Kathryn had been sleeping in her queen bed when she heard the boys return. She called them boys but they were already twenty-two, each heading into their second senior year at Emory and hardly children. Not that Kathryn hadn’t noticed. She’d noticed. The cool of the linen sheets felt nice against her skin as Kathryn listened to the boys banging open the front door and laughing at their state of hammered bliss.

“What the F, dude. Shhh.”

After rolling onto her back, Kathryn considered whether or not she should come out and turn on the lights. Candy had left Miles and his friend Devin in Kathryn’s care while Candy took her new boyfriend (a washed-up rock-star drummer from an ’80s hair band), Greg, to Iceland. Both women had decided to divorce at the same time, but only Kathryn had decided to move herself and the girls out of Calabasas, closer to the beach at Paradise Cove. But she didn’t want to crowd them. And she especially didn’t want to come out in her robe. After that awful date with the “yes, I told you we’re going to get separated” dentist, Kathryn didn’t want to be anyone’s mother that night. She wanted to be in there with them, bashing around in the dark, loaded out of her mind. One of the drunken boys smashed against a couch or large piece of furniture.

“What are you, man? Shit. It’s like careful.”

“I know, brah. It’s careful. I’m careful.”

“You’re a moron, Devin,” said Miles.

“Man, stop with the names. You’ll hurt my feelings. I’m very sensitive.”

Miles and Devin burst into laughter and then made their way into the guest room, where she could hear sporadic laughter until they passed out. The silence left in their wake filled Kathryn’s bedroom. It made her lonelier and she listened to the waves below, trying to keep her eyes closed to encourage boredom and sleep. After half an hour Kathryn masturbated, thinking about good sex with Jack, her first ex-husband, and got herself back to sleep.


The neighbors were already barbecuing when Miles and Devin got up. For fear of the boys walking in on her session, Kathryn had canceled her Pilates instructor and spent most of the morning journaling and watching the ocean waves out at the small garden left by the previous owners. With both girls gone now (Kirstin living in New York doing God-knows-what with her Tisch theater-friends and Tess being a political advocate [aka a sophomore] up at UC Santa Cruz), Kathryn was happy for the company. While she had enjoyed having Domingo come up from the flats of Beverly Hills to design her “little beach bungalow” (calming tones with a flair of Charlie’s Angels was Kathryn’s design wish), Kathryn hadn’t had the heart to remove the handmade, shell-stuck, concrete pavers and succulent draught-garden that overlooked the cove. She’d only added a couple sandblasted white Adirondack chairs and a driftwood table to the garden. Kathryn tried to spend time out there because it always made her feel happy. Ironic, she thought, that her favorite spot wasn’t the perfect interior that Domingo and all of Judd’s divorce money had made.

While she sometimes avoided makeup at home, Kathryn put on a blushed and pretty face for the boys, just as she had each day since Candy had dropped them off. While Kathryn would admit to having a little Botox on occasion, the truth of the matter was that starting with her breasts back in Calabasas, she’d had almost everything done: tummy tuck, two breast augmentations, liposuction of her hips and butt, neck lift, eye touch-up, inner-mouth facelift, Restylane injections, more peels than a hundred lemons, monthly facials, and Botox injections every four months. But she looked good. In certain light dimpling and puckering could be apparent, but Kathryn knew how to present herself. Bare-chested and wearing only boardies, the boys came out to eat some breakfast. Kathryn had already driven north to pick up some cold Italian subs and assorted muffins from Malibu Ranch Market.

“Shall I make some coffee?”

“Yes, please, Mrs. Saunders.”

“Seriously? Miles, tell Devin my name.”

“It’s Kathryn, or Kat if she likes you.”

“Sorry, Kat,” said Devin with an impish grin.

“So it’s like that, is it? I got you boys some food up at the Ranch. It’s a pretty day. Maybe you should go up to El Matador. I love that beach.”

“Nice idea,” said Miles, genuinely inspired.

“Well, thank you. I like to be of service.”

“No offense, Kat, but, Devin,” said Miles, “you’ll love it. They have these photo shoots down there. Naked, topless models. It’s epic.”

Kathryn loaded up the espresso maker while Miles squinted at the ocean and Devin stretched. After a particularly large yawn, Kathryn turned around and shook her head.

“You lads go out to Moonshadows again last night?”

“Did we ever. Sorry if we were banging around last night. We kept waiting for our Uber, and then we’d go back inside to grab another beer. I don’t know. We must have missed each other six times. It was insane,” said Devin.

Miles was texting on his phone, not really listening. After frothing the milk, Kathryn brought over the espresso and steamed milk to Devin.  She set it down beside him and stood a little bit too close for a little bit too long.

“You want something more? Hot water?”

“No, thank you. It’s awesome…Kat.”

“Glad you approve, Devin,” said Kathryn.


After they left Kathryn went down to have a swim in the ocean. She kept thinking about Devin with his 1970s blond hair that reminded her of Ed, her first sweetheart. Yes, he is the reincarnation of Ed, even though actual Ed was alive and well, living in Boston. Kathryn knew she and Devin had had a moment. His eyes and her eyes had sparked. He wasn’t like Miles, who was something of a self-involved, valley-boy punk. She’d always been glad Kirstin hadn’t taken to Miles when they started hanging out a few years back. But this Devin, he was something else. A sensitive, well-mannered boy who appreciated what a wiser, older woman had to offer.

