The morning sun was shining bright and the excitement in the house was overwhelming. I checked everything in my bag, mentally creating notes of everything, making sure I had everything I needed for this trip. Shampoo, clothes, a brush, makeup, camera.
I was running around like a maniac, panicking that I had forgotten something.
I kept double-checking with Nicole and Paris, making sure that they had all of the emergency phone numbers and other information they needed.
“Make sure you keep this list some place where it is always in sight, you got it?” I said, pointing a finger at both of them.
Nicole rolled her eyes and laughed. “Yes, Mom, we will be fine!”
Paris joined in. “Yeah, no need to freak!”
I hugged both of them. “You know that I’m trusting you these next few days to take care of everything and everyone. You need to make sure that the girls are safe going to and coming from school, Jay is here in the morning to take care of Jack, and that the pets are taken care of. This is a big responsibility, you know.”
They both held onto one of my arms. “Calm down, Mom. We have it all under control. You need to relax and have a fun time with Jared, and don’t worry one bit about us!” Paris reassured me. I took a deep breath.
“You’re right. I just need to relax.” Right as I zipped up my pink suitcase, I heard a knock at the front door downstairs. “Coming!” I yelled, dragging my suitcase down the stairs, causing it to thud every single time it went down a step.
I then heard the clink of the doorknob as someone had apparently opened the door, letting whoever it was inside. I heard laughter and cheery voices, and I figured it was Jared. I heard his laughter before I saw his face.
He was laughing at the way I was carrying my suitcase down the stairs. I laughed back at him as soon as he became visible. He smiled, noticing how happy and excited I was. “You ready?”
I smiled back and replied, “I’m pretty sure!” Right at that moment, Miles whined and looked up at me with sad eyes, knowing that I was leaving. “Awe, Miles!” I picked him up and cuddled him in my arms. “You know I’ll be back in a few days! But, for now, you’ll be with the girls.”
He attacked my face with kisses and Kittles rubbed her face on my ankles. They sure did love me a lot to do that. I thought it was adorable, though.
We all pried the pets off of me, and I went over everything one more time with everyone, giving hugs and kisses to all of them. I said my goodbyes to all of my kids and pets, and I was out of the house, on my way to the airport with Jared.
“Hey, Little Red.” Jared smiled and winked at me just as we got settled in the car. “You ready for this? I have everything planned out already, and it will be perfect.”
I smiled back and buckled my seat belt sitting in the passenger seat, and replied, “Of course I’m ready! I need a vacation. Plus, everything is under control at home, so I have nothing to worry about.”
“Except for the plane crashing or something,” Jared laughed.
I put my hands over my face and sighed, “Oh God. Please don’t remind me.”
Jared reached out and rubbed my hand. “I’m just teasing. You have to get over your fear of planes! You know, we have a more likely chance of dying on the way to the airport than there is a chance that anything will go wrong during the flight.” He reassured me.
“I don’t care. I’m still going to be scared.” I said as we backed out of the driveway.
“You’ll be fine.” He kissed me on the cheek.
“Flight number 32, departure time from Sunset Valley; 10:00 AM and arrival time in Sunlit Tides; 1:00 PM, your plane is ready to be boarded. First class, please board first.” The flight attendant said over the microphone.
“That’s us,” Jared said as he picked up my bags for me and held my hand, leading me to the plane entrance. My heart was racing and my stomach aching with fear.
Jared had told me how first class is amazing and that it would make the flight much more enjoyable, but I still remained scared.
“Oh, well aren't you two a cute couple! Going on a honeymoon?” The flight attendant said, never removing the smile from her face.
I laughed. “No, just a vacation.” She stamped our tickets and handed them back to us.
Then it struck me.
Were we a couple? Were we dating? I mean, we were going on this vacation together, but we had never really made anything official. Did I want-
My train of thought stopped as the polite flight attendant motioned us through the tunnel that led to the plane. As we walked closer, my heart jumped out of my chest more and more the closer we were to the plane.
I had never liked planes. I have no idea why, but the thought of being thousands of feet high off the ground in a heavy vehicle just didn't end safely in my mind.
I don’t ever think I’ll get over my fear of planes.
