What a beautiful day. I was sitting on a California beach, not to be confused with the normal Texas beach that I was used to sitting on. I had been sent to visit with my cousin in California, after the problems I had been having with my boyfriend …ex-boyfriend.

So like I said here I sit, listening to some band my cousin told me to listen to, she said it would take my mind off of my problems… yeah, right. Though, I have to give them credit…the music was good, real good. It had been so long since I had even listened to music on a radio, that I didn't recognize the group, I figured they were a new band. Thank goodness that music was getting back to what I could listen to again.

When all of a sudden I feel a hand on my shoulder, I must have jumped two feet off of the sand, and an embarrassing little scream came out. I turned around and this really nice looking guy stood there, so I took off my earphones, because I could see his mouth working but I couldn't hear any words.

"Are you okay" he was asking.

I couldn't understand why he would be asking me this, until I realized I had been crying. Now I was embarrassed.

"Um…yes, I was just listening to this tape and it touched a sore place in my heart." He had the nicest eyes and the sexiest lips…what am I doing? What about my broken heart? I just had the feeling this guy could fix anything broken on me….

"Do you mind if I share the beach with you?" he was asking as he sat down next to me.

"No, go ahead." I was feeling tremors run up my back, just at the thought of him sitting next to me. For crying out loud, what was wrong with me?

"I just had to come see if the most beautiful woman on the beach was okay."

Oh boy was he good…"You are a sweet guy." She said.

"That's funny, that's real funny, because that's almost as bad as saying I just want to be friends. But I haven't introduced myself, my name is Keith and you are…?" he gave her his special smile.

"My name is Karie…. Well, Keith, do you spend a lot of time on this beach?" she asked while trying not to stare at his mouth.

"Not as much as I'd like. My job keeps me pretty busy." He was hedging, but this girl interested him and wanted to make sure she could like him for himself, not a singer. "Who are you listening to on that tape?"

Karie looked down at the tape player at her side…she didn't have the slightest idea what the groups' name was… "Look, I know this is going to sound funny, but I don't know, my cousin gave me the tape, she said it would help me get over being sad, but some of the songs are so beautiful" she answered knowing how lame she probably sounded.

"Do you mind me asking why you were sad?" he wondered.

"It's a long story…you know, boy, girl, cheating, screaming, destroying property, parents tired of you upset…." She said.

"Destroying property?" he sounded confused.

"Well, I sort of got angry and broke the window of his car…it was an accident…. I threw his stupid mug at him and he ducked, and it kinda hit his car window. I kept telling my parents I was well over him, but they said I was moping…sure some things reminded me of the good time…but at the end there were so few of those…and I think he was getting mental. I could not get him to leave me alone, so my parents sent me out here to my aunt, whom he doesn't know even exists. I get to spend two months lying around on this beach and having fun, while he is supposed to be forgetting me…and that was much more than you wanted to know wasn't it? Sorry."

"No" he said laughing. "I live here in California, San Pueblo to be exact. But I travel a lot…I have a break from work right now. Almost a month off. Now about that tape, can I listen to it? I might recognize who the group Is. it's a local band, I've heard a lot of them." She handed over her earphones. He listened for a few minutes, then handed them back, started to say something, but was interrupted by somebody yelling his name.

Across the sand came two young boys, straight towards them it looked like. She heard a groan next to her, she glanced over and he was trying to hide behind her. She started laughing.

"Keith, what are you doing?" she asked, still laughing.

"Those are my brothers." He said trying to scoot down lower.

"Then why are you hiding?" she asked.

Too late they had already seen him and were heading towards them. Karie was still laughing when they walked up.

"What's so funny?" This from a red-haired young man around 14 or 15.

Keith had a funny look on his face, so Karie decided to be kind to him.

"Keith was just cheering me up, by making me laugh.

Keith glanced over at her and smiled.

"Hey guys, this is Karie and Karie these are my brothers, Danny (pointing at the redhead) and Chris." He introduced everyone.

"Hello, guys." Karie waved her hand.

"You guys will never believe who she is listening to on her tape player…(he paused to get their attention)..It's the Partridge Family." Keith smiled at them.

