Disclaimer: I do not own the characters in this story. I banged this out in 3 days and all my creative juices have expired before creating a title. So this piece is untitled and it is the response to a challenge on the Duke and Scarlett group on .
As usual, the hot temperatures of July were brutal. Complaints could be heard from one end of the joe base to the other. And according to the weather forecast, the sun had no intentions of retreating any time soon. Outside training exercises were being cancelled or being moved inside. Lady Jaye and Scarlett were in their suite relieved to hear that their outside training seminar was one of the ones that was cancelled.
"It's so hot, even Barbeque is complaining." Scarlett sighed relaxing on the couch. She lazily thumbed through a magazine.
"Yes, but it's the perfect time to work on my tan!" Lady Jaye exclaimed rushing into her bedroom.
"You're not serious?" Scarlett cried sitting up at the crazy thought. No sooner were those words out of her mouth when Lady Jaye reappeared throwing a tote bag over her shoulder. She had already changed from her standard uniform into a bikini which peaked out from underneath her beach cover up.
"We have the afternoon off. We have an outside pool. It's perfect!" Lady Jaye smiled excitedly.
"Well have fun" Scarlett sighed laying back down on the couch with the magazine.
"You're not going to come?" Lady Jaye asked almost astonished.
"Haven't you heard? Pale is the new tan." Scarlett retorted indicating her practically porcelain white skin.
"Seriously, you won't come with? C'mon, I need someone to talk to." Lady Jaye begged.
"Do you not remember that the sun and I do not get along? Ten minutes and I'm as red as a lobster" Scarlett reminded her best friend.
"So wear lots of sunscreen…and bring a hat…..and a cover up…..please?" Lady Jaye begged.
"I don't know…." Scarlett sighed.
"I know Flint and Duke were talking about swimming laps this afternoon. So they'll be there too." Lady Jaye winked at her roommate.
"So this is for you to see Flint in his swim trunks. I get it now." Scarlett let out a small laugh.
"No, I get to see Flint in less than his swim trunks. This is about you seeing Duke in swim trunks." Lady Jaye smiled even wider. Scarlett sat up rigid on the couch.
"Allie, Duke and I are friends, nothing more. I don't know why you keep trying to make something there that's not."
"But what if there could be? Don't you want there to be? Wouldn't you want to find out?" Lady Jaye interrogated. Those were questions Scarlett had been asking herself lately and as much as she searched in her heart, she wasn't sure of the answers.
"If I go with you, will you shut up about Duke?" Scarlett asked in return.
"Fine." Scarlett surrendered. She went into her bedroom thinking about all the questions Lady Jaye had brought up. Sure she and Duke spent a lot of personal time together. They had become very close since the first mission they went on. It's just one of those friendships that from day one it feels like you've known that person forever. Like you were meant to meet each other. Like fate. Scarlett frowned as she rummaged through her draws. All she could find was a bikini she had worn on an undercover mission once. All of her one pieces seemed to have disappeared.
"I can't go with you. All I can find is a bikini. My one pieces are MIA." Scarlett leaned on the door frame to her bedroom.
"So wear that." Lady Jaye offered a solution.
"No! I don't wear those!" Scarlett balked.
"Aren't you going to put a cover up on anyway?" Lady Jaye argued. Scarlett nodded. "So who cares? No one will see what bathing suit you're wearing anyway." Scarlett thought about it and as much as she hated to admit it, she made sense.
"Alright, give me a few minutes." Scarlett grumbled going back in her room.
"Hurry up! We're wasting good rays!" Lady Jaye exclaimed impatiently.
"When you get skin cancer, don't come crying to me." Scarlett bitterly replied. She quickly put on the bikini and threw an extra big white t-shirt on top that went to her knees. She found a hat with a wide brim and her flip flops. "Almost ready" she called as she found her 40 SPF sunscreen and sunglasses. She came out into the living room and Lady Jaye let out a giggle.
"You look like an old lady. Come on, grandma." She laughed as she and Scarlett left for the pool.
When they exited the building into the pool area, the heat covered them like an electric blanket in the winter. The pool was very crowded with joes trying to escape the stifling heat.
