I had flushed a deep, deep crimson—my cheeks and the triangle of flesh visible above my T-shirt’s V-neckline the same colour as her lipstick. I knew this because my shame was reflected in her sunglasses.
“What?” she jeered. I don’t think she meant to jeer… but she did. “Nobody ever ask you to do that before?”
“Nobody,” I shook my head. Cheeks hot. Chest hot. Armpits wet—sweat trickling down my sides and down my back, and it wasn’t from the heat of the sun.
“Are you going to? Are we going to?” she said. Kinder this time. The lips, impeccably painted, curved into a smile and then, into a the prelude of a kiss.
I looked away, lest another part of my body betray me.
She laughed. Moved in half a step closer. Hand on my chest, then sliding down to just below the waistline of my shorts.
My embarrassment wanted to take a step back, but my desire moved me forward.
“That’s better,” she murmured, one hand resting just-below, just-above—trespassing but not really—the other curving around my back. My hands on the jutting bones of her hips. Flesh naked. Hot.
From the sun, not embarrassment, this I knew.
She drew the hand resting against my waistband slowly up and into it, and then around, finger just inside, until her hand was on my back. Pressed herself closer to me, her painted lips against my naked ear.
“I can’t believe nobody has ever asked you to dance in the ocean,” she whispered. She led. One step, two steps back until our feet were wet, then calves. The waves lapped, splashed. I could smell the salt.
“You didn’t ask me to dance in the ocean,” I tried to whisper, but instead I croaked. “You asked me to fuck in the ocean.”
“Same thing,” she murmured, swaying, hands wound tightly around me. “Doesn’t most fucking start with a dance of some sort?”
“Jesus,” I moaned.
“Mary, Holy Mother of God,” she corrected. Hips swaying—promising to grind. Hands pressing—promising to caress, more. Lips so close to my ear, but not kissing. Would they?
“No,” she answered as if I had asked. “No kissing today. Only dancing. And fucking.”
Hands on my shorts, in them, legs tangled, tripping, falling. Water cold. Crimson lips above me, below me. My cheeks, chest, other places burning with desire that created new colours.
“It’s a good thing we don’t need to use condoms,” she said as we crawled out of the water on our knees a while later. “How, exactly, would we have managed that?”
Sated and bold, I pushed her into the damp sand and climbed on top of her. A kiss on those still crimson lips.
“We would have managed,” I promised. Pushed a leg between hers to spread her open again.
“Sex in the sand?” she asked. I moved in for the lips—crimson no more—got a mouthful of wet hair.
“No kissing,” she reminded me. Turned her head. “I don’t think,” she said, “there is enough privacy on this beach for sex in the sand.”
She was right—as I lifted my head I saw a group of tourists on the edge of the cove, walking our away.
I started to get up.
“I don’t care,” she said, pulling me back on top of her.
But I did.
So I dragged her back into the ocean instead.
This time, she forgot about the no kissing rule, and she tasted divine.
For Nicole: Cardamom Knob Wool
For Jenn: Piano River Feather
For Lara: Peasant Cicada Pomegranate
For Paola: Stoked Sunrise Ferocity
For Nina: Crimson Brilliant Moon
For Cathy: Elated Chocolate Tears
For Lisa: Collar Forgiveness Wind
For Leslie: Train Clouds Mountain
For Grazyna: Anticipation Disappointment Hope
For Tet: Pills Chips Lotion
For Fionna: Crimson Ocean Dance