Something unexpected happens in the sea.
‘Sounds like someone’s alarm’ I mumbled back ‘but I can’t tell where it’s coming from.’
Annoyed, I threw off the covers and stood up, ready to go and kill whatever the hell was making that noise.
‘I don’t have an alarm.’ Said Kate ‘I only have one on my phone and its right here.’ She said picking it up from the desk beside her. Besides, it’s like 5 in the morning.’
‘Same’ I said. ‘But if it’s not mine or yours, then whose is it?’
‘I don’t know’ she yawned, slowly getting out of bed and helping me look for it. Then suddenly another sound, ever so slightly different but still high pitched and head pounding erupted. ‘What the...?’
Mere moments later, it was joined by another sound. I couldn’t distinguish any of them well enough to find the source of them all.
‘Where are they coming from?’ Kate groaned, covering her ears with her hands.
‘I don’t know’ I said, folding my arms and scowling ‘but I think I know who does.’
I picked up the camera and strode into the guys bedroom. The sound passed through the open door and they all began to stir with questioning mumbles. I headed for Ryan’s bed and jabbed him hard in the cheek.
‘Ow’ He whined.
‘The password is ‘prettyboys’’ I said, dropping the camera on his chest, ‘now for the love of God, will you go and make it stop?!’
_ _ _
It was our last full day in California. Tomorrow we would be heading back to the dry desert of Vegas around early lunch time. As a special goodbye treat, Rick announced he would be taking us all down to a fancy ‘’jive’’ tonight that his friend owned. I made a mental note to thank Brendon for persuading me to pack that dress. Otherwise I would have had to arrive in a flannel shirt, short shorts and half broken flip flops.
We spent the first half of the day on the beach, whilst we still could. Lucy had kindly made us a cute picnic basket to take down there with us. We gathered together on the blanket and set out the bottles of coke and fruit juice and the plates of sandwiches and packets of potato chips.
The part of the beach in which we sat was fairly quiet, as it was still quite early. I presumed it would only take another hour for it to fill up with noisy people and their noisy children. I enjoyed the serenity of it all whilst I could. I would miss this place, I acknowledged to myself. Tomorrow I would be back in scorching, sticky hot Summerlin. Making my own cucumber sandwiches for lunch, with my only company being my permanently tired and irritable mother.
The wind eventually began to pick up, which consequently caused a couple of people to complain about sandy sandwiches, so we packed up the remains of the picnic and decided to begin blowing up the rubber rings we’d bought along with us.
The beach eventually began to fill up and the noise levels increased, the air punctured with the squeals of little kids and the chatter of adults.
I was applying sun cream to my arms as Brendon finished blowing up the last ring and dramatically exhaled and fell backwards in exaggerated exhaustion.
‘Dibs’ I said, picking up the inflated ring. My aim was to keep my head above water at all times. I wasn’t a fan of sea salt anywhere near my face or in my hair.
I was pretty successful. Well, for the most part at least. Even when we returned back to the beach house for drinks and some time to cool of, my locks had a only the slightest sprinkle of sea salt spray. Which I quite liked, because it made my hair wavy.
When we returned back to the beach in the late afternoon, I did some last minute work on my stomach. Kate was lying next to me. She looked asleep, but i couldn’t be certain. Jane sat on her other side reading a book and Ryan lead on his front next to her, listening to his iPod, his face buried into his arms. Brendon and Spencer stood, lightly bopping a beach ball to each other.
Ryan gave a mumble and slowly sat up, taking the headphones of his iPod out of his ears and yawning. ‘Is Kate asleep?’
‘I’m not sure’ Jane said, briefly glancing away from her book to look down at Kate’s still body.
I turned too. ‘Kate?’ I questioned. She didn’t react.
‘Yeah, she is.’ I said, sitting up and curling my arms around my knees.
Jane went back to her book. Her eyes moved so quickly and swiftly down the page it was enviable. She hadn’t put it down for a while, she must be enjoying it. Ha, to enjoy a book – what must that be like?
Ryan seemed to be in some sort of daze. He sat with his arms hung around his legs in a similar way to mine, his eyes staring unfocusedly out to sea. I took the opportunity, whilst everyone seemed too preoccupied to pay any attention to me, to sneak a few glances at him. I held in a sigh. Did I really not notice the first time I saw him, how utterly perfect his face was?