"I'm already sweating!" Scarlett cursed the hot weather and she and Lady Jaye made their way to some lounge chairs by the side of the pool. The two sat down and both lathered up on sunscreen. Of course the SPF numbers of their sunscreens were drastically different. They both settled into their chairs letting the sun's rays beat down on them.
"Just so you know, this is not fun for me." Scarlett reminded her friend.
"Shhhh, relax." Lady Jaye sighed. Scarlett could see her friend close her eyes behind her sunglasses.
"You said you wanted me here to have someone to talk to and you're closing your eyes! I'd rather be sweating my ass off in a hand to hand combat session than sitting here doing nothing!" Scarlett huffed angrily and went to stand up when her attention was drawn to someone hopping out of the pool in front of her chair. Scarlett's eyes grew wide with surprise as Duke stood before her dripping wet. He shook his head, letting water roll off his hair. Her eyes wandered down to his slightly tan well toned athletic chest. Water droplets glittered his chest. With her eyes, she traced the drops of water as they rolled down to his black trunks that sagged just below his waist line, almost teasing her as to what was lower. Duke certainly was a fine piece of male specimen. Scarlett fanned herself with a magazine, feeling the heat getting to her. But was it the sun or her attraction to her commanding officer?
"Close your mouth, honey, you're likely to catch flies." Lady Jaye leaned over and whispered to her teasingly. Scarlett closed her mouth, not realizing it had been dropped open.
"You guys just get here?" Duke asked still dripping dry.
"Yeah, I had to practically drag Miss SPF 100 out here." Lady Jaye replied teasing her friend.
"Hey, it's not my fault I'm so fair." Scarlett defended her sun block.
"I'm glad you're taking good care of yourself out here. I wouldn't want you to get any sunburn." Duke replied. At that moment, another male pulled himself out of the pool and stood next to Duke.
"Scarlett, is that you under all that stuff?" Flint laughed at Scarlett's oversized beach cover up and hat.
"Allie, do something about your boyfriend before I have to." Scarlett growled. Lady Jaye tugged Flint down with one arm and gave him a slow kiss on the mouth.
"Get a room!" Duke exclaimed throwing a towel at the couple.
"Sounds good to me!" Flint replied back after breaking from the kiss.
"Wanna join me for a swim?" Duke asked turning to Scarlett.
"Anything to get away from those two." Scarlett agreed and got up. She was about to take off her cover up when she remembered what was on underneath.
"Oh, I uh, can't." Scarlett blushed sitting down.
"I couldn't find a one piece suit. And I'm not wearing a bikini in front of these Neanderthals." Scarlett nodded in the direction of Shipwreck, Clutch, Ripcord, and a few others.
"Don't worry, I'll make sure they don't bother you." Duke folded his arms like a bouncer. Scarlett really could do with a swim. It might help her cool off. She stood up and took off her oversized beach cover up and threw it on the chair. She tossed her hat on top of it.
"Ready to go?" Scarlett asked turning to face Duke. Duke looked like a statue just standing there. His eyes were fixated on her.
"Hello….anyone there?" Scarlett waved her hand in front of his face to try and get his attention.
"I think you just gave him a heart attack in that suit!" Flint laughed at his friend. That seemed to jar Duke from his trance. Scarlett blushed and quickly dove into the water. Duke jumped in after her. They both swam to the deepest part of the pool, away from the crowd.
"You know, Flint was right. You almost gave me a heart attack wearing that. I mean, you look great in it." Duke replied treading water next to her.
"I almost didn't come since all I had was this bikini. I would have missed this." Scarlett replied, enjoying her time in the pool with Duke. They spotted a shady part of the pool a few feet away and swam towards it. It was deep enough for Duke to be standing with his head and shoulders above water. Scarlett, however, still needed to tread water.
"Well, I'm glad you came out. It's not often we just have time to have R&R by the pool." Duke smiled. Scarlett nodded and looked down on the water and noticed something very unnerving floating towards them.
"Oh my god," Scarlett gasped and clutched onto Duke for dear life, wrapping her legs around his torso and her arms around his neck.
"What is it?" Duke said trying to crane his neck to see what had frightened her.
"Water spider!" she exclaimed pulling him closer. Duke saw the spider and with one motion had cupped it in his hand and put it on the side of the pool.
