When young Stedman graduates from college, he decides to spend the summer in Carmel-by-the-Sea, California. He wants to take a well-deserved break from studying, he needs to face his dreaded fear of water, and he's desperate to work on overcoming a sexual phobia he can't explain to anyone. It's such a ridiculous phobia he can't stop thinking about it. More
Stedman desperately wanted to be like those smooth, easy bottom guys in the porno flicks. (What was their secret?) He wanted to smile and spread his legs wide like they did, so hot guys with big cocks would moan and pant while they slid their dicks in and out of his ass with no difficulty at all. But more than that, he wanted to know what it felt like to climax with a huge erection buried deeply in his body.
He wanted this just as much as he wanted to feel comfortable around water. His problem with water wasn't quite as extreme as his problem with anal sex. He didn't think about swimming all the time - if he never stepped foot in a body of water again, he could have lived a perfectly normal life. It's just that when he looked out at the ocean in Maine, his breathing relaxed and he smiled; he felt a sense of connection and peace that he never felt anywhere else. When he crossed a large bridge and looked down below at a river flowing gently beneath him, his body went limp and he had to grip the steering wheel and force himself to pay attention to the road instead of the water. All he wanted to do was sit on a rock and watch the currents slip by; it was this love of water that made him want to conquer his fear.
When Stedman was seven years old, during his first swimming lesson, the instructor told him to jump off the diving board into nine feet of water. He stood on the edge of the board and jumped into the swimming pool without giving it a second thought. But when he hit the water and it occurred to him that he couldn't actually touch the bottom of the pool, his heart began to race, his arms and legs flew in all directions, and he felt as if he was going to die. Though his heart was ready to jump out of his small chest, he held his breath and managed to rise to the surface. Then he swam to the edge of the pool without anyone knowing what had happened. And from that day on, he never went into a body of water again that was deeper than a bathtub.
But he was determined to overcome his fears. So after a detour in Vegas, Stedman drove straight through to Carmel-by-the-Sea. It took over eight hours, but when he finally reached the city limits, he forgot about how stiff his legs were. When he drove onto Mission Street for the first time, things seemed different there than back east; he leaned forward and pressed his fingertips to his bottom lip. He drove past a stone cottage with a steep roof that was surrounded by a colorful English garden. Not far from the cottage, he passed a mission-style structure with a terracotta roof that looked ancient. Each building, from private homes to retail establishments, seemed to take on a whimsical feeling - the colors were brighter and more vibrant than other places; people seemed to take creative chances with gardens and shrubbery. The sidewalks were stippled with casually dressed people walking dogs while signs outside the Inns and hotels read "Pets Welcome." When he stopped at the end of a street, a woman walking three Scotties smiled and nodded at him as she crossed. He smiled back and took a deep breath - you could smell the ocean in the fresh, salty breeze. It seeped into the car and welcomed you to Carmel without warning.
The place his friend had rented for them wasn't a small condo at all. He sat back and stared when he pulled up to a small wooden cottage at the edge of town, with a steep cedar shake roof that formed a tall, dramatic A-frame. Lofty redwood trees surrounded it and there were no neighbors. When he stepped onto the wooden deck that surrounded the cottage, he stared at the oval-topped door. It looked as if it had been handmade in the Middle Ages, with large planks of dark pine that had aged to a shade of deep gray over the years. He searched the frame for a doorbell, and then he knocked three times. His friend from school shouted, "C'mon in. The door's open."
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