The next morning I woke up a complete and utter hot mess. I barely got a wink of sleep all night as tossed and turned in my sleep, the guilt haunting me even in my dreams.
We were late to school needless to say and I spent the majority of the morning rubbing restlessly at the dark bags under my eyes. And, the lack of sleep might have made me slightly paranoid.
As I rounded to corner headed to lunch, I almost ran into Gazzy, causing him to stumble off balance. I looked up at him in a foggy daze.
"Whoa there Max, you look like a mess. Restless night?" He asked, placing a hand on my elbow to keep me steady.
"Got some big secret you're trying to hide?" He teased, wiggling his eyebrows suggestively as my head snapped up in shock, eyes wide.
"NO!" I screeched, far too loud for our proximity, "Why, what'd you hear?" I asked frantically.
His eyebrows furled in confusion as he attempted to calm me down.
"What? No. Max, I was just kidding," He tried to reassure me, further explaining himself, "You know, like you found out some confidential information about illegal experiments on humans or something crazy like that. You look like you haven't gotten a wink of sleep. Are you sure you're alright?" He asked, eyeing me skeptically.
"What? Yeah, totally fine," I answered quickly, smiling widely in an attempt to convince him.
"Are you sure" He asked skeptically, cocking his head to the side to study me, "you look like you have something on your mind."
I smiled again, "Oh yeah, totally fine, just a late night working on projects and such. Thanks for your concern though Gaz."
"Alright but-" He started but I cut him off quickly, moving to swiftly make my way down the hall.
"I've got to go Gaz, talk to you later!"
I was down the hall and into the courtyard before he had the chance to respond.
When I was safely tucked away out of sight, I stopped to take a quick breath.
God, could I be any more obvious.
Rubbing roughly at my eyes, I took a deep breath before moving out of the shadows, catching a glimpse of my brother.
I cocked my head to the side as I gazed at the unusual sight before me. Ari was actually sitting at a table, alone, as in by himself, none of his posse surrounding him.
I furled my eyebrows in confusion. It's not every day you see Mr. Popular sitting by himself. I half expected that girl he'd been dating to come and sit by him, but he continued to sit by himself, subconsciously poking at him food as he read his history textbook.
After a beat of silence, I moved across the courtyard before pausing to make a quick stop at the vending machines. I fed in two dollars and pushed the button before bending down to retrieve my treats.
Swiftly, I made my way over to my brother, pulling my bag over my head and setting it to the side as I sat beside him, startling him as he glanced up from his reading.
"Hey," I chirped as I stole a fry from his plate, popping it in my mouth.
He eyed quizzically, "Max? What are you doing? Why aren't you with your friends?"
I shrugged, "No reason, I just wanted to eat lunch with my big bro."
He eyed my cautiously, eyes narrowed in suspicion before asking, "What do you want?"
I gaped at him in mock hurt as I deadpanned, "What? Can't I eat lunch with my favorite brother without my motives being put into question?"
He snorted as he went back to poking at his food, "Yeah right, in what world?"
I snickered before tossing a chocolate chip ice-cream sandwich at his lap, moving to open my own.
"I thought we could eat lunch together since we can't later. You know, all that quality family time and crap," I stated offhandedly as I took a bite out of my dessert.
Call me crazy, but I do believe I caught a small smile on Ari's face out of the corner of my eye before he took a generous bit of his ice cream.
We sat in a comfortable silence; both of us munching on our ice cream before Ari playfully knocked my shoulder with his.
"You didn't have to do that you know," He half mumbled, referring to his treat, as he chowed down on the last few bites of his dessert.
I wrapped one arm around his waist, resting my head against his shoulder before whispering back, "I know."
After a beat of silence I finally decided to speak again.
"Hey Ari?" I asked as he 'hummed?' me in response, hinting that he was listening, "Do you ever wish mom and dad didn't have the jobs they did? You know, so we could be a normal family. You wouldn't have to be the grown up all the time and we could just be teenagers."
My voice felt small as the words left my mouth and all of a sudden I felt like I was a little kid again.
He tensed for a second, exhaling a deep and heavy sigh before answering.
"Sometimes I do I guess. I mean it's really not fair to Angel to not have her parents there watching her grow up and it's not always fair to us. Sometimes I wish I didn't have so much responsibility but then I feel selfish, because I love you both so much."
He glanced at me out of the corner of his eye and my arm around his waist instantly tightened.
"You deserve a life too Ari," I whispered, almost too soft for him to hear, "You shouldn't have to be the grown up all the time."
"I know," he acknowledged, "but I don't mind. It's my job as your older brother anyways. Sorry kiddo, but even if we were a 'normal family' I'd still be the same bossy and protective brother than I am now," he teased, only not really, because I knew it was the truth.
"So you still wouldn't trust me?"I inquired, huffing in annoyance as I shrugged his arm off my shoulder, snatching my arm away from him.
"Max," he groaned tiredly, "it's not you I don't trust, it's the other people. How can I know you're safe when there are so many idiotic people out there? I wouldn't ever be able to forgive myself if something were to happen to you."
