I dragged myself from the water to the beach to the swing where all our stuff was. Synnove, from a long list of lovers whose names started with sultry, subtle S, had laid down my towel down and pressed her feet down on it to keep it in place, partially, while the wind blew. It was unusually windy. We had walked along the beach and discussed American politics — despite neither of us being Americans or living anywhere near there — and my trademark brown hat had gotten blown right off my head and into the sea. Synnove laughed while I ran after it. The water was just cool enough, though further out it looked pretty treacherous. I cut my foot on a buried brick when I leaned out to catch my hat. It was unusually windy and in the end we kept all our things in her backpack, which she kept by her feet.
Synnove sat on a swing that was part of the dive school’s compound, lightly swaying herself forward and back, forward and back, but her sandy feet never, ever left the towel. She had blonde hair that looked highlighted. She was Scandinavian in color, that delightful pale skin. I lamented and argued when she said she wanted it all tanned by the time she got back to Sweden. Synnove was taller than I was by about three or four inches. She found it funny and cute. I found it a little embarrassing. We had known each other maybe two days.
“Why don’t you want to swim?” I asked, breathless, settling down cross-legged at the far end of the towel. I had to look up to see her, but the sight pleased me. The island we were on was Ko Lipe in Thailand, a relatively obscure tiny island resort off the coast of the restive Thai south that’s had begun to start its campaign to be in the same sort of league as Phuket and Ko Pha Ngan, as “the Maldives of Thailand.” Diving paradise, apparently. Neither one of us dived.
She looked like she was going to say something, but in the end she simply said, “Sharks will get me,” with a queer sort of smile. We had known each other maybe about two days but I kept bringing it up to her. I called it the European smile. Sweet, seductive Swedish Synnove with her silly European smile.
“There are no sharks here.”
“They don’t have to be here, they’ll come swimming from all the way in India, I’ve got a heavy flow.”
I laughed in a ha-ha-ha way. The self-aware laugh of someone who’s trying hard to have his own unique charming leading man laugh.
“I’m serious. Does it disgust you? That we haven’t fucked yet but we both want to and now we can’t? Or does it just make you frustrated and sad?”
We heard the waves hitting Lipe’s Sunrise Beach. In the distance you could see much larger islands, all mostly uninhabited. The Tarutao island chain was protected marine park territory. You could visit but not stay. Synnove had invited me to join her for a boat tour around them but I had had to turn her down. You’d have been fooled by me, but I was there (mostly) for work, not pleasure.
I lifted from the towel and joined her at the swing. She lifted her legs and tilted in her seat and placed her legs, dainty feet and all, laterally across my lap. It left her a little unbalanced. She held the fraying rope of the swing’s suspension with her left hand and gripped my shoulder unevenly with her right. I feigned swinging myself away. She squealed in surprise as she nearly fell. “You know, it’s funny how you say that, because I’m not afraid of a little blood, you know.”
“Well, a lot of blood in this case. Terrible. I don’t know how I got so much.”
“So then I’m not afraid of a lot of blood.”
“Really? Have you ever?” Pause. “Been with someone while she was on her period?”
“Yes, and I ate her out and enjoyed it.”
She took her legs off me and placed them down on the sand. With nothing keeping the towel down except her backpack in the center, the sides flew and blew and swung. “I think you’re a… a…”
I waited for her to complete her sentence. She pursed her lips and finally, finally, came up with the word she was looking for, which she mouthed in her smile. “Pervert. Yes. You’re a pervert.”
I shrugged, and tilted my head towards her hand on my shoulder, trying to lean in and mock-bite her fingers. “I suppose I could be called that. But if I had to be a pervert I’d like to be a sexy one. Would you say that at least, for me?”
“You’re a very sexy pervert. The sexiest pervert I’ve had the chance to meet.”
There was a pause, but eventually she slowly said, as if almost hesitant, “I’ll suck your cock but we can’t fuck.”
“You’re not really bleeding. You’re just saying that.”
“I didn’t know you knew me so well as to know when I would be lying and when I would be telling the truth.”
I laughed. Ha-ha-ha. Eye contact and the tiniest shake of my head. “Wouldn’t need that. I don’t smell it on you.”
“And this is because you are a shark?” She dug her fingernails into my shoulder.
