Shane moved as gingerly as he could to the straw shade of the bar. His tried to keep his arms from having to bend too much as he leaned the long board against the side wall. The rest of the gleaming row of waxed panels reflected back the warm hues of the setting sun.
Coral and ochre glistened off the surging waves, mottling foam with diamond specks. The stretch of beach had faded to amber and the sky dipped quickly into an ocean blue.
Shane however had turned away from the breathtaking sight. The cooling warmth however, continued to caress his back as it had throughout the day, enflaming the fire already raging on his skin.
“I told you to put more on,” said Duke. He kept his eyes latched on the bamboo shelf as he took another sip on his sweating beer. Half filled bottles winked back at his bronzed face.
“Yeah,” said Shane. He stared at the stool at Duke’s side before wincing and slouching onto its frayed seat. Bits of straw bit through the olive and white flowers of his knee length swim trucks. He leaned his elbows on to the smooth countertop and then tried not to move.
“Eh?” Mako gave him a nod along with the question.
Shane nodded and stared at the pale beer once the bartender set it before his crossed arms. Instead of picking it up though, Shane dropped his head. He could feel his dried skin stretching with the act, like taunt elastic. A cool night breeze kicked up and waved the hairs on his neck with a chilling touch. He shook his shoulders as the tremble raced down his spine to his sand covered toes.
“Oh my…” Eva’s voice cooed in as gentle as the wind. She strode into the small cabana like a wave. The emerald sarong tied around her long tanned throat draped to her knees after a journey down her ample curves. The hem swayed with each of her bare foot steps. Gathered tendrils of ebony hair dropped down in salted curls and held a five petaled plumeria kissed with a lemony center behind her left ear.
Before he could stop himself, Shane turned his head at her approach. He winced at the singe brought about by the folds in the muscles of his neck and shoulders.
“He didn’t listen,” said Duke. He drowned the reprimand with another long gulp.
“Couldn’t stay out of the water eh?”
“Can’t keep me away from the beautiful things…” Shane managed the subtle compliment with more heart than he had thought he could muster.
With a sly grin, Eva leaned into the counter. Her raven eyes gave Shane a thorough and appraising inspection. “You,” she said finally, “look like a strawberry.”
Shane smiled and endured the burn joining his dimples. “Then blend me into a daiquiri and put me out of my misery.”
“I can do one better,” Eva said with a raise of her long lashes.
“You’ll make him reek,” murmured Duke.
“And you making him feel bad about it is better?”
Shane looked between the two. Even without looking at one another, Duke and Eva managed the same bemused expression. With a slow hand, Shane coiled his fiery fingers around the cool bottle dripping before him. He nearly had the courage to bend his arm and bring the cold beverage to his dry lips.
“What are you talking about?”
Eva’s face softened as her brother finished his drink. “I have something that will help with your…fruit imitation.”
Duke snorted. “It stinks.”
“It’s aloe based…with a few other ingredients. I’ll have you cooled down in no time.”
Shane’s fingers slipped off the bottle and he endured the pokes at his legs while he turned to face Eva. Like the rest of her, it seemed too good to be true. “Are you serious?”
Her wide mouth coiled like a cat’s tail. Duke shook his head.
“Come with me.” She reached out to brush the tips of her fingertips across Shane’s shoulder. His hand found the bottle again. His white knuckled grip managed to keep himself in his seat as his body screamed to flinch. Her touch though was light and gentle. A flame rushed down his body that had nothing to do with the sun’s scorching.
Shane managed a dumb nod and floated up from the stool. Eva let out an angelic laugh. In her eye glinted a devilish spark. She swayed back out into the fading light while a ribbon of plumeria followed her steps.
Shane didn’t see Duke take hold of the untouched bottle and stand. Shane’s mouth was too busy drooping into a lopsided grin. As the smack landed on his bare back he nearly leapt out of his skin.
Duke’s voice rumbled through the screech of gulls ringing in Shane’s ears. “Careful, man.”
Shane sucked in a breath as he stumbled from Duke’s slap. He regained his balance on the sand before he swung his eyes back up to the other man. Duke stood there like some bronzed deity with a warning glower at unspoken insinuations.
Shane’s blush was easily camouflaged. “Um…I will…”
After a moment, Duke’s dark eyes softened with a slight shake of his head. He downed half the bottle in a gulp then raked his tanned hand across his mouth.
“She’ll be able to help you. So get out of here before I sober up enough to think better about you going off with my sister.”
Shane nodded and raked his tongue across his lips. Turning back towards the beach he caught Eva’s silhouette languidly strolling across the sand. Dark huts sat hunched in the distant dunes. A floral ribbon caressed his nose and led him out onto the warm grains and into the fading sun. While his libido churned with a hellish fire, his skin silently hoped for salvation.