We found our seats in the very front of the plane. Jared put all of our bags, except for my purse, in the luggage compartments above us. I sat in the window seat and Jared took to aisle seat.
First class only sat a total of eight people in groups of twos. The seats were a beige color and looked very comfortable.
As we sat down, both of us sank into the cushioned chair and laughed. I looked around at everything. I saw a TV in front of me, and armrests, a window, and a remote on the sides of me. I looked at Jared and he smiled at me. He told me that I looked amazed at everything.
I had never been on a plane, before, though. Everything here was a new experience.
He then smirked and said, “Watch this.” He reached down in between the seats and pulled two levers, one belonging to each of our seats, and we both slowly tilt backwards, our feet reclining into the air.
“No way! These seats recline?” I said with excitement.
Jared laughed, “Only in First Class.”
I then realized how luxurious that this section really was.
We had everything anyone could possibly want.
“Attention passengers, we are about to take off and head on over to Sunlit Tides. Please fasten your seat belts and turn off any electronics. For that couple in first class, please return your chairs back to normal, it’s unsafe to take off with reclined seats.”
Jared and I laughed at each other and un-reclined our seats.
“I’ll talk to you folks as soon as we are safely in the air.” The pilot announced over the loudspeaker.
We both fastened our seat belts and I looked at Jared, trembling with fear. This was the worst part for me. Jared noticed I was scared and took my hand, squeezing it tightly, telling me that everything would be fine.
The plane would rumble and it would get a little loud, but it was normal. I took a deep breath and tried to relax as the plane engines rumbled and the plane shook. We built up speed on the runway and lifted off of the ground. At this moment, I was squeezing Jared’s hand so hard, I was sure it was already broken.
We slowly rose higher and higher into the air, when suddenly; the pilot was back on the loudspeaker.
“Alright, folks, we are now safely flying in the air and it is safe to now turn on your electronics and you can now get up and walk around the cabin if you need to. Enjoy your flight on EA Airlines.” The pilot said.
I figured that was the last time that we would hear from him until we landed.
The pilot jumped in on the loudspeaker again, “Oh, and by the way, the flight will be about 3 hours. Talk to you when we land!”
Now, that was the last time we’d here from him.
“Are you good now?” Jared asked me.
I shrugged my shoulders. “I think so… maybe. I don’t know.” I sighed and leaned on his shoulder. We shared headphones together as we continued our flight.
I took a bite of the complementary chocolate chip cookies that were given to those of us in first class.
Then, I remember hearing the last line in ‘Wake Me Up’ by Ed Sheeran before falling asleep.
“Attention folks, this is your pilot speaking, we are now preparing to land in Sunlit Tides.” The pilot’s voice woke me up.
I looked up at Jared, my head originally leaning on his shoulder, and smiled at him as he smiled back.
I sat up and listened to the rest of what the pilot had to say.
“Please make sure you are seated with your seat belt on. Turn all electronics off, please sit with your head against the head rest, and I’ll speak to you when we are safely on the ground.”
Jared and I did as he said and held hands, me squeezing his really hard again, and landed safely.
We laughed together as we walked out of the airport as Jared told me about all of the things I said in my sleep, again. I never knew it, but I seriously was a sleep-talking freak at night.
We headed towards baggage claim and I asked him everything about the trip.
“Where are we staying? What do you have planned for us to do? How long are we going to be here?” I questioned Jared all at once. He had planned this whole trip as a surprise for me. All I knew was that we were going to Sunlit Tides on a vacation. I was so excited and wanted to know all of the details.
“Calm down, calm down,” Jared said, laughing at my excitement. “We’ll be here for a few days, I rented a small house for us to stay in, and I have tons of fun surprises planned for the next few days.” He kissed me on the forehead.
I spotted my pink suitcase and his black one next to it, so I tried to catch up to it as it continued its way on the conveyor belt.
Finally, we both had our bags and we were in the back seat of a taxi, heading to our rented house.
We arrived at the house and there was a man standing outside of it, waiting for us. He looked like a worker from some sort of spa, with a Hawaiian shirt, shorts, and flip flops on.
As Jared and I got out of the taxi, I looked at him, confused. Jared just smiled, took my hand, and walked with me up to him.
