Sun. Sand. Surf.
“Stella, this is crazy.” I laugh as we’re driving by the packed Myrtle beach.
“Yeah, but it’s iconic. Plus, I bought a new bikini special for this trip.” Stella whisper’s in my ear so nobody else in the vehicle can hear her – not that they really care. Gemma’s mom allowed us to take her SUV to South Carolina for Spring Break with all 6 of us piled in here.
I can’t really tell if I like Stella’s friend Connor or not yet, but Stella wasn’t lying and the dude has some crazy good style and paired with looks like Dave Franco, I bet the dude has different girls every night. Power to him as long as one of them isn’t Stel, but I doubt she’d have asked me to come on this trip if she was planning on hooking up with Franco over here. Gemma’s friend Macy might go for him though – considering the looks she’s giving him that I’m afraid she’s going to jump him and strip his clothes off while we’re still in the vehicle.
“I can’t wait to see it on you.” I answer, softly pressing a kiss to her ear while I’m whispering in it. She shivers and rests her head back on my shoulder until Gemma finally Google’s our hotel. Honestly, the hotel is within walking distance of the beach, and even though it isn’t the Ritz, it’s pretty nice.
“I have reservations under Gemma Simon.” Gemma says when we walk into the hotel to check in. The lady behind the counter eyes the 6 of us, before looking up the name and glancing back up.
“Ma’am, you only have 1 room booked, and we only allow a maximum of 4 guests in one room. You’ll have to book another one.” She says, and Gemma frowns at the news.
“No, I know for sure I booked two rooms because they were both 2 queens.”
“I’m sorry, I only have 1 room reservation for Gemma Simon.”
“Gemma, it’s okay. I’ll buy the other one.” I interrupt Stella’s best friend before she has the chance to open her mouth an argue again. Stella seems a little surprised, but doesn’t argue when I lightly push Gemma out of the way and pull my debit card out of my wallet. It’s had almost a year of pay checks going into my account, and the only thing I really spend it on is gas and food when I go to Stella’s. Besides the promise ring which cost a little over 1month’s paycheck, I haven’t bought anything big and I don’t have any payments anymore. This’ll be nice actually. Stella and I haven’t really had much time to ourselves since Valentine’s weekend, and I’d like to make this trip something special for us if I could – so long as Connor isn’t planning on rooming with us.
“2 queens or 1?” She asks, and I glance around at the group, my gaze specifically landing on Connor.
“Hey man, I’ve already paid Gemma to share her room, you and Stel can have it.” He chuckles, raising his hands in surrender once he realizes what my almost glare is for.
“1 queen it is, then.” I answer, turning back to the lady and handing her my card. She runs it, and then hands out room keys. Gemma and her gang are on the 3rd floor, and Stella and I are on the 2nd. I guess that’s just how this hotel is set up with the different types of rooms.
“Hey, let’s get ready to head to the beach and then we can walk from here. Meet in the lobby at 3?” Gemma asks, holding the elevator open while Stella and I get off with our bag.
“Sounds perfect.” She grins, and Gemma finally lets the door close while I figure out where our room is.
“Beau, can you believe this is our first night staying in a hotel together?” Stella asks, causing me to stumble and fumble with the room key as I’m trying to slide it in the lock when she jumps on my back.
“Hey, I’m not complaining. I like your bed in Savannah and I’d much rather sleep there than a hotel.” I laugh, finally getting the door to open and dropping Stella on the bed while I put the suitcase on its rack
“Mhm. Now tell me. What do you think of Connor? Isn’t he cool?” She asks, standing up on her knees and wrapping her arms around my neck.
“Well I like him as long as you like him. He’s too dramatic for me to usually be friends with him.” I answer honestly. I had to bite back an ‘artsy’ comment, because I was afraid it’d offend Stella, and I don’t want that to happen.
