He was large and he was broad, and
he filled her vision as he moved so lithely through the loose white
sand. He stopped when he was but two feet away. For a minute he did
nothing but look down. His eyes were hidden behind sunshades, so Sydney
couldn't see the sparkle in his eyes. But she knew it was there. The
teasing quirk at the corner of his solemn mouth gave him away.
"Ladies," he said and held out
a hand to Sydney. She accepted and got to her feet, dusting stray particles
of sand from the seat of her yellow bikini.
"Hello, Ray." Poe returned to reclining
on her elbows. "It's nice to see you."
Sydney wanted to roll her eyes.
But then Ray said, "It's nice to be seen," and tugged his glasses down
enough to give Poe a wink. Sydney managed to resist smacking him on
the shoulder. And then all she could do was let out a loud, "Whoop!" as
Ray hoisted her into his arms and headed back for the lagoon to the
tune of Poe's call of, "You two have fun!"
Ray glanced down at Sydney and
raised a brow above the rims of his shades. "Your suit is water proof,
"It's a swim suit, Ray. It's made
to get wet." Oh, but he felt good. One arm around her back, the other
beneath her legs. His fingers tucked into her ribs. His chest warm
and hard and solid at her shoulder. She laced her hands behind his
neck and held on tight, refusing to be alarmed by his grin that was
The grin widened. "Just making
sure it's not one of those fancy look-but-don't-touch numbers."
Please touch, she wanted to say
but instead she waited for the dunking she was sure he had planned.
Surprisingly enough, he didn't. But what he did certainly grabbed her
attention in ways a dunking would've failed to do.
He settled his body back into the
center of the circular float and settled her body on top. The float
was sturdy and easily held both of their weights. Ray had once again
draped his arms overhead, giving Sydney the broad expanse of his chest
to lie back on.
She kept one hand on her stomach.
The other she trailed over the side, dangling her fingers in the water.
Her legs tangled in and out of Ray's, but it was her backside in the
dip of his lap causing her the most grief. She wanted to wiggle. She
wanted to be still. She wasn't sure which want she wanted the most.
"I've been thinking, Sydney."
Ray's voice rumbled through her
ribcage. She waited for the shudders to fade, savoring the deep echo
before she replied. "That can be dangerous, you know."
"Watch it, woman. I can still change
my mind about sharing this float."
"I don't remember asking to share
They drifted silently for another
moment or two, until Sydney started to wonder if she could maneuver
with enough dexterity to dunk Ray while staying high and marginally
dry. But she was enjoying his lap way too much to act on the renegade
"You've been thinking?"
"I've been thinking that you've
been making promises you can't keep."
"Is that so?"
"Yep. It's so."
"I suppose you're talking about
finding time for us to spend together?"
"That would be the one."
"Well, we're together now."
"We're together with Poe."
"Hmm," Sydney mumbled, pulling
her hand through the water enough to turn the float beachward. "Poe's
"Yeah. Some friend you are, abandoning
her like that."
"I got . . . an offer I couldn't
refuse." She'd started to say, "a better offer," but had stopped the
words before they'd rushed out. She wasn't sure why.
"Damn straight. And a better offer
"Oh, yeah? Says who?" She slapped
both soles of her feet against the surface of the lagoon, splashing
water over their legs.
"Says the man who wants to get
you naked in the worst possible way."
"Oh. That man," Sydney said, barely
able to get the words past the rush of desire working to close off
her throat. Especially when she felt Ray begin to stir and harden further.
Neither one of their suits was made of anything but the thinnest fabric
and he had to know she could feel him.
She wasn't sure what move to make
next. And was glad that he let her off the hook by saying, "We're three
days into this trip, Sydney."
She sighed. "I know."
"And I'm usually a very patient
man. But not this time. I've been waiting for you for eight years." He
lowered one arm and splayed his hand flat across her belly. "Eight
years is a helluva long time."
And didn't she know it as well.
Waiting to touch him, to learn him, to know him. Waiting to have his
hands on her body the way she had them now. "You're right. It has been.
And you'd better be worth all this waiting."
Ray stilled beneath her. His second
hand joined the first, both measuring the span of her stomach. And
then he chuckled and Sydney felt the tickle scuttle the length of her
"I could say the same thing to
"You could." She smiled to herself. "But
This time he laughed and the sound
rolled up from deep in his belly. His hands squeezed her where they
held her by the waist. "You know, Sydney Ford. There's one other thing
I want to do in the worst possible way."
"You wouldn't dare," she said sensing
that the time for that dunking had arrived.
"Oh yeah?" he answered.
And he did.