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"I started with, I think it's sexy when we cuddle."
At her best friend's words, Carly tried hard not to laugh into the phone's receiver, but she was unsuccessful. Cuddling was not sexy. Cuddling was for dogs and cats; it wasn't appropriate fantasy material. Not the erotic kind, anyway, which is what Samantha had attempted to write for her boyfriend.
Carly sat back in her chair and tried to compose herself. After a minute, she managed to choke out, " Sam, I don't think cuddling's going to get Joe all hot and bothered. Telling him that you want to cuddle after he strips off your clothes slowly, gets you spread-eagled on the bed and has his way with you thoroughly might get him revved up. But you'd have to be more explicit. You could start with something like, I want to feel your tongue tracing a path down my neck, while your hand reaches between my."
"Ha. I'm surprised you remember what a man's touching you is like."
"Why are we friends again?, Sam's easy laughter made Carly smile into the phone.
"Because I'm here to remind you that you need to get back to your wild ways. Mainly so I can live vicariously through you," Sam said.
"It's time for you to get a little wild. Let yourself go and try again. Joe will love it."
The inspiration for her friend's truly awful creation was an article in Total Woman Magazine, written by Candy Valentine, titled: "Take Him Over The Falls: Revealing Your Most Erotic Fantasy To Your Man."
Sam had lent her the magazine last week, and Carly had had a good chuckle over the title of the piece, an old surfing term that literally meant losing control. Apparently, the article had started some kind of erotic fantasy-writing craze, and her best friend had decided to jump on the bandwagon.
The article had given Carly food for thought. Lots and lots of thought.
"I'm not good at this kind of stuff," Sam said.
"You're confusing sexual fantasy with romance. They're very different animals, according to Candy. You've got to forget the cozy-up by the fire routine and think about turning up the heat from the inside instead," Carly explained.
"Obviously it's something I'm not accomplishing in real life or on paper."
The hurt in her friend's voice was clear. Carly knew that Samantha and her boyfriend of a few months had hit a snag in the bedroom department.
Personally, Carly thought Joe was less than deserving of her friend, but she had to admit Samantha was slightly puritanical in her views on sex. If Carly could get her to loosen up, maybe she'd see that there was more to life than Joe.
Of course, this was coming from someone who hadn't had a date in months, let alone anything close to a relationship, and she didn't plan on changing that status anytime soon. "Maybe the problem's not you, Sam."
"Maybe, but I'm willing to give this a shot. Hey, are you ready for your parents" visit?"
"Yes, and a root canal without Novocain."
"More wedding talk, right? And you still don't have a date."
"Don't remind me." Carly pinched the bridge of her nose at the thought of how not well the visit was about to go. "And I have got an article due for the magazine, and the charity event's coming up"
"I'll make you a deal. If you start the fantasy for me, I'll help you with the event," Samantha offered.
"Fine. I'll start it, but you'll have to finish it." Carly knew she could use the help to plan her part of the charity event. And she'd known she was going to help Sam fix her writing from the second she'd heard that woeful attempt.
"Let me get myself into fantasy mode and I'll e-mail it to you in a while."
"My computer's down. Fax it instead. And don't let your parents see it."
"Don't even joke about that." She could imagine what her mother would say if she caught her eldest daughter writing erotic fantasies.
Women, especially women who were born into society, as her mother often termed it, weren't supposed to have fantasies. Women with Carly's social standing were to marry well, have children, work for various charities and generally do all things ladylike.
She had no problem with the charities per se, especially since her family had a legacy of service to the community, beginning with her great-grandmother and continuing into the present, thanks to her mother's pageant work. Except the event her mother had volunteered Carly for truly inspired mixed feelings, ones she was trying hard not to think about, yet couldn't seem to escape.
"Go write," Sam said.
"Will do. I'll also fax the lists I need you to go over." She rooted around her desk for the list of names, all the people who'd RSVP'd that they'd attend the event and contribute, as well, and the master list of invitees. She'd set up an office in the guest bedroom of the old house she'd bought a few months earlier. The magazine gig, which she'd deemed her transitional career, was freelance and allowed her to work from the comfort of her home.
"Hey, did you go down to the water today?" Sam asked quietly.
There was no judgment in her friend's tone, but Carly still felt her back go up for a moment.
She's only trying to help you.
"No. I didn't get a chance to," she lied. Bitter disappointment surged through her at the fact that she had indeed tried. She'd threaded her toes through the sand at the top of the dunes, stared at the crashing waves a mile or so beyond and had been unable to walk any farther toward them. Breathing the calming ocean air hadn't helped much, either, and she'd admitted defeat and headed back toward the house before she had the chance to panic. When she'd returned to her place, she'd closed the windows in her office so she couldn't hear the ocean.