“I tell him all the time that he should be a double major and add theater!” She exclaims, quickly kissing me before darting off the bed and into the suitcase that she finished packing this morning after I added all my clothes. I groan and fall back onto our bed, surprised that it feels like memory foam, or something of higher quality than most hotels. I wore my black trunks this morning when we left, so I don’t have to change, but I’m excited to see what Stella has that can possibly beat her Americana outfit last summer. “Ready, Beau?” She asks from the bathroom, before demanding that I close my eyes. Just to appease her, I follow directions and slap a hand over my eyes.
“Okay, they’re closed.” I call, sitting up and preparing myself.
“Okay, you can look.” She whispers, and I feel her leg sliding between mine before I can even open my eyes. When I do though, I’m met with a tiny string bikini that barely covers anything.
“You’re not planning on wearing this in public, are you?” I ask, my eye brows shooting straight up when she twirls and shows off the thong bottoms.
“I was, unless you have anything different to say about it?” She bites her lip and puts her hands on my shoulders.
“This is for my eyes only.” I nearly growl, wrapping my hand around her bare waist and tugging her to the bed, flipping us over so I’m pinning her to the comforter. “Nobody else should ever see this.”
“Are you suggesting that I wear a potato sack?” She asks, and at first I think she might be offended, but then she breaks into a giggle.
“Hell yes I am.” I mutter, pressing my lips into her neck.
“Well I am a grown ass adult, and I want to show off my body.” She answers, and I can feel her starting to get flustered under me.
“Would you wear this outfit in front of your father?” I ask, trailing my lips and planting a kiss right between her breasts, shooting my eyes upwards so I can see her answer.
“Hell no. But he’s not here, is he?”
“Please put something else on while we go to a public beach. If you want to wear that in our bubble bath tonight, then be my guest.” I trail my kisses back up to her lips and try to persuade her using that tactic.
“I’d rather wear nothing in our bubble bath.” She whispers, slowing becoming more out of breath the longer I kiss her.
“I like that plan too.” I murmur, feeling her squirm beneath me, but I can’t give up until she’s agreed to change.
“Fine, Beau. I’ll put another bikini on.” Stel finally gives in, and I kiss her solidly in a victory kiss before allowing her to get up.
“Something that covers your ass, please. Because as much as I love seeing it, I also don’t want other guys seeing it.” I whisper, grabbing her hand and pulling her back to me before she can disappear with a different bikini.
“That’s extremely possessive sounding.” She frowns, and I groan.
“Would you want other girls staring at me all the time?” I ask, and Stella raises her eyebrow.
“You mean like they already do?”
“They don’t stare at me. They stare at you because they’re all jealous of you.”
“Right. It has absolutely nothing to do with your unhuman good looks, muscles, tattoos, eyes, smile, or anything else that is beyond perfect about you. I’m still trying to figure out how I managed to get so lucky.” She sighs, closing her eyes and pressing her forehead into mine.
“I ask myself the same thing every day.” I whisper, softly pressing a chaste kiss to her lips before urging her to get changed.
Eventually she returns in a black one-piece that has open sides and only counts as a one-piece because the fabrics connect over her belly button. She grabs my hand, her beach bag, and her phone and sunglasses before pulling me out the door, texting Gemma and letting her know we’re waiting in the lobby since it’s almost 3. Surprisingly, we find the other four already waiting for us when the elevator opens in the lobby, so we don’t have to wait before we head to the beach.
“Stella, should we rent surf boards for the afternoon?” Gemma asks, linking arms with her best friend as I trail a half step behind them, nodding at Fernando who seems like a pretty cool dude from what I’ve seen and heard.
“I like surfing, but maybe tomorrow we can find a less populated beach for surfing. I’d like to just tan today, Gem.” She smiles, but the seems to falter when Gemma’s smile fades. “But you can totally rent one, and I’ll stand on the beach cheering you on!”
Gemma laughs and side-hugs her best friend. “How about you two? Do you want to surf?” She turns her stare over her shoulder at me and Fernando, and Fernando eagerly agrees.
