Chapter 20- When the Truth HurtsMature

I was walking around SeaWorld on a frantic search for my husband. He was supposed to meet me at the entrance of the Journey to Atlantis ride after using the bathroom, but it'd been over twenty minutes already, and he still hadn't showed up.

We were running out of time, too, because I really wanted to go on that roller coaster before the last Shamu show started, which was approximately an hour from now. It had always been my favorite ride here ever since I was little.

I easily could've called Derek by now to check up on where he was, but unfortunately, I'd forgotten my cell phone at home. At this rate, it'd probably take me hours to find him.

This place was huge, and it didn't help that there was especially a lot of people here today. After all, it was a Saturday.

With my ginormous Shamu stuffed animal tucked under my arm, I went looking for a pay phone. Derek had won it for me earlier after playing this one game where you had to shoot a series of small fish at specified targets. If it weren't for him, it would've taken me at least five tries.

Why did he have to be so good at everything?

To my relief, I spotted a pay phone across from one of the restrooms. I grabbed my drawstring bag and dug out my clutch that I'd left in there to search for some spare change.

A look of frustration crossed my face when I realized that all I had was a hundred-dollar bill. The young woman waiting behind me gently tapped my shoulder, and I turned around to face her.

"Is everything all right?", she asked.

"I need to call my husband, but I don't have any spare change," I replied.

"I might have some extra quarters. Let me check. And I don't know if it's just my imagination, but you look really familiar," she said as her green eyes scanned over my face.

"I'm Derek Weston's wife. You've probably seen me in one of the local newspapers." My cheeks began to flush slightly.

"Oh, I think I just saw him back there," she remarked, pointing to the nearest concession stand behind us.

"You did? Oh thank god, I've been looking everywhere for him." I sighed with relief.

"He's really handsome." She smiled shyly at me, blushing.

"Trust me, you're not the first person to say that."

"I bet."

"Well, see ya. And thanks for telling me where Derek is." I gave her a smile then ran towards the concession stand.

And indeed, my husband had just gotten out of the line after buying some popcorn and cotton candy. His eyes brightened when he saw me, and I stared at him in utter disbelief.

"Do you have any idea how long it took me to find you?", I demanded, placing my hands on my hips. He had an amused look on his face.

"I thought we agreed to meet at the Atlantis ride."

"I know that, but you freaking never showed up!", I said in an exasperated tone.

"I went to go buy some food we could snack on while waiting in line, but it took longer than I thought. Here, I got you more cotton candy."

Derek handed me the pink, fluffy treat and all traces of anger instantly vanished from my face as I squealed in delight. I'd had way too much already today, but I couldn't help it. Cotton candy was my life.

"You're the best, you know that?", I remarked happily.

"I aim to please, Mrs. Weston." His lips curled into a breathtaking smile, and I nearly swooned.

"Come on, we have to hurry. I really want to go on Atlantis," I said urgently, grabbing my husband by the arm. He chuckled and followed me as we ran to the other side of the large theme park.

I lost track of how many times I dropped my poor Shamu plush toy, so I opted to just drop by the parking lot on the way and leave it in our car.

Forty-five minutes later, we were approaching the last and final drop of the Journey to Atlantis roller coaster. I glanced over at Derek, and he was beaming with excitement. He looked his age right now- so young and carefree.

"Ready to get wet?", I asked him.

He nodded enthusiastically, and we both threw our arms in the air, plunging downwards as I felt the familiar adrenaline course through my veins.

I screamed when the water crashed all around us before the ride came to a gradual stop. My tshirt was fairly wet, but other than that, I was completely dry. Derek wiped off the water on his face with the hem of his tshirt, and then we quickly exited the car.

"Do you think we'll make it in time to see Shamu?", I asked anxiously.

"If we hurry," Derek responded, glancing down at his watch.

Once again, he and I had to run, weaving through crowds of people until we finally reached the stadium.

Fortunately, there were still a few empty seats left located in the Soak Zone. Anyone who sat there was guaranteed to get drenched, and that was exactly what I wanted.

The sun had already set so the stadium lights were turned on, illuminating the entire stage. It was slightly chilly, and I regretted not bringing a sweatshirt to wear over my top.

Just think how much colder it'll be once you're soaked in water, my subconscious reminded with an evil smirk.

Derek and I were surrounded by a bunch of little kids, all of them eager to catch a glimpse of the great Shamu. Their moms were either busy getting towels out for when they got wet or staring at my husband.

Would I ever get used to this?

Halfway through the show, Shamu came charging right towards us and splashed its tail, sending a massive wave into the air.

I braced myself for it and screamed when I felt the cold water crashing down on my body, drenching me from head to toe.

"Holy shit!", I heard Derek exclaim as he blinked water from his eyes.

"Shush, there's children here!", I admonished.

"Oops, I forgot."

