Authors: L.L. Collins
Greer had fallen asleep, so he was missing them pulling into Sunset Beach. He had guessed it anyway, though she hadn’t confirmed. But she wanted him to see where she was taking him now. She pulled over to the side of the road, stopping the car so she could wake him up. Hailey glanced up from her eReader, looking around.
“Wow,” Hailey whispered, taking in the scenery.
“Greer,” she said softly, not touching him. He didn’t move. “Greer.” When he still didn’t budge, she reached her hand out carefully and covered his hand but not moving it. He was usually okay with just touch, but sometimes the movement of stroking his arm could set him on edge. He had explained that sometimes it felt good, like when she did it, but other times it felt like bugs were biting him.
Alexis studied him as he slept, his dark eyelashes resting on his handsome face. It wasn’t often that he looked peaceful, as normal life was rather stressful on him. She had never known anyone that worked as hard as he did just to function in the world. Alexis wished she could live a day inside his body so she could really understand, but he had been able to explain a lot of it to her over their many hours of conversation and she had been reading everything she could get her hands on. She loved his little idiosyncrasies, and had learned so much about the way he thought from all of her reading.
“You love him,” Hailey whispered, and Alexis whipped her head back at her friend.
“Don’t be afraid,” Hailey answered. “I knew it already. But, seeing the way you are with him and the look on your face right now, Lex, it’s… awesome. It’s something that some people look for their whole lives and never find.”
Alexis looked back at Greer, her mind racing. Was it possible for her to be in love with him before she was even nineteen-years-old? Of course she knew what love was: she loved her family and her friends. But this kind of love was different. She knew she would do anything for him, and she wanted to spend all of her free time with him.
“I don’t know…”
“You don’t have to admit it yet,” Hailey said. “But I see it.”
Greer blinked open his eyes, looking first at Alexis and then at Hailey. He smiled, and Alexis’ breath caught. She never tired of seeing that smile that he reserved just for her.
“We’re here,” she said. “I wanted to wake you up so you could see the first part of your surprise.” Alexis pulled away from the curb and made her way to the driveway of the massive beach estate.
She stopped at the gate and gave her name. Greer watched silently as she pulled up the driveway and stopped in front of the five car garage.
“Whoa,” he said finally. “Where are we?”
“This is my mom’s friend’s house. She’s letting us stay here this weekend. It’s right on the beach.”
He looked over to her, then back to the house. “Your mom has a friend that has a house this big?”
“This isn’t even her only house,” Alexis laughed. She couldn’t even imagine what it must be like to have that much money. “She lives in Nashville.”
Hailey flew out of the car, standing in the driveway with her mouth hanging open. “We get to stay here for the weekend? Oh, my god.”
Alexis grinned. That wasn’t even the biggest part of the surprise. “Let’s go in. Everyone will be here later, so we have the place to ourselves for a few hours.”
She stepped out of the car and walked around to Greer’s door. He opened it and she held out her hand for him. He took her finger and laced his fingers through hers. He rarely only held her pinky anymore, even though she liked that just as much.
Alexis led them into Sam’s beautiful house, and they both were silent as they took in the amazing view of Sunset Beach from the back of the house.
Hailey knew whose place this was, but Greer hadn’t asked yet. She kind of hoped he didn’t, so she could watch his face when he saw Sam come in later.
“Anyone want to go for a swim?” Alexis hoped to distract him. Greer’s eyes locked on the infinity edge pool overlooking the beach.
“I like to swim,” he announced. “Where’s my room?”
Alexis took them through the house to the guest suites, hoping that Sam didn’t have a bunch of family pictures on the walls.
We’ll be there in about thirty minutes. We’re coming first, then Sam and everyone else will trickle in. Do you think that’ll be okay?
Alexis smiled, reading the text from her mom. It was about to begin. Greer’s birthday party. She had asked everyone to come at different times so he didn’t get overwhelmed. She had picked out all of his favorite foods for dinner, as well as his favorite ice cream cake. But the best part of all would be what happened after dinner. She looked over at Greer, who was still floating in the pool. Hailey had gone in to take a nap before the party started, so they were alone. For now.
That’s great. We’re out by the pool
Alexis stood up and walked over to the stairs, sliding into the cool water. It was a warm day, despite it being ‘winter’. Greer must’ve felt the water move, because he lifted his head and saw her.
“Alexis,” he said, moving towards her. She waited for him to get to her, and he wrapped his arms around her waist. “I like your bathing suit.” He scanned her up and down, and she felt the air change between them.
“I like your bathing suit, too,” Alexis whispered, apprising his sculpted body with her eyes. “Hailey’s inside.”
He looked around. “We’re alone.”
Looking at him right now, she couldn’t imagine being here with anyone else. She stood up on her tiptoes and kissed his chin. Greer smoothed her hair down her back, one of his favorite things to do.
She tipped her head back so she could look into those eyes, the ones that told her so much more than he could say. Before she could think any further, he took her lips with his, moving softly against her. Alexis loved every part of kissing Greer. It was like nothing she had ever felt before.
He made the small noises he always made when they kissed, and she wrapped her arms around his neck, moving her lips with his. She could do this for hours, but knew that her parents would be there soon.
“Alexis,” Greer said against her lips. “Are you sure that you want to be my girlfriend? I mean, I’m not so good at being a boyfriend. You’re so beautiful and nice, you could have anyone…”
She put her finger over his lips, then removed it and kissed him quickly. They knew what they were to each other, but the words sometimes got lost.
