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Author's note: It's not all one chapter but one part. Part Two is being written.
I could tell the end was near when I arrived at this gigantic summer camp. Okay, so it's a school. Mom didn't want me with her new husband Allen around. (She figures I'd scare him off.) Dad didn't live in the country anymore. And he was off with his wife Vera and my stepbrother, so his hands were definitely full. Plus, I'm not sure I'd want to live with a boy who's older than me. I'm sixteen and on my own — sort of. Like any other teenage girl I have to worry. Will the other kids like me? Will the guys their like me? Will the counselors like me? Will I fit in? (Mostly that last one.) I mean come on. I'm new, no one knows me, everyone who goes her probably lived in Minnesota their whole lives. What is a girl from Los Angeles supposed to do? I didn't have any friends back home so how in the world would I have any here?
Wow! It'll be a surprise if I don't get lost. The camp is beautiful. Black letters spelling out CAMP MANDRAKE on the front of the building. A wooden gate to the South and a beautiful forest to the west of the lake. There was dirt everywhere. Completely different from the city I love it. I know I most certainly did not get in by money. My mom is a lawyer but, she says she's not wasting money on me. I was kind of smart. I was passing everything but Spanish. I passed French like that and nailed Chinese in a year on my own. They let me in because of my grades. Besides that, I'm away from Allen and my mom, I get to make my own rules — with limits of course - I get to be me without anyone saying anything about me being different from before. Or I can reinvent myself. Yeah that might be better.
Now if only I could find the luggage pick-up! Hey, maybe that guy over their can help me. Maybe I shouldn't. What if he thinks I'm dumb. What if he thinks I'm a loser who needs help on her first day because I'm new. Well, I really can't do anything now considering he's walking towards me with a gentle smile like I'm a lost puppy. He's got dark brown hair but its even darker in comparison to my light brown hair. He's got light green eyes and a great smile. He's kinda cute. Did I mention his smile?
"Hey," he says. "Are you new? I don't think I've seen you before."
"Yeah," I say. "Um...Do you know where I get my duffle bag?"
"Sure do. Follow me."
"Here we are," he says. (He hasn't told me his name.) Oh well, I'll probably never see him again anyway. "I'm Daniel by the way, rebel, troublemaker, clown. You can find me behind the dumpster 24/7. Well, more like 2/7. What's your name?"
"I'm Brooklyn. I didn't really have a title back home. So basically, I'm one of those quite people that are easy to forget," I said, brushing my hair out of my eyes.
"I just met you and I'm finding you hard to forget already. So you do blush."
"What are you talking about?"
"Well, I couldn't really see your face. Your hair was hiding it. Where did you say you were from again? Los Angeles, Is it cool?"
"Yeah, Los Angeles is cool, I guess. Well, thanks for everything, I hope you didn't miss anything important because of me."
"Just orientation, but there is this party tonight. Do you want to come?"
"I don't think I should. Besides, I wasn't invited."
"Yes, you are. I just gave you a personal invitation. Welcome to Camp Mandrake."
I could tell the party was a mistake. I soon found out that the punch bowl was filled to the brim with Bud Light and had a hangover the next day-the light, it burns!
Daniel didn't want me to get in trouble for being drunk, so instead of taking me to the nurse, he stayed with me in my bunk—which is against the rules but my bunkmates said they'd all done it before so they wouldn't tell—while the other girls went swimming and held an ice pack to my head and made sure I wasn't disturbed. Come to think of it, I don't think he even touched a drink. Weird. I've never heard of a rebel that doesn't drink.
I'm sure glad that's over. But now, it's Monday, and I have to go through the "First Day" routine.
"Okay, attendance time Wolverines," Steven, the Creative Writing counselor says. "Lets make sure everyone's here today. I'd like you correct me if I pronounce your name wrong in any way. Is there a Margo Binford?"
"How about an Elizabeth Brahms?"
"Hey," Daniel said.
"Very good. Brooklyn Games?"
I want to be polite but I have to say something. And he did say we could correct him.
"What is it Miss Games?"
"Actually, it's pronounced James."
"Well, that's unusual. I've never heard it said that way before. Welcome Brooklyn. I hope you enjoy your stay here at Camp Mandrake."
What was he some cheesy saturday cartoon? What if I don't enjoy my stay here? Where will all his hopes be then? Can you answer me that? I mean, common. Beer—I wonder how they even got that past the quick noses of the counselors—wasn't the best experience in my life. Well, I can't lie, it did make me feel like I had no worries. There is another bright side. Daniel is in here.
"Does your head still hurt?" he asks, when I sat next to him.
"No," I say. "Thanks a bunch for babysitting me. I hope you didn't miss anything again. I really don't want to get you trouble."
"I won't get in trouble anymore. As long as you're here, I'll—"
"I mean...uh...what do I mean? Uh, I finally have a friend to keep me grounded.
"I don't think grounding is your problem."
"You're right. Well, at least I have someone to keep me out of trouble. As long as you're sober at least," he chuckled.
"I'll try my best. But no promises. Beer is a way to be… I dunno… It's like nothing can touch you. But, the hangover part sucks."
"Hey, I'll get to see you more," he laughed.
"Yeah, I guess you would."
The lights went out a few minutes later. Now we were watching a modernized version of Romeo and Juliet. We had to compare and contrast it from Shakespeare's original play, which we'll be reading next week.
I felt Daniel's hand brush against mine as he reached for my blue pen.
"Mind if I use this?" he asked.
"Sure," I whispered back, fully aware of the no talking signs posted all over the room. Well, they were posted directly next to Daniel's seat. He scribbled something on a piece of paper and handed it to a guy in front of him. After he read the note, the boy looked back at Daniel then to me then back to Daniel.
"No," mouthed Daniel. I wondered what they were talking about. I figured it must be some type of guy-speak.
The dark—haired boy—Ryan, I remembered from the "get to now your peers" bit—scratched pencil across paper quickly and handed the note back. Daniel opened it slowly and I tried to look nonchalant, like I didn't notice or care.
It was bugging me not to know the topic of their discussion. I needed to see inside the note. After a while, I finally figured this wasn't working out. My neck was starting to hurt. And being discrete never was my strong point. Well, maybe it would be better not to know what they were talking about.
