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20 Years to Forgive. 20 Years to Forget.

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Twenty years are a long time. Twenty years can change a person completely. Twenty years are enough to forgive a man, or to forget a woman.

 

 

 

 

 

“It will be fun.” Thelonious had said.

 

“Fancy dresses, expensive cocktails, good music. What possibly can go wrong?” Jacapo had added.

 

Marcus knew they were right, just one night in a ballroom, nothing more than that. He knew that nothing wrong could happen. And yet...

 

“We will see our childhood friends, it will be hilarious.” Thelonious had laughed while fixing the tie around his neck.

 

"Marcus had sighed, sitting on his bed, pursing his lips, his own tie falling from his hands toward the floor. “Yeah... I mean we loved our childhood friends, didn't we?” he asked rhetorically, looking at his friend, while he checked his reflection in the wall mirror in front of him.

 

“Come on Marcus, it doesn't have to be that bad.” he whispered, looking at him through the clear glass. Marcus offered him a shy smile.

 

“Yeah.” he sighed again, standing up, adjusting the black tie around his neck. “In the end is just one night.” he said, Thelonious at that smiled, smacking him on the shoulder.

 

“Exactly my point.” he said, smirking and walking outside the room. “Now get dressed or we're gonna be late, and you know I was always in time at school.” he yelled back at him, while disappearing into the hallway.

 

Marcus smiled and looked at himself in the mirror, he was wearing a white shirt with long sleeves that smelled as fresh soap, with a touch of his expensive and penetrating cologne. His blue tie reflected the lights of the room on its silky decorations. He sighed, fixing it on his chest, then his eyes locked with their reflection.

 

 

 

“Just one night, what could possibly go wrong, right?” he whispered to himself, then nodded, finding confidence in his own stare and then took his jacket from the chair at his side and walked outside. “Come on, let's get it over with!” he yelled, while following the laughing men outside of his own house.

 

 

 

 

 

“I swear this dress is the best thing ever, how about yours Abs?” Callie shouted from the bedroom to the bathroom, where her best friend was locked in since almost an hour.

 

“I-I don't know.” her voice came from the other side of the door, a weak shivering sound. Callie sighed and closed her eyes, hand on the hips.

 

“Come outside and let me see you, honey!” she said, or more correctly ordered. She could hear how her friend sighed and huffed with herself inside the other room.

 

“Maybe I should wear the one I use when we go out with Clarke and her friends?” she said timidly.

 

“No way. That dress doesn't say “I am a smart Doctor, rich, happy and yeah even breathtaking”, so it's out of the question.” Callie said, while stroking the fabric of her blue dress over her curves. “Come on, I saw you naked darling, there's nothing I can't handle.” she joked, while shaking her head. At that Abby sighed and started to open the door, peeking outside.

 

“You look beautiful.” she whispered as soon as she could see her, Callie turned and smiled.

 

“I bet you look even better, come on, show to mama!” she said, nodding and turning completely. Abby licked her lips, closed her eyes and sighed.

 

“Ok, I'm a grown woman, is just a dress.” she muttered to herself, Callie raised an eyebrow and pursed her lips.

 

“I'm getting old over here Abs, come on.” she said, while Abby started to open slowly the door, revealing inch by inch the black dress she was wearing. Then she stepped outside the bathroom, blushing already, biting at her lower lip. Callie widened her eyes and started to nod.

 

“Yeah, I can see now why you say you shouldn't be wearing that.” she joked, pursing her lips, walking toward her friend. Abby blinked and stretched her arms to the side.

 

“See? I told you! Ok, I should change.” she said, already walking back into the bathroom. Callie blinked and rushed toward her, stopping her in her tracks.

 

“Wuo Abby what are you doing? I was joking!” she said, half laughing, half shaking her head, because this really smart woman could be really dumb when she wanted to. Abby sighed and bowed her head.

 

“Isn't it a bit too much?” Abby asked, her fingers torturing the skin of her bare arms. Callie shook her head, chuckling and dragging her toward the mirror.

 

“Are we talking about the same dress Abs?” she asked, while forcing her to look at her reflection. Abby blushed again, shaking her head and raising her eyes to the ceiling.

 

“I don't feel that comfortable in it.” she said, biting at her lower lip, pressing her thighs close, as if like that the dress could somehow disappear. Callie rested her chin on her friend's shoulder, smiling.

 

“You are stunning Abs, as always. You are just too stubborn to admit it... again, as always.” she joked, at that Abby smiled shyly, bowing her head, her arms were wrapped around her torso, to cover what she could as better as possible. Callie forced her to let them relax at her side.

 

“Come on, stop blushing as a school girl Abby and take a look at yourself.” she whispered, forcing her arms down. Abby inhaled deeply and did as she asked, looking at herself. Then was when her features relaxed a bit, taking in the fancy dress once again.

 

“The dress is pretty.” she whispered, Callie snorted.

 

“Yeah pretty is the reason why we bought it, isn't it?” Callie said, raising an eyebrow, Abby at that smirked.

 

“You are impossible, you know that right?” she said, sighing out. Callie grinned and hugged her from behind, printing a kiss on the silky fabric over her shoulder.

 

“That's why you love me so much!” she said, Abby nodded, while rolling her eyes and leaning against her a bit, embracing her arms with her own.

 

“That's right.” she whispered, looking at their entangled reflection. Callie chuckled and withdrew, kissing her one last time on the cheek and walking at her side, so that the both of them were visible in the big mirror.

 

“We are gonna be the most beautiful women in the room, as always.” she said, nodding proudly to herself. Abby blushed again, covering her face with the palm of her hand.

 

“Stop talking or I will change again!” she said, at that Callie raised her hands in surrender, closing her mouth. Abby smiled and sighed, sitting on her bed. “We should do something about my hair too.” she said, looking at the messy curls that were flowing on her shoulders. Callie tilted her head and pursed her lips, blinking a question toward her through the mirror. Abby rolled her eyes.

 

“You have the permission to talk, yes.” Abby said, at that Callie smiled and turned toward her.

 

“Let me take care of that, and the makeup too, would you?” she said, taking Abby by the hand and forcing her to follow her in the bathroom.

 

“What are you going to do to me?” Abby asked, a little worried, while Callie started to chuckle.

 

“Just trust me!”

 

 

 

 

 

 

“This is what I call a fancy ballroom.” Thelonious said, nodding and walking slowly into the giant room that was expanding with people and sparkling dresses in front of them, echoes of chattering and laughing voices filling their ears, making Marcus feel slightly overwhelmed.

 

“This is what I call a lot of people.” he huffed, Jacapo chuckled at his side, shaking his head.

 

“It's gonna be fine.” he whispered, his voice a feeble warm whisper above the noise around them. Marcus pursed his lips and managed to smile.

 

“Yeah, you're right.” he said, while taking the glass of champagne a waiter was offering him. “Yeah, I'll need this.” he said, while swallowing it down in one gulp. Jacapo shook his head, smiling in disbelief.

 

“I never saw you this nervous in my life, is just a night, and these are just your ex schoolmates.” Jacapo said, gesturing to the moving crowd around them. Marcus chuckled throatily and nodded, taking another glass of champagne.

 

“You're right, just a night, just schoolmates.” he said, nodding and trying to slow down his need of drunkenness, forcing him to sip his second glass more carefully. Jacapo hummed and approached him, so he could whisper just to him..

 

“Maybe she isn't coming.” he said, while leaning over Marcus' shoulder.

 

“She?” he asked absentmindedly, his dark eyes scanning the glowing room with what looked like anxiety. Jacapo smirked at his side and nodded, resting a comforting hand on his shoulder, the warmth of his palm prickled his skin through the fancy fabric.

 

“Relax Marcus, is gonna be just fine.” he said, while approaching a group of men that were already smiling at him.

 

“Yeah, just fine.” he hissed to himself, swallowing the burning liquid in another long gulp.

 

The hell with sobriety.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“David, is that you?” Callie shouted, while running toward another man into the crowd around them, the fifth since they had entered the ballroom. Abby was again left alone at her back, waiting for her friend to basically hug and kiss every person she encountered on her path. She was feeling hot all over, too many people around her, that clingy dress wasn't something she was used to, and the shoes too were already hurting her feet. She was a disaster, as always, as Callie had said to her, in the car, while driving them here.

 

“Oh my god yes, it's been a lifetime!” Callie was saying, while hugging David Miller, Abby recognized him, he was smiling brightly, while his hand kept circling on her friend's back. Callie had always been particularly popular during college, always able to drag all the attention toward her, but in the end the one she always came back to was her, even if it was just to sit on her bed and read, or watch a movie without talking.

 

”Yes it's her!” Callie said suddenly, pointing her index finger toward her. Abby at that blinked, at some point David had probably asked her if she was indeed herself, and Callie was now dragging him toward her, hand in hand, a bright smile on her lips, her dark eyes were pleading her to be nice and remember the man's name.

 

“Abby, look who I found.” she said, while tilting her head toward the man at her back, that was now looking at Abby with wide curious eyes and a bright smile.

 

“David!” Abby said, smiling herself, opening her arms to welcome in the man she hadn't saw in twenty years, more or less.

 

“Oh my god, Abby Griffin, is that you?” he said, leaning forward and offering her a warm and friendly peck on the cheek. Abby smiled and kissed him back, nodding.

 

“It's me indeed, and you are David Miller, aren't you?” Abby joked, while withdrawing and wrapping her arms around herself again, defensively. Not that David had ever been unpleasant, she liked the man, when they were at school together they had been friends somehow, he had never been a real part of her group of close friends, but he had always been kind and offered her a smile whenever he landed eyes on her, she liked the man. The thing was that she wasn't feeling comfortable there, with that dress, she was too sober to feel comfortable, she wasn't Callie with her blue short dress that exposed basically everything she could offer to the hungry eyes around them.

 

“Yes I am, and I am so happy to see you here! I thought that after- I mean...” he stuttered, his eyes suddenly seemed to find the floor under their feet really interesting. He huffed and searched for help toward Callie, that was clenching her jaw at his side, looking at Abby with blinking wide eyes.

 

Abby knew what David was about to say, and she herself felt suddenly interested in the structure of the room around her, clearing her throat, her arms wrapping even tighter around herself.

 

“Yeah, well, we're here, aren't we?” Callie said, managing a chuckle, stroking a random spot on the man's arm. David blinked and smiled shyly toward her, his eyes shifting from his feet to Abby.

 

“Well, what I wanted to say is that I'm glad to see you again.” he said, his voice a warm whisper now. And there it was, in his dark irises, what Abby had prayed to not see during this night, the only thing she couldn't and didn't want to handle, pity.

 

“I am glad too, you look fine by the way.” Abby said, managing a weak smile, changing subject. David shook his head, looking down at his black jacket and pants, the white but not too white shirt, the consumed tie. Then his eyes shifted to her and her fancy brand new black dress, he shrugged.

 

“Look who's talking.” he said, smiling at her, his eyes were trying to ask for an apology, and Abby couldn't restrain herself from smiling and letting her arms fall down her sides, her hands took the silky material of the long gown and she made it swirl around her a bit.

 

“Cute, isn't it?” Abby said, blushing hard when David raised an eyebrow and Callie rolled her eyes, shaking her head.

 

“Yeah.. well cute isn't exactly what I was thinking about, but...” he said, shrugging and sharing a smirk with Callie, the latter took him by the arm and started to walk away, pulling him with her.

