*Many thanks to Kate for beta-ing this piece.
By Sea Spinner
Chip Morton tore off his t-shirt and fell back onto the sun lounge, sweat still dripping off him from the early morning run he’d had with Lee Crane. He closed his eyes and decided to soak up the rays in the hot humid summer climate of Samoa. He was almost thinking about nodding off when Lee pressed a cold glass of orange juice into his ribcage.
“Hey, cut it out,” he yelped, spilling some of the drink as he jumped.
Lee grinned at him. “Thought you needed it more than I did after that run.”
“Surely the Admiral’s scientific forum could run over time? When do we have to back to the boat again, we could just go AWOL.” Chip teased.
His friend dropped his long lean body down on a lounge beside him and took a sip of his own juice before answering.
“Would you want to be around the Admiral when he found out two of his command crew didn’t turn up for duty because they were having a good time?”
Chip laughed, shook his head and clinked his glass against Lee’s. “Well, here’s to the next two days in paradise.”
He watched as Lee nodded, took another sip and closed his eyes against the sun. “Yes, paradise is the word.”
“I heard there’s a singles night at the nightclub tonight,” Chip said.
“Hmm, I seem to have very vivid memories of the last singles night you made me go to,” he replied accusingly.
“Okay, so you were voted the most eligible bachelor, what’s so bad about that?” He snickered as he recalled the night in question.
Lee glared at him. “That wasn’t the part I was remembering.”
“Okay,” said the blonde without missing a beat, “so I might have inadvertently given your phone number to some of the women.”
“Some of them,” he snapped. “I was screening calls for about a month afterwards. What did you do, write my number on the wall in the ladies toilet?”
Chip laughed so hard he nearly choked on the mouthful of juice he’d been drinking. In fact, he thought some might even have gone up his nose.
“I was just thinking of you, old buddy,” although the sincerity in his voice didn’t quite make it to his eyes.
“Let’s not think of me for a change, or your new duties might include cleaning the bilge out during our next dry dock,” threatened Lee.
“Ungrateful, just trying to help out a friend,” mumbled Chip, trying hard to keep a straight face as he closed his eyes again.
Lee sat there for a while, watching the coconut palms sway in the soft breeze. The small waves rolling onto the soft white sand provided him with what amounted to music for his ears, a symphony of nature. He glanced at Chip, who had apparently gone to sleep, then unsuccessfully tried to fight off his own weariness. The Admiral had forced both he and Chip to take a few days off while he went to the Pacific Rim Oceanographic Conference, and Chip had found the small resort after it was recommended by one of the New Zealand Navy officers. It had helped of course that she’d been blonde, slim and was going to stay in the same place. He shook his head as he thought about it, leave it to Chip to find an attractive woman the first hour after leaving the boat.
“Excuse me, are you Lee Crane”
Lee’s eyes snapped open, Chip still seemed to be asleep, and a pretty woman with long dark brown hair and almost transparent green eyes was leaning on the rail surrounding the deck.
“Is something wrong?” he asked apprehensively.
She laughed and continued talking with a distinctly Australian twang. “No, someone said you were a qualified diving instructor. The island instructor’s gone down with a stomach bug. I wondered if you would mind giving me some tips? I don’t mind paying, I just want to get out and do some diving, the water’s so clear here.”
“You shouldn’t go out diving alone, especially if you’re not qualified,” he reminded her.
Her face dropped. “Sorry, I’ll find someone else.”
His eyes followed her slim figure as she turned away, then he flicked Chip a quick look, trying to reassure himself that his friend wasn’t setting him up. As far as he could tell, he was still asleep and developing a nice red glow on his stomach. An evil grin crossed his face. He was tempted to leave him like that and see how Jamie reacted to a case of sunburn on his XO, but in the end he decided it wouldn’t be worth the fallout and threw a hat and towel over him before he left.
“Hey, what’s your name?”
She swung gracefully around, her bare feet hardly making a mark on the white sand. “Lily.”
“What brings you here?”
“I’m just here on…on some leave with a friend,” she replied.
Lee drained the contents of his glass and sighed, at least it would give him a chance to see some of the sea life up close and personal.
“I guess I’m not doing much,” he replied congenially. “Give me a few minutes to change and I’ll meet you down at the beach.”
When Lily’s tanned face lit up in excited smile Lee was glad he’d said yes. “Sure, thanks heaps, Lee.”
He changed into his bathers, grabbed his scuba gear and walked the thirty yards down to the beach, blissfully unaware of the conspiratorial grin that spread across his friend’s face behind him.
Chip eyed the beach and groaned, he hadn’t realized the real diving instructor would be there in the morning, he usually an early afternoon class. There’d be hell to pay if Lee noticed the other scuba group heading into the water, but it was worth the potential fallout to see his friend finally wind down for long enough to enjoy the short break.
He gave a self-satisfied smirk just thinking about how easily he’d set Lee up again, but the smirk quickly slipped from his face as soon as he noticed Lee staring at the diving party. He grimaced as Lee swung around to cast him a dark look that said he’d be paying for quite a while for this little good deed. He idly wondered just how dirty the bilge was and shrugged as he saw Lee continue to show Lily how to prep her gear. Yep, it was definitely worth the fallout. He got up, stretched and sifted through some papers on a nearby table. Now, where was that room service menu again, all thoughts of bilges and dry dock already gone from his mind.