A.N. Why hello, my lovelies! I hope that you are all well, and I apologize for the long absence. I went and got hitched! :) That said, here is a piece that was absolutely missing from BTL. Hope you enjoy it and I hope to be writing more soon!
Suggested listening: Hidden Track, Jason Mraz; I Choose You, Sara Bareilles; Safe and Sound, Capital Cities; My Baby is the Real Thing, Allen Toussaint
Rachel licked her spoon clean with a smile. All the people I love right here. She froze as she considered. Not everyone. "Whoops," she murmured. Going to have to make a phone call...
Noah looked over, quirking a brow. Whoops? "Hope that's not in reference to me, Rach - I think Ma is already planning the wedding with Will and Dan."
Rachel giggled as she considered the families gathered into a huddle. "They can plan all they want. I'm going to go about this properly." This time, anyway.
Noah plucked the spoon from her hand, dropping it into the empty bowl. "Properly, huh?" He hauled her into his lap with a smirk. "I don't know if anything I intend to do to you is proper." I'm pretty fucking sure it's not. He nibbled her neck.
Rachel shivered, smacking his arm. "Noah! Behave. We already got away with something this morning." Or at least I hope we did...
He chuckled. "Yeah, and I'm hoping to get away with it again, do you think we could -"
"Enough canoodling, time for the beach," Ilana announced with a grin. "We were being polite and waiting for Rachel, but if the two of you think that you'll get away from us our last day here, you aren't the brilliant couple I think you are."
"And that answers that," Rachel whispered, fighting a laugh. Damn. "Of course not, Mrs. Puckerman, we know better." More's the pity.
"Ilana for now, hopefully something less formal someday." She frowned at her son. "Maybe we were planning the wedding, but can you blame us? You two are over there looking so perfect!"
Noah grinned. "Damn right we are." We always were, whether I got it or not. He gave Rachel a noisy kiss on the lips.
"Okay, enough already!" Sarah rolled her eyes. "Somebody, anybody, get me out of here." She shook her head at Rachel. "I'm glad you're together and all, but between you guys looking at each other and them looking at you, I'm gonna lose that really excellent bagel I just had to the bathroom. When I throw up."
Rachel blushed, ducking her head. Get a hold of yourself, Rachel! "I'm sorry, Sarah, we're done here."
Done? Really? Noah raised a brow, whispering in her ear. "We are? 'Cause I'm just getting started with you."
Rachel gasped as Noah slowly ground his hips against her. "We - we are," she managed shakily. Even if I don't necessarily want to be...She shook her head. "It's your family's last day here, you and I will still be here tomorrow." Wait, that's true...they'll be home and Noah will be...here...
Noah clenched his arms around her. "Damn right we will be." We will. I am not going to fuck this up again.
Rachel's brow furrowed as she felt the tension in her lover's grip. What's going on? "Noah?" She cupped his cheek in her hand, turning to look at him. "You all right?"
He nodded, burying his face in her neck for a heartbeat. "Yeah. Yeah, Rach, I'm fine." I am. I'm fine. We're fine.
She smiled softly. I must remember the fact I'm not the only one trying to process..."Is it my turn to point out to you that a lot has happened in a short while?"
No shit. He kissed the top of her head. "Stop being so smart, Berry, it's annoying."
Oh. She pressed a hand to her heart. Berry. "I haven't heard that in ages."
He froze. Did I just fuck this up already? "Rachel -"
She shook her head. "It's - it's okay." She swallowed hard. "It really is." Unexpectedly so.
"Dare I point out that we've been telling you for ages you weren't as angry at Noah as you thought you were?" Dan chimed in. "Because we have."
It was Rachel's turn to roll her eyes. Yes, about a million times. "Thank you, Dad, much appreciated. Fine, yes, you're brilliant, you were right, but I needed to figure it out for myself, and you told me that too."
Will laughed. "She has you there, my love. We raised a bright one."
Dan nodded. "Absolutely. Now let's talk Long Beach. Shall we make a day of it? Grab dinner after?"
Rachel shrugged, looking back at Noah. We should have hidden back there for longer, I should have known it was too good to think we could be left alone today. "I'm not working, and I don't think I'd mind..."
Noah tickled her lightly. "Don't think you'd mind? Is that the best you've got?" I'll drive you out of your mind, how about that?
Rachel squealed, jumping from his lap and running through the condo. I think we are the best that I've got. "I'll get a beach bag!" she called behind her.
Noah grinned at the rest of the entourage. "Excuse me, everyone." And I'll get you.
Rachel giggled as she heard Noah running after her. "Come and find me now," she sang breathlessly.
Noah stopped as his heart clenched. Rachel...He ran straight for her, snatching her up and carrying her into the bedroom, kicking the door shut as he went. He claimed her mouth urgently, lowering them to the bed.
Noah...Rachel kissed him back just as fiercely, nipping at his lips. "I love you," she whispered.
Noah groaned. "Love you too." Damn family...He slipped a hand between them to slip into her panties, growling at her responsiveness. "So fucking much." He pinched at her clit, twisting tightly.
Rachel arched up with a broken cry, clutching at his back. "Noah..."
He turned to the side and groped blindly for the nightstand, fumbling to find the familiar foil shape. I just - I want - I need - Rachel...He kissed her hard, unzipping his fly one-handed and shoving at his pants.
This is...this is crazy, but I - I need - Rachel grabbed the condom from him, tearing it open and rolling it on. "I need you," she gasped out.
Noah dragged her underwear down, tossing it across the room and slowly sinking his cock inside her.
"N-Noah..." Rachel arched towards him again, lifting her hips for his. "Please..."
"Rachel..." Noah bit his lip as her inner muscles clenched around his shaft. "Rach, you make me crazy."
"So then go crazy," she moaned lowly. It's been so long..."Please..."
Noah hooked her legs over his shoulders, pounding hard into her. Mine, never gonna give you up, not ever fucking again...He leaned down to claim her mouth, swallowing her moans as he lost his rhythm.
Rachel clamped her hands onto his biceps, pressing her heels into his back. "Oh, Noah…" She dug her nails into his arms while her orgasm swept her under.
Fuck, yes...Noah broke the kiss, throwing his head back when Rachel's climax triggered his own. Fuck, yes, Rachel...He shuddered against her, lowering her legs carefully. I love you..."I love you," he managed hoarsely. "I love you so much."
Rachel giggled, struggling to even her breathing. "I love you too, Noah. I can't believe we just got away with that." What has gotten into me?
He grinned, pressing a quick kiss to her lips. "If I hadn't wanted you so much, and if you hadn't let me let loose, we might not have. But I fucking loved it." Glad you did too, because I did not mean to lose my shit quite that fast.
Rachel flushed again. "Incorrigible." And so am I, as it stands...
"Damn right." Noah kissed her deeply. "Good thing too, or I might never have gotten back to you." And I am so glad I did.
Rachel hugged him, gazing into his eyes. I missed this. "I should make you bring your guitar to the beach. Serenade me some more." Or maybe not. Dangerously sexy. She shook herself. Rachel!
Noah carefully withdrew, disposing of the condom quickly. "Whatever you want, Rach." He leaned down to kiss her, grabbing his slacks from the side of the bed to tug them on. Glad I went commando yesterday. "Seriously, whatever you want." Now that you'll let me...He licked his lips. "I'm so sorry for everything I put you through, Rachel. I love you." I love being able to say that out loud. He kissed her hard before pulling away to continue. "I love you. I'm never gonna hurt you again."
"Oh, Noah..." Rachel shivered, sitting up and cupping his face. I know you mean that, but..."You're going to hurt me again, and I'm going to hurt you - we love each other, it's part of the territory." I have to remember that, too. She kissed him gently, gazing into his eyes. "But I love you. And we will be okay." She sighed theatrically. "Though not if we don't re-emerge soon. I think we've tried your mother's patience enough."
He stepped back with a grin. She's still too good for me. "Just tell me what you need me to do."
She giggled. "I don't know what it is with you, Noah Puckerman, but the answers that pop into my head in response to that statement are not at all safe for children." Some things never change.
Damn right they're not. "Good," he murmured. "We'll get back to that later."
Ilana pinned the back hallway with a glare. "If those two don't come back out here now..."
Will and Dan chuckled, exchanging a glance. "We have the benefit of remembering when they were together before, Ilana - they'll be back momentarily," Will offered.
"Slightly disheveled though," Dan whispered to his husband.
Will shushed him with a grin. "Don't give her a heart attack, sweetheart. Why don't you go get our bag?" He raised his eyebrows meaningfully.
Dan nodded. "Be right back, all." He smoothed the smile from his face and charged down the hall.
"So which one?" Rachel held up a turquoise bikini and a white Marilyn Monroe one-piece. "Classic or modern?" Why am I bothering to ask when I'm virtually certain of what his answer will be…
Noah wagged his eyebrows at her. That's a question? "Whichever is easier access."
"Noah!" Rachel laughed. Exactly as I thought. "We're going to be surrounded by both our -" She froze as an insistent knocking on her door interrupted her, turning bright red. "Oh, no..." We were here too long…She moved for the door. Please don't be Ilana.
Noah waved her back and hopped to open it. Doesn't matter who is on the other side, you're only getting to Rach through me. He blew out a breath at the face that greeted him."Hi Dan, sorry, we're debating bikini versus one piece."
Dan rolled his eyes. "Considering your mother's impatience with you both, Noah, I'm going to tell Rachel one-piece just so your family has a fighting chance of holding your attention."
Rachel froze. Oh, no… "I - I hope your mother isn't mad at me, Noah, I told you -" And yet…I definitely participated. She bit her lip.
Dan cleared his throat. "If it's my fault for – for putting a damper on your plans last night..."