Danny whipped his head back around; he had been looking back the way they had come. "Who?" Danny was looking at Keith like he had totally lost it…maybe he had.

"You know…(he winked at his brothers)…so what are you two doing out here?" he asked changing the subject.

"Looking for you, we wanted to know if you were still going with us to the movies tonight?" Danny was still looking back the way he had come from.

"What are you looking at, Danny?" Keith asked.

"We had a run in with some…uh…girls back down the beach. I was kind of afraid they would come this way."

"Well are we still on for tonight?" Chris demanded.

Karie started to pick up her stuff, as she was feeling like a third wheel, when Keith noticed, he turned back to her.

"Where are you going?" he asked.

"I do have to go home sometime and this seemed like a good time." She answered quietly.

Keith looked at his brothers, Danny shrugged his shoulders, Chris smiled real big, you could see these guys were so close that they could almost read each others minds.

"Look, Karie, I know you don't know me very well, but, would you consider going to the movies with me? We wouldn't be alone, you'd have my brothers along as chaperones, if that would make your aunt feel better." He asked.

"I don't know, Keith…" she hesitated.

"Come on, Karie. Keith really wants you to come, and we haven't been to the movies in quite a while…you do like horror movies, don't you?" Chris said, trying to help.

"Oh, now I know I'm not going…I'm so chicken, I should have feathers. The last scary movie I went to the person I went with made me sit through it twice, because she said she was laughing so hard at me that she missed most of the movie the first time." She admitted.

Danny laughed, "Now I want you to go, too. This will be fun."

"I don't know…" Karie was still hesitant, they seemed really nice, and she was attracted to Keith. And Danny seemed like he'd be fun to be around…but what would her aunt say?"

Keith could see she was undecided, "Tell you what, how about you give me your phone number and I'll call and talk to your aunt and we'll see if I can talk her into letting you go out with us."

"Alright, I'll give in if my aunt says yes, but you better have someplace for me to hide, when the scary parts come on." she warned.

"I think I can arrange something." Keith laughingly said, already thinking of that – this could be fun.

So Karie dug around in her beach bag and just happened to have a scrap of paper on which she wrote her number.

"I gotta go, guys, I can't be in the sun too long, I burn, this is real red hair." She fingered the hair hanging just past her shoulders. Keith watched her fingers play in her hair and suddenly wished those were his fingers.

"You want us to walk you home?" Keith asked.

"No, thanks, you all go do what you have to do, thanks anyway." She said picking up the rest of her stuff. She walked off down the beach, after a few minutes of walking she turned around, just to see if they were still there. Sure enough, Keith was still standing there, watching her. He waved when she turned around, then she could see Chris grab his arm and start dragging him towards the direction she had seen Danny and Chris coming from. They sure seemed like a nice bunch of guys.

Later that evening, Karie was sitting at the table, peeling potatoes for her aunt, telling her about the nice day she had at the beach. She told her about meeting the guys, especially about Keith. Then told her aunt that she gave out her phone number. She told her that she was sorry that she didn't ask first before giving it out. But that was okay because she really didn't expect him to call anyway.

Karie jumped up when the phone rang, and her aunt laughed at her, "Who did you not expect to call?"

Karie just made a funny face at her aunt, and picked up the phone.

"Hello?" just knowing it was going to be Keith. And it was.

"Hello? Is Karie there?" asked Keith, uncertainly.

"This is Karie. So you actually called." She answered.

"You hurt my feelings…you thought I wouldn't call?" he asked.

"We had only just met, you know. I'm glad that you did though, call I mean." She said.

"Okay, Karie, let me speak to your aunt before you talk yourself out of going." He teased.

Karie gave her aunt the phone, giving her a shy smile. She felt so nervous, wondering just what he was going to say to her aunt.

"Karie, you can have the phone back now. You have to be ready by 7, as that is when Keith and his brothers are coming to pick you up." Karie gave her aunt a big hug and took the phone out of her hand.

"Keith?" she said into the phone.

"Are you ready yet?" was his reply. Karie laughed, he is so funny.

"Now, now, my aunt said I have until 7 to get ready and that means that I have to get off if you want me ready in an hour." She said.

