Begin Again

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Thirty-Four: Cautious

It’s a moment I take in, silence and solidarity. I’m over my head in water; literally. My eyes closed and although the water has gotten cold, it’s relaxing. No sound, no world outside that stresses me. Just the calm of the water.

I can’t stay under too long and I jump up, allowing my head to escape the comfort of the ocean and be put back into reality. Jenna is sitting on a beach towel, reading some romance novel and as boring at this is, I feel better knowing that she has someone to be around instead of being alone.

“Hey!” I call out to her but she doesn’t hear me, she keeps her eyes in her book and continues to read, “Jenna!”

Again, she doesn’t react. I sigh and begin to make my way out of the water, to get her attention but as I approach I see Maks coming towards us with a girl in a bikini following behind. He nods when he sees me, “Hey, do you think your dad would mind if we invited a few people over for drinks?”

“Go ahead, it isn’t like he would find out anyway,” I shrug my shoulders nonchalantly and Jenna finally looks up from her book, listening to the conversation.

“Cool, she’s going to let her friends know.”

I nod and run my fingers through my wet hair, looking in Jenna’s direction, “Wanna go for a swim?”

“I’m actually going to go get dressed, since we have company coming I want to be presentable instead of having sand all over my body,” She laughs as she puts her book away and begins to fold up her towel, “I’m going to go take a shower. I see you guys in a bit.”

Maks and I nod, while the girl he brought over is a few feet away texting her friends, Maks whispers to me, “There’s four really hot girls. Which means one for you. You can thank me later.”

I roll my eyes, not opposed to looking but unsure if I’m really interested in sleeping with someone. I’m pretty good when it comes to picking girls up, that isn’t my problem - it’s my brain. Although Violet and I are broken up, I still feel like I’m in a relationship.

Maybe that’s the problem, I need to rid my brain and my body of her in every form possible. I’m conflicted and unsure how the night will play out, but I go with the flow and hope that when the time comes I will know what I really need versus what I want.

The girl Maks found brings over 3 of her friends, all female and while I stand in the kitchen, I scratch the back of my head. I don’t see how this could possible work, there’s two guys and four girls in total, the math doesn’t add up so I’m not sure how Maks thinks this could ever be a thing.

“Which do you like?” Maks asks as he leans against the counter, eyeing the girls as they giggle among themselves, “I’m digging the girl with the flower tattoo on her thigh.”

I purse my lips together, looking over the girls and not vibing either of them. I don’t even feel remotely interested in having sex. In response to Maks, I shrug, “I uh, I don’t know, man. Neither of them peak my interest.”

“They don’t need to peak your interest, bro.” He scoffs, moving his eyes from me to the girls, “Just pick one that you’re most likely to consider.”

My eyes look over the girls, trying to find any kind of interest in either of them. Nothing. I sigh softly and shrug, “I don’t know, man. The one with the yellow bikini top.”

“Done. I won’t try for her, she’s all yours.”

Maks walks away from me and heads towards the girls. I roll my eyes and think of just bailing but it isn’t long before the girl with the yellow bikini top approaches me. She smiles and tilts her head to the side, her brown hair falling over her shoulders, “Hey... Thomas, right? Your friend told me your name.”

“That’s me,” I answer, “And what’s your name?”

She grins, “Penny. I’m actually from New Orleans, my friends and I are here for two weeks and it’s so gorgeous. I’ve never been to North Carolina before so I’m having so much fun exploring. And the beaches are so amazing, the people are friendly. I mean, yeah, I miss home but it’s only two weeks, right? I’ll survive. And it’s like the kids say, you only live once. I would much rather die with memories than have nothing to show for it, you know? Are you from North Carolina or just visiting for the beaches? You look like--”

“Yeah, I can’t. You need to stop talking,” I hold my hand up, getting her to stop talking and I continue, “I’m sure you’re really nice, but... I have a headache and your voice just isn’t helping it right now.”

Before she can respond, I head up the stairs to get away from this situation before I get trapped into staying. Maks can have all of those girls, but that Penny chick was exactly the kind of girl I would avoid. The kind that’s all too peppy and doesn’t shut up.

I don’t need to be stuck listening to her talk for an hour.

When I get to my room, the door is already cracked and Jenna is sitting on the bed with the shoes she had found earlier, trying them on. She looks up and gives me a smile, “I’m on my way. I just thought these shoes would look great with my outfit and if you don’t tell, I promise that Allison will never know that I wore them.”

Shaking my head, I chuckle at her comment, “Ruin them for all I care.”

As she slides the shoe onto her foot she sighs heavily, “Ugh. Damn me and my size 8 feet. These are a 6.5.”

She’s clearly disappointed that she can’t fit into the shoe, as she kicks them aside I close the bedroom door and walk to the bed, “I think you should just call it a day because those girls down there are annoying as hell.”

