After a few minutes of full out ugly crying on the beach, I moved my pity party over to the rocks on the edge of the cove. My body shaking sobs slowly turned into the sniffles as the sun began to make its way towards the water. I couldn’t help wishing that my friends were here, even Frank, to start the stupid sunset countdown. I wondered absently what they were doing, and whether or not Asher was thinking of me right now.
I’m sure they all assume I’m dead, but they won’t have found my body, so it makes me wonder if they stayed to continue looking for me, or if my family just packed up and headed home to plan my ridiculously posh funeral. I know my mom is probably sad, but I bet she is secretly enjoying planning a massive production of a ceremony and Daddy is probably already using my death as an excuse to reach out to his investors for more money. I wonder if Marcy is secretly glad I’m gone. Now she doesn’t have anyone to compete with. At least I know Eve is missing me. She’s always been a good friend to me.
Then there’s Asher.
Thinking about him made me sniffle a little louder as I shifted through all of my favorite memories of him and me. I remember the first day we got to the Bahamas. Asher had never left California before, so he was totally stoked to be traveling. We’d taken a cruise to get here and every night once my parents were asleep I’d sneak out and meet him on the upper deck and we would cuddle in a lounge chair under the stars. He had actually been the one to initiate the first sunset countdown on the first night once we’d docked. We were all hanging out on the beach, and although we go to the beach at home all the time, there is just no comparison to the crystal blue waters and stark white sands of the beaches here. Asher and I were sitting down in the sand just out of reach of the waves, his long arm slung over my shoulder when he turned to me, whispering he loved me before he kissed me softly. When he leaned away the sun was just about to hit the water. “Tonight begins the best summer of my life, with the perfect girl.” He whispered to me, then he turned to our friends, counting it out and picking me up to twirl me around when the sun disappeared.
I was lost in the memory until I nearly jumped out of my skin when someone walked up behind me.
“Why are you crying?” A little girl asked me, standing behind the rocks on the sand with her hands behind her back.
I held my hand to my chest, calming myself down. “Where did you come from?” I asked her.
She was young, probably about ten years old, with stringy brown hair that touched the tops of her shoulders, and a missing front tooth. She shrugged her little shoulders and sighed. “I ran away from my house.” She admitted, climbing fearlessly up the rocks to sit beside me. “My brother was mean to me, so I left.”
I had to smile at her spunky attitude. “Won’t your parents worry where you went?” I asked her softly, wiping the tears off of my cheeks.
She looked out at the water, pulling her bruised knees up under her chin. “Nah.” She shook her head. “I don’t have parents anymore, just a brother, and he’s mean.”
I nodded my head, twirling my hair around my finger as she sat there quietly, looking like she was deep in thought with her little eye brows knitted together over her hazel eyes. “I see.”
“So,” She said, turning to look at me. “Why were you crying?” She asked again, her curious eyes searching my face.
“Well, I guess I was just feeling sad.” I told her. “I’ve had a kind of rotten day.”
“I have lots of rotten days.” She sighed.
“Why is that?”
She huffed, straightening her legs out in front of her and adjusting her pink shorts. “Being eight is just lame.” She told me with a grin. “I wish school would start back already.”
I laughed. “You actually like school?” I asked. “I am…well, was dreading school starting back. You have to get up early and go to all those classes. I hated it.”
She shook her head at me. “I like school.” She smiled. “It gives me something to do.”
I shrugged at her. “I guess, I mean, it is when you get to see all of your friends.” I agreed with her a little. “Lunchtimes, pep rallies, dances, football games, I guess there was a lot of things I did actually like about school.” I chewed on my nails in surprise at the realization, then my heart sank a little thinking about how my senior year will be starting soon…without me.
“Yeah, I guess that stuff is cool too.” She muttered. “But we don’t have dances or that other stuff.” She looked sad for a minute and then she perked up a little. “I like recess.” She smiled. “Do you?”
“Yeah.” I laughed. “I do like recess.”
“Cool.” She said as she pulled her hair up into a messy ponytail on the top of her head.
