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}


21. Chapter 21

{ A/N - It's been far too long!! I can't apologize enough for the delay, but I hope you enjoy this penultimate chapter nonetheless. }


The sky was streaked with copper and gold as I made way to Luke's house. I'd stayed late at the beach, even as the sun sank further towards the horizon and afternoon turned to evening. It was something I'd done a lot in the first few weeks after I arrived in Melbourne, and now, with only a few days left, I felt like I needed to do it again. I needed to memorize the feeling of salty spray on my skin as I balanced on waves that glided towards the shore, before abandoning their grace and shrugging me onto the sand. Or the way the wind seemed to brace itself against me as I pushed myself up to a standing position on my surfboard and could glimpse at what felt like every inch of the glittering ocean reaching out to blanket the horizon. I loved racing up the beach after catching a wave, shaking miniature globes of water from my hair, and catching sight of the tiny anchor etched into the skin on my wrist. I knew it would never fade, and neither, I hoped, would the memories of this mortal paradise I would so hopelessly long for back home. 

It was early evening now, and shades of amber and pink were painted across the sky; rips in the turquoise fabric of the heavens. I turned onto Luke's street and tugged absentmindedly on the hem of the dress I had pulled on over my bikini, the soft navy material slightly damp under my fingertips. My hair, still sodden and tousled from hours in the water, had been tamed into a messy French braid that snaked across one shoulder. I brushed a few loose strands and strode forward a little faster. Time felt even more precious now my time in Australia was almost up: italmost felt like standing on top of a cliff, toes curled over the edge, looking down at the darkness below. It was as if Luke was holding onto me, pulling me back; but we bothknew he couldn't hold on forever. I would fall soon, and I didn't know if I could handle landing without anyone being there to catch me. I would have to leave this all behind and try to pretend that what I had back home somehow compared to every wonderful thing I had become accustomed to; when, really, there was no comparison.

I skipped up the steps to Luke's house and knocked lightly on the door. Nothing but silence greeted me. I tried again, confident that I could hear murmurs of conversation from somewhere inside the building. Still no one answered. It wasn't until the back gate creaked impatiently that I slipped through the narrow alley and made way down the side of the house.

A tidal wave of noise hit me before I even entered the garden. Crowds of people flung themselves from behind bushes and flowerbeds, shouting: "Surprise!"

A grin spread across my face as I gazed at my friends, feeling excited and even a little overwhelmed. Tiffany ran towards me and engulfed me in a hug.

"What's all this for?" I shouted above the mass of voices. She shrugged, her cheeks flushed, a grin etched into her delicate features. "A leaving party. For you. Do you like it?"

The word ‘leaving’ sent a familiar rush of disappointment rushing through me. Looking around at everyone I had met and befriended over the last year, it hit me how soon I'd have to leave them all behind. But there was something else, too; something happy and unbelievably thankful that my friends would do all this for me.

"Of course," I smiled gratefully at my best friend, my eyes wide and shining like a promise. "I love it. Thank you so much!"

Amongst a kaleidoscope of greeting countless familiar faces and hollow promises that we would stay in contact, I searched for one face – Luke’s. But I couldn’t find him anywhere.

I ventured into the Brooks' kitchen, waving at Beau, who was chugging back a bottle of beer, and Daniel, who seemed to be sipping a large carton of something that looked suspiciously like rainbow milk. I passed crowds of people dancing in the living room to a fast-tempo club track that James was creating from his DJ turntables, andgrimaced as I caught sight of someone making out with a girl I recognized as a waitress from Jimmy's Steak Shack.My eyes prowled through the crowd in search of Luke but my gaze found nothing.

Seemingly unnoticed, I slipped upstairs and cautiously pushed open the door to what I assumed was Luke's bedroom. I hadn't been to many disastrous house parties, but I knew the Janoskians' crazy reputation, and I certainly did not want to walk in on anything that would potentially scar me for years after I left Australia.

A soft melody greeted me before I saw Luke. He was sitting on his bed with his back to me, cradling a guitar in his lap, head bent in concentration. Murmurs of words I couldn't decipher accompanied the quiet acoustics of the guitar as his fingers slid across the strings. I stepped back, not wanting to interrupt something so private. But he looked sad, somehow, bent over the guitar, shut off from everyone else downstairs. I needed to break the ice, and I'd do it the only way I knew how.

"Guess you weren't too keen on the stripper downstairs, then?"

My gentle tone, edged with sarcasm, pulled Luke from his reverie.

