“Move it people, today we leave this dump and we go off to Tulum! And put on your bathing suits ’cause we’re going to the beach!” said Bianca in an excited loud tone prancing around their room in Cancun.
The small town of Tulum was rustic and simple. Resorts were very scarce and instead, the accommodations consisted of small boutique hotels, rustic cabins and outdoor camps.
The four of them agreed to stay at a small camp on the beach where they had a little store to buy food and necessities, and basic amenities like bathrooms and a small restaurant that the people who rented the tents could make use of. Staying on the beach was more expensive than staying in town, but they would save money by sleeping in tents rather than in rooms.
They rented three tents, a big one that Bianca and Jonathan would share, one for Val and one for Tom. As much as she liked Tom, Val wasn’t sure if she could go as far as to share a tent with him.
Once the accommodations were settled, they agreed to stay for the rest of the day on the beach, which was only a few feet away from the camp. They could visit the ruins of Tulum the next morning, with more time and energy for the long walk that awaited them.
Once on the beach, Tom was the first to take his shirt off and run towards the clear turquoise water, followed by Jonathan. The girls stayed behind, slowly taking their clothes off, placing towels to sit on the soft white sand, spraying sunblock over their prone to sunburn skin.
Val could not take her eyes off Tom. He was slim, but just as she had suspected, he had perfectly noticeable muscles on his arms, back and abdomen, which was amazing since she knew for a fact, that he did not exercise regularly.
“He’s great, isn’t he?” Bianca said suddenly.
Startled, Val asked, “Who?”
Val was relieved that her friend hadn’t noticed the way she was looking at Tom. “Yeah, I like him,” answered Val sincerely. “And I can tell he’s really into you. If he puts up with you, then he’s a gem.” That was a meant as a joke, but some people could take it seriously, given that Bianca was not a person easy to get along with.
“Har, har.” Bianca fake laughed placing her hands on her flat abdomen. “Are you saying that you’re a gem?”
“Obviously!” Val laughed.
“How about you? Do you have like a guy or at least an admirer, or are you too busy studying and taking care of mister best friend there?” said Bianca, glancing at Tom.
She had told Bianca that, along with Kate, Tom was her best friend in college and that they spent a lot of time together. What struck Val as weird was the “taking care of him” part. Did she mean sexually or as an aid? Either way, Valentina felt offended but she didn’t let it show.
“Something like that. You know I’m a lonely nerd.” Val shrugged, and said nothing more, having no desire to get into an argument with Bianca about her relationship with Tom.
“You’ve got to get some action Val. Now that you’re going back to Dallas with us, I’m gonna introduce you to one of Jonny’s friends, he’s very cute, and single, and a nerd, like you.” Bianca smirked excited.
Val just smiled back at her, not revealing that she had the perfect cute adorable nerd right in front of her, swimming in the beautiful Caribbean Sea.
That night at the camp, Val was having the time of her life with people from every corner of the world engaging in all sorts of lightheaded pleasure. There were groups of people dancing and singing in front of a big fire, which she had been told, that the owners of the camp started every night.
A tall lanky guy with long black hair was sitting on a big log, playing the guitar, singing a song in Spanish. A small tan girl, that looked almost too young to be there, was sitting beside him playing bongo drums, keeping the beat of the rhythmic latin music.
A few feet away from the fire, there were two men, sporting what Val would call a rasta-hippie look, juggling with lit torches, calling attention from a large group of people that gathered around them cheering and clapping.
She had never been in this sort of environment. She never could have imagined herself enjoying this kind of experience; she always thought it was for others to enjoy, and there she was, beer in hand, humming the songs and swaying her body to the rhythm, with the arm of an amazing man wrapped around her shoulders.
Living on the beach was a first as well, and she had to admit it sucked. The night was surprisingly cold, considering that during the day, she would have to wear tiny cotton tops and shorts just to make the heat bearable. She also felt like she had sand in places that the sun would never shine on. And to make her even more unconfortable, the air mattress she had rented along with her tent, would wiggle constantly and fill with sand. She wasnt looking forward to sleeping in that mattress.
Tom, on the other hand, seemed to be in his element. He’d told Val that he loved camping and had done it several times before. Despite his vast experience, it was like looking at a little boy with a new toy; he enjoyed every moment like it was the first and the last. Even his skin seemed to be made for it; after a whole day receiving the sun’s merciless rays, his tan was the perfect tone, whereas Val’s skin was red and itchy.
This experience was proving to be one of the best in her life. She would not change it for the world.
Bianca and Jonathan had planned to visit the Tulum ruins riding bikes that people could rent in town to move around freely. Valentina immediately refused. She didn’t say so, but she certainly assumed that Tom wouldn’t be able to ride a bike without having an accident.
