Chapter 1 | Let's Make a Deal
Liana Liberato as Skylar Reagan
Colton Haynes as James Ryan
Brenton Thwaites as Ian Adams
Sara Paxton as Elena Kennedy
Bella Thorne as Abigail Stone
Phoebe Tonkin as Avery Stiles
Tyler Hoechlin as Percy
Once upon a time, in a land far away, there lived a seventeen-year-old girl with long brown hair and dull grey eyes. She had two best friends and only a mother to look after her.
One stormy night when she is little, the man who is supposed to be her father, takes off never to return again. Not only does he take all of his belongings, he also takes the little girl’s love and trust along with him, causing the little girl to feel angry and worthless. She decides from then on, that love isn’t real. In fact, she vowed to hate anything to do with love for the rest of her life.
Her one true love might be right underneath her nose, but she doesn’t even know it, nor does she really seem to care. She must learn to trust and teach herself to love again, only then will she truly be happy. Can she do it? Why, of course she can, as long as she has help. Who’s going to help her, may you ask?
Well, you’ll have to read to find out. After all, this is a tale as old as time.
I never believed in fairytales. Who would? The concept is completely farcical. Who believes in a fire-breathing dragon guarding your hopeless body inside of a tower while you wait for your one true love to come and rescue you?
It’s impractical, really.
How can you love a complete stranger that you’ve never even met before? Or, maybe he was there all along, hidden right beneath your eyes. Either way, I didn’t care. Love is foreign to me, and I intend to keep it that way.
That isn’t important to me right now though. What is important, is senior year at Rutherford High. The one year that truly matters. The one year that can determine your entire future.
It’s the last day of summer, and normally my two best friends and I would go to Splash Mountain and continuously slide down the water slides until our butts were sore. Sometimes, we would even buy countless amounts of water balloons and have an epic water balloon fight in my backyard.
Today though, is the last day of summer before Senior year, and my friends and I wanted to do something a little less juvenile and a little more grown up.
So here we are, at the community pool, sun bathing on lounge chairs and completely bored out of our minds.
“Can we at least just drive by Splash Mountain?” Elena pleads while holding her towel over her face to shield the sweltering sun rays.
“Will you stop whining? We’re having fun, aren’t we?” I sheepishly smile, earning two glares in return.
“Who cares what we do? Nobody else cares.” Elena sighs.
“You both are giving me a headache.” Abigail says.
“That’s not us, that’s this stupid sun eating up all of our energy.” Elena replies, giving me another pointed look.
“You know what, fine. Let’s go.” I suddenly lean forward in my chair and grab my beach bag, tossing my belongings inside before standing up.
“Really?” They both smile wide while sitting up.
“Yes, let’s go before I change my mind.” I smirk, heading for the entrance.
Elena and Abigail waste no time in gathering up their things before sprinting to my car.
“Shotgun!” Abigail calls.
“No way asshole, you had shotgun on the way here!” Elena pouts.
“Gotta be quick if you wanna win toots.” Abigail smirks, opening the passenger side door and plopping down into the front seat.
“I’ll get you back, don’t worry.” Elena mumbles, causing me to laugh.
I spent the next ten minutes listening to Elena and Abigail argue over radio stations, before we finally pull into the parking lot of Splash Mountain, the town’s water park.
“We are only here for an hour okay? So make the most of it.” I instruct.
“An hour? You’re no fun.” Abigail sighs, getting out of the car.
I rolled my eyes but smiled to myself, because I knew we would end up being here for the rest of the day.
I pulled my long, wavy hair up into a bun and applied more sunscreen to my face and shoulders. Abigail left her red locks flowing down her back while Elena tied her bleach blonde hair up into a high ponytail.
Elena Kennedy and Abigail Stone have been my best friends since first grade. A little devil spawn by the name of James Ryan decided he would put glue into my hair during nap time with his best friend Ian Adams. Elena helped me wash it out while Abigail taught James and Ian a very important lesson on being nice to others. Let’s just say, the boys didn’t mess with us for the rest of the year.
The three of us were inseparable ever since.
“Holy crap. Look over there!” Elena squeaks, pointing towards two very familiar boys walking in our direction.
“Why are they here?” Abby instantly grabs her towel to cover up her petite frame.
I didn’t respond, I simply ignored the two boys as they stopped right in front of us.
“Well, what do we have here?” Ian smirks, plopping down on the empty chair beside me.
“Goodbye Ian.” I say while not making eye contact.
“Man, you’re in a piss mood.” Ian grumbles while getting up to move over near Elena.
“What do you two want?” I say, not in any mood to deal with their Neanderthal shenanigans.
“Awe, don’t pretend like you aren’t happy to see me.” James says, confidence reeking from his broad and masculine frame. He takes the seat beside me that Ian abandoned and sets his gaze on me.
“Trust me, no pretending here.” I say, turning to give him an incredulous look.
“Ian, won’t you please tell Sky that she needs to get over this first grade grudge and just confess her undying love to me.” James smirks.
“Dude, there’s no way she’ll give it up. You’re better off getting back with Avery.” Ian laughs, causing James to discreetly shoot him a glare.
