Sapphic Surfer by K’Anne Meinel

Sapphic Surfer by K’Anne Meinel is featured on this episode of Book Clips

Welcome to Book Clips, the mini podcast where authors and narrators give you a taste of a book with a short snippet. 

In this episode we hear the first chapter of the audiobook for Doctored by Sapphic Surfer narrated by Amelia Patricks

Synopsis 

Can a virgin such as Ashley cope with the feelings that are building inside her for the famous surfer? Can a Midwestern girl with all the morals and hang-ups ingrained in her overcome them to actually enter into a Sapphic romance with this woman? 

Ashley is a Midwestern girl who is enjoying “the life” in Southern California. She is living her dream. She learns to surf, a lifelong dream that wasn’t possible in Illinois. Now she meets professional surfer Willow Samuels, who becomes a good friend to her. How good a friend isn’t really apparent until she realizes there is a mutual attraction.   

Ashley is conflicted when she realizes she is having feelings for her famous friend Willow. When Willow makes a pass at her, she realizes her friend is gay and attracted to her. How can she overcome a lifetime of ethics and values that just might destroy the happiness Willow offers her?

 

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Transcript

please note this transcript has not been edited and is automatically generated meaning certain words will be incorrect

You are listening to book clips a mini podcast in which authors and erasers do readings from novels check out the show notes for the synopsis and buy links for this book.

As Ashley looked out over the dark water around her she relished the feeling of being alone on her board the waves hadn’t started yet but they would the Weathermen had predicted good surf today following a tropical storm that had come up out of Mexico she could feel something in the air but maybe it was the expectation of good day a good time to surf she wasn’t really alone though in fact she was late there were many surfers also out here communing with nature waiting for the show to begin many were diehards more addicted to this sport than she was it had taken a long time to break into this tight-knit group and still she wasn’t going to ever be accepted by some she wasn’t born to this like some of them she had arrived too late in life to be accepted by some at least now she wasn’t treated like a pariah anymore some had even stopped ridicule in her as her skills began to show as she learned to control her board as she learned balance and technique the only way someone not born to the sport could learn was to get up there and do it Ashley had and the grudging respect she had earned from some of the more hardcore surfers was something she relished something intangible that no one could understand or take away from her Ashley had moved here from Elgin Illinois you really couldn’t be more Midwest than that all her life though she had dreamed of the ocean scene Lake Michigan in Chicago wasn’t the same it felt similar with its vast body of water and endless views but it wasn’t the same it didn’t have the same salty tang the same feeling of power that the ocean gave you there were surfers in the Midwest in fact Kenosha Wisconsin was well known for it but it wasn’t the surfer capital of the United States that title went to Huntington Beach California many would assume that Hawaii would have that title but Hawaii wasn’t accessible by car from any of the rest united states and this was where the competitions were held sure there were surfers all up and down the East host throughout the Florida Panhandle and along the coasts in the Gulf but it wasn’t Huntington Beach California even this town had competition with Malibu Oceanside and up and down the west coast there were surf Wars and those with their own opinions about where were the best places to surf but Ashley had watched the Championships of surfing on television and decided in high school that this was where she was going to end up this was her dream sitting on her board as the Sun began to peak up over Saddleback Mountain she was amazed as she gazed about her she was living her dream no one in her family none of her friends understood her or her dream coming out here shortly after 18th birthday she had been amazed and delighted when her mother volunteered to move with her not to keep an eye on her as everyone else had thought but to start over to find herself again after a messy divorce from Ashley’s father she needed something new for her self-esteem she was riding on the coattails of Ashley’s dream she came along for her opportunities Ashley had never seen her mother so happy this last year they had finally moved apart Ashley moved to her own first home that she had bought and her mother down the block to a townhome that was nearly identical to Ashley’s it had been a long couple of years dealing with homesickness leaving all their friends and family learning new skills and making new friends now both of them were happy in their choices in their lives in their futures you might ask how many 19 year old women could afford to buy their own townhomes but Ashley had her mother had taught her to save to scrimp to work hard and she had her first job as a cashier at a chain of electronic stores called the federated group had led to the opportunity to become a sales rep for them they had started her in personal electronics which consisted of boom boxes small stereos microwaves keyboards telephones and Walkmans it had been a good training ground for Ashley within her first year she had graduated to selling televisions stereos VCRs video cameras and because of her computer school background computers as a result she was making a tremendous amount of money for someone so very young her mother’s advice invest in her future you couldn’t go wrong with owning your own home she didn’t have time for the yard work so she and her mother had looked into condos and townhomes both had chosen to purchase in an area of Huntington Beach with the oldest townhome Association in the state it had been the very first of its kind located at brookhurst and Adams it contained over 500 townhomes of one two and three-bedroom homes in sections of eight or nine units in a row an occasional 4-bedroom home was located within these blocks recently right before Ashley and her mother had purchased their units the Association had split so there were only 250 units in their Association and another 250 in a new Association across the common area that divided their section of blocks from the other this common area was shared between the two associations each block had a common area in front of it that contained trees bushes and grass in ashes Association it was not a place for children to play but rather a park-like area that they could walk on admire and their pets could defecate on but was strictly ruled so that it had to be picked up