In the Beginning: A Short Story by Kathryn Kelly

In the Beginning: A Short Story by Kathryn Kelly

In The Beginning is a short story by Kathryn Kelly that fits into the world of her Kindle Press novel Begin Again. It serves as a standalone offering that serves to introduce new readers to the world of her Kindle Press Book. Check it out and learn more about the romantic world of Begin Again!


Author's Note

Meet Noah and Savannah twenty years before their story picks up in Begin AgainIn the Beginning is a glimpse into their life twenty years before they reconnected in Begin Again. They were young college students, innocently head over heels in love. This short prequel will give you a peek at life in 1997 and offers a romantic escape to a Florida beach. 


About In The Beginning

Savannah Richards’ freshman year at college had turned into the kind of adventure she’d only read about. Studious and serious, she’s the complete opposite of her boyfriend. But after a year of being practically attached at the hip to him, the guy who wanted to try everything at least once had managed to talk Savannah out of her comfort zone more than once. Just like he’d talked her into flying to Florida for a quick weekend on the beach. Along the way, he’d also stolen her heart. But once he graduated, what would happen to their relationship?

For college senior Noah Worthington, graduation is just around the corner. It’s time for him to launch his new career in aviation. The only thing that matters more than flying to Noah is his love for the adorable freshman he’s fallen in love with. 

Noah has their future mapped out, an engagement ring in his hand, and a proposal ready to go. Then a desperate phone call from his family upends his world. Their new life together is just beginning. Now, would it all come crashing to an end?


In The Beginning

July 4, 1997

Tonight was the night.

Noah Worthington stretched out on the cabana chair, adjusted his dark sunshades, and watched Savannah Skye Richards. The bright Florida sunshine reflected off her sunglasses perched on top of her head, and the ocean breeze played with a strand of hair that had come loose from her ponytail.

Her attention was buried in a book. Jane Eyre. She said she’d read it as a sophomore in high school, but insisted on reading it again for her English literature class. Noah had suggested Cliffs Notes for a review, but she insisted on reading every word of every assignment.

They’d been attached at the hip for nearly a whole year and he often wondered how much knowledge one girl could soak into such a gorgeous head.

It probably explained why she had straight As and he had… average grades. But despite his negligence in reading assignments, he would have his bachelor’s degree in aviation in five weeks.

Aviation was different. That was the one area he excelled in. He was the top flight instructor in his class.

Her lips curved into a smile as she read.

He wanted to ask her what she liked about the book.

He wanted to know if she liked the feel of the ocean breeze on her face.

He wanted to know her thoughts on life, liberty, and if she’d let him talk her into going parasailing.

He wanted to kiss her.

“Noah,” she said, putting the book face down in her lap.

“What?” he asked innocently.

Her lips curved into a wide, knowing smile. “I can see your wheels turning.”

“You can’t see my eyes,” he said.

“You’re right,” she said, reaching up and dragging his shades from his eyes. “That’s better.”

Better indeed. Unable to resist a minute longer, he ran a hand along her arm. How was it she could exude such sexiness wearing blue jean shorts and a tank top? On a beach full of women in bikinis. He only noticed them because they were in such stark contrast to Savannah.

He cradled the back of her head with his other hand, lightly brushing his thumb across her lips. Her eyes fluttered closed and she swayed toward him. He placed his lips against hers and wondered why kissing her never got old.

She would be a sophomore soon, but he would be college graduate soon. He was already making money as a flight instructor and could take care of them both. And he had three job offers – two with the airlines and one with a private company.

“I think you’re trying to distract me,” she said against his lips.

“Is it working?”

She pressed a hand against his, laced their fingers together. “Unfortunately, yes.”

“Good,” he said, unable to keep the happiness at bay. “What do you want to do?”

She glanced at the book that had slid into the sand between them.

He shook his head. “Besides read.”

“I don’t know.” She glanced around them.

“Still want to try a piña colada?”

“Absolutely!”

“Don’t blame me when we both get arrested.”

