He watched her walk around the beach; he watched her every Saturday. She reminded him of gods and goddesses, of ancient times and hallowed places. She awoke primordial urges. She was bad for him. But she was irresistible; and he was tired of trying.
“I would like to speak with you please.”
That sounded like “can I polish your shoe please?” The unflattering thought, alongside other nervous ones, skittered in his head as he watched her watch him with obsidian eyes. Long lashes swept down as she took him in. Her eyes were not shy as they swept him up, then down. He wondered if she could see the pounding of his heart, the racing pulse at his jugular, the breath stuck somewhere between his lungs and nostrils….
“What do you want?”
It should have been rude. He was sure that somewhere in the etiquettes of social niceties it was rude. But it hadn’t sounded rude. It had, matter of fact, sounded like a proposition. He wondered what it made of him to imagine the question a proposition; but it didn’t change the way his brain had interpreted it.
Oh fuck no! Did I just say that? I didn’t just say that; right? That couldn’t have been my voice sounding breathless and saying exactly what I was thinking without finesse. Damn. I’m tripping. Damn woman’s got me tripping. That was just the voice in my head. The words sure as bloody fuck hell did not pass through my lips and blow all hopes of any chances I could have with her.
His heart must have stopped. His eyes popped, his jaw fell open. He closed his mouth once, but the slack lower jaw fell back open. He was obviously struggling with something inside him. He spread his hands like he was making to talk; then dropped them back to his side. He tried again once, twice, then ran his palms through his hair; fingering the strands with some hope that the action could cause enough blood flow to his brain to aid better response to the situation he was in. He turned away from her, muttering obscenities as he cursed the life out of himself; half wishing the earth could open up and swallow him, half wondering how the hell he could walk away with some shards of dignity intact. He could however not get beyond the chant in his brain: I said it out. And she heard.
“You do not turn your back on me”.
It had been a statement in the silkiest voice coating steel. It commanded; and it demanded compliance. Her voice paralysed all thought, and he felt nothing else. He realised then that his eyes had been closed.
She was in front of him! He could almost swear she had been behind him the last time he had seen her. Her eyes were large twinkling jewels lined by dark lids and shaded by long lashes… leaves of the palm tree. The thought entered unbidden into his subconscious, and he thought it apt.
I could drown in her eyes. Just staring at the beauty of them. Puzzling on the thoughts they express. Fantasizing about how they would look if I made her scream….
He shook his head once, twice… the images in his head had gotten quite raunchy; and all of their own accord. Any more of the thoughts and he would be shifting uncomfortably from feet to feet; trying to ease the ache hanging between them. She was looking at him with one brow raised. He knew that look. It was the universal what-are-you-thinking/doing look. A shy smile puckered his lips, lifted the corners, hinted at his dimple. If only you knew… You sure don’t want to know.
Her eyes were challenging him. He figured that if she had not turned tail yet then perhaps…
“I’m sorry I turned my back on you. I want you. I want you really bad. So bad; the possibility that I could get this wrong scares the crazy out of me.”
He looked at her, searching her face for signs of fear. Some sign that he was saying all the wrong things, or all the right things wrongly. But she was looking at him intently; calmly. So he went on:
“I was going to tell you nicely; instead I blurted it out like that. I was wondering how I could do damage control. If you just don’t run away, I promise to say it right.”
She looked into his eyes then, interlocked her gaze with his for what seemed like a lifetime, but which couldn’t have been more than a couple heartbeats. Then she walked slowly toward the nearest coconut tree. She leaned against it; her head, shoulders and hips alone touching it; emphasizing the elfin curve of her back, the graceful arch of her neck….
When the sun dipped below the horizon that day, his head was nested above her shoulder. His right hand was above them both; bearing his weight upon the coconut tree which had borne witness to the first day of the rest of his life. His left hand was curved around her waist possessively, and they were laughing at the bastardization of a story about dipping suns and lonely mermaids.
He stayed on the beach that night, counting the stars and naming them with her. Despite their beauty, all he thought of was how none of the sparkling jewels lightening the dark sky held a candle to the one in his arms. She lay on him to listen to the music of his heart just before the sun rose, and he woke alone, save for the smile she had kissed onto his lips.