"What?" He turned to me, eyebrows raised. His dark eyes softened at the sight of my face. The self-consciousness I felt every time I saw him didn't fade, no matter how much I wanted it to. I tossed him a small smile before looking away.

"Just kidding."

"Thank God." 

"You didn't really think the boys would..." I questioned curiously.

Luke shook his head and smirked wryly. "Believe me. Once you've been to a few house parties with the Janoskians, nothing's impossible."

I let out a shaky laugh, fiddling with the hem of my dress. “You’re not joining in the party?”

Luke shrugged and set the guitar down on the bed beside him carefully. “I was waiting for you.”

“Well, I’m here now,” I held out my hand for him to take, offering him a small smile. 

He grinned at me and entwined his fingers with mine. But instead of pulling himself to his feet, he yanked at my arm – not hard, but it still caught me by surprise, and I stumbled forward and landed half on his bed and half on his lap.

Laughter fluttered between us, dancing behind our eyes and filling the room with a joyous sound. His face was inches from mind, and something other than laughter was sparkling in his hazel gaze. 

His eyes darted to my mouth as he grazed his perfectly aligned teeth against his bottom lip. Then his eyes snapped back on mine as his warm hand gently cradled my cheek. The laughter evaporated into something more lustful, and our lips collided. 

The kiss was different to ones we’d shared before. It was laced with the laughter that had bloomed in the air just moments before, but it was almost more desperate than any other of our intimate moments. The kiss was filled with hope tinged with doubt, and doubt tinged with hope. Like we knew that our days were numbered, and wanted to take in as much of each other as we could whilst we still had the chance. 

The feel of his lips on mine made my insides feel as though they’d been set alight. 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 wanted to press closer to him, but something made me pull away.

“Lilly,” Luke’s accent was low and tinged with lust.

“We should go downstairs,” I said softly, my hands lingering on his cheeks before staggering to my feet and straightening my dress. “The others will be wondering where we are.”

He reached for my arm, his warm grip against my bare skin tugging at my heartstrings. “They’re having too much fun to be worrying about us. Let’s stay up here for a bit.”

A hint was hidden behind his tone, but I ignored it. His gaze was too intense to hold, so I cast my gaze to where his guitar lay on his bed. My voice strained in my throat as I grasped at a response, but no words escaped.

“Okay,” he said, his voice soft. “We’ll go downstairs. But…promise me something.”

“What?” my voice was barely a whisper. 

“You’ll play for me,” he lowered his voice to meet my volume and I met his gaze. Something unidentifiable was swimming in his eyes. “One last time.”

Something in his tone made it impossible to say no. “I promise.”


There was smoke everywhere. It billowed from the bonfire and dissipated into the darkness, embers from the fire flickering between the ashes. The smoke danced through the night and weaved its way into people’s mouths and noses and stroked at their insides.

“This is by far the nicest wiener I’ve ever had,” Jai said through a mouthful of toasted sausage. He brandished the hot dog in front of my nose and I caught a waft of the salty-smelling meat through the thick tendrils of smoke. “You want some?”

“I’ve already had two,” I admitted sheepishly. 

Jai chuckled. “How can someone so greedy be so fucking skinny?”

I scoffed. “I don’t know whether or not to take that as a compliment.”

The rich bubble of conversation barely carried over the crackle of the barbeque which Mark was expertly hovering behind, meticulously monitoring a fresh batch of burgers. My stomach was content with food deliciously cooked by Mark and my heart was too flooded with happiness to be feeling miserable at the thought of returning home in just a few days. Everything and everyone that had been part of the amazing year I’d had in Australia was right here beside me, and I wanted to savour that for as long as possible.

Tiffany and Ellis were swarming by my side, wearing bright smiles and clutching cans of Coke.

“Lil,” Ellis greeted with a wink. “We’ve got a surprise for you.”

“Did the Janoskians help organize this surprise?” I queried. “Because if they did, I’m worried.”

“Actually, it was James’ idea. But you don’t need to worry about anything,” Tiffany assured. She squeezed my arm. “Just enjoy it.”

I’d noticed people shuffling about at the far end of the garden for a while now, but it wasn’t until Ellis and Tiffany started rounding everyone up and ordering them to stand back that I became suspicious. 

“What’s going on?” I asked Luke. 

He grinned, enjoying the suspense. “Just wait. You’ll see.”

And then a firework burst over the garden. It hung there, shimmering in the night sky before blinking into a cloud of smoke.

“Fireworks?” I raised an eyebrow, grinning at him.

