Please Be Advised! The following contains sexually explicit
Bud Mitchell drove his Ford Explorer along Dune Road. Up ahead was
a sign that said, CUPSOGUE BEACH COUNTY PARK - OPEN DAWN TO
DUSK. It was dusk, but Bud continued on, through an empty
parking field, on the far side of which was a wide nature trail,
partially blocked by a roll-up fence. A sign said NO
He said to the woman sitting in his passenger seat, "Are you sure
you want to do this?"
Jill Winslow replied, "Yes. It's exciting."
Bud nodded without enthusiasm. He skirted around the fence and
continued on in four-wheel drive along the sandy trail flanked by
high, grass-covered dunes.
Having extramarital sex should have been exciting enough for both
of them, he thought, but Jill didn't see it that way. For her,
cheating on her husband was only worth it if the sex, romance, and
excitement was better than at home. For him, the taboo of having
sex with another man's wife was the turn-on.
Somewhere around his fortieth birthday, Bud Mitchell had come to
the startling conclusion that women were different. Now, five years
later and two years into this affair, he realized that Jill's
fantasies and his weren't communicating very well. Still, Jill
Winslow was beautiful, willing, and most importantly, she was
someone else's wife, and she wanted to keep it that way. For him,
safe sex meant having it with a married woman.
An added kick for Bud was that he and his wife, Arlene, traveled in
the same social circles as Jill and her husband, Mark. When the
four of them were together at a social function, Bud felt the
opposite of awkward or guilty; he felt terrific, his ego knew no
bounds, and he reveled in his secret knowledge that he had seen
every inch of the beautiful Jill Winslow's naked body.
But, it wasn't that secret, of course, or it wouldn't have
been so much fun. Early in the affair, when they were both nervous
about getting caught, they'd sworn to each other that they wouldn't
tell anyone. Since then, they'd both hinted that they'd had to
confide in close friends solely for the purpose of providing cover
stories for their absences from home and hearth. Bud always
wondered who of her friends knew, and at social gatherings, he had
fun trying to guess.
They had driven in separate cars from their homes on Long Island's
Gold Coast, about 55 miles from Westhampton, and Jill had parked in
a village lot where they'd rendezvoused, then driven to a hotel
together in Bud's Explorer. At the hotel, Bud had asked her what
her cover story was and gotten a one-word answer, so he asked
again, "Where are you tonight?"
"Dinner with a girlfriend who has a place in East Hampton. Shopping
tomorrow." She added, "That part is true, since you have to get
home in the morning."
"The friend is cool with this?"
She let out an exasperated breath: "Yes. Don't worry about
"Okay." Bud noticed that she never asked about his cover story, as
if the less she knew, the better. He volunteered, "I'm deep-sea
fishing with friends. Bad cell phone reception on the ocean."
Bud Mitchell understood that in their own way, both he and Jill
loved their slightly boring spouses, they loved their children, and
their comfortable upper middle class lives. They also loved each
other, or said they did, but not enough to chuck everything to be
together seven days a week. Three or four times a month seemed to
be good enough.
The trail ended at a sand dune, and Bud stopped.
Jill said, "Go toward the beach."
Bud turned off the sandy trail toward the ocean.
The Explorer descended a gradual slope through brush and sea grass
as he steered around a high dune. He stopped on the far side of the
dune where the vehicle couldn't be seen from the trail. His
dashboard clock read 7:22.
The sun was sinking over the Atlantic Ocean, and he noticed that
the ocean itself was smooth as a pond. The sky was clear except for
some scattered clouds.
He said to Jill, "Nice night."
She opened her door and got out. Bud turned off the engine and
They surveyed the expanse of white sand beach that ended at the
ocean's edge fifty yards away. The water sparkled with golden
flecks in the setting sun and a soft land breeze rustled the sea
oats on the dunes.
Bud looked around to see if they were alone. Dune Road was the only
way in or out of this barrier island, and he'd seen a few cars
leaving the beaches and heading back toward Westhampton, but no
cars traveling in their direction.