I scrunch my nose at the mention of James’ ex-girlfriend, Avery.
Avery Stiles. The girl who has made my life a living hell ever since sixth grade when she set her sights on James. James was supposed to be my lab partner in science class, but she made it her own personal mission to take James for herself. She managed to lock me in the bathroom before class started, and told the teacher that I skipped school. The teacher gave James to Avery, and when I returned the next day, I was met by my lab partner Thomas Wormwood. Let’s just say, Thomas had a certain odor to him that even the teacher couldn’t handle at times. The kid never showered, or so it seemed.
Ever since then, Avery hasn’t let James out of her sight, until recently at least, when he broke up with her for unknown reasons.
“Well, if you two are done being a nuisance, the girls and I are off to the water slides.” I say, getting up while Abby and Lena followed suit.
“Awe, we can’t come?” Ian pouts.
“Why on earth would we allow that?” Abby replies, giving Ian a pointed look.
“I mean, the more the merrier, right?” Lena softly smiles, causing Ian to shoot her a wink.
Elena has had a thing for Ian ever since he came to her rescue in seventh grade when Avery pulled her chair out from under her, causing Elena to spill her lunch tray all over herself. Ian yelled at Avery, and took Elena to the nurse’s office to clean her up and get her a change of clothes. He’s always been the nicer of the two, the other being James.
I send a glare toward Elena, who only smiles as Ian follows her towards the water slides. I begin walking beside Abby, but soon after, James appears to my left.
“So you’re just going to ignore me?” He pouts, his deep and husky voice causing my insides to squirm.
“That’s the plan.” I sigh, trying to take a few steps ahead of him.
“Come on Skylar.” He pleads, “I didn’t mean to put glue into your hair. I was honestly curious to see if it worked the same way that hair gel did.” He sheepishly smiles, flawlessly keeping up with me.
I wanted to swoon at his use of my full name, but I couldn’t let him see me falter.
“I don’t care about that anymore.” I say, wishing that he would go and walk with Elena and Ian.
“Then why the hatred?”
“I don’t hate you. I simply dislike you.” I smile coyly.
“Oh, well dislike is a step up from hate. I’ll take it.” He smiles. I try not to stare at his perfectly white teeth as we all approach the first water slide. It’s a group water slide, so obviously I’m under the impression that it’s only going to be me, Elena and Abigail.
Boy was I wrong.
Just as the water slide attendant is about to push us down the dark slide, Ian and James jump into our raft and of course, James takes a seat right next to me.
I love the thrill of the ride, so I let my high-pitch screams escape my mouth as I clutch onto someone’s arm. I thought it was Ian’s which I wouldn’t have minded, but when the light from the sun finally shows itself, I look up into the smiling grey-blue eyes of James.
“Have fun Sky?” He smirks, looking down at my hands enclosed around his large bicep.
“Shut up.” I mumble while yanking my hands away.
Elena and Abigail were already off the raft and waiting for us near the steps of the water with Ian.
James and I got out at the same time, but somehow we manage to flip the raft over on top of ourselves as we’re both pushed under the water.
I open my eyes under water and notice James staring back at me with a genuine smile on his face. I push myself up to emerge from the water, and sigh while walking over towards the steps.
“Thanks for that.” I glare as James laughs while joining us outside of the water.
“That was really graceful J.” Ian laughs, causing James to roughly nudge him with his shoulder.
“Okay, what next?” Abby smiles.
“How about the lazy river?” I ask.
“Deal.” James says, dropping his large arm over my shoulders and pulling me along towards the lazy river opening.
“Um, I wasn’t talking to you.” I say, trying to push him off me.
“I was standing next to you, so the invitation automatically includes Ian and me.” He smirks.
“Why is everything always about you?” I ask, giving him a stern look.
“Oh but it isn’t. To me, it’s all about you.” He says this in a deep voice, only a few inches from my earlobe. I didn’t understand why it caused shivers to suddenly appear on my fair skin, but I play it off as being cold from the water slide.
“Can you two just go bang somewhere already?” Ian says, causing my cheeks to turn crimson. James shoots him an evil glare while Ian laughs.
Elena slaps Ian on the chest with the back of her hand, causing him to pout.
“What was that for?” He whines as he rubs his chest.
“Stop being immature.” Elena sighs, but discreetly smiles afterward.
“Awe but babe, it’s one of the qualities you love about me.” Ian sighs dreamily while fluttering his long eyelashes towards Elena. This causes her to turn beet red.
“Man, I love being the fifth wheel.” Abby casually states.
“You aren’t the fifth wheel Abby. James and I are not a couple.” I say, nudging his arm off me and then turning to step next to Abby. This makes James frown, but then he quickly recovers when he notices a hot brunette about ten feet away.
“Catch you later.” He waves to us, which makes Ian follow as he notices the brunette has a blonde friend.
Elena frowns and crosses her arms while I only roll my eyes. Typical.
“Ah yes, their bimbo Barbie’s await.” Abby deadpans.
“She’s not even that pretty.” Elena comments, referring to the blonde with her hands all over Ian’s chest. She had way too much makeup on her face, and her spray tan made her look like an umpa-lumpa.
