'What are you planning for your birthday then lovely?' Asked mum as we slid into the car. I scrunched my nose up as I shrugged.
'I haven't really thought about it to be honest.'
'Well you'll be back in New York, maybe we could come and see you?' Her voice was excited as I glanced at Cal who was gazing out of the window, his fingers rubbing his chin.
I smiled at my mum, wondering why Cal looked so lost in thought. My eyes still watered with how handsome he was, especially with what he was wearing tonight. He had a crisp white shirt on with the sleeves rolled up, dark jeans and boots with his dirty blond hair slicked back roughly. I remembered him on my bedroom earlier, not a scrap of clothing between us as we explored one another as though for the first time. He was the only man I'd been with sexually, so I know I didn't have anything to compare it to, but it was truly out of this world the way he made me feel. The way he'd always made me feel. He noticed me staring at him because a smug grin played at his mouth as our eyes met, my stomach filling with butterflies as he turned away.
'Well have to book the flights soon, otherwise the prices will hike up.' My mother was saying as Cal spoke softly.
'I know someone who can sort your flights. Remind me later?'
My mother nodded eagerly as he shot her a winning smile. I squeezed his hand as my father parked the car into one of the last spaces in the parking lot. It must be busy, this town was never short of spaces. We climbed out and I straightened my outfit up, a black dress teamed with a denim jacket and my converse boots. I glanced at Cal and realised we didn't match our outfits up at all tonight, but I didn't care.
'You're so fucking beautiful.' He murmured as he slid his arm around me. I laced my fingers with his and we walked after my parents who were also hand in hand.
'It's so strange being back here.' I mumbled as I noticed some familar faces milling around. It had been a long time since I'd been back, considering the last time I did I had just spent time with my family and not gone out much. Cal pulled me over to a little hut that was selling bottles of wine, handwritten labels with unintelligible scrawl written on them. He peered at them as the woman smiled at us broadly.
'Red, white or rose?' She asked sweetly as her eyes flickered over Cal a little too long for my liking. He turned to me, and held his hand out for me to answer.
'Oh, I like rose.'
'We have fourteen different bottles of rose, each one with a unique taste. If you like it fairly sweet, I recommend this one.' She slid out a pink bottle as she poured some into a tiny plastic cup for me to try. I glanced at Cal as he watched me wrinkle my nose up at the smell as he bit back a smile. I sipped it, the delicious taste of crushed lemons mixed with what tasted like vanilla and melon.
'Wow! That's amazing." I declared as the woman nodded proudly.
Cal ordered two bottles and we waited as the woman wrapped them for us. He paid her and we continued our tour of the festival, stopping to sample cheeses and meats. Fairy lights hung from the trees making the town appear almost magical under the night sky as I huddled closer to Cal, finding his warmth comforting. My parents were deep in conversation with some neighbours of ours when I heard my name being called excitedly from behind us.
'Oh my god it is! It's Gretchen and Cal!' The voice trilled as we turned to see my old friend Rosie squealing as she perked towards us, running into my arms. She held me at arms length as she studied me, her eyes widening.
'Wow, New York suits you, you look amazing. Hey Cal..'
She offered him a small smile as he nodded hello, before whispering to me that he would leave me for a moment to catch up. He disappeared into the throng of people and I looked after him wistfully before turning back to Rosie, who was now joined by Sienna who grabbed me tightly.
'Ooh my god! Why didn't you tell us you are coming back!' She demanded, an accusatory tone in her voice as she held me at arms length and studied me.
'Surprise?!' I grinned as we fell into a group hug. We had been real close at school, but it had become difficult forwards the end when I got with Cal, meaning my relationship with his cousin Luke ended abruptly. Luke was friends with my friends, and they didn't want to choose sides. So me moving to New York was a good thing, because it created distance and people could move on easily.
'Oh my god tell me about New York! When can we come see you?' Rosie exclaimed as Sienna nodded enthusiastically.
