The warm July sun beamed down on her face, while the sounds of the ocean crashed around her. Oh, how she loved these lazy days of summer at the beach before her freshman year of college in the fall. Zoe had been laying out peacefully for almost an hour when she opened her eyes to find a gorgeous guy about to wipe out on her beach towel! She squealed and quickly scrambled out of the way of the clumsy surfer.
He landed with a hard thud at her feet, his surfboard pushed in by the surf. He lifted his head to reveal a strikingly beautiful set of eyes which were the color of the ocean. His mop top hair was bleached blonde and fell lazily over his eyes. His skin was a golden brown, probably from his days in the surf. He blushed and smiled to reveal a perfect set of white teeth which were hidden behind a pair of full lips. Zoe just sat and stared admiringly at his gorgeous good looks, also very flustered at his unexpected arrival on her beach towel.
“I’m so sorry! I’m normally much better at surfing than this,“ he said apologetically as he stood up, brushing the excess sand off himself. It was hard to stay mad at the surf god especially one as handsome as him.
She laughed a little at his embarrassment. “It’s quite alright. I needed something exciting to happen today and looks like you answered that request!” she said. Without hesitation Zoe extended her hand to introduce herself to him.
“Jaden,” he replied.
His handshake was warm and friendly, and his smile made her blush slightly.
“Listen, since I sort of messed up your quiet spot on the beach can I treat you to a sno-cone?” he asked. “It’s just right over there.” She followed his gaze to the small sno-cone shack with the turquoise roof a few hundred yards away.
“Sure, I could use something to cool me off,” Zoe said with a smile. Although being around him didn’t cool things off that much! She giggled silently to herself and followed him towards the sno-cone stand that had a crowd gathered around it.
They spent the next few hours getting to know each other, Zoe found out Jaden had been living at the beach all his life and he had been surfing since he was about seven. She also found out he had won many awards for his talent and would have gone to the National Surf Convention in Malibu, but a heart problem had developed and it had kept him out of the race. Jaden was strong and healthy, however he had to keep a close eye out on his heart condition.
“I come to the same beach every summer and I don’t see how I missed such a great surfer as you,” Zoe stated as they walked the boardwalk later on in the evening.
“I don’t know how I missed a beautiful girl like you,” Jaden replied with a sly grin.
Of course Zoe giggled and flushed a little with embarrassment. After the clumsy surfer day occurred, they became inseparable. She got up early in the mornings just to meet Jaden on the shore to watch the sun come up. Zoe met all of his friends who were as good looking as he was. Jaden even met her parents who were very impressed at how polite and handsome he was. Zoe’s parents usually knew where she was, so they didn’t mind. She was with him so often in the evenings that they came close to missing her eleven o’clock curfew. Her mom and dad gave them both warnings regarding the matter explaining until she left for college they had to respect the curfew.
One night, weeks later, when they were taking their usual stroll, Jaden stopped, turned to Zoe, and pulled her close to him.
“Listen, Zoe, the past few weeks have been amazing and I wanted to let you know that I want to be more than friends with you,” he said as his arm encircled her waist. She stared into those ocean colored eyes of his and just smiled.
“I was hoping you would say that because I have felt the same way for a while too.”
Her heart pounded in her chest as Jaden pulled her face closer to his. Then he leaned in and gave her a soft kiss. She shivered and felt a tingle go up her spine. Zoe had never felt like this with anyone, even in high school.
They held each other close and after a while Zoe realized what time it was. It was past midnight! She was supposed to be at home at eleven! She could just hear her parents lecture when she got home.
“Oh my gosh, Jaden! I’m so busted!” she exclaimed grabbing her sandals from the sand and jerked them on her feet. She knew her parents only instilled the curfew till she left for college in the fall, but still they were going to be livid when she got back.
Sure enough, they were very mad. They had been waiting for over an hour when she failed to return at her scheduled time. When Zoe walked in, her mom flew off the handle.
“Zoe! Do you know what time it is?!”her mother demanded with her arm pointing at the clock on the mantle.
“I’m sorry, Mom! I didn’t mean to. Jaden and I were just down at the beach and we lost track of time.”
“Well that’s why you wear a watch!” her mother said, pointing at her own wrist watch. Her father sat on the couch with his arms crossed across his chest, shaking his head in disappointment. All Zoe could do was hang her head. Jaden scratched his sun-bleached hair and shifted uncomfortably.
“Since you can’t seem to respect our rule about your curfew, Zoe, I think it’s time that you guys took a break for a while,” her mom stated, putting her foot down, figuratively. Now it was Zoe’s turn to get angry.
“Whoa, wait a minute! I only missed curfew once!” Zoe exclaimed, throwing one finger in the air angrily. “Why does that constitute such a harsh punishment for me?!”
