After talking with Avery I had made plans to return to Pennsylvania the week following the Invitational. I wasn’t committing much time to the trip. I planned to fly in early Sunday, and come back the next evening. I didn’t think I had gained the kind of tenure that would allow me to take an entire weekend off, and since the club was always closed on Mondays I thought I would be back before anyone noticed an extended absence. Of course, once news of me heading home made the rounds at the club there was speculation as to what was the reason for my return trip. I got a lot of questions about my parents living in North Carolina, and of course Duke mentioned burning the candle at both ends at every opportunity. Luckily the Invitational had everyone occupied a little more than usual, and soon enough, attention was shifted away from my personal life.
I suppose the Invitational gave me a look at what it would be like to work at a busy club. It was a long weekend filled with early mornings and late nights, and by the time Sunday evening rolled around all I wanted to do was to head back to the cabin. I also wanted to pick Cait up on my way back. I hadn’t seen her in a couple days, and trying to find a minute to send her a message or to try to catch her for a moment on the phone wasn’t making me miss her any less. Delaying my departure from the club was the post tournament cocktail party and dinner. I was surprised when I heard I was expected to attend, and was planning a quick exit, but before I could leave unnoticed I was cornered by Reid McMahon and his guest. The two of them had just taken home the title, were a little drunk, and occupied me straight through the cocktail hour and into dinner.
We were sitting in the more casual of the two dining areas at the Lake Club. Most of the crowd had gone into the other room, or out onto the large deck for dinner, but Reid had asked for some plates to be brought in so we could enjoy our dinner in some peace. This is how he described the situation. I would have killed for someone else to talk to, or more specifically someone else for Reid to talk to, so I could hit the men’s room, and then disappear into the night. Reid had convinced me to have some Scotch. He was drinking a brand I had never even heard of, but I was fairly sure it cost more than most people’s mortgage payments. I nursed the drink slowly, not wanting to get drunk.
“You should have seen Tommy out there,” Reid said. He was repeating himself a great deal. Tom Moore had been a sight to see on the course, however. The guy that had struggled to break 100 when I had played with him had made four net birdies in the final match, and then played lights out in the overall shootout. Word of his sandbagging spread quite quickly.
“Lucky weekend,” Tom chuckled. “Though it was nice to redeem myself after how I played with you Dave. Shit, was I embarrassed that day.”
“I guess the stakes weren’t high enough,” I deadpanned. They both laughed. They were laughing at most anything I said. I would have been in a good mood as well. Between side bets, the Calcutta, and actual prizes they had probably each won at least 15,000.
“That’s why Tommy’s my man. He doesn’t feel the pressure,” Reid grabbed Tom’s shoulder trying for some masculine camaraderie, but the contact proved to be slightly awkward, and knocked Tom’s drink from his hand. The loss of the rare and expensive Scotch that started absorbing into the carpet at Tom’s feet didn’t dampen the mood at the table.
“I’m glad your hands are a little steadier on the green,” Reid joked, and he refilled Tom’s glass.
We all looked at each other for a moment then, picking at the last of our dinners, and wondering who was going to speak next. Personally, I was hoping for the conversation to end, but as is the case with most successful men these two didn’t have much trouble filling the dead air. They turned their attention to me.
“How are you playing Dave?” Reid asked.
“Not bad,” I said. This is how I would have answered no matter how I was actually playing. In truth, I hadn’t been out much the week before the tournament.
“What’s that mean? Sixty-eight, sixty-nine?” Tom asked.
“I haven’t played too much recently. I’m hitting it pretty good though, but anyone can go out and have a nice easy round out here. I’m not sure how I’d fare under the gun.”
“Funny you should mention that,” Reid said.
“Well, since that day we played I’ve been thinking a lot, and as much as I like having you around here, and appreciate all the work you do with R.J. it just seems like you don’t belong here.”
“I think you should be a competitive player. I talked to Tom the day after we played, and we talked about your round for a half hour. I think we mentioned every shot. You know, we just don’t see play like that. I’ve played with my share of good players, but you’re the real deal. We’d like to see you reach your potential. We want to help you out.”
“Who’s we?” I asked.
“Tom and I, and probably some others, but Tom and I are both on board,” Reid glanced at Tom, and he nodded like a good wingman.
“You’re talking sponsorship? I’ve never been too comfortable with that idea, and I’ve pretty much put Q-School behind me anyway. If this was a few years ago, maybe I’d be more interested.”
“You’re still a young guy, Dave,” Reid reasoned. “We were just thinking that we’d like to help you out. You know, if you get out there without the financial pressures hanging over your head, all those other concerns, it could make all the difference.”
“I don’t want to sound ungrateful. I appreciate you believing in me, but the truth is you’ve seen me play 18 holes, and yeah, I played well, but there are so many good players out there it’s ridiculous. I would already be months behind practice wise. I wouldn’t feel right taking your help, knowing that it probably wouldn’t make any difference.”