 

“Let's leave this cute woman alone for a while, I want to say hi to the others first.” she said, while casting a last glance at her, and smiling at the man when he waved toward Abby one last time.

 

“See you later.” he said, while walking away, disappearing in the crowd with Callie.

 

And Abby was left alone once again.

 

I need a drink. She thought, walking away, disappearing herself between the suffocating bodies around her.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Lieutenant uh?” Charles said, while sipping at his champagne, his eyes shifting from him to the crowd around them, scanning it, as if he was searching for something or someone, or maybe just another place to be instead of here with him.

 

“Yeah, nothing too serious.” Marcus said, sipping from his third glass of champagne, pursing his lips. Charles Pike looked at him with raised eyebrows.

 

“Of course. As always you are too modest Marcus, you got a medal of honor, didn't you?” Charles asked, while tilting his head, turning completely toward him. Marcus shook his head, while Thelonious started nodding at his side.

 

“Nothing too serious, as I said.” Marcus whispered, while Thelonious smacked one hand on his back, forcing him to choke on his sip of champagne. Then was when his eyes saw someone in the crowd, someone he surely didn't want to see, and she was walking right toward them.

 

“He saved my life twice and yes he got a medal of honor, he saved two kids from a burning house.” Thelonious said, while frowning when Marcus started coughing hard, he started to rub his hand on his back.

 

“As I said, you're way too modest Marcus.” Charles said, frowning himself when Marcus' face started to reddened, and his black eyes grew wider and wider. “You're good?” Charles asked, while patting him on the shoulder. Marcus nodded, while trying to suffocate his own coughs.

 

“I'm good, I'm good.” he chocked out, swallowing and blinking his now glassy eyes.

 

“You shouldn't drink that fast Marcus.” a voice said suddenly, and then was when both the man at his sides turned and an expression of realization blossomed on their faces. Marcus squeezed his eyes and cleared his throat.

 

“I'm fine, thank you... Diana.” he hissed, raising his eyes toward the blonde woman that was smirking in front of him now.

 

“Look who's here.” Charles said, smiling and approaching the woman, whom adverted her gaze from Marcus just to peck the other man on the cheeks.

 

“Charles, it's a real pleasure.” she said, her velvety voice reverberated around them, flowing into the cacophony of voices and the tinkling sound of glasses meeting glasses.

 

“Thelonious.” she said, looking at the other man at Marcus' side, a cheesy smile gracing her lips. Then she turned her attention back on Marcus, her light blue eyes were studying him, as if she was trying to steal every detail she could from him. “Marcus.” she said, his name rolling off her lips as a threat.

 

An awkward silence descended on the four of them, it felt heavy and suffocating, for everybody but her, the woman kept smiling, her lips turning into a knowing smirk. Charles excused himself and walked away without turning back, Diana didn't even look at the man while he left. Then was when Thelonious cleared his throat and offered the woman his hand.

 

“How are you Diana?” he said, the woman moved her eyes from Marcus to him, without even blinking, she smiled and took the man's hand, without putting too much effort in the gesture, visibly annoyed by the contact between their hands, as if he had smacked her on the ass, instead of just being polite.

 

“I'm utterly good, what about you mayor?” she said, taking her hand back, crossing her arms, pushing her breasts up in doing so, as if she wanted to prove something, what exactly Marcus couldn't say. When Thelonious' eyes shifted briefly on the woman's neckline though, he felt the need to shake his head in disgust and take another sip of champagne, so he did.

 

“I'm really good, councilor.” he said, his lips turning into a smile, Diana smiled herself, her blue eyes landed on Marcus again, but he was focused on his glass, trying to avoid the woman's stare as much as possible.

 

“It's Lieutenant Kane now, if I am correct?” Diana said suddenly, forcing Marcus to blink and look back at her. Thelonious pursed his lips, taking a step back, he was visibly offended by the abrupt change of subject, but tried to not show it too much, without really succeeding though.

 

“What?” Marcus said, frowning, trying in every possible way to look all but interested in what the woman was saying. Diana seemed as if completely unaffected by him though, she smiled and approached him, her arms squeezing her tiny waist, pushing her breasts even upper, exposing as much as possible of the bare skin that was trapped under her silver dress.

 

“You are quiet a hero, aren't you?” she asked, as always able to shift the argument as her own will, without caring too much about the other people involved in the talk, asking whatever she wanted, talking about everything she could think of.

 

The nerve.

 

“I don't think that is a proper word Diana.” Marcus said, smiling kindly, taking another sip from his glass. He didn't miss the way her eyes followed his lips against the glass, and how she parted hers while the clear liquid descended his throat.

 

Predictable.

 

“Yeah, you are right.” she said, adverting her gaze from his lips and focusing again on his eyes. “We use the word hero quiet too often, we abused of it through the years, and in the end if everyone is a hero, nobody really is, right?” she asked, tilting her head, flashing him a mischievous smile. Marcus grinned and nodded.

 

“Yeah, exactly what I was going to say, you are totally right.” he said, flashing her a fake smile, but Diana as always didn't care, as long as the attention was on her, she didn't care if it was honest or not, she just wanted to have it all.

 

“Also I-” but as soon as she had started to talk again, luckily for them all, another shrilling voice reached them and a figure appeared behind the woman.

 

“Thelonious?” she yelled, her black eyes blinking, her lips forming a bright smile. Diana clenched her jaw, visibly offended by the interruption, turning toward the source of her disappointment, finding a smiling Callie Cartwig. She was wearing a clingy short dress that danced around her bare legs while she approached Thelonious, arms wide open.

 

 

“Oh my god, it's so good to see you again!” the woman said, hugging him, while the man smiled and hugged her back.

 

“Callie! You look amazing!” he said, while taking a better look at the giggling woman in front of him. Even Marcus had to smile at that, Callie was always radiating happiness, as if she was a burning sun always able to drag all the attention back at her, stealing it from everyone, even Diana Sydney.

 

“You too mayor, you always knew how to look fancy, am I right?” she said, tickling the man in the stomach, as if they had saw each other just yesterday and not twenty years ago. Then was when Jacapo appeared behind her back and she turned, smiling even brightly.

 

“Oh my god Sinclair!” she yelled, almost jumping in the man's arms. He huffed and chuckled, embracing the petite woman.

 

“Cece!” he said, squeezing her shoulders, the woman was jumping on her feet now, her cheeks flushed, her eyes shining with pure joy, she seemed honestly happy to see them all again.

 

“Guys this is amazing, I didn't think you were all coming!” she said, and then was when she turned and locked eyes with Marcus, her head tilted to the side, she smirked. “I saw you too Marcus, don't try to hide from me.” she whispered, approaching him slowly. Marcus smiled and shrugged.

 

“You got me Callie, as always.” he said, smiling brightly, completely and deliberately ignoring Diana, that meanwhile kept glaring at Callie, who seemed to haven't even noticed her.

 

“Come here.” Callie said, hugging him too, she smelled good, her silky black hair prickled his nose and Marcus chuckled, squeezing her delicate frame with one harm, his hand stroked the fabric of her blue dress, feeling the roughness of the lace around the short gown. “Someone here goes to the gym.” she joked, squeezing his biceps. Marcus blushed and nodded.

 

“Guilty as charged.” he said, while Callie giggled, biting at her lower lip, her almond eyes trapping every light of the room, she was glowing as always. “But I'm not the only one.” Marcus added, raising a curious eyebrow, his index finger pushing on the woman's flat and hard stomach. Callie raised her chin.

 

“Indeed.” she said, shaking her head and sighing. “Is so good to see you all here.” she said, inviting Thelonious and Jacapo at her side, smiling at the three of them. “I bet she will be happy too.” she added finally, nodding to herself.

 

At her words Marcus froze, his eyes stared at her without blinking, he parted his lips.

 

She.

 

The thing was that there was just one person Callie could be talking about, and the thought was paralyzing him on his feet. Thelonious and Sinclair raised their eyes toward him, looking visibly concerned themselves. Callie seemed just happy to have her old friends back.

 

“Let me just go and get her.” she said, walking past Diana, she stopped briefly, not even a second, and waved her hand, adding a “Hey there Diana.” then, chuckling with herself, she walked away, leaving her there, her hand raised in the air, her lips parted, her blue eyes flaming with what still looked as rage.

 

“What the hell was that?” Diana said eventually, shaking her head in disbelief, looking in the men's eyes for support, but they were all blinking in silence, lips parted, confusion hovering upon them. Diana sighed and pursed her lips, approaching Marcus once again, her hand suddenly was on his arm, stroking the fabric of it, as if she could do that, as if she had any right to do so. But Marcus was so focused on Callie's last words that couldn't protest, and staid there, staring at the point where Callie had disappeared few seconds before.

 

Diana took advantage of that and sneaked one arm under his, smiling proudly with herself, he could feel the warmth of her body against his side now, but couldn't still move.

 

“We maybe should...” Sinclair started to say, gesturing awkwardly around himself. Thelonious hummed, his eyes never leaving Marcus.

 

“Yep, we should go.... and get, you know, that thing we need and, Marcus?” he said, shaking his arm. Marcus leaned toward his voice, but his eyes were still glued to the empty spot in front of him.

 

“Mh?” he hummed, Diana pressed her elbow at his side, trying to regain his attention back at her.

 

“Marcus?” she whispered, her voice echoed around him, but he wasn't listening.

 

“Why don't we go and get something to drink Marcus?” Thelonious said, while looking nervously around himself, as if afraid she could appear at any time, as a prey looks out for the predator. Marcus shook his head, still staring at the same spot, his mouth was dry.

 

“I- I have already one... you know the...” his voice started to drop lower and lower, and his words get lost into an inaudible whisper. Thelonious licked his lips and parted them, trying to pull him with him in the opposite direction where Callie had disappeared.

 

“Let's go Marcus we should-” but his words died in his throat, when Callie appeared again, smiling brightly.

 

“Hey guys, look who I finally found in that mess of sweating bodies.” she said, her arm stretched behind her back, she was dragging someone toward them, someone that Marcus couldn't yet see, but he didn't need to see her to know it was her. Callie turned at her back and chuckled toward her, then was when she reached them and shifted so that everyone could see who was behind her back. “Tada!” she said, gesturing to the woman that was now blinking at her side.

 

Then time froze, the room fell quiet and everyone just stared, or more correctly, Marcus stared.

 

There she was, finally his daemons had come in full force back to him, and she was there, looking all but threatening. She was blinking, blushing slightly, her hand was holding a glass of champagne that sparkled under the warm chandelier hanging over their heads. She was exactly as he remembered her, with just one difference, that she was even more beautiful when she wasn't glaring at him.

 

Marcus couldn't stop staring, and when her eyes landed on him, she stopped smiling shyly, her lips parted and then she closed them again, her jaw clenched, and here she was again, the Abby Griffin he was used to see, that same expression he had faced for ten years was back in front of him.

 

His nemesis was actually in front of him once again, flesh and bones... more flash than bones honestly. The dress she was wearing was something he had never saw on her before, he still remembered her prom dress, he still remembered the way it swirled around her tiny frame, but this one... this one was something entirely different.

 

 

The fabric was clingy, stroking every curve with impossible care, as if it was a second skin, made for her only. Lace adorning her sides, traveling from her neck to her hips, exposing but hiding, concealing but showing. The whole dress was cascading from her shoulders to her feet, and even if she was motionless, the split on her leg was open, revealing one of her impossibly long legs, there was so much skin to look at.

