Chapter Two | Don't Mess With The Whistle
❀ Kate ❀
We REALLY need a bigger mirror up here.
I squinted at myself critically into the compact glass square above my dingy locker, rubbing a generous amount of 60 SPF sunscreen into my neck and chest vigorously. Joyner Lucas' "Broke and Stupid" was playing on the small back radio we were allowed to have while working, and I bobbed my head slightly to the chill beat as I finished up.
Not bothering to fix my newly cut hair into it's usual low ponytail, I studied the chestnut strands brush against my shoulder blades while adjusting the navy blue and fire engine red racer back one piece suit I wore. It was an alright day; I didn't hate what I saw in the mirror for once.
There! Ready, set, glow.
“Enjoy your lunch, Kater Tot. Hey, could you grab me a bag of gummy worms from the concession stand if you’re headed that way? The sour ones.”
Tristan Blankenship, my current on duty supervisor, asked absently from where he was perched in his comfortable black office chair, overlooking the sea of beach goers down below our Lifeguard tower with minimal interest. I couldn’t blame him, it’s been a pretty uneventful summer so far. There’s honestly only so much people watching we can do before it starts making for a real eye-crossing, dull experience.
As far as bosses go, Tristan is pretty damn cool though. We work well together, and he’s someone I consider a personal friend too. We've been known to grab a drink or two during our days off just to shoot the shit when our schedules allow for it. At twenty nine, he's four years older than myself but mentally we're probably around the same age. We goof around like high schoolers and have an absolute ball in each other's company.
We started around the same time three and a half years ago, and I couldn’t be prouder of the strides he’s made in order to advance into management. Now me? I’m content with riding the waves and keeping people safe; Something I’m able to do year round in Naples, because we’ve got gorgeous weather and eager families flocking to the beach for an inexpensive day out.
While others in our field are getting ready to hang up their Sporti Guard swimsuits until next Summer, Tristan and I along with a handful of others are still keeping an eye on things heading into August and beyond.
I twisted around and swiped the five dollar bill Tristan extended in my direction with one of my famous lopsided grins. “Sure thing! I’m actually going to spend it training, but I’ve got you.”
He regarded me with his sable colored eyes warily, running a hand through that dirty blonde mop I’ve been begging him to cut for months. It’s a miracle he’s able to see anything with it constantly getting in his direct line of vision. “Dude, all you’ve had to eat today was that protein bar you brought with you earlier this morning at the start of shift. Humor me and be careful out there.”
I waved him off dismissively as I left our cramped tower for an hour of freedom. “Don't sweat it, Triscuit. I'm an athlete, food is fuel and I'm still good from all that protein. Be right back, try not to pass out from boredom up here."
My partner in crime laughed dryly, making me grin as I bounded down the faded sky blue wooden steps carefully before propelling off the second to last one and into the grainy sand. During my short trudge to the snack bar, I started calculating the amount of time I'd have left for an endurance session out on the water.
I'd like to get a few 400 meter laps in; Too bad I forgot my bangle leg weights. A run would feel amazing right now.
Casting my hazel eyes toward the crowded beach as I walked, I noticed two obnoxious girls heading in the same direction as myself. It was hard to miss them, they were running their mouths a mile a minute without pause. From the teasing way they were bantering with each other, I could immediately tell how close the pair were.
I couldn't lie; They were cute as hell, and I was willing to bet a flat twenty dollars that they played for their own team too.
Eh, a seasoned lesbian knows her own squad.
"...All I'm saying is we're young, dude. Now's the time to get shitfaced so we'll have glory days to look back on. Who wants to be boring old people fighting over bingo cards!?" The tall, masculine platinum blonde smirked to her exasperated dark haired friend, who started walking backwards so she could face her head on. Like just about everyone else here, they were barefoot and showing off their alluring forms. Blondie was sporting a pair of dark grey board shorts and a thin turquoise tank top, and literally the tiniest white bikini I've seen in a hot minute adorned her more feminine counterpart.
One strong gust of wind and that little black wrap she's wearing is a goner.
"...With the way you're going, you'll be lucky to have any brain cells left by then." She mused, undoing her high bun so a wave of sleek black hair could tumble down. It blew about gently, swaying like a soft curtain in the airy breeze.
"Hey! I resent that remar-." Before the butch chick had a chance to keep arguing though, I felt the intensity of her piercing baby blues focusing on my rapidly flushing cheeks. Then, the corners of her thin lips curved upward in amusement. I hardly noticed the other girl whip around to gawk at me.
Damn, what a smile. So...bright.
"Hey Kate, the usual?" Danica's urgent voice cut through my thoughts, and I blinked in confusion before closing my eyes with a soft curse. I'd gotten so caught up with whatever those two were talking about, I didn't even realize there wasn't anyone waiting in line at the concession stand. I was met with a spray of freckles and a blank stare.
Now she thinks you're a blundering moron. Brilliant.
