⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀ ⠀ Astrea
28 seconds, I can do this.
The sound of coach’s whistle rang in my ear, I forced myself not to flinch and quickly pushed off the diving board. Chin tucked neatly, arms pressed beside my ears, toes pointed, I dove smoothly into the chlorinated water below. Adrenaline pumped through me as I broke through the water’s surface.
That had to be perfect!
I pumped my body through the water, relishing the feeling of the cold water awakening my skin. Here in the pool, I came alive, it was more than just an algorithm I had memorized. The pool felt like my safe place, where I could release bottled-up stress. I love it.
I tuck my chin once the black line below signals my turn, and quickly raise my feet above my head, swiftly pushing off the wall I soon find myself back at the start of the pool. Panting like a dehydrated dog, I pull my goggles off and look up at my coach staring down at her stopwatch.
“Well, coach? Did I beat it?” I pant, anticipating her answer. The look on her face says it all, “you did it,” she high fives me. I laugh and tug myself off the pool, grabbing my towel she kindly held out for me.
“28 seconds! I couldn’t have done it without you coach!” I thank her and wobble to my feet, the sudden change in pressure messing with my head. I need potassium, now.
“You go rest up, stay hydrated, and watch what you eat! Can’t lose my best swimmer.” She grasps my shoulder and leaves me to walk back to the change room.
I quickly dry off my pale skin and toss my sundress on along with my squeaky flip-flops, eager to go home and eat my favorite sandwich, tuna.
With my damp hair pooling around my shoulders, past my waist, I stare down at my phone looking for the right track to play as I head for the exit to the building. Within Temptation? No, not feeling that one just yet. Sirenia? Sounds about right.
I pop my left earbud in and turn around to wave goodbye to Coach Raith. “Bye Coach I’ll see you Wednesday at seven sharp!” She waves back at me signaling she heard me. When I turn back around I smack straight into a wall. The soft clank of my poor earbuds smacking the ceramic flooring echoing through the quiet hall.
“Jesus I’m clumsy”- my hair blocking the view of the wall in front of me as I crouch down to pick up my fallen Bose earbuds.
“Here, let me help you with that, totally my fault,” a deep masculine voice apologizes.
Wait..walls don’t talk.
Our hands meet as we both reach for the earbuds, my gaze landing on his. I’m met with the deepest onyx eyes causing me to swallow back the newly found dryness. He smirks at me and straightens up, offering me a hand. His skin feels warm and smooth against my chlorine touched hand. A small blush crept up my neck, staining my face with a pink tone. I take a step back and tuck the loose strand of hair that fell on my face behind my ear.
“I-I’m so sorry, I didn’t see you there. You alright?” I quickly muster, cursing myself in my head for the stutter. Smooth, very smooth. He runs his fingers through his wind-blown midnight brown hair, captivating me with the soft glow of his skin. “Don’t worry about me, are you alright?” He chuckles once more.
My gaze travels down to take in his appearance, taunt plain grey muscle shirt hugging his frame, black jogger shorts, and a strange tattoo on his right arm - taking up most of his upper to mid-bicep. Sweet Jesus, I ran into a god. I gasp as he is staring intently at me with a smirk playing on those gorgeous full lips.
I bite my lip and occupy my gaze with the posters beside him, embarrassed at being caught checking him out. Just keeps getting better and better.
“Yeah, f-fine– What the hell were you doing just standing there?” I gaze up, shocking myself with the newly found courage. Curiosity clear in my features as I take in the gorgeous man in front of me.
“I wasn’t standing around, you ran into me.” he pointed out, causing me to bite my lip at the fact.
“Well, next time don’t stand so . . . close,” I manage to get another chuckle out of him with my pitiful excuse of a response. “Well I have to go,” he states and shifts to the wide-open double steel doors behind my small form. I nod and nibble on my bottom lip and tuck another piece of my hair that the wind blew into my sight behind my ear.
“I’ll see you around uh, I never caught your name,” he scratches the back of his neck; curiosity visible in his gaze.
“Astrea.” His lips curl into a smile at the sound of my name, eyes twinkling with amusement. He takes my hand into his, leaning down to place a gentle kiss on my knuckles. “Well, I’m Xander. Xander Blackwood,” he winked leaving me stunned at the sudden gesture. A small smile soon found its way onto my face. I release the breath I didn’t know I was holding as he walked past me, away from the view of my blushing face.
Oh man, what a treasure the world has made me stumble upon.
I didn’t bother to look back as I climbed onto my bike, finding my way onto the docks to take in the view of the beach - the sun hanging low in the sky illuminating the crisp blue waters. Sirenia played through my buds the ride home, as the wind whips my long locks behind my shoulders like a silk curtain.
Tuna fish sandwich, here I come.
The ride home was short, both my thoughts and the music playing keeping my mind occupied. I unlocked the front door to my beach house, father had acquired the house through grandmother after her passing - leaving us and my older brother to turn the old place into what we call home today.
“Dad! Dylan! I’m home!” My voice echoed across the first floor. “In here!” I heard the sound of my father in the kitchen. I hang up my stuff quickly and walk into the room.
“What do we got? What do we got?” I lick my lips at the delicious aroma coming from the pot my father’s mixing attentively. His chest rumbling with a laugh, turning around to survey me with his sharp hazel eyes.
“Go shower and make sure your stuff is hung up to dry,” he said, referring to my wet towel and suit. I grab my sandwich off the plate on the table and make my way to my room. Taking my time to clean and hang up the gear found in my bag.
After my quick warm shower, I soon found myself sitting at the dinner table with father and my brother. My father sitting in front of me, Dylan found on my left-hand side seemingly enjoying dad’s pasta. Sweet Jesus give me the recipe for this divine heaven-sent delicacy.
“How was practice? I’ve been hearing some pleasantries from Coach Raithe about your progress,” Dad broke the silence, gently curling the noodle around his fork before bringing it to his mouth. I took a quick sip of my cranberry juice to clear my throat, a smile forming on my face at the mention of my swim training.
I’ve dedicated my entire life to this career, swimming is a part of me, what keeps me healthy both emotionally and physically. “Amazing, I broke my record after training hard for about three weeks now, by three seconds too. Coach was very impressed.”
“That’s amazing honey. And you, Dylan, what do you have for the table?” Dad smirked at my brother. Dylan is a very reclusive being, preferring his studies over being social. “I got accepted into that pre-medical program I’ve been applying to, with the help of Professor Dalton, of course.”
Dylan being only 19 years old and getting into so many medical programs was ecstatic for the family. A swell of pride for my brother brought a smile to my face once again. I’m very honored to have him as my sibling. “Congratulations! Holy cow you actually did it! We all knew you could Dyl.” Dad clapped him on the shoulder as we both praised him.
After dinner I quickly got ready for bed, climbing into my bed I found my thoughts wandering to a certain midnight-brown haired certain someone.
“Xander. Xander Blackwood.”
I sighed while looking up at the moon peeking through my curtains, the wind softly blowing them through the small gap of my open window. Xander’s calculating onyx eyes clear in my memory, the outline of his jawline and thick neck flexing in thought. I groaned into my pillow turning over to hide away. Get out of my head, please.