“You need to learn the consequences of your actions, honey,” her dad said with authority. Her mom stood in front of her with both hands on her hips in agreement with Zoe’s father.
“It’s such a minor thing. I didn’t commit murder!” Zoe sarcastically spat at her parents.
“Keep up that attitude and we will make things even more harsh for you until we leave for the summer!” her mother shot back at her with equal animosity.
With that statement, tears of anger streamed down Zoe’s face and she stormed to her room, slamming the door so hard that the entire beach house shook with the full force of her fury.
“I’m really sorry about what happened tonight,” Jaden said quietly and turned to leave, gently shutting the door behind him.
Zoe stayed locked in her room for days, only to come out for meals and to use the bathroom. The sun streamed in through her window and warmed her face, but it wasn’t the same as being outside. She teared up thinking about the day she met Jaden. He stopped by a few times, only to be turned away by her parents. He would leave with his head down in disappointment and walk down the beach alone.
About a week later, Zoe’s parents had let her know she had “done enough time” for her punishment. They gave her permission to go out and visit with Jaden, but with a quick but stern reminder of no repetitions of missing curfew. Zoe had almost reached the beach when she noticed Jaden walking along the shore. Her heart leaped for joy only to be harshly yanked with sorrow. Jaden wasn’t alone; he was walking with another girl with his arm slung around her shoulder.
Zoe sank down to her knees and a hand went to her mouth as she began to cry. Warm, salty tears pooled in her eyes and began to stream down her cheeks. What started out as small trickles, changed into rivers of anger, hurt, and uncontrollable sobbing. How could Jaden move on so quickly? All the things he told her that special evening must have been only words, not feelings from the heart.
That night with her heart seemingly made of stone, she called Jaden’s house. Zoe needed to talk to him about what she saw earlier. His mom told Zoe he had gone out with friends. She thanked his mom and then hung up.
Zoe went to her room and changed into her favorite sundress with Hawaiian flowers. She put on a little make-up to cover up her swollen eyes, then slipped on her sandals. She told her parents she was going to get ice cream and would be back soon.
She began her walk from their beach house to the stores along The Strip. It was quite crowded and Zoe had trouble squeezing through the multitude of people. She saw the ice cream shop ahead of her, so she pushed her way through the crowd and went inside. Zoe scanned the room to see if she saw anyone she knew. She saw Jaden’s friend, Jimmy in a booth in the corner with some of their other friends, but didn’t see Jaden. That was unusual, because they always met there on Fridays. She weaved her way to their table to talk to Jimmy.
“Hey Jimmy, do you know where Jaden is?” Zoe asked nonchalantly.
“Uh no, I assumed he’d be with you” Jimmy said with a puzzled expression on his face.
“Well he’s not ‘cause he seems to have moved on,” Zoe said with malice.
“What are you talking about?”
“Don’t help cover up for him, Jimmy. I saw him with another girl today.”
“Another girl? Wait, Zoe, you have that all wrong.” Jimmy threw his hands up in defense of his friend.
“Look, just tell him to forget about me because it seems as though he found a replacement!”
Jimmy started to protest, but she cut him off, turned, and headed for the door. Before she could reach the exit she noticed Jaden sitting a few tables away with the girl from earlier. Zoe felt the anger and hurt come together. She stormed over to the table and tapped him on the shoulder. Jaden turned around and smiled at her. He started to talk, but Zoe cut him off.
“Looks like I’ve been replaced!” she said, lip quivering. She felt the tears begin to well up in her eyes and stream down her face.
“It’s not what you think, Zoe,” Jaden protested, starting to get up to reach out to her.
She jerked her arm out of his reach. “Just save it, Jaden. I see I didn’t matter that much anyway.” With that, she stormed out of the ice cream shop.
The walk home was the longest. Zoe had had so many things go wrong and she could not figure out why. Her face was wet and smeared from her tears and make-up. When she got home, her parents immediately started to ask her questions. Zoe didn’t have the heart anymore to talk about it, so she told them she wasn’t feeling well and she quietly went to her room shutting the door.
Over the next few days, she received several phone calls from Jaden, but she turned them all down. Her mom was concerned and asked Zoe if her and Jaden had a fight. She just told her about the other girl. Her mom said Zoe would find someone else and things would get better.
Zoe ran into Jaden on the beach a few days later. However, she refused to talk to him. She didn’t want to hear anymore lies. Jaden called out to her, but she ignored him and kept walking.
That afternoon, a big storm hit the beach and pounded through the crowded city. Zoe sat on her window sill, watching lightning flash and the rain stream down her window. A pounding at her door awakened her from her daydream state. Her parents never knocked that hard so she slipped off the window sill to see who it was. She opened the door to see Jimmy soaked from head to toe, dripping on the hardwood floor. How had he made his way to her house in this storm?
