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Love Starved Fran
CHAPTER ONEHer first night on the houseboat, Fran stepped from the shower and gasped, doing a frightened double-take at the strange naked body as she reached blindly for a towel in those few quick seconds before she caught her breath again and smiled at her own stupidity. Gazing at her own reflection in the mirror, she felt quite silly at having spooked herself. She had no idea that there was a mirror on the back of the door. She guessed one of the boys must have put it up sometime during the afternoon, while she and Vivian were cleaning the old house. But what surprised her more than the mere presence of the mirror was her failure to recognize her own body. The mirror was a new one of course, and that made a difference, enhancing color and giving a sharper image. Fran took a step closer, frowning. She did not properly credit the displayed feminine attributes. Fran was an honest thirty-nine (and kidded herself that next year she would stay this age like Jack Benny) yet didn't show it. Her plump breasts settled an inch or two lower on her rib cage and her rump was fuller, but otherwise she had the same girlish figure she'd had at eighteen. Her breasts still wobbled more than they swayed and her buttocks undulated when she walked; her trim waist tapered, her belly was flat and sloped into her pubic bush, and her legs were long and downy soft. Only the most minute inspection would turn up tiny hints of striations, evidence that she'd borne children.Fran cupped her breasts in her hands and lifted them as if weighing their merits. She found herself wondering if they could still turn on a man; in her more objective moments she could find no reason why they wouldn't, but as a woman she harbored a large load of self-doubt. She squeezed and her brown-red nipples erected achingly in her hands. She sucked in her tummy and ran her hand over it, down to the bushy honey blonde triangle at her belly's base. A finger nestled into the curls where her thighs met. The tip of her tongue appeared between her lips. Her eyes closed briefly and then opened on her contorted features reflected in front of her. She withdrew her hand and began briskly toweling herself: she didn't want to stir up that hornet's nest! She knew all too well that she had no way to stop it. She had found from ten years' experience that the best way she had of coping with her sex drive was, insofar as possible, to ignore it.Dressed only in her bathrobe, Fran stepped into the main living area of her houseboat. Carpenter's tools were piled here and there. Sheet-rock which would be used to finish the interior walls was stacked near the door, opening onto the dock. Boxes containing kitchen utensils were lined up along the kitchen wall; their living room furniture and other assorted boxes of belongings were stacked almost to the ceiling on one side of the living room.Admittedly, her houseboat was just half-finished. As soon as the frame was up and the exterior walls had been nailed on, Fran had decided to begin moving in. While it may have been a foolish idea-too much junk in the way would impede progress-Fran had been anxious to get out of the suburbs.No one had complained, however. The kids had looked on building the houseboat as an adventure, as a family project, perhaps the last family project before they began building lives of their own, and they had accepted moving in prematurely as part of the adventure, the spice. Fran had said she wanted a houseboat, and they had all pitched in. They were wonderful kids-all of them, not just her own. At twenty-two, Ted had just gotten married and had one year of law school left before taking his bar exam. He'd said that with what his wife Ellen earned and his scholarship, he'd have enough money to get by on, and had seemed eager to start the project. And Vivian, who was eighteen and had just graduated from high school, had worked like a trooper. Ted's buddy Bob, who'd dropped out of school and was at loose ends, volunteered to help, saying he could use the experience. They had great fun together.Fran was so happy to get away from Orinda. After her divorce, it had seemed like a good place to raise the children, and she had gotten a job there, but with the children raised, it was time to get out. She had sensed that it was now or never, that this was her last chance to begin a new life, a life of her own. And the children's demented father no longer had anything to threaten her with. How could he take them away from her now? She had been stifled long enough. Where could she find a nicer place to make a new beginning than in a houseboat on the bay?The kids had gone to a movie-the Lord knew they deserved a night off. Alone with her hopes, Fran stepped around a toolbox and over to the bay window, which appropriately enough faced the bay. She looked out