DISCLAIMER: CSI Miami and its characters are the property of Jerry Bruckheimer and CBS. No infringement intended.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: I know absolutely nothing about sailing. A very special thank you to Debbie for taking on the job of beta for this fic as well as the 22 others and especially for agreeing to write her specialty, Birds of Prey, as part of this 24 fandom series. Thanks, Deb, I truly do appreciate it.
CHALLENGE: Written for the first International Day of Femslash.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
Natalia Boa Vista sped down the highway, thrumming her thumbs against the steering wheel in perfect tempo with a salsa beat that flowed from her car's speakers. The road was practically empty, compared to the traffic she usually encountered, but she really hadn't expected it to be congested so early on a Saturday morning. Still, it was a pleasant change of pace from the bumper to bumper of her weekly travels. With a smile, she easily maneuvered her car across two lanes and prepared for her exit. It was a gorgeous day for sailing.
Arriving at Pelican Harbor Marina, Natalia climbed from her car and reached into the backseat for her small duffle bag. She shouldered the bag and headed directly toward the rental area, assured that her early arrival would allow her top pick of the available sailboats. She'd learned early on the hazards of waiting too late in the day; she'd once been saddled with a leaky sloop and a torn sail. She'd never left the slip.
"Morning, Joe, got a nice one for me today?" asked Natalia, smiling brightly at the Aquatic Rental Center's manager. She dropped her bag at her feet and looked out at the offerings, her eyes immediately settling on one of the newer sailboats. "I think I've spotted her." She gestured toward the first slip, her choice moored securely to the dock.
Joe chuckled; unlike his other clients who hem-hawed around before making a decision, Natalia always spied a sloop right off the bat. He really liked her. "Better hurry before George nabs it. He's got a lesson this morning, and you know what a knack he has of choosing something you've already picked out."
Fishing out her money, Natalia handed over the fee and then bent to retrieve her bag. If she hurried, she'd be long gone before George showed up with his student. A familiar laugh brought her up short, and she turned to spy one of her colleagues walking toward her. George was practically glued to her hip.
"Please tell me that's not George's client," said Natalia, her tone full of disgust at the thought of her friend taking lessons from the scumbag. George's reputation was less than stellar. He'd been known to have 'problems' with his sail on more than one occasion, stranding him and his student for hours, and always whenever the client was blonde with a body to die for. Calleigh Duquesne fit the bill perfectly and then some.
"It's really easy; you'll be sailing on your own in no time," promised the dark haired instructor, his good looks and boyish grin turning Natalia's stomach. He was a real piece of work.
"Be careful which sail he chooses, Calleigh, he's got a real problem keeping it up, not to mention the emergency motor that always seems to be out of gas," teased Natalia with a wink at her colleague. "I imagine it's an extension of his personal problems."
"Very funny, Natalia; I seem to recall a time when you had troubles of your own." George smirked; he'd been the one who'd rented the defective sloop to Natalia. He'd been perfectly aware of both the leak and the tear in the sail when he'd taken her money, and if it hadn't been for Joe, Natalia would have never received a full refund.
"Yeah, I remember that, too." She'd always suspected George of knowing the sailboat had been damaged, but she could never prove it. "So, Calleigh," she turned her full attention to her colleague and smiled, " sailing? You've never said anything about wanting to learn how to sail."
"Well, you've never mentioned that you already knew how," said Calleigh, stepping closer to her friend. "Had I known, I'd have asked you to teach me."
George maneuvered himself between the two women. "You don't need her," he gestured toward Natalia, "when you've got me. I've been trained."
"Yeah, on the art of deception wrapped up nicely in the guise of sailing lessons." Natalia crossed her arms over her chest, daring him to dispute her words. He'd managed to sidestep her allegations by questioning her abilities, but she wasn't about to let Calleigh sail away with the womanizer. She knew her friend could take care of herself, but it was difficult to walk away when stranded out on the water or on one of the small islands scattered here and there.
