Her Dad's Friend

By: Penny Wylder


Before I can respond my mom comes up to us. “Go get your suit, Rachael, everyone wants to swim a while before we do cake.”

“I didn’t bring a bathing suit.”

Emily comes up behind me. “Don’t worry, I have you covered.”

We head upstairs to my childhood bedroom. Emily pulls out the tiniest bikini I’ve ever seen. It’s black and made of string and an inch or two of fabric. The butt area is practically a thong with thin strings attaching it to the triangle in front that barely covers me. It’s a good thing I got that Brazilian. The top half of the suit is more string than fabric and does a shoddy job at being an actual, functioning garment. If I’m not careful when twisting my torso, my areolas will show. There’s no padding either so it shows off every bump and curve.

“You’re insane,” I tell Emily. “I can’t wear that. My dad will have a heart attack.”

She smiles mischievously. “Don’t worry. I thought of everything.” She hands me a lace cover dress to go over the top of it until I get in the pool. I get dressed and we head downstairs.

Paul is already swimming when we go outside. With my sunglasses on I can stare openly and not be obvious about it as he glides seamlessly through the water. I can’t think of anything more satisfying than the look on his face when he finally sees me. With my dad preoccupied beside the booze, I take off my cover and Paul’s eyes grow wide, mouth opening like he’s about to belt out a big note. He’s lucky no one’s splashing or he would drown.

Emily is beside me in a modest one piece and a pair of shorts. She’s always been self-conscious in a bathing suit. “Good thing I brought out the big guns. Did you see the look on his face?”

With a quiet cat-call whistle at me, and a slap on my ass, Emily flits off to talk to the boys she invited. I sit on the edge of the pool with my feet dangling in, adjusting my body to the temperature. It’s a hundred and too-fucking-hot out and I can already feel the sun burning my shoulders. I’m slathering 50 SPF Banana Boat on every exposed piece of skin because I have the complexion of a Tim Burton character and this bathing suit would make hilarious tan lines. The point is to make Paul hot if he ever sees me naked, not make him laugh.

His body glistens wet, his hair slicked back. After a few minutes of staring, he finally swims over to me and props his arms on my knees. Having him this close to me with so little fabric between us spins my naughty thoughts into overdrive.

“How’s school going?” he asks, looking up at me and squinting so that I can see just a drop of those impossible blue eyes between his thick lashes.

I can hardly think straight with him so close. He’s one fine wine I’d like to taste, maybe lick the rim … drink too much of. Get drunk on. He looks all King Triton with his wet skin, silver hair, and muscles. “It’s fine. How’s work?”

He used to own his own construction company here in town, but he sold it suddenly two years ago and moved away. I don’t know what he does for a living anymore. I don’t know much about his life at all except what little my parents tell me. Since moving, he’s been like a ghost. For the longest time it was as if he went out of his way to avoid me, which is why I’m so surprised to see him here at my party. That first year of him being gone, I’d dug through the archives of my brain, wondering if maybe I’d made him mad somehow. Then I started wondering if it was because of a woman. I’d been a jealous wreck, but my dad had insisted it wasn’t, even though he wasn’t exactly sure why he’d moved either.

“Fine,” Paul says, and smiles up at me. He visibly swallows and his smile falters when he asks, “So, do you have a boyfriend yet?” He looks around at all the cute guys Emily had invited. “I bet they’re eating out of your hand. Especially when you wear things like this.” He tugs at the string of my bikini top, loosening it.

“Why, you jealous?” I say, only half joking.

“Maybe a little.”

“Well, I don’t have a boyfriend. But there is someone I’ve had my eye on for a while.”

I suddenly become self-conscious and ask, “What about you? Do you have a girlfriend?”

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