"We've waited a Really Long Time for this…?"

"Thanks little brother."

"Nah, Marissa's the one who deserves the credit for this."

"Uh, let's just call it even."

At that, the brother's Attwood exchanged a gentle fist-bump, and Trey left them, heading home into Alex's-his apartment. Marissa gave him a little wave, then the front door shut, and he was gone.

Leaving Ryan and Marissa in Sandy's car.

An awkward silence began, before they looked at each other – their eyes locking.

Quickly, Ryan watched Marissa break into a shy smile, which turned into a shy toothy grin as he laughed gently, trying to break the tension.

"Heh, so," he began, trying to conceal his unease while meeting her eyes again, "it's been awhile, I guess, since we were-"

"Alone yeah," she injected, looking ahead through the windshield.

"Yeah, you know, without something," he continued.

"Or someone," she finished, watching him.

"I guess we can do whatever we want," he said offhand.

"Well, what do you want to do?" she asked curiously.

The question floored him, and the awkward silence returned, riddled with an uncomfortable, but tantalising tension, especially as their eyes locked again. Seconds passed, until she looked away to the floor, making him do the same. Quickly though, Marissa looked back towards him again, and he couldn't help meeting her eyes once more…

Slowly, and gently, he leant towards her, and she responded in kind. Reaching out, he gently slid his left hand beneath her soft, dark-blonde mane and held her head close to his.

Tentatively, he met her soft, glossed lips, and they kissed uncertainly, but longingly, before she gently broke it off. "Way-wait," she said, breathlessly, holding his gaze, "we've waited a really long time for this…"

"So, wha.., do you wanna stop?" he asked, confused and uneasy.

"No (!)," she replied quickly, eyes locked with his, "I just, think we can do better than the front seat of Sandy's car?"

He paused, swallowing, before saying "I know a guy who has a Pool House all to himself…."

"You think he'd let us borrow it?" she asked nervously, a subtle, longing excitement entering her gaze.

"Oh yeah," he said, holding her look, a similar feeling spreading through him…

Purposefully, they settled back into their seats, Ryan putting the car into 'Drive' while Marissa nervously looked at him, before gazing straight ahead, their minds, among other things, now focusing on the same thing:

The Cohen's Pool House…

The drive home had been as short as usual, physically at least, but it didn't feel like it…

It felt eternal by the time the Cohen's driveway came into sight.

Pulling through the gates, and seeing all the lights off, Ryan quietly stopped, and shut down the engine, before unbuckling himself, Marissa following suit. Silently, they stepped out of the car. The night not yet cold, Marissa gently slipped her silver jacket off, draping it across her bag, then slung its strap over her bare shoulder as she sneakily followed him around the house.

Past the darkened French doors, Jacuzzi (which they'd never used together last year…), and the Pool (which they had…), they approached the doors of the Pool House…

Ryan's home, at least when he was at the Cohen's. Since the fateful night at the Kick-Off Carnival, they'd spent so much time in here, together….

Would that be the path that lay before them now, among many other things?

Her stomach now filling with butterflies, Marissa stopped in front of the doors, watching Ryan nervously. Just then, the clouds parted, and bright, cool moonlight flooded the backyard. At first, both felt the brief urge to dart inside, but then realisation hit them. Marissa tried and failed to suppress a giggle, causing Ryan to look at her, the first time he'd heard that sound in months….

Unable to help himself, Ryan watched Marissa, the light breeze causing her dark blonde hair to drift around her face, her large eyes sparkling in the moonlight. His breathing grew shallower as every detail of her became clearer. Her tall, lanky frame clad in long, denim pants and a white, silver-strapped halter-top, her slenderness once again hit him, as it had many times last year… Swallowing hard, he watched her long bare arms almost glow in the cold moonlight, giving her smooth skin an almost ghostly appearance. The pink and gold Chanel bag strap slung over her bare, slender shoulder cast a striking shadow across her chest, dancing slightly as the bag moved in the breeze. He couldn't help it, he found himself feeling the intense urge to kiss her, more deeply than in Sandy's car.

"Are you OK?" she asked, startling him. Feeling his face grow hot, he tried to look away, but then felt her hand on his. Their eyes locking, Ryan's flush turned into a longing smile at her shy one. Then, she gently opened the door and led him inside.

