Authors: LaNayia Cribbs
“Oh, really?” he said taking a step in her direction. “It's very pretty.”
“It takes forever to dry.” she reminded him.
“Yeah, I’m sure that’s a pain in the butt.” he responded.
“It really is.” she insisted. Suddenly he moved and his leg slipped over hers. She lost her balance and fell into the water. Her bottom struck the pebbled bottom of the beach before she got her feet underneath herself and surged back to the surface sputtering.
“Dammit Isaac!” she gasped. He began to laugh and she angrily slapped at the water, sending the cascading droplets into his face. “It’s not funny! My hair is ruined.” she wailed.
When continued to laugh she dived at him pushing at his shoulders attempting to make him lose his balance as well. “You are such an asshole!” She exclaimed as he fended off her attacks.
“Oh, there’s the potty mouth we all know and adore!” he taunted.
After a few more of her unsuccessful attempts to he finally called a truce. “Okay. Enough.” he called out as she pummeled his chest. When she didn’t stop he grabbed the tops of her arms.
Angela stopped moving when she felt his body pressed close to hers. She could feel the warmth of his breath fan over her skin. Angela closed her eyes and fought the sudden tidal wave of arousal spreading throughout her body. His warm chest pressed against hers and everything in her body screamed to get closer to him. The two thin layers separating their bodies seemed to melt away. All she could feel was the heat of his flesh pressed against her.
“Enough.” he said again his voice low and husky. The sound made her shiver against him.
She imagined that voice in the dark of her bedroom and she swallowed before finally opened her eyes. What she saw made her breath catch in her throat. Isaac’s gaze on hers looked just as wanting as she felt right now. She licked her lips and his gazed dropped to her lips. His head moved a fraction of an inch toward hers. Angela had just a moment to wonder if he was about to kiss her when he shook his head and released her hands.
“I like it better curly.” He told her softly. He took one of the curling strands of her hair between his fingers and tugged gently before letting go and taking a step back.
A piercing whistle ripped through the air and they turned to see Marcella on the beach waving for them to come out.
“It looks like we’re being summoned.” He remarked.
“Yeah.” she agreed softly. She tried to tell herself that it was relief that caused the heavy feeling in the pit of her stomach. It had nothing to do with the fact that, for just a moment, she forgot all the reasons why she shouldn’t want to feel his lips on hers.
For years she’d tried to convince herself that the electric feeling between them when he’d kissed her at 15 was a figment of her imagination. When his lips hovered over hers just a moment ago she’d felt that same electric tingle throughout her body and they hadn’t even kissed.
At the edge of the beach Marcella handed her a towel. “Grandma Lila is looking for you Isaac.” She told him before linking her arms with Angela and marching off toward the gathering of people near the grill.
They were a short distance ahead of Isaac when Marcella glanced back to ensure they wouldn’t be overhead before whispering “What was that?”
“What are you talking about?” Angela asked as she used the towel to squeeze some of the excess water from her hair.
Marcella rolled her eyes and nodded toward Isaac. “He’s totally making a play for you! I thought you were over your little crush!”
Angela frowned at her friend. “He’s always flirty. Your entire family acts the same way. What’s so different about today?” she questioned.
“I don’t know.” Marcella replied doubtfully. “He seemed serious. I just don’t want you getting caught up. Lauren made some comments before they broke up. It sounded like maybe he was seeing someone else.”
Angela glanced over at Isaac. He was giving his grandmother a hug. She’d known him a long time. While he’d dated a lot of different women over the years he’d only ever been serious about Lauren. They’d been together for about a year when they suddenly broke up and Isaac never talked about why.
“You think he would do that?” Angela asked disbelief coloring her tone. She’d spent a pathetic amount of time watching Isaac over the past few years and he’d always seemed upfront in his relationship, never promising anything serious.
Marcella shrugged. “Well, I don’t know, but Lauren thought there was someone else. I just don’t want you to get your feelings hurt if he’s an idiot. He’s my brother, but you’re like a sister Angie.”
“You are so protective! Isaac is just being Isaac. There’s nothing for you to be worried about.” Angela laughed and hugged her friend tightly.