immediately children yelling screaming and ripping it up was strictly forbidden Ashley like the kids around it gave her a sense of family around the neighborhood she didn’t mind their noise it was a family friendly neighborhood but she had neighbors that should have purchased or rented in an adults-only community she also liked that she didn’t have to do the gardens or a lawn the pool was taken care of as well all she had to do was pay her mortgage her association dues her bills and keep her nose clean not many 19 year olds could do what she had Ashley wasn’t worried about her bills at the moment she realized the swells they had been waiting for were beginning she could feel it in the air could almost taste it in her blood she could see the other surfers felt it too it got into your soul and you just knew it was coming the calm before the storm as it were as the Sun began to come up over Saddleback Mountain the swells began to do just that swell little waves that began to get a little bit bigger slow but surely the dips a little deeper a few of the less experienced surfers practiced on these little waves watched indulgently by others sneered at by some of the harsher critical surfers these waves weren’t even deemed worthy of their notice Ashley smiled indulgently she had been there not so long ago moving here Ashley had been quite chubby in her Midwestern way not fat really but she hadn’t lost her baby roundness since learning to surf though and swimming in the ocean daily she had slimmed down and muscled up the tone to her now surf suited body was something to be admired long legs with muscular thighs and glutes her stomach sported a slight six-pack her baby roundish ness which had been most noticeable in her face now sported angles that drew admiration from though she met ignored her whole life by men and women as a familiar baby-faced dumpy little girl the attention she now received made her uncomfortable she hadn’t realized her beauty yet and maybe for her that was a good thing long brown hair everyone kept their hair long it seemed in Southern California it curled naturally and looked gorgeous when she brushed it out it wasn’t convenient with it wet every day from surfing but in defiance of her mother’s long-standing cutting of her locks she had grown it out and relished it’s thick beauty a few of the other surfer girls kept their hair boyishly short and it looked good on them but that look made Ashley feel a bit Dyke ish and as she hadn’t dated men or women she didn’t want anyone to assume things about her it had been bad enough when she started surfing dealing with the sneers and the open hostility of others who already knew how she had been embarrassed as she felt conspicuous learning the balance the rhythm of the sport and doing it all on her own not everyone had been awful to her but enough so she was very self-conscious about her inadequacy her lack of knowledge her clumsiness many was the time she quit for the day with their jeers ringing in her ears but every day she returned to try once again to balance a little better to learn a little more to study the others who knew so much more than she did grudging admiration for her commitment her constant vigilance and attempts to improve was won by a few hardcore surfers when they saw she wasn’t a tour she wasn’t going to go away she was there for the duration they began to give her advice helping her along the way to becoming a better surfer and earning her eternal grateful admiration she in turn had passed it forward and helped in little ways to the newbie she now saw not too much but enough that she felt she was paying back for the little help she had received she wasn’t a veteran yet but had been there often enough long enough and through some really rough surf to earn a place a very fragile place farther out with some of the better surfers she was careful to give way when she saw some of the nastier ones come out she let them take the better wave she headed for not always though and for some of them she was still singled out to be picked on a few of the older and more experienced surfers had stood up for her and got them to knock it off as she became confident in her abilities she thought the moniker they had given her sapphic surfer was an honorary nickname and although her Greek history days were far behind her she thought it referred to some Greek God and wore it proudly when she finally looked it up and realized what it actually meant she flushed in mortification according to the dictionary it referred to a Greek lyric poet or certain meters or a form of strophe or stanza used or named after Sappho it also pertained to a characteristic of female sexuality in this case being a lesbian since Ashley had just come into her own physically she hadn’t dated men she certainly hadn’t dated women in her conservative Midwestern town she was very upset to realize some of the teasing had turned vicious she had expected some razzing as she learned the sport she wanted so badly but this was too nasty to consider too awful to comprehend she avoided those vicious mouths like the plague it saddened her that she had never had a date she had friends of course back in her town of Elgon but none had been dates at least she didn’t think they had been her friends and she had tended to go out in groups and while some had paired off Ashley never had she hadn’t been alone in that and really had never given it a thought her mother had told her she was a late bloomer and she accepted that since learning to surf workouts she did unconsciously daily she had slimmed down toned up and lost that annoying baby fat in fact in the year and a half since she had moved to Southern California she looked completely different anyone who could see her now would have to take a second look and stay looking the toughts she received from some of the other surfers were just cruel others were just her as the newbie and others were because of jealousy for the good-looking girl she thought of it as a rite of passage and now as she had learned a lot more she could give as well as take their taunts their innuendos ignoring some returning insults and standing up for herself her newfound confidence lent her an air that earned her a place a rightful place and some of the taunts and insults had led up in fact she had made a few friends in her newfound sport she’s isn’t the surf sucky Letty asked as she looked around from her own perch on her surfboard give it time Ashley advised as she closed her eyes to fill the waves it was a meditation not many outsiders understood but Ashley dead communing with nature was so very different from anything else in her life it relaxed her brought her a peace that she couldn’t explain to people Letty looked at her watch it better hurry up she groused Ashley smiled Letty was a complainer if she caught the perfect wave she would complain it wasn’t the right colour it was amusing