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Love Across Waters Preview
It had been only a week since Shanice Graham had gotten into the college of her dreams, California Tech, and she had been floating on air ever since the day she had gotten her acceptance letter. She thought about framing it in her dorm, but didn’t want to look desperate or be chided for doing so by her best friend Tina, so she instead kept the letter in her keepsake drawer, next to the first seashell she had ever found while beach combing and a shark tooth she had found once during low tide. The classes had all been easy enough as she had always had good study habits, but her real desire was to get onto the swim team, as anything dealing with the ocean was bound to find her involved in it somehow. Ever since junior high she had been constantly swimming and had won several trophies from various competitions. One of the main reasons she had wanted to get into C. Tech was due to the swim team, which had been among the highest ranked in the nation for several years running. Her eventual wish to be Olympic level seemed closer every year since she had graduated high school and since several members of the swim team at C Tech had gone on to participate in the Olympic Games, she felt woozy with how close she was to reaching her goal. She had been worried that the team would be full, or that they wouldn’t like her lap times amongst many other things, but when she met with coach Aarmin MacLeod she felt reassured. He was a tall man with broad shoulders, a shaved head and a jovial manner that was increased by his accent.
As she walked into the large pool building she thought ahead to the fall conference, imagining herself framing her invitation to compete in the NCAA championship, then talking to an Olympic scout, smiling as she spoke to her tall Irish coach.
“Thanks for agreeing to meet with me coach MacLeod; I’ve wanted to join the swim team here since I got in.”
“Of course Shanice, this year is going to be a wild one for us, we’ve got great talent and would love to add you to the team, provided you’re up to the task. We’ve got a long history of both winning and having winners from out team go on to compete in bigger and better matches, even a few Olympian hopefuls. You won’t find folks saying we’re an easy going team or one that is easy to get into, but if you put in effort then it will be rewarded, so do your best and give it your all lass, that’s the motto here.”
He led her through the large double doors, the chlorine smell welcoming her as she clutched her duffel bag tightly, soon feeling her nervousness melt away as she saw the water and felt it fill her with serenity. Coach MacLeod was still speaking, but Shanices’ large brown eyes were riveted to Alan Shores who was swimming laps in the pool, making no noise at all as he sliced through the water with an inhuman grace. At first she honestly thought it was some sort of large fish, it was a blur during the straight sections and took turns with speed and power that made her wonder what the swimmers legs looked like. She watched the man swimming for a few more moments before he suddenly stopped and lifted his head from the water and took a deep breath before ducking back under and taking off again. His face was smooth without being too angular, his eyes light grey and his hair short and black. When he surfaced, she was looking right at him and was embarrassed, but his gaze wasn’t on her or the coach, it was past them, like he was looking at something outside the building and could see straight through the two of them somehow. She shook her head and turned back to Coach MacLeod who was smiling even more broadly.
“Aye, that’ll be Alan Shores, he’s something else entirely, I think the man could go Olympic but the man won’t open up to anyone, never even said two words to me, just asked to swim and I’m glad I let him; lad spends more time in the water than out of it but that’s fine with me. Heck, if you can get him to open up, then I’ll help set you up with him! I don’t know much of a thing about him, he just showed up one day right in the middle of class and pointed to the pool, was the wildest thing I’d ever seen. I tried to tell him to come back later to try out but, he stripped down right there and then sat at the edge of the pool and watched the fastest folks in the class as I timed them. We were doing freestyle that day and Mark got 30.3 seconds, the best time of the class up until that day. When Alan jumped in and went at it, I had to make him do it again to be sure he wasn’t cheating somehow; he did it in 30.2 seconds, got out and stared at Mark with this wicked empty stare. I had him do it again and this time the kid did it in 30.1 seconds! Mark ended up quitting after that, I know he was a bit of a prima donna and hard to get along with, but even I felt bad for him that day, kid got taken apart by that silent new fellow and couldn’t do a thing about it.”