The thin island ended a hundred yards to the west at Moriches
Inlet, and on the other side of the inlet he could see the edge of
Smith Point County Park on Fire Island.
It was Wednesday, so the Hampton weekenders were back in the city,
and anyone left was deep into the cocktail hour. Plus, it was about
a half mile back to where vehicles were supposed to stop. Bud said,
"I guess we have the beach to ourselves."
"That's what I told you."
Jill went around the Explorer and opened the rear hatch. Bud joined
her and together they removed a few items, including a blanket, an
ice chest, a video camera, and a tripod.
They found a sheltered valley between two grassy dunes, and Jill
laid out the blanket and cooler while Bud set up the tripod and
video camera. He took off the lens caps, looked through the
viewfinder, and pointed the camera at Jill sitting cross-legged and
barefoot on the blanket. The last glimmers of red sunlight
illuminated the scene, and Bud adjusted the zoom lens and hit the
He joined Jill on the blanket as she uncorked a bottle of white
wine. He took two wine glasses from the ice chest and she
They clinked glasses, and Bud said, "To summer evenings, to us,
together." They drank and kissed.
They were both aware of the video camera recording their images and
voices, and they were a little self-conscious. Jill broke the ice
by saying, "So, do you come here often?"
Bud smiled and replied, "First time. How about you?"
They smiled at each other and the silence became almost awkward.
Bud didn't like the camera pointing at them, but he could see the
upside later when they got back to their hotel room in Westhampton
and played back the tape while they had sex in bed. Maybe this
wasn't such a bad idea.
They had a second glass of wine, and aware that the light was
fading, Jill got down to business. She set her glass on the cooler,
stood, and pulled off her knit top.
Bud stood and took off his shirt.
Jill dropped her khaki shorts and kicked them away. She stood there
a few seconds in her bra and panties as Bud got undressed, then she
took off her bra and slid her panties off. She faced the camera,
threw her arms in the air, did a few gyrations, then said, "Ta da!"
and bowed toward the camera.
They embraced and kissed, and their hands ran over each other's
Jill moved Bud at right angles to the lens, then looked back at the
camera and said, "Blow job. Take One." She dropped to her knees and
began to perform oral sex on him.
Bud got very stiff while his knees went rubbery. He didn't know
what to do with his hands, so he put them on her head and ran his
fingers through her straight, brown hair.
Bud forced a smile, knowing the camera was capturing the expression
on his face, and he wanted to look happy when they played it back
later. But, in truth, he felt somewhere between silly and
He could be a little raunchy in mixed company, while she was
usually soft spoken and demure, with an occasional smile or
witticism. In bed, however, he was still surprised at her sexual
She sensed he was about to come, and she rocked back on her
haunches and said, "That's a wrap. Scene Two. Wine, please."
Bud retrieved the bottle of wine.
She lay on her back and thrust her legs into the air and said, "A
wife tasting party." She spread her legs and said, "Pour."
Bud knelt between her legs and poured the wine, then without
further stage direction, he buried his tongue in her.
Jill was breathing hard now, but managed to say, "I hope you have
that camera pointed right."
Bud came up for air and glanced at the camera. "Yeah."
She took the bottle and poured the remainder of the wine over her
He licked the wine from her hard belly and breasts and ran his
tongue over her nipples.
After a few minutes, she sat up and said, "I'm sticky. Let's
Bud stood and said, "I think we should go. We'll shower at the
She ignored him and climbed to the top of the sheltering dune and
looked out at the ocean. "Come on. Set the camera up here and get
Bud knew better than to argue, so he walked quickly to the video
camera, stopped it, then carried it with the tripod to the top of
the dune and set the legs into the sand.
Bud looked out over the sand, ocean, and sky. The horizon was still
lit by the dying rays of the sun, but the sea and the water were
dark blue and purple now. Overhead he could see stars appearing and
noticed the blinking lights of high-flying aircraft and the glow of
a big ship on the distant horizon. The breeze had picked up, and it
cooled his sweaty, naked body.
Jill looked through the viewfinder and switched to a twilight
setting, then set the auto focus on infinity and zoomed out for a
wide shot. She pushed the Record button, and said, "This is so
Bud replied, "Maybe we shouldn't go down to the beach naked. There
could be people around."
