AN: This is the last chapter of this story! I'm posting the next story on Wednesday, 7/16/03, most likely. If not, I'll post it the next day. I hope you guys liked this as much as I liked writing it.

Chapter Sixteen-Second Try

"Well where do you think he could be now?" Amanda asked, sighing as if she was starting to give up on our search for Shawn.

"I really don't have any idea since I was counting on his being here," I replied, gesturing around at the park.

She paused for a second, furrowing her eyebrows and crossing her arms over her chest, seemingly in deep thought. Looking at her, I did the same, though nothing was forming in my mind.

"Well, what about that place, you know, the one at the beach? You guys used to go there a lot," she asked hesitantly.

Immediately, I knew what she was talking about. It wasn't something I was likely to forget in this lifetime. All of it brought back so many memories, especially the night two years after we broke up when I had revisited the place, to find that Shawn added another engraving on the tree we had carved our initials into. Shaking my head, I scolded myself for not even giving that a thought.

"I can't believe I hadn't thought of it before now," I muttered. "Of course–of course that's where he'd go. I mean, it's where he went to get away from everything in high school. Come on, I think I still remember where it is."

We hopped back into my car, and I backed out of the campgrounds and out the entrance of the park that we had passed through not too long ago. Five minutes later, we were cruising down the highway with the wind beating roughly against the side of the car and ruffling our hair. It was a beautiful day. If only I had the time to enjoy it, but, alas, I had to go find Shawn, which was already occupying all of my thoughts.

Driving down the ever-familiar roads I had been on at least a hundred times, mostly with Shawn at my side, I felt like I was being transported back into a blend of all those trips Shawn and I had taken so long ago.

Ten or so minutes later we were wandering around, trying to find a parking space, although finally giving up and just parking on the side of the road, hoping nothing would happen to the car.

I stepped out of the car and gently closed the door, my eyes looking dazed with their attention completely focused on the familiar stretch of sand.

"Do you want me to come with you?" I heard Amanda ask, but I had already started walking toward the beach.

I just brushed off her question with a wave of the hand, indicating for her to stay where she was. Nervously, I bit my lip, realizing that if I couldn't find Shawn here, there'd be no other choice than to give up and hope he would somehow find his way back home, if he was even still alive. Hesitant to continue walking for fear that I wouldn't find Shawn, I just pictured him in my mind and told myself to just keep putting one foot in front of the other.

Void of practically all emotions except for a tremendous amount of fear and guilt, I felt myself walking forward, though I was unaware of my own actions. All I knew was a dread for what was ahead. In all honesty, I thought that I actually didn't want to continue walking toward the beach, but I knew I had to. I was afraid of what I might find, or what I might not find there, and the grave feeling of dread hung heavy in my mind.

And then there was the impending guilt that was beginning to plague me faster than I thought possible. It was horrible to think I might have driven Shawn away with my accusations that he had been cheating on me, but I really felt like that was what had happened, and it was eating away at any of the sense I had left in me.

Soon, I was walking along the same stretch of white sand that I had eight years ago, when I visited the beach again and got a bit of closure on the break-up two years before. Everything was still the same–the serenity, the beauty, the peace–not much had changed since my last visit.

The only difference was the time of day–last time I had come, it was in the evening and a lot darker. Gently, a warm breeze ruffled my clothes and hissed past my ears.

I kept on walking, veering to the left toward the water and continuing on the damp sand, the soles of my feet also becoming damp with traces of sand on them. Wearily, I ran a hand through my hair, sighing to myself.

"Where could he be?" I muttered. "Where?"

My gaze landed on a row of small cottages that people rented out occasionally. Smiling, I remembered how Shawn and I used to knock on the doors–because they were so old, they didn't have doorbells–and swiftly run away. It had always been fun to watch the vacationers open the door, looking utterly confused. Yes, Shawn and I had shared more than a few cherished memories.