but wearing – she could feel the difference as the surf kicked up she opened her eyes to watch it was never wise to turn your back on the ocean especially when it could drown you pulling you under in a heartbeat slam you into the pier or on extremely rare occasions contain something like a shark debris or something equally dangerous no it wasn’t a good idea to not pay attention to the ocean she watched a couple of the surfers take a few inadequate waves it sometimes seemed that these practices were performed sake only she knew now to wait a little longer be a little more patient watch and learn the sets of waves the pattern was building the waves which had started out as little Rises were actually breaking a little when they got to the 3-foot level they were worth playing with practicing today though they were forecast to peak at about 5 feet due to the storm down Ashley knew she only had a few hours out on the waves before she would have to get home to shower and get ready for work her whole life consisted of surfing and work these days her mother lamented that she never saw her anymore but her own busy social life kept her from around Ashley’s neck Ashley didn’t have a social life this was it she intended to enjoy something she loved so much while she could it also kept her from dwelling on the fact that she didn’t have a boyfriend she didn’t have a social life and that was just the way things were she had enough downtime at work to think about those things that weren’t perfect in her life anyway the waves were catching more than just her attention she saw Letty take one and watched as she smoothly caught it and balanced on her short board Ashley’s own board was a six footer and while she knew she could handle others she had genuine affection for this particular board this one was the first one that she had been on when she didn’t lose her balance and get dumped into the surf this one she had actually surfed on in the fullest sense of the word she saw a set of waves coming in and quickly began to paddle at an angle so they would catch her and she could stand up and balance right in the edge of the wave so it would carry her along getting the little fancy she backed up and weaved back and forth on her board all too soon at least for her mind it phased out and she zipped over the edge and got down to paddle out to another and then another and then another for a long time she continued practicing constant motion that invigorated her taught her to respect the ocean taught her the skills she needed to match against it each time was different each time a challenge to her senses to her skills to her techniques that she had learned it was part of what kept her coming back all too soon it was time to go her watch alarm went off and she looked at it in disgust the time it seemed to go by so fast saying a goodbye to Letty she wrote her last wave farther into the beach and walked up to where her towel was and swiped it off the sand shaking it out so the sand would stay on the beach she carried her board and began to rub her hair with the towel that looked good a pleasant voice said and she looked up into the darkest blue eyes she had ever seen a statuesque blonde stood there in a crop and short-shorts looking at her her hair was so blonde it was almost white it blue in the morning breeze as they looked at each other thanks Ashley said curious who the strange woman was she knew she hadn’t seen her around here before although for some strange reason she looked vaguely familiar you’ve been surfing long she asked in a friendly tone as she walked along with Ashley’s long strides not really about a year Ashley answered wondering who she was as though reading Ashley’s mind I’m willow Samuels the blonde stated looking at Ashley hard as though that name should mean something to her it did anyone who read surfing the magazine knew who willow Samuels was Ashley stopped a stair and asked the surfer in bewildered tones willow smiled and showed perfect white teeth as she nodded and held out her hand Ashley threw her towel over the board and held at her own hand and said Ashley dale’s how do you do Ashley dales I watched you out there her head indicated the ocean behind them you were doing pretty good yeah I just learned and now I can’t stay away Ashley laughed wondering why this famous surfer had stopped her it does get addictive she nodded well it was nice to meet you Ashley dale’s I’m sure I will see you around Willow smiled again and left the bemused Ashley Ashley thought about her as she pulled on a pair of dry swim trunks over her wet swimsuit she shrugged it off you get all types in surfing she had seen a few different people from old-timers well into their 60s even 70s to young teens who had to be ducking school she thought until she found out that Huntington Beach High School offered a course in surfing it took all kinds she propped her surfboard in the backseat of her Jeep and through the roof and using the key that was on a chain around her neck unlock the doors she slipped on some sandals to drive with it was illegal to drive barefooted and while most surfers didn’t care she was a stickler for rules she unlocked the lock box inside her glove compartment and pulled her small wallet out starting the Jeep she backed out of its spot and was on her way Ashley hurried home three miles from the beach at brookhurst and turned onto continental drive to get to her town home she noted her mother’s car was not in its carport and parked in her own carport several spots down walking across the alleyway with her surfboard and towel to her back gate she opened it and threw her towel over it she leaned her board against the house and using a hose she had there she rinsed off the board and then shook it to get the excess water off it then she unlocked the patio door and went inside to her townhome set in the surf board up right by the door along with three others hers was one of the few four bedroom units and had a fireplace to boot her mother had objected to the size but Ashley wanted to have a little space to spread out she had her master bedroom all to herself with a large queen sized bed and decorated the way she liked it she had a guest room also with a queen sized bed and decorated modestly the third bedroom she had set up as an office she didn’t use it a lot but it looked like she did it held a nice big desk a PC on the side another desk behind it with shelves that held various reference books the fourth bedroom she used for storage boxes of her life were stored there but nothing very much the place was too big for her of course but she planned to live there awhile so she wanted room to spread out to grow and who knew what else the future held hurry into the shower she soaked and washed her hair using the suds she rinsed off the sand and salt from her body and suit wringing out the suit she rinsed it repeatedly before squeezing out the