 

Marcus chided himself for even just thinking something like that. While Callie smiled, shaking her friend's arm, to regain her attention back, Marcus' eyes traveled on her face, and every feature was there, still the same but also so different.

 

Time had been clement with her, he had never saw wrinkles on her creamy skin, but now there they were, and weren't they beautiful? Adorning with stories and memories her dark brown eyes, deep and rich as a hot chocolate in the middle of December. Her lips were colored as spring peaches, shining slightly under the artificial lights around her. His eyes kept traveling without hesitation, mapping once again those features he knew so well once.

 

Abby was smiling at Jacapo now, pecking him on the cheek. When he was again in her view, she looked at him, briefly and widening her eyes, but she did. Marcus swallowed, meeting her stare still affected him, and his body remembered exactly how he had always felt during college, and so Marcus was now feeling as if he had jumped back in time, and this was the prom, and he was 19 years old, and Abby was his best friend once again.

 

He licked his lips and tried to focus on something else, but anywhere he tried to look, he could see just one thing, and it was Abby, he couldn't dare to look away, because twenty years without such a sight in front of him were too much to let go of it just yet.

 

When it was his turn to say something, his hands started to shake. Abby smiled at Thelonious one last time and then her eyes landed on him, Callie forced her to take a step forward, and if Diana wasn't keeping him in place, he would have took a step back. Abby blinked her eyes once, two, three times, then parted her lips, inhaled deeply, and for a moment Marcus thought she was going to keep quiet, but then a smile blossomed on her lips, genuine, warm, and he knew that tonight everything could definitely go wrong.

 

“Kane.” she whispered, and just now that she was close enough, and he wasn't too busy in just staring, he could finally hear her voice properly. Smoky, rich, vibrant, warm, with a touch of something he had never heard before, it was the sensuality of experience, time had been indeed clement with her, even too much. When he had kept quiet for too long, Thelonious nudged him on the side and Marcus blinked, parting his lips, sighing out. Abby was staring at him, expressionless.

 

But she had always been so good at hiding her emotions.

 

“Abby.” he said, and had to smirk when at the sound of her name she swallowed.

 

Maybe she wasn't that good anymore.

 

“Hey Abigail!” Diana said suddenly, and at that Marcus remembered she was still there, squeezing his bicep with her hands, he frowned.

 

When the hell did this happen?

 

Abby blinked at the sound of the woman's voice and looked down at her, she managed to smile when their eyes met, and then was when she noticed the way she was leaning against him. Abby raised an eyebrow, her brown eyes glanced at him briefly and then, with an amused smirk, she focused on Diana again.

 

“Hi Diana, it's a pleasure to see you again.” she said, visibly faking it all, Marcus, and basically everyone, knew how much the two women hated each other, and yet them both were now wearing their best smiles, offering each other a break from all the fights and the arguments. They were adults now after all, and twenty years are a long time, right?

 

“You look divine.” Abby added, scanning the silver dress that was flowing around the other woman's body.

 

 

At her words, Marcus couldn't restrain himself from shaking his head slightly, nobody noticed, except for Callie, but he didn't see her staring at him, a smirk on her lips.

 

“Oh this? It's nothing really. But you, you look really... adorable.” Diana said, and at that Abby chuckled with herself, nodding, visibly amused.

 

“You are so flattering, as always.” she said, shrugging, as if she couldn't believe that after all those years Diana was still the same she was used to be. Then her eyes traveled on him again and she smiled, a real smile.

 

“You look handsome too.” she whispered, and if he didn't knew better, he would dare to say that she was blushing.

 

“He had always been handsome.” Diana said, leaning even closer, her head was now resting on his shoulder. Marcus at that frowned, and looked down at her, he could only see her blonde hair, and could only smell her fancy perfume, it was too acrid for him, just as its owner.

 

“You're right.” Callie said, approaching them, smiling brightly as if nothing Diana could say would ever affect her. Abby looked at her friend and smiled back. “We still have to find Charles Abs, shall we?” Callie said, and it was obvious she was just trying to free themselves from that awkward situation.

 

Abby nodded, saying nothing, and when Callie started walking away, Abby waved at everyone, offering them a bright smile, even to Diana.

 

Right before she disappeared in the crowd though, her eyes founded Marcus again and her bright smile turned into a shy one, and this time the flush on her cheeks was unmistakable.

 

 

 

 

...

 

 

 

“Seriously? You have a house in Malibu? This is delightful.” Diana was literally heart eyes while talking with a schoolmate Marcus couldn't quiet remember, she was all giggling and blushing, but he knew her better. She was as always just faking, to get what she really wanted, and in this case was to get into this rich man's pants, and possibly even his wallet.

 

Predictable again.

 

He and his “still friends after school no matter what” were sitting on comfortable velvet couches, in a corner of the ballroom, Diana had followed them without asking permission, and had lost herself when she had seen that man, drinking alone on one of the couches.

 

Thelonious and Sinclair were chatting with other ex schoolmates Marcus wasn't that interested in get in touch with again, so he was sitting alone, sipping at his new cocktail. Smooth scotch, strong enough to give him the illusion he was alone, in his living room, on his couch, without those people chatting and dancing around him, especially not one particular person, that was hiding somewhere around him.

 

He sighed when the last sip flew down his throat, and his dark eyes dared to scan the crowd, many people were dancing, laughing, but no fancy black dress in view. Not even a glimpse of those honey colored hair, flowing in a straight silky cascade over her back, that was covered in delicate dark lace, not that he had stared that much to know how she looked from behind of course.

 

“You should at least try to have some fun Marcus.” Thelonious' voice reached him suddenly, the man had appeared at his side all of a sudden, drink in hand, dark eyes scanning the room.

 

“What are you talking about? I am having fun.” Marcus said, trying to reach one last drop of the amber liquid that was shining at the bottom of his glass. Thelonious shook his head, swallowing a bit of his Martini.

 

“I'm serious Marcus. Damn, I thought this story was over. It's been twenty years.” he said, leaning on his back, staring in his eyes with what looked as shocked disbelief. Marcus chuckled.

 

“What are you talking about?” he asked again, pretending he didn't know already. Thelonious raised his eyebrows, as to say “You know very well what I am talking about, Marcus.”

 

“You are grown adults now, what happened in the past can't be changed, but now you two are different people.” he said, leaning closer, lowering his voice, while Marcus started to stare at a group of people chatting in the other corner of the ballroom.

 

“You can't hold onto the memory you have, you have to make new ones. Besides... is just for tonight, you are not gonna see her ever again.” he said, his hand squeezed Marcus' arm. He swallowed at that thought, suddenly it felt as an ultimatum he wasn't ready to face. Like he hadn't forced himself to face it twenty years ago already.

 

“If that's what you want of course.” Thelonious added, Marcus looked at him, his eyes searching for answers to his silent questions into Thelonious' gaze, but the man just shrugged and sighed, standing up again.

 

Following him with his eyes while he left, Marcus finally spotted her again.

 

The group of people he had been staring at had dissipated at some point, and now that his view was clear he could see her. She was leaning against a burgundy armchair, where Callie was sitting, a new glass of champagne in hand, she was smiling and nodding at something that someone was saying. Then was when he recognized David Miller, sitting with other people he couldn't quiet name, all of them chatting easily with her, as if she wasn't a big deal but just an old classmate.

 

The reason was that of course she was a problem just for him, and obsession even, like a beautiful dream you can't completely recall but you know it felt good, and you try to fall asleep over and over again, to reach that moment one more time, to hide yourself into that warm cocoon your imagination had created for you.

 

Except that Abby wasn't a dream, she wasn't a result of his imagination, she was a woman, in flesh and bones, talking and laughing few feet away from him. And she was utterly beautiful when she laughed.

 

Marcus searched with his lips for another sip of scotch when that thought reached him, but his glass was empty. He groaned, and as if he had screamed his disappointment out loud, Abby turned her attention toward him, and their eyes locked.

 

And how excruciating was to look her in the eyes, without being able to see every shade of their rich color, without being able to fall into the scent that he had been able to smell just earlier. She smelled good, he could remember that, but his nose prickled as if he wanted to smell her once again, to collect every touch of fragrance he could, as if it was a track he had to follow to reach her.

 

She stopped laughing when their eyes met, and he stopped thinking, and they just stared at each other, and once again Marcus felt as a schoolboy, at the prom, and she was again 17 years old, her long hair cascading over her shoulders in honey curls, her blue dress swinging around her body, her cheeks flushed and that smile on her pink lips, that smile he still desperately wanted to kiss away.

 

But then someone walked in front of him, breaking the eye contact, and he was 42 again, and he wasn't at the prom anymore, and Abby was gone. He blinked, his eyes searched for her in the crowd. Callie was still talking, as if nothing had happened, and right when he was about to stand up and search for her, Diana sat at his side.

 

“That man was an idiot at college, and apparently he still is.” she snorted, while pressing her hands on her neck to release some tension from her shoulders, her blonde hair landed on his shoulder and tickled his skin, but he was staring at the empty spot Abby had left behind herself and didn't notice. “Marcus?” Diana whispered his name, leaning a bit toward him.

 

“Mh?” he hummed, not really interested in talking to her. Diana's hand once again sneaked under his arm and she squeezed his bicep.

 

“Take me to dance.” she whispered in his ear. When her hot breath reached his neck he shivered, but not in pleasure, he was suddenly really aware of who he was, of who she was, and what she was trying to do.

 

Once again he was 19 years old, and Diana was at his side, whispering alluring words with her velvety voice, her hands roaming all over his body, her eyes inviting him to join her. When she pulled his jacket this time though, Marcus didn't move.

 

“Marcus are you still with me?” she whispered, the ghost of a smirk in her voice.

 

Then was when Marcus' eyes focused on the balcony outside the ballroom, and then was when he saw her, hiding in the shadows, leaning over the parapet, the only visible thing was the glass of champagne shining under the moon and the stars.

 

“Marcus?” Diana said again, this time impatience vibrating in her voice, at that Marcus squeezed his glass and put it on the table in front of him, pushing himself on his feet again.

 

“Excuse me.” he growled, and the grip of the woman on his arm loosened, until he was able to walk away from her, leaving her all speechless and blinking eyes behind his back.

 

He started to walk toward the balcony, toward her, the breeze of the night reached him, and right when he was about to step outside, a hand landed on his back, stopping him.

 

“Marcus?” he didn't look at the source of the voice, he knew that was David Miller already. His eyes were searching for Abby's shadow in the darkness. When he spotted her, she turned and saw him, at that she parted her lips, her eyes shifted from him to the man at his side.

 

“Hey David, is good to see you again, could you excuse me for a moment?” Marcus said rapidly, flashing a smile to the visibly confused man at his side. David said nothing, shoving his hands in the pocket of his pants. Marcus turned again toward the balcony, and right when he was finally outside, and the echo of voices and music had started fading at his back, she had disappeared once again. What was left of her presence was just her empty glass of champagne, shining on the parapet.

 

He blinked in the dark once, two, three times. Then started to scan the dark around him, he walked few steps, until he stopped once again. In front of him a huge garden was expanding, bathed in the moonlight, green bushes were adorning the little pathway that leaded to the center of it, where a circular flowerbed was.

