Chapter 2

10:30 PM

June 7 (2nd Day of Myso Valley summer)

Tim sat up and flicked off his lamp light. He tossed his book onto his bed, and paced over to his window, which he slowly and carefully lifted open, trying to make sure it didn't screech when it slid up. Penny knew he went out at night, but he didn't want to bother her, since she was probably asleep. It was the least he could do, considering she trusted him so much.

The window opened to the side of the house, and an alley between two fences. Tim followed the fence trail in the dark for awhile, and came to the edge of the park. He paused and listened. It was silent, but he had the feeling that he was being watched. He was about to turn around, when something jumped on his back. Tim panicked until he heard quiet laughs.

"God, Kristen!" he said, then smiled in spite of himself.

"Lighten up, Tim, you're too jumpy," Alex laughed, walking up behind them.

They strolled for a while, (Kristen on Tim's back, then Alex's, then walking for herself) eventually reaching the end of the park, where they were to meet Diana and James.

"They're usually waiting for us," Alex remarked. "Where are they?"

"Right here."

James jumped from a branch in the tree above their heads, flashing a cute grin. He looked around.

"Where's Shortstop?" he asked, calling Diana by her nickname.

"She's not with you?" Kristen responded, worried.

"No..." James frowned. The little group was kind of protective of Diana, and not just because of her size. She was just the kind of person who seemed to be in need of constant protection, though ironically she was the strongest person of them all, emotionally.

Suddenly, their friend came running through the woods, out of breath.

"Sorry," she huffed. "I fell asleep."

After laughing at her appearance, namely the leaves and sticks caught in her hair, they casually made their way to the diner, two empty blocks from the park. They were kind of a funny group, because they were so different in looks.

Tim, naturally, was tall and thin, and basically your standard sixteen year old nice guy. Unfortunately, those traits, paired with his intelligence, made him stand out from his abrupt, forceful dad, who would have probably preferred Alex as a son. Alex was athletic, very tall and strong. But he wasn't big or thick in size, he just gave an aura of charisma.

James stood as tall as Tim, maybe an inch shorter. He was similar to Tim in stature, but he was slightly stronger, a result of playing football for years. He was all about adventure, and his impulsive behavior was fun, but could get him in trouble.

Kristen was tall and had tan skin and blonde, teased hair, the standard California girl, but she was not into surfing or being overly girly. Her personality was that of an artist- creative, inspired, and yet she was incredibly blunt and could be quite sarcastic when she wanted to be, contrasting to Tim's quiet shyness or Diana's sweet sparking personality. Di was petite and more girly than Kristen, but they got along better than siblings.

When they reached their destination, Alex opened the door, and made a mock bow. His shortest friend grinned and went in, greeting the owners with a shout.

"Lisa? Mitch!"

Lisa came rushing out from the back. "Hey sweetie! How are you all? Have you eaten? No, never mind, you'll have something to eat anyways..."

And like that, the mother hen had them all seated, where she quickly brought out their drinks, dinners, and desserts, with smiles and hugs for all of them. They were close with the owners, mainly because they came to the diner every night of the summer. Mitch and Lisa kept the place open after midnight basically for them, since few people actually visited the diner after eleven. Occasionally, a hungry insomniac would wander in for a midnight snack, but really, the restaurant turned a pretty good profit just from the nighttime corner-booth-club.

"Alright, what did everyone have for dinner tonight?" Kristen asked, amused. What the kids ate each night usually reflected what kind of awful food they had earlier in the evening.

"Penny made some kind of health food. I think it had flax seed in it," Tim said with a laugh, biting into a cheeseburger.

"My uncle's neighbor found out I was staying and make spaghetti," James gloated, looking at Diana, who scowled.

"Dude, I told you to call me if you got food," she said.

"I take it you got something awful," Alex said.

"Lisa...Jenna? No, I think it's Lisa..." Di said, trying to remember her hostess' name. "Anyways, she left to go who-knows-where, and just said she'd be back by next week and to help myself to whatever I can find."

"Well, that's not too bad, you're a good cook," James said. His friend stared up at him, her spiky, caramel colored hair reflecting the bright lights. (She always had trouble growing out her hair, so she settled with just above shoulder length, which she styled with little spikes at the end.)

"I found expired lunchmeat, beer, wine, and olives," she said slowly. Then she turned to Alex and Kristen. "Did you get that awesome pasta your grandma makes?"

"Yeah..." Alex said sheepishly, as Mitch put a plate bogged down with two double cheeseburgers and fries, which he ate as if starved. Kristen looked disgusted.

"Come on, can't you have a little decorum?"

"No," all three boys answered with their mouths full.

"Why do you even try?" Diana laughed.

Basically, they stayed that way until one in the morning. When they paid and walked back, they heard a screeching of tires from a few blocks over.

"Drag race?" James wondered.

"Probably," Alex said, suddenly angry. He was silent for half a second until he spoke again.

"This place sucks. Sometimes, its fine, like tonight, but then we get about a week into summer, and by that time we've fixed up every house, seen every movie they're playing in the theater, we've looked at all the shops, and tutored every kid in summer school. What are we going to do tomorrow? If its not something exciting I might lose it."

Everyone understood. They were tired of spending every summer like this.

"We could go swimming..?" Kristen suggested lamely.

"No offense Kris, but there's only so many days in a row you can swim in the river," Tim said, shrugging. "And we swam all of every day last summer."

"Not to mention that rope will break if someone swings on that thing one more time," James said.

They walked in silence, until Diana spoke up. "Tomorrow we can brainstorm ideas. We'll make a big list of things to do, and then we'll do a new thing each day."

"Fine, but its got to be awesome," Alex conceded after a pause.

"No drag racing," Di said nervously.

"We're not stupid," James said. "No one here can drag race."

"Especially not me," Tim offered with a grin. That previous September, his parents had given him an amazing car, and he crashed it just hours later. His mom was just glad he was alright, but his dad made him work to pay it off. That wouldn't have bothered him, but now his father didn't trust him behind the wheel of anything. Still, he could joke about it with his friends.

"No, definitely not you!" Kristen agreed with a smile.

They separated, getting home quickly before they could run into trouble of any kind.

Tim crawled back into his room and shut the window firmly. He turned on the light and finished the next chapter in his book, then fell asleep, thinking that if he was going to be stuck here all summer, at least he was lucky enough to be here with his friends.

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