Same Time Next Year

April. It's the month when showers bring spring showers. It's also the month that the Hillandale Country Club holds their annual father-daughter dance. It's a tradition that goes back to the club's founding over a century ago.

Linette always looks forward to them. She did as a little girl and she does now as a career woman of twenty-four. The once little girl in long pigtails is now tall and athletic, tall enough and strong enough to row for a local sculling team called the Hornets. She does it partly to keep in shape and partly because it makes her dad beam with pride. Drake rowed for Boston College and still, in his spare time, rents a shell in the inner harbor, sometimes by himself, other times with Linette.

She and Drake have always been close. Linette was his first born, arriving four years ahead of Edward. Daddy's girl might be a cliché but the label fit their relationship from the start. Linette and Drake are close enough to where they can be alone in the same room and sense each other's thoughts without saying anything. As in any relationship, what's left unsaid often carries more import than what is. Linette wonders if what she's been feeling since she was a teen will ever be expressed—and if so, who will make the first move. She and Drake share the same shade of eye color, bluish gray, and she's lost count of all those dinners where their eyes met over the table, seemingly expressing the same thing, while their voices remained silent.

The serious flirtations began when she turned eighteen. 'I've got one handsome daddy,' she'd say, and 'I've got one pretty daughter,' he'd say. Plenty of dads and daughters say such things, words of endearment meant to make the other feel good, not, good heavens, to seduce. All innocent, right? Yes, in most cases. But what about that time when Linette caught him naked in the bathroom, staring at his cock and grinning? And what about that time when they were alone in the house, and he caught her changing in her bedroom, not bothering to close the door when he happened by in the hall? And then there are those father-daughter dances at the Hillandale. Every year he finds it more difficult to hold back his feelings. Last April, during one of the slow numbers, he found himself grinding his pelvis against hers. They both quickly pulled away after becoming aware that people were staring. 'Sorry I got carried away in there,' he said on the way home. 'My fault as well as yours,' she answered. Nothing else was said, which upped the tension even more.

Moments later, she opens the door to her apartment, sees Drake sanding there in his light blue blazer and khaki pants, all six-foot four of him, his wavy hair nearly parted in the middle. From his gleeful expression, it's obvious he's impressed with what he sees. "You look great!"

"I see. Nice. Even your waves have waves." Her normally straight brown tresses drop just below her shoulders in successive waves. "Pretty dress also."

Per his advice, she drapes a yellow sweater around her bare shoulders and then follows him out to his white Chrysler 300, sitting on the lot in the descending darkness. Before getting in, she says, "You're growing a beard, aren't you?"

"You'd look great with a beard, dad."

"Definitely. It will bring out more of the Viking in you."

The Viking, she notices, is stealing glimpses of her legs as he drives the dozen or so miles to the Hillandale—a creepy thing to most women in this situation, she surmises, but a turn-on for her. She gazes out the window, giddy with anticipation.

"We're still among the tallest couples here," Linette says, as she and Drake enter the Hillandale ballroom, arm in arm. In heels, she's close to six-feet. She can't help but think that they're distinguished in another way that she's still not inclined to mention.

"Ah, here we are," Linette says, spotting their names on a table about ten yards from the bandstand.

"You think it goes fast now," Drake says, "wait until you two are our age. Right Darryl?"

"I like your dress," Cassie tells Linette.

Small talk fills the air as the minutes pass, as more couples file in. Golf scores, the economy, politics, media gossip, jobs—they're all fair game for this round table of "successful" men and their daughters enjoying this traditional night out. Waiters in dark jackets serve a generous salad, followed by a surf and turf meal of chicken and crab cakes, sides of asparagus, zucchini and backed potato. The champagne flows and after an ice cream with coffee dessert, the five-piece band begins to play.

"Someday, when I'm awfully low, when the world is cold," the tall, gray-haired, fifty-something male singer croons.

He nods. "Who could forget? Guess they thought we were indecent." He shakes his head and chuckles.

But then: "Frankly, I didn't think so, although I can see where others might. I mean, we're dad and daughter, not man and wife."

"With each word, your tenderness grows, tearin' my fear apart..."

She looks up at him and blinks. "Yes, and I'd love for you to push it with me."

They've got their arms wrapped around each other, chest to chest, pelvis to pelvis. "Yes, like that." She drops a tear, singing the last few lyrics of the song. "Won't you please arrange it, 'cause I love you, just the way you look tonight." She bends her left leg backward at a ninety-degree angle, then gives him a quick kiss on the mouth.

"I guess your dad saw it, too. Did he comment?"

They take two of the three stalls, and when Linette slips down her panties, she notices the stain in the crotch. No surprise, she was getting awfully hot on that dance floor. "It made him uncomfortable, I guess. You too?"

"Honestly, it kind of turned me on. Your dad is one good looking dude. I can see why you call him the Viking. I also noticed him checking me out at our table."

