Watered Down

By Shelby_Painter All Rights Reserved ©

Fantasy / Romance

Chapter Eleven

The night flew by and before I knew it, the morning was here.

I spent a little time with Cassandra, trying to make her feel a little better because she seemed more and more down lately. She always struck me as a really good person, so I am sure that the weight of taking another’s life is hanging heavily on her. I felt really bad, but there wasn’t much I could do about it.

Levi was handling a lot better, which made sense once I found about her life before she came here. I can only imagine how horrible it must be to face each day knowing you don’t have many left. Being so sick had forced her to be stronger, either that or break under the pressure, but Levi was a tough girl. I still wonder though if her strength is totally real sometimes, or if some of it is left over from before. She’d mentioned to me how she had to put on a brave face for her parents because even though they knew she was dying, they had a hard time accepting it. She’d always had to be strong for them, so I hope she isn’t just pretending for mine and Cassandra’s sake now.

I was more nervous today than I thought I’d be. Since I met Theon we have kind of been at odds with each other, but from his note it sounded like he was going to try and let that go, so I had no clue what to expect from today.

The girls of course gave me a hard time. Both of them read the note over and over and tried to dissect the meaning behind every word. Levi had gasped when she read it. “He called you princess!” She’d gushed. “He is totally into you.”

I had rolled my eyes at her dramatically. “He doesn’t mean that as an endearing term.” I’d told her. “He says it more like, ’oh you spoiled little, princess.’” I’d explained, mimicking his mocking tone.

“Whatever.” Levi said. “If a guy as hot as that was calling me princess, even as an insult, I’d be excited about it.”

“You would not!” I’d laughed at her.

When she’s asked me after if I was excited about it, I hadn’t been sure how to answer. I’m excited to have some more human interaction instead of this constant seclusion, and I’m excited to see Tally, but I didn’t know about the Theon part.

Now it was almost time for him to get here. The big white hot sun was high in the cloudless blue sky, and the water was calm, lazily lapping up onto the beach. I hadn’t been sure where to be when they got here. In the water, on the island, near the cove, or what. I realized I was over analyzing it and just stomped over to my usual spot on the rocks.

I have grown tired of my hair being down all the time, and looking so windblown, so I was happy to find a large flat shell that had slits in it, slightly comb-like, that I could use to do something with my hair. I brushed it through and wound my hair up tightly into a bun on the top of my head, then I leaned over to check my reflection in the water. It was flowy and made me look like I was in a funhouse mirror, but it seemed to look ok.

I fanned out my still perfectly pristine white dress on the rocks and absently fiddled with my amulet for a few minutes, letting my feet dip into the water. You’d think I’d be sick of the ocean by now, but ever since I was little I’ve always felt connected with the sea.

I kept my eyes trained on the right side of the horizon where the boat usually comes from, but he was late. I sighed, kicking the water, but then I nearly fell off of the rock when I heard my name being called from behind me.

I hopped of the rocks just in time to catch Tally in a hug when she ran to me. Her stringy hair was hanging down again like the first time I met her and she was wearing a little green sundress that looked adorable against her tan skin. I sat her back down on the sand when I noticed her shoes.

“She likes to dress herself.” Theon said, walking up behind her.

I looked down at her little feet, one with a purple sneaker and a knee high striped sock, and the other with a white sandal that showed off her toenails all painted a different color. “It’s very beautiful.” I told her, smiling and she beamed back at me.

“I told you she’d like it!” Tally laughed, sticking out her tongue at Theon and he returned the gesture.

Theon stood awkwardly a few feet back from us. He was wearing a grey and white striped surf shirt and red swim trunks with his usual faded tan flip flops. “She’s just being nice to you.” He smiled at her and I wondered how I’d never noticed what a nice smile he has. Then I remembered it was probably because I’ve pretty much never seen him smile before.

I knelt down in front of her. “I’m not just saying that.” I promised her. “I bet this look is going to be the next big thing.” I grinned then turned to Theon. “This little girl is obviously a trend setter.”

He narrowed his eyes and nodded, trying not to smile. “Yes, obviously.”

Tally grabbed my shoulders, demanding my attention. “Braid, please?” She asked with her goofy grin.

