“She could feel the sun penetrating even into her bones; nay, farther, even
into her emotions, her thoughts.” – D.H. Lawrence, Sun

I stared at the slightness of her shoulders. She’d put the sunscreen on my back already, sloppy, like a child rushing through a chore before going out to play. I’m certain she missed a spot. It didn’t matter, though.

The thick white cream had a slightly floral scent. I rubbed her shoulders, marveling how one of my hands completely covered one of her shoulder blades. I rubbed slowly, deep. She sat stone still. This was sunscreen only, a practicality, nothing more to her. This was my opportunity to touch the skin on her back but I’d get no response.

I moved slowly across the back of her neck, remembering kissing that exact spot late last night. I moved down, slipping my fingers underneath the tie of her bikini top that stretched across her pale back. She loved the sun but preferred to stay pale. She worshipped the sun. She knew I hated so much heat and brightness but she brought me along on these beach holidays for exact this purpose. Lotion application.

My fingers slipped along the string to the side of one breast, exposed by a tiny triangle of fabric that only just covered her nipple. She willed herself to stay still, to not let her body betray anything. She might let me get away with a little fun but I shouldn’t push it. One finger strayed across her nipple. It tightened and hardened at my touch but her face didn’t flinch. Behind the sunglasses, under the large-brimmed hat, what the world could see of her face was as white and immoveable as marble.

“That will do,” she announced a moment later. I shifted back to my own towel and watched her lie down. Stretched and ready for the sun to work its magic on her. I was jealous of the sun. I didn’t want it watching her. I didn’t want anything or anyone but me watching her. In that bikini, though, plenty of other beach-goers would see. I hated that she brought me to the public beach. I had to watch others steal furtive glances at her all day long. Some would outright stare. And why shouldn’t they? She intentionally put herself on display for the sun and the vacationers to view.

I fidgeted on my towel. I’d forgotten a book but I wouldn’t have been able to concentrate on it anyway. It was too hot. My forehead was slick with sweat and sunscreen. Even with sunglasses on the glare from the water gave me a headache. I reached for a water bottle and drank deeply from it. Icy droplets fell on my chest. I briefly considered flicking some of the cold condensation droplets across her stomach but I gave up that thought as quickly as it entered my mind. She wasn’t that kind of playful.

“Go take a swim,” she murmured, followed by the lazy sigh she always let out just before she fell asleep. There was nothing for me to do except follow her order.

The water was beautiful, clear and blue, but not at all refreshing. It was a warm bath on a hot day. I swam, though. I swam out as far from the beach as I could. The shallow water in the cove remained too warm. I didn’t know if the moisture on my forehead was sweat or saltwater spray. I turned and looked back at the beach. By the bright color of our beach towels I could pick her out easily. Such a crowded fucking beach and I knew her well enough to know she really was dozing contentedly under the gaze of everyone. Including the sun.

I put my feet up and floated on my back in the saltwater. She wouldn’t be ready for me yet. As I bobbed I thought about what would happen later but I didn’t dare touch myself, despite how much my body needed and wanted it. She would know.

I imagined her sun-heated body lounging on the cool, crisp bed linens in our cabana. Trees in the garden casting the room in shade, windows open with a warm tropical breeze blowing in. She liked to lick the saltwater from my skin. The scenario sustained me, kept me afloat. Distracted me from her display on the beach. She would be all mine.

Several hours later I confirmed that she did miss a spot with the sunscreen. Searing pain on my back when I showered. A white handprint surrounded by scorching red skin. I could see the imprint of her fingertips curling slightly around my waist. She held onto me always.

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