~Strong hands, thick skin, and an open heart. You saw through the pain, saw through the mask. You never gave up on me~ Sia.
Chapter Theme Song: ‘Loved Me Back To Life’ by Sia.
“We are leaving now guys!” Marco presses the horn repeatedly as Riley and I quickly exit the penthouse with our duffel bags in hand. Today we are all going to the beach for a little get-together. My dad and Ansel’s parents have been a lot busy lately, and so they have set this weekend aside for us to spend some time together.
Riley and I are wearing matching, black-lace bathing suits with T-shirts and shorts over it, not wanting to reveal ourselves until we get to the beach.
I climb into the backseat of the van and sit next to Ansel. His fresh scent politely greets me, and I take in how handsome he looks. He’s wearing a white T-shirt and black sports shorts while a white cap covers his dark hair. He looks good in anything.
He smiles at me while retrieving my bag from my hands. “I’ll take that for you.”
“Thank you.” I beam, tucking my elastic band between my lips. I gather my hair in a pile before catching it into a ponytail.
Robert swings his head around from the front seat. “Everyone here?”
“Yeah, Alaric will be taking his parents, Samantha, and Anthony,” Riley informs, while Alex snuggles his head against her, fiddling with the silver necklace around her neck.
“Put a little volume on the music, please!” Aiden requests, and my dad simpers while reaching out to turn the volume up. R.A.N by Miguel booms throughout the van as Marco begins to propel out of the driveway.
The ride to the beach is filled with laughter and chattering as we sing along to the music on the radio. Ansel keeps his arm around me the entire journey, occasionally turning my chin to him to claim my lips with kisses.
We get there in no time and as Marco parks in the lot area, the scent of salt and seaweed greet us. The day is perfect for this form of outing. The sky is a wide expanse of blue and the wind is cool and brisk, modifying the mid-day sun.
We climb out of the vehicle, and I stretch my arms as Ansel creeps up behind me, embracing me from behind and pressing his cool lips to my neck. I giggle at this, as the sound of a roaring engine pulls our gazes to Alaric’s car as it turns into the lot.
“They got here fast.” My dad smiles, throwing a towel over his shoulder as the boys begin to pull their shirts off. I take notice of the tattoo of the ‘snake-coiled-around-the-numeral-five’ on the twins’ chest as they fold their garments into a neat pile.
“You boys are like a cult.” Riley shakes her head. “What’s with the matching tattoos?”
“It’s a tradition for them,” I tell her. “Their uncles had the same tattoos.”
“Damn, I was hoping to get here before you guys.” A shirtless Alaric says as he gets out of the driver’s seat, adjusting the waists of his sports shorts.
“It isn’t a competition.” Sam chuckles as she climbs out of the car, smiling while she waves at Riley and me. We offer a greeting back, and I can’t help noticing how great she looks in her burgundy swimwear. The fact that she doesn’t feel the need to wear shorts over her two-piece suit screams confidence, and I notice that her once-long hair is now perfectly styled in a pixie cut.
Melissa lets Anthony down from her arms as he chases over to Ansel, who sweeps him up into his arms, playfully poking his sides. The handsome youngster giggles at the gesture while he wriggles against him, wrapping his arms tightly around his uncle’s neck as he rubs his back.
Riley and I take our T-shirts off, but our shorts remain. We are yet to attain the level of confidence Sam has. Maybe when we get a bit more boobs and thighs. She plods over to us with a grin, throwing her arms around our necks. “So, can you girls swim?”
Riley shakes her head. “Not even to save my life.”
Sam chuckles, grabbing our hands and pulling us along with her. “Then, let me teach youuuu~!”
The sand is warm against our feet as we scamper toward the rushing waves. We play in the sea like three ten-year-old girls and Sam attempts to teach us a few swimming techniques, which almost resulted in Riley drowning herself. We laugh at the ordeal before we notice everyone else joining us on the beach. We climb out of the water and lay onto our backs in the sun as we look up at the sky. The day could not get any better than this. It is like the weather has ensured to be on her best behavior today, so we can have the most amazing time of our lives.
