Mia's Heart


Page 14



“Did you bring your bikini?” he asks with a grin. I roll my eyes.

“I’m pretty sure that I don’t even own one,” I tell him. “But that was a valiant effort.”

He laughs. “You know I’m going to take every advantage of this amnesia thing. Just be forewarned.”

“Noted,” I answer back. It is absolutely impossible to not be happy around Gavin. And that is the truth.

“Where’s your stuff?” he asks, glancing down and only seeing my one little bag.

I wince at my own idiocy.

“I was in a hurry to duck out before I ran into my mom, so I forgot it,” I admit sheepishly. Gavin throws his head back and laughs.

“Hmm. Just like old times,” he says with another chuckle. “Mia’s hiding from her mom again. Maybe it’s best if we just swim today, anyway. You can get your sea legs back under you.”

I nod because that’s probably a good idea.

He leads me onto a pristine little boat named The Shining. It’s immaculate even though many of the surrounding boats have clearly been damaged in the quake. I look at Gavin questioningly.

“We were out on the water when it hit,” he told me. “You, me and Quinn. So there was nothing for my boat to get damaged with.”

Oh. This was something I didn’t know. I was with Gavin and Quinn at the same time? I wonder how that came to pass? But I don’t ask. Instead, I take a seat and enjoy the fragrant sea breeze that blows through my hair as Gavin steers through the bay. The sunlight skims the surface of the water and breaks apart into a million prisms of light. It’s gorgeous and I sigh happily while I breathe in the salty air.

“You love it out here,” he calls to me when we are on open water. “You always have and I know you always will. We’ve been doing this since we were small.”

“Always together?” I ask curiously. He nods.

“Always.”

Hmm. I never know now when he is messing with me, but I look at his face and he is distracted by driving and doesn’t seem to be kidding. So, Gavin and I are together a lot. That would make sense since he knows me so well.

He kills the motor after a while and the boat floats. Everything is quiet around us except for the water lapping against the fiberglass hull. It’s soothing. I lean back in my seat and allow the sun to wash over my face. I decide that I’m never going to shore. So I tell Gavin that.

He laughs.

“You should’ve mentioned that beforehand and I would’ve brought some food. You’re kind of bitchy when you don’t eat.”

I open one eye.

“Isn’t everyone?”

He laughs again. “Not like you. You once almost ripped my finger off for stealing your candy bar. I thought you were going to punch me in the throat.”

I giggle. It doesn’t sound like me. But what do I know?

“You probably shouldn’t mess with a girl’s chocolate,” I advise him. He smiles.

“Yeah, I know that now, thanks to you. Now, do you want to swim?”

Gavin looks at me. I eye the water. I know it must be deep out here. Really, really deep.

“I’m not sure if I remember how,” I admit to him. “And I still need to change into my suit.”

Gavin’s eyes start to sparkle. And that’s a dangerous sign. I have re-discovered that already.

“That’s no problem,” he tells me. “I’ll turn my back and you can change. And then we’ll get into the water together. You can wear a life-jacket.”

I narrow my eyes. “No peeking.”

He holds his hands up innocently. “I would never. Okay, maybe I would. But I promise that I won’t today.”

He laughs impishly. And I know, deep down, that I wouldn’t be overly mad if he did peek. What does that make me? What kind of girl am I, anyway?

I grab my bag and yank my suit out. True to his word, Gavin turns his back. Although, I do catch him trying to steal a glance in the chrome reflection of the boat trim. I laugh in spite of myself. I have never shoved my clothes off of my body as fast as I do right now. Well, I don’t think I ever have anyway. I yank my suit up and slide my arms into the arm straps.

“Done!” I announce.

Gavin turns around, his gaze flickers down and then back up. I can’t read the expression in his eyes very well, but I’m guessing he is disappointed that there really is no bikini. He doesn’t show it, though. Instead, he grabs a bright orange lifejacket and tosses it to me.

“Put this on.”

So I do.

And then I peer over the edge of the boat. The water is brilliant blue and fairly clear.

“Are there sharks?” I ask.

Gavin rolls his eyes. “When in the history of your life, have you ever worried about sharks?” He pauses. “Oh, right. You don’t remember. Sorry. You don’t worry about sharks because you know that you have a greater chance of dying in an airplane crash than you do of getting eaten by a shark. The chances are slim to none.”

For some reason, that doesn’t make me feel much better.

But it might be because the sea is so vast and I am so unsure about my swimming skills.

Gavin looks at me and grabs my hand.

“Mia, I would never let anything happen to you. You are a very strong swimmer. All you have to do is trust your instincts. And you have a life jacket on. You’ll be fine.”

I nod and Gavin counts.

On three, we jump over the side.

Chapter Twelve

I feel panicked for a second as the water closes in over my head. I plunge into the sea and for a brief minute before my lifejacket thrusts me back up, I do panic. I kick hard and flail. But then the buoyancy of the orange vest sends me bobbing back to the surface.


