It’s early, and Tenby beach is secluded. Removing my sand-filled shoes and sweat covered vest, I catch my breath, and watch the sea, lost in the rhythmic percussion of waves on sand, wishing the lyrics I need would make an appearance before losing my job.
If a ten-mile run this morning wasn’t enough to clear my mind, the steady rising horizon should. Yet, nothing comes. Harri was my only muse, and since losing him last year, no words have escaped my pen; coming to his birthplace was my last option.
Watching the orange beams glisten the waves, I walk into the cooling water until it reaches my chest. I gasp as the low temperatures take my breath and breathe slowly, letting the memories of our time together flash before my eyes—times when heartbreak, tears, and emptiness didn’t feel so familiar.
I lean back and let myself float amongst the current, allowing the waves to take me for their own.
I close my eyes and attempt to think of three verses and a chorus for a romance soundtrack. Romance doesn’t come as easy anymore.
The serenity of the calm waves is suddenly disturbed, and my eyes open. I feel a hand touch my back, and I’m raising to my feet. My hand grips the muscular forearm beneath me, and my gaze burns into his rugged good looks: sparkling blue eyes, a sexy bearded jawline, and perfectly styled hair. For a moment, I’m back in his arms, and the melody starts to flow as my heartbeat ignites. I’m staring him in the face.
“Samantha?” he asks, and the spell cast over me breaks as his voice sounds out of sorts.
Speechless, I observe the red and yellow lifeguard uniform hugging tightly to his strapping body and swallow hard; his image looks similar to my husband’s, and it’s knocked me for six.
“Are you okay?” he asks.
“I’m fine,” I shun, crossing my arms over my goosebump covered body and make my way back to the sand.
“I’m not being funny, but that’s not what it looks like,” he says. His accent intrudes his voice, and despite sounding annoyed, it’s enough to quiver me entirely.
I pick up my top and put it back on, “I’m fine,” I repeat, attempting to avoid staring into his charismatic face. Though my eyes wander back to Jake’s curious glare, which burns into me, and it’s unsettling. I pick up my shoes and walk away, saying nothing.
He places his hand on my shoulder and stops me, “Samantha,” he says. I sigh and look at him, and every similar trait to Harri taunts me but at the same time raises emotions I haven’t felt in months. My frozen heart starts to melt, beating rapidly, as the bright pools of his gaze take me back to happier times.
“Don’t, Jake. I can’t.” I say as tears start to pinch my eyes. “I shouldn’t have come here.”
“Can’t what, Samantha?” he questions.
“You look too much like him,” I say, shying away. I take another step and leave without looking back.
“Alri, love, how’s it going?” Patrick asks. “You look like you have seen a ghost.”
“I’m okay,” I say. “I bumped into Jake. I didn’t expect to see him, that’s all.”
“Oh, silly me. I forgot to mention he is back on the shore. He left his missus,” he says.
“No.” I gasp. Well, now, I feel guilty.
“You and he are alike, you know, both a bit lost,” Patrick says. “Anyway, I’m going down to the shops. I can’t stand here chopsing all day.”
I try and find the right words to apologise as I walk to the beach. Not just for today but for how I have ignored Jake’s comforting messages over the past year.
I hope he is as forgiving as he always has been.
The tourist-filled beach boggles my mind as I search for a red and yellow covered body, like playing Where’s Wally.
I take my converse off and place them into my bag and let the warmth of the sand surround my toes as I walk towards the lifeguard sat on the high chair.
“Excuse me,” I shout, and he looks down at me.
“Alri, how’s it going miss, can I help you?” he says, climbing down from the chair.
“Is Jake about?” I ask.
“Jake? He’s off duty,” he says. I sigh and turn away, unsure of where to look now.
“Hang on a minute, you’re the girl from this morning,” he says with a raised eyebrow, and I nod.
“Don’t tell him I told you, but he’s on the other side of the rocks over there,” he points, and my gaze follows.
“Thank you.” I smile and start to walk in between the hoards of people.
As I see the smiles on everyone’s faces, my mind drifts. They are all enjoying the sunshine and time with their loved ones. It takes me back to the times Harri and I were here. It’s then I realise I have banished every memory we have rather than cherishing them. No wonder I have lost my artistic flair; I’ve forgotten about how he made me feel.
When I reach the rocks, my stomach knots instantly. I see Jake sunbathing, hesitate and question whether to turn back around.
“Samantha!” I hear, taking my attention to the sea. Oh no.
I look at Jake, and he’s sat up, looking directly at me. I look back at his Mum, and a breath escapes me; I find myself slowly walking towards her. She welcomes me with open arms, squeezing me harder than I would prefer.
“Jake told me you were here,” she beams. “Don’t you look lush.”
“Look who I have found,” his Mum hollers to Jake, and before I know it, his dad, sister and niece, and nephews appear.
“How’s you doing?” his dad asks.