The tranquility is quickly interrupted when a pair of feet rush past us, dust particles surrounding us, and getting into our eyes. I cough, propping up onto my elbows as Sam glares at a giggling Aiden.
“Seriously, Aiden?!” She frowns, and he chuckles, rotating his waists menacingly with no hint of remorse before diving into the sea headway.
Riley laughs and shakes her head, laying back down onto the sand. “Something is wrong with him.”
Marco and the boys pass by us—decently—to join Aiden; Alaric carrying a beach ball in his hand. While they swim, play ball, and chat among themselves, we sit upright to watch them. I glance back at where the adults are sitting on the benches while indulging in a conversation. Anthony is sitting on Melissa’s lap while my dad and Austin are waving their hands around as they elaborate on something.
“Which one of those boys would you say is the sneakiest among them?” I hear Sam asks, and I pull my gaze in front as Riley squints her eyes wonderingly.
“I’d say Alaric, but Ansel is worse.” She titters.
“Yeah, Ansel definitely tops the list. You can never predict him.” Sam agrees, and I smile, knowing how true that is.
“But Alex is a professional liar. Can you believe that when they were faking Ansel’s death, he actually cried real tears?” Riley hisses, and Sam laughs.
“Those boys are professional liars. Ansel is pretty honest though, but he’s a devil under disguise.”
I chuckle. “You couldn’t put it any better.”
“Hey! It’s you!” A voice says and I look up, squinting my eyes from the flare of the sun to see who stands there. Realization dawns on my features when I notice that it’s that boy at the Hardware—the shop guy who we had asked to show us the clipping of Riley’s kidnapping. He is standing with another guy who is staring admiringly at Sam. She pretends not to notice though as she looks between the shop guy and me.
“What a coincidence to see you here.” Shop-attendant smiles. “It’s quite a small world.”
“Hey, you!” Alaric begins moving toward us, the rest of the boys following behind him. “None of these girls here are single so keep it moving.”
The young clerk looks in their direction while his friend rubs his neck awkwardly. Alex recognizes the face almost instantly. “Hey, it’s the conning cashier guy.” He nudges Ansel, who picks up immediately. “Oh yeah, the hardware crook.”
I try not to chortle as the shop-attendant laughs. “I am not a crook. My name’s Kian, by the way.”
“You guys know him,” Alaric says and Alex nods, juggling the ball from one hand to the next.
“Oh, guess that’s fine then.” Alaric crashes next to Sam, kissing her on the cheek while throwing his arm around her.
“They are the guys I was telling you about.” Kian pats his friend on the chest. “The guys who remind me of John Wick.”
Ansel and Alex exchange humorous gazes as Kian looks back to them. “You know, the cops came after you guys damaged the two men for the girl they kidnapped. I saw the whole thing from the store camera. Woah, whoever that girl is sure is fortunate to have such caring friends.”
Riley’s eyebrows crinkle as she looks up at Alex.
“Anyway, it’s nice to see you guys here.” Kian dramatically holds his chest. “My role models. Keep up the good work, brothers.” He pumps a fist in the air with a grin before walking away with his weird friend.
Riley stares at Alex with watery orbs and his face tinges pink from her direct gaze. “Wh-what?”
“You guys beat the kidnappers for me?”
Puppy-dog eyes. Riley and her cute puppy-dog eyes.
I smile at the nervous look on Alex’s face as he sheepishly rubs his nape. “Well...”
She springs up and jumps into his arms, and he stumbles backward as everyone beams at the adorable sight. “Thank you.” She kisses his cheek, and he smirks over her shoulders just before she pulls away, leaving him adorably flushed.
“Thank you too, An.” She says, and Ansel salutes her with a smile.
