For some time Desiree urged her mount along the surf unaware of Timothy in even stride beside her. She was racing to flee the scene over breakfast that ran over and over again within her mind, just as the waves crashed over the beach, time after time, sending up fine droplets as hooves met the sea. The sun upon the water set it to sparkling and the hills about them were shrouded in vapor. The air had a heavy feeling from a light rain that had fallen sometime during the night, and slowly Desiree felt her emotions coming under control as she took in the splendor of the morning all about her. She reined her horse to a walk and Timothy followed suit, slowing his mount to fall in beside her. She smiled warmly at him and then moved from the surf to the water’s edge, where she dismounted.
“What are you doing?” Tim asked with a chuckle. He pulled Sebastian to a stop and rested his arms across the horn of the saddle, watching as she took a seat upon the sand and began removing her shoes and stockings. She jumped up and placed her shoes about the horn of her sidesaddle, tucking her stockings in the pommel.
“Tim, take off your boots. Let’s walk a bit,” she said slapping at his foot. Bending over at the waist, she pulled her skirt forward between her legs and tucked it up in the fashion she had acquired at
Nevis. She scampered into the water, kicking a spray toward him. “Come on—you won’t melt!” she goaded, letting her hair down and running her fingers through the braid, letting the tresses fly free in the warm breeze.
Tim turned his gaze, searching the bluffs and down the white sand beach. It wouldn’t do to be seen frolicking in the waves as his crew would never allow him to live it down. But they were alone and slowly he dismounted. He plopped down upon the sand and struggled briefly with a boot, giving up and holding it out to Desiree.
“Could you help me please?” he asked with a dimpled grin, “I have a devil of a time with these.”
“Men! Helpless as kittens,” Desiree teased, scampering from the water and tugging his boot off easily. He removed his stocking, tucking it inside the boot for safekeeping, and then held up the other foot. Desiree was unable to get this boot to budge and so with renewed determination and vigor, she put her whole weight behind it. With a mighty heave, the boot came off in her hand and she staggered back unbalanced as her skirt came loose from her waistband. It clung to her wet legs like a living thing and with an earsplitting screech, she fell backwards into the surf, and a wave rolled over her head.
“Ohhh…!” she sputtered, coming to her feet with her dress clinging to her shoulders and back and her hair a wet mass over her face.
“Good God, Desiree! I am sorry!” Tim gasped, leaping into the surf to her aid. He broke into chuckles in spite of himself when she glowered at him from beneath her dripping hair.
“You did that on purpose!” she growled, throwing her dress off her shoulders and pointing an accusing finger.
Wide-eyed, he shook his head, his laughter growing with her accusations, “No—no I swear it! My boot is ruined! Would I have dared such a prank at the expense of my best boots?”
Desiree tossed the sodden boot in his direction, starting past him while he tried valiantly to bring his amusement under control and grab the boot from the surf before it sank. She stopped and turned back with a deadly glare and he attempted to sober and look concerned, but then laughed all the harder for his effort.
Desiree shook her head, with a smile creeping across her lips, “You fool!” she giggled. Then with both hands outstretched, she flung herself against his chest, toppling him back into the knee deep water, the force of the impact, causing her to fall face first beside him. They both emerged laughing and Desiree sat beside him on the sandy bottom, with her dress floating about her in the surf and cupped her hands, splashing him.
“Touché Timothy!” she said with a giggle, arranging her sagging décolletage. She pulled her hair over the shoulders trying to hide her breasts, which were visible through the lightweight sodden muslin.
“You—Miss Chandelle, are a little devil!” Tim announced, pulling his shirt away from his skin with effort. He unbuttoned it, pulling it off and Desiree smiled faintly, admiring his lean frame, which was well muscled, bronzed, and very similar to Stephen’s physique. In a few years he would rival his older brother, she mused silently.
Tim wadded the shirt into a small ball and removing his remaining stocking, added it to the bundle. Then, drawing back his arm, he flung the clothing and his waterlogged boot toward shore—cursing the instant they left his hand for he realized what was about to take place, even before it occurred.
The bundle landed with a soggy thud directly in front of the two horses and their reaction was immediate. They leapt into the air with legs coming back to the ground, stiff and wide set. With eyes bulging and nostrils flaring, the steeds trembled and snorted and in terror they bolted, racing down the beach, heading for home and hurling a shower of packed sand from beneath their pounding hooves.
“Oh hell—Sebastian!” Tim shouted, racing from the water and holding out his arms pleadingly but the horses were well down the beach at a full gallop with tails flying high and no intention of returning. Tim turned back to Desiree who floated calmly in the rolling surf, watching her mount retreat.
“Wonderful, Monsieur Colter,” she applauded him with a smirk, “Now whatever shall we do?”
Tim scowled at her with his hands on hips, “This is all your fault! You—little mischief-maker!” he laughed, breaking into a wide grin. He slapped at the soaking wet breeches clinging to his thighs, then noticed that the white material was plastered to his body, leaving him almost no modesty; every detail of his frame was visible. His mouth gaped open and Desiree’s eyes followed his and then she covered her face with her hands, feeling a blush rush up to her cheeks as Tim cleaved the waves, diving in beside her.
“I would say,” he rasped, wiping his salt reddened eyes with the heels of his hands, “that we have the makings of an enormous scandal.”
Desiree laughed, in spite of the fact. So many times in the past she had found herself involved in a similar dilemma with one of her friends and the silly chain of events were so very typical. She couldn’t resist and engulfed Tim in an affectionate hug as they both broke into a fit of laughter and a wave crashed over their heads once more.