“That bad, huh? So you just left Maks there to fend for himself?” She laughs, laying back on the bed and resting her hands behind her head, “I guess we can stay here and watch a movie then.”

“First of all, Maks is doing just fine and having a great time down there,” I sit next to Jenna and lay back as well, giving her a nudge, “Second, go to your own room. I’m taking a nap.”

“Fine, you can nap and I’ll watch the movie,” She gets the remote control from the night stand and turns on the TV.

“Jenna...” I groan, reaching over her to get the remote, “No tv. Just silence, please?”

Without a word, she turns the TV off and looks up at the ceiling quietly. Clearly, she misunderstood me and meant that I wanted her to be quiet, but I had meant that I just didn’t want the TV being background noise.

I lean up on my elbow, turning on my side to look at her, “Not you. I don’t hate hearing you speak, you can be a little annoying, but...”

She slaps my arm and laughs at my teasing her, “Are you kidding? You’re the worst, Thomas.”

“Don’t say things that you don’t mean,” I’m still smiling but something has been bothering me and I want to address it while we’re alone. Jenna has been good at putting up a front, but at the same time I see through it and it’s more than what’s been going on with Mason.

“Why are you looking at me like that?” She asks me.

I hesitate to speak because the last thing I want is to ruin her mood, whether it’s a fake mood or not, but I need to make sure she’s okay, “I just want to know how you’re doing... I want you to know that if you need anyone to talk to, I’m here.”

She seems taken aback by my response, “Thomas, I’m fine.”

“If that’s true, then I’m glad, but I know you better than anyone. I know when your smiles are fake, Jen. These past few days it has been extremely obvious.”

This time Jenna doesn’t object right away, instead, she looks away from me and focuses on her hands that are rested in her lap, “I’ve had a rough few days but I’ll get over it. It’ll pass in time.”

“You’re right, it will,” I move a piece of hair behind her ear and give her a comforting smile, “But I don’t want you to feel like you’re alone, okay? Because you’re not. Whether you sulk out loud or in silence, I’m here.”

“I just...” She leans her head back and when I hear her sniff I know that she’s holding back tears, “It’s just hard... I had my life centered around a specific plan and now... I don’t know, Thomas. I feel worthless.”

I frown, feeling pain for her. No one should have to question their worth, especially Jenna. She has spent her entire life trying to please people, but never herself. All she has ever wanted is acceptance and anytime she felt rejected, she would beat herself up.

“You are not worthless, Jenna. You are far from worthless,” I become persistent with her so she would stop questioning herself, “You are more than the girl on someone’s arm. You’re Jenna Calentia, you’re strong, brave, smart... Gorgeous. Jenna, you don’t need anyone to define you. You are more than enough on your own.”

Jenna turns her head to look at me, a small tear escapes her eye but she wipes it quickly and surprises me with a little smile, a genuine smile, “Shut up. You’re just saying that because you feel like you need to.”

“I don’t need to say anything. I say things that are true because someone has to remind you that you’re enough... One day you will see that too, but right now I will be that person on the side lines, reminding you every day if I have to.”

I’m unsure where it comes from, but my heart begins to pound and I feel a sudden connection drawing me to Jenna, the need to protect her is one thing, but this is different.

“Ah, so I’m your liability.” Jenna grins at me and for a moment we both fall silent, just looking at each other.

I stare into the same brown eyes that I’ve looked into a million times, the same eyes that I once used to get what I want, the girl who would have done anything for me but I chose nothing more than to take advantage of. My friend and one of the few people who has been by my side through everything, never giving up on me. Those same brown eyes are more than just a safe place, something easy, they speak to me in ways I could never explain. In ways that I could only express through actions.

“Jenna...”

“Y-Yeah?” She whispers as we ease closer to each other.

This is a bad idea, a very bad idea.

“You uh....” My eyes move to her lips, fighting everything in me. Everything that’s telling me to kiss her, to rip her clothes off like I once did when we were teenagers, “You should go.”

Thank fuck I managed the words. If I hadn’t said it just then, I’m not sure I would have been able to at all.

Jenna nods her head, “You’re right...”

She sits up quickly and I do the same. When we both stand from the bed, Jenna walks towards the bedroom door with her head down and I wonder if her thoughts are any similar to mine. Does she know where things would have went if I didn’t tell her to go? Would she have stopped things if I hadn’t?

Before she gets to the door, I walk over and close it quickly. The door slamming is loud, but I don’t think Maks will pay any attention since he’s surrounded by women downstairs. I lock the door and pin Jenna between my arms as my hands rest on the door behind her.

I look down at her while she looks up at me with her chest heaving, her words come out barely audible, “This is a bad idea.”

“I know,” I agree with her, “But maybe I’ve been a little too cautious lately.”

Without giving her a chance to respond, I lean down and press my lips to hers. My lips move slowly but as I feel her lips reciprocating the action and realize that she wants this too, I kiss her with more force.

There’s something about doing something bad that just feels so fucking good.

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