They walked across the deck in silence. She wasn’t sure if it was the sheer insanity of the moment or if it was the potency of the tequila, but she felt as if she was floating slightly outside of herself. The moment just didn’t feel real.
His hand touched her back again and she instantly felt more grounded. She looked up at him, his dark eyes staring down into hers as he led her across the small, secluded area. The rounded, lounge chair sat with a perfect view to watch the night sky. He sat down, pulling the pillows up behind him and stretching his arm across the back of the chair.
She sat down beside him, feeling his arm move to her bare shoulder. “I don’t even know where to start,” she whispered.
He laughed softly. “I thought I was crazy. I really did. I thought I was hallucinating or something. I was hearing your voice and then I thought I was seeing you. I didn’t think you could possibly be here…I mean what are the chances…”.
“I know. I thought that too. I was upstairs in my room and I was staring at this guy down at the bar and I thought he was you.”
She saw a smile flash across his face. “It was,” he said softly. “I thought I saw you on the balcony and I came upstairs to look for you. I’m guessing that must be when you came down here.”
Phyllis nodded, leaning closer to him, the feeling of him beside her an overwhelming temptation.
“Who was that guy anyway?” Billy asked.
“What?” Phyllis turned her head slightly, looking into his eyes. “It was just some guy. I don’t know..he was just trying to talk to me.”
“He was trying to do more than that,” Billy scoffed.
Phyllis straightened. “Well that’s not what I came here for. I told him that. I came here to get some time away from everything and everyone…”.
The bar probably isn’t the best place to do that.” He kicked himself as he spoke. HIs mouth was running off again. This was his problem and he knew it was going to backfire. He was jealous, but he couldn’t help it. The thought of her with someone else, let alone the sight of it made him crazy.
“What business of that is yours?” She snapped, pulling completely away from him and deliberately putting space between them.
He cringed. “I didn’t mean…”. He sighed. She was shutting down, putting up her walls, the warmth between them from moments ago now cooling into an icy stare.
She scooted up to the front of the chair, the magic of the moment quickly fading. “You know, I didn’t come here to be with you. I don’t even know what the hell you’re doing here.”
“Phyllis,” he reached out to touch her, to bring back the warmth from mere moments ago. “I…I didn’t mean anything by that. I just…I hate seeing you with anyone else. I want you and it’s hard enough for me to wrap my brain around not being with you, let alone walking up and seeing some guy all over you.”
“He wasn’t all over me,” she said defensively. “We had a few drinks, that’s all.”
“Alright,” he held his hands up, “I’m sorry. I misunderstood. I didn’t mean to upset you.”
She sighed, “It’s fine.”
But it wasn’t. She wanted to go back in time, to just a few minutes ago when she was lost in the way it felt to be next to him, but the feeling was gone. The magic was gone. Maybe it was all just a fantasy.
He sensed the distance, her internal dialogue. She was pulling away from him bit by bit, moment by moment and he felt helpless to stop it.
“Maybe we can go get something to eat? Just talk…” he said quietly, his voice gentle.
Phyllis looked at him. He was trying to hard to connect with her. “You know I really think I’m just gonna go up to my room. I me here to have some time alone. I needed to get some distance.”
“From me? You want distance from me?” His eyes were filled with pain and the idea that she was the source of that pain made her feel terrible.
“This isn’t about you, Billy…or anything that you’ve done. And it isn’t about wanting to be away from you because God knows I….”
She stopped herself.
“You what?” His hand was warm as it touched her face. “We don’t have to hide anymore. It’s out in the open. We can live the life we want.”
She blinked, afraid to look at him too long, the weight of his eyes on hers making her resolve vanish.
“I’m sorry, Billy. I just…”. She stood, rushing off the deck and heading down the corridor.
Billy stood, opening his mouth to call after her and then stopping choosing instead to watch her as she rushed off into the night.
Billy leaned back in the oversized lounge chair, its size another reminder that he was alone. He took a drink of the beer in his hand, no longer worrying about the hangover he’d have in the morning. What was he looking forward to anyway?
Below him, he could see the water park, and brightly colored slides. Earlier there had been families there–mothers and fathers with their children, their happy squeals echoing throughout the deck. He didn’t mind the noise. It was the sound of happiness. His eyes fell on the huge screen that was suspended above the pool. It flashed promotions and advertisements, but also events happening during the cruise.
With a sigh he stood, steadying himself a bit before he began his defeated walk to his room. He glanced back towards the screen and stopped, blinking several times before smiling and shaking his head.
“Well I’ll be damned,” he whispered aloud to no one in particular, “if that’s not a sign, I don’t know what is.”