27. Warmth

I caught a glimpse of his tousled golden brown hair in the sea of
people. I folowed after him, squeezing through the bodies, forcing myself
to move faster. No matter how fast I tried to move, I couldn’t reach
him. The bodies became solid and I was pushing through branches
that raked my skin. I could stil see him up ahead, but he didn’t look
back. My legs refused to cooperate and run faster. It took every effort
to propel myself forward. I couldn’t let him get away. My heart raced
as I feared losing sight of him. Suddenly the ground slid beneath me,
and I didn’t see him anymore. The crumbling rocky surface continued
to rol away. I tried to stop, but it was too late. I grabbed at the rocks
and the loose dirt, my legs scraping along the rough surface. My fingers
curled around the edge and my legs hung, suspended above the
darkness. Panic enveloped me as I tried to pul myself up. The rocks

started to break free from the ledge, and that’s when I saw him standing
above me. I tried to reach for him, but as soon as I lifted my hand,
the ground beneath the other hand gave way. I didn’t see his face when
I fel. Just before I hit bottom, I shot up in bed.
I was greeted by the familiar residuals of my active sleep – the racing
pulse, heavy breathing and sheen of sweat – but this time, there were
tears running down my cheeks. I fel into my pilow and cried, giving
way to the ache in my chest until I was too exhausted to hurt anymore
and drifted back into a restless sleep.
“You look tired,” Sara observed when she picked me up the next
“I haven’t been sleeping very wel,” I confessed, pushing away the unsettling
images of the nightmare that stil clung to me.
“Are you going to last for the party tonight?”
“I’l be fine,” I promised. The thought of spending the night at Keli Muligan’s
beach house was enough to jolt me to attention. I wasn’t concerned
I was going to fal asleep – I was more concerned about going to
my first party with Drew since the bon fire.
“Ready for the party tonight?” Drew asked when he met me in the
parking lot.
Seeing him brought a smile to my face, as it had every morning that
week when he found me at Sara’s car. Although Sara wasn’t blatantly
rude, she wasn’t making any attempt to accept Drew. It was uncomfortably
out of character for her. I mindfuly ignored her and fel under
Drew’s arm as he wrapped it around my shoulder.

“Yeah,” I responded with a forced hoorah in my voice. Why was I
stressin’ over this party so much?
“It’s going to be a good one,” Drew said, puling me against him.
Before we parted ways in the hal, he quickly brushed his lips against
my cheek and whispered, “I’l see you at lunch.” I smiled at his touch.
“Maybe that’s what happened,” Sara concluded as we walked to our
lockers. “Your concussion must have left you confused and
“What are you talking about?”
“The fact that you continue to ogle at Drew like he is the guy.”
“What’s wrong with you?” I couldn’t understand the motive for her
“I just don’t like you with Drew,” she stated blatantly.
“What? You think I’m different? What have I done wrong?” I questioned
in alarm.
“You didn’t do anything wrong, realy. You’re just not the same, like
something’s missing.” She shook her head slightly in deliberation. “I
don’t know how to explain it.”
“Sara, why are you making this so hard? If there’s something I’m doing
that I don’t know that I’m doing, please tel me so I can fix it. But if
I’m not doing anything wrong, then I don’t understand why it’s so difficult
to see us together? I’m trying to be happy, and Drew makes me
happy. I’d be a lot happier if you weren’t so critical of me. I want to
have a good time this weekend. We’re finaly getting to spend

weekends together without fear or having to lie. Aren’t you excited at
“I am,” she replied quietly, then forced a smile on her face. It was a
start. “I’m sorry. A lot has changed lately. I think I’m having a harder
time adjusting than you are. I’l try to be happy for you.”
She hesitated, like she wanted to add something, but thought better of
it. I waited, letting her gather her words.
“I won’t second guess you anymore. I trust that you know what you’re
doing, and I’l support you. So, yes, I promise by the time we leave
today, I wil be excited. Okay?”
“Thank you.” I flashed her an appreciative smile before she headed to
By the time we met for lunch, Sara didn’t show any visible signs of
having reservations about Drew and me, and she was her exuberant
self once again. She talked about Keli’s party and who was supposed to
be there, noting who was sleeping over. Since the house was just
twenty minutes from Weslyn, there were only a few invited to stay the
night, and they were exclusively girls. Sara’s good mood held up for
the remainder of the day. She even had an actual conversation with
Drew. He talked to her like there wasn’t ever anything wrong, but her
efforts didn’t go unnoticed by me. I was grateful that she was finaly
giving in to the idea that he was who I was with.
I knew that being with Drew was going to be different, and I wasn’t going
to feel the same. I shouldn’t, right? So when he puled me into the
vacant trainer’s office before I left for my game, I wasn’t expecting his
send off or how he’d make me feel.
“I’l meet you at Keli’s around eight?” he confirmed.

