“Really AJ?” Brian asked as his friend started pulling options off the shelves. “I don’t think you need a six person tent.”
“But she might want space.”
“Why don’t you get a gigantic camper then?”
AJ stared at him.
“Seriously J, I really think a four person tent will be more than enough space.”
“Ok.” AJ relented and moved onto the sleeping bags.
He started to pull several off of the display and place them in the carriage. After a few moments of just wondering what his brother was doing, Brian stopped him.
“Are you even reading these?”
“You have to read them?”
“Um, yeah. Duh. This one says intense winter weather.”
“Dude, you’re camping in California not Antarctica!”
Brian grabbed all the ones in the cart and shoved them back where they came from. He carefully selected two different ones and handed them to AJ. The two men finally made it through the store and headed to the nearest coffee shop they could find.
“I forgot how exhausting it was to go shopping with you.” Brian groaned as he slid into the booth.
“Hey, it’s one of my favorite pastimes!”
“No! I never would have known!”
AJ ignored Brian’s sarcasm. “Do you honestly think that she’ll enjoy this?”
“I don’t know. Other than what I saw last night, I couldn’t really tell what she likes to do.”
“I just want her to like it.” AJ sighed. “I don’t want her to leave and I know that the promise she made only bought me an extra week. I want to change her mind about it…”
“And you.” Brian said, finishing his sentence. “You really like her don’t you?”
“Have you told her?”
“Not in so many words. I tried to get the point across the night that the fan cornered us but you know that didn’t end well.”
“Look, you want to be honest with her right?”
“Then I think at some point, before this week is over, that you need to sit her down and have a discussion about how you feel.”
“What if she leaves anyway?”
Brian sighed. “Then she leaves J. You can’t force someone to do something that they don’t want to do or something they’re not comfortable with. Sometimes you have to take the chance and hope it works out.”
“I hope you’re right Bri, I really do.”
Max pulled in the diner parking lot and made her way to the beach out back. She was trying to get her keys in her bag so she wasn’t paying much attention to the area around her and she stopped short when she finally looked up. There was a gigantic tent standing on the part of the beach closest to the diner’s rear walls and she could see sleeping bags and air mattresses already set up inside. There were a couple of beach chairs, cooler and citronella candles strategically placed around a small campfire.
“Oh my God AJ! Where did all of this come from?” she asked as she walked around the whole setup for a better view.
“My basement.” AJ lied as he watched her take it all in.
She stopped by one of the chairs and bent down, picking at something.
“Then why is there still a sales tag on this one?”
AJ chuckled. “I might have had to buy some stuff.”
Max smiled and shook her head. He came over to give her a hug and she had to admit that whatever cologne he was wearing was intoxicating; she felt as though she could have stayed in his arms just like that and been perfectly happy. Unfortunately, he drew back so he could talk to her.
“I hope the candles aren’t too strong for you. Brian said some people don’t like the citronella smell.”
“No.” she replied. “I actually love the smell, it brings back good memories.”
AJ sat down on one of the chairs and motioned for her to do the same. She punched the fabric down and took a seat; she was really stalling for time as she tried to decide whether or not to open up any more. Finally, she decided to offer a little more information; what could it hurt if she was only spending the rest of the week here.
“Of summers at home. My parents had an in ground pool put in when they bought the house and my brother and I spend pretty much our every summer swimming and playing around outside. I would always pester my parents about letting Sean and I swim during the night time and they finally relented, buying some outdoor lights and candles so that they could sit outside with us and not get bitten.”
“That sounds like fun.”
“And it was great that your parents didn’t mind.”
“No they didn’t.” she replied softly. “They never minded doing anything that made the two of us happy.”