Beth Greene drove her father’s old truck up the long drive to the house. She could see Otis’s rotund form was heading out to till the back forty, chewing on a piece of straw as he went. Her father was sitting on the porch, shucking corn. Who she really wanted to get a look at was Daryl Dixon. He was heading toward the stables to muck them out. She pitied him that job when she considered she’d had to do it more than a few times herself growing up.
She parked under the shade tree and climbed out, her shopping bags in hand. Summer was just getting underway, and she’d graduated High School. Her father wanted her to decide on a college, preferably the University of Georgia. UGA College of Veterinary Medicine was where he’d graduated and he wanted her to follow in his footsteps as a veterinarian. While Beth loved animals, she wasn’t going to be a veterinarian. He had Sean to fulfill that dream. Unlike her big sister Maggie, who attended UGA to earn a teaching degree, Beth wasn’t sure what she wanted to be. Her father agreed to give her a year off to consider it, but then she had to pick something, and she thought that was both generous and fair.
“Hello, Bethie,” her father said, by way of greeting.
“You have fun shopping?”
“Yep. I found just what I needed.”
She tried to go into the house but he halted her, asking her to sit down next to him. She took the rocking chair beside him, trying to hide her impatience. She wanted to eat lunch and then start getting ready for her early evening date with the sexy farm hand, Daryl.
“Why don’t you show me what you bought?”
“Okay,” she said, pulling out a few light summer tops and some shorts.
“They're a bit short, aren’t they?” he questioned.
“They’re also cute and stylish,” she replied.
“Listen, Beth, I wanted to talk to you about something other than your rather questionable purchases.”
“So I figured,” she said, smiling.
“Have you found a boyfriend? Is it Jimmy?”
“Daddy, Jimmy’s gay, remember?”
He nodded. “Oh, right. I forgot.”
She doubted it but didn’t call him on it.
“So, have you found a fella? Cause, you went out last Friday night and didn't come home until the next afternoon. You worried me and your mama quite a bit.”
“Sorry about that. Yeah, I've found a fella.”
“Do I know him?”
Beth looked away, down the long drive, unsure how to respond. She knew her father. She knew he wouldn’t approve of her dating a man twice her age, and she could understand that from his perspective. Still, she wasn’t going to let her father, as much as she loved him, dictate who she loved.
Loved…Pushing it aren’t you? She thought to herself.
Beth liked to think she had a level head on her shoulders, but where Daryl Dixon was concerned, she wasn’t levelheaded at all. He threw her for a loop, which confused her considering they’d only had sex that one time, in his trailer, a week ago. They’d stolen kisses and touches since then, but he’d had to spend his evenings tending to his sick grandmother until his cousin Jenna came in from Atlanta to care for her, and that meant no repeat rolls in the sack. Tonight was going to be his first night free and Beth was itching to spend it in his arms.
“Beth?” Hershel prompted.
“You know him.”
“What’s his name?”
“I don’t want to say. I don’t think you’d approve.”
Hershel frowned and gave his daughter his full attention. “Why would you say that? Why would you date a man you know I wouldn't approve of?”
“I say that because I know you, and I feel I can date who I want.”
“Is he a bad boy?”
“Gosh, no! He’s a really good man.”
“Man? How old is this man?”
“Older than me, younger than you.”
Hershel’s face registered his annoyance at her attempts to evade answering a direct question. “Beth, how old is he?”
“I don’t want to say anymore. Daddy, I’m eighteen. I’m old enough to know who I want to be with.”
“I disagree,” he said. “I think that just because you’re allowed to vote and smoke doesn’t mean you’re old enough to choose a man wisely. Especially if he’s older than you.”
She knew he’d take that attitude, and it annoyed her. “You raised me, Daddy. Are you telling me you think you raised a fool?”
He was taken aback by that question. “Of course not! But you’re young--”
“I’m an adult.”
“You’re a teenager,” he came back, at once.
She took a deep breath and calmly packed away her things. “Daddy, I love you, but I’m not gonna let you tell me who I can be with.”
“You won’t even tell me who you’re seeing. Are you two…you know…”
“Okay, I am not having this talk.”