She hopped off and sat on the towel. Her hands reached for the zipper of her backpack. “What have you got?” she asked me, pulling out packs of cigarettes and cans of beer.
“The cigarettes are all Marlboro Lights, I think. And the beer is Carlsberg, Heineken or Tiger. Don’t touch the candy. Those are mine.” I smuggled an unholy amount of smokes, beer and chocolates from duty-free Langkawi, just a little way away in Malaysia, and Customs — both Thai and Malaysian — didn’t even so much as take a look at my rucksack, even though they rummaged through my travel partners’ luggage; I came with my photographer, my boss, who also brought along her girlfriend, a university student about twenty years younger than her and about the same amount of years more intellectually mature and responsible.
She went through the cigarettes first, digging through the two dozen or so packs I had.
“These aren’t Marlboro,” she said, showing me a few orange packs. She read them out. “Peel Menthol Orange.”
“That’s the one that tastes like orange and smells like shit.”
“Only if you join me for a swim afterwards to get the smell off you.”
“No. Sharks. We can shower together.”
“Before or after the fulfillment of your promise to suck my cock?”
“Does it matter? Before, after.” Her eyes twinkled differently each time she smiled her smile. “Don’t be so worried.” Synnove took her sweet, dainty time in unwrapping the foil in the pack, pulling a cigarette out. “Iam going to suck your cock.”
We moved to the restaurant on Sunrise Beach near the dirt path that would eventually lead to our hotel. Ko Lipe is small enough that there are only a handful of hotels and chalets and inns and lodges, mostly dotting the three beaches of the roughly triangular island: Sunrise Beach, Sunset Beach, and Pattaya Beach. We were both at the Bundhaya Resort, probably one of the nicer places there, which sat along Pattaya Beach.
In the low season Ko Lipe is hardly occupied. The waters were too rough at Pattaya Beach, with a red flag flying warning swimmers to stay away, and Sunrise Beach was the best alternative; Sunset, we discovered, was almost completely abandoned. Sunrise had a nice sandy strip of beach, good water, and a great view. Little wooden fishermen’s boats anchored down. The best restaurant on the island was here, creatively named Sunrise Restaurant. That was our destination.
We had only been here a few days but the people who ran the restaurant, a family of four — friendly talkative father, wide-hipped mother, tanned teenage son and braided younger daughter — already knew what I was going to order. “Pad thai,” the father said, grinning, “And Vanilla Coke.”
Synnove had pineapple fried rice and some French fries, but no drinks. I figured she already had most of my smuggled-in beer, so there was no need to spend any money for drinks. Maybe it was because Ko Lipe was so far away from the mainland, or because it was relatively untouristed, or maybe it was because of the low season and the lack of business, but things were fucking expensive in Lipe. Just a Coke was sixty, seventy baht.
“How exactly did you bring in so much good stuff in here?” she asked me, once her order had been taken. We knew it would take a good half an hour before we’d get our meal, even though there was only one other table occupied. It was a French couple, the man middle aged, the girl almost underage, and the man had bought some Marlboro Lights off me on my first night. He gave me a little salute and a “Hey there,” when he saw us get here.
“By accident, that was how. I didn’t really intend on buying anything, since I don’t smoke or drink, but my boss wanted me to carry some cigarettes and beer and wine—”
“Wine! Where is the wine?”
“My boss had it last night.”
“Boo. I like wine. It makes me dizzy and funny and sexy. I’m sorry. Go on.”
I continued my story. “Well, so we were in Langkawi, and Langkawi’s a duty-free zone, so there was beer for like one ringgit. That’s like 20 Euro cents. If you have cents in Euros.”
“I’m Swedish. We don’t use Euros. We use krona. But that’s cheap.”
“Very fucking cheap.”
“I know. Go on. Please, I’d like to hear more.” Our food arrived and I started on my pad thai by wrapping the noodles around my fork, pasta-style, poking the prawn and cashew nuts before dropping it into my mouth for a big bite. In contrast she ate carefully. Synnove pushed rice with her fork into her spoon, and made little dainty swallows. Her eyes never left mine.
“I got this idea in my head that Ko Lipe would be expensive and that I could probably use my quota to bring in cigarettes and beer and chocolates and then sell them later here. I was right, I guess. Lucky me.”