He quickly turned around and apologized to the moms for his language, and all they did was blush and giggle, telling him that it was no big deal.

Just as I was about to grab a towel from my bag to dry off, Shamu sent another giant wave at us, and all of the kids shrieked at the top of their lungs.

"You sure this was a good idea?", Derek asked me.

"Yes! Who doesn't love getting wet?", I said with a smile. He shook his head in bemusement, and we focused our attention back to the stage.

By the time the show was over, I was soaked to the bone in cold water, feeling as numb as a statue.

My teeth were chattering, and I wrapped the towel tighter around myself as we made our way to the parking lot. It didn't help that there was a cool breeze either.

"Next time we sit in the Soak Zone, it'll be during the day when it's actually warm and sunny," Derek remarked in a serious tone.

His damp tshirt and shorts were stuck to his skin, dripping water all over the place. I probably looked like a total mess right now, but he was as hot as ever, especially with his wet hair. And the visible six-pack underneath his tshirt didn't go unnoticed either.

"I'm so c-c-cold," I stuttered.

Derek gazed down at me with concern and immediately pulled me close to his side, draping his large towel over the both of us.

"That better, baby?"

I nodded my head in response, and he tightened his hold on my waist, keeping me warm against his body.

When we approached the Range Rover, Derek paused to dry off my hair with his towel as I gazed up at his perfectly structured face, wondering how on earth this beautiful man had come to be my husband.

I let my eyes wander over his mesmerizing blue orbs, high cheekbones, and strong jaw before they finally landed on his lips.

"Is something wrong?", he asked, giving me a quizzical look.

"Huh? No," I replied in a distracted tone.

Those full, plump lips...God, I wanted to kiss them so bad.

"You sure?" he drawled, tilting my chin up so that we staring at each other, brown eyes to blue.

"What could possibly be wrong?"

Derek slowly ran his thumb across my bottom lip, causing my breathing to hitch as sparks ignited throughout my entire body. His eyes suddenly darkened, and he leaned in closer so that our noses were practically touching.

What are you waiting for? Kiss him already, my subconscious rang.

To my utter astonishment, Derek began to brush his soft lips against mine before full-on kissing me as he held my face in his hands.

I could feel my heart pounding in my chest as I tangled my fingers in his hair, pulling him even closer to me. My eyes were closed and I relished the moment, forgetting about everything else.

He gently tugged at my bottom lip with his teeth, and I let out a quiet moan, which gave him the perfect opportunity to slide his tongue into my mouth. 

Holy shit, I thought as our tongues danced with each other. He tasted like peppermint, and I savored every inch of his sweet mouth as my arms encircled around his neck.

Eventually, we both became breathless and he broke our kiss, letting his forehead rest against mine. My heart was still racing as I gasped for air.

Above us, the stars were twinkling brightly in the night sky. It felt so romantic, even if we were standing in the middle of a parking lot at SeaWorld.

"Is anyone here?", I breathed, glancing around.

"Nope. It's just you and me, Claire-Bear. For now," Derek replied with a smile, tucking a loose strand of hair behind my ear. I blushed.

"Let's go home."

"As you wish."

He gave me one last peck on the lips and then opened the passenger door, motioning for me to go in.

The whole car ride home, I was beaming with joy as I replayed my kiss with Derek. Talk about a great way to have ended such a fantastic day.

Not only had that been our first real kiss ever since we got married, but it was also my first kiss. I wasn't planning on telling him, though.

Maybe someday...

***

"Ugh, I seriously wish I could buy all of these," Charlotte commented as we were looking through different types of curtains at Bed Bath and Beyond.

"I know. It's so hard to just pick just one set."

She and Elliot had recently moved in together last week. They bought a house not too far from mine just on the other side of town.

Earlier today, we saw a movie and had lunch. Now, we were spending the rest of our time together going shopping for some room decor.

When I woke up this morning, I'd been so relieved that I wasn't sick like how I had expected to be after going to SeaWorld yesterday. The same went for Derek, too.

I could still remember the taste of his lips and for the second time that day, my thoughts drifted back to our amazing kiss. Since then, I'd been feeling on top of the world. Nothing could spoil my mood.

"You know, you seem especially happy today. Did Mr. Sexy-Pants give it to you last night?", Charlotte asked, suggestively raising an eyebrow. My eyes widened in horror.

"No! Nothing like that happened."

"Well, then what is it? I'm your best friend, Claire. I can tell how you're feeling just by looking at you," she said, crossing her arms in front of her chest as she stared at me.

"Derek and I kissed yesterday," I mumbled, feeling my cheeks glow red as I toyed with the wedding ring on my finger.

Charlotte's jaw dropped and she just stood there blinking, giving me the 'are you for real?' look.

"That's it?" Her voice was flat.

"It was the first time he ever kissed me on the lips."

