Jeroen was disconcerted to find a sleek Merc convertible slow down beside him on the narrow road. He became mildly irritated when cyclists behind him impatiently rang their bells, or they cursed at him for delaying their progress. They were unable to pass him or the woman in her car, so a queue formed.
‘I know you,’ the ash blonde woman, the wrinkled skin of her arms and face deeply tanned, said as her gaze flitted from him to the road ahead. ‘Pull in for a moment, please…I know you from the boat yard.’
Intrigued, and bothered by the curses that came his way, Jeroen did as was asked of him; came to a stop in what also passed for a bus-halt. If she blocked it, that would be her problem.
Jeroen Janssen worked at ‘Motor and Sail,’ one of Hoorn’s premier boatyards and moorings licence holders. He was undoubtedly obsessed by boats, and sail craft in particular. If he, and a few colleagues, wasn’t testing a client’s boat before it was returned into their owner’s studiously obsessive care, he would seize every opportunity to cruise the Ijssel Meer. He would take in not only the sight of the shore and the unending skies above him, but he would also be alert to the possibility of a sudden change in the weather and sea-state. In no time at all there could be the rise of short and tempestuous waves in this shallow sea. They were brought on by freshening winds, the sight of the clouds scudding above him a sure sign that great care had now to be taken, with sails reefed as the gusting storm was ridden out.
It was then that his seamanship was tested to the limit, and the work that the yard had done proved itself. A client’s money would have been well spent.
He was only twenty-five and knew already the path that his life was to follow, his obsession to be satisfied at every opportunity and with whoever asked it of him. It was still way out of reach, but his dream was to be the proud owner of his own sailing boat, and where he could deploy his skills in fitting out the interior just as he wanted. In the meantime, he would meet the demands of any owner who laid a claim on his attention and time.
He worked hard, saved hard…and he didn’t miss a trick when it came his way, either. Who the woman was had defeated him for now, but then he met so many in the company of their well-heeled husbands, lovers, or temporary distractions from life and the passing of the years so that not all of them registered.
This one, however, hooked his interest, the unfaltering look of her eyes upon him and the sight of her still shapely, fulsome, body held in the clamp of the seat belt. He took in the red of her fingernails and lipstick. She was old and class, even something of a painted lady, but te sight of her and the sound of her cultured voice had hooked him.
He managed to stand by her car, straddling the bike’s crossbar, and glanced in at the woman; the doubts slowly drifting away as he remembered a couple, she and her husband the proud owners of a sloop of some merit.
‘What can I do for you?’ he smiled, the woman not the least disconcerted by his appraising look upon her. A soft mauve halter neck top flattered and shaped her figure; he saw her slender legs that some pale khaki shorts failed to fully conceal. A mass of jewellery was worn about her wrists, and she fussed over a tangle of colourful beaded necklaces that hung down her front, as if to draw the eye to what lay beneath them.
In his case, it had worked. Jeroen felt that she carried it off only too well, the apparent and impetuous need to engage his attention upon her.
‘I remember you talking to my late husband…Martin Koopman. You went out of your way to help him…both of us, to restore our boat. Your manager wasn’t so happy, I seem to recall…’
‘Capella’…that was the boat’s name,’ he grinned. ‘How could I forget?’ He remembered the ribbing that his mates at work had given him whenever he was seen in their company, and particularly hers. She had changed, lost some weight he now saw.
‘Right…so you do remember me!’
‘Yes, but this isn’t the place to reminisce, misses Koopman…’
‘Marie, call me Marie…’
‘Yes, well…Marie, it’s nice to meet you again.’ He made to push off, angled his bicycle to make that possible.
‘Well, Jeroen…I still have the sloop but haven’t got the money to simply hand it over to your yard to fix it. It would help if you came by at her mooring and looked at it…perhaps took it for a sail and gave me an opinion on what I may have to face?’
‘Yes…you! I may even get to thinking whether to get rid of the craft. It’s of no use to me alone…my late husband was always the skipper.’
He nodded in understanding. His mind raced on the possibilities. ‘You…you’d even think of selling it?’
‘Perhaps, or maybe just a half share in it. I do have my emotional connections to it, you know? It would be difficult to let it go.’
‘And kaçak iddaa you want my help in it all?’ he couldn’t help but ask and in genuine surprise. It must be an impulsive decision she had come to. Jeroen looked behind him. A bus was approaching, its progress slowed by the traffic. ‘We’ll have to split…you’re soon going to aggravate the bus driver as well as the cyclists we’ve held up.’ He pointed and saw Marie look up into her rear-view mirror. She then noted his renewed glances upon her once more.