I look at him, trying to escape my reminiscing memories with all these familiar faces surrounding me. The last time I saw these people, Harri and I went to Jake’s sisters’ wedding. It was romantic, elegant, and, as the welsh put it, lush.
Time with Harri sparks my emotions and trembles my body as I recall the three days of having him wrapped between my legs.
Shaking my thoughts aside, I go to speak, but the semi-naked body of Jake standing beside me catches my tongue. His tattooed arm and chiselled chest pinks my cheeks and shallows my breathing, having not seen the bare flesh of a man in over a year.
“Samantha, come in the sea with me,” his niece begs, pulling my arm.
I look at Jake; he laughs and sits back down.
I drop my bag, take my shorts and vest off and take her hand.
“Well, we won’t lose you in that,” Jake jokes as my bright yellow bikini beams in the sun. I glance back at him, and he winks, his charm being somewhat comforting.
My hands are wrinkled, and my hair full of salt, having spent the afternoon in the sea and playing volleyball with Jake and his family.
We have barely spoken, but the tension between us seems to have dwindled despite being filled with unfulfilled desire.
When Jake went swimming, his sister let me on his woes and his empty love life. I now see what Patrick was getting at, though I’m not Jake’s type, and I’m not looking for a relationship.
The few lines of lyrics I managed to write down earlier are mere coincidence, not my rising feelings of Jake’s handsome good looks and alluring charm winning me over. My husband’s constant reminder is something I don’t think I would be able to look past.
“We’re going down the pub,” his dad says.
“Are you coming?” his sister asks.
I look across at Jake, and my heart starts to pound rapidly. It’s not that I don’t want to; I do. But I fear for the part of me who wants to be around Jake as he implores me with his wide gaze.
“I’m going to head off,” I say. “It’s been a long day.”
“Alri babes, I hope to see you again soon,” his Mum says.
“Come here, give us a squidge,” his sister insists, hugging me. “Stay in touch. It’s been a cracking day.”
I say my goodbyes, gather my things and head to the lowest part of the rocks, ready to climb back over now the sea has come in.
“Where do you think you’re going?” Jake curiously asks. Confused, I look at him and fiddle with my long brunette matted locks.
“The jet ski is the quickest way.” He cheekily smiles, takes my bag from my hand, and ushers me towards the shore.
“I don’t think so,” I say, turning back around.
“Come on,” he laughs.
He places my bag securely on the jet ski and straddles it, looking at me, “Jake, I don’t want to,” I say.
“You’ll be all right. I won’t let you fall in,” Jake says softly.
“I’m scared,” I admit, twiddling my fingers shyly.
“Don’t be,” he says, gesturing his hand out towards me. My head tells me not to, but his enchanting stare has complete domination over my body.
“You’re telling me you would rather climb the rocks and walk back?” he asks.
“Fine,” I say.
I take his hand and climb on, putting on the life jacket he hands me.
The water sways beneath us, and it sickens my stomach. I have always hated the idea of travelling on water.
“Hold on tight,” he says as he starts the engine.
“Hold onto what?” I shout over the roars.
“Me!” he shouts as he puts his foot on the pedal, quickly moving the jet ski to sixty miles per hour.
Fear shudders me as the sea moves fast beneath us, taking my grasp to his life jacket.
The sunset makes the water look more daunting as it’s now dark and unknown, and I don’t like it. I close my eyes and impulsively wrap my hands tighter around Jack’s waist. His moreish scent soothes me, and I become lost in thought. Words run through my mind, and I find my chorus, words I never thought I would find.
Back in sync with my music genius mind, I don’t realise we have stopped.
“You can let go,” he laughs.
I loosen my grip, climb from the jet ski and take a deep breath, “Jake, about this morning.”
“You don’t have to apologise,” he butts in. He takes off his life jacket and holds his hand out for mine.
“But I do,” I say. “I didn’t know about your wife. I shouldn’t have treated you like I’m the only one who suffers heartbreak.” I sigh. “I hate how you remind me of Harri.”
“Is that the only reason you’re so tense around me? Because of Harri?” he pauses. His glistening eyes burn into me, forming a lump in my throat.
“Are you saying I imagine what is between us? Because if you are, you’re lying to yourself,” he says, agitated. “Don’t get me wrong; we never planned to fall for one another, considering Harri is my cousin. But haven’t you had enough of being alone when I’m here willing to tell you anything you want to hear?”
“No,” I say.
“No, what?” he asks, turning away from me.
I dither, then step towards him and touch his arm, stopping him from leaving. His stare sparkles in the sunset as he looks into my chocolate eyes. He takes a deep breath and faces me, taking his hand behind my neck, quivering my every nerve. He leans in, places an unbearably fragile kiss on my lips, and I’m breathless. His arms wrap around my waist, and his passion bounds me, freeing me from the numb world I have been living in for so long. All I can feel is the fire burning within my chest.