on the bay, hugging her bathrobe around her in spite of the heat. She loved the wash of the tide, the gentle creaking of the dock. The subtle constant motion of the water was like a life force, something she was about to tap.Over the door of the houseboat, visible from the dock, Ted had neatly lettered in gold paint: MAMA'S WHIM.CHAPTER TWOUsually a breeze swept in from the ocean and the nights were cool in Tiburon in summer, but this night was as still and sultry as any in Orinda. Fran awoke from a deep slumber, drenched with perspiration, her throat painfully dry. After drinking two and a half glasses of water at the kitchen tap, she returned to bed to discover that Vivian was wide awake."Hi, dear. I didn't hear you come in. You must have been very quiet.""No, Mama. I think you were zonked.""What time is it?" Fran asked, looking at the luminous dial of the alarm clock and then answering herself, "Twenty after one."Viv giggled. "I think it's more like five after four!""Good Lord! I guess it is, at that," she said. "Well, what's kept you awake? Is it the heat.""No.""Moving to a new place? When I was young, that always kept me awake.""No, I don't think that's it.""What is it then.""Oh, I dunno.""Viv!" Fran said, her tone just imperative enough to indicate that she wanted an answer. Fran considered herself close to her daughter, and expected honesty."Oh Mama, I don't know ... It's ... it's just ... Well, it's Bob, if you really want to know.""Bob?" Fran said, frowning. "Has he done something to you?""No!" Viv said, impatient with this unfamiliar density in her mother. And then the girl giggled, "At least, he hasn't done anything to me yet!""Oh!" Fran said, suddenly catching on. "My darling's lovesick!""I don't know if it's love or not," Viv said. "It's just that he turns me on.""Does he feel the same way?""I don't know. Neither of us has said anything about it.""Well, how does he act?""He acts fine."Fran sighed in exasperation and Viv said, "Okay, he seems to be, but not all the time. like maybe, he doesn't want to make it too obvious or something like that.""Well, after all, he's living with us, your family.""Do you object to him or something.""No, not at all. But it might inhibit him.""You think so?""I'm sure that it's quite possible.""I have a hard time telling what's on his mind-he's older than me and he's been around. He scares me. The idea of falling in love with him scares me.""Well, you've been around a little bit, too. You don't have anything to really be afraid of.""Come on now, Mother. You can't call those silly boys I went out with in high school getting around!""You were pretty thick, with Jimmy Harper, your senior year," Fran said. "As I recall, that's when you started taking the pill!""Oh Mom! You mean you thought I wanted those pills for ... for birth control!""Didn't you? I thought that's why all the girls were taking them.""I told you I wanted them to regularize my period!""I know dear," Fran said, soothingly, "and I believed you. I just thought, well, with you seeing Jimmy every day, it was best to play it safe.""Oh.""You mean nothing ever happened?""Well, uh, I wouldn't say nothing exactly, but nothing that could have made me pregnant or anything.""You're a virgin?""Yes.""Well, what'd you do with him?""Oh, we petted..." Vivian said, and even in the dark Fran could see that her face was flushed."Yes?" Fran said. "And, uh, I sucked his, uhhh...""His cock," Fran finished up her sentence for her."Yeah, Christ, he seemed to want to do that more than anything else. I mean, for a while there, for about a month before we broke up, I was sucking him off every day, some days two or three times.""You must have gotten your fill of that."Viv giggled, "Kind of. As a steady diet, anyway.""Didn't he ever want to, uh...""Well, when we first started going together he said that he 'respected' me too much to want to do that. Then when we started getting pretty heavy he wanted to screw me, but I always managed to suck him off first.""What made you want to avoid it? I'm just curious."Vivian thought for a minute. "I don't know, really. He was awfully awkward and didn't seem to know what it was all about-I mean, he didn't seem to care very much about me, about what turned me on. So I guess it always seemed best to try to get out of it. But I was enough in love with him that I probably would have anyway if it hadn't been so easy to bring him off with my mouth.""You must be good at it," Fran said."Practice, I guess.""You sucked your thumb until you were five; you always were an oral child," Fran said. "Bob's a different matter, though," Vivian said. "Sometimes I get the feeling that if he so much as touched me, I'd turn to mush.""Well, maybe he'll touch you soon, and you can find out," Fran volunteered after a moment's hesitation."You'd approve?""Sex is certainly one of the most powerful of human instincts," Fran