I knew he was only trying to protect me, truly I did, but a girl needs so breathing room.
"You can't protect me from everything Ari, you'll have to learn that sooner or later." I huffed as he stared down at his food almost sadly.
"I know," he mumbled, almost too low for anyone but himself to hear.
We sat like that for a while, neither of us uttering a word, before the bell rang, signaling the end of lunch.
We both stood to leave, gathering our books and trash.
I made a move to leave, turning to call over my shoulder, "Bye Ari," before he caught me by the wrist and pulled me backwards, catching me by surprise.
He swiftly maneuvered me and pulled me into a bone crushing hug, his chin resting on top of my head before whispering just loud enough for me to hear, "I love you Max and I do trust you. I know I can't protect you forever, but I want to as long as I can."
I slowly wrapped my arms around his muscular form, hugging him back with the same intensity before letting go.
"Love you too Air-bear."
As I turned to walk away, a small voice in the back of my head taunted me.
Good thing he trusts a liar.
The moment the final bell rang Nudge had my by the arm nearly dragging me out of the building as fast as humanly possible.
"Come, come darling," She sang as we piled into her car, " We have get beautiful for our men. We have so much to do and not nearly enough time to do it in."
I attempted to smile at her, but it only seemed to come out as a grimace, which she duly noticed.
"Okay," she snapped, speeding down the road to her house, "What the hell is wrong with you. And don't you dare give me any of that 'nothing I'm fine' crap, you've been like this all day. Gazzy said he ran into you earlier and you were jumpy and every since lunch you've had this grim expression on your face. So seriously, what's up? It's not the date is it? I mean you should be excited right? Or do you not like Fang anymore. Oh my god!" she screeched, taking her first breath in what seemed like ten minutes, "He didn't try anything with you did he?"
Her eyes were wide as they frantically searched mine for reassurance.
"Oh god no!" I nearly screamed to which she relaxed into her seat.
"Oh, so what's the problem?" She asked, seriously confused.
"Nothing, it's just," I started as I sighed heavily staring out the window, "Fang is great, honestly he is. He makes me feel things I've never felt before and he really likes me for me, ya know? But, it's just, I hate lying to Ari. Everyday I'm so worried he's going to find out and all hell is going to break loose and I want so badly to be mad at him. But then he makes me feel so guilty when he pulls that crap that he trusts me and how he misses spending time with me. Nudge, the guilt is literally eating me alive. I don't know how much longer I can do this."
I inhaled sharply, nearly out of breath from my Nudge worthy rant and she glanced over at me worriedly out of the corner of her eye.
"Aw, babe, I didn't know you felt that way," she whispered as she gave my hand a quick squeeze before placing both hands back securely on the steering wheel.
"Have you told Fang that?" She asked as she made a turn into her drive way.
"Well, no, not really. I mean I think Fang would be all for telling Ari, but I just don't want World War three to break loose. I think we should wait a bit, but I just feel so bad."
She smiled softly at me before we moved to get out of her car.
"Well, just try not to think about it okay? We have a hot date tonight and gosh darnit we are going to have fun! Plus, I've got a lot of work to do, I mean that uniform so doesn't say 'Fang please jump my bones', like at all." She drawled sarcastically, or not, honestly you never know with her.
I smirked to myself, grateful to have a friend like Nudge, as she grabbed my hand and dragged me upstairs into her torture chambers.
She smiled wickedly as she came at me with those dangerous eyelash curlers.
"Now Max, stay still," she chastised me.
...Or maybe not so grateful.
At ten after six, Iggy and I strolled up Nudge's driveway and to her front door ready to pick up the girls for our double date. I smiled subtly to myself at the thought of the hell Max must have went through with Nudge trying to dress her, although I secretly wondered how she would look.
Gorgeous as always I bet.
Iggy caught me smiling out of the corner of his eye and elbowed me softly in the side, waggling his eyebrows suggestively as he went to ring the door bell.
"Excited to see our sexy ladies are we?" He questioned grinning stupidly.
I returned his grin with a smirk of my own as I elbowed him back, hard in the gut.
He groaned as a swoosh of air exited his lungs, turning to glare at me as he held his sides. Just as he opened his mouth to complain the door swung open revealing the most beautiful girl in the world- and Iggy's beautiful date as well.
The two girls smiled at us as we took a moment to appreciate their appearances. Max looked beautiful with just the right amount of makeup to highlight her features without covering up her natural beauty and her hair was in soft waves framing her face. As I finished taking in her appearance, I couldn't help smirking at her shoe choice, which seemed to fit our surprise location perfectly, Sperry boat shoes.
Nudge smirked at Iggy, who was still staring slack jawed, eyeing Nudge hungrily.
"So are you just going to stand here all night undressing us with your eyes or would you like to start our date now?" Nudge remarked caustically, snapping Iggy out of his trance as he rubbed his neck embarrassedly.
"Um yeah, right this way malady," he chirped, recovering easily as he held out his arm to Nudge. She accepted giggling as he guided her to the car and opened her door.
