It wasn’t a particularly big cave. The entrance was only about as high as a doorway, and even though the roof was higher when you got inside, it wasn’t much higher than the ceiling of a room. The space inside wasn’t easy to judge, because the daylight didn’t seem to penetrate very far. All Kessie could tell, was that it was more than just a hollowed-out part of the rocks. It was delightful, though! You couldn’t tell it was here, from the top of the cove. You had to walk down the sloping beach and round the jutting rocks, to find it. All she had been expecting to find, when she came exploring, was more rocks, and perhaps some rock-pools. Fully dressed as she was, she couldn’t have done much exploring of rock-pools, without going all the way back home and changing into her swimsuit.
The lone man, swimming in the sea beyond the entrance of the cove, almost prompted her to do exactly that, but she was feeling too lazy to make the round-trip. Maybe another day. She’d have plenty of time for that, now she was working down here.
There were a few rock-pools by the cave entrance. Well, actually, they were more like beach-pools, since they were in hollows in the gravelly beach outside the cave. They looked deep — too deep to explore without a swimsuit — so Kessie ignored them and went into the cave. A few drips on her head, as she went through the entrance, weren’t enough to make her worry about her clothes getting wet. They just made the cave seem a little eerie, and therefore more exciting.
After walking around as much of the interior as she dared, in the dim light, taking in the damp, seaweed-covered, black rock walls, encrusted near the entrance with barnacles, mussels, limpets and anemones, Kessie realised that she needed to be careful. One wrong step on the slippery seaweed might cause her to fall into one of the small pools in the gravelly floor of the cave. Worse still, she could easily twist an ankle. She ought to leave off her exploring for now, and maybe come back with a friend. At the very least, she ought to come back wearing more suitable beach attire than a white blouse, jeans, trainers and socks.
She blinked, momentarily dazzled, as she emerged from the cave. Had she really been in there long enough for her eyes to adapt to the dark? Once the brightness was bearable, she opened her eyes properly. Then she stared in dismay. The waves were lapping up the little beach on this side of the rocks which separated her from the cove. She was cut off! Even if she took her shoes and socks off and rolled up her jeans, she wouldn’t be able to wade past the rocks without getting her clothes soaked. It looked nearly waist-deep, already.
Oh, why hadn’t she put on her swimsuit, when she first decided to come to the cove? She could have swum back round, if she had.
There was a rock, near the cave entrance, which was mostly dry and didn’t have a rock-pool around it. Kessie sat down on it. She expected a long and boring wait. Well, at least she could watch the man swimming in the sea. He must be pretty fit, as he’d been out there swimming for quite some time. She watched him stop for a few seconds and gaze towards the cove, presumably treading water, as the sea must surely be too deep to stand, just there. Then he began slowly swimming back towards the beach. He was still too far out for her to see any details apart from his tanned face and reddish-brown hair.
A sudden, strong onshore breeze, added to the sight and sound of the waves, made her bladder tingle and reminded her she hadn’t emptied it for nearly a couple of hours. She got up from the rock and went into the cave, right to the very back where it would be too dark for the man to see her.
When she emerged, a couple of minutes later, the man was a lot closer. In fact, he seemed to be heading towards the cave. Kessie felt puzzled and slightly nervous about this. Why would he come to the cave, rather than going to the beach? It was getting pretty windy, and the waves were beginning to break harder against the rocks, making the cave much less attractive than it had been. Was he hoping to chat her up? Or — her nerves increased — was he taking advantage of the fact that no one else was around, and that they were out of view of anyone on the beach?
The strengthening waves were inhibiting his progress, making it even more puzzling that he should struggle to get to the cave. Indeed, he seemed to have some difficulty getting to his feet, once he got into shallow enough water to try and stand. Twice, waves and their backwash knocked him off his feet, as he waded out. At last, though, he was standing just beyond the limit of the waves.
