Thank you to Anne for once again allowing me to borrow Tipper.
Tipper sat perched on the front edge of her seat long after the small twin engine plane had departed from the Cabot Cove Municipal airport.
“You should sit back and relax,” Ben suggested as he richened the fuel mixture. After setting their course he switched on the autopilot and then re-checked all of his gauges.
“I don’t know if I can.”
Ben reached between Tipper’s legs, under the front of her seat, for the manual crank that would recline her seat. “Take a nap.”
A simple warning look from Ben was enough to halt her protest. For a moment, he reminded her of Seth – especially when Jessica was overworking herself.
“Is it that obvious?” she finally asked when he retrieved a small pillow and light blanket from the back seat.
“What – your pale complexion, the dark circles under your eyes, or the ten pounds you’ve lost?”
“Seven,” Tipper corrected him before recognizing her own defensive attitude. “That bad, huh?”
Ben nodded before reaching over and turning down the volume on her headset. Next, he covered her eyes with his hand, further encouraging her to get some shut eye.
Later that evening, Tipper awoke slowly, stretching leisurely until becoming entangled in her seatbelt. Suddenly she sat straight up and looked out the window into the star-studded blackness. “Where are we?”
Ben leaned over and kissed her on the forehead. “You’ve been working too hard. That’s why I insisted that we get away for a long weekend.”
“Yes, but I
figured you were flying us to
you might enjoy a little sun, especially after the long winter we’ve had.” He opened his door and climbed out while
Tipper did the same. The night air was
balmy compared to the below freezing temperatures that they had left behind in
Fifteen minutes later they pulled out of the parking lot in a rented Dodge Intrepid and drove a half mile on newly paved asphalt before turning onto a two-lane county highway. The highway, which would eventually merge into a wider, busier four-lane thoroughfare, was lined with tall trees and blooming azaleas that Tipper struggled to make out in the darkness.
checking into a hotel on the beach the pair deposited their bags in their suite
and walked a few short blocks to a small local bar famous for its raw
oysters. Opting for champagne over
“This is nice,” Tipper decided as she stretched. She felt content with a full belly and a mild buzz from the Bollinger.
“Tired?” Ben guessed, noting her subdued manner.
“Relaxed,” Tipper replied.
“If you get any more relaxed I’m going to have to carry you back to the hotel,” Ben chided as he signaled for the check. While he settled the bill Tipper excused herself to use the ladies’ room. When she returned, he was waiting for her with a second bottle of champagne in hand.
The pair left the restaurant in search of a public access area that would allow them to access the beach without trespassing to get there. “Here,” Ben said, guiding Tipper into a small parking area that was separated from the beach by a small sand dune, intersected by a narrow path. Ben took a seat on one of two concrete benches and removed his shoes and socks. Tipper followed suit.
The sand was still warm despite the sun’s descent hours earlier. Barefoot, they walked along the beach until they neared their hotel, where they found a comfortable area to sit. Once they were settled, Ben produced two champagne flutes.
“Did you swipe those?” Tipper asked in astonishment.
“What do you take me for, a thief?” he answered with a sly grin as he handed her a glass. “I bought them from the bartender.” Ben poured himself a glass and then held it up in a toast. “To warm sand, starry nights, a few days alone with you.”
Tipper laughed but touched her glass to his. “To time alone with you,” she repeated before savoring another drink of the sparkling bubbly.
“If I forget to mention it later, thank you for this weekend. I really needed it,” Tipper added before snuggling close.
They cuddled together beneath the stars. Pleasant conversation was interspersed with small stretches of companionable silence while Ben watched the heavens and Tipper the gentle waves. After refilling their glasses, Ben pulled Tipper closer and nuzzled her neck, tracing soft, floating kisses along her throat.
Tipper moaned in pleasure and then laughed in amusement when Ben deftly dispensed with her bra. “I’m beginning to think that this whole trip is just an elaborate scheme to get me drunk and take advantage of me.”
and looked up. “If that was the plan it
would have been cheaper to just spend the weekend in
“True,” Tipper agreed. “Does that mean that you don’t want me,” she flirted uncharacteristically.
“Of course I want you,” Ben answered, surprised by the boldness of her question.
“Good,” Tipper replied a she stood and brushed the sand from her jeans. “Because I definitely want you,” she continued, smiling and reaching down to help him up. “Tonight.”
They hurried back to the hotel room, stumbling and falling twice as they traversed the dune hand in hand. Any time spent tangled on the ground together only fueled the fire.
Their suite was not extravagant by any means but offered two bedrooms, a sitting room and two bathrooms. With spring break season still a week away, the suite had been a steal. Ben stuffed the champagne bottle into a bucket of ice and carried it to the night stand.
She had expected him to take longer and didn’t hear him step up behind her. Suddenly she felt his strong arms slip around her waist. “You have no idea how much I’ve missed you, Tipper,” he whispered next to her ear.
Tipper tried to ignore the shiver that raced through her, and turned to face him. “I’ve missed you, too.”
The pair locked gazes and Ben grinned before kissing her. The taste of champagne was heavy on her tongue as he explored her mouth. Tipper slipped her arms around his neck and pulled him closer. It had been two months since they had seen each other and it was obvious that Ben was intent on making up for lost time, something that Tipper was all for at the moment.
