It was the kind of day that put everyone trapped in its intense heat in a lethargic and irritable mood. The sky, under any normal circumstances, would have been considered fit for the perfect summer day, its blue color verging almost on that of a deep indigo. The only cloud cover to be seen floated at least three or four miles above the ground andits wispiness did little to shade the world below from the sun's malicious rays.
Rather than sit around and listen to the beachdwellers' complaints about the unforgiving heat, Kate had decided to wait it out at the caves. If anything but to escape the blistering sun, she was willing to put up with the humidity she was sure hung like an approaching storm no matter where she decided to disappear to on the island.
Her trek through the jungle wasn't long but Kate felt as if she had swum the entire Pacific when she plopped down wearily on a rock. Her white tanktop clung to her sweat-drenched skin. Her legs felt sticky inside her khaki cargo pants. The flyaways along her hairline rebelled from their position in her messy bun and the braver waves of dark hair hung loosely by her face. If she had noticed, she might have groaned at the feeling of clamminess that surrounded her, but all she could focus on was the comfortable chill the darkened caves offered.
Leaning forward, Kate eased herself out of her backpack and crouched by the pool of water. She cupped her hands beneath the inviting surface and splashed her face with the cool water. A soft sigh escaped her lips as water trickled down her neck and collarbones, wetting the front of her tanktop and she closed her eyes letting herself wallow in the relief.
On days like this back at home, her mother made huge pitchers of ice cold lemonade that seemed to take the edge off of the oppressive heat. Pink lemonade had always been her favorite. It seemed to be just a little sweeter than the fresh-squeezed yellow lemonade. Her mother had said that it was because Countrytime also added more sugar.
Unfortunately for her, lemonade was far far from the top on the list of beverages to be found on the island, but she had spring water. That would just have to do. Uncapping her water bottle, Kate pulled a long swig and held its coldness in her mouth. If she closed her eyes and concentrated hard enough, she could almost feel the refreshing tingle of lemon on her tongue…
"You okay, Kate?" a familiar voice asked, and suddenly her pink drink on the rocks was just spring water again. She smiled up at his concerned face and nodded.
"Yeah, Jack. I'm fine."
"Do you mind if I sit?" He gestured to the rock next to her. She shook her head and watched him shimmy out of his too-small backpack, unzip it and remove three water bottles. Carefully, he sat, leaning forward to refill them under the cool water like Kate had done a few minutes before.
"I had no idea I was going to go through so much this early," Jack said, swiping at his sweaty brow with the back of his arm. Small loose rocks crunched beneath his feet as he shifted his weight from his toes to his seat. Rebel water drops clung to his hand before he half-heartedly shook off the excess water and twisted the blue caps back on. "It's hot out today."
"Yeah," she replied, tearing her eyes away and feeling herself flush slightly. She silently berated herself for staring, but quickly regained her nonchalant composure before he could catch wind of her disconcertment. "That's why I decided to hang out here for a while. I guess air conditioning was something you forgot to mention in your sales pitch."
"I guess I did," he laughed, his eyes squinting, his mouth stretched wide.
It had never occurred to Kate just how much she loved his laugh. The way it started low in his throat and how it forced its way out and made his eyes dance and forehead scrunch. She noticed that even though she didn't hear it as often as she would have liked, that somehow, she seemed to have a special talent for coaxing it out of the reluctant hero.
"So," he cleared his throat, regaining the picture of calm. "What were you doing a few minutes ago? You looked like you were about to fall asleep."
Kate grinned and decided telling the truth was worth seeing his reaction. She flashed him a mischievous smile and replied, "I was drinking lemonade."
It was her turn to laugh as his eyes grew big, his eyebrows raised, and his head nodded slowly trying to make sense of what she had just told him. She managed to contain her betraying giggle and let him think she was being serious. Lucky for her, Jack decided to play along.
"And where did you get this lemonade?" he asked.
"Right there," she said casually, as if it were the most obvious answer in the world. When he cocked his head slightly in disbelief, she pointed to the gurgling water with an outstretched arm. "Under the waterfall."
"Uh huh." He stared at it momentarily, and the look of vacancy on his face told Kate he was contemplating his next move in their little game of… well she wasn't sure what. Before she had time to pin it with a name, he had edged himself along the creek and was leaning over at a somewhat precarious angle to fill his last bottle with the plunging water. He found his seat next to her and turned towards her expectantly. "So how do you do this?"
Kate smiled at him and said, "Like this."
She took a long pull from her bottle until she couldn't hold anymore in her mouth, closed her eyes savoring it for one moment and then swallowed before it got too warm. She licked her lips absently and found him watching her with a skeptical stare.
He imitated her action, tipping the water bottle to his lips and filling his mouth as full as it would go. He frowned slightly and then swallowed. The look on his face told her he didn't quite get it yet.
"You gotta close your eyes, Jack," she teased. "Otherwise it won't work."
Another long pull from the water bottle, but this time with eyes closed. Another moment of brief suspension. Another swallow.
"Well," Kate prodded. "Was it yellow or pink?"
"Neither," he responded.
She cocked her head at him and for a moment was thoroughly puzzled as the idea of lemonade other than the colors of yellow and pick raced through her mind. She must have made some sort of disgusted face, because the gleam in his hazel eyes danced wildly, revealing his tease. After a minute, Jack let up on his ruse.
"It was blue Kool-Aid."