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When It Rains
The sun beat down on me viciously, all traces of the cool morning gone. I knew without even looking at myself that I would have a terrible burn later. The water was cold and calming, flowing around my feet in a constant current. Birds chirped and chittered, filling the quiet. The dock bobbed every time the wake of a speedboat came my way.
Hidden Valley was a community my Grandma Ah Ah and Grandpa Harold had belonged to for the majority of their lives. I had spent a great part of my summers here, too. My school let out early, mid-May, and it was perfect weather. And now I was spending all summer here, the last one I would have since I was a senior this year. Hundreds of acres of lake stretched out before me and sent a little jolt of panic through me. I had been afraid of the water for as long as I could remember.
The wind picked up and started whipping my long brown hair into a tornado around my head. I held my fishing rod with my knees and pulled my hair into a ponytail, knowing my neck would get efficiently burnt. Footsteps shuffled behind me, sparking irritation in my chest.
“Fia, I told you, I wanna fish by myself.” My hands worked automatically to reel in my line, finding that my worm had been taken again. “Dammit.”
“Who?” A deep voice asked. I whirled around to see a tall blonde boy studying me with his lazy blue eyes. My eyes scanned over him. He was big, like a football player. Two-twenty, two-thirty, and at least six-foot-three. He was definitely not bad looking, but I knew a player when I saw one. The boy also looked like a hick who had gotten dressed in the dark. I almost smiled.
“What, did you get dressed in the dark?” I voiced my thoughts and huffed, annoyed at the intrusion on my peaceful morning.
“Why, yes, yes I did. My name’s Gabe, by the way.” He grinned hugely, sitting down beside me. Our thighs were touching and I knew he did that on purpose. He wanted to make me uncomfortable and I wouldn’t let him. I didn’t budge.
I ignored him and opened my container of worms, finding a fat one. If there was anything I hated about fishing, it was impaling those poor worms. They were awful slimy things, and they got their juices all over me when I tried to put them on my line.
“Here, let me.” Gabe took the worm away from my fingers swiftly, and twined it around the hook with ease. He handed it back to me before I could say a word.
“I could have done that.” I glared at him, but still readied my rod to cast it out. With one movement, I flicked the line out into the water where it landed with a splash.
“I know. But I’m being nice. You should try it sometime.” That stupid grin came back, like he thought he was so clever or something.
I scoffed. “Maybe I’m only mean to weird strangers that get dressed in the dark.” My lips pursed, trying to stop my stupid brain from saying anything more. In my head, I assessed his outfit. Dirty, brown cowboy boots, neon pink swim shorts, and a stained white tank top. I secretly appreciated the tank; it made his muscles look good.
“Well, we should change that.” He caught my eye, and all traces of his joking exterior faded. I raised an eyebrow in question. “This stranger thing. Let’s be friends.”
“Friends.” I tested the word on my lips. “Why?” Personally, I had no desire to be friends with a boy like this, no matter what he said. I didn’t trust easy, and the people I did trust had to be damn special.
“Because we can be.” He answered simply, taking off his boots and socks and sticking his feet in the water, splashing softly.
“How do you know I’m not here for the day?” I asked, wondering why I was participating in conversation with this boy. My mind whirred. Did I want to be ‘friends’ with this boy? I mean, what would it hurt? Someone to keep me company when I got sick of my grandparents didn’t sound so bad. But did it have to be him?
“Are you here for the day?” He asked, smirking like he already knew my answer. I rolled my eyes and didn’t answer him. “Alright, then. Friends for the summer And you still haven’t given me your name.”
“God, you are persistent.” I sighed, feeling a slight tug at my line. My hand moved swiftly, reeling in slowly. Damn, did I want a fish. I didn’t eat them; I was allergic. But I loved catching them. It made me feel accomplished. “Ash.”
He clapped his hands together. “So, Ash, I guess we should start with twenty questions.” He looked to me for approval. I was too focused on my line to answer, leaning forward and still reeling in. “Favorite animal?”
I mulled over my answer. “Cow.” I said, jumping up and reeling faster. Angry thrashing caught my eye. There was a big one on my line.
“What?” He laughed. “Are you serious?” I nodded and he started cackling like I’d said the funniest thing in the world. He had a great laugh. My muscles relaxed as I listened to him, my eyes watched his eyes crinkle and his hands clutched his stomach. His laugh was contagious. I fought to keep a smile off my face.
“Stop it. It’s not that funny. And you’re distracting me.” I kicked him hard in the shoulder. He didn’t expect that and tipped over the side of the dock right into the water.
“Shit!” He screamed, before disappearing into the murky water. My heart picked up. Why wasn’t he coming up already? A violent tug on my line brought me back to reality.
“Gabe?” I yelled, looking over to where he’d plunged in the water. “Gabe, get out of the fucking water!” My rod bent forward as I reeled. Whatever was on my line was not happy to be there.
