Never was he supposed to fall for her; she was completely accidental. They met at a party. He'd gone with an old friend to a town he never visited and found her in a corner with a few friends of her own. In her hand was a non-alcoholic beverage and her body language conveyed subtle discomfort. She had hair that was long and kind of messy in a way that had character and stated that she didn't really care and her jeans and shirt paled in comparison to everyone else. When she parted with her group to find a new drink, he caught her with intent to joke and maybe flirt a little.

"How old are you, anyway?" she asked, her voiced seeped with You're too young for me.

"Don't worry about it," was his cocky reply as he walked with her to the balcony.

They talked. Rather, she chatted and began to unwind and he began to flirt. He told her she was cute and that she should smile more. A teasing tone was used when he asked if her boyfriend would approve of her spending all night talking with another boy unsupervised and he took pleasure in the way she blushed and informed him that there was no boyfriend. Pleasant banter was made but she continued to shy from the obvious flirting, glancing away from sly innuendos.

"Don't worry. I'll get a response out of you," he promised her.

"You'll be trying for a very long time," she challenged him, and he didn't know whether or not she meant it.

Dawn arrived and as people began to wake, they had to part. Phone numbers were exchanged, because she didn't party and his wasn't this crowd and there was doubt that they'd otherwise see each other again. He watched as she gathered her friends and dug out car keys. Before she left, she searched the room for him and gave him a small wave that promised and then they all staggered into the sunrise, she trailing behind with one last glance over her shoulder. So easily, it could have ended there, with him never calling and her never caring.

The next night, he was bored and alone and her smile and voice from the prior night tempted. His phone held her number and it felt like it was waiting. Just waiting to be called.

She was surprised, honestly, when her phone rang and his name was displayed. Honestly, she'd expected not to hear from him. Her voice was mildly shocked and partly pleased, when she didn't know he took for a sign.

"Of course I called. I told you, you owe me a lot of reaction," he teased, but after he spoke them, he knew he meant the words.

"You're going to waste a lot of minutes trying," she retorted, but a smile was audible in her voice.

He assured her that he had plenty of minutes.

They talked. He learned that she spent the summer awake at night and that in August she was off to college with her best friend. She was told that he was an unemployed, only child who moved around as much as she and had an unhealthy obsession with punk rock music and peach cigars. Idle chatter gave way to discussions which ended only because her phone battery died.

She felt rather empty with her phone dead and his voice gone.

He felt rather hollow with the silence on his phone and the absence of her laughter.

Two nights later, he phoned again and was almost disappointed that she didn't sound shocked when she greeted him; however he was reassured by the pleasure in her "hey you", taking that to his head.

Conversation was not awkward, with them picking up as though forty-eight hours had not passed. They both sat outside, beneath the same sky, both lying on their backs. She told him about her friends and he talked about ex-girlfriends. Questions were asked and teasing ensued as they eased with grace into a close friendship. His father was a drunk and his mother left, for a much younger, much wealthier man, she learned, and he found himself amused that she made all the proper sympathetic noises when he told her. Their worlds were very different, they discovered, as they chattered about their daily lives until phone died. Neither was bothered by these differences, as they dragged themselves inside to their beds.

The next day, well before sunset, he received a phone call from her.

"I'm going to the movies with a bunch of people. I felt like calling you, so you can feel included."

The car was full of her friends, loud in the background and she could barely hear him. With reluctance, she told him she'd call him back later. She sounded excited.

One week after having met, she knew he was afraid of beetles and needles and he couldn't stand green olives with pimentos, pickled okra, or the scent of raspberry. She had told him she never fell in love, had never had a drink of alcohol, choked on cigarette smoke, and deep down she feared she'd be alone her whole life. He assured her that one day she would fall in love with someone absolutely amazing. Laughing, she teased him about his beetle phobia.

Time went on. Phone calls became regular and lasted longer. What began with a couple of hours turned into a full night of conversation that ended when the sun spilled into their rooms. When the world was waking, they were heading to sleep, words bouncing around their minds as they drifted off. This was what was becoming of their summer; late night phone calls in which strangers bared souls to each other in a manner of questions and answers, both discovering things about each other that no one else knew.

