30 Days Of Summer

One year. Twelve months. 365 days to find myself and live on the wild side in Australia. It seemed like a long time at the start. I made friends, learned how to surf, got a nice tan. The usual. Then I met five crazy Australians who changed my life. It wasn’t just the fun, the laughs, the risks, the love. They showed me a part of myself I didn’t even know existed. And suddenly, one year didn’t seem so long anymore. {http://www.wattpad.com/story/11732664-30-days-of-summer}

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19. Chapter 19

{ A/N - Vote, comment and enjoy. }

"Happy Birthday!"

The sound of clinking glasses filled the room, accompanied by the effervescence of laughter as James exaggeratedly attempted to blow out the candles poking into the melting chocolate icing layered generously onto his cake. His cheeks puffed with the effort as the candles flickered stubbornly and his face loomed dangerously close to the crackling flames.

"What did you wish for?" Luke called out when James finally managed to extinguish the fire, his voice soaring above the boys' rowdy cheers.

"It won't come true if I tell you!" James said, grinning at his friend. He grabbed a knife and sunk it into the chocolate treat, his eyes widening hungrily.

"Do you actually still believe in that shit?" Beau rolled his eyes, popping the lid off a beer bottle and titling his head back to take a long sip.

"Give me the biggest slice, James," Daniel pleaded. Typically, Skip had opted for his favoured outfit of shorts, Ugg boots and a panda headpiece. The black-and-white ears bobbed fervently as he jumped on the spot beside James.

"No way. I'm the birthday boy, so I get the biggest slice," James argued, elbowing Skip in the ribs mischievously.

"You guys are like a bunch of five year olds," Tiffany rolled her eyes, but a smile crept across her lips nevertheless.

"I was thinking the exact same thing," I grinned.

Once James had dealt out reasonably similar sized slices of chocolate cake to each of us, the boys darted towards the living room to stuff the sweet treat into their mouths greedily. Tiffany and I lingered in the kitchen as I munched more graciously on my slice of chocolate cake, shovelling vegan popcorn into her own mouth.

Tiffany's kitchen looked like it had come straight out of a home magazine; with granite worktops and vibrant splash backs, bowls of perfectly ripe fruit and fancy utensils dotted around precisely and artfully. The only flaw in the contemporary design was the assortment of alcoholic beverages stationed on the island in the centre of the generously-sized room.

I eyed the assortment of treats Tiffany had assembled - which, typically, were more suited for vegans - before my gaze fell on the alcohol and I glanced at it with disgust.

"What? You don't have to drink if you don't want to. There's some orange juice in the fridge if you're not feeling up to it," Tiffany said, her tone slightly teasing.

I scowled at her and nibbled at my cake.

"I just thought we could let our hair down," she clarified. "Enjoy the time we have left with you."

I glance down at the inked anchor on the inside of my wrist, my heart fluttering in response to the familiar pang which I experience every time I think of leaving Australia.

"Plus, if we get Luke a little drunk he might finally admit his feelings for you," she continued.

"It's a bit late for that," the words were out of my mouth before I could stop them and I bit my lip, glancing at Tiffany anxiously. For a second, I hoped she thought I was referring to how little time I have left in Australia. But the way her eyes sparkled with curiosity suggested otherwise.

"What? What happened?" she hopped on to one of the bar stools beside me and stared at me intently.

I sighed and ran a hand through my hair, which had been styled and textured purely by the ocean's salty spray. "Tiff, don't you want to talk about anything else besides Luke and I?"

She shook her head, golden locks falling over her sparkling green eyes. "It is the sole reason I invited you. Well, that and the party."

"Well then, I guess I've got some explaining to do,"' I tossed her a smile.

"So, you told Luke that you're leaving?" Tiffany's tone was casual; as if confessing to Luke hadn't been on my mind for so long.

"Yeah. He didn't take it so well..." My mind drifted back to last night's events; the anger in Luke's eyes, the disappointment evident in his gaze. That was the worst part. The disappointment.

"At first, he was angry..." I said slowly. I wondered if my best friend could sense the strain in my voice. "He didn't understand why I had kept something so important from him, I guess. And I didn't understand why I found it so hard to tell him, either." I trailed off, my mind filled with memories of the night before. I bit my lip. It was hard to think of anything else. "But I realised why I didn't want to tell him," I took a deep breath. "It was because...he means a lot to me, I guess."

I could see the smile my best friend was trying to hide as she asked, "And you told him this?"

"Yes, Tiff, I told him. And then he told me that he didn't want me to leave. And then...well, and then something happened that I don't think I need to explain in much detail."

She beamed at me, clapping her hands eagerly and exclaimed, "I'm so happy for you guys!"

I rolled my eyes. 'Tiffany. It's not that exciting,'

"Yes it is," She popped a piece of popcorn in her mouth. "And you know it."

I turned away, trying not to reveal the grin spreading across my face.

