Your Book, My Book, Our Book…

I was recently given the opportunity to read a friend’s book that she wrote (it is not published yet, but look for the review soon) and it really got me thinking about my book again…  I posted a few months ago the first couple of chapters from that book and decided it was time to post some more of it!  So without further ado…

BTW if you haven’t read the first couple of chapters you should probably do that first!

Love,

Bri


Chapter 3

The next morning I wake up, but don’t get out of bed. I need to plan my day. I want to get all the thoughts from the previous night out of my mind. I just need to will myself to happiness. There is nothing I can do about it anyways. After a few minutes, I finally get up and walk out into my living room. The sight before me is a combination of love and hysterics!  Brooke is sleeping half on and half off of my couch and poor Brandon is sprawled out on the floor. That can’t be comfortable. I don’t have carpet so he is sleeping on the hard wood floor with only a small couch pillow to separates his head from the ground. I try to be as quiet as I can as I head into the kitchen to start a pot of coffee. When I turn the water on though, they both start stirring around.

“Anyone want some coffee?” I say extra upbeat.

“Yes.” Both Brooke and Brandon grumble under their breath.

“Coming right up!” I am still very peppy. I am hoping that if I just stay in a really good mood that neither of them will bring up the events of last night and we can all just move past them.

“So what would you guys like to do today?” Trying to get them to wake up and join in on the conversation.

“Oh, I don’t know.” Brooke sits up and stretches and blinks repeatedly to try and wake herself up. Brandon still has yet to get all the way up.

“How about we go to the beach. It is supposed to be really nice and I could use some sun!” I really do need some sun. For living in California, I think I am one of the palest people in the entire state.  I would give casper a run for his money!

“That actually sounds perfect!” She seems relieved. I think she is hung over. I can’t help but laugh a little thinking about how she must be feeling right now!

After we have a couple cups of coffee and get our stuff together, we make our way to the beach. Brandon leaves most of his beach attire at Brooke’s place since we live so close to the beach. We walk the five blocks from our apartment and across the hot sand. I love the feel of sand on your bare feet. It is a natural pedicure and after being in those heels all night I need it! We find a spot that is not too crowded but that is still a little close to the water so we can watch Brandon when he goes out to surf. We all place down our beach towels and start to strip off our outer clothing. I am wearing a halter-top blue and yellow striped bikini, but my bathing suit may as well be a one piece compared to Brooke’s suit.  She is also wearing a bikini but her top is little triangles that barely covers her boobs. The bottom is curved around her butt cheeks and scrunched together at the top. It is just barely over the top of her butt crack. We both lay down on our towels as Brandon is peeling off his shirt. He has a really nice body. The rigid outline of his abs are etched into his stomach and he has those “V” muscles that sit right on his hips. I am blushing as I stare up at him through my sunglasses, but then he turns and is off to the water with his board.

Back on the beach, I take my iPod and lay it between Brooke and I. I give her the left headphone and I take the right one. We each put them in one of our ears so we can listen together. The humming of Katy Perry’s “California Girls” is already playing when I hit the play button. How appropriate! You gotta love this song though! After about 10 minutes of lounging I am on the verge of sleep. There is nothing better than laying on the beach listening to the music with the crisp heat of the sun beating on you while the water provides you with just enough of a cool breeze.

When I open my eyes again, I have to find my phone to check the time. Holy Moly, I slept for an hour. I look to my right and Brooke is still passed out. I shake her and tell her to turn over so she does not burn on her front. As she falls back asleep, I get up from towel and walk down towards the water to dip my toes in the surf.  I skim the surface of the ocean to see if I can find Brandon, but there are a lot of surfers out there today so I don’t immediately find him. The waves are pretty big actually, not really normal for this area, but you take it when you get it. After a couple of minutes, I finally spot Brandon’s bright green board shorts. He is just sitting on his board waiting for a set to come in and after a couple of minutes I see him start to paddle towards the shore. Once he reaches the peak of the wave he pushes down on the nose of his board and before I know it he is to his feet, pushing his board from side to side and weaving up and down the wave. After the wave dies he lies back on his board and paddles the rest of the way to the shore.

When he reaches the shoreline, I can’t help but stare at him while he picks up his board. He is dripping wet and he shakes his head to one side so his hair flips back and out of his face. I literally can not take my eyes off of him.  He looks so hot right now. All of his muscles are expanded from being used. You can see the silhouette of every single one on his body! It has been a while since I have seen him naked and he is looking better than ever! My insides start to get excited just as he reaches me. He must see the cheesy grin on my face because he flashes one right back at me.

“Like what you see?” He smirks at me. Luckily I have sunglasses on so he cannot tell where I am looking.

“I do! The waves looks extra good today!” His smile fades as he turns to admire the view of them. “But you are not too bad yourself!” He turns back to me and smiles again. His eyes light up with excitement as he shoves the end of his board into the sand and walks towards me. All the water droplets on his body are glistening in sun. He looks like a Greek God. When he is about a foot from me, my pulse kicks into high gear. I lick my lips anticipating the kiss that is to come, but just as he leans forward, he runs his fingers through his wet hair and splashes water all over me.

I can’t help but scream because of the shock.  “Oh my god that is freezing.” I yell as I jump back away from him. “You suck Brandon.”

“Yeah sometimes I do.” He says and winks at me! Cocky bastard. He thinks he is so hot and smart. I mean he is, but that is not the point. I turn to walk with him back up to our towels and Brooke rolls back over just as we get there. She has a hint of a smirk on her face as she sees that I am wet. I sit back down on my towel between the two of them. Today was exactly what I needed. It was very relaxing and it took my mind off of the drama from earlier. It is so nice spending time with Brooke and Brandon just the three of us.

After a couple more hours on the beach, we decide that if we don’t want to burn that we should head back shortly. We start to gather our stuff and make the trek of 5 more blocks back to apartment. After about a block Brandon breaks the silence and asks how I am doing. Shit, I really thought I was going to make it through this whole day without having to answer that question.

“I am good. There is nothing I can do about it. It means nothing to me and I don’t want to dwell on it any longer.” Straight and to the point. Brooke gives him an irritated glare.

