Sunday, 28 September 2014


Have you ever thought of packing up everything you own and moving halfway across the country?

I’m talking about leaving your entire life behind—friends, family, school—with no turning back. No? Me either, but that was before a week of spring break changed my life forever. Before I did something I never thought I’d do at twenty-two. Before I fell in love with Grey.

Sometimes happily ever after isn’t always what you think it will be.

The shower sputtered, and the pipes started to howl when I turned on the hot water. I guess all houses have their special sounds. I lathered my hair with shampoo and coated my legs with shaving cream before running a razor over each one.
Today was moving day, but I still wanted to feel like a girly-girl. I turned off the water and wrapped myself in a towel. I stifled a giggle. These looked a lot like the ones Grey ordered for the Palm.
Feeling more like myself than I had in three days, I walked out onto the driveway balcony, amazed at the size of the truck I had driven. I knew it was big, but when I saw it take up the entire driveway and stick out into the street, I realized it was a monster.
“Carolina!” I heard Pick’s voice yell from somewhere in the truck.
I raced down the stairs. Connor and Pick each had a box in hand, and they were making a stack next to the stairs.
“Hold on, girl. Let me put this down so I can hug your neck.” Pick placed the cardboard box on top of another one then wrapped me in a hug.
“Don’t squish her, man.” Connor tapped me on the shoulder, before his arms circled my waist. “Glad you’re here.”
“Me too.” I looked around for Marin. She had to be here too. “Where’s Marin?”
Pick laughed. “Oh, don’t worry. She’ll be here in a second.”
Connor jabbed his friend in the ribs. “Does she know?”
My eyes darted between the pair. “Know what?” Everyone was full of secrets these days.
“I’ll let Marin tell you when she gets here.” Pick turned to walk up the truck’s ramp. “Connor, get over here and help me with the desk.”
I placed my hands on my hips. I wasn’t getting anything out of these two. I waited for them to pass before I reached for a box.
“Whoa, whoa, whoa. What are you doing?” Grey jumped in front of me, wrestling the box from my hands.
“I’m unloading the truck.”
“No, the boys and I have a handle on this. Why don’t you start unpacking?”
I looked at him. Part of me was relieved not to carry heavy boxes of books or dishes up to the second story living space, but the other part of me was worried I had just entered the land of traditional sexism.
“I can handle carrying boxes, Grey.” I turned to find another one.
“I know you can handle it. That’s not what I meant.” He sighed. “Look, I have no idea what to do with everything in the boxes. I just thought it would go faster if we unload the truck and you unload the boxes. But, if you insist on lugging the damn boxes up the stairs, have it your way.”
He walked down the ramp, two boxes in his arms, and started up the flight of stairs that led to the kitchen.
I swallowed hard. Day one and I had already put my foot in my mouth. I clutched the box in my arms and followed him up the steps.
Boxes were strewn around the living room and on top of the kitchen counter. Pick and Connor walked from the hallway.
“We put the desk in that front room.” Pick smiled.
“Thank you.” I felt like a complete idiot.
Grey brushed past me and followed them out the door. I turned to the boxes and started opening. I pushed the flaps to the side and unwrapped a stack of bowls. My happy mood was soured. That was until Marin showed up.
“Knock knock.”
I squealed when I saw her auburn head peek around the side of the door.
“You’re here!” I jumped toward her.
“No, you’re here.” She hugged me and I laughed.
“I guess I am.” I waved my hand across the room. “All of my stuff and I made it in the middle of the night.”
“This is awesome. I can’t believe Grey got this place for you. Right beside the Palm? It’s perfect for you two.”
“It is perfect.” I had already fallen in love with the little blue cottage. “I’d offer you something to drink, but I have no idea where the glasses are yet and I don’t even think we have drinks.” I opened the refrigerator. It was bare.
Marin ran her fingers through her hair. “Oh, I’m fine. I just had to come see you before work today.” She rested her palm across her chest.
“I’m glad you did. It might be a couple of days before I’m done with all the boxes.”
She shifted her hand to her shoulder and then I saw it. The rock sparkled and glistened in my tiny kitchen.
“Oh my God. Marin! Is that what I think it is?”
She nodded and let out a high-pitched squeal. “I’m getting married!” She hopped in place.
“Congratulations.” I reached for her hand. “Let me see this up close.”
She eagerly extended her hand so I could examine the ring.
“It was Pick’s grandmother’s ring. He asked his mom if he could have it.” Marin’s eyes were glowing almost as much as the cluster of diamonds.
