“Let’s ask Lily,” Cleo offers. “She’s older and has a boyfriend. I’m sure she’d know. Lily!”
The nearest girl splashes water on my chest, and I hesitate before sitting up to face the string of girls. I really, really don’t want to talk about sex with Daisy’s friends. This whole trip was about me not thinking about sex, and yet, it still surrounds me, even when I don’t bring it on myself.
Harper, the closest to me, explains their debate. “Katy says that her ‘boyfriend.’” She uses air quotes. “Put four fingers inside of her. Is that possible?”
I squirm a little, my float knocking into the unflappable Ryke who gazes up at the sky, sunbathing during this debacle. While I’m here, two seconds from unclipping my tube and floating down the ocean as far away from this boat and conversation as possible.
“Ummm…” My arms turn into a giant red welt. “Everyone has different bodies.”
“Did you just call my vag**a loose?” Katy snaps at me. What?!
“No!” I say. “Of course not. His fingers could have been small.” I cringe. That wasn’t better. Ohmygod. If I dive from my tube and go underwater right now—will that be really weird?
“Well how many fingers does Lo usually use?” Cleo asks. I must turn a darker shade of red because Cleo adds, “Don’t be embarrassed, Lily. It’s just sex. How else are we supposed to figure all this stuff out if we don’t talk to each other?”
Daisy straightens up in her tube, dropping her feet in the middle and resting her chin on the teal plastic. “How did you learn about sex? Did Poppy and Rose talk to you about it?” She sounds a little bummed, as though she missed out on some monumental sister-bonding experience by being the youngest.
She’s mistaken. Poppy never talked to me since she was so much older and spent more time with boys on her own than she did teaching us about them. And Rose—I always believed she’d judge me for sleeping around. Not talking to her may just be my biggest regret.
I learned from the internet, porn, and gossip magazines like Cosmo. Wikipedia helped too. I wonder if it would have made a difference if Poppy or Rose talked to me. Maybe I wouldn’t be so ashamed, but then again, maybe nothing would have changed. I’ll never know. As much as I hate to even think it, Cleo’s right. Girls shouldn’t be embarrassed to talk about sex.
“Who cares who she learned it from,” Katy snaps before I can find a suitable reply for Daisy. “I want to know more about Lo. Have you done it doggy style? I heard it feels better.”
“Ew, isn’t that, like, in the butt?” one girl cringes. “That’s supposed to hurt.”
“Doggy style can be in the vag too,” another girl pipes in. “Duh.”
Secretly, I give Ryke’s inner tube a little nudge. He sways and grabs onto mine to steady himself. I face him and hiss, “Save me.”
He rests his head back on this tube, ignoring me.
I feel myself being left out to dry. “I. Will. Drown. You,” I whisper.
Suddenly, he sits up. “I’m going to get some food.”
“I’ll join.” I suppress my smile, and after a short paddle, we end back on the yacht. I spread a towel across one of the lounge chairs on the sun deck and lie back to dry off.
Ryke rubs a towel through his hair and then tosses it on the adjacent recliner. “You sure know how to avoid people. I’ll give you that.”
“I’m trying to be better about it, but some things still make me uncomfortable.” Especially since Lo isn’t here to help ease me into this new, terrifying social world. Having him by my side would make for a smoother transition. I wouldn’t feel so…unhinged by people. “And how can you not be uncomfortable by that?”
“It takes a lot for me to get rattled. I wasn’t about to swim away from them.”
“You just did.”
“Because you asked me to.” He sets his feet on the deck, sitting and facing me while I relax long-ways on the lounge chair.
“So you really would have stayed there while I described sex with Lo?” I ask in disbelief.
“You’re forgetting that I basically watched him grope you,” Ryke reminds me. Yeah, I remember now. When Ryke first met Lo it was under odd circumstances. “I’m a journalism major. In my profession, I can’t be turned off by weird or uncomfortable situations. I just have to f**king deal. And that’s something I’ve been pretty good at most of my life.”
I thought this trip would do a lot of things. Make me confront my insecurities and by the end, boosting my confidence for the future. Never did I think it would help me understand the shadowy mysterious figure that is Ryke Meadows.
“Hey,” Daisy climbs on the deck with a towel wrapped around her waist. She sits on the lounge chair opposite mine and holds a decorative pillow to her chest, covering herself while Ryke stays seated in between us.
My stomach lurches. “Are your friends coming up too?” I’m afraid of seeing the mob of girls swarm the deck area and prod for more details about my sex life.
“No, they said they wanted to stay out there a little longer.” She stares at her toes for a moment, her nails painted a turquoise blue. “I’m sorry about them. I didn’t know they’d nag you. It’s stupid anyway.”
“What is?” I ask.