“Ok just making sure.” He smiles apologetically. He has his left arm wrapped around his Reef surfboard so I put my arm through his right arm and walk the rest of the way back to apartment like that. We all walk into my apartment and throw our stuff on the floor by the door to contain the sand in one spot. We are all trying to decide on what to do for a late lunch. Who wants to cook? Do we want to go out? Eventually we decide on ordering Chinese from our local restaurant. Brooke says that she will go pick it up and then she can go grab some drinks from the store as well.

“Well, I am going to go shower and then I will go get the food.” She looks at Brandon and I curiously like we are plotting something. Why is she looking at me like that? “Ok well I’m leaving, so I will be back in an hour.” And with that she is out the door of my apartment.

“What was that all about?” Brandon asks.

“I was thinking the same thing!” I shrug and laugh a little. “Ok well I am going to shower and then you can if you want.”

“Sounds like a plan.” He says and then I leave the room and head for the bathroom. I turn the water on so it can start heating up. I like to take really hot showers. I always have to wait at least twenty minutes after a shower for the mirror to defog itself. I take off my bathing suit and throw it on the bathroom floor and step into my steamy shower when I hear my bathroom door open. My heart almost stops. I don’t know why I still get nervous, I know who it is, but my stomach is in knots. I am excited and nervous all at the same time. I am facing the front of the shower and letting the water fall over my body when I feel his finger trace down my neck and down the crevice of my back all the way to my ass and then back up. I turn around and Brandon is standing completely naked behind me and before I can take a breath he already has his hands in my wet hair and pulling me towards him.

He is exactly what I need to take my mind off of last night.  He will make me forget about it all.  I take a deep breath as he brushes his lips against mine. He smells of salt and sunscreen. It is absolute heaven. I wrap my arms around him so my chest is pushed into him, kissing, and biting his lip; he pushes me back into the water so it is spilling over us both. As the water runs down my body, it is making me wet, which only entices him more. When i finally lock eyes with him, that is all the permission he needs to continue his assault on my body.

—————————————–

Looking down at me, he kisses me on last time and I can’t help but smile at the unexpected activities that have just unfolded in my shower. We both finish showering, getting dressed and ready about 10 minutes before Brooke returns with the food.  I don’t know if she knows that Brandon and I engage in these hidden behaviors. She knows we have messed around on occasion, but I don’t think she knows that we have sex.  I am not sure that I want to have that conversation with her. We both trying to act like nothing happened, but Brandon keeps staring at me smiling like a goofy bastard! SHIT.

“What is wrong with you two?” Brooke is staring at both of us now. Shit she knows. Think, think. What should I say?

“We were just talking about this guy that was out in the water with me. He was trying to impress some girls he came with and he could not even get up on his board.” Brandon says right to her without even hesitating. Thank god because I could not come up with a believable lie that quick!

“Oh. Some guys will do anything!” She says as she takes the food out from the bag.

Without missing a beat, Brandon looks at me and smiles, “yeah some guys will do anything.” Really did he just say that? I just shake my head and roll my eyes. At this point I am starving and the food looks so good.  After we each grab some food, we move into the living room and lounge around watching TV for the rest of the night.

Monday morning, bright and early, and Madison has already given me a list of local professionals that I need to interview this week for the magazine. I make my way through the list of people in LA and start making calls to set up meetings with them. When I get to the sixth name down the list it is Rich Boards, they make custom surfboards. When I call to set up a meeting, I find out that the owner, Mr. Richardson, has some free time this afternoon. I agree to a time and hang up the phone.

I finish calling everyone on my list and grab my pre-approved questions from Madison before heading over to Rich Boards. I grab my car out of the garage and make my way towards Venice beach. The weather lately has been beautiful and I immediately open my sunroof and let the cool ocean breeze blow through my hair. As soon as I turn on the radio,  Carly Rae Jepson greets my ears and I  sing along to “Call Me Maybe” as I drive.

When I pul off the road and into the parking lot I am immediately surprised to see a very simplistic building sitting in front of me. As I walk to the front I can see that the view must be why they chose this location.  The building has an unobstructed view straight out into the ocean. The front of it has big plate glass windows with surfboards on display for all to see. The outside is lined with palm trees and hibiscus plants and t he smell coming from the flowers as I make my way to their door is absolutely enchanting.

When I walk in the front door, I am greeted by a perky teenage girl that is manning the cash register at the front. “I have a meeting with Mr. Richardson.” I state.

She asks my name and retreats through a door to the back of the building. While I wait, I  walk around the shop looking at the custom boards that surround me. They have everything here from your typical short boards and long boards to some fancy hybrid models that I know nothing about. I can tell you pretty general knowledge about surfboards and I know the basics of surfing and from time to time you will catch me out in the water on a board but I am by no means a great surfer

When I get to far wall, I run my hand across the top of a fish board and feel the slick fiberglass beneath my fingertips. This board has an intricate design of a mermaid along the side intertwined with some tribal swirls.  As I am admiring the wonderful craftsmanship I hear someone walking across the room towards me. “I just finished that one yesterday,” an all too familiar voice states.

I turn around to meet him, “it’s… ummm… I.. Ugh…” I stammer.

“I’ll take that to mean you like them Layla?” I stand there for a minute a little confused.

I thought the company sounded familiar, but I just never put the two together. “I’m sorry Derek. I am just a little thrown off.” I try to laugh it off. “I didn’t realize you owned Rich Boards.”

“Yeah I started it when I got out of college.”

I try to just relax a little bit. I am here for work. I need to focus on my job and get this
interview done. Nothing else matters. He motions for the door, “would you like to come back to my office?”  He is so different than I remember him. In college he was the frat boy and full time surfer. I didn’t think he went to any of his classes let alone enough to get a degree that would allow him to run a business.  I shouldn’t really be surprised that he started a surfboard company though, I just didn’t think he had the business sense. I guess a lot of things change.

