Chapter shoutouts to: musicmakesmeeee, totallyJo, and amylf10 for all of the love and support!
*A little short but very loaded with feels ;)) Apologies too but it's because I've been working on and preparing something special for March (as I've talked about waaay too much)!
The next day, I wake up to find a hastily scrawled note from Matt.
He's left to go to soccer practice but wants to meet at the boardwalk at noon. Stifling a grin, I make my way to the closet and pick out a pale pink t-shirt dress. As I'm mulling over if I should add a layered necklace to my ensemble, my cell phone rings and I tuck it between my shoulder and chin.
"Hey honey," my mum says cheerily, "How are you?"
"Pretty good." I pause for a moment. "You?"
"Great," she responds quickly, before starting with a long, "So..."
"One more week until the end of the exchange."
"Oh shoot, I didn't realize it was so soon," I mutter, slipping into a pair of leather sandals and perching on the side of the bed.
"I know you've had a great time but," she says, as my stomach flip flops, "We'd really like you to come home tomorrow."
"We're planning a trip soon and we want your thoughts," she adds. "Costa Rica or Australia."
"We could video chat about it," I remark, hopeful. I've always wanted to visit both of those places but since the summer began, it's been the last thing on my mind.
"We'll probably be leaving at the end of next week," she explains patiently, "We need to pack, you need to prepare all of your things for university - it'll give us some more time."
"So tomorrow I'm coming home." My head spins a little at the thought of leaving early and flying off to another part of the world.
"Ideally yes," she sighs. "Sorry about the late notice but think it over at least? You can stay for two days if you want to, just let me know."
"Will do," I murmur. The call cuts off with a click and I go back to tossing things into a tote bag. I can feel a twinge of nervousness but take one last long look at the mirror with a deep exhale before stepping out the door, into the sunlight.
Get it together Hailey. You can tell him -
At the boardwalk, I find Matt sitting by the counter of a small ice cream stand. His face lights up when he sees me and I run over, perching on the seat next to him.
"How was practice?" I ask with a wide grin.
"Awesome," he nods, "except it was overcast and there was rain so the field was slippery."
"Oh yikes," I frown, "Must have been in the early morning then? It's really sunny now."
"Yup," he murmurs apologetically, "We had a meeting with the coach and I had to help out with setting everything up."
"I'm sure a soccer team sliding around on mud was quite a sight," I muse aloud.
The girl at the counter brings two cones, and Matt swipes them before I have a chance to.
"Brownie bliss for me," he announces aloud before handing one to me, "and Rocky Road for you."
Or for the both of us.
The thought pops into my mind for a brief moment. The ice cream flavour is an oddly fitting description of my mix of emotions. I try to shake off the pang of uneasiness, attributing it to nerves, and instead point at the small arcade.
"Let's go shoot some monsters," I exclaim, skipping ahead, bag bouncing against my hip. The first two games we play have an alien invasion and my overenthusiastic laser spree pulls my score high above Matt's.
"Remind me not to mess with you," he chuckles at my giddiness, "In case that ever becomes 'people.'"
"Nonsense," I dismiss with a wave, lightly smacking him on the shoulder, "Punches work better for that."
"As long as you don't bruise up this bad boy," he responds, running a hand over his cheekbones with a smug grin.
"Don't worry." I throw him a wide smile, glancing down at his fitted blue jeans, "I'll probably mess with the other two bad boys."
"Go big or go home," Matt responds with a wink.
"I meant knee them," I groan, flustered, "Or kick 'em."
Matt seems to swagger a little more in front of me and I pause for a moment, a silly grin stretched out across my face. He turns around and sees me staring absentmindedly, and jams his hands into his back pockets.
"Hey." He walks back and loops an arm around my waist, pulling me in the direction of the large ferris wheel backlit by a yellow glow. "Don't get any ideas now."
"Never," I shoot back, pulling away a little as we stand in line.
"The bookworm reveals herself to be a little devil," he remarks, eyeing me with a thoughtful expression.
"Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned," I quote with a shrug.
"Can't be rejected if you haven't tried," he murmurs wryly, voice tickling my cheek.
My heart races as he pulls away. Was I hearing what I wanted to hear or was he egging me on? It seems, though there's a note of sadness to his words and I nearly spill everything in an attempt to lighten the mood. Luckily, we reach the front of the line and slide into a small teal ferris wheel cabin.
As we rise, higher and higher towards the sky, there seems to be a new buzz of emotion in the air, an indescribable feeling. Our knees bump against one another in a synchronized rhythm and Matt's eyes lower. I can tell he feels it too.
The passenger car pauses at the top with a shudder. With a small nervous nod, Matt leans in, lips crashing down on mine. My heart races with a newfound force, sending a radiating warmth that spreads throughout as I wrap my arms around his shoulders and pull him closer.
As the cabin begins a first descent, I rest my head against his collarbone, marveling at the pounding heartbeats and shaky breaths echoing in the small space.
"I didn't want to say anything but the soccer team has a retreat in two days," he says quietly, stray locks of hair flopping to one side as he tilts his head to look at me. "We're leaving for four days to train."
"Oh," I pause, straightening again and swallowing hard, "My mum called to say she wants me back in Toronto tomorrow to help pack bags for our vacation after so I guess I won't be too lonely then."
And then, after a moment of pause, our lips are locked again. Nearing and pulling apart with an almost natural rhythm, we're grasping at something tangible.
Maybe it would only be a second, a relationship built on grains of sand that would be washed away by oncoming tides. But all that mattered in that moment was "us," entangled together in an infinite loop of bliss under the brightness of the sun.
A/N: Wow this chapter started off super boring and than some sort of poetic (I like to think) inspiration hit me?? I hope the moment lives up to all of the build up haha ;)) Maybe it's the Valentines spirit??
Let me know what you think in the comments and be sure to vote, comment, and follow if you liked reading this chapter! ♥♥♥
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The ExchangeTeen Fiction
Exchange (v.): 1. Hailey Brookes trades in her original summer plans to, instead, swap places with a family friend's young son and live at their suburban estate. Having just been dumped by her boyfriend Ben, her goal for the summer is to steer cl...