“That’s about right,” I recaled.
I knew he was going to kiss me when he leaned over, but I was surprised
when he slid his hand behind my neck and wrapped his arm
around my waist to pul me to him. His warm breath released into my
mouth as he parted my lips with his tongue. The connection ignited a
heat in my stomach. I released a shocked breath of excitement. Our
bodies pressed firmly together, and our wet lips slid over the other’s
urgently. When he released me, I exhaled a quivering breath.
“Wow,” he breathed.
“Yeah,” I responded softly.
My entire body was pulsing, a sensation I’d never experienced before.
I needed to steady my breath and the swirling in my head before I
could move.
“I should go,” I whispered, pressing my lips together. They stil
lingered with the remnants of our kiss.
“Okay,” he replied with a grin. He met me with another kiss, initialy
meant to be a soft kiss good bye. But as soon as we touched, we fel into
the frenzied passion again. Before I could completely lose myself in the
moment, I puled away.
“Yeah, I realy have to go,” I breathed.
He smiled back before I slipped out the door.
“Why are your cheeks so red?” Jil observed as we walked together to
the bus.
I put my hand to my face, registering the warmth with a smile.

“I had to run to get here in time,” I lied. “I was talking to Ms. Holt
about the paper.”
The warmth and pulsing lingered for most of the bus ride. I sat in the
back, resting my head against the window, staring at nothing. I barely
heard the music blaring in my ears as I replayed the kiss in my head.
My lips turned up at the corners, as I inhaled deeply.
“What’s going on with you?” Jil questioned curiously from beside me.
I removed an earbud so that I could hear her.
“You don’t look as focused as you usualy do before a game,”
she noted. “Are you okay?”
I shook off the buzz.
“Yeah,” I stated soberly. “I’m fine. I was just caught up in something
“I’m sure I know who.” She grinned. I ignored her and put the earbud
back in, forcing my mind to prepare for the game. Sara picked me up
at the school after we returned.
“You win?” Sara asked.
“Of course,” I confirmed with a smile.
“My mom has dinner in the oven for us when we get home, so we’l get
ready to go to Keli’s after we eat. I’ve already picked out your clothes.”
I smile, having expected nothing less.

“Should I be nervous?”
“I think you may be.”
I groaned.
I groaned again when I saw it.
“A dress, Sara?!” I discovered in dismay, staring in shock at the blue
and green flirty strapless dress paired with a blue cardigan.
“No heels this time,” she pointed out, hoping it would make up for the
lack of material, but I couldn’t take my enlarged eyes off of the dress.
“Just go take a shower and let me worry about the clothes,”
she demanded.
I obeyed.
I started buttoning the sweater, wanting to conceal the fact that nothing
was holding up the dress. Sara removed my hands from the buttons,
shaking her head. I examined the dress; it swayed a little too far
above my knees in the mirror, and I gave Sara a worried glance. The
dress kept me from being concerned with the large curlers in my hair.
“Relax, it looks great,” Sara assured me. “I promise it isn’t going to fal
down. It fits perfectly.”
“I don’t understand how, considering how much bigger your chest is
than mine.”
“That’s why I never wore it,” she confessed. “Don’t envy having a bigger
bra size. It’s more of a pain in the ass than you realize.”