I follow him back to his office and take a seat in his cream leather and cherry wood chair adjacent from his desk. There is a large window behind his chair that showcases his workshop. There are large pieces of foam, that almost look like wood, stacked up around the shop. The tables, in what looks like his warehouse, are covered with sanders and saws. The back of the room is much like the front of the building with it has large plate glass windows that not only allow in a ton of natural light, but give the room a beautiful and wonderful backdrop of the lush urban garden that is situated behind the building.

While I am busy staring at the warehouse, he sits down, across from me, at his desk and I am forced to bring myself back to the topic at hand.  I set up a recorder on his desk and begin to ask my questions and take notes. I am surprised that I actually learn a lot of things about Derek that I never knew. The interview lasts for about 30 minutes and then I pack everything back up and am ready to leave.

As he walks me out of his office, he stops, “I almost forgot. I will call you later this week to set up a time for a photographer to come over an get some pictures of you in the shop.” He nods politely and opens the door. As I move to step forward out of his office I almost run right into him again.  How can this keep happening?

He comes from around the corner moving towards Derek’s office and when he looks up from his phone to see me almost run into him, he looks as surprised as I am. We both just stand there for a minute staring at each other confused by the others presence.  From somewhere behind me I hear Derek speak, “Layla, I would like you to meet my silent business partner and financier.”

Logan stands in front of me stock still and flashes one of his remarkable smiles. I am so completely mesmerized by his smile and the fact that he is again standing in front of me, that I forget to talk. I just stand there for a couple of minutes trying to process once again the events that are taking place. Once I finally manage to piece together some words, all I can come up with is, “You two are business partners?”.

“Well I get financing and Logan gets free boards! It’s a win-win situation.” Derek chuckles as he makes his way past me towards Logan. Logan and I have still not taken our eyes off of each other. He is no longer smiling, as we both stand there daring the other to make the first move, but neither one of us does. Derek finally is the one to break the silence and nudges Logan’s arm to steal his attention away from me. “We really should get going. We are going to be late.”

He turns to look at Derek from the corner of his eye before turning back to face me. “It was great seeing you again Layla.” He leans forward and gently kisses my cheek and I am frozen in time. I cannot move any part of my body. I end up just standing there and watch as he walks away from me again without another word.

Two times in one week I have been caught off guard by him and have been unable to speak or move when I am in his presence. After this long apart you would think that I have this all worked out in my mind, but clearly I don’t. There is so much that was not ended with us. I never got closure and seeing him again just opens up all the old wounds.

I manage to make it back to the office without running into him again. Thankfully. I take my seat at my desk and try to finish what is left of my workday, but all I have left is just  enough time to send a few more emails and shut down my computer for the day.

Once my computer is shut down, I sit in my office and try to clear my head of my thoughts of Logan. I can’t go home to see Brooke and Brandon while I am still thinking about him, they will know something is up and after the weekend and seeing how they both reacted to him showing up at the club, I really don’t want to relive all of that all over again.  Before I leave my office I will get my shit together.  I hope.

Chapter 4

My next two weeks of work seem relatively uneventful compared to my previous weeks. My boss, Madison, has been traveling back and forth between LA and New York working on an ad campaign for the upcoming fashion week. Since she has not been in, I have had to pick up some of her slack and go over some smaller projects around the office, which has been great.  All the extra distractions really helped to take my mind off of Logan.

When I got home from work a couple of weeks ago I was so worried that Brook was going to know that I was stressing over Logan that I completely missed the fact that she was completely dressed up and ready to go out.  Turns out, when I thought that I had forgotten we had plans, that Brooke actually had a date!

So now Brooke has been dating a guy named Ryan for a couple of weeks now. She told me that she met him at a coffee shop. They had accidentally stolen each others drinks and he realized it as she was walking out and caught up with her to switch them back. Ryan insisted on making it up to her by taking her to dinner. Can someone say cheesy?

They seem to be hitting it off pretty well. He seems like a nice guy even thought I have only meet him twice when he has come by to pick her up from her apartment, but so far they seem to be into each other. I am still having to get used to Brooke dating one guy.  She tends to date around and juggle between three or more guys rather than sticking with one guy.

Since Brooke has been going out so much, it has given Brandon and I some more time to spend with each other alone, but in that time together I have also realized that he does not like Ryan. I know he is just being the typical big brother, but can’t he just be happy for her?  Geeze!. Brooke has also started asking more questions about me and Brandon lately.  She knows we are spending more time together since she is not around as much and now I think she suspects that we are messing around. I have tried to tell her that is it nothing serious and that we are just keeping it casual. Sexual, but casual!

On my way home from work on the following Tuesday I stop and pick up a pizza for the three of us. When I walk into the pizza place to pay for our food, they open the box to make sure it is correct. Pineapple with extra ham. Yum! I take the pizza and head back to the apartment and when I open the door to Brooke’s place, Brandon is sitting on the bar stool at the counter working on his laptop and Brooke is in her closet rummaging through her clothes

“Dinner is served.” I say and sit the pizza on the counter next to Brandon. I look around for Brooke, but I don’t see her, I can only hear her. “What is she doing?” I ask him.

“She has another date tonight.” He mumbles without looking up from his computer.

“Oh well. More for us!” I am trying to diffuse the situation because I know that he still doesn’t like Ryan.  If food isn’t going to make him happy I need to try a different approach. I lean forward and whisper into his ear, “maybe we can figure out something for dessert after this pizza is done!” That got his attention.

“I am sure I can think of something appetizing!” He jokes as he finally looks away from his computer.

At that moment, Brooke comes into the living room to ask what I think about her outfit. She is wearing a tight purple mini skirt with a black tank top, her hair is curled and tussled so that it falls over her shoulders. If looks could kill! I glance at Brandon who is eyeballing her from where he sits. He is such a brother, acting like he is about to yell at her like he is her father, but before he ruins her mood and can tell her she should change I blurt out, “you look hot!”

“Really? It’s not too much is it?” She says while pulling her skirt down a little and shifting her weight from one foot to the other.

