She didn’t have time to mull for long. ‘C’mon,’ whispered David, took her hand and pulled her up from her cushion. They made their way through the bodies, some of them by now entwined, to the almost deserted veranda. The only person still out here was a geeky-looking kid in a polo neck, maybe 16 or 17 years old at most. He gave them a big smile, but didn’t interrupt his plucking, ’cause obviously he had a guitar. He wasn’t singing, just humming and kind of purring along to his bluesy riffs. ‘Nice one, Ry,’ said David in passing as he led Juno right to the edge of the veranda, where a protrusion of the roof threw a shadow in the moonlight and the song of the Pacific mingled with Ry’s mellow tune. And here, her toes curling into sand that had blown onto the weathered floorboards, Juno finally got her first kiss.

David had definitely done it before, that much she could tell through the blissed mist that enveloped her. He knew exactly how to draw her to him, hold her head between his hands, grasp her hair and bite her neck where it met her shoulders. But hey, it was good. And what better place for a first kiss than above a moonlit beach by a warm ocean, in the most happening house full of the most happening people in the world?

 

Juno was woken by a voice crying, ‘Rise and shine everybody, time for a swim!’ She was lying on the floor, her head on a cushion next to David’s, and half-covered by his shirt which he had chivalrously taken off. Sunlight was flooding in through the open veranda doors, onto discarded instruments, empty bottles, burned-down candles and other prostrate bodies around her. Several of them stirred. There was an aroma of brewing coffee.

Ten minutes later she was running into the sea in a chain of people all holding hands and in differing stages of undress, at least two of them singing harmonies. Surf shot up her nostrils as she fell over with David’s arms tight around her, but she didn’t mind.

This was California, and she was glad she had arrived.