Darkness, except for dappled moonlight as the drapes slowly wafted in the night breeze, greeted their senses. Ryan moved for the light switch, only for Marissa to stop him with a gentle, mischievous head-shake. Their eyes gazing longingly into each other, they moved closer, her slender frame coming up to his. Nervously, but intently, she licked her glossed lips, then tilted her head, joining them with his…

At first, they were tentative, as they had been in the car, their kiss gentle, questioning as they tried to guess each other's intentions but, quickly it grew as it filled with a love sorely missed. Ryan gently slid his hand around her slim waist, holding her close as she slid a bare arm around him, softly rubbing his back. Then, their kiss grew more intense.

They'd been apart for six months…

Marissa trembled as she felt Ryan tug softly on her bottom lip, his tongue asking for permission to go further. Giving it, she parted her lips and his tongue entered her mouth. Quickly, desperation took hold, an urge to make up for lost time… Ryan almost groaned at the sensation of being inside her mouth again, Marissa moaning slightly into his mouth as she slipped her tongue into his…

As she did, their long dormant spark, suppressed ever since Ryan had returned to Newport, ignited once more. Her tongue still exploring his mouth, Marissa moved even closer, slipping her bare, slender arms around him as she pressed her slim body up against his. Instantly he responded, wrapping his own arms around her as he did the same. His hands gently caressed her back, especially the upper portion exposed by her halter top. Her smooth skin beneath his fingers again, he softly explored her prominent shoulder blades, so familiar from last year…

Almost fainting from his touch, Marissa's slender body tingled as the raw, almost animal-like passion only Ryan could arouse in her swept through it for the first time in months. Experiencing a similar reaction, Ryan met her tongue with his and they helplessly savoured each other's tastes, the Pool House's blinds, drifting in the breeze, dappling the carpet with shafts of moonlight.

Oblivious to this, and anything else around them, Ryan and Marissa lost themselves in the moment. After a long 6 months, they were starving for each other…

Needing air, they reluctantly broke apart and gazed into each other's eyes. Marissa felt his warm breath on her cheeks, and, at his unforgettable flecked blue eyes, felt her own begin to water. Unable to blink, she held his look, breathless at how close he was to her right now.

"Hey," he says, gently touching her cheek with his hand, a gesture which sent tingles throughout her slender body, "are you OK?"

The memory of their last kiss, at her Mom's wedding to Caleb, hit her. But not as much as the memory of the last 6 months… Without him…

Living in that mansion, with Caleb and her Mom. Between them, it was hard to tell who was worse. She'd had Summer, but despite her best efforts, that had not filled the hole in her life… Nor had trying to ease themselves back into their old lives, those they'd had before last summer. As soon as they'd arrived at Zach's house party, she'd taken one look at what was going on and found herself saying "welcome to the dark side." Running into Holly had just rubbed that in… How she'd moved-on from that world…

And she didn't want to go back.

The drinking… Either alone in her room or alone at the Lifeguard stand… And then, the most painful memories of all, her phone calls to Ryan where, every time she heard his voice, she couldn't say anything…

The pain of that, and her sheer loneliness after he'd left with Theresa, now hit her and, try as she might, she couldn't stop a tear escaping from her eye.

"It's…, been too long," she managed to whisper, and he couldn't help getting what she meant.

Those phone calls haunted him too. The times when they happened, usually when he was lying beside Theresa, and the silence at the other end, except for the sound of the surf breaking on the beach, meant he'd known who it was. And now, seeing her trying to hold back tears, it hit him at how she'd felt, far away at the Lifeguard stand…

Then, only last week, in the mall, he'd heard Summer ask her "do you miss him?"

"Every day…"

And he couldn't help but feel the same…

"Yeah…..," he says, his own breath catching in his throat, "it has." And he felt his own eyes water.

Seeing this, Marissa realised he'd missed her, and just as much as she'd missed him. Her dam burst, and she failed to hold back her tears.

"Ryan," she managed to get out. "Hey, hey," he said, his guts twisting at her tears, and especially at being the cause of them, "I'm here. And I'm not leaving again."

Hearing him say this, the full pain that she'd felt when he'd been gone hit her, and she pulled him close, resting her head on his shoulder. As she sobbed into him, with her soft, dark blonde hair brushing his face, and her long, bare, slender arms around his body, he fought back his own tears. For the second time, he'd caused her heart-breaking pain, after coldly pushing her away following Oliver's terrifying break-down last year, and he hated himself for it…

He'd missed her, both times…

So much…

Instinctively, he slipped his own arms around her slender, trembling frame and held her close. Gently stroking her hair and bare upper back, he touched his lips to her bare arm, and whispered "I'm sorry, so sorry."

"No," she managed, her voice trembling, "I know you had to go, that you couldn't be like your dad and just leave Theresa to cope on her own. But I missed you. So much…"

"I missed you, more than I could admit to myself, or Theresa," he said, holding her gently, "and I'm here now, for good."

