Everything Changed That Spring

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12 Years Ago

“Yo, Beauty Queen, come with me.” Scott said to Natalie.

“I hate being called Beauty Queen.” Natalie protested.

“You’ll learn to love it.” Scott replied.

“People have been calling me that for years, I hate it every time. I hate it more than I hate Nat.”

“Even when I say it?” He asked with a wink.

“Yeah.” She said. “Why? Do you think you’re special?”

“I was hoping so.”

“Where are we going anyway?” She asked, quickly changing the topic.

“You hate the pageant thing right?”

“Mmm-hmm.”

“Well I’m kidnapping you, saving you from the preliminary rounds.”

An hour later they were at a small water hold in Summerville, the next town over from Spring Fields. Scott had discovered it last year. He’d been caught making out with a cheerleader from Summerville by his crazy, now ex-girlfriend. She’d already taken a baseball bat to his car and to avoid being next on the baseball’s hit list, he’d run into the woods to hide.

Along the way he’d discovered this place. It was secluded, quiet, peaceful and most importantly hidden. As far as Scott knew he was the only person to have found it. It suited him well now, because he needed to take Natalie some place where no one would see them.

Natalie was the beauty queen, the sweet, innocent, naive girl who always followed the rules. He was the womanising football star who got away with murder because his family practically owned the town and everyone loved his brother. Those were their labels, and if anyone saw Scott sniffing around Natalie they’d do everything in their power to save her from him.

“Cool.” Natalie said as she stepped into the clearing after him. “How did you find this place?”

“You could say I stumbled upon it.”

“I never find anything this cool.”

“Do you look?”

“Not really.” She admitted. “Look at that tree.”

She made her way toward the biggest oak tree either of them had ever seen, its branches covering the whole waterhole in shade. The trunk was huge, with a small slit up the side just big enough to peak through and maybe even slip inside.

Natalie studied the hole in the tree and Scott studied her. Her hair hung in loose waves down her back, and her eyes were bright with wonder as she explored the trunk. She wore old jeans, the denim faded and the hem beginning to fray. She often wore them, and they now moulded to her body, hugging every beautiful curve, cupping her arse so well he wanted to go over and find if it felt as good as it looked. Her T-shirt on the other hand was so loose it showed nothing. He didn’t know if that was a good or a bad thing. On the one hand he wanted to see a hell of a lot more than her shirt was showing, on the other hand, it was probably a good thing he couldn’t see any more. If the rest of her looked as good as her legs he wasn’t going to be able to keep his hands to himself, and seducing her had not been why he’d brought her here.

He didn’t really know why he’d brought her here to be honest. He never even contemplated bringing anyone here. He’d always been curious about her though, the girl who had his brother lapping after her like a dog in heat. He’d grown even more curious with every conversation he’d eavesdropped on between the pair. She didn’t know it, but she’d done for Scott the one thing he’d always secretly wanted, she treated Pete like the average, normal guy he was, not like the hero everyone else saw him as.

“What are you doing?” He asked as she slipped her arm into the hole in the tree.

“I think I can fit in here.” She replied, slipping her body further into the hole.

“I don’t think that’s a good idea.” He said, jogging over to the tree. She ignored him and pushed herself further in, slipping inside until she was completely gone. Was she crazy? God only knew what else was hiding in there, snakes, spiders, rats? He shuddered at the thought and peered through the hole to check if she was fine.

A smile lit up her face as she stared up the trunk, moving around the cramped space without a care in the world.

“I think you can fit in here too.” She said, shoving her face toward his.

“There’s no way I’m coming in there.”

“Are you scared?”

“Yep.” Scott admitted. He chuckled as her face fell, her brilliant plan to coerce him inside by taunting his manliness shot to hell. In an instant the look was gone and the smile returned to her face. She shrugged, turning her attention back to the inside of the tree and began exploring.

Scott shook his head, settling himself against the tree as he waited for her to get bored and come out. A calm settled over him as he waited, and he found himself oddly at peace, content as he listened to her rummage around, happy that he’d been the one to show this to her.

“Scott.” She said after a few minutes.

“Yep?”

“I kinda got my hand stuck.”

“Then you better get comfortable. You’ve just found yourself a new home.”

“It’s really stuck.”

“Why were you shoving it into holes anyway?”

“I thought I saw, ow, something just bit me.” Panic filled her voice and he felt his stomach drop. “Scott I can’t get my hand out.” She sounded scared, and from his spot against the tree he could hear her struggling to pull her hand free.

