She smiled. I fell harder. Pouring two more shots, she handed me one. “For Gabrielle Jennings and Ryan Turner. May they be conversing with William Shakespeare on a daily basis.”

To Gabby and Ryan!

Ashlyn’s hand picked up the next envelope from Gabby. “Number twelve… Have sex in a car.” When she said the words, her cheeks blushed over and she buried her face in the palms of her hands. “Ohmygosh. We totally had sex in your Jeep!”

I smirked. “Twice.”

She looked up at me, her hair wild, untamed, perfect. She sat with her arms resting against her knees. Leaning in, she bit her bottom lip. “I want to make love to you everywhere twice.”

I kissed her forehead and ran my hands through her hair. She held the letter out to me and I arched an eyebrow.

“You want me to read it?” I asked.

“Of course.”

Opening it, I grinned. “You slut.”

She nodded. “I know, I know. Now what does it say?”

My smile stretched even more as I turned the letter around to her.

#12. Have Sex in a Car.

You Slut.


Ashlyn snatched the note from my fingers and stared at the words on the paper. Her eyes widened with joy and she snickered. “What a bitch.”

I thought that was girl code for ‘my best friend.’

Chapter 34

Close the door.

Take off your clothes.

Let me see your secrets unfold.

~ -Romeo’s Quest

We moved back into Daniel’s bedroom and fell asleep in one another’s arms. In the morning when I woke up, Daniel was nowhere to be found. But an intense headache was on the forefront. On the pillow next to me a tray. Sitting on it was a water bottle with daisies, a bowl of Cap’n Crunch mixed with marshmallows, a plate with two painkillers, and orange juice.

My smile remained as I watched the morning light seep into the bedroom.

Breakfast in bed. Another first of ours.

I tossed the pills into my mouth and washed them down with some orange juice.

Daniel walked into the room with nothing on but a towel around his waist. The way the cotton hung on his hips made me fully aware of how built he was from top to bottom. There was water dripping down his toned six-pack, and I blushed as I stared. I loved how he still made me blush from time to time. He smirked toward me.

“Good morning.” He walked closer and I reached to him, wrapping my arms around him, pulling his wet body down to me. He lay on top of me, holding me against him. He smelled so fresh, woodsy. I made sure to breathe him all in.

“You got me Cap’n Crunch and added marshmallows?” I asked.

He picked up a piece and placed it between my lips. “It’s your favorite.” He kissed me lightly and I scrunched my face.

“I need to brush my teeth and shower. You’re all fresh and clean. It’s not fair that you’re kissing nasty morning breath.”

“I don’t care,” he laughed at me.

My hands covered my mouth and I turned my head away from him. “I do!”

Daniel stood up and scooped me into his arms, still chuckling. “Then let’s go get you all cleaned up.”

Making love in the shower.

Another first of ours.

Chapter 35

Pain isn’t something you need to save.

But please, baby, hold on for one more day.

~ Romeo’s Quest

Winter break started the week after Ryan’s funeral. I stayed at Henry’s for the most of it, making sure Rebecca and Hailey were finding time to eat, to cry, to mourn. I’d lost Gabby in August, but I felt that the worst time to lose someone was during the holidays. Christmas was only a few days away, yet it didn’t feel that way at all.

Daniel texted me each day, making sure I was finding time to eat, to cry, to mourn. Each text ended the same: I love you.

I’d needed that.

The night before Christmas, I couldn’t sleep. I sat in the living room with my notebook, writing away, pouring all of my thoughts into my imaginary characters. I heard footsteps approaching from behind me. I turned to see Henry walking with two coffee mugs.

“Tea?” he asked. “Rebecca had some weird flavor in the cabinet, but I thought I would give it a try.” I nodded and moved over on the couch to make room for him. He sat down and handed me a mug. “What are ya working on?”

“My novel.”

“What’s it about?”

I bit my bottom lip. “I’m not quite sure yet. But I’ll let you know when I find out.” Closing the notebook, I turned toward him. “Gabby did forgive you,” I said. “She never blamed you for leaving.”

Henry’s eyes locked with mine. “And what about you?”

“Me?” I paused. “I’m working on it.”

He nodded. “That’s progress.”

Next were the tears that streamed down my face and the shaking followed. “I’ve been so terrible to you.”

“I’ve been even worse, Ashlyn. I wasn’t there. I missed so much.” His head lowered. “Where do we go from here?”

“I don’t know. But let’s just get through tonight.” I lifted my tea, took a sip, then spit it into the cup. “Oh my gosh! That tastes like reindeer piss!”

Henry laughed and raised an eyebrow. “And you know how reindeer piss tastes because…”

I gestured toward his mug. “Try it. See for yourself.”

When the tea hit his lips, he gagged, spitting it back into the cup. “Yup, that’s definitely Rudolph’s piss.”

“Really? I was thinking it was Comet’s.”