I let out a short laugh, skeptical of her self-criticism. Sara removed the
cooled curlers and released soft waves of hair that she tousled with her
fingers. It was more volume than my hair had ever seen, and took me
the entire car ride to get used to it.
“Stop playing with your hair,” Sara reprimanded as we puled into
Keli’s driveway.
The Muligan’s beach house was spectacular. The house shined like a
beacon at the top of the long inclined driveway when we puled up. It
was a modern two-story structure set on a cliff. The entire ocean side
of the top floor was lined with windows that let off a distinct glow
against the darkened sky.
Sara and I gathered our overnight bags and folowed the stone driveway
to a narrower walkway with our heels clicking along the hard surface.
My stomach turned in anticipation of what awaited us behind the
large white doors when Sara rang the bel.
“Hey Sara! Emma!” Keli yeled in excitement when she opened the
door. “Come on in.”
We entered the smal foyer which was iluminated by a large spiny light
fixture suspended above our heads. We folowed Keli up a short flight
of stairs that opened into a space so expansive it made my jaw drop. A
sleek white and chrome kitchen with a massive cooking island and bar
connected with a spacious living area that had an amazing view of the
ocean. A fire flickered in the large stone fireplace along one side of the
open room, and a chic chrome table with a glass top was centered
along the glass wal. Another sitting area focused around a sophisticated
entertainment unit on the other side. I recognized most of the
forty, maybe fifty people scattered around.

We folowed Keli through the kitchen and down a long hal. She opened
the last door. We walked into a bright white bedroom with a glass wal
looking out at the ocean. There were two ful sized beds adorned with
white and blue pilows, a smal fireplace across from a chaise, and its
own private bathroom.
“This is where you’l be staying for the night,” she announced as she
walked in. She handed Sara a key. “So you don’t have to worry about
anyone wandering in here later.” She grinned. “Come out whenever
you’re ready and help yourselves to anything.”
“Nice, huh?” Sara admired after Keli disappeared down the hal.
“Unbelievable,” I gaped, watching the dark waves crash against the
After abandoning our bags in the room, we joined the party. This party
was much different than the other two parties I’d been to. Everyone
here was dressed like they were going out to an expensive restaurant,
or maybe a nightclub. The girls made a point to show off skin, accented
by something sparkly dangling from their ears or necks, while the
guys made an extra effort to wear fitted clothes and style their hair
with more product than I owned. Sara’s dress now made sense, except
that I was covering it up with the sweater, and I wasn’t about to take
“How was your game?” Drew asked, sliding his arms around my waist,
and giving me a quick kiss on the lips. The warmth rushed in at the
touch of his lips, instantly reminding me of our connection earlier in
the day.
“We won,” I responded with a smile, accented by the red of my cheeks.

He took my hand and escorted me to the kitchen. Sara was already
there greeting everyone as we made our way through. She picked up a
glass of champagne, and Drew grabbed a beer. An uneasy twinge
passed through my stomach.
“What do you want?” Drew asked, puling me towards him so he could
talk in my ear.
“I think I’m okay for now,” I responded nervously. I glanced around
and noticed most people holding some type of glass, presumably containing
alcohol. An anxious flood surged through me, fearing more
awkward exchanges with inebriated people. This was going to be
“Are you sure?” Drew confirmed. “I don’t need to drink if it makes you
I didn’t know what to say in response. Of course it made me uncomfortable.
I’d witnessed too many moments when my mother failed to
function while intoxicated. Even though alcohol seemed to be at every
party I’d been to so far, it didn’t change my aversion to it. Could I realy
ask him not to drink?
“Are you driving?” was the first thing that came out of my mouth.
“No. I’m staying in the guest house tonight with a couple of the guys.”
He’s staying over? I held my breath at the thought of having him here
al night, especialy after the kiss we shared earlier. I could handle this,
“I don’t drink,” I shrugged apologeticaly.

“That’s fine,” he acknowledged, setting down the bottle. “I don’t have
to either.” Then he kissed me softly on the lips, and whispered in my
ear, “I don’t need the alcohol to give me a buzz.”
My face grew hot. I let out a quick breath, not convinced I could
handle it anymore.
I didn’t know where Sara disappeared to, so I folowed Drew to the sitting
area where a few of his friends were talking about surfing. I stood
next to Drew, with his arm around my waist, listening to their animated
stories – which were more entertaining than I anticipated.
I spotted Sara with a few girls from soccer near the kitchen, so I told
Drew I’d be right back.
“Hi,” I said as I approached the smal group.
“Hi Emma,” Katie welcomed. “You look realy great.”
“Thanks,” I replied awkwardly. “So do you.” I noted the strapless white
top, the form fitting black pants and the strappy black heels - with
more inches than I could manage, but she puled them off like she wore
them every day.
“Where’s Drew?” Sara asked.
“Talking to some friends.” I nodded toward the group of laughing
“Are you two officialy together?” Lauren asked.
“What does that mean exactly?” I questioned, not understanding the
“officialy” part. Dating had rules that I evidently was not aware of.

