53 The Boa

    On their fourth day, Xander and Yera decided to go fishing by recommendation of the lodge manager. Yera's ankle was not swollen and she had all the rest she needed the previous day, so she reassured Xander that it was fine for them to resume their outdoor activities, as long as they were light ones.

    The mountains have a few lakes that contained fish, and they decided to go to the most accessible lake that would only require a short hike on a well-marked and maintained trail.

    Small rowing boats or what they call the dinghies were available, and Xander said they would use one... He was talking to the person in charge while Yera was enjoying another spectacular scenery and solitude surrounding her. The mountain lake offered a mild temperature that was great for fishing.

    It was Yera's first time to try fishing, and she was really looking forward to it. "Let's go?" Xander said, wearing his usual charming smile on his face as he offered his hand to help her go aboard the dinghy they would be using. Yera nodded and accepted Xander's hand as she gently stepped onto the vessel.

    "Don't worry, we won't go to the deep part of the lake, we'll only fish in shallow water," Xander reassured Yera as he assisted her in sitting properly on the dinghy. Yera told him she did not know how to swim when he asked her if she would want to visit a nearby waterfall of which natural pool they could swim in yesterday.

    As selfish as it might sound, but he was actually grateful that Yera had not experienced a lot of outdoor recreational activities, such as riding a bike, learning how to swim, and a lot more. Because of this, he would have more opportunity to spend time with her and bring their emotional bond to a higher level. Just the words' higher level' brought great euphoria to Xander, and it made him grin.

    "Do you need help?" Yera asked when she saw Xander grab a set of oars, getting ready to row their boat. "Do you want to try?" Xander returned the question, to which Yera nodded in response. Xander gave her the set of oars and let her row the boat while he watched her enjoy what she was doing. "Let's stop here," Xander instructed, so Yera stopped rowing.

    He readied their fishing rods and crankbaits. Yera creased her forehead and asked, "Aren't we going to use live worms?"

    Xander laughed and said, "That's gross... Nowadays, using artificial lures like this is better. I often use them, and it's effective. Here, try it." He handed Yera the fishing rod. They were sitting very close to each other face to face as he added, "Bigger fish will be more likely to come toward it because of the shape. Let's see if you have what they call the beginner's luck. Maybe you'll catch a big one."

    Yera listened to Xander attentively as she looked at the crankbait he used. It was shaped like a smaller fish, so if she were lucky, she would definitely be able to catch a bigger fish.

    "So, does Xander Yang also feel pressure?" Yera asked out of the blue as they were waiting for a fish to bite the bait.

    "Of course I do. You know perfectly well that managing a big group is not an easy feat. So, of course, I also feel pressure. Maybe the difference is that I don't let it affect me that much, so I never feel stressed out or anything. I have an optimistic approach to everything in life..." Xander explained before he added, "Fishing is actually a great way to relieve stress... Because you're surrounded by nature, where you can unplug from all the bustle of your daily routines and just relax and breathe the fresh air... You know being in nature regulates your serotonin levels, right? That's why I like fishing."

    "Yeah... I remember now, Bernard mentioned it to me before... That villa of yours, he said it's a good place to relax, so he wanted to show me that place, and then he..." Yera started to choke up. She recalled the accident and how Bernard had protected her with his body, and she could not finish the sentence.

    "I'm sorry," were the only words Xander could utter.

    Yera managed to gather herself by controlling her breathing. She let out another long sigh before she smiled and said, "Why are you sorry? It was nobody's fault. Things were meant to happen... When I'm ready, I would love to see your villa..."

    Yera really wanted to overcome that trauma. She wanted her memories with Bernard to be filled with only good reminiscences and not with the nightmarish scene of that tragic accident. But right now, what happened that day was still so vivid in her mind, and recalling it still brought pain to her heart...

    Yera's fishing rod suddenly moved, interrupting the gloomy atmosphere surrounding the couple. "I think I caught one!" Yera shouted as she abruptly stood up, causing the boat to shake.

    Yera hated two things about herself. One was her awkwardness in curving her lips into a genuine smile, and the other one was her poor balance that made her accident-prone. And at this moment, she was about to fall because of her poor balance. Xander quickly grabbed her, but he was a bit too late, causing them both to fall off the boat.

    Yera panicked at the thought that she would drown. She kept on flapping her hands and legs as she tried to float her body.

    Xander did not know whether to laugh or cry at the remarkable sight before him. "Shh, calm down, Darling, it's okay," he whispered as he tried to soothe Yera by holding her, to which Yera responded by clinging onto his neck tightly.

    "Try standing up, the water is shallow..." Xander whispered hoarsely as he held Yera closer to him by hugging her waist firmly.

    Yera stop moving and carefully put her feet onto the ground, and she was shocked to find out that the water only reached above her chest. She looked at Xander in embarrassment and gave him a sheepish smile, which made Xander no longer able to contain his laughter. He burst into a roar of laughter.

    Seeing Xander laughing hard at her silliness made Yera laugh too. She laughed so heartily and almost cried from it. Xander paused and stared at her. Her loose wet hair covered her beautiful face, so Xander gently pushed those loose hair aside while his eyes went down to Yera's slightly opened mouth. And without a second thought, Xander lowered his head to capture those enticing lips of hers...

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