Chapter 3 | SAMPLE

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Once again sleep evaded my eyes and I walked toward the beach. The beach always soothed me. The salty air and the sound of the unrelenting waves always put my mind at ease. Whenever I stayed here, I'd spend the night at the beach, enjoying the peaceful solitude.

The water was warm despite the cold breeze that bit my skin. The cold didn't hurt any longer. It helped to numb the raging emotions. My personal therapy. Every person reacts differently to pain. To me, it was the work and sometimes the biting cold.

Meeting her today wasn't on my agenda. It never was. Fate set us up all those years ago. I did not realize it took more than a few dates to understand someone. Having sex with a woman wasn't love. At the tender age of eighteen, I was unable to differentiate infatuation from love and that led to my downfall.

I never revealed my true identity to anyone in college. My privacy mattered the most and that was why I stayed in the college dorm and used public transport. There were thousands of Cortez's in this world and no one gave a thought about my background. Growing up in the eyes of the press for most of my life, the freedom I found in the big apple tasted divine. It was too far from home for anyone to recognize me. Those were the best days of my life until Kenzie.

It wasn't easy to get over one's first love or so they say. While I still contemplated if that was love or not, it nevertheless affected me, leaving me scarred. Kenzie was every boy's wet dream and so popular in college. She excelled in everything she did and there has been always a group surrounding her.

It took over three months to build enough courage to ask her out. I still remembered the ecstasy that made my heart jump when she said yes to have coffee with me. Only the memory has now left a bitter taste in my mouth.

Our relationship was under wraps for several reasons. Only Dean, my best friend knew about it in college. I hid it because it would put us in the limelight if paparazzi got wind of it, while she hid it for other reasons. I was a fool to not foresee it.

Easing out a breath, I went to sit on the idle park bench. The ocean was oddly calm in contrast to the distressed state of my mind. Why did we have to cross paths again?

Seeing her at the restaurant this afternoon once again ripped open the wounds I thought were healed. The meeting shouldn't have bothered me, but it did. I couldn't help but wonder how she has moved on with ease while the brief dalliance left me to pick up the pieces of my heart, still scared to trust another.

I was lost in my thoughts when I saw something or someone moves in my peripheral vision. My gaze jumped to the shadowy figure approaching the beach. Wrapped in a blanket it was hard to tell who it was, except for the fact it was a woman.

Her feet made no noise as she walked toward the water, seemingly lost in thought. As she turned slightly, the light fell on her face, illuminating a side of it. Arianna? What is she doing here? I raised my left wrist out of habit to check the time, realizing I didn't have my watch then.

The fluffy blanket slid off her shoulders, making her shiver. She secured it around her and stepped out of her fluffy flip flops.

Uh, oh. Here it comes.

Arianna never liked the cold. The moment her feet touched the cold beach sand, her face twisted. With a shudder, she jumped back into her flip-flops, her expression turned comical and it drew a smile on my lips.

I continued to watch her as she moved further to the ocean, close to the water, but not close enough to touch it. She stared into the distance. Her body shivered as the cold wind brushed against her. Her forehead creased and a frown tugged at her lips. She stood statue-still for the next few minutes. It was hard to tell if she was even breathing.

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