excess water and hanging it on a towel bar she used her razor on the stubble under her arms and on her legs all the way up taking care to use it carefully near her bikini line since she surfed so much she didn’t want to get a rash there of all places carefully she tolde off and applied lotion to hurt and body there was a huge benefit besides the exercise that she got from surfing her body was perfectly tanned all over wearing different suits allowed the tan lines to fade and she looked good from the healthy activity the sand and the salt still dried out the skin though and she kept it looking healthy by frequent applications of oils and lotions looking into the mirror as the fog faded from it she saw her high dark eyebrows the long eyelashes that framed her green hazel eyes a gift from her mother her nose was narrow and well defined a bit small but better than average her lips were full and fully kissable or at least she liked to think they were she had never had a kiss and greatly regretted the fact using the towel to dry most of her long brown hair she used a brush to pull it back and pull out most of the snarls quickly she applied eyeshadow liner and brush her teeth before going into her bedroom to pull on satin bikini styled underwear with a high French cut and a matching bra that kept her firm muscular breasts short knee high stockings and she then pulled on suit slacks and a very feminine blouse not wearing her suit jacket or a coat they were dressy at work but not over-the-top she brushed her hair once more before going downstairs and pulling herself a bowl of cereal for her brunch it had been too early to really eat when she left the house to serve and it was too early to eat a lunch so she compromised by eating brunch washing the empty bowl and spoon she put away everything and left her kitchen as clean as she had found it a neat person by choice she grabbed her larger purse and put the wallet she had taken with her to the beach inside going out her back patio door she carefully locked it behind her going back in her Jeep she carefully pulled out of her carport and headed off down the alleyway going down Continental she looked like a typical California girl with a jeep the flyaway hair her sunglasses perched just so she looked down brookhurst waiting for a break in the traffic before pulling out and driving north away from her beloved Beach she hopped on the 405 freeway a couple of miles from her home and took a quick ride up it to Beach Boulevard and further north to pull into the federated groups parking lot for work she pulled the top back up on the Jeep fixing it so no rain would get in as she wasn’t sure those clouds from the storm in Mexico wouldn’t reach this high at the state going into work she was there with 15 minutes to spare did you see the waves this morning Ken tried to make conversation with Ashley as she dusted by the camcorders see them I surfed them she grinned she knew ken was a nice guy but he was also married and as a result was off-limits other than friendship he wasn’t hitting on her merely being a nice friend shaking his head he teased a girl surfer what will this world come to next they talked for a while as he helped her dust and get the area clean it gave them something to do while they waited for customers it got busy in the late afternoon shoppers get enough work and looking for their various electronic needs ashley sold a couple of televisions nothing high-end just people looking for cheap replacements it was a long boring day but right before closing she had an interesting customer who wanted a home entertainment system a television VCR and stereo combo she patiently explained their options making no effort to influence them one way or the other she wasn’t a pushy salesperson much to her managers annoyance but she did achieve results she won awards she got the dollars in the store her customers recommended her to others which was one of the many reasons she was a top salesperson which had enabled her to buy her house if it wasn’t quite what her manager wanted that was too bad she was her own person and her results proved what she did worked the sale alone was four thousand dollars and thrilled her manager especially because she got the correspondent extended service protection for the units each extended service protection or ESP was a bonus for Ashley and the store the odds were that the customer would never use it would lose their paperwork or if they did the repair would be minor or fall under the manufacturer’s warranty but to the store it was pure profit Ashley believed in these esps not because they provided a bonus to her and the store but the manufacturer’s warranty was never enough and she explained that to the customer again letting them make their own decision as a result of this sale the store had a great day not just from Ashley’s efforts hers just sent it over the top great sale Ashley the manager said heartily as he read the sales totals for the day thanking him she hurried to help her fellow associates finish up the day’s end before they could leave it was 10:00 at night before she got out of the store not everyone had to stay that late but her sale had kept two cashier their manager and a few others in the store before it could be locked up for the night no one really minded unless they had somewhere to be Ashley needed to get home to eat and sleep before rising early to another surf field morning and work later in the day work really got in the way of her surfing it was a week before Ashley saw willow Samuels again this time it wasn’t on the beach but rather in one of the many surf shops off of Pacific coast highway or PCH in Huntington Beach they had refitted all this area and the shops looked great Ashley enjoyed shopping and did it frequently to keep up on sales for gear she might need she knew with colder weather coming she should really invest in a warmer suit a lot of surf suits were very similar to diving suits and it would also protect her skin from the salt and anything that was in the water that shouldn’t be she had gotten a few bad rashes that the doctor shook her head at hey willow said when she spotted Ashley Ashley was looking through the different surf suits and turned at the greeting oh hi willow right yeah and you’re Ashley willow smiled as she admired the brown haired woman Ashley smiled so have you been surfing here her head indicated the water across Pacific Coast Highway or PCH as everyone called it nah been resting up actually I pulled a muscle in my back in Hawaii last month so I thought I’d come over to the mainland while I rested were you in competition Ashley asked interested willow nodded yeah I finished but I should have stopped when I felt the strain they all understood that surfing was an addiction your body the rashes and the pain sometimes were ignored they stood there chatting a while leaning into each other body language even