“When I was younger, I was fascinated by my future. I would dream about everything I could do, everything I could be,” Juliet said, expertly weaving her way through the familiar jungle. “Some of my dreams were outrageously unrealistic, but not one of them involved traveling through time on a magical island.” She shook her head, sweeping away her youthful fantasies. “But the strangest thing is… this now seems more normal than the time I pictured myself as an astronaut, bouncing around on Mars in a spacesuit.”
Juliet smiled to herself, preparing for a sarcastic comeback from the man behind her, but all she heard in response was a chirp from a bird above. She turned, expecting to see James lost in his own thoughts, probably daydreaming about how he wished Kate was at his side, but there was no one behind her.
“James?” She walked in a slow circle, her senses working together to find any hint as to his whereabouts.
“James?” she repeated when she couldn’t find a single clue. She furrowed her brow, wondering when she had last heard his disgruntled footsteps behind her and how she could be careless enough to lose track of a 6’2” man who trudged through the jungle, breaking twigs and crunching leaves beneath his feet with every step.
She began retracing her path, her heart beating noticeably faster with every second he was missing, her fingers tapping nervously against her side.
“Where are you?” Juliet mumbled under her breath, surprised by the worry building in the pit of her stomach, not worry over being alone in the jungle as the sun hung low in the sky, but a completely new and unfamiliar kind of worry. She didn’t care about being alone in the jungle, not anymore. She had learned how to survive on her own. Her growing worry was over James, over his safety, over getting him back to her. Suddenly, he was all that mattered to her, but she couldn't even remember when she started to care about him.
“James!” She shouted, simultaneously frustrated that he would dare to wander off and that he could make her feel things she didn’t want to feel.
“You lookin’ for me?”
Letting out a breath, she turned to face James. “Where the hell did you go, and why didn’t you tell me you weren’t following me?”
“Saw this.” He held up a small purple flower, his face glowing with pride.
She folded her arms in front of her as she masked a relieved smile with a playful question. “Is that for me?”
“Don’t go gettin’ a big head, blondie.” He tilted his head to the side, his dimples creating butterflies in Juliet’s stomach that she refused to acknowledge. “That ain't my style. I picked it for me, not anybody else.”
Juliet rolled her eyes, a wide smile on her lips. “I know everything about you, remember.”
“And with all my deep, dark secrets bouncin’ around in your head, you really think I’m the flower givin’ type?”
“No, I don’t think you are.” Flashing a knowing smile over her shoulder, Juliet turned away from him, leading them back down their path. “I know you are.”