I stir, instinctively reaching for Christian only to feel his absence. Shit! I wake instantly and look anxiously around the cabin. Christian is watching me from the small, upholstered armchair by the bed. Stooping down, he places something on the floor, then moves and stretches out on the bed beside me. He’s dressed in his cut-offs and a gray T-shirt.
“Hey, don’t panic. Everything’s fine,” he says, his voice gentle and soothing—like he’s talking to a cornered wild animal. Tenderly, he smooths the hair back from my face and I calm immediately. I see him trying and failing to hide his own concern.
“You’ve been so jumpy these last couple of days,” he murmurs, his eyes wide and serious.
“I’m okay, Christian.” I give him my brightest smile because I don’t want him to know how worried I am about the arson incident. The painful recollection of how I felt when Charlie Tango was sabotaged and Christian went missing—the hollow emptiness, the indescribable pain—keeps resurfacing; the memory nagging me and gnawing at my heart. Keeping the smile fixed on my face, I try to repress it.
“Were you watching me sleep?”
“Yes,” he says gazing at me steadily, studying me. “You were talking.”
“Oh?” Shit! What was I saying?
“You’re worried,” he adds, his eyes filled with concern. Is there nothing I can keep from this man? He leans forward and kisses me between my brows.
“When you frown, a little V forms just here. It’s soft to kiss. Don’t worry baby, I’ll look after you.”
“It’s not me I’m worried about, it’s you,” I grumble. “Who’s looking after you?”
He smiles indulgently at my tone. “I’m big enough and ugly enough to look after myself. Come. Get up. There’s one thing I’d like to do before we head home.” He grins at me, a big boyish yes-I’m-really-only-twenty-eight grin, and swats my behind. I yelp, startled, and realize that today we’re going back to Seattle and my melancholy blossoms. I don’t want to leave. I’ve relished being with him 24-7, and I’m not ready to share him with his company and his family.
We’ve had a blissful honeymoon. With a few ups and downs, I admit, but that’s normal for a newly married couple, surely?
But Christian cannot contain his boyish excitement, and despite my dark thoughts, it’s infectious. When he rises gracefully off the bed, I follow, intrigued.
What has he got in mind?
Christian straps the key to my wrist.
“You want me to drive?”
“Yes.” Christian grins. “That’s not too tight?”
“It’s fine. Is that why you’re wearing a life jacket?” I arch my eyebrow.
I can’t help my giggle. “Such confidence in my driving capabilities, Mr.
“As ever, Mrs. Grey.”
“Well, don’t lecture me.”
Christian holds his hands up in a defensive gesture, but he’s smiling. “Would I dare?”
“Yes you would, and yes you do, and we can’t pull over and argue on the sidewalk here.”
“Fair point well made, Mrs. Grey. Are we going to stand on this platform all day debating your driving skills or are we going to have some fun?”
“Fair point well made, Mr. Grey.” I grasp the handlebars of the Jet Ski and clamber on. Christian climbs on behind me and kicks us away from the yacht.
Taylor and two of the deckhands look on in amusement. Sliding forward, Christian wraps his arms around me and snuggles his thighs against mine. Yes, this is what I like about this form of transport. I insert in the ignition key and push the start button, and the engine roars into life.
“Ready?” I shout to Christian over the noise.
“As I’ll ever be,” he says, his mouth close to my ear.
Gently, I pull on the lever and the Jet Ski moves away from the Fair Lady, far too sedately for my liking. Christian tightens his embrace. I pull on the gas some more, and we shoot forward and I’m delighted when we don’t stall.
“Whoa!” Christian calls from behind, but the exhilaration in his voice is palpable. I speed past the Fair Lady toward the open sea. We’re anchored outside the Port de Plaisance de Saint-Claude-du-Var, and Nice C?te d’Azur Airport is nestled in the distance, built into the Mediterranean, or so it seems. I’ve heard the odd plane landing since we arrived last night. I decide we need to take a closer look.
We shoot toward it, skipping rapidly over the waves. I love this, and I’m thrilled Christian’s letting me drive. All the worry I’ve felt over the past two days melts away as we skim toward the airport.
“Next time we do this we’ll have two Jet Skis,” Christian shouts. I grin because the thought of racing him is thrilling.
As we zoom over the cool blue sea toward what looks like the end of the runway, the thundering roar of a jet overhead suddenly startles me as it comes in to land. It’s so loud I panic, swerving and hitting the throttle at the same time, mistaking it for a brake.
“Ana!” Christian shouts, but it’s too late. I’m catapulted off the side of the Jet Ski, arms and legs flailing, taking Christian with me in a spectacular splash.
Screaming, I plunge into the crystal blue sea and swallow a nasty mouthful of the Mediterranean. The water is cold this far from the shore, but I surface within a split second, courtesy of my life jacket. Coughing and spluttering, I wipe the sea-water from my eyes and look around for Christian. He’s already swimming toward me. The Jet Ski floats inoffensively a few feet away from us, its engine silent.
“You okay?” His eyes are full of panic, as he reaches me.
“Yes,” I croak, but I cannot contain my elation. See, Christian? That’s the worst that can happen on a Jet Ski! He pulls me into his embrace, then grabs my head between his hands, examining my face closely.
“See, that wasn’t so bad!” I grin as we tread water.