“They’re the worst,” he says. “Honestly, I’ve met men like him before. Snakes, always.”
He picks his book back up and I sit and watch him from behind my sunglasses for a few moments, allowing my eyes, hidden by the dark lenses, to travel over his torso. He truly is gorgeous, with huge shoulders, impressive pecs and abs so sculpted that they could cut glass. It’s not like I’ve seen a lot of naked men, none in fact, but he puts any other man to shame and I can’t help wondering what’s underneath those shorts and whether or not he is as big in all areas of his body.
I love the way he gets all protective when Brad bothers me too. There’s something so wonderfully caveman about it, an Alpha male protecting his woman.
Except I’m not his woman, I remind myself. Fantasizing like this isn’t going to help the situation at all.
I’m glad when it’s time to go for our jet skiing session. The guy whose name is Paulo, we learn, takes us out on the boat first, and then we come back in further down the beach so I can get on the skis. Paulo talks me through what to do while I struggle into a life jacket. Alex looks at me in amusement. “Orange is your color.”
“I look like a tangerine,” I grumble, then continue to listen to Paulo. I mean, how hard can this be? The boat is doing all the work.
I get on the skis and we head off, Alex grinning out at me from the back of the boat as I hang on for dear life.
I’m soon laughing with exhilaration as we tear across the waves and the spray from the ocean hits my skin. This is so much fun, and I can’t believe that I’ve never tried it before.
Then it all goes wrong. A sudden, vicious cramp seizes my thigh and it makes me gasp and double over, letting go of the handle. I’m still attached to the boat of course but now I’m being yanked along and I’m off balance, clawing at my leg. I tip and go face first into the waves, breathing in and swallowing a huge amount of water. I panic as I realize that the life jacket is making it too difficult to turn over and I’m still being dragged along at high speed. My thigh is screaming in agony and my lungs are burning as I struggle to catch a breath.
I’m going to drown.
Jenny’s in trouble.
I see her buckle over, let go of the handle and go tumbling into the water.
“Stop the boat!” I scream at Paulo and run to the edge just in time to see Jenny struggling to right herself. The life jacket is keeping her afloat all right, but she’s face down in the water and thrashing around.
I dive straight into the ocean and the water hits me like a cool slap, then I swim as fast as I can over to her and grab her around the middle, flipping her over. She coughs and spits out water and I hold her until she’s calmed down and has caught her breath. The boat has stopped and we float in the azure waters, me treading water as I hold her.
I don’t need to still be holding her, I realize. The boat is still, she has a life jacket on and can still swim. I don’t need to be here with my arms around her at all.
I just want to be. A wave of protectiveness washes me and I shudder as the image of her tumbling into the water flashes through my mind. I feel sick at the thought of anything happening to her.
Calm now and having freed herself of the skis, Jenny looks up at me. Her eyes are the same color as the ocean and I’m close enough to see the dusting of freckles across her nose and the tops of her cheeks. For a moment we’re frozen in time, staring at each other as the waves caress our bodies, and the rest of the world disappears. I could make love to her here and now, in the water, with the tang of salt on our lips and the sun heating our skin. The thought is sublime.
“Alex?” she whispers and I’m jolted back to reality.
“Let’s get back to the boat,” I say brusquely, letting go of her. “Can you swim?”
She nods. “Yes, the cramp has gone. That’s why I fell, my leg seized up horribly.”
We swim back to the side of the boat and I lift her up then drag myself in while Paulo helps Jenny back on board. He looks horrified and I sense he’s worried about being held culpable and losing money.
“It wasn’t your fault Paulo,” I reassure him. “Accidents happen. Can you take us back to the beach?”