Chapter Seventy-Seven

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"I promise it will be warmer," Harry said, but Meredith wasn't listening. Her head rested against his shoulder as the flight from Minneapolis, Minnesota, to Laguna Niguel, California. It was only a short four hour flight, and certainly Harry and Meredith had been on longer. Laguna Niguel was an hour or so south of Los Angeles, but it all depended on the weather.

The small airplane tilted in the sky, and the two sat in first class. Meredith didn't like being this so far up to the pilot, or even in the front of the airplane. It felt dangerous. Meredith already didn't like smaller jets because they had the more ability to crash. Meredith glanced back, through the blue curtain and into coach, feeling a bit more comfortable back there. There was too much space here, like any moment she could fall off, crashing to the earth.

Landing in the Laguna Niguel, Meredith stepped off the plane and felt the heat brush against her skin. Closing her eyes, Meredith pretended to smell the ocean. Only she smelt jet fuel. Meredith tried to grab the keys to the card, but Harry pulled them back. "Thankfully, I'm over twenty-five, and you're not."

"But I'm American."

"I know how to drive on the right side of the road." Harry got into the rental car, and Meredith followed. Getting onto the highway, Meredith put down the window and only smelt more gasoline. "How about the Pacific Coast Highway?" Taking a turn, Harry pulled the car to the highway, and the windows dropped all the way down. California was destined to smell like gasoline.

Pulling off into the highway, the moon shined on the ocean. White flight reflected up, threatening to blind her. Meredith waited for Harry to get out first, and then she followed. Pulling off her sandals, she left them in the car, and Harry pulled off his shoes too.

Toes in sand, the two walked hand in hand to the water. Sand curled around her feet, and Meredith sunk down. The smell of fish rolled off the waves. The breeze blew Meredith's curly hair back. The smell and the sound of the sea made Meredith step closer. While the sun was destined for tomorrow, the quietness of the rest of the world was nice. She didn't expect anyone to find them.

Harry let Meredith's hand go. "Be free."

Laughing, Meredith took a step forward, but then she paused, turning back.


Meredith grabbed his hand. "Come with me." Before Harry could answer, Meredith pulled on his hand hard, running toward the shoreline. Harry followed at the same pace. Sand kicked up around them. It was cool and thick. It covered their clothing, burying deep into their jeans and sweaters. Meredith was hot, but Harry, it wasn't quite warm yet.

Harry slammed on the brakes before he made it to the water.

"Come on," Meredith said with a smile.


"Harry," Meredith begged.

"No. You go." He let go of her hand.


"Mere, it's colder," Harry said. "You're stronger than me. The cold doesn't bother you."

Meredith rolled her eyes and she stepped toward the water. "Are you a wimp?"

Harry shook his head. "You're not going to get me with that, Mere."

She stuck out her tongue. "Come on, Harry." Taking another step back, Meredith was so close to the ocean now.

"I don't care, Mere. You can't challenge me into doing this."

"Are you sure?"


Meredith scoffed. Stepping into the water, the water curled into her toes, spiraling up her ankles. A sheet a chills ran through her bones. Yet, she welcomed every moment of it. Bending down, Meredith smirked. "Are you sure you cannot be challenged?"

"Don't you dare," Harry said.

Shrugging, she said, "I dare." Meredith flipped water up at him, drenching at least the bottom of jeans. Yet, he wasn't yet enough, and Meredith kicked the icy water up at him. This was nothing like Lake Superior, so she had no choice but to keep going. Harry wasn't a wimp, she knew, so this was nothing but easy.

Harry kept a firm look on his face for maybe a second, before he ran at her, flopping through the ankle high water that came in and out. His jeans, all the way up to his knees were soaked, but at least Meredith had pulled hers up.

Trying to escape his grasp, Meredith let out a screech and jumped away, just happening to go deeper. Meredith didn't care about coming out dry, but Harry did a bit. Meredith splashed more water, and Harry backed up a step. Holding up his hands, Harry backed out of the water.

"Oh, come on," Meredith called. "Seriously? You're giving up?"

Harry's blue eyes never left his girlfriend as he let his pockets' contents fall to the ground.

"Uh-oh," Meredith gasped, knowing she was in for it now.

Taking two bounds forward, Harry was in the water again, splashing water up onto Meredith, even getting her hair. Some water fell into her mouth. Meredith spat it out and then let her body get wet. Water pushed against her top as she splashed Harry, trying to collect water in her fingertips. Fumbling around, Harry got water all the way down her shirt, and Meredith let out a screech as the cold water against her chest. Harry let out a loud chuckle.

Shaking out her wet hair, Meredith didn't give a care about warming herself. She knew the water with ease. Taking a jump forward, Meredith went fully down, pushing Harry down too. Harry squirmed away, finding his clothes to be too heavy for the water. He lost his sweater in the water, and Meredith lost her shirt. Away, they floated.

Meredith kicked around in the water in her bra and jeans, diving under the dark water.

Scanning the water, Harry tried to look for his girlfriend. Fear pricked his skin as she didn't resurface in a minute. Suddenly, Meredith was behind him, hanging on. She didn't try to pull him under, but she kissed his neck, shoulder blades and down his back. Her hands circled around his body, and Meredith held her close. Goosebumps arose on his skin.

Turning around in the water, Harry held his girlfriend, tilting her head back so that he kissed her in the moonlight.

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