Chapter 49

AJ spent most of Monday hanging out with Brian doing the typical guy things. Cars, sports and a good game of Monopoly.

“Dude! Sell me the freaking railroad already!” AJ said.

“No way! Then you’ll own them all!” Brian said, building yet another hotel.

AJ sighed. “Then you leave me no choice.” He built property all over the board and before Brian knew what hit him, AJ had won the game.

The next morning, Brian and Leighanne packed up Baylee in the car and headed for Kentucky. AJ dared to wake Emily up to bring her breakfast in bed.

“Good morning!” he said, setting the tray down on the floor by the bed.

Emily peeked one eye open at him. “Why are you always so friggin’ cheerful in the morning?”
“Because I get to see you first thing in the morning. Clearly, I don’t have the same effect on you.” He pretended to sulk.

“Don’t take offense to it; there are very few people I’d be happy to be woken up by. I’m actually being nice to you, so it is kind of a compliment that I haven’t thrown my pillow at you or anything.” Emily said. “Do I smell bacon?”

“Yes, Grumpy. I brought you breakfast.”

Emily was awake now. “Really? I’ve never had breakfast in bed before!”

“Seriously? Man, you don’t know what you’ve been missing out on!” AJ said as he handed her the tray and sat next to her. He had brought up two plates; one for each of them.

Emily was feeling much more cheerful after she had eaten and had the chance to wake up.

“Thank you so much for doing that. I realize that you risked your life by waking me up. It means a lot.”

AJ winked. “Hey, it got me into bed with you, didn’t it?”

“Yes, well, a good breakfast is one of the few things I’ll willingly wake up early for.” Emily said.

“Oh yeah? What else would you wake up early for?” AJ asked with a smirk.

Emily gave him a mischievous look before saying, “How you doin’?”

AJ cracked up. “Emily, even the bravest of men wouldn’t try waking you up that way. Not with their manhood exposed and at risk.”

Emily shrugged. “Their loss then. So, can I assume that you have something planned to do today with me?”

“Yes. But it’s a surprise so I’m not going to tell you.”

“Well how am I supposed to know what to wear?” Emily asked.

“Easy.” AJ got up and opened her closet, throwing some clothes at her. “These will do just fine.” He threw her a pair of shorts and a blue tank top.

“What kind of shoes should I wear?” she asked, trying to get more details.

He grabbed a pair of flip flops.

“Will I need sunscreen?”

“Yes.”

“Will I need a hat?” she asked.

“No.” He was starting to get irritated with all the questions.

“Do I need underwear?”

AJ almost choked. He knew what she was doing trying to embarrass him into giving her details. He called her bluff and walked over to her dresser, opening the drawers in search of underwear.

“AJ! Get out of there!” She jumped up to stop him.

AJ held up a pair of her granny panties. “Sexy.” He said, smiling at her and holding them up above his head so she couldn’t reach them.

Emily gave in. “Fine. I think what you’re looking for is in this drawer.” She said, opening the next drawer and revealing her sexier collection of lace, silk and thongs.

“Much better!” AJ said, digging around until he pulled out some silky blue ones to match her shirt.

“Are you satisfied now?” Emily fumed.

“No. Where do you keep the bras?”

“GET OUT!” Emily said, pushing him out of her room. “Go play with your own underwear!”

Emily showered and got dressed. She dried her hair straight and pulled it back into a ponytail. She decided to splurge and put on a little bit of make-up for good measure.

“I’m ready!” she announced as she walked into his room. She hadn’t expected him to be standing there naked when she did.

“Oh shit!” she said, covering her eyes and bumping into the door as she tried to escape.

“See something you like?” he asked.

“No, I didn’t see much of anything….” She didn’t mean it that way.

“Ouch!” he said.

“No, not that, I just, you know, I was trying not to see….” The fact was, she saw it all. Impressive. That was all she could say.

“You can open your eyes now, I’m decent.” He said.

She slowly opened her eyes and turned to face him. They looked at each other and burst out laughing.

“Sorry about that. I thought you would be dressed by now.” She said.

“Well, I was having trouble deciding what to wear.” He said.

She looked at him. He had settled on khaki cargo shorts and a white wife beater t-shirt. “I think you found something decent enough.” She said.

“Are you ready to leave?” he asked. He needed to get out of that room before the desire to strip himself naked and take her with him took over.

“Yep. I can’t believe we’re actually leaving. I haven’t left this house in weeks!”

“Well then you’re in for a treat!” he said

They got into his rental car and he headed for their secret destination.

“You’re lucky I’ve never gotten around Atlanta much or I might be able to figure out where we’re going.”

“Oh, I think you’ll figure it out pretty soon.” He said.


Chapter 50

Emily figured it out as soon as they pulled into a state park with a huge lake. They were at the boat docks.

“Do you have a boat here?” she asked.

“No, I rented one.” He parked the car and unloaded a large cooler from the trunk along with a blanket, which he gave to her to carry. “It’s right over there.”