Three more fireworks shot up, contorting into purple stars as they burst against the dissipating smoke. The sky was stained the color of charcoal, the constant stream of fireworks a flash of color against the dull backdrop of the sky, a kaleidoscope of vibrant shades. 

“When we were little, we used to watch the fireworks every year. I’m not sure who or where they’re doing them, but it was in the direction of this awful academy near the church,” he explained. 

“Some reckless kids trying to host a revolt or a riot just for attention,” I guessed.

“Some uneducated adolescents rebelling against not being allowed to smoke weed in school,” he added. We laughed and I leaned towards him; resting my head in the crook of his neck and letting his warmth envelope me. He reached for my hand, entwining our fingers together. The fireworks sparkled overhead, pounding like drums and shadowing the bright stars which freckled the night. 

“Hey,” I said, nudging him with my shoulder. 


“This is nice.”

“Very nice,” he agreed. “The nicest back yard I’ve ever seen.”

I shook my head at his terrible attempt at humour. Three fireworks burst in tandem; purple-green-gold.

“I hope I’ll see you again, Lilly,” he murmured, the breeze carrying his words away. Something unidentifiable was laced in his voice and I turned my head to glance at him. His face was just inches from mine; his warm hand cradling my cheek and his breath fanning across my lips, warm and slightly minty, as if he had been preparing for this moment.

“I hope so too,” I said. It was little less than a promise and a little more than a chance. But then he closed the distance between us and all coherent thoughts were pushed from my mind. The only thing I was aware of was Luke’s lips, gentle and soft yet insistent on my own in the most innocent way. My very own fireworks exploded in the pit of my stomach; even more tangible and vivid than the ones erupting overhead.

When we broke away, Luke squeezed my hand and shot me a small smile. “I’ll just be a minute.”

I didn’t question where he was going, too transfixed on the fireworks dancing through the night sky. The laughter and conversation which beamed beneath the pounding of the fireworks was laced with something sad; this was my friend’s way of saying goodbye. 

Luke returned moments later, clutching a guitar and wearing an encouraging grin. My stomach churned nevertheless. He handed me the guitar and, true Janoskians style, yelled a bunch of swear words to grab everyone’s attention.

“I’m not one for talking a load of soppy shit, but I think it’s important that I say a few words tonight,” he cleared his throat, an unfamiliar look of vulnerability overcoming his features which amplified my heart beats. “Lilly has become a great friend to everyone here today during her time in Australia, but to me she is so much more. When I first met her, just under a month ago, I had no idea that our days would be so limited…if anyone happens to know of a time-machine, now would be a good time to hit me up with it because I never want my time with Lilly to end.”

He grinned sheepishly and his words caused my heart to flutter in my chest. Maybe when I went surfing today I swallowed the ocean because I can feel the salt water threatening to spill from behind my eyes and the waves are crashing against the window of my ribcage. 

“But even if these past few weeks turn to nothing more than memories, I know that this past month has given me happiness that you can't put a time limit on. So, thanks to the guys for the laughs and being my brothers throughout it all - quite literally. And thanks to Lilly for the fucking amazing memories. I'll never forget you." 

There was an absence of fireworks in the sky now, instead the sky was like an overflowing boulevard of spilled ink, pierced by stars twinkling with hope and promise and untold stories that ended prematurely. There was an absence of noise in the Brooks' back yard for a moment as well as we digested Luke's words. I met his gaze and saw the stars reflected in his hazel irises, saw galaxies grazing his jawline, saw a constellation of faint freckles on his face. In that moment, was an absence of everything but the sound of Luke's words resonating in every one of my heart beats.

Then Beau mimed throwing up, Jai crinkled his nose at the uncharacteristic seriousness of Luke's words, James titled his head forward and spilled laughter into his empty beer bottle and Daniel wrapped his arms around Luke in a suffocating hug. There was never an absence of typical, wild Janoskian behaviour.

I didn't know what to say, but I didn't think any amount of words would capture the emotions that were stirring in the lining of my heart. An overwhelming fondness for Luke, a burning desire to never leave Australia and the undeniable sensation that the universe had rearranged itself to lead me to this unforgettable intersection.  

Instead, I picked up the guitar. The steel strings felt coarse beneath my fingers, a startling reminder that intersections always lead to new roads and I would be exploring this path without my beloved Australians friends. But, for a second, I let the fear of leaving Australia be swallowed by the lyrics which tumbled hesitantly out of my mouth.

"Say you'll see me again, even if it's just in your wildest dreams..."

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