In the beachside suburb of Morton Sands, eighteen year old Melissa Keating slipped a white tee-shirt over her sky-blue bikini, which revealed considerably more of her tanned body than it concealed, and pulled on a pair of white shorts as she prepared to join her friends on the beach, for the last party of the summer before classes started at City University.
If her father hadn’t been home, Melissa would have put the tee-shirt into her sling bag, for when it cooled down later in the evening, but having no desire for another fight with him over her dress sense, or lack of it as he saw it, she’d settled on wearing the tee-shirt and shorts as the better option.
‘How do I look?’ Melissa asked, as she walked into the kitchen, where Gayle Keating was preparing the evening meal.
‘Irresistible!’ said her mother. ‘I bet young Darren won’t be able to keep his eyes off you.’
‘It’s not his eyes I have to worry about these days, Mum.’
‘Men! They’re all the bloody same. Even your father, when he was younger. I had to fight him off with a stick.’
‘God, I hope all boys don’t turn into grumpy old men when they get older.’
Mrs Keating glanced in the direction of the family room, where her husband was getting his nightly update on the state of the world, to ensure he wasn’t listening to their conversation.
‘He’s not so grumpy when he wants a bit. Still can’t keep his hands to himself.’
‘What’s all that giggling about?’
‘Go back to your news, honey. Just a bit of girl talk.’
Mrs Keating ushered her daughter towards the back door, away from the family room where her husband sat in front of the TV.
‘What time do you think you’ll be home?’
‘Darren has to work in the morning, so we shouldn’t be too late. Around ten, I’d say.’
‘Got your phone?’
Melissa held up her sling bag. ‘And another top in case it gets cold.’
A dark shape appeared through the frosted glass pane in the back door as the sound of someone tapping on the glass attracted their attention. Punctuality was one of the many things Melissa liked about Darren.
‘Evening, Mrs Keating,’ said Darren, when Melissa opened the door.
‘Ooh, don’t you look spiffy. I thought it was a beach party?’ said Mrs Keating.
‘That doesn’t mean a guy has to turn up half naked, does it?’
‘What’s this about being half naked?’ said Mr Keating, walking up behind his wife.
‘Hello, Mr Keating,’ said Darren.
‘Well, it’s obviously not you.’
‘Not yet, Mr Keating. My mother says a gentleman has to keep his clothes on until he gets to the beach.’
‘Are you trying to convince me that you’re a gentleman, Darren?’
‘Keith, leave the boy alone.’
Mr Keating put his arm around his wife’s waist and nuzzled the back of her neck. ‘Have a good time, and don’t be getting home too late, missy. I’d like to be asleep before midnight.’
‘We should be back around ten, Mr Keating, I have to be at work at six.’
The Keatings watched their only child leave arm in arm with Darren, who had been her boyfriend since she had turned sixteen.
‘He’s a nice kid that Darren,’ said Mr Keating, as his wife closed the back door to stop the cool air from the air conditioner spilling out of the house.
to be continued…