Smiling, I turned to Max to do the same.
She blushed slightly as she accepted my arm and I lead her to the car, opening the door for her just as Iggy had, but before she had a chance to get in, I blocked her way, leaning in to whisper in her ear.
"You look beautiful Max".
Her cheeks began to heat as she looked down embarrassedly, smiling softly.
"Thanks, you don't look half bad yourself."
Smirking, I moved to give her a small peck on the lips which she returned with a more heated kiss of her own.
I was just about to lean in for another when a loud honk startled us, causing us to break apart.
"Excuse me for breaking up this love fest, but some of us are waiting patiently in the car and are slowly dying from starvation. LEGGOOOO!" Iggy's voice boomed as he honked five more times to get his point across.
Rolling my eyes, I moved to reopen the door, letting Max get settled in before shutting it and sitting down in the driver's seat.
I quickly started the car and drove off to our first quick stop.
About three minutes away Nudge piped in, starting, what would seem like, one of her infamous Nudge rants.
"Soooo, where are we going? To eat I hope I'm starved," She started, but I cut in to answer her, hoping to end the rant before it got started.
"We are just doing take-out. We are taking our food to real location of the date," I answered as I watched her eyes brighten slightly.
"Really? Cool. Where are we getting take-out?"
I eyed Max through the rearview mirror before answering, "This small dinner I used to go to when I was little. It's a good burger place."
Max's head snapped up as she realized where we were going but I finished speaking, preventing her from saying what I knew she would.
"So, what does everyone want? I'm just going to go in and get the orders and you guys can stay in here."
Nudge and Iggy both gave me their orders before I pulled into the parking lot. Turning off the car I turned to Max to get hers.
"Max what do you want? Usual?" I asked, but I knew by the look on her face she was going to put up a fight.
'Don't worry about it, I'll come in with you," she stated as she moved to take off her seatbelt but I stopped her.
"Max, no. Any other time I'd say sure, but we are kinda in a time crunch and if you go in Edie will keep us in there talking for hours, we just don't have that kind of time."
She narrowed her eyes as she jutted her lower lip out pouting.
God, that's exactly what Emily would have done.
I felt a sharp pain deep inside my chest at the thought and I quickly tried to push down all my thoughts and emotions.
"Sorry Max," I mumbled quickly as I moved swiftly to exit the car, slamming the door shut and locking it quickly over my shoulder as I made my way to the entrance.
A soft, familiar bell chimed, signaling I had entered the restaurant as I moved to the counter, catching a glimpse of Edie behind the counter.
Without looking up she chirped in her warm welcoming "Grandma" voice I'd come to know and love, "Welcome to Crusiers, how-" she stopped short as she looked up and catch a glimpse of me, smiling brightly as she hurried around the counter.
"Fang! Darling, how are you? Two visits in one month? Wow must be my lucky day," She smiled warmly as she hugged me tightly.
"I'm fine thanks Edie," I answered smiling softly to myself.
"So what brings you in? Just you tonight? No date? How is Max by the way? Oh you two just looked so perfect together. I haven't seen you that happy in a long time," She rambled and I couldn't help but think of how much Nudge resembled my Aunt Edie.
"No actually," I started, trying to cut the small talk to a minimum, "I do have a date. I need some takeout orders and I'm a bit crunched for time. I just-" I was suddenly cut off by a familiar voice, a voice that should have been sitting in my car compliantly, but then again, when has Max ever been compliant?
"He was just hogging you all to himself Edie," Max finished as she swiftly made her way to my side, smirking at me.
I half heartedly glared at her before replying, "And you were supposed to stay in the car."
"And miss out on visiting with Edie? Ha, never," she smiled as Edie gaped at me and I braced myself for what I knew was coming.
I felt a slight sting on the side of my face as Edie smacked me with her apron, glaring.
"Nicolas Anthony Walker! Have you no manners? You don't leave a girl waiting in the car. Gees, no wonder you never get laid," She mumbled the last part, but I assure you, everyone in the restaurant heard her.
I stared at her wide eyed as Max snickered, moving to engulf Edie in a hug.
"Okay, that's enough," I cleared my throat glaring at her, which she returned with a toothy grin, "Back to those takeout orders I was talking about."
"Oh right, of course darling. I'll put them in rush order. Should I add a dessert?" She asked smiling brightly as she watched the two of us.
"No thanks, Edie. It wouldn't make it to our next location without melting, but definitely next time," I answered as she nodded.
"Thanks Edie, your little surprise for us last time was simply wonderful," Max voiced as Edie smiled brightly, clearly happy with Max's statement.
"See I told you, my desserts are magic. It brings people together."
We laughed, shaking our heads as Edie moved to head back to kitchen.
"I'll be back in a jiffy. You kids hang tight," she called over her shoulder.
After Edie was out of sight, I turned to Max, cocking my eyebrow in a distasteful manner as I crossed my arms over my chest.
"You really couldn't just listen to me Max, really?" I questioned, although I wasn't really mad.
She grinned cheekily before plopping down on a stool, "Nope".
