He places the picture of her in an 8 x 10 envelope and then puts it in his suit case. Puts some extra t shirts on top and zips it up. He is going back to his hometown. His best friend’s family has been like a real family to him. Made him feel important and that he mattered. He had a surprise for his best friend’s sister Lacey.
It was going to be a long drive, but he feels that it will be worth it. DJ moved away, because he wanted to prove that he could stand on his own. He wanted Dale’s dad to be proud of him. He wasn’t a bad kid, just got mixed up with the wrong crowd. When DJ had th. e chance, he moved far enough away that all the bad things in his life couldn’t follow him. Now, he was going back to show them, that he did make something of himself. He is a freelance photographer and travels all over the US.
Lacey is at her mom’s house helping to get everything ready for the bbq. Dale and his girlfriend are coming over, and will be here in about an hour. They hear someone pull in the driveway. Lacey thinks it’s Dale and Leslie. When she opens the door, she is shocked to see DJ. More excited than she expected, she runs up to him and almost knocks him over. He chuckles and says, “glad to see you too.” He holds her a little longer than he should, but he wanted to feel her in his arms. It felt so right. But had to play it cool. So he broke from the embrace and went to the trunk to get his suite case and duffel bag with his camera stuff. “Oh cool, you brought your camera,” He laughed and said, “yes, I take my camera everywhere I go.” After he comes in, he hugs Lacey’s parents, Angie and James. Angie almost cries when she hugs him. James gets a little choked up, but holds it together. James offers DJ a beer and they sit in the living room and DJ catches them up on all that he is doing. James just smiles as he listens to DJ and feels so proud of him. And when DJ is done, James puts his hand on his should and says, ” I am so proud of you.” That is all DJ needed to hear. That made everything worth it.
While James and DJ were talking, Lacey changed into her bathing suit and was on a raft relaxing. Her eyes were closed, so she didn’t notice when DJ came out. He watched her for a bit. DJ had his camera in his hand and he aimed the lens at Lacey and snapped a few. She didn’t hear the click when he took a picture. Then he sat down on one of the lounge chairs and took out a beer. Lacey looked up at that point and he offered her a beer, but she asked him to open a soda for her. He did and she got off the raft and swam to the steps and got out. She toweled herself off and sat at the other lounge chair. After taking a long sip of soda, she turned to Dj. “You look good and sounds like you are doing really good. I am so happy for you.” He smiled and replied, “thank you, you look good too. I hope we can catch up with each other later. I have something important to show you. But it will have to wait until later. You will understand why.” She looked at him concerned, “is something wrong?” Shaking his head, “no nothing is wrong, but it’s something that only you can hear.” Her stomach started to gather butterflies. Thoughts went through her head, does he know that I like him? Has he known all this time and just hasn’t said anything because of Dale? She didn’t know what to think, but she didn’t pressure him. She would let him come to her.
At her apartment, she has kept a picture of DJ in her dresser drawer. She takes it out when she misses him. Which is a lot. Seeing him today has brought back those feelings. He is Lacey’s first crush. She remembers when Dale first brought DJ over. She thought he was it. He was everything. He had the smile, the deep voice, and that sweet charm that had women all over town wanted him. She hated it when she saw him with a girl. Lacey thought that no one but her deserved to be with him. But she kept all that to herself.
They heard Dale’s voice inside, he had just arrived with Leslie. Lacey and DJ made their way inside. DJ let Lacey go in first. DJ was nervous, because he though Dale would be upset with not keeping in touch in a while. Lacey went up and gave Dale a hug. Dale saw DJ behind her and his eyes lit up. He was excited to see DJ. Lacey went to go hug Leslie, while Dale went to give DJ a big hug. Dale broke the hug and backed up a little and looked in DJ face, “you really are here? I have missed you so much, I am so glad you are here.” Dale hugged him again. DJ was speechless. He just hugged Dale back.
Angie was choking back tears when she announced, “everyone come get something to eat. Everything is on the table, make your plate and sit wherever you want. Lounge chairs are set up outside if you guys want to sit outside.” James and Angie stood back and watched everyone talk and fix their plates. Angie looked up and James and smiled. Saying silently that everyone is here. Like proud parents. And they were proud of all of them.
Everyone decided to eat outside. They sat at the table with the umbrella. Dale and Leslie sat on one side, and Lacey sat on the opposite side, and DJ came and sat next to Lacey. He moved his chair a little closer to her, which she noticed, but no one else did. Dale was busy asking DJ how he has been and DJ filled him in on everything. Lacey and Leslie were chatting among themselves. While they were eating and talking, Lacey could feel DJ’s knee tap her knee every now and then. But pretended not to notice. When Leslie would ask Dale something, he would be distracted with her, DJ would turn to Lacey and lower his sunglasses and give her a smile and wink at her. Now she knew something was up with him. But she wanted to wait until later, when he said he has something important to tell her. She had a pretty good idea of what it might be. But she wanted to hear it from him.