“Sex. Who cares how many fingers a guy put in Katy?”
I really, really don’t want to talk about this in front of Ryke, and I can tell he’s biting his tongue. He wants to say something, clearly, but he needs to hold it inside for two seconds. Please. Is that at all possible?
She elaborates before I can reply. “I can name about three things that are better than sex. People make it seem like it’s some terrific experience, and in the end, it’s just super lame.”
Ryke rubs his lips, curious. Don’t take her bait, I urge with wide eyes, but he’s not looking at me. “What three things?”
Daisy crosses her arms, building up defenses for when he attacks back. He always does. I should end this before it starts, but I see their battle beginning, and I really don’t want to be hit in the crossfire. “Oxygen, chocolate and freefalling. There you go.”
“Sex is definitely better than chocolate, and Lily would make a strong case that it’s more sufficient than oxygen. And when have you been freefalling?”
“Last year, I skydived for the first time.”
He nods. “Okay, well, hate to break it to you, but sex is ten times better than skydiving.”
“No it’s not,” she rebuts.
Ryke leans forward on his chair a little. “Then whoever f**ked you didn’t do it right, sweetheart.”
Her cheeks heat, flushing red, but not nearly the same burnt color mine become. Thank God, I wouldn’t wish that on anyone. “There’s no wrong way to have sex,” she retorts.
Ryke looks to me for backup on this question, as though I’m the sex guru. I guess…I kinda am. I roll my eyes and sigh heavily. “There can be bad sex,” I tell her. “It’s possible that he wasn’t very good.”
“I’m pretty sure he was as good as any other guy.”
Ryke interjects, “And do you have another experience to compare it to or are you going on one guy and one time?”
Daisy stares at him with hard eyes, unwavering. “One time, but still, I can’t imagine it being any better than that.”
“Let me ask you this then,” Ryke continues to poke. I want to stop him, but every time I open my mouth to intervene, he speaks and cuts me off. “Did you orgasm at all?”
Daisy’s brows cinch as she tries to remember. “I’m…I don’t know.”
“You didn’t then,” Ryke says.
He pulls his wayfarers up on his head so she can see his deep brown eyes, honey flecks swimming in them. He actually looks like he comes in peace. Which is nice. But still, he shouldn’t be having the conversation with anyone. What did he tell me before she got up here—oh yeah, that very little makes him uncomfortable. Maybe that’s a problem!
Interrupting them and ending this severely awkward talk has flashed out of my mind. Mostly because my sister doesn’t seem to think it’s that awkward, and the last thing I want is to embarrass her or treat her like a child. I’m sure our mother does it enough.
“But I was…” she trails off in thought.
“Yeah…” she says softly. “…wait, no, I wasn’t.”
Ryke’s eyes narrow, pissed all of a sudden. “This was your first time?”
She nods and then shrugs. “No big deal.”
“Yeah, that’s a f**king big deal,” he tells her. “What kind of a**hole enters a girl on her first time without getting her aroused first? It probably hurt like hell.”
“I don’t believe you.” He points at her. “In fact, you should stay away from any guy who doesn’t make you come at least twice before he f**ks you. Keep that in mind.”
She shakes her head. “I’m not going to have sex again. I have more important things to do. Like wash my hair.” She flashes him a dry smile.
“That’s a shame then,” he tells her. “You’d probably enjoy it with the right guy—maybe even realize that it’s better than f**king chocolate.” He smiles a little. “That’s cute, you know, you should tell that to the next boy you meet.”
“Sure,” she says, her tone still skeptical, probably knowing that Ryke isn’t flirting with her now. “Maybe I’ll even tell him to try out four fingers.” She shares his smile for a brief moment.
“That, I would not advise,” Ryke declares, leaning back on his recliner. “But I’m also not a girl. Lily?”
My turn to interject? Oh goodie. “Yeah, no,” I tell her. “I wouldn’t either.”
“Noted.” She stands and tells us thanks before she goes inside to use the bathroom.
I immediately spin around and confront Ryke. “In-appropriate,” I break up the words for emphasis.
He slides his wayfarers over his eyes, leans back, and rests his hands underneath his head. “I was educating her.”
“You were embarrassing me.”
“Sounds like a personal problem.” His lips twitch into a smile. “Anyway, I’m better than Connor Cobalt. Imagine him here diagramming the reproductive system for her. Would you rather have that happen?”
“No, no, I’d rather all penises stay a thousand feet away from my little sister, that’s what I’d like.”
“Not going to happen, Lily. She’s almost sixteen. She’s already had sex. And she’s a f**king supermodel.”
He laughs under his breath. “Whatever. She’s gorgeous, looks older than you, and plenty of guys will see that if they already haven’t. She shouldn’t be uncomfortable talking about sex just because you are.”