‘Falling’ in love
Kat paddled to stay afloat, her skin chartreuse-yellow in the deep, crystal water. Close up, Adam’s wet eyelashes seemed longer.
“Jump with me,” he challenged. “Just from the cliff.”
Kat shook her head. No way.
“I dare you.”
I hardly know you, AND I’m engaged.
Taking in his wide grin, Kat’s treacherous heart was already jumping. Biting her cheek, she appraised the cliff from the safety of the plunge pool. It didn’t seem that high, not as crazy as the waterfall he’d just leapt off.
“Will it shut you up?”
“Perhaps.” His voice rode roughshod over her common sense.
A few minutes later they’d climbed to the ledge of the tapering, ancient rock formation. In truth, Adam climbed and Kat had scrambled. The initial ascent had been easy, but soon Kat’s leg muscles were straining for scarce footholds in the rock face. The near-vertical climb just below the summit took her by surprise, as did the realisation that a girl’s modesty could be compromised. Kat wished she’d wrapped her sarong around the parts of her she prayed Adam wasn’t getting a bird’s eye view of. She stopped, one foot wedged in a rocky crevice.
“You go in front,” she panted—trying not to.
“Are you okay?” Adam voice sounded uncomfortably close, below her. He hauled himself up like a gymnast, and his chest and shoulders took her eyes hostage.
Kat wiped slick perspiration off her forehead with the back of a gritty hand. Beads of sweat ran down last summer’s bikini top, the perishing elastic ties holding everything in place, for now.
Man, it’s too hot for this.
Soon Adam was above her, leaning down to offer a helping hand.
“I’m fine, thanks.”
On the ledge, Kat stood from a crouch like a new-born foal. Looking down, she rehearsed the jump.
Why did it look less daunting from below? How did I end up being this guy’s babysitter?
Adam moved closer, and she flinched. “Don’t touch me!”
He took in the powerful, cascading water, and once again she was appalled at the horrific scars on his back. “This place is … ,” his gaze returned to her, “gorgeous.”
“Yep, drop-dead gorgeous.”
Adam laughed. His board shorts hung low, and Kat tore her eyes away from an arresting hip bone.
“Funny you should say that. Last year five people died jumping off waterfalls in Australia.”
Kat’s knees buckled.
“Sorry. Just kidding … you don’t watch Bear Grylls, I guess.”
I’m stuck up here with a joker.
“It’s okay,” he said, solemn now, and this time she accepted his outstretched hand.
They approached the edge, and Kat’s eyes widened at the drop below.
Their eyes locked, and Kat’s stomach fluttered with fear and a thrill she wasn’t prepared to analyse right now.
“On three … one, two, three!” Adam’s last word echoed across the cliffs.
Kat surfaced first, gasping, her fear far behind her. She felt light, free, almost … naked.
Hang on … where’s my bikini top?
(A tweaked excerpt from Arafura – Blood, the Wet and Tears)
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