Authors: Beverly Preston
Tags: #Contemporary, #General, #Romance, #Fiction, #C429, #Extratorrents, #Kat
They drifted in the crystal clear lagoon alongside twenty to
thirty sharks feeding merely feet in front of them. As sharks approached Tom,
he instinctually stretched his hand out to touch the magnificent gray
creatures. Tess reached out, gently tugging on his arm, pulling it back so he’d
return to the boat with all ten fingers. They smiled through their masks,
watching in amazement as sharks opened their jaws to snag fish right out of
Riatia’s hand. Tess took great pictures of Tom with six-foot sharks in the
background who swam effortlessly with only a swish of their tail.
When they ran out of fish, and the sharks disbursed,
everyone retreated back to the boat. Tom talked nonstop for twenty minutes
while Mr. Rene took them to their next destination. Tess laughed at Tom
describing the sharks in animation. His arms stretched out fully while
imitating the sharks thrashing about, ripping the fish heads off.
“It’s a good thing I took pictures for you. All your friends
will think you’re full of shit if that’s how you’re going to tell the story.”
Tess giggled mimicking him with her arms extended as far as they would reach.
“Next stop, sting rays,” said Mr. Rene.
They stood in chest deep water with their feet spread apart,
allowing the rays to glide between their legs. At least twenty stingrays swam
gracefully around them with ghost-like movements, almost as if they danced to
ballet in slow motion. The stingrays loved Mr. Rene, encircling him and
fluttering their wings to swim up on his chest, so he could pet and kiss them.
Their dark gray skin felt like rubber as their wings fluttered against Tess and
Tom’s chest, so they could give the stingrays kisses, too.
Mesmerized in the moment, Tom rambled on enthusiastically as
they headed for their next location. He rested his warm hand on her shoulder,
stealing the air from her lungs as a tingling sensation swept over her skin.
“You were right, that was incredible. I’ll admit, I was chicken at first, but
once the sharks started to come in, I completely forgot about being nervous. I
think I liked the sharks more than the sting rays.”
Guilt crept into her heart for enjoying herself. Tess didn’t
come here for fun. It almost felt like she was cheating on Richard to notice
another man. She hardly ever noticed other men before, and never cheated, not
once in all the years they were together.
Tess still hadn’t done what she came there for. She
considered asking Mr. Rene to drop her off at a separate
ate lunch, but doubted he would leave her by herself.
“Here, just like I promised,” she handed him the camera.
“I’m sorry. It’s not that I don’t trust you. It’s just…”
“Really, it’s okay. I understand. It must be hard not
knowing who you can trust. I don’t know how you do it. I’ll give you my
address, just make sure you send me copies of photos you want me to have,
Mr. Rene interrupted. “Don’t put your camera away, Mrs. Blue
Eyes. We are going to snorkel a large coral reef after lunch.”
“I thought we were doing a half day tour.”
Tom smirked. “You were, but I booked the full day. Is that
all right or do you need to get back?”
“No, that’s great.” She paused for a moment before laughing
aloud. “Did you steal some other unlucky couple’s afternoon appointment?”
His dark brown eyes flirted mischievously. “No! I did not.
Not that I know of. Maybe.”
They laughed together now. Tess relaxed, knowing she had
more time to figure out how to be alone with Richard.
Tom lay on his back stretched out on a bench with his
sunglasses on, one hand propped behind his head and the other rested casually
on his hip with two fingers tucked into the band of his trunks. She needed to
plan a course of action to get away by herself, but Tess could barely even
think straight peering at his lean sculpted physique from behind her
I wonder how old he is? I bet he runs. Maybe he swims. He has to
be in his late forties. He definitely takes care of himself. Is he flexing?
He’s doing that on purpose to torture me. Holy crap!
Tempted to reach out
and touch the muscular chords running down his arm, she finally forced herself
to look the other direction.
At last, the
appeared in the distance. Tess
couldn’t wait to jump into the water to cool off. Her mind raced in all
different directions. Pushing the image of Tom lying on the bench out of her
head, she moved on to the task that lay before her. This was it. Tess would be
able to do what she came here for.
“What’s going on?” Tom asked lifting his head.