Beth’s mother, Annette, stepped onto the porch, having sensed trouble brewing between her husband and daughter.
“He’s prying into my love life, Mom.”
“Oh, dear. Is that true, Hersh? You pryin’?”
“Of course I am. She’s got it in her head she’s a grown woman who can date older men,” he said tensely.
“Like Jo did with you, when she was eighteen?” she asked, bringing up his relationship with his first wife and Maggie’s mother.
Hershel’s ruddy cheeks darkened. Beth gave a small cry of victory and felt an intense wave of affection for her mother. “Annie, that’s different and you know it.”
“I know no such thing, just like her daddy didn't. Besides, the law can’t stop Beth like it couldn’t stop you and your first wife, and neither can we. You with a good man?”
“He’s a very good man and I love him.”
Annette smiled. “Who is it?”
Beth damn near answered. It was a miracle she caught herself. She gave her mother an exasperated sigh. “Mom, please!”
Annette held up her hands in defeat. “All right. I’m out of it. Go on inside. I saved you a sandwich.”
She kissed her mother on the cheek and then headed in, deliberately deciding not to kiss her father as well. Once she was inside, she heard their voices, low and tense. She didn’t want to cause trouble between her parents, but she also wanted to be free to make up her mind who she dated.
Beth’s hair was done. She decided against makeup since in this heat she knew it would just melt and run. She’d waxed away every unwanted hair, trimmed her bikini line and given herself a passable pedicure, though honestly, she felt she needed to get into town ASAP to get a professional job done. She didn’t want to rub crusty feet up Daryl’s leg in bed. She wondered if he’d even notice, and she smiled at the thought.
Now came the good part. She pulled out the one item she’d neglected showing her father. A bright red string bikini. It was shamefully skimpy and would barely cover her parts. It was going to drive Daryl wild. She was sure they’d barely get any swimming done before his hands were all over her, and that was exactly the way she wanted it.
She heard the familiar rumble of Daryl’s motorcycle and rushed to her bedroom window. She saw him driving away, those distinctive angel wings on the back of his vest obscured by the dust that his bike kicked up. They hadn’t had rain in over two weeks and everything was drying out, being baked under the hot Georgia sun.
God she was horny. Beth felt herself begin to moisten at the mere thought of Daryl’s hands on her. She took several deep breaths and tried to calm down. She’d get to enjoy that later. For now, she wanted to finish getting dressed.
Beth studied her reflection. She’d tanned nicely this year. It wasn’t officially summer but the sun had already lightened her hair to a brilliant blond, and her skin was a light bronze in color. She’d neglected sun screen for the moment. She’d wipe it on in front of Daryl to whet his appetite, though, she thought, seeing her in that bikini would more than accomplish that.
Her pink tube top left a lot of belly skin showing, as did the white shorts that were as tiny as she dared. They rode low on the hips and were short enough for the pockets to peek out. She slipped on a pair of cute thong sandals and then decided it wouldn’t kill her to apply a little bit of lip gloss. After all, Daryl wouldn’t arrive at their rendezvous point down the road for another hour yet.
Beth’s hair was a wilted mess by the time Daryl’s bike rumbled to their rendezvous point. Her skin was flushed and she’d finished off the cold bottle of water she’d brought with her. It was 6PM and hot as hell. Daryl was half an hour late.
“Sorry I’m late,” he said, a little bashfully. “Had to wait at the bank and then had to get gas.”
She’d been annoyed--until she saw him, and the cooler he had tied on back. She kissed him and then climbed on behind him. “How do you wear this vest in this heat?”
He shrugged his strong, broad shoulders. “Used to it.”
“Where are we going exactly?”
The last place he’d taken her, to keep his promise of taking her someplace pretty just before bringing her home, was a clearing in the woods that had been ringed with wild roses. Beth didn’t know if it was intentional or if it had just worked that way, but it had been beautiful. She’d thought they’d go there again, since there was a little creek that ran under the shade, but Daryl took them on a different path. The breeze from the ride made the sweat on her skin feel cool and pleasant. They headed down the road, fast. Beth liked it when he got his speed up. She felt like they were flying.
After nearly half an hour of twisting back, dirt roads, Daryl pulled to a stop. Beth got off the bike and giggled.