She pouted those red lips of hers in acknowledgement of what had just played out between them.
‘Come by the mooring, where she is, tomorrow, could you, Jeroen? We could take it from there…say, ten o’clock? We’d have the whole day then…’
He couldn’t help but laugh out. ‘You seem to be counting on me being free…’
‘Well, aren’t you?’ she glanced in the mirror again. ‘I’m going and I expect you to be there! Oh…it’s berth thirty.’
‘I would have found you…’
‘But I saw you first,’ he saw her grin. It was somewhat troubling to see that in a woman who, in spite of being well over fifty and her hair tinted, was still eye-catchingly shapely and attractive.
He could finally pedal home to his small, rented apartment; take to wondering how this development in his life would play out.
‘Well, here I am,’ Jeroen smiled, ‘and I’m on time.’
He carried a small canvas bag with some dry clothes, his choice lifejacket slung casually over one shoulder. Marie noted his long sandy-blonde hair slicked back from his slender face and fastened in a ponytail at his neck. He had even shaved, and his clothes were clean. Jeroen looked only too fit to her ways of seeing him.
‘I’m flattered and I’m enjoying the early morning sun,’ she replied, smiling after her appraisal of him. She had thought of this sea trial on the spur of the moment, on seeing him pedalling along the road, his leg muscles firm and his purpose in getting home, in the early evening, only too clear. Her floppy sun hat was eased away and ger hair tumbled free as she now stood up. ‘Is the boat as you remember it?’
‘Oh yes,’ he said on stepping aboard, deftly swinging one leg over the guardrail, then another, and casting his bag onto the cabin roof. ‘The stanchions are a bit rusty, and the wires need tensioning…but otherwise….yeah, she looks okay.’
The boat rocked gently as he made his way along the deck, up the starboard side, tugged on the forestay, then down the port side, feeling the tension on the mast’s shrouds as he went.
She watched his progress, felt uncommonly thrilled to have him with her. It had been a while since she had met such appraising looks upon her, from a man at least. ‘There aren’t faults that you can’t sort out for me, however…are there?’
‘That’s so,’ he laughed. ‘Once a customer, always a customer if you look after them well…’
Jeroen kicked off his battered deck shoes, the blue canvas faded and the laces rarely re-secured. If how he acted was anything to go by Marie would have a good time of it with him. She saw his large feet, the splay of his toes on the deck, delighted in his undoubted vitality and raw enthusiasm.
‘You’ve sailed boats like these many times, I dare say…Jeroen?’ she called out as he made his way forward once more and studied the mast, the sail winch, the stays and spreaders. As an afterthought, he checked again the winch gear at the mast’s base.
‘Yes, I have…but not with someone like you on board,’ he confessed, feeling somewhat embarrassed to be saying it. ‘You must spend all of your time on her. Your skin’s so deeply tanned.’
She saw a moment’s flush of embarrassment on his face as he considered what had been blurted out.
‘I haven’t truly been out on her in weeks. Some of my family last took me out on her last month…at the start of the season here. I sense that you’re not altogether happy with what you see…’
Jeroen took a while to reply. He was taken by the woman before him and the sight of her in those shorts and figure-hugging top that she fussed over. Marie obviously liked bright colours. ‘Oh, I wouldn’t say that…’
He moved past her and stepped down into the cockpit. ‘Shall I start up the engine and see how things are with that?’
‘Yes, but only if we take her out and we spend a few hours on sea-trialing her. I’ll be your crew and you can list what’s wrong with her and tell me. We may then come to some arrangement on how to have things put right…’
‘Well,’ he said doubtfully, ‘my people wouldn’t be impressed with me if I was caught moonlighting.’
‘Then call it a personal favour to me, Jeroen?’ she smiled, slowly. ‘Where’s the harm in it and who would know? I’d pay you one hundred and fifty euros for the pleasure…your knowledge and your company.’ Marie twisted her sunhat in the slender fingers of both hands.
‘Sure, okay. The money’s secondary to just sailing a boat like this again. Yes, I’ll do it for you…’
‘And kaçak bahis being alone with me as crew; does it bother you?’ she prompted, drawing close and lightly touching his arm to bring Jeroen’s attention fully back onto her. ‘I’m not as agile as I once was….’