After everyone was done eating, they cleared their plates and refreshed their drinks and sat back at the table to chat for a bit before going for a swim. Dale and Leslie pretty much just stayed in the shallow end making out. DJ and Lacey were racing each other back and forth to see who wins. DJ let Lacey win most of the time and would kid her about being too slow. He would look at her sometimes and it would make her stomach do flips. She wasn’t sure how to respond back, so she would blush and look away. She was done swimming so she went to the steps to get out. DJ followed her to the lounge chairs. Dale and Leslie were still in the pool. After a few minutes, Dale announced that they had to get going soon. DJ looked disappointed, but understood because they had a long drive back. They got out of the pool and gave Lacey their good byes, Dale turned to DJ and gave him a hug and told him to keep in touch. DJ promised to do that this time. “Things are good for me now, so I will call you more often.” Dale smiled and hugged him good bye.
Leslie headed inside to change and to say good bye to Angie and James. Dale talked with his parents while Leslie was getting dressed. Angie had put together a bag of food for them to take home. She made one for Lacey and DJ for when they were ready to leave too. Dale and Leslie left and Angie stood at the back door and said they were gonna put on a movie and asked if Lacey and DJ wanted to join them. They both said no, so Angie went back in to watch the movie with James. Now Lacey and DJ were alone.
They were just sitting there not saying a word. Lacey is hoping that he will reveal what he wants to tell her. He takes a long sip of his beer, sets it down and then turns facing her. She turns to face him and looks in his eyes. He begins with, “wait here, I have to show you something before I start.” He gets up and goes in and gets the envelope he brought in his suite cases. He holds it up and sits back down. Lacey thinks its pictures that he has taken from his travels. He hesitates for a minute, then he opens it and takes the picture out. It is a black and white picture of her. Taken at the last bbq, she is staring off in the distance, he didn’t know what she was looking at, but he thought she looked absolutely beautiful. He hands the picture to her and she is stunned. “I didn’t know you took this. I was watching the sunset. It was so pretty.” He smiles and says, “you looked so beautiful, when I looked through the lens, it took my breath away. I never saw you like that before. I didn’t know that I felt something for you. But I did, but I didn’t know what to do. I told Dale one time that I had feelings for you, and he told me to stay away from you. I did, but I can’t anymore.I have kept this picture with me wherever I would go. And it helped me get through some really tough times. I hope that I haven’t scared you away from the chance of me being with you.” He sat back in the lounge chair and chugged the rest of his beer. He was nervous about what Lacey’s reaction would be. He was in for a shock. Because she was about to confess her feelings for him, now that she knows he has feelings for her.
It took Lacey a few minutes to compose herself. The picture was so beautiful that tears were streaming down her face as he was confessing his feelings for her. She took a long sip of her iced tea and began. Still holding the picture, ” I have always had a crush on you, but because you are Dale’s best friend, I was afraid that you didn’t see me as anything other than your best friend’s sister. That I wasn’t pretty enough. I would see the girls you would date and thought, I have no chance. So I just kept it to myself. I also have kept a picture. It’s of you from the last bbq also. You are just lounging on the chair like you are now. I don’t remember who took the picture, but you have the most beautiful smile. When I look at that picture, I close my eyes and can hear your voice sometimes. I have always wanted a chance to be with you.” She smiles and continues, ” I am willing to take that chance if you are.” He gets up from the lounge chair and she sits up so he can sit on the end of hers. He leans over and kisses her softly on the lips. He moves back a bit after he kisses her and smiles a smile only for her and quietly says, ” I knew you would have soft lips. I have wanted to kiss you since I got here.” Lacey giggles and says, ” me too, we can go to my place, we have some talking to do.” DJ smiles and gets up and helps her up. They head inside to change.
With their bags of food Angie packed for them, they say their good byes. Lacey tells her mom that she will call her tomorrow. DJ hugs Angie and James and promises to check in more often. Lacey gave DJ directions to her place when they were out back. He will follow her to her place. They leave and head to Lacey’s place.
When they arrive at Lacey’s, they put their food in the fridge and go sit on the couch. They talk for hours. They don’t realize that they have been talking all night until they see the sun coming through the window. Lacey makes some coffee for DJ and she makes a cup of tea. DJ comes into the kitchen as she is making the coffee. Leaning against the counter, he says, ” I think we should have talked a long time ago.” She smiles as she turns on the coffee pot, “It wasn’t our time. Now feels right.” He comes over to her and wraps his arms around her and kisses her. They forget the coffee and the tea. They spend the next few hours showing each other how much they mean to each other.