The man closed his blue eyes and inhaled deeply. The scents of sunscreen and chlorine assaulted his sinuses as he slowly reopened his eyes.
"How did I get conned into this?"
"Oh, it was quite simple really
You promised to go." Came the unbidden reply from the recesses of his mind. His slender fingers reached up to adjust the dark sunglasses that perched upon his nose.
Denzel popped up at his side, a wide smile on the young boy's face as he gazed up at his hero.
"Cloud, you said you would play with us." The boy stated, his small hands circling Cloud's wrist.
"You even promised." Denzel continued, tugging at Cloud to emphasize his words.
Another pair of small hands gripped Cloud before he could respond to Denzel.
"Cloud! Did you see the water slide?" Cloud glanced down and smiled at Marlene before nodding.
"Yeah, it looks long." He replied with false enthusiasm. Marlene nodded, her eyes bright with excitement before she released Cloud and scampered to the end of the line for the slide.
"I'd better go with her." Denzel said suddenly, his fingers uncoiling from their death grip on Cloud.
just to make sure she's okay." He added quietly. Cloud nodded and glanced around the beach for a bench.
"Denzel, I'll be over on that bench." Cloud called, pointing to a wooden bench in the shade. Denzel nodded and ran to join Marlene in line.
"I hate beaches." Cloud muttered to himself as he stumbled to the bench, kicking at the sand as he went.
Sighing contentedly, Cloud settled onto the bench, his arms reverting into a crossed position across his chest.
"Cloud, you said you would play with the children." Cloud opened his eyes slightly and reached up to pull his sunglasses down for a better look at this new invader of his peace.
"I might." He said somewhat rebelliously, evenly meeting Tifa's gaze.
She shot him a disappointed look and tapped her right foot impatiently. Cloud shrugged and let his sunglasses fall back to their resting place on his nose.
"You promised the kids." She reminded him loudly, her eyes angry and her cheeks flushed. Cloud took off his sunglasses and fiddled with them as he stared at his feet.
"I've never been good at keeping promises." He whispered bitterly, running his fingers over the lenses of the glasses.
Tifa sighed and turned away from him, her eyes seeking Denzel and Marlene in the crowd.
"We'll be out there if you want to join us." Tifa said a moment later, glancing over her shoulder at the blonde behind her. Cloud eye's watcher her take a step and then closed against the brightness of the sparkling sand.
" Her name slipped from his lips without his permission. Cloud sighed and stood, his hands still nervously playing with his sunglasses.
it's been years since I swam." He admitted, a faint blush tingeing his cheeks.
Tifa turned to reach for his hand and smiled mischievously as she laughed.
"You don't have to swim!" She exclaimed, pulling him towards the line that snaked to the ice cream shop.