I wandered along the beach aimlessly, not sure what I was looking for, just wanting the sunshine to bleach out the black spot that had settled into my heart and mind. It seemed to be working. The sound of the waves soothed the worst pains. The laughter of children should have eased me further, but it had the opposite effect. Families. I hadn't manage to find one of my own. There was no one for me.
Heading toward the rocky outcrop, I hoped to find a secluded corner where I could just listen to the waves and let them beat away the blues. There were many caverns and I had one in mind. It happened to be occupied, however.
"Hello," the tan man said, taking in my plain T-shirt and board shorts. He got a smile that promised something devilish. "I'm Jack. Why don't you come over here?" He tilted his dark haired head to entice me closer. "Too nice a spot to enjoy alone."
That had been exactly what I wanted. I couldn't deny that Jack in his speedo had me thinking about him out of it. He had the sculpted body I'd strived for and never quite reached. The shadow on his jaw begged to rasp against my lips.
Balling my hands into fists, I fought myself. "Uh, yeah. Just a minute. I'll be right back."
Jack looked both stunned and confused as I turned away.
A man that pretty would never be happy with me. He would find someone else, want more. There was nothing for me there. My stalking gait turned into a trot and then a run. Tears leaked from the corner of my eyes, as salty as the ocean I splashed through, narrowly missing children and other beach-goers.
"Max! Hey, Max! What's up?"
I stumbled at my name. I knew that voice, too.
"Come on over. We have cold beer." Nicholas waved me over, lounging next to his wife, Caroline. Their daughter, Emma, played in the sand at their feet. Between them was a cooler filled with cans and ice.
Nicholas. There was no confusion with him. I knew exactly where I stood and that if I needed anything he would be there for me. Until I made a family of my own, I had no doubt Nick had a place for me in his.
"Sure. Thanks. Whatchya making, Emma?" I asked, plopping down beside the preschooler.
"A castle for a pretty princess."
"Not too pretty?" I asked, helping her pack the sand in her bucket.
"Of course she's too pretty. That's why the prince loves her."
And why he doesn't love me.