He was certainly very fit-looking, Kessie mused, as she was finally able to see him properly. He was maybe six or seven inches taller than her, lean and with prominent muscles in his arms, shoulders and chest. His face was smooth-shaven, with freckles on his cheeks and short, auburn hair. The tops of his arms were a little red from the sun, as were his shoulders and upper chest. He was wearing a pair of swimming trunks, with some kind of photo design on them, and he was standing close enough that Kessie could see they were photos of bikini-clad girls. The bulge at the front…
Kessie felt herself moisten, and was immediately frightened by her own body’s betrayal. It wouldn’t do for him to sense her easy arousal, under these circumstances.
“You need to get away from here, love,” he said.
Kessie jumped. She had been so busy evaluating him, she hadn’t thought to greet him in any fashion, and hadn’t anticipated him being the one to break the ice. But it was an odd thing to say. No “hello” or “my name’s… whatever”.
“You don’t say,” she retorted. “I can’t swim out dressed like this, can I? I’ll have to wait till the tide goes back out.”
“If you do that, you might not get out at all,” he replied. “The cave gets covered completely, at high tide.”
“What?!” Kessie exclaimed, jumping to her feet. “Are you sure?”
“I’ve lived around here for nearly five years,” he said. “Believe me, it gets covered.”
“Shit! These clothes are new, as well. The sea water will ruin them.”
“Clothes can be replaced,” he said. “You can’t. Come on.”
He held out his hand to her, but Kessie hesitated.
He misread her hesitation. “Can’t you swim?” he asked.
“Yes, I can swim,” she replied. “It’s just… well, I watched you struggling to get ashore, just now. I’m not as strong a swimmer as you obviously are.”
Looking back towards the sea, he seemed tense. When he turned towards her again, she saw worry in his face.
“The wind’s got stronger, in the last quarter of an hour or so,” he said. “It probably will be harder to swim away from the cave than it was to come towards it. The wind is also blowing towards these rocks on the other side of the cave.” He pointed at the rocks on Kessie’s right — the opposite direction to the cove. “Even if we get past the rock buttress, we could find ourselves being dashed against the other side of it.”
“And if we stay here?”
“We’ll get dashed against the rocks here, by the cave.”
Kessie looked up, at the cliff above the cave.
“Forget it,” he said, as if reading her mind. “That cliff is impossible to climb, without mountaineering gear. The only way out is to swim out past the buttress and round into the cove.”
Kessie took a deep breath and closed her eyes. Then she nodded. “Let’s give it a go, then.”
“I’m Sion, by the way,” the man said, as they walked towards the edge of the waves. “Sion Price.”
“Pleased to meet you, Sion,” Kessie responded. “I’m Kessie Masade. Thank you for coming to my rescue.”
Sion smiled at her, and it changed his face completely, revealing a kind person under the slightly scary-looking muscle-man image.
“Better save your thanks until we’re in the clear. Um. Don’t take this the wrong way, but it might be a good idea to take your trainers and socks off, and strip down to your underwear. Otherwise, your clothes might drag you down.”
Kessie considered this, then shook her head. “If I knock a toe on a rock, it might stop me from swimming properly. And my underwear is far too revealing for swimwear.”
“And that’s worth risking your life for? Kessie, you’ll be in the water; I won’t be able to see anything! In any case, I’ll be too busy swimming.”
Kessie shook her head stubbornly. There was no way she was going to strip off in front of a total stranger.
Sion sighed. “Have it your own way, then. I’ll do what I can to help you swim.”
They waded into the cold, swirling waves.
A wave swept Kessie off her feet, when she was still gasping at the cold and forcing herself to go in deeper. Her shriek of alarm was cut short by a mouthful of salty water, which went down the wrong way, making her gag and flail her arms in panic. She managed to get her head above the surface, to try and cough the water out, but another wave broke over her, just as she tried to force herself to take a breath, and more water flowed into her mouth and down into her lungs.
That’s not fair! she screamed, inside her head. Let me breathe! Just one good breath!