“Aloha.” The man said as he bowed to us.
I looked at Jared, still confused, as we both said, “Aloha.” at the same time.
The man smiled, “Welcome to Sunlit Tides. You are Payton and you are Jared?” He pointed to both of us.
Jared grinned, “Yes, we are.”
“Very good, then. This is your house where you are staying for a few days. We love travelers and we treat you people like family.” The man pushed his hands out towards us, one hand towards me with an assortment of tropical flowers, and one hand towards Jared with a pair of flip flops. “Please, take these items. Payton, choose a flower for your hair, and Jared, put these flip flops on.”
I looked at Jared’s feet. He had converse on. I could see why he would want flip flops; it was really warm outside. I looked down at my shirt, skirt, and shoes. I chose a yellow flower to put in my hair. I took a hair tie out of my purse and pulled my hair into a loose up-do and slipped the bright yellow flower behind my ear while Jared changed his shoes.
“Thank you for being here, Mr. and Mrs. Bear.” The man said with a smile.
Jared and I laughed really hard for a few minutes.
“No, no, we’re just dating.” Jared explained.
“My mistake, very sorry. Enjoy your stay here in Sunlit Tides, Aloha.”
“Aloha.” Jared and I said in sync, again, as we watched the man get into the taxi and drive away.
I walked with him over towards the flowers by the house.
“So,” I started, “Are we a couple? I mean, I do love you, you’re amazing, but do we really want to do this?”
Jared stared into my eyes for a long moment.
Oh God, he’s gonna say no.
I worried in my head. He then kissed me for the longest, perfect moment.
The smell of the beach and the warmth from the summer sun made it even better. We stood there, for what seemed like forever, and stayed next to each other.
Gosh, I loved him so much.
Finally, we had pulled away from each other’s lips, but not bodies. He kept his hands around my waist and I kept my hands by his face.
“Pay. I love you more than I've ever loved anyone. You are the one who is just the other half to me. I know, that sounded really corny, but I’m serious. Payton Bear, will you be my girlfriend?” Jared held my hands and looked deeply into my green eyes.
I looked back into his bright blue ones and said, “Of course, Jared. I feel the same; you complete me. I've never felt like this before, and it’s one of the best feelings in the world to have someone who loves you back as much as you love them.”
“I love you.” We both said at the same time.
We then pulled into another long kiss, standing outside together, not letting go.
Jared took his hands off of my hips and smiled at me. “Now, I have something planned for right now.” He stood there smiling for a few moments.
I raised an eyebrow. “Well, aren't you going to tell me what it is?”
He laughed, “No, little red! You just have to wait and see. But, make sure you have your bathing suit.” I already had it under my clothes, and he had his under his, too, so we were off to this mystery place. He put his hand on my shoulder and pulled me close to him as I followed his lead to my surprise. I had a feeling it wasn't going to be the last surprise of the next few days.
We walked for a while and finally approached a beach after a few minutes. “Is this it?” I asked him, letting go of his hand.
“Yes! Aren't you excited?” He smiled at me, hoping for a positive answer.
“Very!” I smiled back.
Memories once again flooded into my head. This seemed to happen a lot when I was with Jared. Memories of my dad and me, when I was two years old. I don’t know how I remember all of these moments so clearly, especially since it was years ago. I guess a little video camera was constantly going on in my head when I was younger. The memories from the day I had first ever gone to the beach filled my mind. It was the middle of summer, as hot as ever. The sun was warm, the cool ocean water felt good against our skin, popsicles were in the family ice chest, I had my pink bathing suit on, and my mom and dad were both there. It was rare to have my dad and mom in one place at the same time, since I remember my dad always being overseas. My mom was starting to set everything up: putting the blanket down, setting up the chairs, putting sunscreen on all of us, getting out all of the beach toys. I remember my dad holding me in his arms as he walked towards the ocean water. He held onto my hands, standing above me, letting the waves crash against my legs, but making sure I didn't tip over. I also remember making a sand castle. It wasn't very fancy, but it was mine and my dad’s sand castle, and it was the best it could've ever been to me.
Jared noticed that I was kind of staring off into space. “You okay, Pay?” He said, concerned.
I snapped back into reality and smiled, embarrassed. “Yeah, everything’s great!”