Noah swallowed his smile. If you only knew…
Rachel looked around the room desperately. Do not blush. Do not look at him. Do not…
Dan chuckled. "Or, uh, not. All the more reason to get yourselves together and go."
Rachel nodded quickly. Translation: don't push our luck. "Marilyn it is, thanks, Dad."
Dan winked. "Now thank me by getting back out there." He left the doorway to continue to his bedroom.
Rachel turned to glare at Noah. Why didn't I put my foot down? "See? Now your mother is -"
Noah wrapped his arms around the aggravated brunette and pressed soft kisses down her neck. "Now, my mother is abso-fucking-lutely over the moon that you and I found our way back to each other. She made me give her the key in the hopes that I wouldn't come home."He nipped at her, satisfaction flooding him as she went limp against him for a moment. I missed doing that to you. "You have to breathe. I promise I'll try to behave." For now. Maybe.
Rachel shivered. "T-try hard, p-please." Because I obviously have no self-control today…
Noah chuckled and smiled. "I definitely try hard for you, Rach." He pressed the evidence against her. "Very, very hard." I'd love to show you again right now…
"Noah!" She blushed and giggled. Mmm, that missing self-control would be extremely useful at the moment…"That quickly? We just -"
He kissed her neck. You have no idea how much I want you. He nibbled her skin, nuzzling and licking. I could get drunk on just the taste of you…"After the drought I've had? You're lucky I'm not insisting we stay behind," he murmured absently.
Drought? Rachel gently pushed free of his arms. "What do you mean, 'the drought' you had?"
Noah shrugged, stroking a hand over her cheek. Well, I was gonna tell her sometime. "I haven't been with anyone in years, Rach. Not since Quinn and I were over."
Rachel's eyebrows shot up in shock. Seriously? "No one? When did you and Quinn end?" Before Connor and I did?
Noah cleared his throat. Oh, shit. I should've figured she'd want specifics. "Um, when we were here for Spring Break. What, four years ago, maybe?"
Jaw dropping, Rachel searched his face. Oh, Noah. That long? "The Sex God of McKinley -"
"- Wanted no one else but you," he interjected. "No one was right after you. Not Quinn, not anyone." That should've been my first clue.
"Oh, Noah." She grabbed his face in her hands and kissed him. This is what I've waited for. "I love you."
"I love you both too, now get your behinds out there before Ilana has a coronary in the living room." Dan grinned from the doorway, beach bag over his shoulder. "Don't worry, honey, your father and I will take a nice, long weekend away sometime soon."
"Dad!" Rachel hid her face. My own father, offering a weekend of…I can't even finish that sentence in my head.
Noah laughed. Her dads really are fucking awesome. "Thanks, Dan. And we'll be right behind you." Even if we don't need them to offer up the place...
Dan only shook his head. "Oh, no. I may love you, but I'm not stupid. After you both, please."
Rachel blushed deeply, grabbing a bag and tossing towel and cover-up in. "Yes, Dad." Except I still need to tie up one loose end. She cleared her throat. "Do you think I have time for a phone call?" She looked back to Noah. "Do you want to just meet us at the subway? You can go home and grab a bag."
Noah raised a brow. "Who exactly are you calling?" And why is my stomach churning?
Oh, Rachel. She giggled at the worried look in Noah's eyes. Spare him the heart attack. "Noah, I have to call Lori. I have to call Lori. This is homicide-worthy news if I don't tell her soon."
Noah blew out a breath. "Oh, thank fuck. That's all?" He grinned. "Tell her to meet you at the beach." This should be fun.
Rachel gave a snort of laughter. "She still might kill me, Noah." Though it might be enjoyable payback for all her needling and meddling…
"Aw, come on. Can't we have a little fun?" Noah faked a pout. Or a lot? More than a lot?
Dan groaned. "Give me a break, you've already had fun twice today and it's barely morning." He tossed Noah a pair of swim trunks. "Your mother and Sarah apparently came prepared, those should be yours." He turned back to his daughter. "Call Lori, text her, tell her and Connor to ditch work, I don't care, but let's go." Dan gave them both a warning look before walking back to the living room.
Rachel took a deep breath and shrugged. "If no one minds the company…" Surrounded by everyone, she can't kill me too badly…
"Do it, and let's get going," Noah agreed, tossing Rachel her phone. The sooner we start, the sooner we end, and I can try and talk Ma into the same deal as last night…
Lori rubbed at her eyes as her phone rang. "Doesn't everyone know not to call before ten on Sunday?" She groped for the phone on the nightstand. "Hello?"
"Lori?" Rachel winced, looking at the clock. How often can I wake her before she hates me? "I'm sorry to wake you," again "but I know you have today and tomorrow off for the holiday, so I was wondering if you might want to join myself and my fathers at Long Beach?"
Lori stretched and shrugged. "Sounds good," she managed on a yawn. "It'll be nuts tomorrow. Meet you at home?"
"Actually, we..." want to give you a heart attack "...have to run some errands first...and is Connor off?" Please say yes. He'll help protect me. Rachel bit her lip. Maybe.
Lori patted her boyfriend on the chest. "Want to go to Long Beach?"
Connor nodded. "Yes, we can meet them there in a couple of hours."
"A couple of hours?" Lori repeated, raising a brow.
"A couple of hours," he repeated into the phone, and disconnected the call, tossing the phone towards Lori's purse and rolling the woman herself beneath him.
Rachel shook her head, tossing Noah a smile as she stepped into her bikini. Hope Dad won't comment on the change... "Well, she'll at least be in a great mood when they get to the beach," she chuckled.
Noah sighed, pouting. I could be in a better one. "Are they doing what I want to be doing?"
You and I both...Rachel nodded, dragging Noah out of the bedroom.
Ilana rolled her eyes. "Finally." She shook her head and charged to the door. "We need to keep an eye on you two. One day, Noah. One day. You can do...whatever...when we're back in Lima."
Noah held up his hands. "Rachel was saying the same thing, Ma, sorry." He glanced at Rachel, an apology in his eyes. Should have figured Ma would have no patience, but...she's the one who was hoping I wouldn't come home. "Totally not her fault. We realized she needs to talk to Lori. I convinced Rach to surprise her at the beach, when we're all there together."
"Oh, if I were her, I'd kill you," Ilana scolded. "But whatever, you do what you want."
Rachel smacked Noah's arm. "I told you!" I knew I should have just let Lori know what was going on...
He caught her hand and kissed her palm. "Relax! It's a good thing." Right? "She'll be thrilled."
Rachel sighed and nodded. "She'll be thrilled." Beyond, thrilled, probably, because…She rolled her eyes. "And she'll tell me she told me so."
"Well, she did." Lucky for me. He licked her lightly, smirking up at her.
She shivered. I can't believe in front of – well, yes I can. She faked a glare. "Enough out of you, Mr. Puckerman."
"Mr. Puckerman, she says." It's a start. He gave an exaggerated growl. "Oooo, I like it."
Rachel sighed and tucked her head on Noah's chest as they claimed seats on the train. What a difference...
Noah kissed her hair, shifting her more comfortably to tangle his hands through it. "I missed this. I missed everything." And I'm a lucky bastard to be back here again.
Rachel pressed a kiss to his heart. "I did too, whether I wanted to admit it or not." And I most definitely did not want to admit it.
So glad you did. He squeezed her tighter. "Thank you for giving me another chance," he said softly.
Rachel looked up to meet his gaze. "Thank you for wanting it, for wanting me that much. You really have become the man I always knew you could be." And I can't doubt that you love me. How many girls can say that?
"Don't make me too grown up, Rach - I'm still gonna try to get into that bikini on the beach." He licked his lips and leaned in to whisper to her. Don't act all uppity with me. "Come on, admit it – you wore the bikini instead of the one-piece because you hope that I do." And I fucking love it.
She smacked his arm. Damn it, don't draw attention to that! "You're going to get us in trouble!"
"You're going to earn a permanent black and blue if you don't behave, Noah," Ilana teased from across the aisle. "I'm not sure what you said, but you've been saying an awful lot of it this morning."
Rachel giggled and kissed his arm. "I'll have to find a better way to keep him in line, we can't have that." Speaking of drawing attention…
Noah's eyes lit up. Oh, I can think of a bunch of ways to keep me completely obedient to your every whim..."I have some suggestions..."
Rachel looked at him suspiciously. "I get the feeling that none of them are appropriate for discussion in mixed company." Which makes two of us, actually…
He only grinned. "Incorrigible. Get me a T-shirt." And then I'll take it off and throw it at you before throwing you down and showing you just how incorrigible I am...
"This station is Long Beach, our final destination. Laaaast stop, last stop."
Sarah looked out the window as the train slowed to a screeching halt. "We're at the beach?"
Rachel nodded. "Pretty much, just a little walk from here. Since we bought the passes with our train tickets, we can just walk right over." She paused. What did I want to see most the first time I came here...She smiled. "Sarah, do you want to see surfers?"
"Surfers?" Noah raised a brow as they filed off the train. "What do you know about where the -" guys "surfers are?"
Rachel giggled. "I know where they are thanks to Lori and Connor. He surfs, we sunbathe." And perhaps admire the many masculine physiques on display...She squeezed his hand. "But it's cute that you wondered."
I'll show you cute. He dragged his thumbnail across the inside of her palm, smirking at her shiver. "So will he be lugging a board from the train?"
Rachel nodded. "It helps, we'll see them coming." And perhaps I'll even have time to flee.
Ilana shook her head again. "I still think she'll kill you when she gets here, Rachel."
Will chuckled. "Lori will say she'll kill her, but she'll be thrilled. I think Lori's probably seen this coming for a while."
You're all saying that you saw this coming, every last one of you. Rachel frowned. "Was I really the only one thinking there was a possibility we wouldn't work out?" Is that really a bad thing?
