“No, we’re good. We packed a picnic. Before we go, I just wanted to check if there’s anything you need us to do or to pick up before the wedding?”

“Nope. All taken care of,” she tells us. “Go have fun.”

“Okay. We’ll see you later.” He kisses the side of her head.

“Bye,” I say. “Bye, Jester.”

I wave at him, and he whines and wriggles in Vaughn’s mom’s arms. I feel mean, leaving him behind.

I follow Vaughn out the door.

“That dog fucking loves you,” he says as we walk over to his car.

“I’m very lovable.” I give a comedic flick of my hair, sashaying my hips as I walk.

“That, you are,” he says. There’s something different in his voice. He doesn’t sound as light as he did a second ago.

I glance at him, but whatever expression he was wearing is gone, and his face is schooled. “And, of course, you have a hot ass,” he adds with a grin.

“That the sun shines out of,” I remind him.

“Yeah, we should check that out later.”

“The sun shining out of my ass?”

“Mmhmm. For scientific purposes, of course.” His hand finds his way to my butt, giving it a squeeze.

“Scientific purposes? Sure, West.” I laugh. “Well, check away, buddy, but there’ll be no sticking of anything in my sun-shining ass.”

“Spoilsport.” He sighs dramatically, making me laugh again.

We both climb in the car and buckle up.

“You want some music on?” he asks me when he fires up the engine.

“What have you got?”

“There are some CDs in the glove box,” he tells me as he puts the car in drive.

I open it up and pull out a CD case. I start flicking through it. “I didn’t know you liked Nirvana,” I say, coming across Nevermind in his CDs.

“The question should be, who doesn’t like Nirvana?”

“Right?” I smile. “Nick doesn’t like their music.”

“And you’re friends with him why?” He takes his eyes off the road for a second to look at me, giving a teasing smile.

My stomach fills with warmth. I love that we both love Nirvana.

“It was a bone of contention in the beginning of our friendship, but because he understood my love of clothes, I decided to overlook it.” I twist in my seat, bringing my knees up, so I can look at him. “Which is your favorite song?”

“‘Lithium,’” he states. “Yours?”

“I’m always torn between ‘Come As You Are’ and ‘Heart-Shaped Box.’”

“Both are great,” he says.

“What do you think of the Foo Fighters?”

“That they’re life.”

I smile, agreeing. “Dave Grohl’s kinda hot, too,” I admit.

“Nah, he’s not my type.” He glances at me, smiling. “I like ’em cute and blonde. Oh, yeah, and female.”

“With pink and lilac highlights.”

“Of course.” He reaches over and tugs on a lock of my hair. “There should be a couple of Foo Fighters albums in there as well,” he tells me.

“We’ll listen to them on the way back. I kinda want to listen to Nirvana now.” I pull the CD from the case and insert it into the CD player. I put the case back in the glove box just as “Smells Like Teen Spirit” starts to play.

I relax back in my seat and reach over to rest my hand on Vaughn’s thigh, squeezing it. He takes ahold of my hand, linking our fingers together, and he doesn’t let go for the rest of the journey.


Vaughn pulls into a parking lot. There are hardly any cars here. He parks the farthest away from the other cars and turns the engine off.

He takes his hat from my head and pulls it on. “Come on, gorgeous,” he says to me.

We climb out of the car. He gets the picnic basket and blanket from the backseat.

I meet him around the back of the car. I take the blanket from him, leaving him with the picnic basket.

Taking my hand, Vaughn leads me off, and we start to walk up the road together.

“We’ll take one of the trails up to the picnic area,” he tells me.


We venture off the main road and onto one of the trails, which gives me a view of the lake.

“Holy shit.” I come to a stop, tugging on his arm.

“Amazing, right?”

“It’s stunning.” And it is. It’s a beautiful huge hole in the earth filled with the bluest water I’ve ever seen. The forestry surrounding it is spectacular.

“Come on.” He tugs on my arm. “You’ll be able to get a better view when we get to the picnic spot. It’s just a little further up.”

We walk for a little while longer and then come to a clearing. He wasn’t kidding; the view is spectacular.

“I have to take a picture.” I go to my pocket to get my phone, and then I realize it’s still in the trunk of Vaughn’s car.

Weird that I haven’t felt the urge to use it until now.

“Crap, it’s still in your car,” I tell him.

“Do you want me to go get it?”

“No, it’s fine. Don’t worry.”

I set the blanket out on the grass, and Vaughn puts the basket on it.

I step a little closer to the edge. “What’s that in the middle? An island?” I ask him.

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