"Hey," whispered Daniel. I looked at him, attempting to seem as innocent as possible. A lot of help that was. Apparently I'm a horrible actress. Daniel saw right through my hopeless façade. He ignored my crime as though it were nothing. "Ryan wants to know if your single. He thinks you're hot." Something in his tone told me he didn't really want to find this out. It was like it was bothering him that his friend would want to know.
"Well," I responded. "The only way I'd answer that is if he were brave enough to ask me himself instead of hiding behind a book waiting for my response." I looked from Daniel. I notice Ryan staring at me and he smiled and turned around. Daniel silenced a laugh.
"Well, aren't you a tough girl?" Daniel asked after I turned away.
"You could say that."
"I would, but that would be like saying abysmal is a small thing."
"Yeah, I guess you're right. Its like saying that Lithium is a minor chemical." Why on earth would I be bringing science into this? If he didn't think I was a dork before, he would now.
He smiled and I smiled back. Slowly, he began to lean in closer to me. His face was only inches from mine. I could hear his slow breathing mix with my uneasy heartbeat. Our mouths were getting closer to each other. But we were breathing through our mouths. I hoped my breath didn't stink, I'd brushed my teeth two times this morning in the ice-cold water that runs in and out of the water supply. The tips of our noses grazed one another. (Our heavy breathing made them somewhat moist.)
Someone plopped down beside us. I looked to see Ryan beside me. Thank God! What if I bailed out of the kiss at the last possible moment? What if I sucked at kissing and he never wanted to speak to me again for my lack of lip-locking capacity? I was coming so close to touching my lips to a complete stranger. If Ryan hadn't interrupted-by accident or inner intentions-I would have been in high water.
"If you to have finished making out," he whispered in my ear. "We can go to lunch now. You're lucky I noticed you guys were missing before Steven did. Last time he caught this girl holding hands with this guy and he switched their electives to separate ones. 'You don't know the dangers,' and 'It all stars with this.' It is…unbelievable really. Come on, let's go eat. They're serving pepperoni pizza in the caf. Wanna come with?"
"Um..." I looked over at Daniel. He nodded. "Sure," I shrugged. "Who doesn't love pizza?"
He took my hand. Right there in front of Daniel. Then again Daniel probably didn't care. He had left the room and met some girl outside the door. I didn't pull away.
An imaginary bell went off in my head. STRANGER DANGER! STRANGER DANGER! But, the truth told, that phrase never works.
When I was seven, I thought I was being followed because the same car was in front of my house whenever I got home from school. I later realized it was Allen. Mom said he was an 'uncle' and he offered to drive me to school. I didn't care if my mother knew him. I didn't even know his name. I said, "I'm not supposed to talk to strangers."
He reached for me and said, "It's only around the block."
I started running like crazy, screaming at the top of my lungs. No one came looking for me. No one called for help either. That same night my father came home and found Allen in our shower.
Apparently, my 'uncle' was my mother's lover.
I silenced the little voice in the back of my head. Who would it hurt? We were just getting lunch. And it's not like it was a date. The whole camp would be there. The worst he could do was put his arm around my waist-which he did, while leaning into my ear.
"So," Ryan said. "How do you like camp so far. Anybody you're interested in? Do you like Mitch? What about…me?" He put emphasis on the last option.
"Yeah, I'm not going to lie There are some good looking boys here." I admitted.
"Are any of them me?"
If I were a decent runner I would have ran away now. "I never said one of them wasn't," I replied, not wanting to be rude.
He turned me around and tilted my chin up. Why was he choosing to stop halfway towards the cafeteria? What if we missed lunch and one of the counselors caught us together. He was getting closer and closer. He moved towards me faster then Daniel tried to. His lips were already on mine before I could move. But I was kissing him back. I really didn't want to get in trouble on the first day of camp. I had to say something. I didn't want this. And I didn't want to stop. But I had to.
I pulled away. So what if he didn't like me now? I had to go find Daniel. I needed him here. Especially to keep an eye on this guy. He was getting the wrong ideas at the wrong time.
"What's wrong," asked Ryan confused.
"I'm... I cant... I don't want..." Great. He thinks I'm a mumbling idiot. Someone who can't even get the simplest of words out of her mouth. It's like a new string of words are coming from my throat before I even finish the sentence I started. "Don't me wrong. You're a great kisser. But this is moving to fast."
"I understand. I just thought that was what you wanted."
Were those the vibes I was giving off? Was that what I was telling him? THIS! IS! NOT! GOOD! I wish I were in the cafeteria. I wish... I don't know... I WISH I WAS WHERE DANIEL WAS! I remembered his words when I first got here.
You can find me behind the dumpster.
"I'll be back."
I walked slowly, trying to remember where the dumpster was. I had to find Daniel. When I found him he just looked at me as though I was some alien Then again, I did seem to be disturbing him. He turned to a blonde sitting next to him on the ground. Oh yeah. I forgot he left with a girl.
"I'll be back," he said to her.
The girl nodded. And when Daniel turned around she took a bottle of breath spray and squirted some into her mouth. For some strange reason, that irritated me. We walked into the woods where no one could her us if things got loud.
"Trough swallowing Ryan's tongue yet?"
"What?" Why was he angry? How did he even find out?
"Well, you didn't exactly stop him from taking you away did you? Besides, it always happens like that. Ryan's a player."
"Hey! I'm not the one who left with some girl! You left before I'd evens answered the question! And besides, I came here because I didn't want to kiss him! I did but it was unintentional!"
"Well?" He shouted.
"Well, what?" I backfired.
"Who do you want to kiss?"
"Nobody at this particular moment! And it seems to me that your hands are pretty full right now!"
"Are you jealous?"
He grew silent. I had beat him at his own game. He had nothing to say. Nothing. He wasn't even looking at me. Daniel was just staring at the ground.
"Should I be?" he asked finally.
"That isn't not my decision to make. They're your emotions, not mine." Thank you Dad for suggesting the debate team, or else I'd have quit a long time ago. "Are you?"
"If you'll excuse me, I promised Mollie I would be back soon. If you're done with your tantrum I'd like to keep that promise."