“No it is great. Your hair looks really good too!” Trying to emphasize that everything is perfect. I have never seen her this nervous before, she must really like this guy. She is never this worried about how she looks. Just then, there is a knock at the door. Brooke runs back towards her room, for what I assume is her last minute touchups and I head to cut Brandon off and answer the door.

“Hey Ryan.” I gesture with my hand, “come on in. She is almost ready.” He is dressed in jeans and a light pink shirt. He has really nice tanned skin and dark brown eyes that almost match the color of his hair.

“Thanks.” He steps over the threshold and walks towards Brandon and nods his head. “Hey man how’s it going?

“Not to bad, thanks.” And with that Brandon is done.  No more polite conversation will be coming from him. He just leans back against the counter glaring. So, I walk over and lean up against the stool between his legs to try to calm him down, but when I rest my arms on his thighs, I can feel how tense he is.  This isn’t going to go well.

“So Ryan, what do you guys have planned for the night?” I try to make polite chitchat because you can feel the tension in the room.

“You know, the whole dinner and dancing thing.” By his uneasy tone I would guess he could feel the tension as well. Luckily for all of us, Brooke walks out to greet him and she has since paired her outfit with some studded black stilettos

“You ready to go?” She smiles at Ryan and he nods. They walk toward the door and while she turns to shut it behind her she points and declares, “Don’t do anything I wouldn’t do.” And with that she is gone.

“So how about that dessert?” Brandon grabs my hand and leads me back to my apartment before I can even answer. I feel like my heart is going to beat out of my chest. The excitement is too overwhelming. I wonder what he has planned? Once he closes the door behind us, I decide that this is going to be my game, not his. Before he even knows what is happening, I push him up against the back of my door, grab his face with my hands and kiss him with every ounce of passion that I have. His lips are so strong and masculine and I can fill his scruffy facial hair rubbing against my face as we make out. Making sure not to break our contact, I find his hands with mine and pull him towards my bedroom, trying to maneuver between the furniture and doorways. When I feel my bed behind the back of my legs, I turn around and shove him onto it.

While he is lying on the bed smiling and out of breath, I slowly climb onto the edge of it, placing my legs in between his. I lean over and undo his belt and buttons on his jeans and begin slowly tugging them off of him, making sure not to pull his boxers down as well. Once I have successfully gotten them off, I make my way back up on top of him, placing my hips directly on top of his. I start to slowly rub back and forth, building up the sensation throughout my body and his. I can feel him beneath his boxers growing larger and harder with every movement that I make. When he reaches up and squeezes my ass cheeks, he tries to roll me over so he can be on top of me, but I reach up and pin his shoulders back down to the bed. Guessing what I want, he relinquishes control, places his hands behind his head and gives me a smirk, “Go to town sweetheart, I am just along for the ride.”

A couple of well spent hours later every muscle in my body is completely satisfied.  Brandon rolls onto his side and pulls me over so I can put my head on his chest.  The thumping of his heart instantly lulls me to sleep and the thought of pizza has since been driven out of my mind

The next time I open my eyes it is morning and Brandon is sleeping on my pillow, facing me. I can feel his shallow breath against my nose. He looks so peaceful in the morning. His hair is still disheveled from out sex-capades the night before, but he manages to still look amazing.  I am sure the same can not be said for myself.

“Hello.” He murmurs as he slowly opens his eyes. His eyes are a gorgeous sea foam green in the early morning hours, but by night time than have transformed into a Kelly green that is equally just as memorizing. As he leans forward to kiss me I can feel something else “gorgeous” rubbing up against me!

“Hello yourself!” I kiss him back but then roll over and get out of bed. “I have to get ready for work or I am going to be late.”

“I wasn’t going to do anything!” He chuckles from behind me. “I was just saying good morning!”

“I know your tactics and I cannot give in this morning, I am going to be late.” I turn to say to him, noticing he has a devilish grin on his face. “I knew you had something planned!

“I can’t help it!” He pleads. I can’t help but smile back. .

When I get out of the shower and finish getting ready I head to the living room to find Brandon sitting on my couch with Brooke. She is going on about her date the night before with Ryan, but Brandon could not seem less interested. When they notice me walking in, he gets up to grab a travel mug from the counter and hands it to me

“I made coffee.” I take the cup from him. “Now I am going to get ready.” He kisses me and goes to walk across the hall to Brooke’s apartment where the majority of his clothes are. “Have a good day at work dear!” I blush knowing that Brooke is sitting five feet from me and when I look over at her, she is smiling from ear to ear, exactly as I expected her to be.

“Did you have a good night?” She inquires with a shit eating grin. Little does she know that I have no intention of getting into a conversation about my sexual relationship with her brother. So a quick change of subject is needed.

“I did thanks. How was your night?” I question, trying to reel her back in to her date night.  Without missing a beat, she then proceeds to tell me about their dinner and dancing. She can’t seem to hide her excitement about the next part when she insists on telling me how she had sex with Ryan last night for the first time. After about 10 minutes of catching up on her life story and whole incredible Ryan is in bed, I leave for work and as I drive I can’t help but reminisce about my own fun night last night, so I decide to send Brandon a text message.

“I had a great time last night. I hope we can do it again sometime!!!” Send. Within 1 minute I have a response

“Last night was pretty amazing and if I get my way we will do it again many more times.” Typical guy.

“Well I might be okay with you getting your way, but just this one thing.” Send.

“Well it’s either my way or the highway! Have a great day at work, I’ll call you later babe!

I am not referred to as BABE. That is something new.  Clearly things may be getting more serious for him as well.

I get to work and pull into my normal parking spot. I usually park next to Madison but she is still out of town so there is just an empty space next to me. I head into the office to start my day and am busy from the time I walk in until the time that I leave. Later that afternoon as I am walking back to my car, I notice my back passenger tire is completely flat. Shit. When I walk up to inspect it, I notice there is a large nail stuck into the tread. I must have run over it sometime this morning. Not wanting to deal with changing a flat tire, I take my phone out to call AAA and that’s when I hear a voice behind. A voice that is only too familiar to me. One that is unmistakable. It is him. I turn around and there he is. Just standing there looking at me with his hands in his pockets.