I noticed I had a little bit of a sarcastic tone in my voice after I said it.
He placed his hands on my shoulders and looked me straight in the eyes and softly said, “We can talk about it, you know, because I have a feeling it’s something related to your dad. Your eyes always look a certain way when you’re thinking about your dad.”
I just shook my head, “No, I’d rather not right now.”
We sat down on complementary lounge chairs that were placed underneath an umbrella and talked for a while, laughing here and there. I found myself kissing him passionately, both of us leaning on the edge of our chairs. The smell of salt from the sea was strong as the waves continued crashing on the shore.
Jared finally pulled away from our long-lasting kiss and smiled at me. “Well, are we going to get in or just sit here?” He smirked at me.
“What are we waiting for?” I smiled back at him.
We both stripped our clothes off so that we had on only our bathing suits.
I was wearing a similar bathing suit to the one I wore that day with my dad. It was pink with purple polka dots. It brought back so many memories, good and bad. Jared looked at me and smiled.
“Your bathing suit is amazing.” He winked.
I laughed, knowing what he was obviously talking about. “You aren't bad, either.” I said, smoothly. I might’ve seemed calm on the outside, but on the inside, my heart and stomach were jumping around.
God, his muscles. God, his hair. God… him.
My heart was fluttering as he put his hands around my waist and pulled me in for another kiss.
We finally let go, for what seemed like the millionth time, and I grabbed his hand and ran into the water, laughing. The water was freezing; enough to send chills throughout my whole body, but it didn't stop us. The waves crashed on us as we ventured further and further out into the water. The water was so cold; my toes became numb after about 5 minutes.
“Hey, see that little island out there?” Jared said, pointing in the distance.
“Want to swim there?”
I looked at him in shock. It had to be a few miles away. “You sure? It’s really far.”
Jared then put a smile on his face, his hands on my back, he dipped into the water, and swept me off of my feet, literally.
He smiled at me in his arms, “This way it’ll be faster.”
I laughed as he started swimming towards the island, carrying me.
On the way, he pretended to drop me a few times, making me freak out for a moment, then laugh at his sense of humor. He never got tired of carrying me the whole way there, which surprised me, because I knew I wasn't the lightest person on the planet.
Maybe he did get tired, but he never said anything, because he didn't want it to seem like I was really heavy or fat.
He sure was strong, though.
After talking for what seemed like hours, we finally were so close to the shore of the tiny island that was once in the distance. Jared dropped me, letting me walk up to the island’s shore by myself. We arrived onto the island, and now it was the beach that was far off into the distance.
I looked around on the shore. We were alone here, surrounded by water in each direction.
The sun was till bright in the middle of the sky, and I could tell it was still afternoon. We sat down for hours and talked about anything and everything, getting to know more about each other the longer we sat there.
I learned that his favorite music artist was Ed Sheeran, just like me. It was unusual, since most Ed Sheeran fans are girls, but I didn't question it one bit.
“What’s your biggest fear?” Jared asked me, continuing on with the questions.
“Planes. As you already experienced,” I laughed. “What’s yours?”
He looked me straight in the eyes, and I could tell he was serious. “Losing you.”
His hand met with mine and he squeezed it tightly. In that moment, I realized how much he honestly loved me. He always seemed happy and joyous when I was around him. Of course everyone was like that around their boyfriend or girlfriend, but his happiness seemed so… so real. I gave him a quick kiss on the lips, letting him know that I never wanted to lose him, either.
We stood up, our legs getting tired from sitting so long, and stretched out for a few moments. “When do you think the baby will start showing?” Jared said, patting my stomach.
I put my hand over his, on my stomach, and said, “I don’t know. I have no clue why the baby hasn't shown up. It’s usually only three days, and that’s at the most.”
Jared suddenly had a worried expression on his face. “Do you think everything’s alright?”
I laughed, “Yes, everything’s fine. I promise you. Our baby will be beautiful, healthy, and loved.”
“Okay, good.” Jared sighed, trusting me. “Ready to go, Little Red?”
I nodded my head and jumped into his arms, giving him a quick hug before we took off into the water, back to the shore, as the sun just started to set.
