The members of the Gang of Six, Lani and Chad, Trevor Price and Rachel Bowers, and Rice Oliver and Gretchen Harrison—all in Wilmington banking families and all graduates together the year before at the exclusive private Tower Hill school—all had jobs at the Dupont Country Club tennis complex that year too. They were a close-knit group, all going to more exclusive colleges than Scott did, all in a totally different world from his. Lani was at Bryn Mawr in nearby Philadelphia; Chad at Penn State; Trevor at Yale; Rachel at Arcadia University, northwest of Philly; and the inseparable Rick and Gretchen were at Haverford College, also in Philadelphia, together.
Scott, the best tennis player of the lot, but with the most junior job at the club, had ached to be accepted into their group. He'd been on the edge of it for a few weeks now, with Chad having teasingly brought him to the edge after they'd fucked—for the second time, to mark that the first wasn't a one-off drunken accident. The invitation to a long weekend with the Gang of Six at the river cottage of Lani's family marked his acceptance, he was sure. Looking at the directions, he saw that the cottage was named The Bluff. So, he was rising to The Bluff just as the summer was ending.
* * * *
Scott's goal in his old—not classic, just old and in chugalong condition—Mustang was Old Field Point, where the Elk River entered the top of the Chesapeake Bay. To reach it from Wilmington, he drove south on I-95 to the town of Elkton, Maryland, and down the peninsula between the Northeast and Elk Rivers.
He didn't know what to expect from a "cottage" on the river and why it was named The Bluff. He wasn't any more sure when he traversed Old Field Point Circle and came up beside a long one-and-a-half-story building on his left. The water was off to his right somewhere, but he couldn't see it for the foliage. The building on the left was interesting, some sort of long building with gray-brown wooden shingle siding and with its upper story only half a story in height before the forest-green wooden shingles of the roof started. He couldn't see a door into the building on the road side but after sitting and idling for a few minutes, he saw that a driveway went around the far end. This didn't really look like a "cottage" to him. It was too large for that.
He drove around the side of the building and landed in an asphalted parking area large enough to park a small army of cars, which it now was accommodating. Beyond that was a fenced tennis court. Pulling around to the other side of the building he now saw that it was a five-car garage. The half story above that was fantastic. On this side of the building a wide dormer jutted out from the slope of the roof and in the wall of this was a large, stained glass window.
From there, Scott's gaze was brought back down to earth by a metallic sound. An old, black Mercedes stretch sedan was half in and half out the farthest bay, its nose pointed out and its hood open. A light-brown, muscular man's torso was bending over the raised hood, the arms and head swallowed up in the cavern of the car's engine compartment. The legs were encased with old, worn jeans, the waist pulled down to the top of the man's crack. As Scott rounded the side of the building, the man unfolded himself from under the hood and raised a wrench in greeting.
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