She was aware only of struggling, flailing her arms and thrashing her legs, as she tried desperately to breathe, and of a growing weariness and thick-headedness. Then something akin to sleep took hold of her and everything went dark.
Coughing! Gasping! Burning in her lungs and throat! Salt in her mouth!
The long, desperate bout of coughing and retching finally subsided, and Kessie took deep lungfuls of air. This made her cough again, but not quite so badly this time. She took another deep breath and coughed yet again. After a few more cycles of breathing and coughing, she was finally able to draw breath comfortably, with nothing more than a sensation akin to bronchitis.
When she eventually became aware of more than just the need to breathe, she realised she was lying face-down on the gravelly beach, right in the cave entrance. Her head was facing towards the sea, and her feet were inside the cave, which meant she was facing down the slope of the beach. She also became aware of a rhythmic pressure on her back, and hands massaging her, as if trying to squeeze the water out of her.
A groan was all she could manage, by way of saying she was feeling better. The hands released her, and she felt a weight, which she hadn’t previously noticed, get off the small of her back. She put her own hands on the gravel either side of her, and tried to push herself up. Strong arms immediately grasped her shoulders and helped her first onto all-fours, then into a kneeling position, and finally to sit with her legs out in front of her.
Sion appeared from somewhere beside her. He knelt in front of her, his face creased with worry.
“Take it easy, for a few minutes,” he said gently. “Your body’s had quite a shock. You nearly drowned, there.”
Kessie hadn’t noticed the Welsh accent, before now. There was something warm and reassuring about it, for some strange reason.
“That was horrible,” she said. “The waves just knocked me off my feet, and I swallowed a load of water. Then I couldn’t get my head out of the water long enough to breathe.” Unbidden and unexpectedly, a sob burst from her. “I couldn’t breathe!”
Sion put his arms around her, and she responded automatically to the hug of reassurance. Then the emotion left her, as abruptly as it had arrived, and she was aware of hugging a near-naked man whom she had only just met. Trying not to seem as if she was pushing him away — he had just saved her life, after all — she let go of him and sat back. He seemed to understand; at least, he didn’t attempt to hold onto her.
They sat awkwardly, for a few moments, neither looking directly at the other.
“You saved my life, Sion,” she said at last.
“For the moment,” he said. “We’re still trapped by a cave which will flood at high tide.”
Kessie’s relief evaporated and dread returned. She looked past Sion, to where the waves were breaking a little closer than a few minutes ago; closer, and with no less ferocity.
“Trapped is the word,” she remarked. “I wouldn’t have the courage to try swimming out again. But I don’t fancy drowning a second time, either.”
She pulled her feet up towards her and stood up. Sion stood with her, his hands half-stretched towards her, as if expecting to have to catch her. She smiled at him.
“I haven’t said thank you, have I?” she said. “You gave me the kiss of life, and I haven’t thanked you. I’m so sorry, Sion. Thank you.”
“You’re welcome, Kessie. Only, I didn’t actually give you the kiss of life. I didn’t need to; just put you into the recovery position and let your own body empty the water out.”
“Well, either way, you saved my life. You must have dragged me out of the water, too. I couldn’t possibly have done that myself.”
They stood in silence, watching the sea gradually work its way closer.
“So what do we do?” Kessie asked, at last.
“I’ve no idea. I was swimming, so I don’t have my phone with me, to phone the Coast Guard.”
“Phone!” Kessie shouted. “What a dumb-ass! I’ve got a phone! What’s the number?”
“999 or 112, same as the other emergency services.”
She pulled her phone out of her back pocket. Then her heart sank. Out of her back pocket. Of jeans that she’d been wearing while trying to swim in the sea. Sure enough, the phone was dead. It didn’t respond to her touching the screen, or to her holding the ‘reset’ button down.
“Damn! It’s dead. I wish I’d thought of the phone, before I went in the water.”
Sion hung his head. “I should have thought of that, instead of encouraging you to try swimming out.”
