That’s the thing about summertime romances…” she mused out loud to herself as they sat wrapped up together on a ridiculously large, lush lime green beach towel. She sat between his outstretched legs, toes in the sand, tracing her hands up over his hairy knees and back down to his shins in time with the cerulean ocean waves. Cerulean, with a “c” not an “s” and deep blue like the color of her heart knowing he was going to leave again. She watched them gobble up the beach before their retreat into the burnt orange horizon. As the waves pulled back into the water, her fingertips slid up his legs, languidly, repetitively, occasionally flicking sand from her fingers or his leg hairs.
She didn’t finish the sentence. She didn’t need to. She knew this part of the summertime too well already. The thing about them was that the page turned, or the credits rolled, and the guy or girl left with well-meaning promises, but the two words, the end, sealed it all into a melancholy memory of what had been and will be no more. Evidently he did not remember how this part of summertime romances went.
“What’s the thing?” he asked, tightening his embrace around her shoulders, drawing her back further into him. He shifted forward suddenly and grabbed the other towel still folded neatly beside her and wedged it between his back and the abrasive volcanic rock he was leaning against. He wiggled a little to find the right position, and she wiggled a little to tease him, then remembered his injury.
“Oh, sorry. Are you OK? Is your leg OK?” she asked, finding and tracing the still-fresh rigid scar that ran the length of his knee.
“So OK,” he said into her ear in his sexy lover’s voice before nibbling at her neck.
“Mmmm!” she sighed, closing her eyes and exposing more of her neck to him. She couldn’t put a finger on what made that tone more arousing than his normal voice. It wasn’t deeper, it was maybe almost higher but with a want in it that melted her. She leaned her head back onto his shoulder basking in the bliss of the moment, letting out another audible sigh of delight. She arched her head back a bit more and looked up at him wistfully. She stared, wishing, hoping, willing this to be anything more than what it was always fated to be. He stared back caught up in the passion of the moment. She knew what they had was special. There was definitely some kind of love that passed between them. They couldn’t have spent all these summers for all these years together without it meaning something… even if it was only ten or fourteen days of each year. She was probably still too young to know what true love was, but maybe this was it.
She turned her face into his cologne and neck. She breathed every bit of his essence into her soul, stealing some of who he was right then and there. Keeping it just for herself. She wanted to remember him, here and now, mixed in with the color of the sunset. Not the water. He was too much like the earth to mix with the water. He was warm and hard and bold. Orange, yes, orange like the fading sun in front of them, leaving so beautifully she almost forgot to be sad about it even though she feared their summertime romance would end once and for all this summer. She worried about it every year but his letters always promised he’d return and so far he always did. But things were changing for them both and something inside told her the sun was setting for them. She feared more than ever before, even more than that first summer, that this would be their last summertime romance.
He was gorgeous. A ripped, stacked and muscled guy from a far away place, and to the place he belonged he would return. He was here, now, with her on a beach in paradise. They shared so much history together in their brief summer visits. It was a bittersweet but true, honest connection and in all truth and honesty, she knew their lives were nothing alike. He was too old and idealistic for her, she was too realistic to see how it could ever be more than this. He was away from home and real-life for two weeks and she was home. This was her real-life. He found a lovely distraction in her like a lot of guys found in the local girls and vice versa. She didn’t mind being a summertime escape, but he was lying to himself and her when he said it could last longer. He told her that their love could conquer all the obstacles they faced and overcome all the odds. He promised that one day, some way, they’d live happily ever after… or maybe he was only telling her that because he thought it was the right thing to do.
She supposed, as she mused over telling him the thing about summertime romances, that he could really think this would last. She remembered their first summer together, oh how magical that summer had been, fresh and new and full of fun and exploration. For all his big tough football exterior, he was a pure romantic. She knew he’d fallen hard and fast for her. Maybe she helped him notice her at first but she didn’t have to work very hard to keep his attention. Maybe she lied about how old she actually was at first but she couldn’t help it, he was great and she wanted to be with him. If he’d known the truth upfront, maybe he wouldn’t have pursued her, but it didn’t matter now. Here they were years of summers later and in some kind of love that made sense to them both every time they reunited.
This time they’d spent ten glorious days of the summer together. They were nowhere close to inseparable because of her work and his play, but as often as they could be together they were. This was his last night in paradise, so she snuck away from home and responsibility and brought him here… to do it! They were miles away from the mountain village she called home, and cuddled up together at the edge of the ocean for one last long good-bye and her first time.