“I’m not worried,” she said, with a lift of an eyebrow. “We’ll be discreet.”

“You can read while I’m gone,” he said, wondering where the servers were when needed.

“Counting on it,” she said. He kissed her lightly on the cheek, then began the hike back to the bar area.

“Don’t go anywhere,” he said over his shoulder.

***

Savannah Richards wasn’t going anywhere. She shook the sand off her book and put her head back in the pages. Her thoughts, however, were focused on Noah. He was always affectionate, but seemed a bit more so today. And after a year of being attached to his hip, she felt qualified to make that distinction.

She peeked behind the cabana back toward the Trade Winds Resort. A group of teenagers had set up a volleyball game a few feet away. She watched them, wondering how they made it look so easy. Savannah had never been into sports. She preferred indoor activities – books, movies, studying.

Nonetheless, Noah had a propensity to get her out doing other things – making her more spontaneous. Like last night, flying to Tampa to spend the weekend at St. Pete Beach. Savannah had never even been to the beach before today.

She was in awe at the magnitude of the ocean. As she stared toward the horizon, she wondered how many miles she could see. She would ask Noah. He would know. Her family vacations had always been in the mountains, so this was new territory.

And Noah led the pack when it came to exploring new territory. The guy wanted to do everything – try everything. Most of the time, he managed to talk her into going along with such things as trying a new restaurant or taking a spontaneous flight somewhere. He would jump into a plane for a flight like most people jumped into their car for a Sunday drive. Yet he managed to steer her just enough out of her comfort zone that she didn’t get overwhelmed.

Truth be told, she couldn’t get enough of him. Though she didn’t say anything, her heart was breaking that he was graduating. He wouldn’t be there to walk her to class, eat lunch with her every day, and basically spend all her free time with. Since they had been together since her first week as a college freshman – almost a year, it was difficult for her to wrap her head around being a college student without Noah Worthington at her side.

They hadn’t even talked about how they would continue to see each other. It was a little odd, because Noah wasn’t one to avoid any conversation. Maybe he didn’t bring it up because he didn’t have an answer.

Savannah thought about it often. Imagined how the conversation would go. But she was waiting for him to bring it up. She was terrified that if she brought it up, it would push him away. No matter how many times she told herself it was irrational, the thought kept her quiet.

Probably because Noah was too good to be true.

Sighing, she picked up Jane Eyre and forced herself to read another few pages. She shifted so she could watch for Noah. He was taking longer than she expected. It was a little bit of a hike. She wasn’t wearing a watch, but her stomach was telling her it was getting close to lunch time.

When she spotted him hurrying back toward her, her heart skipped. She had memorized every line, every angle of his handsome face. If only she could get into his head. There were things he kept from her. She was certain of it.

His hands were full as he hurried back to her. With a pleased look on his face, he settled in next to her, took off his sunshades, and began opening bags. The first bag had two bottles of water and two piña coladas, topped with colorful umbrellas.

“I thought you were worried about us getting in trouble,” Savannah said, taking a sip of the drink. “Oh wow. This is really good.”

“I knew you’d like it. Besides, no one seems to care. And…” he added as he opened the other bag, “I brought lunch from the Flying Bridge.”

“French fries!” she said, eagerly reaching for one of the bags.

“Here you go. Tuna croissant.”

“You,” she said, dipping a French fry into ketchup, “are the best.”

“You have no idea,” he said, with a wink.

Feeling the heat creep into her cheeks, she smiled at him.

“Hey,” she said. “Have you thought any more about which job offer to take?”

He shook his head and stared at the ocean. “Not really.

And there… she knew he had just kept something from her. There were certain things he didn’t talk to her about. She could have pressed him on it, but thought it best to let him tell her when he was ready. And he would do so. She was certain of it.

After lunch, they took a walk along the beach. Savannah took off her shoes and marveled at the sensation of walking in the sandy mud. Noah spotted a pink conch shell as it washed ashore, snagged it, and handed it to her.