Shanice looked down and tried to keep her composure as the large man laughed loudly, his chuckle booming through the huge room as Alan continually swam back and forth. Shanice found herself drawn inexplicably to the way he swam, she couldn’t make out what type of stroke he was using but he seemed so in tune with it that it was second nature to him, if not first! Coach MacLeod led her across the room and soon she was heading into the changing room to get into her bathing suit. As she changed out of her blouse and jeans she looked at herself in the full length mirror. Standing 5 feet five inches tall, a lifetime of swimming had kept her well-toned, though she had sometimes wished her beasts were slightly bigger, though she was usually fine with her 28B sized breasts, especially the sensitive, chocolate colored nipples that topped her mocha breasts, though they were a bane to her when she was trying to focus. Her hips were shapely and flared out from her slender waist and all the years of working her legs in the water had given her an incredible backside, something she often found mens eyes drawn to. She pulled her swimming cap down over her shoulder length black hair and then pulled her swimsuit up, feeling her resolve strengthen as she zipped it closed. She walked back to the pool and Coach MacLeod held up his stopwatch.
“Alright Shanice, let’s see what you have got for us, GO!”
Shanice dove into the water and felt instantly at home, her worries disappearing with each stroke as she imagined each bubble to contain a bit of negativity, seeing in her mental eye how the negative energy left her as she swam as hard as she could, her muscles burning from the exertion as she used her strongest strokes, burning all of her energy and forgetting everything but the water, her goal, and her body. She saw the end of the lane approaching and turned gracefully underwater, planting her feet against the solid end of the pool and pushing off once more, closing her eyes to block out everything but the rushing water and her heartbeat for the first few seconds, opening them to see the end of the course before her. She touched the goal and then rose from the water, taking a deep breath and letting the water clear from her eyes before looking at Coach MacLeod who was beaming at her.
“Aha! That was a wicked performance there lass, you have the best time out of any of your team mates, 30.1 seconds! You’re the best this semester by far, except for Alan there, but he won’t ever be serious and let me time him so I guess we’ll never know, heck to be honest, I don’t know if he’s even in school but if he’s as fast as I think he is then I’ll tutor him myself! Never mind that for now though, as the fastest one out of your teammates, congratulations!”
As Shanice got out of the pool and Coach MacLeod handed her a towel, she noticed Alan at the other end of the pool, staring intently at her, unblinking and intense, as if he was appraising her from afar, sizing her up. It made her feel nervous and slightly excited, but she quickly re-focused her attention as the coaches words fully registered with her.
“My team mates? So I passed?”
The coach smiled his huge grin and patted her shoulder lightly.
“Ah, I could not refuse any girl with a smile and speed like yours me lass. I, no, we look forward to working with you!”
Shanice jumped with happiness and looked back toward Alan, but saw only the water of his lane, undisturbed as he swam to and fro underneath it.
“Coach MacLeod, would-”
“Ah, just coach is fine, you’re on the team now!”
“Okay…Coach, would it be okay if I came back tonight to practice again?”
“Of course me lass, Alan is usually here in the evening as well, maybe you can get a word out of him, you fancy him clear as my head is bald,” he said with a grin, his chuckling echoing off the walls as Shanice made a quick beeline to the changing room. As she changed back into her normal clothes, Shanice hoped that she would run into Alan again and planned to make it happen as soon as she could. She was certain he could beat her time, but she didn’t really want to be his rival. She didn’t dislike him, he was certainly attractive, but her desire to know him came from something else. She felt a bit embarrassed for being so interested in him when he clearly wasn’t into much besides swimming, but swimming was her main interest as well, so she had a common ground on which she could approach him.
She changed and after thanking ‘coach’ once more she headed back to her dorm, calling Tina along the way.
“Hey, Nice, what’s up?”
“I got in! I’m on the swimming team T, I did it!”
“I told you it would be easy for you, you’ve got serious skills. I hope the bar isn’t set too high for me to get in now though,” she said with a laugh.
“No way, I was rattled by this guy on the team who was there, his form is so incredible, it’s like he’s a fish or something, I’ve never seen anything like it.”
“Sounds like he’s pretty good in the pool, did you talk to him outside the water?”
“No, I didn’t even talk to him inside the water, he seems…I don’t know, not shy, but kind of…”
“Aloof? Distant? Cold?”