“I think it’s a great idea,” agreed Tom grinning enthusiastically.
“Are you sure?” whispered Val close to his ear, concern washing over her face.
“Of course! I learned to ride a bike just like any kid,” he answered rolling his eyes, but still smiling. “I’ll stay right behind you. Nothing’s gonna happen. Relax.”
He was able to pull it off after all. He almost fell off the bike when he hit a rock, and he fell out of the path a couple of times but he recovered quickly. He was a little slower than the rest, though, so once they stopped to rest, in an attempt to keep everyone happy, Valentina suggested discretely to Bianca and Jonathan to go ahead and ride at their normal speed, and that she and Tom would meet them later at the ruins.
Jonathan swore that the pace was perfectly fine, that it allowed them to admire the landscape as they rode. Bianca’s furrowed brows said another thing, but she didn’t complain. Val guessed that she wanted to move faster. She was always in a hurry lately.
In the end, it took them a bit longer than forty five minutes to arrive at the ruins, which was a decent time overall, and fortunately, since it still was early, the place was not crowded.
Tulum ruins nestled against the oceanfront with smaller and humbler constructions compared to Chichen Itza. The greatness of this place was not necessarily the pre hispanic ruins, but the breathtaking view of the Caribbean Sea. The most iconic structure, was located on the edge of a cliff from where they could admire the turquoise waters of the everlasting sea. From there, they were able to walk down to a small beach of white and soft sand, where they spent the rest of the afternoon.
Friendly as the both were, Tom and Jonathan had made acquaintance with a group of three Americans that had come to spend spring break in Mexico and were also camping on the same beach as them. They were planning to visit a couple of sinkholes, known as cenotes in Mexico, the last day that Tom and Valentina would be in Tulum. Their new friends had asked them to tag along and they were more than happy to accept the invitation.
Riding on bikes again, they made their way to Gran Cenote, which was one of the most popular sinkholes and the closest to town. The road was straight and clear, and even though on occasions, he was wobbly and slower that the rest of the people, Tom had less trouble keeping up with them.
The Gran Cenote was a small cave with a pond underneath it with the clearest water Tom had ever seen. He could even see the movement of the little fish swimming inside, which coming from him, was a legitimate testament to the water’s clarity.
The group decided to rent snorkeling equipment to admire the creatures and plants that inhabited the fresh waters. Val was the only one of them that did not have any desire to snorkel.
“Snorkeling makes me nauseous,” she assured.
Tom had his doubts that Valentina’s excuse had been truthful. Judging by how much she had been trying to anticipate his needs and limitations, she was probably making an excuse for him to ditch snorkeling as well, which made him feel both, pathetic and content. Pathetic that she was underestimating him once more, and content that Valentina cared about him enough to give up something as fun as snorkeling.
“I can keep you company,” Tom offered, consciously falling right into her subtle manipulation.
Bianca, Jonathan, and their three new friends routed to the inside of the cave, while Valentina and Tom stayed sitting on some rocks close to the edge of the pond.
Valentina stood up and turned to the dry spot where they had left their things. Tom watched her every move and thanked all the Gods when she bent down in that small blue bikini to look for something in her backpack.
You’re killing me, Valentina!
Tom might have had the worst eyesight ever, but he was close enough to appreciate her nice curves. Her body was a dream. Small waist, round and very sexy butt.
Maybe noticing that she had been displaying her best heartbreaker asset for Tom to enjoy, she quickly straightened up and turned around. He had this “mom caught me with my hand in the cookie jar” kind of expression. His cheeks looked like two tomatoes. Thankfully, he could blame the sun for that.
She walked back to their sitting spot, smirking and holding the sunscreen lotion out to him, “Want some? You seem to need this urgently; your cheeks are really red.”
“Um… Yeah. After you, of course,” answered Tom with his cheeks still burning.
As she was spreading the sunscreen over her shoulders, one of their new friends, Oliver, Tom believed was his name, came swimming back their way. He hauled himself out of the water and sat on a rock beside Valentina. “Why aren’t you coming?” he asked looking at Valentina with a white toothy grin.
“Snorkeling makes me nauseous,” she shrugged expressionless.
“Uh-huh,” she nodded.
“You don’t need the goggles to see the fish, there are plenty swimming close to the surface. There are even some turtles sitting on the rocks over there,” he said gesturing to the dark insides of the cave.
Tom could practically feel his blood boiling because of Oliver’s shameless flirting with Valentina. He wanted to yell, “Fuck off, asshole,” but who was he to say who could flirt with Valentina?
Valentina flicked her gaze to Tom, who was silently staring aimlessly at the horizon with an exceptionally unfriendly expression.
