The scorching sun beat down on her bikini clad body, the ties of her lavender halter rested loosely on her chest. As long as she was in California, she figured she should take advantage of its sun and beaches. There was more she wanted to see and do though, like shop, and maybe even tour the USC campus. There was still this part inside of her that wanted to see him, and wanted to be close to him. So if she couldn't physically see him, then she'd at least like to get a glimpse of what his life was going to be like in Los Angles come September.
Gretchen had dreamt of him the night before. She dreamt that somehow they were back in Capeside, lying on his bed watching "Turn Away My Sweet", and when the movie ended, he turned to her and kissed her softly. She wiped away the tears on her cheeks then told him she was sorry and had made a terrible mistake by leaving him. Of course he accepted the apology, and as most dreams go, they lived happily ever after. Her dreams were no surprise though. She would often dream of ex-boyfriends whom she still had feelings for. When she stopped dreaming about them is when she knew she was over them. These dreams though, the ones about Dawson, weren't going to stop any time soon. She was still in love with him, now as much as ever before or maybe even more so. Like that old adage says, "absence makes the heart grow fonder," the longer she was away from him, the fonder her heart became of him. The downside though, was that it grew lonelier too.
"Don't tell me you're going to lie on the beach all day," Colin stood above Gretchen, holding his Birkenstocks and squishing his toes into the sand.
"Huh?" She squinted up at him and put her Nirvana blasting headphones on her neck.
"Don't tell me you're going to lie on the beach all day," He repeated.
She laughed. "I'm not. I'm going into the city a little later. There are some things I want to see."
"Sounds good," Colin squatted down next to her, "I'm on break right now, and then I have some stuff I have to do today...but you'll go out with me tonight?"
"Of course. How could I come to LA and not experience the nightlife?"
"Good question." Colin smiled at her. "A bunch of my friends and I are going to a club that we like to hang out at downtown. It's pretty chilled out. It's actually more like a lounge than a place where people go to dance. Hopefully it wont be too crowded. ButI can't really sit to tell you all about it. I have to be getting back. I'll pick you up at nine. Dress to impress."
"Will do." She grinned.
"You better." Colin stood up again. "I'll see ya."
"Bye." Gretchen smiled a little and watched Colin walk away before putting her headphones back on.
Dawson sat in a coffee shop in downtown Los Angeles, shuffling through some black and white photos while picking at a pastry that lay on a plate in front of him. The photos he was looking at presently were new shots of LA, the USC campus, the beaches and all the friends he'd made in the short two weeks hed been living in LA. There was an album full of old photos too. Pictures of Capeside and everything he now considered his past decorated the pages of the album. He'd scarcely look at them. For one he found them to be emotionless, except for a select few, and two he felt like he had moved on already and didnt need the photos reminding him of what he'd left, or left him, in some cases.
He glanced at his watch, waiting for a friend of his to meet him for coffee. Making new friends had never been so easy for Dawson. Maybe it was because of the seclusive environment he and his best friends created that prevented him from having a wide circle of friends in high school, but things were different in LA. Everyone seemed to want to be his friend here. No one seemed to think of him as a film geek. They seemed to truly like him for him. These people found his passions to be interesting and even motivating and inspiring to their own. Beautiful girls would flirt with him where ever he went and give him their numbers. He hadn't called any of them though, and didn't even know if he was going to.
"Hey man," Colin sat down across from Dawson, "sorry I'm late. I got tied up at the hotel."
"It's okay." Dawson looked up. "Your tardiness gave me a chance to start organizing these photos."
"I thought you were a film maker, Leery." Colin reached for the photo album.
"I am," Dawson said, "photography is just a side interest of mine. You know, a hobby."
Colin nodded, gazing down at some prints of the Capeside docks; "These are good."
"No, they suck." Dawson replied quickly, taking a sip of coffee.
"Alright...you keep telling yourself that." Colin rolled his eyes and flipped to the next picture. His face dropped at the girl in the photo. She was looking down, her hair pulled back off of her neck, and her lips curled up slightly, not in a smile, but more in a mysterious way. One small dimple showed on her profile, and the shadows of her face and the flowers behind her made for an intensely emotional picture. Colin's face grew more astonished with every photo. It was the same girl over and over. The same beautiful woman in these photos, the only difference was that her eyes didnt look sad.
"What?" Dawson asked, sensing the change in Colin's emotions. He leaned a little towards him, trying to get a glimpse of the photos Colin was so amazed by.
"This girl..." He turned the album towards Dawson.
Dawson looked at the photo. The girl in it had downcast eyes and she leaned against the railing of a porch, her right leg bent up further then the left, her foot flat on the wooden bolsters of the railing. It was obvious that she didn't know the photo was being taken, the look on her face indicating she was thinking deeply about something. "You think she's gorgeous, don't you?" He kept his eyes on the photo.
"Her name's Gretchen. I used to snap photos of her left and right. She said she hated it," Dawson chuckled and pushed some blonde hair away from his tanning face, "but I knew that deep down she loved the attention. If you think she's beautiful in those photos..."
"She's even more enchanting in person..." Colin whispered, finishing Dawson's sentence and running a finger over the image.
"How'd you know?" Dawson furrowed his brow, curious of Colin's knowledge of Gretchen.
"I don't know," Colin lied, "I could just tell." There was a short silence between them. Could Dawson have been the one that caused Gretchen's sadness? He just had to know. "Were you two together?"
"Yeah...but it's over, and I've moved on." Dawson answered quickly, and he sounded a little too sure of his words for Colin to be entirely convinced.
"Who ended it?" Colin's mind was running wild with curiosity.
