Authors: Tabitha Levin
IN HIS SAILS
Copyright © 2013 by Tabitha Levin
All Rights Reserved.
This is a work of fiction.
Names, characters, places and incidents are either products of the author’s imaginations or used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
No part of this publication
may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, without permission in writing from the author.
Note: Because this book is set in the Australian beach town of
Nambucca Heads, it is written in Australian English (with Aussie spelling and some lingo).
The wind was cold as it rushed past my face. My hair whipped into the air. I could taste the saltiness of the sea that permeated the air. I ran my tongue over my lips, remembering his taste instead, as if it would somehow bring me closer to him. No longer soft, the chill wind had parched them, leaving them dry and rough. I reached into my pocket, putting on lip balm.
Honey. His favourite. The balm instantly drenched them, but it wouldn’t last. I’d have to add more soon.
It was still quiet. Only the gentle lapping of the water against the wooden legs of the pier, and even that was quieter than usual. It was always like this, so early in the morning. I was alone, just like I had been every morning for the past two days. Ever since I was
told that David was lost at sea.
I could no longer weep. I was numb to that now. Instead I stood, quiet, unmoving, watching the waves undulate on the surface of the water, willing them to bring news, something.
By now, I had no illusions that he was coming back. No one who had been gone this long did. Not normally anyway. But that didn’t stop me hoping and praying. Sending my thoughts and emotions out across the waves, hoping that one grain of sand, or wet salty spray would be the messenger that gave him the strength to find his way back to me.
couldn’t keep coming here though, Winter was approaching. It seemed like the ocean was trying to tell me that today, as the sky greyed out, as if condoling me for my miserable mood.
funny, I always believed the sea to be a happy place, somewhere that made falling in love easy. That was my experience up until now at least.
This very beach is how we met, just eighteen months ago.
Eighteen Months Earlier
“Do I have to go? Really?” I folded my arms across my chest and tapped my foot on the kitchen floor.
“You are part of this family, Mia, so yes you do. And I won’t hear another word about it,” said my mother.
I rolled my eyes, wondering how many other twenty two year old women still had to holiday with their family. What I really wanted to be doing this summer was to head up to the Gold Coast with my girlfriends, drink too much alcohol and party into the night. The last thing I wanted was to hang out with my mother and my little brother and sister.
My mother’s steely gaze meant she was serious, so I grabbed my coffee and walked outside, rather than keep arguing the point.
At least Nambucca Heads was a nice place. It wasn’t full of tourists (much) and I could work on my tan at the beach. And it was only for two weeks. I had plenty of time to catch up with my friends before the New Year started again.
I took a sip of my coffee, letting the warmth calm me, and watched my siblings amuse themselves in the backyard.
They’re twelve year old twins, although you wouldn’t know it to look at them. They’re as different as a daisy and a rose. Each beautiful in their own way, but so different you wouldn’t pick that they were both from the same family.
Britney is a lot like I was at her age, takes forever to make a decision, but once chosen, is loyal and headstrong about getting her way. Paul is easy going, and
lets the world go on its business around him without any worry. Kind of like mum. I wish I were more like them sometimes.
isn’t around much. Which is fine by all of us, he can never make up his mind about what he wants. And he can’t commit to anything. He makes me angry when he’s around, so when it’s just mum, me and my brother and sister, things are much easier. Simpler.
like you to pack your bag tonight, so we can leave first light,” she said as she came out into the backyard. She was dressed up more than usual and wearing perfume.
I crinkled my nose wondering where she was going, but put it out of my mind when my phone beeped, indicating I had a new message.
“Yeah, I’ll pack later,” I said, walking back inside toward my bedroom.
“Make sure you take everything that’s important to you.” My mother placed her hand on my arm as I passed by her. She was acting weird.
“Fine, whatever,” I said, messaging my friend Lucy back.
The car ride to the holiday resort park we stayed at every year was uneventful. The twins were either arguing or ignoring each other, and I spent most of my time with my earphones in, listening to music as mum drove.
I closed my eyes letting the vibrations from the car, tickle my cheek as I rested it on the door, concentrating on the music lyrics that sang through the earbuds.
