Ava’s Jeep rolled into the driveway at exactly half past four. Amy was waiting at the picnic table. Her sheets had been washed and hung, the cabin had been swept and dusted, and the only evidence she was ever here was the photobook tucked away in the bedside drawer.
It was just as it should be, Amy thought. Soon she’d just be a memory to this place… and vice versa.
She greeted Ava, who gave her a silent nod, and tossed her bag into the trunk. She climbed in the passenger’s seat, waving to Sophie. Sophie gave her a short wave from the doorway and went back inside. Amy smiled in spite of herself. Sophie was so bad at goodbyes.
“Ready?” Ava asked, shifting the car into reverse.
“Yup,” Amy replied. “Thanks for driving me, by the way.”
“It’s no problem,” Ava said. “Just hate to see you go. Sophie says you were a huge help to her these last couple weeks.”
As they pulled away, Amy heard her name called. She tried to not look back. Colin must have seen her leave, she thought. She shook her head. She didn’t owe him a goodbye. She put on her seatbelt and leaned back.
The greenery began to blur as Ava drove down the familiar bumpy road. Amy glanced out the window. The coast was on her side, with the glimmering ocean licking at a rocky shoreline. On the driver’s side, she could see sheep lazily grazing among the hills.
It felt odd that this would be her last memory of this place, she thought.
They arrived at the port earlier than Amy expected. Ava put the car in park and turned off the engine.
“The ferry should be here in about twenty minutes,” she said.
Amy looked at her wrist and remembered there was nothing there. Colin still had her watch. She glanced at Ava and nodded.
“That’s ok,” she said.
She climbed out of the car slowly. Ava hopped out and popped the trunk open, but her hand seemed to hesitate as she handed Amy her backpack.
“I can wait,” Ava said, slowly releasing her grip on Amy’s bag. “I’m supposed to make sure you get on the ferry safely.”
Amy smiled and nodded. She set her bag on the ground and looked around. There weren’t any other people around, which was a little surprising. Usually, the last ferry had a crowd waiting for it.
“Sophie asked the ferryman to tell everyone the last ferry time was four,” Ava explained, looking at Amy. “So that the annoying fans and paparazzi left early.”
“Did you have to deal with them too?”
“They litter and like to chase my sheep trying to get selfies,” Ava replied with a disgusted face. “I’m this close to setting Cooper on them.”
Amy had met Cooper, who was the world’s sweetest herd dog, and doubted he would do much other than adopting new people into his flock. Ava cleared her throat and glanced around. Amy wondered if it was the light, or if Ava was starting to get misty-eyed. They hardly talked, but Ava seemed like a fixture on the island, always just around the corner and ready to come as soon as Sophie called. Amy wished she had gotten to know Ava better and realized she had lost that chance.
“I’m gonna go take some pictures,” she said, clearing her throat and pulling out her phone.
Ava nodded and sat on the bumper of her car. Amy wandered around the pier, scanning the ocean for a distraction. Sometimes, when she was lucky, she could see dolphins in the water. It seemed empty today, though. She wandered back towards the land, settling on finding pictures of flowers instead.
She saw the ferry depart from across the way, and she put her phone away. It would be here in a few minutes, so she should start getting ready.
Amy turned. There was no way she could have heard his voice here, she thought. The thunderous sound of footsteps came pounding from around the bend.
Colin sprinted around the path and towards the pier. Sweat was dripping from his forehead and drenched his shirt. Amy looked at him in shock as he stopped in front of her. He held a hand up while he tried to catch his breath.
“What are you doing?” Amy asked.
Colin shook his head and continued to pant.
“I thought you didn’t run,” Amy said.
“Wait… one… sec,” Colin said, wiping the sweat off his face and trying to stand up straight. “It’s… really… hot.”
Amy shook her head at him and looked towards the ferry. It was about halfway across, if she had to guess.
“You’ve got, like, five minutes,” she said. “What are you doing here?”
“You know, you’d have made things a lot easier if you followed me on Twitter,” Colin said with a huff.
“Why would I follow you on Twitter?”
“Have you checked your phone since last night?”
“Not really,” Amy said. “Why, should I be thanking you for saving me from a bear?”
“I released my own statement,” Colin said, hands on his hips. “I told everyone that my manager was mistaken, and the story about me saving you was false.”
“You didn’t have to,” Amy said with a shake of her head. “I told you I don’t care.”
“Well, I do,” Colin replied. “I don’t want people calling you a random American I saved.”
“So then I’m just a random American you worked with?” she guessed. “It all means the same to me.”
“You’re not some random person to me, though,” Colin said. “You mean so much more to me than that. I thought you knew.”
Amy sighed. He was standing close to her now, and his eyes were searching hers for something. She turned away.
“Look, Amy, I’m sorry about how I acted before,” Colin said with a sigh. “I should have just told Rob and my dad no from the beginning.”
Amy didn’t respond.
“I know I don’t deserve a second chance,” he said slowly. “But… I promise I’ll do everything to make it up to you.”
The ferry was almost to the pier. Amy looked from the ferry to Colin, who was staring at her with pleading eyes. She had about a thousand thoughts swirling around her head, but none of them slowed down enough for her to process what she even wanted to say.
