“Whoever it is that’s trying to reach you is—”
“It’s just my mother. I’ll call her back.” He’s still standing at the end of the porch. “Why did you come here?”
“I wanted to make sure you were alright.”
“Why wouldn’t I be alright?”
“You’re not, are you?”
It wasn’t a question. Was I really acting so different that a total stranger could already tell? He couldn’t even see my face. Not really.
I push myself out of the wicker chair and walk over to him.
“I want to go swimming. Come swimming with me?”
“It’s a bit chilly tonight,” he says, but I’m already taking the porch steps down to the sand and then walking toward the water. The sky has the last of its orange glow. It’s not enough for me to see. There is no moon in the sky yet. That will come later. Right now it’s just me and the water.
My mind registers what Bobby just said, but I’m not really listening. Not now. I pull my T-shirt over my head and drop it to the sand. I turn to Bobby, revealing my naked chest, but he can’t see because of the darkness.
“It’ll feel good,” I say. “I want to feel the cold.”
“Are you crazy?”
I slip out of my cut-off shorts and my thong and leave them next to the shirt on the beach.
“Jenna,” Bobby says. “Wait.”
But I’m not listening. I run naked down toward the surf. I’ve never been skinny dipping. I want to feel the surf crash against my bare skin. All of it. I want to feel it all. Anything is better than feeling numb.
The text message from my mother creeps into my mind as my feet touch the wet sand and then the ocean water, which is far colder than I thought it would be. I welcome the shocking temperature and run a little deeper into the water until a wave crashes against my thighs and knocks me off balance.
And then I feel his warm arms wrap around me, enveloping me in the heat of his body. I can barely see Bobby, but I feel roughness of his wet blue jeans against my naked thighs.
“Let’s get back to the house.”
“I don’t want to,” I say.
“If you don’t get out of this water, I’m going to pick you up and carry you back to the house.”
I push at Bobby’s chest, trying to get him away from me. “I want to swim.”
“Okay, then get your bathing suit on. This is a public beach. And while I’m sure no one can see you right now, I also know if you get caught here like this you’ll be thrown off the island.”
I stop fighting him, but then a wave pushes me against him. Bobby wraps his arm around my waist.
“I thought Nantucket had nude beaches.”
“It does. This isn’t one of them.”
Another day, another book,