"Why it takes you girls so long just to get ready, I'll never understand, my sisters always hog the bathroom…anyway, I'll let you go get ready, see you at 7." He replied.

"I'll be ready, bye." She promised.

"Bye." He said but did not hang up.


"Alright, bye."

She heard him laughing as he hung up. Karie just stood there staring at the phone. Her aunt chuckled. Karie looked up and blushed.

"I can't believe you told him yes." She told her aunt.

"I can tell he is a nice boy, besides when he told me his full name I recognized his name as one from our church, he comes from a very good family, I know his mother…nice woman. Raising all those kids on her own. Beside all of that, young lady, I know you…and I can tell you like him."

"Yes I do and thank you so much for letting me go, you are the best aunt. Though I'm not to happy with the movie choices they mentioned…horror." She told her aunt.

"I might ask if I can go with you. I remember the last time you tried to watch a scary movie, that we almost died laughing, missed almost the entire movie, too."

"I warned them, Chris just said that this would be fun. I just know I am going to end up as this evenings entertainment." She moaned.

Karie was ready and waiting with her aunt in the living room by 7pm. At exactly 7 there is a knock at the door. It was Keith and Danny.

"Hi'ya, Karie." Danny said. "I brought a friend of mine along for our date." Pointing at Keith. Keith reached over and pushed Danny away from the door.

"Both of you can come in and meet my aunt, if you'd like." Karie said.

She made the introductions, they promised to have her back at a decent hour, and off they went. There was a brand new light blue Mustang sitting out at the curb, Karie stopped in her tracks.

"Who's is that?" she asked.

Keith and Danny looked at each other. Keith shrugged.

"Mine." Keith replied.

"Yours?" she asked, glancing at Keith.

"Hey, I worked hard for that car, Keith said in his own defense. "It's not someone gave it too me."

"Believe me, he did work hard for it." Danny was quick to back him up.

"Whoa, guys, I didn't accuse you of stealing it, I was just asking because its' a beautiful car. Jeez."

"Sorry, I guess we're a little nervous." Keith said in way of apology.

"You're nervous? You should be, you're taking a known chicken into the midst of a horror movie and expecting to come out alive? Scared, you should be." Karie said jokingly.

Keith reached over and took her arm in his and said, "Come on, let's go see just how scared we can get you. Hurry up, Danny, this should be fun."

"I have a feeling I have just made the second biggest mistake in my life." Karie said.

"And just what would have been the first biggest mistake?" Keith asked.

"Not meeting you sooner." Karie took off to look closer at the car; embarrassed she had said that out loud. She hardly knew him. And his killer smile made her want to melt into a puddle at his feet.

Keith turned to look at Danny, he had the biggest grin on this face and Keith could feel one on his face too. They both turned and walked out to the car, where Karie already was. Keith walked up beside her and put his arm around her shoulders, she smiled shyly up at his face.

"Just how tall are you?" Keith asked.

"Oh, here we go…short jokes now…what, do you people not like me? Or what? First, you want to scare me to death and now you're saying I'm short?" she ranted.

"Now, who's nervous?" Keith asked.

"Alright, I am, but I have been teased about only being five foot tall. So I get a little touchy." Karie admitted.

Danny reached over and ruffled the top of her hair. "Hey, shorty, wanna go for a ride?"

"Oh, you, after I took all that time brushing out all the knots I got at the beach, you probably put in tons more, but I suppose I wouldn't have been able to keep knots out of my hair in the back of a convertible." She replied laughing.

Danny sings "I woke up in love this morning" and jumps in the car. Keith looks at Danny and lifts his eyebrows at him, Danny grins sheepishly and shrugs, "come on, you two old pokey people." Danny told them.

"Old? Who you talking to?" Keith asked Danny, "Besides, we don't even know how old Karie is, do we?" he said.

Both of them turn to Karie and look at her expectantly.

Karie looked back at them, "What?"

"Come on, give it up, just how old are you? You know Danny; maybe we should wait before we take her anywhere. What if she's jailbait? You might be safe, but I don't want to go to jail…though, she just might be worth it."

"Might be worth it?" Karie replied, "I'll have you know I will be 21 soon."

"How soon? 5 years?" Danny asked.