We rode home in the brightness of the moonlight, and both of us had no trouble falling asleep as soon as we got home.
As soon as we got home, Jared took a shower and I started to make dinner.
There was some food in the fridge, and I managed to make a salad out of it.
I checked to make sure I could make something in the morning, and there were ingredients to make waffles. I showered after Jared, washing all of the sand and sea salt out of my hair.
We ate dinner, which wasn't bad.
We then ended the day cuddling on the couch, watching some foreign show on one of the ten television channels they had to offer in these rental homes.
It was easy to follow up on; a famous pianist who was shot after one of his performances, the investigation following up from that point on.
The show ended, and Jared and I both yawned.
“Ready to go to bed?” Jared looked down at me.
I looked up at him and said, “Defiantly.”
We both got up and crawled in bed, easily falling asleep as soon as we both lied down.
I put my arm around Jared, laying close to him, and whispered, “Goodnight, Jear Bear.”
He smiled and whispered back, “Goodnight, Little Red.”
The sunshine just barely peering through the windows is what woke me up. As soon as I opened my eyes and regained consciousness, I realized I was in bed alone. The smell of waffles and maple syrup floated from the kitchen into the bedroom.
I took a deep breath in, the smell almost hypnotizing me; I was so hungry.
The clock read “8:30” as I put my slippers on and walked into the kitchen, being greeted by Jared. “Morning, Pay.” Jared said, fully awake.
“Morning, Jer.” I said, yawning.
He smiled and held his arms out, towards a plate of waffles and proudly said, “Look at these amazing waffles, made by muah!” He put his fingers to his lips and made a kissing noise, exaggerating how great they seemed to be.
I laughed at him and grabbed a plate to eat his amazing waffles.
He didn't lie. They were really good.
“I didn't know you could cook, Jer!” I said, eating the last bite of my waffles.
He smirked and said, “Well, what can I say? Just one more reason to love me.”
I kissed him and said, “Indeed.”
After both of us took a shower and got all ready, I met him in the kitchen and took a deep breath. “So, what are we doing today?”
He took my hand and said, “Follow me!”
We walked outside together and stepped into a cab that was already waiting there for us.
We were holding hands, in the backseat of the cab, the whole time it took to get to the next mystery place on this trip. The cab driver stopped in front of a building that was large and looked like it was some sort of resort.
“Here we are, at Sunlit Spa!” Jared said, looking at me, waiting for me to respond.
My eyes widened as I looked closer at the tropical building, stepping out of the car with Jared. It was beautiful and I already felt relaxed as we both walked up the steps.
We were nicely greeted by a preppy girl at the front desk and given a tour of the place.
It was seriously huge.
Without saying a word, Jared took my hand and lead me through big doors towards the back of the building, and out into the outdoor area.
I stood out there, my jaw wide open, in awe. It was stunning… absolutely beautiful. The sun was brightly shining, the scent of the ocean was strong, the sunshine felt warm on my skin, the cool breeze was relaxing, and Jared’s hand felt complete in mine. It was absolutely wonderful.
Jared pointed towards a massage table and said, “Do you like massages?”
I smiled, “What girl doesn't?”
He took my hand and led me over to the massage area.
I changed into different clothes and lied down on the table.
He started rubbing my back in different patterns, and it felt really relaxing.
I really was stressed out at home with all of the kids, pets, and challenge, but Jared always helped me to calm down and relax. I really needed him for that. I’m pretty sure I fell asleep while Jared was giving me my massage, but I never really knew.
I was too relaxed.
Jared rubbed my arm gently to wake me up.
I slowly opened my eyes to his face smiling at me.
“Enjoy it?” He said, helping me get up.
“I think a little too much! I fell asleep, you know,” I laughed.
“Yeah, but it’s alright. Does your back feel better now?” I stretched my back out and there weren't any cracks.
I felt a lot better. “Amazing… thanks Jared.”
I kissed him and he kissed me back.
“Now, wanna go into the hot tub?” Jared said, pointing to the rocky hot tub, surrounded by tropical plants.
“Sure! I have my bathing suit on under my clothes, again. Do you?”
Jared nodded, and we took off our clothes, leaving just our bathing suits on, once again. Jared stepped in first and took my hand, helping me get in.
