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They spent the next two hours working, he in bed going over the plans for the next phase of the project that he was supposed to supervise, she on the computer finishing an English Literature paper. English was not her favorite subject; she was sometimes afraid of the unthinkable, getting a B, but of course that possibility was remote. Looking up at her at the computer table, he couldn’t help but fall in love all over again despite his weariness. Such a lovely, intelligent face, such a beautiful, golden body . . . He did not mind that so many others admired it, it made him proud. He especially liked her response to the many well-intentioned suggestions that she get a tattoo. “Absolutely not. A tattoo would be on display all the time. It would be a message to everyone who saw me.” Why ruin such perfection?

She still had the basic modesty that she always had, but had gotten comfortable with her nudity. Of course -- she had no choice, did she? She expressed it once to him during one of their post-sex chats. They were lying on their backs, looking up at the ceiling, holding hands. “I had a dream once where I was a serving maid for a king in a palace and I was naked all the time. All the other maids were fully clothed. For some reason I had to earn my clothes back. The king and his rich friends kept visiting me in the kitchen, or walking by when I was mopping the palace floor or something, saying, ‘All you have to do is this floor, or be a good server at the next feast, and you’ll get your clothes and shoes back.’ And I was ever so industrious, saying to the other maids, ‘All I got to do is this job,’ and when it got done the king would say, ‘Just one more thing and you’ll get clothes’, and give me another task, while the other maids just rolled their eyes at my stupidity. All those men really wanted to do was look at my body, stringing me along. Well, f**k that. I’m not going to be that stupid.”

That was only the second time he ever heard her use the “f” word. “So how did the dream end?”

“I’m not sure. I think I just escaped. Hopped out the window and into the meadow. Naked and free and smart. I wasn’t going to bargain with God any more. That was what that dream was about.”

Still basically modest, but not above flaunting her body when he was around. He remembered the graduation party for his class. It was at a swanky estate the college owned not far away -- formerly lived in by that creep Henry Ross. Rod was out there on the lakefront patio with the full bar and the buffet table, sipping a soda and trying to stay interested in what his Architectural Design professor was saying. He glanced around the crowd of students and professors and administrators, wondering where the hell was Tami?

He looked out to the pond and saw, far away near the marine dock on the other side, a fish or goose or something splashing in the water. Looking at it more he saw it was not a fish. It was someone swimming toward them. As he sipped and looked a smile started across his face and grew and grew. By the time Tami was a hundred feet away everyone’s attention was drawn.

Like it was nothing, she got to where her feet could touch bottom, then walked up to the transfixed and silent crowd, water coursing off her hair and chin and now her nipples and now her knees, her copper sleek wetness the most beautiful sight of his life. Casually she hopped her naked dripping self up onto the patio, greeted a couple of people she knew, accepted the offer of a big cloth napkin to quickly dab herself dry, then went up to Rod and gave him a full-body hug and a kiss on the lips. And then ordered a martini and took her place among the suits and dresses, blending in with the party as the general buzz of conversation gradually returned. What an entrance!

Water was definitely her element. Another vivid memory was last May when he came to meet her when she got off work. She was on that grounds crew job, the replacement for her gymnastics scholarship. She probably could have sloughed it off, but being Tami, felt obligated to continue. So she had always put in her twenty hours a week. The day had been brutally hot. Sweating buckets in his suit, he found her hefting uprooted shrubs into a chopper while the chopper driver, union labor no doubt, sat up in his cab. She grunted with every heave of the heavy shrubs, her body stained with dirt and sweat and leaves. As always, she had an audience, people stopping for a moment before going on with their business. When Tami saw Rod and knew her time was up, she said, “Hit me Jose!” Another worker, walking by past a water pipe, picked up the hose and trained it on her. She danced and spun around as the water pelted her all over, with her trademark “Woo - hoo!” as Jose laughed. One could feel, with some envy, her delicious sense of relief at being clean and cool. As she put it later, “Only I get to experience that!”

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