Mia's Heart


Page 20



“I can see that about you,” I reply. “So, you’ll be there?”

He nods. “I wouldn’t miss it.”

Another long pause.

Then he gives me an ornery gaze and then he’s gone.

When Reece and I are ready to leave later in the evening, Dante is waiting for us on the porch. But Quinn is nowhere to be found.

“Where’s Quinn?” I ask curiously. Dante shakes his head.

“He left earlier, but he’ll meet us there.”

“How will he know where to go?” I ask. “He’s not that familiar with Valese yet, is he?”

Dante looks amused. “Well, Elena picked him up. So I’m guessing she’ll show him the way.”

Reece and I both freeze and stare at Dante. He holds his hands up innocently.

“Hey, don’t look at me. He’s a big boy- he can do what he wants.”

Reece narrows her eyes. “But you let him go with her? She’s a viper. She’ll eat him up for breakfast and then ask for more.”

Dante doesn’t seem concerned. “I thought she ate kittens for breakfast?” he teases. “Besides, if he’s still with her for breakfast, I doubt he’ll care if she asks for seconds.”

Reece squeals and smacks his arm and I gulp.

I ignore their bantering as I try not to physically cringe. How could Quinn have gone with Elena? Did he not think it was important enough to mention that when I asked him if he was going? Instead of being quiet and staring at me, he could’ve brought that small fact to my attention.

So apparently, I’m not going to have to choose between Gavin and Quinn. The choice has been made for me.

I’m not sure if I’m relieved about that or not.

I don’t think I am.

I try not to think of it as we drive to the beach and then walk over the sandy dunes. The party is far back from the public beaches, secluded on private property. I’m told that I’ve been to many of these parties. I don’t remember a one.

But when we arrive, it looks like a good time.

Tons of kids are already here, laughing and playing around. I don’t remember any of them, although I do recognize a few from when they visited me in the hospital.

A group of boys is throwing a ball back and forth. A group of girls is watching. Another co-ed group is splashing in the surf. There are huge containers of beer and wine-coolers buried in ice. There are tables of food, mostly fresh seafood and bread. There are bonfires. And I love the atmosphere here. It’s happy and carefree. The flickering bonfires in the dying sunlight provides the perfect ambience for a beach party.

I unfold a chair and sit in it. Reece sticks a wine cooler in my hand.

“Your favorite,” she tells me. “Just don’t have twelve of them.”

She gives me a stern look, making me wonder if I have a drinking problem or something. And then she settles into the chair next to me while Dante gets in on the ball-throwing action. The boys, by this point, are taking off their shirts. And not because it’s hot outside, either. Next to the sea, the breeze is actually a bit chilly today, but they’re stripping down anyway. I shake my head. The male species is so crazy sometimes.

Dante leaves his shirt on though and Reece shakes her head regretfully.

“There comes a time when that boy needs to let loose with the rest of them,” she tells me. “He’s so happy to be home, though.”

“What about you?” I ask her. “Are you happy to be here instead of home in Kansas?”

Reece picks at the label on her bottle and thinks about that for a minute.

“I love it here,” she finally says. “Even though when we were in Kansas, it felt like Dante was removed a bit from the pressures of being who he is, which was good, I think I still love being here more. I mean, of course I miss my mom and Becca and my grandparents, but there’s just something about Caberra that made me fall in love with it. Honestly, though, I would be happy wherever Dante is. I know, that sounds corny. But it is true.”

And I know that Dante feels the same way. I can see it in the way his gaze seems to find her periodically no matter what he’s doing. He checks on her and I think it’s sweet. And once again, jealousy rears its ugly head. I really do hope that someday, someone looks at me the way Dante looks at Reece.

Honestly, no sooner have I had that thought when a pair of dark, twinkling eyes meet mine from across a crowd of boys.

Gavin.

He’s standing against one of the coolers talking with another boy that I don’t know. He’s got on a pair of black shorts and a white shirt, unbuttoned at the neck and rolled at the sleeves. He’s barefoot and he’s gorgeous. He looks like a swimwear model for a European magazine. That’s how gorgeous he is.

I smile automatically as his eyes meet mine.

He smiles back.

And my heart flutters like a thousand butterflies.

“Well, well,” Reece drawls, watching the silent exchange. “Look who is forgiven.”

I roll my eyes at her. “You said it yourself. He didn’t mean anything by it. He’s a natural flirt. He doesn’t want Elena.”

I twist my new watch on my arm. I can practically feel his name pressing into my skin. It’s always Gavin Time. I almost giggle again just thinking it, but then I realize that it’s fairly true. I’m always in the mood for Gavin.

That has to say something, right?

I make my way toward him.


He meets me in the middle.

“Hi,” he says softly. “Nice bling. Was it a gift?” He motions toward my watch. I smile.

“Yeah. This guy I know gave it to me.”

Gavin raises an eyebrow. “Oh, really? Do I need to do some ass-kicking? He seems like a pretty awesome guy. I don’t want any competition.”