unconscious spoke volumes hey would you like to have lunch willow asked I have to be at work by – Ashley warned and looked at her watch it was only 11 Willa laughed what kind of lunch did you have in mind Ashley joined in her laughter as they walked out of the store together there were some really cute cafes on the boulevard leading down to PHC and they took a seat at one and ordered their early lunch Ashley told willow about her job as a sales person at the federated group Fred rated for federated willow teased imitating the spokesman on the television commercials Ashley laughed he was a hoot shadow Stephens was a popular 80’s icon and with his wavy blond hair very typical of Southern California he was known for his outrageous antics throwing televisions from high buildings to watch them splatter on the sidewalk below just to get the audience’s attention willow told her about going pro and becoming a surfer her own early insecurities mirrored Ashley’s and she felt they had a lot in common do you ever go to the beach parties she asked as she finished her guacamole and chips Ashley shook her head no no time and no one has ever asked she laughingly told willow about her experiences since she had begun learning to surf willow was annoyed she understood turf wars and the rosin that newbies got but hearing it firsthand kind of pissed her off it had been a long time since she had done anything like that but she was at a level that it didn’t have to be that way she respected Ashley and the way she had handled it it said a lot about her character at one a sh lee began to look at her watch damn I wanted to pick up a new suit before I went to work which kind were you going to get willow asked as they gathered their things to leave the patio restaurant they had chosen Ashley told her and willow made some recommendations explaining why she liked one over the other and not just because they were her sponsors she walked with Ashley who went back to the store they didn’t have one in her size and she ordered it and pulled out her credit card thanks for the help she told willow gratefully my pleasure say would you like to go to one of those parties she asked almost hesitantly it might be a lot of fun I don’t know I work most nights until 9:00 or 10:00 and I usually get to bed right away so I can be up to surf Ashley mused willow smiled she understood she really did that commitment that addiction was really familiar to her shrugging she pulled a paper out of her purse and wrote quickly well if you change your mind here is the number of where I am staying give me a call Ashley thanked her put in the number in her purse she signed the credit card slip for her wetsuit the store promised it would be in within a week and the two of them walked out of the store together nice cheap Willow commented when she saw what Ashley was driving thanks I’ve got to go Ashley said feeling suddenly awkward as she unlocked it and got in she didn’t notice willow watch her as Drive away as she went to her own Corvette and got in hello Ashley answered the page to the phone customers frequently called to ask questions some minor some major but if they asked for you by name you wanted to answer that as quickly and efficiently as you could you never knew if it was a big sale and where it could lead referrals made up a lot of a salespersons Commission is this Ashley the unfamiliar voice on the other end of the line asked yes this is Ashley she answered as she watched customers come in into the store sometimes being the first to greet a customer made for a sale later hi this is willow the voice replied Ashley blinked for a moment trying to think who willow might be as she was at work the name didn’t click right away you know from the beach willow said amused realizing that Ashley hadn’t put two and two together it wasn’t often the people inside the surf world didn’t remember her and this was a new experience for her it surprised her oh yeah right hello how are you she said confused and surprised at the call I’m good how are you willow asked still amused I’m good she answered hesitantly wondering why willow had called her hey a bunch of us are going to a party tonight and I was wondering if you would like to go since Ashley had already told her no earlier in the day she felt a little awkward saying it again what time she asked instead well you mentioned you’re not off until 9 or 10 let me pick you up afterwards willow offered I don’t know really I will probably be pretty tired she hedged not really in the partying mood her life consisted of work home and surfing pretty much a full occupation and she liked it that way come on all work and no play makes Ashley a dull girl willow teased Ashley laugh at the play on words she appreciated being asked but a few of the surfers that she knew on the beach were not people she wanted to hang out with socially some were nice people that she would have liked to have talked to that she hadn’t had the time she hesitated and then decided what the heck okay sure got a pen willow breathed an unconscious eye of relief Ashley was making it hard to get to know her Willa wasn’t sure if she wanted to just be Ashley’s friend or more but she wasn’t making it easy either way yeah go ahead she replied Ashley gave her the address of her town home and then directed her to Brockhurst and Adams in Huntington Beach since she knew Willa wasn’t from around here they agreed to meet at Ashley’s place around 10:00 and Ashley would call willow if she knew she was going to run later ashley was grateful that she got out shortly after 9:00 she was actually looking forward to the party now and was happy that willow had invited her she was surprised though Willa was famous in certain circles and what did Ashley have in common with the woman other than surfing she shrugged it never hurt to make friends as she got out of her Jeep at the carport and hurried along to her place she thought she should change out of her work clothes and into something more party like she knew she could go out in her slacks and blouse and be fine but she wanted to be more comfortable than this the doorbell rang promptly at 10:00 Ashley was surprised she rarely used her front door and only strangers used it she was ready to go though dressed in red jeans and a white blouse her hair brushed out and new makeup applied opening the door she was pleasantly surprised to see that Willa was wearing an almost identical outfit she started to laugh at the coincidence Willa looked at her in surprise great minds think alike should I change Ashley asked as she gestured willow to come inside only if you want to the blonde answered as she looked around at the bare furnishings I think I will if you don’t mind waiting a few minutes Ashley answered willow sat down on the couch and looked around there wasn’t a lot to see a small television set on a stand was across the room she had pictures around the