My fingers travel from the small of his back to his shoulder-blade with the next wave. The water splashes against my jaw and fills my mouth; his weight is on my ribs and for a moment I struggle to breathe. The blue of his eyes dissolves into the cloudless sky. In need of air, I raise my head from the roiling water and steal a taste of salt from his lips.
The surf withdraws, leaving behind a translucent tiny shell, stranded on the tip of my nail. The nacre is so thin I fear one touch will shatter it. I risk a caress – and shiver as his hand slips down my chest.
A woman’s voice, yelling for her children to come out of the water, crashes on us from behind the rocks. His lips, grazing my ear, freeze. With one push, he raises himself, leaving me unprotected to face the incoming wave. Warm water licks my body, taking with it the delicate mother-of-pearl it had bestowed on me earlier. The tide tugs at his ankles as he walks away. He stumbles and catches himself against the rocks that shelter us. He glances over them carefully, fearful she may have seen us. I dig out a fistful of sand and broken shells and squeeze, until their sharp edges cut into my skin. And watch him make his way back to his family.
I squeeze the jagged seashells tighter, trying to make at least one thing mine.