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Max had started taking her lunch breaks out by the water ever since AJ had brought her out for the picnic. He was right about the clouds being beautiful and the area being peaceful. The beach was hardly ever used which was a blessing to Max since she had an aversion to being around more than a few people. She happened to be at the water’s edge when AJ showed up at the diner the next day.

“Hey you.” he called out as he made his way to her.

“Hey AJ.”

“Slacking off at work by hanging out by the beach huh?”

“Totally.” she replied. “I figured everyone else could handle it. What are you doing here?”

“I wanted to stop by and say hi.”

“That’s it?”

“Not completely. I was thinking that maybe we could go to a small carnival a few towns over and hang out for the fireworks.”

“Fireworks? It’s only the being of June.”

“This carnival only stays a couple of weeks and they do fireworks every night. Kind of like getting geared up for the fourth of July.”

She thought about it for a minute. “I don’t know AJ. I’m not much of a fan of crowds.”

“It doesn’t get overly crowded. It’s just a local thing and most people are families with kids. Nothing scary about them.”

“I don’t think so.”

“Well then you leave me no choice.”

Max stared at him wondering what on earth he was thinking.

“I’m calling in my marker.”


“You told me you’d go out with me again to somewhere that you wouldn’t fall asleep. I’m picking this carnival.”

Damn it, she thought. She knew she had promised to do it but she somehow thought he would forget.

“Does it have to be there?”

“Yes and I know your lunch break is up. I’ll pick you up Friday at two and head out there.”

“But...” she started to call out.

“No buts!” he yelled as he raced to the parking lot. “Dress comfortable!”

She shook her head; there was no going back on this one.


AJ showed up at Max’s apartment and found her waiting on the front steps just like she was when he picked her up for the movies.

“Are you afraid to have me come up and get you?” he teased as she slid into the passenger side.

“No.” she answered. “I just figured I’d save you the trip.”

AJ chuckled and pulled out onto the street. He looked over at her out of the corner of his eye and took in her outfit. She was wearing capris, slip on sneakers and a three quarter sleeve, sapphire blue t-shirt. Her hair was up in a ponytail and the same locket as before was hanging around her neck.

“I’m going to take a wild stab in the dark but is blue your favorite color?”

She laughed. “I don’t know how you figured that out.”

“I’m psychic.” he replied with a smile. “I think this is actually the first thing you’ve ever told me about yourself. Care to share anymore?”

“I was thinking of making you work for it.”

“Oh really? And what do I have to do?”

“Tell me something about you. You think I don’t tell you anything but the same could be said about you.”

“Touché.” he responded and then thought for a minute. “My favorite color is yellow, my favorite foreign city is Paris, favorite movie is Pulp Fiction and my favorite TV show is Seinfeld. How’s that for a start?”

“Pretty good.”

“Ok, I did what you asked so it’s your turn.”

Max took a deep breath. “Well, I’ve never been out of the country so I don’t have a favorite foreign city. My favorite movie is The Shining…”

“The Shining?” he asked with surprise. “I figured you for more of a romantic kind.”

She paused. “I don’t really like romance.”


“Because most of them have happy endings and real life isn’t like that. There are no fairy tale.”

AJ didn’t say anything; he knew there were parts of her life she was keeping away from him. All he did was nod and let her finish.

“My favorite TV show is NCIS.”


“I like Gibbs. He reminds me of…” Max cut herself off. “I just think he’s a genuinely nice guy who looks out for his family.”

Again AJ didn’t want to push too much. “Ok.”

She leaned back in the seat and they drove for a while in silence. He was trying to think of something to say and was having trouble finding a topic he thought wouldn’t upset her. Finally, he just gave in and tried to start another conversation.

“What’s your favorite possession?”


“Favorite possession. Mine is this ring that my grandparents gave me when I graduated.”

She went quiet for a few seconds.

“This locket.” she finally answered as they pulled into the parking lot of the carnival. “Well the pictures in it I mean.”

AJ put the car in park and turned towards her.

“Can I see?”

She nodded and slowly opened the necklace. On one side was a smiling couple locked in an embrace. The other side showed a young boy smiling. AJ noticed he looked as though he had Down’s syndrome and it made him think back to that day at the diner.

“Who are they?”

“My parents and my brother.”