We stopped for lunch about three hours in, and then continued the rest of the way until we reached the park at about two o’clock.
The sun was high in the sky and I couldn’t wait to get to the beach.
“Help your brother and sister to unpack,” said my mother.
I glared at them. “They’re twelve, they can do it themselves.”
“Fine.” They’d taken mum at her word and packed far too much stuff for one little holiday. It was as if they thought we’d never be going back home.
I packed lightly. Like any reasonable holiday
My friend Lucy texted me that
they’d had a wild time last night. She included photo’s of course, her and my other girlfriends, arm in arm with lights and crowds in the background. The smiles on their faces as they held drinks up to the camera sent a pit of jealousy in my stomach. I wanted so much to be with them right now. Yet here I was, my mother humming as she set up the kitchenette, my brother and sister in different corners of the cabin changing into their swimmers. Mum was going to take them to the pool inside the resort. I thought they were a little old for parental supervision, and I definitely was. There was no way she was going to force me to go with them - I’d just have to find my own fun.
I grabbed an apple, crunching it as I bit down, and slipped my shoes on. I pictured
Instagraming myself on the beach and sending it back to Lucy. Alone. I sighed. Yeah, she’d be really jealous over that one.
Grabbing my towel, I left the cabin and headed toward the water.
It was a beautiful day, the sun hot, but not scorching, a light wind so you wouldn’t sweat before you made it to the water’s edge.
Self conscious at being solo, I scanned the small lagoon of beach that was next to our park watching the waves lapping at children's toes. I
couldn’t handle the large beach on the other side yet.
Everyone around me was splashing in the shallows, cuddling on the sand.
All in groups or couples. Or at least that’s how it seemed to me. When you are in a bad mood, it always seems if everyone around you is having a wonderful time without you. I feel bad about that now, because I sound so ungrateful. And I guess I was then.
Large boulder sized rocks lined the foreshore of the tiny beach inlet, above which was a long boardwalk that ended on a pier. Happy couples would p
aint their names on the rocks.
Suzie loves Freddie. Caitlin & Pete Forever.
I wondered how many of those couples were still together now as I contemplated the best vantage point. To the right of the lagoon the water opened up to a semi circular harbour, where boats lined a tiny marina.
I walked over to an empty boulder and sat down, thinking about the best angle for a
selfie that would make me look like I was having a good time.
“You’re not Caitlin, are you?” asked a voice in front of me.
I looked up. A guy, early to mid twenties stood in front of me. Broad shouldered, athletic looking body, smooth skin. He was good looking enough, although there was no instant thunderbolt to the heart as they say in the movies. With his baggy t-shirt and brightly patterned shorts, he could have been any beach dude. Even so, the way he was looking at me, with those deep blue eyes and intense stare, did cause me to breathe in sharply for a moment.
“Excuse me?” I asked.
He pointed to the rock I was sitting on. The one that indicated that Caitlin and Pete would be together forever. I looked down and then shook my head. “‘Fraid not.”
“Thank Christ,” he said. “Because the last time I tried to talk to a girl on these rocks, I had to spend a day scrubbing out the name of the guy so I could add my own.
Haven’t got the energy for any more scrubbing today.” He grinned like he’d made the funniest joke in the world. “So if you’re not Caitlin, what is your name?”
“Mia. Mia Bennett.”
“David Carlton. Pleased to meet you Miss Bennett.”
I grimaced. Every time someone called me Miss Bennett, it sounded like they were talking to a
school teacher or worse, my mother.
He sat down next to me, staring out at the ocean, pretending it was completely natural for a random stranger to come and sit next to you. Like we met up like this every day.
“I’m not in the mood to be picked up, you know,” I said. Because I really wasn’t.
“Good to know.
Although I had no intention on hitting on you. Just wanted to make sure that you weren’t pining for your long lost love named Pete. That’s all.”
I wrinkled my brow as he pointed to the rock I was sitting on again.
“Caitlin would be pleased about that. We wouldn’t want to break up those two love-birds, now would we?”
“Who says they’re still together?” I said. “Relationships don’t last these days. It’s too easy to cheat.”