 

He inhaled deeply when spotted her silhouette in the dark, she was looking up at the moon, her long hair caressed by the night air. He swallowed and took the first few steps, afraid she could somehow disappear if he approached her too rapidly. His steps on the pathway were loud, the rocks under his shoes moved and shifted following his movements, she could hear him walking toward her.

 

But she didn't move, she kept staying there, looking up at the sky, her lips forming a tender smile.

 

How can she still be this beautiful after twenty years?

 

When he was close enough to smell her scent, he stopped, hands in his pockets, keeping some distance between them. From this angle he could see her shoulder and one side of her face, the moonlight was stroking her features as a mother strokes her child's cheek.

 

“Tonight the moon is breathtaking.” she whispered, without looking at him. Marcus started to nod, without lifting his eyes, but then he did, and he had to admit, the moon was beautiful too.

 

“It is.” he whispered, lowering his gaze once again, and saw that Abby was looking at him. She was frowning slightly, as if she was studying him now, and he felt exposed all of a sudden.

 

He wasn't that used to her eyes anymore, she had always been so good at reading him, at exposing everything he wanted to conceal, and apparently she still was.

 

“I didn't think I would see you tonight.” she whispered, her smoky voice felt as a hot bath after a storm, and he had to take a moment to find the strength to answer her.

 

“Me neither. I didn't want to come at first.” he said, and at his words Abby smiled knowingly.

 

“That was what I thought.” she said, focusing on the flowers in front of her. Marcus at her words had to suppress that voice in his head that had started yelling at him that she had been thinking of him.

 

“I didn't think you would come either though, I always thought you hated these kind of things.” he said, trying to focus his attention on something else but her. Abby at his words shook her head, chuckling slightly. “What?” he asked her, and she turned toward him, biting at her lower lip.

 

“You always thought you knew me better than everyone else.” she said, tilting her head, smirking. Marcus pursed his lips.

 

“This isn't what I meant Abby.” he said, kicking absentmindedly some rocks on the ground. Abby hummed.

 

“Of course you didn't.” she said, wrapping her arms around her tiny waist. Marcus licked his lips at that and sighed.

 

“What do you want me to say?” he asked, feeling how a new tension had started to grow around them.

 

Just as the good old times.

 

“Nothing. You don't have to say anything Marcus.” she said, his name coming from her lips made him shiver, he had to shut his eyes closed. He swallowed and looked at her, he could see in the deep of her eyes that she actually was waiting for something, and he knew what that was.

 

I'm sorry.” he whispered, trying to put into it every emotion he had felt for all those years, and every new thing he was feeling now. Abby at that started to shake her head, bowing it to the ground. She started moving, stepping back, then forward, then turning her back to him completely, sighing out.

 

“Abby...” he started to say, but she raised a hand and turned again, she was once again the old Abby he remembered so vividly, looking at him with what looked as disappointment.

 

“Don't.” she said, clenching her jaw. “Don't even start, Kane.” His surname rolled down her lips as it was supposed to, cold and stern. Marcus sniffed and started circling the tip of his shoe on the ground under his feet. He didn't know what to say, he felt once again as a schoolboy, 19 years old instead of 42, incapable to talk to the girl he had a crush on, while she stared at him with burning eyes.

 

“Just tell me what you want to hear, and I will say it.” he said, raising his eyes from the ground, searching for her in the darkness of the night. She licked her lips and shook her head once again.

 

“You are unbelievable.” she snorted, her hands flew to her hair, and he remembered that gesture all too well, she was getting angry, and he didn't want her to be angry.

 

“Abby, please, I don't know what I am supposed to say, it's been-”

 

“Twenty fucking years Kane!” she interrupted him, her gaze burning a hole in his head.

 

“Yes...” he whispered, his voice had lowered to a feeble weak whisper, she was angry now, and she had every right to be.

 

“You disappeared for twenty years!” she growled, she wasn't yelling as she was used to when they were younger, it was as if by getting older she had changed her fashion, now when she was angry she lowered her voice to a rough growl, and like that she was even more threatening, as if a thing as tiny as her could be threatening... and yet, she was.

 

“You disappeared twenty years ago and never showed up, you never called, never wrote us anything, you just disappeared.” she hissed, her hands were tight fists now, and Marcus felt the need to take a step back, as if he was afraid she was going to punch him in the face, maybe time had changed that too, maybe now she would have do such a thing.

 

“Then we see each other again, and the only thing you can say is I'm sorry? I thought you had changed along the years, but apparently, I was wrong.” she said, her lips were a sharp line now and Marcus was suddenly feeling even guiltier, if that was possible.

 

So eventually tonight could go wrong.

 

“Abby, please-” he started to say, but she shook her head again, shushing him.

 

“No.” she whispered, taking a step forward, at first Marcus didn't notice the gesture. “I'm sick of people saying that they are sorry.” she said, and suddenly she wasn't talking about him anymore, she was talking about her, and so Marcus kept quiet.

 

“Everybody just kept saying that, that they were sorry, that they were there if I needed something, that I could always count on them.” her eyes were glassy now, and Marcus swallowed. “Everyone was there to offer me something, always saying that they were sorry for my loss over and over again.” she kept talking, walking slowly toward him, with every new word she said, she took a new step forward.

 

“But you know what was the worse part of all?” she asked him, without waiting for an answer. “The worse part was that the only person I wanted, the only one I felt as if could help me for real... was you.” she whispered, her voice was shaking now, and Marcus had to focus really hard to not break into tears himself.

 

“I needed you, and you weren't there.” she said, her eyes were carrying dozens of unshed tears now, her arms were wrapped tightly around herself, her black dress constricted between her arms and her chest. “Even if you weren't there since fifteen years, I still needed you.” she whispered, her eyes searching for his, and he could only stare, his throat closing on itself.

 

She was so close now that he could smell her scent, and could see every wrinkle around her eyes, and the curve of her trembling lips, or the way the moonlight danced on the tip of her nose, invading her irises with its silver shadow.

 

Suddenly Abby's chin started to tremble even more and she parted her lips, her next words came out slowly, one after the other.

 

“The worse part is... that even after all this time...” - she swallowed, closing her eyes, her tears rolled down her cheeks, but she seemed to not care - “...I still miss you.” she whispered, and this felt as the hardest thing she had ever said in her life, and Marcus' heart broke into pieces.

 

He parted his lips, but she started to sob at that, bowing her head, hiding her tears in the palm of her hand. She was quietly crying few inches from him now, and Marcus was speechless. So, since his words were lost, he did the only thing he could think of, he closed the gap between them and took her in his arms.

 

At first he thought she was going to push him away, but on the contrary, she started to sob a little louder, her hands withdrew from her face and she wrapped her arms around his waist, pressing her tears against his shirt, soaking his fancy clothes with her sorrow, and he let her.

 

His arms were shaking around her body, but hers were strong now, squeezing him even too tight, as if she was fighting against the urge to push him away and to press him even closer. He let her, and was ready to take everything that could come, he was ready for her to give him everything he deserved.

 

She kept sobbing for a while, and eventually she stopped, and they staid there into that embrace under the moonlight, silence cuddling with them, and Marcus closed his eyes, feeling every inch of Abby between his arms, memorizing her shape, feeling her again after all those years was killing him and giving him life at the same time.

 

When she started to murmur something against his beating heart, he didn't catch her words, so he hummed in confusion, and waited for her to say it again. After a while she did, withdrawing slowly from him.

 

“I'm sorry too.” she whispered, her murmur warmed up his skin through the fabric of his shirt. He closed his eyes again and swallowed.

 

“Don't say that.” he whispered, and Abby at that chuckled bitterly, shaking her head, her eyes fixed on his tie.

 

“But what if I want to?” she asked, and at that she looked up at him, he inhaled deeply and looked down at her himself, then shrugged.

 

“Then please, keep apologizing, I don't mind.” he joked, trying to break the tension. Abby at first kept quiet, staring at him with her impossibly dark eyes, then, after what felt as a lifetime, a smile cracked her expressionless lips and she started to giggle in his arms.

 

At that sweet sound he couldn't help himself and had to smirk.

 

“You'll never change Marcus Kane.” she whispered, shaking her head, until her giggle faded and she was silent once again, staring at him with heavy eyes. Marcus cleared his throat then, realizing that they were still embracing, she seemed to realize the same thing because she withdrew abruptly.

 

They said nothing while adjusting their clothes to their bodies once again, the loss of contact was making him shiver in discomfort, but he tried to hide it as better as he could. Abby was fixing a strand of perfectly straight hair behind her ear, looking at him. He smiled and fixed his tie.

 

“I'm really glad we could see each other again by the way.” she whispered suddenly, her eyes roaming with care over his features. Marcus sighed out.

 

“Oh Abby...” he started to say, and she fixed her gaze with his, “I missed you too.” he said, and this time were his eyes that filled with tears, and Abby swallowed, closing her eyes, nodding slowly.

 

“We should stop doing this.” she said, wiping away few new tears, and at that Marcus could only chuckle softly, and Abby followed, and eventually they found each other chuckling quietly while wiping away tear after tear.

 

“We're terrible at this.” she said, while sniffing, Marcus nodded, clearing his throat.

 

“You can say that again.” he said, sniffing himself. Abby smiled, her lips still trembling, and right when she was about to say something else, Callie appeared on the balcony, calling after her, visibly stumbling on her high heels.

 

“Abs? Honey?” she started to yell, Abby blinked and looked toward her.

 

“Callie?” she whispered, then was when her friend spotted her and pointed her stretched arm toward them.

 

“There you are!” she shouted, Abby huffed.

 

“Uh, we gotta a problem.” she sighed out, shaking her head, hands on the hips. Marcus kept looking at her with confusion and amusement, not knowing what was going to happen now.

 

“I've been searching for you all over.” Callie said, gesturing around her, a bottle of something that looked as expensive champagne in hand, her legs were dangerously trembling on the pathway.

 

“I just needed some air.” Abby said, her eyes searched for his briefly, then she reached for Callie when she stumbled on a rock and almost crashed on the ground. “I didn't know you wanted to get drunk that fast, Cece.” Abby said, while taking the bottle away from her friend's hand.

 

“Hey no no no, that's mine!” Callie said, then was when she noticed Marcus, that was holding the bottle Abby had just gave him. “Hey look Abs, there's Marcus!” she said, tilting her head. Abby smiled, supporting her friend's weight on one shoulder.

 

“Yeah Callie, there's Marcus, why don't you say hello?” she whispered, while adjusting the blue dress on the woman's body again, it was slowly and dangerously traveling up over her petite frame, not the Marcus was going to protest about it, but surely Callie wasn't in any condition to know how exposed she actually was.

 

“Hi Marcus!” Callie said, grinning widely. Marcus smirked and nodded.

 

“Callie, I'm glad to see that you're having fun!” he said, and at that Callie chuckled.

 

“Oh I haven't even started!” she said, turning to Abby and printing a brief and sweet kiss on her lips. “Abs you should get drunk too honey.” she said, nodding to herself, looking up at the sky. Abby shook her head, an amused expression on her face, she was probably used to this side of her friend. They knew each other since ever after all.

 

“Ok sure, maybe later, why don't we go back inside again now?” Abby asked, trying to push her friend toward the ballroom once again, but Callie started shaking her head.

 

“No, no, we are not going back th-there...” she sighed, her index finger pointing toward the balcony. “We are going somewhere even better!” she yelled, nodding to Abby.