“Hey, Sion, it’s not your fault,” she said, putting her phone back in her pocket. “I’m the one who got herself trapped here. I’m guessing you’re only here because you realised I was trapped and were trying to rescue me?”
“So this whole mess is my fault. None of it’s yours.”
He shook his head. “If you’re new to the area, you couldn’t be expected to know the cave would get cut off at high tide.”
Kessie laughed humourlessly. “I am a stranger to the area, but not to common sense. I should have been paying attention to the tide, when I decided to walk this far down the cove. Don’t mariners say ‘Never turn your back on the sea’? And that’s quite literally what I did.”
A stray wave sent its wash right up to the cave mouth, prompting both of them to retreat into the cave and bringing the first knot of fear to Kessie’s stomach.
“And now it gets scary,” she remarked.
“Where are you from, then?” Sion asked. “I have to say, I don’t see many black people in this part of the country.”
“I grew up in London,” she told him, “although I’ve been studying at Birmingham University for the last three years. What about you? Your accent sounds Welsh.”
“Yes, I am Welsh,” he said. “I grew up near Swansea, and moved here five years ago. I didn’t go to university, though.”
Kessie shrugged. “Lots of people don’t. I’ve never come across your name before. Is it Welsh?”
Sion nodded. “Both names are. But yours are even more unusual. Are they African?”
“Kessie is a Ghanaian name, and Masade is Nigerian. My Dad’s Nigerian, and my Mum Ghanaian.”
“Oh, wow! So they’re from different countries, then? Mine are, too. My Dad’s Welsh and my Mum is Cornish.”
“Do you speak Welsh?”
“It’s my first language. But I bet you’re going to tell me you speak something more exotic.”
“Well, Ghana’s and Nigeria’s official languages are both English, but my Mum grew up speaking Akuapem Twi. I’ve got relatives over there, and we occasionally go to visit, so I’ve grown up with that language being spoken around me. I’m not a native speaker, but I can get by.”
Another wave washed up into the cave, and they moved a little further from the entrance. The knot of fear, banished temporarily by Sion’s cheerful chatting about their backgrounds, returned to Kessie’s stomach.
“So what brought you to this part of the country?” Sion asked.
Kessie noticed a slight tension in his voice. He was scared, too. Was the chatter to take her mind off their predicament, or his?
“A couple of things,” she said. “I’ve always wanted to live down here, then after uni I found a job with a firm of financial advisers.”
“What sort of job? Secretary?”
“No, I’m a paraplanner.”
“What’s one of those?”
“I help prepare financial reports, for people who need advice. What about you? What brought you here?”
Sion smiled. “I have family down this way, so I moved here to be close to them. I’ve had a few different jobs, but at the moment I’m a hotel receptionist.”
Another wave washed in, more strongly than the last one, and the two of them scrambled to get to the back of the cave, out of its reach. Kessie followed Sion, as he backed hurriedly away from the wave to where the back wall began to slope up. She saw liquid spurt through the front of his trunks, as he backed away. It stopped when he was out of reach of the water, and he looked at her with a dismayed expression.
Neither of them spoke for several seconds, as they stood watching the wave lap against the lowest part of the slope. Kessie felt embarrassed for him. It was all too easy to imagine what it would feel like, to piss your pants in front of a member of the opposite sex. Finally, she decided to tackle it head-on.
“It doesn’t really count as pissing your pants, in a swimsuit,” she said. “Everyone does it. At least, I do it, when I’m wearing one. In the sea, at any rate.”
She looked at Sion, and saw he was staring at her. He looked as though he wasn’t sure whether to be embarrassed or intrigued.
“At least you’re wearing a swimsuit,” she added. “I’m going to have to piss in my trousers, when it comes to it.”
He burst out laughing.
“Well, I am! Look, if you still need to go, just go. Only, do it in your trunks, because I don’t fancy having to watch you pee against the cave wall. It’ll only remind me that I don’t have that option.”
Sion turned his back to her, and she heard the pattering of liquid on the rock. When he turned to face her again, it was too dark to see any stains on his trunks.
