Author’s Note: I decided to do one more take on Didi Oviatt’s February WIP challenge, because this story was just begging to be written.
And for the record, Sarah is their adopted daughter.
Barbara smiled at the sleeping bundle of blankets on the hotel bed. Ambrose’s long bare arms stuck out at the top of the blanket — calm and relaxed.
She sat next to him and ran her finger up his arm — from wrist to elbow.
He sighed in his sleep.
“Hey, kitten. Sarah and I are going to take a quick dip in the ocean. I was going to wait until nightfall so you can join us, but Sarah wants to see the ocean in the sunlight. At least, I’m pretty sure that’s what she said. My Sarah interpreting skills have improved, but they still aren’t as advanced as yours. And fair warning: She does expect you to continue reading Phantom of the Opera to her when we get back.”
She laid her hand on top of his hand and meshed their fingers together. Her voice was softer as she continued talking, “You know, I look at you and I am still amazed that you’re mine. Ambrose, I love that you’re mine.”
“Shh. Go back to sleep. We’ll be back shortly.” She held his hand a moment longer. “I love you.”
Sarah left the bathroom dressed in a fiery cheetah print one-piece swimsuit. She ran over to Barbara and gave her an expectant look.
Barbara released his hand. “Let me go change into my swimsuit and then we’ll go.”
Sarah eyerolled and flopped onto the bed. She raised her arm and waved her hand in dismissal.
“I’ll be quick. Don’t worry.”
Sarah lowered her arm.
Barbara was true to her word. She was very quick.
She changed into her royal blue swimdress, gathered Sarah, and left the hotel room and the whole hotel in less than twenty minutes.
They ran across the parking lot to the boardwalk lined by palm trees. The trees impeded their view. Sarah tugged her hand to urge her to run faster.
So, they both ran faster. Their bare feet slapped on the wooden planks. The enlivening scent of fresh air and new wood spurred them on.
The boardwalk sloped upwards until at last!
They reached the highest point.
And the trees no longer blocked their view.
Sarah gasped soundlessly.
The beach and the ocean lay all stretched out before them.
Sarah looked up at Barbara and did a sweeping point at the sand and the water.
“Yes.” Barbara smiled. “That is the ocean.” The wind blew her hair into her face.
Seagulls flew overhead, laughing at each other and laughing at the sky.
Sarah tugged on Barbara’s arm and pointed emphatically at the ocean.
Barbara laughed as she swept her hair out of her face. “Okay! Let’s go!”
The rushed tromp of footsteps coming up behind them made Barbara look back.
A broad smile spread across her face as Ambrose caught up to them. He was dressed in his black tank top and navy blue swim trunks. A turquoise stripe zig-zagged down the side of the shorts. “Hey.” He carried a wide-shaped hard-backed book.
Barbara released Sarah’s hand and rushed into his arms.
He dropped the book and hugged her.
“You didn’t have to come.”
He kissed the side of her head. “I know. But I wanted to see her reaction too.” He released Barbara and picked up the book. “Besides, it isn’t every day I get to read The Phantom of the Opera to two lovely women on the beach.”
Sarah smiled a big, excited grin and clapped her hands. She rushed at Ambrose and hugged him with all of her nine-year-old’s enthusiasm.
She released him and pointed several emphatic jabs at the ocean down below.
He took a deep breath and exhaled. “It’s been such a long time since I’ve seen the ocean like this.”
Sarah eyerolled. She pointed at herself, Barbara, and Ambrose and a long hard point at the ocean.
“Yes. I agree.” he said. “Enough talking. Let’s go!”
Barbara came out of the waves and couldn’t help smiling.
Ambrose had commandeered a whole group of umbrellas and set them up in such a way that it looked like he was hiding under a vividly painted turtle shell. He lay on top of a beach towel he’d borrowed from a very sympathetic teenager.
Sarah laid next to him. She propped her chin on her palms as he read to her.
Barbara came over to him.
“Feast your eyes on my ugliness and tell me is this what you wanted to see? Ahh, but I am quite handsome, am I not? I break hearts everywhere I go. Sometimes with a look. Sometimes with a word. Sometimes with a well aimed dagger.”
Barbara sat beside him.
He looked up at her.
She gently ran her hand through his ocean salt-stiffened hair. “Keep reading.”
Sarah nodded her approval.
Ambrose smiled love at Barbara and resumed reading.