The chlorine stink caught in her nose and throat. A child screamed from the far end of the swimming pool in alarm or delight; it wasn't clear to Emma. She swung around, lurching, swaying, unsure of her footing on the bleached blue tiling.
Swimmers thronged the pool. A flotilla of inflatable's carried a procession of whooping children and indulgent parents diagonally across the main race lanes and towards the lazy river, where water jets urged the tide of people onwards.
A man on the balcony sat watching her. He peered nonchalantly over the top of his newspaper. She recognised him from somewhere, didn't she?
Sara grabbed the stainless-steel rail at the edge of the deep end. Held on to it fiercely as the room snapped back in to focus. In the dead centre of the pool, ignored by the endless stream of swimmers, one man churned the green-blue water. Floundering. Gasping. Going under for the third time.
It was Grissom. Sara recognised the black Speedos. Grissom's face broke the surface again. Another huge gasp for air. His hair was slicked close to his head by the water. His eyes made contact with hers, past the kids on floats, past their attentive fathers, past the boisterous teenage lads who ducked their girlfriends or did handstands underwater.
Unseen by them, Grissom's mouth opened in a wide 'o' of surprise and horror before his mouth, his nose, his terrified brown eyes submerged beneath the churning water.
"Someone help him!" Sara screamed.
She looked wildly around. From the other side of the pool, a lifeguard sauntered slowly towards her. The lad was about twenty, absurdly good-looking, with short-cropped brown hair and startling green eyes.
He peeled off his yellow T-shirt languorously, to reveal a smooth, muscular chest and a fuse of hair that circled his navel and ran down in to his baggy red shorts.
"Leave him," He told her, his voice was warm and dark and calm. "He's mine,".
The lifeguard slipped in to the water, and the kids and parents and teens parted before him. He pulled himself towards the floundering Grissom with slow, powerful strokes. Sara felt the frustration build in her, a tensing of the muscles in her upper arms and shoulders.
"Hurry hurry hurry," She chanted, like a mantra.
Just as the lad was about to reach Grissom, a long-legged girl collided with him. Her blonde hair coiled like snakes around her in the water. Her tight red one-piece swimsuit was the same colour as the boy's shorts, and Emma knew suddenly that she was another lifeguard.
"Leave him," The girl in red ordered. Her tone was deliberate and her voice was breathy, yet clearly audible above the sound of the pool.
She lifted one hand out of the water and pushed down on the other lifeguard's head.
"Leave him. He's mine," She added.
The young male lifeguard shook her off and pushed his head back to the surface, blowing air through his pursed lips and scattering water with a rapid shake of his head. He pressed up against the woman, forcing her away so that she slowly fell backwards.
The two guards continued to jostle together in the pool, a leisurely exchange of shoves and nudges that was more like a ballet than a fight. Beside them, Grissom's face floated just below the surface, his eyes and mouth wide.
Sara choked. She couldn't draw a breath. It was as though she was underwater, unable or afraid to breathe in. She wanted to plunge in to the pool, drag herself across to the middle and bring Grissom to the surface. But her legs were leaden; she could not even slide her bare feet over the cracked blue tiles. Her hands spasmed, and her fingers locked, immoveable around the barrier rail.
The black haired man stared down from the balcony. He had stood to watch the commotion in the pool. Sara realised, his eyes were fixed on her.
"Nick Stokes," She said.
"Sara, help him," He smiled.
Sara cursed her paralysed legs, and tried to lunge over the barrier in to the water. Her arms hand no strength. The crowds continued their unheeding passage around the drowning man, the one she loved. Sara screamed wildly at the lifeguards. They pause to study her incuriously.
"Save him!" Her shrill cry echoed around the swimming pool.
She woke up abruptly, surfacing from beneath her sheets with a wail of misery and fear.
"Sara," Grissom fumbled around on the bedside cabinet, and scattered books and pens on the floor before he managed to locate the light switch. He propped himself up on his elbows.
"What's wrong Sara?" He asked.
Sara found that her arms weren't paralysed any more, so she threw the around her boyfriend and started to sob.
She let him clasp her tightly, quietly, until she slowly calmed down. She knew she couldn't explain it, so she lied to him that she'd already forgotten what the nightmare was.
Grissom squeezed her again. He then pulled away and held her at arm's length to look at her.
"Your okay, as long as I'm here, you're safe," Grissom smiled and reassured her.
Sara nodded as Grissom leaned in. Their lips met and the nightmare was forgotten from Sara's mind.