Maybe buying a house on the beach hadn't been the smartest move after all. It had seemed right when she'd retired, or been forced into retirement, depending on how you looked at it, from professional surfing nearly ten months earlier. She'd sold her surfing school in Hawaii and moved to the Northern Florida Coast, settling near Daytona, a two-hour drive from Vero Beach, where she'd grown up.At twenty-five, she'd been nearing the end of her career, and the younger, faster women were snapping at her heels. She'd had a good run, and an even greater scare in that last tournament, never mind the accident that capped her career.
"Well, you'll try again tomorrow, then. I know you will."
"It's going to get better. Don't put so much pressure on yourself. I know you'll surf again, and then you'll be happy."
Carly wasn't nearly as sure as her friend was, but it was good to know she wasn't alone in the world. "I'll have the fantasy for you in about an hour." She clicked the speaker phone off, wound her long, unruly blond hair up into a messy knot and took a drink of Red Bull for fortification. Then she let her palms run over the smooth oak of the old desk she'd picked up at an antique store last month while she brooded.
It was a gorgeous day outside, all blue skies and perfect swells, and she was unable to come out from behind this desk and catch a hollow.
She'd never admit it to anyone, but when she crashed in her last tournament, she'd been more scared than she'd ever been in her life. She'd been much more hurt, too, since she'd garnered a catalogue of horrific injuries, including a fractured vertebra, a broken femur and a fractured skull. Those were just the biggies, and she'd been lucky to get out of the hospital with only a titanium rod in her thigh as a souvenir. She hadn't needed one in her spine, which most likely would've meant never surfing again.
After ten months of extensive rehab, her thigh and back still ached occasionally, and even though the PCL muscle in her knee had been surgically repaired, it would never be the same, and neither would she.
She'd been planning to retire after one last circuit of the major tournaments, but she hadn't wanted to go out like that. At the time, her repetitive stress injuries were slowing her down, compounded by the fact that she'd kept up with the big dogs. She'd pushed her fears aside with her competitive nature and ridden in some surfing holes that were not for the squeamish. She'd been pounded and had worn her scars with pride.
At the time she was hospitalized, doctors had told her that leaving the competitive world of surfing behind might be the only chance she'd have of getting on a board again. It would have to be for recreation only. She couldn't imagine not climbing on a board ever again, and so she'd agreed with the medical professionals.
She comforted herself with the fact that she hadn't made that decision based on fear, however, she hadn't realized how deeply the accident had rooted itself into her psyche.
She did realize it now, since she still hadn't been able to get herself onto a board although the doctors had given her the thumbs up. That was a whole different kind of fantasy she needed to fulfill.
She picked up the magazine and flipped to the article on the art of fantasy and seduction by Candy Valentine.
For Carly, fantasizing wasn't the problem.
It wasn't easy to find someone to live up to those dreams. Most of the men she'd met never stayed in one place long enough to even think about a relationship. And a commitment was the last thing on anyone's mind in the happy-go-lucky world of beach bums, who didn't want to grow up. She had to admit, she'd been commitment-shy, too. Until Dan, another professional surfer, cruised into town and swept her away.
The relationship ended in disaster when she'd been hurt. He couldn't handle it, he'd told her, and then added, Besides, now we have nothing in common. From then on, she'd been reluctant about making promises. Casual flings were fine, but she wasn't wading in deeper in the emotion.
Truth be told, most of the men she dated fell far short of her expectations, both in and out of bed. And now she was supposed to be helping Samantha spice up her reality with a healthy dose of fantasy.
The irony was enough to make her choke on her Red Bull.
She couldn't worry about that now. Fantasize, she ordered herself. She'd use positive visualization, just like her old coach had taught her. Set your sights on your goal and picture yourself attaining it.
She opened a new Word document and began to type quickly, not thinking too hard about the words that flew from her fingers. That was the key to these things, and that's what Candy had written in her latest article:
1. Loosen up, forget the embarrassment. 2. Ask for what you want. 3. Write what thrills you, what turns you on. 4. Explore your deepest sexual secrets.
What was her ultimate fantasy? Beyond getting back up on the board again, of course.
Take the reins and please me.
Really, the line between catching a swell and an orgasm was pretty fine. Both gave that in-the-pit-of-your-belly thrill, and both ended up leaving you wiped out and breathless in the best way possible. The only problem was that surfing was a solitary sport, and she didn't want her orgasms to follow suit.
Let me lose control like I've never lost control before.
She thought about her Prince Charming, her hero, her everything rolled into one man, and then thought about how, even though she could more than handle herself, she'd like to be handled by him.
Just take me, dammit.
Yep, fantasy was much better than reality.