Lessons Learned

A short Story

"Been some bad times I've been through

Damage I cannot undone

Some things, I wish I could do all all over again"

Carrie Underwood "Lessons Learned"


June 2009

"Dude, when are we going to scope out the chicks on the beach?" my best friend from college, Gavin Tate, called from the doorway of my room. He was already clad in plaid printed swim trunks, brown Abercrombie and Fitch shirt, tattered flip flops, and his favorite pair of aviators were atop his blonde head of hair. His sky blue eyes only added to, what many girls called, the typical 'boy-next-door' look. Girls flocked to gain his attention like seagulls attacked garbage. He could he not look any more anxious to hit the beach.

Since it was his first time in Cape Cod, Massachusetts, he was acting like a little kid on his first trip to Disney World. My parents, older brother, Landon, and I went to our beach house there almost every summer for three months, but it didn't have the exciting effect on me anymore.

Any other summer I would have been doing what Gavin craved to do: pick up as many girls as I could.

That summer I didn't even want to think about picking up girls. In fact, I really didn't want to be in Cape Cod, period. And Gavin's pestering was making me irritated.

"We'll get to the beach man. Don't worry," I somewhat snapped at him, and immediately felt like shit. Gavin has been my wing man ever since our freshmen year of college at New York University. He had been by my side through some tough shit I had to endure, and I couldn't have been more thankful to him for that.

"Hey, just because Naomi was a cheating whore, doesn't mean you should give up on females entirely. Callum, man, it's been over three fucking months since you two broke up. Get back out there and find a new girl! Or two, maybe even three. Play the field."

Just fucking great. He had to go and bring up Naomi. She was the person I possessed the most hatred for at the moment. I gave her my heart and she put it through a fucking shredder. How could I have fallen for a girl like her? I didn't know if I could ever recover from what she put me through.

"You mean take on the womanizing traits you posses?" I asked him, heading to the bathroom to put on my own swim trunks. Maybe if I amused him he would get off my back about the whole Naomi topic. "Just give me five minutes and we can head down to the beach. Happy, Gavin?"

"Does a fat puppy fart?" Gavin grinned at me. Realizing that I didn't have a clue what he was saying, he shook his head and plopped himself onto my bed. "Never mind. Just hurry up."

An hour later, I found myself taking a relaxing run down the shoreline - alone. Gavin had found himself a group of girls, and flat out told me to get lost. He claimed that I received all the female attention because they could sense that I had a damaged heart, and were determined to be the one to mend it. That was Gavin's interpretation at least. It may have actually been a factor, but I definitely did not lack in the looks department, to be honest.

During high school, and even into college, girls had fawned over me. The head of thick, yet silky, jet black hair I owned, paired with my piercing emerald green eyes, drove girls to the brink of insanity. Girls had, on more than one occasion, confessed that my eyes were the first thing they noticed about me. My lean, bulked up body had many girls almost faint at the sight of me. I couldn't blame them though. My washboard abs were God's gift to women everywhere. I just so happened to be the carrier of that gift. I could eat practically anything my heart desired and not gain a single pound.

At least, that's what I countless girls told me throughout my high school years.

It was heaven. But just because I had such a great metabolism didn't mean I didn't work out. Oh no, in fact, I worked out about three or four days a week, depending on my schedule. That was also why I had such great biceps. In high school, I had to lift weights and exercise regularly for the football team, but as I went on to college, I stopped with the football and continued to lift. I guess it was my own personal stress outlet. Gavin knew to look for me in the gym if I was ever pissed or closed off. I never talked about my feelings, which caused me to do the excessive work outs every so often. I think the only reason Naomi had even gone out with me was because of my looks.

And thanks to her, that I went to the gym seven days a week instead of my normal three or four.

I don't know how long I had been running, but I slowed down to a walk when I heard what sounded like an argument between two people a few feet ahead. Lifting my gaze from my feet, I noticed a girl and a guy arguing with each other. The guy was probably a good six-foot-two, while the girl was most likely around five-foot-six due to the obvious height difference. The guy was pretty built, and looked as if he played some type of sport. His sculpted six pack could be seen by the almost twenty foot distance between us, along with his big biceps. I got the feeling I didn't want to cross him, for since I doubted I would have been able to win if I were to get into a fight with him.

