On a whim, Amil took Martine to see the ocean.
She had acquired a steady glow--nothing like the frightened, self conscious woman who'd appeared in the cottage a few mornings ago--and found comfort and beauty in the delicate fabrics and bright colors she'd been given to wear. All the fresh fruit and water had cleared her skin, and the massage oils Amil used smelled like flowers and herbs.
“I don't have anything to swim in,” Martine said. “Not that I'd want to deal with a bathing suit anyway.”
“No problem. There won't be anyone around,” Amil grinned. “But we can go to busier area if you like.”
“No—the privacy'd be nice.”
They'd been driving for about twenty minutes before the air changed. Martine looked to her right and saw the sea, edged in ecru sand. As promised, there was no one in sight-—no changing stations, food stands, or lifeguard posts—-just a beautiful, quiet beach.
Amil drove right onto the sand and stopped the car. The sea stretched out forever, starting out perfectly clear, then sky blue in the shallows, blending into shades of turquoise and teal farther out. Minnows darted in with the surf and rushed back out before they could be beached.
Somehow, even at midday, the sun was hot, but not blistering; even the humidity was awfully low for such a tropical setting. Martine touched a toe to the water--when was the last time she'd worn shoes?--worried it would somehow be too cold to swim. It wasn't; it was the same tepid bathwater she'd swam in during that cruise to Jamaica.
This place defied all reality and sense, yet she continued to suspend her reason and go with it.
“You gonna get in or stand there all day?” Amil's voice cut off her thoughts. Martine cut her eyes at him and smiled.
“Hush, fool.” She took another look around to be sure no one was looking. In the distance, she could see a few people on the far end of the beach. They didn't seem to be paying them any mind, and there was no one at the other end. In fact, after a few hundred feet, the sand started to disappear around a bend. Looking up, she noticed small mountains—or large hills. She couldn't see beyond them and suddenly wondered if they were deserted.
Satisfied, Martine slipped her tunic over her head. It was a deep purple with gold paisley trim. She let it drop to her feet, smiling at the sensation of sunlight settling on her breasts. She looked down and frowned at the small muffin top at her waist. She'd always tried to get rid of that, but nothing seemed to work. Even Amil's sweet kisses hadn't dispelled that bit of aggravation. Still, she couldn't help wondering what the sun would do with the rest of her. She shimmied out of her ankle-length teal skirt, giggling at her quivering bottom. For now, she'd leave the white lace panties on.
Taking a deep breath, Martine performed a brief check in. She stretched, reaching her arms above her head. As she leaned back, her heart opened to the sun. Her waist curved sweetly inward, highlighting wide hips and a beautifully rounded behind. Her thighs were solidly thick over strong calves. The sun brought out the gold in her skin, deepening smooth, creamy coffee to a rich caramel.
She wiggled her toes in the sand, then took a few steps towards the water. She turned, looking for Amil. He had sprawled out on the beach a few feet from the car for a nap, a towel draped across his face. She wondered if he had stayed awake long enough to watch her undress. If he had, would that make him sweeter later?
Martine kept walking to the water, suddenly needing to swim. After a few feet, the water rose chest-high. She laughed to see her breasts become buoyant and nearly weightless in the water. She let her feet lift from the sandy bottom and started a slow freestyle stroke. When she stopped and looked back at the shore, Amil was awake and watching; she waved, he waved back.
Confident under his watch, she decided to float. On her back, the sun dazzled, forcing her eyes shut. Eventually she drifted into a strange, semi-conscious state, daydreaming about waking in the beautiful white bed with Amil, owner of the hands and mouth that had helped return her body to her.
For the first time in a long time, she was content, happy. Her smile quickly turned into a laugh.
Then, something shifted.
The water became increasingly solid. Martine no longer smelled the sea or felt the sun on her face. She called to her lover. “Amil? Amil! Help! Something's wrong!”
“No, nothing's wrong. Just time for you to go home.” Amil's voice sounded in her ear, but Martine knew he couldn't be that close; she couldn't catch his scent. And how could a sea just disappear? She felt tears come to her eyes.
“What home? This is home, with you. Please, tell me what's wrong.”
“You have to find your way home, love. Remember what I taught you. I have to go, but we will see each other again. Look for me.” A slight pressure touched her lips, carrying Amil's earthy-sweet smell with them. Then he was gone.
“No—please...” Martine sat up, back in her old bed, in her silk pajamas. The scent of baked chicken hung in the air. She'd had dinner here? What about her nights with Amil before the beach?
She listened, trembling. The house was quiet; Joseph must have gone out.
Safely alone, Martine collapsed into tears.
It couldn't have all been a dream...