“I haven’t surfed in a while; I could probably use a brush up.” I shrug, not too keen on sitting on the beach all afternoon if Stella isn’t planning on getting in the water.
“Will you ask the other two behind you?” She asks, and I glance behind us at Connor and Macy who are trailing back a bit apparently in some kind of argument about whether Fedora’s are cool or not?
“Hey, Gemma’s planning on renting surf boards. Are you guys in?” I ask, interrupting their argument long enough for them to both give me disgusted looks that I take as a no, and relay the information to Gemma.
“Don’t worry. Once those two get into an argument it takes a tsunami to end it. They’re both so damn stubborn.” She shakes her head, and I break into a grin. I haven’t really hung out with Gemma besides the few times that she’s been at the house with Stella, but if there’s one thing I’ve learned – it’s that she’s a stubborn as a mule.
“Are you okay with me going surfing with Gemma and Fernando?” I ask Stella after we’ve laid down our towels on the beach. They’re standing off to the side waiting for me to talk to Stel, and she smiles up and nods.
“Are you kidding? I can’t wait to watch.” She grins, and kisses me before pushing me towards her best friend. “Now you get some time to bond with her.”
I laugh as I head towards Gemma, who is already dragging Fernando down the beach towards the surf shack we passed on our way to the spot we chose. I glance over my shoulder at Stella laying on her towel beside a shirtless Connor, and I have to remind myself that she loves me. Not him. I mean, I’ve actually never seen her have as good of a connection with anybody besides Gemma and maybe her father as she does with Connor, and it honestly makes me a little jealous. I know I have nothing to worry about, but she just seems different since her winter break.
“Are you coming or what, Lover Boy?” Gemma asks, frowning at me when I realize I haven’t been keeping up.
“Yeah, sorry.” I quickly turn back around and catch up with them. Surprisingly, Gemma is really nice, and totally loves the fact that Stella and I are together. She basically hasn’t shut up about how perfect we are, and it makes me smile knowing my girlfriend’s best friend approves of us. That’s like one of the highest levels of approval a guy can get – besides her fathers of course.
As soon as we have our boards rented - $30 bucks for the afternoon – the three of us hit the waves that are cresting at about 10 feet once we’re out of the shelf. It takes us a solid ten minutes to paddle all the way out there, dodging other surfers, but as soon as we reach our destination, Fernando takes the first shot at it. I’m a little surprised when he stands up like a pro, crouching and coming out of the barrel on his feet. Gemma claps really loudly and cheers for her boyfriend before turning her board into the next wave and paddling until she can push herself to her feet, but ends up toppling a few seconds later. I’m a little concerned when she doesn’t come up immediately, but breathe a sigh of relief when I realize she was just swimming underwater towards Fernando.
Thankful she’s okay, I see a wave I want, and start paddling, but when I’m pushing myself to my feet, I see Stella over Connor’s shoulder as he’s running into the lapping waves at the shore, and I feel a strange pang in my chest when I topple off the board and into the water. I can’t help but process the fact that she was laughing with another guy – a very good looking guy if I can admit it to myself – and she probably would have killed me if I would have carried her into the ocean like that. When I resurface, I pull myself back onto my board, gluing my eyes to the scene she’s making as she splashes him and then tries to swim away before he grabs her ankle and pulls her back to him. I watch as she tries to dunk him in the shallow water, and I can’t help the fact that my face contorts into a very unattractive scowl when I realize how jealous I am. Why am I so jealous of this guy?
“Hey bro, tough fall.” Some guy on a surf board paddling past me says, and I kinda throw up a hand to let him know I heard him before shrugging.
“You’ll get it next time.” Another dude yells, climbing back on his own surf board after a fall.
“You too, buddy.” I answer, still unable to peel my eyes from my girlfriend. I know I shouldn’t be as jealous as I am because Stella and I have such a strong connection, but I can’t help it, y’know.
