**Oh, you guys. On Monday, my newest novella released, and I love these guys so much. But you know what that means. Fridays in June, following along on the continuing saga of Ben and Zack. The Admiral came up with some great challenges, starting with this one. A drive, a date, and a dance–this time from Zack’s POV. Enjoy!**
The thing I really couldn’t get over was the lack of humidity.
I was well aware that it made me strange but I’d been here for five days, and I still couldn’t believe the air wasn’t an oppressive wall of heat. Back home, eighty-five degree days would have me begging for mercy, the air so thick with moisture it was hard to breathe. But not in California. It was dry here, despite the ocean being so close, and I just couldn’t get over the difference. Ben stopped teasing me about my wide eyed wonder on the second day. Now I just got indulgent smiles.
Saturday morning dawned bright and clear, and the AC had already kicked on. It didn’t make a difference to me. I was snug and cozy in Ben’s bed, with Ben wrapped tightly around me. Every morning I woke like this I felt luckier than the last. A week ago, I still wasn’t sure that I could have this. I knew now we’d be spending our lives together. But that didn’t diminish the wonder I felt at being in his arms.
If I were honest, I hoped it took decades before that feeling faded.
I could tell the moment that Ben started to wake up, because his body went from that heavy, relaxed state to tense for just a moment before he stretched. I remained still, knowing he still wasn’t used to having someone else in his bed. After a moment, he pressed his nose into the back of my head, inhaled deeply, and then kissed my neck. I smiled and slowly rolled over to face him.
“Let’s get up and go for a drive.” He didn’t even bother with a good morning or a kiss. His eyes were alight with excitement, and I wouldn’t be the one to dampen it. I would do whatever he wanted. He was the one packing up his life and moving across the country for me.
I kissed him first, deep and hard, before I gently slid out of bed. “Sure. Drive to where?” I asked as I headed for the bathroom. Suddenly my bladder was making itself known.
Ben just grinned and waggled his eyebrows. A secret then. I chuckled and shut the door, crossing the cold tiled floor to the toilet. If he wanted it to be a surprise, that was fine. I trusted him and I knew he wouldn’t do anything to hurt me. As I bent to lift the lid, I shouted out, “Fine! But make me coffee.”
Ben’s laughter was a beautiful sound.
We ended up driving for more than an hour on the Pacific Coast Highway. I craned my neck, trying to take it all in. This was the famed PCH, highway number 1, right along the coast. The tourist in me was desperate to see it all.
“It’ll be better on the way back. The ocean will be on your side.” Ben gave me a grin, and squeezed my knee. I captured his hand and brought his fingers to my lips. I loved this man and I wanted him to know it. I never wanted him to doubt his decision. And I was a bit afraid, that with a view like this, he would change his mind.
Eventually, we reached our destination. Malibu was gorgeous and when we parked the car, Ben was quick to come around to open my door. He took my hand and pulled me in close, his extra inch or two of height making it so that I had to crane my head back, just a little. One of his hands came up to cup my jaw, his thumb brushing my bottom lip.
“Here’s to a date you’ll always remember.” His voice was soft and sultry, and I had to swallow hard. He had to know that I’d never be able to forget this.
We walked on the beach. We ate at a sweet little restaurant that had the best seafood I’d ever tasted. Ben had the scallops and angel hair pasta, which he let me taste. I had beer-battered halibut that was to die for. We walked on the pier and stopped in the souvenir shops. It was a fantastic day, and when we made our way back to his car, I was feeling relaxed, happy, and joyful.
I was transfixed to my window on the way back, staring in awe at the ocean. It wasn’t the first time I’d ever seen such a vast amount of water, but this coast seemed even more beautiful and majestic than mine. Again, I was worried that Ben wouldn’t want to leave all this behind. New York had its own beauty, things that I was overly fond of, but I had been raised in it. Hell, I even loved the snow. But New York was so vastly different from California, I was worried Ben would regret his decision.
I was so absorbed in the ocean and my thoughts that I didn’t almost didn’t notice when Ben pulled off the PCH and into a scenic lookout. There were no other cars in the gravel space, but it afforded a gorgeous view of the sun setting over the ocean. I scrambled out of the car without even sparing Ben a glance. I needed to see this up close and personal. The steep edge was protected by large boulders, and I walked right up to them before I stopped.
A moment later, Ben was behind me, wrapping me up in his arms and pulling me back against his chest. We were quiet for a long time, soaking in the peace and the crashing waves, and the bird calls.
“Are you going to miss it here?” I finally got the courage to whisper.
Ben squeezed me tightly. “Of course I will,” he said easily, and my heart sank. But he kept talking. “We’ll have to come back and visit at least once a year, don’t you think?”
Just like that, everything seemed lighter. Ben was the master at compromise, and I couldn’t be luckier because he loved me and wanted to make a life with me. I laughed as I turned in his arms, pulling him in close, and starting to sway. Looking up into his deep brown eyes, I hummed a tune as I moved our bodies. Ben matched my movements immediately, joining in the dance without qualm.
I was the luckiest man on earth, because Ben Winters loved me.