“We’re not worried about the money, are we Tom?” Reid tried to bring Tom back into the conversation, but the last glass of Scotch looked like it had sent him over the edge. He had started staring blankly into the distance. “Well we’re not worried about the money. It’d be fun for us, pulling for you, having a rooting interest. We’d be living a little vicariously, I admit, but don’t be too proud to take help, Dave.”
“I’m not too proud, just realistic,” I finished a last swallow of Scotch, and set the glass on the table. I tried to make it obvious that I wanted to leave. I looked around for a jacket I didn’t have, something to pick up, anything to signal my departure. Tom wasn’t so subtle. He simply got up from the table with a grunt, and walked away.
“All right, this isn’t the time to discuss it anyway. You probably think we’re both wasted,” Reid laughed. “Some other time, though, we’ll sit down, and talk seriously about it. Numbers, details, the whole nine. You getting ready to take off?”
“Yeah, I do need to get going,” I said, relieved that my body language had finally been picked up on.
“All right, well that’s probably what’s best now anyway. I think Tom needs to get back to his room. I don’t think he’s used to having this much fun, and I’m going to see if I can get a card game started. I’ll probably lose all this money,” Reid laughed to himself again, but then extended his hand. “Think about what I said, Dave. And, it was nice talking to you.”
“Absolutely,” I said, shaking Reid’s hand. “Good playing out there today.”
“Just a lucky day,” Reid winked at me, and then headed for the other dining room.
I was expecting Cait to be a little bothered that I had gotten delayed at the club, but when I called her she was in a great mood. Her truck had been fixed, and she said she wanted to do some driving. I had just showered and changed when I heard her pull up in front of the cabin. I walked outside, and met her halfway between the old, idling diesel, and my doorway. The truck had clearly brightened her mood, she seemed to be walking even lighter than normal as she approached me, and she couldn’t suppress a smile. I had never seen her look better. She wore a pair of jeans that had been broken in with hundreds of trips through the washer, and a tight fitting Michigan State t-shirt that looked equally loved. Her hair fell naturally to her shoulders, and it was the first time I had seen her wear her glasses outside of her house. When I reached her she leaned into me, and stood on her tip-toes, greeting me with a warm kiss.
“Truck sounds great,” I said, before kissing her again.
“Benefits of a small town, guy came on a Sunday to finish the job for me after they finally got the part. Of course, I guess he owes me for all the eye time he logs on my ass over at Franco’s,” Cait had started back towards the truck.
“Can’t say I blame him,” I said as I walked behind her.
Cait quickly spun around and feigned embarrassment, walking backwards the rest of the way to the truck. She slid in behind the wheel, and sensing her hurry I quickly walked around to the passenger side.
“Where are we headed?” I asked when she started to back out of the driveway.
“I was thinking the lake. You want to go to the lake?”
I agreed, thinking Cait was going to take us back to the spot where we’d been the first night we spent together, but I quickly realized that wasn’t where we were headed. We drove away from town, and seemingly away from all civilization until we came to a road that was marked with a sign deeming it private. Cait turned in like she belonged, and followed the road through some woods. We passed a couple of gated driveways, and then came to the end of a cul-de-sac. What looked like an unfinished driveway cut through a wooded area, and dormant construction vehicles were parked on the road, and in a clearing nearby. Cait cut the engine, and turned off the headlights.
“I thought we were going to the lake,” I said.
“Almost there,” Cait answered. She leaned behind her, grabbed a couple things from the back of the truck, and jumped out, shutting the door behind her.
I had no choice, but to follow, and got out of the car myself. As soon as I shut the passenger door I could hear the lake in the distance. I don’t know if I ever got accustomed to the scope of the lake during my time in Michigan. My previous travels had taken me to locations where a lake was something you could see across, not a massive body of water with waves lapping at the shore like an ocean.
“You coming?” Cait flipped on a flashlight, and started up the rocky path that cut through the woods. She didn’t look back for my response.
“Are we allowed to be here?” I asked, catching up to Cait.
“Not really, does that bother you?”
“Well not if you say the cop that is going to arrest us for trespassing owes you for staring at your ass at Franco’s all the time.”
“We’re not going to see any cops, but if we did, he’d probably owe me,” Cait laughed.
I felt her ease with the situation slightly wash over me, and I was even more relieved when we got to the end of the unfinished driveway, and saw a giant house that was just starting to be framed. It looked like it might be the next summer before anyone called the massive edifice home. Cait continued to lead like she had made the trip hundreds of times. We walked around the back of the house, and the sound of the lake intensified a great deal. We carefully negotiated a steep decline, and then found ourselves on the beach. We were completely alone. You could see the lights from neighboring mansions in the distance, but nothing else broke the perfect darkness. Cait spread a blanket on the sand, and we sat down facing the water. Cait sat directly in front of me, between my open legs, and I wrapped my arms around her. We sat silently in this position for several minutes.