The water was really hot, but it felt really good.
There were about eight seats available, all with their own back and feet jets. As we chose our spots, the jets automatically turned on, making it even more relaxing. I put my arms behind my head and leaned back a little. Steam rose up from the water as we sat there.
Jared and I didn't even say a word to each other.
We looked at each other and pulled into a long kiss.
Things got steamier, if you know what I mean.
The road was bumpy, and the backseat of the cab’s seats were torn in scattered places, but since Jared was right next to me, it didn't really matter how ‘high class’ my surroundings were. Jared was all I needed.
We were on our way to the Sunlit Tides Summer Bash to see is what all of the locals were talking about was really as fun as they claimed it to be.
I could see the festival growing larger the close we got. There were balloons hung up, streamers everywhere, and the beach right behind the festival area.
The details became clearer as we approached the festival grounds.
“Here we are!” Jared, the leader of this whole vacation, said.
I smiled and clapped my hands excitedly as I stood outside of the car, taking everything in. The whole scene was perfect, but the thing that really was the icing on the cake was the orange sky as the sun was setting.
“Wow, it’s beautiful!” I whispered.
“Just like you,” Jared whispered back, twirling me around once and pulling me in for a kiss.
We pulled apart just a little bit, and I left my hands on his cheeks, enjoying the moment. “WHOOOAAA!” Jared and I heard a scream coming from the center of the festival.
We both turned our attention to the man, who was slipping all over the place in the middle of the skating rink.
“Looks like fun.” I said, laughing.
“C’mon, let’s go try it!” Jared took my hand as we walked towards the booth next to the rink to rent a pair of skates.
Jared got black skates with white laces, and I got white skates with pink laces.
It had been forever ago since I had last skated. I always used to roller skate with my mom at the town's local rink, but that stopped after she was signed into a traveling acrobat show.
I stood up on my rented skates and wobbled a little bit, but as soon as I got onto the rink, I skated around with ease, twirling a little bit here and there. Jared followed me onto the rink, holding onto the railing for dear life at first, but eventually being able to balance without it.
He skated in front of me shakily, and said, “I didn't know you were so good at this!”
I rolled in front of him and began to skate backwards then said, “I have my little tricks.”
I winked at him, and then sped up, twirling a little bit.
I looked back at him, as he stared at me in awe. He was so distracted that when he tried to move forward again, he messed up his footing. He waved his arms around crazily, trying to catch his balance again. He yelled and fell to the floor with a loud thud.
I skated as fast as I could and came to a skidding halt right by him. My roller skating skills helped me to be able to keep my balance while helping him up.
“Are you alright? That was a hard fall,” I said, brushing off his shirt.
“Yeah, I’m alright.” I noticed his leg had a bruise on it already. “You’re really good at skating. As you can tell, I’m not.”
“Well, you’ll get better at it. You just have to practice. Here, just come to the center of the rink with me. We can just spin around for a little bit while you get the hang of it again.”
I helped him skate to the center and I took his other hand.
“Follow my lead.”
I started twirling to the left, and he managed to keep up with me.
The breeze from us twirling in circles felt good against my skin.
We had a good momentum going, until Jared lost his balance again.
I had perfect balance, but Jared was still pretty shaky.
Since we were holding hands, when he fell, I fell.
We slammed to the ground together, trying to catch each other in the process.
I had taken bad falls before, when I was younger, but this one was at the top of my ‘worst falls while roller skating’ list.
We looked at each other after making sure we had no broken bones and started busting up in laughter. Neither one of us could hold it in. We laughed for a good three minutes, just lying in the center of the roller skating rink at the Sunlit Tides Summer Bash. We each didn't have any broken bones or anything, so that was a good sign, but I was sure that we would feel it in the morning. We picked ourselves up, returned our rental skates, and called a cab to head home.
We rode home in the brightness of the moonlight, and both of us had no trouble falling asleep as soon as we got home.
I looked out of our rental house window while I drank some tropical coffee. The sunrise was absolutely beautiful. The sky looked pink, almost purple. It gave the whole island a nice look. Jared came behind me and patted my shoulder, interrupting my dreamy, sunset thoughts.
