It was beautiful. And why wouldn't it be? A bright orange ball of fire was setting silently into a landscape of rippled dark blue, congruous to a watercolor painting—perfect, calm, and passionate—all at once. The beach was deserted except for a few, anxious to visit nature at its best. A trail of footsteps followed a couple as they padded on the wet sand of the shore, ephemeral footprints left behind as evidence of their walk.

"Can I look now?" The smaller of the two asked, biting her lip in eager anticipation, her voice quiet against the sound of the waves in the distance.

"Not yet. A little further." The boy next to her tugged gently on the slender hand in his larger one and led her farther down the beach. "No peeking!"

"Only if we get there soon enough," she teased, smiling.

They walked farther down the beach, the light salty sea breeze ruffling their hair and the soft sand sticking to their wet feet. He stopped and she halted beside him a second later.

"Now can I look?"

He smiled and looked at her beside him, her left foot moving in the sand in circles and watched as her fingers with the bright blue nails twitched with impatience over her closed eyes. She'd told him the blue nails were supposed to be a rebellious act against her parents, and that it drove them wild.

"Yeah, go ahead."

Her hand slid from her face and she opened one eye cautiously before the other, and they landed on the brightly colored objects in the sand before them. She turned and looked at him confused for a minute before lighting up. "Are we going to build sandcastles?"

He nodded. "Our sandcastle. We'll pretend. We'll pretend we're little kids again imagining, and we'll—" He swallowed. "We'll pretend that this isn't going to end and that this isn't just a…" He trailed off.

It was as though a sudden dark stormcloud had shrouded the whole beach with its gloom. Nothing seemed as wonderful as it had a second ago, and the memories of the conversation yesterday suddenly came back with full force.

She looked at his unruly blonde hair and the blue eyes that were staring at her intently. She nodded understanding, but it hurt, nonetheless. "We'll pretend that this isn't just a fling," she whispered, finishing for him.

Fling. It was a word that had always seemed to stand for a no-feelings attached relationship someone would have on a vacation. A swept-away, total lust moment. Maybe it was a vacation, and maybe there had been swept-away by the moment times, but there had been feelings attached, and it hadn't been only lust.

He nodded again, this time slower and squeezed the hand that was still in his. "I'm so sorry Maddie."


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