One week turned into a month and then two. Calls went from nighttime only to any time. She carried her phone and compulsively checked it for his random texts. They always proved to make her laugh and gave her a warm feeling that left her feeling fulfilled. Eventually, she'd recognize it for what it was. For the time being, she was just complacent with his phone calls and texts and the secrets shared between them. Nights when she received no phone call from him were the bad ones; they left her feeling hollow and incomplete. This was something she was completely unused to; she needed no one and that included some random boy she met at a scene she didn't belong to.

Eventually, the relationship skived levels and became more serious.

Frivolous questions became curious and diabolical. Rounds of What Are You Thinking brought them into each other's head and Truth had them spilling their guts to each other.

"What are you thinking about?" she asked him after a long, but comfortable silence.

His response was delayed and she waited for what seemed like ever for him to speak again.





"That's what I told you. I am thinking, right now, about you."


She was surprised, they both knew. Their ongoing game of Get a Rise had turned into Render Him Speechless, but it seemed the table was turned now. His word repeated in her mind. You. It was spoken in a manner that suggested that she should have known this without question. Stated so confidently.

"Anything… in particular?" she finally asked.

Again, he remained quiet as he contemplated his answer. What was safe to say? In their friendship, no boundaries existed, no filters caught their spilled words.

Unless it was pertained to how they felt about each other.

Suddenly, non-existent barriers had sprung up and words that fell with ease were getting caught on teeth and lips before they ever had a chance. Questions had danced in their heads, but neither had, had the boldness to bring them out. He'd broken their non-verbal treaty, the one which told them to never speak words of intimacy and care. After all, she would be going away in a month and their worlds were too different to encompass them both. Though she didn't know it, he knew he was all wrong for her. She deserved someone who wasn't him; a ladies man always on the move. Like all others before him, he lived by the rule that he fled when attachments formed. Unlike his chosen lifestyle called for, he hadn't yet fled.

"I was just thinking… about you. And… I'm going to miss you when you leave." He chickened out. The words caught in his throat.

Now, it was her turn for a moment of contemplative silence. She hadn't realized that when he'd said that one word, you, her stomach had clenched in a funny, fluttery way, until now, when it all released with his last statement. Disappointment. Anticlimax. She'd expected more. Perhaps, something more grandeur.

"I'll miss you, too. But… we're still gonna talk, won't we? Why wouldn't we?" A frantic urge wanted to grab him and hold on tightly. The idea of losing him in any fashion made her feel queasy and uneasy.

"… we will," he affirmed.

The two remained quiet for a little while, relishing in the comfortable silence. It was almost as if they were there with each other.

Time continued to pass and they continued to talk, carefully avoiding the building tension between them. He knew it'd be foolish to tell her and she was insecure enough to doubt what really was there. Their games continued, late into the night after everyone else was asleep, and evolved into new games, competitions with no score.

She'd never dated anyone and believed that love was just the right combination of chemicals and entertainment. He met girls and dropped girls whenever it got too deep, was completely afraid of love and attachment. Sometimes, they discussed her dreams and her frequent nightmares about drowning. Neither of them had a clue what they meant. When the mood was right, he sang in a voice that was low, smooth, and amazing, that he hid from everyone in modesty.

Both of them were afraid.

It went unspoken, avoided, evaded, the way they felt for each other. Everyone else sensed it, though. Friends of hers that had never met him pointed out the time she devoted to him, in phone calls and thoughts, and the way everything in her life linked back to him, and also the way he made her smile and glow. A smile when he called, when she said his name, when she was quietly thinking about him to herself. He knew that, early on, he'd become hooked. His mind focused often on her and when diverted from her, always made it back. Words she'd said resonated and she was always the first person he wanted to talk to. Truthfully, he had to talk to her, so he didn't feel so restless when he went to sleep, his last thoughts always about her.

But they were both afraid.

College was looming and soon to take her away, out of state, while he stayed behind, alone. She knew that he was a serial heartbreaker with a smile and charm that could win anyone over. Deep down, he knew she was an accident, a girl he wouldn't otherwise have gone for, if it wasn't for the boredom. He could hurt her, he knew, so easily and he wanted so greatly not to. So it was easier to pretend that nothing existed between them. At college, he reasoned, she'd meet someone else, someone who would be good for her and make her forget all about the summer of him and everything it had contained. Being forgotten, he found, was an idea that made him feel ill and anxious, that made him want to stop time, so that she may never go away. It was for the best, he believed, for him to become just a memory. Memories couldn't hurt a person, after all.

She would never be able to forget him, even if she wanted.