Sighing, I took a sit next to her before mumbling under my breath, "Yeah, didn't think so."
She smiled widely at me as she spun herself back and forth on her stool.
"Soo," she drawled, looking up at me with big, "innocent" eyes, "Where are we going?"
I chuckled before knocking my shoulder playfully with hers as she spun by.
"Ah-ah-ah," I chastised," It's a surprise. My lips are sealed."
She puffed out her cheeks, a tactic I assume she learned from Angel, as she prepared to put up a fight.
"But Fa-ang," she whined, pouting as she crossed her arms over her chest in a rather cute manner.
I cut her off by leaning in close, resting my forehead against hers and looking directly into her eyes.
"Max, you would just trust me for once? It's kinda special to me and I want it to be a surprise. Okay?" I questioned as she relaxed a bit.
"I promise it will be worth the wait."
She smiled slightly, moving in closer for a small peck on the lips before pulling back.
"Alright," she whispered, resting her head on my shoulder as my arm snaked around her waist pulling her closer.
A few minutes later, Edie came hustling out of the kitchen carrying two full takeout bags of our food.
"Here ya'll go. Burgers and fries," She stressed smiling brightly as she handed them over to me and Max moved to take a bag from me as I fished for my wallet.
The corner of my lips twitched upwards as she winked and hinted, "Remember, onion breath kills the mood."
I took out two twenty dollar bills, chuckling, and insisted she keep the change. After a few refusals she finally accepted the change.
"Bye Edie," Max called over her shoulder as she moved to the door, "Hope to see you again soon!"
"Bye Edie, love you," I called to her as I trailed not far behind Max.
"Bye kids," Edie answered warmly, waving from the counter, "Remember! Don't be silly wrap your willy!"
I heard a few gasped from the adult figures eating in the restaurant followed by a series of giggles as I hastily nudged Max out of the restaurant as quickly as possible.
I watched as she bit her lip, refraining from laughing as she opened the passenger side door to get in.
Just as I was seated, I glanced up and made eye contact with her in the review mirror and she lost it.
She keeled over cackling hysterically as I rolled my eyes, put my seatbelt on and started the car.
Nudge and Iggy exchanged confused looks as they stared at us bewildered. I had to admit, even I couldn't help but crack a smile as I back out and started down the street.
"Um, what was that all about?" Nudge asked raising an eyebrow at the two of us.
"Oh nothing," Max answered offhandedly with a mischievous glint in her eyes, "Fang's Aunt is just a character that's all."
She caught my eye in the mirror as she sent me a secret smile, reserved just for me.
I smiled softly back as I continued driving west. About five minutes later I look a left and pulled into the Seaside marina parking lot.
"Alright guys," I started as I unbuckled my seatbelt and turned to face them, "We're here."
I watched as their eyes lit up and a huge grin broke out on Nudge's face.
"Ohmygod," She squealed, "You're taking us on a boat? That is so freaking cute."
I chuckled as I moved to get out, winking at Max as she smiled brightly.
"Alright guys let's go, I think we will be able to make it to your next spot by sunset if we hurry."
Nudge squealed excitedly as she grabbed Max's hand and dragged her along behind her, although I hadn't mentioned where to go.
She stopped shortly, almost causing Max to crash into her as she spun around quickly, a question forming on her lips.
"Wait, where are we going?" She asked and I held back a chuckle, Iggy however, did not.
"Down the second dock, the boat's name is Emily," I stated, but I faltered at the name. Nudge didn't seem to notice however, because after the words left my mouth, she was turned and racing towards the dock with Max in tow. Iggy on the other hand, did not miss my slip. He smiled sadly at me, giving my shoulder a squeeze as he passed, taking a bag of food from me.
"Come on dude, let's go," He stated halfheartedly.
I walked side by side, down the dock before making it to the docked boat. Nudge and Max were already anxiously waiting inside the boat for us to join them.
When we came in view of them, Nudge perked up and called loudly to us, "So where exactly are we going? Just cruising in open water or?" She trailed off, leaving her question opened ended for me to answer.
Iggy also turned to me, interested in hearing the answer as well since I had failed to mention where we were sailing to- with good reason.
I ducked my head out of view as I called back, "Just a small island off the coast, we'll be there in about 20 minutes if we hurry, just in time for sun down."
I moved quickly over to the cords to untie the boat, avoiding Iggy's penetrating stare.
"Oh cool," she chirped seeming content with my answer, Iggy however wasn't sold so easily.
He briskly made his way over to me, attempting to help with the ropes as he lowered his voice so only I could hear.
"Not Mako Island I hope," He murmured giving me a pointed stare.
I was quite for a while, purposely ignoring his question as I continued untying the boat.
"Fang," he warned, stopping me from my previous actions.
I glanced up, holding his gaze, "Yes."
He let out a whoosh of air, his eyes becoming sad. I stiffened as I turned my back to him.
"Fang, are you sure that's the best idea? I mean you haven't been back since-" I cut him off shortly, glaring at him harshly.