"Well, only if you're done being an ass. Have a nice life." I started to walk off. Muttering some very unkind words under my breath.
"Wait!" He grabbed my hand.
"Sorry! I've got a tongue to swallow!" I pulled out of his grip and walked off.
Ryan and I hung out for a few days after the fight with Daniel (okay, it WAS wrong of me to dramatize the matter but, he hurt me). And I know it doesn't go with the whole camping experience but we texted back and forth after midnight when the counselors stopped checking up on us:
RYAN: WATS UP
*All-star is my theme*
ME: NOTHING MUCH U?
RYAN: NOTHING. TALKIN' TO U.
*All-star is my theme*
ME: LOL SERIOUSLY THOUGH WATS UP?
RYAN: NOTHING. DRINKING A BEER. WHERE R U?
*All-star is my theme*
ME: I'M IN MY CABIN. WHY?
RYAN: LOOK OUT YOUR WINDOW.
*All-star is my theme*
I got out from under my blankets and walked up to the window next to the door of the bunk. I had to be careful not to step on Yuri—bunkmate number one—sleeping soundly below me. And sure enough there Ryan was. Standing on the steps of the cabin. Two beers in one hand cell phone in the other. I signaled for him to give me one minute. I brushed my hair and teeth, put on my favorite lip gloss, and pulled a sweater over my head and gave myself a quick once-over before joining him.
"Hey," he said handing me a beer. "Did you miss me?"
"Depends," I said. "Did you want me to miss you?"
"Yeah," he whispered in my ear wrapping his arms around me from behind, which he's been doing a lot lately.
"Well, then I did miss you."
"Good," he laughed kissing my neck. Then my cheek. "Well are you gonna drink that beer I brought you or are you gonna let it sit there?"
"It does look pretty tempting. And how hard may I ask was it to bring this beer all the way over here?"
"Well, I may have had to battle some very mean squirrels. But that was nothing."
"Wow, that sounds like a lot of trouble for one little beer."
"Well, it was certainly worth the risk."
"Oh really?" I found it fun to flirt with Ryan. Maybe it was because he flirted back.
"Yes, it was. Now shut up and drink your booze."
"All right." I opened the beer and took a sip. I'd managed to lower my intake of a case to a bottle. Two if I was feeling confident enough.
"So, what do you wanna do? Tomorrow's a free day staring after dinner. We could go boating."
"How about swimming? I'm not so good with boats. The counselors came out of the lounge saying tomorrow is perfect weather all day long."
"What did they say about the night time weather?"
"They didn't say anything about it. Why?"
"I was just wondering if it would be warm enough for a midnight picnic."
"Oh well, the temperature usually only drops about 20°s so you should be fine."
"It's not as fun when you're alone."
"Okay. How many beers have you had?"
"Just two bottles."
"Are you sure you're sober?"
"As sober as a A.A conductor.
"So you're naturally this straight forward?"
"Only if the urge occurs to me." He laughed and I could tell he'd had more beer then he was letting on. He turned me around and looked down at me. Then, he set me on the wooden railing that separated our bunks. "And it seems to occur to me a lot when you're around. "So much." He placed himself across from me, swinging his left leg over one side of the wooden bar, his position matching mine. I was leaning against the cabin wall trying to maintain my balance. My right leg hung over the ledge just like his left. Our kneecaps touching.
Leaning in closer I whispered, "You want me to go with you? I'll bring the food if you bring the beer."
He mimicked my movement. "You've got yourself a deal."
And it was long.
(The next morning)
The voice was familiar. It was a voice I hadn't heard in over a week. Why would it be calling to me in the crowded cafeteria and I could hear it clear as a bell? Was it in my head? Was I hallucinating? Was it a mirage? Nope. Daniel was actually standing right in front of me.
"Brooklyn," he breathed. "Look we have to talk."
"What about?" I sneered. I was sitting in a dark corner reading Macbeth for the millionth time it felt like. The two soldiers had appeared as the three witches chanted. Suspicious... He sat down across from me.
"I'll make this quick."
"Why? Do you have Mollie waiting for you again?"
"Please. Just hear me out."
"Well, you can start now. I don't want to be late for Swimming."
"Okay. I just wanted to say sorry for being so hurtful last week."
Those little words meant so much to me. " It's okay. Tough girl , remember?"
"I had no right to get into your personal business with Ryan."
"Don't even worry about it." Wait a second here. I'm supposed to be furious with him and yet here we are talking.
Why in the world am I finding it to be so difficult to hate this guy? Ugh! This is not working. It's like the fight never happened. I didn't realize how much I'd missed his company until now.
"I'm really, really sorry."
"Stop apologizing," I laughed. "I already forgave you. Besides some of it was my fault. I did say some very rude things myself. So I'm sorry too."
"You're forgiven too then."
He covered my hand with his and smiled.
"You're not good at this are you?" he laughed.
"No, I'm not really." I looked at my watch. "Oh! I've gotta go! I'm so sorry! I have to go meet Ry-"
"Ryan?" he asked, knowing very well who I meant.
"Yeah, I'm supposed to meet him before I go down to the lake. I'm sorry. I completely forgot. Um... I'll call you later 'kay?"
"That sounds cool." He didn't look as happy as he sounded.
"Hi Ryan," I waved. I was meeting him by the changing rooms. "Sorry I'm late." I gave him a quick kiss and went through the door with the little girl in the dress on it. It was just a wooden door with an empty 4 Ft. by 6 Ft. room. I unzipped my bag and started changing. Shorts.
"Where were you?"
I took off my shirt.
"Cafeteria." I slipped off my bra and put on my bikini top. Then slid off my underwear and slid my bottom piece on.
"What were you doing?"
What's with the third degree? I put my clothes into my bag. "Nothing really. Just talked to Daniel."
There was silence on the other side of the door. For a second I thought he left. " Aren't you guys fighting?"
"We made up." I took the elastic band out of my hair and shook my head. I opened the door and walked out. Ryan didn't look all that happy about me being friends with Daniel again. " What's wrong?"
"I don't think that's such a good idea."
"I think he wants you."