I turned away to see Brendon stood a few feet in front of me, watching me with an amused expression. I rolled my eyes. Of course he would notice.
‘Hey’ He said ‘does anyone feel like an ice-cream?’
Ryan, Jane and I gave nods and murmurs of yes’s. Spencer claimed he was full.
‘Cool, Steph, do you want to come with me to get them?’
‘Oh, uh sure.’ I said, standing up and brushing the sand off my shorts. ‘Where from?’
‘There’s probably a stall somewhere up over there if we venture far enough...oh wait, crap—It’s on the concrete, and I didn’t bring any flip flops out with me. And you’re not going to be able to carry them all on your own...’
‘I’ll go.’ Said Ryan, standing up and slipping his feet into his flip-flops.
Brendon gave me a triumphant smile. I narrowed my eyes at him. The sneaky little shit.
We took their orders (and their money) and left, heading out of the beach and onto the street behind that held the row of shops selling beach gear; swim-wear, buckets and spades, inflatable dinghy’s...
‘Shall we head down that way and wish for the best?’
‘Sure’ I nodded. He could suggest fishing for ice-pops out of the rock pools and I’d go along with it.
We walked onwards in silence for bit, jangling the change we carried in our hands. ‘So’ he said eventually ‘have you been enjoying yourself?’
‘Yeah’ I said ‘it’s been nice to uh, get out of Vegas for a bit and everything.’
‘You really don’t like the place do you?’ He said.
‘Oh, no, it’s not that...I mean, I do like Vegas...it’s just...different, y’know? And this is, well, much closer to home.’
He nodded. ‘So why move to Vegas of all places?’
I sighed. ‘It was entirely my mom’s decision of course. A silly...spur of the moment thing, a random whim she went out on. She claimed she couldn’t stand to be in the same city as her mother anymore. She thinks my grandma’s too interfering.’
I shrugged. ‘She’s just...worried about me.’ My heart panged. I missed her. I hadn’t thought about her in a while. I hadn’t wanted to. ‘Anyway, my mom decided she wanted a new start. Again. But she decided to go one step further this time and take us out of the entire state. And where was a better place for a hooker to find work than Vegas of course? She’s insane.’
‘So...do you think you’ll be moving again anytime soon?’
‘I-I don’t know.’ I admitted. ‘I mean, I think she seems fairly content there. It’s the nicest house we’ve ever lived in. I- I hope we don’t.’
I gulped. Could I really have to leave someday? And never see Brendon, Spencer, and Kate and...Ryan again? Sure, they would promise to keep in touch, like they always do. But they’ll eventually fade away, like all of the others I’ve had to leave behind because of her.
‘I’m-I’m sure you won’t.’ He said, probably reading the slightly downtrodden expression that had appeared on my face. Of course he wasn’t really sure, but for some reason his words settled me slightly, nonetheless.
‘Oh look, there it is.’ Said Ryan, meaning the ice-cream stall a few yards in front of us. We joined the queue.
‘So that’s...a mint chocolate chip for Brendon...Jane wanted a vanilla didn’t she?’
‘Yes, I think so.’ I said, not really having a clue.
‘Do you think we should get Kate one?’
‘Um, I don’t know. Do you know what she likes?’
‘Strawberry I think.’ He said. ‘Yeah, we should probably get her one anyway. We can just wake her up if she’s still sleeping. And Brendon would eat it anyway if she doesn’t want it.’
I nodded as we approached the counter.
‘Could we have 1 mint chocolate chip, 1 vanilla, 1 strawberry, 1...?’ He looked to me.
‘Uh, Cherry Garcia, please.’ I chipped.
‘Make that two.’ He said.
I smiled to myself. So Brendon was right. Silly, really, how that could give me even a slight shred of hope.
The guy served up the ice-creams, handing Ryan the first three. ‘...And just the two for the lady.’ He said kindly.
We headed back to the beach in silence—and at a slightly quickened pace in fear of the ice-creams melting down our arms. Then I remembered...
‘What was that thing you wanted to tell me a few days ago?’
‘Oh’ he said ‘that. Um, well. It’s not important really. Well, actually it might be for you...’
‘Come on, what is it?’ I said, creasing my forehead.
