"It's been too long," I thought to myself as I gazed into Nate's eyes and buried my head in his chest. I ran my fingers through his sun-streaked hair, realizing just then how much lighter it had gotten. I knew he had been swimming again, but I never expected him to have that look I saw in him when I first met him – confident…independent…dreamy – again. But, like the way he showed up two weeks before classes started, he always found a way to surprise me.

"So what have you been up to?" he asked me after we pulled away from our first kiss in three months. I missed kissing someone. I'm not used to withdrawal for so long.

"Oh, nothing. Just missing you," he smiled at that.

"I missed you too," he whispered as he leaned in again.

"What are you two crazy kids doing?" Jamie yelled from his balcony, sporting a blue robe and fuzzy slippers. I forgot we were in the driveway.

"Nothing!" We yelled in unison, barely taking our lips off each other's to answer his call.

Jamie just laughed.

"Well, in that case…"

He might have said more after that, but neither of us heard him. A lot may have changed since I last saw Nate Cross, but some things, like the way he can read my mind, never gets old.

The Birthday Present

I loved the fact that Nate came pack early and all, but that meant I had to get his birthday present now in order to have it for his party Cora and Jamie were planning instead of for a dinner out some weekend after school started.

Bleh.

What I didn't know was that this whole mess would begin with his birthday. Between everything that's gone on this past year – he and his dad, he and Heather, he and me – I figured he disserved something special. And I had picked out the perfect thing for him – a cross. You know – Nate Cross, a cross. Whatever. I thought it was cute. And I had found the perfect one – waterproof, with room on the chain for a key to his dorm. Absolutely perfect.

But, of course, reality always has to come in and ruin things. Believe me; I know a lot about that. In this case, it was the money.

The stinking thing cost 50 bucks. I mean really, who would pay that much money for a dorky little cross on a cheap chain? Harriet could make a real, homemade one and sell it for twenty and still get complaints on the price.

Speaking of Harriet, I probably could've asked her to make one for me. But at that point, she was still having success with the keys, and barely could keep up with those with her new "distraction". (Aka Reggie) She might have just died from a heart-attack if I gave her another hit idea.

So I had to buy one myself. To a sister-in-law of the infamous creator of UMe, $50 doesn't seem like a lot of money. But to a college student, $50 is comparable to a down payment on a house. And at that point, I preferred to stay a college student, and not have to revert back to a sister-in-law to waste more of Cora and Jamie's money. They had already done enough for me; and it seemed like it'd been a while since I'd done something on my own.

That's what led me back to the yellow house.