Time for another flash fic. 🙂
I'm currently sitting on Bronwyn's couch, after a fantastic weekend with her and Jenny Trout (and so many awesome authors!) at the Rust City Book Con. We had so much fun, and I had a blast hanging with friends - old and new. I've a couple more days here at Bron's then it's back home. It's been a great visit and a wonderful break. A much-needed one. 🙂
Okay, so flash fic...I'm tying this one to a previous flash fic ("Let's Get Out of Here") because...well, that's what I did. I know, brilliant, right? But this can be read on it's own, if you like. 🙂
This is pure, unapologetic fluff, because that's what I needed tonight. And I figure I don't do it enough. LOL
With a sigh, Penny glanced up from where she’d been tracing patterns in the sand. Her sister and her friends closer to the water’s edge, taking what they thought were artsy photos of each other. They looked and sounded like they were having a good time—and Penny supposed that was what mattered, but she really didn’t want to be here. But she’d given in to Jane… She was actually getting better at not doing that—not always easy because old habits and all—but her big sister had made such a big fuss about Penny not doing anything with their friends for a while, and she’d felt obligated. Though honestly, calling them “their friends’ was a major stretch. They were Jane’s friends. They tolerated Penny tagging along because Jane was just the kind of friend you did that for.
“Come on, Pen.”
Startling as her sister dropped onto the sun-bleached log beside her, Penny shook her head. “What?”
“This was supposed to be fun,” Jane said pointedly.
“Looks like it is.” Penny nodded toward the other girls.
“Hey.” Jane bumped shoulders with her. “Are you okay? You’ve been moping around, not wanting to do anything… Not since the party you skipped out of early a couple weeks ago.”
“Nothing’s going on,” Penny said quickly. Too quickly, damn it.
It wasn’t as if anything was wrong. Not exactly. She was just figuring shit out in her head. And until she had it figured, she wasn’t sharing. Definitely not telling her sister she’d suddenly developed feelings for one of her friends, and he apparently had feelings for her too—they’d ditched that party together and had spent the night just talking and laughing. Getting to know each other better. They hadn’t really done anything beyond that, though he’d given her a sweet kiss and long hug when he’d dropped her off, along with the promise of a "real date" soon.
Then, the two days later, Brad had gotten a call that his dad was in the hospital after having a stroke, and he’d headed back home immediately. Penny felt enormous guilt that, since then, she’d been wallowing in the uncertainty of what was between them while he was dealing with something so serious. But she couldn’t help it. She wondered if what had started between them was real. Did he still feel something or had he just been satisfying some curiosity? Maybe now he realized this wasn't, as he'd said, what he'd been waiting a long time for.
He’d texted her a couple times, but he’d been so wrapped up with visiting his dad—who, thankfully was going to be okay but would have a long recovery ahead of him—and helping his family that that even those messages were few and far between.
She wondered if the situation he now found himself in meant he wasn’t going to return at all. Maybe he’d transfer to a college closer to home. Didn’t that just figure? She’d found something with a funny, sweet, and hot guy, when she’d least expected it, and it was going to be yanked away before it had really even begun. Penny grimaced and looked out over the rolling waves. She was the fucking worst. Selfish, selfish Penny.
She jolted, startled again, as Jane wrapped an arm around her. “I really thought you’d have a good time with us today.”
Slightly bewildered by the teasing tone, Penny lifted a shoulder in a half shrug. “Just go; have fun. I’m fine. Though, it’s too damned cold to be frolicking on the beach, you crazy person.”
With that, she pulled her phone from her pocket, to do her hourly check for any missed texts—she cursed herself every inch the fool—finding nothing. Again.
“Hmmm.” Jane’s arm tightened a moment, an affectionate squeeze. “I think maybe things are going to get better now.”
“Really?” Penny asked absently. “How do you figure?”
“David and the others just showed up.”
“Oh joy.” She rolled her eyes. Just what she needed, everyone paired off with their boyfriends so she could feel even more alone. “And how would that possibly make a diff—” Her words dried up on her tongue—along with every ounce of spit—as she looked over at where David’s car was parked behind Jane’s. Her gaze immediately locked on to the tallest of the group making their way down the beach toward them, and her heart began to hammer wildly.
“Because Brad’s back,” Jane whispered.
Penny whipped around to face her sister. “Why… How… Jane.”
Her sister smiled, pulled her in for a tight hug then pressed a quick kiss to her forehead before standing. “Wasn’t too difficult to figure out. Even if you don’t talk or share…” She sighed. “I know you, Pen.”
Swallowing around the sudden lump in her throat, not even sure what she was feeling exactly, she stared up at Jane.
“He’s a great guy,” she said, so quietly Penny could hardly hear her over the laughter of the approaching guys. “And you’re amazing…you’d be really good together and really good for each other.”
Penny opened her mouth to respond, but just then, David jumped in front of her and grabbed Jane round the waist in a huge hug.
“We’ve brought food and beer, as ordered,” he said cheekily.
Unable to stop herself from laughing at her sister’s boyfriend, Penny shook her head. A hand suddenly appeared in her line of vision, and she tilted her head back to look into dark blue eyes, which were crinkling as Brad smiled down at her.
Breathless and a big shaky—God, she hoped he didn’t notice—Penny grasped his hand and let him pull her to her feet.
“Hey, Pen,” he murmured.
He stared at her a long, long moment then lifted their hands so he could press his lips to her palm—just like he’d done the night of the party before they’d taken off.
Overwhelmed, she brought her other hand up and, without thinking of everyone around them, ran her fingers through his short hair. “Missed you.”
His mouth broke into a wide grin, and he drew her closer. As he folded her into his arms, she glanced over and found Jane watching them. When she met Penny’s gaze, her sister just smiled brightly before turning and walking away with David.
Penny closed her eyes and rested her head on Brad’s shoulder as she let his warmth seep into her body. The uncertainty still swam beneath the surface, but it wasn’t as sharp as before.
He skimmed his palm over her hair, and his breath tickled her ear as he spoke. “Missed you too. Fuck,” he kissed then nuzzled against her cheek, “how I missed you.”
“But you’re here now,” she said, then leaned back to meet his eyes. “Right? Or do you need to go back? Is your dad okay? He’s home, now? Do you need—”
He laid a finger on her lips, chuckling. “Slow down. I’m back. For good. Dad’s home now, and I may go and visit more often than I did before, but just for visiting.”
“I’m being stupid, I know,” she said quickly. “I mean, we just hung out once, as maybe more than just friends. It’s not like we’re togeth…like we’re—”
“Oh, but we are,” he drawled, halting her babbling. “Penny…we so fucking are.”
Her chest ached slightly, and her lips tipped up in answer to his beaming smile.
“Thank god.” She threw her arms around him and brought their mouths together roughly.
The rumbling chuckle and his answering enthusiasm as they fell headlong into the kiss erased any embarrassment Penny felt, and she let herself just be. Be with Brad, in his arms—filled with the odd mixture of excitment, happiness, and contentment.