I flip over and suddenly, I’m terrified.
I’m panicky.The sea is so very vast.And I’m so very alone.I scream. I can’t help it. And as I do, I accidentally gulp in a huge mouthful of water. Everything that follows is a blur.I start coughing and flailing my arms and even though I’m wearing a life-jacket, I’m thrashing around like a lunatic. I hear the boat motor start up and then I feel the wake of the boat as it crests up to me. Gavin is next to me and before I know it, he’s hauling me over the side of TheShining.I’m in his lap, on the floor of the boat and he is holding me and I am shaking.OhMyGod.I’m such an idiot.I’m such an idiot.And I must be repeating it out loud, even though I don’t mean to, because Gavin is telling me, “No, you’re not.”But I am.I really am.“I don’t know why I got so afraid,” I tell him. “I think I had a panic attack.” My voice sounds pathetic and I hate it.Gavin tightens his grip on me, his strong arms are wrapped around me and I suddenly realize that his skin is pressed against mine and it feels really, really good. I push into him harder and clutch him to me.Because for some insane reason, I’m still unnerved.“It’s okay,” he tells me softly. He’s stroking my back and I’m trying to catch my breaths like a normal person. “You’ve been through a lot. I shouldn’t have let you float like that alone. You seemed like you were doing fine, so I climbed up onto the boat to watch you and I must have fallen asleep. I’m so sorry. This is my fault, Mi.”I look up at him. He’s so sexy and concerned and my heart melts.“It’s not your fault that I’m insane,” I tell him firmly. “I don’t know why I panicked. I can’t even explain it. Everything just all of a sudden felt so big and I felt so small and alone. I guess I kind of freaked out.”Understatement of the year.Gavin’s dark eyes are soft as he stares at me. He brushes a thumb across my cheek and says that he is so very sorry.“It makes sense, Mia,” he tells me. “You can’t remember who you are. So you feel sort of alone in the world. And when you fell asleep while you were floating and woke up, the sea felt big. And everything came down on you at once. It’s okay. I get it. But you’re never alone. I want you to know that. You will always have me. You always have and you always will.”My heart swells until it might burst.It feels so incredibly, amazingly good to have this beautiful boy tell me that. To know that he has always been my friend, that he knows me inside and out. And then I do something unexpected.I lean up and kiss Gavin.On the mouth.Sweet Angel of Mercy.His lips are soft and warm from the sun. I can taste the sea on them and I weave my hands into his hair, pulling him closer. He tightens his grip on me and kisses me back; hard, hard, harder. He tastes like fruit and smells like sunshine.It’s really nice.Wonderful.Amazing.My heart is doing flip-flops when I finally pull away.Gavin stares down at me in shock.“I’ve always wondered what that would be like,” he admits. “Kissing a firecracker, I mean.” I smile.“And?”“It’s really too difficult to say from just one kiss,” he says, his dark eyes twinkling. “We should try it again so that I have more to go on.”He cups my face in his hands and dips his head, his lips meeting mine.He tastes of butterscotch and man.Twenty-five beats of my heart later, he pulls away.“And?” I breathe.“You’ll do,” he grins.
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