“Daryl, this place is beautiful!”
It looked like a garden gone wild. There was a small pond that was fed by a creek and emptied out the same way. She didn’t know if it was manmade or natural, she didn’t care. The water was clear, not too deep, and when she stuck a toe in she found it was blessedly cold. She rushed over to the bike to grab her bag while Daryl took the cooler over to the shade and spread out a sheet he’d brought from home.
“I need some sunscreen, and so do you,” she said. “I don’t want you getting cancer.”
She watched him kick off his shoes, and the watched each other undress. Daryl had a pair of swimming trunks on, but his eyes practically rolled out of his head when he saw that red string bikini she had on under her shorts and top.
“Jesus, Beth,” he breathed.
“Keep your hands to yourself, Mister,” she teased. “At least until after I’ve had a swim.”
She made a show of smoothing on the sunscreen, starting with her long, tanned legs, and then over her belly, chest and arms, before she handed him the bottle. He happily smoothed even more lotion over her back.
“Your turn,” she said.
“I can’t handle you touching me right now,” he said.
“Just your back.”
He bit his lip and hesitated.
“Listen, about my back…”
She waited for him to continue, but he didn’t. He just turned around and she gasped. She hadn’t seen his back and now she understood why he’d kept it from her. She felt tears sting her eyes and she took a deep breath to calm herself.
“Who did that to you?”
“My pa,” Daryl answered. “Ain’t seen him in years and I ain’t gonna.”
“Give me the lotion,” she said.
Again, he hesitated.
“I care about every part of you. Every part.”
She’d wanted to say love but she knew it was too soon. She didn’t want to scare him off. She didn’t want him to accuse her of simply having a crush that would fade, especially the older he got and she continued to be a young woman.
He handed her the lotion and turned his back to her. She gently slid her hands over his back, over the raised, white scars, and cursed the man who’d put them on him. When she was done, she began to rub his shoulders down.
“The moods ruined,” he said guiltily.
She wiggled her brows and pressed her small breasts against him. “We’ll get it back. Believe me.”
When the scowl on his face brightened, she felt better. “Wanna take a dip?”
“Later. I wanna watch you get wet.”
“I’m wet, believe me,” she teased. When his face flushed she giggled and ran toward the water. She waded in, shivering at how cold the water was compared to the heat of the day. It felt like heaven when she dunked under and came up. Daryl watched the water cascade down her body, watched her nipples erect from the cold, and felt a stirring in his groin.
“What’s in the cooler?” she asked, coming back to him.
“Not much. Just some chicken I fried. I made some potato salad last night, too, and packed it for today.”
She grinned happily at him. “You cook and keep a clean house? Daryl Dixon, I just might marry you. Let me see what we got. I’m hungry.”
They took a seat under the tree and began eating. The food really was good. He washed his down with a cold beer and she a Pepsi. She opened something in a plastic bag.
“That’s store-bought. I ain’t that good in the kitchen,” he said, smiling.
They lay on the sheet, looking up at the clear blue sky that was speckled between the leaves of the tree and talked. She tried to think of a career she could study at school when she finally went to college. He thought she’d make a good vet, like her father.
“No, thanks,” she said, shaking her head. She picked up the pie and then decided against it. “We’ll save this for later. For now I want back in that water. I’m almost dry.”
“All right. I’m game.”
“Naked,” she said.
“I want to go in naked.”
“This place is secluded. I’m sure we can get away with it.”
He shrugged his agreement and pulled down his shorts. Beth moaned at the sight of him and the heat that pooled between her legs. She’d been dying for him to touch her for over a week, and now, seeing him naked was too much. To hell with the swim. That could wait for later.
“Daryl,” she breathed. She held out a hand. “Touch me.”
He was all smiles when he came back to the sheet and began pulling at the strings of her bikini. It fell away like tissue paper in the wind and she was soon naked before him. He leaned into her, kissing her softly and deeply, pushing her against the sheet and the soft grass under it. They’d been in a hurry last time, in need of a frantic fuck. This time he wanted to enjoy her.
