It seemed like I had just dozed off when the birds outside began to chirp and squawk. Taylor sucked in a deep breath and blew it out, signaling that he was still asleep.
I crept out of bed, put on my swimsuit, cover-up, and hat, and I grabbed my sunglasses and phone before sneaking outside.
“Oh. Hey,” Travis said. “Are you going down to the beach?”
He shook his head. “Headed to Thomas’s room before they leave. They have an early flight.”
“Oh. Okay. Well, maybe I’ll see you later.”
Before I could take another step, Travis said, “Falyn? You make Taylor really happy. He didn’t just tell me that the other night, but it’s all over his face. Don’t let any boneheaded thing he might pull get in the way of that.”
“Does everyone know what?” he asked.
I winced. “Nothing. Congratulations.” I passed him, trying not to run down the stairs.
I was the only one on the long stairway and the first one on the beach. The front row of loungers was free, so I picked one in the middle and relaxed.
Ten minutes later, another couple arrived. The sky changed gradually from black to dark blue to light blue, and then a spray of colors was cast across the sky, revealing the ocean and everything else the sunlight touched.
I closed my eyes and listened to the waves and the birds, trying to drown out my thoughts. I breathed in the thick salty air, failing miserably at keeping my focus on the beauty surrounding me and not the ugly visions of Taylor’s hands on the woman from California—his lips on hers, kissing and touching her the way he had done to me so many times before, how much she must have enjoyed herself because he was very, very good at those things.
My phone buzzed, and I glanced at the display, swiping when I saw a message from Taylor.
Is that you on the beach?
I turned, quickly locating him on our balcony.
Okay. I’ll leave you alone. Just wanted to make sure you’re okay.
You don’t have to.
I don’t have to what?
Within three minutes, Taylor was standing next to my lounger on the beach, wearing nothing but swimming trunks and sunglasses on his head. He sat down, still panting.
“We have a lot to talk about,” I said.
He nodded. “I know sorry isn’t enough. Nothing I could say is going to fix it, and I’m going fucking nuts trying to think of something—anything—to make it right.”
I faced forward, glad my oversized hat protected me from his stare. “You’re right. But you’re also not the only one who fucked up here. I recognize that.”
He lowered his head, propping his forehead with his hand. “I’m so fucking relieved you’re being so levelheaded about this, but I gotta admit, Falyn”—he looked up at me—“it’s freaking me out a little that you’re this … Zen.”
“I don’t feel Zen. I feel hurt and angry and betrayed. Our flight leaves at three, and until then, we’re here together with your family. Flipping out on you won’t solve anything.”
He watched me for a moment. “So, what? You’re going to dump me as soon as we get back stateside?”
He sighed. “I’m sorry for hurting you. I’m sorry for betraying you. I’m sorry for making you angry. If you give me another chance, it will never happen again.”
He sat on the sand next to me, slipped his fingers between mine, and kissed my knuckles.
After half an hour of silence, Trenton and Camille joined us. Not long after that, Travis came down, alone. He didn’t speak and sat two chairs away, staring at the ocean.
“Uh-oh,” Trenton said, standing up to walk over to his brother.
Taylor squeezed my hand and then joined the other two men. They chatted quietly but mostly sat in silence, all seeming to stare at the same point in the water.
“I ran into Travis this morning,” I said to Camille.
“He was on his way to Thomas’s room. Think it has anything to do with that?”
“Thomas?” she paused, pensive. “No,” she said. “I don’t.”
I could tell by the finality in her voice that she was lying. She had dated Thomas before. She knew things, including what had happened in that room.
Travis left abruptly, and Taylor returned to his seat.
Taylor seemed concerned. “I don’t know. He wouldn’t say anything.”
Camille was pretending not to be listening, so I said exactly what I wanted her to hear.
“For a family who looks so close on the outside, you all sure have a lot of secrets,” I said.
“Seems like you’re the only one capable of telling the truth.” As soon as the words came out of my mouth, I regretted them.
Taylor was wrong. I wasn’t Zen. Lashing out and low blows weren’t something I’d thought I was capable of, but that didn’t seem to be the case at the moment.
Camille turned to me, incensed. “Just because you love someone doesn’t mean you have to spill everything you know.”
“I guess it depends on who the secrets affect, don’t you think?” I asked, still unable to extinguish my anger.
Camille’s opened mouth snapped shut, and she found the same spot in the ocean the boys had been staring at before, clenching her teeth. She didn’t seem particularly angry with me. It was more like she was frustrated with whatever secret she was keeping.
“So, you know why Travis is upset,” I said to Camille. “But you haven’t told Trenton because it has to do with Thomas?”
Taylor looked to Camille for confirmation, and she looked to me, desperate for me to stop.
My mouth pulled to the side. “I’m sorry. None of this is directed at you.” I sighed. “We all have secrets, Cami. We just have to make sure keeping them doesn’t hurt the people we love.”
Camille watched me for a long time, and then her eyes returned to the ocean, filling with salty tears.
“What the hell is going on around here?” Taylor asked, his head moving back and forth between Camille and me.
“We should probably get some breakfast and then start packing. We have to leave for the airport by … what do you think? Noon?” I asked.
“Yeah,” Taylor said, still concerned over Camille. He stood, holding out his hand for me.
I took it and followed him to Bleuwater, the primary dining venue on the property.
Taylor was quiet, eating his omelet, lost in thought while he chewed.
I wrinkled my nose and shook my head. “Don’t answer that.”
“Nope,” I said before clenching my teeth.
He was waiting patiently as the anger boiled inside of me. He knew as well as I did what was coming.
“There is nothing to say. I have no excuse. I fucked up.”
“You said a week. That’s what you said. You couldn’t even make it to your own deadline before you were swiping your player’s card in someone else’s slot.”