“Yes, look at the stain,” he remarked tartly.
“Well? I’ve noticed you looking at me down there,” she retorted. “In case you’re wondering, I didn’t piss myself when I nearly drowned, because I’d already come in here to take a leak, just before you arrived.”
“I know, I saw you go in the cave.”
She looked at him in alarm.
“It’s okay,” he added hastily. “I couldn’t see anything. The cave’s too dark, from outside, and you’re…” He stopped suddenly, mouth aghast.
Kessie smiled. “And I’m dark, too.”
“I can’t believe I nearly said that,” he groaned.
“Sion, I’m not offended. Embarrassed that you knew what I came in here for, but not offended.”
The water continued to rise, and the two of them continued to back up the slope of the cave’s rear wall, away from it. The waves were still pretty rough, although possibly a little less so, than when they’d tried to swim out. A few times, they washed up the wall to where Sion and Kessie were standing, but fortunately they managed to back away before they were knocked over. Sion pointed out that, in here, getting washed into the water could easily be fatal. It was sloshing about hard enough to throw a swimmer against one of the walls. Kessie hardly needed his warning, to tell her that. She could see for herself how dangerous the water was.
Sion was amazing. He kept up a cheerful conversation, asking her more about herself, telling her about himself, relating amusing stories about things that had happened in the hotel. She knew it was all for her benefit, to keep her mind off the predicament they were in. He must surely have been as scared as she was, but he never showed it.
It was lucky that the back wall of the cave was as gently-sloping as it was. They could walk up it ahead of the rising water, without having to resort to climbing; for a while, at any rate. Eventually, they were not far below the uneven roof of the cave and the wall became almost vertical and too smooth to climb. But now Kessie could see that they had some last-minute respite from the inevitable: the cave roof was hollowed out, right at the very back of the cave, into a kind of bell shape. The top of the funnel looked to be higher than the rest of the cave roof, by about half the height of a person.
Now the water finally caught up with them and began to rise, first over their feet, then gradually up their legs. Kessie was very glad that it had become much calmer, as she was sure the earlier waves would have knocked her off her feet. Even so, it was scary to have the water getting gradually deeper around her, without her being able to retreat into shallower water.
She noticed, for the first time, that the cave seemed to be getting even darker, and looked at her watch. Luckily, it was one which was supposed to be water resistant to 50 metres, so it hadn’t suffered from the ducking she’d received earlier. She saw it was after 9pm.
“It’s going to get even scarier, soon,” she remarked. “We’ll be in the dark.” She looked up. “I hope I’ll be able to stay afloat. I don’t want to drown any sooner than I have to.”
“Do you know how to make a buoyancy aid from your blouse?” Sion asked.
Kessie shook her head, then realised it was getting too dark for him to see that. “No,” she said.
“You take it off, soak it in the water, then tie the sleeves closed, and trap air inside it. It’ll keep you afloat. At least, it will until your head reaches the top of that funnel in the roof.”
“What about you?” she asked. “You’re not wearing anything that you could use that trick with.”
“Well,” Sion said, “I’m a pretty strong swimmer. I can probably tread water.”
“You’ll get exhausted.” She paused, as a thought struck her. “Could the same trick work with my trousers? I could take them off, and you could use those to float.”
“Yes, they’d work, but—”
“You don’t need to say it, Sion. I know. But it’s already nearly too dark for you to see anything. Anyway, I’ll soon be waist-deep, so everything you might see will be underwater.”
While the water was not yet deep enough to make it too difficult, she pulled her trousers off over her trainers and handed them to Sion. Then she took off her blouse, too. You could hardly see anything, between the fading daylight and the water blocking most of it out of the cave, so she had no worries about what Sion might see of her.
The cave had become completely dark, by the time the water reached her crotch. Kessie released the pee that she had been holding for some time. Sion wouldn’t have seen anything, if she’d done it earlier, but he would have heard it splashing in the water.
