"You probably need a break," the man says. "To drive to the beach. Get some air at least."

I notice that his lips are full, different from the rest of his face.

Maybe it is his voice. Or that hospitals are supposed to make people horny. Or that it's the biggest rebound of my life with my father in there dying. But I wish this man would come over to me and press his mouth to my mouth and hold the balls of my shoulders, hold them as if he could crush them to splinters in his hands....

He unbuttons his shirt and takes it off. His body is smooth and defined.

"Is this okay?" he asks, his voice suddenly even softer as he lays the shirt out on the dry grass. "Are you scared?"

"Yes. But I want to be here."

He sits down and takes my hand, pulling me down beside him. Then he kisses my cheek, my neck. I turn up my face to him and he kisses my mouth, catching my lower lip with his teeth the way you would a piece of fruit.

"I've wanted you since the hospital," he says. "You looked so little sitting there. I wanted to take you to the ocean. You look like you should be in the water. Like a mermaid."

"No," I say. "No tail." I pull the antique silk skirt up above my knees.

I am so wet that when he touches me his hands slip down my hipbones, my sunken belly and between my thighs. I feel something under me and arch up and reach around and find a ring....I feel his body on top of me--his crushing shoulders, the ledge of his hips, his bruising thighs. I know I will be bruised tomorrow. Blood roses will bloom under my skin.