“MMM . . . ?” ARIADNE WOKE SLOWLY, floating up through luminous waves to the sunny surface. Finally she focused on the long shadow of the sail on the sea, the solidifying blue shape of an island on the horizon. She lay against the thwarts, a blanket draped over her. Peter, still naked, one leg braced against the mast, was stitching closed a ripped flap in the loosened canvas. Westering sunlight bronzed his tanned arms and paler legs.
She smiled, savoring the lassitude, skin still tingling from his caresses.
He knotted and bit off the thread, looking over his shoulder at her. A white grin split his dark beard. “Just about to wake you up for the sunset. Look, we’ve got company.” He gestured.
“Oh!” Ariadne pushed the blanket off and leaned over the side.
Two dolphins rode the bow wake. In a gleam of arrowing bodies and foaming sea, they dove. Curved dorsals broke the surface as they arched up again to cross before the boat, trails interweaving. They skimmed alongside.
One swam so close Ariadne couldn’t resist reaching out a hand. A squeal as the slippery head tossed, brushing her fingertips with a tingle of effervescent glee. A dark eye glimmered up at her.
The dolphin dove under. Then both leaped into the air in a breathtaking living geometry of line and curve, gilded with sunlight. They plunged, and vanished into the depths.
“Ah. . . .” Ariadne strained after them over the side.
“Incredible, aren’t they?”
She threw out her arms, laughing up at the sky. “It’s a blessing, Petro! Dolphins bring luck.”
She sat back on her heels, trailing a hand in the cool sea. “When I was a girl, I was swimming one day and they were all around me, a family of them, leaping in the sun. They were dancing with me. And for those moments, I was a creature of magic, like them. When they left, I wept because I couldn’t follow. . . .”
“Sometimes I wish I could be one of them.” He smiled down at her as a freshening breeze filled the canvas, and he balanced with the dip and sway of the boat. “But not right now. Don’t move, Ariadne. I want to remember you just like that.”
She met his eyes and smiled. Her gaze wandered his deeply tanned, straight features and the neatly-trimmed beard, over the light-and-shadow-limned planes of his chest, the line of hair down his belly gone lean and trim over the past weeks, penis nestled in dark curls, sturdy legs braced apart on the deck.
He sobered as she met his gaze again. “You know, when I first saw you in that cove on your island, I thought you were Aphrodite risen from the waves. You’re even more beautiful now.”
“Wait. Just let me say it.” He raised a hand, and she let go the folds of the skirt she’d started to draw up over her breasts. “I know it’s ridiculous, I didn’t have a clue who you were, but I knew I was meant to love you. Now wait, don’t move. . . .”
He stepped around the mast, behind the sail, and came back holding a dripping fish threaded on a line. With an oddly touching dignity, he knelt in front of her, offering the fish, and they were back on the shore of her sandy cove, the stranger emerging from the sea to stammer, “Despoina, don’t be afraid. Take the fish, a . . . gift. Please. Welcome. Thank you.”
She took the fish, thanking him with a simple, “Efcharisto.”
He held out his empty hands, smile quirking his lips. “Please. . . . Could I just—?”
She set the fish aside, chin out, drawing back her shoulders in an aloof pose. Then she laughed. “Please do.”
But as he lifted her hand to brush his bearded lips across her fingertips, the laughter caught in her throat. She pressed hungrily into his arms, needing to feel her breasts against his chest and taste the saltiness of his skin.
A startled sound from Peter, then his mouth was on hers, and she met him eagerly, as if there would never be enough. She gasped for air as her hands slid down his thighs, and he hardened against her. An almost painful surge in her groin, fires coiling up her spine like the meshing of twin serpents. Their heat was burning away her separate self, and for a moment she was daunted.
“Petro. It’s too much—”
“Easy, Kri-Kri.” Deep murmur against her ear. “Give and take. As much as you want. . . .”
She opened to embrace him fully, his force merging with hers as he pushed deeper, rocking them down. She pressed hard against him until the barriers of their skin dissolved and she knew his essence in each living cell.
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