Noah grinned and kissed her. "It's okay, Rach, remember that I was in touch with everyone - they could tell the guy who came after you would be the one you wanted." If you only knew what kind of grief I got from them...
She sniffed. "Still, it would be nice if someone had some qualms about it, instead of it being an inevitability." Not that I want to be right about not letting Noah have a chance, but really, I do hate being wrong...
If it means that much to you..."Rach. I did." Noah stopped short and tugged Rachel back, turning to face her. "I had no idea whether I was gonna even get to you when I got to New York. So, yeah, definitely at least one." Scared the shit out of me, but there you go.
You idiot. Rachel shook her head. Maybe the observers saw it, but the two of us had nothing but faith to go on. "Oh, Noah. I'm so sorry, that was thoughtless of me to protest." She leaned up to kiss him.
"If it helps, me too," Sarah chimed in. "I think Noah's a dummy most of the time, so I wouldn't have been surprised if you turned him down." She froze. "I mean, not like I don't want you to be together, but just, well -"
"It's okay, Sarah, no one thinks you want them broken up." Dan patted her shoulder. "But I think we all know you believe the kissyface is getting old," he teased them.
Rachel rolled her eyes. Our families. We have to love them. "All right, it worked out the way it was supposed to, how about we all accept that and get to the beach?"
"Done!" Ilana pointed down the street. "Is that the boardwalk I see?"
Rachel smiled. "It is indeed. Welcome to Long Beach, everyone." If we can't be home alone, at least we're here. She took the lead up the ramp, inhaling deeply of the smell of the sea. "It really has become one of my favorite places."
"Guess I'd better learn to love it too, huh?" Noah wagged his eyebrows at her. "I can think of a way to really improve my first experience here…" And to make up for the fact that we're gonna spend the first day that I can freely get to you with our entire family...
Don't tempt me again! Rachel glared at him, snatching their passes out of his hand for the attendant to punch and handing over her season pass. "Not today."
"Ooo, but sometime. I can live with that." Especially when that means I get to come back here with you and just you...Noah wrapped his arms around her waist, walking her down and kissing her neck. "How late do the trains run out here?"
Rachel blushed, pushing her way free. "Later, all right? Poor Sarah is slowly dying to get to the sand." And slowly dying watching us panting after each other. Self-control, Rachel.
Sarah nodded, taking her pass back. "Can I keep it? Or do I have to give it back when I leave?"
"Well, you bought it with your train ticket, princess, so yes, you can keep it," Rachel reassured her.
Ilana raised her eyes to the heavens and shook her head. "Thank goodness, not like that girl has enough souvenirs from this trip. Every receipt and stub is in her bag already."
Sarah frowned. "Hey, it's a big deal! I've never been here before, this is fun." She gasped as she saw the beach. "Oh, wow, Ma. Look at the ocean!"
Rachel grinned, standing back to allow Ilana and Sarah past her. I remember that feeling. "Just head to the left, Sarah, you'll see the surfers."
Now that she's gone...Noah grabbed Rachel again, tucking her head under his chin. "You're really good to them, Rach. Thank you."
She looked up at him with a small smile. "I've always loved your family, Noah, it was you who was questionable." And that's only because I didn't want to let myself believe it...
Oh, really? After all that wanting someone else to be insecure about this? He narrowed his eyes at her. "Rachel, Rachel, Rachel. Now you're in for it. Especially knowing your bikini is on under there…" He hauled her up and over his shoulder, charging down the ramp to the sand.
"Noah?" Rachel bit her lip, fighting to catch his gaze. He wouldn't…"Noah, I was kidding, I - " Her heart thudded as the water approached. He would, he totally would. "Noah!"
Will and Dan stood back, laughing, as Noah kicked off his shoes and made for the water. "Oh, our poor girl…" Dan bit his lip as Rachel kicked and shrieked.
Will shook his head. "She brought it on herself, darling, she'll be fine. He wouldn't dunk her, I don't - oh, maybe he would..."
Rachel squealed as Noah took her further out. This is what I get for pushing my luck! She laughed helplessly. "All right, all right, I always did, I never stopped, Noah!"
He grinned, turning her in his arms. That feels so damn good to hear. He kissed her. "Was that so tough?"
She smacked at his arm. It's only fair when I forced him to admit he wasn't so sure he'd prevail over my will. "You know it was, now stop it and let me down."
He kissed her again and obliged, setting her on her feet. "That was fun." I don't mind the excuse to hold you close at all...
She let out a huff that dissolved into giggles under his gaze. "Okay, fine, maybe a little." Or a lot. I missed being in your arms like that...
"You laugh, I win," he teased, taking her hand and kissing it. "Now let's get set up." So we can get away from them...
She shrugged. "It seems our families took care of that." She pointed to the blanket already laid out, Dan and Ilana unpacking their beach bags. Better than them watching us, however. "What do you think?" she called to them.
Sarah ran over, beaming. "I love it! The beach is amazing! Can we stay here all day?"
Rachel nodded. "I was under the impression that was the plan. We have to stay at least until Lori gets here with her boyfriend." And hopefully she doesn't send me out to sea...She smiled at Sarah. "But we can stay as long as you want. We can even have dinner here before we go back to the city."
Sarah turned to her mother. "Can we? Please?"
Ilana raised a brow. "What would you do if I said no, hmm? Would you even get back on the train with me?"
Sarah looked around at the group. "Um...if I had to?"
Will laughed. "Dinner here is fine, Ilana, there are a lot of great restaurants if you want to sit down, and there are showers here so we can all wash up." He looked Noah up and down. "I hope your jeans dry though, Noah."
Noah shrugged. "I'll live. I'm sure there are places we can sit outside and stuff."
Rachel patted him on the back. "Yes, there are. But maybe next time you'll know better than to run into the surf without rolling up your pants." She took off her sundress to reveal the turquoise bikini beneath.
Noah only grinned. "Hearing you squeal like that? Totally worth it." He leaned over to whisper, "If I can't make you scream, squealing will have to do." For now, anyway.
I'd rather be screaming...Rachel flushed bright red. "Noah! Stop it."
Sarah rolled her eyes. "Okay, I don't wanna know. I'm going to go watch the surfers, bye!"
Ilana raised a brow. "You certainly have a way with your sister, Noah." She smiled at Rachel. "I'll mind her, you and Noah just...enjoy." She turned her gaze to her son. "Legally, though. Don't let me catch you sneaking under the boardwalk."
Noah pouted. "Well, damn. There go all my plans." Unless you just don't catch me...
Rachel and Ilana looked at each other, and smacked him in the arms.
Lori yawned and stretched, settling into her boyfriend's arm. "Why do you think she decided to go to the beach?"
Connor shrugged, kissing her head. "It's Labor Day weekend, babe. It's not a crazy idea. I'm just hoping there are some decent waves to catch."
Lori rolled her eyes. "Yeah, the beach is definitely my main competition." She glared up at the surfboard in the overhead rack. "If you didn't look so hot out there surfing…"
Connor chuckled. "You know there's no competition, Lor, but thanks for the compliment." He squeezed her lightly. "Would you rather I surf when we go to the beach together, or go to the gym every night?"
She wrinkled her nose. "Surfing it is. I'd rather see you on the weeknights, thank you very much."
"Well, there you go." He nudged her. "Besides, surfing season will be over soon enough."
Lori giggled. "Then you'll be stuck with me alllll weekend, alllllll the time."
Connor shook his head. "That's if our work schedules ease up like they're supposed to."
Lori frowned. "They will. They have to. I say so."
He grinned. "All bow before Lori Bernardo."
"Damn right." She sighed. "I wonder how Rach is doing, anyway. She sounded good on the phone, but she also uses Long Beach as like, therapy. And she brought Will and Dan."
Connor shrugged. "You'll find out soon enough. Are you supposed to call her when we get there?"
Lori considered for a moment. "I don't know if we said I'd call. We can always just head for our usual spot, she probably steered them there."
"Fair enough." Connor looked out the window. "We're just about at Island Park, do we wanna grab food when we get there or anything?"
"'Cause someone decided to start the day off with some aerobics? Yeah, can we grab something quick? Grab bag from Ay Caramba?"
Connor nodded. "Flautas and spicy fries, maybe some guac and chips."
"Salsa and chips," Lori countered. "Guac will get all weird in the heat."
Connor laughed. "You think between the three of us, forget about Will and Dan, those things will survive? We may as well get both."
Lori shook her head. "You know Rach will have packed a whole damn veggie picnic. Flautas, fries, wings?"
Connor rolled his eyes. "Weren't we aiming for quick?"
Lori batted her eyelashes. "Pleaaaaaase?"
Connor chuckled. "Powerless against you. Flautas, fries, wings and guac. I get guac if you get wings."
Lori smiled. "Deal."
Lori snatched another chip from Connor's hands, shading her eyes with the other. "How do you let me leave without sunglasses?"
"Knowing Rachel carries an extra pair 'just in case' that you always end up using? I stopped paying attention," Connor teased.
Lori gasped theatrically. "You stopped paying attention to me?" She sniffled, still scanning the beach. "I can't understand how you would - oh, no shit!"
Connor looked around, confused. "What happened? Lor?"
She pointed the chip towards the green swim flag flying at the end of Monroe. "That!"
Connor followed her direction and burst out laughing.
Rachel lowered her sunglasses and blew out a breath. "Here we go," she muttered. May the Bernardo be merciful...
Noah followed the path of her eyes and snorted. "Rach, I think we're fine. Connor's surfboard backpack thing is going to smack him in the head, he's laughing so hard." And he kinda looks like a nerd, so, bonus.
