”Dolphins, starboard!” As a group of dark and sleek dorsalled backs, seesawed through the water, the passengers leapt up as one, craning their necks to get a better view.
“Please don’t crowd to one side. Everyone will get a chance to see ’em”. At this, the skipper diverted the Betty James from her usual route and started to sweep around the bay, the dolphins continuing to gamble close to the boat. Sam made his way around the chattering tourists, answering questions, warning them not to lean too far over the gunwale.
“It’s as if they really want to have fun with us!” Jane exclaimed as she managed to sidle up to him. This had been no easy feat, with the waves buffeting the boat and the deck slick with seawater.
“You’re really lucky. This is early in the year for ‘em, and it’s a big pod.”
Grabbing her phone out of her cagoule, Jane turned away from him, hoping to hide yet another burst of embarrassment by taking photos. As she did so, a great whale of an American tourist barged into her and Jane’s mobile performed a perfect arc over the boat’s side and into the sea.
Jane lurched after it in vain and suddenly felt a strong arm grab her.
“I think I’m going to be sick”. Sam immediately sat her down on one of the drenched benches as he wrestled a large paper bag from his pocket and handed it to her.
Eventually, Jane’s nausea subsided under the blanket of platitudes such as “it was only a phone, nobody’s died”, that she might normally have recoiled from, but Sam’s soothing voice was working its magic on her. Seeing her face turn from green to deathly white, he proffered a packet of sherbet lemons that had been waiting in readiness. Jane popped one into her mouth and slowly sucked on the sweet. Sam stood quite close to her, patting her shoulder, sick bag still at the ready.
“Feeling a bit better, now?”
Jane looked up into the kindly face. Something in the way he looked at her compelled her to gently pull him down onto the seat and snuggle up to him. “I will be, just give me a minute”. She smiled as she savoured the salt on her lips and lemon on her tongue and breathed in the comforting warmth of the man beside her.
“Not married then”, said Sam grinning and looking at her ring-less left hand clutching his sleeve.
“Not yet” thought Jane.