She knew what he wanted when he lazily traced his fingers over her skin. He paused at her breasts and rubbed the pads of his thumbs over her nipples, which were already pebbled from the moment she’d seen him naked. She arched her back and sighed as his fingertips ran lightly over her tummy, her hip bones, and down the length of her legs.
“Hmmm?” he asked slowly. He was taken with stroking her baby smooth skin.
“I want you in my mouth.”
He let out a breath, his skin flushed darker. His erection throbbed almost painfully at the thought of seeing his cock in her mouth. He agreeably laid back on the sheet and Beth knelt over him.
“I’ve only done this once. I hope it’s good for you,” she worried.
“It’ll be fine,” he assured her. He just wanted to feel that pretty mouth of hers on him, regardless of whether she was an expert or not.
She wasn’t experienced in blowjobs, by far, but that only turned Daryl on even more. It was her innocence, her desire to please him, that made the feel of her lips awkwardly suckling him so damn good. She played her tongue over the head of his cock and then licked him, eliciting a moan from him. Encouraged, she picked up the pace until he had to stop her. He didn’t want to lose it before he had a chance to sink into her.
“I need you, now,” she said. He could go down another time. She was aching with need so intensely she couldn’t stand it another second. She had to have him inside her, moving, thrusting, driving her to the edge and then over.
He slipped on a condom and she straddled him. He guided himself to her entrance and then pushed up and into her.
“Oh, God,” she moaned, and began to roll her hips against him.
“Fuck, Beth,” he ground out, as she continued to move, first rolling her hips and then, at the feel of him moving deeper, she began to bounce. No matter what she did, though, she couldn’t quite satisfy herself the way he did when he was atop her and in control.
Sensing her mounting frustration, Daryl turned Beth onto her back and slipped back inside.
“Fuck me,” she said in his ear.
His hips thrust forward of their own volition at the bestial need in her voice. He gripped the back of her neck with one hand, and grabbed her ass with the other, before pounding into her with everything he had. She whimpered, she moaned, and then she cried out as she found release. The tension in her body suddenly unfurled and she came just moments before he did.
The water on their naked skin was bliss. Beth wrapped her legs around his waist and he moved them further toward the center. Even in the middle, at its deepest, the water was just a few inches below his nipples. He dunked them several times, thoroughly soaking them and cooling them off.
“This has been the best date of my life,” she said.
“Honestly, mine too,” he replied.
“Really? You’re not just saying that?”
“Really. I don’t usually take time to spend with women. It’s almost always been wham, bam, thank you ma’am, and then I move on.”
“Almost?” she queried, feeling a little jealous.
He laughed. “Well, there’s been a couple of women I screwed more than twice. They were good gals but nothing ever came of it. They didn’t mean to me what you do.”
Her heart began to pound. She felt they were on the verge of speaking very important words to one another. Words that would have a huge impact on their future together. “What do I mean to you?”
“You’re a good reason to get out of bed in the morning. You’re a good reason not to drink myself into oblivion. You’re a good reason to tell my brother not to come back. If you knew my history with Merle, you’d know that’s saying something.”
“Is he, and your father, the reason you doubt yourself so much? I just get the feeling you don't think much of yourself.”
He shrugged. “I guess I don’t. I’m nothing special.”
“You’re special to me. Daryl, I…I think I lo--”
“Elizabeth Naomi Greene!”
Her heart almost stopped in her chest. She’d had her forehead resting against Daryl’s but now they both looked around to see her father standing on the shore. His face was so red with rage she was afraid he might actually drop dead of a stroke.
“Get out and get your clothes on. I’m taking you home.”
Once Beth and Daryl were dressed Hershel stormed toward them. Beth was sure her father was going to strike Daryl so she tried to intervene but Daryl held her back. He faced Hershel, fists balled up but remaining by his side. Hershel did indeed hit Daryl. She thought perhaps he’d hit her father but he didn’t.
“I respect you and your family enough not to hit you back, old man,” Daryl said.
“You respect me? You respect me so you show it by sullying my baby girl?”
“I’m not a baby. I wish you’d stop treating me like one!”
“Hersh! What are you doing?”
“Not now, Annie! We’ve talked about this. I know your stance on it but I don’t agree with you,” Hershel shouted.