He drew away and examined her eyes closely. “Remember New Year’s Eve?”
“Yes,” she whispered, not allowing her eyes to leave his.
“I think it’s time we pick back up where we left off.”
“So do I,” Tipper answered, taking his hand and allowing him to lead her to his bedroom. He pulled the curtains before taking her in his arms again. Tipper took pleasure in the feel of his hands on her, closing her eyes and giving herself to the wonderful sensations he set off in her.
Ben slowly unbuttoned her shirt, kissing each newly exposed area as he slipped it slowly from her shoulders. When it fell to her feet, he stared in awe at the perfection that stood before him. “Perfect,” he whispered before raining kisses down her neck and shoulder. Perfect.
Tipper giggled at the feather light touch of his lips and had to force herself to concentrate on the buttons on his shirt. Her fingers trembled as she undid them. Finally, she was able to pull the shirt free and her stomach fluttered as she ran her hands over his bare, lean, muscular torso.
Ben slipped off her simple, white lace bra and tossed it aside. Skin met skin and both of their bodies responded instantly. “Oh, Ben,” Tipper whispered as she offered herself to him.
He lifted her effortlessly and placed her on the bed. It only took a few seconds for him to whip off his shoes, socks and jeans, grains of sand sprinkling everywhere.
“Lose the boxers, Doc,” Tipper suggested boldly.
Ben joined her on the bed and pulled her close once more, kissing her deeply before beginning to explore the whole of her. When his lips reached her abdomen, just above the waist of her jeans, he unsnapped the button and then stopped.
He shook his head and sat up on the edge of the bed. “We can’t do this.”
“What do you mean, ‘we can’t do this’? We are doing this!”
Ben turned to look at her then reached up and touched her cheek. “It’s not right,” he fought to convince himself.
“Tipper, I’m not fooling around here and I don’t think you are either. I’m in love with you and our first time together shouldn’t be in some generic hotel room when we’re both half drunk.”
It took a moment for Tipper to respond but deep inside, despite the affects of the champagne, she knew he was right.
“Damn it, you’re right,” she groaned. “I don’t want you to be right but you are.”
Then suddenly, she brightened. “Did you say you’re…”
Ben smiled. “Almost since the first moment I met you.”
Tipper awoke wrapped in Ben’s arms
– something that felt oddly wonderful despite the way the previous night had
ended. After a leisurely breakfast and a
spontaneous round of miniature golf with pirates and other scallywags at
Later that afternoon they headed south a short distance on the Interstate. After exiting the highway, they followed the county two-lane west until coming upon the large stone gate signaling the entrance to the Huntington Plantation. “This must be it,” Ben said as he turned onto the narrow lane that led to the refurbished mansion.
Ben drove slowly as they entered “Oak Alley.” The massive, antique oaks, draped in Spanish moss and arching over the road gave the feeling that they were taking a step back in time. After checking in, they climbed the exterior, spiraling staircases to their second story suite in the North guest house.
After freshening up, they made their way to the Main House, where dinner was being served promptly at seven o’clock. The only other occupants of the Bed & Breakfast on this particular evening were the owners, Martha and Tom Huntington.
“We just re-opened today,” Tom explained as he seated the pair at one end of a table meant to serve sixteen. “After the holiday season, we like to take a couple of months to make repairs and take a vacation ourselves.”
“Would you like something from the bar?” he asked Tipper once she was settled.
“No, thank you, not tonight,” she answered. They had gotten quite a bit of sun that afternoon and nothing sounded nearly as good as a tall glass of ice water.
“For you, sir?”
“Water will be fine,” Ben replied.
“Very well, then. Your first course will be served momentarily,” Tom informed them before bowing slightly and backing out of the room and into the kitchen.
The meal was authentic low country cooking, beginning with shrimp and grits with peppers, sweet onions, and blue crab gravy. For the main course, they were served filet mignon tournedos with crisp fried oysters, buttermilk biscuits, creamed rutabaga, and cracked black pepper gravy. For dessert, they enjoyed homemade apple dumplings.
After dinner, the couple took a moonlit walk around the grounds. From the main house, they could almost see down the entire length of the nearly two mile driveway to the front gates. From the school house to the slave chapel and the winnowing barn, most of the original buildings had somehow survived nearly two centuries intact. The rice mill chimney still stood as did the kitchen building which had been converted into a large suite. Swings and hammocks were secreted throughout the oak sheltered grounds and provided the perfect place to watch the sun set.
“Why don’t we sit on the balcony for awhile,” Tipper offered when they had returned to their suite. She opened her bedroom door to show Ben the private balcony.
He stepped inside behind her. “Very nice,” he decided as he admired the room. A wood burning fireplace dominated one wall while a large four poster bed dominated another. White dental crown molding bordered the ceiling and furniture from the antebellum period completed the room.
Tipper sat down on the edge of the bed and looked around the room again herself.
“It’s definitely not a generic hotel room,” she commented, meeting Ben’s eyes.
Her eyes were smoldering, Ben noticed, and her body language was calm and relaxed.
“And I’m not half drunk,” Ben said, taking a step toward the bed.
“And neither am I,” Tipper offered. She reached for his hand and gently pulled him down onto the bed next to her. Tracing a fingertip along his cheek and jaw bone, she made a request that he was powerless to deny her.