“Are you seeing other people?” she clarified.
“I’m not,” I answered, then glanced over at Drew who was completely
engaged in a story. Did Drew want to see someone else? If he did,
would that be okay? The thought of it triggered an unexpected twist in
my stomach.
“We haven’t talked about it,” I confessed.
“Em, you should ask him what he expects,” Sara advised. The other
girls nodded.
“You don’t want to assume anything and then get burned later,” Jil added.
“Drew doesn’t kiss and tel, but you never know what he may have
going on on the side.” My eyes flashed toward Katie when her eyes
averted to the floor and her cheeks turned a slight pink.
“That’s why I was surprised when I heard he kissed you,”
Lauren noted. “I never hear about Drew.”
“I think it’s because it was her,” Sara concluded. “It was a bigger deal,
so I’m sure he couldn’t keep that to himself.”
The conversation regarding Drew and I was making me uncomfortable.
I realy wanted to change the subject.
“Are you staying over?” I asked the girls, but they were too entrenched
in analyzing my relationship with Drew to hear me.
“I know how his friends are,” Katie finaly added, “so don’t assume he’s
as innocent as you think.” She wasn’t talking to me directly, but I stil
heard the warning in her tone. I studied her suspiciously - she stil refused
to look at me. Sara picked up on the intonation as wel.

“Katie, what do you know?”
“Nothing – I’ve just hung out with them before, when they went surfing
in Jersey. I watched them all flirt with the girls there. I went with
Michaela once when Jay invited her, right after they hooked up. When
we got there, he barely paid any attention to her. He was too busy hitting
on another girl from the city. He didn’t even think twice about it,
and then he didn’t understand why Michaela was upset when he came
back around and wanted to get with her later that night.”
“That doesn’t mean they’re al like that,” Jil argued. Katie shrugged. I
recognized she wasn’t teling us everything.
“Em, come with me,” Sara requested. “I need another drink.”
I puled a bottle of sparkling water out of the refrigerator while Sara
topped off her glass, awaiting the real reason she puled me away from
the girls.
“I think Katie may have had something with Drew,” she warned. “Or
stil does.”
“You think so?”
She shrugged. “Maybe. There’s something definitely up. I know he’s
been with at least two girls here.”
“Don’t tel me,” I pleaded.
Knowing Drew’s history of girls was more than I could take; the
thought of it caused my stomach to twist tighter. I glanced over at him
again, but the guys had dispersed. I scanned the room and found him
talking to Keli and another girl I didn’t know. The twist morphed into
an unwelcome streak of jealousy. I forced myself to dismiss it,

convinced I was overreacting. The girls had gotten to me, and I needed
to shake off the insecurity.
“Just talk to him, so you’re on the same page,” she insisted.
“Do you want to date him exclusively?”
It was a question I hadn’t given much thought to. I’d alowed Drew to
slip in when I wasn’t paying attention, and now that I was paying attention,
I didn’t know what to think. I took seeing him every day for
granted, unconcerned if he had an interest in anyone other than me.
But looking around the room and seeing the options, I understood the
temptation, and it made me question what was happening between us.
“I don’t know,” I answered honestly. “I’ve never realy thought about
“I didn’t think so.” I was prepared for her to say more, but she didn’t.
“Hey Sara,” Jay approached us. “It’s cool to see you here.”
“Hi Jay,” Sara acknowledged.
“Are you two up for going surfing with us this spring?”
The invitation to be a part of Drew’s future was suddenly too overwhelming.
I realy had been living in the present. So al the talk about
declaring my intent with Drew and surfing with him and his friends
months from now, was too much to absorb al at once.
“We’l see,” I remarked with a casual shrug.
“Come on. You’l love it,” he insisted.