“What the hell are you doing here Logan?” He looks so good, but he seems distant.  “Are you stalking me now?”

Completely ignoring everything I just asked, he points to my tire and asks his own questions.“Do you need help with that?” He walks straight over to me and continues, “Do you still have your spare tire in the back?”

“Why are you here?” I ask again as I continue to stare at him with a million thoughts running through my mind.  Why is he in my parking garage?  Why is he in California?  Why do I keep running into him?  Why does he still look so good?  Why does he still affect me?  Why do I still want him?

“Give me your keys so I can get your spare and I will tell you while I am changing your tire.” He moves even closer to me and sticks his hand out as if asking for my keys. I cannot think. I automatically grab my keys and hand them to him, never even thinking twice about it. He takes my keys, opens my trunk and pulls up the bottom mat and proceeds to take out my spare tire. He the grabs the tire iron and starts taking off the lug nuts of the flat.

Third time’s a charm. “Why are you here?” I need to know. I deserve to know and he is just annoying me now.

“I came to talk to you and I wanted to see you.”  He pauses and takes a deep breath before he continues. “I have not stopped thinking about you since I saw you the other day and I came to see if I could take you to dinner so we could talk.” He glances over his shoulder when he says, “I had not gone in to your office yet, because I was not sure what I was going to say.” Without another word, he turns back around and continues working on my tire. He is dressed in jeans and a button up shirt with his sleeves rolled up and he seems so cool and collected, but he forgets that I know him and I can tell something is off.

“Why do you want to talk? What could you possible have to say after all this time?” I have a hint of anger in my voice that I cannot seem to hide.

“Dinner?” He turns to look at me again.

“I don’t want to go to dinner.”  I can’t help but raise my voice now.  My anger is no longer in check.  “Just tell me what you have to fucking say.”

He continues our conversation without any hesitation.“I don’t want to talk about this here, in the middle of a garage, Layla. Please go to dinner with me.” He seems so smooth and sweet when he says this, almost like he still cares about me, but if he cared he would not have left me the way that he did three years ago. He turns back to finish changing my tire and leaves me to think it over. I can’t go to dinner with this man. After everything he did to me. What could he possible have to say? Do I honestly care? Of course I care. But why do I care? I don’t owe him anything. I could just leave. While I am standing there speechless watching him as he finishes, he puts my flat tire into my trunk and turns back to me

“I can see you are still mad and honestly I don’t blame you. I probably should not have come. It was great seeing you. You look great. Maybe I’ll see you around.” He comes closer to me, hands me my keys back, leans in and kisses me on my cheek. When he brushes his face against mine, my body completely melts. I close my eyes to take him in and the smell of him brings back every memory that I have tried so hard and so long to suppress. He pulls away just slightly and whispers in my ear, sending pulses shooting down my spine. “I’m sorry.”

As he turns and walks away from me for yet again time, all I can do it stand there and watch him head back to his car. Tears have started welling up in my eyes and I am now forced to confront my feelings for him all over again. Why do I still care? How can he still do this to me? I can’t open this door again. I can’t let him back in. He destroyed me… I have to know though… I have to know what he came here to say…  I can’t keep watching him walk away from me and not know why.

“Logan, wait.” My legs have finally seemed to receive the signals from my brain to move, and I rush to catch up to him. “I am not very hungry, but I could go for a drink.”

He smiles, “that sounds great. You can ride with me.” And just like that Logan was back in my life.

Chapter 5

We arrive at a bar that I have never been to before. It is in a really nice part of town and when we walk in, it takes us a minute to find an empty table because it is already pretty busy for it only being six-thirty. Once Logan spots a table, I follow him over to it. It is a high top table against the side wall. When our waiter walks over, Logan orders a rum and coke while I order a vodka and sprite and then we just sit in silence staring at each other until our waiter finally reappears.Logan takes a big swig of his drink and then finally speaks

“So how have you been?” That’s what he wants to talk about? Seriously?

“I have been great Logan. Thanks. But what did we come here to talk about? What did you want to tell me? Why are you here?” I spew out every question that is running through my mind. I almost feel bad for being so abrupt, but I am here to find out what he has to say and that is it.

“I am back in town on some personal business and I wanted to see how you were doing.” He stares me right in the eyes as he finally asks, “How are you doing?” He genuinely seems concerned, which is weird since I have not heard from him in over three years. I can feel myself growing more angry and impatient by the minute. ‘

“I am doing great. Did you think that I would just crawl into a hole and die after you left me?” A little harsh, but who does he think he is?

“That is not what I meant. I am glad that you are doing so well. I… Uh… Wan…I just wanted to see you and since I was in town I figured I should at least try.” Glad to see I am not the only that is at a lose for words during this conversation.

“Well mission accomplished. Now you know. I guess since you have now marked that off your list you can now go about your personal business.” I am so mad inside. He didn’t come back here to check on me.  He could have check on me for three years.  Not one phone call.  Not one email.  Not one letter.  Nothing… and now I am even more pissed.

“Damnit Layla, my personal business that I came here for is you.”He breaths all the air out of his lungs while he says this and then looks out the window beside him. My mouth literally drops open. I was totally not expecting that. He is dead serious and he actually seems mad now. I am stone cold and speechless. Say something stupid… I open my mouth to speak but I immediately close it again.  What the hell am I supposed to say to that?

He takes a deep breath and then turns back to look at me again, “I had come here to see you and tell you what happened and why I left.” He takes another large sip of his drink. “I left because I was scared. I was scared for you…” Another sip.  “I loved you so much. I just did not know how to deal with those feelings. We were so young, we were graduating college and I did not know what was going to happen with us. I didn’t want to hold you back. I wanted you to get the chance to live your life.” He pauses for another moment and I take this chance to jump in

“You were my life Logan. We talked about getting married. I know we were young but we had plans and dreams and you ruined it all.” Oh shit here come the tears. “You destroyed me. You destroyed us.” It is my turn to take a sip and stare at him. He seems to be thinking about what I said.