It was when the water finally reached her breasts, and she started to feel herself lifting off the rock, that Kessie really began to feel scared. She checked that her blouse still held trapped air, and that it was, indeed, helping her to float. Then all she could do was wait.
Sion had been silent for some time, now. He had evidently run out of ways of cheering her up. Or, more likely, he was feeling too scared himself to think of anything cheerful.
“It’s a wonder we aren’t suffocating, rather than drowning,” she remarked. “The cave entrance has been completely submerged for a while, now.”
“How can you tell?” Sion asked. “We can’t see anything.”
“There was a kind of slapping sound, when the water was just under the roof. Then it stopped, so that must mean the water had risen above the roof.”
“There must be cracks in the rock, and they’re letting air in,” Sion guessed.
“Are we up in that funnel, yet? I can’t see anything.”
She heard and felt the water swirling, as Sion moved his arms around, presumably feeling around himself.
“Just going into it, I think,” he said. “It’s not very wide, so we’re going to have to stay close together.”
Presently, Kessie could feel the sides of the funnel against her shoulders and back. Sion had moved closer, and now he put his arms around her and held the two of them together.
“Sorry about this,” he muttered.
“Sion, it’s okay,” she reassured him. “It isn’t as though we’ve got a choice. Besides, we’re going to die, soon, anyway.”
She felt his chin press into her shoulder, as he nodded.
“Do you believe in God?” she asked.
“No. What about you?”
“Yes, I do.”
“Well, we’re about to find out who’s right.”
“I can’t die without saying something, Sion. Regardless of what you said before, this whole situation is my fault. You’re going to die, and I’m the cause of that. I’m so sorry, and I want to ask your forgiveness.”
“Hey,” he said gently. “There’s nothing to forgive, as far as I’m concerned. But if you feel you need it because of what God might say to you, I forgive you.”
“Thank you,” she said tearfully. “I also want to thank you for the respect and dignity you’ve given me. I mean, you could have done anything to me — fondled me, kissed me, even raped me — and no one would ever know. But you haven’t even tried to touch me; sexually, at any rate.”
“Of course not! I’m not the kind of bloke who goes around molesting women.”
“I thought you might have been, when I saw you swimming towards the cave. I thought you were coming to chat me up, or worse. But you weren’t. You were coming to save me. I’m so sorry for what I thought.”
“I’d never have known you thought it, if you hadn’t just told me.”
“But God knows.”
“I see. You need to confess your sins, before it’s too late?”
“Then I forgive you for what you thought.”
“Thank you, Sion.”
Her right shoulder had been in contact with the back wall of the cave for some time, but now Kessie could feel her back touching rock. They were definitely inside the narrower space up above the main cave roof. It wouldn’t be long before her head touched the top of the highest point, and she wouldn’t be able to rise any further. Then the water would rise further up her neck, until it covered her mouth and nose. Then she would drown — again.
The thought made her stomach churn even harder, increasing the urge that had been with her since they began floating.
“I hope I can manage not to mess myself, before I die,” she said.
“I’m struggling with the same thing,” he admitted. “Only…”
“I’ve got a friend who works for a funeral directors, and he told me people sometimes pee or poop after they die, because their muscles relax.”
“Oh. So even if I do manage to hold it, I’ll have messed in my underwear by the time anyone finds us?”
She thought about her options for a moment. “I could probably manage to push my panties down, but then it would be floating around us. That would be gross. And I don’t want to go through the discomfort of holding it, if I’m going to mess myself anyway. I might as well do it now, and get it over with.”
An excruciatingly embarrassing silence followed, at the end of which Kessie said, in a quiet voice, “Last time I did that was in infants’ school.”
“Same here,” Sion said. “Hell of a first date.”
Kessie couldn’t stop giggling for several minutes. Who would have thought she’d feel like doing that, as she was about to die?
After an agonisingly long wait, she finally felt the top of her head touch the roof. Then the water began to creep up her neck.