He pointed to a pretty decent sized sail boat.

“Do you know how to sail?” she asked.

“Do boats float?” he asked.

“I sure hope so.” She muttered.

“I heard that!”

“Good!” she responded.

AJ was surprisingly skilled when it came to sailing. It was almost a turn on as Emily watched him master the sails and the ropes and all the other important sail boat do-dads that she didn’t know anything about. Before she knew it, he had caught the wind and they were out in the lake, just the two of them.

“I didn’t know you could sail!” she said as she sat next to him.

“You see? I have hidden talents too!” he said.

Emily peered down into the water. “This might be a good time to tell you that I can’t swim.”

AJ looked puzzled. “You can’t swim? You get into Brian’s pool all the time!”

“Brian’s pool is five feet deep! I might be short but I’m certainly still able to touch the bottom with my head above water!”

“So, I’ve seen you floating around. You don’t need to stand.”

“It’s not so much that I can’t swim at all, I just tend to get myself into trouble in deep waters. I can’t swim with my head below water, I end up choking.”

“That’s easy. You just gotta blow!” AJ said.

Emily tried to restrain herself, but she just didn’t have that kind of restraint. “Just blow? Here?”

AJ had a sly grin on his face. “Not here, in the water babe!”

Emily rolled her eyes. “Now that would take some serious talent.”

“I’m sure you could handle it.” He winked at her.

“It’s so peaceful out here.” Emily said, noting that the only sounds were their voices and the water slapping against the side of the boat.

“That’s why I love sailing. Nobody but you, your boat, the water and God.”

“Are you religious?” she asked.

AJ thought for a moment. “I think I’d say I’m faithful. I’ve never been big on going to church, but after going through all my rehab treatments, I’ve discovered a faith that I’ve carried all along, I just never took the time to explore it. I do believe in God and in Heaven and all that stuff, and I believe that he gives us the strength and the courage to go on. If I didn’t have that to fall back on, I’m not sure I would have ever made it through.”

Emily smiled at him.

“What about you?” he asked.

Emily sighed. “I don’t know, I guess you could say my faith has been in a bit of a crisis these last few years. I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about it all just from talking to Brian.”

“Brian has that effect on people.” He said. “You know, Em, you can talk to me about things. Maybe it would help you sort it all out.”

“Maybe some day I will, but today is for having fun!”

“I agree! Do you want to take a nap with me?” AJ asked.

Emily laughed. “Won’t we crash the boat or something?”

“Emily, I dropped the anchor twenty minutes ago. We haven’t moved since then.”

“Oh. Never mind.”

AJ sat on the bench seat on the side of the boat, his back leaning up against the armrest, and stretched his legs out.

“Come over here!” he said.

Temptation won out, he looked so damn inviting laying there with his arms reached out for her. She joined him, lying on her side and resting her head on his chest.

“I can’t believe you brought me all the way out here to take a nap!” she said.

“I didn’t! I brought you out here to relax and in my book, a nap is always part of relaxing.”

“Where can I get this book? I think I might like it.” Emily said.

“I’ll send it to you.” AJ kissed the top of her head and tightened his hold on her.

They fell asleep for about an hour. AJ was already awake when Emily woke up. She yawned as she sat up and stretched.

“I think that was the best nap I’ve ever had!” she commented. “How about you?”

“Definitely top notch. You want some lunch?” he asked.

“That sounds good.”

AJ looked up at her. “You’d better put some more sunscreen on; you’re starting to look pretty pink over there.”

Emily looked at her arms. “Dammit!”

AJ couldn’t take his eyes off her as he watched massage the sunscreen in. It was almost like she was doing it to purposely drive him wild.

“Can you get my back?” she asked.

AJ snapped out of his daze. “Huh?”

“Can you get my back?” she repeated.

“Sure.” He took the bottle of sunscreen and rubbed it all over her exposed back. “My turn.” He said when he was done.

Emily took the bottle back and returned the favor, giving him a massage as she rubbed the lotion on his back.

AJ groaned. “Damn girl, keep that up and this boat will be rockin!”

Emily elbowed him. “You wish!”

“Tease.” AJ said.

“Yes, and don’t you ever forget it!”


Chapter 51

AJ and Emily returned back to the house around dinner time. They had both thoroughly enjoyed their day of sailing by relaxing and talking. AJ tried to convince her to go swimming in the lake but she was much too chicken for that. She had a rule about swimming in places you can’t see the bottom.

“AJ, thank you so much for taking me to the lake. I really had a great time.”

AJ smiled at her. “I’m glad. I just wanted to get you out of the house for a change!”

“Can I make you some dinner?” she offered.

“What did you have in mind?”

“I thought we’d finish up our day in the sun with a barbeque. I could grill some steaks….”

“Nonsense! Grilling is a man’s job!” AJ said.

Emily smacked him upside the head. “Fine! You can grill! But just remember that you insisted I was incapable if you happen to burn them!”

“Honey, you ain’t seen nothing yet! I am a master griller!” He said, taking the steak out of the fridge.