“I love you.” The look on his face is as surprised as mine. He could not have meant to say that, but he doesn’t try to correct himself either. Instead he says it again. “I love you. It’s true, I always have and always will. I know that does not change what happened. I don’t expect it to, but I need you to know that I did it for you. For us. What we had was so perfect and great and I did not want to have it any other way. If I went to New York and you stayed here, I didn’t know if it would last. I was scared and stupid and I am sorry that I hurt you.” There is pain in his eyes. The same pain that I felt for months after he left.

“I don’t know if I love you anymore. I don’t know if I could ever love you again.” I try to hold my tears back, but they fall down my cheeks and into the corners of my mouth. When I see the waiter pass by me, I order another drink. “I’m sorry.” It’s all that I can say.  I really am sorry for the way everything turned out.  I know it was my fault, but I am sorry for the loss of our relationship.  What we had was special and I don’t think it is something that we will ever get back.

“You have nothing to be sorry about. Please stop crying. I hate to see you cry.” He scoots his chair closer to mine and wraps his arms around me and pulls me against him. I instinctively wrap mine around his neck and cry even harder. When the waiter returns with my drink, I try to compose myself and guzzle it down.  An alcoholic induced haze seems like the way to go right now.

For the next hour we sit and talk about our jobs, doing everything we can to take our minds off of the conversation that we just had. He has been working for his dad in their New York law firm and finishing law school. His dad had opened up another firm in New York while we were still in school. He traveled bi-coastal since Logan and I had been together.
After I consume two more drinks, I decide that it is best if we leave. We pay our tab and then go. He takes my hand and walks me back to his car. I don’t try to refuse because I am doing a horrible job of walking straight and I still have on my heels from work, which is not helping. As we drive back to my apartment I think over what we said to each other tonight. So much has happened. I thought I was moving on and in a better place since him, thanks to Brooke and Brandon. Oh shit. Brandon. What am I going to do about Brandon? What am I going to tell him?… We finally pull up to my place and Logan gets out and walks around to open my door and help me out. He walks me to the front door of my building and then releases my hand.

“Thank you for agreeing to come tonight.” He shyly smiles at me.

“Thank you for the drinks. It was good seeing you.” As I turn to walk inside he throws me off guard again.

“I was planning on staying in town for a while. I was wondering if I could see you again. As friends. No pressure. We can keep it casual.” I turn to look at him over my shoulder and I can see his eyes begging me to say yes. There is no harm if we keep it casual. Right?  We could catch up on things with each other. Who am I kidding? I am opening up a world of hurt if I agree, but I don’t think my heart will let me say no.

“Sure we could do that.” I ask him for his phone and enter my number for him. “Give me a call or text me sometime.”

“You got it! Have a good night.” Then he turns and walks back to his car.  As I stand there watching him walk away from me again, which seems to be the story of our lives, I try to convince mys mind that I can handle this friendship, but who am I kidding?  I know better than to believe that.

Inside my apartment I would love to just sit and take all of this in, but the room is starting to spin so I decide on just getting into bed and going straight to sleep. I am going to have to explain to Brooke tomorrow, extra early in the morning, because she will have to take me to work since that is where my car still is. That is one conversation I really don’t want to have. What have I agreed to with Logan?

I wake up the next morning almost in a fog from the amount of alcohol that I consumed the night before. It almost feels like I dreamt everything that happened. I, of course, know that it is not a dream. I decide not to dwell on things for too long and start getting ready for work. After I finish getting ready, I head to the kitchen and make coffee for both Brooke and myself. Since I am going to wake her up this early, it is the least I can do. I unlock her door and make my way to her bedroom. I try to wake her by shaking her back gently and whispering her name, “Brooke…”  Nothing.  “Brooke…”  Again nothing.

“Brooke, can you give me a ride to work?” I am trying to be quiet and let her have a minute to realize what is going on, but she is such a heavy sleeper, that I am forced to be a little more aggressive with the shaking.

“Why can’t you drive? Where is your car?” She mumbles while still half asleep and with her eyes still fully closed.

“My car is still at work. I had a flat tire and got a ride home last night.” Not a complete lie, but enough to get her up. I will tell her the whole truth when we are in the car.

“Fine. Give me a second.  Can I at least brush my teeth?” She rubs her eyes and makes her way to the bathroom. After five minutes we head out the door and make our way to her car.

“So how did you get home? Why didn’t you just call AAA?” Here come the questions.

“I have to tell you something and I need you to hear the whole thing before you talk.” She eyes me questioningly and then drinks some of her coffee so she is awake for what I need to say. I go through the story of how Logan showed up at my work, the flat tire and then going out for drinks. I do my best to remember every word that was spoken at the bar so she can have the whole story and when I finish she does not even hesitate.

“Are you fucking kidding me? You went out with him. After everything he put you through?” She stares right at me. “You don’t believe a word he said do you?” She stares right at me again, but I just shrug.

“I don’t know what I believe. I thought that I had put it all behind me.” I did put it all behind me, but I was drawn to him from the moment I met him and that pull is still there, no matter how much I don’t want it to be.

“Please tell me you don’t want to get back together with him.” Her eyes narrow at me. She looks like she is ready to cut somebody.

“Of course not! I am not stupid, but I still have questions that are unanswered and maybe we can learn to be friends. I don’t know.  It is confusing.  I am confused.  I don’t know what I want anymore.” It is true, I don’t know.

When I get to work I am so thankful that it is Friday. I head straight up to my office and when I get there, there are flowers sitting on my desk. Shit. And so it begins. I pull out the note that is sitting in the middle of the flowers and pull the little piece of paper out.

“Just Because! Happy Friday! XOXO Brandon!”

Crap.  Brandon.  I mean I am excited that they are from Brandon because that means that they aren’t from Logan, but how am I going to explain all of this to Brandon?  He is going to be just as pissed as Brooke. I sit down at my desk and pull out my phone to send a quick text.

“Thanks for the flowers. They are beautiful!” Send.

“You are welcome Babe! Plans tonight?

“None yet.” Send.

“Ill meet you at your place! Until then…”

“Until then!” Send.