Beth saw her mother on the path to the watering hole. She rushed over, a look of horror on her face. Hershel ignored her while he watched Daryl spit out a mouth full of blood. He turned his gaze on Beth. His face was filled with disappointment and disgust.
“Look at you. I didn’t raise you to drink, to dress like a whore and act like a slut!”
“Daddy!” Beth gasped. He’d never, in her life, spoken to her so harshly. Tears stung hotly at her eyes. Her mother rushed to her side to hold her, and glowered at Hershel.
“Hershel, my God,” Annette said in shock.
Daryl bristled. The muscles in his arms were so tense they were twitching, and his fists were balled so tight his fingers were white as bone. “That’s enough! You’re mad, Mr. Greene, I get it, but don’t talk to her like that. You raise your fists and take it out on me, if you have to, but don’t you stand there and talk to Beth that way. She doesn’t deserve it! She ain’t been drinkin’ and she ain’t a slut.”
Hershel blew out a breath and wiped his hands over his face, trying to calm down. “You’re right. Beth, I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have spoken to you like that. But look what you’re doing!”
“I told you earlier that I’m old enough to make up my own mind about who I want to be with!”
“This man is too old for you.”
“I know what this is really about. It’s not his age that bothers you, its money. You don’t think he’s good enough for me.”
“Damn right he’s not good enough for you! What kind of roof could he put over your head? A trailer? How would he feed and clothe you? By working for me? He’s trash. He comes from trash and that’s all he’ll ever be!”
“You self-righteous, stuck up old bastard!” she shouted.
“Beth,” her mother warned, but Beth was having none of it. Hadn’t he just called her a slut?
“No, mama, I mean it! Daryl is a good man, an honest, hardworking man. He doesn’t deserve to be looked down on by you or anybody else. I admire him, even if you don’t. I love him, even if you think I shouldn’t!”
She turned to Daryl. “Don’t you listen to anything he just said about you, Daryl. It ain’t true!”
“Yeah, it is,” he said quietly. “It’s all true.”
“No, it isn’t.”
“He’s not a hardworking man. Not for me. You’re fired. I don’t want you near my farm, or my daughter, ever again,” Hershel told Daryl, who nodded.
“You’re daddy’s right. I came from trash, and I’ll always be trash. We was just talking about school for you,” he said, forcing himself to look into her eyes. “The time for me to make something of myself has come and gone, but it ain’t for you, Beth. You got your whole life ahead of you. Time is on your side. You don’t need to waste it on somebody like me.”
“Daryl…what are you saying?”
“I’m saying you won’t be seeing me anymore. Not around the farm, not outside of it. The chain’s on my door if you get my meaning.”
Beth’s mouth fell open. Tears slid down her face. “You don’t mean that.”
“Yeah, I do.”
He’d already packed up the cooler, before they’d gone for their swim. He grabbed it and when to secure it on his bike.
“Go on. Get her outta here. Take her home,” he said to Hershel.
“Come on, Beth,” Hershel said, holding out his hand.
She stared at her father, and Hershel never would have guessed he could see that kind of anger, bordering on hate, in her eyes. Not reserved for him, at least, but he knew she’d get over it.
“Look what you’ve done. Look what you’ve taken from me,” she whispered.
“You’ll thank me someday, when you’re older. You’ll see I’ve saved you from wasting your life on--”
“Stop. Call him trash again and I swear I’ll never forgive you.”
“Annie, say something to the girl.”
Annette looked thoughtful as she held her daughter. “Mama loves you, Baby. Trust me when I say you need to come home now and get some rest. This mess can be sorted out over time. For now, let’s get you home and get you into bed.”
The bike fired to life. Beth looked up and saw Daryl riding off, not looking back, his angel’s wings seemed to her to be flapping, come to life, spiriting him away from her.
Feeling hollow, Beth allowed her mother to lead her down the path to where the truck had been parked, just before the road narrowed too tightly for it to fit. She climbed in with her mother seated between her and her father. She felt numb. She felt as though she were floating.
In just a few short minutes she’d gone from loving a man to losing that man to her father’s bigotry and intolerance. Her day, which had started off so perfect, so wonderful, had ended with her heart broken.