Rachel nodded. "But Lori is not." She bit her lip as the Filipina stalked towards her. I knew I should have just told her on the phone...
"You!" Lori stuck an accusing finger in Noah's laughing face. "And you..." She turned the complaining digit in Rachel's direction. "You...with him!" She turned quickly. "Hi Will, hi Dan, how are you, I'm well thanks, 'scuse me while I yell at your daughter."
Dan giggled. "Ilana did say you would."
Lori frowned, looking up and around. "Mrs. Puckerman? Sarah too?"
Will they save us somehow? Noah pointed down the beach. "Surfers. Sarah's only seen 'em on TV."
Lori nodded. "Good, they won't have to witness this." She turned back to Rachel. "You. Walk. Now."
Rachel glanced at her friend, then reached in her bag and tossed her a pair of sunglasses. Peace offering?
Lori caught them, smirking. "Thanks, now walk."
Guess not. Rachel sighed and kissed Noah quickly, giggling at Lori's corresponding squawk. "Back in a bit."
Noah nodded, looking to Lori. "Be gentle, it's only half her fault." And I need her back in one piece.
Lori laughed as Rachel swatted his arm. "Careful, Puckerman, my girl can fight back now. We all taught her how."
Noah held up his hands. "I think I'm getting that idea." I don't mind, but damn. He rubbed at his arm. "Not even twenty-four hours and I'm gonna have a black and blue."
Rachel glared at him. "Then stop antagonizing me!" Or drawing attention to the fact that just one night with you has turned me back into a monogamous nymphomaniac…
He grinned. "But it's so easy, and you take it so well." Not to mention taking other things so well…
Connor laughed. "She really is going to kill you, you know."
"But I'd go happy." Noah took Rachel's hand and kissed her palm. I really would. "Totally content."
Rachel rolled her eyes, snatching her hand back with a smile she couldn't hide. "All right, let me take a walk with Lori. We'll be back." With any luck, none the worse for wear…Casting a hopeful smile at her best friend, Rachel led the way down to the water.
Ilana looked back towards the assemblage, laughing as Lori pointed from one person to another. "I told Rachel she shouldn't surprise her friend."
Sarah turned to see. "Ha, look, they're fine. And Noah's being extra good."
Ilana smiled. "As he should be, after all this. Someone could write a novel."
"Or a buttload of songs," Sarah countered. "And oh, he kinda did."
Her mother chuckled. "All right, all right, it's true." She watched Rachel and Lori walk towards the shoreline and head in the opposite direction. "Well, there goes any hope of eavesdropping."
Sarah raised a brow. "Really, Ma? What were you going to hear from here to the waterline anyway?" She waved a hand at the numerous blankets and umbrellas surrounding them. "If you want to hear anything, you'd have to walk with them."
Ilana nodded slowly. "Want to go walk down by the water?"
"Ma!" Sarah shook her head. "No. No stalking Rachel." She giggled. "I think Noah did enough of that for all of us."
Noah watched the girls walk away, and turned to Connor. Kinda awkward making small talk with Rachel's ex, but I'm gonna have to get used to it. "Surfing, huh? Tough to learn?"
"At first, but it's the most efficient workout I know." Connor planted the board in the sand and deposited the bag of food with the Berry men. "They do lessons sometimes. Remind me to find out. If you survive to next summer, anyway."
"To infinity and beyond," Noah answered easily. "That's the plan." As long as Rachel will have me.
"Here's hoping that this is the first of many good mornings, then." Connor held out a hand.
Noah shook it with a grin. Awkward, but not tough. "And here's to even greater ones."
Rachel took a deep breath. "So...have a good morning?" Perhaps reminding her of that will soften her…
Lori nodded. "Definitely. Always good to have a long weekend, time off, all that. Now spill."
Damn it. Rachel cleared her throat. No hope of swiftly escaping this conversation. "I...where would you like me to start?"
"Well. Last I spoke with you, you were telling me very adamantly how you did not want a romantic reunion at the beach." Lori waved her arms. "Yet here we are with the Puckermans and Noah declaring his undying love!"
Rachel licked her lips. She is absolutely correct. "Lor -"
"Yay!" Lori flung her arms around the startled diva. "I'm so thrilled!" she shrieked. "I'm so proud and I'm so happy! Finally!" She exhaled heavily. "Now, tell me everything that happened last night. Everything since you went to work."
Rachel blushed. Can I skip the part where I drunkenly threw myself at him...and then equally drunkenly said there would be no sex? "Maybe not 'everything'." And then totally ignored that? Repeatedly?
Lori squealed. "With that blush? Everything!"
Will raised a brow, peering out over the edge of his sunglasses. "So, can we just talk about how you'd said Rachel was wearing the Marilyn today?"
Dan shrugged. "That's what she said. Obviously someone changed her mind. And let's not think about why..." He blew out a breath. "But all's well that ends well, no?"
Will considered the various clusters of their group around the beach. "Who says anything is ending?" He smiled as Lori threw her arms around Rachel. "From that response, I'd guess this is the start of a bunch of double dates and maybe if we're lucky, we can get in every once in a while."
Dan frowned at his husband. "You think we'd survive dinner with those four? We'd be like referees."
Will snorted. "And that's different from every day how, exactly?"
Dan giggled. "Touché. But it is the end of the summer. That at least is true."
Will nodded. "Which means nothing once they're in college."
Dan pouted. "It means no more lifeguards here."
Will raised a brow. "Okay...we're not exactly in the water, though. Nor do we really ever make it past the sand."
Dan huffed. "I'm trying to be sentimental here!"
Will chuckled. "Sorry, love, I don't mean to ruin your moment. Should I be sad?"
Dan pushed his sunglasses back up with a sniff. "I suppose not. I was just trying to reflect on what a significant turning point this is, and I get nothing from you. Nothing."
Will fought down another laugh. "I can give you something," he muttered.
"William!" Dan gasped, smacking Will's arm. "You watch yourself."
He grinned. "I think I'd rather watch you."
Dan gasped again. "William, how can you say something like that when we're in public?"
Will raised a brow. "The kids can find their way home, easily."
Dan bit his lip. "You're incorrigible."
Will guffawed. "Now we're Rachel and Noah."
It was Dan's turn to grin. "In that case, want to pretend we have to make up for four years of lost time?"
Will grabbed his husband and kissed him.
Noah raised a brow at the Berry men. Is everyone besides me going to get laid today? He shook his head, shedding his jeans. He tossed his shirt towards Rachel's bag and looked to Connor. "So you gonna get out there?"
Connor grinned. "Oh yeah. Lori and Rach will know where I'll be." He paused. "Is this the point where I have to threaten you with bodily harm if you hurt Rachel again?"
Noah snorted. "Probably, yeah. I'll consider it done." You and everyone else in the Peanut Gallery today.
Connor nodded. "Sounds good." He chuckled, walking a few feet from the blanket to look at the surfers. "I still can't believe that all those years ago, if she'd just turned to see where I was looking..."
Noah held up a hand. If I thought like that, I'd lose my mind. "It happened how it needed to happen, for both of us." He narrowed his eyes. Not even…there was more than just me and Rach at play. "Actually, for all four of us, I think." He nodded over to where Rachel and Lori walked along the shore, water lapping their feet. "You got with her best friend."
Connor rolled his eyes. "Yes, you don't think I realize how bizarre that is?" He shrugged. "We both fought it. And Rach."
Noah laughed. "Of course she would try to set you guys up. Rach is always trying to fix people." Whether they want her to or not, and with or without their help.
Connor smiled slowly, unzipping the board bag. "And aren't you one to talk about her fixing things. I am pretty certain you were the main project of her high school years."
Noah sighed. "Yeah, it just took me a while to pick up on it. But quit with the subject change, you can tell me I'm an ass later." Or skip it entirely. He considered for a moment. "Tell me Rach did the 'let's go to the movies' and didn't show."
Connor barked a laugh. "Okay, so maybe you are her match." He planted his board in the sand and surveyed the waves. "She did that, then called to apologize for being held up by work -"
Noah snorted. I know how this story goes…
"Yes, I take it you see what she was doing." Connor grinned. "As an apology for standing us up, she made dinner reservations..."
"...that she also no-showed for." Noah rubbed his hands over his head. Some things never change.
"Correct." Connor looked towards the girls and smiled. "Lori and I spent the first half of dinner talking about how outraged we were, and the second half drinking our outrage."
Noah frowned. "Not sounding good." Though outrage and alcohol sometimes make interesting things happen, I guess.
Connor shook his head. "Yes, I realize that. But Rachel's patience had pretty much run out by that time. She'd been trying to get us together for months. She texted both of us -" He nodded back to the Berrys and the beach bags. "We both still have the text. She said 'Just kiss already. If it's awful, tell me and I'll leave you alone.'" Connor smiled at the memory. "She timed it perfectly - we were leaving the restaurant and we were both inebriated enough that when we got the text -"
Noah burst out laughing. "You guys were drunk enough that you did it, huh?" A dare, Rach? Really? Took a page out of my book…
"Oh, we did." Connor licked his lips. "We did and..." He shrugged. "Let's just say Rachel discovered her ploy worked when Lori's mother called her looking for Lor...the next morning."
Noah smirked. "Nice." And I hope you both realize how lucky you are Rach is an actress to get a call like that.
"Oh, more than." Connor raised a brow at Noah. "Considering the blush Rachel was working with, you know all about those kind of nights."
Noah grinned, slipping a hand in his pocket as he looked over to watch them walking. Love you. "Hoping to do it again soon."
Rachel bit her lip as she walked with Lori. "Well, if it's everything, I'm going to need some privacy." She glanced around, catching Ilana, Sarah, and the boyfriends watching. I don't miss the irony of feeling shy now, but…"It's - it was -"
Lori grabbed her hand and tugged her along. "It was what? Amazing? Unreal?" She shook her head. "I just really want to know how he even got close to you."