"Baby, come on," I heard him say to the girl. "It was a mistake. It didn't mean anything to me."

"How many times do I have to repeat myself?" she huffed, hands on her hips, as she glared up at him. "Stay the hell away from me! You stopped meaning something to me when you cheated on me!"

"I only had sex that one time!" his voice rose to make his point. Not that it was a very good point. Cheating is cheating, intentional or not. I knew from experience that it hurt.

"With two girls. At the same time!" she yelled back, clarifying the extent of his actions.

Two girls? Man, that guy was one big pile of douche.

"It's disgusting Beau!" she continued. "It's bad enough that you cheated on me. But to have a threesome? You are such a pig! Not even a full month had passed since we started dating and I walk in on you three. Seriously, a month? I must have not been exciting enough to be able to keep your attention for that short amount of time."

"You were - are - exciting enough, Ace," the guy, Beau, replied. "Just take me back?"

Oh God, if she took him back after that, she was stupid. Worse than stupid actually.

"I'll take you back, Beau," she said with all seriousness. Beau's face lit up when she said that and I concluded she was in fact, brainless. If he cheated once, he was going to again. Once a cheater always a cheater was my hard learned lesson. "I'll take you back when the Devil goes ice skating in Hell."

The closer I got, I noticed that the girl was good looking. Very good looking.. Her zebra printed bikini was the first thing that drew my attention to her. And, being a guy- heart broken or not- I had to admit, she filled it out quite nicely.

Didn't your heart just get broken you dumbass? Why are you having such thoughts of girls being attractive? the little voice in my head scolded. I had to agree with it though. I was just going to ignore the guy and the very attractive girl and continue on my not so merry way.

Well, I was going to continue on, but I stopped when I saw Beau grab the girl, Ace I believed he called her, roughly by her forearms. It seemed as if he had a pretty good grip on her too by the look on her face.

"Take. Me. Back." he scowled.

"No! Beau, let me go!" she yelled, trying to pry her arms out of his grasp and kicking his shins at the same time. "You're hurting me, you asshole!"

Those seemed to have been the magic words, because something inside of me snapped and I was rushing to close the remaining distance between us. Once I made it to their side, I ripped Beau off of her, not missing the slight gasp she let out when she caught sight of me. He stumbled back a few feet, from the momentum, until he was able to regain his balance. Before he could move, I positioned myself in front of the girl, in between the two of them. I was shocked, to say the least. I didn't even know the girl, or the guy, yet I had just jumped into something that was completely none of my business. What had gotten into me?

I didn't know, but I wasn't worried about the reason at that moment. I was more preoccupied with what Beau might try and pull on Ace. And it was a good thing I had gotten between them. Beau came back at full force, trying to push me away, but I anticipated his actions and braced myself. I was just as much in shape as he was, so it was an even match.

"What the fuck?" he spat in my face. "Who the hell are you?"

"Just a man that doesn't like to see guys manhandle girls like you did," I replied, able to shove him away once more. "Get lost. Or I'll call the cops and have them remove you."

He must have figured I wasn't going to let him touch her again, which I most definitely wasn't, and thought it was best to heed my words. He walked backwards, arms raised in a surrendering matter.

"You can have her, man," he said. "You'll find out why I hooked up with others within a month of dating. Nothing exciting about her one bit."

I glared daggers into his back as he turned around and walked down the beach. I could feel the tension in my entire body just by watching him walk away. I mean, who the hell was he to treat someone, let alone a girl, like that? Especially one he was trying to win back. The fucker deserved whatever shit life would deal out to him. I was fuming more and more with thoughts of what might have happened if I hadn't intervened when I had. Would he have hurt her even more? Would he have gone as far as to hit her? The thought made me sick to my stomach. With that, I became even more tense as new questions flooded me. Why had I done what I did? I didn't know either of them, so I shouldn't have made it my business. So what in God's name possessed me to act on impulse?