“A lot can happen between now and then,” Sara answered, reading into
my abbreviated response.
“True,” Jay agreed. “But no matter what, I’d love to get you on a board
- or see you in a bikini.” He laughed. I stared at him with widened
eyes, while Sara roled hers.
“I was just kidding,” he defended.
“Hey,” Drew said, coming up behind me, slipping his arms around my
“I was just talking about taking them surfing with us this spring,” Jay
told Drew.
“Realy? You want me to teach you how to surf?” Drew came alongside
me so he could see my face.
“Maybe,” I shrugged, not wanting to mislead him about our potential
“She doesn’t think you guys wil last until the spring,” Jay laughed.
“Jay!” Sara exclaimed, hitting his arm.
“Ow!” He flinched, holding the spot where she made contact.
“She never said that,” she bit back. Then she looked to Drew, roling
her eyes. “He’s an idiot.”
Drew observed me cautiously, trying to read my face.

“Are you ditching me already?” he questioned in concern.
“No!” I declared. “I never said anything like that. Thanks a lot, Jay!”
Jay put his hands up in defense, which was obviously a common pose
for him.
Drew took my hand and led me down the hal, away from the noise. My
stomach turned, nervous to have this conversation right now.
“What’s going on?” he asked
“Nothing,” I assured him, but my voice lacked the confidence needed
to set him at ease.
“I’d rather not talk right here,” I stated, glancing toward the voice filed
room, with the attentive ears and subtle glances in our direction as we
attempted to isolate ourselves.
Drew’s eyes tightened. I must’ve said something wrong. This wasn’t
going very wel, and I couldn’t figure out what I was saying that kept
upsetting him.
He led me across the room, down the stairs, and out the front door. I
shivered, wrapping the sweater around me to brace myself against the
cold wind.
“Where are we going?” I asked, continuing alongside him across the
“Some place we can talk.”
Through a break in the trees was a smal cottage. He took out a key and
unlocked the door. The smal house was one large room with an eat-in
kitchen, a sitting area, two queen sized beds on the far side, and a

ladder leading up to a lofted bed. It was decorated in a typical New
England nautical theme, with shels and pictures of sailboats, in complete
contrast with the chic, modern design of the main house.
Drew shut the door and turned toward me. I was not prepared for the
concerned look on his face. The misunderstanding evidently had gotten
to him, and I was failing at saying the right thing to make him feel
better. Now I was worried about what to say next.
“Tel me what that was al about?” he requested anxiously.
“I’m sorry.” Panic streaked across his face. Wrong words again! What
was I doing wrong? “The girls were trying to give me advice, and I let it
get to me. It was stupid, realy.” I hoped he would find some comfort in
my dismissive tone, but he remained tense.
“What did you want advice about?”
“I didn’t,” I said quickly. This was harder than I thought. “They asked
me if you and I were officially together, and I said we hadn’t realy
talked about it. So they told me I should, that way I’d know in case you
were seeing someone else. It was ridiculous, and I shouldn’t have
listened to them.”
“Huh.” I waited as he processed what I said. The tension let up in his
shoulders, but his eyes remained uneasy.
“So, are we together?” he finaly asked.
Not what I was expecting.
“What does that mean exactly?”
Wrong question again. His eyes flinched in alarm.

“Do you want to be with anyone else?” he inquired cautiously. My
heart stammered at the question. I couldn’t force the words out to tel
him that there wasn’t anyone else, so I shook my head. My heart continued
to stutter at the untruth.
“Do you?” I returned anxiously, having already considered the reasons
he may not want to be exclusive.
“No,” he denied quickly. “So why don’t you think we’l last until the
We were back to this question again? I took a breath, staling before
“I never said that,” I promised.
“Do you think we wil be?”
Now how was I going to answer that without it coming out wrong? I
looked into his nervous bright green eyes and smirked. I decided to do
the only thing I could to avoid answering. I took a step toward him and
put my arms around his neck, puling him toward me. He didn’t resist
when I kissed him.
Drew smiled softly, revealing his dimples. He leaned in to find me
again with his soft lips, causing a warmth to surge through me. His
mouth rushed to find mine over and over again as he puled me closer.
I could hardly breathe with the pulsing heat capturing my lungs.
His firm body pressed against mine. Smal excited gasps escaped as he
tightened his hold around my waist. We slowly moved across the
room, keeping up the frantic kissing and breathing until my legs
bumped up against something. He guided me onto my back on one of
the beds. My head was caught up in the swirl of quick breaths, unable

