Location: a scenic tropical beach, abuzz with a photo shoot crew, models and other staff, plus curious natives and tourists rubbernecking in the distance, from behind temporary barriers.
“I need Drake in position over there. Bunch of girls with him, please. NOW!” the photographer ordered, pointing.
Blake was so used to being referred to by his character’s name, it didn’t even bother him anymore. With stoic patience and seasoned ease he followed the directions given to him until the photographer was happy. He posed, models were piled up around him.
Why they had to fly out to some tropical islands just for a photo shoot was beyond him. The entire series played in the city, not one single episode had been on an island, so why they needed pictures of him here now, made little sense.
Photos were shot, all watched by some locals and probably some tourists.
That’s when he saw her.
He recognized her instantly, even though it had been a long while since they last saw each other, and he tried to convince himself he was imagining it. But his curiosity and gut instinct won.
He asked for a break and went over to the young woman. As he reached her, he knew for certain it was her, his insides began to twist and turn with anxiety as he reached her and she held his stare.
Few people did.
Most went all sorts of bonkers around him, especially females. Instead, he was the one who felt insecure.
“Hailey …” her name more a whisper in a raspy voice.
“Serendipity at its finest. And you even remember me.” she said quietly, sadness resounding in her words.
“I could never forget you, Hailey. Can we talk? Please? Where have you been? Here? How are you?”
“If you want to talk, you’ll have to come along. Not here.”
“I can’t. The shoot. I cannot leave. Not now. Later. Please, can I see you?” Blake practically begged.
“All right. Find the local bar. Won’t be hard, there is only one on the entire island group. Meet me at 7. Don’t be late.”
“I’ll be right on time.” he told her.
“Bye Drake.” she walked off.
Hearing her use his alter ego’s name didn’t feel right. Everybody else could, he didn’t care.
For the brief moment they spoke he had felt like the old Blake again. Like he was back in high school and they were on one of the many fishing trips in the woods with his grandpa.
He hadn’t been in so long, he wondered if he even remembered how to do that. He missed the woods.
He missed Hailey.
“You came.” there was relief in his voice when she finally arrived.
“So did you.” she smiled.
“I missed you so much, Hailz.” he didn’t mean to, but his heart just bubbled over and the words came out.
“Nice of you to say.” her tone was aloof.
He realized that not once had she even tried to hug him like she used to.
Understandable since he had been the one to break up with her – over the phone from miles away – but still, ouch.
He had to do it like that or he would not have been able to. Looking into her eyes now, even as distanced as she acted, he knew he could never have gotten out the words. There were other words he wanted to say to her. Wrong for the situation. He so much wanted to tell her he still loved her, asked her to forgive him, take him back and move back home. Work on her parents’ farm for all he cared, as long as it was together.
“You want to order some food?” he asked, trying to catch himself and hide his thoughts from her, afraid she’s read it in his face. His acting always worked, on everyone, except two people: Hailey and his grandfather.
“No. You said you wanted to talk, so let’s go somewhere without an audience.” she said, determined.
“Lead the way!”
Being alone with her would be even better than this. No matter where. On top of the volcano, if that what she’d want. Anywhere, as long as it was with her.
“It’s not going to be the fancy-schmancy venues you are used to now.” she said, smirking.
“I am not used to anything …” he replied, while thinking ‘…other than feeling lonely in the midst of thousands of people’
“Hope you got on your walking shoes, Mr. Cameron. No limousines here. In fact, no cars at all.” she giggled. Hearing that sound felt so right.
“I can walk for days, if I have to, Miss Loughlin.” he tensed when he realized he said her name, waiting for her to correct it, but she just giggled again.
At least she wasn’t married.
Of course she was still too young for that, only 18, but knowing his luck she might have been, with three kids already or something. Maybe he was lucky for once.
He was wondering how to ask if she was seeing someone, when she turned to him.
“This is where things get wet and adventurous. Hope you and your outfit can take it.” she smiled, pointing to a jetski.
“Quit worrying about me. I can handle anything.”
She smiled, and within minutes he was sitting behind her on the jetski, his arms wrapped around her, smelling her floral scent as she steered the jet ski across to another one of the islands.
It felt so good to feel her, have her so close. What if he just never let go again?
They arrived at a small island. It was beautiful, even though Blake had no eye for the scenery.
She lead him to a place shielded from view by plants and flowers, where they sat down.
