Sam had thought he'd found the perfect California girl in Jess - blonde, tan, skin full of sun and sand, smile a flash too white.
But Jess, who had, red cheeked and tipsy, dragged him away from their first party together, Jess was really Jessica Brewster Moore.
Brewster for the family of her father's mother - straight backs and brows stretching back to the Mayflower.
"Old New England money," Geoff told him conspiratorially, popping his collar for emphasis.
"Hey Jess," he shouted, "you ever use 'summer' as a verb?"
She only blushed hotly and fingered the charm she wore around her neck. Sam wondered if it had winked from some woman's throat when California had been little more than a cow town and the Atlantic yawned with British ships.
Her family lived in New Hampshire, but her father was from Massachusetts. He'd sent her to his alma mater for boarding school, walking the same grounds as two presidents, George Washington's nephews, and a literary luminary or ten.
Sam squinted at the sprawling green campus when she took him around for an alumni event, some smoky blue Massachusetts mountain visible from the meticulously groomed vista, square Georgian architecture all around, leaves a fresh ludicrous green against the tile blue New England sky.
She caught his arm when he made to collapse on the lawn.
"We're not supposed to walk on the grass, dumbass. The one thing they beat into us."
"How do they get all those catalogue pictures then?"
Jess grinned at him with her little pearl teeth, matching the ones strung around her neck. She was wearing a filmy white lawn dress, lace edging the brown edge of collarbone, breezily skimming her long thighs. He was drawn the dip of her lower spine under the thin material, cut near translucent by the arc of the light, thought about cupping the roundness so sweetly presented.
She followed his gaze lazily, turning his cheek with long fingers, drawing him into a firm kiss.
She looked comfortable here, glowing under the sunlight, some natural straightness returned to her spine, the studied California slouch all but gone. He'd seen the other blonde girls around here, slim and perfectly tanned, pearls and Lacoste, small, high breasts riding under a sense of bored entitlement that couldn't quite be learned.
Jess had told him about the boys breaking out cigars at commencement - and they really did call it commencement, these gangly high school kids. Tall boys with Nantucket red - pink, said Sam, you can't call it red - shorts and boat shoes, floppy hair curling out from under wornbackwards baseball caps, narrow shoulders wearing their suit jackets with too much slickness. He could imagine the smoke curling into the hot blue sky, old money and newer straining for the pretense.
He knocked her to the grass quick, something in him grinning at the thought of a raw green scrape on her white dress, and she followed him down, laughing sharp into the dizzy summer air.
Her dress rode up a little, and he could see the shadow where her legs met, tempting beneath the thin material of her panties, a dirty thing for him against the too green grass and her smooth tan. His fingers itched to run themselves down her spine, curl beneath her ass, lift it, make her squeal. He imagined holding her open, finger fucking her right on that fancy lawn, brushing her reddened cheeks with his damp fingertips afterwards, grinned at the thought, but Jess caught him again, too quick.
"Sam, there are high school kids walking around. Jesus." She laughed beneath him.
"Probably too busy doing coke in their dorm rooms."
"It's summer, you idiot."
"Then what kids?"
She stretched up to nip at his neck in response, long fingers parting his crisp white collar.
He was in costume too, a blue Argyle sweater he'd gotten during orientation week, stretching across his shoulders to pool at his hips, the shirttails peaking out white underneath. It itched under the sun, made him feel silly, but Jess had deemed it adorable, called it their Gatsby outing and insisted.
He flopped against her ribs when she turned over onto her stomach, slanting his eyes against the sunlight and the white columns around them. The lace of the dress was soft against his cheek, cool and elegant.
He caught the motion of her hand curling through the lazy sweep of his own lashes, her breath falling softly beneath his sprawl.
She'd painted her nails a dark, daring mauve. It belonged with her punk T-shirts and chunky local jewelry, not her mother's pearls and that slim, flouncing dress, her delicate flats, New England plain and still worth more than his wardrobe.
He stretched, smiling.
Jess' mother has pearls that dot her ears and glow from the even tan of her throat. Sam can hear the sea right outside, dark, spitting Atlantic tamed blue today by a hot, Massachusetts sky, but Jess' father doesn't seem to unbend even in linen and cool, salt air.
Her brother is still away at school, blue jacket and khakis winking blandly from the photos, one pale hand slung casually in the slatted pockets. Her sister is getting married in London the next month. Very successful young man, remarks Jess' father, nothing in his voice and everything in his eyes.
Go, chatter his teeth, the back of his neck that itches beneath the nice shirt and veiled, polite gazes. Go, go. His hands, brown and scarred, want a knife, his legs, always too long, the cramp of a car, road wind and engine roar. His mouth, his eyes - they want everything that matters.
Then Jess' mouth stretches sweet for him, unvarnished and nervous herself, so Sam smiles for them, his lips shaping weighty things, a bright future and a learned place to placate the old men frowning from the walls and the ease with which they wear their skin.
"Kansas," Jess says it like a joke, but a gentle one, less of an edge to her voice than when her father repeated it, so delicately, so fine a cut, or her friends from prep school when they visited.
She makes it soft, because the heat breaks early in New England, and the open windows now seem luxurious instead of elegant, wide glass panes thin against the dark heave of the night beyond them, sea and shore left only in the echo of his eye's sunlit memory. The salt's still on the air, heavy. It makes them draw close, remembering the warmth of the day, the way lemon sunlight played on their skin, lit them up.
"All your summers, huh?" He thumbs Jess' collarbone, naked because her dress is rucked sideways.
"Most of them," she allows, and her room looks it, the room of a girl, of someone who's been here for years. The walls are some tasteful pastel, not a curtain out of place in the design, but scattered with the usual detritus of Jess' habits, books yawning open on the floor with wide, finger softened pages, the scars of pencils and old sighs, thrown further by the breeze. There are shiny spines, new things her father wouldn't approve of, popular trash, and others, worn almost completely white from use. A few are leathered, bound not in this century, and Sam can imagine his father's rough fingers on those, or Dean's curled in put upon misery.
When he mouths her jaw, she tastes like the sea, of clean sunlight and salt, just a little sweat beneath it, no perfumes because Jess doesn't like them. She's not wearing a bra, breasts ripe beneath the thin material, pale shift of a tan line when he slips the wide strap of her summer dress over one shoulder, reddened from the beach, a stray freckle or two. The soft skin beneath smells like body and girl, strong in his mouth and sweet because he's sentimental. She's silent above him, not typical of her, lashes sweeping her cheeks so she can just enjoy the moment.
There are so many things here, in this elegant house and this elegant coast, that he doesn't recognize, but he's been invited here, in her home for the first time, in her room for the first time, like high school sweethearts in a nervous tangle, and if nothing else, he knows the soft, warm dips of a shared bed, bodies curled around each other in sudden summer cool, bumping companionably for warmth. He closes his eyes too, breathes her in, breathes the sea in, and remembers more than just the sunlight.