Instinct took over and he bent down to the hole and quickly pushed himself through. The space was so small that once he was completely inside his body pressed against hers. No matter how he stood some part of him was always touching her, and he became lightheaded as the beautiful smell of vanilla and apples filled the space. Unable to resist temptation he lightly brushed his hand against her perfect arse, pretending like it had been an accident. Damn, it felt better than he ever would have imagined. He wanted nothing more than to touch it again, feel it properly, maybe even…

She struggled more against the bark, and his attention snapped back to the task at hand. He had to get her arm out. Focus Scott, he said to himself as he wrapped his hand around her forearm. Focus and stop thinking about how good she feels and smells. He pulled on her arm, tugging it against the hole, it moved slightly but it remained lodged in the trunk. He tried again, pulling harder this time, still nothing.

“Who the hell shoves their hand into a mysterious hole anyway?” He asked.

“I was trying to get you inside.” She admitted. “I was gonna pretend to be stuck. Now I’m actually stuck.”

“No shit sherlock.” He replied, tugging again on her arm.

“Ow.” She yelled.

“Sorry.” He said, releasing her.

“Not you.” She replied. “I think that thing bit be again.”

“Okay.” He cupped her face with his hands, guiding it so her eyes locked with his. “I’m gonna pull again, harder this time. It might hurt.”

“I don’t care just get my hand out” She said swatting his hands away from her face.

“So much for gratitude.” He said, oddly disappointed by her reaction. What had he really expected though? For her to melt in his arms like all the other girls had? He’d thought the gesture had been for her, to comfort her, calm her. Now he realised it was for him, because he’d just wanted to touch her.

“You’ll get gratitude when I get results.”

“Okay. One, two…” Before he got to three he pulled, this time as hard as he could. Her arm sprung free from the hollow, and the force sent it crashing back into the trunk. A crack sounded through the air and he braced himself for the screams that were sure to follow.

When they didn’t come he let his gaze flicker back to her. Her whole body was rigid. She didn’t move, she didn’t even breathe. She just stood there, her face slowly turning red. Then, all at once, the hysteria began.

“Sugar, honey, ice, tea.” She said in one long whimper. “I am in an incredible amount of pain right now. Holy crap. Holy sugar, honey, ice, tea.”

“Let me see.” Scott said reaching for her arm.

“Don’t you dare fucking touch me.” She screamed.

“Don’t have an acronym for fuck huh?” He said hoping to distract her so he could take a look at her arm.

“I said don’t touch me.” She yelled at his approaching hands.

“Natalie I need to see.”

“Its gonna hurt if you touch it.”

“Don’t be a baby.” He said reaching again.

She took a deep breath and closed her eyes, bracing herself for contact. Gently he grasped her arm in his hands. She winced slightly from the pain and he eased his touch, gently tracing his hand across her forearm in search of the damage.

“It’s broken.” She panted. “It’s fucking broken. I’ve broken my arm.”

“Technically I broke it.” Scott pointed out.

“I’m such an idiot.” Natalie said, ignoring him. “Why did I have to come inside this tree? I just wanted to look like this cool adventurous girl and now I’ve broken my arm. Scott, it hurts, even when I breathe. I don’t know how I’m gonna get out of here.”

“Natalie.” He said, cupping her face again. He opened his mouth to offer words of comfort, anything, but everything he thought of sounded stupid.

Just breathe?

I’ll get you out of here?

It won’t hurt that bad?

It was all stupid.

“What?” She asked.

“Huh?”

“You said Natalie. And then, I mean I assume you were gonna say something.”

“It’s not important.” He said. “Okay we need to get you out of here.”

“I know.” She said taking a deep breath. “I just need to mentally prepare myself. Or distract myself. Give me something else to think about.”

“Okay.”

Then he kissed her. He told himself it was for her, to distract her, but once again it was more for him. He hadn’t even realised he’d wanted to kiss her until he’d gotten this close, become intoxicated by the tantalising smell of vanilla and apples. He just wanted to kiss her once. There was no way he’d ever get another shot at it. The Natalie’s of the world went after the Pete’s of the world, not the Scott’s. Never the Scott’s. He just wanted this once, just wanted to taste her once.

And fuck, did she taste good, like the apples he smelt on her. And her lips, they were so soft, so gentle. They fit against his perfectly, it was like they were made for him. It was just a stupid kiss, yet it effected him like nothing else ever had. His heart beat so fast he could feel it in his feet, his blood pumped so hard in his veins he could hear it pulsing in his ears and his stomach flipped every time Natalie’s soft lips brushed over his.

God he wanted her. He wanted her more than he’d ever wanted anyone before.

“Ow.” She whimpered, accidentally bumping her arm. Her eyes shot up to meet his but he quickly looked away. He’d just been bitch-slapped by his attraction to her, his emotions were all over the place. He didn’t want her seeing it in his eyes.

“Come on.” He said, grabbing her uninjured hand and leading her toward the hole in the bark. She didn’t say a word as he helped her through. Didn’t say a word as he drove her to the hospital. They didn’t say another word to each other for the rest of the day. Not even to say goodbye.

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