Pausing for a moment to reminisce, I walked that way, hoping that I would find Shawn sitting in one of the old cottages. The thought was a bit reassuring, though not much.

Tentatively, I knocked on the door of the first cottage. An elderly woman opened it a second later. I just apologized for disturbing her and left, going onto the next of the four.

At the second place, a rather rude man opened the door, only to slam it shut again. I was beginning to lose hope.

Hesitantly, I moved onto the third cottage, which looked more broken-in, as if the person living there had taken the time to clean it up. The appearance was a lot more welcoming.

Again, I knocked on the door as I had two times before at the other cottages. The door was answered by a woman who looked to be in her twenties.

"May I help you?" she greeted with a smile.

"Actually, you might be able to. I'm looking for a man in his late-twenties. He had brown eyes, brown hair, and is about this tall," I said, using my hand that was held at a height a bit taller than I was to show her.

The woman paused for a moment before saying, "Yes, I think I have seen someone like that. I don't remember where on the beach, though."

"Thank you."

"You're welcome," she said, closing the door again.

My hopes soared higher as I approached the last cottage.

I knocked on the door and waited. No one answered.

Again, I knocked. Still no answer.

The hope in my heart fell away, and I realized that the age-old expression was true–I had never realized how much I would miss Shawn until I lost him.

Dropping my hand to my side, I spotted the tree we had sat under so many times.

Lazily, I walked over to it and sunk down against the trunk, grabbing a handful of sand and allowing it to sift through my fingers. Occupying myself in my thoughts, I started talking to myself.

"How could this have happened to me?"

I grabbed another handful of sand.

"How could he have just left like that?"

Again, I watched the sand fall to the ground.

"I drove him away. All I want now is for him to come back."

The words tugged at my heartstrings.

"I just. . . lost him. Again, I lost him."

My eyes stung, and a tear forced its way out.

"I had a second chance, and I ruined it."

A shadow fell over me, and my thoughts were immediately interrupted. I glanced up at whoever was standing in front of me and felt my heart leap into my throat. Jumping up, I wrapped my arms around him.

"Shawn. You're okay."

"Yes. I'm here," he muttered quietly, kissing me lightly on the cheek.

I let out a sigh of relief.

"I thought–I thought I'd lost you."

AN: Thank you guys for all the reviews! Please read the next story, as it will explain everything about him cheating on her and all.


To everyone that has reviewed this story:

|romantic chic| |s-pannrada| |lyss| |georgie| |jacket and jeans| |greenzzz| |loudslashproud| |cutie eskimo| |yinyangqueen| |merkumz| |kim c| |tusaki hibiki| |lizzy2| |jules2206| |bookworm0408| |giggle-angel| |unknown| |experiment626| |raineblade-ace| |anon| |playdoh with me-o| |blah| |skeeta| |horrorbelleoreo| |faded soulfire| |a-light-from-your-darkness| |teea| |abby| |kry4me|


|Thank Yous for the previous chapter|

experiment626: Lol, I no. Not kewl. Can't help it. I like torturing you guys. Hehe. Hmm, did they find him? Did this chappy answer your question? Lol. Thanx!

Faded Soulfire: Yes, this review did make more sense. Yeah, I wanted to make the guy seem like a freaky murderer dude. Yes, she found the park. Well, obviously, I got ECA, but thank you for the heads up. Ok. Yeah, it was kind of a long review, which is good. Thanks! And please check out dc-hypergrl's stuff!

Ollymay: Hola. I'm going to ignore the spellos you found b/c it's annoying. Yeah. Thanx!

Raineblade-ace: Uh oh. I killed you. Lol. The way you said that was amusing. Thanx a bunch!

Cutie Eskimo: I'm glad that chappy reassured you. And no, she didn't find Shawn yet. Hehe. Thanx!

Teea: Yeah, I hoped she'd find him, too. He really is a sweet guy, and the mistakes may not be what they seem. Hehe. Ha, I'm a hopeless romantic too. No shame in admitting it. Lol. Thanx a bunch!