"What do you want to know?" She questioned, holding Dawson's eye.
His hands now rested on her waist, and he hesitated speaking just so he could take in the heat of her eyes.
"What I do to you." He finally whispered, "tell me what I do."
Her gaze dropped and she rolled off of him, sitting up and then combing her fingers through the silky white sand. She held some in her hands and let it seep through the crevices in between her fingers. The wind blew Gretchen's hair and the sand in all directions as she gazed out at the waves crashing onto the shore.
Without her in his arms, Dawson felt empty all of a sudden. He sat up himself and watched Gretchen intently. His mind was running wild with curiosity. He wanted to know what she was thinking at that precise moment. One thing that drove him crazy about her was her mystery, but her mystery was also why he was so in love with her.
Gretchen chuckled slightly and turned to him, "What you do to me?" She inhaled deeply, making a thoughtful noise as the breath traveled out of her throat. "I dont even know where to start."
Dawson looked deeply into Gretchen's eyes. He wanted to say something, but there were no words he could muster at that moment. He just furrowed his brow, and swallowed the nervousness in his throat.
"You inspire me," She began, "your overwhelming optimism and" she hesitated to use the word, "childlike outlook on life invigorates me. They make me look at my own life differently, and kindle this fire inside of me with a heat Ive never felt before."
Dawson's lips curled up in a small smile, keeping the intense gaze they were sharing.
"And you opened my heart again. You forced it out of this cold and desperate place where I felt so ashamed and insecure so, so used and worthless. You changed all of that. Every day youre changing that. You're making me feel like a gift sent from heaven. You're making me feel like I'm suddenly somebodys everything, and that I'm worth loving. But most of all, youre making me think that it's true." Gretchen stared at him for a few moments before blinking. Her lips lay flat while she watched Dawson put words together in his head.
"Is that all?" A huge smile painted across his face.
Gretchen's mouth dropped and her eyes widened, "What? You want more?"
"No." He stated, "I want you." He pulled her down into the sand with him again.
"Will you stop?" She laughed and sat up.
"Stop what?" He sat up next to her.
"Making me fall more in love with you every second."
"I could try." The grin never left Dawsons face, but I cant guarantee Ill succeed at it.
"This is actually the kind of thing I'd be glad if you didn't succeed at."
"Then why'd you ask me to stop?"
Dawson's tone had been playful, but the question hit her like a speeding train, and her countenance turned serious all of a sudden. Gretchens abrupt change in expression caused Dawsons to drop as well.
"Gretch? Did I say something wrong or something?" Dawson was confused by her sudden mood swing.
"No." She shook her head, closing her eyes for a moment, "no, not at all."
"Then what's the problem?" He leaned in slightly towards her.
She parted her lips slightly but then pressed them back together when she realized she had no idea how to answer that question. Of course she knew what the problem was, if you could even call it a problem. It was more like a feeling, this stabbing idea that as awe inspiring as this relationship was, there was a certain question gnawing at her heart.
"It wasn't supposed to be like this, was it?" Dawson spoke as if he had been reading her thoughts.
"You mean, you feel that way too?"
Dawson glanced to his side for a second, and shrugged before looking back at Gretchen. "Do you mean that I think we weren't supposed to fall in love like this? I really dont know. Sometimes I wonder why? You know? And, and how?" There was passion gleaming in Dawson's eyes as he spoke, and a confidence radiated off of him. He was so sure of everything he was saying. "To be perfectly honest, I got into this relationship never expecting to fall so madly in love with you, never expecting to become so attached. You were always the fantasy to me; my best friend's beautiful older sister who I knew Id never have. Even when I was a freshman and you were a senior, I still looked at you with the infatuated eye of a little boy but now it's like you're not a fantasy anymore. You're the best reality in my life right now, and sometimes I just can't believe someone like you could actually fall for someone like me. I'm so in love with you that I cant sleep at night because I'm thinking about your smile or I miss an entire Spanish lesson because I'm daydreaming about what you are doing at that exact moment."
Gretchen had a small smile on her lips as Dawson spoke.
"What's really amazing about it though is that I know you're thinking of me too. And the thought of that ending... just the idea that one day we might not be thinking about each other is one that really scares me, Gretch. I mean, it really frightens me. But ask me if this was supposed to happen, if I was supposed to be scared that one day we won't think about each other? I just dont know how to answer that. I mean, how can we know if anything in our lives is supposed to happen?"
"We cant know, Dawson but, but doesnt it all feel so unexpected? Gretchen broke in, That no matter how in love we are right now, neither of us thought it would actually get to this point? And that our lives would ever feel so intertwined that we would ever become so attached to each other?"
"But why does that have to be a bad thing, Gretchen? Why do our lives connecting in this unexplainable and wonderful way have to be a challenge?" He took her hands in his.
"But it does," Dawson rebutted, "Obviously it does to you."
Gretchen turned her head to the side then looked back at Dawson quickly, "Because Im scared too, okay? Im scared of becoming so attached, because in the past its just hurt me. And I know youre not like any of those guys who did that to me but I cant help feeling insecure or," She swallowed then continued speaking, "scared. Scared that if I ever have to goleaving would not only hurt you, but Id hurt myself as well."
"Sometimes the pain is worth it though, Gretchen."
"How can you be so sure?"
"Because I know you cant go through life being scared of things. If you let your fear stop you, you'll always wonder why and what if, you know? But if you don't let it stop you, and just embrace this magical thing we have, if you embrace us, you'll realize all the pain you might feel in the future will be worth it because of all the happiness you felt in the past."
Gretchen let out a laugh and smiled, "How do you always know the perfect thing to say?"
"I think youre rubbing off on me." Dawson grinned and wrapped his arms around Gretchen's waist, pulling her so she was leaning back on him. He let out a relieved sigh, and kissed the top of her head gingerly.
There was a pleasant silence between them for a few moments; the only sound was the whooshing of the ocean.
Gretchen smiled to herself and closed her eyes. She just wanted to embrace this perfect moment between them; to do what Dawson said. She was going to stop being scared and start living this enchanting relationship to its fullest point.
Something about the sweet, wild cherry mixed with comfrey and sage smell of Gretchens hair made Dawson come to a pleasing conclusion. It was like all of a sudden it hit him, the words he had wanted to say this whole time.
"Maybe it was supposed to be like this," Dawson verbalized softly as he wrapped some strands of her hair around his finger and brought it up to his nose, inhaling the scent deeply.
"It was," Gretchen whispered and lifted one of his hands to her lips, "I really think it was."