He was still annoyed and didn't respond.
She took hold of his penis and said, "Let's do it here."
"Uh . . ." He looked up and down the beach, then at the camera on the sand dune, pointing at them.
"Come on. Before someone comes. Just like that scene in From Here to Eternity."
He had a million good reasons why they shouldn't have sex on the open beach, but Jill had a firm grip on the one good reason why they should.
She took his hand and led him to the shore where the gentle surf was lapping over the wet sand.
She said, "Lie down."
Bud lay on the sand where the sea ebbed and flowed over his body. She lay on top of him, and they made love slowly and rhythmically, the way she liked it, her doing most of the work at her own pace.
Bud was a little distracted by the surf rolling over his face and body, and he was a bit anxious by being so exposed on the beach. But within a minute, the size of his world shrunk to the area between their legs, and he wouldn't have noticed a tsunami breaking over him.
A minute later, she climaxed and he ejaculated into her.
She lay on him, breathing heavily for a few seconds, then she straddled him with her knees and sat up. She started to say something, then froze in mid-sentence and stared out over the ocean. "What . . . ?"
He sat up quickly and followed her gaze out toward the water, over his right shoulder.
Something was rising off the water, and it took him a second to recognize it as a streak of incandescent reddish orange fire trailing a plume of white smoke. "What the hell . . . ?" It looked like a skyrocket left over from the Fourth of July, but it was huge, too hugeand it was coming off the water.
They both watched as it rose quickly, gathering speed as it ascended into the sky. It seemed to zigzag, then turn.
Suddenly, a flash of light appeared in the sky, followed by a huge fireball. They scrambled to their feet and stared transfixed as pieces of fiery debris began raining down from the point of the explosion. About a half minute later, the sound of two explosions in quick succession rolled across the water and filled the air around them, causing them to instinctively flinch. Then, silence.
The huge fireball seemed to hang in the air for a long time, then it began falling, breaking up into two or three fiery pieces, falling at different speeds.
A minute later, the sky was clear, except for white and black smoke, illuminated from below by the glow of fires burning on the smooth ocean, miles away.
Bud stared at the blazing horizon, then at the sky, then back at the water, his heart beating rapidly.
Jill whispered, "Oh, my God . . . what . . . ?"
Bud stood motionless, not quite comprehending what he'd just seen, but in his gut, he knew it was something terrible. His next thought was that whatever this was, it was big enough and loud enough to draw people toward the beach. He took Jill's arm and said, "Let's get out of here. Fast."
They turned and sprinted across the fifty yards of sand and up the dune. Bud grabbed the video camera and tripod as Jill scrambled down the far side of the dune. Bud followed and said, "Get dressed! Get dressed!" They both dressed quickly and ran toward the Explorer, Bud carrying the tripod and Jill carrying the camera, leaving the blanket and ice chest behind.
They tossed the video equipment in the backseat, jumped in the front, and Bud started the Explorer and threw it into gear. They were both breathing hard. He left his headlights off, and with wheels spinning, he drove back to the trail and made a sharp right turn. He drove cautiously in the dark, along the nature trail, then through the parking field, and out onto Dune Road where he put on his headlights and accelerated.
Neither of them spoke.
Copyright © 2004 by Nelson DeMille
Blood at the Root
"A gripping, timely, and important examination of American racism."
- PW Starred Review
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