A frown marred Marcella’s brow and she continued to worry her bottom lip. Her friend looked genuinely concerned.
“Good gracious Marcella. Smile! The world isn’t ending! Geesh!” Angela exclaimed before grasping her friend by the shoulders and shaking her until Marcella finally began laughing.
“Am I being crazy?” Marcella asked with a smile.
“Uh, YEAH!” Angela replied snagging a warm bratwurst from the tray. She’d just taken an overly large bite when Grandma Lila headed in their direction.
“Incoming” whispered Marcella quickly before taking a sip of her water. Then in a louder voice she greeted her grandmother. “Are you enjoying yourself Grandma?”
“Yes, but all this heat is for you young people. I’m too old to be getting all this sun.” the elder lady responded good naturedly.
Angela quickly tied the towel in her hand around her waist. “It's 7:30. So technically, the sun has already gone down. So you can party all night now!” she teased.
Grandma Lila laughed and waved a hand at the girls. “No, I prefer to do my partying during the daytime. Then I can still go to bed on time. Speaking of which, Marcie dear, would you mind driving me home?”
Marcella glanced at Angela. The two girls had driven to the beach together in Marcella’s car since Angela didn’t have a car. “Actually, Grandma, Angela and I drove out here together…” her voice trailed off as Isaac stepped forward.
“It’s not a problem. I can drive Angela home when she’s ready to leave.” he offered generously.
“Or you could drive grandma home.” Marcella replied testily.
“But I asked you, sweetheart. Come now.” instructed Grandma Lila.
Marcella was outmaneuvered and she knew it. With one last dirty look at her brother she headed for her car with her Grandmother in tow.
Angela looked down at her swimsuit once more. Surprisingly Grandma Lila hadn’t mentioned the slightly revealing swimsuit and she hadn’t attempted to set her up with any of her young relatives. She glanced at Isaac. Well, she hadn’t blatantly attempted to set her up with anyone today. Which was still an improvement, maybe?
An hour later she stood in the spray of her shower washing her hair. Surprisingly she’d had a good time hanging out with Isaac at the picnic. She even felt slightly guilty about not emailing him in the past two months. Especially since she hadn’t even known he bought a house here in town. Yet, she’d had a good a reason for doing it she reminded herself. Her crush on Isaac was both foolish and childish. She needed to separate herself from those old emotions and make an attempt at finding something real and lasting. Start a real relationship, where she could have an emotional connection with someone that was actually reciprocated.
Today was just a weird day, she reminded herself. The moment in the water was barely worth remembering, and it certainly was not worth thinking about an hour later. Isaac probably hadn’t been dating very much in the past few months. In fact now that she thought about it he hadn’t mentioned anyone he was dating since he broke up with his fiancée.
He hadn’t told her any of the details, but she remembered Lauren’s possessive attitude and defense behavior the last time she’d seen them together. Did Lauren have a good reason to question his loyalty? Maybe she was just an irrationally jealous girlfriend. Yet, his evasive behavior when she mentioned it in the car earlier made her consider the possibility that maybe Isaac hadn’t been faithful in his relationship. She hated to even consider the possibility. As much as she hated to admit it to herself, it would mean that perhaps she didn’t know Isaac as well as she thought she did.
Infidelity is something she did not want to deal with and she was already so vulnerable where Isaac was concerned. It would be bad enough to get her heart broken, but to know that it was someone she knew and trusted for more than half of life, would be beyond devastating for her. Marcella would be there saying I told you so and giving her pitying looks. Just the thought made her nauseated. It was a situation she didn’t want to even think about. This pseudo-relationship, filled with excuses and what-if’s that she was building up inside of her head, needed to end. Isaac moving back to town didn’t change anything.
She saw the way women practically ran and leapt into his arms. She couldn’t even blame them. Isaac was too good looking NOT to notice. His dark, wavy hair and green eyes were attention catching. Not to mention his height and chiseled abs? They entire package was undeniably handsome. His photo was probably in the dictionary next to the word irresistible, and if it wasn’t, then it was certainly a crime.
Stepping from the shower, she grabbed her towel and began drying off.
