Oakley Samson strolled down to the water, the sound of the surf filling her ears. There was a little swell, but not enough for body surfing, she decided. She walked back to her beach umbrella and rummaged around in her bag. She pulled out a snorkel mask and some fins. She carried them over to the lagoon side and put them on. Easing into the cool water, she put her face in and swam for the reef. The fish were out today in profusion and she swam with the schools. A big crab was scuttling along and she teased it, careful to avoid the big pincher it had. She dove for an hour and swam back to the beach. There weren't many people there on a Tuesday and she had the area pretty much to herself. She ate her sandwich and drank a bottle of water. The rest of the afternoon she spent with the fish or reading her book and when she had enough she stood under the shower for a few minutes, rinsing off the salt.
She put her bag in the trunk and climbed in her Charger. She pulled onto the highway, winding along the shore. She felt something cold on her leg and looked down. She was holding her insolated cup between her thighs and it was leaking. She adjusted it so that it wasn't leaking. She felt a thump and heard a crash. She wasn't going very fast, maybe twenty five, but it was enough to send the bicycle and its rider flying into the grass at the side of the road. Oakley screeched to a stop on the shoulder, jumped out and ran back to where a young man lay on the grass holding his leg.
"Oh my God, are you ok?" she asked. "I'm so sorry! Are you hurt badly?"
He looked up at her. The first thing she noticed were his intensely gray eyes. They had pain in them and his light eyebrows were drawn together in a frown. He was very good looking for a white boy, she thought.
"I'm not hurt bad," he said. "I think I may have a broken leg."
"Jesus, I'm so sorry," she said again.
"What were you doing?" he asked. "Tell me you weren't texting."
"No, I wasn't, I swear. I was holding a drink between my legs and it was spilling on me. I only looked down for a second. I'm so sorry."
"Yes, I know. You keep telling me. It's ok, I forgive you. It could happen to anyone. I've done that before. Help me up."
She put her hand out and he took it. His hand swallowed hers and when he stood up, he towered over her. She looked up at him.
"Well, you're very tall when you aren't lying on the ground," she said. "Can you walk?"
"Let's find out," he said. "Can I lean on you?"
She moved close and he put his arm around her shoulders. He resisted the impulse to stroke the silky skin of her bare shoulder. He put some weight on his leg and winced. "It's broken," he said. "It isn't badly broken, but I'm not going to walk home. Help me over to my bike."
The bike was a mess. It had a fiberglass frame and it was broken. The rims were bent and it was obviously ruined.
"It looks like a nice bike," she told him. "Did you love it?"
"No, it's replaceable," he told her. "It was a good bike and I enjoyed riding it. I can get another bike. Is your car damaged?"
Oakley helped him hobble to the Charger and they looked at the hood. There were a couple of scratches that she thought would buff out easily.
"What are we going to do?" she asked him.
"What do you mean?" he asked.
"Do you want to call the police?"
"Why? They would probably taze or shoot one of us. The only problem is my bike."
"What if I buy you another one?" she asked.
"Ok, that takes care of that problem. I have another one, though. I think I need to go to the hospital."
"I have insurance," she said. "I'll take you. We'll have to tell them I hit you though."
"I don't want to do that," he said. "I have insurance too. We'll just tell them I had a bike wreck. It has the virtue of being true. Do you know, I don't even know your name?"
"I'm sorry, I'm Oakley Sampson," she held out her hand.
He took it firmly. "Greyson Stokes," he said. "Hell of a first impression you make, Oakley." His smile that lit up those amazing gray eyes took the sting out the words.
She laughed, "This is how I get dates. I hit them with my car. Your bike is junk, Greyson. I'll put the back seats down and we'll throw it in. If you'll let me take you to a bike shop, I'll get you a new one."
"Hospital first, then bike shop," he said. "My leg is hurting like hell."
He held onto the car and hopped along to the door, letting himself in while she put the ruined bike in the trunk. She drove him to the nearest hospital and stayed with him in the emergency room. She found out that he was a marine biologist with the University of Hawaii. She told him that she was in international business and worked for Cisco. Neither one of them were married and they actually lived close to one another in Waipahu. He didn't surf, but he did dive, both scuba and free diving.
"I'm surprised that you swim," he said.
She looked up at him and saw that he was grinning at her. "Ha, ha, so funny," she said. "You mean on account of how black people can't swim?" She laughed.
"I'm glad you laugh about stuff like that," he said.
"Why? Why would you give a damn what I think?"
"Well, we are going on a date," he said.
"Hell, we are," she looked at him. "What made you think that?"
"You hit me with your car," he said. "That's the way you get dates. That's what you told me."
Oakley laughed for a long time. "You're a clown, dude. You make me laugh. Thanks for not being a tool about me hitting you. I'm really so sorry about that."
"You can tell me more about it on our date," he said.
"I'm not going on a date with you," she told him.
"Why not?" he asked.
"Well, let's see, I have a boyfriend, I don't know you, you're white and you don't surf. I'm sure I'll think of more in a minute. Why would I?"
"Well, I'm young, relatively well off, single, I have no hideous disfigurements. I have an extensive knowledge of local hotspots, I'm not a racist like some I could mention and you did hit me with your car."
"I'm not a racist," she said. "I can't believe you said that."
"Let's see, one of the reasons you won't go out with me is because I'm white. That seems at least eccentric to me. I would understand if some white guy walked up to you on the street and asked you out. You might he had some kind of twisted thing for black girls. Or, he might just think you're beautiful, interesting, have a fantastic laugh, beautiful eyes, a propensity to hit people with your car and not care at all if you're a little green girl from Mars."
That made her laugh again. "There it is," he said. "I just want to say something funny so I can listen to you laugh."
"Jesus, you know how to turn on the charm, Greyson. Ok, I guess I owe you. I did break your leg and smash your bike. I'll go out with you once."
"Bike shop first, then go out," he said. "Well, actually cast first."
They were in the emergency room for four hours before they actually got the cast on and checked out.
"I'm just glad I wasn't having a heart attack," he said. "If it takes that long for people that have real emergencies, they're pruning the population pretty quick. I'm sorry you had to wait so long, Oakley. The bike shop is closed. Maybe we should wait for another day for the date too. My leg hurts like hell and I'm sore all over. I feel like I've been mugged. I don't think I'm cut out for a job as a crash dummy."
"That might be best. I still don't know how I'm going to explain you to my boyfriend."
"Do you live together?"
"No, but he wants to."
"I understand, why mention me at all? It's one date. If we go on three, you should mention me. Otherwise, it's just a laugh, right?"
"I guess. I'll drive you home, Greyson. You can call me when you're feeling better and we'll talk about the other stuff."
She drove him home and found out where he lived. "Jesus, Greyson, is that your car?" she asked when they pulled up. "What is it?"
"Same thing you're driving," he said, "but from 1968. It's a Charger RT. Mine's not quite as quick as your RTS but it's a blast to drive and it sounds better than yours."
"Can we take it when we go out?" she asked. "I love old muscle cars."
"You're an unusual girl, Oakley," he said. "You'll have to drive it. It's a four speed and I won't be able to shift very well."
"I'm so sorry, Greyson," she told him again. "I've just screwed up your life for a while. How will you get around?"
"Stop, apologizing, Oakley," he said. "It was an accident. I'll be fine. I have a Mini with the British wheel. Give me your number and I'll call."
Oakley watched as he went up the sidewalk on his crutches. He unlocked the door and turned to wave at her. She lifted her hand and backed out.
.... There is more of this story ...