“No need to thank me. We’ll always have your back, Ry. Rainey was there too.” He nods in my direction, and Riley turns to look at me with grateful eyes. I just nod my head with a smile, knowing what she wants to say.
“So, does this mean you have now completely forgiven me for faking Ansel’s death?” Alex checks and Riley laughs, poking his chest.
“I’ve forgiven you a long time ago, Alex.”
He smiles, pulling her into his arms and planting a kiss to her lips.
“Everyone is coupled up,” Arden shrugs. “I am not jealous. I am not jealous at all.”
Alaric deadpans him. “Sounds like you are.” Sam smacks his bicep while everyone chuckles.
“Yes! The girls are here!” Aiden announces. “Haha! There is absolutely no reason for us to be jealous now.” He jerks a middle finger to Alaric before hurrying off; Arden grinning wildly while following him.
Our eyes trail them with confusion, and wide smiles spread our lips when we notice the girls from Riley’s surprise party—Shanelle and her friend, walking toward the twins. They are both dressed in their swimwear, and I am guessing the boys had invited them. While Aiden and Arden lead them down to where we are, Alaric lay onto his back and Sam lowers herself next to him as their fingers remain intertwined.
Ansel plops down next to me, playfully bouncing me on the shoulder. I giggle while he leans in to connect our lips for the hundredth time today. Each time we kiss, the butterflies never fail to gather in my stomach, and I am still appalled that one person can have this sweet effect on my body. I know these feelings that I have for him will never go away.
He pulls away and takes my palm in his, bringing my hand up so he can press his mouth against my knuckle. “I love you,” he whispers, and I smile.
“I love you too.”
I lay my head against his shoulder as we gaze out at the rustling waves, his heartbeat soothing my mind and giving me internal peace.
The craziest thing about love is that it comes when you least expect it. Creeping its way into your heart and changing everything you have ever known. Some have loved and lost, some have loved without being loved in return, but I have loved and felt what it was like to be intimately loved by another.
I didn’t have the most amazing life, and the things that I have been through can attest to that—from a mother who neglected me for her young lover, to men who used their strengths to take advantage of my weaknesses. But right now, I am happy. Happy that I didn’t give up when the world forced me to. Because if I had I would have never been able to experience the serenity of true love.
Life is unpredictable. And just when I thought my life would never get better, things began to turn around for me. It is all because of Ansel King. He came into my story and showed me that life is worth living, that there is more to the painful moments of my past, and that happier days can also be found in the pages of my book.
My life was dark, hopeless, and pointless, but then he looked at me, and everything began to make perfect sense.
“True love, especially first love, can be so tumultuous and passionate that it feels like a violent journey.” – Holliday Grainger.
Ending Songs: ‘Then You Look At Me’ by Celine Dion.
‘Kiss Me Slowly’ by Parachute.
Andddd we are at the end of the novel guys!! Phew! It was one heck of a journey, mm? How ya’ll feeling?
I am so grateful that you all stuck it out with me! It’s a blessing and I appreciate all the support you gave me!!!!❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️What was your favorite scene? And what will you miss the most? It feels so weird to know that this book has come to an end. Amma need sometime to get accustomed to it😂
P.S: If you enjoyed my story, don’t forget to leave a heart/like on your way out!🙂
Much much love!!!!!!Please read on for information on my next novel and a short Q&A
Will there be a sequel?-Well I haven’t decided yet. But if I were to make a sequel it would be in the future, since I have a few other projects I would love to put forth first. A sequel would have to be properly executed so I would need to properly think it through. When it comes to books, last impression lasts. Wouldn’t want to spoil the entire book with a bad sequel. :)
Will you be writing any other books?-Yeah, I will be posting a new story very soon! Maybe in a few hours or days, it depends❤️
And there you have it💫If you are interested in trying out the story I will be posting soon, please don’t delete this novel from your library just yet, since I will be announcing the posting of the new story here and on my wall.
ILY and keep being as amazing and supportive as you all are!💕
See you again soon!♥️