“She’s nothing, Lena. Soon he will realize what an amazing catch you are and he won’t even look at another girl again, let alone talk to one.” I try to comfort, “If he doesn’t, well then it’s his loss.”
“But why doesn’t he see that now?” Elena sighs, walking down into the water of the lazy river as Abby and I follow.
“Because he’s an unintelligent teenage boy with absolutely no morals or common sense. He thinks with his smaller head. You pickin’ up what I’m puttin’ down?” Abby says, floating in the water on her back.
“Yes Abby. I’m pickin’ it up.” Elena laughs while splashing some water onto Abby’s stomach.
“Boys always realize that the girl they need is the one they never paid any attention to. They always realize it when it’s too late. It’s a shame, really.” I comment.
“Amen to that.” Abby holds up her imaginary glass.
“So what’s up with you and Mr. Ryan?” Elena suddenly asks.
“Nothing is up.” I casually shrug. “Why?”
“Oh no reason.” Elena smirks.
“Trust me, I can do way better than James Ryan. Even he knows it, that’s why he let himself get carried away with the ’look at my boobs in this bikini top that is way too small for me’ chick over there.” I mock with a fake high-pitch tone.
“Hey El, you got any jelly for my peanut butter sandwich?” Abby comments, causing Elena to snort.
“I am not jealous!” I glare, “In fact, I pity her. Girls like that, who don’t know their worth, are just sad lost little souls.”
“Well come on Sky, we gotta alert the authorities so she can find her soul!” Elena jokes, dramatically grabbing my arm.
I laugh and splash water onto her side. “Shut up.” I smile.
The three of us manage to grab individual floats to lay on while we cruise down lazy river. The silence is so peaceful. All we can hear is the faint sounds of screams and laughter coming from the water slides all around us. We can also hear the sounds of the water as people swim through the lazy river near us.
After around ten minutes, something in the pit of my stomach doesn’t feel right.
I soon know why.
All of a sudden, my float is being pushed upward, causing me to let out a high-pitch scream as I flop over into the water with a loud splash.
“What the hell!” I yell as I emerge from the water. I find two irritating boys cackling near the other side of the water.
“Are you for real right now?” I give them both an incredulous look.
“Well, we certainly aren’t fake.” Ian comments, causing James to roll his eyes at his best friend.
Elena and Abigail are laughing at my expense, until I smirk and hurriedly swim over to both of them. One after the other, I swim underneath their floats and push them both over into the water.
“What was that for?” Elena gasps as she emerges from the water. Abby only laughs and then gets back onto her float.
“For laughing.” I smile, crossing my arms over my chest while standing in the water. I watch as their bodies float away from me, but I notice James stands too.
“Can’t you take a hint?” I glare, starting to walk towards the exit of the lazy river. James only follows.
“Come on Sky. It’s a new year, can’t we be friends this last year together?” He pleads with a smile.
Every year, James asks to be friends with me, and then every year he finds some way to piss me off or humiliate me in front of the entire school. I’m not going to fall for it again.
“No James. I know exactly what happens when I say yes.” I sigh.
“I promise no funny business. I’m turning over a new leaf, if you will.” He smiles warmly.
“And how am I supposed to believe that? All you do is lie.” I give him a wary look, slowly feeling myself begin to falter.
“Let’s make a deal, Skylar Reagan.”
My name sounds so right coming from his mouth.
“What deal would that be, James Ryan?” I rose an eyebrow.
“Let’s make a deal to make this last year in school together, one to remember. No fighting, except the occasional arguing which I’m sure will happen regardless, and we actually get to know each other so we can be real friends.”
His bright and hopeful smile is enough for me to want to scream yes, even though something inside of me still says to be cautious. He’s made promises to me before and usually never falls through with them.
“We’ve known each other since first grade, James. We know plenty about each other.” I reply.
“Yeah, we’ve known each other in school since first grade. But we’ve never really hung out and really gotten to know each other. Like our family lives, or secrets... girly stuff like that.” He laughs.
“You want to share secrets with me James?” I smugly smile, “This is a first.”
“You know what I mean.” He rolls his eyes playfully while nudging my shoulder.
We both stop by an ice cream stand, and James buys me vanilla with cookie dough.
“How did you know I liked cookie dough?” I ask with a smile.
“Because every girl likes cookie dough. It’s a fact.” He shrugs while biting into his ice cream sandwich.
“Abby hates cookie dough.” I challenge. “Her favorite ice cream is mint chocolate chip.”
“Yeah well Abby’s... different.” James laughs.
“Yep she sure is. One of the reasons I love her.” I chuckle, taking another bite of my ice cream.
We sit down on a picnic table near the lazy river, so when Elena and Abigail exit, they can easily find me.
“So, do we have a deal Sky?”
I look into his eyes and try to find just a hint of deceit, only I come back with none. He seems one-hundred percent genuine and something deep inside of my gut tells me to just go with it this last time.
I take in a deep breath and slowly let it out while I scoop up my last bite of ice cream.
I slowly bring it to my mouth and just before I take that last bite, I give him a slight smile and a nod.