He had never pushed her, though it was obvious he wanted her. She had never been ready before. She hated her parents and preacher’s talks about waiting to have sex and her being too young to even think about it, but still they sunk in. She always kept him at bay each summer, not quite ready to go all the way. All those times before she was afraid he’d either never come back, or find some other girl that put out. But he kept writing her letters promising his return. He kept coming back summer after summer to this mountain place… and to her. Even after he found out her real age he stuck around. This time, though, she was sure he’d never come back and just as sure that she was finally ready and she wanted her first time to be with him. She might be young but she was old enough for that and she wanted it to be with him even if this was the end.
“What’s the thing about summertime romances?” he whispered, lips on her hair, rocking her a little, snapping her out of her forlorn conclusions. He scooped her even closer, nestling her head under his chin. Ever attentive, he wouldn’t let the musing go ignored. He wouldn’t make her bring it back up, he would draw her out. Yeah, it was definitely some kind of love. Should she tell him or let him live in a make believe land of “this-will-last-once-I-leave” mumbo jumbo.
“They don’t last.”
“Why do you always have to be such a downer? Ours can last.”
“Are you going to give up everything you have and come down here?” she asked, “Because I can’t leave.”
She heard him breathe in, felt his shoulders sag. There she went, Miss Realistic, killing his sweet summer fantasy along with the sexy vibe they had going on. That’s not what she meant to do this time. She meant to make it the most amazing memory ever, better even than that very first summer. She turned around quickly, kneeling right into his face, leaning closer and closer and closer until their noses touched.
“Never mind,” she said playfully nipping at his lips, “I didn’t mean to say it out loud. We’re here now and I want it to be perfect. I want to remember you just the way you are right now.” Wispy, straight strands of her thick dark hair shrouded their kiss, though there was no one on this beach to hide from. The tourist beaches were elsewhere. This one was too remote to find easily, locals made sure of that. She knew this beach, this time of night would probably be deserted, or close to it. It was too tricky to amble out of in the dark. Considering his leg, she wondered if it was the best idea but ignored the caution and moved on with the plan. Her mouth covered his. Their kiss, more than familiar to the both of them, tasted different mixed with the salty brine of the ocean on their lips. She willed him to know she was ready without her having to say it and make the moment awkward.
His hands cradled both sides of her face for moments of delicious tasting and teasing, but then he pushed back her face ever so slightly and looked at her with all the love and sincerity she’d ever seen come from him, or anyone. Gorgeous brown eyes searching, penetrating her, willing her to love him, to want him forever.
“I don’t think this has to end.”
She knew the truth but she wanted the moment so she smiled and made him lie to her, “Promise me Preston.”
“I promise,” he answered and bucked her backward deftly and laid her down on the towel and sand under them. She giggled at the maneuver and their kisses deepened. She loved feeling the weight of him press her down and into the sand under the towel. She was smothered in all that was him and she pulled him into her soul. Maybe he could keep the promise and there would be more summers and moments, but just in case not she gave herself to him this time fully and completely.
“Are you sure?” he asked when she didn’t resist. He looked at her in the dusky dimming light, gauging her movements and response.
“Yeah, I’m sure,” and she was pretty positive she was sure. No matter what preachers or parents said, she needed this memory with him. As the sun went down and the orange darkened to twilight, she promised herself she would never regret this moment no matter how it ended.
It was a chore to amble up and out of the rocky local beach, but their kisses and giggles and half caught stumbles kept them amused along their way. Neither wanted to say goodbye, but it had to happen. Ever the romantic, he fished a letter out of the back pocket of his soft surfer shorts and gave it to her at the smooth wrought iron and stone gate to his opulent hotel.
“Do not open this until next week,” he demanded, holding it up between them and whipping it out of the way when she tried to swipe it.
“Give it to me,” she smiled.
“Not until you promise. Don’t open it until next week.
“I promise. Not until next week.”
He relinquished it to her eager grasp and pulled her into his bare chest, his big broad arms enveloping her, one hand threaded into her hair. She was in heaven, at least for a few more seconds. She wrapped her arms around his waist and they stood in the light of the entrance amidst the muted evening bustle of the other tourists and town. His heart beat slow and steady in her right ear and she could actually hear the air enter and exit his lungs. It sounded hollow-ish and reverberated through him. It was an interesting sound she doubted could ever be visually represented or reproduced. She refused to let go and evidently so did he; but it had to end, all of it had to end and so reluctantly she eased back out of his embrace to look up at him. One last perfect kiss on his lips. One last kiss on the letter as she walked backward away from him promising again to wait until next week to open it and then she was gone. Page turned. Credits rolled. Summer ended.
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