It was his turn to raise an eyebrow at me. “So we get to the real reason you are sitting here, and not paddling in the water or rubbing suntan lotion over that amazing body and baking like a sea trout. Boyfriend trouble?” he asked.
I shook my head. “More like parent trouble.”
He nodded. “Your folks going through a divorce are they?”
I tried to stifle a giggle at his forwardness.
“No, nothing like that. Besides they never married. Preferred a casual relationship. Said it wasn’t natural to be with one person all your life.”
“Yeah, they are probably right. Just look at poor Caitlin and Pete.
Can’t have worked out well for them. Having their names indelibly marked here. Lot of pressure to stay together. They could be with anyone these days.”
I narrowed my eyes and looked in his direction so I could really look at
this person who, despite what he said, really was hitting on me.
His brown hair
was cut short like he was going for a job interview. I usually didn’t go for guys who cut their hair short, preferring the long scruffy bad boy rock star look. But as my eyes skimmed over him again, I saw some ink peeking out of the sleeve of his t-shirt that sent a tiny tremble through me.
Apart from the tattoo, there
wasn’t all that much that I would normally have gone for. But there was something about him. Something about the way he looked at me, that caused my pulse to quicken. I just couldn’t put my finger on what about him I liked yet. If indeed I liked him at all.
Nevertheless, however misguided he might be in trying to pick me up right now, he was amusing and a good boost to my confidence. I
didn’t feel so left out with his attention to me.
I was about to say something back to him when a look of horror came across his face. “Did you say you were holidaying with your folks?”
“Yeah, my mum and my little brother and sister. Why?”
He leaned in closer
like he was worried someone might overhear him. “How old are you?”
I laughed. I wondered what
he’d do if I said that I was sixteen. I really wanted to lie and say I was younger than I was, just for my own amusement, but my mouth had other ideas. “Twenty two.” I told him, truthfully.
He breathed a melodramatic sigh of relief. “Damn, you nearly gave me a heart attack.” “What would that matter? I thought you said you weren’t trying to pick me up?”
He grinned. “Yeah, well, you know.”
“So David, is this your usual modus operandi? Find a
mopey girl on the rocks and come over and try and sweep her off her feet?”
“No. Actually I can’t say I’ve ever done it before until today.”
“Oh really?” I rolled my eyes to show how skeptical that sounded.
“It’s true. You think I’d be better at it, if I actually knew what I was doing.”
He had a point.
“Then why was I the lucky lady today?
I nodded. He turned his head toward a group of guys that were sitting on the far side of the beach. Some of them had girls with them. Typical beach hang out.
“I saw you walk in here, and told my mate, Ben, how hot you were, and you were here alone looking sort of sad. He dared me to come over.”
“A dare, huh? And what do you win, by talking to me?”
He put his hands up, and shook his head. “It wasn’t a dare like that, not for money or anything. It’s just that, damn you’re sweet, and he wanted to make sure I didn’t do my usual thing.”
“Your usual thing?”
“I’m usually not good approaching girls. I get tongue tied and mess up.”
“Kind of like, now?”
“Kind of,” he said.
“And what did you think would happen? That I’d fall for your charms and we’d live happily ever after, like Caitlin and Pete?”
He shrugged his shoulders. “I just wanted to meet you. Talk to you. Hear your voice. But if it’s not cool, I’ll leave.” He stood and thrust out his hand to shake mine. “It’s been a pleasure, Mia Bennett. Hope to see you around here again some time.”
I shook his hand
, it was rough, strong.
with that he walked back to his friends, without looking back at me.
Well that was odd. I decided I felt too uncomfortable to stay here, and stood up to leave myself. I looked back over to him and his friends, but he
wasn’t looking at me. Not that it mattered. As if I cared. I wasn’t in the mood to deal with him anyway. I had more important things to worry about, including how I was going to get through the rest of the holidays without my friends. I didn’t need to be making new friends right now.
As I reached the edge of the pier, I took one last look back at him.
And still, not one glance over at me. Fine. Well I hoped he won his stupid bet then. Fancy trying to pick me up. Me, who isn’t into hunky beach guys at all. AT ALL.