Dominic nodded, disappointed but not surprised, and kissed her chastely on the forehead. “Did you have lunch yet?”
“Orlando made a salad. There’s some in the fridge if you’re hungry.” Dom climbed off the couch and went back to the kitchen. Dana said, “Elijah offered to make grilled cheese sandwiches. I get the feeling that’s the extent of his culinary skills.”
“Not a wonder in the kitchen, our Doodle. Do you want any more?”
He came back to the sofa with a plate full of salad and two forks, and sat cross-legged at her feet. “I don’t want you to be frustrated, love,” he said in a low voice as he fed her the first bite.
She gave him a look and took the fork. “So you’ll feed me instead of fucking me, is that it?”
“If that’s the only option open.” He arched an eyebrow at her as he ate.
“In that case I think I should have more ice cream.”
In the morning Elijah woke them up by banging on the front door, back from his place with his surf board and wet suit. “Dommie! Orli! Come play with me!”
“Make him go away, Dom,” Dana muttered, burrowing her head into the pillows, and Dom grumbled a sound that meant he would as soon as he felt like moving. Before either of them could do more Orlando was up, and Dom heard a brief debate from the hall–“Are you sure they’re not doing it?” “For God’s sake, Doodle, you know how loud Dom is!”–before they both bounded in, singing “Surfin’ USA” at the top of their lungs. Elijah jumped on the bed but at Dominic’s glare jumped right off again, and instead busied himself with pulling off the duvet. Orlando batted aside the pillow Dom threw at him, laughing, and launched himself onto the bed between them, kissing both Dom and Dana and saying, “Get up! Get up! It’s high tide!”
“Good lord,” Dana said faintly. “My three-year-old is more calm in the mornings.”
“We can stop for breakfast on the way,” Elijah said, kneeling on the foot of the bed. “I want Jamba Juice! And lunch is on me: I stopped at a deli on the way for sandwiches and fruit and bottled water–“
“And we still need to get a beach umbrella for Dana,” Orlando said.
Dana looked at Dom with a barely-concealed smile and said, deadpan, “I love your friends, Dom.”
“Can’t say I’m especially fond of them,” Dominic replied, wrestling a squealing Orlando beneath him; and Dana got off the bed to safety as Elijah jumped into the fray, crying “Death to the elf!”
“I’ll just be in here,” Dana said in a “I don’t expect you to hear me” tone. She went into the bathroom and shut the door.
Elijah stopped trying to give Orlando a pink belly and said to Dom, “Do you think we scared her?”
“Takes more than my daft friends to scare my girl,” Dom replied, and yelped as Orlando wrenched his arms free and started tickling both the others at once.
All three of them paused when the bathroom door opened again and Dana stepped out, wearing her blue bathing suit and brushing her hair. “What?” she said at the sudden silence.
“Wow,” Elijah said softly.
“Yeah,” Orlando murmured.
She smiled and said, “What, this old thing?” as she eased herself onto the bed beside Dom. She handed him the hairbrush. “Would you do the back, please?”
“Sure.” Dana bent her head forward and Dom began brushing, letting the silky strands fall through his fingers with each pass.
Elijah watched for a few seconds more, then slapped Orlando on the leg and said, “C’mon, let’s get my car packed up. Dommie, are your boards still in the garage?”
“Yeah.” He couldn’t stop himself from grinning a bit: they liked her, he knew that already, but obviously they hadn’t been seeing her as he did until now. It was probably silly to be proud of her beauty, but he’d been silly about far less worthwhile things.
“I don’t think they quite believed me,” he said quietly when the others were gone.
“Believed you about what?”
“About you being, you know. Sexy.”
She chuckled. “Some days I don’t believe that either.”
Gently he tugged a lock of her hair and said, “You are sexy. I should know, and I have excellent taste.” Her only answer was another chuckle, and Dom added, “I want to ask Viggo to take some pictures of you tomorrow.”
“Oh, don’t, please. I hate having my picture taken.”
He put the hairbrush down and pulled her carefully against him. “Vig’s an artist. I want to see how he sees you.”
“It’s sweet that you want your friends to like me,” Dana said, but didn’t go on because Elijah was throwing pebbles at the window and shouting, “Dommie! Dana! The waves are ten feet! Let’s go!”
Dana had made jokes about whips and slaves when the boys set up the beach umbrella for her, but Dom didn’t want to leave her until he was certain she was comfortable: beach blanket spread, cooler close at hand, bag within reach, backrest set up.
“Go, already,” she said finally: Elijah and Orlando had already waxed their boards and were paddling out. “Go, enjoy yourself. I’m just going to read and nap.”
“Are you sure you’ll be all right? There isn’t anything more that you need?”
“I’m fine, Dom.” She kissed him quickly. “Go play.”
“Yes, Mum,” he said, making a face, but he kissed her back, picked up his board and and went down into the water.
It was still early in the morning: the waves were high and the beach nearly deserted. Other surfers were out, but families and less adventurous beach-goers wouldn’t start arriving for hours.
As good as it was to ride the waves, to be out in the water with his friends, Dom kept looking back at the bright red spot of Dana’s beach umbrella on the shore. Was she bored, asleep, watching him? She’d brought books and her laptop, he’d left his camera for her in his own bag, and if she wanted to walk the cove was wide enough for a good stroll.
Still, when he came to the end of a curl he gestured to Orlando and Elijah that he was going inland. He rode the wave in as far as he could and walked the rest of the way, stuck his board in the sand by Dana’s umbrella and dropped to his knees onto the beach blanket.
Dana opened her eyes as he shook his wet hair. “Did you want something, stranger?” she said mildly.
“I thought I’d borrow your shade a while.” He lay down and propped his head on his arm. “How are you doing?”
“Just fine. I’ve slept a little. Watched you out there. You fell down a few times, I noticed.”
“Yeah, but I was brilliant when you weren’t looking.” He grinned at her.
She smiled back and rolled onto her side to kiss him. “You’re salty.”
He licked his lips. “Kind of how you taste right after you’ve come.”
“Dom!” she scolded him, shoving his shoulder.
“What? There’s no one around to be shocked–unless you’re worried about upsetting the seagulls.” He licked his lower lip again, his eyes locked on hers, and said deliberately, “This is how you taste when we’ve been fucking and you’ve come but I still want to go down on you because I’m that turned on.” He licked his upper lip. “And it’s delicious.”
Her lips were parted and her eyes focused on his mouth. “Bastard,” she whispered. “I am on the edge of insanity right now.”
“Then let’s pull you back a bit,” Dom said and kissed her, pulling her body flush to his.
At her gasp he stopped and released her, realizing with a wince that he’d been lying his weight on her injured side. “Sorry, love, sorry,” he murmured as Dana rolled onto her back, hand pressed to her ribs. “Does it hurt very much?”
“No,” she said, giving him a brave-soldier smile.
“Liar,” he said gently. “I don’t want you to be frustrated anymore, but I don’t know what to do.” He propped his head on his arm, looking earnestly into her eyes. “You’ve always been so good to me–I want to be good back.”
She caressed his face and smoothed back his wet hair. “I’m okay. It’ll be that much better when you get back.”