When she put it up to her ear, he laughed. 

“Let’s go parasailing,” Noah said, as they stopped to watch a boat with its brightly colored kite floating in the air behind it.

Savannah pulled her sunshades over her eyes as the young man below the canopy dipped down into the ocean water. “I don’t think it’s safe.”

“What? Parasailing? You don’t even have to get wet.”

She shook her head. “They just did.”

“I think that part is optional.”

“There’s too much that could go wrong.”

“We can go up together,” he suggested.

“Like in tandem?”

“Sort of. We’d be side by side.”

She watched the rider gliding far above the water.

“If you fell in, I’d jump in after you,” he said.

She laughed. “You would not. You’d be harnessed in.”

“My point exactly.”

“I’ll think about it,” she conceded, as he pulled her back against his chest, wrapped his arms around her, and rested his chin on the top of her head. If anyone could convince her to sail high above the ocean, it was Noah Worthington.

***

Noah rummaged around in his suitcase, found the pair of black socks he knew he wouldn’t be wearing this trip, and shook out the ring he planned to give Savannah tonight. It was only a temporary ring until he could take her ring shopping. He’d found the perfect sized stainless steel collar off a hydraulic hose. One of the mechanics let him use a grinder to sand the lip away. Then he’d sanded it out to take away the rough edges. He was rather proud of his ingenuity, but a little apprehensive about giving the girl of his dreams a homemade engagement ring, even temporarily. 

He slipped the ring into his pocket and, taking his little Toshiba notebook computer with him to the desk, logged into his email. Savannah had just turned on the shower, so she would be at least another twenty minutes, maybe twenty-five.

He logged into his private email and inhaled sharply. Two emails had come in today. One from his father and one from his mother.

He opened the one from his father first.

I need you to fly in tomorrow. I have a meeting scheduled at 7:00 that I need you to be at. It’s very important.

Noah scowled. Obviously not a request.

He swirled in his chair and stared out the window - watching the ocean waves crawling gently ashore and the seagulls flying about. He took a deep breath to calm his breathing.

The second message was from his mother.

Hi, Noah. I know you’re at the beach with Savannah. And I’m really sorry to interrupt. But this is important. Your father is considering a very risky investment that could threaten the financial stability of the whole family. I’m so sorry to bother you. But can you call me?

Noah glared blankly at the computer screen. The financial stability of the whole family? Noah’s father wasn’t known for avoiding risks, but to Noah’s knowledge, he never taken on something he couldn’t win.

He logged out of his account, closed the computer, and leaned back in the chair. He took out the ring he planned to give Savannah tonight – at dinner – after the fireworks on the beach, and put it on the end of his little finger.

He had to call his mother. I could pretend I didn’t get the message. But his mother’s email was… alarming.

Damn it.

And he had to call her now while Savannah was still in the shower. He picked up the hotel phone, then dragging the long cord behind him, he paced to the window, opened the patio door, and stepped out onto the balcony.

Ten minutes later, he hung up the phone and stepped back inside the room. Savannah had turned off the shower. He hurried back to his suitcase, took the ring from his finger, and buried it back in the black sock. He rolled the socks together from the toes up, then flipped the outer cuff over the top and around the rolled socks, making a ball. The ring would have to wait for another day.

As he straightened up and turned, Savannah came out of the bathroom wearing the pale blue oxford shirt he’d worn that morning and left hanging on the hook on the back of the bathroom door. She’d only buttoned three buttons – he counted –  and the shirt swallowed her up, reaching almost to her knees. Her face was flushed from the warmth of the shower.

She smiled brightly. “Your turn,” she said.

He swallowed thickly. Any thoughts of his parents and their crazy demands faded into the background.

Forcing a smile on his face, he nodded.

“Are you OK?” she asked, her smile turning to consternation.

“No,” he replied, and closed the gap between them. He picked her up, carried her to the bed, and gently lowered her onto it. His lips claimed hers, his hands tangling in her damp hair.

