Keeping 13: Chapter 80


‘So, where is she?’ I asked, excitement thrumming in my veins at the prospect of seeing my girlfriend after spending more than seven weeks apart. ‘Is she at the house? Claire’s? You didn’t tell her you were picking me up early, did you?’

‘Excuse me, but can I be your priority for ten minutes,’ Gibsie demanded huffily. ‘I haven’t seen you in almost two months, and all you can think about is getting your dick wet, you selfish bastard. You didn’t even ask about my trip to Scotland last month.’

‘I missed you, too, lad,’ I chuckled, delighted to be back in his Focus, gripping the Oh Jesus bar, and silently praying for him not to kill us both with his deranged driving. ‘And your Toblerone is in my suitcase.’

‘Toblerones,’ he corrected, narrowly avoiding an old lady crossing the road. ‘Plural. Don’t even think about giving Hughie and Feely my stash.’ Swerving back on to his side of the road, Gibsie glanced in the rearview mirror and sighed. ‘Oh, thank god, she’s still standing. For a minute there, I thought I clipped her with my wing-mirror.’

‘Maybe you should pull over and let me drive,’ I offered, trying to keep my breathing even and not freak the fuck out when he mounted the footpath taking a corner. ‘How the fuck did you get your full license?’

‘My tongue,’ he replied smugly. ‘It’s a wonderful weapon.’

I grimaced. ‘Do I want to know?’

He shrugged. ‘Probably not.’

Moving swiftly on before he scarred me for life with his indiscretions, I asked, ‘So how is your Aunty Jacqui and all the gang in Scotland?’ Gibsie had family in Scotland. Every summer since as far back as I could remember, he took a week-long trip to visit his father’s baby sister in Edinburgh.

‘She’s a wild one, lad,’ Gibsie chuckled. ‘I swear to god, I wasn’t sure I’d make it home in one piece. The woman can put a pint away faster than any man – and her friend Sharon is mad craic.’

I didn’t doubt it. I’d taken the trip with him back in third year and he wasn’t exaggerating about his paternal aunt’s wildness. It clearly ran in the family.

‘You know that insanely good tattooist?’ he continued happily. ‘The guy in Manchester – Dex Michaels? He owns Heaven and Ink.’

I arched a brow. ‘The American guy on all the magazines and shite? He inks all the celebs?’

Gibsie nodded. ‘That’s the one.’

‘What about him?’

A smirk crept across his face as he dived into his latest outrageous story, telling me all about how he had come this close to getting his calf inked by the high-profiler, celebrity tattooist until he checked for I.D and got caught red-handed.

‘You’re such a dope,’ I laughed. ‘He was never going to ink you.’

‘He fucking was,’ Gibsie huffed. ‘I swear it was my backpack that let me down, lad.’

‘Your backpack?’ I asked, frowning until awareness dawned on me. Oh Jesus. ‘Oh, Gibs, tell me you didn’t bring that thing with you.’

‘I know,’ he groaned. ‘It was a rookie mistake.’

‘You took a Fantastic fucking Four backpack to a tattoo parlor.’ I shook my head and gaped at him. ‘What did you expect him to do, lad?’

‘I expected him to ink me,’ he shot back defensively. ‘It’s not like it’s my first tattoo – and I look eighteen.’

‘True,’ I agreed. ‘But you also look disturbed when you walk around with that fucking thing strapped to your back.’

‘It’s my travel bag.’

‘When you were seven.’

‘Well, it’s his loss,’ he replied, smirking to himself. ‘I got my calf done when I came home.’

‘Good for you,’ I chuckled, shaking my head. ‘So, have you been keeping up with your training?’

He grinned. ‘I have indeed.’


‘And I’m the shit,’ Gibsie chuckled.

‘I know,’ I mused, thoroughly amused. ‘Keep it up and you’ll be with me soon.’

‘Where there’s a will there’s a relative,’ he shot back, grinning wolfishly.

‘So, where are we going now?’

‘The beach,’ Gibsie explained, turning onto the coast road. ‘The tide is in, the sun is out, the water is warm, the beer is cold, and the best buddy is home. Today is a good day.’ He gripped the steering wheel a little tighter before muttering, ‘Just so long as no one tries to drown me again.’

‘I need to see Shannon,’ I told him, grimacing at the last part. ‘I love you, lad, I’m thrilled to be back with you, but I really need to see my girlfriend.’

‘And see her, you will,’ he chuckled. ‘She’s at the beach with all the buddies.’