I laugh and he laughs and then he links his arm with mine.

“Let’s walk,” he suggests.

As we walk away from the crowd and toward the water, I catch sight of Quinn and Elena approaching the party. She is draped over his arm and he looks to be enjoying it. Of course, to be fair, he’s a red-blooded guy and her boobs are pressed into his arm. Of course he’s going to enjoy it. I swallow hard and try not to plot murderous things against Elena and her boobs.

I’m walking with Gavin, I remind myself.

Quinn and Elena don’t matter to me.

But as we pass them and Quinn’s eyes meet mine in a smoldering stare, I know that he does matter. A lot.

I fight the urge to turn around and look at him again.

And I win. I don’t look.

Take that, self-control.

Somehow, I am able to focus on Gavin and our walk and the beautiful beach. I put Quinn out of my mind. Once or twice, I glance in his direction and find Elena laughing into his ear. Once, his arm is even snaked around her waist and at that, I squeeze my eyes shut and turn away. It’s the last time I peek at him.

Gavin looks at me now, a bit of concern on his handsome face.

“Is everything alright?” he asks me. “You seem distracted.”

He leads me to a huge piece of driftwood and sits me down. He sits so close that his thigh presses into mine. I like the feeling.

“I’m fine,” I lie. “It’s weird, knowing that I’ve been to a bunch of these parties and I don’t remember any of them. Not a thing.”

Gavin studies me for a second. Then he brushes a thumb against my cheek. His eyes are soft as he stares into mine.

“Want me to help?” he asks quietly. “I can tell you what you normally do at these parties.”

I stare at him for a moment. I know that whatever is going to come out of his mouth will be utter bullshit but I can’t stop myself. I nod.

“Okay. What do I usually do?”

Gavin stares out to sea for a minute, then turns back to me, picking up my hand.

“Well, first you usually eat dinner with me. We grab some fresh crab legs because you love them. I have oysters because, well, you know what they say about oysters and the libido. Then, you drink about a dozen wine coolers. And then, at some point in the evening, you get sick. And I spend a chunk of time hunting for someone else to babysit you so that I don’t have to hold your hair back while you vomit. That’s what usually happens. So, I would suggest not drinking too many tonight.”

I shake my head. I guess he really is telling the truth. I was a party girl. Hmm.

“Good advice,” I tell him. “So, you need to eat oysters for your libido? Your libido isn’t strong enough without an aphrodisiac?”

Gavin stares at me for a second, before he bursts out laughing.

“Touché,” he tells me. “Trust me, my libido is healthy and thriving. Also, I forgot to mention one thing that you always, always do at these parties.”

And now I know to disregard whatever comes out of his mouth next because his eyes are twinkling, his mouth is curving up. But I still smile and ask what it is.

“You always go skinny-dipping with me,” he says impishly. “Always.”

It’s my turn to burst out laughing now.

“You’re crazy,” I tell him. “I call bullshit. You’re insane.”

He nods solemnly. “I know,” he tells me, unconcerned. “But you love me anyway.”

And I do love him.

I realize that right now. I don’t know what way I love him, but I do love him. Whether he’s the familiar brother that I never had or ultra-hot boyfriend material remains to be seen. But one way or another, I love him.

It’s a startling, yet comforting feeling.

Chapter Seventeen

I restrain myself and only have two wine coolers. I can’t imagine drinking any more than that, because honestly, I don’t enjoy the taste. But Reece and Dante both seem proud of me for my restraint, so I decide that I definitely must’ve been a wild party girl of some sort. Gavin had been telling the truth, after all.

Night falls quickly out here overlooking the water and I watch the sun sink down over the horizon in an explosion of gorgeous colors that ricochet off the water and bathe everything in gorgeous light. Reece wraps her arm around my shoulders.

“What do you think, Mi?” she asks. It’s an open ended question.

“About what? How the world began? I think it was divine design. About world relations? I think that Caberra is in a good place- both economically and politically. I know the prime minister, so I feel good about that.” I’m joking now and Reece rolls her eyes.

“I meant, what do you think about your life?” she says.

“Oh,” I answer. “And I thought you were asking a big question.”

She laughs now, but she waits for my answer. Because she’s my friend, she’s actually interested. Drat. I have to give her a thoughtful answer.

Um.

“I don’t know,” I admit to her. “I honestly don’t. I think about it all the time, because I can’t help it. I’m constantly wondering how the new me compares to the old me and which one is actually me. It’s confusing and exhausting. Like tonight, it would seem that I used to be a party girl. But I honestly don’t feel the need to get wild or crazy. It’s like I’ve spun around in a 180 from the girl I used to be. And I wonder if it’s partially because of the head injury. I mean, will I go back to normal? Or was my old “normal” just a façade? Was I pretending to be someone that I wasn’t? I just don’t know and it is frustrating.”

Copyright © novelfull thefreeonlinenovel.com All Rights Reserved.