"She did...she went on this, this road trip, and then I got accepted into the summer program. I haven't talked to her since she left in late May...and g-d only knows where she is now."
"She may be closer then you think." Colin said, staring at Dawson.
"I don't even think I want her to be close. I've moved on and as much as I loved her I just know our time is up. It was right that it ended, and starting the relationship up again isn't exactly on my things to do list. She hasn't made any attempt to contact me anyway, so I figure if she doesn't care enough to even call why should I waist my time?" He sighed, glancing to his side.
"Oh," was the only word Colin could mutter. He wanted to tell Dawson that maybe it would hurt her too much to call him, that maybe she thought about him every ten seconds, and that if she was to really talk to him it would just hurt her all over again. Colin couldn't be too sure though. He didn't know what Gretchen was feeling, he didn't know anything about the relationship she had with Dawson, and in fact he barely knew anything about Gretchen herself. He could only assume. And one thing he learned in life was that assumptions only get you in to trouble. So, he figured that he'd keep his mouth quiet on the matter, and wait for them to talk about it, that way he could start putting things which made more sense together in his head. "She sure is a sexy thing though." Colin grinned at Dawson, hiding any inkling of his knowledge of Gretchen.
Dawson laughed, flipping to a photo taken right before the prom. His eyes scanned the photo, following the curves of her body through the tight dress, and back up to her face. She was smiling in the photo, obviously talking to someone, but she was the only subject in the shot. "Yeah," he smiled slightly, creating a mental image of how amazing she looked that night, "she really is..."
Gretchen looked around the small boutique on Rodeo Drive, feeling very out of place in the pricey store. The clothing was mostly trendy, with a few funky and unique articles scattered sporadically throughout the racks. Dress to impress, Colin had told her. She wondered whom she was trying to impress exactly. Was it his friends? Was it Colin? Or was it just Los Angeles in general that she had to put on a beautiful semblance for? Her hands ran over some studded dark blue jeans hanging on a rack. They were perfect. The waistband was torn and ragged, and it looked as though it had been cut away and now the threads were fraying. They would probably ride low on her hips, and fit her tightly in all the right places. As a saleswoman went to get her a size 3, she sat down on a plush seat near the dressing rooms, placing her elbow on her lower thigh and her chin into the palm of her hand.
"Tell me exactly how you persuaded me into coming shopping with you?" Dawson leaned against a wall as he waited for Gretchen to purchase some clothing, sipping a red frozen drink.
"I told you I'd let you come to Victoria's Secret with me." She quipped.
Dawson laughed and nodded, "Ah that's it." He paused to glance around the store, "So then what are we doing in the Gap?"
"Teasing you." She grinned.
"Here we go with the teasing again..."
"Just be patient and I promise that we will venture to the store which you have never been to before."
"What makes you think I've never been there?" He raised his eyebrows, challenging her.
Gretchen rolled her eyes, "Please."
Dawson chuckled, "Fine. You win. You always win. Just as long as you let me pick out something..."
"You can pick it out but I can't guarantee that you'll ever get to see me wearing it."
"Now that's just not fair."
"I'm joking!" She laughed, pulling him so he was standing next to her as the line moved forward.
Dawson raised his eyebrows, a somewhat surprised expression springing up on his face in reaction to Gretchen's words. "You're joking...well now I think were actually getting somewhere..."
"Miss? Excuse me, miss?" The saleswoman looked down at Gretchen.
Gretchen snapped out of it quickly, looking up at the woman. "Yes, I'm sorry." She forced a small smile and stood up, smoothing out her clingy light blue dress that showed off her fresh golden tan.
"I put the jeans in a dressing room for you. Is there anything else you would like before you try them on?"
"Um..." Gretchen looked around the store, contemplating buying a shirt, "no thanks." She finally decided, knowing she had shirts at the hotel that would look great with the pants.
"Right this way then." The woman moved forward, leading Gretchen to a dressing room.
She looked absolutely perfect. The natural blonde highlights amidst her blown dry auburn hair were brought out by the shimmery and subtle gold shadow on her eyes. Her wine colored lip-gloss shined under the light of the hotel room, and the rhinestones down the legs of her jeans sparkled. She turned to her side, examining herself in the mirror. The waistband of her pants dipped about an inch below her belly button, and they rested tightly on her hips, the top of her tattoo sticking out slightly. Gretchen tugged at one of the thin straps of her red body hugging tank top. She adjusted it until the perfect amount of her flat stomach was showing between where the jeans ended and the top began. If she was supposed to be impressing people, then this outfit would definitely do the trick.
There was a knock on Gretchen's hotel room door, and she sprayed on some CK One perfume before answering it. Colin stood there wearing dark Tommy jeans and a black tee shirt that hugged his defined chest muscles. She watched his eyes look her body up and down quickly, and she couldn't help but do the same. They both smiled.
"Wow," he said,
"Wow?" She laughed, pretending she had no idea what he was talking about and turned back into the room and sat on the edge of the bed closest to the door.
"Well how else am I supposed to express how incredibly amazing you look tonight?" He followed her in.
"You're the writer. Shouldn't you be able to spit out something that describes exactly what you think about my appearance?" Gretchen pulled her black boots onto her feet.
"If I was to have a pen and a piece of paper, then yes. But although I am a writer, I am a man of little spoken words." He crossed his arms over his chest and looked down at Gretchen.
"Good," She smiled and stood up, readjusting her pants once again. "Because I've known my share of hyper-verbal people, and frankly Im not quite sure I could deal with any more at this time in my life."
Colin laughed. "I know some hyper-verbal people myself. They're great but sometimes just a little overwhelming..."
"That's the truth." Gretchen grabbed her purse from a dresser. "Okay, I'm ready."
"Okay then, let's go."