to process where this was leading. Then his hand slid along the back of
my thigh and he puled my leg around him. A sobering flash tried to register
in my head.
Drew ran his lips along my neck, sending another whirl of excitement
through my body, crushing the warning before it developed. The
warmth of his tongue traveled down my neck as he proceeded to peel
my sweater back to reveal my bare skin. I let out a smal moan of pleasure
as the swirl consumed me. He made his way back to my mouth
and began running his hand along my outer thigh, then slid it in
between my legs.
The sobering crash resounded in my head, at the same time a cold
draft caught me.
“Whoa,” a voice said from the door.
“Jay, get out!” Drew yeled, stil pressed against me with his head
turned toward the door.
I shot up from under him, puling my dress down, and adjusting my
sweater. Drew was forced to sit next to me on the bed.
“Sorry, man,” Jay offered with an annoying smile. “I didn’t know.”
“Just get out.”
“See you inside,” Jay laughed, closing the door behind him.
“Shit,” Drew whispered, faling on his back. “Sorry about that.”
From a distance I could hear Sara’s voice. “Jay, have you seen Emma?”
I jumped up from the bed, and proceeded to straighten my dress.

“She’s in there.” Jay laughed again.
“What’s wrong?” Drew questioned in alarm, propped up on his elbows
on the bed.
“Sara’s looking for me,” I explained, smoothing my hair in the mirror.
“Do you want to go back inside?” he inquired, the disappointment
heavy in his voice. He stood up as Sara as knocked on the door.
“Emma, you in there?” Sara beckoned from the other side.
“Come in,” Drew yeled back.
Sara peered in cautiously. I roled my eyes at her suspicious entrance.
She looked from me to Drew, and back to me again, then glanced at
the rippled bedding. I knew I was in for a driling later.
“Um, we were going to…” she faltered. “I was just looking for you.”
“I’l be right there,” I promised, unable to leave just yet with the bright
red running from my cheeks down to my chest.
“Okay, I’l see you inside,” she responded slowly, closing the door behind
“Sorry,” I said to Drew. “But we should go back in before everyone
starts looking for us.”
“I could lock the door,” he offered, puling back the sweater and kissing
the top of my shoulder. Before the swirls regained their momentum, I
laughed nervously and backed away, covering my shoulder with the
sweater. Drew conceded reluctantly, “Fine, we’l go back in.”

We were welcomed with suspicious glances and assuming smiles that
made my chest tighten when we entered the house. Maybe my face
was stil flushed, so they knew what we were up to just by looking at
me. I searched the room for Sara and found Jay with the dumbest
smile that I had a strong desire to smack off of his face.
“I’m going to get something to drink,” I told Drew, heading toward the
kitchen area.
He walked straight to Jay and had him in a corner in conversation before
I made it to the kitchen.
“I guess you’re official now,” Jil said with a laugh.
“What?!” My worst fear was realized as she gave me a knowing grin.
The heat crept along my neck to my cheeks.
“Come on,” she hinted. “Jay has a big mouth, remember?”
“Great.” I huffed, shaking my head in humiliation. “I’m sure it was so
much worse coming out of his mouth.”
“I don’t know if it could get any worse.”
“What are you talking about?” I demanded, now confused. She didn’t
respond for a second, and then she nodded for me to walk over to an
empty corner next to the cabinets. My heart skipped a beat in panic.
“He said he walked in on you and Drew having sex.”
“What?!” I yeled, much louder than I should have. I grabbed the
counter to support me so I wouldn’t fal over. The people closest to us
stopped to listen.

“We were kissing,” I assured her in an agitated whisper.
“That’s it. What an ass!” My stomach turned, suddenly realizing why
we’d received so many stares when we came back.
“Sorry.” She shrugged. “Jay likes his stories.” I shook my head in
Sara had slipped in beside us while I was explaining what Jay had actually
“I knew you wouldn’t do that.” She sounded relieved.
“Of course not!” I declared adamantly. Drew seemed to be having a
very similar conversation with some of the guys on the other side of
the room. Jay continued to shake his head while turning his hands in
the air in his infamous defensive pose.
“Please tel me there is something more interesting to talk about than
what Drew and I didn’t do,” I begged, trying to settle the nausea in my
flipping stomach.
“Um, wel, Katie disappeared with Tim somewhere,” Jil offered.
“Realy?” Sara asked, intrigued.
If trying to guess what two people were doing alone together was a
form of entertainment, then I didn’t want any part of it –
especialy after I had been one of the people providing the entertainment.
I slipped past Sara and Jil, while they continued to draw outrageous
conclusions, and found an empty space on the couch in front
of the fireplace to stare at the flames. I was struck with an unsettling
déjà vu.