"Gone," Duke whispered into her ear, slightly nuzzling her head with his own.. She still clutched him tight, even knowing the danger was over. The heat that she had been feeling at the poolside was returning. Deep down she must have always had smoldering feelings for Duke, and today had sparked them into a fire. She didn't want to let go of him, this felt too perfect. She stroked the hair on the nape of his neck while reveling in the moment. She closed her eyes and sighed deeply wanting to remember how it felt to have flesh to flesh contact; how his breath on her neck and shoulder made her shiver; how her frame fit comfortably in his muscular arms. She felt him pull away and squeezed her eyes closed cursing the moment for ending. She opened her eyes to find Duke staring intently at her, their foreheads touching slightly. "Shana," Duke softly breathed.
"Yes, Con," she answered just as breathy. Her heart was beating furiously. Was he feeling what she was feeling? She knew the answer immediately as she watched him close his eyes and slowly leaned his face towards hers. She closed her eyes leaning in towards him. She wrapped her legs tighter around him bring him even closer. She felt his breath on her face and smiled with anticipation.
"CANNON BALL!!" someone cried and jumped into the pool right next to them causing a wave of water to dampen both them and the moment. They both jerked apart and watched as Shipwreck high-fived some others in the pool. The wave had caused them to drift down the pool a bit and now Scarlett could stand comfortably.
"Remind me again how he got on the team?" Duke sighed.
"He is a handful. I'm just glad it finally got through his thick skull to lay off of Lady Jaye." Scarlett smiled watching her friend. She and Flint were lying together in the lounge chair, no doubt fast asleep.
"Does he bother you? Because, uh, if so I can tell him to lay off of you too." Duke offered.
not so bad. I know it's all in fun." Scarlett shrugged. She
watched Duke's face turn serious, "Why? Does it bother you when
he flirts with me?"
"Yes, it does." Duke answered truthfully. Scarlett had been ready for some sarcastic answer and was caught off guard by his honesty.
"Really?" Scarlett asked flattered.
"I've never been good with women. I never know what to say or do. I envy that guy some of the time. He makes it look so easy." Duke stared off at Shipwreck.
"You do know he gets slapped in the face a lot, right?" Scarlett reminded him.
"Yeah, I know…but he just keeps it up. He lets rejection roll right off his back and goes on to his next conquest." Duke sighed looking down at the water.
"Is that how you want to be known? As a man with many conquests?" Scarlett asked.
"No! I just wish I had the same self confidence. That's all."
"Duke, you are an amazing man. Any girl would be lucky to have you." Scarlett replied trying to lift his spirits.
"I don't want any girl. I want you." Duke replied seriously. In that moment it seemed like the world had stopped. It was only when Scarlett let out her breath, had she realized she had been holding it. They both stayed quiet and still for what seemed like forever. Scarlett was still digesting what Duke had just said. Had she heard him correctly? Did he say that he wanted her? "This is the last place I thought I'd be telling you this, but the time seems good enough than any. I'm serious, Shana. I want to be more than friends. I want to take that chance with you. I want to take the chance that you could be my forever." Duke continued taking Scarlett's hands in his. Some more silence passed. "What are you thinking?" Scarlett smiled brightly. Duke had laid his feelings all out on the table and it answered all the questions she had. Scarlett pulled him to her and kissed him slowly but deeply. She could hear people whistling and hollering around them, but she didn't care. Duke intensified the kiss letting her know he didn't care about the fanfare either. They broke apart both grinning.
"Why don't we go back to my quarters for lunch?" Duke suggested.
"Sounds great, I should get out of the sun anyway." Scarlett smiled. Scarlett swam to the ladder and climbed out while Duke hoisted himself out next to the ladder.
"You guys turned the pool into a hot tub with that steamy kissing!" Lady Jaye teased as the two neared the lounge chairs.
"What can I say? I've had a lot of passion pent up for a long time." Duke answered back in good spirit.
"I'm glad you finally told her, buddy. I told you she felt it too." Flint patted Duke on the back.
"Ready, Duke?" Scarlett asked as she picked up all of her belongings. Duke nodded and extended his arm to her. They walked back into the building arm in arm happy with having spent time at the pool.