“Oh, I’m so happy for you.” I hugged her again, not quite sure what to do in this situation. Marin was my first friend to get engaged. “Have you set a date?”
“I was waiting for you to get here so Pick and I could announce it together. Do you know how hard it’s been not to tell you on the phone?”
I shook my head. “I can’t believe you didn’t tell me.”
“You know my mom is going crazy about it. She wants to plan the whole thing, but I want her to be the mother-of-the-bride, not the wedding planner. She won’t listen though.”
I giggled, remembering the storage unit full of wedding decorations Marin’s mother kept for her clients. Marin didn’t seem like a paper dove kind of bride.
“Ok, so tell me the date.”
I figured they had a nice spring date on the calendar when Padre wouldn’t be blistering hot and they could have another eight months to get plans underway.
“It’s going to be the end of October.”
“As in next month, October?” Maybe she meant a year from now.
“Yes!” She started hopping again.
Just then, the door flew open and the guys staggered in with the mattress.
“Babe, I’m headed to work,” she called to Pick as he shuffled past her.
“All right, call me later.” He huffed as they turned the corner for the bedroom.
“Eden, let me know if you need help getting settled. I’ve got to get to work.” She twisted the watch on her wrist.
“Congratulations, again.” I watched as she practically skipped out the door.
Grey kicked on the door with three boxes stacked in his arms. I rushed over to let him in.
“I just heard Marin and Pick’s news.” I slid my hands in my back pockets.
“Oh yeah?” He crouched low to put the boxes on the floor.
“Yeah.” I smiled. The misunderstanding in the moving truck seemed stupid and insignificant.
“What do you think about that?” He stood, his arms crossed. I wasn’t sure he wasn’t still annoyed with me.
“I think it’s great news. I can’t believe the wedding is next month.” I didn’t have a chance to get all the details from Marin, like how Pick proposed, where they were going to live, or were both families supportive. I didn’t want to wonder about whether she was pregnant. It did seem kind of rushed.
“She couldn’t wait to tell you. Made all of us keep it a secret until you got here.” He took a step closer and my heart rate sped up. “Found my phone.” He held it up, and moved even closer.
“That’s good. Where was it?”
“In the maintenance cart inside the storage closet. I forgot I had put it there when I was checking rooms.” His eyes followed his fingers as they tangled through my hair, sweeping along my collarbone.
Pick and Connor were in the other room, but all I could think about was getting Grey’s lips on mine.
“I’m sorry if I overreacted in the truck.” I edged toward him, my chin tilted up, my eyelashes fluttering more than usual.
“Don’t they say moving is one of the most stressful life events?” He caught the small of my back with his palm and placed enough pressure so that I was firmly pressed against his body.
If he didn’t kiss me now, I thought I might die on this kitchen floor. My chest tightened with heavy breaths, ready to feel the warmth of his mouth, his tongue. Taste his breath on my lips. Why were there other people in the house?
My arms snaked around his neck, tugging him closer to me. “Yes, that’s what I’ve heard. Tons of stress.”
He grinned, and I felt my knees quiver. He could drive me crazy with only a smile.
“I think I know a few ways to help you with all of the stress.” His eyes dipped between my breasts. I pushed against him, begging him to make a move. To hell with the guys in the other room.
“We only have a dresser left and we’re done,” Connor called from the hall.
Grey kissed me on the cheek. “Let me help them with that, and then we can work on the stress relief.”
I refrained from letting out the full-fledged groan that was building in the back of my throat. He got me all worked up on purpose, I thought. I tried to focus on the stack of bowls I had begun to unpack.
Somewhere in one of these boxes was a set of glasses. I at least needed one tall glass of ice water to cool down everything he started.

T.A. Foster once spent a monthlong spring break on South Padre Island, where she soaked in the Texas sun, beach, and learned what real Texas country music is. Sometimes fiction does spring from reality.

She grew up catching rays and chasing waves along the North Carolina Outer Banks and now resides in the state with her adventurous pilot husband, two children, and two canine kiddos.

T.A. has an undergraduate degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a graduate degree in Educational Psychology from Texas A&M University. When she’s not chasing her two-legged and four-legged children or trying to escape for date night, you can find her reading, writing, or planning her next beach trip.

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