"Including his own daughter, if what I saw is really what I think I saw. No offense, Linnie."

"Uh oh, sounds serious. Okay, I promise."

"As in..."

"Interesting to say the least," Cassie says, before flushing her toilet.

"Well, I can't say I'd like to fuck my own dad, but what you said sounds erotic as hell. Have you, I mean, well, um—"

Cassie dries her hands, staring at her friend in the deliciously naughty way that people do in anticipation of some guilty pleasure. "Well, if something happens, you must fill me in on the details."

"Geez, Linnie, you're raring to go, aren't you? You're soaked. Does your dad know you're in this heated state?"

Cassie's no lesbian, but she can't resist shoving her fingers inside her friend's panties for a bare feel. "Ohmygod!"

"What are friends for?" Cassie drops a finger inside. Then another finger. Then her fingers begin to wiggle.

"Feels good, huh?"

"Afraid not, although I gotta say that this is getting me hot as well." Cassie begins to massage her breasts with her free hand.

But that moment is lost when she hears footsteps approach the rest room. The women jump and fix themselves just as two teen girls open the door. Squeezing themselves past the "intruders," they head down the corridor toward the ballroom.

Drake Culbert and his daughter Linette have attended these dances since Linette was in grade school. It's a semi-formal affair, and it includes dinner and live band. The Culberts, Drake, Linette, Drake's son Edward and wife Elaine, are Hillandale members; but the father-daughter dance is reserved for fathers and their daughters only.

This is a heady time for her, a "pivotal time" in her life, she's wont to say. She just got her own apartment after securing an IT position at a local prep school. Leaving the nest opens up potential opportunities. She and whomever she decides to date can now have all the privacy they need. She looks forward to having people over, to entertaining, family included, her dad especially. "I owe you some home-cooked meals for all the times you took me to dinner for those intimate father-daughter talks," she tells him. He insists that she doesn't owe him anything but won't protest if that's what she'd like to do.

"Dad and I have this ST between us," she confides to a girlfriend who gasps when Linette tells her what the letters stand for: sexual tension. After getting over her initial shock, the girlfriend wants to know what Linette plans to do about it. Linette shakes her head. "I don't know, probably nothing," she says. "He feels the same way, I just know he does, so maybe he'll bring it up." And then what would she do, the girlfriend asks. "That depends. Things could get very complicated."

Indeed, they would, and that's why Drake Culbert never brings it up. He's tempted, oh is he tempted. He knows he shouldn't have these incestual feelings for his beautiful, statuesque, athletic daughter, but he does. Unlike Linette, he's never told anyone, though he still thinks of contacting a therapist to discuss it—to "find out what the hell's wrong with me," he sometimes mutters to himself. Outwardly, he's "normal" in every other way. He's done quite well for himself, reaching executive status at a bank, joining the exclusive Hillandale Club, funding his kids' college, keeping his wife reasonably happy and residing in upscale Velvet Valley. He's got all the trappings of material success, along with this burning desire to get naked with his daughter. And if he's not mistaken, not only wouldn't she flinch if he suggested such an outrageous thing, she might just go for it.

He wonders what might happen this year. She's now working full time and she's got her own place. What would he do if she suggested they return to her apartment after the dance? What would she do if he suggested it?

Linette is thinking the same thing as she steps into her blue and white polyester-chiffon dress, the one she bought specifically for tonight. It's hemmed an inch above her knees and the white embroidered top part gives the illusion of a plunging neckline. In fact, it drops just a couple inches from her neck, bordered by a sheer, see-through section. Perfect for a semi-formal, she had thought when she saw it on the rack at Macy's. Sexy and alluring but not slutty. Her silver, slip-on pumps with the "peep toe" and medium length heels complement her attire and her long, shapely calves. She twirls in front of her full-length mirror. "I feel pretty, oh so pretty...I feel pretty and witty and bright..." And sexy, too, she thinks; dad will love it. Pantyhose or no? No, she'll keep her legs bare. How about panties? Well...she giggles. She pictures herself bending over, exposing her bare butt and pussy, his reaction to her action and the erotic scenario that she can bet would follow. No, better keep them on, she concludes. That would be TOO obvious.

"Thanks. Like my hair? Thought I'd try a different style this time."

"Thanks again," she says, ruffling the hem. "I got it just for tonight."

"It will be a short one," he says over the car's roof. "My bank would frown on something too radical."

"You think?"

"Viking" is Linette's pet nickname for him, one she's told to close friends such as Cassie Chunko. Cassie and her dad attend those dances every year also. Linette's image of what the Norsemen looked like is based partly on movies she's seen and partly on her own imagination: tall and muscular; strong and handsome, with features that look like they were honed from granite; fierce when they have to be; models of masculinity to their sons and daughters. Only recently has she come to realize that she wants a husband who she feels lives up to these images. Unrealistic? Perhaps. Superficial? Yes. Puerile? Kind of. Even so, that's the way she feels.