She crossed her arms in front of her chest and asked why he was there. From the look in his eyes, she knew something wasn’t right.
“Jaden went out surfing before the storm hit and when we went to go get him all we found was his surfboard,” Jimmy said quickly.
Zoe felt like someone had kicked her in the stomach. She knew their relationship was on the rocks, but she couldn’t help but be concerned.
“I know you and Jaden are not talking, but I need your help to find him, please,” Jimmy said, clasping his hands together in a prayer symbol.
“Of course, Jimmy,” she said. They went to her parents and told them the situation. Her mom and dad agreed to let them borrow the 4-wheeler they owned to search for Jaden.
The rain pelted the beach and stung their faces as they rode over the sand. They screamed over the pounding surf hoping Jaden would hear them and appear. Her heart began to ache as she thought they may never find him. The pier came into view and they spotted someone lying face down on the shore. As they got closer, she realized it was Jaden.
He was unconscious and from the look of it, he had been that way for quite a while. His body was covered from head to toe in scrapes and bruises. Jaden apparently had been surfing and hit the pier, knocking him unconscious. Jimmy used his cell phone to call for help while Zoe sat on the beach with Jaden.
A short while later an ambulance arrived, taking Jaden and Zoe to the hospital. Jimmy had already called Zoe and Jaden’s parents to let them know what happened and they were on their way as well.
When they reached the hospital, Jaden was rushed in. Zoe didn’t think his injuries were that serious, but apparently they were. Jaden’s parents arrived a short time later along with the girl Zoe had seen Jaden with the other day. Jimmy saw the look on Zoe’s face and lead her out of the room. They sat in silence in the waiting room when the girl appeared a few minutes later. Zoe was about to leave when the girl asked if she could explain who she was.
“Zoe, my name is Elise and I’m not Jaden’s new girlfriend, I’m his cousin. I came in to see him and my aunt and uncle for a week or so before school,” she stated.
Zoe sank down in the chair with relief and a bit of guilt. The whole time she had been mad at Jaden, it turned out the mystery girl was his cousin. She began to cry for all the things she had done and said to Jaden. She hoped she would get the chance to tell him how sorry she was.
An hour later the doctors informed everyone that Jaden was badly injured, but was going to pull through. Zoe and everyone else there were instructed to go home and come back later. Jaden still needed additional medical attention and it would take a while. When Zoe got home, she didn’t bother changing from her damp clothes; she just curled up under the covers and feel into a deep, but restless sleep.
The next day Zoe went to see Jaden and find out the extent of his condition. When she got to his room, she was relieved to see him sitting up, staring out the window. Jaden turned his head and smiled when she came in the room. Even though his face was bruised and scraped, his smile was still as bright as ever.
All Zoe could do was hug Jaden and tell him how sorry she was. Jaden squeezed her hand, letting Zoe know it wasn’t her fault. He should have told her about his cousin’s visit. Out of concern she asked him what had happened to him the day before.
“Well, I don’t really remember much after the storm hit. All I know is I had gone out surfing when the storm rolled in out of nowhere. I was catching a wave back in when I got lightheaded and passed out in the water. The doctors said I must have hit the pier and I was knocked unconscious and suffered a concussion from it. I was then slammed into the rocks under the pier then dumped on the beach. I guess that’s where you found me.” Jaden smiled at the last sentence.
Zoe just smiled and teared up again. She spent the next few hours with Jaden talking about all that had happened. Jimmy came by later and joined them. They left later that afternoon and Jimmy took Zoe home.
Jaden was released the next day. Zoe went to his house to spend time with him because she was leaving to go back home for her freshman year at college. They spent her last few days like they did when they first met; trips to the sno-cone shack and walks along the beach.
The day she left, Jaden promised that he would text her every day and call all the time. Zoe feared the distance would tear them apart. Jaden assured her it would never happen to them, and that was his promise.
School had begun and over the coming weeks Zoe got texts and tons of phone calls from Jaden. Thank goodness for unlimited calling, texting, and Skype. Her parents would go nuts if this were the old fashioned phone bill!
Zoe’s birthday was approaching and Jaden’s communication had suddenly gone sporadic. Naturally, she feared the worst. However, on the day of her birthday, she was walking to her car and she notices a bouquet of yellow roses (her favorite) lying on the hood of her car along with Jaden sitting there smiling.
Zoe smiled from ear to ear and Jaden scooped her into his arms for a kiss.
“Happy Birthday Zoe,“ he said with that all too familiar smile.
All she could do was laugh and smile back. Zoe realized then her surf god boyfriend really had a strong heart of gold. They spent the weekend going out with her friends and on the final morning, just like old times, they watched the sun rise over the horizon. Just like they had done so many times before during that summer of love…