Proposal in Paradise (Part 1): Dakota

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DECEMBER 2014

Dakota:

It is so freaking hot.

It was a wonder how the people could survive living here permanently. But I had to say, everything about this place was beautiful.

The heat was worth it. Definitely.

"Ready to lose, nerd?" whispered a deep voice right by my ear.

I turned to face him. He was grinning.

I still haven't gotten used to his handsome face belonging to me. It had been years since we've been together. His smooth features turned sharper, more rugged and manly. He grew more muscular, too. All those training for collegiate basketball did him good. So good.

He wore his dark hair a bit shorter nowadays. It didn't hang on his eyes like it used to. It was sticking up naturally now. The only thing that didn't change were his eyes. Those bluish-green orbs were still the playful ones I grew up gazing at.

I smiled at him. "Awe, that's cute. Keep dreaming, jock."

I pushed Aaron away but he caught my hands and pulled me to him just as he kissed me full on the lips, one of his hands went to my cheeks. I giggled, causing him to smile against my lips.

This is life.

Our family went to the Philippines for the Holidays. And of course, one couldn't leave the country without going to Boracay – considered the most beautiful beach in the world.

Seriously, it was true to its tale. It was the right amount of cloudy here. The sea was so clear you could see the corals a few feet below us. The bamboo trees were all over the place, making me feel like I was really in Paradise. Oh, and the sand here was like silk powder that it was surreal! I couldn't stop touching it.

"Get a room!"

"Get used to it," replied Aaron. He'd been saying that to Jason for almost five years.

Jason shook his head. "I will never get used to you and my sister sucking faces."

I felt my cheeks heat up. "Shut up, Jase."

"It'd be a shame for a genius like me to shut up," he grinned. He nudged our Filipino cousin Viria beside him, and added, "Agree with me, Viria."

Viria looked at us with a surprised expression.

"Uh, sorry. I wasn't listening."

I would've grinned triumphantly at Jason if I didn't notice Viria's distracted look. She was glancing at her phone just a few moments ago.

Without thinking, I left Aaron and went to the other side of the boat, sitting beside my cousin who looked like her mind wasn't here with us. I shot Jason a pointed look. Good thing he was a 'genius' and understood what I meant, because he stood up and sat with Aaron.

"What's up?" I asked her.

"Nothing," she replied, lightly shaking her head. She smiled at me weakly as if to reassure me, then glanced at her phone again.

"What did you see?" I sighed, already knowing that this had something to do with her British ex-boyfriend – who was a world famous celebrity heartthrob, by the way.

Don't ask me how that happened. That's a different story to tell.

It was kinda ironic, actually. She wrote my story with Aaron and posted it online. Now it had been turned into a book, which was amazing. But then she didn't have the guts to tell her story, when it was way more novel-worthy than mine.

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