 

“We are?” Abby asked, flashing a worried glance toward Marcus, he blinked, and Callie giggled, her index finger stroked Abby's cheek.

 

“Just follow me Abs.” she whispered against her friend's nose. Marcus was suddenly really glad Callie had come, she seemed to lighten up the mood even when she was drunk, because Abby was giggling now, looking all but angry.

 

“Ok, can Marcus come too?” she asked to Callie, looking at him as if she wanted to be sure it was ok with him. Marcus could only nod, and Callie at that waved toward him as if it wasn't a problem at all.

 

“Of course he can, more correctly, he has to! We are going with everybody, it will be again as when we were kids, do you remember that Abby? Oh weren't you a beautiful thing back then?” Callie said, while squeezing Abby's cheeks, making her groan.

 

“OK, ok, sftop, Callfie, sftop.” she tried to say, but the woman was laughing too loud to pay attention to her.

 

“Let's go get the others, everyone except that bitch!” she yelled, while starting to walk back to the ballroom. Abby was panting slightly, blinking her eyes, Marcus approached her and his hand found a spot immediately on the lower of her back. The lace of her dress teased his fingers, he tried to ignore it.

 

“Are you ok?” he asked her, Abby nodded, chuckling, her cheeks flushed.

 

“Yeah, I'm fine, she is always like that when she drinks too much. She isn't dangerous, just embarrassing.” Abby said, shrugging. Marcus smiled and nodded, withdrawing his hand from her, because suddenly she felt so hot under his palm that he was afraid he could catch fire.

 

“We should go after her though, or we will not find her again till the morning... trust me, I know her.” she said, starting to walk toward the balcony. Marcus said nothing and kept staring at her while she walked away. When Abby realized he wasn't following her, she turned toward him and tilted her head, smiling. “Are you coming or what?” she asked, and her voice felt so inviting, and she was so beautiful, and the night was so perfect right now, that he said nothing and just followed her, at that her smile grew even brighter.

 

 

Maybe tonight wasn't going to be a real disaster after all.

 

Maybe.

 

 

 

 

 

“Where are we going?” Thelonious asked, for the third time. Marcus shook his head, while Sinclair chuckled.

 

“You know already that asking is useless.” Sinclair said, following Abby and Callie's steps outside the ballroom, down the balcony, into the garden, until they reached a gate, that was closed and faced the darkness outside.

 

“Oh shit.” Callie cursed under her breath, waving dangerously the bottle of champagne in the air. “We're locked inside, we're never gonna get out of here!” she started to yell. At that Abby widened her eyes and pressed the palm of her hand on her mouth.

 

“Shut up Cartwig, or they are going to expel us!” she said, sharing an amused look with Marcus and the other two men. Marcus smirked, while Jacapo chuckled. Abby was playing her drunk friend's game, and Callie widened her eyes, nodding.

 

“You're right.” she whispered, then pointed to the gate in front of her. “So, how are we gonna solve this problem?” she asked, Abby at that remained silent for a while and then grinned, raising an eyebrow toward her, at that Callie widened her eyes and nodded in realization. “Oh yeah, I love you!” she said, kissing her again on the lips. At that Abby squeezed her eyes and pushed her away.

 

“Stop it Callie!” she snorted, even if she looked amused. At that Callie hummed.

 

“As if we never did that before.” she said, at that Abby widened her eyes and blushed, even if the night was pitch black, the color of her cheeks was unmistakable, Marcus and the others lowered their eyes to the ground, hiding their own smirks.

 

“Shall we?” Callie said, while starting to climb the not too high but still high gate. Marcus at that widened his eyes and approached her.

 

“Hey Callie, do you think you can do-” but his words died in his throat as soon as Callie started to climb, moving fast and without looking down, her dark dress was indeed short, especially if you were standing right under her, and well... you surely had a view. “Ok then...” he whispered, and then lowered his eyes, finding a smirking Abby staring at him, Sinclair and Thelonious behind her back, eyebrows raised, amused expressions on their faces.

 

“Are you going to climb or you prefer to stay here and just enjoy the view?” Abby teased him, crossing her arms. Marcus opened his mouth at that, but Abby's smirk grew even wider, especially when Callie had jump on the other side and had started to yell.

 

“Come on guys, it's amazing over here!” she started to say, while circling on herself. The funny thing was that they all could see what was at the other side of the gate, and that was exactly nothing. Sinclair ran past them all and started to climb.

 

“Ok then Marcus, stay there and stare at me while I climb, I know that you like what you see!” he joked, while climbing fast and without hesitation. Marcus at that snorted, hiding his face in his hands, and heard Abby chuckling. When he looked back at her, she was bitingher lower lip, and he raised his eyebrows at her, she fell quiet, and pursed her lips, lowering her eyes.

 

“Ok Thelonious, your turn.” Marcus said, without adverting his gaze from Abby, that was now chewing the inside of her cheek. Thelonious hummed and then cleared his throat.

 

“Is this thing safe enough?” he asked, while scanning the gate carefully, at his question both Abby and Marcus turned toward him, eyebrows raised, he fell quiet at that and started to climb.

 

“Go Thelonious!” Callie started to yell, joy expanding from the bottom of her lungs to the tip of her tongue. Marcus shook his head and turned toward Abby again, she was staring at her friend, a smile gracing her lips. As soon as he heard Thelonious landing at the other side of the gate, he pushed Abby on the shoulder.

 

“Mrs. Griffin, it's your turn!” he whispered, at that Abby blinked and looked at him.

 

“Is it?” she asked, Marcus at that nodded, walking with her toward the metallic gate, she circled her fingers around the metal bars, then hummed.

 

“So you prefer to stay here and stare, don't you?” she asked, a teasing smile blossoming on her lips, she turned toward him, raising a curious eyebrow. Marcus pursed his lips and tried to hide his own smirk.

 

“Just get over there Abby.” he muttered, at that Abby chuckled and took off her shoes, throwing them at the other side of the gate, where Sinclair took them yelling a, “Got them!” at that Abby nodded and started climbing.

 

The gate started shaking under her weight and Marcus felt the need to press his hands on her back, to help her find her balance, but she was fast and didn't seem to need any help. Still, he couldn't help himself and wanted to keep the gate as still as possible, his hands squeezed the bars, while Abby started to climb to the other side.

 

“Come on Abs, show us how yoga isn't just about meditation and all that crap!” Callie yelled, at that Sinclair chuckled and Abby snorted, while circling on the other side.

 

“Shut up Cartwig!” she joked, while starting to climb down, slowly, her feet moving with care, afraid to not find a secure spot to land her weight on. “I'm almost done.” she said, Thelonious at that shook his head.

 

“We're not in a hurry Abs, take your time, the view is pretty good.” he joked, and Callie and Sinclair nodded, then they all burst out laughing. Marcus was the only one serious, and when he blinked his eyes and focused in front of him, Abby was at the other side, smirking at him.

 

“Your turn Marcus.” she whispered, and then turned her back to him, taking her shoes from Sinclair, they were all staring at him now. Marcus blinked again to clear his mind, and started to climb, as fast as he could, while everyone, except for Abby, started to yell “Go Marcus, Go Marcus, Go Marcus!”

 

When he jumped at the other side, he could feel under his shoes how the ground had changed, it was softer somehow, and for a moment he thought it was sand.

 

“Come on Abs, let's go!” Callie said, approaching Abby and dragging her away with her. Marcus tried to take a better look around him, but everything was too dark, then was when a new sound reached him, and a new kind of breeze swirled inside of his thick hair.

 

“Is that...?” he started to say, and by the look Sinclair had on his face, he already knew what he was thinking.

 

“Yes, it's the ocean.” he said, while rushing behind the women, that were walking without shoes on what was indeed sand. Callie yelled when Sinclair scared her and Abby laughed, then he scooped the drunk woman in his arms and gave the bottle of champagne to the sober one.

 

“What are you doing?” Callie started to yell, her voice a mix of confusion and happiness. Abby smiled and waved a goodbye to the both of them, while Sinclair kept running with Callie in his arms, toward what, by the sound that was reaching them now, was the ocean.

 

“Oh my god Sinclair no!” Callie yelled, and then the unmistakable sound of a body splashing in the water followed.

 

“Oh no, poor dress.” Abby said when Marcus was close enough to hear, he chuckled and she smiled, opening the bottle and taking a long sip, then she offered it to him, but Marcus shook his head, and so she passed it to Thelonious, that took it with a wide grin.

 

“This stuff is good.” he said, and Abby hummed, her eyes lost into the infinite dark black of the ocean in front of them, the wind was playing with few of her caramelized strands and she inhaled in the ocean breeze.

 

“Doesn't it feel as if we are somehow back in time? Like we are 17 again?” she asked absentmindedly, and at her words Marcus froze, swallowing, he then snapped the bottle of champagne out from Thelonious' hands, he didn't protest, instead his hand found his shoulder and he squeezed it before starting to walk toward where Sinclair and Callie's voice came.

 

And they were left alone again, Marcus took a long sip of champagne, it was still cold enough to be pleasant, he sighed when the burning liquid descended his throat. Abby at that chuckled.

 

“Finally. I thought you were never gonna enjoy yourself tonight.” she said, smiling at him, before walking away, toward the shore, her long black dress caressing the sand, her heels hanging from her index finger, until she let them fell on the sand and kept walking in the dark, her long hair flying around her. She flashed him a last dark look, her eyes were whispering to him forbidden promises, and she looked like a dream again, ready to disappear in the dark if he didn't follow her.

 

I really shouldn't. He thought, while taking off his shoes with a kick and starting to walk behind her, following her steps on the sand, leaving the others at their back, the bottle in his hand, the swirl of Abby's hair his guide through the dark night.

 

 

...

 

 

 

He couldn't say for how long they had been walking, but he didn't really care, as long as he could stare at her walking right in front of him, he was ready to walk forever. When she eventually stopped, he did too, and kept staring at her in silence. Abby said nothing at first and then turned toward him, a smile gracing her lips.

 

“Truth or Dare?” she asked him, her smoky voice vibrating with something that sounded a lot dangerous. But he could only part his lips and look at the bottle in his hand. He smirked at her then and sat down on the sand, Abby followed.

 

And they were again two teenagers.

 

Their friends laughing and playing far away from them, while they kept staring at each other in silence, their hearts beating at the same rhythm, their hands brushing ever so slightly, until one of the others would come, ordering them to join them, forcing them to end their quiet exchange of secrets and promises.

 

But tonight nobody was there to stop them, they all knew better now. And Marcus said nothing, while resting the bottle on the sand, swallowing the worried knot that was forming in his throat.

 

“So?” she asked him then, her voice was so low and thick, he felt as if he could taste her words, he wanted to. “Truth or dare?” she asked again, and her eyes were dangerously dark, and he knew they shouldn't be here alone, but yet he couldn't bear himself to protest or get up from his spot at her side on the quiet beach.

 

“Truth.” he said, knowing he was far too sober to dare anything. Abby smiled, and leaned her head to the side.

 

“Why you left?” she asked him, and he wanted to slap himself. How stupid for him to not guess what her question was going to be. She kept staring at him in silence, waiting. Suddenly he felt the need to clear his throat, so he opened the bottle to take a sip, and Abby stopped him. “You're not gonna answer?” she asked, he thought about it, then recalled how the game worked.

 

“I was just thirsty.” he said, Abby lowered her hand and shook her head.

