“I hope you don't mind, but I asked the captain if we could stop to swim,” Mia says.
“Swim?” Tatianna and I both ask in unison. Tatianna sits up and watches as the slide is attached.
“Yeah, unless you're chicken,” Mia taunts, waving one of the noodles at me.
I rise and remove my sunglasses. “I'm game.” I can only sit in the sun for so long. Typically after an hour or so, I head inside and check my email while Tatianna continues sunning herself to a deep bronzed glow.
“Are you seriously going to go down that thing?” Tatianna asks, eyeing the slide with disdain.
“Sure, why not?” I shrug.
“I'm not getting in that freezing cold water,” Tatianna says, laying down again. “You two have fun.” She lifts the fashion magazine she was reading back in front of her face.
When I get close, Mia spanks me across the ass with a noodle. An unexpected laugh falls from my lips. There is something so playful and whimsical about her personality. She can still make me forget myself and just let go, despite our years apart. She's always possessed that skill. It was most helpful right after my mom passed away. I needed that levity more than ever, and Mia provided it. And I suppose now is no different. I like that she doesn't act her age.
“Come on. I'll let you go first down the slide,” she says.
“Let me, huh?” I lift one eyebrow. I pick her up and set her down on the top of the slide. It doesn’t escape my notice that she's removed the shorts she'd been wearing all afternoon. Her bikini bottoms don't match the top. They're lime green. And the rounded curve of her ass cheeks peeking from the bottom is highly distracting. “Down you go.” I place my hands on her shoulders and give her a playful push while still holding her securely.
“You wouldn't.” She glares at me while her mouth is curved up into a crooked grin.
“Maybe I'm not as nice as the guy you remember.”
“You're perfect,” she says, her face going serious for a moment.
She can't say things like that. It's confusing as shit. The conversation I had with Colton last night spins in my brain. He was convinced that I've been in love Mia since I was a kid.
“Collins?” she asks, her face still holding its serious expression.
“Plug your nose,” I tell her and give her a shove.
Mia goes barreling down the slide toward the ocean and just before I hear the splash, she lets out a playful squeal.
We take turns heaving ourselves down the inflatable slide—on our backs, bellies and sides. We hit the water with force and laughter, swimming—or in her case, dog-paddling—over to the ladder to climb back on board and repeat it again and again. It's like I've been transported back to a simpler time. I feel like I'm six years old again without a care in the world. We're both shivering and the salt-water stings our eyes, but our smiles refuse to fade. I've never had so much fun yachting. Tatianna glances up at us occasionally, but when I encourage her to join us, she turns over in her chair, saying she needs to sun her back.
“Last one in the water's a rotten egg!” Mia calls and hits the slide at a run—flinging herself down on her stomach. I hear a splash at the bottom and then nothing else. She usually comes up laughing. My stomach drops.
“Mia?” I peer over the side of the boat.
She's there, treading water, but with a worried expression. Shit. She probably hurt herself going over like that.
I grab a noodle and go barreling down the slide toward her. I hit the water and swim to the surface, pulling in a breath and immediately swimming hard toward her. She's facing away from me, a few feet away. “Mia? What happened? Are you okay?”
“Don't come over here,” she warns.
What the hell? “Mia?”
“I'm serious, Collins.”
She's not the strongest swimmer, and when I see her head dip under the water, I wrap her in my arms and pull her up, securing the noodle around her. “Come here. I've got you.”
“You can't see me like this.”
I look down, trying to understand what she means. Fuck me. Her top is off. Gone. And dear God, her breasts are every bit as glorious as I imagined. Full and round with pink nipples just begging to be sucked. Hard.
“My top flew off when I hit the water. I tried looking for it, but I think it sank.”
Thank you, gravity.
“I've seen it all before, sweetheart,” I remind her.
She swallows and blinks at me, little droplets of water clinging to her dark eyelashes. “Yes, but I've grown since then.”
“Trust me, I noticed.”
She punches me in the shoulder. “Be serious.”
“I am one-hundred-fucking-percent serious right now.” She's still pulling away from me, still trying to cover her chest with one arm while she paddles with the other. “Stop struggling, Mia. You'll only tire yourself out.”
She makes a small noise of defeat, then stops fighting long enough for me to pull her close.
I am wholly unprepared for the heat of her naked skin against mine, the hard peaks of her nipples rubbing against my bare chest. It sends instant awareness to my cock. The troublemaker has been looking for an opportunity to come out and play all day.
Having a mostly naked woman in my arms is no contest for the chill of the water, and warm tingles shoot through me, heating me quickly.
“There you go. I've got you.” My voice drops low.