“I don’t want anyone else,” Alexis said, knowing she needed to reassure him. She had to do this every few weeks with him, and she knew it was part of what he needed to hear. “You aren’t just a good boyfriend. You’re a
“I have a hard time with a lot of things.”
“Greer, you’ve come so far. When you touch my hair and kiss me softly? That’s thinking of my needs. When you lace your fingers with mine, it makes me feel safe and protected. When you text me and ask me how my day was, it makes me smile.
make me smile, Greer Henderson.
do that. No one else.”
“You brought me here for my birthday,” Greer said, his eyes still trained on hers. “Today is the best birthday I’ve ever had.”
“There’s another surprise. A big one. Are you going to be okay if we have some guests?”
Greer smiled. “I’m great as long as I’m with you, Alexis. Thank you for what you did for me. I’ll never forget it.”
Alexis turned as she heard commotion inside the house. “I think my family is here.”
“Yeah!I can’t wait to see them.” Alexis and Greer made their way out of the pool just as Dalen came bursting out the back door.
“Greer! My man!” Dalen ran up and did a handshake sort of thing with him, and they both grinned. Ever since Greer had come back to Sunset Beach with her for a few days over Christmas break, he had really bonded with all of her siblings. She loved how much they truly enjoyed his company.
Ben and Cierra laughed, rolling their eyes at Dalen’s goofiness. They said hi to Greer, and the four of them sat down on the lounge chairs to catch up.
Alexis’ mom and dad walked out, Kayley looking beautiful in a sundress with her hair piled on her head. She definitely didn’t look her age. Alexis sandwiched herself between her two parents, hugging them both.
“Ready for this?” Ben looked over her shoulder at Greer, laughing with Dalen, Cierra, and Ben.
“I’m ready,” Alexis said. “When’s she going to be here?”
“About thirty minutes. Their plane just landed.”
“And Aunt Rachel?”
“About an hour.”
“I’m going to get the grill fired up,” her dad announced, ruffling her hair. “How’s Greer doing?”
“He’s doing great,” Alexis said, looking back at him. “Handled this whole thing like a pro so far.”
“That’s because of you,” her mom said. “Let’s sit.”
Alexis sat next to Kayley and watched Greer for a few moments. He was laughing and clapping his hands, something he did when he was very amused. She loved when he got like that. She hadn’t seen him this carefree maybe ever. Definitely not since the attack.
“I met your dad when I wasn’t much older than you,” her mom said, breaking the silence.
Alexis turned, unexpected tears instantly appearing in her eyes. She knew exactly what her mom meant. They had met when they were in college and had started as friends in class and had moved into more right at graduation. Alexis knew the whole story well. Kayley had always told her a lot about her real dad, never keeping information about their relationship a secret.
“I know,” she said through the lump in her throat.
“When I met Alex, we had this connection that I just couldn’t understand. At first, I thought I was okay with just friendship. But as time went by, I knew it was something more. But I was terrified to say anything for fear of ruining what we had. It took years for us to both admit how we felt.” Her mom’s eyes drifted over to Greer, then back to her.
“I’m telling you this because you will have many people doubt that someone your age can be in love and that it can last. Just listen to your heart, Alexis. I’ve loved two great men in my life; one that was taken from me too soon, and the man that helped me heal. You’ve done something extraordinary, something that not everyone could do.”
She reached out and put her hand on the side of Alexis’ face. “You’ve always been such a special person, Alexis. Ever since you were born, you just had a way with people. It doesn’t surprise me at all that you’ve fallen in love with someone as special as Greer. Because a person as amazing as you can only find someone just as miraculous.”
Alexis had no idea what to say. She was the second person today to say that she was in love with Greer. She would’ve expected that a parent would be talking to her about focusing on school and being too young to be seriously involved with someone. But Alexis should’ve known better. Her parents were very level-headed people, but they also believed 100% in her.
“Mom,” she said, a tear escaping her eye. “Thank you. Greer is
special to me. Of course we never know what the future holds, much like you didn’t, but I feel like we’ve been put together for a reason. Does that make sense?”
“Complete sense, honey. Everyone is put in your life for a reason; some for longer than others. We never know what life has in store for us, but we can’t let that stop us from living it. I have something for you before you leave that I think you will find helpful.”
“What is it?”
Kayley hugged her daughter. “It’s my diary I kept when I was in college.”
Alexis’ eyes widened. “You mean?”
“Yes,” Kayley said. “Your dad is the star of most of my diary. I think it will help you understand what you’re feeling and give you an insight into who he was. I was waiting for the right time, and I think that the time has come.”
Alexis nodded her head, her eyes finding Greer again. This time, he was looking right at her.
He was enjoying spending time with Alexis and her family at this amazing beach house for his birthday. He still couldn’t believe that she had done this for him, and she said that there was more. He wondered, not for the first time, whose house it was. Every time he thought about asking, he got distracted by trying to keep up with the conversation with Alexis’ siblings. In the past, this entire scenario would’ve sent him into a tailspin that would’ve taken days to get out of. However, being around Alexis was calming for him, and he realized that he didn’t feel overwhelmed in the slightest. Sometimes he had a hard time keeping up with their rapid fire conversation, but they would just laugh and apologize for talking so fast.