The prompt was: “I was walking on the white sands at Magen’s Bay in St Thomas when…”
Magen’s Bay made everything more beautiful.
Lottie wrapped her arm around my waist, her palm gritty with the fine sand from the beach. She fell into step with me, our feet sinking and rising in the damp beach, our steps vanishing together into the tide. Her pearl skin was smattered with fresh freckles, kisses of sweet Caribbean sunshine.
She pressed her lips to my shoulder before laying her cheek against it, leaning into me while the tide tugged and tempted.
My thoughts meandered with our path along the crescent curve of white. Inevitably, they soared in a northward arc over the Atlantic; without fail they skipped along the stony shores of Maine. Another crescent entirely. I pressed those dull, wintry remembrances deep into the pockets of Before–my other life, shed like a parka under this fair, Equatorial sun.
Paradise was hard won. Best to remain a voluntary amnesiac, to let the past ghost away like our trail into the sea.
“Bart, you’re looking a little pink.” Tilting her chin, Lottie shot me a wicked glance from under her lashes. “Time for some fresh sunscreen… in the bungalow.”
God help me if I ever forgot how her hot gaze brought my body to attention.
Miranda fell in with us, unbidden, on my right side. She held herself a hand’s-breadth from me, though her stride matched ours footfall for footfall. Peering sidelong at Lottie’s milky complexion and wind-tumbled mahogany mane, at her toned form in the pin-up swimsuit, Miranda snorted. “Nice tits. Well done, Bart.”
So much for voluntary amnesia.
I straightened my spine, sucking in what remained of my former paunch. Lottie liked to run; I was a runner now, with the slimmer limbs and flatter belly to show for it. Reinvention is the sincerest form of flattery, and I liked Lottie to know how much I loved her.
Miranda raised an eyebrow. “Don’t suck it in on my account, babe. I’m not in a position to appreciate your fleshly delights, am I?”
There was a new softness to her, a hazy quality she’d lacked Before. Her wild curls were tied back, her feet bare. Her swirling skirt and tank top revealed a body bronzed in the garden, muscles tightened by hard work. Had she always looked like that? Even her sardonic expression was appealing.
Magen’s Bay made everything more beautiful. Even, it seemed, Miranda.
Lottie shaded her eyes to examine the horizon, where a line of fluffy clouds was forming over the lush hillside on the west side of the bay. She pouted prettily. “Shade. Boo.”
I patted Lottie’s arm and pitched my voice low. “Maybe it is time for some sunscreen.”
I couldn’t help but look for Miranda’s reaction to the playful exchange. Just a hooded flick of the eyes in her direction. She sighed loudly, setting her lips in the grim line I recalled most clearly. More like the Miranda who fit the shape of my forgotten life.
Lottie caught my expression and the corner of her mouth turned down. “Barty?”
I squeezed her hand, delighting in Miranda’s radiating disapproval. “Just watching the waves, sweetheart’. Let’s grab some daiquiris on the way back. I want your hands on me. Now.”
Lottie released my arm and clapped like a child. She stretched her arms up, catching her hair in one hand untying the strings that kept her bikini top anchored with the other. She released her hair in a waterfall as the fabric slipped down, nearly baring the most gorgeous breasts I’d ever seen in person.
“I’ll take the rest off for you while you watch, lover. Come on.” With a provocative hip-twitch, she turned back up the beach in the direction of the little place we shared.
“Oh, for Chrissake, Bart. Really?” Miranda hissed her disapproval. “I hope they find my body soon, you miserable sonofabitch.”
I grinned as she faded into the salt spray and followed Lottie’s damp footprints across the dry sand towards the trees beyond, my thoughts already turning to the things she would do to me once we were alone. Voluntary amnesia was really the only way to live.
Magen’s Bay made everything more beautiful. Even murder.