‘We’ll work together…somehow. Anyway,’ he shrugged, ‘I’ve handled boats like this on my own before to know what to do.’
‘Well, if, you’re sure?’ Marie saw him nod. ‘The sail locker’s open, so we just need to choose a jib or foresail…in these light winds.’
‘Leave that to me,’ he grinned, and made to push past her. Marie again put a restraining touch to his arm.
‘Some people call me ‘Granny’ around here…’
‘Crazy, to look at you…and I won’t do that, Marie,’ he said in a confiding voice. Jeroen glanced away. ‘Now, let’s get ready, shall we?’
Jeroen thought she had come onto him the moment she’d slowed down to talk yesterday, and in the craziest of places. She’d done it again, by referring to herself as ‘granny’ and giving him the eye, to see what he would make of her.
‘Have you found what we need?’ she called out through the cockpit-hatch, only for her to see the fore-hatch open and a sail bag pushed through it and onto the fore deck, closely followed by Jeroen, his litheness of movement in hauling himself up and out onto the deck engaging her attention once more.
‘Come and help me?’ he beckoned.
Marie saw the breeze tug at his clothes, press the fabric against his lean body. She shivered from what the sight of him aroused in her and felt flattered by his engagement, by Jeroen’s unembarrassed enthusiasm. He was in his element, and she had him all to herself.
‘I’d like that…’ she assured him her voice certain, and they soon set to work. ‘I’ve been very nervous going out in her with people not as experienced as my late husband was. He thought of nothing else than being on her…’
‘You’ve got me now to help you with that,’ he replied, looking at the hanks and making sure the sail was fitted correctly. ‘I think we’re ready. I’ll strip off the mainsail cover…’
‘Only that,’ she quipped and saw him lift his eyes to the sky in mock exasperation with what she had said, ‘though it feels like it’s going to be warm today…’
‘Let me concentrate on leaving the jetty,’ he retorted on a laugh. ‘Please go forward and, on my word, loosen the bow rope…I’ll deal with the spring and the stern ropes…’
‘I hope the engine starts…’
‘So do I, Marie.’
It did, on a gust of blue diesel smoke. Jeroen throttled back, once he was sure everything was turning over as he expected.
Casting off, Jeroen thought he had a bit of a reputation to compete with, but he didn’t know the half of it. Marie was seen to pull the fore sheets down the sides of the cabin roof and lay them by the winches on each side of the cockpit. She then sat down on the starboard side stern bench; its wooden struts polished smooth.
‘Well, the day’s begun for us,’ Marie said, wonderingly, and on looking up at him; one hand held to her sun-bleached hair.
‘It has, now let’s see how it turns out.’ He smiled, his sunglasses keeping out the glare but also giving him the cover he needed to look at her for a moment, to take in the tan on her skin, her shapeliness, all of that and Marie’s familiar ways with him impossible to ignore.
Jeroen stood with his feet planted firmly and held the tiller until he met her look upon him. He soon took the hint. ‘I’ll sit down here beside you…’
‘Yes, do that. I can’t tell you how happy I am that you agreed to be with me like this and to check out the boat.’ She put a hand to the skin of his thigh and met Jeroen’s startled look. ‘I’ve seen how your eyes have been on me, Jeroen…on me…a woman old enough to…’
‘Don’t say it.’ He moved to put the fingers of one hand to her lips. ‘Hopes and reality become one. Who’s to know if it were to happen?’
He saw her nod. Jeroen met an impetuous and slow kiss.
‘Thank you for doing this,’ she was heard to whisper. ‘I act on impulse…with someone I like…as you may have gathered.’
‘I…I could get to living that way too, Marie.’
‘Then stay close, here beside me. Set an easy course that we don’t need to work too hard on.’
Jeroen soon did as she asked of him. They sailed until they could lay anchor, in a safe place, a few klicks down the coast from Hoorn. He watched Marie step lightly, in her bare feet over the deck and drop the main sail. The metallic clatter of the anchor chain running out over the bows was heard. It bit into the sandy bottom and satisfied with what she had done, Marie son brushed past him and went into the cabin.
She had touched his bare shoulder, to keep her balance as she went past him.
‘I guess that you’ve had your pick of women and doing it on boats?’ she called up to him. He heard the clink of glasses.
