Make it count.

CHAPTER NINETEEN

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Username: TheRappingTheorist

Go Naomi, it’s your birthday.

We gonna party like someone finally took my combustion theory seriously.

Naomi

I know as soon as Jason’s eyes roam over my bathing suit-clad body that coming on this boat was a mistake—and I’m going to pay. My dress shivers to the floor of the vessel, leaving me in the white bikini I purchased to wear on my honeymoon. It’s a brief amount of material for me, giving my breasts the barest coverage, the waistband riding low toward my sex. Instead of material ties, the sides are held together by silver and gold beads, which bite ever so slightly into my hips.

The boat rocks under our feet, groaning. The movement of the water beneath us is a blatant simulation of sex, like the ocean is urging us on. Do it. Give in. And he’s in no hurry to look away, either. He tosses the wet suit in his hand over the covered engine, rubbing his hand across his bearded jaw. Lord, he’s tall enough to seem like a fixture of the sky, his wide shoulders blocking out the sun, leaving me in the shade but far from cool. Quite the opposite, actually. When his tongue glides along his full lower lip, I’m remembering the way his head felt between my thighs. How invincible he looked from my knees.

Playing dirty using my name. I love you saying it so bad.

It’s probably too late to hide the effect his attention is having on my body. My nipples are gathering in a rush of euphoria, my libido probably thinking it’s going to get relief like last night. Is it? God knows I need it. I’ve never needed sex. Not like this. Not like I might not have a choice but to go get it. Receive it.

Mouth dry, I reach for the wetsuit Jason indicates with a slow chin jerk, bending forward to step inside and tug it up my legs. On my way up, I can’t help but notice the distinct bulge inside his wet suit and he makes no move to hide it. When I finally make it into the ocean, it’s going to rise in temperature. Scientists will be baffled.

My manners prod me to fill the silence. “When did you know you wanted to be a diver?”

To his credit, he doesn’t so much as smirk at my threadbare voice. “When I was sixteen, I went on a school field trip. Snorkeling, not diving. But it was the first time I…”

“What?”

He scrubs at the back of his neck. “First time I heard the silence under the surface,” he says, as if he’s never said the words out loud. “I was never big on school. The classrooms made me feel confined, but it was the same at home. I didn’t know how to grab hold of my own thoughts. I loved Birdie and Nat, but they were younger and loud.” The corners of his eyes wrinkle in response to my quiet laugh. “Snorkeling blocked out every sound for a while and I just felt this new type of ease. Once I started taking diving classes, I felt less confined in school. I could be more…present at home.”

“You needed your own place.”

Jason nods. “It’s not my only place now. I’ve got running.” His eyes roam over me lazily. “Better yet, I’ve got a beauty queen who tell me stories in the middle of the night.”

I’m incapable of doing anything but basking in the glow he leaves on my skin. My tongue is too tied to respond, though—what would I say?—and he eventually has mercy on me.

“Number one rule is to check your gear, make sure it’s functioning properly. I’ve already done that, but for the future…” Jason’s voice is thick as it resumes, contrasting with the white fluffy clouds. He disappears into the front of the boat for a moment and I use the opportunity to quickly jiggle myself in an undignified fashion into the remainder of the suit, zipping it up to my collarbone. Jason emerges with a life jacket in one hand, an oxygen tank in the other. He sets down the tank on its side next to me, slowly stepping into my space, now blocking out the whole sky. “This is a buoyancy control device. It looks like a life jacket, but the difference is, you can control the amount of air inside. You want more on the surface than you do underwater.”

I almost moan as he leans in to wrap the vest around my back, sending sea salt, male and pungent cigar smoke drifting over me. It occurs to me that I’m about to do something completely outside my comfort zone, but I’ve never felt safer in my entire life.

“We’re in shallow water, so you can take it nice and easy,” he continues gruffly, inches from my ear. “A slow descent is important. Drop too fast and you’ll get decompression sickness. Your body has to handle the depth in degrees.” His mouth brushes my ear. “One inch at a time, beauty queen.” I’m left swaying as he circles around behind me, securing the tank to the back of my jacket and connecting a series of lines. He’s saying words like regulator set and I should almost certainly be listening and asking questions, but I’m too aware of the hammering of my pulse, the liquid weight rushing to my loins. “I’ll be right beside you, making sure you’re moving at the right pace.”

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