"I know damn well the last time I was there Iggy. I think about the date every fucking day," I growled dangerous and his expression instantly changed to one of sympathy.
"But you know what Iggy? If I don't go back now, I don't think I ever will. I need to do this Iggy and I'd rather do it with the people I care about, the people who I know care about me too." I finished, my voice barely about a whisper.
He smiled softly giving me a quick bro hug before finishing untying the boat.
"Alrighty then LEGGOOOOO," he called loudly as he jumped into the boat, digging around the cabins before finding his skipper hat and pulling it on.
"All board, first mate needed on deck" He called as I gathered the ropes and jumped in, pulling off the hat and whacking his with it as I passed.
"You my friend, are not the Skipper, I am. You are the first mate, Gilligan," I stated pointedly as I took my position behind the wheel.
He huffed dramatically before be started singing, loudly and off key.
"Just sit right back and you'll hear a tale, a tale of a fateful trip, that started from this tropic port, aboard this tiny ship. The mate was a mighty sailing man, the skipper brave and sure. Five passengers set sail that day, for a three hour tour, a three hour tour."
"Iggy," We all called in unison, "Shut. Up."
He blushed sheepishly as I pulled out of the dock.
"Gees, no sense of adventure," he huffed, crossing his arms across his chest as he pouted.
We all chuckled in unison. Baby.
He pouting didn't last long however, because about five minutes in he realized there was food and he darted across the boat to retrieve his bag.
He fished around quickly for Max and Nudge's burgers, tossing them to the girls before pulling another out and throwing it to me.
I caught it easily setting it aside as I cruised at a speed of ten knots.
The girls were contently snacking on their burgers when Iggy piped in again.
"Um. Fang," He started, staring at his burger.
The three of us glanced up at him slightly confused as to why he was staring intently at his wrapped burger.
"What now Iggy?" I questioned.
He glanced up confused before asking, "Why does my burger have 'She's wants the D' scrawled across the wrapping?"
I choked on my own spit as I glanced over at Max who had stopped mid chew.
As we made eye contact she squealed in laughter, leaning over to support herself on Nudge who looked equally amused.
"Oh god," I started, shaking my head before grabbing my burger and tossing it to him.
"I think you got mine Iggy, here," I called.
He cracked a grin before tossing his burger to me.
"Aunt Edie I presume?" He asked, although he already knew the answer. I nodded before chuckling at her writing.
"So, you weren't lying then. Fang's aunt is a character," Nudge giggled before taking another bite of her burger.
We chuckled, smiling at each other before going back to eating, snacking out our delicious meals as we made our way to Mako Island.
As the familiar landscape came into view on the horizon I felt my heart give a painful squeeze and it suddenly became difficult to swallow.
Out of the corner of my eye I caught Iggy glancing at me quickly, cautiously checking in on me as we neared the island.
As we neared the dock, the sun began is decent into the sea creating a breathtaking scene before us.
"Wow," Nudge and Max breathed in unison, "It's so beautiful."
"Yeah," I answered, struggling to swallow was memories began to flood my brain.
"How'd you even find this place? I've lived in the same place all my life and I never knew this was here," Nudge voiced as I docked the boat and began tying it up.
"It's sort of off the beaten path I guess," I answered as we gathered our things and headed down the beach, " You have to kind of look for it to find it."
"Well, it's beautiful. It's way better than half the beaches on the main land," Nudge started as I lead them inland, to a certain spot I'd been avoiding for two years.
"But," She continued, almost sheepishly, "it's really weird, it seems almost, abandoned."
We continued inward through a few tropical trees before I answered her.
"Well, that's because it sort of is," I started, shrugging nonchalantly but girls didn't seem satisfied just leaving it at that as they prompted me to elaborate.
I signed heavily continuing walking, "Mako Island used to be kind of this family vacation type of spot, somewhere families would go on day trips. My father's company used to take its family picnic days out here; they owned most of the island anyways." I stopped for a moment looking for signs the hidden entrance that seemed like a faded memory to me now.
"But, um, a few years ago they deemed the island unsafe for family events after a, um," I cleared my throat looking straight ahead, "a tragedy occurred. Most people haven't been back since."
After a moment of searching, I found the cave entrance and pulled back the brush that had grown over the opening, "Here we are, Ladies first," I voiced allowing them to enter.
Max braved the darkness first, pulling out her phone, using it as a flashlight and ducking as she went in, Nudge clinging closely to her and Iggy trailing not far behind.
"Wait," Nudge asked, her voice on edge as we continued nearly in complete darkness, "What was the tragedy?"
I felt my chest tighten painfully as we neared the inner cave, darkness suddenly becoming light as the moon light peeked in from the opening in the ceiling, illuminating the crystal clear pool of water located in the center of the cave.
"A little girl drowned here."
My words echoed off the cave walls and the eerie silence started to get to me.
Nudge gasped and I watched Max's eyes turn sad.
"Oh my god," Nudge murmured, "That's so terrible."
I stiffened as memories began to flood over me, the pain overtaking my body.
