Authors: Beverly Preston
Tags: #Contemporary, #General, #Romance, #Fiction, #C429, #Extratorrents, #Kat
Tom followed her to the deck, taking a seat on the chaise.
The open-air shower consisted of no more than three teakwood walls. Tess could
barely see over the top without standing on her toes. She felt exhilarated
standing naked with only a small wooden wall between them. She peeked over the
wall to see him grinning at her, looking hotter than ever in flip-flops, khaki
shorts, a black T-shirt and dark sunglasses.
“How are you this morning?” he asked sincerely.
“I feel…peaceful actually. Thanks. What brings you to my
door this morning?”
“I have a proposition for you, Tess.”
She liked the way he said her name, kind of slowly and drawn
out. “I don’t have to steal anything do I?”
“Ha, ha very funny. I booked another tour today with Mr.
Rene to see the manta rays. I wondered if you’d be interested in joining me.
I’d like to make up for interfering with your tour yesterday. And for the
record, I didn’t steal a tour from some unlucky couple today. Mr. Rene assured
me his brother-in-law would do their tour for him.”
“I don’t have to pay for it, do I? Because I’m sure it’s
going to cost double the normal tour fee.” She laughed aloud.
“Nope, it’s on me.”
Tess stepped out of the shower with her towel wrapped around
her. “Can I eat first?”
“Sure. Mr. Rene should be here in thirty minutes, but if you
need more time we’ll wait. Take your time.”
Tom stood to leave. Tess sensed his eyes on her. She
automatically straightened her back, pushing her ass out. Tom smiled from ear
“What?” she asked shyly.
“Nothing. I’ll see you in a few minutes. I’m glad you said
yes, I wasn’t sure if you’d be up for it.”
“Of course I’ll go with you. Thanks for thinking of me. I’ve
never gotten to see the manta rays. Hopefully they won’t be a no-show.” She
wanted to ask about his girlfriend. “Just the two of us, right?”
“Yep, just the two of us.”
“See you in thirty minutes.” She peeked her head out the
door to watch him mosey down the pier.
Tess slipped a sheer white bathing suit cover over an
electric blue bikini. She hit the buffet and made it to the dock in thirty
Mr. Rene sang to her as she strolled down the dock. “
, it’s a beautiful day, Mrs. Blue Eyes.”
. It is a gorgeous day. Hopefully the mantas
will show themselves. Mr. Tom isn’t here yet?”
“He forgot something. He will be right back.”
Sure enough, Tom strode down the dock. As he stepped onto
the boat, Tess fought back the urge to throw her arms around his neck and hug
What the hell is wrong with me?
“That was fast. I thought for sure I’d be waiting at least
thirty minutes for you.” He sounded exceptionally cheerful.
She exhaled heavily to release the breath she’d been
holding. “It doesn’t take me very long to get ready. I’m easy.”
“Really? I would’ve never guessed.”
“That’s not what I meant.” Heat rose to her cheeks as she
poked him in the ribs.
“I’m only teasing. I ran down to the front desk and got
another underwater camera.” Tom reached for her hand and slipped the camera
around her wrist. “With any luck, we’ll get to use it today. I brought my
regular camera, too. It won’t bother you if I take pictures, will it? I’ll make
sure you get copies and…I asked the nice lady at the front desk to leave me
“She’s going to leave you my address?” Tess’ mouth hung open
in shock. “Did you have to pay her for it or did you use that voice you use on
“I’m not sure what you are referring to, but no, I simply
The bright blue sky made for a magnificent day. The motion
of the boat on the water relaxed Tess as they chatted about their excursion
from the day before.
“So Tess, where are you from?”
“I live in Las Vegas.”
“Really?” he said in surprise.
“Yeah, why? Does that shock you?”
“Well, kind of. I’ve been to Vegas, and you don’t look like
the typical Vegas-type girl.”
“I’m not a
girl. Vegas isn’t just about
gambling, nightlife and clubbing. Regular people live there, too,” she
explained, unsure how to take his comment. “Where did you think I lived?”