Luke appeared in the kitchen again, flashing me a smile as he grabbed a beer bottle. As he turned his back, I took the moment to dust down my floral skater dress. I felt strangely more conscious of my appearance since Luke and I...had developed into more than just friends.

"What time is Ellis coming?" I asked.

"Any minute now," Tiffany replied. As if on cue, the doorbell's chimes echoed throughout the house and Tiffany leapt to her feet, darting towards the hallway. She returned just moments later accompanied by Ellis, whose hair was still damp from the sea. He nodded in greeting.

"You been surfing?" I asked.

"I caught some massive waves. I don't think you would have mastered them, Lilly," he teased.

"Hey," Luke interjected, wrapping his arm around my waist protectively.

I let out a breathy laugh. "It's okay, Luke. He's just joking."

"Do you want a drink?" Tiffany offered. "Ellis? Lilly?"

"Yes, please."

Ellis nodded and eyed the remains of the chocolate cake. "Hey! You said you wouldn't cut the cake without me!"

"You should have come earlier, then," Tiffany scolded, offering Ellis a beer bottle. She pushed a tiny glass containing milky tan liquid towards me.

"What is it?" I eyed it suspiciously.

"Just drink it," she ordered.

I sipped the beverage tentatively and I blinked, my head suddenly feeling much lighter. I wanted to be annoyed at Tiffany for giving me alcohol, but the immediate effects of the strong beverage left me feeling too warm and fuzzy to be angry.

The loud sound of laughter and shouting spilled into the kitchen before the Janoskians did, and they tumbled back towards the kitchen carelessly. I noticed Tiffany wincing as Daniel edged too close to a delicate porcelain vase which was propped precariously on a coffee table.

"Okay, guys!" Tiffany clapped her arms fervently. "Time to get this party started! What do you want to do? We could play hide and seek, wink murder, pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey..."

"Seriously?" Ellis raised an eyebrow at her.

"Come on," Beau drawled, taking another swig from his beer bottle. He glanced around the room, challenge and mischief laced in his bright green eyes. "We're eighteen, for fuck's sake. I was thinking more along the lines of Truth. Or. Dare."

He enunciated every word like it deserves its own sense, and we were all silent for a moment.

"Cool, I'm in," Daniel chirped and dropped down on to the living room floor.

Beau drained the last few drops of his beer and placed the bottle down in the centre of the room, plonking himself opposite Skip - who, I noticed, still had chocolate smudged around his mouth. Soon, we were all positioned in a rather deformed circle surrounding the empty bottle. Luke was directly opposite me.

"I'll start off," Tiffany announced, and leaned over to spin the bottle.

It landed on Jai.

"Truth or dare?"

"Truth."

"Pussy!" the boys yelled mockingly, the booming sound filling the room and bouncing back across it.

"If you had to kiss one guy here, who'd it be?" Tiffany asked, her voice soft enough that the boys fall silent to hear her question.

Jai sighed slightly and looked around the room for a few moments.

"The Pussy is a faggot as well!" Beau chided mockingly, winking at his brother to inform him that he was joking. Jai rolled his eyes.

"Let's say James, because I don't exactly support incest and Daniel is just a disgusting little gremlin," Jai answered.

"What about me?" Ellis pouted melodramatically.

"I'd be too intimidating by your masculinity to kiss you," Jai replied with a teasing smirk.

Ellis flexed his biceps in response, grinning jokingly.

"There's far too much testosterone in this room right now," Tiffany muttered under her breath to me. I nodded wordlessly in agreement.

Jai spun the bottle. This time it landed on Ellis.

"Truth or dare?"

"Dare," Ellis stated, like it was obvious - another brief reminder of his masculinity.

"Hmm," Jai said thoughtfully, thinking up a good dare for him and we all wait patiently. "Hey, Tiff. Mind if Ellis tries on some of your clothes?"

"Not at all," A sly smile slipped over Tiffany's face.

"Wait - what?" Ellis's eyes bulged.

"I dare you," Jai said slowly, as though he was savouring the words, "to wear some of Tiffany's clothes. There will be photographic evidence taken."

We all started to laugh - whether it was at the horrified look on Ellis's face or the thought of him dressed up in girl's clothes I don't know, but for a moment the laughter seeped inside of me and pushed away the pain of leaving Australia that haunted me.

But Ellis, deciding that he'd rather risk his dignity than his constant pursuit of manliness and courage, didn't back down. Tiffany wondered upstairs and returned a few minutes later with an old miniskirt and a woollen sweater.

Luke leapt up, crying, "Wait! You need lipstick!"

My sides ached from laughing: Ellis looked extremely displeased, his tall, lean figure clad in a revealing miniskirt. When Tiffany got out her phone to take a photo, Ellis struck a pose, his hand on his hip, and he pouted at the camera, a caricature of a model. It was hilarious.