"Bullshit, you don't know what you're talking about." George glared at Natalia and then reached for Calleigh's arm. "C'mon, let's put the wind in our sails." He turned his sights on the sailboat moored in the first slip.
Calleigh set her feet firmly on the deck and jerked free; she'd totally misread the sailing instructor, believing him to be a nice guy, but by all indications, her instincts had been dead wrong. "I think I'd rather take my chances with Natalia."
Furious, George whipped around. "What? On no, you paid for your lesson, and I'm bound by contract to see it through."
"Hey, Joe, seeing as how Calleigh's a friend of mine, do you think it's possible she could be reimbursed for her lesson?"
"No way. Tell them, Joe; no refunds." George wore a smirk. He knew there wasn't a chance in hell his manager would turn down good money.
"Sure, Natalia, come by and see me when you get back," said Joe, waving to the women, before turning his attention on another client.
"What!!!" George couldn't believe his ears; Joe still had the first dollar he'd ever made.
"Sorry, George, but it seems you've been overruled." Gently taking Calleigh's arm, Natalia escorted her toward the first slip. She never heard the muttered words that crossed George's lips as he turned and walked away.
"Okay, Calleigh, climb aboard, and I'll show you how it's done."
With a smile, the blonde stepped onto the sloop and waited for further instructions. Her day had definitely taken a turn for the better.
A couple of hours later, the two women had set ground on one of the smaller islands that dotted the area and had settled under the shade of a tree. Pulling two bottled waters from her duffle, Natalia handed one to Calleigh and then fished out a bag of chips, offering some to the other woman.
"Cheetos?" Calleigh looked at the face of Chester, the cheetah, grinning at her, and chuckled as she stuck her hand in the king-size bag.
"Yeah, well, sailing makes me hungry," mumbled Natalia, her face reddening. Her embarrassment certainly didn't keep her from reaching for the bag though, especially since she'd forgotten to eat breakfast in her excitement to get to the marina early.
Calleigh finished off her handful of chips and began to slowly lick the coated cheese from her fingers, while Natalia steadfastly kept her focus on the water, her peripheral vision providing more than enough view of the erotic act. The only thing even remotely more provocative would be if the other woman was to offer to remove the cheese from her fingers in the same manner, and coming so close on the heels of the sailing lesson, it overloaded her already overactive imagination. Her body was still thrumming with excitement at the physical closeness they'd shared when she'd guided Calleigh through the basics.
"So, how come you've never asked me to go sailing with you?" asked Calleigh, leaning back on her elbows and straightening her toned legs out in front of her.
'Because I knew if I spent time alone with you, I'd want you even more,' was the first thought Natalia had, but she knew it was one she couldn't reveal. She had to work with Calleigh on a daily basis; it was hard enough having to watch the other woman get closer and closer to another colleague, Eric Delko. A rejection would kill her.
"I don't know; guess it just never came up." Natalia shrugged, her statement honest and sincere. The women hadn't shared their 'away from work' lives very often, and truth be told, Natalia enjoyed her time alone out on the water. It always helped her order her thoughts, and if the thought in question was with her, she'd never make it through the next work week. Sailing was her remedy, allowing her to put things in their proper perspective and come to terms with the reality of the situation. Calleigh Duquesne's role in her life would now, and forever, be as a friend only.
"Well, I'm certainly glad you were here today. I hadn't realized George was such an asshole. I'm usually much better at spotting guys like him."
"Don't sell yourself short; he can be very charming." Natalia finally spared a glance at her friend. "I liked him when I first met him, too."
Calleigh eased on her side and faced the other woman. "For how long?"
"Five minutes." Natalia grinned. "He brushed his hand across my ass and then found himself sputtering to the surface of the water between two sailboats."
Rich laughter bubbled up from full lips as Calleigh could just imagine the scene. George hadn't a clue as to who he'd been dealing with. "You're kidding."