It was his phone that ran the night before she left and they spent hours on it, again until dawn. She was nervous and afraid. Reluctance held on tightly to her, an iron-tight grip. He reassured her that she was amazing and people would love her. Tears were shed on her part and they made him feel helpless and small. No sleep was gained and before her parents woke, she got off the phone, slipping gratitude and love into her goodbye.

He didn't have a chance to say it back, even if he had planned to, before she hung up.

For the next couple of days, he didn't hear from her, but for a text message stating I wish I could come back home. He, too, wished she could come home, if it would make her happier and give her time back to him.

College was supposed to make her forget about him, but he wanted more than anything to fight that now, for his memory to stay alive with her, her desire to talk to him to continue everlasting.

This, he knew, was unwise. As a result of their three month world, he had grown far too attached. It was scary, the idea of him having fallen so deeply, so quickly. He couldn't tell her, though. In the end, he would only hurt her.

Nights during her first week were filled not by his voice, but tears. Nostalgia bit in far too son and she felt so small and out of place here. Her best friend shared a room wit her but she still felt alone and empty. On the table beside her bed sat her phone, always displacing the miles between them, but she refused to cry to him. Once exhausted of tears, anyway, she crashed into heavy slumber. It didn't go ignored by her, now, how many tears that she shed were for him and her and what she'd finally realized she wanted and could never have because, surely, he could never reciprocate those feelings and, oh, how it pained her. Being second best was painful and agonizing, but mostly it was absolutely heartbreaking. With her at college, she reasoned, she would wean herself off of him and, eventually he would forget all about her and the games they played and the numbers that linked them together. How painful and terrifying a thought but, certainly, it was foolish to want what could never be.

Again, time came and went. Phone calls were still shared but they were considerably fewer and shorter. Now, he listened as she told him about the dorm and the girls in it, classes and the people in them. Her voice, he noticed, lacked something and he felt more like a diary than he did a friend; just a record of events and people and listless memories. This, he found incredibly disconcerting and he missed the days when a night last forever and words were shared and knowledge gained, not these days where two months had dragged and friendship felt forced and fake. She was pulling away, he felt, and thought it had been what he'd wanted her to do, it still stung and he wanted her to come back home. To come back to him.

"What's he like?"

"What does he look like?"

The girls giggled and she smiled in a serene manner, though she felt an irking in her stomach when they put so much focus on the questioning of his appearance. How he looked mattered little – everything that stirred her was in his voice, the words he spoke, and how he treated her. To tell them that, though… she wasn't sure how it would go over. They sat on the bed, on the floor, and in chairs, giggling and leaning in. Girls liked story times and they liked to talk about boys, especially her cryptic relationship with the unknown boy. Her cheeks flushed – talking about him was personal. It was done with her close friends back home, yes, but these girls were asking that she bared her soul, the very reason she checked her phone so often and why her eyes were so ringed with lack of sleep, why her mind continued to function.

How corny.

"He's amazing," came her description. "There's something incredible about him. We're very different – he comes from a world I'm not used to and I'm every cliché that novels wrote of and he believed were fabricated. I love his wit and how intelligent he is, even though he never acts as if he is. Intelligent, that is – he believes himself lacking in the brains. Sometimes, I forget that we never see each other, and I kind of imagine that when we talk, we're sitting with each other, and I can see all of his facial expressions. The way he talks conveys all his thoughts – it almost is like we're together."

Wide eyes met her face, bemusement and skepticism written on their faces. A wave rolled in her stomach and she mentally kicked herself for attempting to explain the way she felt. Said experience was one that had to be experienced itself to really understand, to actually comprehend. Mere words could not detail how he made her feel or what he was like or what he meant to her.

"Yeah, but what's he look like? He sounds really hot."

"He's hot, isn't he? Duh! Look at the way she's smiling!"

"Tell us what he looks like!"

However, the smile was not worn because she thought of him as hot, or because she was priding herself on their curiosity. Appearance was of little matter, and honestly, her memory of his face was fuzzy – not because she was forgetting, but because of the way his appearance took back burner to the way he sounded.

"How he looks doesn't matter," she told them in a dismissive tone. There would be no more discussion on the way he looked

More wide eyes stared back at her, blinking in confusion and disbelief. What kind of girl didn't care about the appearance of the boy she flirted with?

"You should move on, anyway. You said you never see him. Plus, you're in college. Loosen up. Have some fun!"

Such words made her feel a little sick. Moving on would be near impossible, she knew.