“I have a surprise for you, today!” He sounded excited.
“When do you not?” I laughed.
He took my hand, helping me up, since I was sore from falling at the festival while roller skating yesterday.
“Are you afraid of needles?” Jared asked me. I raised an eyebrow.
“No… why? Should I be scared?” I laughed.
Jared laughed along with me, “No, there is no need to be scared. It has to do with today’s surprise.” He took my hands and swung them back in forth.
“What, are we getting shots or something?” I giggled, again.
“No, just trust me,” He kissed me and led me outside to wait for the cab he had called.
“Are you sure that’s what you want on your arm?” The tattoo man said, confirming his design. Jared looked at me and smiled, “Positive.”
The tattoo needle started whirring and spinning. The tattoo artist carefully placed it on Jared skin. Jared didn't even flinch as it touched him.
I stood back at cringed at the sound of the needle going through his skin.
I couldn't believe I was going to be doing the same thing as Jared was in a half hour.
I tried to not scare myself out of it, and stayed positive, thinking about the final product.
“I’m proud of you, Pay!” Jared kissed me on the cheek as we walked out of the tattoo parlor.
“I didn't even think I’d be able to do it.” I said, looking down at my new tattoo. Jared and I held our arms out next to each other’s’, admiring our new inked skin.
My tattoo said ‘Jared’ with two hearts above it on my right arm, and Jared’s tattoo said ‘Payton’ with two hearts above it on his left arm. I loved them so much; I couldn't take my eyes off of them! I was confident enough, knowing that Jared was the one who I would end up marrying one day, to get matching name tattoos with him. Now, even when I wasn't with him, I could always look down at my arm and remember that he is a little part of me, and he will be… forever.
“Now, do we count as one of the cute couples who do cute little things like this, showing their love for each other loud and proud?” I said, smiling up at Jared.
He smiled back at me, “We will always be that cute couple, Payton.”
We kissed and kissed for the longest time, finally going back home to give our skin a little break.
Jared and I couldn't stop talking about our tattoos. We thought it was the best thing we had ever done! We loved the idea, were glad we went with it, and now couldn't stop staring at them.
I could just hear my mom’s voice in my head saying, ‘You’re dead for getting this tattoo! Payton Lynn Bear, how dare you do something like this to your skin! It ruins it!’
I just blocked it out, focusing on how I’m the boss of myself now. I could do whatever I wanted!
I was very proud of that.
The scent of popcorn, ocean, and sugar was very strong, like it always was, at the Sunlit Tides Summer Bash. I loved this place, and I had no idea why. Maybe because there were so many fun things to do, or because it brought back lots of memories.
I didn't know for sure, but I knew that I always felt joyful when I was there.
“Spray tans! $20! Step right up, folks, to get the best spray tan you've ever had! Only $20 right now! Hurry, hurry!” The preppy salesman shouted, standing in front of a tanning booth.
Jared came up behind me and said, “Want to try it?” He pointed towards the spray tan area.
I looked over there to see the salesman now doing an awkward dance, trying to get people’s attention.
“Hey, why not?” I said.
We made our way towards the man. He told us to change into our bathing suits, so we did. “Ladies first!” The man said, reaching his hand out towards mine. I took his hand and stepped into the machine, closing the door behind me as the man moved out of the way.
There were several options to choose once I got into the machine, but I went with the best choice I saw, reading ‘Sun Kissed Skin’, which sounded perfect to me. I hit the button and stood how the machine had instructed me to, suddenly being hit with an orange-colored spray. It sounded like a can of hairspray being used.
I just hoped that everything would work.
“All done!” The robot voice inside the machine said, “Now, go get all the dudes with your amazing sun-kissed skin!”
I laughed and opened the door, stepping back into the room. I stepped in front of a mirror, admiring my tanned skin. It turned out great! I had envisioned images of me turning out all orange, but since everything turned out well, I was thrilled!
“Wow, you look great!” Jared said, admiring my golden skin. “Now it’s my turn.” Jared said and made his way towards the machine.
Jared stepped inside and chose his tanning option, while I stood outside of the machine crossing my fingers that everything would turn out good.
Jared was laughing as the tanning booth door opened and he stepped out. “Did your machine say something to you like ‘Finished! The chicks will be all over you with that golden skin!’?”
