“In two bloody months. I just want to make you feel good.”
“I know you do. That’s one of the things I love about you, beautiful boy.”
He sighed and sat up to watch Orlando and Elijah ride the waves. He shoved his hand through his hair and looked down at Dana, who was studying him with concerned eyes. “Go surf, Dominic. I’m fine here.”
“I’d rather be with you,” he said honestly. “I’d rather sit here with you.”
Dana sat up, put her arm around his neck and kissed him. She rubbed her nose against his, making him smile, and ran her other hand over his hair. “You don’t have to.”
“I know.” He kissed the side of her neck and pulled her to him, keeping his arms loose around her. “But here I am.”
Dominic brought his journal with him, as he brought it with him nearly everywhere. It was a new notebook, and he flipped the crisp pages with pleasure. Of course, he loved old notebooks too, the pages soft at the edge and covered with writing, sketches, half-formed ideas.
He glanced at Dana and chose a pencil from his bag. She didn’t like having her picture taken but perhaps she wouldn’t mind a drawing so much. He’d tried drawing her a few times from memory but been dissatisfied with the result. She was asleep again, her cheeks flushed from the heat, her head cradled on her arm–and dammit, he was going to be gone for two months. If he couldn’t have a photo she had to allow him a drawing.
He sketched the shape of her face, her nose, her eye and lips. He lingered over those, making them particularly detailed, full and lush.
He paused a moment, remembering their first day together–how, when he pleaded to be allowed to touch her, she had turned in his arms and kissed him desperately, her hands first on his chest then cupping his face, her body hot in his arms. It had seemed like hours passed as they kissed, turning this way and that in the bed, discovering all the ways their mouths could fit together.
He could count on one hand all the times he’d been in love–which was, he thought, the right way to go about it. And he loved Dana. It was that simple. He loved her, loved every conversation they had, loved having sex with her, loved every moment they spent together.
Maybe she was right, that it was too soon to talk about the rest of their lives. But when Dom looked at forever, Dana was the only thing he saw.
His friends had their own families, ambitions, lives. He didn’t want to be a perpetual child–as much as he wanted fame he wanted normality too, someone to love, children to raise, a home of his own wherever he went.
And he wanted it with Dana.
Dominic sighed and smudged the pencil line of her profile with his thumb. This was pretty good, better than his previous attempts to draw her, but he wouldn’t mind one of her awake, too.
He turned the page and changed the pencil for a pen, and wrote for a few minutes about the beach and the surf and waking up next to Dana, and then watched the waves, tapping his pen against his mouth.
Absently he wrote “breathe” on the back of his hand and stared at it a few moments too; then grinned, picked up Dana’s foot and brushed sand from her ankle. Gently, so not to wake her, he wrote, “breathe” again, circling around the delicate bones.
He was admiring his artwork and massaging her toes when Dana’s dry voice said, “Should I ask? Do I want to know?”
“Just a wish for you, love. An incantation, maybe.” Dom showed her the back of his hand. “Now we match.”
She lifted her ankle to look at the writing and raised an eyebrow at him. “Interesting choice.”
“It’s on my mind.” He added after a moment, “Do you want to go for a walk?”
“I’d love to.” He helped her to her feet and set her wide-brimmed straw hat on her head. They headed down the beach, holding hands.
“Let me know when it starts hurting,” Dominic said.
“I will.” She squeezed his hand.
For a while they walked in silence, enjoying the crash of the waves. Dom listened to her breathing too, for any sign that she was straining her injury, but her breathing stayed even and unlabored. He said finally, “A lot of things have been on my mind the last few days–like how come you don’t have any pictures of Mulder.”
“We weren’t really picture-taking types. I do have a few pictures of him but they’re put away.”
“Not because of me, I hope.”
“Oh, no.” Silence for a moment, then quietly, “When Mulder–” She paused again as if gathering her thoughts. “When Mulder died I was in a very bad place. I held onto his apartment for months. I couldn’t clear out his desk in the office. I used to cry over his pictures for hours. Finally my friend Monica made me give up the apartment and put the pictures away–she said grief was healthy but wallowing in it wasn’t. So I don’t take them out very often.”
“You miss him that much.”
“I’ll never stop missing him, Dom.”
He chewed his lower lip. “You never would have given me a second glance if he were alive, would you?”
“Probably not.” She added, “I probably would have thought you were cute, though.”
“That’s because I am cute,” Dominic said, but he didn’t feel like teasing.
Dana stroked her thumb across his wrist. “You and I met when we both were ready. If you’d been dating someone when we met, we wouldn’t have slept together, despite the chemistry. Right?”
“Yeah.” It would have been very difficult to keep his hands off her, though. He’d wanted to touch her so badly that day–only slightly less than he did now.
Dana said quietly, “I believe you when you say you’re faithful to me. I hope you know how much it means to me that you are.”
“There’s no one else for me, either. I hope you know that too.”
“I know,” Dom repeated. He teased the brim of her hat. “I’ve never cheated on someone I really loved.”
“That’s good to know.”
“I haven’t been really in love very often, though.”
“Which explains, I suppose how Orlando and Elijah know how loud you get during sex.”
“What?” He stopped walking, letting the waves wash over his ankles.
“This morning, when Elijah was worried about coming in because we might be having sex, Orlando said, ‘You know how noisy Dom gets.’ So obviously they’ve heard you. You are not a quiet lover, my darling.”
“Ah. Yes. Well, in the beginning in New Zealand I was not particularly discreet. We all made a lot of friends and had a lot of fun and I . . . enjoyed what was available.”
Dana’s lips twitched and she said seriously, “Were they pretty?”
“Not as pretty as you,” he said, which was true.
“Good answer,” Dana said and tugged his hand to resume walking. “And then what happened? You said ‘in the beginning.'”
“And then . . . I fell in love.”
“Oh,” Dana said softly. “And was she pretty?”
“Not in the conventional way,” Dom began, then stopped himself. He didn’t want to mislead her or play the pronoun game–it was time to tell her the truth. There should be nothing left to hide. He took a deep breath and said, “Do you think Billy’s pretty?”
“I think he’s handsome,” Dana said in a puzzled tone.
“I fell in love with Billy,” Dom said, his eyes on the beach in front of them. “And he fell in love with me. And it was . . . wonderful. I went home with my best friend every night and we played all day and everyone was so accepting . . .”
Her hand tightened around his while he spoke but she was completely silent. He was afraid to look at her. She’d never said a thing to make him think she’d hate him for this, but he’d been wrong about this kind of thing before.
He did look at her, though, when she said, “Why did it end?”
That he could answer. “Billy’s straight. I’m–slightly bent. I’ve slept with more women than men, but I have slept with men. I was his first and last.”