‘Yeah?’ A huge smile spread across my face. ‘How does she look? Does she seem happy? Is she well?’

‘She’s definitely something,’ he replied with a smirk.

I frowned. ‘What does that mean?’

‘You’ll see,’ Gibsie chuckled.

‘Holy shite.’

‘I know,’ he agreed with a nod.

‘What the fuck?’

‘I know,’ he laughed.

Shaking my head, I tilted it to one-side, watching as Shannon ran down the beach, screaming mercy at Claire who was hunting her down with a handful of seaweed. She was laughing and smiling, and all golden-tanned, and that beautiful brown hair was loose and blowing in the light breeze. But none of those things were what had my mouth hanging open. No, it was the tiny scrap of a red bikini she was wearing, filled out by a body that I didn’t remember her having. I could have caught flies I looked so fucking dumbstruck at the sight of her.

Christ, something had happened to my girlfriend in the time we’d spent apart this summer. When I left for camp, I’d left Shannon behind in a loose t-shirt and even looser shorts. She was all pale skin and protruding bones. Standing here now, I felt like I had stepped out of Gibsie’s car and into an alternative fucking universe.


Fucking legs.

And tits.

Christ, she had tits.

And her ass.

She was still pint-sized, slimmer than the other girls, but holy shit was she filling out that bikini like a dream.

‘That’s not right,’ I choked out, tearing my gaze off Shannon to gape at Gibsie. ‘How does that happen in a couple of months?’

‘Puberty? A growth spurt? Vitamins? Three meals a day?’ Gibsie offered with a shrug. ‘She wasn’t stressed out at home, or anxious puking every second minute? She’s being taken care of? Shit, I don’t know, lad. I don’t even care. But she’s glorious to look at, so don’t look a gift horse in the mouth and just appreciate it.’

‘You’ve been looking at her?’ I demanded, furious. ‘While I’ve been gone?’

‘Ah, just the normal amount,’ he coaxed, as if the normal amount would placate me. ‘Look, look, they’re wrestling with each other. Ah, lad. Fucking winning!’

Oh my Jesus, I had to bite back a groan at the sight of Shannon rolling around on the sand.

‘Doesn’t she look like sunshine?’ Gibsie croaked out, slapping my chest. ‘Look at that fucking girl, lad!’

I knew Gibsie was talking about Claire in her little, yellow bikini, but I had eyes for no-one but Shannon. It had been a long summer and I had no idea how to deal with all this new and exciting information – and visuals – frying my brain. I’d always been attracted to Shannon. She had always been beautiful to me, and incredibly sexy, but now? Those feelings had intensified to the point I could hardly think straight. I wanted to drop to my knees and worship whatever version of puberty that had paid a visit to my girlfriend. It was like waking up on Christmas morning and preparing to find the bicycle you’d asked Santa for under the tree, only to tear off the wrapping paper and find a top of the range BMX instead.

Fucking winning….

One look at her, and I was glad I had worked my body to the breaking point this summer, spending countless hours in training every day, and coming home a stone heavier in muscle and an inch taller in height.

‘Cap!’ Hughie’s voice filled my ears then and I turned to see him, Feely, Katie, and Lizzie standing around a disposable barbecue further up the beach. ‘Jesus Christ, it’s him.’

‘He’s back!’

‘Hey, Johnny!’

I raised my hand and waved back to them, but kept my eyes on Shannon who was staring up at us from her perch on the sand beneath Claire.

‘Shannon like the river,’ I called out to her, unable to stop the smile that was spreading across my face, as I climbed down the rocks to get to her. ‘Are you gonna come hug me or what?’

‘Oh my god!’ she literally squealed as she untangled herself from Claire and sprang to her feet. ‘You’re back!’

Tits, that was all I could see as Shannon broke into a run.

‘You’re home!’ she cried, barreling towards me. ‘Oh my god, Johnny –’ her words broke off as she threw herself into my arms, all smooth skin and soft curves. Catching her easily, I hoisted her up, reveling in the feel of her legs around my waist and her arms around my neck. ‘You’re back,’ she sobbed, smearing my entire face with lip-gloss, as she peppered me with welcome home kisses. ‘You came home to me.’

‘You knew I was coming home, Shan,’ I replied gruffly, feeling like my heart was bursting clean open. The loneliness I had been struggling to keep at bay while I was in camp hit me full force in the chest.

‘But you’re early?’