place and on the mantel of the fireplace but other than that the place was not really decorated willow wondered at that as she listened to the slight noises coming from upstairs in no time at all Ashley was back downstairs in black slacks she had left the white blouse on and the combination was striking all set willow asked as she stood up yep ready to go Ashley answered as she grabbed her purse off the end of the stairs where it’s at Ashley was surprised to see the Corvette sitting in a parking spot for visitors nice car she breathed and willow smiled yeah it’s one of the perks when I’m over here on the mainland perks Ashley asked not understanding yeah my sponsors want to keep me happy so they throw in these perks whenever I travel she unlocked the door and Ashley got in the passenger seat of the low slung car nice she responded as she looked around at the rich interior mostly in black but the dash had a wood finish that gave off a glow they roared off down brookers toward PHC and then up PHC to the Main Street in Huntington Beach and off that to one of the many cottages that lined the side streets Ashley had wondered many times who lived in these little bungalows that had originally been built as vacation retreats but gradually rented out year round to people the party was obviously in full swing as the amount of people spilled out onto the front lawn and it looked like the back as well this is Shelby’s place willow told her as she stepped out of the expensive sports car as though Ashley would know who Shelby was they hadn’t stopped talking the whole ride over here it was nice and comfortable and Ashley was grateful that willow didn’t talk down to her instead treated her like an equal she understood really understood Ashley’s addiction to her chosen sport of surfing Willa was on a whole different level than people like Ashley and she shared her knowledge freely ashley almost regretted arriving at the party because it halted their interesting conversation people greeted willow whether they knew her or not most everyone here was involved in surfing in some way some surfed some observed some just hung out with them Willa was on enough covers to make everyone feel they knew her in some way many looked curiously at Ashley wondering who she was and what she was doing with willow someone handed them each a beer as they entered the bungalow willow popped hers and took a drink and Ashley watched wondering if she should refrain one of them should be able to drive she hesitated for a moment realizing that technically she was underage to be drinking but the look that willow threw her had her opening her own beer to take a sip she remembered that she only drank once in all her high school years and the taste hadn’t gotten any better hey hey and who is this a large blonde man with dreadlocks engulfed willow in a hug her beer splashed slightly as he juggled her she looked up and he leaned in for a kiss he seemed to prolong it long enough that Ashley wondered if she should amuse herself elsewhere but then they pulled away with a mutual smile and willow said she’ll be in genuine pleasure how the hell are you girl he smiled into light as he looked down on her releasing her from his bear hug I’m fair to middling she grinned as she stepped back and turned to include Ashley in their greeting and this is my friend Ashley she introduced her he held out his hand in a friendly way and Ashley tried to keep from staring he was probably the tannest man she had ever seen with blonde hair and brilliantly blue eyes attractive in his own way his dreadlocks were stereotypical of some of the surfers she had seen occasionally a group unto themselves hello Ashley welcome to my abode he grinned as he indicated the room at large they were standing in which was packed with people thank you she said politely and wondered if he knew all the people taking up space in his house it was a bit crowded so girl how long you gonna be on the mainland before you head back he turned back to willow to ask I’m not sure depends on when I’m ready she said vaguely he glanced at Ashley briefly but kept his attention on willow you should travel down the coast in New Mexico and further and try out the waves as you go maybe go over to Fiji or down under and catch a few she nodded as they discussed the various places both had been to what catched the waves around the world Ashley listened avidly heaven never heard anyone have a conversation so in depth about places and their waves what she had learned had been confined to magazines and it wasn’t the same as actually hearing it from people who had experienced it themselves you ever been surfing Ashley Shelby included her in the conversation I surf a little here in Huntington Beach she said quietly realizing that the two people before her were experts compared to her skills I don’t think I’ve ever seen you where do you hang he asked curious he checked her out without even moving his eyes from her face using his peripheral vision she was a good-looking chick but he was sure he would have seen her if she had been to any of the beaches he frequented right here by the pier she told him shyly that’s where I first saw her Willow said quietly but apparently the little she said told Shelby a lot more than Ashley heard he glanced at willow with a smile and nodded slightly they continued to talk about various places and waves and adventures they had they included Ashley as though she were an equal to their skills when they found she hadn’t been beyond Huntington Beach in her surfing endeavors they both encouraged her to try this Beach and that beach and then explained why the waves were better here than there for Ashley it was a experience and she enjoyed herself people came and went and joined in the conversation Ashley met a lot of people and heard a lot of surfing talk she found herself occasionally separated from willow and Shelby but she stayed in the same room or thought she did so you’re with willow a short brunette asked her as she said something a little stronger than beer as she looked at her curiously wondering what that meant there was an underlying hostility that she didn’t understand radiating from the brunette I came with her to the party she clarified I’m sure you’ll come with her later too the woman said snidely before walking abruptly away Ashley wondered what that was about having no idea are you here alone a male voice eventually asked her and she turned to see a well-built man she recognized from the beach I’m here with a friend she responded that’s cool I’m Nathan he held out his free hand that wasn’t holding a beer Ashley she returned as she shook his hand I’ve seen you on the beach haven’t I he asked squinting slightly as though remembering where he knew her from she nodded and said yes I’ve seen you there too she didn’t tell him he hung with a bunch of guys who had been rude about her joining the groups that