The young woman turned to the sound of her name and spotted her friend jogging over to her. Smiling, she waved.
“Hi Nick! What’s up?”
“I have to tell you something,” he panted, trying to catch his breath. “It’s really important.”
She looked at their surroundings, looking for a more private place to talk. “Let’s go find somewhere to sit, then.”
“No, it can’t wait!”
“Nick, what’s gotten into you?”
Nick looked frustrated, she thought, like he had the world’s biggest news and didn’t quite know how to deliver it.
“Andy, I... I don’t know how to say this, but...”
“Spit it out, Nick. You can do it.”
He looked into her eyes, and she swore she saw a flicker, a spark, ignite the blue fire in them. She’d barely had time to blink when he’d reached forward, cupped her face in his hands, and kissed her.
The slow, heated action stunned her. She’d never expected this, and she certainly didn’t expect to find herself kissing him back, equally as fervent, as passionately as he was doing...
Andy awoke with a start. She stared out into the darkness of her bedroom, drenched in a cold sweat. Glancing over at her clock, the red LCD numbers indicated that it was a little after three in the morning.
“What the hell was that all about?” she whispered to herself, wiping the sweat off her forehead with the back of her hand.
It had felt so real. She’d never had a dream so lifelike before. He’d felt entirely too real, his hands, his lips... Andy shuddered, the chills running up and down her spine almost intolerable.
Why was she feeling like this?
“So are you coming or not?”
“I doubt it.”
“Aw, Andy! Why not?”
She was NOT about to tell him why. She opted instead for another excuse.
“Nick, I had plans already.”
“Liar!” he shouted into the phone. “You told me that you weren’t doing a damn thing this week! Why won’t you come with us?”
“Maybe you’d like some ‘guy time’?” she offered.
“Nice try,” Nick told her. “Andy, come with us. Please?”
She shut her eyes and tried to block out the pleading. Instead, she got a clear image of Nick’s perfect pout, those blue eyes... her own brown eyes flew open, and she shook her head clear of those thoughts.
“All right,” she sighed. “I’ll meet you at Tommy’s.”
“Great! Andy, you won’t regret this.”
“I think I already did,” she sighed as she hung up the phone.
Her dream the night before had thrown her completely off balance. She tried brushing it off, but the thing kep creeping up on her when she least expected. Out of the blue, the feel of Nick’s lips would stop her in her tracks, and the dream would be relived all over again. The sensations coursing through her were what scared her the most, however. She wasn’t prepared for the feelings, nor did she plan on having them, but there they were; clear as day, at the forefront of her mind.
As she drove out of her parent’s driveway, she kept telling herself it was temporary, that the dream, and all her feelings, would fade by the end of the week.
But what if they didn’t?
“Andy! Took you long enough!”
Her first reaction was to tell him to shove it, but one look in his direction made her quickly change her mind.
“Nice to see you too, Nick,” she muttered.
“What the hell? No smartass remark?” Nick joked, greeting her with the usual bear hug.
‘If you only knew, Carter,’ she thought, lightly returning the hug. “Not this time. You don’t deserve it.”
“I said so. That’s why. Where’s Tommy?” At least she’d feel comfortable with one of them today.
“Down that way,” Nick said pointing toward the water.
Andy stared out into the ocean and caught a glimpse of Tommy’s dark hair seconds before a wave crashed down on him.
“What’s he doing?” Andy asked aloud.
“Surfing. Supposedly,” Nick chuckled. “I didn’t have the heart to tell him he sucks at it.”
“I have the heart,” Andy laughed. “If he makes it out of there alive, I’m telling him he sucks, and to not do it again.”
“Just don’t come running to me when he’s out for your blood,” Nick laughed. This was the life; the three of them together, without a care in the world, and feeling like nothing could break them apart. Moments like these were what made Nick glad he’d come around and realize how big a mistake it was he would have made.
Giving up on his adventures in surfing, Tommy headed back toward land. He saw Andy had made it after all. Good. He needed her there, for his own sake.
He wanted to prove to himself that what he felt yesterday wasnt going to surface again today.
That the whole freakin’ system was messing with his mind.
Back on land, Andy squinted against the sun and saw Tommy was making his way back.
“Well, well, well. Here comes our star surfer,” she laughed.
She watched his tall, lean form as he trudged toward her and Nick, half dragging, half carrying the board beside him. She saw his wet, wavy black hair fall over his gray eyes, and she had a sudden urge to reach up and brush the hair away. A simple gesture, yes, but the intenisty of the urge rattled her nerves.
“So,” Tommy called out as he neared them. “You guys enjoy the show?”
“Oh yeah,” Nick nodded mockingly, “It was great, man. Two very enthusiastic thumbs up!”
“Andy? What did you think?”
“You sucked,” she smiled, hoping her voice was calm enough to let them both think nothing was going on.
“My sentiments exactly,” Tommy laughed.
Andy sighed. Even his laugh was getting to her in ways it never had. She had to be kidding hersef, she decided. Her mind was being messed with, nothing else.
But who, or what, was messing with it?
[chapter list | chapter twenty]