Rachel snorted. "Ask Noah about his new part-time job." Actually…if only Brent would move on…
Lori frowned. "His new..." Her jaw dropped. "Wait, you had a double at the Prom yesterday..."
Rachel nodded. "I did indeed." She shook her head. "I was rehearsing a new number for the show and he just..." Seduced me, swept me off my feet, and proved he could be everything I dreamed…She closed her eyes. "He came out of the bar and climbed the stage and started singing to me."
Lori laughed. "Oh my God! How did he even get in?"
How did he? Rachel shrugged. "Good question, I didn't even think about it." So odd. "But Ty wanted to try to shake me - he and I had sparred a little about the band keeping up with me. I think this was his way of trying to get me flustered." In the end, I'm a sight more than flustered. She stopped, shaking her head. "Who randomly starts mashing up Into the Groove and Against All Odds?"
Lori frowned as she considered. "Two keys, different time signatures..." She shrugged. "A music comp major?"
Rachel giggled. "I suppose yes." You would know. She started walking again. "Ty ate it up, he took Noah back to the office to talk to him about working there." As I slowly lost my mind.
Lori raised a brow. "And you didn't run screaming or tell Ty he was a stalker? You just let it happen?"
Rachel bit her lip. "I - yes." Be honest, this is your best friend. "Yes, I let it happen. Noah is - has always been - tremendously talented, and I could never allow myself to stand in his way. Ty did ask...and I said we could work together." Which should have been a substantial clue to my changing opinion.
Lori's eyes went wide. "You did? Rach!" She shoved her friend's shoulder. "And you say you had no idea you still loved him. Liar liar pants on fire."
Rachel smirked. "Good thing I'm not wearing pants then, all right?" I know Noah agrees…She smothered a laugh. "I just couldn't - regardless of our history - impede Noah's efforts to begin a career and support himself here in New York."
Lori rolled her eyes. "Uh-huh. You go ahead and tell yourself that."
Rachel sighed heavily. "Lori, you already know the end of the story is Noah and me reuniting. Can you please let me tell the story?" And while we're negotiating, may I also leave out the evening's conclusion? She smiled prettily. "You know that I ultimately realized that our connection was still there, obviously. I'm telling the story as it happened, with my frame of mind at that moment."
"Translation: I can laugh at you later. Okay!" Lori smiled and hooked her arm through Rachel's. "Continue."
Rachel shook her head, giggling. And she will, too. "You are…"
"Exactly the type of friend you need." Lori gave a toothy grin. "Won't let you get away with crap, but I actually love you. So. You, Noah, Ty, Prom, singing. What happened after that?"
"Ty wanted to hear Noah and I sing something else together." Rachel bit her lip again. You'll know exactly what significance this has…"So we sang 'No Air' acapella, and -"
"Wait. You guys sang 'No Air'." Lori grabbed her arm and shook it. "Of all the songs in the world, wasn't that the one you told me about with the whole -"
"Swaying like props?" Rachel nodded. As I expected you to recall. "Someone somewhere was definitely messing with me. Yes." She blew out a breath. "Noah even remembered the choreography." What little there was, with Mr. Schue at the helm.
Lori burst out laughing. "Seriously? So you're, where, Ty's office? The stage? Singing and dancing with Noah Puckerman, exactly where you never wanted to be."
"Ty's office, and yes, yes, I was." At the time, in any event. Rachel drew a deep breath. "After we had finished, I went to change and Chelsea - "
"Chelsea the Maneater? The one who's always stringing along the bartender?" Lori rolled her eyes.
"That would be the one." Rachel wrapped her arms around herself. The one and only.
Lori narrowed her gaze at her friend. "She wanted Noah."
Rachel snorted a laugh and nodded. "She wanted Noah, precisely." She shrugged. Not that I can blame her, exactly. "Chelsea wanted us to hang out for drinks anyway, and when she spotted Noah in the crowd, she immediately set her sights on him."
"What did you do?" Lori raised a brow. "Did you let her at him?"
Rachel shrugged again. "I didn't let her anything. He's not my property at all." Though I wouldn't have minded the opportunity to slap her in her smug cheating little – She cleared her throat. "I changed, went to the bar to have a drink with the cast, and Brent -"
"Ohhhhh, give me a break." Lori made a face. "He still wouldn't take a hint?"
Rachel smiled. You know he wouldn't. "Not even close. He bought me a drink and coerced me onto the dance floor."
Lori rolled her eyes. "So Brent's trying to get you, Chelsea's trying to get him, and no dice on either end."
Rachel pursed her lips. "I wasn't exactly in the most coherent frame of mind, but no, nothing for either of us. I..." She frowned quickly, shaking her head. How did he get away from Chelsea? And why? "I never even asked him about that."
Lori smacked her arm. "What does it matter? So what happened? Did he cut in and punch Brent and carry you off like a caveman?"
Rachel kicked at the sand. "No, he didn't carry me off anywhere." Though he could have…She blushed, looking to the side. "I...Brent told me that Chelsea 'struck out' and when I looked over and saw him..."
Lori grinned. "Did the room go slow motion and you ran to him?"
"The room went alcohol blurred and I made out with him." Rachel bit back the smile. Wait for it…
Noah and Connor both glanced over at the girls.
"Did you hear that?" Connor squinted at the pair. "Was that Lor?"
Noah grinned as Rachel blushed deep red and stopped walking. "Uh, yeah, I think it was." I wonder what they're talking about.
Connor raised a brow. "Do I want to know?"
I know I do…Noah shrugged. "Well, if she's telling Lori how the night went...it was kind of interesting how you just add alcohol and Rach turns into a totally different person."
Connor snorted. "Don't remind me. We discussed this."
Noah held up his hands. "True, we did." Not my fault, but can't say I'm mad about it. "But it factored in last night, and I'm sure that's what Lori is responding to."
Connor frowned. "How much did it factor in?"
Dan spoke up from his perch on Will's chest. "Relax, Connor. She was home and safe and didn't want him to go or we would've kicked him out in a heartbeat."
Will kissed his husband's head. "Honey, you could have at least pretended to not be listening."
Noah and Connor laughed.
Connor shook his head. "By this point, we're used to the Berry family, Will. It's fine."
Noah raised a brow. "You too? I thought I was the only one who got the full-on Berry treatment." I might even be a little hurt.
Connor chuckled. "Oh, you got all of them, I only had to deal with the one." He gave a half-smile. "But that one was more than enough, wouldn't you say?"
Noah laughed. Do you have any clue who you're talking to? "After all this time, I think it's pretty safe to say there's no such thing as enough Rach for me."
"Can I throw up now?" Sarah threw herself down on the blanket.
Ilana rolled her eyes. "No, you can't, because that's actually sweet." Ilana held out a hand. "I'm guessing you're Connor?"
He shook her hand with a smile. "Yes ma'am, Mrs. Puckerman. Nice to meet you."
"Nice to meet you too." Ilana looked him up and down. "I have to say I'm glad you and Rachel broke up before Noah got here, it would have been a fight."
"Ma!" Both Noah and Sarah groaned at her comment, while Connor blushed.
"What? He's a very -" She turned to Connor. "You're a very handsome young man. Not that I would want you for my Rachel -"
"Your Rachel?" Dan raised a brow and lowered his sunglasses. "I know what you're hoping, Ilana, but give me some time to adjust to having to share my daughter."
Ilana pressed a hand to her heart. "Oh, Daniel, yes, of course. But Rachel has been family for Noah and for Sarah. I should thank you for raising such a beautiful soul."
Will snorted a laugh. "Flattery works for some things, but our Rachel is beyond precious. Dan might need a bit of time, though I will also remind my lovely husband that we've been hoping Rachel would take a leap for a while now."
"You kinda went off the deep end then, huh?" Lori shook her head, laughing at Rachel's blush. "Rach, relax, teasing."
Rachel nodded, running her hands through her hair. "I know, it's just...I did totally reverse course last night." Completely going against everything I'd said I'd do…
Lori held up a hand. "Uh, no. You finally moved forward, sweetheart, and not a moment too soon."
Rachel raised a brow, kicking lightly at the surf. "Oh? What does that mean?" There was a deadline?
Lori shrugged. "He was switching out of your class and we were all on board with you giving it another shot. You thought you were bombarded before?"
Rachel giggled. Well, when you present it that way…"Point again." She took a deep breath. Let's see how far I get without being interrupted…"We kissed, I mauled him in the dressing room -"
"Rachel!" Lori smacked her in the arm. "At work?"
What do you - "No!" Rachel gasped. Lori! "Goodness no, I -" May have wanted to..."I would never cross that line -"
Lori shrugged with a smirk. "Maybe don't say that with such conviction, you never know what might change..."
"Lor!" Rachel gaped at her friend. You can't mean…"Please tell me you and Connor haven't -"
Lori looked back towards the blanket with a grin. "Not yet, but not for lack of trying. iHeart more than just radio...that theater would be awesome to -"
Rachel closed her eyes and shook her head. Why did I even venture to ask…"No. Stop there. I have been to shows in that theater." She raised a brow. "Besides, your sex life or mine?"
Lori cackled with laughter. "Yours, oh my God." She grabbed her friend's arm and shook her. "I cannot believe you said that." She snorted. "I cannot believe you have a sex life again!"
Rachel paused, shoulders shaking with giggles. Now that you mention it…"Do you really want to talk about the last time I had a sex life?"
Lori smacked her in the arm again. "Don't even, you set us up, remember?"
Rachel rolled her eyes, tugging Lori further away from the group. How could I forget? "Of course, and you didn't make it easy."