I cringed looking at it. The lumps in her hair were bugging me. It’s one of my pet peeves. “Do you want me to braid your hair?” I asked her and her little round face lit up and she nodded, moving to sit in front of me while I pulled the hair tie out and ran my fingers through her hair. “So,” I said while I twirled her hair into a perfect fishtail braid. “Will your brother know where to find you?” I asked her. “Because even if he was being mean, I bet he’s worried if you ran away.”
“No.” She replied softly.
I tied off the bottom of her braid and put my hands on her shoulders. “What’s your na-.”
“Tally!” A guy’s voice boomed from behind us and we both jumped. I turned my head to see the guy from earlier stomping through the sand, sending it flying in his wake. “You get the hell away from her!” He shouted, pointing at me and my face got hot.
Tally stood up, turning to face him and crossing her arms across her chest. “Go away.” She mumbled at him.
He stopped walking and stared at her wide eyed. “Excuse me?” He asked her and she sighed, dropping her hands to her sides. “Get your butt over here, Tally. I’m going to be late for work.”
“I don’t want to.” She mumbled. “All you ever do is work.”
The guy ran both of his hands through his long hair in frustration. “Tally, I already told you.” He said in a huff. “I promise I will find time to take you to see the show, but I can’t do it tonight.”
“But-.” She started to say, but he held up his hand, silencing her.
“I know.” He said. “Kyler is going tonight, but, Tal, I just can’t take you tonight.” He sighed. “I’m sorry.”
I just stayed put, shooting my eyes from one to the other as they argued back and forth, feeling incredibly awkward to be caught in the middle of their little spat. I quietly tried to inch off of the rocks, noticing that my amulet was starting to dim, but Tally grabbed my wrist. “Can you take me?” She asked, looking up at me with puppy dog eyes.
My heart stopped. “Oh, I…”
“No.” Her brother snapped at me. “She can’t take you anywhere.”
I shot a glare his way which he quickly returned plus some. I turned my back to him and leaned down in front of Tally, holding her hand out in front of me. “I really wish I could take you somewhere, and I’ve had a lot of fun hanging out with you, but you’ve got to listen to your brother.” I told her. “He’s the boss.”
She pouted her bottom lip. “Theon’s a butt.” She mumbled.
I laughed and nodded my head. “Yeah, I agree, but he’s still in charge.” I smiled. “You better go before he’s late.”
She looked up at me again, then sighed. “Fine.” She whispered, letting go of my hand and pouting as she stomped over to him. He smiled down at her when she took his big hand and they turned to head back through the trees. “Thanks for doing my hair.” Tally called over her shoulder and I felt a little better about my day, but it was short lived.
I turned away from them to walk out to the water, but my legs gave out from under me and I collapsed to the ground.
“Serena!” I heard a girl shout that sounded like Levi.
I must have let my power run out of my amulet. I tried to crawl for the water, but my body felt so weak and my eyes were burning, little spots filling up my vision. “Theon! Look!” I heard Tally shout in a high pitched tone, then I could hear the sound of someone running towards me.
“Get her in the water!” I heard Cassandra yell, and then I felt my body being ripped off of the ground.
I looked up to see Theon’s handsome face hoovering over mine as he ran with me in his arms, cradling me against him.
The water felt like heaven as he ran me out passed the sand bank, submerging me up to my neck until my breathing leveled out to normal and my body started to feel ok again. “Are you good?” Theon asked, almost like he cared. I looked up at his honey brown eyes and was a little awe struck at how ruggedly handsome he was, so I just nodded my head because although I felt better, he was messing with my mind without even trying.
“Good.” He muttered, and then he dropped his arms, letting me fall under the water in shock.
I heard Levi and Cassandra gasp from behind me as I stood back up, to glare in his direction as he staggered through the water and back onto the shore, cursing under his breath about getting his clothes wet. “Thanks a lot!” I shouted after him, half annoyed, and half actually thankful to him for helping me.
“Yeah, whatever!” He yelled back, grabbing Tally by the hand and heading back towards the trees.
“I told you he was a meanie!” Tally yelled at me.
“You were right!” I hollered back before they disappeared in the trees.
“Serena,” Levi said, blocking me from watching them go any further. “Six pack guy just saved your life.”