Instead she laughed. "I'm not hung up on him or anything."

An exchange of looks around the room begged to differ.

In another state, the same night hung over his house and he lay on his back, arms behind his head while his friends thumbs punched a game controller, the light of some game flickering over them. His eyes were on the window, on the moon outside, and his fingers in his pockets, fingering his phone.

"You're thinking about her."

"I'm not," he lied.

"Yeah, you are. I can see it. You look like you're… in this other world."

"I'm just thinking… that's all."

"About her. And that's all."

"To your left. Shoot, loser. No. Not about her. I'm thinking about…"


Defeat. He was and his friend knew it and even if he tried, he couldn't mask when his mind wandered back to wondering what she was doing and what she was thinking and if any of her thoughts were on him and then he'd feel stupid for even wondering.

"What's so great about this chick, anyway? Did she give it up or something?"

For a short while, the only sound in the room was his friend's video game, while he contemplated this question. What was so great about her? Was it too lame to try to explain that she made him feel amazing? That when she was talking, he felt like they were the only ones in the world, and that everything stood still when she was around? How did one even explain the connection he felt with her, the way they just hit it off that night at the party? It seemed impossible to explain how he fell for that out of place girl with her messy hair and her bland clothes and the way she stood apart from any other girl he'd dated, or how she always made him feel better about anything, no matter his mood? In fact, he'd probably just sound foolish or love sick or corny if he tried to explain that she made him feel light and that she always asked about his day and remembered the tiny details that no one else could, and that she made him want to spill his guts.

"She's… the best thing that's ever happened to me."

His friend nodded. "Then catch her dude. Stop chasing her and just catch her. Don't let her get away."

If only it was so easy.

He had reasoned that she would meet someone else at college and, to his great dismay, one day she did. After receiving no calls from her for nearly two weeks, he finally called her. The voice that answered her phone was that of a male, and one he didn't recognize. When she was home, he'd heard males in the background and eventually could pair them with the name of some boy she was always around. In college, though, she'd never spoken of boys. Torn between being happy for her and panicking, he froze.

They were worlds apart, he had to remind himself. Nothing could exist between them, because he was he and she was she and nothing was supposed to accumulate beyond friendship. He had no possession of her, no grounds on which to have claim of her. She was just a girl and it was odd to make himself think that, because he knew, deep down, she was certainly much more. However, it was impossible. College had her and even still, before then, they didn't know the little details about each other. It was unknown to him what kind of face she made when she was confused and what her little routines were.

You can't fall in love with a person who you're never around, he'd tried to remind himself.

She didn't believe in true romance and he was afraid of love. They were a mismatched pair from the beginning and during the time he was supposed to wean himself from her and move on, he'd realized he'd only tightened his grip. And in that lapse, it seemed, she had managed to move on, to pull herself away from a nighttime rendezvous of words and phrases and silly giggles and flattery and honesty. Of course, her logical mind would pull away from a silly daydream and he convinced himself that the feeling in his chest was merely him feeling stupid for not being able to do so first.

Instead of asking for her, he merely hung up the phone, not bothering to inquire who the male answerer was. Pretending it wasn't for fear of finding out that the male was of importance to her, he played it off as being that if she really wanted to talk to him, she would call him.

And she did. Want to talk to him. But she also knew better.

He was like a drug for her and she knew that weaning was impossible. She could spend a month not speaking to him, but the second she'd hear his voice or read a silly text of his, she would crumble and all walls of defenses she'd built against him would crumble and fall. It was impossible for her to refuse him, so it was easiest to break herself of him. Because it would be completely impossible for her to move on from him – the first boy who actually took notice and the first person to scratch her surface and to reach beneath. What she hated most was that she willingly gave herself to him – she didn't fight him. Completely out of her league and she was so willing to let him have hold of her and to tell him things that she wanted no one else to know. The need to feel special and important had been so strong she'd not been able to fight it and instead, she pilled her guts and willed herself away. Now, it felt impossible to collect herself from him. Every time she tried to forget him, something else reminded him of her. Locations he'd never visited reminded her of him, because of his mental presence, the words which echoed in her head. How terribly it ached within. In her chest, her stomach, her throat when she cried.

Moving on was her only option and she would never fully be moved on, she knew. Even as she sat here with his replacement, his arms wrapped around her, she hummed softly, only to fight out the ideas that came to her mind. To pretend she didn't feel guilty. There was no reason for guilt, she knew this very well. Between them was nothing but some silly feelings that should never have existed. He was not of her world. And here she sat with someone else, willing herself on. Obviously, had they been meant to be, something would have occurred to let them know.