Lori rolled her eyes in return. "Did you not just comment on the squick factor of it? Okay then."
Rachel could only smile. I do believe you started. "Fine, back to the topic at hand. I'll just tease you about dinner later."
Lori glared a warning at her friend. "There is nothing to talk about."
Rachel's grin only widened. "No, nothing at all to talk about. It's not like you blurted out the night before how you wished you could just kiss him and find out what it was like...and then I offered to call him and tell him...and you said, 'we'll see what happens tomorrow' and 'damn that boy for not just asking me out on a date' and 'if only we just happened to be alone together'..." And so I created the opportunity for that to happen…and encouraged you to take the next step…
Lori gasped indignantly. "Rachel! We promised never to speak of it again. I blame you - there was lots of wine, and I let my guard down…"
Rachel laughed, squeezing her friend's arm. "Weren't you the one telling me that's what friends did? Talk about everything? No filter?" Besides, you and I both know you really wanted me to intervene…
Lori narrowed her eyes at Rachel. "Right, but there are still things that should be sacred!"
Rachel paused, pivoting on her heel. "You're right, Lori, you're absolutely right." Two can play this game. "So, that said, we didn't do more than kiss in the dressing room, I got water and Noah made sure I ate a little something as well, so I wasn't overly inebriated, and then we went back to the apartment, where we finished discussing our relationship issues and reunited. The end."
Lori grabbed Rachel's arm and pulled them to a halt. "No! No, you don't get to shortcut this. Not after all these years of heartache and back and forth and agonizing on all our parts…"
Rachel shrugged, eyes wide with mock shock. "No? But...you just said some things should be sacred…" You should know better than to provide a semantic opportunity…
Lori turned a laser gaze on the other diva. "Some things. Like how many times and how many different positions. That's sacred. But there's no way you go from mauling him in the dressing room to happily ever after without more detail than 'it happened'!"
Rachel sighed dramatically. "Can't blame me for trying." Even if we both know I wasn't going to prevail.
"Uh, yes, I can." Lori shook her head. "So, you were mauling him in the dressing room…"
Rachel pursed her lips. Perhaps I should have chosen a different descriptor. "And then Noah - "
"Wait." Lori looked over to the blanket, raising a brow. "Noah was the one who stopped you from groping him."
Blushing, Rachel nodded. "He was. He told me as much as he wanted me, he didn't want me drunk and regretting it later." She glanced back. I should remember to thank him for that again. "Accordingly, we got water and he made sure I ate something while we walked and talked."
"Oh my God." Lori shook her head. "If that's not crazy in love with you, I don't know what is."
Rachel smiled. You're telling me? "I know."
Noah rolled his eyes. "I hate that they're looking at us and I have no idea what they're saying." It's gonna be good. All good. It's gotta be.
Connor scoffed. "Get used to it, those two are trouble when they get together."
Noah snorted. "That I already knew. But I hate knowing I'm being talked about." Like high school all over again.
Ilana chortled. "Oh, Noah, I love you but you and Rachel have both been discussed by all of us - either individually or as a unit, and with and without your participation in the conversation." She gestured towards the surfers. "Go do something, they'll be back when they're ready."
Connor shrugged and grabbed his board. "Waves look good. I'm going to go out there and take a few. If you walk down to the other side of the flags, you can body surf and boogie board too." He started off towards the surf flag.
Noah followed behind, gesturing Sarah to join them. "And if I had a boogie board or knew how to body surf, I would." Especially if Rach enjoys watching it. He quirked a brow. "Lakes don't really lend themselves to boogie boarding or body surfing."
Connor paused. "Touché. Growing up around here spoils you, I guess. Never stopped to think about it."
Noah nodded. "Yeah, not really part of my repertoire. Yet." Can't wait to try it.
"Take video of him learning so I can laugh at him, okay?" Sarah smiled at Connor. "Please?"
Noah grabbed his sister in a mock chokehold. "Listen here, munchkin, I'm the older brother - I get to laugh at you, not the other way around." Especially now that I'm not a fuck-up.
Connor laughed. "I'm afraid I have to agree with your brother, Sarah. I have a little sister too, and those are the big brother little sister rules. No blackmail unless you get the footage yourself."
Sarah frowned. "That's not fair, I don't live anywhere near here." She folded her arms. "Hey...would it be different if I were a boy? Because if it's being his little sister that protects him, that's totally misogynistic and completely unacceptable."
Connor raised a brow at Noah. "Mini-Rachel happen often?"
Sarah huffed. "I am right here. Why not ask me?"
Noah laughed. "I think you just got your answer." Not a bad thing at all.
Connor nodded. "That I did." He turned to meet Sarah's gaze. "I do have a little brother, and the same rule applies to him." He gave a half smile. "But he would also just follow me places when we were little, before he even realized the value of it."
Sarah snorted a laugh. "I tried that too, but Noah stopped it real fast."
It was Noah's turn to snort with laughter. "Trust me, Sar, it was a good thing." Definitely nothing I'd want you to see.
She rolled her eyes. "Yeah, I figured that out later on, thanks." She turned to Connor. "Fine, I'll just ask Rachel. She'd do it."
Noah and Connor looked at each other.
Connor shrugged. "You know the answer to that as well as I do."
Noah sighed. "Yeah, she totally would. Laughing the whole time." And I'd let her.
Sarah smiled smugly. "Exactly." She looked over towards Lori and Rachel and smiled.
"So. He's sobering you up." Lori hooked arms with Rachel. "We can head back in their direction – I'm pretty sure we're close to the part that you can leave to my imagination." She raised a brow. "What did you talk about?"
Rachel chuckled. "Everything. Lori, he wanted to get everything out in the open and he wanted me sober to do it, to hear it. And…" I really do have to thank him later. She took a deep breath. "And he even let me yell at him, rage at him, and let all of it out."
"Finally, again. Finally." Lori tucked her head into Rachel's shoulder. "How good did it feel to tell him everything you were holding for all that time?"
Rachel rested her head on Lori's. "Like letting a weight off my shoulders that I had been carrying too long." Like you all told me it would.
"Say it. Just once." Lori peered up at her, batting her eyelashes. "You heard him out, you said your piece, and it changed everything. Just tell me one time…"
Rachel giggled. "You were right, Lor. Note it on the calendar. I should have let him talk, I should have listened, and I should have unburdened myself sooner." Whether then or now, though, I'm so grateful I did.
"Ahhhh." Lori sighed in satisfaction. "I really am going to mark it on the calendar."
Rachel rolled her eyes. "I would expect nothing less." But if there was ever anything to be wrong about, this is just fine.
Lori raised a brow. "So, then you came home and..."
"And..." She paused. She is so going to kill me…Rachel twirled a length of hair through her fingers. "And maybe went through the portfolio some more..."
Lori picked her head up to stare at Rachel in disbelief. "The portfolio. Really, Rachel?"
"Hey!" Rachel frowned. "When we were talking, we realized by not finishing his portfolio, I missed some of his growth." Again, as you all had been insisting. "So when we got back, I asked him what I needed to hear to get the rest of it, to see the evolution. And so he played me two songs. Which were..."
"Beautiful, perfect and all about you." Lori eyed her friend. "And then did you jump him?"
Rachel blushed. Pretty much.
"Woohoo!" Lori crowed. "How Rachel got her groove back, ladies and gentlemen." She bumped Rachel with her hip and grinned. "And now look at the fine manly men we have."
Rachel beamed, waving at Noah and Sarah. "We do indeed." Though I would have to say, mine is just perfect for me. "I suspect Connor is already out there?"
Lori scanned the surfers floating in wait. "Yup, I see his fine self out there." Lori nudged Rachel again. "How much better can you get than this?"
Ilana sighed and smiled. "This trip could not have been better if I tried. William, Daniel, we have done well."
Will laughed. "Other than support them, I don't quite know what else we've done."
Dan rolled his eyes. "Oh, please, we kept Rachel sane and raised her to have a good heart. Even if her stubborn head gets in the way. As for Noah, Ilana laid the groundwork and you, my darling husband, nurtured the seed of the man he could be. Et voila!" He gestured to the crew watching Connor surf. "So this is love, hmmmm mmmm mmmm mmmmm..."
Will chuckled. "All right, Cinderella, your points are well taken. As well as the unspoken point that Rachel's talent did not come from us."
Dan smacked his husband in the arm. "You are really trying to make me mad."
Ilana laughed. "So that's where Rachel gets it from - any time Noah was getting too fresh, she'd give him a slap on the arm."
Dan flushed. "Guilty? I'll talk to her before she leaves bruises."
Ilana rolled her eyes. "Oh please, no need. I somehow doubt Noah would mind the proof Rachel is touching him again." She paused. "Could I rephrase that?"
The three dissolved into giggles as Dan shook his head. "Not a chance, Ilana, not a chance."
Rachel smiled. "You really can't ask for more." She giggled as they approached Noah and Sarah. "Unless you're Noah. Who I believe would have preferred everyone else go to the beach without us." And who is not alone in that desire. Among others.
Noah reached out a hand for hers, smirking. "Damn right I would've. Sorry, Sar." But the things I would do to you, baby…
Sarah rolled her eyes. "Uh-huh. I think we kinda got that idea when you both kept... disappearing."
Lori gasped, laughing. "They did not."
Sarah snorted. "Uh, yeah, they did. Well, first they tried not to let on they were awake. And then they disappeared to get Rachel's beach bag...for like, twenty minutes, maybe?"
Lori eyed the couple holding hands. "Yeah, I think you're right about the 'disappearing' act, Sarah. Sorry on behalf of my crazy friend."
Rachel blushed. "I already apologized to all of them!" Don't pretend that you don't actually approve…
Noah chuckled. "It's okay, Rach. They're too happy we're together to really be mad. We'll just make sure to give them a better distraction when we try to disappear again." And we will.
