FURY:A Rio Games Romance(7)By: Alison Ryan
Wyatt laughed. “You don’t expect me to sit here in the hospital or in our hotel room with you for the next two weeks, do you? I intend to be on the beach bright and early tomorrow. Besides, you’re ‘shark bite guy’ now. You’re a local celebrity. You’ll have plenty of volunteers to help nurse you back to health.”
The next morning, Wyatt returned to the beach, intent on swallowing his fear and conquering the Fijian waves. Surveying the tide, he was aware of a presence sidling up to him.
He’d seen the girl who helped save his friend the prior afternoon, but he hadn’t really looked at her. As she approached, he drank her in, an exotic beauty beyond compare to the coeds back home in Ohio. She wore a black bikini top and jean shorts, her black hair a thick, wild, windswept mane. Her skin was more gold than brown and seemed to glow, rippling over tight, natural muscle.
Wyatt Sullivan wasn’t typically intimidated by anyone, especially women, but his voice had shriveled up deep inside when he tried to say hello. She stood next to him, watching the waves crash, surveying the set for herself.
“How’s your friend?” she finally asked.
Trying, but failing, to give off the cool, disinterested vibe he’d honed over the years, Wyatt cleared his throat to regain his voice before answering. “Oh, Jack? That was you yesterday?”
Her gaze never left the water as she nodded her reply.
“He’s in the hospital, they stitched him up. He’ll be ok. Probably won’t be doing anymore surfing, not this trip anyway.”
“Don’t they have bicycles in America?” she asked.
Perplexed by the question, Wyatt gave the native girl a sideways look. “Yeah, of course we do.”
“Then I assume Jack has ridden one, no?”
“And when he was learning to ride, he fell off a few times. Surfing, real surfing, is like that. If you let every little shark bite, jellyfish sting, or wipeout send you scurrying back to the beach, you just don’t get it. Surfing isn’t what you do, it’s who you are.” She smiled, but not at Wyatt. She was smiling out at the ocean, as if they were in on a secret that someone like Wyatt could never understand.
Wyatt watched as the gorgeous girl dropped a towel, wriggled out of her shorts, and made for the water with her board. He watched her paddle out, impressed by her guts. He’d wrestled with this moment ever since hearing Jack screaming and seeing the churning water near him run red in the aftermath of the attack.
Wyatt walked toward the water but stopped short as the first waves lapped at his toes. His feet sank and he let them. Watching the girl knife effortlessly through and between waves left him awestruck. Whatever skills he and Jack had developed paled next to the instinctual grace this Fijian goddess displayed.
Motionlessly, he watched her entire set and watched her emerge from the waves, glistening.
“Unless you’re planning to go out,” she said, motioning to the ocean. “Why don’t you take me to see your friend? I have to work this afternoon, but I have some free time now.”
Wyatt wasn’t going into the ocean, not in front of her. He knew how clumsy and awkward his attempts to surf would be, and any chance he had to score with her would be lost if she actually watched him surf.
Not like it wouldn’t be gone anyway once she visited Jack in the hospital, but she was so beautiful that he couldn’t help but hope.
Stars were one of Jack’s most vivid recollections of Fiji. A night sky filled with more stars than there were grains of sand on the beach. Nowhere had he seen a sight to match it.
The native girl had come to visit him in the hospital, and the reunion caused tears to spill down her perfect cheeks. She told him her name was Karalaini, and he instantly thought it was the most beautiful name he’d ever heard.
“I’m so glad you’re okay,” she’d said. “I wasn’t sure if you’d make it.”
She stayed with him until dinner, calling a friend to take care of her clients. Talking and laughing with the handsome American seemed a much better way to spend the afternoon rather than trying to teach some pasty British kid to surf while he spent the time gawking at her rather than learning anything.