“Beau, you’ve seriously got to stop staring.” Gemma rolls her eyes as she appears at my side, Fernando a few yards behind her.
“I can’t help it, Gemma. I can’t shake this weird feeling I have.” I shake my head, and force myself to look away from them when I see Stella walking back up towards the towels.
“Trust me, Beau. Nothing is going on between them.” She winks, and then paddles for another wave.
I still can’t shake the feeling that something has changed between us, even though I know I’m being completely irrational. Connor is just her friend. Pushing the two of them out of my mind, I force myself to successfully ride a wave all the way through before returning to Gemma and Fernando who are watching another two friends who are paddling on a wave. They both stand up and one goes one way and one goes the other, and we cheer for them when they both come out of it, and high five once they reach each other again.
“We should go introduce ourselves. They seem cool!” Gemma exclaims, paddling towards the group of five friends – two girls and three guys. Fernando groans and follows his girlfriend before I reluctantly do too.
“Hey guys, nice ride!” Gemma grins at the group when she reaches them. Fernando and I aren’t far behind her, but she’s already befriended one of the girls, while I shake hands with one of the guys.
“Hey man, I’m Kendall. That’s Brock and Brody – they’re the twins – and Emma and Amber.” The guy who wasn’t one of the guys on the wave introduces himself, and I return the favor.
“I’m Beau and this is Fernando and Gemma. The rest of our group are up on the beach.” I laugh, mentally slapping myself when I glance up at the shore and find Stella tackling Connor in the sand.
“Dude, your face looks like you could commit murder. Chill, bro.” Kendall laughs, following my gaze before I snap out of it.
“Sorry.” I mutter.
“Is that your girl?” He asks, and I nod. “Looks like someone’s caught the case of the green-eyed monster.”
I glare at the guy who I haven’t decided if I like or not, before looking back towards Stella. “I’m being stupid, but I can’t help it.” I shrug, relieved when Stella returns to her towel and glances out at us, searching for me.
“Hey, when you love someone it can be hard to see them with someone else.” Kendall shrugs, and I’ve decided that he’s okay. “I should know, I just caught my fiancée in bed with my brother.”
“I’m sorry, that sucks, Man.” I sigh, thankful that neither Stella nor Gunnar would ever betray me like that.
“Yeah, this trip was supposed to get my mind off her, but so far it’s failing.”
“How about another girl? Gemma brought a friend who I think is single.” I suggest, even though I’m not sure how appropriate that suggestion is.
“I don’t know about that, Beau. Thanks for the offer, though.” He shrugs, and I glance at the sun that’s starting to go down and realize my stomach is growling.
“Hey, Gemma. I’m getting hungry. Maybe we should head in.” I call, shoving her shoulder to catch her attention.
“Yeah, sure. Hey, do you guys want to join us?” She asks, turning to Emma and Amber, who she befriended almost as easily as I befriended Kendall.
They quickly agree, and suddenly all 8 of us are paddling back to shore. Gemma, Fernando and I return our boards to the shack while the others shove them into the bed of an old blue Ford, and I go tell Stella, Connor and Macy that we made friends and are headed to supper.
“Hey, you were really good on those waves.” Stella grins, hopping up and grabbing her towel before kissing my cheek.
“Are you sure you even watched me?” I ask, failing to keep the annoyance out of my voice.
“Of course.” She frowns, slipping her fingers into mine to pull me to a stop and force me to look at her. “Beau, what’s wrong?”
“You were sure paying a lot of attention to Connor.” I shrug, turning back to follow the group, who has piled into the bed of the truck. “Anyway, Stella this is Brody and Brock. Kendall, Emma and Amber are in the cab.”
“Hi, it’s nice to meet you guys!” She grins, hopping into the bed behind me and Brock smacks the side of the truck while I settle into the corner and Stella sits on my lap.
“Stella! Did you see my awesome wave?” Gemma asks from where she’s perched on the side of the bed between Fernando and Macy.