I giggled with him, “Yes, something along those lines.”
The man clapped his hands as Jared and I both stared in awe at our new tanned skin. “Wonderful, wonderful! Now, that will be $40.” He held out his hand as I put two twenty dollar bills in it. Jared and I both put back on our regular clothes after twenty minutes, our spray tans now set and dry. The man assured us that it would stay for about three days, but I highly doubted it.
Jared and I walked around the festival for a bit, buying some cotton candy here, playing some games there, and just having a good time. The sun started to set and the festival’s big stadium lights turned on. They weren't very bright, but it was way better than darkness.
“Ohh! Do you want to roller skate again?” I said to Jared, pointing at the rink.
“Sure! Let’s go get our skates.”
We walked to the roller skate rental booth and asked for the same size roller skates again, paying the woman $20 dollars for both of our pairs of skates.
“Hey, you’re the one who was the really good skater here yesterday, right?” The lady said, pointing to me.
“I’m experienced, yes,” I smiled taking my skates from the counter.
Jared looked at me and winked, as if he was saying ‘See? You are good!’
I just laughed and tied to skates on. We both had our skates on and both of us stepped onto the rink, with more confidence than we did last time.
After skating around for a little bit and getting my momentum again, I decided to start doing some spins. I skated to the center of the rink and prepped for my turn.
Jared slowed down on the side of the rink to watch me.
I pushed off the ground and lifted my foot into the air, beginning to twirl with ease.
“Pssh. I could do that!” Jared winked at me and skated towards the center with me, as I finished my turn.
“Are you sure you feel comfortable twirling? I can help you if you want,” I said.
“Nah, I got this.” Jared copied my movements when I spun around. He was perfectly balanced as he turned around three times.
He landed gently and said, “See?”
I laughed at him, “You can do it! But, can you do this?”
I picked up speed again and turned around, skating backwards, while still making all of the turns and keeping perfect speed and balance. Jared watched me closely as I glided around the rink backwards.
It felt so good to be doing this again. The last time I had roller skated like this was when I just turned nine years old, since I had my ninth birthday party at the roller skating rink. I felt like a little girl again.
I came to a stop in front of Jared, again, and said, “Now you try it.”
“Okay, watch and learn.” Jared waved his arms in front of me as if he was casting a spell on me, and then left to attempt backwards skating.
Jared barely ever took his eyes off from the ground behind him, being very cautious.
I laughed as he tried to look at me, instead of the ground, but almost took a fall while doing it.
He then stopped in the middle of the rink and sighed. “Well, you watched, but I think I need to learn more from you.”
I smiled, “It’s alright, you’ll get the hang of it.”
I fell asleep for the last time in our rental home, since we were leaving Sunlit Tides and returning home tomorrow.
Jared and I ate the last of the leftover waffles that morning in a rush, trying to get everything packed up and ready to go. We had to be at the airport in an hour from then. Both of us quickly scarfed down our waffles and washed the dishes.
We packed everything up and still had ten minutes to spare.
Our cab would arrive at our house in five minutes.
I looked at Jared as he walked out of the bedroom with both of our suitcases, all packed up and ready to go. He set them down by the front door, then walked over to me and put his hands around my waist. I put my hand on his shoulder and leaned my head down with his.
“I really had a great time on this trip with you, Jared.” I said, memories of every event clear in my mind. “I will never forget this… thank you.”
Jared tilted his head up a little bit and kissed me as I kissed him back.
“I love you,” I said, softly.
“I love you, too,” Jared kissed me again.
The taxi horn honked outside, making us jump a little bit. We quickly grabbed all of our belongings and closed the house door for the last time. The taxi driver took our bags from us and put them into the trunk as we sat down in the back.
I looked out of the back window as Jared held my hand in his. I watched the rental house become smaller and smaller in the distance.
I would never forget this trip. It was the best thing I had ever done. On this trip, I did a lot of things I thought I would never do, but I was glad that everything that happened did happen. I would always look back on this trip in a positive way. Jared was my everything, and it made me so joyous inside knowing that I was his everything, too. I loved him.
I faced forward in the car as we were on our way to the airport, heading back home.