“Okay, but it didn’t,” I say reasonably. “And I don’t think you did anything wrong. They swung at you first and you didn’t hit Brad, you just warned him. I think you’re being a bit hard on yourself…What did you do to get arrested before?”
“It was after my parents were killed in that crash,” he says dismally. “I struggled to deal with it for a while. My grief seemed to come out as anger. I was just raging all the time. Then I was out at a bar one night and I saw this guy push his girlfriend, and I just saw red. I threw him over the bar. They called the cops and I was arrested. It was all over the papers when they realized I was a CEO… it was horrendously embarrassing at work.”
He’s looking down at his hands, as though he is waiting for me to reject him or something. I shake my head.
“Alex, I get that must have been really mortifying for you, but again, you were protecting someone. You’ve done your sentence.”
Alex looks up and his eyes are shining with such raw emotion that it takes my breath away. I’ve never seen him look so vulnerable.
“I thought it would…well, put you off me.”
“Not at all,” I whisper, leaning forward to kiss him. Our mouths come together in a kiss that is somehow both passionate and tender, and as he pulls me into him, I straddle his thighs and sit across his lap.
“I don’t think anything could put me off you,” I whisper.
“You’re not angry I didn’t tell you before?”
I shrug. “I’m not sure I’ve got a leg to stand on with that. I did let you kiss me, knowing that you didn’t have a clue who I was. I would say we’re pretty even now.”
He grins at me.
“Does Dad know?”
“Sure. He’s been a good friend throughout it all…another reason I don’t want to upset him. I’m hoping he knows that I wouldn’t do this unless I was completely serious about you, which I am.”
“I reckon he’ll come round,” I muse. “He couldn’t pick a better man for me himself.”
Alex laughs and pulls me in for another kiss, but my phone rings.
It’s my father.
Jenny looks at me with wide eyes as she picks up her phone to answer the call. I wonder how far away Jeff is, and steel myself for the difficult conversation we are about to have. Part of me wishes Jenny and I had made love last night, as I feel like I run the risk of losing her as soon as Jeff finds out. But I want to do this properly, like a man should. I’m a man who knows what he wants and I want Jenny.
“Hey Dad,” Jenny answers the call and I hear the strain in her voice. Then she frowns.
“Oh no,” she says in an odd tone and her eyes flicker up to me. Her expression is unreadable.
“Is everything all right?” I ask. Jenny nods.
“Dad says hi,” she says and I can’t help but wince. I say ‘hi’ back, then frown at Jenny, sensing that something is going on. All I can hear is her series of ‘hmm’s.’ Finally she puts the phone down and grimaces as though she doesn’t know quite whether to cry or frown.
“The work won’t be finished until tomorrow morning, so he won’t be with us until tomorrow afternoon. He’ll be here for dinner but he’s going to miss the fireworks tonight. He’s so disappointed.”
“I bet,” I say with genuine sympathy, but I still can’t deny that I’m glad I get more time with Jenny on her own.
“We can watch them together, if you want to?” I suggest. She nods and then her cheeks go red.
“I know what you said about waiting, but…”
“Go on,” I prompt.
She gives me a coy look from under her eyelashes.
“You said you wanted my first time…our first time…to be special?”
She hesitates, then says in a rush.
“I can’t think of anything more amazing than losing my virginity on my favorite beach, under the fireworks for the Fourth of July…with you.”
I can’t think of anything more amazing either, and my whole body floods with warmth at the thought of it.
“I mean let’s face it, my Dad will be just as mad whether we have actually slept together or not, and frankly that is none of his business. It seems a shame to waste tonight when it’s our last chance before the shit hits the fan.”
I grin at her crude words which are at such odds with that angelic face. I can’t argue with her logic.
I reach for her hand across the table.
“Yes, sweetheart,” is all I say.
Later we walk down to the beach and she shows me the way through the sand dunes and onto a tiny cove with an amazing view across the bay that I know will be perfect to watch the fireworks going off at the main beach. Surrounded by sand dunes, a small strip of perfect, almost white sand runs into the warm ocean, blue and frothy white against the beach, A huge full moon hangs in the sky as though watching over us and I have to concede that Jenny is right, this couldn’t be more perfect.