“I had him once,” Keli said, breaking my entranced gaze. I watched her
scoot towards me, greeted by the sweet burn of liquor. I let out a heavy
breath, preparing myself.
“You are sooo lucky,” she slurred. “Drew is the greatest guy.”
“Mmm,” I agreed, humoring her.
“I only fucked him once,” she confessed. My back tensed.
“We never dated or anything.” She shared this information as if it
should put me at ease. “But he’s amazing, isn’t he?” I couldn’t move.
“I’m so glad you and Sara are here,” Keli murmured, laying her head
on my shoulder. “You are the nicest people I’ve ever met.” I glanced
over at her short brown hair that flipped up in the right places, and her
thin strapped cocktail dress that exposed her cleavage.
Great, so he’d been with her, and probably Katie. Who else in this
room had the privilege of a Drew experience? I knew I wasn’t the first
person he’d dated, like he was for me. But from the sounds of it, dating
wasn’t necessary to get to know him. I felt sick with the thought of the
girl next to me in a compromising position with Drew. I knew I
shouldn’t alow it to get to me. But whether it should or not, it did.
I had preoccupied myself in order to avoid thinking about Drew’s past,
and I eventualy lost track of the time. I talked to random people about
nothing in particular. I even watched a couple of guys arm wrestle,
which was ridiculously entertaining - especialy when one guy kept
cheating by standing up out of his chair. Sara checked on me a few
times, but she became preoccupied with a local guy that Keli had invited.
By the time Drew found me, most people were starting for the
door or going to their rooms.

“Sorry it’s been so long since I’ve seen you,” Drew said, sliding next to
me on the couch and placing his arm around my shoulders. I was
ready to go to bed, and I had hoped to slip into my room without being
noticed. I was hesitant to lean against him so he could put his arm
around me – stil not recovered from the thoughts that had plagued me
most of the night. “You okay?”
“Just tired.” I played it off by stretching my back - feeling horrible that
he had picked up on my evasion.
“Too tired to be alone with me?” he whispered in my ear. I grinned;
the warmth of his breath erased every insecurity that had disturbed
me throughout the night. I turned my head, and he met me with a
gentle kiss on the lips.
“Wel?” he urged. I continued grinning, alowing the warmth to rush
through me. He kissed me again, lingering a little longer while wrapping
his arm around my waist to pul me closer.
Someone cleared her throat behind us. I puled back and looked toward
the noise to find Katie standing a few feet behind us. I sat up in
“Drew, could I talk to you a minute?” Katie asked innocently, swaying
slightly with her hands on her hips and a flirtatious grin upon her face.
Drew sighed and looked to me. I shrugged, alowing him to decide if he
wanted to talk to her.
“Sure,” he said slowly and got up to folow her to a vacant spot leaning
against the window in front of the dining room table. I sunk into the
couch, my twisting stomach kept me from watching. After a few
minutes, Drew returned appearing bemused.

“Everything okay?” I asked, without realy wanting to know the answer.
“Just wasn’t expecting that,” Drew admitted, with a distant look in his
I couldn’t ask him to explain, but his answer was unsettling. Now I did
want to know what Katie said. He noticed when I tensed away, and he
reached for my hand.
“It’s a long story,” he said dismissively. That didn’t help.
“I think a few people are going in the hot tub downstairs,”
Drew offered. “Are you interested?”
“Not realy,” I replied, wanting more than ever to put the twisting discomfort
behind me and go to my room.
“You realy just want to go to bed, don’t you?”
“I do,” I confessed. “Sorry.”
“That’s fine. It’s realy late.” Then he hesitated before he asked, “Could
I lay with you?”
I stopped breathing. I definitely wasn’t expecting that.
“I don’t think that would be a great idea.”
“You’re probably right,” he conceded. “Can I at least tuck you in?”
I grinned at the offer. “I think that would be okay.”