“Oh, I don’t know, you look like a California girl, very
natural.” Beneath his sunglasses, Tom’s eyes wandered from her head to her
Knowing Tom fully enjoyed toying with her, Tess stared him
straight in the eye. “I’ll take that as a compliment. I am all natural.” She
liked her shape and didn’t feel the need to surgically enhance her body or
face. Everything was still where it was supposed to be.
He grinned in a way that made her blush. “Oh, believe me, I
meant it as a compliment.” Tom snapped a picture of her fiery cheeks.
“Where do you live?”
“I have a couple of houses, but I don’t really have a
permanent residence. I work a lot, so I’m not home too often. I’m trying to
slow down so I can have more time off,” he paused for a minute. “Do you have
“Three kids. JC is eighteen and starting her first year in
college. Tracy’s twenty-one, in her third year of college. And John’s
twenty-three. I’m lucky. They’re good kids. We’re close.”
“Where does your daughter go to college?”
“UNLV, but both my girls are going to Colorado College this
fall. Tracy did her first year there and loved it. She decided to go back and
JC wanted to go with her. They love to snowboard.”
“I have a cabin about an hour from there. If your girls like
to do anything outdoors, they’ll love it.” Tom hesitated. “How long were you
married? I don’t mean to pry. I’m just curious.”
“It’s all right, I promise I won’t break down and cry today.”
She smirked self-consciously. “We were married twenty-five years.”
“Wow. You must’ve gotten married awfully young. Twenty-five
years is a long time, how did you do it? Don’t get me wrong. I take my hat off
to you. I think it’s great, but I can’t even get past twenty-five days with a
“I was 19 when we married.” She wasn’t embarrassed of her
age, but in truth didn’t want to tell him. “I was genuinely lucky. For us, it
“I haven’t had the best of luck with dates and marriage always
sounds like too much work. Most of my friends are married, some several times,
but the jury is still out on whether or not they’re happy together,” he
“That’s actually sad. It’s kind of a waste of your life not
to be happy. Why bother getting married if you’re going to be miserable
together? Life’s too short. Don’t you think?”
“Hey, I can’t even get to girlfriend, let alone to ‘I do’.
So I definitely agree.”
“I’m not going to lie. It’s a lot of work, but we truly
liked each other and loved being together.”
Mr. Rene broke into their conversation. “We are here. This
is the best spot for the manta rays.”
Both grinned in anticipation. She took off her sunglasses
and turned to slip out of her cover-up. The thought of Tom changing into his
trunks right behind her sent an unexpected surge of heat through her core. He
rested his warm hand on her shoulder. Goose bumps covered her body. She
clutched onto the metal shade poll for support, fearing her legs might give out
from under her.
“Ready? Let’s do this.” Tom cocked his head to the side and
stared at her in astonishment. “You have the most beautiful blue eyes I think
I’ve ever seen.”
“Thanks,” she squeaked. Tess swallowed the sudden
overwhelming desire to kiss him.
They peered over the edge of the boat, staring down into the
dark abyss. Tess turned her back to the dark water and adjusted her mask. Tom
huffed out a chuckle as he stepped directly in front of her and poked her in
the tummy with his pointer finger, sending her reeling over the edge into the
“Oh, that’s it!” She splashed him with water as he stood on
the boat. “So this is how it’s gonna be?”
“Yep. This is definitely how it’s gonna be.” He confirmed
with a grin, tossing his flippers into the lagoon before diving in himself.
She splashed water in his face again when he surfaced.
Straightening the mask over her eyes, she teased, “You’re falling behind.” With
a kick of her flippers, she swam to catch up with Mr. Rene.
When Tom finally joined them, Mr. Rene smiled, “Are you two
Tess squirted a fountain of water from her mouth in Tom’s
direction. They both answered, “Yep.”
The deep cavern changed the shade of the lagoon to midnight
blue and the underwater trench acted like an underwater freeway for marine
life. They spotted stingrays, turtles, eels, and schools of fish, but it looked
as if the morning was going to be a bust.