"So what? As long as we don't know them, who cares?"
"Yeah, but let's take some clothes --"
"Live dangerously, Bud."
She stepped off the dune, sliding and hopping all the way down the
slope to the beach.
Bud watched her, marveling at her perfect naked body as she ran
toward the water.
She turned toward him and shouted, "Come on!"
He ran toward the slope, across the flat beach toward her. He felt
silly running naked with his thing flapping in the breeze.
He caught up to her as she reached the water, and she turned him
toward the camera on the dune. She waved and shouted, "Bud and Jill
swim with the sharks." She took his hand, and they splashed into
the calm ocean.
The initial shock of the cool water gave way to a pleasant sense of
cleansing. They stopped when the salty sea water reached their
hips, and they washed each other front and back.
Jill looked out at the sea. "This is magic."
Bud stood beside her and together they stared, mesmerized by the
glassy sea and the purple sky spread out before them.
To their right, Bud noticed the blinking lights of an aircraft,
about eight or ten miles off Fire Island at an altitude of maybe
ten or fifteen thousand feet. Bud watched the aircraft as it drew
closer, the last rays of the setting sun reflecting off its wings.
It left four white contrails in the deep blue sky, and Bud guessed
it had taken off from Kennedy Airport about sixty miles to the
west, and it was heading toward Europe. The moment called for
romance, so he said, "I'd like to be on that plane with you, going
to Paris or Rome."
She laughed. "You panic when you're gone for an hour in a hot-sheet
motel. How are you going to explain Paris or Rome?"
Bud was annoyed and said, "I don't panic. I'm cautious. For
your sake." He said, "Let's go."
"In a minute." She squeezed his butt and said, "This videotape is
going to burn up the TV screen."
He was still annoyed and didn't respond.
She took hold of his penis and said, "Let's do it here."
"Uh..." He looked up and down the beach, then at the camera on the
sand dune, pointing at them.
"Come on. Before someone comes. Just like that scene in From Here
He had a million good reasons why they shouldn't have sex on the
open beach, but Jill had a firm grip on the one good reason why
She took his hand and led him to the shore where the gentle surf
was lapping over the wet sand.
She said, "Lie down."
Bud lay on the sand where the sea ebbed and flowed over his body.
She lay on top of him, and they made love slowly and rhythmically,
the way she liked it, her doing most of the work at her own
Bud was a little distracted by the surf rolling over his face and
body, and he was a bit anxious by being so exposed on the beach.
But within a minute, the size of his world shrunk to the area
between their legs, and he wouldn't have noticed a tsunami breaking
A minute later, she climaxed and he ejaculated into her.
She lay on him, breathing heavily for a few seconds, then she
straddled him with her knees and sat up. She started to say
something, then froze in mid-sentence and stared out over the
He sat up quickly and followed her gaze out toward the water, over
his right shoulder.
Something was rising off the water, and it took him a second to
recognize it as a streak of incandescent reddish-orange fire
trailing a plume of white smoke. "What the hell...?" It looked like
a skyrocket left over from the Fourth of July, but it was huge, too
huge - and it was coming off the water.
They both watched as it rose quickly, gathering speed as it
ascended into the sky. It seemed to zigzag, then turn.
Suddenly, a flash of light appeared in the sky, followed by a huge
fireball. They scrambled to their feet and stared transfixed as
pieces of fiery debris began raining down from the point of the
explosion. About a half-minute later, the sound of the two
explosions in quick succession rolled across the water and filled
the air around them, causing them to instinctively flinch. Then,
The huge fireball seemed to hang in the air for a long time, then
it began falling, breaking up into two or three fiery pieces,
falling at different speeds.
A minute later, the sky was clear, except for white and black
smoke, illuminated from below by the glow of fires burning on the
smooth ocean, miles away.
Bud stared at the blazing horizon, then at the sky, then back at
the water, his heart beating rapidly.
Jill whispered, "Oh, my God...what...?"
