The Christmas Lights(5)

By: Karen Swan

‘Couldn’t,’ Zac grinned, tightening his arm around her shoulders and squeezing, making the hammock rock slightly. It was stretched out from the decking area jutting over the beach, or rather the water when the tide came in. ‘It just burst out of me, there was no stopping it. I was lost to the moment, bro.’ He reached over and kissed her again.

Bo beamed, resting her head on his shoulder and looking out to sea happily. They had swum and dived in the hidden lagoon until the first of the daytrippers turned up, Lenny recording it all – as ever – from his perch at the top of the cliffs. But then they had gone off plan, stealing a few private hours to celebrate by themselves by hiding out of shot and sneaking away from the lagoon. Bo didn’t know how long it had taken for Lenny to realize they had left him there, but when he had returned to the beach he had knocked at their door intermittently for hours, she and Zac giggling under the bed sheets as they waited for his footsteps to retreat again. They didn’t feel bad about it – Lenny wasn’t usually at a loose end for long, women loved him.

‘Well, it’s great and all that shit – you’re two crazy, free, very photogenic spirits. But you’ve left us with a problem now that there’s no footage.’ As their official photographer, Lenny’s life was ruled by ‘footage’ and ‘material’ and his every waking thought was dominated by ‘hits’ and ‘engagement rates’; he was the one taking the insouciant couple shots where she and Zac lay, legs entwined, gazing at a sunset or a rainbow, or of her piggybacking her fiancé on a mountain ridge or a pink sand beach.

‘What do you mean?’ Bo asked, lifting a bare leg and lazily wrapping it around Zac’s. Her thighs were freckled from so long in the sun; they had been travelling through the South Pacific for four months now and northern hemisphere concepts of snow, coats and fires seemed almost cartoonishly ridiculous and unreal.

‘Well, proposing in an underground ocean tunnel might be romantic but I don’t suppose you thought to film it, did you?’ he asked Zac.

Zac pulled an apologetic grimace. ‘Sorry, dude, I turned it off automatically when we surfaced. Like I said, I didn’t actually know I was going to do it there and then. I had planned to ask on the platform, like we’d discussed.’

Bo wriggled slightly to look at his face. He and Lenny had discussed it?

Lenny gave an irritated sigh, then shrugged. He was well used to Zac’s spontaneity. ‘It’s fine, we’ll just have to come up with something else, that’s all. And fast, given that tomorrow’s our last full day here.’

‘What do you mean come up with something else?’ Bo frowned.

‘It’s no biggie. Zac can just propose again, can’t you, Zac?’


‘You mean, like a mock proposal?’ she asked.

‘Yeah, sort of. Zac can redo it the way he should have done – with me there getting it all on film – but you’ve got to look surprised.’

‘So you want me to act? We’re faking our engagement?’ she asked incredulously.

‘Hey, chill, it’s not fake. You guys are doing all this anyway. It’s just a matter of having something to show the followers.’

‘But it’s a private moment, Lenny. One of our only ones. I don’t want to share it.’

‘I don’t see how you can’t when you’ve got 9.4 million people emotionally investing in your life together.’ Lenny shrugged. ‘They’re gonna feel pretty cheated if you just drop the E bomb on them but shut them out of all the excitement and drama.’

She looked up at Zac. ‘You don’t agree with this, do you?’

‘Well no, but—’

‘There’s so little that’s actually just ours. We share almost everything about our lives. I want to keep this as our private thing.’

‘I totally agree, baby.’ Zac kissed her again. ‘It was our moment.’

Was it though? He had already discussed it with Lenny – set it up for the perfect shot, seemingly. ‘I assumed you asked me down there because it was just about the only place we could go where Lenny wasn’t,’ she murmured, resting her head on Zac’s chest and looking up at him.