“Wanna take a walk with me?” Ashton whispered. He nodded his head to the side, off toward the dark ocean. He had positioned himself close to Michelle at the campfire in hopes he’d have this little opportunity. He knew where his surfboard was waiting and knew he could find it in the dark.
As soon as they were out of the ring from the firelight, Ashton casually reached for Michelle’s hand. She didn’t pull away. They swung their arms between them, walking in companionable silence next to the softly crashing waves. When they got to the edge of the water, Ashton leaned down and lifted his board.
“What are you doing?” Her playful tone encouraged him.
“You’ll need to leave your hoodie and sandals here.” He pulled his sweatshirt over his head.
“Is the water going to be cold?” Michelle slipped off her shoes and unzipped her sweatshirt, tossing it higher onto dry sand.
“Nah, it’ll be fine.” He pulled her gently into the surf, letting the water gather around their ankles and then their knees. She allowed herself to be pulled along. When the water was waist high, Ashton floated the board on top of the rising and falling swells.
“Climb on.” He patted the top.
“Are you serious?” Michelle rested one hand on the board and the other on his shoulder.
“Need some help?” Ashton lifted her up onto the board and she laid on her belly just like he’d taught her earlier in the day. He put his hand on her lower back and walked further out into the ocean, not so far that he couldn’t still easily touch the ground.
The moonlight played across her face and her eyes sparkled. Her braid had loosened over the course of the day and tendrils of soft curls framed Michelle’s face. Ashton reached his hand up and tucked a curl behind her ear, keeping his hand up near her face.
The backs of his fingers caressed her cheek then lowered to her shoulder, lingering there, wishing he dared go further. He stepped closer and held her gaze while his other hand gripped the board holding her firmly in place as his face drew closer.
He didn’t ask if she approved, he didn’t acknowledge the tension from the past two weeks, he didn’t hesitate. His lips met hers with a soft sigh.
Before Ashton could even register the implications of her actions, Michelle’s hands were gripping into his hair, pulling him even closer, deepening the kiss. Their connection was real and yet they were still too far apart.
Without hesitation, Michelle rolled herself off the surfboard and down into Ashton’s arms, nearly knocking him over as she fell into the water.
He tasted salt on her lips as the water splashed in their faces, but she didn’t pull away. Their arms intertwined around each other’s bodies, gripping like they couldn’t get close enough. Although her swimsuit was modest enough in broad daylight, it was way too skimpy to be this close to his bare chest and thin swim trunks.
“I need to get away from you,” Ashton whispered close to her ear, then kissed her neck. “Right now.”
“I need to get away from you, too.” Michelle whispered back but pulled his face to hers for another kiss. This kiss didn’t last more than a few more seconds and they each pushed away from one another.
Michelle raised her fingers to her lips and closed her eyes. Her soft sigh and slight smile told a secret truth. She’d never been kissed like that in all her time on earth.
Ashton chuckled. This could be our life, passionate kisses in the moonlight from now until eternity. When Michelle finally opened her eyes, he gazed into hers and his longing for her was reflected right back to him. They searched one another’s eyes for a long moment.
A suggestive whistle from up near the campfire reminded them that they were supposed to be hanging out as a group. Michelle bit her lower lip.
“Do you think they can see us all the way out here?” Michelle lifted her face to the moon, high amid the stars. It shone down on them like a spotlight.
“It would appear that way.” Ashton pulled the surfboard closer. “Climb back on. I’ll push you to shore.”
“I don’t wanna go back,” Michelle grumbled as she climbed onto the board. Once she was firmly onto her belly, he lifted her chin and lowered his face for one more kiss.
“Me neither,” Ashton whispered. He pulled away from Michelle and lifted off his toes, using the surfboard as a float, he kicked toward shore. Me neither.