chapter twenty

Time was non-existent as we sat in the sand, wave watching. We rarely spoke, but after every passing second I felt the bond between us grow stronger, firmer. When we did speak, we asked curious questions. AJ seemed extremely intrigued in how I grew up in California.

“So where exactly did you live?”

“San Diego; Dad has a beach house; thats where I did my growing up.”

“Cool. Did you have alot of friends?”

“Some, not many. I’ve always thought its better to have one or two close friends than a hundred acquaintences ready to stab you in the back.”

“Thats a good theory. So your friends were great people, right?”

“The greatest. I know its been almost 5 months since I came here, but I’m terribly homesick. I miss them, my dad,” I paused and chuckled at my next thought. “Even Dad’s girlfriend.”

AJ’s hoarse laughter joined mine until we couldn’t laugh anymore. I turned to look at him, in wonder, asking myself how this was possible, why I was suddenly granted this opportunity.

“What are you thinking about?” he asked when he caught me staring.

“I’m thinking I’m one lucky person,” I smiled. “I have apparently been rewarded for my stupidity.”

“You haven’t been stupid, Cass.” AJ grinned.

“Yes I have.”

“No, not stupid,” he paused, looking pensive. “Stubborn, maybe. Close-minded, possibly. Unwilling to hear the truth--”

“OK, OK!” I laughed, tossing sand at him. “I get the point!”

“And now you’re a sand thrower!” he tossed sand back my way. “Very childish, Cassandra.”

“Oh, yeah. Like You’re one to talk, ALEXANDER.” I replied as more sand flew back and forth between us. Soon we had created our own sandstorm, and between shrieks and laughter, we ended up with more sand on ourselves than on the actual beach.

“Nick’s not going to let us back in his house this dirty.” I told him.

“I don’t want to go back to Nick’s house.”

“You don’t?”

“No,” he admitted, putting his arm around me, drawing me near. “Why go back there and have him put us to work when we can sit here and enjoy the beautiful sunset we’re about to witness?”

I laughed softly, inching myself closer to him and rested my head against his shoulder. “Thats very intelligent of you, AJ. An excellent point.”

As the sun lowered itself slowly into the sea, I sent any and all resentment and anger I had towards AJ with it. Things were different now, and I couldn’t wait to embark on the adventure that lived in AJ’s intense brown eyes.

“That had to be the most beautiful, perfect sunset I have ever witnessed.” I said after it had passed. I sighed, content with the outcome of the day.

“It really was,” AJ agreed. He stood up, extended his hand to me, and helped me to my feet. Once standing, he pulled me to him for a hug, and we stood for a long time there, in eachother’s arms, in complete silence, savoring the moment. “I don’t think I’ve ever been surrounded by so much beauty and perfection in my life.” he whispered into my hair. His words sent my heart soaring, making me realize for the second time that day that I was indeed losing both my head and my heart to him.

“Why are you so patient with me, AJ?” I asked him softly, still in the embrace. “I would have given up so long ago.”

“I’m patient with you,” he responded in a whisper, pulling back long enough to look in my eyes. “Because I love you, Cassie.”

His lips lingered closely in front of mine briefly, before we both closed the anxious gap between us in our first, soulful kiss.

[chapter 19 | chapter index | chapter 21]