Sepia with flecks of wheat.
If I were writing right now, those would be the exact words I’d use to describe the color of his eyes. I imagine opening my laptop and typing the words. His eyes—damn, I could get lost in them. Books are written about eyes like his. They really are the perfect shade of brown. Not at all boring and one-dimensional like mine. Deep brown pools of chocolate with peanut butter streaks of gold. Ooh, that’s good. I wiggle my toes with excitement. Could this be the breakthrough I was hoping for? I try to remember the phrasing as I burn the fine lines under his lashes into my memory.
You’d think, under the circumstances, my mind would be otherwise occupied with more pressing matters. Say, for instance, the long fingers of his left hand, which are currently cupping my breast. The proximity of lips never tasted so close to my own. Or perhaps, the weight of his hard body pressed firmly against mine in the sand. Maybe even the dumbfounded expression on his face as he stares at me hoping for some kind of sign. It’s as if, at this moment, any word from me could make or break his life.
I open my mouth and nothing comes out. That rarely ever happens. I’m known for always having something to say. But in between the crashing of waves against the shore and the rapid pulsating of my heart in my chest, I can’t seem to find the words to express myself.
I think I’m starting to feel . . . pain. The jarred feeling in my bones confirms it. Sand isn’t soft like people think it is. It’s tiny little pieces of shells, mineral deposits, and granular rock. Most people see the luxurious ripples of sand, watch their feet sink into it like silk, and assume it’s a soft material, but when your head hits it at fifty miles an hour, you’re forced to consider that sand is not a soft, fluffy pillow. It’s a freight train of steel crushed into pebbles.
It’s a good analogy. I really am a walking encyclopedia. I should probably spend less time with my face buried in books. Maybe I wouldn’t be in this precarious situation if I paid more attention to the world around me. Looking up into those eyes once more, I sigh. Who am I kidding? This is the most action I’ve had in forever. I should probably try to enjoy it.
It amazes me how fast the human mind works. I’ve had all these thoughts in a matter of seconds, although it feels like a lot longer. Glancing down at my chest, I watch his fingers pulse along the material of my pink bathing suit before he firmly palms my right tit as if to steady himself. I say the first thing that comes into my mind when I sense he’s about to panic.
“You could’ve at least bought me dinner before you copped a feel.”
I almost regret making a joke when he feverishly moves his eyes from mine to the location of his fingers. He cringes as his lips open and words escape him. His hands move to the sand. He lifts himself off me like he’s doing a push-up and moves to sit at my side.
“I’m just kidding,” I say through a half-smile although I am a little hungry. As I rise up on my elbows, I moan lightly when my brain rattles against my skull.
“I’m so sorry! Oh fuck, are you okay?” he asks.
He said fuck. Now that his muscled thighs are directly in front of me, I’m kind of wishing I were actually underneath him for that reason.
He soars up off the ground effortlessly, as if he’s floating, and reaches out for my arms to help me sit up. I wave them away.
How quickly the tides have turned. Another beach analogy. Damn, I have issues.
Not more than a couple of minutes ago, I was sitting in my lounge chair near the ocean watching bikini babes strut their perfect bodies along the shore. I remember I’d started to feel inadequate. The self-loathing kicked in as I fell into body comparison mode and began to question my life choices. Especially the bagel I had for breakfast and the slice of pizza for lunch. Then I realized that coming to the ocean for book ideas was a monumental mistake. As soon as I made the decision to forget this whole inspiration vacation and go back home, I immediately jumped up and got knocked on my ass by the complete and total hottie now standing desperately concerned in front of me.
“Do you need a doctor?” His hands rush through his wavy, dark hair before he reaches out to me again and pulls back. He’s a nervous wreck.
“I’m fine. Really. Just give me a second.” Shaking my head to get my bearings, the loose sand from my short black hair scatters over my shoulders.
He crouches down next to me. “This is totally my fault. I was running along the beach and I swear I heard someone call my name. I only turned my head for a second. I didn’t even see you.”
I blink a few times and try to see past the rays of light shining behind him. I can’t see his face, but I can most definitely hear laughter all around me. Super. I just love drawing attention to myself in the worst way possible. My sole focus becomes trying not to look as dumb as I feel. Pushing up from the ground, I almost lose my balance. One of his hands grabs my arm and the other grips my waist.
“Whoa there. Are you really okay?”
I briefly stare at his hand on my hip before stepping out of his reach and brushing the sand from my arms. “I’m really okay.”
Turning my head left and right to the lingering onlookers, I shout, “Show’s over, folks, but tips are welcome.”
He snickers and I cock my head to the side, raising my palm over my eyes to get a better look at his face in the sun. I know my mouth gapes, but I can’t help it. Fuck me twice and call me stupid. I couldn’t have picked a better looking guy to plow into me if I tried.
He’s tall and built. No wonder it felt like I got hit by a brick. He is one. A brick house with a naked, inviting chest and arm muscles like strong, deep-rooted trees that make you want to climb them. I unconsciously lick my lips as I take in his stomach muscles. Those waves are better than the ones on the beach.