Bud stood motionless, not quite comprehending what he'd just seen,
but in his gut, he knew it was something terrible. His next thought
was that whatever this was, it was big enough and loud enough to
draw people toward the beach. He took Jill's arm and said, "Let's
get out of here. Fast."
They turned and sprinted across the fifty yards of sand and up the
dune. Bud grabbed the video camera and tripod as Jill scrambled
down the far side of the dune. Bud followed and said, "Get dressed!
Get dressed!" They both dressed quickly and ran toward the
Explorer, Bud carrying the tripod and Jill carrying the camera,
leaving the blanket and ice chest behind.
They tossed the video equipment in the backseat, jumped in the
front, and Bud started the Explorer and threw it into gear. They
were both breathing hard. He left his headlights off, and with
wheels spinning, he drove back to the trail and made a sharp right
turn. He drove cautiously in the dark, along the nature trail.,
then through the parking field, and out onto Dune Road where he put
on his headlights and accelerated.
Neither of them spoke.
A police car approached from the opposite direction and sped past
Within ten minutes, they could see the lights of Westhampton across
the bay. Jill said, "Bud, I think a plane exploded."
"Maybe...maybe it was a giant skyrocket...fired from a barge." He
added, "It exploded...you know...a fireworks show."
"Skyrockets don't explode like that. Skyrockets don't burn on the
water." She glanced at him and said, "Something big exploded in
mid-air and crashed in the ocean. It was a plane."
Bud didn't reply.
Jill said, "Maybe we should go back."
"Maybe...people...got out. They have life vests, life rafts. Maybe
we can help."
Bud shook his head. "That thing just disintegrated. It had to be a
couple miles high." He added, "The cops are already there. They
don't need us."
Jill didn't reply.
Bud turned onto the bridge that led back to the Village of
Westhampton Beach. Their hotel was five minutes away.
Jill seemed lost in thought, then said, "That streak of light -
that was a rocket. A missile."
Bud didn't reply.
She said, "It looked like a missile was fired from the water and
hit a plane."
"Well...I'm sure we'll hear about it on the news."
Jill glanced into the backseat and saw that the video camera was
still on, recording their conversation.
She reached back and retrieved the camera. She rewound the tape,
flipped the selector switch to Play, then looked into the
viewfinder as she fast-forwarded.
Bud glanced at her, but said nothing.
She hit the Pause button and said, "I can see it. We got the whole
thing on tape." She ran the tape forward, then backwards, several
times. She said, "Bud...pull over and watch this."
He kept driving.
She put down the video camera and said, "We have the whole thing on
tape. The missile, the explosion, the pieces falling."
"Yeah? What else do you see in there?"
"Right. Erase it."
"Jill, erase the tape."
"Okay...but we have to watch it in the hotel room. Then we'll erase
"I don't want to see it. Erase it. Now."
"Bud, this may be...evidence. Someone needs to see this."
"Are you crazy? No one needs to see us screwing on
She didn't reply.
Bud patted her hand and said, "Okay, we'll play it back on the TV
in the room. Then we'll see what's on the news. Then we'll decide
what to do. Okay?"
Bud glanced at her clutching the video camera. Jill Winslow, he
knew, was the kind of woman who might actually do the right thing
and turn that tape over to the authorities, despite what it would
do to her personally. Not to mention him. He thought, however, that
when she saw the tape in all its explicitness, she'd come to her
senses. If not, he might have to get a little forceful with
He said, "You know, the...what do you call that? The black box. The
flight recorder. When they find that, they'll know more about what
happened to that airplane than we do, or what the tape shows. The
flight recorder. Better than a video recorder."
She didn't reply.
He pulled into the parking lot of the Bayview Hotel. He said, "We
don't even know if it was a plane. Let's see what they say on the
She got out of the Explorer and walked toward the hotel, carrying
the video camera.
He shut off the engine and followed. He thought to himself, "I'm
not going to crash and burn like that plane."
Excerpted from NIGHT FALL © Copyright 2004 by Nelson
DeMille. Reprinted with permission by Warner Vision, an imprint of
Time Warner Bookmark. All rights reserved.