Juliet stepped into the boat slowly, one foot at a time. Flip flops were not the best choice of footwear obviously, even for a quick sight-seeing trip around the beach. The floor was wet and slippery, but she was careful as she maneuvered to the bench seat on the opposite side of the boat. She thought back to yesterday when she slid on the greased floor in the Fry Shack and the guy that had just flirtatiously smiled at her and caught her from falling, right as his girlfriend walked up.
She sat her oversized, blue striped bag on her lap and then lifted her sunglasses for a better look at the ocean. The growing sound of voices drew Juliet’s attention back to the pier.
“Well, hello there, Miss…?” A short man said, with an Australian accent. He wore an unbuttoned, Hawaiian-themed shirt that showed off too much grey chest hair, she thought.
“Juliet,” she hesitantly offered.
“Miss Juliet. It’s a pleasure to meet you. I’m Captain Henery and this is my First Mate, Bar.” Bar? Like a drinking bar? Mr. Bar was just as short as the Captain, only he was rounder in the waist area, though it didn’t stop him from walking around shirtless. Something about Virginia Beach had the men eager to show their torsos. Juliet smiled, a nonverbal hello.
“So,” Captain Henery broke the awkward silence, “Are you ready for a ride?”
“Um, yes, I think so.” Hopefully, this boat ride would distract her from the embarrassing memory of yesterday.
“Great,” his Australian accent thick, made Juliet smile. “Oh and, we can’t let you do this alone, so we called in backup. My nephew, Alton.”
“Coming,” a man yelled out, making his way to the boat.
Wait, what? She couldn’t take a simple boat ride alone.
“I’m sorry, I don’t…” she began.
“Flip flops, again?” The man had interrupted her midsentence. No. Not just any guy. It was Fry Guy. “I thought you might have reconsidered flip flops and slippery places.”
Juliet tried to look up at him directly, but the sun’s glare off his sunglasses blinded her. She raised a hand to her freshly waxed eyebrows. There he stood with that same smile, one foot on the edge of the boat, the other on the pier. Then he stepped into the boat. No slipping involved.
“You?” Juliet scoffed, squinting up. “Look, I do not need an escort for a simple boat ride around the…” the boat’s engine roared to life. Juliet stood instantly, ready to jump out of the boat but history was indeed destined to repeat itself, as she lost her footing, finding herself, once again, in Fry Guy’s arms.
“We really should stop meeting like this.” He smiled down at her.
“Uh,” she stood up, wiping invisible germs off.
“Alright, you two lovebirds, take a seat back there, some of these waters can get rocky.” The First Mate said over his shoulder.
Juliet and Alton both sat on the bench seat, a few inches intentionally placed between them.
Juliet cleared her throat as she pulled her sunglasses down to help protect her eyes from the spray of water, “We are not lovebirds. Mr. Alton here already has a girlfriend.”
“No, I don’t,” he said, as a matter of fact.
“Yes, you do.”
“No. I don’t,” he repeated, cocking his head to the side. “Why do you think I have a girlfriend?”
“I saw her walk up to you yesterday and rest her elbow on your shoulder, just after you caught me from falling. She looked at you with a certain smile…”
“That only little sisters give their big brothers, I hope,” he finished her sentence for her.
Juliet’s lips parted; mouth hanging open, unsure of how to respond.
“You really thought I’d flirt with you if I was walking the boardwalk with my girlfriend? Wow.” He exaggeratingly mouthed the word wow nice and wide.
Heat flew up Juliet’s neck and cheeks. Only making matters worse was the chuckling she heard from the Captain and the First Mate in the front.
The boat started to slow until it came to a full standstill in the water. The First Mate moved from the front to the back of the boat and began to pull a large blanket with strings out from doors that opened into the boat. Juliet watched with curiosity and confusion before agitation arose seeing Alton’s smile from the corner of her eye.
“What is so funny?” She asked him, flustered.
“You are. You could just say you were wrong; you know?”
“I could,” she started, “but then I wouldn’t be able to ask Mr. Bar here, what he’s doing, and Captain Henery why we’ve stopped.”
“How else do you think you’re getting up there?” Mr. Bar said pointing to the sky.
Juliet stared at the blanket until it dawned on her that it was a parachute. Oh my God. That was why the Captain said she couldn’t do it alone.
“Oh my God. This is not the sight-seeing boat ride, is it?”
At that, the Captain and First Mate both turned around, shocked. Only Alton didn’t seem surprised, as if he knew already that Juliet had no idea what she was doing there.
Alton lifted his sunglasses so Juliet could look right into those same light green eyes that she did yesterday. “This is the parasailing boat ride.”
Juliet slowly shook her head from side to side in protest, but Alton laid his warm hand on top of hers.
“You can do this. I’ll be right there next to you.”
Alton’s intent look gave her a sense of calm, of safety. He would catch her if they fell. Well, the ocean would catch them both, but then he’d save her. Just as he’d already done twice. How could she have thought he had a girlfriend? She had just met him but felt as though she already knew him.
Several moments later and strapped into their harnesses, they were off the boat and into the sky.