Brandon is exactly what I should want.  I mean I do want.  I don’t know what I mean anymore. I really am starting to get feelings for him. He is so sweet. He is so uncomplicated, but now that Logan is back in town my emotions are all over the place.  Even if Logan and I stay friends that is going to cause problems with Brandon.  Why do I feel like this is all going to be over before it even gets started?

I finish up my day a little early and head back to my place. When I open my door there is another bouquet of flowers on my counter. I pull the card out again and read.

“Just because you are you! XOXO Brandon!”

More flowers. I should be excited that I have more flowers.  Girls love getting flowers.  The problem here is I am getting flowers from someone who I am not exactly sure I am ready to get serious with and once he finds out about my meeting with Logan he is going to be pissed.

I am not even sure what we are going to be doing tonight, but I decide to go ahead and get ready. I have curled my hair in big waves so it is full and bouncy, I get on my skinny jeans and a black sparkly tank top. I even wear the red stilettos from Brooke’s birthday party. While I am still finishing my makeup, I hear my door open and Brandon walks around the corner.

“Hey you… Wow…You look great!” He walks up behind me, wraps his arms around my waist and then kisses my neck.

“Why thank you Mr. Allen!” I turn around, keeping his arms around my waist, and look up at him. “What are we going to do tonight?”

“I figured we would go to dinner. Are you hungry?” He lets go of me so I can grab my purse and wallet.

“Famished!” We walk out of the apartment and into the garage to his car. Just like Brooke, Brandon also drives a BMW but he drives a silver one instead of black. We don’t drive very far and as we pull up outside of a very nice beachfront restaurant I realize it is the kind of place that you won’t get in to unless you have a reservation. Apparently, we do have one. The hostess walks us to our table and Brandon pulls my chair out for me and then takes his seat. We order a bottle of wine and then our dinner; Brandon chooses salmon and I opt for chicken.

“Thank you again for the flowers. They were both beautiful! You really did not have to do that though.” I give a big smile and then take a sip of my wine.

“I know I did not have, but I wanted to.” He grabs my hand from across the table and rubs his thumb over my knuckles. “You know the past couple of years have been great. I have been so lucky to get to spend all this time with you. You are a great woman and I care about you a lot.”

“I care about you too!” I smile politely at him, but it doesn’t quite reach my eyes.  . Our food arrives and we continue with casual chitchat. I know that I need to tell him about the Logan situation before he finds out from Brooke, but I don’t want to ruin tonight and I can’t seem to think of a good time. He will probably react worse than Brooke. I have to tell him though. It will be worse if I don’t. When we finish eating, we sit and finish drinking our bottle of wine.

“I have something that I want to tell you Brandon.” I am trying not to be too suspicious, but it the worry has to be written on my face.

“There is something that I want to tell you also.” He takes a drink of his wine.

“You can go first.” Maybe he already knows. Maybe he wants to tell me how stupid
I am and how mad he is at me.

“Okay. “ He takes another drink and he seems so nervous. “I think I am falling in love with you Layla.” A look of relief comes across his face. He looks almost relieved to have finally gotten it off of his chest. “You don’t have to say it back. I just had to get it out there.” I am almost a little shocked that he said it first. I mean, what guy is ever the first one to say it, but deep down I think I am falling for him as well. He is one of my best friends.

“I feel the same way and I am not just saying that. I really do think I am falling in love with you. You have been so great over the years and I am lucky to have you in my life.” I am so in the moment that I almost forgot about the Logan situation. Brandon gets up and comes to sit on my side of the table with me.

He places his hands on my face so I am looking directly at him,“I want to have you all to myself. I want everyone to know that we are together.” He kisses me softly and then waits for me to respond.

As I rub my hands over his, I can feel mine shaking, “Brandon, I have had such a great time tonight. This could not be more perfect, but there is still something I still need to tell you.” This is going to be so bad. I turn to grab my glass of wine so I finish it off. “I saw Logan yesterday.” Brandon immediately backs away from me a little bit. He is completely in shock at what I have just said. “He just wanted to see how I was doing. He told me he still loves me. I told him that I did not feel the same way. He wants to hang out and catch up just as friends.” I am sitting in front of him so vulnerable. He looks pissed and hurt. He just sits there not knowing what to say and with those words I know I have just ruined everything.

“We should go.” He flags down our waiter to pay the bill and then leads me out of the restaurant and back to the car. Why did I have to say something? Why did I have to tell him tonight? The car ride is very quiet on the drive back home. He does not hold my hand or even glance over in my direction. When we park in the garage, I don’t wait for him to open my door, because honestly, I am not even sure if he is going to. We head back up into the apartment and he stops at my front door.

“I have been thinking about what you said since we left. I can’t believe that you went out with him last night. I can’t believe he is trying to get back in your life. I also can’t believe that he is acting like he still cares about you.” He leans up against the wall outside of my door. “My feelings have not changed. I still love you, but I hate him for what he did to you. I could kill him Layla and I will if he hurts you again. You are a big girl, so I am not going to tell you what you should and should not do and I am not going to tell you who you should be friends with, but I hate this.” He rubs his hands over his face. I can tell that I have hurt him.

“I am sorry that I ruined tonight. I didn’t know when to tell you and I did not want you to hear it from Brooke first.” I walk up and stand directly in front of him and grab his face. “Please don’t leave.” I lean up to kiss him and I can feel his tense up. I pull back and grab his hand and pull him into my apartment. “Please…” We finally make it to my bed and both lay down, but he doesn’t move.  Instead he just lays there with me wrapped in his arms.  I am afraid if I say something or move that he will leave, so I just lay there and eventually fall asleep.

I wake up the next morning to see that Brandon is already awake and staring at me.“How long have you been awake?” I grumble at him.

“About an hour. I have just been watching you sleep.” He says quietly.  The pain and hurt is still evident on his face.  “I did a lot of thinking last night.” He breathes out a long sigh…  I know what is coming, but that doesn’t make it hurt less. “I think we need to take a little step back from each other.  I want you to have time to figure out what you want.”  He breaks our eye contact and runs his hand up his stubbly face. “I am not going anywhere, but we can’t be together as long as he is in the picture.”

