During the night after they had returned from horseback riding, Alissa received a call from her sister Crystal asking her to pick her up at the airport. Crystal had decided at the last moment to visit them in Mesa Valley for a few days during her break from college. She was in her last year.
The next morning when she awakened, Sharlee relived her kisses with Noah. She couldn’t stop smiling. Alissa had told her about her first kiss with Dale and the way her toes had curled, and that no one’s kiss had ever effected her the way that Dale’s did. She had known that he was the one for her. Sharlee had thought her Mom was so corny. How could a kiss make your toes curl?
Now Sharlee knew for herself. She had been kissed before but never with such tenderness and deep feeling as the kisses that she had shared with Noah. Her body had never felt as awakened before either. His kiss caused wonderful, exciting sensations throughout her body including making her toes curl. She knew that she would never want to kiss anyone else but him again.
Sharlee bristled inside. Crystal knew that Sharlee hated that nickname that Crystal had given her when she was younger. Their relationship was better, but Crystal would never be one of Sharlee’s favorite people.
Crystal continued speaking. “Your Mom had to go to the studio for a few hours and your Dad got called in to the hospital. Shawn and Cara are gone to the amusement park with friends. So you’re stuck with me for the morning!”
Sharlee was supposed to meet Noah for lunch and they were going to spend the afternoon and evening together. She agreed and got dressed. Then she and Crystal left the house.
“I am not comfortable in them, and there is no way that my Dad would ever let me wear them! For that matter my Mom either!”
Crystal wanted to stop at Starbucks for coffee and a sandwich. So Sharlee called Noah and asked him to meet her there. Crystal saw Noah when he came in the door. “Yeow! Now that’s a cute guy. He’ll be super fine in a couple of years! Check him out Sharlee.”
Crystal answered. “I can only stay a couple of days. My break will be over and I’ve got to get back to Bridgeport.”
“What would you ladies like? I’ll go put in our orders.”
Crystal and Sharlee told him what they wanted and then Noah went to the counter to order.
“Well Sharlee, if you want him, you’d better let him sample the wares.”
“Noah knows how I feel about that. I’m waiting until I get married.”
Sharlee didn’t respond.
Crystal looked at Noah again. “If he were a few years older, I’d give you a run for your money.”
Sharlee looked at her distastefully.
Noah came back to the table and immediately sensed the tension between them. He could see from Sharlee’s expression that she was very upset. Crystal’s phone rang. It was Alissa asking Crystal to come to the station. Matthew and Kay were there and Kay wanted to meet Crystal.
Noah stood up to shake her hand goodbye. Crystal held onto his hand. She winked at him. “Noah, if you ever decide that you’d like an older woman, give me a call. Even if Sharlee doesn’t know what to do with a guy like you, I can assure you that I do!”
“Noah I’m sorry about that!”
“Sharlee, don’t worry about it! It’s okay.”
He looked at her face. Different emotions were flitting across it. Anger, embarrassment and at one point she looked close to tears.
“I get the impression that you and your aunt don’t get along well.”
“Sharlee are you this upset because she hit on me or is it more than that?”
Sharlee believed that to be close to someone, you had to share your honest feelings and thoughts. She wanted to be close to Noah and so she knew that she had to talk with him.
She lowered her voice and told him what Crystal had said. “I mean I know that we’re not exclusive or anything, but I want to know how you really feel.”
He suddenly noticed that the ladies at another table were listening to their conversation. There wasn’t any privacy here.
“Let’s go, Sharlee.”
Noah couldn’t believe how nervous he felt. He took a deep breath and pulled out a jewelry box. “I went shopping this morning for a necklace for you, and I saw this.” He opened the box and there was a lovely ring inside. Sharlee’s eyes opened wide in amazement. “The salesgirl said it’s called a promise ring.”
“This ring represents my promise to try to be the best boyfriend to you that I can be. I will never cheat on you in anyway, and I will never pressure you to do anything that you are not ready for. I want you to have your dream wedding night. I know that I won’t be perfect, but I love you Sharlee.”
Noah laughed. “You may decide that you don’t want to see me, but I’ll never stop wanting to be with you!”
Her big green eyes were filled with such love and trust as Noah looked into them. He felt an almost unbearable wrench in his heart.
Sharlee told him what she could remember of what had happened in the past with her grandmother and Krystal. “I do try for my mother’s sake, but I just don’t like her very much. She always manages to rub me the wrong way.”
“Jealous of me? Why would she be?”
“You had two parents who loved you. You’ve never had to worry about where your next meal is coming from or where you’re going to sleep that night. On top of that you’re gorgeous, Sharlee.”
“I guess in most ways I’ve had it a lot better than she has. My life hasn’t always been easy, but I have been mostly happy! Maybe she is a little jealous of that. As far as me being gorgeous, and I’m glad you think that I am. But Krystal is gorgeous. I’ve always wished that I had eyes like hers and her hair is so pretty too. She’s nice and slim. She can wear anything. I always have to worry about whether something will be tight on my… ” She trailed off and her cheeks were pink again.
Sharlee changed the subject and Noah laughed at her. Noah got a text message. It was from Ton saying that he was headed to Noah’s house.
“You’d do that for me?”
“Of course I’d do that for you!”
That’s what Sharlee heard as she came through the doorway.
“Uh, Noah. You got company!”
She stopped at the doorway. He could tell that she was fighting back tears.
“Ton can you give us a minute, please!”
Ton went outside to give them some privacy.
Noah gently turned Sharlee to face him. “Sharlee you have to know that I didn’t mean those things that I said to Ton. That was just bigshot talk. I know it’s dumb, but guys do that! I have a reputation with the guys for being a player. I promise that I will never joke that way again. I’m sorry if I hurt you. I meant what I told you. I only want to be with you! I love you, Sharlee!”
“I blew it! I pulled one job too many and got put away for five years. She had tried to get me to go legit and I kept promising that I would. I never did. While I was locked up I asked a buddy of mine to look after her. He looked after her alright. By the time I was out they were married with two children.”
“So she didn’t love you enough to wait for you?”
“It wasn’t that she didn’t love me. I wasn’t smart like you Noah. You have book smarts and you’re good with your hands. I thought that the only way that I could take care of her was by pulling jobs. She just didn’t want that life. She didn’t believe that I would ever change. She was right about me. My buddy went legit and I didn’t. I saw her a few years ago. The old spark was still there between us, but I didn’t stick around because like I said. She has two kids and I didn’t want to ruin that for her.” He paused. “Noah, you know how you can tell if its the real thing?”
Ton responded. “Who determines who is good enough? Someone else may be able to give her diamonds and a big house, but will he love and appreciate her the way that you do? Will he cherish her? And then too, you have to remember that she could pick whoever she wants, and she chose you because she loves you. Not someone else! That girl is crazy about you!”
“Of course he does. Not just because you’re a “bad boy”, but because when you look at his daughter, you see her as a woman. You don’t see a little girl. No Dad wants to lose his little girl! Just don’t let him drive you away, Noah. Sharlee would be heartbroken!”
“Ton, thanks man!”
“Sure. Now that’s enough of that mushy stuff. What do you want me to say to your principal tomorrow?”