In a bout of bravery, he wrapped his arm around her, and she allowed it.
When she said nothing, he started with the first things on his mind.
“Hailey, how have you been? What have you been up to? I have missed you so much ….”
“Missed me? In between filming, performing and nookie? Man, Blake, there is not one single day you are not in the news somewhere … and rarely anything positive. I had to literally go off the grid to make it stop. And even here it follows me now.”
“Hailey, none of that is real. You know it isn’t. I am still me. Same old idiot. Just rarely stop acting anymore … it’s easier that way.”
“Are you acting now?”
“No.” his response was quick and genuine.
“Prove it.” she demanded gently.
“How?” he asked.
“Kiss me.” she told him.
“Really?” Blake wondered if he heard her right of if his imagination was running wild.
“Like, on the lips?” he asked surprised and confused.
“No, on my butt … oh for heaven’s sake, you really are still you!”
Hailey giggled until she kissed him.
Just a brief kiss, but it made him feel all funny inside. Very un-Drake-like.
‘Drake, who?’ Blake thought to himself.
She snuggled up to him, as they spoke. About the past. Both reminiscing. Speaking, giggling … close to each other.
Just like they always had.
This felt good.
He needed this.
He didn’t care about it making much sense.
Even is this was just a dream, he was going to ride this until he’d wake up.
She looked at him, straight in the eye, and he felt that old electricty again as she gave him that certain look.
Oh ok, definitely just a dream.
A damn good one.
Hopefully never ending.
It definitely felt real.
So very real.
He could smell the salty air, hear the ocean as the waves softly rolled out onto the beach, the rustling in the exotic plants … he felt her.
So very close.
“Hailey, am I just dreaming this?” Blake asked.
“Maybe. Maybe we both are.” she whispered.
“I don’t ever want to wake up again …” he mumbled, absentmindedly running his hands over her body, like he used to be allowed to.
“Shhhhh…” Hailey made, as she turned to him, sat up, then straddled him.
‘Whatever you do, don’t you dare wake up now, if this really is just a dream!’ Blake thought.
Both gave in to what felt right and natural. A natural progression of events, of sorts. And this was most definitely real. Could not be any real-er.
They didn’t even bother undressed more than necessary.
Silence fell after both snuggled up together afterwards, until Blake couldn’t help asking
“Hailey, why did you do this? Sleep with me?”
“It’s all I can have of you now, so I am taking it. Nobody can take that away from me. Now stop talking, just hold me. Please. Just let us be ‘alone together’ again, like we used to when we were kids. Let us be Blake & Hailey again, if only for a little while…”
“Hailz, I …” Blake started, but she cut him off, gently.
“Don’t. Please don’t make promises you won’t be able to keep. Just hold me now. Give me that at least.” she seemed melancholic now.
Eventually he put his head in her lap, she gently caressed him.
It felt so calming, safe, warm.
Like … home.
Being so comfortable again after having made love to the only woman he ever truly loved made him drowsy.
He tried to fight it for as long as he could, but fell asleep under the stars, his head still in her lap.
When Blake awoke from the first rays of sun, she was gone.
Finally he arrived at a cabin that matched what that guy with the unpronouncable name at the shop had described to him.
Finding someone who knew her wasn’t hard. Hailey stood out. Everyone knew the sweet girl with the ‘yellow’ hair. But the directions people gave you … there were no street names … or streets .. or signs …
Blake smiled, and walked up to the door, knocked. He heard something metallic tumble around inside, then the door opened.
A man. Blake’s heart sank, but he forced a poker face.
“Aloha.” the man said unfazed, looking like the poster child for a hippie commune.
“Hi. I am looking for Hailey Loughlin?” Blake said politely.
“She’s in the shower. Can I help you?”
“Uh … no, thanks.” It irked Blake that Hailey was living with a man, and was in his shower. Huh?
“You can wait out there on the deck. She takes insanely long showers after we have been busy all night.”
“OH!” Blake paled.
The stranger, presumably Hailey’s boyfriend or love interest, went back inside shutting the door in his face, while Blake felt like his world fell to pieces around him.
So this was what his ‘dating’ had to have felt like to her.
Blake shook his head to himself.
No, he couldn’t face whatever this was.
He ran away as fast as he could.
By the time Hailey heard about his visit, Blake had already set back over to the main land by boat and was waiting for the private jet to take him back to Del Sol Valley.