Cast Ashore — a novelette in 15 chapters

Cast Ashore: Chapter 9

Taking the Plunge

Steve Fendt
3 min readOct 29, 2023


Black-and-white photo: vertiginous drop to rocks and surf below.
‘On the Brink’ — author image

‘We should eat something. Leftover quiche Lorraine okay? With home-made coleslaw?’

‘Sounds great.’

After dinner, we broach a second bottle of red.

‘You’ve got a reputation around here as a solitary man, Les. A bit of an eccentric.’

‘Guilty as charged.’

‘I don’t think so. I think you’re just a lonely man, one who has been hurt. One who doesn’t know where to turn or how to ask for what he needs.’

‘Which is?’

‘Tenderness. Warmth. Affection. What we all need …’

I am about to say something flippant, but the words die on my lips. I just nod. Try to swallow the lump in my throat. Look down at the table.

She adds, softly, almost inaudibly:

‘What I need.’

I look up and I feel myself swimming, drowning in Kaja’s eyes. Her cheeks are slightly flushed, her moist lips parted. I ache to round that table, wrap her in my arms.

No, no, no. This won’t do. You’ve got to break the spell.

‘Well, I’d better be getting back, Kaja. I’m expecting a Skype call from Sam,’ I lie. ‘Thanks for the wine and sympathy.’

She seems about to say something, but doesn’t. Shrugs.

‘No worries, Les. Any time.’

We get up from the table. At the door, I give her a brief, friendly, platonic hug around the shoulders, making sure that my awkwardly concealed erection doesn’t make contact with her hip.

One part of my anatomy is honest, at least.

As I walk home, I can still feel my arousal.

What’s the matter with you? Stealing half a million dollars, taking advantage of a friend in distress. A friend who’s young enough to be a daughter …

It’s not stealing, and she wants me. And damn it to hell, I want her.

She wouldn’t want you if she knew who you really are. A thief.

I’m not a thief — because it’s not really stealing.



Steve Fendt Short stories, serial fiction, memoirs of a possibly quasi-true nature. Stories of the Australian beach and bush.