Sarah raised a brow. "Didn't Mom say -"
Noah rolled his eyes. Mini-Rachel be damned, you're still a Puckerman. "Mom says a lot, Sar. How much do you want to listen to?"
Sarah folded her arms. "I may not want to listen, but I still do."
"Because you don't have a choice," Noah pointed out. "You telling me you want to hang out with me all day?" You can try, but I won't believe you.
Sarah scoffed. "No, but Rachel, I want to hang on to."
Lori giggled. "You guys realize you're ridiculous, right? You're not getting anywhere on their watch. They're waiting for it."
Noah grinned. "Like I said, we'll just have to be sure they have a better distraction." Like dinner.
Lori shook her head. "You're gonna need a conspirator, Puckerman, and I don't know if Raggedy Ann over there is going to be much help."
Sarah frowned. "Raggedy Ann? Who?"
Rachel glared at her friend, fighting a smile. Gee, thanks for the instant blush inducement. "Raggedy Ann was a rag doll, Sarah...with big red circles for her cheeks. Haha, Lori, funny, yes, I've had quite enough scrutiny of my renewed…" She bit her lip and mouthed an apology to Sarah. "Seriously, enough. Go ogle your boyfriend."
Lori wagged her eyebrows. "With pleasure. Sarah, wanna come with? I'll tell you what the moves are called."
Sarah nodded, casting a wary glance at her brother and Rachel. "Sure, okay."
Lori put her hand to her young charge's shoulder and steered her ahead, turning back to Rachel quickly. "Fifteen minutes," she mouthed. "Sacred."
Noah's hand on Rachel's tightened. I don't wanna get my hopes up, but… "Did she just -"
Rachel bit her lip. Damn it. "Yes."
He grabbed her around the waist. "Let's move." Now. Right now.
Rachel glanced back at their parents and around at the crowd. Fifteen minutes...She turned to her boyfriend. "Head back and left."
Noah grinned. "Wherever you want, Rach. I'm all yours." I can't believe you're going along with this, I'll go wherever you tell me to…
Rachel shivered. I know. She licked her lips and tugged him left towards the boardwalk ramp. "Is anyone looking?"
Noah pulled her into a hug, peering over her head. "Not that I see." Hope that doesn't change…
Rachel peeked over his shoulder. "Come on." She ducked under the boardwalk and quickly jogged left into a corner. I think this is it…"This is the best spot to..." She blushed.
Noah chuckled. "Don't finish that sentence." Seriously, don't. "Bad enough that I know you've been here before with -"
Rachel shook her head. "Not me, not with him. Lori." I should have led with that, shouldn't I? She tugged her bottom lip between her teeth. "I - she just shares and I remember, so -"
It was Noah who shook his head. "Even better. Now quit wasting time." We did enough of that already. He wrapped his arms around her and hauled her in, kissing her softly. "Years, Rach." He kissed her again. "Years thinking about you and what I did to us." And I'm so fucking sorry. He kissed her more deeply. "Of thinking about how much I must have hurt you." And how I'm never gonna do it again if I can help it. He stroked her cheek softly. "Years of not kissing you." And wondering who was…He nibbled her bottom lip, groaning at her whimper. He trailed his mouth across her cheek to lick at her ear. "Years of not hearing those sexy sounds you make..." Let me hear it, baby…
Rachel moaned, splaying her hands across his chest. Too long, far too long…"Noah..."
"Fuck yes, that." He claimed her mouth urgently, trapping her hands between them. It's like I wasn't breathing until I heard that again..."Just say my name like that forever, okay?" He nipped at her lips, his hands roaming up and down her body. "Rach..."
Bikini for the...mmm...for the win…Rachel threw her head back as his lips trailed down her collarbone. "Noah..."
Fuck yes. Noah dragged her bikini top down, exposing her breasts. Thank you for the wardrobe change…He licked and nibbled at the offered flesh. "Big upgrade from a dressing room," he managed hoarsely.
Rachel clutched the back of his head. Big upgrade from dreaming this…"Mm-hmmm..."
He licked softly at a nipple, catching it lightly between his teeth and looking up at her. Fuck yes. I just want to burn how you look right now into my brain...He switched his attention to the other breast, growling when her eyes fell shut.
Rachel moaned low in her throat, hands sliding from his head to his shoulders. You feel so damn good…
Rach...Noah slipped a hand into her bikini bottom, sliding under elastic to cup her. I want to just feel you and taste you and…everything…
"Oh!" Rachel's hands turned to claws as she shuddered against him. I can't…I'm going to lose my mind…"N-Noah..."
"Shhhh." He started to suck at her nipple, rubbing the same rhythm against her core. "You're wetter than the fucking ocean," he rasped. I love it, I love knowing I can do that to you…
"Please, Noah - I - please..." Rachel whimpered desperately, knees buckling erratically. I'm burning alive, I'm so empty…"I - I need -"
He licked at her slowly, tongue tracing a circle around her areola. Oh, I know, Rach…"I know, I do too, but I need to make you crazy first."
"I am, I - ohhhhh..." Rachel trailed off, her mouth dropping open as he scraped his teeth across to the other breast. Please don't stop, just…"Noah..."
My name, like that, forever. He resumed sucking, moving his hand to rub her clit.
"Noah!" Rachel arched against him hard, shaking as her orgasm burned through her. Love you, love you, love you…
Fuck yes. He picked her up with his free arm and hoisted her down to the sand, hand and mouth still working her.
Rachel scratched at his back, incoherent sounds pouring from her throat. "N-N-Noah, p-please..." More, I need more…She jerked as another wave of ecstasy swept her under. "Please," she groaned. "So empty…"
Fuck, Rach…Noah reached into his pocket, finding the stashed condom and flipping it to her. I'm gonna lose my shit just from the things you say…He kept his hand working against her center, his teeth and tongue greedy on her body.
Rachel fumbled to tear it open, yanking at his trunks as fireworks burst in her blood. Keep it together, just long enough to get this…She grabbed for his cock desperately, rolling the condom on and stroking his length.
"Fuck, Rach..." Noah pulled back with a growl. "You're gonna make me come, the things you say to me, just feeling your hands on me again..." And I wanna make you come, just as hard, just as fast…
"I want to feel more than that, please, Noah..." Blushing furiously, Rachel reached between them to tug her bottoms off and guide his shaft towards her. I'm under the boardwalk, practically naked, and I just want more…
Noah moved his hand to let her slide him inside. So damn good…"Rachel..."
"Noah..." She groaned. You feel so good, so right…"Oh, Noah..."
Noah curled his toes into the sand, hands clenched to fists. You are not gonna lose your shit, Puckerman, get a fucking - "Oh, fuck, Rach..."
Rachel grinned, biting her lower lip between her teeth as she circled her hips again. I want to make you just as crazy as you make me…"That - that was the pl-ahhh..."
Noah withdrew to the tip again, gazing down at her. I've got plans of my own, damn it. "Do you have any idea what you do to me? I'm about to come like a kid, just with one circle of your hips." He eased back in. "You feel so fucking good." So tight, and so fucking hot, and just…right…He cupped her cheek, kissing her deeply. "Love you."
Rachel moaned. "Love you tooooooo…" Don't stop, don't stop…
Noah smiled against her lips. "I'm never gonna get tired of hearing that." Not from you, not when I almost never did again. He tightened his arm under her, grinding into her.
Rachel shuddered. "Noah...I...oh, Noah…" I'll never get tired of saying it, just…She clenched her inner muscles. "Please…"
Noah groaned. Not gonna lose it…"Rach, you're gonna make me –" He grunted. Hold your shit…"I want to make you feel good, just -"
You already have…She clutched at his back, kissing his face. Don't you know that? "You feel so good, Noah, I already feel a-ahhhh-mazing…"
Noah licked at her breasts again, nipping at the taut buds and increasing the pace of his thrusts. "Good, I'm gonna make you feel better." He rotated his hips this time, chuckling hoarsely at her gasp. "Yeah, we both like that…"I wanna make you lose your mind…
Rachel nodded, head tossing against the sand. I love everything you're doing…"Please, just…"
I love hearing you beg…Pulling almost completely out of her, he thrust back in hard. "Just what?"
A guttural sound broke from her throat. "That, oh, Noah, please…" She lifted her hips towards him.
Only for you, Rach, only…He repeated the motion, the force of his hips pushing her into the sand. "You mean that?"
She nodded again. "Yes, Noah, please, I want - " You, only you, all of you…She arched up into his thrust. "Please…"
He groaned. For you, not me, not yet…"Baby, I'm trying not to -"
She cupped the back of his head. "Stop trying," she rasped, and bit at the cord of his neck. All of you, everything, now…
"Fuck!" Noah thrust in hard and deep. I'm gonna lose my mind…"Rach…" He started to lever his hips against her. "Now you're gonna get it."
"Mmm, I hope so," she murmured with a grin. I want it, I want you…She licked a line up to his ear. "I'm counting on it."
Noah growled and turned his head to claim her mouth, moving hard and deep inside her. Mine, never gonna let you go…
"Noah…" She groaned into the kiss, wrapping her legs around him. I can't – I'm going to -
"Rachel…" Noah buried his head in the crook of her neck, biting and sucking as he thrust. Come on, let me feel you…He circled his hips, grinding his pelvis against her.
"Noah!" Rachel arched into him, stars sparking in her blood with her orgasm.
Noah clenched his teeth as her inner muscles milked him. "Fuck, Rach…" He managed one more thrust before he followed her into bliss.
Lori glanced behind her and waved Connor back out. "Fifteen minutes," she muttered. "Minutes, not dog years."
Sarah sighed. "At least Ma isn't looking for us. Yet."