I quickly restrained myself from showing any emotion as my face took on its usual passive expression.
I cleared my throat loudly as Iggy shot me a quick, worried look before I spoke, "So, what you guys think?" I asked, gesturing to the small pool located in the center of the cave.
"It's beautiful," Max spoke coming over to slip her small hand into mine, giving it a small squeeze.
"Yeah," Nudged breathed as she dragged Iggy behind her, inching her way closer to the glimmering body of water.
"How does it do that?" Max asked in awe, as her hand slipped from mine and she crouched closer to the nearly glowing water.
I bent down next to her, positioning myself by the pool before replying, "It only happens on a full moon. When the moon hits the center of the opening there in the roof," I started, nodding towards the opening in the ceiling, " it illuminates the pool and I causes it to take on a glowing effect."
"That's so freaking cool!" Nudge squealed, "Too bad we can't go swimming though. I wish we would have brought our swimsuits."
Nudge began to pout, and I was about to voice why it hadn't mentioned to bring swimsuits, the fact that I didn't feel it was safe, but Iggy got this mischievous glint in his eyes.
"Who said we can't swim," He suggested, smirking.
I cocked an eyebrow at him, curious to see where exactly he was going with this.
"Um, duh, we don't have our swimsuits and I hate wearing wet clothes," She answered, complete oblivious to where Iggy was going with this.
"So, that's fine, we'll all skinny dip," He was grinning like a school boy in a candy shop now as Nudge gaped at his suggestion, Max on the other hand seemed completely amused.
"What?" She exclaimed, "No way."
His grin widened, "Why? Chicken?"
Her eyes narrowed dangerously at him and as she opened her mouth to snap at him Max stepped in giving her a small wink.
"Oh we're not the chickens here Ig," She taunted as she grabbed the hem of her shirt and yanked it over her head, leaving her in nothing but her jeans and bra.
I struggled to swallow as I fought to restrain myself from raking my eyes over her body. I watched as she grinned triumphantly as Iggy gulped.
"Why Iggy? Are you jealous? Afraid you're going to make fun of your small package?" She teased as she shot a glance to the crotch of his shorts.
I was too stunned to say anything.
He straightened immediately as he shot back spitefully, "I am not and I have plenty to show off thank you."
"Prove it then," She challenged, "First one to strip down completely and jump in gets to have whatever they want, no acceptations. Do we have a deal?"
His eyes narrowed in determination, "Bring it Ride."
She smiled triumphantly, "On the count of three."
He nodded acknowledging he was ready. I was about to object when Nudge held me back winking in my direction was she slowly stepped backward, pulling me with her.
"One," Max started, bringing her arms back to the clasp of her bra, causing me to nearly choke on my own spit.
Oh God Ari's going to murder me.
"Two," Iggy spoke ,bringing his hands to this shirt.
There was a moment when I felt my heart stop, completely unsure of what was going to happen. Iggy scrambled to rip of his shirt followed by his pants and he ran for the pool, yanking clothing off as he went. I was so caught up in the scene before me that I didn't notice what Max was doing.
Just as he yanked his final article of clothing, his boxers, he Max ran up behind him- fully clothed- and gathered up his clothing. Before he had a chance to react she snatched up his boxers and shoved him hard into the water, taking off running in the other direction.
"SEE YA SUCKER!" She called over her shoulder cackling as she ran to a safe distance, leaving Iggy stark naked in the pool, looking a bright shade of pink.
"Okay, ha-ha Max, very funny. You got me, now give me my clothes back," He demanded, swimming over to the edge.
"Hum," she voiced, tapping her finger to her head in thought before continuing, "Naw, I'm good."
I snickered as he glared in our direction, "Seriously Max, come on. Give me my damn clothes back."
Nudge giggled off to the side as Max still refused, fully enjoying the scene.
"I don't know Iggy, this just seems like too good of an opportunity to give up."
He glowered dangerously as he shot us the bird.
"Damn it Max, Give. Me. My. Clothes."
She chuckled, "Iggy, haven't you learned by now not to challenge me? Tisk Tisk."
"Max," He wined, and I almost felt bad for him, almost.
"Oh, by the way Iggy, nice boxers," She voiced, as she held them up, "I didn't take you for a bunny type man."
I snorted, letting out a full laugh at my best friend's expense.
He glared dangerously at me before turning his penetrating gaze to Max.
"You sure you want to be holding those?" He questioned, smirking dangerously, "You don't know what I've done in them."
She made a gagging noise as she tossed them in the air, far away from her. They landed about two feet away from the pool as Max continually wiped her hands on her pants.
"Yuck, yuck yuck, Iggy you are nasty," She glared as she continued wiping her hands.
He rolled his eyes before eyeing his boxers. They were closer to him now, but not quite close enough for him to reach in the safety of the pool, he would have to get out to reach them.
After struggling for a moment, he gave up and looked up, pleadingly at me.
"Fang, bro, come on."
I held up my hands claiming neutrality, "Sorry bro, but I'm not getting into this."
He gapped at me, his expression fending betrayal.