"Seriously? You had to wait nine freaking months just to get a kiss from him?"

"It was so worth it though," I said with a dreamy sigh.

Charlotte smiled and then burst into a giggling fit. I watched as she picked out a pair of cream-colored curtains before making her way to the cash register.

"What's so funny?", I asked her.

"You. It's obvious, Claire. You're falling for him. Hard."

My mind went completely blank at her words.

Could she possibly be right? Was I falling for Derek?

"Well, I should probably head home now. Remember, you're always welcomed to come over anytime," Charlotte said once she'd made her purchase, giving me a hug.

"Ok. See you later, Char."

Once she disappeared from my sight, I walked towards my car and unlocked it, getting inside. I dismissed the questions regarding Derek that were stirring in my head and started the engine.

On the way home, I decided to stop by the grocery store to buy a few ingredients for the chicken parmesan I was planning on making for dinner tonight.

It was nearly six which meant that the store would be closing soon. Luckily, it only took me less than five minutes to find everything that I needed.

When I walked out to the parking lot, I immediately spotted a familiar head of dirty-blonde hair, and right away I knew who it was. From her formal stride, to the low-cut top she wore, it could only be one person.

Ashley.

Her eyes instantly met mine, and she gave me a quick wave before strolling in my direction.

"Hey, Claire! Fancy seeing you here," she greeted cheerfully.

"Hi, Ashley," I murmured, caught off guard by her friendliness.

I thought she didn't like me?

"Well, listen, I'm not doing anything right now, so do you want to go out for some coffee?", she offered.

Hmm, this could actually be interesting.

"That sounds great," I replied, attempting to smile at her.

I wanted to appear as friendly and polite as possible. That way, she might be able to open up to me about herself later on.

We agreed to meet at a small coffee shop over in Coronado and then I drove there, arriving a few moments before Ashley did.

I went to sit down at a table, and she joined me shortly after. Like usual, I ordered a small vanilla cappuccino- one of my all-time favorite drinks.

"What did you think of the golf event last week?", Ashley asked me.

"It was fun. Derek's parents have a very nice country club."

"Tell me about it. You know, I regretted not having the chance to talk to you that day."

That's because you were too busy revealing unnecessary details about your golf outing with Derek, my subconscious sneered.

"Well, we have right now to talk," I remarked.

"True. So, how are you and Derek doing?", she asked casually, glancing down at her perfectly manicured fingers.

"Good," I replied, clearing my throat.

"That's nice to hear. Anyways, last month, he told me that you ran away from home."

I froze in my seat and narrowed my eyes at her. Where was she going with this?

"Yeah, we had an argument," I said slowly.

"About what?", Ashley probed.

At first, I was taken aback by her nosiness, but then decided that I might as well just tell her the truth. Derek probably confided in her anyways while I was gone, so what I was about to say now wouldn't be new to her. At least, that's what I hoped.

"Well, Derek wasn't exactly the nicest husband. He acted like a total jerk to me most of the time, and one day, I decided that I couldn't take it anymore. So, I left."

"I see. Why did you go back to him then?" Her lips were pursed as she awaited my response.

By then, our drinks had arrived, and I took a small sip of my cappuccino before speaking.

"For your information, it was him that begged me to go back." My tone was cold and distant.

"Does he treat you badly now?"

"No. I already told you, he and I have been on very good terms since then."

Ashley scoffed and then she gazed at me with her icy amber eyes, her expression turning into one of contempt.

"I don't mean to be rude, but do you honestly think that Derek gives a shit about you?"

I inhaled sharply and tightly grasped my cup, controlling the anger that I could feel boiling deep down inside of me.

How dare she!

"You guys got married because of a business deal. He's just worried that if you leave, it'll screw up the whole partnership with your brother. So I wouldn't get my hopes up too high if I were you," she finished.

Immediately, I felt my heart begin to sink as I realized the truth behind her words. I hated to admit it, but Ashley was right.

If there had been no business deal tying us together, my husband would've left me a long time ago. He was just acting like he cared because of the situation we were both in. His company would always be the most important thing to him.

And to think that I could actually be falling for Derek? As much as it hurt, I'd never mean anything to him.

Large tears were brimming my eyes, and I quickly stood up. The last thing I needed was for Ashley to see me cry.

"I'm sorry, I have to go," I murmured hastily.

I grabbed my purse and threw a ten-dollar bill onto the table to pay for my drink before rushing towards the door, completely unaware of the smug, satisfactory smirk that had spread across Ashley's face.

A/N- Who knew SeaWorld could be such a romantic place? And the fact that Derek was Claire's first kiss just made it that much more special. On a less happy note, what did you guys think about the things Ashley said? Should Claire listen to her? Read on to see what happens next, and be sure to favorite and comment!

PS: I have no idea when I'll be able to update again, but I hope everyone in the US is having a great labor day weekend(:

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