I sputter as my head breaks through the water. And then I gulp in a huge mouthful of air. Gavin is still holding my hand and he shakes the water from his hair as he treads water next to me.

“You okay?” he asks in concern. I nod.

“Yep. I just wasn’t expecting it to be so cold.”

He looks at me strangely. “You really don’t remember anything at all, do you?”

I shake my head. “Nope.”

I release his hand and kick away from the boat. I love the weightless feeling that I have right now, even though I’m secretly worried that sharks are going to notice my legs kicking and come up and bite one off. I’m kind of fond of my legs. I’d prefer to keep them.

There’s nothing out here, not for miles and miles. I scan the horizon and only see blue. I feel freer than I’ve felt since I woke up. I tell Gavin that and he smiles.

“That’s why you love it out here so much,” he confides. “You’re free out here. No restrictions, no expectations. Usually, we dive the old wrecks.”

At my clueless expression, he adds, “It’s a bunch of sunken ships. You love it.”

For some reason, for a minute, I get a chill. Thinking of old sunken ships resting against the bottom of the sea with moss and crap growing on them is pretty creepy. And I don’t want to swim down there. But of course I don’t want Gavin to know that. I don’t want to hear But you used to love it! even one more time. It’s growing a little old.

I seem to do okay paddling, so I decide to try swimming. I stretch my arms out in front of me and stroke, one after the other. Gavin calls after me.

“You’re doing great! I knew you wouldn’t forget!”

I bury my face in the sea and allow it to wash over me. The cool water seems to wash everything away and I glide effortlessly through the water. I flip onto my back and close my eyes, basking in the sun as I float.

I don’t know how long I bob in the water like this, but I decide that I must have fallen asleep for a minute. Because when I open my eyes again, I am way, way away from the boat.

Far.

Away.

And Gavin is lying on the hull of the boat, asleep. I can tell from the way his arm is thrown up over his head and his eyes are closed.

I flip over and suddenly, I’m terrified.

I’m panicky.

The sea is so very vast.

And I’m so very alone.

I scream. I can’t help it. And as I do, I accidentally gulp in a huge mouthful of water. Everything that follows is a blur.

I start coughing and flailing my arms and even though I’m wearing a life-jacket, I’m thrashing around like a lunatic. I hear the boat motor start up and then I feel the wake of the boat as it crests up to me. Gavin is next to me and before I know it, he’s hauling me over the side of The Shining.

I’m in his lap, on the floor of the boat and he is holding me and I am shaking.

OhMyGod.

I’m such an idiot.

I’m such an idiot.

And I must be repeating it out loud, even though I don’t mean to, because Gavin is telling me, “No, you’re not.”

But I am.

I really am.

“I don’t know why I got so afraid,” I tell him. “I think I had a panic attack.” My voice sounds pathetic and I hate it.

Gavin tightens his grip on me, his strong arms are wrapped around me and I suddenly realize that his skin is pressed against mine and it feels really, really good. I push into him harder and clutch him to me.

Because for some insane reason, I’m still unnerved.

“It’s okay,” he tells me softly. He’s stroking my back and I’m trying to catch my breaths like a normal person. “You’ve been through a lot. I shouldn’t have let you float like that alone. You seemed like you were doing fine, so I climbed up onto the boat to watch you and I must have fallen asleep. I’m so sorry. This is my fault, Mi.”

I look up at him. He’s so sexy and concerned and my heart melts.

“It’s not your fault that I’m insane,” I tell him firmly. “I don’t know why I panicked. I can’t even explain it. Everything just all of a sudden felt so big and I felt so small and alone. I guess I kind of freaked out.”

Understatement of the year.

Gavin’s dark eyes are soft as he stares at me. He brushes a thumb across my cheek and says that he is so very sorry.

“It makes sense, Mia,” he tells me. “You can’t remember who you are. So you feel sort of alone in the world. And when you fell asleep while you were floating and woke up, the sea felt big. And everything came down on you at once. It’s okay. I get it. But you’re never alone. I want you to know that. You will always have me. You always have and you always will.”

My heart swells until it might burst.

It feels so incredibly, amazingly good to have this beautiful boy tell me that. To know that he has always been my friend, that he knows me inside and out. And then I do something unexpected.

I lean up and kiss Gavin.

On the mouth.

Sweet Angel of Mercy.

His lips are soft and warm from the sun. I can taste the sea on them and I weave my hands into his hair, pulling him closer. He tightens his grip on me and kisses me back; hard, hard, harder. He tastes like fruit and smells like sunshine.

It’s really nice.

Wonderful.

Amazing.

My heart is doing flip-flops when I finally pull away.

Gavin stares down at me in shock.

“I’ve always wondered what that would be like,” he admits. “Kissing a firecracker, I mean.” I smile.

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