“Ugh, yes I guess, turn off your thesaurus mode during social calls Tina, remember the rules!”
“No, it’s necessary! Now, what you should do is counter his aloofness by being outgoing, spontaneous and gregarious toward him at the next opportunity!”
“T, I’m going to look up those words, they probably don’t even apply. I’m at my dorm now; I’ve got to get ready to go back tonight.”
“Great, try not to let the fish man make you too we-”
Shanice lay on her large bean bag chair and dozed off quickly, imagining how she hoped things would go that evening.
Shanice ended up having a strange dream in which she was swimming in a gigantic pool on top of the ocean in front of a massive audience of fish, being graded and timed by all of them as they held stopwatches in their hands that ticked off her lap times. She swam faster and faster but no matter how fast she went, a black blur was zipping ahead of her and then back to the starting spot again and again, utterly lapping her and making her feel so angry that she woke up that way, a surge of defiance running through her as she took the anger and focused on it, trying to figure out why she felt like she did. She didn’t want to admit that she was intimidated by Alan, but she was alone with her thoughts and couldn’t avoid it. It wasn’t only physical intimidation, in fact it wasn’t much physical at all, he was taller than her by 9 inches, but muscularly was designed purely for swimming, and it was his overall manner that bothered her. She had seen people intimidated by her before, both men and women, so she had gotten used to either a person being standoffish with her or wanting to befriend her immediately and was taken aback by how little Alan seemed to regard her. It was a self-centered thing to desire the same reaction from everyone in her age group, but there it was: she wanted Alan to notice her. If the coach had, then why not him?
That evening Shanice returned to the pool but found the large double doors locked. She stood around for ten minutes, debating whether or not to call coach, but in the end decided to leave. As she walked to her car though, she heard someone approaching from the opposite end of the campus and soon saw Alan climb the fence between the pool and 4 blocks of dorms then take a key out of his pocket and unlock the doors. Shanice hurried toward him with a smile, thanking him before she even reached him, glad to be able to practice at night, her favorite way to calm down.
“Why are you thanking me? I haven’t done anything.”
“Sure you have, you unlocked the door.”
“I see you have come for the false ocean as well?”
“Uh…yeah, I guess,” Shanice said, wondering if he was joking, but seeing nothing in his face saying so as he walked into the darkness of the room.
“It’s really dark in here; do you know where the light switch is?”
Shanice thought about how odd his voice sounded as she wondered how long it would take him to find the light switch and after three minutes of waiting she asked out loud if he knew where it was, but got no response. She grew nervous and stepped back toward the door, then saw that the light switch was right there; Alan just hadn’t turned it on. She did so and the room was illuminated, her fear being replaced by surprise when she saw his clothes in a heap and his shadow beneath the water, moving far faster than he had been earlier, he hadn’t made a noise when he entered the water. She watched entranced as he did incredibly sharp turns, figure eights and laps around the entire pool in the time his laps from end to end were in front of the coach! Despite the intimidation she felt at his incredible skill, she went to the changing room and put on her bathing suit, finding her mind wandering and imagining what would have happened if she had turned the light on a few minutes sooner than she had. Soon she shook the racy images from her mind and took a deep breath, centering herself and determining that she would practice hard and push herself tonight, not because Alan was there but because she needed to. She was on the team now and had the fastest time, so she had to keep herself in top form and practicing hard was the means to that end. After focusing for a moment longer she left the changing room and dove into the pool, waiting until Alan was at the far end to avoid him. She tried to stay in a specific spot, but being in the water at the same time as him made her feel clumsy and massive, the grace with which he swam seemed to scream silently that the waters were his and she was simply there because he allowed her to be. This intimidated Shanice to no end, but instead of getting out, she began to push herself as hard as she ever had, swimming far from fast enough to keep up with Alan, but managing to do a few turns that were respectably executed and then beating her earlier time by a bit, according to her count. She got out and sat at the edge of the pool, waiting for Alan to do the same and trying not to look like she was waiting on him, but the longer she waited, the more clear it was to her that he wasn’t planning on doing that.
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