‘It’s...something that can wait until we get back to Vegas.’ He said.
He looked slightly pained. ‘Look, could you just try and forget it for now and not worry about it, and I promise I’ll let you know later. It’s...it’s not bad.’
‘It’s just...very aggravating.’ I said.
‘All will be explained’ he said ‘It’s...really more something I would like to give you a heads up about...but we don’t have time to discuss it now.’ He said.
I gave a deep sigh ‘Fine.’ I said, reluctantly. I was now 10 times more intrigued to find out what it was than I had been before.
The ice-cream was dripping quite sloppily around the cones by the time we rejoined the others. Luckily Kate was awake. Ryan and I finished ours first, considering we’d eaten most of it on the way over. Spencer suggested that he, Ryan and I went in the sea. The others said they would come once they were finished.
I grabbed my trusty rubber ring.
It was late afternoon so the sea was a fair bit emptier than it had been earlier, which was a relief. I half sat, half led in sunbathing position on the ring, with my legs crossed and my face facing up towards the sky, enjoying the heat that radiated from the sun, caressing my face. I was rather enjoying myself, drifting along the gentle waves nice and peacefully...and dry, until all of a sudden I was yelping in surprise as I was plunged into the sea, resurfacing very cold, very wet, and very angry.
Ryan gave an impish smile. Spencer was laughing and applauding him.
‘Aw come on, you can’t really enjoying being in the sea unless you’re actually in it’ He said.
‘I was in it.’ I said, grabbing the ring, and hoisting myself back on it again. I kicked my feet rapidly in the water splashing a constant miniature tidal wave at Ryan who flinched and covered his face his arms, as Spencer continued laughing. I joined in.
‘Fine' he said.'Me and Spencer will have our own fun, swimming—like you’re meant to do in the sea.’
I stuck my tongue out at him.
‘Hey!’ A voice called.
It was Jane coming to join us, with her own rubber ring. I think I tried to hard to look 'happy' that she was joining us.
‘What is it with girls and rubber rings?’ Said Spencer, as Kate got onto hers.
Our rings seemed to gradually float apart from each other. Of course Ryan stayed with her, but thankfully Spencer didn’t abandon me.
‘See’ I said to him ‘Ryan doesn’t push her in.’
‘Yeah but, he probably doesn’t want to annoy his girlfriend.’ He pointed out.
‘Right’ I grumbled.
‘Sour about something?’
‘Oh it’s nothing.’ I tried to say lightly, but he looked unconvinced. ‘Just, you know...’ I improvised ‘its summer. And we’re on the beach. Kind of wish I had a guy that wouldn’t try to drown me and stuff...’
‘Ah, I see’ He said. ‘But you know you could get a boyfriend no problem.’
‘No seriously, you could easily get any guy on this beach right now.’
‘You mean it?’
He nodded. 'Definately.'
‘Thanks Spence.’ I said, giving him half a smile. ‘You’re so sweet.’
‘I know.’ He grinned.
I carefully shuffled off of the ring and lowered myself into the water.
‘Whoa you’re actually de-ringing yourself?’ He said.
‘I’m too scared your going to flip me.’ I admitted, shivering slightly. The water came up to my torso.
‘I think you need to go under.’ He said ‘for a few seconds. It’ll make you warmer.’
I braced myself and held my nose before shutting my eyes tightly and submerging my entire head underneath the water’s surface. I stayed there for just a moment before resurfacing. I carefully blinked open my eyes. Unfortunate, really, for they rested on a sight I would have preferred to stay under water for than witness. Ryan and Jane were very intimately locked, and they continued to remain that way, as nothing but pure jealously boiled inside my blood as I watched them. It was like nothing I had ever experienced. Yet, despite the dull pain the sight inflicted on my heart and stomach, I found I couldn’t look away.
That is, until Spencer’s hand reached out to casually tuck a strand of hair that was plastered to my face behind my ear. I looked away from the vision of them kissing straight to Spencer’s eyes instead. That’s when I – with no idea what exactly was driving me to act on the impulse and do this—leaned in very suddenly and kissed him...unsuspecting, and completely stunned, him. It took a fair few seconds for him to react. And when he did, he kissed me back. Yet still, when we broke apart the expression of complete shock was as clear on his face as it was on Ryan and Jane’s.