“How do you know about this place?” I finally asked.
“I’ve been coming here a long time. Before all these houses were here, it’s almost ruined now.”
“Do you come here a lot?”
“What do you mean by that?” Cait asked, and she turned her body around, straining to look at me. “Are you asking if I bring guys here all the time?”
“No, that’s not what I meant. It just seemed like you really knew your way around, forget I said anything.”
“I’m just teasing you. I do come here every so often. Not as much as I used to, and a lot of the time I come alone. You know, since you’re so curious. I just like looking at the stars. Look at them.”
Cait untangled herself from my grasp, and laid down on the blanket next to me, gazing up at the sky. The stars were brilliant. Even at my cabin I had noticed how prominent the stars were, but out on the lake, farther away from civilization it was certainly a sight to see. I put my arm around Cait, and pulled her close to me.
“Are you going to give me a lesson on the constellations?”
“Hah, I don’t know any of that. Astrology is all bullshit. I just like looking. I’m a voyeur.”
“A voyeur huh?”
“Well, yeah, in the stellar sense.”
“I really missed you this weekend,” I said. I had been thinking it since we got to the beach, and I finally just blurted it out.
“Don’t work so much then. What happened to your go play golf for a couple hours, have a beer, and leave days?”
“I don’t know. Maybe you can speak to my boss, and tell him I’m overworked.”
“I don’t think I could keep a straight face,” Cait joked.
She gave me a little nudge to emphasize her punch line, and then rolled over on top of me. She straddled my hips, and looked down at me with a mischievous look. Her hair fell over her face, and I moved it out of the way so I could see her eyes.
“Let’s go in the lake,” Cait said.
“I don’t think so.”
“Come on,” Cait pushed herself up off my chest, and stood above me.
She kicked off her shoes, tucked her glasses inside them, and then started unbuttoning her jeans. She moved her hips back and forth while she pulled them down, and never took her eyes off of mine. I think her intention was to make a joke of the whole thing, but in truth it was impossible for her not to be sexy. She turned her back to me, and lifted her shirt over her head. She wore nothing underneath, and covered her breasts with one arm while she turned and threw the shirt to the sand next to me. Then, without another word she took off for the water.
There was no more time left for caution. I undressed as quickly as possible, and followed her into the lake wearing only my boxers. The water was freezing. I knew it was going to be cold given the high pitch shriek that Cait let out when she hit the water, but even though I was bracing myself, it was still a shock. Cait had made it out to about waist deep water, and when I reached her I could tell she might have been regretting her decision.
“Water’s nice,” I said, trying to keep my teeth from chattering.
“Refreshing, but, a little cold, come here.”
She pulled me close to her, and kissed me. I returned the kiss eagerly, and then moved on to her neck, and bare breasts. The warmth rising in my body provided a strange contrast to the frigid waters. I found my way back to Cait’s lips, and after another kiss, she pulled away slightly.
“I don’t want you to stop, but we have to get out of this water,” Cait looked at me pleadingly.
“Agreed,” I said, and we both rushed to shore at the same pace at which we’d entered the water.
When we got to beach, Cait put on her t-shirt, and then wrapped herself in the blanket. I abandoned my boxers, and got dressed as quickly as I could. Cait pulled the keys to her truck out of her jeans, and told me I was driving us back to my place. We scaled the hill quickly, and didn’t need to use the flashlight to find our way back to Cait’s truck. There was a moment of inner panic while I turned the key in the ignition, thinking the old girl wouldn’t start up, but she came to life without hesitation. While Cait turned on the heat, I sped away.
“Keep it steady,” Cait cautioned. “I don’t really want to get pulled over in this condition. We could end up on COPS.”
Later that night Cait and I were lying next to each in my bed. Immediately upon returning to the cabin we had rushed into a hot shower, and occupied ourselves underneath it until the water turned cool. I could still feel some warmth radiating off Cait’s body as she curled up next to me, drifting in and out of sleep.
“You’re off tomorrow, right?” She asked.
“Yep, the club is closed on Mondays.”
“I have to work all day,” Cait said sullenly. “I’ll have to start changing my schedule. We can start to do fun things on Mondays. We should go to Chicago. Do you want to go to Chicago?”
“Yeah, that’d be great.”
“Maybe next Monday.”
I didn’t answer for a moment, but then told Cait that I would be gone the following Monday. I was heading back home.
“You’re homesick already?” She asked.
“Not exactly,” I said.
“All right, well one of these Mondays. No more planning things on Monday. It’s going to be our one day weekend.”
Cait exhaled deeply, satisfied with this conclusion. Without her asking me, my hand found the place on her back that seemed to put her to sleep. A minute later she was out for the night.