Lori turned to Sarah and shook her head. "They don't give you nearly enough credit."
Sarah rolled her eyes. "Yeah, and neither do you."
Lori put an arm around Sarah's shoulders. "True. And I apologize for that. I won't do it again."
Sarah grinned. "I just like the idea of 'again'. Means I'll be back here."
"We may as well get you frequent flier memberships." She raised a brow and looked down at the younger girl. "Unless you think your mother would let everyone stay at your house? I don't exactly see Lima boasting a big hotel scene."
Wrinkling her nose, Sarah shook her head. "There are hotels, but...Mom wouldn't want them staying there...and I don't know if we'd survive having them, so...yeah, I think we'll be coming this way more than the other."
Ilana stretched and sighed. "William, Daniel, I cannot remember the last time I took a vacation. This has been a dream."
Will smiled. "It's definitely been an adventure. Glad you're enjoying yourself."
Ilana's eyes narrowed. "Speaking of enjoying yourself...where are those children of ours?"
Dan chuckled. "Still smarts, but better. As for where they are…" He glanced behind him to William. "Did they mention going to the concessions or anything?"
Will's eyes lit with a laugh. "I wouldn't be surprised."
"Noah always did have an appetite." Ilana shaded her eyes to scan the horizon.
Dan bit his lip, shaking Will's arm. "I'm sure Rachel wanted to shade her skin for a bit, they won't be far."
Rachel's eyes flew open wide, and she shook her head, giggling. I cannot believe we just did that! "Okay, that was maybe a little too far for me." She leaned up to kiss Noah, wrapping herself around him and squeezing tight. "But I don't regret it." She pulled back to look into his eyes. "Just...don't expect it to happen regularly."
Noah smirked. Do you have any idea how hot that makes me? Shit, Rach. "Yeah, maybe not during the day. But if we figure out the patrols at night…" You basically guarantee I wanna get you to do this as much as possible. He wagged his eyebrows suggestively.
"Noah!" She laughed, nuzzling his chest. Love you. "I see you haven't lost that streak of delinquency."
Noah reached behind him to retrieve her bikini bottoms, hooking them with a finger and dangling them over Rachel's face. "I believe these are yours? You are still the secret exhibitionist." He leaned down to kiss her. "Don't you even try to tell me this was over the line, baby." Every closet, the locker room, the choir room...
Rachel blushed. I was young and foolish and..."Your fault entirely. Now let's get out there - I have an idea."
Connor shook the water from his body and the board, raising a brow at his girlfriend. "Hey, I'm taking a break. Do I need to -" He blew out a breath. "Never mind."
Rachel slid a glance at her boyfriend, giving her Italian ice a lick. "Multiple purposes." Your fault too.
"Don't bother blushing with me, you little tease." Love it. Noah tightened his arm around her waist.
She giggled and offered up the cherry flavored cone. "I'll stop, I'm sorry." I think I left my inhibitions under the boardwalk. She leaned up and kissed his cheek. "We're not getting away from them from now until you take them to the airport, you know."
"I know." But once they leave and the apartment is free...He waved at the crew watching them from the shore. "Think Ma noticed we were gone?"
Rachel nodded. "Look at the relief on Connor and Lori's faces." They look extremely relieved, actually…"How long do you think we were?"
Lori glared. "More like twenty minutes. You're gonna have to tell me about five of them, then."
Sarah winced. "Okay, going back to the adults now. Gross."
Ilana frowned. "I think that's Sarah on her way back. What about the rest of them?"
Will peered over his sunglasses. "They're behind her, she probably didn't want to be the fifth wheel."
It was Dan leaning in to whisper. "As opposed to her mother, who is blissfully oblivious."
Will shook his head. "Not nearly that oblivious, but she'd rather pretend to be," he murmured back.
"How was the surfing?" Ilana stood and kissed her daughter's cheek. "Why did you leave them behind?"
Sarah plunked herself onto the blanket and grabbed a fry. "They're all...couple-y."
Will shrugged. "As we guessed."
Good thing I guessed we should have a cover story...Rachel squeezed the last of the Italian ice out of the paper cup and offered the melted cherry syrup to Noah. "What did you guess?"
"That you'd gone to the concession stand," Dan replied, raising a brow behind Ilana's view. "I trust you're...less heated?"
Rachel pinched Noah's waist. I told you she would notice. "I was starting to feel faint, so Noah brought me to the main building to cool off, and bought me an ice from the stand."
Noah kissed her head to cover his flinch. I think the slap in the arm is better than that. "Just glad you're better, baby."
"What a difference a day makes, twenty-four little hours," Lori sang lightly. "Sorry to gross you out, Sarah."
Sarah rolled her eyes. "I think I may just have to get used to it if we're gonna keep coming to visit." She paused to look at her mother. "We are coming back to visit a lot, right?"
Ilana hugged her quickly. "Yes, my dear, we will be back. Just think how lucky we were to be in town when Noah and Rachel reunited!"
Sarah snorted, shooting a look at her brother and Rachel. "Yeah, we're lucky and so are they."
Noah leaned in to whisper in Rachel's ear. "And we just got lucky, so that's even luckier." And I'm just gonna keep getting luckier every day.
Rachel giggled. I stand corrected on the inhibitions..."Stop it. I'm going to start blushing and give us away." I can cast sexual innuendo with impunity, but throw it back, and I'll still blush and giggle.
Dan nudged his husband. "Look at those two. Did you ever think we would be seeing this?"
Will nodded. "I did, but I wasn't sure of the timeline." He smiled. "I'm proud of her."
Dan smiled back. "We raised a lovely young woman, didn't we."
Will nodded again. "Absolutely. We've done very well."
Dan sighed. "Think he deserves her?"
Will raised a brow. "You don't?"
Dan shrugged. "I didn't say that."
Ilana cleared her throat. "I'd like to point out that my son reinvented himself and moved to New York to be a man worthy of her."
Will held up a hand. "We made it clear with him that he shouldn't move here for her, but for himself."
Ilana nodded. "And so he did!"
Sarah groaned. "Are you guys really fighting about whose kid is better?" She laid down on the blanket. "I'm the best, so what's for dinner?"
Rachel and Noah glanced at their family collected on the sand. Rachel smiled. "I like seeing that." I've never had that before, the complete blending of families.
Noah hugged her. "Yeah? How about if they were here and we were home?" I think I'd like seeing you naked again more than seeing all of them.
Rachel shrugged. Touché. "Okay, maybe I would prefer that. But this...this is nice."
Lori walked over with Connor in tow and poked at Rachel's arm. "You look cozy." She turned to Noah. "I know Connor warned you, but I'm warning you myself - don't screw this up."
Noah shook his head. "Definitely not planning to." He gave a quick nip at Rachel's ear, whispering. "I do have other plans though." I love my family, but that flight can't take off soon enough.
Rachel flushed. "Noah! I told you, please contain yourself." At least until they're not all staring...
"You contain me just fine," he teased. I'll refresh your memory if you want...
Lori rolled her eyes. "Okay, enough, or I'll tell your mother there's a hotel down the boardwalk that does weddings."
"There is?" Noah raised a brow at Rachel. "You think they'd go without us?" I'd hit up that spot again...
Rachel laughed. "Not a chance." Especially since we've already been gone suspiciously long twice today.
Patience was never my strong suit. Noah shrugged. "Can't blame a guy for trying." Except, you know, for you.
Lori snorted. "She used to."
Rachel glared at her friend. "Thank you, Lori." She looked back at Noah. "I didn't know any better. I didn't want to know any better."
Just like I didn't want to know better when I fucked it up the first time. Noah gave her a squeeze. "I know. We're all good."
Rachel leaned up to kiss him. "Yes, we are." And I'm so grateful for it.
"And we're gonna stay that way." Noah wrapped his arms around her. "I've worked too fucking hard for this." And I'm gonna keep working at it.
"Yes, you have, and I'm sorry I didn't want to see it." Rachel turned in his arms to hug him. I won't lose sight of that again.
Noah shook his head. "No more apologies. Didn't you say that to me?" We're gonna do it right, and we're gonna do it together this time.
"And no more doubts on your part." Rachel looked into his eyes. "You are the man that I always saw in you." I'm going to make sure you always know that.
Lori pantomimed throwing up. "Sarah, you're right, they're gross."
Connor rolled his eyes and snagged his girlfriend by the hand. "Sorry about that. I'll just take her for a walk."
Noah smirked. "I hear there's a great spot under the boardwalk." Thanks for letting us borrow it.
Connor laughed. "So that's why I got such a long run out there."
Rachel blushed and Lori giggled. "Yeah, that'd be why," Lori confirmed. "But now Rach and I are even."
"Even? For what?" Connor looked from one to the other. "Something I should know?"
"No!" Lori glared a warning at her friend. "Nothing, let's go." She dragged him off, waving to the assembly as they went. "See you in twenty minutes," she called over her shoulder.
"Make it thirty," Rachel countered. "And then absolve me of those five minutes." Too precious to share.
Lori looked at her boyfriend and then to her best friend. "Deal." She blew Rachel a kiss as they turned away.
"Nicely done," Noah murmured. "Those twenty minutes were all ours." He kissed her softly. "And all the minutes to come."
Rachel smiled. "Love you."
"Love you too." Noah squeezed her tightly. "And I'm gonna keep telling you so for as long as you'll let me."
Rachel sighed happily. "Deal." She wrapped her arms around her neck and kissed him.
A.N.: Well, there you have it, Lori is now in on the good news and yay to that! If you like it, if you'd like more (because believe me, there's more to this universe in my head lol), I'll only know if you review! As for me, I'll just be slowly trying to work my way back to writing regularly. Thanks again for taking the time to visit these crazy kids with me!