said, musing. "And I think that sexual fulfillment is necessary to happiness. The problem is that you never know when or where you'll find it, or if the circumstances of your life might prevent you from having it.""Yeah?" Viv said, after a moment."So I'd say grab whatever chance you have while you can. It's better to make a mistake living than to regret never having lived.""That's a nice philosophy," Vivian said. "That makes sense."Both mother and daughter were silent. It was after five and they had talked themselves to sleepfulness. Fran said, "Good-night, dear," and rolled to the side.After a few minutes, Viv said, "Mom, can I ask you a question?""Of course. What would you like to know?""Well, if you think this way-I mean you seem to like sex and everything-why is it you never, um, you know, got married again or anything after Dad left."Fran bit her lip. That question had been asked by numerous relatives and well-intentioned friends over the years, and Fran had always given the same answer-"I've never met anyone"-and her answer had always been a bald-faced lie, because she had met men, attractive men who had seemed interested in her. Had the time come to be honest with her daughter? She was almost grown now, and Fran had never been guilty of trying to turn her children against their father: they had seen for themselves what a low-down mean bastard he could be. "Well," Fran began, "your father didn't love me. I think you know that. He never had room in his heart to love anyone.""Yeah?" Vivian said, knowing this somehow, having sensed it even as a little girl."He'd treated me like dirt for years-he hadn't even been to bed with me in over a year-but when I asked for a divorce he acted insulted, like it crushed his ego, and then he went almost insane. He wanted to kill me at first, then when I took my black eye to a lawyer and filed papers and got a restraining order to keep him from coming near me, he left-he had to-swearing that he would get even with me.""What did he do then?" Vivian asked when Fran paused."Well, his only hold on me was you kids, the fact that he'd fathered you and Ted, and so he tried to get at me through you. Well I won the custody case-in spite of all the lawyers he hired-and there didn't seem to be anything he could do..." Fran was quiet for a moment as she remembered, and she described how she'd met another man about six months after her divorce was final, a man she'd liked named George Webster."I remember him," Vivian said. "Even as a kid I thought he was a nice guy.""You might," Fran said. "He seemed to like you kids. He took us all on a picnic one time, remember? Anyway, your father found out about it and he hired a detective to follow us around. Well, he called me up one afternoon, a Saturday afternoon, and told me he knew I was 'going into business' as he put it, that various men had been seen leaving our house in the middle of the night. He claimed to have proof that I was a 'lewd and dissolute' woman and an improper mother. He swore that Monday morning he wound initiate proceedings to have you children taken away from me.""Did he?""No, but he scared hell out of me. He scared me enough so that I broke it off with George. He was bluffing and I fell for it-I was a bit more naive then.""How did George feel?""Oh, he came by several times, but I refused to talk to him. He was confused and downhearted, but about a year later he married someone else," Fran said. "Anyway, that was how your father got even with me. He had me followed around from time to time after that, always threatening to have you kids taken away if I saw another man. You remember that creepy man who used to sit in his car all day just down the street-I think you were in about fifth grade, and he used to ask you questions after school? About me and my activities? You thought he was strange?""Yeah?""Well, he was one of the punks your father had watching us for awhile. He had me so spooked that I was afraid to speak to men who might have had an interest in me," Fran said, her voice bitter."Well, Mama, it's never too late," Vivian said."You think so?""Of course not! You're still quite a chick!" Vivian said, and her terminology made Fran giggle."Well, all I can say is that I will not be bullied like that any longer. I was a fool to have let it happen in the first place," Fran said, full of resolve.Dawn had broken, the first faint rays of the sun were creasing the sky when the two women fell asleep side by side, the wash of the tide hurrying their dreams.Fran awoke about ten in the morning and decided to let Vivian sleep. As soon as she had gotten herself together for the day and had a cup of coffee, she began sanding the kitchen woodwork to ready it for painting. Bob and Ted had begun nailing Sheetrock on the bedroom walls (the walls of the other two bedrooms, Fran's having been the first to be walled in). As she