JUNE ~ Two years ago
“You’re insane. It’ll never work.”
“It has to, Lex.” My best friend, Ava, set her beer down with a thunk on the table between our beach chairs.
“My mom would flip.”
Ava shrugged a slim shoulder. “Well that’s just a bonus.”
Our tradition of lying out at night on the deck of her parents’ pool and talking about anything and everything was alive and well. Looking out over the expanse of water, tinted electric blue by the liner and the lighting, was oddly soothing.
“You think we can sell our own clothes and make money at it. We’re nineteen.”
“Come on. With my designs and your brain? We can’t fail.”
The prospect did seem more intriguing than the lifestyle promised by the investment banking internship pamphlets my mom kept sending me.
Though the two beers I’d downed might have made the idea of starting a fashion label extra rosy.
The slamming of a car door cut the night. I jerked upright, glancing over the hedge that provided some privacy between the pool deck and the driveway beside the house.
“You were lucky not to get arrested.” Ava’s father’s voice thundered. Ava and I exchanged startled looks. While I didn’t know the “what,” I was pretty sure I knew the “who.”
Dylan Cameron, Ava’s seventeen-year-old brother, marched ahead of his father up the back walkway toward the porch.
There was a striking resemblance between them, though Dylan was taller. Sunglasses stuck out of the neck of his button-down though it was past midnight. His dark hair fell carelessly over his forehead, brows that were drawn together.
With those looks, he could’ve been an actor in the latest network teen drama.
“It’s not what you think. You’re taking it out of context.” Dylan’s low voice carried.
“I get a call to come and pick you up from a party where there were drugs. What part of that is out of context?”
Dylan glanced back as he reached for the handle of the porch door. I cursed my delayed realization that we were visible over the tops of our lawn chairs as Dylan’s gaze locked with mine.
Assessing eyes stared me down.
Shivers ran down my spine, completely unwarranted. I felt like I was the one who’d been caught.
Which was crazy.
I forced myself not to turn away, my breath sticking in my chest until Dylan’s gaze finally released mine.
He turned the handle and stepped inside. The rest of their conversation was muffled as they closed the door.
“Wow,” I said, sinking into my chair.
“Dylan’s been crazy lately. Did you hear that two cheerleaders got suspended for fighting over him in the hallway at school?” The pool filtration system hummed in the background as the lights cast an eerie glow over Ava’s face. “Ms. Baron had to physically tear them apart.”
I pictured our poor former gym teacher trying desperately to extricate fists from hair.
Though I’d never fought over a guy, I kind of got it. Dylan Cameron might’ve been two years behind us, but he had a reputation for igniting female imaginations and hormones.
The James Dean vibe had been working for over half a century for a reason.
I took another sip of my beer.
“Did we ever get into trouble like that in high school?” I asked.
“Trouble? Yes. Trouble like that? No.”
“Here’s to college, and being grown up.” I raised my beer and clinked it against hers. “No more bad decisions or drama. It’s all smooth sailing from here.”