“A beer.” He smiles and I feel my already-hot skin become even hotter.
“Got it. Beer,” I say under my breath, quickly going to the kitchen.
By the time I make it back to the movie room, it has been a good fifteen minutes. I got drinks, made some popcorn, and dug around in the cupboards until I found some gummies and chocolate. I was killing time, but I knew that, if I was going to be around him, I would need to have provisions that would keep my mouth and my hands full while I was in such close proximity to Kai.
“So, what did you pick?” I ask him again before grabbing a handful of popcorn and shoving it into my mouth.
“You’ll see,” he says once more, coming to sit down right next to me.
I try not to look at him, but I can’t help it. I swear my eyes have a mind of their own. When I turn my head, he has what looks like an iPad in his hands and is pressing the screen.
I study him for a moment when I know he is completely caught up in what he’s doing. His hair is tied back like it usually is, and his jaw is locked in concentration. The slight bump in the center of his nose is more pronounced with the downward tilt of his chin. My eyes lock on his lips, and even from his profile, they look full and completely kissable.
“You’re staring at me.”
“Am not,” I tell him, putting popcorn into my mouth while turning my face towards the TV.
“I told you you’re attracted to me,” he mutters.
“Whatever.” I smile then look over at him when I feel his eyes on me. “What?”
“Nothing.” He grins, making my belly dip.
“So, what are you torturing me with?” I ask.
His eyes heat at my words, which makes me squirm in my seat. Without answering, he presses another button. Then the TV lights up and Die Hard begins to play.
“Oh my God! I love this movie,” I beam at him, and his hand comes up, his finger running over my lips before he drops his hand and turns to face the television again.
I inhale a deep breath, letting it out slowly before turning back to face the screen. We spend the rest of the day watching movies and relaxing, and by the time we’re both ready for bed, I have found something out about Kai that I never expected: he is definitely someone I can see myself falling head-over-heels in love with.
I also realized that, with him, it would never be as easy as just love. Love seems too simple of an emotion to describe what I’d feel for him if I allowed myself to go there.
Swimming with the Sharks
“Are you sure about this?”
No, I’m not sure now that we’re out in the middle of the ocean, but there’s no way I’m backing out. When I woke up this morning, I was surprised to find Kai sitting on the side of the bed, watching me. I was even more surprised when he told me that we were going to have to have our date today because my parents would be here in two days and he wouldn’t have much time to get away during the week.
Although I’m excited to see my parents, I still have a fair amount of anxiety about their visit. Even if Kai and I are going to be seeing where this thing goes, I have no idea how it will play out with two people who know me having a front-row seat at the start of our relationship.
I look from the ocean, where a cage has just been placed into the water, to Kai and give him a shaky nod. When I was around ten, I watched Jaws for the first time and instantly became obsessed with the ocean and all the creatures that live in it. One of the things I loved the most about the ocean was sharks, and I promised myself that, if I ever got the chance, I would go swimming with them.
This plan always seemed like a good idea. That was before I was sitting on a large boat, wearing a diving suit, getting ready to be lowered into the ocean in a cage, where fish blood and body parts will be tossed into the water with me, at which time I’ll come face-to-face with one of the world’s greatest predators.
“I promise you will love it,” he tells me, grabbing my hand, running his fingers over my skin.
“I want to do it.” I swallow thickly.
When I told Kai what my plan for our first date was, his face lit up and he looked like I had given him some kind of gift. He told me that shark diving is one of his favorite things to do, next to surfing. He said that he doesn’t get to go often but his friend would be willing to take us out on his boat. I can’t believe how fast everything happened. It felt like all I had done was snapped my fingers, and then I was on a boat, wearing a wetsuit.
“Do you remember what to do once we’re in the cage?” he asks.
I nod again, my voice seeming to be lost. Luckily for me, I took diving lessons a couple of years ago, and when Kai and his friend went over everything with me and asked me questions, I still knew all the right answers and what to do in case of an emergency.
“All right. Let’s get the rest of your gear on, makamae.”
He takes my hand and leads me to the ledge, where I don the breathing mask and the rest of my gear. After Kai gets me ready and has checked me over at least three times, he quickly puts on his own, gives a thumbs-up, and then signals me to place the breathing apparatus in my mouth. I do and immediately feel the flow of air that will allow me to breathe underwater.
As soon as I’m set, Kai pulls me over to the side of the boat, where a set of stairs leads into the water and down into the cage. He goes ahead of me and waits at the bottom of the steps for me to follow him down. When I reach the step that has half my body in the water, I become fully aware he is there, his body caging me in. His hand gives my waist a squeeze of reassurance before he submerges himself fully into the water.
I follow him under and am instantly stunned by the serenity. The ocean is so blue from above, and the water is so clear from below that I swear I can see for miles. The silence is like nothing I have ever known. The only sound I can hear is the noise coming from my own concentrated breathing.
I spin around slowly and come faceto-face with Kai, who points to his eyes then up to the top of the water. Suddenly, the water turns red and there are specks of white, which I know are fish particles filling the area surrounding us. Even though I know what’s coming, I’m still in awe when small fish swim near the cage and begin to eat up the smaller pieces of chum.
As I watch them, I realize they are almost moving in slow motion up until the moment their mouths open, and then they move suddenly, snatching up the food they were after. I don’t know how long it takes—it could have been minutes or maybe even hours—but Kai taps me on my shoulder. When I look over at him, he’s pointing to the far end of the cage, where there is a large, black mass heading towards us. I grab Kai’s hand and try to keep my breathing even as the fuzzy image clears up and the black mass becomes a large shark. I know right away that it’s a tiger shark, one of the deadliest animals on Earth.