Cherry: Chapter 5

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Cherry bolted upright in bed, though she wasn't sure why.

The darkness creaked with night insects—harmless little crickets and fireflies. Why had she woken up with such a start?

That's why: a scratch. A scratch at the door. What could it be? There were no bears in this area, and raccoons only went after food. Anyway, the scratching sounds were coming from high up on her door. It had to be...

"Phil?" Jumping out of bed in her silk nightie, Cherry swung the door open. "I knew you'd give in eventually."

He stood there in dark blue swim trunks, with his red towel slung around his shoulders. "Want to go for a swim?"

Cherry dragged her fingers through her heavy hair, trying not to yawn. "What time is it?"

"I don't know. Does it matter?" The moonlight made his naked chest glow. With that wave of dark hair, he looked like a vampire. "I couldn't sleep. I couldn't stop thinking of..."

When he didn't finish his sentence, Cherry asked, "Me?"

He stared at the pretty pink cherry blossom pattern of her short, low-cut nightie. "You."

She should have been excited to find Daddy's divorced friend hovering outside her cabin like a ghost, but she was so warm with sleep that all she wanted was to go back to bed. Wouldn't it be nice if he could just climb in, wrap his strong arms around her, and fuck her senseless? But Phil would never bunk with her, not in a million years. Not with her parents one cabin over.

"Maybe another time," she said. "I'm exhausted."

"Oh." He didn't budge. "Please?"

Her stomach clenched. She wasn't totally sure, but she kind of felt... scared? Of Phil? Why?

No, it wasn't Phil she was scared of. He would never hurt her. It was more like she feared her feelings. Sex was one thing. She didn't mind teasing him, but she didn't want to like him. And, when she looked into his hopeful eyes, she realized she was starting to care. God, no...

"I'll go on one condition." Cherry grabbed her deflated raft, her beach towel, and a heavy-duty flashlight. "When we get to the beach, that bathing suit comes off."

He didn't respond, but when she jammed her feet into canvas sneakers and closed her door softly, he followed her down the dirt road.

"I can't get over how dark it is," he said when they reached the deserted beach. "There's the moon and the stars, but that's it. I'm so used to the ambient light in the city. I don't think I've ever been somewhere the sky actually looks black."

Cherry gazed up at the glittering diamonds above their heads. "It's really pretty, isn't it?"

"Just like you."

How did she know he was going to say that? She tried not to smile, but she couldn't help herself. It was a nice compliment, even if it was totally pathetic.

"Here. This needs to be inflated." She handed him the folded-up raft, and when his face fell, she laughed. "Don't panic, old man. There's a pump you can use. You don't need to blow it up."

"Oh, thank goodness." He let out a breathy chuckle.

"I've got better plans for that mouth."

His breath hitched, and his chuckle grew more nervous.

"Do I hafta do everything around here?" Cherry unfolded the raft and gave Phil the hand pump. "Get to work, Muscles. We need to start swimming before the giant leeches wake up."

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