“You should really pick that tongue up off the floor, Marissa.”
I turn my gaze to my giggling best friend. I’m going to strangle her one of these days, and I’m not even going to feel sorry about it.
“My tongue isn’t anywhere near the floor, Noel.” I shove her away playfully. No matter how annoying she can get sometimes, Noelani is still my best friend.
We both start laughing, but my eyes find a way to sneak a peek at the ocean.
The endless azure surface has always been my home. Living in the small beach town on the island of Hawaii my whole life, I grew up at the ocean and I wouldn’t change it for anything in the world.
I learned how to swim even before I could stand on my own two feet, and there was nothing quite like it. The lightness of my body cutting through the waves. The saltiness dancing on my skin. Diving underwater only to feel the chilly kiss of the ocean on my cheeks, lifting my hair all around me as I go deeper inside.
It’s simply magical.
Watching Taylor Reed surf is just a bonus. His wetsuit-covered body taming the waves beneath his board. His blond hair, messy and wet, a shade darker than usual. The look of complete concentration crossing his handsome face as his blue eyes scan his surroundings, always expecting the unexpected.
“You’re looking at him again, Risa.” Noel jabs me in the side with her elbow. “He’ll notice.”
“We’re friends. It’s not strange if I look at him.”
“Friends don’t look at each other the way you look at Ty,” Noel contradicts.
It’s all in a playful manner, but I know somewhere deep down, under all this cheer, she’s worried about me. If the situation were reversed, I know I’d be worried about her, too.
“And how is that?”
“Like he’s your favorite dessert, and you’re in need of a sugar fix.”
I roll my eyes, trying to play it off.
We’ve been friends since diapers. We grew up together, living next door to each other. And although we come from different families, we are more sisters than some blood relations.
“Noel!” I scold, hiding my bright red cheeks behind the wall of golden brown hair. We went swimming earlier, and after my hair air-dries, it always gets this kind of crazy curly look that only a day at the beach can give you.
“Don’t ‘Noel’ me, missy! I say it like I see it.” A light breeze picks up, messing Noel’s pale, blond hair. Sighing, she pulls up the long strands and ties them to the top of her head in a ponytail. “This weather is no joke.”
“They did say the storm is coming,” I agree, happy with the change of subject.
The crush I have going on for my friend isn’t news or anything like that, but Noelani likes to tease me any chance she gets.
I’ve been crushing on Ty since kindergarten, but he looks at me as a friend only. On various occasions, I debated whether to confess my feelings or keep quiet but, in the end, the need to have Ty in my life, if only as a friend, won over. We’ve known each other almost as long as I’ve known Noel, and I don’t want to ruin it by confessing that my feelings for him have changed.
“Maybe we should go back. When that dark cloud comes, I don’t want to be present.”
I nod in agreement.
It’s not strange to have big storms pass through our town. Usually, they come out of nowhere, fast and furious. A bright, sunny day is quickly exchanged for dark clouds, cold, hard winds and rain. The ocean darkens, too, losing its usual bright blue shine. The smooth surface ruffles, and the waves rise high toward the sky.
Angry and untamable.
We collect our things in a hurry and start walking back inland with a few other people who lingered on the beach.
“Oh, shit!” I tap the top of my head. “I left my sunglasses on the beach.”
Noelani looks at me before her brown eyes lift to the sky. It’s even darker than it was only a few minutes ago. “Do you really have to go back now?”
“If I don’t, I’ll probably never find them again. And you know they are my favorite.”
Sighing in surrender, Noel turns toward the beach. “Let’s go then.”
“No, you go home.” I wave my hand. “I’ll just run and grab them and be home in no time.”
Noel nervously bites at her lower lip. “Are you sure?”
“Yeah.” I smile reassuringly. “You go home. I’m right behind you.”
“Text me when you get back, okay?”
“Will do!” I throw over my shoulder, then start jogging down the beach to the spot where we were sitting earlier.
The whole beach is deserted. Nobody wants to mess with the force of nature thunderstorm can be. Islanders learn it early on, and when tourists come around, they’re always warned. Not that they all listen. Every once in a while, some crazy tourist would show up and decide the storm is the best day to go out on a boat or something equally crazy. So far, we were lucky because in our town everybody returned home safely, but I knew it wasn’t always the case.
Once I get to the spot, I bend down, my hands gripping my knees. I’m panting hard from exertion, since the biggest workout I get is riding a bicycle a couple of times a year.
Taking a few deep breaths to calm my racing heart, I start looking for my sunglasses.
“Gotcha!” Grabbing them from their hiding place behind a rock, I pop them on top of my head.
The first drops of rain start falling and, after a few more, it’s a real downpour.
Turning on the heels of my feet to go back home, I notice one lone figure in the ocean.