“You want to come?” she asked Tom.
“Uh…Okay,” he replied nonchalantly. He wasn’t going to let her go alone with this guy, even if he smashed his face with the rocks inside that damn dark cave.
“Can you like, swim and everything?” Oliver asked Tom, looking mildly concerned.
“I’ll just have to try and see,” Tom sneered, and Valentina snickered.
They made their way to the cave, and once inside, Tom confirmed his suspicion that it was too dark for him to see much. Frustrated, he found the wall and trailed it until he found a rock where he sat with a scowl on his face, looking out at the light coming from the entrance of the cave as he heard the laughter and splashing coming from the people there having fun.
The ride back to the camp had been uneventful, until Tom heard Bianca say, “He’s hot Val, You should definitely accept his invitation to go out with him tonight.”
Valentina giggled but said nothing to confirm or deny that she was actually going out with Oliver.
Tom felt like choking Bianca and knocking Oliver’s teeth out.
Valentina was tossing and turning on her sandy mattress, unable to sleep. Having put off going to the bathroom before, due to the chilly air and laziness, her bladder was now demanding relief. She got up and ran to the bathroom before she peed herself.
After Val complied with her body’s demands, she was still not sleepy, so Val went to a small terrace on the camp’s facilities that overlooked the beach. There she spotted Tom sprawled on a bench, holding a beer on one hand, and his folded cane hanging from the wrist of his other hand. He was staring aimlessly straight ahead with a troubled expression on his face.
She pondered whether she should interrupt his deep thoughts or let him be. Perhaps he needed someone to talk to; she was his best friend after all. Besides, this was their last night together in Mexico, she wouldn’t be able to see him for a few days after tomorrow; she was going back to Dallas with Bianca and Jonathan to spend a couple of days with her family, while Tom would travel by himself back to College Station.
“Hey!” She greeted, sitting next to him on the bench.
Startled, he jerked slightly on his seat. “Valentina, hi!” He turned his head to look at her and offered a faint smile.
“What’s up? You look a bit… Pensive.”
“Just thinking, about the meaning of life and shit.”
“Well, aren’t we philosophical tonight?”
“Every once in a while we’ve got to use our brain for other than alcohol receptor, you know,” he retorted ironicaly, raising his beer to show it to her.
“Are you gonna be okay tomorrow?” she asked frowning in concern.
“Yes mom, I’ve only had this one. Just felt like having a beer, that’s all,” he shrugged and rolled his eyes. “Don’t worry, you’ll be off to Dallas once the migraine kicks in, anyway,” he said with what sounded like a shred of irritation.
She stayed silent, not knowing what to say. Tom never had this kind of attitude. Although, it could be a result of her unusual hovering. Maybe he was fed up by now, and with good reason; every time she assumed he wouldn’t be capable of doing something because of his sight, he had proved her wrong.
She was not proud of the attitude she had taken recently. That was not the way she would usually treat Tom, she knew he was as capable as anyone else. But she couldn’t help herself; they were in an unknown place with unknown people, and she wanted to avoid dangerous and awkward situations. Especially with Bianca, who seemed to be bothered by Tom’s presence.
Changing the subject and the mood, Tom asked, “What are you doing up so late?”
“I don’t know. I couldn’t sleep. I guess I’m sad that I’m leaving this place. Just came out to say goodbye to Tulum.” She paused for a moment gazing towards the sea on the horizon and then started singing the melody from The Sound of Music musical, “So long, farewell, auf wiedersehen, goodbye.”
Tom let out a loud laugh, “You are one dorky lady, you know that?”
“What? That’s one of my favorite movies. I love me some old musicals.” She laced her hands together and fluttered her eyelashes.
“I only watched it once and it was enough for me,” he snorted.
For a few minutes, they listened to the waves splashing on the shore and to the faint music and laughter of the people that lingered besides the campfire, until Val insisted on going for a walk on the beach, figuring it would help them with their insomnia.
Not waiting for Val, Tom was the first to stand up, unfold his cane, stick it in front of him and start down the sandy pathway towards the beach.
She followed him and when they got closer to the water they started walking parallel to it and away from the camp. It surprised her that Tom did not hold her arm like he had been doing so naturally lately, especially considering that there was barely any light. He stayed quiet for most of the walk, while Val did the talking.
“Let’s sit here to admire the stars.” She pulled him to a spot on the sand and dropped down.
He sat beside her and then let himself fall back to lie down on the sand looking straight up at the sky, still silent.
She did the same as him and stared at the sky admiring the clarity with which the stars could be seen from there.
“What’s on your mind? You’ve been unusually quiet,” inquired Val.
