Marti turned away so she wouldn’t see his body as he stood. She looked toward the street and saw a half-dressed kid go by on a bicycle. Looks like hometown USA. Standing to get a better look at the neighborhood, she saw a naked older man walking his dog. Well, that’s anti-climactic, she thought giggling to herself.
"Penny for your thoughts," Chuck said handing her a glass of wine.
"Oh, it’s silly. It was just a surprise to see a naked man walking his dog."
Leaning next to her, Chuck glanced out the window, "That’s Walt, he’s a die-hard naturist."
Marti could feel Chuck’s heat from the closeness of their bodies. She instinctively drew back just a little giving him more space. The scent of his skin lingered like the smell of the sea.
"How long did it take for you to adapt?" asked Marti shaking her head as Walt disappeared.
"It wasn’t important to me. I moved a lot in the military. Nudity is not a big deal in Germany where I was stationed for a year. I got used to it then."
"My Dad said the same thing. He was overseas where all the men showered outdoors."
"I flew helicopters for the Army."
Marti smiled. "And, that’s what you do today?"
"No, I made a career of the military. Joined right out of school, put in my 20 and walked away. I rarely fly anymore – I work on aircraft now."
"And you’re a handyman. Shirley raved about how you helped her modify this home."
"Yeah, I like to work with my hands."
Their conversation was interrupted by Shirley’s call to dinner and the guests migrated to the front patio where tables were set with china and candles. Dusk had softened the sky just as the wine had relaxed Marti. Filling her plate, she sat at the long table to talk to other guests over dinner. Chuck set his plate right across from her but walked away for a moment. Marti took a deep breath and reminded herself, Learn as much as you can about this place.
She had just speared her broccoli when Chuck returned setting a fresh glass of wine by her plate. "Cheers," he said lifting his beer in a toast. Nodding her thanks, she sipped the wine. You’ll lose your objectivity if you get snockered. Pace yourself.
Just then a warm hand touched her shoulder. Aunt Shirley leaned down to whisper, "Are you having a good time?"
"Lovely," Marti said smiling up at her aunt. Shirley looked radiant tonight in a loosely woven yellow dress that showed glimpses of skin when she moved. "It’s a beautiful evening."
Disrupting their conversation, Charlene took a seat by Chuck announcing herself to everyone. "Mind if I join you?" she chattered as she scooted into the table. Of course she was dressed to the nines with a sheer sarong and matching sandals. Marti could smell her across the table.
Giving a secret smile to Chuck, Marti dived into her food. She listened carefully as Charlene made conversation with everyone. "I’m so frustrated with that Rev. Serino down the street. He actually filed a complaint that our privacy fence does not meet county code."
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