‘No, far from it…’
Her eyes widened in surprise as Marie gazed up at him through the open hatch. He had illegal bahis stripped off his shirt and she took in his toned physique, the soft tan on his skin, the blonde hairs on his arms. ‘Here, you’d better drink this…to get you into the mood.’
“Do I follow your example…strip off a layer?’
Jeroen laughed softly. ‘Do as you please…to please me, I’d say.’
‘I might just do that…in a moment.’
He took the small glass of Jenever gin that Marie held out to him, and on a wistful look in her eyes. He watched the woman knock it back in one gulp and felt obliged to do the same, even though he hated the stuff, its bitter taste.
‘Sex and boats isn’t in my job spec,’ he now told her, directly, as he watched Marie unfasten the strap of her halter neck blouse. ‘But you do look good in that.’
Marie knew that it flattered her figure so and left little for him to imagine of what she could still bring to a man’s touch, wrinkled as the skin on her firm breasts had become. She had wondered if sunbathing too much had taken its toll on her body.
‘My dear, late husband and I had sex on this boat and whenever we went out in it…on deck in sun and rain, under the stars, even in the water…but that was too cold to make it special.’
‘I’ll have to take your word on it.’
Jeroen really wasn’t so sure that he wished to be informed of her past love life and all that Marie had enjoyed on Capella and down to every last detail. He could rule nothing out, what Marie might disclose if he gave her the least encouragement.
He would live and love for the moment. The look of the woman beside him, and his love of boats, had turned his head; had made him lose sight of what had been really going on all along. Marie drew close.
‘Ease up, Marie…will you?’ he began to ask, but Marie pressed her fleshy breasts against him, her bra offering little support. She did so brazenly,and unashamedly sought greater intimacy in her claims upon him. She offered touches that he sought to fend off until she gave voice to what was really on her mind.
‘We’re out on the water…safely at anchor…so, how about doing it with me…having a fuck? There would be another hundred Euros in it for you and you’d be helping me relive old times…revisit fond memories…of how it once was.’
‘Fond memories of someone else?’ he snapped his finger. ‘Do it just like that? We meet again one day and then the next, we…you know?’
‘Yes, why not? These are modern times and I have my needs just as you so obviously do. I felt that way the minute I saw you yesterday, on your bike and you remembered who I was and the way you looked at me. I sure got to know what was going through your mind. Men are so easy to read…so predictable.’
‘It takes two,’ Jeroen retorted, choking on the dregs of his Genever. He put his glass on the small shelf beside him. ‘Jeez, if it isn’t the gin then it’s you and your needs…what you want to be satisfied.’
‘I sure want to know you, Jeroen…believe me.’ She saw that he had gotten his breath back and met his appraising looks upon her body once more. She posed and the smiled at him, suggestively. ‘I…I can still bring something to a man, you know?’
‘Yeah, I know and can see that.’ He responded to Marie’s touches by offering those of his own; lingering, questing touches to her waist and belly. She pressed against him. ‘Listen, Marie…about this?’
‘You don’t have to, and our agreement to test the boat doesn’t cover this arrangement if we were to reach it…but…but we could just see how it goes?’
‘Wait…just wait a moment!’ he called out yet not meaning it.
The woman had knelt before him, on the thin cabin carpet, and began to fumble for the zip of his shorts, already misshapen following her slow claims upon him.
He reached down to cup her face in his hands, knowing that it would be something new to experience, to tamp a horny old woman, so brazen and shameless, and to learn of it with her. It was the stuff of wayward dreams, and he never had a need for those. He got by on casual hook ups…oh wait! This could be another one.
‘You really could have warned me, Marie.’
‘You really should have understood yourself better,’ she smiled in reply to that, kissing him for only an instant before devoting her attention to all that he would bring to her.
As she worked on him, Jeroen tugged at her flimsy bra, coaxed Marie to unfasten it until her breasts were exposed to his gaze. They were firm and perfectly formed. He touched them wonderingly, bent to kiss them. He felt Marie’s hands on his head to keep him there for a few moments longer.
‘Something else that your late husband spent his money on are they?’
‘Yes, and worth every Euro…now stay still,’ Marie mumbled as she really set to work on him.
Jeroen leant back on the seat and closed his eyes; murmured in pleasure as Marie’s fingers and mouth did their best to please him. It was no good trying to imagine one of his usual lovers attending to his needs. This older woman really knew how to bring it to him. He soon lifted his hips to meet her hungering claims, shifted as she squeezed his sac, and her mouth and fingers worked his length.