Tom swam up from behind and lightly touched the back of her
thigh, reaching to squeeze her fingers. She smiled through her mask, and he
pointed downward into the deep dark water. Five huge black and white manta rays
gracefully danced their way toward them. They were enormous, their wingspan at
least twenty feet across. The dark figures swam in sync doing back rolls and
side twists and turns. He slipped the camera from her wrist and snapped
pictures of her with the magnificent rays. Tess reached for the camera,
pointing downward. Tom dove down twelve feet and Tess took amazing shots of him
diving alongside the manta rays.
The majestic manta rays disappeared back into the darkness
as swiftly as they appeared before them. Both were elated as they ripped their
masks off, lifting their heads out of the water.
“That was amazing! I can’t believe how enormous they are.”
Tom was beside himself.
Overcome with excitement, Tess threw her arms around his
neck. “That was awesome! They swim so gracefully, like they’re dancing.
Finally, they showed up for me.” Her arms still clung to his neck, and her legs
automatically floated up to wrap around his waist.
“I was afraid you didn’t see them at first. I swam over as
fast as I could, so you wouldn’t miss them.” His strong hands slid beneath her
bottom and slightly adjusted her position for a more comfortable fit. Tom’s
fingers rested on her hips as they treaded water together.
At that moment, Tess realized she’d wrapped herself around
him. She froze. The desire to kiss him was almost unbearable. Her heart
hammered in her chest as they bobbed up and down in the lagoon. The touch of
his skin uncoiled an ache deep within.
Her gaze followed her fingers as they coasted across his
shoulders and draped behind his nape. Their eyes locked upon each other.
Mr. Rene blew his conch shell, breaking the spell. A smile
touched his lips. She untangled herself from his lap and they swam for the
“I have a perfect place for lunch today. We will celebrate
the show the great mantas put on for us.”
Tess sat beside Tom unable to stop her feelings of
confusion. Her attraction for Tom had grown during their excursions, but so did
the feelings of guilt and cheating. Richard always wanted to see the manta
rays, he tried so many times, and today with Tom, they finally emerged from the
depths. The carved box from the day before consumed her thoughts, certain
Richard had already found his way to the majestic rays.
“Are you okay, Tess?” Tom softly brushed his hand across her
“I was just thinking. Do you ever think things happen for a
reason? Like they’re supposed to happen that way in life, good or bad?”
“Actually, I do believe that.”
He eyed her curiously, but she simply gazed out over the
They stopped for lunch on a beautiful unspoiled
Tess and Tom strolled around the island talking about “the great manta
adventure”. Mr. Rene prepared coconut cocktails with an incredible lunch.
After, Tom explored the
taking pictures while Tess relaxed on the
beach with her toes in the warm water. Calmness settled over her.
“Would you like to stay here in paradise, or would you like
to snorkel some coral reefs?” asked Mr. Rene.
Tom sat beside her in the sand.
“I’d love to relax for a while, wouldn’t you?” She asked.
“Sure," Tom agreed. “Your back is getting red. Would
you like me to put some sunscreen on it? I bought this great oil in the lobby
this morning. It’s made with coconut oil and vanilla.”
She chuckled when he held up a bottle of her favorite monoi
oil. “You could use some on your back, too.” Tess buried her guilt and shrugged
off the fact that a gorgeous woman waited back at the resort for him. She
wanted his hands on her. Tess missed being touched by a man, even if only a
casual contact of his hand on her shoulder.
They laid out beach towels and Tom handed her the oil as he
turned his back toward her. His body felt fit under her hands. Her fingers
wrapped around his sides, feeling every muscle in his back and shoulders. Her
heartbeat pounded in her ears and her hands trembled from nervousness.
He faced her, taking the bottle from her fingers. “Lay down,
I’ll do your back.”
She did as he asked, giggling nervously as he drizzled oil
down her back. His hands were amazing, as he massaged her back with the perfect
amount of pressure, rubbing the sides of her waist. He slipped the tips of his
fingers under the edges of her bottoms. “Your cheeks are a little red.”
Extremely aroused, Tess held her breath, using all of her
concentration not to moan aloud. “It’s from s…snorkeling. You know, face down,”
she said, practically panting.
“There you go. How’s that?” he asked playfully.
“Oh yeah, that’s great, thanks.” She could barely talk.
“Are you okay?”
“Yep.” She nodded, taking in a gulp of air.
“I can put some more oil on you, if you think I missed a