"Yeah, we want proof." Keith added.

"Fine," she said as she climbed in the car, sat down and dug through her purse until she pulled out her wallet. Then she handed Danny her license.

"Yep. She's going to be 21 alright." Danny told Keith.

He went to hand it to Keith, but Karie was too quick for him and got it first.

"Okay, boys, are we going or are you going to tease and torture me all night long?" she asked.

"Well, torture doesn't sound so bad." Keith said with a smile. But he got in the car, with Danny in the back seat; they took off to their house to pick up Chris. It wasn't that long of a drive, and Keith was an excellent driver. She hadn't mentioned her fear of driving in a convertible, as they already had enough ammunition to tease her with. His sitting next to her though distracted her so that she wasn't even thinking about being in a convertible.

It took no time at all and they were pulling up in front of the theater; Keith turned off the car and got out to walk around the car to open her door for her. Before he let her see the names on the billboard he covered her eyes with his hands. Chris and Danny led her into the theater. The boys all were laughing and she felt very silly, but it was all in fun.

She had no way of knowing which movie she was going to see as they were very careful not to let her see any of the advertisements outside in the hall. Keith led her to her seat and then sat down next to her. He put his arm on the back of her seat and then let it slide down onto her shoulders, he pulled her over to his side as much as they seat would allow. She smiled up at him, so nervous that her hands were shaking. She didn't move a muscle, she was really nervous, though it felt nice leaning up against Keith's side.

"Relax. I won't bite…much. Keith said in her ear. Karie laughed and relaxed, a little.

The movie started, Karie was already nervous so when the intro music boomed into the theater, she jumped. Keith laughed but didn't say anything.

She was okay for the first part of the movie, it was just when the scary parts would come on that she had trouble. The first couple of times she tried real hard just to sit there, but when the bad guy jumped out from behind some trees after the girls she screamed and turned into Keith's arms. He just held her close while she kept peeking out from under his arm.

Danny looked over at them and laughed, Keith looked like he should be uncomfortable with Karie wrapped around him like that, but he had a contented look on his face. Danny sighed, it was time Keith found someone that nice that liked him for himself, and this girl did seem to be nice. Too bad she didn't live in California.

Keith was contented, here he was holding a beautiful woman in his arms, whom he knew like him for himself and not just because he was part of the Partridge Family singing group. Though he did have guilty feelings whenever he thought about not telling her what he did for a living. But he was very careful since the last girl that he went out with had only went out with him because he was part of the group. He'd have to tell her soon, but not now. He'd have to find the right way to tell her now. Surely she'd understand. Maybe? Hopefully.

After the first movie was over a second one came on. Scarier than the first. Right during one of the real scary scenes, Karie stood up.

"Does anyone want something to drink?" she asked.

"No!!!" they all said at once. Keith grabbed her and pulled her back down.

"I need to go to the bathroom." Karie told Keith.

"Really?" Keith asked her, looking her straight in the eyes. She squirmed.

"No, not really." She said. Keith laughed.

"Good, then come back to me." He said. She scooted back into his arms. She gave up and hid in his arms for the rest of the movie.

At the end of the movie when the lights came up in the theater, Danny looked over at Karie.

"Let's watch them again, I didn't get to see Karie scream."

"You would have if you hadn't been hiding yourself." Keith laughed. "Beside my ears are still ringing."

Karie sat up straight at that.

"What? Fine, see if I ever watch scary movies with you anymore." She tried to get up out of her seat, but Keith grabbed her arm and pulled her down onto his lap and kissed her.

"Too bad there are other people are around." Keith said.

"Keith!" Karie said pushing against his chest.

"What, Karie? All I meant was that we could talk and get to know each other better, what were you thinking about?" He was laughing at her and she knew it.

He was a darling and she knew she was falling in love with him. Which scared her – did she want to move to California? There really wasn't anything to hold her in Texas, her parents were well off and really like being by themselves, so she wouldn't be missed there. A phone call every one in awhile would suffice for them. She had been thinking of moving to a collage here in California, and Keith was making it more enticing.

The ride home was fun, all of them joking and kidding around. Karie felt so lucky to be included with a family outing.