"I can't believe you, Fang. You'd choose a girl over your best friend since grade school. Your other half; the PB to your J; the Mac to your cheese damn it. Where is your loyalty?" He exclaimed.
"Sorry Bro, but I sort of value my reproductive organs," I chuckled as he whined.
He huffed, pouting, "You hate me don't you? You all were place in this world just to torture me." He fake sobbed before throwing his hands up in the air and looking to the sky, "Why? WHY? What a cruel cruel world."
"Nudge, I thought you loved me," He pouted.
She giggled, offering a sympathetic smile, "Sorry babe, chicks before dicks."
He let out a aggravated cry before banging his head against a nearby rock.
I chuckled before giving in, turning to give Max a pleading look. She huffed, obviously upset for me spoiling her fun before she walked over to his boxers.
"Alright, alright, I guess you've been embarrassed enough. I'll give you your boxers on one condition."
He perked up quickly, nodding enthusiastically, "Anything, just leave me my last sliver of pride."
She chuckled before kicking his boxers slightly closer to him.
"Okay, you can have your nasty little boxers back if you promise to make us desserts later tonight; I heard your hidden talent is the culinary arts."
She smirked as he glared at me, "You told her? Have you no control? Is nothing sacred anymore?"
I chuckled before shrugging, he'd never me mad at me.
Huffing, he agreed and she quickly kicked his boxers close enough for him to grab.
I feeling sympathetic, I grabbed Max by the waist and led her outside the cave to give him some privacy to change.
"You," I chuckled turning her to face me as my arms snaked around her waist, "are pure evil."
Smiling brightly she winked at me, "Thank you, thank you. I have learned from the best."
Smiling, I brought her closer to me, placing a soft kiss against the base of her throat. She let out an almost inaudible groan. I grinned against her hot skin as she shuttered against me. Slowly, I trailed hot, open mouthed kissed in a path up her heck and across her jaw line. I kissed the corner of her mouth gently, allowing her to stop me if she wanted, but that didn't seem to be the case.
Just as I moved to break apart from her skin she stood up on her tippy toes and brushed her lips across mine. Groaning, she deepened the kiss and I happily obliged, nibbling softly on her bottom lip before slipping my tongue into her mouth, massaging hers in erratic motions.
Just as we broke apart for some air, Iggy called out for us.
"Yo, le Diablo and her whipped minion, let's go, it's almost ten and I apparently have dessert to make."
I chuckled as Max shot him the bird and he just cackled in return. Smiling, we walked hand and hand towards out boat, enjoying the silence. We helped the girls into the boat before heading over to untie the ropes.
As I undid the second to last knot, Iggy came over to me and lowered his voice as he worked on the other knot.
"So, how are you. As bad as you thought it would be?" He asked, eyeing me carefully for any sign of hurt.
I let out a huff, avoiding his gaze as I finished the knot, " The flash backs were pretty bad in the beginning, but being with you all kept my mind off of it, but I don't think I could have done this alone." I admitted, still avoiding his gaze.
He gave my shoulder a slight bump, before winking at me, trying to lighten the mood, "Glad my demolished pride and the humiliation I was put through was all for a cause."
We chuckled together before his tone became serious, "But seriously bro, I'm glad we could do this with you. I'm always going to be here for you. We are brother. Always and forever."
I smiled at him, giving him a bro hug before pulling away, "Thanks Ig."
He sobered up for a moment, looking over his shoulder to make sure the girls wouldn't overhear.
He lowered his voice another decimal, "Have you told Max about Emily?"
My breath caught as the name slipped so easily off his tongue.
I cleared my throat loudly, trying to shake the feeling off before answering, "Um, no, not yet. I just, I can't. Not yet but I will soon."
I knew Iggy understood. He nodded, not pressing the issue, but I knew from the look in his eyes that he didn't quite agree with my plan.
"Okay," He said simply, moving to get on the boat, "LEGGO CAPTIN."
I smiled slightly as I jumped onto the boat and glided it out of the dock.
Not five minutes into the trip home, Iggy had to ruin the serene silence. Surprise, surprise.
"I'M ON A BOAT YEAH, IT'S GOING FAST AND-" He screeched shaking his hips as he danced on the bow of the boat.
"Sorry.." He mumbled sheepish, but he continued to hum to himself.
Forty minutes later we were back on land in sitting in the safety on Fang's living room. When we arrived to Fang's house we weren't quite ready for dessert, so we popped in Pirates of the Caribbean and snuggled in close.
Towards the end of the movie, I couldn't quite hold the fluids I had consumed earlier and I was about to pee my pants.
Not exactly an impression you want to make on a date, at least not this early in the relationship.
"Hey, Fang," I whispered, shifting in his arms.
"Hum?" He hummed turning to face me.
"Where's your bathroom?"
"Oh," He sat up quickly and moved to stand to his feet, "Up stairs, second door on the left."
I smiled softly to him before standing to my feet, stretching slightly and moving to make my way up the stairs.
I found the bathroom easily and relieved myself. When I was finished I closed the door behind me and moved to walk back down the stairs when something caught my eye.
