Second(17)By: Chantal Fernando
He drops his hand, winks at me, and walks to the other side of the boat.
I touch the side of my lip where his finger just was.
“What am I going to do when you fly back to LA?” I ask him, popping a green grape in my mouth. “I’m getting used to being spoilt. Soon I’ll be back at the bank hating life.”
He chuckles and steals one of my grapes. “You can always come and visit me.”
“Maybe at the end of the year,” I think out loud, shrugging. “If they let me take more time off after this.” I think about it and amend my statement. “Probably not.”
I lift my amazing new sunglasses away from my eyes and set them on top of my head. “Can I ask you something? The songs you write are mainly love songs. Is that something from experience? You’ve never brought a girl home with you before, but I’ve seen pictures of you with different women.”
“I’d only bring a girl home if I was marrying her,” he says, smirking. “I’ve dated around, yeah, but nothing too serious. Why all the questions, Sabina? You interviewing for a magazine now?”
I laugh, turning my body to face him. “I should. I’d make enough from that interview that I could quit the bank.”
He throws a grape at my head and it hits me on my forehead.
“Hey!” I yell, rubbing my forehead. “That’s going in the interview!”
He laughs and shakes his head at me.
The boat comes to a stop in the middle of nowhere, so I get off the hammock and look over the edge at the crystal-blue water.
“I’m so freaking excited!” I say, pulling my top and shorts off, leaving me in my bikini. I put it on before, but put my clothes back over it. Dean has seen me in a bikini before, so I don’t feel shy in front of him, and it’s not like I have anything he hasn’t seen better versions of before. I turn around to see what he’s doing, and find him already looking at me.
“Remind me to thank Tara,” I think I hear him say, but I’m not sure. He pulls his t-shirt off and his famous abs are all but in my face. It’s kind of hard to concentrate.
“Do you work out?” I blurt out. “Because all I see you do is eat.”
He grins, and runs his hand through his hair. “I work out when I’m home. This is a break for me.”
“Oh,” I say, turning to face the water again. I really need to stop asking him so many personal questions, but I just can’t help myself. I’m a curious person. “What if there are sharks in the water?”
“Swim fast,” he jokes, making me scowl.
He jumps into the water first while I linger on the boat a little, watching him. He beckons me to join him, so I put on the snorkelling mask and lower myself into the water from the ladder on the boat. Hands reach around my waist the second I enter the water, making me jump a little.
“I’ll save you from any sharks,” he says in my ear, sending shivers up my spine, then moves away. I turn around and swim after him, watching as he dives under. I do the same. Immersed in water, it’s like a whole other world down here. Fish swim past me and I try not to squirm. I take in everything, excitement and adrenaline filling me as I start to swim deeper, towards where Dean is.
Today really is the best day I’ve had in a very, very long time.
After an hour of swimming, we’re back on the boat, enjoying the sunshine and just relaxing. Dean puts the radio on and we sing along to the songs that we know, him with his incredible voice and me with my below average one. He laughs at me as I rap a chorus, but then joins in on the next one. I feel… free, even if it’s just temporarily. That’s the only way I can think to explain it. I smile to the sky as I look up at the clouds, and wonder if Ben is looking down at me right now, also smiling.
“What are you smiling and thinking about?” Dean asks.
I tell him. “I was thinking how happy and free I feel right now, and then I was wondering if Ben is looking down on us right now, probably smiling, just like I am.”
Dean goes quiet after that, so I turn to look at him. He’s lying back in his hammock, eyes closed, sunlight touching every inch of him. He’s in his black board shorts and nothing else, his hand resting on his ripped abs. How have I never noticed how chiselled they are before?
“Thank you for bringing me out here,” I tell him. “And for all the gifts you bought me, even though you shouldn’t have.” I purse my lips, then add, “And don’t think I don’t know how much they cost because I do. I like designer stuff, it’s my weakness.”
“I know,” he says, eyes still closed. “I’ve seen all your handbags, Sabina.”