My self questioning was interrupted when I felt a small, soft, hand land on my shoulder. I knew it was Ace. What was odd was when her hand made contact with my shoulder, all the tension evaporated from my body and I was immediately relaxed. No one had been able to accomplish that before. Not even Naomi. What was even more flabbergasting, was when I thought of Naomi, it didn't affect me at all. I was dumbfounded, to say the least. For the past three months, I had been bitter and snappy when I thought of her. Now, it was the exact opposite. And I couldn't understand the sudden change.

I turned around, since as Ace's hand was still on my shoulder, and faced her. I swore I lost my breath. She was even more attractive when I could be an arm's length away from her. Her wavy, rich, dark brown hair fell down just past her shoulders. It looked so silky and soft, my fingers were itching to run through it. And her eyes, her brown eyes, looked as if they were pools of melted Hershey bars. I knew right then and there that her eyes were the most beautiful eyes I had ever been fortunate enough to see.

Gavin keeps telling me to move on. Why not with her? I thought. Surprisingly, it made sense. I had sulked around for three months, but she was like the sun breaking through what seemed like endless rain. If I stared into her eyes long enough, I knew I would be putty in her hands.

"Thank you," she said softly, snapping me out of my thoughts. "You could've left us alone to settle everything, but you stepped in. Not many would have the guts to do what you did."

I shrugged, because honestly, it wasn't that big of a deal. My parents taught me to never touch a woman like he had done. It outraged me that men thought that they needed physical strength to overpower women.

"No problem,' I replied sincerely. I raised my hand for her to shake, and introduced myself. "I'm Callum. I gathered from earlier that your name is Ace, right?"

"To most," she shook my hand in return, a slight smile on her lips. Her full, tempting lips. "It's one of my many nicknames. No one other than my parents call me by my real name. So you can call me Ace, everyone does. My friend Chloe is the only one who doesn't."

"What does she call you then?"

"Lia."

We started walking back down the beach, towards where Gavin was most likely located with his newest groupies. It was refreshing to make such easy conversations with her. It was as if we had known each other our whole lives, it was so easy. I learned that she was eighteen, nineteen in early October. She was also planning to attend college in New York, which made me happy since I was already attending NYU. I got this butterfly like feeling in my stomach when I thought of the possibility of seeing her in the fall. She explained how she got her nicknames. Lia was apparently a shortened version of her name, and Ace was either for her initials or for her wicked serve in tennis. She modestly stated that she was one of the star tennis players at her high school, setting a school record for the most aces in her high school career. Saying I was impressed was putting it mildly.

I also learned she was a regular to Cape Cod, coming during the summer months, but hadn't been back in a number of years due to family issues. Instead she had chosen to go to tennis camp every summer, or vacation with friends and their families, just to escape the arguing. Apparently, her parents had been on the verge of divorce a while back, but they made it through and couldn't be happier. It seemed that our conversation had turned to me and my life story too soon.

I started with the basics, how I had an older brother named Landon, who was six years older than me. Landon had just gotten engaged to his college sweetheart and the wedding was the next summer. How, I too, had been a devoted Cape Cod summer inhabitant, but had been stuck with my own personal, three dimensional shadow. Which I hated. She let out a hearty laugh at that statement, and I couldn't help but laugh along with her. Her laughter was contagious. My spirits had risen ever since I met her. It was scary how close I could feel to someone I had just met, but at the same time, I knew what I was feeling was real.

And if my emotions stayed at the pace they were at, I would fall hard for her by the end of the summer, if not before.

She finally brought up the ex-factor. I already knew about her most recent ex, so I decided it was only fair to share about Naomi. I recounted how we had met our freshman year at some extra credit lecture. I wasn't able to state what it was about due to the fact I had spent the entire time entranced by Naomi, who was just a couple rows in front of me. By the time it was over, I had mustered up enough courage to approach. We got to talking, and two weeks later we were officially a couple. By the end of my junior year, we were still together, and I had a strong feeling that she was the girl I was going to marry.