"No, he doesn't. He has Mollie."
"I guess you're right." He pulled me into him. " We still on for tonight," he asked kissing my bare shoulder.
"And why wouldn't we be?" I kissed his neck. Speaking of necks I have a hickey from last night. Ha-ha ha. Steven wont be happy if he sees that.
"I just thought since you two just made up you'd want to spend some time with him."
"Well, that's very considerate of you but, don't worry I said I was going to call him later so we'll be fine." I felt his hand slide from the back of my neck to the small of my back. Goosebumps sprouted under my skin. He kissed be. His tongue did some weird stuff. He was bitting my lip as he pulled away. " That was different then usual," I said, eyebrows raised.
"Just wanted to remind you who's better, just in case."
The water felt like silk. So smooth against my thighs. Yes, I only went in about three feet and I plan to keep it that way too. It's not that I cant swim I can—I have several medals in my bedroom back at my dad's house. I just can't go that deep. If I do the counselors wouldn't be able to get me out and would write me up for insubordination. Well, maybe a few more feet wouldn't hurt. And I know you're supposed to wait before going swimming after you eat, but I never had a problem before. Seriously, not even a hint of a cramp.
I'm sure I'd had a cramp but I've never noticed them if I did. I liked the feel of the water. Cold at first and then warm a minute later. It was like the water was breathing warm air at you, trying to make sure you stay warm and don't leave. It was like the water was casting a love spell on me. I didn't love swimming in general. I loved the water.
There was a loud blowing of a whistle. Carla—aka the counselor who's in charge of playing Lifeguard today-was blowing her whistle, signaling for us to leave for the next class. I decided not to take any chances at ruining my so far perfect summer and got out of the water. I can't believe the whole one-and-a-half hour swim was over. It felt like I'd only been in the lake for five minutes. What do they expect me to do for the next hour? I have free time, which means I can hang out in the bunk, cafeteria or I can wander around aimlessly waiting for dinner.
Yeah. The eating schedule is pretty weird here. Seriously, who made this menacingly messed-up list? If you don't believe me check it out for yourself:
8:30 a.m.-Breakfast for Wolfs pups and Wolverines
11:14 a.m.-Lunch for Wolf pups
12:45 p.m.-Lunch for Wolverines
2:45 p.m.-Dinner for Wolf pups and Wolverines and staff.
Why are our age levels referred to a type of wolf? Oh well I really don't mind. Just as long as I'm not the only one with that title.
Well, I could call Daniel like I promised. He has free time too. Then again so does Ryan. Is it bad to call your guy friend rather than your boyfriend? Oh well, I am going to see Ryan tonight so I guess it's okay.
649-218-8865. RING! RING! RIN-
"Hey," I said and I'm sure he could hear the smile in my voice. "What's up?"
"Nothing much," said Daniel and I took a mental note at the hint of excitement in his tone. "What are you doing?"
"Actually, I may cut my hair. It's too long." I already had the scissors in my hand. Opening and closing them I listed to the shlink-shlink noise the blades mad as they grazed one another.
"Oh common. You can tell me. I can take it."
"I don't think you should cut your hair that's all."
"It looks nice when its long. I can't imagine you with short hair."
"Don't worry I know what I'm doing. How about this?I'll send you a pic in a few minutes. 'Kay?"
"I don't know. I'll just come over. Are you in your bunk?"
"Okay. I'll be right there."
Six minutes or so later There was a knock on my door. I answered it and Daniel walked in.
"You know boys aren't allowed in girls bunks without permission right?"
"Rebel remember?" He held out his hand. His palm up.
"I need the scissors."
"Oh." I handed him the bladed tool slowly
"Turn around," he motioned with his finger. I did.
"What are you-"
Snip! Snip! Snip! Snip! Snip! Snip! Snip!
I wouldn't have known what he was doing if I hadn't seen my hair falling to the floor. After about a half-hour, he told me to look in the mirror. I was afraid to see what he had done. Had he given me a crooked trim? Had he cut all of my hair off until it looked like I hand a bowl cut? I looked in the mirror. Was it horrible? No. It was perfect! I now had perfect chin-length hair. It made my face look softer and complimented my complexion, (however that's possible).
"How'd you do that?"
"My mom owns Tara's Hair Solon. I worked there until camp started."
"Thank you!" I gave him a big hug that nearly knocked him over only to tell that his posture was as stiff as a board and he was muscled (though you couldn't really tell.)
The sound frightened us and we jumped apart. I motioned for Daniel to go but he had already climbed out the back window. I opened the door. Thank God Daniel had left when he did. For standing right in front of me, was Steven.
I was walking down to the lake with a basket in hand. I wis still a little nervous about getting in trouble on the mega-slim chance of us getting caught. I had packed one family sized bag of Lays, two sandwiches-turkey for Ryan, tuna for me- and a blanket to sit on. I didn't want sand in my shorts. That would be a very unpleasant ride.
When I finally got there Ryan was already there. He had a six-pack in one hand and a trash bag in the other. I'm glad he thought about that because I sure didn't. He waved me over and sat the case a plastic bag down to help me out with the basket and blanket. Once he handed the food out and the blanket was settled neatly on the shore under a tree we had nothing to talk about. Well, that may not be true. But we were so caught up in the sky that our words were ones that didn't need to be said out loud. Our thoughts were the same.
It's Beautiful out tonight, this was a great idea, would you check out those stars, and what an amazing moon, huh?
Ryan draped his arms around my shoulders and I leaned my head into his chest. He sipped his beer lightly and I was glad to hear it was his first one of the night.
"You want to go swimming don't you?" he asked. Though it wasn't really a question.
"You keep looking at the water. And when you look at the water your eyes go blank like you're somewhere else."
"So do you wanna take a dive? I'll wait right here, I'm not much of a swimmer."
"No, you're not." Shaking his head he picked me up again. He ran onto the loading dock and tossed me of the edge. "Now you are," he laughed when I bobbed back up.
"Ha. Ha." I pushed a wave as hard as I could in his direction. I floated on my back and then dived under the water. I swam to shallow water without coming up for air. I walked back up the deck, making no sounds as I crept up behind Ryan. He was looking in the water searching for me.
