“I shouldn’t have come. You’ve got...” I wave my hand around vaguely, not sure what I’m referring to exactly. It could be the amazing house, beautiful girlfriend, or perfect life. Any one of these makes me feel small, but the combination makes me feel as if I could cry. I swallow against the hard lump in my throat and force myself to look up at him.

He smiles, making me smile.

“Nonsense. You came all this way. I want you to stay. At least a few days. We have fifteen years to catch up on.” His eyes latch onto mine, kind yet insistent. It makes me warm. He still has the look that makes me feel like I’m the only one who matters. How does he manage to do that, even while dating the drop-dead gorgeous woman in the next room? I don’t know, but I can’t say no to him. Not when he looks at me this way. Besides, the house is so big he must have ten extra bedrooms, it’s not like I’m putting him out or anything.

I sigh. “Okay.” Just thinking about a bed makes me tired. It was a long day and a long flight. A yawn escapes.

He leans back into the library doorway. “I’m gonna give Gremlin here the purple bedroom.”

“Who? ...Whatever,” Tatianna answers in a dull tone.

He slides his hand around mine, as if we’re still little kids, only now his hand is much larger, and my fingers and palm are swallowed by his firm grip. It feels completely natural, him taking my hand, and I follow him to the front hall where he effortlessly lifts my suitcase and pulls it up the steps. We venture down a long hallway until he finally stops in front of a door, opens it, and puts my suitcase down just inside.

“Grem...Mia, I’m glad you’re here.” His mouth hooks up in a playful smirk as if he thinks it’s funny that he can’t seem to call me by my real name. The first time we met, I was wearing a Gremlins T-shirt. The outdated, thrift store tee was the reason he’d had to save me that first day in kindergarten. Some of the other kids were teasing me about my second-hand clothing, and he came to my rescue. After he told the other kids off, he managed to turn the whole thing into a joke by saying gremlins were cool, then calling me gremlin. Not in a mean way, but as friendly jab. I was so thankful for the rescue that he could have called me almost anything that day, and I would have laughed for him. The nickname unfortunately stuck.

I smile. It is kind of funny. But I also blush because we’re alone again. Just the two of us, and he’s looking at me in that way, again. The way he did when he first realized who I was at the front door. I had no way to be sure, but his eyes smoldered as if he was remembering our first and only time together, fifteen years ago on the boat.

I remembered that night as if it happened yesterday. I’d been so nervous, but so sure it was the right thing, and the only way to really say goodbye to him. It was a way for me to give him a part of me that he would have forever. He tried to talk me out of it, even though I could tell by the way his eyes surveyed my body that he wanted to devour me. I was so relieved when he finally agreed, and also admitted that it was his first time too. Because it meant he also wanted me to have a part of him. A part I’ve held dear all these years.

He’d been so gentle, and so careful with me. I can’t say he was perfectly smooth, but neither was I. Still, his kisses were warm, and his arms held me close as we struggled to figure out the best way to do what neither of us really knew how to do. But then he'd taken control, laying me down and moving over me. He had been so tender and so attentive; easing in slowly and making sure he didn’t hurt me. Making sure I was okay. And it did hurt, but only a pinch and only for a moment. And then it was amazing. The feeling of having him inside me, filling me. The memory still makes me blush. And yet afterwards he was so worried he’d hurt me. I felt whole, so completely cared for.


But now, I’m thirty. And single. And jobless. And perhaps I’m crazy, but I want to recapture a bit of my youth – and the best part of it was him. Even though I pushed it out of my head for many years, as I grew older, I longed to share my life with someone. Not just someone. Him. Collins. My first love. My first everything. Deep down, my heart knew what my body felt all those years ago – we were destined to be together. I didn’t know how or why, but I knew he'd eventually come back into my life when the time was right. I couldn't help but wonder if I purposefully avoided serious relationships all these years, avoiding commitment in order to fulfill our promise to each other. Every man I dated over the past decade was compared to him, and not a single one measured up. As embarrassed as I was to just show up on his doorstep unannounced, the boy I longed for all these years is now a man. And my body takes notice, my heart pumping hard as he watches me.

Now Collins is taller, and though still trim, his shoulders are broad like an Olympic swimmer. His cheekbones and jaw line matured and sharpened, and his once slender, soft lips have filled in, making them that much more lickable. Collins always stood tall and confident. His tailored, button up navy shirt is just loose enough to leave a bit to my imagination, and my imagination does naughty things with his beautiful abs.

He clears his throat.

My eyes drift up the blue shirt, which brings out the sparkle in his cool blue eyes.

“I don’t want you to get to upset over Tatianna. She’ll be fine with you staying here.”

I nod. “Sure.” I doubt that, but I won’t argue.

“There are fresh towels in your bathroom. If you need me, my bedroom is at the end of the hall.” There’s a pause and he smiles, making his eyes sparkle. “It’s great to see you again.” He leans in and picks me up in a hug that is reminiscent of so many things. Our childish youth, our strong friendship, and our romantic farewell all those years ago. I know I shouldn’t let myself feel so attached to him after only an hour, but the thought of watching him turn and walk away into the arms of Natasha, or Tatianna, or whatever the hell her name was makes me want to rip out my earrings and prepare myself for a full on girl fight.