surf near the pier yeah you’ve improved a lot he told her she realized he knew exactly who she was then some of the resentment she couldn’t help feeling bubbled up she had been polite to everyone despite the rising and rudeness his group had been particularly vicious towards her something on her face must have shown her displeasure because he held up his hands and surrender hey it wasn’t me some of my friends are jerks what can I say he grinned engaging Lane she calmed herself he had a point they were jerks she couldn’t hold it against one of them that they had all been jerks he was making an effort to be friendly now they began chatting and she found out he worked at Circuit City her competitor they had just recently moved into the Southern California market and were a big competitor for the federated group they had an interesting conversation and Ashley found she actually liked Nathan he was knowledgeable they a lot in common and he wasn’t being the jerk she assumed he would be would you like one he indicated the cigarette he had just pulled out of a case from his pocket only it wasn’t a cigarette as naive as Ashley really was even she realized this was a marijuana joint and she wanted none of it she was a straight-laced individual and didn’t want to get screwed up by pot besides it was bad enough she was sipping an illegal beer she didn’t need to get caught doing pot – no thanks she said politely but saw his disappointment hey you want to get another beer willow asked from her elbow and Ashley turned to her gratefully she had felt uncomfortable when Nathan pulled out the marijuana she didn’t care what others did but she wasn’t interested in smoking much less an illegal substance nice to meet you Nathan catch you later she said politely see you around Ashley he returned watching her thoughtfully as he dragged on his joint they walked a few feet away before willow asked you and a pot Ashley shook her head as she grinned wryly nope and I don’t intend to be either Willa laughed seeing her expression instead of a beer do you want to get out of here Ashley smiled I thought you’d never ask as she laughed in relief and they made their way towards the door it wasn’t as quick as either than would have liked far too many people wanted to say a passing word or two to willow and she was stopped repeatedly finally though they were outside and at the Corvette are you good to drive Ashley thought to ask willow smiled at her concern yeah I just sit the same beer the whole time we were in there she fished out the keys to the car and unlocked the doors it’s not a good idea to drink when you are an athlete she said as she slipped into the bucket seat and closed the door Ashley was relieved to be out of there though she had enjoyed some of it it really wasn’t her scene the loud music the pressing crowd she liked wide-open spaces the water with only you and your board that was for her did you enjoy yourself willow asked as she looked at Ashley with an eyebrow cocked I enjoyed some of it Ashley hedged not wanting to insult her new friend or her generosity and taking her to the party willow glanced at her amused as she drove carefully away from the crowded party the amount of cars made it a cautious endeavor some of those people’s are just jerks you got to shrug it off she advised I know but do they have to be such jerks about a newbie Ashley asked a little bit early willow shrugged as she expertly drove the sports car to PCH and turned left toward brookhurst some are some aren’t Ashley side that’s true of everyone and everything she said wisely they chatted about things other than surfing and found they both enjoyed horseback riding bicycling and gardening of all things they found they had a lot in common as willow drove her back to her townhome when do you have a day off willow asked Tuesday and Wednesday Ashley answered do you want to do something she asked surprised how hopeful she felt sounds good will you have your wetsuit by then you want to go surfing Ashley was a little disappointed they could do that all the time as willow pulled up at the curb she laughed at hearing the tone in Ashley’s voice and shook her head no silly I thought we might do something else fun but if you want to go surfing sometime together I’m sure we can Ashley was curious about what the something else fun was but refrained from asking as she reached for the handle call me and I’ll let you know okay willow nodded as she said bye and watched his ashley walked up to her gate and slipped inside with a little wave she drove off thoughtfully wondering if Ashley had a clue about her attraction willow would have been pleased to find that Ashley thought about her a lot over the next two days at work Ashley loved that she had a new friend and one who understood surfing just as much as she did she didn’t realize some of the feelings she was experiencing for her new friend weren’t just as a friend but as an attraction she was naive about her feelings as she had never even thought of being attracted to a woman instead she thought in terms of just being a good friend on Tuesday they went and borrowed a couple of waverunners willow offered to get a jetski but Ashley wasn’t sure she would be able to balance on a moving watercraft and didn’t want to drown she didn’t realize with the balance she had gotten from surfing she probably would be an excellent jetski rider they had a blast out in the bay down in Newport Beach before moving out into the ocean once Ashley felt confident enough on the wave runner during the second hour of being out in the ocean willows wave runner broke down shooting out great clumps of dark smoke and she had Ashley tow her end they took it back to friends of willows who had lent them to her and while her friends worked on the craft they went back out on the one that Ashley had been riding Ashley never realized how much willow liked putting her arms around her and holding on tight they laughed joyously as they rode the waves and splashed they switched off after a while and Willow enjoyed the fact that Ashley had to hang on to her let’s go out to eat she enthused as they returned the craft to willows friends who had the first one fixed already willow talked with them awhile and Ashley got to know a couple of the people not realizing who these people who were friends with willow could possibly be you had no idea those people are the movers and shakers in the sports world did you willow asked later as they ate salads at one of the many restaurants on PCH in Newport Beach Ashley shook her head as she took a sip of her iced tea how would I know unless you told me willow had to concede that Ashley had a point how would she know indeed they had a lot to chat about as they got to know each other better on Wednesday they went horseback riding out in Corona the high hills were slowly filling with housing developments and they both lamented this fact fortunately