'Yes, totally, shopping trip!'
We giggled as we walked together, our arms linked like old times.
'How's things with you two?' I asked, looking from one to the other.
Sienna nudged Rosie as she blushed, mumbling that she had moved in with Finn, her last minute high school sweetheart. I clapped my hands together, elated for her. Finn had been the biggest player in school, always sleeping with a different girl until the night of Prom when he got with Rosie. None of us saw it coming, but they are so good for each other.
'Speaking of lover boy.' Declared Sienna nodding in the direction of Finn who was striding over to us, his eyes glued to Rosie. He did a double take when he saw me before shooting me a dazzling smile.
'Hello there, city girl. Fancy seeing you here.'
I smiled as I scanned the crowds for Cal, my eyes desperately seeking his. I felt a pang of disappointment but then I knew he wouldn't want to be involved in my current social circle, his cousins friends no less.
'Ah, here's Luke and Ethan.' Beamed Sienna as two guys joined our group, and my eyes met those of my ex. Luke's hurt was still evident there, the shock from seeing me throwing him momentarily but he quickly recovered. Luke was still devastatingly handsome, and my heart hurt a little seeing him again, but I knew I had done the right thing. We all stood awkwardly as Finn suggested we go get some drinks, when I felt a hand on my arm, tugging me back. I cried out before I realised it was Luke, and my mouth became dry as his eyes narrowed at my reaction.
'Whoa, sorry. I didn't mean to scare you. I just wanted to speak to you alone really. Are you ok?'
His dark hair contrasted with his tight white t shirt which showed now rippling muscles and a broad chest.
He's filled out..
'I'm fine, how are you? Sorry I'm just a little jumpy I guess.' I babbled, aware he was watching me intently.
'Yeah I'm good. You here with your parents?'
He asked, his eyes scanning the crowd. I gulped, still somewhat nervous about admitting I was still with Cal. He ran his hand down my arm, causing a shiver to run through my body.
'Are you still with him?' He asked as he leaned dangerously close to me. I could smell beer on his breath as I moved back slightly, aware I was becoming uncomfortable.
I'm still with Cal, yes.' I stammered as he put a hand either side of me, pinning me to the wall.
'You're still as beautiful as you were then.' He murmured as he brought his face close to mine. I froze, my hands on his shoulders as I pushed him gently away.
'Luke, I'm sorry but-'
'She's with me.'
Came a cold voice as like dropped his hands, his posture deflated as he turned to see Cal standing there, his arms folded as he glared at him menacingly.
'Cal. Leo. What a pleasant surprise.'
I gulped as they stood facing one another, true enemies to the end.
'When she was with me she didn't flinch if I went near her. She didn't jump when she was touched. What the fuck have you done to her?' He hissed as he squared up to Cal who stared at him with cold eyes.
'She's not your concern. She's mine.' He spat as pushed past him, taking me into his arms. Luke shook his head as he looked at me sadly.
'I told you he's no good. I tried to warn you.' He shrugged as he walked into the crowd, leaving me alone with Cal.
'Why did I get the feeling he was going to kiss you?' Cal demanded, pushing me against the wall as he stared at me with a deadly expression on his face. I opened my mouth to answer as his lips crashed down on mine, our tongues dancing in urgency as we kissed. He lifted me up, my legs wrapped around his waist as I kissed him deeply, as though he were my lifeline.
'Do I have to fight every man in the world for your attention?'
He breathed as he spoke through slightly swollen lips.
I gazed at him as I shook my head, my hands wrapped in his hair as he set me down slowly.
'He's right though. It's my fault you are like that, all jumpy and shit.' He sighed heavily as I held his face in my hands, my eyes searching his.
'Cal, I'd rather live a life of danger by your side than a life of safety by anyone else's.'
He smiled then as he kissed my lips tenderly.
I'd rather you lived a life of safety by my side.'
We kissed again, unaware that we were being watched.