I was startled when Zack came back up to me. I think he asked me something but I was lost in thought so I didn't hear him.
"Pardon?" I asked.
He then surprised me further by asking if I wanted an ice cream. It was only ten o'clock but I was intrigued by his change in mood and even slightly hopeful - hearing him talk about his old girlfriend had made me wonder if I could really become his new one, especially when he was still a bit heart-broken - so I accepted his offer.
He bought us both watermelon-flavoured ice cream, seeming surprised that such a one existed.
I asked him about his sudden change of heart and he hesitated, saying he needed to take his mind off of things. I could understand that. It maybe meant that there would be a little distance between us but this was progress from him leaving me alone on a beach after pouring his heart out to me and making me feel like all we could ever be was friends.
I suggested we spent the day being carefree.
I was bewildered when he wanted to know things about me. I was also slightly confused... What type of relationship did he want us to have? I'd felt sure that he needed more time to get over Jade (and I could totally respect that - in fact, I'd think him a better person for it: I certainly didn't want to imagine him getting over me quickly if we ever did go out) but now it wasn't clear. I decided I was going to just be friendly so there wouldn't be any awkwardness over a misunderstanding.
I told him my life wasn't anything special.
The conversation continued. I found out his age and his job and I told him my age and the fact I didn't have a job.
We had both finished our ice creams so I asked "Ready to become carefree?"
He told me he was right behind me which made my heart beat a little faster. I wonder if he had guessed I liked him.
I led him out to one of my favourite places. It was like a sort of den on another beach where boulders formed an incomplete circular wall in which I liked to sit and read or think. It felt very intimate and as he stepped in through the gap between two of the massive grey rocks, I wished I had taken him somewhere else. This place was thought-provoking, a place of wonder and mystery. I'd told him today was going to be carefree. My heart beat faster and I internally cringed.
"Wow, nice hideout," Zack said, pushing back a few strands of his brown hair from his face.
"Yeah," I mumbled, uncomfortable in the small space. I felt trapped. It wasn't that I was frightened of Zack (he seemed a nice guy), it was just that here I could get too relaxed and start revealing my feelings for him. Here something might happen that wasn't meant to. The atmosphere was disguising its electricity with the usual mystery of the den but I felt that a tiny spark would pull the covers off what I was trying to hide. I desperately wanted to kiss him but he might kiss back out of inspiration from the surroundings and then tell me he didn't mean it or he might back away and leave me alone and desolate.
"Are you okay?" he asked, looking concerned.
Oh damn, was it that obvious?
"I'm fine," I said quickly. I sat down on the sand. Zack sat opposite me.
"It's very cosy here," Zack said with a not-quite-there roguish smile. He was ... trying to flirt with me?
"I'm sorry," I said. "I couldn't think of anything to do and I usually come here when I've got things on my mind so my legs probably led me here in the hope that I could settle them." To be honest, I wasn't really concentrating on what I was saying ( I was far too preoccupied with my thoughts) but I saw Zack's brow furrow and wished I had just asked him if he had a better idea of where we could go.
"There's something on your mind?" he asked.
"It's not important," I said dismissively but felt my cheeks flush with embarrassment.
"Are you sure?" he asked dubiously.
Zack seemed to shrug and I breathed a faint sigh of relief.
"So, what did you want to do?" he asked.
Kiss you, I thought and was terrified that that was going to be my reply until I said "Er, talk, I suppose."
"Talk," Zack repeated slowly. He looked slightly uncomfortable too now. "Um, okay. What about?"
"Um, d'you like surfing?" I asked randomly, saying the first thing that popped into my head.
Zack looked startled by my question. He also looked slightly relieved as if he'd expected the conversation to go down a different route entirely.
"Um, yeah. You?"
"I've never done it before," I replied, instantly wanting to curl up into a ball.
I saw the question in Zack's eyes (why ask if you don't do it yourself?) but it was too late to change my answer and besides, I had a feeling all lies would fall through.
"Er, okay," was what Zack said but I could tell he thought I was weird. It was a shame - we'd had a really pleasant time at the café. Why couldn't I have just taken him to the park or something?
I decided that if I'd ruined it slightly, I might as well destroy it completely. There was no chance at all that he'd consider me for a girlfriend now.
"Isn't it magical here?" I asked, my heart splintering to pieces.
Zack's face, amazingly, brightened up. "Yeah, it is. How long have you known about it?"
Excited, I replied "Since I was about nine. I was wandering around one day and I just suddenly saw it and thought 'Wow, that looks like an interesting place.' Ever since then, it's been a place where I could seek comfort, reflect upon things or just ... get away from life."
Zack nodded, looking as if he would have felt the same had he been the one to discover it.
"I could have done with a place like this the day Jade..." He trailed off, looking sad.
Oh no, I thought. I've reminded him of Jade. Quick, think of a different subject...
"So did you consider getting with anyone else after her?" Not that one, I hissed at myself but it was too late. I wanted to crawl into a corner of a cave and die there.
Zack looked startled. "Er, no."
I buried my face in my hands, everything becoming too much. "I am so sorry," I whispered. "I just didn't have anything to talk about. And I didn't want you to become upset although I've made it worse now. Oh, I'm so stupid, such an idiot..."
I stopped as I noticed arms around me.
"I guess I should be confused and yeah, I am, but you seem like a well-intentioned girl - I can tell you didn't mean to ask," Zack said. Oh no, I couldn't deal with him being this close, not here!
Zack laughed. "I wondered if you were just being really forward." I could tell he was trying to be nice. "But it's not your fault if you don't know what to say."
"It is," I said, fighting tears. "I'm an idiot and I should never have brought you here."
Zack leant backwards, letting go of me. He looked confused.
Oh, you've dug yourself a hole, Violet, I thought.
Zack gazed at me intently. I felt like I was falling into those hazel-coloured depths and I just wanted to fall faster.
"Tell me why," he said, gently but persuasively. I couldn't resist that voice; in fact, I couldn't resist any part of him. So why even try? an annoying voice in the back of my mind asked.
I looked away from that compelling gaze. "No," I said, not caring how stubborn I sounded. I was not telling him that. I didn't care if he thought I was crazy or even childish, I was not telling him what I felt for him.
"Are you ... worried you've led me on?" Zack asked hesitantly.
I looked up at him sharply. "Led you on?" I asked.
Zack looked even more uncomfortable. "Yeah."
I decided to take the exit route he'd offered me. "Yes," I lied, hoping he wouldn't think about the fact that I flirted with him this morning.
Zack looked unhappy, as if he'd hoped I'd tell him I actually felt something for him. Not commenting on what I'd said, he stood up and said "Come on, let's leave this place if it's not very conversation-inspiring."
I stood up, sighing resignedly. I didn't want to lie to him but I was not about to declare unrequited love for someone.
We left the boulders and I followed Zack this time, not trusting my judgement of where was a good place to go.