I didn't mean to pry honestly, but curiosity got the better of me. Walking down the hall in the opposite direction of the stairs, I notice an extra room with picture of a child's artwork still taped on the door.
Slowly, I tapped the door handle and the door slowly squeaked open. I nudged it open just enough to peek my head inside, but I hadn't expected to see what I did.
Inside looked to be a room for a small child, a little girl. The bed was neatly made with a collection of stuffed animals placed strategically across the bed. As I glanced around the room I noticed the dresser and nightstand collecting dust, the toys scattered around the room seemed abandoned.
I felt a slight pang in my chest as I glanced around the room. The whole place felt so lonely and left behind. But I couldn't quite put the pieces together in my mind. Nothing made sense to me. Why was there a room for a little girl in Fang's house and why did it seem to be abandoned unexpectantly.
Questions began to flood my mind when a deep voice snapped me out of my trance.
"Max?" Fang called up the stairs, "Are you alright?"
Quickly, I scrambled to close the door and dart down the hallway.
"Yeah," I called nearly out of breath as I briskly walked down the stairs, "Just got a little lost."
I smiled, guiltily, as Fang smiled brightly back, opening his arms for me to return to my previous place. While I was snooping, the movie had ended and the credits were playing silently across the screen.
Curiosity flooded my brain and all I could think about was that empty room. After a few moments of silence, the wheels began to turn in my mind and I began to form a plan.
Smiling to myself, I realized I was sitting in a room with the one person who probably knew Fang almost as well as he knew himself.
"So," I started, shifting out of Fang's arms to turn and face Iggy, "You've know Fang for what, basically all your life, right?" I asked rhetorically but he still nodded in answer.
"So, you probably know some good stories about Fang huh?" I eased into the conversation, not wanting to be so blunt when Iggy's eyes lit up and a wicked smile spread across his face.
"Oh, do I ever," He snickered as Fang shot him a deadly glare.
"Iggy," He warned, but the grin on Iggy's fce just spread.
"There was this one time when Fang cried for a week because these kids in our second grade class told everone he was in love with our teacher, Ms. Dwyer. He was so upset." Iggy snickered at the memory as Fang shot him a dangerous glare, daring him to continue.
"And then when we were fourteen he dressed up as Barbie because his s-" Iggy stopped short and Fang shot him an odd look. It was a cross between hurt and fear. Iggy quickly snapped his mouth shut and took a moment to compose himself.
He cleared his throat before continuing, "Um, his science teacher said he'd give us extra credit. It was hysterical."
I smiled suspiciously, as if watching to see if we accepted his answer.
I was about to call him on his slip when Fang stood up quickly, "Okay, Iggy let's get started on those desserts."
He nodded quickly before darting off to the kitchen, leaving them whispering suspiciously back and forth to each other.
They were definitely hiding something, and I was going to get to the bottom of it.
"Ugh," we all moaned after finishing second helpings of Iggy's infamous triple chocolate mousse cake.
"That, was heaven in my mouth," I moaned, holding my bulging stomach.
"Well, thank you," Iggy snickered, taking out plates and placing them in the kitchen.
"Hey, um, Nudge," He called almost sheepishly from the kitchen.
"Yeah?" She asked leaning over the couch to see him.
"You want to go for a walk?" He asked and she instantly perked up, nodding her head enthusiastically.
"Bye Max, Fang," She chirped as she rushed out the door, not sparing us a second glance.
"Um, bye," I called although they couldn't have heard me, they were already out the door by the time the words left my mouth.
Fang chuckled, shaking his head as he plopped down next to me, opening his arms to me, smiling softly.
Smiling back, I leaned willingly into him and nuzzled into his heck, my hot breath caressing his neck.
"So what did you think? Was the date lame?" He asked rubbing his hands up and down my arms, sending shills down my spine.
"I was perfect," I whispered, grinning into his neck.
"You know was else is perfect?" He asked, grinning.
Biting my lip playfully, I shook my head no.
He chuckled darkly before pinning me down on the couch, his larger frame hovering over my own.
I giggle escaped my lips as his lips hovered mere millimeters away from my own. Grinning, he smashed his lips down on mine, out kiss quickly escalading into a heated make out session.
Desperately, I reached for his shirt and began tugging upward, demanding him to take it off. Seconds later, his shirt was ripped from his body and thrown across the room carelessly.
He quickly began trailing hot kisses down my neck stopping to suck on my pulse point. As he did an erotic moan escaped my lips, much to my embarrassment.
"Oh, Fang," I moaned as he trailed lower down my neck and I bit my lip from making any more embarrassing noises.
Just as he moved to slip my shirt off an unfamiliar voice startled us, stopping us in our spot.
"So this is what happens when my son doesn't have proper adult supervision." A cold voice broke us apart.
Fang jumped slightly startled as she fell of the couch, eyes bulging from his sockets as he stared slack jawed.
Disbelief clouded his eyes as the older woman tapped her foot expectantly and gave Fang a pointed look.