She tilted her head up, so that her nose and mouth were as far out of the water as possible, and closed her eyes. Whimpering, she waited for the water to close over her mouth and nose and smother her.
And spat out some water which splashed into her mouth.
And spat more water out, coughing.
And shit herself some more.
And blew water back out of her nose.
And felt her nose stop touching the rock.
And lowered her head tentatively.
And felt her forehead touch the rock.
“Is it my imagination, or am I starting to sink?” she asked.
“Not sure,” Sion spluttered. “Wishful thinking?”
“No. Just now, my nose was right up against the ceiling and I was waiting for the water to cover me and drown me. Now I can almost hold my head up normally, before my forehead touches the rock.”
“Could be just the way the waves are coming,” Sion suggested.
She waited, counting under her breath. When she reached 100, and the rock was, if anything, even further above the water, she laughed.
“No, Sion, it is going down!”
They waited a little longer. When, at last, they were able to hold their heads up without them touching the rock, they both gave a whoop of joy. They weren’t going to drown!
Kessie stood on the beach, at the point where the lapping waves just reached her feet. Maybe they would retreat a little further, but not much. It was almost low tide. If she ran up the beach, into the cave, she would have plenty of time to pee before the water reached the rock buttress.
Where was Sion now? She hadn’t seen him since their escapade, last week. Not since the pair of them had scampered up the beach and into her nearby house, in the early morning light, desperate not to meet anyone who would see the state they were in, and barely pausing to collect Sion’s clothes from where he’d left them on the beach.
They had taken it in turns to clean themselves up, in Kessie’s bathroom. Then Kessie had rinsed their soiled clothes out and put them in the washing machine. After that, the reaction to their ordeal had finally kicked in.
What had made them have sex? It wasn’t as if they knew each other, or that their ordeal had been erotic in any way. They had spent an evening and a night scared out of their wits, convinced they were going to die, and both of them had come away from it in a state which ought to have put both of them off any thoughts of intimacy. But it had happened, urgently and energetically.
Then nothing. No phone calls. No dropping in to see how she was. No casual encounter as she travelled from home to work or back. Sion didn’t even seem to have come to the cove to swim. She was sure she would have noticed him, if he had.
Seeing that the tide had turned, and that the waves were now continuing a metre or more past her feet, Kessie turned and strode towards the cave.
“I’d have thought you’d had enough of that cave.”
Coming from so close behind her, Sion’s voice gave her enough of a jolt to force a squirt of pee from her. She spun around. He must have been standing right beside her, and she hadn’t even heard him arrive.
“I’m only going to pee,” she responded. “I won’t be long enough to get trapped. Anyway, I know I won’t drown, even if I get trapped again.”
“I wouldn’t be too sure about that,” Sion said, moving closer. “I checked the tides, after our ordeal. It was almost neap tide, that night.”
“It wasn’t such a high tide as usual. If you got trapped now, you probably would drown. We only just escaped that, even then.”
Kessie tried to absorb this. Had they really escaped just because of a fluke of the tide?
“Anyway,” Sion said with a cheeky smile, “I didn’t think swimsuits counted?”
She looked down at herself, then back at him with a puzzled frown. Then she remembered what she’d told him while they were in the cave. She smiled. “Maybe you’re right. Especially since I pissed a little, when you made me jump just now.”
He made no pretence of looking away, as she let her pee run down her legs. Nor did she feel embarrassed about it.
“I haven’t seen you,” she said, trying not to sound accusing. It wasn’t as if they’d made any promises, that morning.
“I caught a cold, and I’ve only just got over it,” he said.
“That’s why you’re not dressed to swim?” she guessed.
“No, that’s because I’m dressed for a date. If you’d like to, that is?”
She looked down at herself. “What kind of date?” she asked.
He chuckled. “No, not a pool party. We can stop by your place on the way, for you to change.”
He reached out. She took his hand and let him lead her back up the beach. As near-death experiences went, hers seemed to have a lot of compensations.