Jogging down the steps onto the beach, Kathryn passed the crowds sunning themselves out on the yellow, stuffed recliners. A few of her neighbors were having cocktails at the café and had asked her over to share one, but she wanted to wait until later. Removing her cotton wrap, letting it drop onto the sand, she leapt into the ocean. With every glide of her arm into the water, she thought of him. She thought of how his firm, young body would feel.

Intoxication and speed came into her, and she kept sucking in salt water and coughing. She had a vision of them walking along the beach late at night and stopping and falling onto the ground. She thought about the blowjob she would give him and how he would be amazed what could be done to him. And she blushed. Catching hold of herself, Kathryn insisted she wasn’t that kind of woman. She would find a suitable man, a man in his fifties or sixties who reminded her of what she’d wanted young Ed to become. She was not the corrupter of youth. No matter how badly that youth wanted to be corrupted. She came out of the water and grabbed her wrap.

Walking up the steps back to the mobile home park, her hair wet and salty, Kathryn smelled cigarettes burning. It surprised her. A group of high-school-age kids, kids of the wrong demographic for this area, were all sitting around chatting. She smiled at them as she passed but it made her nervous. A lightness came into her step, and she was glad to be inside her house when she arrived.

She didn’t lock the door because she never locked the door. And as Kathryn showered, she felt vulnerable and aware of her nakedness. A sound, subtle but clear, came from the kitchen, and she sensed someone in the house. But she refused to leave the shower because of fear. The shower turned off, she wrapped herself in the oversize, powder-blue towel. Her tan skin marking contrast with the towel, Kathryn came into the living room. There, a glimpse: she gasped. Her mind first computed: They’re here. They broke in. But then she comprehended it was the boy, wearing only his board shorts, his blond Jesus hair hanging down around his distracted, hang-dog face.

It was a well-played-out moment. One she had personally starred in a few dozen times. One she imagined even Devin had at least auditioned for in the past. But instead of the towel tumbling from her body, she stood before Devin, her body wet and slick, waiting for her cue. But the boy, with his torso and blond, wild hair, seemed engrossed by his phone. He kept texting as though she was not the goddess of his dreams; not the sage woman of limber, slender thighs; not the muse of the upcoming debauchery. He glanced at her and his eyes didn’t register her standing there. Kathryn felt unseen.

“Oh,” said Kathryn. “I thought you were those kids.”

“Miles is hooking up with a girl. Super lame. I just decided to come back here. Is that cool?”

“Sure. Of course it is.”

Devin kept texting on his phone. Perhaps her nakedness had become maternal or, worse yet, vulgar. Her clavicle and armpits felt bulky, exposed, and Kathryn walked back toward her bedroom.

“I’ll be in the shower. If you want to join me,” she said.

And she dropped her towel. She imagined his eyes watching her long, tan legs and the white of her bikini bottom. And then she waited in the shower. She touched herself and imagined him joining her in the shower. Yet it surprised her when she felt him enter the bathroom.

“Do you want to come in?” she said.

Devin opened the shower door. She could feel his naked body watching her naked body. She kept her back to him, already close to orgasm at the thought of what she had done. He touched her breasts first. And she took his cock into her hand and held it gently. He was so much harder than the men her age. The whole exchange of rubbing and sucking and cum lasted for about ten minutes or less. They hadn’t kissed mouths. That felt uncomfortable. And then Devin was gone and she got dressed.

Later that night in bed, she touched herself again and thought about Devin’s chest. She felt the strength of his thighs and the hard of his penis. And she orgasmed again. But then the remorse arrived. What would Candy think? Devin would tell Miles and Candy would feel so betrayed. This boy was the age of her own daughters. At that point Kathryn couldn’t sleep. She could only think of Candy staring at her. Candy’s expression of disappointment and disgust made her feel so ashamed. And she guessed it was right for her to be shamed. It hadn’t been Miles but Candy would be right to be upset.

In the afternoon, though, when the boys got up, Kathryn knew Devin had not told Miles anything. Miles plopped around in his board shorts, drinking espresso and gazing at his phone. They were packing their duffel bags to go back to Candy’s house. And Devin would not even look at Kathryn. This event between them would be their secret. He would never tell on her, at least not until he fell in love with some woman years from then.

“I fucked a woman as old as my mom once.”

“You did not,” she would say while giggling.

“No, really—I did. This wasn’t like last week. I was young. Like still in college. And she was kinda hot. I mean in that Malibu Jennifer Aniston kind of way. I mean not Jennifer Aniston but she looked good. It was crazy. I don’t know why I did it.”

Standing at the threshold, waving to Candy and the boys, Kathryn felt her age. She felt not the age within her spirit, but the age of her skin and muscles and bones. There was much one could do to appear youthful, but one cannot not be the age of her own cells. Kathryn didn’t want to be a cougar. She told herself she hadn’t made Devin do it. She had certainly given him his chance to avoid her if he’d wanted to do that. But she had wanted that taste of youth one more time, and she wondered if she really had given Devin much of a choice. Men her age did this kind of thing all the time. Men who didn’t look as good as she did. But in all of it, she didn’t like the boy needing to look away from her. She didn’t know what that made her. She remembered feeling that same way after sex with older men when she was in her early twenties. The forced, casual way she’d put back on her “walk of shame” clothes and leave to get coffee with her girlfriends. Kathryn remembered how disposable that sex could make her feel. And she wanted to tell Devin she hadn’t meant it that way—that she found him a beautiful boy. But she wasn’t sure that would be the complete truth either.

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