He clears his throat and I glance up at his face in time to see he’s caught me ogling him. I silently berate myself for drooling over him and quickly throw on my ratted Fall Out Boy T-shirt. I must have hit my head harder than I thought. I usually don’t even bother looking at the pretty boys. I bend down to pick up my laptop, now covered in sand.
“Is your computer okay?”
I flip it open and shake it out. “Yeah, I’m sure it’s fine. It’s just a little dirt. This baby has withstood three cups of coffee and two diet cokes. I’m sure a little sand is refreshing for him.”
“I’d like to think it’s a man. I mean, I have my hands all over him all day long and he never complains, so . . .”
He laughs as he bends down to fold my chair. “Let me get that for you.”
I touch his arm and stop him mid reach. “It’s fine. I’m fine. You’re off the hook. You can go back to your jog or whatever. Maybe find that person who called your name.”
“Fisher,” he says.
“Me? No. Do I look like I fish?”
He smirks. “That’s my name. Well, my last name. Patrick Fisher. But everyone calls me Fisher.”
“Oh. Okay. Cool. Thanks for sharing.”
I shake out my towel and stuff it into my bag along with my bottle of sunscreen and my laptop. Just as I lift the bag from the ground, he grabs it from me and tosses it on his shoulder.
“Hey, what’s your deal?” I place my hands on my hips.
“Let me carry your things. It’s the least I can do for all the trouble I caused.”
“I’m right here,” I say, motioning to the hotel just beyond the swimming pool. “I’m going back to my room. It’s not necessary.”
He sighs. “I feel terrible for knocking you over. You were a little wobbly and I’d feel better if I could just walk you to the hotel.”
“You’re not the first guy who’s knocked my off my feet. I’m fine. Really.” I reach out for my bag and he steps back.
Pausing to stare at him for a moment, I shake my head and bend down to grab my folded chair. He rushes in and takes it before my hand is halfway there.
“What am I supposed to carry?” I ask as I slip on my flip-flops.
“Someone as beautiful as you should never have to lift a thing.”
My eyebrows rise in amusement and I snort. “There are no fish in this sea, Fisher. You should take your rod and move on to bigger oceans.”
“My rod?” He laughs. “Wow, I guess that sounded like a pick-up line, didn’t it?” He cringes humorously.
I shrug. “I call ’em like I see ’em.”
“I like that. And it may have sounded like a line, but I meant it. You really are gorgeous.” He squints and licks his lips cautiously. “I’m sure men tell you that all the time.”
Wrinkling my nose, I decide to let him believe that’s true. I don’t think now is the time to pour out my troubled dating life to a complete stranger. He doesn’t seem like a player. He’s too nervously awkward. I think. What do I know? I haven’t been on a date in like . . . crap. Five years? My reality reminds me I need to move. The sooner I get off the beach, the sooner I can get my ass back to my room to change my flight home. Home. The word sounds like heaven right now. I imagine my soft comforter and my own perfect bed. I want to go home and sleep for a week.
He follows closely behind as I silently walk past the pool to the hotel entrance. Turning to face him, I hold out my hand for him to give me my bag. He places his hand inside mine instead, shaking it. Damn, he has big hands.
“I didn’t get your name.”
“That’s because I didn’t tell you,” I reply.
I attempt to take my hand back, but he won’t let go. He raises an eyebrow at me and smiles a crooked smile that almost makes me lose my will to breathe. Holy fucktits. He’s not just hot, he’s beautiful. Like a tanned god. I stammer now because I realize I need to get away from him before my wet panties drip down my leg. “Greer. Greer Hanson.” Shit. I just gave him my real name. I usually give my author name to strangers.
“I wish we had met under better circumstances, Greer, and again, I apologize for running you down.”
He releases my hand and slides my bag down his arm. I nod and stare at the ground awkwardly, wondering when I can run away without looking like I’m running.
“I’d be happy to carry this back to your room for you, if you’d like.”
I shoot him my best Britney Spears crazy face and he chuckles.
“I did it again, didn’t I?” The irony of his words and my thoughts has me singing, “Oops, I Did It Again” in my head.
“That’s not what I meant. I just . . . What I mean is . . .”
I shift uncomfortably from foot to foot as he attempts to clarify. I slip the straps of my bag over my shoulder. This is kind of weird. Even for me.
His hand rushes through his hair once more. “Could I buy you a drink?” he asks.
Oh jeez. He really feels bad. I place my hand on my heart. “No. Thank you. Oh my gosh. It was an accident. You don’t owe me anything. Please stop feeling like you do. It was nice to meet you and thank you, but I have a lot of work to do and I need to go.”
He opens his mouth and closes it abruptly before smiling and nodding. I take the opportunity and speed walk away from him. I slowly glance over my shoulder to see he’s still watching me. He raises his hand to wave and I face forward, itching my chin on my shoulder like I wasn’t intentionally turning to him. I finish my walk like it’s an Olympic event and I’m determined to win first place. Once I’ve made my way through the lobby and I’m safely inside the closed elevator, I start to laugh. What the hell was that? Weird shit happens to me all the time, but this is one for the books.