They stroll along the parquet floor, weaving in and out among the round tables, searching for their names that appear in front of the place settings of fine china, crystal water glasses and champagne flutes. Balloons hang from the chandeliers; fine brown linen covers the tables. They're among other couples doing the same thing, couples of various ages—young dads escorting their kid and teen daughters and dads, middle-age like Drake, escorting their daughters of drinking age. Age-wise, it's an eclectic mix, though the staff carefully groups the tables in deference to the daughters' ages, those twenty-one and over and those under.

Four of the couples are already seated, four of the eight that will sit at each table. Linette recognizes all of them, though it's only Cassie Chunko that she can call a true friend. Cassie's dad, dentist Darryl Chunko, pulled two of Linette's impacted wisdom teeth last year. 'Chunky Chunko' is how some of the less kind among her peers describe her. A couple inches shorter than Linette, she's got a sweet, adorable face and a stunning shock of blond hair that she wears to the middle of her back. She also likes her starchy carbs and desserts, and it shows. "I can't believe it's been a year already," Cassie says, referring to the last time they were all here. "Where does the time go?"

"Hey, we're only in our forties," Darryl says. "Wait until after fifty, my dad always says."

Linette returns the compliment, and not gratuitously either. She really does admire what Cassie's wearing, a maroon skirt with a white top showing ample cleavage. At one time, she envied big boob girls like Cassie, always comparing their so-called assets with her relatively modest pair. Now, not so much, thanks to her grudging reconciliation of what she perceives (or perceived) as deficits. She's now counting her own assets as opposed to whining over what she deems is missing. Still, she can't help but feel a tinge of jealousy catching Drake stealing admiring glances at Cassie, his eyes aimed just below her neck. He's trying to be discreet, but she sees him, and so does Cassie, smiling in gratification.

Linette and Drake wait out the opening number, a fast, jazzed-up rock song, then take to the dance floor for a classic ballad, The Way You Look Tonight.

Linette smiles and inhales Drake's aftershave, a scent she loves and knows so well. She yearns to get closer than the "respectable" distance they're keeping. "Dad, you recall what happened last year, when people started staring at us?"

"Yes, but I didn't think so. Did you?" By his shrug and brief look away, she gleans that he's not comfortable with her question. 'Better drop the subject,' she thinks.

She nods in agreement, debating if she should ask if he wants to try it again. Of course, actions speak louder than words. She inches closer as the band plays on.

"You're pushing the envelope," he says, looking around self-consciously. But he doesn't pull away.

"Oh boy," he whispers, then sings along. "Lovely, never, never change, keep that breathless charm..." Then stepping closer, he says, "Like this?"

Moments after they return to their table, Linette excuses herself for the ladies' room. "I'll join you," Cassie says, and then follows her friend out of the room and down a carpeted corridor. "Linette, not to pry, but you and the Viking seem unusually, well, close. If I recall, you two danced like that last year."

"No, not really. He just sat there with this sick sort of smile on his face, like he was embarrassed for the two of you. I had to laugh."

They talk on, their voices echoing off the pink tile on the floor and walls.

Linette chuckles. "Yeah, I noticed that, too, and noticed that you noticed. The Viking has an eye for us millennial chicks."

"None taken." After voiding, she begins to wipe her pussy—it's getting more sensitive as their conversation proceeds. She could get herself off right here and now with no problem. Should she say more? Why not? She's been looking for a confidant, and she sees Cassie as someone who can keep a secret. "Look, if I tell you something, you promise it won't go any further than these stalls?"

"The feeling is mutual."

"As in my own dad turns me on as if he was this older guy not related to me." She pauses to rethink. "Or maybe it's because he IS related to me, I'm not sure. It's a screwed-up kind of sexuality, I know."

Nothing more is said until they begin to wash up over the sinks. Then Linette says, "I hope I didn't shock you."

"Have we acted on our mutual attraction? No. We haven't even really talked about it, not directly. There's just been these subtle hints." Linette tears off a sheet of paper towel. "But I get the feeling that tonight's the night for some sort of breakthrough. At the very least, we'll discuss it. I think it's long overdue."

"Details? How's this for details." She lifts her dress, then guides Cassie's hand to her crotch. "Feel that."

"Not yet. But he might before the night's out."

"Ohmygod is right, Cass. Better stop now or I'll force you to make me come."

Linette leans against the sink, throws a hand across her forehead, feels the room spinning. "Ohmygod! I can't believe this is happening!"

"Girl, that's an understatement," Linette gasps. On buckled knees, she stays against the sink for support, pumps her pelvis in rhythm with Cassie's finger action. She chuckles. "You're not a closet lesbian, are you?"

"Oh fuck! You're too much! Faster! Yes, yes, that's it! Oh my, you're gonna make me come any moment!"

"I was so close, Cass, so damn close. You did that like a real pro. You sure you're not a closet lesbian?"