Then, within seconds, he solved the mystery. She wore absolutely nothing beneath his shirt. He wanted her more than anything in that moment. So much so, he almost came undone. But instead, he shifted and began massaging the kinks from her shoulders.

“I have a surprise for you,” he said, nuzzling her ear.

“Another one?”

He chuckled. “There’s an unlimited supply of those, but this one requires you to wear something other than my shirt.

She squinted through contented, half-closed eyes. “We could just stay here and I could surprise you, too.”

“As tempting as that is,” he said, “we have reservations. After that, there’ll be time for more surprises.”

“What is it?” She opened her eyes and looked into his.

He shrugged.

She groaned and slipped from the bed to dig jeans and a shirt from her suitcase.

“If I told you, it wouldn’t be a surprise.” He hoped she couldn’t hear the disappointment in his voice. Unfortunately, it wouldn’t be nearly the surprise he had planned on giving her.

In spite of their slight, unplanned delay, Noah had timed it perfectly. They walked onto the beach, hand in hand, just before sunset.

“Is this the surprise?” she asked.

“This? No.” He veered south and headed toward one of the boats waiting on the beach.

Savannah noticed where they were headed and stopped to stand still. Her hand slipped from his. He stopped and turned back.

She shook her head.

“It’s just a boat ride at sunset,” he said. “We go out in the boat all the time.”

“Not in the ocean.”

He laughed, grabbed her hand. “Come on.” He pulled her along with him. “You’ll wear a life jacket.”

Once they were on board the boat, she spotted the brightly colored kites. “Noah.”

He turned the sad, puppy dog expression on her that never failed to work. “We’ll be just in time for the fireworks.”

“This is one of those boats,” she said, her lips in a pout.

“What boats, love?”

“Those parasailing boats.”

“Just try it. If you don’t feel comfortable, we’ll just ride around in the boat.”

As the crew took the boat out onto the water and got them harnessed in, Noah commented parasailing was not a lot different from flying.

“Have you ever done this?” she asked.

All the time. His family had a house on Eagle Mountain Lake outside of Fort Worth. Summers in high school had been spent mostly on the water. “I have,” he said, noncommittally.

Far out into the ocean, they sat, ready for take off.

“Do you want to touch the water?” the crewman asked.

“No,” Savannah said.

“Yes,” Noah said, at the same time. “Just a little.” 

“You know what,” she said. “I don’t think I like surprises.”

He took her hand, reached over and kissed her on the cheek.

***

Floating high above the water, but safely bundled in a life jacket, Savannah changed her mind. The shift started when Noah pointed out a group of dolphins following along below them, and solidified when the fireworks started.          

Though her eyes were teary from the wind, she met his smile. It was, indeed, a little like flying, but quieter and lighter. She loosened the death grip on her life vest and put her hands out to her sides. Is this how it felt to be a bird? Birds were the luckiest creatures on earth.

“This is beautiful,” she said.

“I knew you would like it,” he said.

With the sunset as backdrop, the fireworks seemingly all around them, and dolphins below, Savannah was exhilarated. With Noah next to her, she was in heaven.

There was very little she wouldn’t do to make this man happy.

Noah was the one. The one who had captured her heart. She’d known for some time that there would never be another man for her.

Perhaps she had known from the very beginning.

***

Noah’s eyes were watery too, but not from the wind. His eyes were teary from the derailed plan to propose to her tonight. Now would have been the perfect time. Just the two of them, high above the water. Nothing but air around them. Like flying, only quiet.

He hadn’t even told her yet, but their trip had to be cut short. Tomorrow he had to drop her back at Auburn and fly to Fort Worth at his father’s demand. He’d been summoned.

He couldn’t propose to Savannah and desert her the next day. That would have been careless. And careless was something he never allowed himself to be with Savannah.

His father may have caused a delay, but Noah would propose to Savannah.

Just not tonight. Unfortunately, it had to wait.

“I love you, Savannah Skye” he said, his hand gripping hers. But in his heart of hearts, he had an ominous feeling that things were about to change.


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