“Lunch, it’s time to eat.” She smiled.
Mr. Rene handed each of them a coconut with a straw and a
lovely purple flower sticking out the top. “I will get lunch ready. You can
swim or relax on this beautiful
. I will set up a table in a
Tom held his mask and flippers in his hands. “I’m going to go
snorkel, do you want to come with me?”
“No, thanks. I’m going to chill out for a bit.”
He headed for the water. Tess waited until she saw his
snorkel sticking out of the water before she grabbed her snorkel gear and
proceeded off the boat.
Mr. Rene stopped her, “You are going to go snorkel with Mr.
“Actually, do you remember what I told you I came here to
“To say goodbye,” he whispered sadly.
“Can you please keep Mr. Tom busy, so I can have some
privacy on the other side of the
“By yourself?” he asked hesitantly.
“I promise I’ll be back in an hour.”
He nodded reluctantly.
Tess intended on spending the morning reminiscing of their
time spent together in Bora Bora, but the day turned out very different than
she planned. She wasn’t going to be disappointed though. Maybe it was better
this way. Richard wouldn’t want her to be heartbroken in a place this
On the other side of the
, Tess found a
magnificent white sand beach. Tall palm trees swayed in the sultry breeze and a
coconut lay in the sand split open with a palm tree growing out of it.
Tess plopped down on the soft sand with her box in her hand,
gazing around at the dreamlike surroundings.
Richard would’ve loved this
. She always believed everything happened for a reason, and she
thought of that now, staring out over the lagoon. If she would’ve done the
half-day tour by herself, she’d be on a different
now and this spot
was perfect. She wouldn’t want Richard to be anywhere else.
Looking down at the hand carved box, she reflected to the
time Richard bought it. They’d tried on several occasions to snorkel with the
giant manta rays. Every time, the manta rays were a no-show. On their last trip
to Bora Bora, Richard found the carved box while shopping at the market. He’d
said, “Well if I can’t snorkel with them, I’m going to take one home with me.”
Tess had even taken a picture of him holding up the box, pointing to the manta
ray lid and pouting his lip out because they eluded him once again. Tears
spilled down her face as she chuckled remembering the moment.
Memories replayed through her mind like a movie. The passion
they shared still filled her heart. She missed him, his touch, his kisses, his
smell, the feel of his hand in hers and his arms around her. She wanted to hear
his deep voice and feel the warmth of his body next to hers.
Relieved to finally be there in the moment, but overwhelmed
with sadness, Tess wanted closure yet didn’t want to let him go. Allowing him
to slip out of her hands would feel so final, as if she were letting him slip
away from her forever. Richard wouldn’t be at home with her anymore.
do this. I need to do this. I have to do this
Tess waded into the lagoon with Richard for the last time,
talking to him aloud. “I miss you so much, baby. You were the best husband,
lover and friend I could’ve ever asked for in life. I know everything happens
for a reason, but I don’t understand why you had to leave me.” She opened the
manta ray box, scattering his ashes into the gentle surf.
She sat in the warm sand, sobbing while the waves washed
Gazing out over the ocean, serenity and peacefulness fell
over Tess, certain Richard would be happy here. She stood up, forcing herself
to leave. She blew a kiss toward the lagoon. “I love you and I miss you,
Richard. Have fun here, baby.”
Mr. Rene’s face showed relief to see her trudging down the
beach. “Come eat. Please, Mrs. Blue Eyes, lunch is delicious. I have a fresh
drink for you, too. Come, come, sit,” he said with a tender smile.
She tried to eat, but wasn’t hungry, so she laid a towel
down on the sand and nodded off. The sound of Mr. Rene’s guitar woke Tess. She
sat up wondering how long she dozed off for. It wasn’t Mr. Rene playing the
guitar; it was Tom. Mr. Rene touched her shoulder. “Are you ready to go, Mrs.?”
Tom handed the guitar to Mr. Rene and followed behind Tess
as she climbed back on the boat.
Tess sat dazed and numb, watching the scenery pass by. Tom
joined her on the bench, tears immediately rolled down the tip of her nose as
she tried to hold back sniffles. She couldn’t bear to look at him, so she bowed
her head clasping her hands between her knees.