 

“You drink just if you don't play, otherwise we will finish it all too soon.” she said, smiling. Marcus chuckled nervously, resting the bottle on the sand once again. He inhaled deeply and pressed his legs against his chest. He thought about what to say to her, and then, when he landed his eyes on her once again, he realized he had to say just the truth.

 

“I thought you didn't want to have me around anymore.”

 

True. But also a lie.

 

Abby said nothing, pursing her lips, then leaned on her hands, pressing them on the sand at her back. “My turn.” she said. Marcus frowned.

 

“You don't want to know anything else?” he asked her, Abby shook her head.

 

“Not yet, no.” she said, her voice fell heavily on his ears. Marcus nodded and inhaled.

 

“Truth or Dare?” he asked, and stared at the sea in front of him, ignoring the warning signs that were running in his mind. Abby kept quiet for a while.

 

“Truth.” she said, Marcus closed his eyes and sighed out in relief. Then started to think about a question he could ask.

 

“You really missed me?” he asked eventually, feeling as a child that asks to his mother if he's a good kid. Abby smiled at that, he could see her in the corner of his eyes, and leaned over him, her hand squeezed his shoulder, her dark eyes were almost invisible in the shadows of the night.

 

“Yes.” she whispered, then relaxed her muscles and inhaled deeply, she was silent. Just when she started to peek at him Marcus realized she was waiting for him to give her a truth or a dare. He blurted it out without thinking.

 

“Dare.” and then mentally slapped himself. Abby bit at her lower lip at that, and looked toward the horizon.

 

“Ok...” she whispered, he could see from the way she was pursing her lips that she was thinking of something, then she smirked. “Take a bath.” she said, and at that Marcus widened his eyes.

 

“What?” he said, Abby shrugged.

 

“You picked dare Marcus, not me.” she said, she was enjoying this way too much now. He shook his head, taking the bottle from the ground, opening it and taking a long sip from it.

 

“Sorry but this dress costs more than my car!” he said, chuckling and choking over the champagne a bit. Abby chuckled herself and nodded, stealing a last glance at the huge dark ocean that was calmly singing in front of them.

 

“Ok then, your turn.” he said, feeling suddenly happy, the warm alcohol was descending in his empty stomach and with every sip he took, his head felt lighter and lighter.

 

“Dare.” she said, her eyes on her hands, that were playing with the fabric of her dress. Marcus hummed and then smiled.

 

You take a bath.” he said, at his words Abby smirked, without looking at him. Then when she raised her eyes, he knew she was never gonna lose against him. She smirked and stood up, then without warning, started to walk toward the shore.

 

“Hey Abby, you don't have to if you don't want to, I can change the dare!” he yelled back at her, realizing suddenly really aware of how dark there was. But Abby said nothing, until she gasped softly when the cold water stroked her toes.

 

“It's ok, I did this dozens of times, don't you remember?” she asked him, and right when he was starting to recall all the times they had played that game, and she had to jump into the ocean with her clothes on, Abby started to undress.

 

This was surely something he wasn't ready to handle.

 

She was giving him her back, and even if it was dark, and really it was, he could still see the way her hands traveled on her dress, searching for the zipper, and when she started to slowly moving it down her back, he wasn't sure he was going to survive this night.

 

He adverted his gaze, when the amount of skin he could see was too much to handle. When the sound of her body meeting the waves reached him, he squeezed his eyes shut and swallowed hard.

 

“Are you ok?” he asked eventually, when she had kept quiet for too long, and she didn't answer. “Abby?” he called for her again, nothing. His heart started hammering in his chest, and he stood up.

 

“Abby? This isn't funny, answer me, I can't see you!” he yelled, but from the ocean just the sound of the waves came. He swallowed then and cursed himself under his breath, rushing toward the shore. The sound of the lapping waves here was clear and louder, he called for her once again.

 

And right when he was starting to feel panic growing in his heart, someone pulled him toward the water, until he was under the surface, a pair of hands keeping him down. Then as he had dived in, he emerged once again, gaping for air.

 

“Abby?” he yelled, and then was when he heard her laugh.

 

“Oh my god, I wish I could see your face right now!” she said, chuckling and splashing some water against him.

 

“Abby, are you insane?” he yelled, trying to wipe away some of the salty water from his face. “I thought you were hurt, I thought you were drowning!” he spatted. At that he could hear clearly the way she moved closer, her hands searched for his chest.

 

“Were you worried for me?” Abby asked, and she was so close now that her hot breath reached his nose, and he shivered.

 

“Always.” he whispered, swallowing when he could get a glimpse of her eyes in the dark.

 

“Always...” she whispered back, and then moved away from him, and Marcus felt lost.

 

“Abby? Were are you going?” he asked, trying to see her in the dark of the ocean. She chuckled.

 

“On the beach, I don't want to move too faraway from the shore, it's dangerous. Come on, you're gonna catch a cold!” she yelled, while swimming away.

 

And who's fault is that? He thought, but his mind fell quiet once again, as soon as he spotted her on the shore, her hair wet, wearing nothing but her lingerie, it was too dark to see every detail of her, but her shadow was enough to boil up his blood.

 

“Are you coming or not?” Abby yelled, collecting her dress from the sand. Marcus cleared his throat.

 

“Just one second.” he said, cursing his body under his breath, he could see the way she was scanning the waves to find him, then she slipped back in her dress and rested her hands on her hips, and of course that familiar habit of her made his blood rush south even faster, burning him from the inside. He closed his eyes shut and tried to focus on something else, like the way the water felt cold all around him, or how uncomfortable his wet clothes were, dragging him deeper into the ocean.

 

After a while his body stopped reacting to the sight of her and he started to swim back on the shore. There she was again, sitting beside the bottle, her arms wrapped around herself, shivering as a leaf in the wind.

 

“Who's gonna catch a cold now?” he teased her, she glared at him, drops of salty water rolling down her cheeks and dancing on the tip of her nose.

 

“Shut up Marcus.” she growled, and he sat down at her side.

 

“We are not 17 anymore.” he said, at that she raised an eyebrow.

 

“Speak for yourself.” she said, raising her chin. At that Marcus chuckled, shaking his head.

 

“Should I call your parents and tell them that you are outside beyond the curfew?” he teased her again, Abby grinned at that and bit at her lower lip.

 

“Mh, I don't know, if you will do that then we can't be friends anymore.” she answered him, flashing him one of those grins he had always thought were more than just cute. He sighed at that, nodding and pursing his lips, his eyes traveled on the darkness once again, he closed them and inhaled deeply into the salty air.

 

“Truth or Dare?” she asked him suddenly, and he opened his eyes again, without thinking twice he answered.

 

“Truth.” he whispered, without searching for her eyes. Abby shifted slightly on the sand, searching for some of his body heat probably. Then she staid quiet for a while, probably thinking about something to ask, pondering her options. Marcus waited.

 

“You really just thought I wasn't gonna be here tonight... or you hoped you hadn't to see me again?” she asked him, her voice a whisper, her breath hot on his wet neck. He inhaled deeply, trying to ignore her physical presence at his side, trying to calm down his racing heart.

 

“Honestly... I didn't want to be here. I knew Callie would convince you to come eventually.” he whispered back, and turned toward her, and she was so damn close that he could see her shimmering eyes and the line of her nose, the shadows under her lips stroking her chin. His eyes flickered briefly on her lips but he forced them back on her eyes.

 

Abby said nothing at first, and then smirked, bowing her head, moving slightly far away from him.

 

“Truth.” she said, without waiting for him to ask. Marcus kept staring at her, while she gazed at the ocean.

 

“Are we ever gonna be friends again?” he asked, feeling the way his words slowly burned his heart. He swallowed, waiting. Abby at that lowered her eyes on the sand, then looked back at him straight in the eyes, her expression was covered in shadows, she was unreadable.

 

“We've never been friends, Marcus.” she whispered, and her voice was so smoky, so thick, so warm, that he suddenly fell speechless. Then she leaned closer, tilted her head, her eyes searching for something in his, something he didn't know how to give her.

 

“Truth or dare Marcus?” she asked him, a velvety whisper that warmed up his cheeks, her eyes were fixed on his lips while she waited for his answer, her eyes just half open. Marcus swallowed, his throat felt suddenly too tight.

 

“Dare...” he chocked out, it was embarrassing how she was affecting him, even after all those years, she was still able to melt him with a stare, and shift every of his shapes according to her own will.

 

“Finish what you started twenty years ago.” she said, and her dark eyes moved higher, she locked their gazes, and the weight of her stare made him swallow again. His heart was growing in his chest, and deeply inside he knew what she was trying to do, he knew what she wanted. The worse part was that she knew that it was what he wanted too, what he had always wanted, since the first day.

 

She was waiting, no hurry, she was calm as the sea in front of them, and silent as the night that was concealing their shadows. His eyes landed on her lips and he felt how his tongue started to tingle in his mouth, and how desperately he wanted to lean toward her, close that gap between them and trap her lips into a bruising kiss.

 

But he could never.

 

He would never.

 

He should never.

 

“I... I don't think we should...” he started to whisper, and could see in the way she lowered her eyes and parted her lips, that she was once again disappointed. “Abby, I think-” but she shushed him, raising one hand.

 

“It's ok Marcus.” she whispered, and fixed her gaze toward the ocean once again. “You have to drink.” she said sternly, and he could see that she was once again angry at him.

 

She was angry because he had not done what she had asked, typical. Except that this time she hadn't ask him to support her on some project he didn't believe in, or some kind of wild idea that she had had while falling asleep at night. They weren't kids anymore, this wasn't college, this was life, the real one. This time she had asked him to do something he had wanted to do, something he had started and had never finished.

 

She had asked him to make a decision. She wanted him to do what he had never had the gut to.

 

She was asking him to kiss her, just as it had almost happened twenty years earlier. But he was a coward, and she knew that. Even now that he had nothing more to lose, even now that nobody was there, preventing him to do so, even now that she was asking him to... he was still a coward and couldn't do it.

 

He took the bottle in his hand, opened it, raised it to his lips... and then stopped, frowning.

 

No.

 

He rested it on the sand once again, and Abby blinked toward him.

 

“What are you doing?” she asked quietly, faking a lack of interest in what he was doing. Marcus inhaled deeply, collecting the courage he had never found back then, and shifted in front of her. Abby blinked in confusion, he took her cold hands in his and cleared his throat.

 

“I'm gonna do what I started twenty years ago.” he whispered, and could see a flash of something in her eyes, something that he could only define as fear.

 

“You don't have to. Is just a game Marcus.” she whispered, it was pitch black but he could see the way she swallowed, or the way her eyes were shifting nervously from his eyes to his lips.

 

“No.” he shook his head, sighing slightly. “It's not just a game Abby.” he said, and with that she fell quiet and waited. He observed every detail he could catch of her in the dark, then his thumbs started circling over her knuckles, and she shivered, probably half for the wind caressing her wet skin and half because of him.

 

“I never told you how I felt.” he said, and his eyes were now fixed on his fingers, moving carefully on her hands. “I was a coward.” he said, and felt how true those words sounded, and also how somehow the weight on his shoulders had already started to lift. “I was so angry when you picked Jake... I thought that it had to be me. But I was wrong, because I didn't deserve you back then, I don't deserve you now and I will never...” he said, his eyes met hers, she was listening carefully.