"Boo," I whispered in his ear. He jumped and screamed. He took me under the water with him as he fell backwards.
"What the heck was that?" He growled but he couldn't hide the smile that played on his lips.
"A shock wave?"
"I don't think so." He placed one hand on my lower back and the other at the top of my back. My arms locked around his neck. "I think I'm going to dunk you."
I squinted my eyes. "You wouldn't."
"Oh really? We'll jut see about that." He dived under the water with me still in his arms. While we were under the water he kissed me. Each of us swallowed a mouthful of water.
"I guess I had that coming," I said when we surfaced.
"You sure did." He was eyeing me in a weird way. I'd never been looked at that way.
"Why are you looking at me like that? Do I have something in my teeth?"
"No you're good."
"I love you."
"Uh... Thank you."
Yuri walked into the bunk when Daniel was there. She smiled at the sight of us. "You guys are a cute couple," she said. "Seriously. So adorable. You two are so cute together."
Daniel and I just sat there on my bed eating chocolate bars.
"Actually," Daniel said, " we're not a couple. She goes out with Ryan."
"Oh, everybody knows that. I'm just saying you guys would be the cutest thing."
"Yuri," I said, we had become friends a couple of days ago when she didn't have a partner in Art. "Can I talk to you for a sec?"
"I'll be back," I said to Daniel. Yuri and I walked out onto the porch. "What are you doing," I freaked. "Are you insane?"
"Hmm...," she said as though she were giving the rhetorical question serious thought. "Nope," she said finally. "But it's obvious you guys like each other though. I mean you two are perfect for one another."
"I have no clue what you are talking about."
"OH COME ON! I see the way you look at him, and the way he looks at you. EVERYONE DOES!"
"Well, I do like him. Wait. What do you mean by 'everyone'?"
"Why do you think Ryan is always upset when you talk to Daniel? Or hang out with Daniel. Or do anything with Daniel that doesn't involve him?"
"He gets jealous easily."
"Why do you think he gets jealous?"
"He's a guy."
"And so is Daniel. Guys don't like other guys hanging around their girl."
"Hey! Ryan does not own me. I can do what I want. And besides, I haven't even spoken to him for about three weeks now. I'm pretty sure were over. And even of we weren't, he still wouldn't have a say in anything I do or say or whatever. I'm my own person, not a puppet. I control the strings thank you very much."
"OMIGOSH! What happened?"
"I didn't tell him that I loved him."
"Um... Can you elaborate on that a little. I'm a bit lost."
I figured it was okay to tell her. " We'll a few weeks ago we snuck out to the lake and had a picnic and went swimming. Then he said he loved me."
"Well, if you didn't say you loved him back what did you say?"
" 'Thank you.' "
Yuri busted out laughing. "That's funny!"
"No, it's not!" Tears started leaking from an unknown source. "But he moves too fast for me to keep up. But I said that because I'm not so sure that he's the one."
"Well, he's just a jerk."
It wasn't Yuri who said this. It was Daniel I wondered how long he'd been listening?
"Maybe you should just tell him he's moving entirely to quick and he should wait a little longer than he is. He needs to be more patient. Tell him. If he really loves you, he'll do it."
"How much of this have you heard," Yuri asked reading my mind.
I hate it when people say that. Why can't they just give you a straight answer? I mean, come on! Is it really that hard to come up with a full sentence. It really ticks me off when people answer questions with one word. And looks. I especially hate it when people answer your questions by giving you a look, expecting for you to know what it means. That's what Daniel was doing right now. Giving me a look and nothing else.
"And how much is enough," I interjected.
"I heard starting from when Yuri said 'OH COME ON!' "
"Hey that was a pretty good impersonation," Yuri laughed.
"I'm glad you guys find this amusing," I said, tears still streaking down my face. Now they were hot. The tears. They were full of confusion. "What do you have to say about this Daniel? What are your views on the subject?"
" 'Views on the subject,' " Yuri repeated, scrunching up her face as though I'd just told her I grow fungus for living. "Brook, this isn't a science experiment. This is your mind. Daniel's mind. Ryan's mind. And personally I have to agree with Daniel. Ry's a jerk. Just watching him kiss you the way he does makes me want to hurl. It's all about status to him. Even I know that. I've heard how he talks to you. But if you think I'm wrong, invite him up here with Daniel and listen to some of the words that come out of his mouth. And I don't mean hear them. I mean actually listen to them."
"What do you mean 'I've heard how he talks to you?' "
"Oh you didn't know I was there did you? I walked into the changing room right when you walked out. Listen to see of this ring any bells. ' Just showing you who's better. Just in case.'"
"You heard that? Why didn't you say anything?"
"It wasn't my place to interfere."
"And you choose now to say something?"
"I'm sorry to interrupt this flashback, but what the heck are you two talking about?"
Daniel's question was like an atomic bomb, telling Yuri and I that much like World War Ⅱ our discussion had come to an end.
"You want to tell him or should I," Yuri asked me.
"Really," I breathed, "I don't think he should know at all."
"Just tell me already," Daniel shouted. "What's with all the secrets?"
"What's with everybody interrogating me?" I shot back.
"Tell me and the interrogation will be finished!"
"I don't want to," I quieted. "Yuri, you tell him."
Yuri cleared her throat like she was about to give a very important presentation. "Ryan thinks you after his girl but, Brook doesn't believe it. And if you ask me or anyone else here, it's clear you've already got her, hook, line and sinker. She won't believe anyone that you like her. She thinks you like Mollie when the truth is you and Mollie never so much as shook hands. SO ASK HER OUT ALREADY!"
"I didn't say to pressure him into anything. What Yuri is trying to say is that everyone is thinking that we're perfect for each other."
"No what Yuri is saying is that everyone knows you two like each other but are too afraid to admit it," Yuri barked. "Seriously! I wish you two would just go out already. Swallow your pride and date!"
"Brook?" Daniel's voice came again "Do you want to go out with me?"
"You mean out as in dating?"
"Well, not exactly dating. More like an experimental date. If you enjoy yourself then we can say we're dating. But if you don't, we can just go back to normal."
I don't think he understands how difficult this is for me.