Once Ellis had returned to his more suitable attire of jeans and a shirt, the game resumed. Tiffany was dared to kiss Ellis; we discovered that James' celebrity crush is Cheryl Cole; and that the last time Daniel peed his bed was only a fortnight ago.

I'd been lucky so far: the bottle hadn't landed on me.

"My turn," Tiffany announced loudly, and leaned forward to spin the bottle. As she straightened up again, she nudged my side. It was so slight, I wasn't sure if it was an accident or not, so I looked at her. She caught my eyes and winked.

Slowly, I turned my gaze back to the beer bottle, which spun slowly, and slower...and slower...and stopped. And it was pointing at me.

It was almost as if Tiffany did it deliberately.

"Ooh, Lilly!" she trilled. "Dare or dare?"

Laughter echoed around the room and I blinked at her feverishly. "Um...dare?"

"Good choice," she winked at me again. "Um, let's see...Oh, I know! I dare you to spend seven minutes in heaven with Luke."

I stared at her for a moment that stretched out for too long, the laughter sucked right out of the air. I glanced at Luke uncertainly, and he was staring back, his pupils dark.

Beau wrinkled his nose. "Ew. As if the Lovebirds need an excuse to-"

Jai cut him off. "Tiffany, do you happen to have a closet in this house which is not a walk-in one?"

She laughed. "Up the stairs and first door to the right. Lilly, I'm sure you know where it is."

I staggered to my feet, and I couldn't tell whether it was the alcohol that made me unsteady or the fact that I was about to spend seven minutes in heaven with Luke. Everyone's eyes were on us as we walked out of the room. Besides Tiffany and Jai, the boys' intoxicating gaze was calculating and suspicious as they watched Luke's hand brush against my arm, guiding me out of the room. It's only then that I realized the boys might not be aware yet of me and Luke's more intimate friendship.

I found the closet easily enough; I'd seen it hundreds of times in the past twelve months. Except for the dull sliver of light at the bottom of the door, we were immediately enveloped in an inky darkness. The closet was warm and musty. There was a faint outline of Luke, so close that I could feel his breath beating down on my cheek.

"Do they know?"

"Know what?" I can hear the frown in his voice.

"About...you and me...?" I asked weakly.

"What? Do the boys know that you're my girlfriend?"

I was grateful that the darkness hides the fiery blush which crawled onto my skin at his words. I was aware that Luke and I were more than friends, but the way he called me his girlfriend so confidently made me happier than it should.

"I haven't told them yet, no. But they definitely suspect something," Luke informed me. I nodded vaguely, my eyes adjusting to the darkness.

"Sorry, I..." I don't know why I was apologizing, but the word slipped out by force of habit.

"Lilly," Luke's tone was warning. "What have I told you?"

"I'm sorry for apologizing," I smirked.

He smiled, leaning forward so that his breath tickled my lips. It was warm and carried a chocolatey scent, mingled faintly with the bitter taste of alcohol. "You have nothing to be sorry for."

I wanted so badly to believe him.

His lips collided with mine, my stomach writing at the sudden contact. The kiss was tentative and gentle at first, Luke's lips impossibly soft, but it grew more insistent, more desperate. My hands cruised through his hair and his fingers traced over my arms.

He broke apart, his hazel orbs filled with lust. He pressed me against his hard chest and I could feel his ripped stomach against my own. "Let's make the most of these seven minutes, yeah?"

"Luke..." I breathed. I wasn't about to let this get out of hand, but the alcohol I'd consumed earlier was making my thoughts go blurry at the edges, and Luke's close proximity shoved all coherent thoughts from my mind.

Luke's lips crashed into mine again and my will crumbled around me like dead leaves. The kiss was fiery and dominant, his hands exploring my face, coursing through my dark curls. His tongue danced in desire with mine and he deepened the kiss. The air around us became thick and intense.

We were getting good at making the most of our time.

His lips travelled south, tracing my jaw line. His mouth left a trail of fire, burning my skin. He moved down to kiss my neck, placing delicate kisses and chasing them with his tongue, enticing a moan from deep inside of me. He smiled into my neck mischievously.

I tugged at the hem of his shirt as his mouth pressed against mine again, kissing me roughly and animatedly, his tongue battling with mine briefly before I surrendered submissively. I was distantly aware of laughter and voices echoing from downstairs, but they were clouded by the feel of Luke's lips on mine.

His hand started on my cheek, and then brushed over my side, fitting to the bend in my waist and curving over my hip, sliding to my bare leg, making me shiver. I pressed closer to him. My head buzzed with faint anticipation, but the rest of me seemed to know exactly what it was doing, because it all pulsed to the same rhythm, all wanted the same thing; to escape itself and become part of him instead. His fingers moved slowly up my back, tracing my spine.

A knock on the door startled us from our tight embrace. We pulled away, our breaths ragged and deep.

"That was the best seven minutes of my life," Luke smiled.

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