“Thank you,” she whispered smiling as Billy wrapped the oversized towel around her shoulders.
“You’re welcome,” he whispered, stealing a quick kiss before taking her hand and leading her over to the oversized deck chairs. “You know what? I think your shoulders are getting a little pink.”
Phyllis smiled. “I think that’s pretty close to impossible considering you’ve umm…helped me apply sunscreen about four times in the past two hours.”
“I’m very vigilant about skin health you know. I work in cosmetics and this is an issue very close to my heart.” He looked at her, giving her his best impression of earnest sincerity.
“Uh huh—well while I appreciate your sincere concern, I think my hydration is a bigger priority here.” She grinned at him, batting her eyes and running her fingers up and down his bare chest. “I saw a tray of drinks walk by earlier that looked to die for.”
He brought her hand to his lips, kissing it quickly before standing up. “Any specific request?”
“Surprise me.” She stared up at him, the look in her eyes almost enough to make him forget his entire purpose.
“Back in a few,” he whispered. She watched as he headed over to the freestanding bar across the deck.
The sun was warm and so incredibly relaxing. She could hear the gentle music playing from the speakers and the idle chatter from the upper decks, but despite the number of people around, she somehow felt like she and Billy were in their own idyllic, private paradise. The warm hand on her arm broke her though and she smiled, turning on her side to make room for him before opening her eyes.
“Oh,” she said in surprise as her eyes fell on the face of a stranger.
“I’m sorry,” he said, taking a seat on a lounge chair beside her. “I didn’t mean to startle you. I’ve just been waiting for you to have a minute alone.”
Phyllis sat up, pulling the towel a little closer around her. “Oh,” she stammered.
“It’s just…I saw you earlier this morning and I wanted to ask you for a drink later.”
“I….Well, thank you, but I’m with someone.” Phyllis looked over at the bar. Billy still stood in line about two people deep. “He’s actually just getting us some drinks now.”
The man smiled, shifting a little closer to her. “You know there’s a private par over there for resort members—We could walk right up to the bar and have a drink right now.”
“Look, I appreciate the offer, but I’m with someone. I’m not available for drinks..not now…not at all.” She watched the face of the man, whose mouth curved into a smile.
He leaned in a little closer, his knees almost touching hers. “Come on—you look like a smart woman—the kind that likes to keep your options open.” His hand touched her bare leg.
Phyllis stood up, pushing his hand away. “Ok!” Her voice was raised now. “I’ve tried to be nice, but you really don’t seem to be hearing what I’m saying. You’ve clearly already visited the bar today, so I’m going to give you one more chance to walk away from me before…”
“Phyllis,” Billy stood behind him, a drink in each hand. “Everything ok?”
“Yeah,” she said standing and taking the drink from him. “I was just explaining to this gentleman that I couldn’t have drinks with him because I was with someone and he was just getting ready to go back over to the bar.”
The man looked up. Billy glared at him, stepping closer to Phyllis, hand now resting on her shoulder.
“Yeah,” he mumbled, standing slowly and walking away.
A puff of air escaped Billy’s lips and he settled in beside Phyllis. He took a sip from his drink before sitting it down beside him. “Sorry,” he sighed.
“For what?” she asked, her eyes confused.
“I know you don’t like me acting all jealous…and possessive. I just..I don’t like seeing some guy hitting on you. It kind of makes me a little nuts.”
Phyllis smiled. “You know what, in most cases, you’d be right. I’d hate it if you were jealous and possessive, but this time, it was okay. In fact, it was more than ok…it was kind of wonderful.”
“Really?” His eyebrows raised as his lips curved into a smile. “You’ve decided my needy, insecure streak has merit?”
She laughed softly. “I guess I kind of like that you think someone else would want to take me away from you. It keeps you on your toes.”
“Seriously? Baby every guy on this ship has noticed you.”
Phyllis ducked her head, resting it on her shoulder. “Really?” she breathed. “And umm..I guess I’m not supposed to notice the little groups of women that almost break their necks every time you walk by?”
“What?” he smiled.
“Oh, please,” she giggled, “Like you haven’t noticed.”
“Why would I ever notice any other woman when I’m sitting here with the most gorgeous woman on the face of the planet?”
She sighed, peppering his chest with tiny kisses. “You’ve very good, Billy Abbott. I’ve got to give you credit. You know just the right things to say. I think you could talk yourself out of just about anything.”
He grinned, his dimples peeking out in a way that made him look both adorable and slightly impish.
The fit of laughter started deep within her. “That look,” she giggled. “I’m afraid to even ask what that look’s about.”
“Well, I was just thinking—you said I could probably talk myself out of anything. I was just curious could I also talk you into anything?” His smile grew wider as he stared at her. The look on her face with a mix of confusion and intrigue. This was the part of her he loved most, the free spirit, fun loving, adventure seeking, devil may care woman that still kept that fire in her—even though it had been contained for so long.
“That depends,” she whispered. “What exactly did you have in mind?”
“Follow me,” he grinned.
If it had been anyone, she might have hesitated, worrying that agreeing to something without any details would have been foolish, but with Billy she had no doubt it would be something she’d never forget. The truth was, she’d follow him anywhere—without so much as a second thought.