It was the Fourth of July and Derek had a barbecue set up in the backyard, grilling burgers and hot dogs. We both had invited a few of our closest friends over to celebrate, and then we'd all go see the fireworks at Harbor Island later tonight.
Ever since Derek and I had gotten into that huge argument over me going out, he didn't care what I did anymore or when I'd get home. It was the least he could do given his already rotten attitude.
The sun was glaring down on me as I sat by the pool, reading my favorite book. It was nearly ninety degrees today, but at least there was a slight breeze.
I looked up when I heard the sound of clacking heels rushing towards me, followed by a squeal.
"Claire, I haven't seen you in ages!", she exclaimed, throwing her arms around me. She looked absolutely gorgeous in her dark blue sundress, which also complemented her eyes.
"We just saw each other last week," I reminded her with a laugh.
"I know, but it felt so long ago," she said, pouting her lips.
"Hey, Claire," Elliot greeted me with a warm smile. He was tall and well-built, with dirty blonde hair and light brown eyes.
"Hi, Elliot. How have you been?", I asked.
"Great. Now, where should I set this watermelon? By the way, you've got a sick house. This backyard is incredible," he commented. I didn't even notice the giant watermelon in his hands until he'd mentioned it.
"You can leave it on the table. And thanks. I still think it's way too big for just two people, though."
"That's why you have kids," Elliot said with a wink before heading over to where Derek was.
A half hour later, everyone else showed up. We were all outside in the sun, eating and talking. It was nice getting to reunite with my old girlfriends from college.
I'd glance over at Derek every once in a while to see what he was doing. Around his friends, he acted like a normal human being, laughing and cracking jokes. It was just me he treated like trash.
For dessert, I brought out the giant chocolate cake that I had baked. There was red, white, and blue frosting on it to go with the Fourth of July theme, too.
"Oh my god, this tastes like heaven. Way to go, Claire," Stephen, one of Derek's friends, complimented.
"Thanks," I said with a smile.
"You're a lucky guy, Derek," he added, giving his friend a playful punch on the shoulder.
I looked towards my husband to see what his reaction was. His eyes came in direct contact with mine and just as I thought he was about to frown or something, a smile formed on his lips.
"I know," Derek said, taking a sip of his beer as he continued to stare at me.
I blinked twice to make sure my eyes weren't deceiving me. He was actually smiling. What was this madness?
"Hey, Derek, can we swim now?", his other friend, Landon, blurted.
"Huh? Oh yeah, go ahead," he spoke in a distracted tone.
All the guys immediately took off their shirts and jumped into the pool along with my friends, Hannah and Stacy, who both had bikinis on.
"Are you coming in?", Charlotte asked me, standing at the edge of the pool with my other friend, Lexi.
"In a little bit."
"Ok," she said before doing a perfect dive into the water.
I walked over to Derek, who was busy bringing the leftover food back into the house. I grabbed a slice of watermelon then followed him to the kitchen.
"Do you need any help?", I asked.
He turned around at the sound of my voice and that's when I noticed how tan he'd gotten from being out in the sun. It was a very nice color on him.
"No, I got it. You can go swimming with your friends. I'll be out there in a minute after I clean up," he replied. He was about to head outside again when I stopped him.
"Derek, can I ask you something?"
"Sure," he said, leaning against the counter. I hesitated for a moment before speaking.
"When Stephen said that you were a lucky guy, were-,"
"Let me guess, you wanna know if I was being honest when I agreed with him?", he interrupted, raising an eyebrow.
"Um...," I trailed off, pretending to look at my nails.
"Of course I'm a lucky guy. I've got an incredible job and house...,"
Why was I not surprised that I hadn't been on the list?
"...and a wife that cooks amazing meals," he finished with a grin, rubbing my shoulder.
Ok, I was definitely not expecting that.
"I gotta go clean up now. Tell the guys I'll be out soon."
Derek headed outside and I was left in the kitchen at a complete loss for words. Could it be possible that he'd finally changed his attitude towards me? Was he actually nice now?
Don't get your hopes up too soon. He's probably just in a good mood right now because he gets to be with his friends, a voice in my head spoke.
