Chapter One

I didn't intend on falling in love so young. Actually, my plan was to go to college get a great job and fall in love at twenty-three, that way I could get married around twenty-five and have my first child at twenty-eight. But as life usually went, things didn't go according to plan. In fact, Connor Nichols changed everything about those plans.

I was at the ripe age of seventeen, almost eighteen in a little over a month. It seemed like the perfect age to be stupid. You go to parties and you care about nothing but friends and shopping. At least that's how I used to be at seventeen. I drove in my beat up Mustang with my best friends Olivia and Jade. We had the top down, at that precise moment my brakes were so bad they sounded like they were squealing for a mechanic. We laughed when guys in lifted trucks flirted with us. Jade always blew kisses at them, just to get a big smile out of them.

Those days seemed carefree. You date a lot and never settle. Who settled at seventeen? Guys at that time were just for fun, a date was great to have something to do on a Saturday night and if not, I didn't fret about it. My motives were just to be frivolous, never worry about whether a guy called me back, which most of them did. I had programmed my mind to think in the short term, never the long term because that was too much for my fragile and young mind. It was a time to be spontaneous, kiss a random hottie at that party your friend was throwing and still be single during the week when I studied hard to get into a good college.

Knowing that summer break was just around the corner felt invigorating. I was about to graduate from high school in just a couple of weeks and to know I didn't have to study for a few months after that was thrilling. Jade and Olivia were planning a great summer filled with days at the beach and shopping sprees galore, to get all of the fun in before I had to go to college up north in Santa Barbara. My summer would be the time to enjoy my last days in southern California, get a sun kissed glow and sleep in as much as possible.

But that fateful day when Jade, Olivia and I decided to get coffee at our frequented Starbucks, my life changed in an indescribable way. It's like when you discover something fantastic for the first time. Whether it be a great hair color, your favorite food. You stick to it because it suits you. Well, the first sight of Connor Nichols face suited me. It suited me just fine.

"I'll take a mocha latte, extra shot of mocha, to go please. Name is Connor," He ordered before me. His hair was medium brown, short in length, which meant you could see into his amazing navy blue eyes.

"Extra shot of mocha?" I mocked him from behind. Olivia poked me in the rib and gave me a wide eyed look, she never understood my sarcastic behavior around guys.

Connor turned to look at the person who mimicked him. He had this sort of angry face until his eyes met mine. Then, that famous smile of his tweaked to show those pearly whites.

"Who's asking?" he said, staring at me with crossed arms.

"Well, just a girl who orders the exact same thing." It was a lie, but it got him interested.

"Oh really?" His eyebrows arched into a interested state. Jade giggled. She was the one who thought my flirting was hilarious.


Once Connor was done paying for his drink, it was my turn and I ordered a caramel frappuccino.

"Wait a minute? I thought you ordered the same-"

"Only on Sundays, jeez," I rolled my eyes at him as if he were the insane one that was picking up on me, and when my friends were done ordering as well, we stood to wait for our order. He got his drink and stayed around to spy on me I knew, because he pretended to act busy, stirring his mocha and putting the lid back on, ever so often glancing in my direction.

"He's cute," Jade whispered to me. I smiled big and didn't reply.

"Let's go shopping girls," I told my friends, as we started to walk off to exit the Starbucks after we got our coffees.

We were just out the door when Connor rushed to my side and said, "Hey, wait a minute here, you mimic me and I don't get another word?"

I looked at him peculiarly. Jade tried to disguise her giggle with a cough. "I have things to do stalker boy," I rolled my eyes.

"Stalker?" He questioned me.

"If you must have my number, why don't you ask for it?" I tapped my foot as if he were really stalling my time, all playing hard to get. The truth was I really did want him to ask for my number.

"Okay, okay, so what is it?" He asked with a big grin. I gave him my digits and he entered it into his cell phone.

I was starting to walk away again when he shouted across the parking lot, "Hey, what's your name?"

"It's Marissa," I shouted back.

"Marissa," He said to himself.

I wanted to gush to my friends about how much I thought he was cute as well as they thought. I wanted to tell them I felt a shock go through my system when our eyes met, or that my heart dropped to the bottom of my stomach when he repeated my name to himself. But I couldn't speak of any of that. It was unlike me to get so worked up over a guy, especially since I hadn't been serious since my first boyfriend, which only lasted three months when I was fifteen. I didn't want any serious commitments. I didn't want a lasting thing. And I especially didn't need a fling, not when I was focused on so much else, like the cruise Olivia, Jade and I were planning on taking in the beginning of August. My life was on a scheduled plan and there was no room for interruptions. It was clear sailing straight ahead, so when Connor called that night, I put my phone on silent, letting it go straight to my voicemail.

"You're so strong when it comes to guys. That nonchalant behavior works so well," Olivia shook her blonde head at me. She was the quiet one of us, if you could call any of us quiet. We were always so loud, that when they stayed the night at my house on weekends the years we had known each other, my parents would awake and scold us. But if any of us were quiet, it was Olivia. She had to scream sometimes just to get Jade's and my attention when we were in a loud conversation.

"Yeah, and he obviously likes you," Jade said.

I sighed. "Not like it can go anywhere. Boys aren't on the itinerary." We were all at my house, eating pizza when my parents were out to dinner with my aunt and uncle who lived an hour away. They wouldn't be home anytime soon.

"You can definitely fit him in! I'd love to have a guy look at me like that," Olivia was also the hopeless romantic.

"Whatever O," I said shaking my head. I took a big bite out of my cheesy supreme pizza.

An hour later, Connor called again. I had never gotten calls like that from a guy so quickly and he was coming off desperate.

"Oh my gosh!" Jade laughed.

Before I could reject it again, Jade picked it up and said, "Hello, Marissa Martin's cell phone, this is Jade, her secretary. I would love to take a message." I about died. I tried to grab it from her greasy pizza hand, but she was bouncing around the room, running away from me. The coffee table in the family room got in my way before I could get to her on the other side of our large sectional sofa.

"Tomorrow night you say? Well, that just might work for her," Jade continued with my address, my age and asked for his age. She moved around the coffee table so I couldn't get to her. Just when I did, she pressed the end button.

"You're going out for a nice seafood dinner. Dress appropriately," Jade informed me.

I looked at her like she was insane. "Hello? Did I want to go out with him?"

Olivia rolled her eyes. "Just about the minute you saw him. We both could see it, don't be such a big baby. Don't even worry about it, it doesn't have to be a huge thing. He can be your Mr. Right Now instead of your Mr. Right, you know, the guy you actually want when the time is right."

"I guess I'm going out with him then," I said slowly, trying to sound unhappy about it, but I was far from unhappy. The thought of seeing those amazing eyes again was enough to make me think about what I was going to wear for the date as I tried to fall asleep that night. I decided on my LaRok dress with my new black boots. Yeah, that outfit was the perfect attention getter.