“I’m so fond of entrepeneurs,” Synnove replied, a little more like a non sequitor than an actual response. We sat on a worn, wooden picnic table. Below the table, while we ate, Synnove played against my shins and my knees and my thighs with her feet. I smirked a little but made no comment. She huffed and gave up afterwards. We ate in a contented silence, and as she ate she smoked. The tangy orange flavor engulfed our table. It wasn’t a scent I enjoyed.
From her habit of going one for another for anotherc, Synnove was practically a chainsmoker. One cigarette would lead to another would lead to another would lead to another. She was orange all over before we were done with our meals. “Where to, next?” I asked idly, watching her inhale in a slow, purposeful drag.
“How about… There’s a temple in the middle of the island, want to check it out?” Drag. Puff.
“Nothing there. My photographer and I went to have a look and take some pictures. A little shrine for the locals by the path leading from the intersection to Sunset Beach. We went in the late afternoon yesterday to catch the best light. Pretty creepy, if you ask me. It’s all quiet.”
“I haven’t seen Sunset yet. Why would it be empty?”
Sunset Beach was a long walk from the center of the island, where the local sea gypsies, or Chao Lei, lived. There was also a little strip in the center called Walking Street, where restaurants, massage places, eateries and internet cafes were. I had visited Sunset Beach earlier in the morning in a bout of wanderlust. “I don’t have a clue,” I admitted. “But all the lodges are closed and there’s a ton of trash everywhere and packs and packs of wild dogs.”
“I read a brochure saying that they host the Full Moon Party there. We just missed it, it was last Saturday.” Synnove emphasized her point by taking a bunch of folded brochures out of her backpack, showing me the exact Tourism Thailand brochure that had mentioned the party she cited.
“Then it must be post-party depression,” I quipped.
“Never mind. A stupid pun. Let’s get going.” We paid separately for our orders and we walked along the dirt path in the direction of Walking Street. She slipped her hand in mind and winked at me but said nothing.
There are no cars on Ko Lipe. No roads can accommodate cars, in any case, and there are few motorcycles. I estimated that it would probably take about an hour, maybe two, to circle the island by the coast, but I didn’t try. Bundhaya Resort often ferried its guests back and forth from the hotel to Sunrise Beach in front of Sunrise Restaurant, where the speedboats from the mainland dock.
“Back to our rooms, then,” I decided. “There’s sand all over us, and I hate that.”
Synnove pulled her room key out, swinging it around her finger with the key ring. “You got upgraded, right?”
“My boss got two deluxe chalets when she decided the standard one wasn’t lush enough for her. I was perfectly happy with the first, but I’m not going to complain. Generous is her middle name.”
“And what’s yours?” she asked, all too serious.
“B. And before you ask, it doesn’t mean anything. Just B. Whatever you want it to B, I used to say.”
“That’s weird. Mine is Karin.”
“Synnove Karin.” Those were syllables to relish and repeat. “I like your name.”
“I like yours too, but the B thing is weird. Anyway, I was talking about the bungalows earlier. Yes. I hear the garden deluxe bungalows are a big improvement over the standard ones.”
“Is it also true they have an outdoor shower?”
“Yes.” I watched her eyes turn into that wicked, coquettish look.
“Then I want to go to your room.”
I was bunking with my photographer in the chalet, but I knew I wouldn’t see him until dinnertime. Unlike me, he was on duty. My boss had wanted him to take photos while she and her girlfriend enjoyed Thai massages at a variety of parlors. I stayed back and said I wanted to interview the Sunrise Restaurant people, but I had bumped into Synnove and we spontaneously decided we would spend the entirety of today together instead. My interview was a hasty mess that would never get into the eventual travel article I wrote about Ko Lipe for the magazine.
It was true: the garden deluxe bungalows (and I would keep calling them chalets, out of habit) were a huge improvement over the standard fare. Wooden panelling. Glass sliding doors.
We even had a TV, if ever we felt the need to watch Thai soap operas, and there was a minifridge and a glorious queen-sized bed that we immediately started crawling all over. The shower had been forgotten for the moment. We devolved to kisses and caresses and scratches and bites. “Fuck your nonexistent period,” I growled, pinning her down on the bed, “I want you.”
She groped me through my shorts. I bit at her neck. “Can we have that shower first?” she asked, in a whisper, a whimper, this sudden vulnerability coming over her dark orange breath.