"And I know how difficult this is for you. And I know you think I don't understand, but I do."
I stand corrected. "How do you know," I asked.
"I just do. I can't explain it, but I do."
"Dat's So Sweet," Yuri said in a baby voice.
"Shut up Yuri," Daniel and I said simultaneously. We looked at each other blushing.
"Okay," I said to Daniel. "We can watch a movie in the art room as long as we have permission."
"Great," Daniel smiled. "I know the perfect movie we can watch."
"What is it?"
"You'll see when we get there."
"You mean I have to wait?"
"Not that long. The date's tonight."
When I walked into the art room it was quiet and still. I walked in and the room was empty. Or so I'd thought. Daniel came up from behind me and scared me by roaring and grabbing my shoulders. I stopped the thought of why he didn't grab my waist like Ryan would've. He wasn't Ryan. Daniel was Daniel. That was a good thing. Right?
" 'Bout time you showed," Daniel laughed.
"Well, you didn't really give me an exact time did you?"
"Hey. You don't play fair."
"Did we ever agree that I would?"
"No. I guess you're right. We didn't sign a contract after all."
"Yeah. So, what movie are we watching?"
"Romeo and Juliet."
" 'Cause it was the first movie we saw together."
AWW! How sweet is he? Why did I let Ry drag me off on that first day of camp? Why did I let him kiss me? Why did I kiss him back? I could have been with Daniel, but now I know it wouldn't be right if all that hadn't have happened. If Daniel could be patient with me then I guess he had more respect for me than Ryan did.
"Hello? You still there Brook?" Daniel was waving his hand in front of my face and laughed when I blinked about a million and one times. I should have known better than to let my mind wander around inside myself. "If you want me to start the movie," he said, before I could go back to thinking, "you're gonna have to stay on Earth."
I was finding it hard t concentrate in the movie. Why didn't I notice Dan's cuteness before the movie? I couldn't take my eyes off of his dark, dreamy hair. His soft-looking lips. But especially his eyes. I could drown in his eyes without even knowing it.
He didn't even let his arm brush against mine. Oh come on! He could at least link his fingers through mine. I wouldn't mind him holding my hand. And then, it hit me. It hit me like a hard wind, working it's way to me until I realized that it was starting to storm and it would be a lot nicer inside.
The last time we watched this movie it almost turned into a make-out session. Almost. He's waiting for someone to interrupt us. We're the only two in here and he thinks that someone's going to walk in and plop down right in between us. Not likely. Okay, it probably would happen if Ryan were to find out that Daniel asked me out. (Which I don't think will happen.) Whatever. Either way, I had to show Daniel that everything was fine. So I took his hand and squeezed . Hard. He squeezed back.
"I know," he said. "I know."
"Good. Because Ryan doesn't have a say in what I do." He squeezed my hand even herder. I squeezed harder too. I leaned my head on his shoulder. "See. No doors are busting open yet."
"Yet," he stated.
"Ever," I warned.
"Ever." He leaned his head down on mine.
My head rested perfectly on his broad shoulder. I sighed. And closed my eyes listening to the call of Juliet asking Romeo where he was.
"Wake up Brook!"
There was a something on my cheek. Poking at my cheek. I swatted whatever it was away. "Five minutes."
"Wake up! I seriously don't think you have five minutes. You need to go find Daniel. There's something you need to know."
I bolted up. "What happened?"
"You mean besides you falling asleep?" Yuri laughed at her own joke.
"I fell asleep?"
"Yeah. But he said he didn't care. He thought it was cute that you snore." She laughed again.
"Brook, I don't think you're comprehending the importance of the matter. You need to go find Daniel."
"Why? What happened? Is he okay? Did he get hurt? Did-"
"Take it easy. He's fine. There was an encounter with Ryan. And some people saying that Ry won and others are saying Daniel won, but I say Dan totally kicked Ryan's butt. Anyway you should go see him."
Yuri didn't have to tell me twice. I was out and running before she even finished her sentence. I hardly even felt the rain beating down on me. All I felt was anger towards my ex-boyfriend. And sympathy for my new one. Yup. Daniel let me make the decision on weather we were dating or not and I did. I knew he wanted to and I knew I wanted to and I knew that he knew I wanted to. That was the whole idea of the pretend date. So that I'd figure out that's what I'd wanted all along.
I ran faster than that day when I'd found him with Mollie. I didn't even have to think. I knew exactly where I was going. I took a left by the tennis court. I took a right by the lake, another right and a few more lefts until I had finally reached my destination. The dumpster behind the cafeteria. There he was. Daniel Carson, the new love of my life.
"Hey there scrapper."
Daniel looked up and bore a smile on his face. " Hey." I sat down next to him and he took of his rain coat and put it around my shoulders. "Now here you are ruining your jeans by sitting in the mud."
"Forget about my pants and tell me what happened," I said, pulling the jacket tighter around me.
"So you heard." He laughed to himself but I could tell he was ticked off. Was it the fight? Was it something Ry had said? " He had it coming."
"He had it coming?"
"He earned it."
"What do you mean he 'earned' it?"
"Good question. Skip."
"Skip. If we're going to be a couple, you're going to have to be honest with me."
"Fine. Just don't get mad. Okay?"
"Promise." I raised my right hand in an oath.
"Okay. Are you ready."
"Okay. Ry and I haven't been the best of friends for a while now. And apparently I left the window open on our date and he was walking by and listened to our conversation. So when I was heading back to my bunk after tucking you in, he stopped me and said some stuff."
"What kind of stuff?"
"Well, you know how you said he has no say in what you do right?"
"Well, he seems to think differently about your little statement. He asked me-Well. He told me that if he didn't control your every move, you guys would have never moved as fast as you guys did. He said if he hadn't set you straight you would have told him to slow down. Or that you guys wouldn't have... You know..."
"Gross! We never did that. Besides. He probably needs a whole bottle of enhancements just to get enough strength to kiss me on the cheek."
"That's why I punched him. He tried to hit me but I ducked and fell on my butt. Then things got ugly. But see, not a scratch on my face."
"But he hit you didn't he?" Ryan was a lot bigger than Daniel.