“Like I told you before, just thinking,” he spoke softly, eyebrows furrowed. He paused for a moment, pursing his lips and added, “Honestly?…I’ve been thinking about you… About us,” he let out a shaky breath.
Val felt her heart start pounding faster inside her chest, but didn’t turn to look at Tom, neither did she say anything.
Tom continued, “We’re great together, don’t you think?”
He turned to face her with his eyebrows furrowed. “Then why?…” he trailed off, and turned to face the sky again, rubbing his face with his hands.
Tom sat up and faced Valentina, who was still laying on the sand.
“I love you so much, Valentina. And I wonder over and over again if there’s a possibility of you loving me back. Sometimes…most of the time, I feel that you don’t.” His voice was soft and filled with resignation.
Valentina felt a knot forming in her throat and that stinging in her eyes when tears were about to pour. “Tom,” she pleaded.
“Valentina, I can’t do this anymore. I thought it would be enough for us to be friends but I can’t. I want more for us.”
“Tom. I…I love you,” she said hesitantly, voice trembling.
“Are you going to say that you love me like a friend? ’Cause I don’t think I can hear that. I don’t love you like a friend, I love you, love you.” He raised his eyebrows to emphasize his last words.
Val, sat up to look at him in the eye and gently grabbed his hand. “Tom, I love you, love you.”
The moment he heard her words, his eyebrows furrowed in puzzlement, eyes darting from side to side, unable to meet hers.
Valentina moved her face closer to his, closing the distance with a brief trembling kiss on his lips, ending it a few seconds after, when she realized he did not return it. She threw her arms around his neck in an attempt to squeeze his tense body in a strong hug, laying her head on his shoulder.
“Valentina, a…are you serious?” he said not moving any muscles, with the exception of the ones he needed to speak.
She nodded without lifting her head from his shoulder.
He slowly lifted her off his shoulder and once faced with each other, he stuttered, “But you…you’ve never…”
“I didn’t know how you felt!”
“I think it’s pretty obvious that I adore you, Valentina. I know that I hadn’t told you before, but I’m always trying to get closer to you, and you always seem so tense.”
“I’m clueless. I don’t know about this stuff,” she said gesturing to both of them. “I’m not used to being affectionate. Believe me, you’re the only person I allow to touch me like you do,” she said apologetically.
He reached out to touch her arm and slowly moved his hand up to her face. He then brushed her lips with his fingertips as if trying to place exactly where they were. He drew his face closer to hers and gave her a sweet peck on the corner of her lips. She returned it and pulled away, grazing his messy hair with her fingers while gazing into eyes that could not return the sentiment.
He then placed his hand on the back of her neck and pulled her closer to him now kissing her deeper. He probed her lips with his tongue but Val wasn’t sure of what to do. She was so self-conscious about her lack of experience that her lips were barely moving and the parts of her body that weren’t shaking, were stiff, if that was even possible.
About to start panicking, she set her mind to calm down, let go of her distressing thoughts and concentrate on the sensations washing over her body; for instance, how Tom’s soft warm humid lips felt on hers, or how that familiar scent of his was filling her lungs.
She felt a sudden moisture on her panties and a jolt in her lower abdomen, which struck her as odd but pleasant nonetheless. At this point nothing could distract her from the rush of sensations that were taking over her body.
She opened her mouth and allowed her tongue to slip out to taste Tom’s lips. He instantly responded with a soft lick to hers, then he bit gently on her lower one. She bit him back and chuckled. That was when he took his tongue deep inside her mouth in an eager but gentle kiss. That action caused another pleasant jolt to flow down to her lower belly.
This is paradise.
Before she knew it, Val was sprawled on the ground, hair tangled and filled with sand, Tom hovering over her, his lips moving slowly from hers, to her neck, her ears, her cheeks, her chest. She just laid there letting all the sensations seep into her body, there was nothing else she could do, she was a puddle under him.
Minutes later, they both laid sprawled on the sand, eyes closed and breathing heavily. The chilly wind hitting their bodies, forced them to get a hold on reality and look for shelter in their tents. They walked hand in hand back to the camp, with nothing more than a comfortable silence as their companion.
Once inside her tent, they lay down on the mattress, and began to kiss again. This time, Tom allowed his rough hands to roam under her shirt, caressing her warm back, from her neck and all the way down to the beginning of her soft curvy bun. That only rocketed her desire to feel his body as well. She lifted the front of his shirt and touched his hard abdomen with the tip of her fingers, causing him to shiver and chuckle.
Even though the heat was rising quickly, Val was more than sure she wasn’t ready to take it further. “Tom, I…I’m not ready to…” she whispered.
“It’s okay,” he whispered in her ear, and continued where they had left off.
Eventually, as exhaustion took over, they fell asleep wrapped in each other’s arms.