I lay there taking in everything he is saying and know that he is right.  I knew this was going to happen.  I knew Logan was going to cause problems between Brandon and I, but I still need to see him.  I need to see if we can be friends and see if I can get some kind of closure before I can ever really move on from him.

So instead of responding to him, because honestly I don’t even know what I should say to that, I say something to completely change the topic and take the cowards way out. “I think we should go to the beach. I heard the waves were supposed to be good.” I am not ready for him to leave me completely so maybe I can get a little more time with him to smooth things over.

“Alright.”  He is a little hesitant, but I know he can’t turn down good surf. “I am going to run across the hall and grab some clothes and my board. I’ll see if Brooke wants to go with us!” I then watch as he gets out of my bed and walks to Brooke’s apartment.

I decide to go ahead and get out of bed as well. I brush my teeth and start raiding my closet
for something to wear. Living at the beach, I have about 20 bathing suits to choose from so after a couple of minutes of trying to find two matching pieces, I come up with a solid pink bikini with a brown trim. I throw on some shorts and a tank top and make my way to the kitchen. I pack a small cooler full of water bottles, and some snacks for later. When I am almost finished, Brandon walks back into my apartment carrying his board.
“Brooke is getting ready. Ryan is coming too.” He doesn’t seem thrilled and he actually looks a little more mad than when he left earlier, if that is possible.

“Ok I will pack a couple more drinks.” I open the refrigerator again and pull out a couple more waters. Brandon walks in my bathroom and changes just as Brooke and Ryan walk in. Now I see why Brandon was so pissed when he came back in, Ryan must have stayed the night at Brooke’s place. Brandon makes his way back into the living room and we grab our stuff and walk down to the boardwalk. We get to the beach early enough that we don’t have a hard time finding a place to lay out. We all place our towels down. Brooke and I have our towels in the middle next to each other with the guys on either side of us. I take my sun tan lotion out and rub it all over myself and then rub Brandon down. When I finish he grabs his board and heads straight for the water without looking back at me.

Since I am not really in the mood to talk, I grab my iPod and place both headphones in my ear. Brooke is here with Ryan so I get the whole thing to myself. When I hit the play button I am thoroughly pleased to hear Britney Spears “Till the World Ends” starting. I love this song. Britney never gets old. As I lay there listening to my music, I turn my head to the side and can see Brooke and Ryan talking and flirting. I prop myself up on my forearms to see if I can spot Brandon in the water. He is out there just sitting on his board talking to some of the other surfers so I lay back down and doze off to sleep.

While I am lying peacefully on my stomach I can see that there is a shadow around me from someone standing above me. I can feel the water dripping on me from their body.  I roll over to my back expecting Brandon to be standing over me, but when I put my hand over my eyes like a visor, I see Logan standing above me holding a surfboard. I immediately jump up to my feet. Brandon is going to be pissed. I look over to where Brooke and Ryan were, but they are gone. When I look back at Logan, I can see Brandon is walking up behind him.

“Look who found me in the water.” Brandon says with sarcasm.

“What are you doing here Logan?” I cannot believe this is happening.  I really am not ready for this show down between the two of them.

“I heard the waves were going to be good today!” He used to spend almost every morning on the beach when we were in college, but why did he have to pick this beach? Brandon has made his way over to me and shoves his board in the sand next to his towel. He is watching Logan like a hawk. “I saw Brandon out in the water and figured I would say hey.”

“Oh.” I don’t even know what to say, but I can feel Brandon still watching us.

“Well I’ll see you around. Later Brandon.” He nods and walks up to the boardwalk. What just happened? I turn to find Brandon is now lying down on the towel next to me.

“Did you tell him you were going to be down here?” He asks deadpan.

I can’t even believe he just asked me that.  “Of course I didn’t tell him we would be out here. Why the hell would I do that?”  Already we are fighting over Logan.“What the hell did you guys talk about out there?” The conversation must not have been too detailed or bad because neither one of them was drowned while they were out there.

“Nothing really. He saw me out there, swam over said hey, asked how I was. I told him I heard you guys went out the other night. I also told him that I would kill him if he hurt you again.” He seems very calm for threatening bodily harm to someone and with that he lays down on his towel and closes his eyes so I do the same.  Clearly he is done talking about this.

When we all return to our building later that afternoon, Brandon and I decide to just hang out.  Somehow when you are outside at the beach, the sun literally drains all the energy out of you and currently none of us have the energy to do much of anything.  Brooke and Ryan decide that they are going to “hangout” at her apartment instead, which I am sure makes Brandon happy.  

As I sit on the couch by myself, I can’t help but ask him that nagging question that is on my mind.”Why do you not like Ryan so much?”  I really feel like they have not been dating long enough for him to hate him already, but sometimes that’s just how guys are I guess.

“I don’t know, he just rubs me the wrong way.  There is something off about him, but I can’t put my finger on it.” He replies from my chair that is next to my couch.

“Okay fine.  Whatever.  You pick a movie.” I don’t really need to know what his problem with Ryan is when we have enough problems of our own.  

He gets up, walks over to my movie shelf and starts thumbing through the movies before he finally settles on something. “Avengers.” He smiles and holds it up as if he is taunting me.

“No.  Pick anything other than a Marvel movie.” I beg.  I plead. Hoping with all that I have that he will change his mind. “You always pick Marvel movies.”

“You shouldn’t have let me pick then!” The discussion is now over and the movie now begins.  I need to remember to make him watch Pretty Woman next time.  Jerk.

Sometime after Thor and Iron Man get into a fight, I fall asleep on the couch and I dream of us at the beach. I dream of what Logan and Brandon said to each other out in the water. I can hear them talking from the shore. Logan is telling Brandon that he is going to win me back, and Brandon saying over his dead body. They both seem pretty pissed, I go to swim out to them. I get pounded over and over by the waves, but when I finally make it to where they were and lift my head out of the water though, they are gone. I look around frantically trying to find them, but no one is around. The beach is empty, the water is empty, and I am alone in the middle of the ocean.

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