Lily finished her cone and began licking her hands clean. ‘It’s melted all over me,’ she said as Jackson watched her. ‘I’m all sticky.’ She waved her hands around like a child.
‘Mmm,’ he said, taking her hand and running his tongue over her fingers.
Sense told her he shouldn’t be doing that, told her she shouldn’t let him, that she shouldn’t be enjoying it. But something else let a slow moan escape her lips.
He stopped, smiled, placed her hand carefully on her lap.
‘Yes. Thank you.’ She sounded prim.
The first drop of rain was big and fat and splattered on her spread hand; the one Jackson had just licked clean. She looked up to the sky; the second splat hit her full in the eye. She shrieked. Jumped up.
Then there were no intervals between the rain drops, they fell fast and heavy.
Her hand was in his and they were running.
‘In here,’ he said, pulling her into a doorway, closing it behind them and leaning against it. Lily could see only darkness.
‘I’m soaked.’ Her clothes were sticking to her, clammy and cold.
‘Me too. But at least we’re out of the lightening.’ As if to prove his point a sudden flash illuminated the beach hut and, momentarily, its interior.
‘I can’t see a thing now,’ Lily said, her eyes temporarily blinded by the flash. She shivered.
‘I have lighting.’ He fumbled in the darkness and two small bulbs screwed into the walls glowed and flickered. ‘Sorry, it’s a bit weak, battery needs charging.’
‘Is that a bed?’ Why did she say that?
‘Yes. Sometimes I sleep here.’
As her eyes grew accustomed to the dim light Lily absorbed the details of the hut, walls painted blue and white, drawers and cupboards beneath a double bed which spanned the width of the hut. A soft blue duvet and four pillows. A table, two chairs.
‘You’re cold,’ Jackson said. ‘I’ll light the stove.’ He bent down to a tiny potbellied stove, struck matches and lit kindling. ‘Soon be warm.’
Lily folded her arms across her body; the jumper which had previously been so cosy was sodden.
‘Take it off,’ Jackson said. ‘Hang it on the chair.’ She let him help her pull it over her head, watched him spread it carefully over the chair back. He rubbed her arms before hugging her tightly, pulling her into his chest. ‘Warmer? Better?’
‘What are we doing here?’ she asked.
Jackson exhaled a laugh through his nostrils. ‘Sheltering from the storm.’
‘No, I mean what are we doing here?’
‘Nothing you don’t want to do,’ he said, loosening his grip.
Lily thought of Will, thought of how he had arranged a special dinner to tell her he was buggering off on holiday for a month without her, wondered what he was doing now. Right now. This very moment.
‘That’s okay then. Just so we’re clear.’ She wrapped her arms around his waist and pulled him closer. What had Tess recommended? A holiday romance. Was that the answer? Was this it? Or was it just a quick shag in a beach hut? Did it matter? Did she care? She tilted her head up towards his; their eyes met.
He kissed her and she kissed him back and it felt good. Unfamiliar. Not Will. No expectations. No disappointments. No ties.
‘Okay?’ he asked.
‘Okay.’ Whether he was seeking approval or permission she didn’t know or care. ‘Safe sex?’
Lily followed his eyes to a drawer beneath the bed. Well prepared then. He probably did this every week, a different girl, a different storm or some other excuse.
This time, she kissed him first.
And he kissed her back.
Usual caveat about first drafts and errors.