"Uh, no; Not today. I just need a bag of gummy worms. My boss can't get enough of these things." I slid Tristan's crisp five dollar bill across the steel counter, peering in through the small plastic window as I did so. My EX girlfriend of barely a few weeks took it without another word, and I watched as she turned her back to me for a second while propping an elbow against the warm surface.
Seeing Dani around work when I absolutely had to wouldn't hurt so bad if she'd stop treating me like I just don't exist. I'm not even the one who ended things; That was all her, so what the fuck? Over a voicemail while I was fast asleep after I'd gotten back from competing in a marathon out of state, in California. No explanation, no closure. Eight months of my life I'll never get back, wasted on some cunt who couldn't even look me in the eye as she handed over Tristan's change. I scoffed and scooped it into the palm of my hand awkwardly.
"...I'll have them right out." Dani's voice was hard and unwavering, but when I looked back up and into the cocoa pools of her long lashed eyes, I detected an acute sorrow. I started wondering if she spotted me checking that blonde girl out, but I wasn't too worried about it either way.
I don't have time for this shit; You've got my number, use it if you want to talk. That's all I've been waiting for since you up and left my life.
"That'd be great, thanks." I bit back cooly. Now more than ever, I wanted to be one with the ocean. Power stroking through all my frustrations, building my tolerance against the raging waves, getting to whatever imaginary destination I'd eventually wind up at.
A breathless laugh suddenly caressed my left earlobe, and I stiffened as I went to glance over my shoulder in irritation. I caught a whiff of straight tequila and cringed internally. "Yeah...hi, excuse you?!?"
I was about to knock whoever was invading my personal space out, but froze when those same two stunning dark blue eyes from earlier flickered mischievously. Dead at me.
"I'd love to be excused....to wherever you're going." A hand materialized out of nowhere and brazenly began fingering the whistle I wore around my neck. "...So, you're like the real deal out there, huh?"
I gave her a firm swat on the knuckles and attempted to scowl, but I couldn't keep myself from busting out in incredulous laughter. "Hey, don't mess with the whistle dude."
She blew me away with her childish giggle, and cocked an impish eyebrow in response. "Easy. Just trying to make conversation." Up close, this chick was even better looking. Defined cheek bones, sun kissed skin...ah, that award winning smile. I definitely would've noticed her before this afternoon, so she must be a tourist or something.
Where the hell did she come from?!
I let my gaze travel the entire length of her sexy body with a wry grin. "Touching stranger's belongings isn't the greatest way to start things off."
"Well...what about you, then? Can I touch you?" Her lips were whispering against the curve of my silver cartridge piercing, and I gritted my teeth impatiently. "I've got a nice little set up near the water...why don't you join me after your shift?"
"Pass. Hard pass." I wanted to hold onto the initial annoyance I felt before I fully realized who was messing with me, but how could I with this girl's feather light fingertips brushing against my elbow and forearm seductively? I gasped softly, and I heard her snicker lowly.
She had to be wasted out of her mind; Who the fuck acts like this in public?
"You sure? 'Cause it doesn't sound like it..."
God. I could literally feel Danica's icy stare freezing me in place; As if I asked for any of this.
"Sawyer! Stop bugging the God damn lifeguard, bro. She's got way better shit to do than listen to you flap that massive hole in your face." Miss 'curvy dark and femme' came to the rescue, mouthing an apology as she dragged her bewildered friend away in mortification. The sudden act was met with profuse protesting.
"Seriously, Erin!? I didn't even get to order my drink-"
"You don't need it right now; Clearly. We'll come back later."
I kept observing them over my shoulder, and couldn't help but allow the wide grin I'd been struggling to control come out to play.
Sawyer. I'd be in some deep shit if she ever got me alone; So I just had to be sure that never happened. The last thing I needed was a beautiful distraction stealing away my focus right now.
"Aren't you glad we're broken up? Now you're free to chase arrogant bitches like her around during breaks." Dani seethed from behind the counter, and I heard a plastic package being slammed down roughly. "Can't wait for that view."
"What's your problem, Danica?" I hissed quietly, not making a move to grab the gummy worms as I whirled around with my fingers threading through my hair slowly. "You left me, remember that? I still don't really get why, but I haven't tried asking again after you flat out refused to tell me. What happened to 'remaining cordial'?"
"Forget it, Kate. Here's your candy. Just get out of here, would you? I've got other customers." Dani sighed heavily before waving over the giddy couple who just walked up behind me. She beamed at them with one of her fake 'I'm so happy to be here' expressions. It was as if I vanished into thin air. "Next!"
I vowed to steer clear of this stupid little stand in the future and snagged Tristan's gummy worms, as usual letting my EX girlfriend have the last cutting word. Several yards away, I found Sawyer's intrigued gaze following my every move. Figuring Danica was still watching out of the corner of her eye, I saluted flirtatiously and started jogging back toward the lifeguard stand to drop off Tristan's snack before hitting the water for my endurance training.
Maybe I oughta give her the show she's daring me to put on.