Just because she could stay up all nigh with him proved nothing. Many times she'd done it with her own friends. That ever-going game of Truth and the silliness. She flirted with boys who weren't him and didn't get that queasy feeling of illness.

He was just everything she'd never imagined, the kind of boy she thought existed only for movies and novels. Enigmatic and curious, a serial heartbreaker with a soft spot for furry bunny rabbits, plushies, and night blooming flowers. She believed she fell for the fact that he admitted to his fears and told her how he ran from love whenever he encountered it. For a brief few months, she told herself, she'd fallen victim to herself and to her desire to be something more, to stand out, and to feel a little special, even if all for a summer of chatter and heart spilling.

Time had moved on and so, too, she'd needed. So, she had. Certainly, if felt uncomfortable, but she figured it was because she'd never had this. A physical relationship that moved past just talking and flirting. How strange it seemed – she'd never imagined how it would feel, but she wasn't sure if this was how it was supposed to be. Her first kiss had been spared, he didn't yet have it, and she didn't even know any longer if she wanted anyone to have it, least of all him. In fact, she was uncertain if she wanted anyone to have it, if she wanted to lose herself to anyone else, because finding all the pieces was hard and surely she was still missing some of herself. Surely, he still had a hold of some of her.

"Are you listening?"

From her reverie she was pulled by his inquiring voice and another nuzzle to her neck. Blinking, she glanced at him. "Huh?"

"Someone called. For you. Some guy."

"… who?"

"I donno, he never said. He hung up."

Without having to check her phone, she knew who it was and she wasn't sure how she felt.

Three days later, she received a text. I hope he makes you happy. You really deserve it.

That night, she cried herself to sleep. Just like so many nights before, but this time so much more significant than any other. Held by her best friend, she sobbed in the dangerous, reckless manner she'd come to know so well. The choking kid of sobs that ached her body but wouldn't stop until she had it all out, because she knew and she admitted and she didn't want it to be so. Her very disbelief had become so real to her and she'd spent so long pretending it wasn't so that it had grown so far out of control. A little text message couldn't convey the emotion that spoken dialect could, but the words felt cold and frigid. Just because he said the words didn't mean he believed them.

Was he angry, she wondered?

Was he hurt?

Or, was she just hoping that her clandestine feelings had been reciprocated. Surely they couldn't have been. She wasn't his type and he didn't love and she was a sobbing mess with a headache and a running nose and a best friend who could do nothing more than to hold her and smooth over her hair.

It was painful. The heartbreak was all her doing.

She had so willingly handed herself over to him and trusted him to take care of herself. Then she'd flounced off without it, to try and move herself on. Someone else was not even who she wanted and she realized in the most painful way that no one else was going to replace him. No one could replace anyone, but especially him. Never again would she come across someone like him, who cried about his dead pet snake when he got too drunk and wished he'd had a younger brother or sister growing up, and who didn't think he was worth much in life in terms of goals and plans.

And there was no way she could take it back. Because she'd moved on and he was probably going to move on. It wouldn't be hard for him, she knew. He was charming, charismatic, had this smile that shut down the mind's of females everywhere. She knew he would have no problem finding someone to fill her place, because it would be so easy to fill the shallow whole she'd dug into his life, unlike he, who burrowed deep into hers. Such high expectations and measurements surely could not be outdone and glossed over.

Her dreams were of drowning and him standing on a dock, watching her with such apathy that she could still feel the way it chilled and ached her bones when she woke. She dreamt of splashing and choking and going under and he making no move until, in the end, as she submerged beneath the water, his voice came to her, murky and deformed but the words obvious, nonetheless – I hope you're happy. You deserve it. Waking up, she felt choked and in pain and accidentally woke her friend again. What an awful friend she was – so focused only on herself that she was putting her friend through such trouble.

I'm an awful person. Selfish and cruel.

Their next classes were skipped by she and her friend, to spend a day with Ben and Jerry's, cookies, nachos, and slapstick humor movies. Her best friend never skipped class. It was very reassuring.

Time carried on much more slowly for the both of them. Much as he wanted, he couldn't move too far past her. Kissing another girl felt wrong and he found that they didn't feel right. Empty body contact wasn't the same, any more, without the conversation, the knowledge. He didn't like that they were nothing more than phases. They just… weren't right and he couldn't explain it in any other way but her.

