For the next hour, they caught waves, raced, and took turns showing off their tricks. Steve showed her a smoother way to change positions on the board. By the time they crawled up the beach, she had almost forgotten that she was mad at him.
“You’re really good, you know,” she said. She pulled the leash of her boogie board off and sat down on the beach, wrapping her arms around her legs.
“I’ve seen better.” He shrugged and collapsed on the beach next to her, lying on his side, head propped up on one elbow. Melissa wondered what was going on behind those blue eyes. She fought the urge to fill the silence.
“Sorry I lied.”
A full minute passed.
“Didn’t know what else to do, how to get you to spend time with me.”
As she stared into his eyes, she imagined seeing the gears turning in his head and waited to hear his new story.
“Melissa, I’ve never met anyone like you.” She rolled her eyes.“I mean it. Most times when I move, all the girls like me and want to be around me.”
She fought the urge to laugh and responded in the unemotional tone her father used around the island. “Thought you said that you had a hard time making friends. Now you say all the girls like you. Which is it?”
“See that’s just it. You’re so smart. You actually paid attention to what I said.”
“You just buttering me up again? Trying to talk me into doing something else with you?”
“I know you don’t believe me, but I’ve been all over the world and I know you’re different. You have no idea how rare it is to find such a combination of beauty and intelligence in a woman. All in such a remote and exotic location.”
“Thought you said our island was boring.”
“Not as long as you’re here. Most people here look the same, dark hair, dark eyes. Not you, though. You’re stunning. Where’d you get those exotic eyes . . . what are they green, blue?” He sat up and moved his face within inches of hers.
“What are you talking about? Seriously, Steve, gimme some space.” She scooted several inches back and closed her eyes. She knew she looked different from most of the islanders. Generations earlier, people with lighter complexions had settled on the island and intermarried with the locals. Melissa was a combination, having long, straight black hair and blue eyes circled with green around the iris. Her lashes were so thick she appeared to wear eyeliner. Steve was still staring at her when she opened her eyes. “Flattery doesn’t work when you’ve made it your full time job to trash Green Island.”
“I told you that was just a defense mechanism. I didn’t expect this to happen. I had everything planned out and then . . .” Melissa raised her eyebrows.
“Look, I wanted to make friends quickly . . . that’s true. I bashed the island at first. I just didn’t expect to find myself so . . . so . . . fascinated by you.”
“Hmmm. Interesting word choice. If you find me that fascinating, you have a weird way of showing it. I don’t think you have to travel anywhere to know that lying’s not such an admirable quality.”
Melissa wondered if she hurt him as he sat drawing in the sand. Good. He deserved it. She was wasting her time with this boy, and yet, she lingered.