“I guess I’ll just take my place here in the kitchen and bake you a pie.” She remarked.

AJ kissed the top of her head. “I like apple.”

He ran outside before she could respond.

While he was outside grilling, she did manage to whip up an apple pie just to show him who’s boss in the kitchen. She also cooked some corn on the cob and pasta salad. To her amazement, he did not burn the steak. In fact, they were cooked absolutely perfectly.

“So?” he asked, watching her take a bit of the meat.

“Alright, fine…you’re a master griller. You win.”

“Yes! I knew it!” he said, celebrating his victory.

After dinner, Emily presented him with his apple pie.

“Here you go dear, I baked you that pie you asked for.” She said in her best June Clever voice.

AJ looked at the pie cautiously. “What did you do to it?”

“What do you mean?”

“What did you put in it? Pepper or something?”

“No, just seasoned with love!” Emily smiled. He didn’t believe her and to prove her point, she sat down and helped herself to a slice. Once he was satisfied that the pie was safe, he helped himself to two pieces.

“Woman, you do bake one hell of a good apple pie!” he said.

“Impressed?” she asked.

AJ responded but she couldn’t understand what he said because his mouth was full of pie.

Emily and AJ spent the next few days together. They watched movies, talked on the deck, went swimming and even played on Baylee’s swing set. Every night he would tuck her in when she went to bed, and every night it was getting harder and harder for him to leave her room when he did. Emily was glad for their time together. They had become very close friends and she thought she was finally starting to understand what Brian meant by watching for signs. Not once that whole week did she feel uncomfortable with him. It always felt good and right. She decided to stop trying to figure out when would be a good time to be in a relationship and if it was going to work or not and just enjoy herself. She would have plenty of time for thinking when he went home.

Friday night was to be their last night alone together before everyone came back from Kentucky the next day. Friday morning, Emily forced herself to get up early and cook breakfast for AJ. He wasn’t awake yet when it was ready so she decided to bring him breakfast in bed. He looked so peaceful in his bed, sound asleep and snoring softly. She put down her tray and climbed into bed next to him. He woke up slowly at the movement of his bed. He unconsciously wrapped his arms around her, still not completely awake.

“Good morning.” She said softly.

AJ’s eyes flew open. “How’d you get in here?” he asked.

Emily laughed. “I just brought you breakfast. I was going for the gentle wake-up approach.”

AJ sighed. “Mmm…I could wake up like this anytime.”

Emily started to pull away and get up.

“Where are you going?” he asked, pulling her back to him.

“To get you your pancakes.”

“Not yet, I want a hug first.” He said. Emily wrapped her arms around him and he pulled her close. She felt him pressing against her thigh. She didn’t know if it was because it was morning or because of her, but he was definitely happy to see her. She blushed and got up to hand him his food.

“It’s a good thing I don’t sleep naked.” He said, sitting up.

“Is it?” she teased.

AJ groaned. “Don’t start with me, girl! You’ll get me all wound up again. I haven’t gotten laid in a long, long time.”

“What, like, six weeks?” she joked.

“No, try 8 months, 3 weeks and 6 days.”

Emily choked on her pancake. “You kept track?”

“Yes. Don’t you?” he said.

Emily flushed. “I think I’ve lost track by now.”

“Oh come on, it can’t have been longer than me!” he said. “A pretty girl like you?”

Emily looked up at the ceiling as she tried to remember the last time she had sex. “It’s been three years and two months. I can’t calculate the weeks or days.”

It was AJ’s turn to choke. “Three years? Are you kidding? Was it intentional?”

“No, but when Joe left, I was crushed for six months. Then, I just swore off the men for awhile. I’ve never had a one night stand. Sex has only ever appealed to me if I’m in a relationship with the guy.”

“Damn! Three years!” he wouldn’t let it go. “I think I’d be going crazy by now.”

“Believe me, I’ve had my moments. But after two years, I think I forgot how much I liked it and it stopped bothering me.”

This news did nothing to curb AJ’s desires to have her. In fact, it made them stronger. He had once heard that after a few years of not having sex, a woman was ‘re-virginized’. He didn’t know if that was true or not, but the idea was such a turn-on that he almost took her then and there.

“So, I thought tonight you could take me up on your dare.” Emily said.

AJ was pulled from his erotic thoughts. “What?”

“You know, when you dared me to go out on a date with you? I thought tonight would be a good night.”

“Yeah, tonight’s perfect! What do you want to do?” he asked.

“Hey, it’s your dare; I think you should make the plans.”

“I’ll make the plans. We’ll go to a sea-food restaurant!” AJ said, remembering the first time he had dinner with her.

Emily laughed. “They do serve other kinds of things at those restaurants, you know.”

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"Never Gone" is a work of fiction.
The characters and events portrayed are fictitious.
Any resemblance to real people or events is purely coincidental.

Copyright 2006
All Rights Reserved
No part of this text may be copied or reprinted
without the author's permission.

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