‘I’m late,’ I told her, stroking my nose against hers. ‘I should have been here all summer.’ Unable to stop myself, I leaned in and kissed her, getting my first proper taste of her in what felt like forever. She kissed me back just as frantically. It was all tongue and clashing teeth and I swear to god, I’d never had a better kiss. ‘Jesus, I missed you so much,’ I told her, breathing hard against her lips. ‘I fucking love you.’ And I did. I loved her more than was good for me. I couldn’t contain my emotions when it came to this girl.

‘I missed you more,’ she whispered against my lips. ‘And I love you more.’


Very fucking doubtful.

‘Okay, so I know you probably want to unpack when you get home, but I want my presents,’ Gibsie announced, shoving past me with my suitcases in hand. ‘You can continue mouth-fucking Little Shannon,’ he added in a cheerful tone, sinking down on the sand and unzipping my case. ‘I don’t mind. But I’m just giving you a head’s up that I’m about to root through everything you own.’

‘Hey – don’t take them all,’ Hughie shouted, running up the beach towards us. ‘That’s my Toblerone, you little bitch.’

‘Possession is nine-tenths of the law,’ Gibsie laughed, running off with an armful of chocolate in his arms. ‘Claire – grab the bag and run, babe. It’s full of sweets.’

‘Welcome home, Johnny,’ Claire squealed, chasing after Gibsie with my carry-on bag in her arms. ‘Thanks for the sweets.’

‘Jesus,’ I muttered, reluctantly setting Shannon down on her feet. Stepping back, she folded her arms under her chest and I bit back a groan at the sight of her full tits pressing together in the tiny scrap of a bikini she was wearing. Her nipples were puckered and straining against the flimsy red fabric, clearly taunting me. Jesus! ‘Bring them back, you big eejit,’ I called after Gibsie, desperately trying to calm myself down and stop the semi in my jocks from flying full mast. ‘Some of those bars are for the kids.’

‘He is a kid,’ Feely laughed, closing the space between us. ‘Welcome home, Cap.’ Wrapping his arms around me, he clapped my back. ‘You were amazing over there.’

‘Yeah, Cap, welcome home,’ Hughie called out as he busied himself with digging in my luggage. ‘It’s great to see you – holy shit, you got all their signatures on this?’ He pulled out a New Zealand jersey and waved it around, eyes wide. ‘Can I have this one?’

‘Yeah, I got two more for Feely and Gibs,’ I told him, grimacing at the memory of how much slack I had taken from my teammates for getting those jerseys signed from our oppositions. I didn’t give a shite, though. I was still in school and playing with and against most of my childhood heroes. ‘There’s a few Fijian, Australian, and South African jerseys in there, too.’

‘You were a good investment,’ Hughie mused, pulling out his pick of the bunch. ‘I knew it the day you stepped through the doors of Scoil Eoin with your Dublin accent and fuck you all attitude.’ Passing a handful of goodies to Katie, who was waving at me, Hughie continued to rummage around in my personal property. ‘I said it to Feely and Gibs that very same day. I told them this city boy is so intense, he’s either going to hit the drugs or hit the big time.’ Shrugging, he added, ‘We voted unanimously that we were down for the ride, either way.’

‘Wow, Hugh,’ I deadpanned. ‘Thanks.’

‘No bother, lad,’ he replied. ‘I’m deadly proud of you, by the way.’

‘We all are,’ Lizzie announced, coming to stand beside Feely. ‘Welcome home, Captain Fantastic.’

‘Thanks…I think?’ I replied, giving her a wary look.

‘I’m being sincere,’ she replied, smirking. ‘It’s good to have you back – for Shannon’s sake. I’m not pushed. I could give or take you, if we’re being honest.’

There she is.’ Winking, I added, ‘And it’s good to see you, too, Viper.’

‘Can we go for a walk?’ Shannon asked then, slipping her hand in mine, blue eyes dancing with excitement. ‘Just us?’

Fuck yeah.

‘You can’t take him yet, Shan,’ Hughie objected. ‘We need to talk rugby.’

‘She can take me wherever she wants,’ I shot back, trailing after my girlfriend.

‘You’re whipped, Cap,’ he called after me. ‘In the worst kind of way.’

Stumbling blindly into the tiny alcove between the rocks with Shannon’s lips on mine and her fingers digging into my shoulders, I didn’t have time to think about what I was doing or whether this was a good idea or not. My head was too clouded to think rationally, everything inside of me was completely wrapped up in this moment – in the way she made me feel. I was aching all over, the need to be inside of her unbearable.

