Copyright 2013 – Renee Ericson
It’s Friday afternoon and I’m in the car to pick up my brother, Cohen. I can’t believe my mom bailed out again. Her work schedule has really gotten out of control. I understand that she wants a career, but I know Cohen is going to be upset that she isn’t picking him up like she promised. He’s been gone all week at camp; she really should reschedule the meeting and pick him up like she said she would. But nope, it’s me picking up the slack and now I’m going to have to deal with him whining the whole way home about it. Like this summer hasn’t been bad enough.
There’s nothing like finding out about a month ago that your girlfriend of three years has been cheating you with some guy across town. I guess that will teach me to go away for two weeks again. Sure, she broke it off with me before I found out, but it still doesn’t mean it didn’t suck. We’d been together for as long as I can remember and I thought I knew her. Guess not. I can’t believe she didn’t even have the guts to call it off before she decided to go sucking face with Mr. Football Star.
It’s official; I’m done dating. There’s no reason to even start anything with anyone. My friend, Owen, may have a different take, saying I need to just get out and “see what other fish are in the sea,” but I’m just not interested. What’s the point? I don’t need the hassle.
I’m not really paying attention to where I’m going, but I when I see the sign for Camp White Ash, I turn down the drive and park in the dirt lot. It’s empty, so I look at my watch and notice that I’m really early. Figures. My mind has been all over the place lately, so of course I’m early.
After sitting in the car for fifteen minutes, I decide I might as well head in to wait. There’s a small path and a sign at the edge of the lot that indicates the direction of the lake and lodge. I take my time getting there, kicking a few stones along the way. When I reach the opening to the lake, I don’t see the lodge anywhere in sight, only a large supply shed on the ridge. Shit. Where is the lodge?
I continue to walk up the incline, hoping that maybe the lodge is on the other side. When I’m almost to the top, I see a girl walk out of the building. She has long brown hair, up in a ponytail and is wearing a pair of khaki shorts—short shorts—and a dark green T-shirt. Looks like a camp uniform.
“Excuse me,” I call out to her. “Is this where we pick up the kids?”
I take a few steps closer until I’m about ten yards away. I really shouldn’t be staring at her ass, but those shorts. What the hell?
“No,” she says, while locking up the shed. Her long chocolate hair swings to the side as she tilts her head. Then she begins to turn around.
“Oh. Well, can you tell me where to go?” I ask, stopping in my tracks when her brown eyes stare straight into my green ones.
Jesus. I think my heart literally just stopped. No, I’m not interested. I’m not interested. I’m not interested.
I try to look anywhere other than her, but her eyes just keep pulling me in. Do I know her from somewhere?
“Sure,” she begins to answer my question. “You just need to head farther up the drive, and you’ll find a parking lot where the path ends. From there, you can see the main lodge where families will meet in about an hour.”
Is she blushing? She doesn’t seem to be embarrassed, rather confident. Standing tall, keeping her eyes on me, no weird fidgeting…but what is up with the pink cheeks?
Taking a few steps closer, until we are only about an arms length apart, I can’t help but grin a little when I see the warmth in her cheeks deepen. It’s kind of cute. Stop thinking like that! Not interested.
“Okay, but I might get lost. Do you think you can show me the way? I’d be happy to give you a ride,” I respond without thinking.
What is going on with me? Okay, it’s not like I asked her out. I just asked her for help. No harm in that.
“Oh, I’m sure you can figure it out.” She laughs a little. “Plus, I need to finish a few things here before I head up to the main lodge.”
“I can wait.” Seriously, what is wrong with me? I need to reel it in a bit.
Her eyes narrow slightly, like she’s confused by what I’ve just said. Heck, I’m confused by what’s coming out of my mouth, but I can’t seem to help myself.
“Found three pairs of underwear!” a blonde shouts as she approaches the top of the small incline where we’re standing.
I turn to see it’s Lexi, a girl I know pretty well from school, holding what looks like…underwear?
“Hey, Lexi. Are those for me?” I address her, as I point to the sopping wet undies. Where did she get those?
“Hey, Brent. What are you doing here? And, no, these are not for you. Well…” Lexi smirks, and holds them in my direction with her fingertips. “Unless you haven’t grown since you were ten. If that’s the case, then I’m happy to donate these to your wardrobe.”
“Ha! That’s okay. I think I’m all set. I’m here for my brother. He’s been at camp this week.” I notice she’s wearing a uniform identical to the other girl. “I didn’t know you worked here. Is that why I haven’t seen you all summer?”
I look to the brunette, now standing between Lexi and I. The brown-eyed girl hasn’t said anything. I wonder if Lexi knows her?
“Yep. It’s cool. It’s good for college apps and shows I can work well in a group environment or something like that.” Lexi continues. I keep looking to the brunette and can’t help smiling. Damn it, I’m being obvious too. “Brent, you know Ruby, right?”
“Well, I do now,” I say giving my full attention to Ruby. It’s a different sort of name and not one that sounds familiar. I could be wrong, though. “You go to Carver, right? I think I saw you at one of the basketball games last year.”
Lexi blows out an exasperated lip-vibrating breath and then begins to giggle. “She goes to Howard with us. Didn’t you know? She’s a senior too.”
Well, shit. This is embarrassing. I look over every part of Ruby’s face, from her arching brows, petite little nose, and pale pink mouth. I still can’t place her, but the fact that I go to school with her, and didn’t even know is ridiculous. How could I have missed her?
“Um, yeah,” Ruby offers a little shyly, “I moved here from Colorado during our sophomore year. I don’t think we’ve had any classes together.”
“Cool,” I say, trying to cover what an idiot I am for not recognizing someone from my own class. Turning to Lexi to take the attention away from this little awkward moment, I say, “Owen is having some people over tonight. Are you going?”
“He is?” she asks, physically jumping a bit. “Heck yeah, I’m going. I thought he was out of town with his family for the summer.”
“He was, but he came back a couple of weeks ago for summer practice. His family is still gone though. I think they’ll be back in a week.” Even though I have no idea why, I look to Ruby and ask, “Are you going?”
Ruby’s head physically pulls back a bit, like she’s in shock that I’m asking her such a thing. I wonder what that’s about?
“Sure,” she says, but she doesn’t sound ‘sure.’
I look quickly to Lexi, who is gazing over the lake, then pull my focus to Ruby and say, “Great. See you tonight. I’m heading up to the lodge to get my brother. I don’t want to be late.”
I turn away from both of them and head back down the small hill, to the path that leads to my car. Running my hand through my hair, I can’t help but think of Ruby on my short walk. I’m not too happy about how that little ‘meet’ went down…at all. Apparently, seeing a hot girl makes me an idiot. Does she really go to school with us? I need to stop thinking about her. I’m not looking, I’m not looking…but maybe that’s the point. Maybe Owen’s right and I should do the “fun thing” and check out that “sea of fish.” Ruby looks like she could be fun, but I have a feeling a girl like her is more than just someone I want take on a date. I’m not sure I need or really want the hassle of dating right now. Or that I can deal with someone who makes my heart stop when I see them and causes me to say things without thinking.
Why not, though?