I sighed. It was true. Tomorrow, my husband would go back to being his usual hostile self, and I'd be left alone to contemplate my dull, suckish life. It's unfortunate, but that was the way things were always going to be between Derek and I.
I returned to the backyard and took off my dress, leaving me in my Tiffany blue bikini. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Stephen flirting with Hannah, and I couldn't help but smile. They'd make a great couple, especially since the two of them had a lot in common.
"There you are! Come on in!", Charlotte called.
I jumped into the pool and swam over to where my friends were. They all had their eyes glued to something, and I looked to see what was stealing their attention. Or rather who...
Derek. Of course.
"Your husband is so hot," Stacy gushed, practically drooling.
"I know right? Would you look at those biceps? He's even sexier on the outside than in those magazines," Lexi said. I suddenly heard Charlotte coughing.
"Um, you girls do remember that's Claire's husband, right? So quit being all thirsty!", she scolded.
"It's alright, I don't mind," I assured with a laugh.
At that moment, Derek swam over to us and asked if we wanted to play water polo against him and his friends. I didn't know about the girls, but I was up for it.
"Yes!", Lexi and Stacy both replied eagerly.
My cheeks instantly grew red as I felt Derek's eyes on my body, probably checking me out or something.
"Losing team has to take off their swimsuits," he spoke huskily into my ear so that only I could hear. Horrified, my eyes bulged out of my head and I dunked him underwater, absolutely outraged.
"I was kidding," he said with a wink once he returned to the surface before swimming back to the guys.
That night, we were all walking along the shoreline path of Harbor Island as the sun was about to set. My favorite part about this place was how it gave us the perfect view of downtown San Diego.
The guys had won our game of water polo earlier and as a reward, us girls had to buy them ice cream. Even though we'd lost, Hannah had played extremely well since she used to be captain of her high school volleyball team.
I looked towards the marina where all of the small boats where docked. I'd always loved the view of sailboats on the water with the outline of the city in the background, which was why San Diego was the perfect city for me.
Marrying Derek was something I'd never be happy with for the rest of my life, but I would never regret getting to live in this beautiful city. After all, I was born here.
Once it reached nightfall, Derek headed back to his car along with Stephen to grab chairs and blankets for the fireworks. The rest of us went to find a nice place to sit that would give us the best view.
By then, a ton of other people had arrived, and some even brought their pets. It didn't surprise me since Harbor Island had always been the most popular place to watch the Fourth of July fireworks in San Diego.
"Do you want a chair or blanket?", Derek asked me when he got back.
"I don't care," I replied, adjusting the strap of my lace melon-colored sundress.
"We'll share a blanket then," he said, handing me my red Stanford one.
I spread it onto the grass and sat down, kicking my flip flops off as I straightened my legs. This was going to be a great night.
Derek plopped down next to me and took out his phone, typing away. No surprise there.
"What are you doing?", I asked him.
"Replying to an email," he answered.
"There, done. You ready to watch some fireworks?", he asked with a grin, putting his phone into the pocket of his shorts.
It was ten by the time the fireworks started. They lit up the night sky and city in the background as everyone sat back and watched, simply enjoying the beauty of all the colors and effects. Breathtaking would be the one word I could think of to best describe it.
"It's so beautiful," I remarked in awe, looking up at Derek. The light flashing from the fireworks illuminated his handsome face. He seemed so happy and content, just like how I was feeling right now.
"I know," he said, his blue eyes twinkling as they met mine. I swore, I could get lost in them.
I scooted closer to him and hugged my knees to my chest, resting my head on his shoulder. I felt his body tense up for a moment, but then it relaxed again.
"Do you mind?", I asked him.
"Not at all," he replied with a smile.
Derek's arm wrapped around me as we both stared up at the sky, watching the fireworks. I'd enjoy this moment I had with my husband while it lasted...because sadly, I knew that it wouldn't last very long.
A/N- First of all, like Claire, I was born in San Diego myself. It's a very beautiful city(: And second, this has got to be one of my favorite chapters so far. I don't know about you guys, but the little ending with Claire and Derek was just so precious. Keep reading to see what happens next. And also remember to favorite and comment!