“Yeah! You were awesome, Gem. I promise I’ll go out with you guys tomorrow.” Stella grins, turning her head to look at me before planting her lips on my cheek again. I glance at Connor while the uneasy feeling in the pit of my stomach subsides slightly, and I softly dig my fingers into the skin of Stella’s hip to keep her in place.
“Weren’t they cool?” Stella asks, falling onto our bed later that night after supper and returning to the beach. She has a soft red sunburn scorching her cheeks, but she looks genuinely happy, which makes me happy.
“Yeah. They were pretty sick.” I laugh crawling onto the bed beside her on my stomach, wore out from my day of surfing and being insanely jealous of Connor.
“Tomorrow we should do something just the two of us. We’ve never actually had a vacation together, and it’s been almost 9 months.” She sighs, turning her head to the side to look at me.
“Hi, I’m Beau and I enjoy long walks on the beach at sunset with a pretty girl.” I grin at her, trying to make myself get back to where I was last month with my feelings. Back when I was sure that she felt the same way I did and when I had no one else to be jealous of. “We could stay on the beach all night tomorrow.”
“That sounds amazing.” Stella grins, sliding over so she can kiss me. “I’m thinking about going with Connor on a bike ride tomorrow along the boardwalk. He mentioned today thinking about getting in shape and going to Kansas to ride in the Dirty Kanza. Apparently his mom used to be a competitive cyclist before she met his dad.”
“Are you going to invite me or leave me stuck with Gemma again?” I ask, half teasing, half serious. “And you said you’d surf with us tomorrow.”
“I didn’t figure you’d want to ride a bike for a few hours. If you want to, of course you can come.” She smiles, and leans in and kisses me again. Of course she’s right; I don’t want to go on a stupid bike ride unless it’s a motorcycle, but I’m still jealous of all the time she’s spending with this Connor guy.
“I wouldn’t miss it for the world.” I answer, trying to figure out how I’m going to survive a bike ride. I can’t tell you the last time I rode one that didn’t have a motor or roar to life.
“Good. We’re leaving early so don’t be surprised when I wake you up early. We want to miss the crowds.” She kisses my chin before standing up and brushing her teeth. I groan for a second before turning my forehead to the sheets and trying to calm my feelings. I love her; she loves me – or at least I’m pretty sure she does – and that’s all that should matter. So why do I feel so unimportant to her anymore?
After she crawls into bed after brushing her teeth, I head to the bathroom to shower and think some more even though I know I need to get over this Connor thing. Nothing is going on between them. Stella would never do something like that to me. We’ve been through too much already for her to cheat on me right in front of me. After I’ve stood under the water stream for 15 minutes trying to get a grip on my thoughts, I think I’m finally ready to face Stella. Wrapping a towel around my waist, I step into the bedroom, needing to talk to her. I decided that I need to get this off my chest and out in the open with her, so she can see how I’m feeling.
“Stel, I think we –” I break my sentence off when I see her passed out on her pillow, and sigh as I take in her beautiful sleeping face. I guess I can wait until tomorrow to talk to her, because I couldn’t bear to wake her. I brush my teeth and pull on a pair of boxers before crawling into bed beside her, being careful that I don’t wake her. As soon as I’m settled under the sheets, she rolls over and snuggles herself into my chest, curling up with one of my arms. I breathe out a sigh as I press a soft kiss to her hair and settle my other arm around her waist, holding her slender body tight to me while letting her breathing lull me to sleep.
“Beau, it’s time to wake up.” Stella murmurs, pressing her lips into my ear while she wakes me up before the light is even streaming through our window.
“What time is it?” I ask, rubbing my eyes and wondering when I moved to my back last night.