"Don't worry. I've got a little something for Ry."
All you heard was a terrifying scream. And it was the girly kind you hear in horror movies. But the piercing cry was not coming from the dumb cheerleader who went into the old creepy house when there were gigantic signs posted all around the yard reading DO NOT ENTER! It came from Ryan. I know. I knew he was afraid of mice. I did not however, know that he was scared of them that much. (Okay, maybe a little.) I still think he deserved it. And it was pretty hilarious watching him jump around and around like a big baby as I watched from outside of his cabin window. I wonder if he'd ever figure out that the mouse was fake.
"That was so wrong of you," Yuri shook her head in disapproval. "But I love the deviousness of the plan."
"Yeah. All of his bunkmates are going to be wailing on him for a week," I laughed.
"Did you inform Dan about your little plan here?"
"No. I mean yes. Well... Sort of."
"What do you mean 'sort of'?"
"I mean, not entirely."
"Why? I think he'd get a pretty good kick out of it."
"I don't know. Dan's pretty touchy on ruining reputations."
"He'll understand. And besides, Ryan started it. It's not like your picking a fight.
"You have a point but Dan says it's not right to fight fire with fire."
"Well, you didn't exactly use fire per say. I would say it was more along the lines of water."
Yuri. Always trying to prove a point. (She's on the debate team too.) I know she's just trying to ease my nervousness towards Daniel's reaction, but I'm finding it hard to focus on what she's saying. My mind is off elsewhere. I am imagining Dan getting blamed for this even though I'm the only one who Ry confined in about his little phobia.
"Uh... Hello! Are you out there Brook? Brook, can you hear me?
"What," I asked coming out of my mind.
"Come in for landing," Yuri said.
RING! RING! RING! RIN-
Yuri answered her cell phone. "Hello? Yeah. Really? For real? Okie-dokie. Bye."
"What was that all about," I asked.
"I have a question for you. Dan got in trouble and was forced to do an extra assignment for Mr. Clark." Mr. Clark is our math teacher. very strict if you forget your homework but his punishments were harmless. Usually he'd just make you take a survey. "He's doing a survey on if girls would kiss a guy they've been friends with. He was embarrassed to ask you 'cause he thought it would be weird. So he wanted me to ask you for him."
"Um... I have to think about that one. It depends if he's a good enough friend. If he's one I talk to on occasions then no. If I see him every day or every other day, yes."
"Uh... Yeah. That's to much to follow so I'm just going to go with yes."
"Okay," I laughed. "Let's go get some lunch. I'm starved."
"Yeah. I'm in the mood for french fries."
"I second that."
"Attention! Attention!" Mrs. Truman - the vice principle was trying desperately to get the Teenagers in the caf to listen to her. " Shut you mouths!"
Everyones head turned at that. It was as if we they were just now realizing the 5 Ft. 8 In. woman standing in front of them. She barely weighed anything and was at least thirty-seven though she could pass for sixteen (A lot a plastic surgery I guess.)
"Thank you," she said in her sing-song voice. "Now as you all know we have a wonderful event coming up. In exactly a two days from now we are having an event that has been held here for generations... FAMILY DAY!"
A few kids who liked being embarrassed by their parents cheered. The rest of the cafeteria was filled to the ceiling with Boos, moans and grunts. I was one of the kids groaning. Yuri was just sitting there like her whole world was crumbling in right in front of her and Daniel was grunting. You could hear the Baseball, Soccer and Swim Team booing throughout the entire camp I bet.
"Enough!" Mrs. Truman got our attention again. " Now I know you are all excited." Excited? Obviously she did not just hear the protests of the suffering teens. "But please do try to contain your joy. And now, with that said, I'd like to turn you over to our brilliant Principle, Mr. Hamilton."
"Hey, kids," said Mr. Hamilton. He gave us a wave and nodded to Mrs. Truman making his use-to-be mullet bob up and down. "How's it going?"
The student's erupted in a chorus of fine and good.
"Good. Now, some of you may not get along with your parents as well as others and think that their old and boring and embarrassing beyond belief but think about it. Your parents were your age once and know exactly how you feel. Chances are, their parents were twenty times worse than you think they are. And who knows you might find out you actually missed them."
We all started to consider this. I didn't have to worry though. Mom wouldn't come anyway. Dad couldn't. Last I checked, he was on a business trip in Guam. I loved them both but I don't want them in the same country let alone camp. Plus I don't want to have to listen to Allen drone on and on about the economy and global marketing. I hate politics. I'd never make it. Money just doesn't interest me. That's another reason I don't want my mom here. They way she talks to me. It's like I'm a competing law firm. Or if I'm lucky a business associate.
"So," Mr. Hamilton continued. "Let's try to keep the peace 'kay."
I think Mr. Hamilton was a pot head. He sounds high all the time and always wears a tie-dye tie. Hey, the evidence is all there. And besides there is no principle as cool or carefree as he is. Besides, how could he not have been. He always sounds dazed on the announcements in the mornings. I think he dips into his stash so he can handle all of these hormonal teens, crazy pre-teens and whiny little, little kids. That's probably why they don't do the announcements on the t.v. like my old school. I wouldn't be able to handle his job. I'd probably die from exhaustion before the end of first period.
"What are your parents like," asked Daniel when we were having dinner. The chef had made some strange array of pasta. It was ranging from the color white to some type of green shells.
"They're okay I guess."
"Just okay? You mean they're not the best? Do they argue a lot, not talk to each other, are they separated?"
That hit home base. A lot.
"Actually," I said, "they are separated. They haven't been together since I was little. My mom got custody though."
"What's wrong with your mom?"
"She just, I dunno, expects me to make her look good. She thinks my brain will make her look like the role model parent or something like that."
"What about your dad?"
"He's okay too. But he's so caught up in my stepbrother David that it doesn't seem like has any time for me. My mom's so into her husband that she sent me here because I was in the way apparently."
"At least they paid for you to get in here."
"Actually they didn't. We have the money but my mom says she's not going to waste it on me. I got in on a scholarship."
"No kidding? So did I."
"Seriously? Why didn't you tell me?"