There was no honest conversation.

He didn't know what any of them were afraid of.

Or what they aspired.

Why did they even subject themselves?

He was the heartbreaker who couldn't be reformed. The bad boy they all hoped had a heart of gold. Each one of them, he knew, wanted to be the one to reform him, to change him and to find his heart. And he felt guilty, suddenly, knowing that they would never find his heart. It had already been handed out, against his will. The idea felt lame and corny and so much like it was out of a made-for-television movie. But the truth was there. His one greatest fear had finally found its way to him and caught him and held him trapped.

He missed her.

He missed her voice.

He missed the way she laughed and the way she poked fun at him.

He missed the way she would listen to everything he said.

And that sympathetic sound her voice took on when he revealed one of his sadder truths.

He missed the security he felt from her.

And the way he used to be able to count on her being there.

In the end, though. He missed her.

He'd fallen in love and he'd never planned to. Running away was what he did. Not staying and clinging and holding on and making real. Irony tasted bitter in his mouth, the way the boy who didn't love fell in love with a girl who didn't believe in it and who would never believe him, who'd moved on past him as it was.

So time dragged on and he carried on.

Snow began to fall and Christmas lights went up, which only reminded him bitterly of the holidays that had arrived and how much he wished they'd go away. They felt cold and empty and on television, commercials displayed happy couples and love and families laughing. Carols made him angry and he found himself drinking with his friends more than he had before. Parties were becoming more of a crutch than they were fun, because he needed something to keep him from going insane and crazy. From driving himself mad with thinking thoughts that shouldn't be thought.

A week or so before Christmas, he found a text on his phone and seeing her name made him shiver. I don't deserve it. And he doesn't make me happy anyway. Sorry for everything.

What she was sorry for, he didn't know, and he didn't know if he wanted to know. He didn't want her to be sorry, especially if she was sorry for the summer and for them meeting. Staring at his phone, he was unsure of whether or not he should text her back, but he knew he'd never be satisfied with the answer. In his mind, her voice still resonated but he knew that if he tried to speak to her again, he would only back again.

It was with relief that he went out with his friends.

The party was in the town that he first met her, where an old friend of theirs lived. His house happened to be the very house he'd met her and he felt the strangest sense of de ja vu as he walked through the threshold and made his way for the kegs. People were pressed in all around, a huge turn out of them jostling each other, making their way from room to room. He liked this – it was so much easier to get lost when there was a crowd to literally get lost in. A masochistic curious urge drew him from his friends up the stairs to the room with the balcony where they'd spent that first night.

It was strange, he found, how much he was drawn to this spot and how clearly he could feel her there. Easily, he could picture the way she'd leant against the railing and crossed her ankles and watched him with that look of amused curiosity, the shy smile stretched on her mouth. His stomach churned.

Foolish idea it'd been to even go back there, he knew. He should have expected the house to be riddled with memory. She was everywhere.

As he went back down the stairs, his eyes scanned the corner where they'd met, as if she might appear at his will. And then he froze two steps from the floor.

A collection of girls stood together. Pushed back towards the corner was a girl with hair pulled back in a messy ponytail that looked shorter than the last time he'd seen her. She was dressed in jeans and a t-shirt and hoodie that paled in comparison to everyone else and she looked out of place with her non-alcoholic drink in hand and the nervous edge to her smile. No make up was worn on her face and yet she looked so much more beautiful than the other girls. Staring, he waited until she took the last drink and pulled away from her crowd to go off and find another drink.

Falling into step along side her, he leant over.

"Fancy seeing you here," he murmured to her.

He relished in the moment that followed. Her feet stopped and slowly she turned to look at him, lips parted slightly and eyes widened. A couple blinks followed and he felt a grin easing onto his face. No sound was heard by him – the thumping bass in the background was drowned out and the voices beside them drowned in this moment.

And then she smiled.

"He didn't make me happy."

"I know."

"I'm really sorry. For… all of it."

He shook his head. "There's nothing to be sorry for."

They looked at each other in silence for a few moments. People jostled past them but they didn't move. He studied the way her hair fell over her eyes and she made no move to brush it past. She took that moment to study the way he was studying her and she felt her insides squirm in pleasure and delight.

Synchronized, as if their minds were in tune, they found their mouths together, and summer and winter met in a full circle.