“Six. Come on, we have to go if we’re going to get to the boardwalk before there are a millions people.” She smiles, kisses me enthusiastically, and bounds out of bed towards her suitcase before yanking her bra off and tying on a pretty turquoise bikini top. I watch her for a second, pushing the talk I was planning on having with her to the back of my brain while I enjoy the view in front of me. I’m seriously the luckiest guy in the world. She changes her shorts for a pair of spandex drysuit bottoms, and I quickly realize that she’s a serious surfer if she owns a drysuit. “Come on, slow poke, we’re gonna be late!”
She smacked my foot that is hanging out of the covers, and I reluctantly climb out of bed and pull up a pair of swim trunks before finding a bro tank. She doesn’t waste any time after I’m ready to go pulling me out of the door and locking it behind us. “Are you sure Connor’s going to be up this early?” I ask, yawning as she drags me onto the elevator. She turns around and grins at me without actually answering me. As soon as the door opens on the lobby floor though, I find out my answer as Connor is standing there waiting for us with his arms wide open for Stella to dance into while she tells him how excited she is that we’re doing this.
“Hey man, I didn’t realize you were coming with us.” Connor says, slapping his hand into mine as Stella literally prances out of the hotel in front of us.
“She talked me into it last night. I’m not too sure how I feel about bikes though. I haven’t ridden one that isn’t a motorcycle since I was 13.” I laugh, trying to actually get to know this guy.
“Oh, that’s awesome! I actually own a Harley. My dad bought it for me as a graduation present when he was trying to compensate for the four years of high school hell I went through.” Connor exclaims, and I frown for a second, before processing that he owns a bike.
“Dude, no way! I’ve always wanted one, but I think my mom would kill me if I bought one.” I laugh, and momentarily put my jealousy behind me as we start talking bikes – and not the kind we’re riding today.
“So you liked Connor?” Stella asks after Gemma has dropped us off at the ranch several days later after our week of vacation.
“He seemed alright.” I shrug. It took me a while, but I think after we found common ground besides Stella, we hit it off pretty well. At least, I didn’t feel like ripping his head off his shoulders every time he looked at my girlfriend.
“I’m so glad you like him!”
“Why?” I ask, frowning as I haul both of our bags into the house, startling John, who is lounging watching an NBA game.
“Because he doesn’t have a lot of friends.” She murmurs, standing on her tip toes to kiss my cheek before going and kissing her dad’s cheek.
“Hey kids. Did you have a fun time in South Carolina?” John asks, turning the volume on the TV down after Stella heads to the kitchen. We haven’t eaten all day besides the granola bars we grabbed from the hotel for a late breakfast, and I’m starving.
“Yeah. We did a lot of surfing. And Stella did a lot of shopping.” I wink at John before a sharp, “No I didn’t!” is yelled from the kitchen, making John bust up in laughter.
“I think you and I both know she did.” He laughs, and I flop onto the couch, tired from our day of traveling, and my week of being insanely jealous 90 percent of the time. Honestly, being jealous is exhausting. I’m just glad that now I get Stella to myself for a few days before she goes back to Savannah to finish her first year of college.
“What are you making, darlin’?” John hollers to the kitchen.
“Your favorite homemade hamburger helper.” She answers, and I think I accidentally moan at how good that sounds.
“I love her cooking.” I mumble, frowning at Steph Curry on the TV.
“She’s going to make you fat one of these days, son.” John chuckles, patting his round belly before tipping a beer to his lips.
“I won’t be complaining if I eat like a king every night, though.”
“Amen to that, son.”
“Are you guys talking about me?” Stella frowns, popping her head around the fridge door to glare at us.
“No, no dear. Just your cooking.” I answer, shooting her a sideways grin, which she replies with a big smile.
“Just as long as you eat it, I’m happy.” She answers, and I raise my eyebrow. I think I’d eat anything she put in front of me – even burnt toast. And I HATE burnt toast. I smile to myself before glancing out the window at the setting sun and notice the horses are still in the pasture.
“I’m going to go bring the horses in. Sorry, John, the NBA isn’t really my thing.” I laugh, standing up and slapping my hat on my head before kissing Stella’s cheek on my way out to the barns.