"I was afraid you'd think I was a nerd or something. I make straight A's"
"I would never even consider thinking you were a nerd. I'm the nerd. I make straight A's and have never had a discipline referral in my life.
"I see your point. You are a nerd."
"Hey," I tried to defend my self, but it didn't help that I was smiling.
"But you're a very attractive nerd."
"And you're a very handsome nerd."
"What's your favorite subject?"
"I'd have to say... Science I guess."
"Marry me," he teased.
"How about we settle for dating right now," I laughed.
"So... What are your parents like?"
"Oh, you'll see."
"You don't now the half of it."
Wow, I thought I had it rough.
The counselors started calling for us to get out so they could have their dinner now.
"Stop by my cabin later," Daniel asked me before he left.
"Sure, that'd be awesome. What time?"
"Okay, you better to go." He gave me a quick kiss on the cheek before leaving with his bunkmates. "See ya." But he was long gone.
I hate this. I got back to my bunk and Yuri informed me that I had a spot on my bikini bottom. I went to the bathroom and checked. And right there, all over my bottom piece was blood. My monthly Gift, that should go over well. (Oh the inner joy.) I may have possibly spoke too soon about cramps, I got a call from Ryan who was telling — not asking — telling me to go back out with him, I fell on my bum twice os the soccer field and Daniel had to cancel our plans. (He called when I had a quarter of the way to go.)
I was walking back to the cabin when I got a text message. I didn't know the number on my screen but I read it anyway.
484-929-4768: TURN AROUND BABY.
I didn't understand the text at all. But I did turn around. I knew that I had nothing to lose. However, I did not prepare myself bumping smack into a big, muscular figure in the dark that was all too familiar. Buff. Not only muscular but tall too. And smiling an all too familiar smile. Ryan. Oh, great! Why is my day turning into a horror show?
"What do you want?"
"You know what I want baby," Ryan whispered, his smile getting bigger under the moonlight.
"Well, I have to get back to the cabin. So, see ya."
"Don't be like that babe."
"Don't call me that you sexist pig!"
"I'll call you what I want to call you. Don't you dare raise your voice at me! You understand me?"
I struggled to free myself as he grabbed me by the arm and shook me.
"Let go of me! Get off!" I kicked him where the sun don't shine. Unfortunately, that did little to stop him. He released me with one hand as his right did a thing that is to sick to put into words. I tried to hit him in the jaw, hoping it was made of glass. What was I thinking? I missed his face completely. My fist just barely brushed his shoulder. He laughed as he slapped me across the face.
"Say you love me," he said, calmly.
"No." I managed to break out of his viper grip.
He hit me again. " Tell me you love me!"
"No!" I stumbled back as he punched me. "Knock it off!"
"Say you love me and I'll go for now."
"Okay, okay! I love you! Just don't hit me again!"
"There's my girl," he said lifting my chin with his index finger. I was breathing so hard that the air in my throat seemed to be the loudest thing between us. I struggled to see though the fallen strands of my hair.
"You just remember Brooklyn," he continued. "I'm just coming back for what's mine. And I'm going to keep coming back until I get it." I jerked my face away.
With that, he was off.
With that, I hugged my knees and started to shake. And
rock back and forth.
"Homesick are we?"
I looked up from my English homework in my lap. There was Daniel, standing right in front of me. I desperately wanted to go dive into the lake. But no swimming for me thanks to the package I received from Mother Nature yesterday. I snuck in late last night, when I was sure that everyone in my bunk was sound asleep.
"What," I asked as he sat down beside me.
"The giant shades."
"Oh. Yeah. A little I guess."
"I think it's more than a little. You wore them at lunch."
"I thought I'd go for a new look."
"Alright, Brooklyn. Take off the glasses."
"The sun's in my eyes."
"The sun never bothered you before. And besides, we're under a nice, shaded tree. Common, take them off."
"I don't want to."
"Aw, take 'em off please. I want to see your eyes."
"You see my eyes everyday."
"What's gotten into you?"
"Nothing. I just do want to-"
He reached for my sunglasses and pulled them off. Immediately, I ducked my head between my knees.
"Let me see your face Brook."
"How about later?"
"How about now?"
"I don't think that's such a good idea."
"Now. Right now."
I lifted my head in defeat.
"What happened? Who did this to you?" He took my chin and examined my face, turning it from side to side. Up and down.
"I'd rather not say."
"You don't have a choice. How did this happen?"
I racked my brain for ideas. Excuses. " I…uh…fell." Brilliant Brook (oh look, an alliteration).
"On what? A fist?"
"Sure, let's go with that."
"Remember what you said about being honest?"
"Yeah." I hate it when stuff I say comes back to bite me in the bum.
"You want to try explaining what happened again then?"
"No, not really."
I knew I didn't really have another decision or a way out of this.. And he would eventually find out one way or another. I explained the events of yesterday (not me starting my period, just from when he canceled). It felt like I was reliving the horrific event. It was bad enough I only got an hour's rest. (I had trouble sleeping.) I also left out the part where Ryan said he was coming back. No need to get Daniel too angry.
I watched his expression change. Drastically change. And the frightening part was, I didn't know what he was going to do. I tried asking him but he just said for me not to worry about it. I put my sunglasses back on.
"I'll tell Yuri," he said
"No. One person worrying about me is enough. It's not that big a deal anyway."
"What? It's not that big a deal to let some douche knock you around? Especially when he has no reason for coming near you in the first place!"
"This is why didn't want to tell you."
"Why? Because I don't believe in women getting beat around like meat sacks?"
"Yes! That's exactly why! I don't want you going out and trying to fight Ryan!"
"I'm fighting for you!"
"I can fight my own battles!"
I was on my feet now. I could feel tears hot on my cheeks. I was so furious. Why on earth would he repeatedly fight for me? I know those of you who are reading this are thinking the most obvious answer. But seriously, I think Dan would do the same for any girl. I just don't like him getting his name written down in Ry's agenda. And I don't want Ryan to have another reason to try and pound his face in the dirt thank you very much. I just can't stand him risking his neck for me when I can take care of myself.
"Fine," he said. "You go and try and talk to Ry without him blackening your other eye!"
"It's worth a shot as long as you don't get hit in the crossfire!"