Now, though, they’re getting closer, and I think I can hear the rumble of thunder echoing off the ocean in the distance. It might be kind of interesting to see a storm at sea. Except it would mean missing out on seeing Luke.
Not like I’d be able to untangle my tongue enough to speak to him, but I still liked pretending that I might manage to pull out an intelligent sentence or two. I mean, he’d asked me to meet him here on the beach in about twenty minutes.
Not that I’m checking my watch at all. The watch I shouldn’t even be wearing with swimwear. How dorky can you get?
The wind pushes my hair back from my face and I adjust my sunglasses on my nose, suppressing a shiver. It’s almost chilly with the saltwater drying on my skin and the sun covered with thick, gray clouds. It had rained the other three days of the cruise so far. We’d had periods of sun, thank God, but mostly, it had rained.
Other passengers at dinner and around the ship kept discussing how unusual it was. Even the crew seemed slightly spooked.
Today started out fantastic – the cruise line had switched our itinerary and sent us to their private island instead of Nassau. There was sun, and waves, and glowing white beaches, and people embraced it enthusiastically. Steel drums beat in the background behind me, but in the approaching storm, they seem muted. Distant.
I take off my sunglasses and sit up. The beach chairs around me hadn’t been full by any means – Luke had picked one of the less popular beaches – but now I felt decidedly alone. I can see people in the water a little ways down, though the lifeguards appear to be calling them in. A couple walks past behind me on the sandy pathway, hand in hand and oblivious to the weather.
Still, I rub my arms and start to pack the few things I had out into my bag. Something is off. Feels not quite right.
A sense of urgency prods me into action and I stand up, wrapping my towel around my waist and tucking in the edges. The wind buffets my body, sand hitting me with sharp pinpricks, as a gust swirls around the palm trees above me.
I sling my bag over my shoulder, and just as I turn to leave, I see Luke, standing at the edge of the surf, watching me. There’s a sad expression on his face I don’t understand, and I can’t seem to decide whether to go to him or head back for the tender.
I hear a step behind me, and a hand closes over my mouth. The smell of the sea fills my nose, and I realize I'd made my choice by coming. Grandmother's warnings about the sea and men with eyes like hurricanes rings through my head, the words now clear and unmuddled.
What happens now is Luke's decision. The choice of a man controlled by the sea.