He heard her manage a tearful giggle, muffled by his shoulder. Gently, he nudged her head up, and looked into her eyes. "I mean it Marissa. I'm not going anywhere."

At this, Marissa searched his eyes, and knew he meant it.

"…..OK," she said, trying to blink away her tears. "Hey," Ryan said, offering her his sleeve, which she quietly accepted. With her eyes more or less dry, she giggled slightly. The sound triggering a hopeful smile on his regretful face, she eased back a little, till her hands rested on his shoulders. Lost in his eyes, her beautiful face broke into her classic tooth-filled grin, and he felt better, much better than before.

"So, do you want to do something tonight, even though it's late (?)," he asked. "Hmm, are the Cohen's out (?)," she replied, a mischievous look flashing across her eyes. "Yeah, Sandy and Kirsten are having a weekend away," he said, suddenly realising that might have possibilities.

For him and Marissa…

Sliding her bare arms around his neck, Marissa brought her face to his, and their kiss resumed… Longingly, they tasted each other, their tongues dancing together in each other's mouths…

Then, they broke apart again, "we have the house to ourselves (?)," she asked, that mischievous look returning to her eyes, which were now sparkling with delight. "Yeah," he said, "Seth will be at Summer's till tomorrow…"

"Hmm, I like that," she said, in a mirthful voice. "Just what are you thinking Cooper (?)," he asked, intrigued and a little apprehensive. "That we have a Jacuzzi out there," she stated, her bare arm pointing towards the Cohen's now moonlit back yard, "and, we've never used it…"

"I have," he said.

"But I haven't," she countered, "and it's not late. We're on summer break, and the night is young…"

She moved teasingly, her long bare arms playfully swinging as her hair drifted across her bare shoulders. Sensing that she was affecting him, she batted her eyelashes, making him breathless as his mind filled with thoughts he hadn't had in months… Uncontrollably, he swallowed, and seeing this, Marissa grinned.

"But your suit must be at your Mom's," he said, feeling hot… "I can manage…," she replied with a giggle, "And who says I need a suit (?).

That thought made him feel more alive than anything in the past 6 months, and he couldn't resist it.

"So can I," he said, locking his eyes with hers. "and it'll be nice and warm in there."

"And full of bubbles," she teased, her large eyes dancing, "so, let's enjoy it… We have it all to ourselves." Slipping her bare arms around his neck, she joined their lips again. Gently, they moved in sync, their desire intensifying, then, reluctantly, they broke apart. "Come on….?!," she said, her grin returning.

At this, she let go of him and backed outside, her slender bare arm beckoning him forward.

'She's such a tease,' he thought, breathlessly. And a few other things:

Familiar, yet dangerous. Pretty, but edgy. Ethereal, and heartbreakingly beautiful.

And, she was his again.

Pulling off his top, he watched her laugh nervously as his long pants dropped to the floor, then he headed outside…

Minutes later, with the clear moonlight bathing the Cohen's backyard and the Jacuzzi foaming with bubbles, Ryan and Marissa played around, splashing water over themselves and dunking each other under. In between, they kissed, their intense mutual attraction burning within them as they explored each other's mouths, their bare limbs exploring their wet, exposed bodies as they soaked in the warm foaming waters.

For Ryan, this was the most fun, most alive night he had in months, as he savoured the feeling that only Marissa stirred in him. Lindsay just couldn't compete with her. Marissa was so unlike anyone else he'd ever known. She was intoxicating, funny, mischievous, dangerous, misunderstood by many, and just heartbreakingly beautiful. She gave him her warmth, unconditional love, and her fierce, but hidden desire to live, and he adored her for all of it…

For Marissa, after those lonely nights, cold and empty, at the Lifeguard Stand, drinking, then trying to suppress her feelings for Ryan, which even Alex could not compete with, this was a moment she had wished for months. Being with him was so intense, amazing and mischievous. She felt free with him, like she could be herself, do what she liked, and be accepted for who she really was, not who others thought she should be. Only Ryan made her feel this way, and she loved it like nothing else. She craved it in her life, and felt that if they could stay together, she could do anything she chose.

Both of them lost themselves in the moment, Ryan savouring her bare, slender frame against his in the warm water, relishing her lively, mischievous personality, with depths only he got to see. Marissa savouring Ryan's strong, muscular frame against hers and joyfully relishing his edgy, warm and caring nature, which only she got to see…

After their long 6 months apart, their future looked so good, and that was before the weekend had even started….(!). Now, they could do anything together…