Until I found out she had been cheating on me for an entire year. With my roommate, Zane Mitchell.

And the final blow?

She was pregnant. With his child.

I found myself explaining to her the entire situation to her. She surprised me by listening to me intently. It was refreshing; having someone's attention zoned in on you. I should have seen the signs when Naomi's attention slowly decreased as time passed during our relationship. What really made me mad, was that she lied to me. I had asked her repeatedly if she was happy in our relationship, and every time she said yes. And she also lied to me about the paternity of her baby. I was led to believe I was the father. It was like a punch in the gut to think the baby I was actually looking forward to, no matter if I thought we were too young to be parents, was fathered by my roommate instead.

"What hurt the most, was the lying," I told her, sighing deeply. I looked down at her, seeing understanding and a hint of sadness in her eyes. "It's my biggest pet peeve. I cannot stand it when people lie to me."

"I can understand," she stated quietly, facing forward once more. She began to lightly rub her forearms, around the area where Beau had grabbed her. My blood boiled with the thought of him hurting her. By this time, I was accepting whatever feelings I was developing for her. And it felt damn good to feel like that about another person again.

"Are you okay?" I asked her worriedly.

"Yeah, just a little sore where he grabbed me," she gave her arms one last rub. "I won't be surprised if there's a bruise there come morning."

I was about to ask her if that was the first time he had ever grabbed her like that, but I was stopped short by someone yelling for her from up ahead.

"Lia!" a short blonde haired girl cried as she ran up to her. "Oh my God, I was worried when I saw Beau run after you!"

She lightly grasped Lia's left arm, causing her to wince. She tried to not make it so obvious, but it didn't work. The blonde saw her reaction and immediately let go and to look her in the eyes, silently asking a question. I could figure it out though. She was asking if Beau did it. And Lia's eyes silently confirmed it.

"Well, I'm glad you're back," she said, while giving her a look that said they would be talking about what had happened later on. Then she turned her attention on me. "And who are you?"

"Callum Brookes," I stated, shaking her hand. I pointed to the guy behind her with, what I assumed to be, their other friends. "I see you've already met my best friend, Gavin. I hope he wasn't using his lame pickup lines on you girls."

"He's cute. Then he opened his mouth and he totally ruined it for me. But, may I ask how you met my best friend here?"

I looked to Lia, as I was calling her now, since I thought that was the prettiest of her nicknames and I didn't know her real name- wondering if we should tell the story of how we became acquainted with each other. It was pointless because before I had a chance to think of an answer that would be acceptable, she beat me to it. And her answer surprised me.

"Chloe, he helped me out with a little situation involving Beau. He got him to leave me alone, and here we are." Her friend, Chloe, became wide-eyed, but I could see the appreciation that was in them. She knew what kind of guy Beau could be, and was glad that I was man enough to step in. And let me tell you, it caused me to swell with pride.

"Well look at that!" Gavin exclaimed as he made his way over to the three of us. "Cal finally got some arm candy!" He draped his arm over Chloe's shoulders, much to her chagrin. That was Gavin's way of saying he was into the girl. "You girls going to hit up the club tonight?"

"We were thinking about that," Lia replied, turning her gaze up to me. "Save a dance for me?"

At a loss for words, I nodded excitedly, which made Gavin almost collapse with laughter.

"Man, he just met you and you already have him tongue tied!" he stated before looking down at Chloe. "What do you say you and I get a little 'tongue tied' together later on, beautiful?" he wiggled his eyebrows up and down in a suggestive manner.

What he got in return was a swift elbow to his stomach, and a foot stomping, before she grabbed Lia's hand and left us. Would Gavin ever learn that some girls wouldn't fall for his corny pick up lines and suggestive questions?

Realizing the fact that I had just promised to meet Lia and save her a dance that night, I took a giant sniff of my sweat clad shirt.

I will definitely need an extra long shower, I thought to myself as I smelled the stench.

I took another sniff.

Oh yeah. I need to shower. Pronto.


Thanks to All Over You for beta-ing this short story!