I couldn’t resist so I sat down in the sand and she sat in my lap, letting me brush my fingers through her hair. I listened to her chatter on about a show she’d watched when her baby sitter fell asleep. Apparently she had gotten in trouble for it since it was not exactly a good show for an eight year old. “She’s been sleeping in her sleeping bag in my room for three days straight.” Theon told me when he came to sit beside us, his long muscular legs stretched out in front of him, lightly dusted in white sand.

Tally turned her head to gape at him. “How’d you know that?” She asked him and he laughed, that nice deep chuckle that always seemed to force a smile from me without my control.

“You’re not very stealthy, sis, I can hear you coming down the hallway every night, and then every morning when my alarm goes off I hear you run out and jump into your bed.” He winked at her.

I couldn’t help but smile at their easy banter. The two of them were obviously close.

I glanced down at my amulet after a while and smiled at Tally. “You want to go swimming with me again?” My light was beginning to fade.

She grinned, looking a little nervous. “You’ll hold me the whole time?”

I nodded my head. “Promise.”

I waited for her to take off her little dress, showing her brand new pony bathing suit, and she took off her sock and shoes. “Okay.” She said softly. “Watch me, ok?” She said as she turned her little eyes back to Theon.

He nodded his head and smiled at her while we went out into the water. “Don’t you need to wear your bathing suit too?” She asked me, clinging tightly around my neck as the waves crept up to her torso.

“Nope.” I grinned. “This is a super special dress that can go in the water and not get wet.” I told her. “It’s like magic.”

Some of her nerves seemed to subside as she loosened her grip and smiled more. “Magic like your pretty necklace?”

“Yeah.” I laughed. “Just like that.”

I spun her around in the water and she threw her head back giggling. “Do you see me?” She called out to Theon and I looked up to the beach to see him standing at the water’s edge with a big smile, taking off his shirt.

“I’m really proud of you!” He called back to her and then swam out to meet us. When he came up from under the water he splashed us and laughed, shoving his hair off of his forehead.

“Do you want to float?” I asked Tally and she looked apprehensively between the two of us. “Theon and I will both hold you up, I promise.”

She nodded her head slightly and I held onto her shoulders while Theon lifted her feet up. “I’m doing it!” She giggled, looking up at me.

She looked so happy and adorable that I couldn’t help leaning down to kiss her on the forehead. “You sure are, you brave girl.” Her eyes were dancing and when I glanced up across her I found Theon staring at me, an unreadable expression on his face. When I caught him looking he smiled a little and looked away.

“I’m very impressed.” He told Tally and she beamed brightly.

Theon and I both whipped our heads to the side when we heard the sound of something large cutting through the water, then suddenly a pretty good sized boat entered into the bay.

I looked around and saw Levi running from the little island to the water, and Cassandra already closing in on the boat. I turned my eyes back down to Tally’s happy little face as she stared up at the blue sky above her and I was only a little conflicted. On the one hand there is no telling how many people may be on that boat, and I might be able to get done and out of here faster. However, on the other hand, I had Tally and Theon here. I didn’t want Tally to see me do anything like that, and she was having so much fun.

The decision was easy. I looked up at Theon again and he looked uneasy. I turned so that my back was to the boat, and Tally wouldn’t be able to see anything. “Aren’t you going?” Theon asked confused.

I shushed him and shook my head. “No. I’m helping Tally float.” I said, leaning over her to kiss her again.

After a couple of hours, Theon left to go get him and Tally lunch, leaving her with me.

I was honored that he trusted me enough now to let me keep her like this. We had a ball, running around on the beach, collecting shells to spell out our names in the sand, and building lumpy little sand castles. When he returned he was holding two lounge chairs under one arm, and a beach bag slung over his other arm.

“I’m so hungry my tummy is eating itself!” Tally gushed dramatically when she saw him pull the paper sack out of the beach bag.

“Drama queen.” He teased her as he handed her the food.

Theon opened up the chairs, offering me the red one while he sat in the blue. Tally climbed into my lap and ate her burger and fries in a crazy fast amount of time. “Aren’t you hungry?” She asked me when she was finished, wiping her mouth on her arm.

I frowned. “No, I’m fine.” I told her. Not eating was a weird thing to get used to too. I hadn’t even noticed at first, but after a couple of days without even the slightest feeling of hunger, I realized I don’t eat anymore. Even seeing and smelling their food didn’t make me want it.