“I’m not going to think about it anymore,” she told herself firmly while looking at her reflection in the bathroom mirror. “Isaac is just a friend. You are not going to hope for anything more than that. You made your choice two months ago, lady. You are moving on!”
She nodded her head. She’d made her declaration out loud. She was very firm, and that was that. She wrapped the towel around her body and headed to her bedroom. She was rubbing on lotion onto her arms and legs when she noticed the flashing green light on her phone.
When she unlocked the screen on the cell phone, the purple screen lit up with a message from Isaac asking if she was still home. Why would he be asking her that, she wondered? With a shake of her head she answered the text before quickly slipping into a pair of underwear and a t-shirt.
“I just vowed not to spend my night thinking about him and he decides to text me.” Angela rolled her eyes and took her cell phone with her as she went to the living room. Pulling a romance novel from the bookshelf, she made herself comfortable on the couch.
With a sigh she glanced at the cell phone sitting on the table. She briefly fought the urge to check and see if Isaac had responded. He sent her the text first, so she was just being polite by texting back. She was just curious. She tossed the book onto the table snatched the phone instead. She quickly checked for a new message but, still no response from Isaac.
Frustrated with herself for checking her phone again so soon, she flopped down on the couch and began flipping through the movies listed on cable. Why had she checked the phone anyway? Had it even been five minutes? With a groan she got up from the couch and grabbed a hair brush from the bathroom.
She finally settled on a romantic comedy to watch as she brushed through her shoulder length curly hair. Her cell phone tucked firmly under the throw pillow.
Before long, she was immersed in the drama unfolding on the screen. She finished brushing her hair and quickly pulled her hair into two braids and secured the ends with a couple of elastic hair ties she pulled from her wrist. When the movie went to commercial she decided to make herself a bowl of popcorn. She was just about to pour the melted butter on top of her bowl, when she heard the doorbell ring. Marcella was the only person who generally stopped by with calling first. She glanced at the door and then back at the microwave. She didn’t want the butter to start cooling, and Marcella could wait just a few moments. She quickly poured the butter and sprinkled the cheddar cheese flavoring on top of the bowl. She quickly shook the bowl before heading to the door.
Out of habit, she peeked out the window before going to the door. She did a double take when she noticed Isaac’s black SUV parked outside in the driveway of her small two bedroom duplex. She muttered a curse. Whatever happened to calling before you dropping by? Asking IF she was at home didn’t count the same at all.
“Uh, I’m coming.” She yelled through the door. She looked down at her clothes. She wasn’t wearing a bra but the t-shirt was enough to cover the upper part of her thighs. Not the best choice for answering the door but she no longer had time to change since she spent so long making that ridiculously large bowl of popcorn.
Popcorn! She grabbed the large bowl from the table and held it in front of body before opening the door wide and standing partially behind it.
“Isaac! What are you doing here?” She asked as he strode into the room and she quickly closed the door behind him.
Isaac turned to face her after stepping into the room. “You left your bag in my car.” He held the bag in hand out towards her.
Sure enough, he held the canvas bag she’d used earlier to carry her swimsuit and beach towel. Angela bit her lip, so much for using the popcorn bowl to obscure his view of her chest. Her hope that he wouldn’t notice her braless state clearly went unanswered judging by the way his gaze wandered over her body.
“Really? I can’t believe I never noticed. Thank you.” She told him brightly, pointedly eyeing the hand holding out the bag but making no move to set down the bowl or to take the bag from him.
“No problem.” He smiled, still holding the bag out for her.
She raised an eyebrow at him and he just waggled the bag back and forth.
“Wassamatta? Aren’t you gonna to put it away?” he asked playfully.
Angela rolled her eyes before bumping him in the chest with the bowl and taking the bag from his hand. “Perv.” she muttered. Her gaze was defiant, daring him to say anything as she tucked her arm across her chest with the bag threaded through her fingers. He may have seen through her attempt to cover her unbound breast but that didn’t mean she was going to put them out there on display for him either.
Isaac laughed and took a seat on the couch. “Coward,” he taunted before throwing a handful of popcorn into his mouth.