10 - Unwilling Hero
James sighed as he clicked on the next video. Her spirited laughter will always be his favorite sound.
It showed them at the poolside lounging on the chairs.
She panned the camera to show the pool, the landscape around it, the blue sky and then herself and James beside her.
They waved and smiled at the camera then he cracked a joke.
“Are you seriously cracking a joke right now?” She asked.
“Yes. Knock knock.” He said.
She frowned and looked at him suspiciously. "Why do I feel like this is a dirty joke?"
He immediately blushed. "What were you thinking?" He gasped then returned a suspicious glare to her.
"Hey! I'm possibly going to die a virgin, okay? Don't judge me!" She pouted.
His cheeks and neck suddenly felt hotter as he awkwardly cleared his throat and looked away. "I'm not judging. So… Knock knock."
She giggled. “Who's there?”
"A-all tongue." He stuttered, still slightly embarrassed.
"Still going with that, huh? Fine." She glared at him. "All tongue who?"
He cleared his throat and sang while strumming an imaginary guitar and swaying his head. “Yeah, I'm gonna take my horse to the all tongue road, I'm gonna ride 'til I can't no more...”
The crisp sound of her musical laughter was immediately heard. The joke made her laugh until tears welled up in her eyes and she couldn't hold the camera anymore.
"Miss Shine, where do you want to have breakfast? I think only the two of us are left to share a meal. Your parents already left for the company and brother went to school." James asked after checking her vitals and looking for any new symptoms on Shine. He then placed some pills on her hand and gave her a glass of water.
It has been a week since their beach trip and have only grown closer each day.
"Mal, you're not my nanny or my Dad and I'm not a kid either. You don't have to do this for me." She took the pills and drank the water then got up from bed and pulled James by the hand as she marched to the door.
"Miss Shine, where are we going?"
"We're having breakfast." She smiled.
She chose to have breakfast at the gazebo by the poolside. It was a clear and breezy day so she wanted to enjoy it outside.
"Mal, I'm thinking about the list. We haven't done an item from it for a week yet."
James nodded his head. "Yeah. Since we got back from our beach trip, we have been busy organizing all your stuff from New York. There were a lot." He grinned.
She stared at the pool and a thought crossed her mind.
"You know one of the items on the list is to swim together. Technically, we did swim together in the ocean when you saved me from drowning. Should we cross that item off then?" She asked and he laughed.
"That sounds a little weird. How about you? Do you consider that incident to be swimming together with your boyfriend?" James blurted out before he could realize he just called himself Shine’s boyfriend. "I mean I'm… I'm not your boyfriend but we are doing your Boyfriend Bucketlist so I was referring to the boyfriend in your mind. I'm not saying that I'm your boyfriend or that I should be your boyfriend. I'm not saying you should think that way but if you think that I should think that then I could think that way too. What was I saying? I don't know anymore." He sighed and blushed profusely.
She smiled sweetly and looked at him calmly. "I mean you could... You know… Be my boyfriend."
"Miss Shine? A-are you saying what I think you're saying? Are you sure?" He asked in surprise.
"Yes. It would be easier to refer to each other as boyfriend and girlfriend since we're doing all these stuff together. I mean if you don't have one or don't have anyone else you want to call your girlfriend, you can. I can't believe I haven't asked if there was another girl before I started doing the list with you." She chuckled.
James remained quiet and looked at Shine with a steady gaze. "There's no one else. Just you." He said and she fell silent at the serious tone of his voice.
She met his gaze and spoke in equal solemnity. "But… Same rules apply, Mal, you can't fall in love with me and I can't fall in love with you. We're basically in a relationship of convenience. No strings attached. Are you okay with that?"
He felt a tight squeeze in his chest but he still took a deep breath and nodded. "I am."
"And you should stop calling me Miss." She added.
"Okay, Mi… Uhm… Okay, Shine."
She sighed and smiled. "Phew! Good. That was an intense moment. Why don't we cool things off and check off another item on the list?" She suggested.
He smiled back. "Okay. Let's do it."
James’s eyes widened and his jaw dropped when Shine suddenly got up, lifted her shirt and took it off then tossed it on the chair beside him.
He swallowed thickly and tried to calm himself as he spoke. "Sh-Shine, what are you doing?"
"Magsi-swimming. You better strip down too if you're doing this with me." She said as she unzipped her shorts.
“Shit! Why did I think of something else when she said that? Swim Together. That's it. That was all she meant.” He thought.
"Uhm... Shine, you should really stop taking your clothes off in front of me like that. I'm not a saint, you know?" He said as his eyes unconsciously wandered and delighted on her half-naked body as she stood in front of him in her underwear.
"I know." She smirked as she noticed him ogling her. "But you are my hero." She beamed. "Come on, Mal." She said and jumped into the pool.
“Sometimes I wish I wasn't.” He muttered under his breath.
He watched her floating on the pool with her lovely face, silky olive skin and slender body that would make it hard for any man to keep his hands to himself. James knew he was not an exception but he can't let his feelings get in the way of being her "hero".
With a sigh, he stripped down to his shorts and joined his "girlfriend" who he can't be inlove with but so hopelessly falling for.