“Lord, this water feels good!” Gabe had emerged from the water, on the other side of the dock, floating peacefully.
“What the--? How--?” I stuttered. How did he get over there so quickly and without me noticing? This water must be deeper than I thought. “Nevermind. Get over here and help me reel this fish in!”
He swam over quickly, slicing through the water with ease. “Damn! There’s something huge on your line!” He scrambled up onto the deck, dripping all over the place. Gabe reached me and grabbed for my line, water droplets flicking my arm.
“Hey! Watch it! You’re soaked!” I yelled at him, shaking the water off my arm. He grabbed my rod from my hands and reeled it in furiously.
“Sorry, sorry.” Gabe’s eyes were locked on where the line disappeared under the water. His muscles contracted and flexed while he gripped the pole, fighting the monster on the other end. I stepped back and watched him. He started walking backwards, the line getting shorter and the thrashing getting more wild.
“Whoa.” I breathed when I saw the enormous fish on the end of my line. It was a catfish, a huge one, at least four feet long.
“Help me pull it up on the dock!” Gabe strained to hold on the line, me silently praying it wouldn’t break. I scrambled to my knees and pulled at the fish splashing erratically in the water. It was slimy and smelled like wet socks, but I couldn’t keep the grin off my face. This was awesome.
“It’s huge!” I said, sticking my hand into the fish’s large mouth and dragging it up onto the dock. Gabe worked his fingers along the line, finding the hook and pulling it out of the fish’s cheek.
“That’s what she said.” He laughed, looking at me. I rolled my eyes and grinned at him. We were both on our knees, soaked with that nasty water, holding the four-foot fish. My chest heaved with heavy breaths, and I noticed that his was too.
“Damn! That was a workout!” I wiped my hand over my forehead, catching the sweat beads formed at my hairline. He laughed, crinkling his eyes in the way I noticed earlier. The fish thrashed in our hands, catching me off balance and knocking me into Gabe’s shoulder. The end of my ponytail flicked his bare shoulder and he put all of his attention on it. Goosebumps formed on his skin even though it was easily eighty degrees out. “Shit, sorry.” I looked down at the fish and readjusted my grip, then looked up to Gabe. His eyes were glazed over, watching me intently.
“You’re gonna be the death of me.” He mumbled, leaning forward a little and focusing on my lips. My heart thudded as I held his gaze. What the hell was he doing? It was like my mouth stopped working; the words I wanted to say dried up in my mouth and floated away.
He came within inches of me, within centimeters. His lips hovered over mine and I found myself not wanting to push him away. Just as he leaned forward, brushing his lips against mine, the fish thrashed so violently it tore itself from our grips.
“No!” I screamed, grabbing at the water as it dove in, flopping onto my stomach on the dock. “Gabe! That was your fault!” I shoved him in the shoulder and he rocked back on his heels.
“My fault!” He laughed, picking up my rod and standing. “You’re the one distracting me with that damn mouth of yours!”
“Control yourself next time! You just cost me the biggest fish in the lake!” I stood up and punched him in the shoulder, trying not to get more angry at the fact that he let my fish go.
“Next time?” He waggled his eyebrows at me. “Just assuming I’m gonna come back to you after today?” I raised my eyebrows at him and replaced my bent hook. He grinned. “Of course, I’m gonna come back to you after today.” His laugh erupted from his mouth again. “But only until we catch that beast again.”
“Deal.” I say, grinning and handing him my hook so he could put another worm on it. He didn’t even question me, just grabbed the hook from my hand and put the worm on.
Hours passed. We talked until the sun was high in the sky, beating down on us like a toddler on a drum. Turns out, Gabe wasn’t as bad as I thought. Eventually, Grandma Ah Ah’s voice came calling for me from up the hill. I looked up, frowning, not wanting to leave this ridiculous boy.
“That for you?” He asked, raising one eyebrow, slouched back onto his elbows. I nodded, reeling in my line. We hadn’t caught a single thing after that catfish got away from us.
“That’s for me.” I sighed, closing the lid onto my worms, which were almost gone by now. Standing, I stretched my back and grabbed my rod. He stood up too, and handed me the worms.
“Will I see you here again?” He asked, grinning sheepishly and shoving his hands into his pockets.
“I'm here every morning at dawn.” I answered, turning around to walk up the hill. His grin made my toes curl, and I loved that it did.
“That’s where I’ll be, then.” He said, clapping his hands and putting them in his pockets again. I smirked and began walking up the hill.
“Good.” I smiled, wondering why this boy had made me smile so much. It was weird; I never smiled this much.
In a day, he had broken down my walls and planted himself inside. It scared me. I knew it wasn’t going to end well. It never did. I knew that without a shadow of a doubt. But I didn’t stop myself. I should have.