“Was your dad mad at you?” she asked finally. “For posting on Twitter?”
Colin gave a small smile.
“Furious,” he said. “I was actually on the phone with him all morning.”
Amy raised a brow.
“I told him I’m not re-signing Arthur after my contract ends,” he continued. “And that I’m going to look into a couple of movie roles I’ve been offered auditions to.”
Amy gave a small smile.
“Congratulations,” she said. “What kind of movie roles?”
“If I tell you, will you stay?” he asked.
“That doesn’t sound like a good deal,” she replied with a shrug. “I’m sure I could find that information on some of your fan accounts.”
“If you actually read those, I wouldn’t have just had to run all the way around the island,” Colin retorted.
The ferry pulled into the port. Amy looked over.
“Please tell me I was smooth enough to convince you to stay,” Colin said. “Because I really don’t think I have the energy to swim after you.”
“What is this, a movie?” she asked. “Who said you have to chase me anyway?”
“Wherever you go, I go,” Colin said. “I thought you realized by now that you can’t get rid of me that easily.”
Amy sighed, shaking her head.
“I guess I don’t have to take this ferry,” she said slowly. “But… you’re leaving soon anyway, aren’t you?”
“Well…” Colin said slowly. “I was supposed to help Aunt Sophie until her arm healed. It wouldn’t make sense for me to leave before then.”
“And after that?” she asked. “You go back to London, and…”
I don’t even live in Europe, she wanted to say. So are we just putting off goodbyes for another few weeks?
Colin smiled at her, as if he was reading her thoughts.
“Am I going to have to confiscate your calendar, too?” he asked. “Haven’t you heard of taking things one step at a time?”
Amy rolled her eyes.
“I’m just being logical,” she replied. “Long distance doesn’t work out in most cases, so maybe it’s better to set realistic expectations—”
Colin put a finger to her lips.
“I already told you you can’t get rid of me easily,” he said. “For the first time in my life, I don’t feel like I’m stuck. Like I’m tied down—” he looked deep into her eyes—“I’m tied to you, Amy. Wherever you go, I’ll follow you. If you want to get far away from the paparazzi or stay on Kera forever, I’ll go where you go. Like a kite on a string.” He grinned. “Or a fish on a hook. I’m stuck to you.”
“Are you always this cheesy?” she asked with another roll of her eyes, but she couldn’t stop a smile from escaping her.
He leaned in close enough that Amy could see the beads of sweat dotting his face. He still smelled like his aftershave, Amy thought as his hand cupped her cheek. His lips brushed against hers, hesitating for a moment as he pulled away to glance at her. His eyes were soft, questioning, maybe even pleading.
“Stay with me,” he murmured. “Don’t leave me behind, Kang.”
His words sent tingles up her spine, and she knew those words would echo around in her head forever. He wanted her to stay with him.
Amy felt the corners of her mouth curl into a soft smile. She answered him in the only way she could think: pulling him into her arms. Her lips pressed into his, and she felt herself melt into the kiss. He wrapped his arms around her, lifting her feet from the ground.
“I guess I’ll just put the bag back in the Jeep?” Ava asked wryly.
Amy pulled herself away from Colin and looked over with a flush. Colin put an arm around her shoulders and nodded to Ava.
“Yes, please,” he said. “Can you go ahead and let Sophie know we’re walking back?”
Ava nodded, and Amy saw a smile at her lips. Ava slung Amy’s bag into the Jeep and climbed back in. They both stepped out of the way as the car rolled past them.
“So… how’d you know I was leaving?” Amy asked.
“Aunt Sophie told me.”
“She promised not to!”
“That woman can’t keep a secret to save her life,” he said. “She came to tell me off about not making things right with you. Which is how I realized you weren’t keeping up with me in the news.”
Amy rolled her eyes.
“Not everyone is obsessed with you, Your Majesty,” she pointed out.
“Not yet, at least.”
They turned and headed back towards Sophie’s house. Amy felt Colin’s arm around her. He was still sweaty, but she didn’t mind.
“So… think Ava and Aunt Sophie will get together?” he asked.
Amy gave him a confused look.
“You don’t see it?” he asked.
“Everyone does,” she retorted. “They’ve been dating for a while now.”
“What? No way, she’s still in the crush phase,” he argued.
Amy chuckled and shook her head.
“Why didn’t she tell me?” he asked with a look of shock. “She always seemed flustered when we talked about it.”
“Wow, so she can’t keep a secret, and you can’t read a room,” Amy said slowly. “Some family, huh?”
Colin tried to glare at her, but they both broke into giggles. He moved his arm from her shoulder and grabbed her hand.
“Let’s go home,” he said. “I’ve got a lot of questions for Aunt Sophie now.”
Amy squeezed his hand, slowing his pace. He glanced over and gave her a questioning look.
“There’s no rush,” she said with a smile. “Let’s just enjoy the view.”
He grinned and slowed down.
“Keep this up and I might actually give you back your watch,” he joked.
Amy rolled her eyes, but she didn’t respond. The sun was still high in the sky, and there was a cool breeze rolling in from the ocean. She took a deep breath in, smelling the salt water mixed with the faint odor of flowers.