vacation, part four : night.
[before this: vacation, part one]
“Look at the stars,” Francesca said, stopping to look up at the sky.
“Let’s really look at them,” Paolo said, lying down on the sand. “Come here.” She laid down next to him, the sand was warm and his body was warm but the breeze off the ocean was cool and she fit perfect beside him. The milky way stretched out above them, and organza ribbon of white against the black velvet sky. Paolo turned and kissed the top of her head. “I love you,” he said. “I love you so much.”
“I love you, too,” she replied. “I’ve been waiting so long to say that, I don’t know why.”
“It’s easy to say things here,” he said. “It feels right, you know?”
“I’ve known for a long time,” she whispered.
“Oh yeah? Since when?” he asked.
“I’m not going to say since I first saw you, because that wouldn’t be true. I was skeptical then. But I knew I wanted you. I was attracted to you immediately–you were so bold, almost careless. It didn’t take me long to love you. The morning when my arm was broken, when you told me about your mama and I told you about my father and you held me, I felt safe with you. That was when I knew.”
He turned onto his side and propped himself up, his elbow in the sand. “You had cooked dinner for me,” he said. “I was confused about everything and angry that I couldn’t have protected you from that scooter accident, and I’d just shown up on your doorstep and expected you to be there. And you were.” He leaned down to kiss her. “This vacation is good for us,” he said.
She sat up on her elbows. “I’m sorry I’m distant sometimes,” she said. “I’m sorry I was mean to you this morning, and grumpy on the plane. You don’t deserve that.”
“You’re not, baby.”
“Let’s go to bed,” she said, standing and brushing the sand from her jeans. “I’ll race you.”
They ran towards the hut, tripping and stumbling, and he caught her by the waist and lifted her up, and she laughed and kicked and he laughed and carried her into the hut. The screen door slammed behind them and the breeze rustled the gauzy curtains and the mosquito net canopy and he laid her down on the big four-poster bed and undressed her, removing her t-shirt and her jeans, her beige lace bra and panties, and he looked at her naked on the bed, his eyes fixed on her as he undressed himself, and when he was naked too he laid there with her, chest to chest, thigh to thigh, feet and arms entwined.