 

“I'm sorry. I was an idiot, I thought that I didn't care about you, but that was just because you were in love with someone else. I thought I could go on with my life with or without you.” now he was angry with himself, how stupid of him to even think something like that. “Truth is Abby... that I never stopped missing you since the day I left you.” he whispered, and now his eyes were heavy with new tears, and the dark shadow of Abby was blurring in front of him.

 

“I never stopped thinking about you, or how cruel I had been, how unfair... how stupid.” he sighed, and she sniffed, but kept silent, waiting for him to say it all. Then he withdrew from her, her hands fell on the sand, she didn't complain. He wiped away his tears, blinking his eyes to clear his view.

 

He looked at her, shaking his head slowly, pursing his lips, she was wide eyes, silent and shivering slightly. “I loved you so much.” he whispered, almost hissed, afraid of saying those words out loud. Afraid she could ran away. And like that, he had finished for real what he had started twenty years earlier. Abby sobbed at his words, her hands covering her mouth, she started to shake her head and sniffed back one tear after the other.

 

“You're such an idiot Marcus Kane.” she said, wiping her eyes with both hands. “Such an idiot...” she hissed, and Marcus nodded, bowing his head, biting at his lower lip, torturing the hem of his jacket with his fingers.

 

“I am.” he could only whisper. “And I'm sorr-” but Abby shushed him, leaning closer, as fast as she could, her “Shut up.” died on his lips when she crashed their mouth together and kissed him.

 

Her hands flew to his shoulders, gripping at the wet and dirty fabric of his jacket, her tears flew from her cheeks to his and she pressed her lips fiercely against him. “Stupid, stupid, stupid.” she kept murmuring, while he was still unable to respond to her, his muscles felt heavy under his skin, his bones were shivering. She withdrew, her forehead pressed against his, her breath hot on the tip of his nose.

 

“You. Are. An. Idiot.” she said, every word came out slowly and distinct. She opened her eyes, withdrew and wiped away few tears from his cheeks with her thumb. Her eyes started to melt into his, and how painful his heart was beating now, his lips still tingling from the contact with hers. He wanted to say something, but she was so close, so warm in his arms, his hands had found a spot on her tiny waist, she was shivering and he suddenly was unable to even think.

 

“I loved you too.” she whispered suddenly, and at that, he couldn't take it anymore, and this time his body was the one that crashed against hers, and his lips searched for hers. When they found each other, stars started to explode behind his eyelids.

 

She tasted as sparkling champagne and salty waves, she tasted as twenty years of unspoken arguments and a lifetime of regrets. She tasted as heaven and hell, and she was intoxicating. When they parted to breathe again, he wanted to say something else but she prevented him to, her hands forced his jacket off his shoulders, he parted his lips to protest but she forced him to stay quiet, leaning once again, her lips swallowing his thoughts.

 

Her hands felt so hot on him, she was burning as a bonfire in the middle of a cold forest, she was exactly as he had always thought, and even better. Her scent was filling him, and she smelled as the ocean, an ocean of unshed tears and broken whispers, she smelled as all those things he had wanted to say and had never found the gut to spit out.

 

Her tongue darted out her lips and met his, and she was so wet and warm and inviting, his heart was beating so fast he thought he could die, but her hands where sneaking under his shirt now and his mind stopped thinking, his body started reacting, his blood rushed southern, growing and giving him the strength to take her here and now.

 

Abby sighed when he pushed her on her back, he groaned at the sound and she bit at his lower lip. “Are we really doing this?” she asked, without stopping the torture on his lips, her tongue soothing wherever her teeth left a track.

 

“Shut up.” he groaned and at that she moaned, and he swallowed her sighs with another kiss, sucking at her bottom lip, then her lower one, then her tongue, teeth against teeth, her hands kept searching for the buttons of his shirt.

 

“Marcus...” she sighed suddenly, and the sound of his name, coming from her lips into a pleasant moan like that one, made him stop abruptly. He blinked his eyes open and withdrew slightly from her, searching for her eyes. She was panting heavily, looking at him slightly confused. “What is it?” she asked, her hands resting on his chest, right upon his heart.

 

Marcus couldn't give voice to his thoughts, he couldn't say anything, and so his hands traveled on her cheeks, and he stroked every feature he could touch, and then his fingers dived in her wet hair and he felt the sand trapped into them and the knots the ocean had formed, and he leaned forward once again.

 

She was breathing heavily under his weight, her chest raising and falling rapidly, her black dress stretching with every breath she took, clingy perfectly to her curves. “You're too much for me Abby.” he whispered, panting himself, his eyes closed, his nose tracing every touch of her scent.

 

Abby kept quiet for a while, until she forced him to look at her. “You're just talking shit now.” she spatted. “Nobody is too much for nobody. Take me here and now, or be the coward you had always been and run away once again!” she said, her tone was stern and authoritarian, but he could hear the feeble shiver that ran through her own words.

 

“Abby I...” but she shushed him, her index finger pressed on his lips.

 

“More acting, less talking.” she growled, and he wanted to follow her lead, oh he really wanted to, but he was feeling so ashamed, as if he was somehow abusing her, and he surely didn't want it to happen like that.

 

“I don't want to take advantage of you Abby I-” at his words Abby glared at him this time, pushing him away from her strongly.

 

“What the hell are you talking about?” she almost yelled, she was angry again.

 

Great job Marcus, as always.

 

“I just thought-” he tried to say again, but she stopped him.

 

“I'm not a schoolgirl anymore Marcus, I'm a grown woman and I can make my own decisions!” she said, kneeling on the sand, shaking her head in disbelief. “How can you think I would let you take advantage of me in any possible way? Do you think I am that weak?” she asked him, and how bad he was feeling suddenly.

 

“No Abby, I- damn.” he hissed, punching the sand under him. “Damn! I shouldn't be here, we shouldn't be doing this, is not fair.” he said, shaking his head over and over again. Abby was frowning now, looking at him with confused eyes.

 

“What are you talking about?” she whispered. Marcus looked at her, his hands never stopped shaking.

 

“I'm an idiot, a coward, I'm disgusting as always. Is not fair for me to have you like this, I'm not worth it. You deserve better. You deserved him, not me, and is not fair that I am the one that is here tonight, it shouldn't be me.” he said, sitting on the sand, leaning his head in the palm of his hands. And so the words were out finally, and he had spit it out. Abby at that shifted closer, her knees crawled on the sand.

 

“We can't change the past. You can't think this way. I don't want you to feel pity for me, I just want you to make me feel something else.” she whispered, but he couldn't listen to her words, feeling ashamed all over again, feeling an idiot all over again. “Listen to me, you are worth it. You deserve everything you are getting.” she said again, Marcus chuckled bitterly at that.

 

“I don't Abby. I don't deserve you, not now, not ever. I mean, I'm a coward, I'm not him, I'm not even half of the man he was, look at me, can't you see?” he said, gesturing to himself, raising his eyes to the sky above them. Abby sighed out and nodded.

 

“I am looking at you. And you know what I see?” she asked him, without waiting for an answer. She took his wrists in her hands, and forced him to look at her. “I see you.” she whispered, her dark eyes searching for comprehension in his irises. “I see you Marcus... And I don't want anyone else, I want you. Because I see you, I see you.” she kept whispering, while leaning over him once again, and this time her lips started to kiss his tears away.

 

She kissed his cheek, the curved line of his nose, the frown on his forehead, she kissed his pain away, his wrinkles, she warmed up his skin, softening his expression, pushing something that felt a lot like love and affection into him, with every touch of her lips, his heart slowed down its pace and his body melted under her warm breath.

 

“I just see you, and I want you to see me.” she whispered, and then kissed him on the lips, a tender soft kiss, lips hugging lips, her tongue remained respectively inside of her mouth and she still tasted salty as the ocean, and she tasted as heaven and hell once again, and he was drunk, and his mind was dizzy, and he closed his eyes and started losing himself into her, all over again.

 

She didn't say anything else, while pulling him gently toward her, her lips never stopped kissing him, and she guided his shirt away from his body, and her hands wondered over his chest, his heart was beating loudly now, his blood rushing in his ears. When she sighed in his mouth, he felt her voice reverberating inside of his throat, and his hands gripped her by the waist and she moaned louder, and could he be damned if he stopped now.

 

When his fingers started circling on the lace concealing her sides and her back, she bit his lower lip and he groaned, and she parted her lips, he dived his tongue inside her mouth and she tasted sweet there, warm, almost burning, as a dying star in the sky.

 

“Don't stop now. Or I swear I'll kill you.” she hissed, while her hands dived in his hair, and frantically she kept kissing his lips, her fingers torturing his dark locks, and her sighs kept growing in his mouth, her tongue dancing with his own. His fingers traveled higher and when he found the zipper, he felt how she nodded against his mouth. “Do it. Do it.” she whispered, while her lips traveled on his neck and there she started to suck and lick, and Marcus had to stop a moment to enjoy the feeling without dying in pleasure.

 

“Abby, be gentle or we aren't going that far.” he hissed, she chuckled mischievously against his pulse point, and that was the sexiest sound he had ever heard in his life. His hands worked the zipper rapidly, and the fabric of her dress started to shift on her skin, and he could now touch her for real, no fancy fabric between him and her, just warm skin under pulsing fingertips. She was panting heavily and loudly now, her breath reaching and withdrawing his skin as the ocean waves lap at the shore.

 

His hands kept traveling on her back, tracking her spine with his nails, she shivered and hissed. “Damn you Marcus.” she said in his ear, biting at his earlobe, and he groaned, nuzzling in the crook of her neck, and at that she leaned her head back and he started biting and licking her sensitive spots, drawing long and guttural moans from her. Every touch was answered by a new sound, and he was enjoying himself way too much, savoring her taste with his tongue, being able finally to give her the pleasure she deserved.

 

“Don't stop. Don't you dare to stop.” she kept panting, while he kept sucking her creamy skin and his hands slowly kept undressing her. The fancy dress stopped moving when it met his chin, he withdrew at that and looked down, where it was resting, trapped between their bodies. He looked at her, her cheeks were probably flushed now, but he couldn't see her in the darkness around them, and this was a real shame, she was probably quiet a view.

 

“Are you sure?” he asked her, because he couldn't help himself. Abby at that withdrew his hands from her dress and for a moment he thought she had changed her mind. But then, she gripped the hem of it and started to push it down her body, slowly and agonizingly.

 

“I want you to see me Marcus.” she whispered, and kept pushing down the fabric, revealing inch by inch the sweetness of her bare skin. And his eyes fell on the valley between her breasts, and the swell of them, and how soft they seemed and his tongue was water, and his blood was fire.

 

“You're staring.” Abby said, a smirk coloring her teasing voice, he hummed, his eyes shifted from her new exposed skin to her eyes, and probably his desire was visible in his stare, because Abby blinked and widened her eyes, and parted her lips, and started panting heavily.

 

“Can't help it.” he groaned and then attacked her neck, savoring the sweetness of her creamy skin, and she moaned, and he growled. His lips kept traveling over her pulse point, and he moved southern, meeting the swell of her breasts, and there he smiled, and there he nuzzled in her impossible soft flesh.

 

She kept whispering soft Ohs and Yesses here and there, filling the silence around them with pure pleasure. His hands kept pushing down the dress, and he could feel now the toned muscles of her stomach, and the skin over her hips, or how her bones under his fingers were shivering. And when he couldn't keep undressing her from that angle, he pushed her on her back, and she obliged him. Her hands pushed away his shirt once and for all, and she smiled, he could hear how her lisp stretched around her moans.

