like the military, "don't ask, don't tell."
Finally I wrote her and said, "I have a chance to catch a ride out to California at the end of the school year. I don't want to mess up your schedule or anything, but would you have time to see me if I can get the ride?"
I wrote down the dates and went on to other subjects. I mailed the letter and waited anxiously for her answer. If she had a boyfriend, I hoped that I had given her enough excuses that she could tell me no without hurting our friendship.
Six days later she answered: "Joe, I really, really want you to try to visit me! I will still be in school, but I will make sure there will plenty of time for us to be together. Of course, if you have other people to visit out here, I won't hog all your time. Please let me know...I'm so excited!"
Her answer was the ultimate upper. I called the guy with the car and booked him within an hour of getting Paula's letter. I checked where her college was located, and found an inexpensive motel that was within miles of the school. I anxiously waited for the school year to end.
The driver of the car interrupted my thoughts when he said, "Joe, we're going to be at your motel in about twenty minutes."
Twenty minutes later I checked into the motel and found my room near the back. The motel was old, but very clean. My room had a single queen-size bed, a table with one chair, small television, but a very large, clean bathroom. The ocean was four blocks away.
I nervously sat on the edge of the bed and thought, "Dummy, you spent three days driving out here, so call her."
I picked up the phone and dialed her grandmother's number. The phone was answered on the second ring. It was Paula. She hesitantly said, "Hello."
"It's me, Paula."
She happily cried, "Joe, I was so hoping this was you. Where are you? When can I see you? Why don't you...?"
I laughed and interrupted, "Paula, slow down. I'm at the motel. I'm tired, dirty, and starving and want to see you. If you give me thirty minutes to clean up and you know a good local restaurant, I'd like to take you to dinner if you're free."
She answered firmly, "Now don't pull that 'if you're free' stuff with me. I'm selfish; I want every second of your time that you're here. I'll pick you up at the motel in an hour. What room are you?"
I gave her the room number and took a twenty-minute shower and unpacked. The bed looked inviting, but I knew if I put my head on the pillow, I'd be asleep in two seconds.
Thirty minutes later I was anxious and stood outside the door. A minute later Paula drove up in an older, small car. She got out smiling and walked up to me. She was wearing a light blouse which highlighted her full breasts and her skirt was short enough that her slim, tanned legs were very attractive. I'd forgotten how beautiful she was.
"Hi Paula; it's great to see you."
She grinned and said, "We've been writing each other for a year trading our most personal thoughts with each other and all you're going to do is say "Hi."
"Kiss me Joe."
"Paula, I just didn't want you to think that I..."
"Kiss me Joe."
I pulled her to me and we had our first kiss. Her lips were moist and soft; I could smell some fragrant perfume and I could feel her breasts pushing into me. I was immediately hard and don't know if she felt me as we finished the kiss.
She giggled and said, "That's the kind of 'Hi' that I like."
She continued, "There's a really nice little Italian restaurant only about a mile from here. Let's go there so we can talk."
The meal was wonderful; I don't know about the food, but being with Paula made the meal wonderful. The table candle flickered and highlighted Paula's happy face as she talked and laughed with me. Her eyes twinkled when she talked and her enthusiasm overwhelmed me. Several times as we caught our breath she would lean across the table and grab my arm and say, "I'm really glad you're here Joe."
We finished the meal and waited for the check when she said, "Joe! Did you just fall asleep on me?"
I grinned sheepishly and said, "I just closed my eyes for a second...honest."
She looked at me in a serious way and said, "I've been stupid. You haven't had any sleep in three days and I'm here talking away. I think it's time you got some sleep."
I unconvincingly protested. She was right; I was a zonked.
I paid the bill and we went back to her car. Moments later we were at the motel. Paula said, "I have a ten o'clock class tomorrow and then I'm free. I can pick you up at eleven-thirty and we can go to the zoo and have a picnic. How does that sound?"
I replied, "Sounds great. Eleven-thirty you will pick me up. Right?"
She grinned, "Go get some sleep...a lot of sleep. I have a lot of plans for the next few days."
I reached for the door handle but she grabbed my arm and said, "Even if you're asleep on your feet, you can't leave me until I get a good night kiss."
I grinned sheepishly and leaned over to kiss her. As we kissed her tongue pushed against my lips until I opened my mouth and then our tongues met. I tried to pull her closer to me, but she giggled and said, "Go get some sleep; we have plenty of time."
As I opened the motel door she drove away.
I walked into the motel room, undressed quickly and got under the covers and passed out.
It must have been an hour or so when I heard a thumping sound. I tried to ignore it, but it kept pounding. I opened my eyes and realized that it was daylight. And the thumping sound was someone knocking on the door. I looked at the clock and it showed eleven-forty.
"Shit," I thought, "It's Paula."
I pulled on my pants and opened the door. It was Paula.
I said, "I'm really sorry. I went to sleep and that's all I remember."
She tried to look serious, but then laughed and said, "Well at least you didn't open up the door naked."
She pointed at the bed. My shorts, shirt, socks and shoes were next to it.
I stammered, "Paula, I'm an idiot will....?"
She laughed, "Joe, calm down. Take a shower and I will be waiting out here for you."
Ten minutes later I sat in her car and we drove to the zoo. A California zoo is something—five hundred acres with hundreds of exhibits. It would take a week to see everything. We had fun. When I wasn't moving fast enough, Paula grabbed my hand and pulled me. Actually, even when we weren't in a hurry, she held on to my hand. There was a picnic area in the zoo and we found an empty table and ate the lunch that Paula had made. Then we spent more time in the zoo.
Throughout the day I looked at Paula trying not to be obvious, but staring at her pretty face, wonderful breasts and cute behind that seemed to invite touching. I was a voyeur—almost a stalker—continuously staring at this woman who infatuated me. Several times she caught me looking. Each time I shrugged with an insincere guilty look on my face and she gave me a pretend look of annoyance.
It was early evening and we were walking to the zoo parking lot. Paula said, "I'm not really that hungry because of lunch. Maybe we can have a hotdog or hamburger and then I'd like to take you to a dance club for kids eighteen to twenty-one. There's no liquor, but they usually have a good band."
I replied sheepishly, "That's sounds good to me, but I have to warn you, I can't dance fast—I was always looking for a girl to teach me, but never found her."
She squeezed my hand and said, "Well maybe I can teach you a little, and if not, we can just dance to the slow songs."
After an hour at the dance club Paulo teased me and said, "How can you be a college varsity swimmer, and not be comfortable dancing fast?"
"I need practice Paula," I replied.
She giggled, "A lot of practice."
A slow song started and I looked at her. "My speed," I said, as I pulled her to the dance floor.
When we got to the dance floor Paula put her arms around my neck, put her head on my shoulders, and pulled me into her. My arms went around her and clutched at her back as we swayed with the music. My face felt her hair and I smelled her fragrance and I got hard and tried to pull away, but she wouldn't let me. I know she felt me, but it didn't matter. Finally I whispered to her, "What a perfect day. Thank you."
She pulled me closer; her breasts were pushed into me. Her pelvis rubbed my crotch. My hands slid down to the top of her ass and I pulled her even closer to me. I could hear a quiet sigh.
The song ended and we stepped back from each other. I was aroused, and I could see her face was flushed. I took her hand and we went back to our table.
Paula said, "Your motel is only four blocks from the ocean and there is an ocean walk there that goes for miles; it's beautiful. Let's walk for a while."