I drowsed in my chair, feet up on the little table on the balcony. It was a quiet evening on the ship with the sun setting over the ocean and providing a fantastic vista while the slight, gentle rock of the boat and thrum on the engines lulled me to sleep. Matthias had suggested this Caribbean cruise as a winter vacation with a promise that we’d still be home for Christmas. I had jumped at a chance to get away from the cold, and I felt totally justified in my decision as I lazed in the low-seventies heat that felt more like low-eighties with the humidity. The warmth was cloying, but a lovely change from the winter cold I’d been living in.
The sea was calm, the ocean swells small and glittering as they reflected back the fiery colors of the sunset and the gold-limned clouds hovering near the horizon. Layers of orange, ranging from pastel to burnt, rested on a steady red gradient, all of it chased by the star-speckled, midnight blue sky. Even in my sleepy haze, I felt the itching for paper, pencil and watercolors to paint the scene. Outlined by the strong and shadowed white lines of my balcony, it would have been so very pretty. The sliding door opened, letting out a blast of cold, air-conditioned air and I shivered. Matthias put a beer down on the table, next to my feet, and sat across from me in the other chair.
“You look happy,” he said, a hint of a smile drifting around his mouth. I nodded, but said nothing, waving vaguely at the beer.
“Should I go put that in the fridge?” he asked with a chuckle, getting up. I smiled and nodded. He picked up the beer, pausing to press it against my instep so that I jerked my foot away.
“You jerk!” I yelped, “That was so cold!” He only laughed, stepping inside the cabin and leaving the door open. I followed him in and slid the door shut.
“Like you wouldn’t have done the same thing to me,” he teased, “That was too good an opportunity to waste!” I pouted, crossing my arms over my chest as he stashed the beer in the fridge.
“I came here to get away from the cold,” I groused. He came over to me, gently pulling my hands away from my body and kissing the tip of my nose.
“I know,” he said, “I’m sorry. Forgive me?”
“Yes,” I said, lacing my fingers through his and standing on tip-toe to kiss him. He returned it with soft, gentle pressure, and then pulled away.
“They’re supposed to be showing some movie on the television tonight,” he said with a smile, “Do you want to just lay in bed and watch it?”
“Sounds good to me,” I said, “Do you remember what time?”
“Better yet, I have the schedule on me,” he said, tugging his hand away and reaching into his back pocket, “I think it was at eight. Yeah, here it is.” He pointed at the listing.
“Well, we should get dinner then. It’s almost seven,” I said, looking at my watch.
“I was going to suggest that,” he said, “But only if I can bring my beer. Otherwise, it’s room service.” I swatted at him with a laugh.
“Fine, fine, bring the beer,” I said, “But I still don’t want any. I’m already tired. Beer will just make me fall asleep at the table.”
“More for me,” Matthias said gleefully as I put my keycard in the back pocket of my shorts. I snickered.
“Yes, more for the alcoholic,” I taunted him, walking down the corridor toward the stairs.
“I am not an alcoholic!” he said, following just behind me, and catching up and pinching my thigh as I started up the stairs. I cleared three steps with my jump.
“Hey, no pinching!” I said, protecting the exposed skin with my hands.
“Then no calling me an alcoholic,” Matthias retorted smartly.
“Okay. Truce for tonight. But just tonight,” I said with a grin as I reached the correct floor and turned back to him. He looked his arm with mine and dragged me toward the buffet.
“Okay, deal,” he said as we both got plates from the end of the buffet counters. We got our food, splitting up and finding each other at least three times before I got myself a cup of water and we went to find a table together. We were lucky enough to find a cozy little table for the two of us next to a window in a corner of one of the dining rooms and settled there to eat. There was mostly silence for the first part of the meal because it had been a port day today, meaning we had done a lot of walking around and were really hungry. Mostly, we just shared bites of food from our plates with each other. I was particularly impressed with the chilled blueberry soup while Matthias said that the shrimp fettuccine alfredo was the best.
By the time we were headed back to our cabin, we were both very full, having downed a bowl of ice cream and a crepe each after dinner. We made it in the door just at eight o’clock, and Matthias turned on the television. We got into our pajamas and brushed our teeth while the credits were rolling, and missed the first three minutes of the movie because we were arguing over who was going to get to use the bathroom first. Still, once we were done, we settled down together on the bed to watch the movie.
It wasn’t a very good movie. It was part clichéd chick flick and part action-adventure, and while it was entertaining and fun to watch, it didn’t run to my usual tastes in movies and I was easily distracted, mostly by the way Matthias didn’t seem as bothered by the heat as I was. It made no sense. It was warmer outside and we had the air conditioner on, but Matthias had his arm around my shoulder as I leaned against him and I couldn’t stand it anymore. I lifted his arm over my head and leaned away from him, kicking the covers off.
“What’s wrong?” he asked, looking over at me with a concerned expression.
“Hot,” I grumbled, “I mean, I want to cuddle and all, but it is just way too warm to be pressed up against you like that. You’re like a space heater or something.”
“Usually, you like that aspect of it,” he said, lifting an eyebrow.
“Usually, it’s freaking cold out,” I retorted, “But even with the air conditioner on, it’s just too warm to be all snuggled up under the covers with you.”
“Well, let’s snuggle not-under-the-covers,” he suggested. I groaned.
“But you’re just going to make me hot again,” I whined.
“Well, I could do that,” he said, with a twitch and a smirk.
“Not like that!” I said, mortified, and he laughed, grabbing my arm and hauling me across the bed.
“Well, maybe not tonight,” he admitted, “I’m really tired.”
“Well, that makes two of us,” I mumbled, pillowing my head on his hip while leaving the rest of my body sprawling across the queen-sized bed.
“If we turn up the air conditioning and sleep on top of the covers, we might be able to sleep the way we usually do,” Matthias said through a yawn. I considered the idea. Normally we slept on our sides, face to face, with my head tucked under his chin, which, when it was cold, was particularly nice.
“But what if it gets cold?” I pouted, already shifting to adjust my position as he kicked his way out of the covers.
“We’ll get under the covers then,” he said matter-of-factly as I scooted into his open arms, nudging his collarbone with my nose.
“What if you’re asleep and I can’t get under the covers?” I asked playfully, “You’re awfully heavy, you know.”
“Extra blanket in the closet,” he responded, his breath stirring and heating the hair on top of my head. “Or you could turn the air conditioner off. Take your pick.” His hand snuck under my arm to encircle my waist, his other snaking between my head and my pillow so that the curve of my neck was supported by his rather impressive bicep. I poked at it.
“How come your arms are so beefy?” I asked, laughing, “They make perfect pillows.”
“Because I’m perfect,” he intoned with mock seriousness, “I thought you already knew that.”
“Yeah, I guess I did,” I murmured.
“No more questions?” he requested, mumbling so that he was only just intelligible.
“No more questions,” I promised.
“Good,” he rumbled, “’Night.”
“Night, Matthias,” I whispered, squirming a little closer before sighing and closing my eyes.