 

He pushed the dress down, until it reached her feet and she kicked it away, he chuckled in her neck and then her hands were in his hair- She kept stroking for a while, until he could clearly feel how she had started to pull him higher to kiss him, but he shook his head. “Not yet.” he growled and she inhaled loudly, and he kept traveling down over her almost naked body and...

 

Wasn't she beautiful?

 

Squirming and whimpering under his touch, his lips mapping and tasting, discovering every shade of her taste. How sweet she was where her flesh was softer, how the saltiness of the ocean had been trapped just in specific spots over her body. He kept kissing every inch with passion, savoring the way her muscles shifted and moved under her creamy skin. She gasped when his fingers graced her hips, and she moaned when his breath reached her core, sneaking through the light fabric of her panties.

 

“Marcus you have to do something, or I'm gonna die.” she hissed to the sky, he smiled and she chuckled. Then he looked at her from where he was staying, right over her center, breathing heavily, her feminine scent invading him, his tongue was water once again, his body was suffering inside those clingy clothes.

 

“You're beautiful Abby.” he whispered, and saw the way her lips curved into a smile, and when she licked them and hummed he pushed her legs open. He wanted to taste her, completely. Abby didn't protest, on the contrary, her body started to melt under his hands, she was clay and he could shape her as he wanted to.

 

He pushed the fabric of her panties down, revealing slowly her pulsing core, she gasped when the night breeze reached her burning flesh, and he smiled while pushing them down, until she was naked, wearing just her bra. He didn't ask her permission this time, and his fingers started to move toward her folds, and there he stopped, she shivered when his cold touch met her warm wetness and he sighed.

 

It was finally happening, and he couldn't stop staring and listening. The way she responded at his touch, the way her body moved and whispered to him to give her more, the way his own body was aching with the need to be inside of her. He stopped thinking though, when she parted her legs even more and he could feel her completely around his index finger.

 

She was wet, and hot, and she felt amazing under his touch, and he stroked, and circled, discovering every spot he could reach. She gasped for a while, her hips circling on the sand. Surely tomorrow the both of them were going to face an huge infection, but right now, neither of them could care less.

 

When he found the bulge of sensitive nerves that made her tremble and squirm, she moaned. “There, yes, right there.” she whispered, and he nodded, even if she couldn't see him, and he circled his index finger, massaging the same spot over and over again, slowly and lazily for a while, until he couldn't wait any longer and had to dive his mouth on her. His tongue darted out, and he touched her, she gasped louder. “Oh yes, yes, oh please yes.” he smiled against her wetness and then started working her with his mouth.

 

Every stroke of his tongue drew a different sound from her, his fingers were squeezing her thighs, and his lips were the only thing giving her pleasure, and wasn't she amazing when she was moaning?

 

Every part of her was mesmerizing, her taste, her scent, her sounds, every detail was burning in his mind now, giving him pleasure by simply working her to her own climax. When he started to feel her shaking with less control under his lips, he dived one finger inside her core, and felt how open and wet she was, how inviting that little cocoon of flesh and muscles felt.

 

Then was when she started to moan a long series of throaty “Yes yes yes yes yes yes” and he kept pushing and pulling his fingers inside of her, feeling how her inner walls kept moving around it, feeling how her body was giving up under the waves of pleasure that were building in her core. He dived a second finger then and started to push even deeper, at that she arched her back, he kissed her stomach, her hands found his hair and she squeezed his locks between her fingers.

 

“Oh don't you dare to stop Marcus!” she ordered him, and he found it fascinating the way she could sound welcoming and authoritarian at the same time, but he obliged her. His fingers kept moving inside of her, until her moans turned into cries of pleasure and her body blessed her, and him, with a loud and squirming orgasm.

 

When her body stopped convulsing under his hands, he slowed the pace, following the rhythm of her breathing, until she looked at him, a lopsided smile on her lips, his fingers still buried inside of her. “Come here.” she whispered, and he smiled, taking back his fingers, licking them clean. When he looked up again, he caught her staring, the expression on her face was priceless.

 

“I couldn't waste this chance.” he murmured, and she bit at her lower lip, covering her face with her hands.

 

“You're impossible.” she hissed, and then dragged him toward her, and they kissed. She savored herself on his lips, and how erotic was that, he moaned and she bit at his lower lip. “It's your turn.” she said, and switched their position.

 

“I'm good.” he lied, because he knew they couldn't finish what they had started, not here, not now, not like that, with sand all over their bodies, without protections and comfort. But Abby smirked and kissed him, forcing him on his back.

 

“No you're not, I can see it, you know?” she said, a grin blossoming on her lips. Marcus wanted to protest again, but her hands were working his belt away, and then the buttons of his pants, and he was a man of honor yes, but also just human.

 

She kissed him one last time and then moved south, and he knew already that he was probably going to die tonight. “Abby, you don't have to-” but she groaned and shushed him, taking his length in her hand easily and rapidly, and he was already breathless.

 

“Oh damn.” he hissed, and she chuckled softly, and then started moving slowly her hand around his shaft, and how good even just that touch felt. She kept weighting him in her palm, until he could feel the warmth of her breath on the tip of his member, and his eyes rolled in the back of his head, especially when her tongue darted out and she licked him, slowly and tenderly.

 

He sighed, and she kissed him, then her tongue started to dance from the bottom to the top of his length, and he wanted to hold onto something, he needed to, but there was nothing except for miles and miles of sand around them. Her tongue kept moving slowly at first, and then quickening the pace, licking every inch it could reach, dancing around his sensitive spots, savoring and learning.

 

“Oh my god Abby.” he whispered, and she hummed, kissing where her tongue had licked, and then opened her mouth and invited him in. And there he lost control over his own body. His hips bounced higher, and she pressed one hand on his stomach, forcing him to stay still. He wanted to apologize, but his throat was constricted, while her lips and tongue and whole mouth started to suck and lick and kiss, and simply drive him crazy.

 

“Oh Abby.” he hissed when he could speak again and she smiled against his pulsing sex, and he couldn't help himself, and felt the need to look down at her, because it was almost ridiculous how good and spectacular that situation was. When his eyes adjusted again to the dark, he saw her, she was bowing over him, her long wet messy hair were scattered all over his body, one hand was pressing on his stomach, her fingers bouncing with every move he made. She was smiling while licking and kissing him, and he could see now how she was actually enjoying herself.

 

And like that he was done. He laid down again, and she opened her mouth and took him inside once again completely, and his blood started rushing toward her mouth in full force, and dozens of waves of pleasure started to build up in the pit of his stomach, he was close, he had to warn her.

 

“Abby, I'm close-Oh so close!” he hissed, but she didn't stop.

 

“It's ok.” she said, and started to stroke him faster, squeezing him harder, sucking deeper.

 

Oh.

 

Marcus couldn't say if it was the thought the Abby wanted to stay there while he reached his own climax, or if it was the way she was able to make him feel like he was about to explode in pleasure, thanks just to her mouth, but suddenly he felt that unmistakable rush of burning pleasure, that wave after wave started traveling right into Abby's mouth.

 

And there he reached his climax, and he was over the edge, and his heart was rushing in his chest, and his body started shivering under Abby's lips, and she didn't stop until he was completely empty. When the blood descended from his ears and he could hear, think and breathe again, he blinked his eyes open.

 

There she was, looking at him with a tender smile on her lips, tilting her head as a curious animal. She was beautiful even in the darkness of the night, she was beautiful even with the sand in her hair, she was beautiful in every possible way.

 

I still love you. That was the thought that passed through his mind, but he swallowed and kept it for himself.

 

“So?” she teased him, smirking. “You are good now, aren't you?” she asked, and he could only chuckle softly, pulling her toward him.

 

“Shut up Abby.” he hissed, kissing away her next chuckle.

 

 

 

 

When the sand had started to feel too uncomfortable under their almost completely naked bodies, Abby had dragged him with her in the ocean, and when she had dived in, completely naked this time, he had followed.

 

They had circled between the waves until their skins were clean again, and when their bodies had started to drawn one toward the other again, they had kissed and hugged and stroked and licked, savoring the moment once again.

 

Abby had laughed and giggled as a schoolgirl in his arms, and how free and alive he had felt. All over again they were 17 and 19 years old, no kids, no responsibilities, no worries. Just the carefree sensation of being alive. When the water had started to feel too cold, they had emerged again, and had walked on the sand, hand brushing hand, naked bodies trickling drops of salty water on their steps.

 

Then, when their clothes had been cleaned by the sand, more or less, they had dressed again, and had sat down on an abandoned paddle boat.

 

“We could have used this one.” Abby said, after a long moment of silence. Marcus chuckled and shook his head.

 

“But we've always been messy Abby, you should know that.” he said, smiling. Abby chuckled and nodded.

 

“We are, aren't we?” she sighed, her eyes on the ocean in front of them. Marcus stared at her, trying to read her into the darkness.

 

“We should go back to the others.” he whispered, at his words Abby smiled shyly.

 

“We should...” she whispered, and then looked at him, her eyes felt lighter this time. Marcus could read in them a silent unspoken question, and he wanted to answer her, but he didn't know how.

 

“It's not true by the way.” she whispered, Marcus frowned.

 

“What?” he asked, swallowing, the saltiness of the ocean was prickling his throat, he was thirsty.

 

“You said that you didn't deserve me... Is not true.” she whispered, licking her lips. “It's funny though, because I always thought I was the one.” she added, shrugging. Marcus frowned and shook his head.

 

“Oh Abby, you still can't see how special you are, can you?” he said, and at that Abby smiled and tilted her head.

 

“What about you Marcus?” she said, leaning closer, kissing him on the cheek, stroking the same spot with her thumb. “You still think you are not worth it?” she asked, her eyes fixed on his face. Marcus pursed his lips and looked at her intensely.

 

“I don't know if I am. Or what I deserve.” he said, bowing his head to the ground, his feet were dived in the soft sand, dancing under it. Abby leaned her head on his shoulder, looking at the horizon.

 

“Then don't ask yourself that, just take what comes to you.” she whispered, her warm voice reverberating in his chest, shaking his heart. Marcus at that smiled, and started to look at the horizon himself.

 

They staid there quietly for a while, listening to the ocean waves, to their own breaths, reminding them of how close they were, how that night had changed everything, without solving a thing.

 

They couldn't say what was coming for them, twenty years are a lifetime, people can change, and maybe they are enough to forgive a man... but surely not enough to forget a woman.

 

When they had walked back to the others, trying to not look too messy, they had been greeted by tired smiles, as they were used to back in the past. Abby had sat down at Callie's side, she had hugged her friend and in her eyes there was the light of understanding. She had kept quiet, and had held her there at her side.

 

Marcus had sat between Abby and Sinclair, Thelonious had flashed him a tired smile and the five of them had staid there in silence, enjoying the sounds of the ocean, staring at the new morning sun, that was growing behind the horizon.

 

And once again they had jumped back in time, and they were not adults anymore, no kids, no responsibilities, no worries, just tired eyes staring at the horizon. They were again them as they were used to be, except that one of them was missing, but they were still not ready to talk about it. And questions as “Now what?” or “Should we talk about what happened between us?”  weren't important, no doubts, no questions, no answers for tonight.

 

They all lived the moment, and waited for the next day to give them the answers. In the end, it had been just a night, and how it has started, it eventually would have ended.