sanded, out of the corner of her eye Fran watched the boys work. They were handsome boys, she thought. Her son Ted was a bit thin-at least, he had always seemed so to her mother's eye-but he was a well-molded youth, lean-muscled and wiry. Bob was heftier and had obviously lifted weights sometime during his youth, his bulging biceps and pectorals rippling when he moved. Both worked without their shirts.Fran's thoughts kept drifting back to Bob, whatever else she tried to think of, and she found herself sizing him up with her daughter's eye: she was well aware of his masculine appeal, although, having no excuse, she had never let herself concentrate on it. She found herself wondering what it would be like with a younger man.Where Ted's brow furrowed when he worked, as if he was incapable of movement without fierce concentration, Bob was always on the verge of a smile. He was quick to point out the humor in any situation. All his movements had an easy rhythm."Christ, how can anyone sleep with all that racket!"The voice was Vivian's, coming from the door of the bedroom."So sorry to have disturbed you," Ted chided, "if you'd have just said so, we could have put all this off until tomorrow."When Bob glanced up, his eyes stayed riveted. Fran looked back over her shoulder: there her daughter was, poised in the doorway, dressed, or rather undressed, in her new bikini. Vivian worked in her bikini everyday, but in her old one which was by all standards a sturdier garment than this, which was one layer of nylon without any reinforcements whatsoever. The scantiness of her new outfit was evidenced by the inches of white skin visible between her tan line and where the new thing stopped short, the milky skin exposed being that on her breasts and around her waist. Through the thin material Fran detected the outlines of her daughter's nipples, surprisingly pointed for such a warm day. Fran made a mental note to suggest to Vivian that, if she continued to wear the thing, she shave the upper portion of her pubic triangle, which was the same orange-red as her hair, and a few wisps of which strayed above her "waist"-band.Bob turned back to his Sheetrock, lifting a piece with Ted and holding it steady against the joists while Ted got the first two tacks in before tacking up his side of the sheet. Vivian put some ice in the tea which had been cooling on the stove and, since it was almost noon, began making sandwiches for lunch. While Bob glanced in Vivian's direction often enough, he kept his cool and if he had any interest beyond the casual in the girl's near naked young body he did not let it become obvious until late afternoon, when she would probably have succeeded in holding the attention of any male. Her exhibition even held Fran's eye, although undoubtedly for a different reason. Ted had walked on up the dock to sharpen a linoleum knife somewhere and Bob was having a glass of iced tea, leaning against the kitchen counter talking to Fran, when Vivian began to saw the end off a two-by-four.Now, Vivian had sawed boards before, and no one questioned her when she began to saw this one. She carried the sawhorse to the middle of the living room and laid the two-by-four lengthways along the top of it. Fran almost cautioned the girl not to saw there because it had just been swept, but after a minute began to suspect that Vivian knew all too well exactly what she was up to. Vivian picked up the saw and put her knee on the two-by-four to hold it still. She then began to saw, seeming to be totally absorbed in what she was doing, frowning in concentration and never once glancing up at Fran and Bob. The two watched in silence as she sawed with great vigor and as if she'd never done it before, using up altogether too much energy-if her grandma had been alive, she'd have said to slow down or else she'd never make it-except that it was the wrong kind of energy: no one needed to swing their torso that much just to draw a saw back and forth in the groove. Fran and Bob stared, both equally engrossed as Vivian's full young breasts wobbled back and forth, straining at her bikini, about to pop out with each swing of her torso. Her straps kept slipping, and just before the flimsy cups slipped away from her swinging breasts entirely, Vivian would briefly stop her motion to adjust it, and then her breasts would sway and bobble and show their stuff, their milk white skin with a hint of freckles.The girl sawed so hard she broke into a sweat: perspiration beaded unnoticed on her upper lip and glistened damply between her breasts. Fran noted that Bob was breathing a bit more deeply, without looking at him. The laboring girl might have sawed all day, or so it seemed, giving it more and more (both straps were now slipping at once) when she suddenly sawed clean through her two-by-four: a foot long section of it fell toward the floor and hit her square