Natalia mirrored her companion's position, stretching out her long legs and using her hand to prop her head up as the turned toward Calleigh. "No, it was purely reflexive but ended up being the perfect response after all."
"Do all your reflexive actions turn out to be the right response?"
"Most of the time." Natalia hesitated, adding, "But I'm usually able to stop certain natural instincts that may be inappropriate."
Calleigh frowned. "What do you mean? Reflexes are purely involuntary actions. How could you possible control them?" A shift in position caused her shirt to ride up, revealing low rider shorts and firm, toned abs.
Natalia closed her fists tightly, just able to keep herself from reaching out and pulling Calleigh toward her. The other woman had no idea how well she could control her instincts; otherwise, Calleigh would find herself being kissed senseless every time the two of them shared space.
"Maybe control isn't the best explanation," Natalia lied, knowing it was the only explanation and one that had served her well. Calleigh took note of the suddenly tense woman and wondered if Natalia was attempting to control some kind of reflexive action at that very moment. Her experimental side had her scooting closer to test a hypothesis she'd been formulating for the past few months.
The slight shiver she observed could only mean one of two things: the effect of a sudden breeze or Natalia was attracted to her. Seeing as how the wind had practically died down to nothing, Calleigh went with her second theory, utilizing an instinct of her own as she closed the distance and pressed her lips against the unsuspecting Natalia. The return pressure was all the answer she needed as she deepened the kiss.
"That was nice," whispered Calleigh, easing away before things went too far. Hands had already begun to map their way across each other's body in gentle exploration, and even though the island Natalia had chosen was fairly isolated, someone could easily come upon them.
"Yes, it was." Natalia was totally surprised by the turn of events; so lost in her feelings for Calleigh, she'd never noticed any sign of mutual attraction. She briefly wondered if she should enroll in a refresher CSI course.
"Why don't we head back to the marina, check the sailboat back in, get my refund, and go get something to eat? We've got quite a bit to talk about."
With a smile, Natalia pushed to her feet, pulling Calleigh up with her. "That sounds like a fantastic idea." She was practically walking on air as she tugged the other woman to the sloop. Reluctantly releasing Calleigh's hand, she started to hoist the mainsail, frowning when the mechanism seemed to be stuck. No amount of force seemed to work.
"What's the matter?"
"The mainsail's stuck," Natalia grunted, trying once again to free the sail to raise overhead. "I don't understand." Only a second passed when the two women looked at each other and spoke at the same time.
"Son of a bitch, I should've seen this coming." Natalie moved to the small motor and tugged on the string, again and again and again. Nothing happened. "That asshole. He must've sabotaged the sloop before I got there." Frustrated, she fell back against the desk.
"He planned this for me?" Calleigh knew she should be flattered, but right now, she had her mouth set for a shrimp cocktail, followed by dessert a la Natalia.
"Yes." Natalia sat up and started to dig in her bag, cursing herself for being so stupid. She'd been so excited about the prospect of spending the day with Calleigh, she hadn't properly checked her equipment. She knew better.
"So we're stuck until someone realizes we're missing?"
Natalia held up her cell phone and smiled. "No, unlike George, I plan to actually use the cell I have." Quickly checking her contact list, she found the number for the marina and hit the send button. "Joe, I'm stuck on one of the smaller islands to the south. Think you could send some help?" A frown crossed her face. "Sure, no problem . . . I totally understand . . . We'll be waiting. Thanks, Joe." Ending the call, she turned toward Calleigh.
"He's sending someone, but it'll probably be another hour." She tossed her phone back in her bag and sighed.
"Guess we need to find something to entertain ourselves while we wait, huh?" teased Calleigh, inching her way forward. "Got any ideas?"
This time, Natalia didn't ignore her basal instincts, grabbing the other woman and pulling her into her lap. "I think I can think of a thing or two." With a smile, she cupped Calleigh's face and drew her near. As far as she was concerned, Joe could take his sweet time.
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