they could escape it by riding deep into the hills and enjoying themselves and their easy conversation on the drive home this time they were in Ashley’s Jeep she casually said I’m so glad I met you willow I haven’t had this much fun in a while willow smiled her million watt smile the one that’s old tanning oil to strangers I’m glad too today was great they had both enjoyed the horses the dust and the solace of being alone together in the back Hills hello willow answered the phone the hotel had transferred it up to her room the Hyatt you’re staying at the Hyatt an unfamiliar voice came across the line willow frowned trying to place the voice since they hadn’t introduced themselves Ashley yeah it’s me I’m calling from work we are kind of slow here so I thought I’d ask you to dinner I’m off at 6:00 tonight that sounds good where do you want to go Willow was thrilled that Ashley was calling her for a change for most of their friendship she had been the one calling Ashley how about the sizzler over by the freeway Ashley asked it wasn’t fancy but it was comfortable and had a variety of buffet style food seafood and steak willow smiled you’re going to kill my training diet Ashley was immediately contrite and then narrowed her eyes you don’t have to have a steak they have plenty of salad soup and vegetables Willa laughed there’s no fooling you see you at 6:30 dinner became a fairly regular thing between the two new friends although it was difficult with Ashley’s schedule it also became expensive so she began to cook for willow occasionally you know I don’t cook for just anyone she told her new friend as I sat in her house looking out over the patio she had explained that she didn’t have the time or desired to furnish her townhome to extensively yet since she had bought it willow found it cute that four surfboards were the main furnishings of the wall near the kitchen it’s a lot like my place in Hawaii although I keep my surfboards outside she said with a smile as she ate a delicious fruit and lettuce salad with jello Ashley smiled I didn’t want to take the chance that someone came on my patio and stole them she laughed at the sight of the surfboards leaning against her wall willow nodded she of all people understood and could relate where are we going Ashley asked as willow drove her into Newport Beach on road she was unfamiliar with it’s a surprise willow said as she expertly drove the souped-up sports car Ashley enjoyed the anticipation and looked around interested at the scenery what she could see if the house is behind tall walls was fascinating how the other half lived as it were these houses were very expensive and she wondered why there were nice houses in Huntington Beach not nearly as expensive as Newport Beach it must all be in the name having the prestige of living in this exclusive enclave willow drove the car down an incline that took them around the Back Bay and below the bluffs were million-dollar homes sat perched waiting for the next storm to bring a hillside down fortunately some had been there many years and the mud wasn’t going anywhere soon where are we Ashley said looking around astonished at this swamp this foliage existed within the exclusive community it’s called the Back Bay haven’t you ever been here before willow glanced over slowing down for a jogger along the side the whole Road was one-way she didn’t have to worry about traffic coming against her going the opposite way Ashley shook her head as she looked around at the many aquatic birds that were on the water the mud or in the air a dirt flat was the parking area and the two of them got out to take a walk Ashley followed willow who seemed to know where she was going as she crossed the road taking a bag from her jacket pocket she sat down along a small pond the ducks and geese immediately began to move towards her hopefully Ashley sat down next to her she watched astonished as the birds came right up to their feet as willow through a scattering of breadcrumbs to them offering Ashley the bag she chew through crumbs to the delighted birds they laughed as the birds jockeying for position and setup noise that was almost deafening making sure they weren’t missed in their desire for this treat god it’s beautiful here willow leaned back after they had gotten rid of all the breadcrumbs and the birds subsided disappointed that there wasn’t an endless supply a few still hopeful and stubborn key stood around near them I and them suspect lay Ashley watch them equally suspicious not trusting their beady gazes as they watched each other intently Ashley sighed agreeing with her it sure is how in the world did you find this place willow smiled I have friends all over and someone showed me this place as I am showing you she looked over and thought how pretty ashley looked impulsively she leaned over and brushed her lips against Ashley’s Ashley pulled back surprised and stared horrified at willow her hand rose to touch her lips they tinkled actually tingled why did you do that willow sighed disappointed I’m sorry I acted on impulse and I can see you aren’t interested she looked away at the Setting Sun deeply saddened that her attraction was for nothing she liked Ashley really liked her but wanted more than just friendship Ashley was confused had she read something wrong she thought they were just friends she had never considered that willow might think more of their friendship I don’t know how I feel she said wondering lay when willow turned to look at her she could see the hurt in her friend’s eyes I never thought about this she said honestly her fingers were still at her mouth touching wonderingly I’m sorry willow repeated I thought you knew I was gay Ashley shook her head she had no inkling she had never even thought about willow in that way to her it had just been a good friendship nothing more is that what this has all been about she realized all the times they had been out could have been misconstrued we’ve been dating the horrified tone and her voice was still there willow gazed at her for a while before looking away no not all of it was dating but I thought you realized my interest was more than friendship it’s okay she shrugged as though she didn’t care but she did care a lot we can still be friends can’t we she turned to look back at Ashley hopefully Ashley nodded dumbly you had never thought about the situation for herself but some of the things people had said to her began to make sense now the girl at the party for instance the looks they had received when they were out she looked at willow a little differently now wondering if this was what a gay person looked like she saw instead a sculpted physically fit body a beautiful woman who could have graced any man’s arm instead she chose to be with women or as rumor had it gay people were born that way it gave Ashley a lot to think about you have been 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