on the toe. Vivian yelped, grabbed her toe with both hands and began dancing up and down on her other foot, jumping this way and that as she cried, "Ouch! Ouch! Goddamn fucker! Ouch! Jesus!" Her straps slipped unchecked, her breasts jiggled free and bounced nakedly, in unison, each time she hopped, her pink nipples for some reason stiffening.Vivian sat down on the sawhorse, cursing angrily as she adjusted one bikini strap and inspected her toe closely for damage, her right breast hanging free for a quiet fraction of a minute before she thought to adjust that strap too. Bob looked away and, when he saw Fran looking at him, blushed."That girl's getting ripe," Fran said, musingly, "one of these days some bright boy is going to pick her off."When Bob didn't answer, she added, "Don't you think?""Kinda looks that way," he said, laughing, fixing his gaze on her for a moment."What in hell are you doing cutting that two-by-four!" Ted said, coming through the door."I was going to use it," Vivian said."Well it was just cut to fit one of the door-jambs," Ted said. "What were you going to use it for?""Over there," Vivian said."Where?" he demanded."Christ! Can't you see I hurt my toe!" Vivian yelled as she stood and then limped out of the room."What the hell got into her?" Ted asked, and when he got no answer he asked again, "Hey, what got into l'il sis?"Fran shrugged and picked up a piece of sandpaper to go back to work on the cabinets; staring up at the ceiling, Bob began whistling as Ted glanced back and forth between them in curiosity, until Bob was no longer able to contain himself, when he cackled for a moment before downing the rest of his iced tea and saying, "What-say, buddy? Let's get back to work."It was Ted's turn to shrug, since he had no way of knowing that he'd exposed Vivian's hand for her-that is, after she'd sawed so hard her tits popped out, Ted had happened along to point out to one and all that she didn't have any reason to cut off the end of that two-by-four in the first place, that whatever use.she had in mind for the act of cutting it, she had no use for the board itself.The boys finished tacking up the Sheetrock before dinner, all of it except for the pieces they would have to cut, the odd sections between the next-to-last joist and the outside wall. With only those few gaps remaining, they had put in a good day's work.Dinner was eaten pretty much in silence. Too embarrassed to put in an appearance, Vivian pretended a fever and moped in the bedroom, while both Fran and Bob were strangely preoccupied. After dinner, in innocent solicitude, Ted's wife Ellen walked in and told Vivian that she was sorry she wasn't feeling well, then asked, "Which toe did you hurt.""That one.""Which? They all look the same to me.""Well, it hurts like hell!" Vivian screamed. "Just leave me alone! Please!"Not being privy to the social undercurrents, Ted and Ellen withdrew to their own room soon after dishes were done. Most newlyweds have resources they can fall back on. Ted and Ellen were like that in spite of the fact that they'd gone together for about three years before tying the knot.Being old hands, Ted and Ellen went about their business quietly. Since their mattress rested on the floor, there were no bedsprings to creak, and the only sounds were pants and croons and satisfied murmurs. Which was quite enough to suggest sex to their housemates, as if it hadn't been on their minds already...Had the time come for a concerned mother to step in on her daughter's behalf to gracefully smooth over a situation which had inadvertently become difficult? Fran leaned across the kitchen table and whispered something in Bob's ear. He nodded and after a minute stood and walked into the bedroom where the embarrassed girl moped."A breath of fresh air would work wonders," Fran heard him say, "Why don't you let me help you out onto the dock for a few minutes?"She didn't hear what Vivian said, but Bob was saying, "I won't take 'no.' You're coming along whether you like it or not!" his voice pleasantly teaming.There were sounds of a minor struggle, Vivian giggled and a moment later came gimping out on Bob's sturdy arm."I think I'll turn in early," Fran said. "I'm awfully tired tonight for some reason. Try not to wake me up when you get into bed, okay, pet?""Sure, Mom," she replied, perfunctorily, on her way out the door.Fran was at least half lying: she wasn't really tired; she was, in fact, somewhat excited for her daughter by the turn of events. But she went into the bedroom and undressed, dropping her clothes on the floor. The night suddenly seemed hot and lonely. Naked, she climbed into bed, knowing she wouldn't be able to go to sleep yet willing to sacrifice her own comfort so that her daughter wouldn't feel restrained, so Bob wouldn't feel restrained. It was just like the many other sacrifices she'd gladly made over the years.