Romancing the Bookworm

He looked skeptical for a second then raised both his hands. “Put your palms flat to mine.”
I did as he instructed. The warmth of his hands curled all the way to the pit of my stomach. I barely felt the rising heat from the sun, already overheated inside. I kept my eyes on his.
“Okay, I’m going to push forward. When I do, you need to relax your hands, let me push your hands back. When I stop pushing, that’s when you push back.”
We did this a couple of times. It took me several tries until I got comfortable enough with relaxing my hands when he pushed. I had to stop thinking that we touched and just go with the flow. I think that was what he meant about riding the energy of the wave.
Without saying anything more, he turned me around and pulled me against his front. I couldn’t stop the gasp that came from the skin to skin contact. I could actually feel the softness of my body fitting into the hardness of his. He put his hands on my hips and bent down until his lips touched my ear. I stiffened.
“Relax,” he soothed. How could I not melt into a puddle? Goose bumps dotted my arms. “Close your eyes and put your hands on top of mine.”
“Xavier.”
“Just do it.” He didn’t raise his voice, but I felt the force of the command there. “Just forget that there are other people around us. Relax into me.”
Even when I closed my eyes and put my hands on top of his, I didn’t relax. “Why?”
“Why what?”
I licked my lips, way too aware of how tall and muscular he was. “Why do you want me to relax?”
“Because if you don’t relax when we are on the board, if I want to maneuver, I won’t be able to unless you move with me. Remember what we were doing with our hands? That’s a trust exercise.” He nudged my feet wider apart. “Imagine yourself on a board balancing on a barrel.” He swayed from side to side, taking me with him. “If you don’t go with the flow, you’ll fall. It’s the same with being on a surfboard.”
I didn’t know if it was the rhythmic sound of his voice or the smooth way he swayed, but soon I relaxed my body to flow with his movements. Then something magical happened. I realized we actually swayed to the music. I found it so cool, I almost lost the Zen I’d found myself in.
Satisfied we could move together, Xavier patiently explained what I needed to do on the board when in the water. He made me lie flat on my front and demonstrated a paddling motion with his arms.
“I’ll be behind you paddling too,” he said. “Once the wave crests, we stand on the board.” He demonstrated the proper stance to me and I mimicked him, only a little embarrassed. Several sunbathers and surfers watched us, whispering to each other.
“Something funny?” he asked.
“No,” I said, returning my thoughts to our on-land lesson.
“You were smiling,” he insisted.
“Don’t you ever get tired of people staring at you?”
He laughed. “Come on, let’s get into the water. I think you’re ready.”
I swallowed, my eyes wide. “What? That’s it?”
“Basically. Just follow my lead and you’ll be fine. I’ll keep you safe. Don’t worry.”
“That’s not what I meant.” My stomach crumpled. I hadn’t thought about my safety until he’d mentioned anything about keeping me safe. I knew how to swim, but I never tried swimming against a crashing wave before. “Maybe this isn’t such a good idea after all.”
He took off his shirt and all thoughts of being scared disappeared. I swallowed, dumbstruck at the expanse of ripped muscle. Holy sweet heaven on earth. The Xavier Experience 2.0, and I liked every bit of it.

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