Drew folowed me to find Sara so that I could get the key. She looked at
Drew behind me and raised her eyebrows. I roled my eyes and shook
my head, dismissing her silent insinuation. I knew that anyone who
saw Drew folow me to the room would assume the same thing. With
everything that had already happened and been misinterpreted tonight,
I was beyond caring about it anymore. Drew sat in a white chair
in the room, while I prepared for bed in the bathroom. I emerged with
my teeth brushed, face washed, wearing a pair of striped boxer shorts
and a fitted tank top. Drew grinned, probably because he was seeing
more of me than he’d seen so far.
I slipped under the covers of the bed as he locked the door.
“So no one walks in and assumes anything,” he offered in response to
my inquisitive look.
“You’re just tucking me in, remember?”
Drew smirked.
“Good night,” he whispered, leaning over to kiss my lips. He hesitated
ever so slightly before his lips touched mine so that I could feel the
heat of his breath. I inhaled softly as the tickle of his breath started to
rouse the swirls in my head. His soft lips pressed against mine, and he
kept them there long enough for my head to fil with the whirling sensation
before he puled away. I kept my eyes closed and breathed the
slightest audible moan, unaware that I’d released the sound.
Before I could open my eyes, he was there again, finding me, but with
much more energy and need. I returned the enthusiasm, wrapping my
arms around his neck, puling him closer. He lowered himself over me,
on top of the blankets, continuing to find my urgent lips. He kissed
down the slope of my neck, and I arched to meet him. My body was so

caught up in the intoxicating warmth and hunger that I couldn’t think.
I could only respond to the pulsing that puled me to him.
My breath escaped in gasps as he slipped under the covers, and I could
feel him so much closer. I tasted the salt along his neck, my lips finding
the spot below his ear. His breath accelerated, and he pushed
harder against me, sliding his hand under the back of my tank top. A
sobering shock tried to wake me when his tensed body pressed into
me, warning me to slow down.
Drew ran his other hand along the back of my thigh and stopped under
my knee, hitching it around him. The excited warmth racing
through me colided with the sobering alarm going off in my head. I
puled away and took a breath, trying to listen. He held himself over
me, looking down in attempt to understand my withdrawal. He leaned
in to kiss me again, but I turned my head.
“Need a minute,” I explained.
“Yeah,” he sighed, pushing off me and sitting on the edge of the bed.
He turned toward me and asked, “Do you want me to leave?”
His green eyes searched mine eagerly. I grinned and shook my head.
I interrupted him as he was about to pul back the blanket, “But you
should.” He nodded slowly, his eyes sinking with disappointment.
“Goodnight,” he offered, leaning forward to kiss me.
“I think you did that already,” I replied with a grin, stopping him before
he got too close. “Goodnight.”

Drew slowly stood and went to the door. He looked back at me one final
time, hesitating long enough for me to consider changing my
mind, before he closed it behind him.
Waiting for my pulsing body to recover, I couldn’t even think about
Just as I was faling asleep, a thud on the door stirred me. Sara was
adamantly saying good night presumably to the local guy she just met.
I wanted to slink under the covers when I heard her sliding against the
door with heavy breaths and moans. After a few more low thuds, Sara
finaly entered with a promise to cal him. I had my back to her and
feigned sleep. I’d heard enough of the details of her night and realy
didn’t want to talk about mine, so I didn’t respond when she asked if I
was awake. Eventualy, sleep found me.
In the early hours of the morning, I was confronted with the same images
of Evan on the cliff. This time I saw his face before I fel, and he
looked so angry. I pleaded with him as he drifted away.
“Em?” Sara groaned half asleep. “Are you crying?”
The room was dark, with daylight hidden behind custom blinds. I lay
in the bed, my enlarged eyes franticaly searching around the unfamiliar
room. The tears slid along my temples, and sweat pasted the sheet
to my body. I eased up to sit, my heartbeat slowing to its intended
“You caled out his name,” Sara stated, roling onto her side to look at
“Who’s name?”

The sadness of the dream returned to me. I wiped the tears from my
“You miss him, don’t you?”
I didn’t say anything.
“You could always cal him, you know.”
I shook my head. “No I can’t,” I whispered. I got out of bed and
entered the bathroom, closing the door behind me.
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