It wasn’t hard to accommodate her request. I pulled up, pulled her up, and took her by the hand past the bathroom, which had a toilet and a sink and a spartan-looking shower over dusty tiles, to the outdoor shower area, grass below us and only an eight foot wall keeping our privacy.
I turned the shower on and the spray hosed us both down. It was a shame it only came in cold. She slipped out of her clothes with prodigal speed. Her t-shirt came off first, then her shorts. She took her swimsuit off next, ugly little yellow two-piece with garish blue patterns. She wore a pad underneath; she hadn’t been lying. It fell to the floor in an ignominousplop. I pressed myself against her, still dressed in my t-shirt and my unbuttoned, partially unzipped shorts hanging loose at my waist, and she made this amazing moaning sound when I dipped my hand across her front, going down from her breasts, perky little things with pale pink aereolae, and down to the darker blonde thatch of hair that shielded the destination of my fingers. The water washed over us. Our hands distributed it all.
She turned around to face me while I lightly crossed fingertips to the hood of her clit, which made her stand up straight, closing her thighs in tight over my wandering hand, and she kissed my chin and asked, “Here?”
Sex in the shower is less magical than it might seem when you bring practicality into the mix. She had to hold onto the shower pipes to keep stable as I moved in behind her, spreading her legs apart. Synnove groaned a deep, lustrous tone in the slick instance I entered her. I held her by her waist and by her shoulder, slow strokes, cautious rather than gentle.
Synnove spoke her words in Swedish, expressing passion in umlauts and accents and diacritics I didn’t have in my language. I had a throbbing hardness in me that pierced her, in and out, in and out, and though I didn’t bother to look, not with my fingers plying the tension of her collarbones and her shoulders, I could feel the red viscosity in her.
Our friction reached a heat that the cold shower couldn’t kill. I grabbed onto her hair, forming a blonde ponytail that contrasted starkly against my dark hand. She pressed her face to the wet wooden wall behind the shower she held onto, inhaling, exhaling. She smelled like sex and the lasting tinge of orange menthol cigarettes.
It wasn’t too long — or was it? — before I felt that creeping, edging boiling point close in on me, inching its way right to the tip of my cock currently trespassing her tremulous waves, the ribbed sensation inside her, and I bit down on her collarbone and moaned out, telling her we had to go back inside, to the bed, so I could look her in the eyes and fuck her the way I wanted to fuck her. I withdrew from her and she took my hands and pulled me with surprising swiftness back towards the room.
We fell to the bed and we resumed our proceedings with legs intertwined. I had no idea if my photographer would be coming back soon. Fucking her consumed all my thoughts. We looked upon each other at first, and then she closed her legs and repositioned to her side, and I held her as I fucked her from her side.
Fucking Synnove was an indulgence in all seven deadly sins. It was lust; I held down my hand to the blonde thatch above her pussy, running fingertips to her clitoris, stroking in staccato slides. It was gluttony; I drank in her eyes and drank in her scent. It was wrath as we got rougher, comporting ourselves in less than the gentle sexual compatibility we had exhibited earlier — the touches and strokes became grabbing, groping, scratching, slapping. My chin rang in a red warmth from a slap that had hit me half there and half to my lips. It was envy when I almost bitterly coveted how she was able to crescendo and cum every few minutes while I would be limited to a single explosive end. It was sloth; she pushed me down and rode me and I sat up and let her set the pace, holding her waist and feeling the sweat-and-shower dripping moistness running down her. Pride was obvious from the way I grinned with a wicked arrogance, knowing I was deriving so much pleasure from this and providing tenfold. I matched the pace she had been riding me with deft, deep thrusts upward, escalating to my incoming climax. It was greed when I gritted my teeth and murmured, “More, more, more,” and groaned as I emptied out inside her, our sexual singularity, bathing her with warmth from inside her as I jerked and twisted and was overcome with the sensation.
We immediately segued to the post-coital pleasure of inhaling and exhaling heavily together incongruously, her in her orange breath, me in a hint of mint, and she entwined her hand hand with mine on the bedsheets and moved it to her blonde mound, dipping lower, extracting rich red on our fingertips. “Fuck! I’m so sorry. I ruined your bed, I’m sorry!” she squealed, but her eyes twinkled no sincere apologies, only a glimpse that enigmatic European smile. That’s okay, I told her in between panting gasps for air, every battlefield is bloody.