Eventually Raphael set us off, manning the large steering wheel and constantly checking the sails. I sat on a bench nearby, watching his hair rippling in the wind like ebony silk.
The boat rocked gently in the waves as we moved, and I would be lying if I said it wasn’t calming. For some reason unknown to me, I stood up, hugged Raphael from behind and rested my chin on his shoulder.
I could glimpse him smiling from the corner of my eye.
After some time he brought the boat to a stop, leaning on the steering wheel.
The sun was just rising, and I watched in amazement as its early rays illuminated the air. It looked like molten gold, painting the sky orange and red.
The world seemed to melt away in those moments, even as Raphael turned to share a slow kiss with me. I was filled with a profound sense of peace, one that washed over me and seemed to cleanse my wounds.
My heart was, for a brief moment, freed.
I headed down into the cabin, my eyes growing to the size of saucers. It was fully furnished, stylish and probably still larger than my entire apartment. I poked around curiously, finally finding the closet Sutton had told me to look in.
My hands flipped through the clothes, admiring each specimen of designer fabric and luxurious names. I finally found a swimsuit and headed into the bathroom, cleaning myself up and putting it on.
It was perfectly straddling the line between revealing and conservative, backless with the royal blue material fitting my curves perfectly.
I slipped on some flip flops I had also found in the closet, and headed back up to the deck while tying my hair into a bun. I tried not to stare too hard when I found him in black swimming trunks.
“So, what’s next?”
Raphael handed me a pair of flippers and pointed to some equipment.
“I hope you don’t mind snorkeling.”
I shrugged, sitting down and pulling them onto my feet.
“I’ve never done it before.” I paused, looking at the flipper, “How did you get my shoe size?”
“The Ballet’s costume designer lent me your measurements.” Sutton admitted, smiling sheepishly.
I sighed, letting the goggles hang around my neck.
“Money opens every door, doesn’t it?”
“Almost.” He replied, “But it shuts some too.”
A few seconds later we were in the water, swimming out away from the boat. I looked at the crystal blue world I had entered, watching fish with bright yellow tails gliding effortlessly around us.
It was thrilling being weightless, but even more thrilling seeing sea creatures darting from coral to coral. I even caught sight of a sting ray flying through the water, like some kind of underwater bird.
We were heading back when Raphael grabbed my hand, pulling me to him. I pulled my mask up as he did the same, and his lips met mine for the second time that day.
Soon enough we burst out of the water, gasping in air, but I couldn’t find it in me to wipe the smile off my face.
When we got back onto the boat I dried off and changed into a white summer dress, emerging from the bathroom only to find that Raphael was cooking something in the mini-kitchenette.
“Don’t tell me, you can cook too?” I asked, sitting myself down across from him in a rather comfortable chair.
“One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well. Virginia Woolf.”
“That makes sense, I guess.” I replied, watching as he flipped an omelette, “And that actually smells good.”
“Thank you, my lady,” he said dramatically, “It gladdens my heart to hear that it is so.”
I sighed at his sarcasm, and chose instead to change the topic.
“Don’t get me wrong,” I started, “This has been great so far, but why did you bring me here?”
“Ah, so the dreaded question has been asked.” He sighed, “In all truths, I don’t know. Under any normal circumstances I wouldn’t have, but you, Kate, have a very interesting effect on me.”
“What kind of effect?”
“Let’s see.” He started, looking up in concentration, “You make me want to dance. You make me want to laugh, cry, sing and shout all at the same time. You make me want to live. I realize I have only recently made my feelings towards you clear, but I don’t want to lose any time with you. I want to show you the world. I want to...make you smile.”
I was speechless, not only at his words but at the swell of emotion in my chest.
Raphael smiled, sliding the omelette down onto a plate in front of me.
“I’m not sure of a lot of things, but that’s one thing I know for certain. Money can do a lot of things, but it can’t make me feel the way you do. You’re priceless.”
I know I said that I wasn’t a romantic, and that I found everything mushy boring, but right then I felt like melting into a puddle of warm ooze, especially when Sutton smiled somewhat shyly at me.
“Is that too strange for comprehension?” he asked self-consciously, probably contemplating my silence.
“No,” I managed, “Just...no one’s ever...said something like that to me before.”
“Now that’s too strange for comprehension.” He stated, tossing toast onto my plate.
I ate, noting with satisfaction that he could indeed cook. Raphael was too good to be true.