He rubbed his hand across her back. “I’m sorry Tess. Mr.
Rene told me about your husband.”
“Thanks.” Without thinking, without hesitation, and without
explanation, she leaned back resting her head against his shoulder and the
tears came again. Tom didn’t move. He kept his arm around her, softly stroking
her shoulder, holding her fingers with his other hand.
They stayed that way, not saying a word, until they reached
the coral reef. “We don’t have to snorkel here. I’ll understand if you want to
go back to your bungalow. You probably need some sleep.”
“I’m fine, really. Go ahead.”
She appreciated his kindness, but didn’t want to ruin his
adventure. Tess lay numb on the bench, attempting to pull herself together
while Tom and Riatia snorkeled. She wondered what amazing creatures Richard
would see on his journey.
Have you found the manta rays all ready? Are you
swimming alongside the boat right now?
Sitting upright, she leaned over the
edge of the boat, peering into the lagoon.
Are you right here with me now?
Mr. Rene blew his conch shell. It was time to go.
Silence filled the boat ride back to the resort. Not an
awkward silence, but an exhausted silence. The lagoon reflected a mirror image
of blue glass, as
passed them by. Tom lightly stroked her
shoulder. The feelings that had stirred within her earlier subsided and it was
nice to have his arm around her for comfort. It wasn’t the day she planned, but
it was a beautiful day.
As they approached the dock, Tess didn’t quite know what to
say. In a strange way, it seemed as if they’d been on a bizarre blind date. “I
hope I didn’t ruin your day. I’m sure this wasn’t what you bargained for on
your first snorkeling trip. A complete stranger breaking down crying all over
your shoulder.” She smiled apologetically.
“Oddly enough, I feel like I’ve known you for years. Women
don’t usually yell at me until they’ve known me a few days.” He joked, making
her burst out laughing.
“Seriously, Tess, I really need to apologize. I hope I
didn’t ruin your moment. I feel horrible. If I’d known, I would’ve stepped
aside and let you take the tour by yourself. I’m truly sorry.”
“If you wouldn’t have
my tour, you mean.” She
poked him in the side. “I’m just kidding. Actually, I’m glad you were here. It
helped me in an odd way.”
His long tapered finger brushed her hair out of her face,
tucking behind her ear.
“I owe you an apology, too,” she admitted.
“Apologize to me, why?”
“You’re not what I thought you’d be,” Tess confessed.
“Am I supposed to take that as a compliment?” His lip curled
into a gorgeous grin.
“Yes. Yes, you are. You were fun today and very charming. I
enjoyed your company. I didn’t expect you to be so laid back, and you did let
me cry on your shoulder.”
“Honestly Tess, I would’ve never gotten into the water with
sharks if you weren’t here. I’d be left with only a very boring story of how I
observed sharks from the safety of a boat. If you leave me your address at the
front desk I promise to send you copies of the pictures.” He chuckled reaching
down to hug her.
Tess' heart began to thump erratically as she wrapped her
arms around his waist, not wanting to let go of him.
“Don’t stay gone for so long, Mrs. Blue eyes.” Mr. Rene
patted her back.
Tess went to her bungalow, lay across the bed, and cried
herself to sleep.
Tess’ cheeks were red from sunburn, eyes puffy from crying,
and hair untamed and wild from salt water. Her stomach growled with hunger, but
she couldn’t go to breakfast like this. She dragged herself into the shower
outside on the deck, letting the cool water sooth her warm skin.
Tess heard someone knocking on her door. She didn’t want to
be caught naked in the shower by housekeeping, so she grabbed a towel and
tiptoed over to answer the door.
She cracked open the door expecting to see housekeeping.
“Good morning.” Tom’s irresistible grin broadened, taking in
her towel-clad body. “Did I catch you in the shower?”
Heat immediately rippled through her core. “No, I always
look like this when I answer the door in the morning,” she replied with a
sarcastic smile. “What’s up?”
“Can I come in? It’ll only take a minute, or…I could come
“Come on in. Have a seat. Just give me a couple of minutes
to rinse the conditioner out of my hair.” She tiptoed back to the shower.