‘Are you sure?’ I strangled out, breathing hard against her lips, as she reached between us and pulled on the waistband of my shorts. ‘Shan, I don’t have anything on me.’

‘It’s okay,’ she breathed, nodding frantically. ‘And I’m so sure.’


‘I’m on the pill now, remember?’


Tugging on the flimsy ribbons on both sides of her briefs, I groaned into her mouth when the fabric fell away from her body before quickly freeing myself from my shorts. ‘What do you want me to do?’ I whispered, making short work of the tiny bra, and then shuddering when her full breasts fell free. ‘Christ, baby, your body is so different.’

‘Just be with me,’ she begged, hooking an arm around my neck and hoisting herself up my body. ‘Be in me.’

Instantly, my hands were on her thighs; my dick straining to get to her. Pressing her back against the rocks, I closed the space between us, covered her mouth with mine, and slid home.



‘That!’ we both finished at the same time, eyes wide and locked on each other.

‘What just happened?’ Shannon squeaked out, as she slipped her bikini bottoms on and tied the ribbons back together.

‘I don’t know,’ I replied with a shake of my head, breathing hard and fast, as I rearranged my shorts. ‘But whatever that was –’ I tilted my head to one side and grinned at her. ‘We should do it again.’

She flushed bright pink and quickly re-tied her bra. ‘I missed you.’

‘I could tell,’ I teased, lowering myself down on the sand beside her. Pressing a kiss to her shoulder, I nuzzled her neck, drowning in the intoxicating smell of her. ‘I missed you too, Shan.’

‘No, I mean I really, really missed you, Johnny,’ she whispered, climbing onto my lap. ‘Terribly.’

‘I know.’ Shivering, I wrapped my arms around her. ‘It was the same for me.’

‘Don’t go away for so long again,’ she mumbled, burying her face in my neck. ‘Or if you do, take me with you.’

I flinched at her words. ‘I need to tell you something.’

She stiffened in my arms before whispering, ‘I’m listening.’

‘They offered me a contract.’

Her body turned to stone in my arms and her fingernails dug into my shoulders. ‘In France?’

‘No.’ I blew out a ragged breath. ‘In Dublin.’

She was quiet for so long that I wasn’t sure she had heard me, but then she whispered, ‘Did you take it?’

‘Not yet,’ I replied hoarsely. ‘But it’s a two-year contract, with a lot of money.’ I released another pained sigh before adding, ‘They want me to transfer to Royce and finish out my leaving cert there. I would have to move back to Dublin in September.’

‘Are you going to go?’ she asked in a small voice.

‘I wanted to talk to you first.’

‘It’s what you want, right?’

‘I’ve been working all my life for this,’ I admitted.

She shivered violently. ‘Then you should go.’

‘I should?’

‘You should.’

‘But I don’t want to leave you,’ I confessed, voice torn.

‘I know,’ she replied, voice shaking. ‘But it’s okay that you have to.’

‘Shannon –’ I shook my head and buried my face in her neck.

‘It’s okay, Johnny,’ she sniffled, stroking my hair. ‘This is good.’

‘My head knows that,’ I choked out. ‘But my heart is fucking devastated.’

‘Let’s talk it through,’ she said in a steadier voice than I was capable of finding given the circumstances. Leaning back, she cupped my face in her hands and looked at me with tear-filled eyes. ‘I am so proud of you,’ she told me, tears trickling down her cheeks. ‘You’re the best person I’ve ever known, and I want this for you.’ Stroking her thumb over my cheekbone, she whispered, ‘You warned me a long time ago about this and I accepted it then. I accept it now. This is your future, Johnny, and you are going to chase it.’ She kissed me hard before continuing, ‘And I’m going stand by you and support you, no matter what, for as long as you want me.’

‘I will always want you,’ I vowed. ‘Fucking always. Don’t even say it like that, Shan. Christ.’

‘What I mean is, if I’m the only reason you’re afraid to sign, then you need to do it,’ she explained. ‘I mean it, Johnny. You’re not losing me. You can have both. I promise.’

‘I just don’t know if I’m ready for it,’ I croaked out, voice thick with emotion. ‘I thought I had more time.’

‘It’s because you’re so amazing, and now the whole world knows just how much.’ She gave me a watery smile. ‘They all want you.’

‘I only want you,’ I mumbled, pressing my forehead to hers.

‘You have me,’ she replied softly. ‘Contract or not. I’m entirely yours.’


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