I narrow my eyes, trying to see through the heavy rain if it’s really him or not. I call out to him, but my voice is lost in the wind. He’s getting out of the water, his board close to his side so he doesn’t lose it to the waves, but he’s still far from the safety of the beach.
Then I see it. As if in slow motion, a wave starts lifting high in the sky.
“Ty!” I scream, but it’s no use. Angry raindrops crash on the sand, and the howl of the wind makes it impossible to hear my own voice.
Running toward the ocean, I hope Taylor will see me coming so I can warn him in time, but he’s too focused on getting out of the tempestuous ocean to look around.
A wave crashes over him hard and fast, pulling him underwater. The force of the impact suppresses my loud scream.
Running faster than I thought possible, I scan the surface of the ocean, hoping to catch a glimpse of him, but Ty’s blond head is nowhere to be found. Only waves upon waves, crushing and colliding against each other.
My flip-flops fall off, and my bare feet touch the water.
Struggling against the angry nature, I look around, searching for him.
Waves crash against me, pulling me here and there, impeding me from moving farther into the water. I continue to fight against the force, trying to keep calm when all I can feel is desperation.
“Where are you, dammit?!”
One wave rises higher than others and crashes against my back, making me stumble on my own feet. I feel myself lose balance, so I take one deep breath and let myself be pulled under.
The current is strong, even beneath the water, but Taylor isn’t anywhere near the surface.
I have to find him. The ocean can’t take him away.
Forcing my eyes open, I fight against the blurriness clouding my sight. Something on the right catches my attention, but the need to inhale fresh air is strong. Too strong to resist it. Giving up, I start swimming toward the surface. If I don’t get some oxygen into my lungs, I’ll be of no use to Ty.
Only it’s not the air I find when I break the surface. Without a second to compose myself, another wave is waiting for me. Falling over me and pulling me under.
Deep, deep under.
Need more? Underwater is coming to Amazon and Kindle Unlimited on June 28th!
“𝘜𝘯𝘥𝘦𝘳𝘸𝘢𝘵𝘦𝘳 𝘸𝘢𝘴 𝘢 𝘧𝘢𝘴𝘵-𝘱𝘢𝘤𝘦𝘥, 𝘧𝘢𝘯𝘵𝘢𝘴𝘵𝘪𝘤𝘢𝘭𝘭𝘺 𝘸𝘳𝘪𝘵𝘵𝘦𝘯 𝘴𝘵𝘰𝘳𝘺 𝘰𝘧 𝘮𝘦𝘳𝘮𝘢𝘪𝘥𝘴, 𝘶𝘯𝘳𝘦𝘲𝘶𝘪𝘵𝘦𝘥 𝘭𝘰𝘷𝘦, 𝘧𝘢𝘬𝘦 𝘳𝘦𝘭𝘢𝘵𝘪𝘰𝘯𝘴𝘩𝘪𝘱𝘴, 𝘴𝘦𝘤𝘳𝘦𝘵𝘴, 𝘸𝘪𝘵𝘩 𝘢 𝘭𝘪𝘵𝘵𝘭𝘦 𝘴𝘶𝘴𝘱𝘦𝘯𝘴𝘦 𝘢𝘥𝘥𝘦𝘥 𝘵𝘰 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘮𝘪𝘹.” – 𝘚𝘊 𝘉𝘰𝘰𝘬 𝘈𝘥𝘥𝘪𝘤𝘵
“𝘐 𝘭𝘰𝘷𝘦 𝘵𝘩𝘪𝘴 𝘵𝘸𝘪𝘴𝘵 𝘰𝘯 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘤𝘭𝘢𝘴𝘴𝘪𝘤 𝘮𝘦𝘳𝘮𝘢𝘪𝘥 𝘵𝘢𝘪𝘭.” – 𝘈𝘭𝘭𝘦𝘺 𝘊𝘪𝘻, 𝘈𝘶𝘵𝘩𝘰𝘳
“𝘈 𝘱𝘦𝘳𝘧𝘦𝘤𝘵 𝘳𝘦𝘢𝘥 𝘧𝘰𝘳 𝘴𝘶𝘮𝘮𝘦𝘳!” – 𝘒𝘳𝘪𝘴𝘵𝘺.𝘉𝘰𝘰𝘬𝘴
“𝘛𝘩𝘪𝘴 𝘠𝘈 𝘸𝘢𝘴 𝘭𝘪𝘬𝘦 𝘯𝘰𝘵𝘩𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘐’𝘷𝘦 𝘦𝘷𝘦𝘳 𝘳𝘦𝘢𝘥 𝘣𝘦𝘧𝘰𝘳𝘦.” – 𝘚.𝘑. 𝘚𝘺𝘭𝘷𝘪𝘴, 𝘈𝘶𝘵𝘩𝘰𝘳
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