Meanwhile, over at Karie's aunts house…

"Mom, where is Karie?" Carol said, slamming the door as she came into the house.

"She's out on a date." Her mom told her daughter.

"With who?" Carol demanded.

"Keith from our church, though you wouldn't know him, beings you haven't been going to church lately." Her mother said.

"Mother don't start. You know it's not fair that Karie already has a date and she's only been here for one week." Carol whined to her mother.

"Carol, you should be happy for your cousin, instead of jealous." Her mom fussed at her.

"Why can't you be nice to me?" Carol yelled as she ran out of the house, away from her mother.

Her mom sat down on the chair in the living room, sad that she had yet another fight with her daughter. This is how Karie found her aunt, when she came bubbling into the house after Keith dropped her off. She sobered fast when she saw her aunt upset.

"What happened?" she asked, sitting next to her aunt and putting her arms around her shoulders.

"Carol and I had another argument." Her aunt replied.

"What did you two argue about this time?" Karie asked.

"Well, it was sort of about you." Her aunt relied sheepishly.

"Me?" Karie squeaked. "How come?"

"Carol came banging in the house demanding to know where you were and then said some jealous remarks and I wasn't very motherly and told her should be happy for you and not be so spiteful."

"Oh, Aunt Betty, you do all you can for her. It's just she's having problems right how because of your divorce. Maybe you two should sit down together with a family counselor before you get too far apart." Karie had taken some counseling sessions herself to help her deal with the way her parents treated her, and she knew just how comforting they could be.

"Karie, I'm so sorry to dump all this on you, but thank you for listening to me, sorry we ruined the end of your evening. How was it?" her aunt tried to change the subject.

"Aunt Betty, everyone needs to talk to someone. I'll always be here for you." Her aunt hugged her. "I did have such a nice time tonight, Keith was so sweet, and he didn't tease me all night long and he only laughed at me a couple of times." Karie told her aunt.

"He sounds really nice." Her aunt agreed.

"He is so much more than nice, Aunt Betty, it scares me the way I feel for him already. Maybe if I don't see him for a couple of days, I can get my head on straight. I was thinking of going to check out the college here, maybe I'll transfer here, would you mind if I hung around for a couple of years?" she asked her aunt.

"Karie, we'd love to have you stay here with us." Her aunt said excitedly.

"Oh no, Aunt Betty, I'd get my own apartment. I promise to come over lots. Promise." Karie replied.

"Well as long as you promise not to be a stranger. Guess you will be needing your privacy, I keep forgetting you will be 21 soon." Her aunt agreed.

"Maybe I'll get Carol to help me pick out an apartment close to the college." Karie offered.

Karie kissed her aunt goodnight and went to bed. She didn't sleep very well, dreaming about her aunt, carol, Keith and school. Weird dreams that we confusing and tiring. So when she woke up the next morning, she got up all stiff and grumpy. She walked into the kitchen and right off, saw Carol sitting as the table eating breakfast.

"Well, Karie, how are you and what's his name doing?" Carol said in a whiny tone.

"Look, Carol. I don't feel like fighting with you this morning. I was going to ask you to help me pick out an apartment but if you're gong to be attacking me all day…maybe not."

Instantly she felt bad for jumping on her cousin, no matter how mean she was.

"I'm sorry Carol, I had a bad night worrying about your mom, if I should change schools and I am sorry I took it out on you."

"Yes, miss perfect, you just move down here and take over all of our lives." Carol said and then ran out of the kitchen.

That girl needed help and she sure didn't help her this morning. She'd have to find a way to get back in Carol's good graces. Karie ate breakfast and got dressed fast because she wanted to be away from the house if Keith came by, not that she didn't want to see him, but she had serious decisions to make and school was going to start in a couple of months. So that didn't leave her much time to decide. And with Keith with her, she knew all she would be thinking of was him.

Aunt Betty, I'm getting ready to go out to the college to check it out, do you need anything while I'm out running around town?" Karie asked her aunt, before going out the door.

"What if your young man comes by or calls?" was her reply.

"Tell him he can call later, I need to go check out the college and to tell you the truth, if Keith is with me, I'd be too distracted by him, though if you tell him, I'll deny I said it." She laughingly told her aunt.