There were quite a few stolen glances back and forth between Theon and me over the hours, but the both of us only ever talked to Tally directly. When the sun started to set, and Tally yawned, laying out on the towel that Theon had brought for her, I started to wonder what we would do if she fell asleep. I was honestly pretty shocked she’d managed to stay awake as long as she had with all of the excitement from the day.

Before the sun even reached the water she was already snoring slightly, her mouth hanging open just a little. “I wish I could sleep like her.” Theon said softly, and I turned my head to look at him.

Of course he looked twice as good in the glow of the sunset. “I wish I could sleep at all.” I grinned.

He nodded his head. “Yeah, I guess you do.”

We sat in silence for a while, but it wasn’t comfortable, it was annoying. I kept wanting to say something, but my mind couldn’t come up with anything that didn’t sound totally stupid. “No work today?” I finally spit out.

He rubbed his jaw. “Nah, took the day off to spend with Tal.”

“That was nice of you.” I nodded. “I’m glad you brought her to see me.”

He tilted his head back against the chair and looked up at the sky. “Yeah well, she wouldn’t shut up about you so I figured if it got her to stop her 24/7 Serena marathon that I could manage it.”

I rolled my eyes. “Well thanks just the same.”

He shrugged and sat up in his chair, leaning to mine a little. “I’m sorry I’m always an ass.” He said quickly. “I just…I have a lot of things going on all the time and I just get…”

“Pissy?” I smiled and he laughed a little.

“I was thinking more like stressed, but I guess pissy works too.” He said shaking his head and avoiding my eyes. “But seriously, thank you for being so nice to her.” He said softly. “She gets made fun of at school, and others are just rude to her because…It doesn’t matter, just thanks.”

I furrowed my brows, unable to picture why any person in their right mind wouldn’t think the world of little Tally like I do. “Of course.” I said lowly, and he finally looked up at me, his eyes meeting mine.

“I was wrong about you.” He whispered, his gaze intense.

My breath caught slightly, but I didn’t let it show. “I know you were.” I smiled.

It was his turn to roll his eyes at me. “Whatever.” He smiled a little. “I’m sorry anyway.”

“Thanks.” I told him, reaching over to put my hand on his forearm where it was resting on the metal arm of his chair. He tensed a little and his eyes darted down to where I was touching him. “I understand why you were the way you were.” I said. “I’m sorry too for going off on you a little yesterday.”

“No.” He said gently. “You were right, so there’s no need to apologize for it.”

I let him go, leaning back into my own chair and looking out over the calm waters. “It’s beautiful here.” I whispered, taking it all in for the billionth time.

I could feel his eyes on my face. “Yeah,” He muttered. “It is.”

Looking out at the water, I imagine there could be worse places to be stuck for two years.

I turned my head and our eyes met again. We both smiled, then looked away from each other like pre-teens on a date. “So,” I said. “What is it exactly that you do for Alana?” I asked.

“I can’t tell you.” He responded quickly.

I narrowed my eyes at him. “Why not?” I demanded. “You know what I do.”

He shook his head, looking at the water still. “It’s not that I don’t want to tell you.” He explained. “I literally can’t, I’m bound not to.”

I pursed my lips. “Maybe you can-.”

He shook his head again. “I can’t write it down, give you hints, or mime it out.” He laughed a little. “You don’t want to know anyway.”

I slumped my shoulders. “Dang.” I muttered.

He laughed a little at my expression as he stood up and folded his chair. “I’m going to get her home.” He said softly. I stood, trying to fold my chair up for him but he stopped me. “Keep it.” He told me. “I’m sure it’s more comfortable than the rocks you’re always on.”

“Thanks.”

“You’re welcome.” He smiled, throwing his bag over his shoulder and then kneeling to pick up Tally.

“I wanna hug Serena.” She mumbled softly as he cradled her.

I took a tentative step towards Theon, leaning into him to hug Tally, the closeness to his body making me slightly uncomfortable, then they backed away.

“Bye, princess.” Theon said softly before turning for the trees.

I waived even though their backs were to me now. “Bye, Tally.” I smiled. “Bye, Theon.”

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