Everything Changed That Spring

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12 Years Ago

“I thought I might find you here.” Natalie said as Scott came into view, sitting in the same place where she’d found him a couple nights ago, on the lawn chair, by the air vent. “Creepily listening to other people’s private conversations.”

“I’m just sitting here Beauty Queen, I can’t help what drifts through the vents.” He smiled, and her stomach flipped, just like it had been doing every time she thought of him these days. “How’s your arm?”

“Great.” She said looking down at the cast it had been wrapped in. “And I’ve been disqualified from the pageant.” The moment the judges had told her she couldn’t compete with a broken arm all the pain had become worth it. She’d break her arm a million times over. If she knew this would have done the trick she’d have broken it years ago.

“You ever found out what bit you?” Scott asked.

“No.” She said, still curious herself, wanting to know exactly what creature had been lurking inside that hollow. “They don’t think it was anything poisonous though. Wanna sign my cast?”

“And say what? Sorry I broke your arm?”

“You didn’t break it.”

“Technically…”

“Technically the tree did.” She said. “That and my own stupidity. No one told me to put my arm in that hole.”

“Why did you?” He asked. “You started muttering something about trying to impress me?” He raised an eyebrow, his lips curling into a smug grin at the idea.

“You must have heard wrong.” She said. She’d never admit the truth, admit that yes she had been trying to impress him. She’d been trying to impress him ever since the night he’d let her vent her frustrations to him. She’d realised something that night. Scott Garrison was damn sexy, with his short shaggy blonde hair that curled slightly at the ends, his gorgeous blue eyes, that stupid smirk he had that always made her heart skip a beat. Just looking at him was enough to send the butterflies in her stomach into a frenzy.

She’d never really noticed him before, because most of the time she was with Pete and her other friends. Beauty queens like her didn’t usually hang around with the Scott’s of the world, the guys who skipped school, got high by the lake every Friday night, coasted through without really trying. The only thing Scott had going for him was football.

There was something about him though, something about the way he looked at her, like she was just some girl, not the beauty queen who’d won countless titles for their town. She felt normal with him. Like she could be herself. He didn’t expect her to be this stiff, proper, put together girl who never did anything wrong. She could just be.

“Okay.” He sighed, shifting so he leaned toward her. “Let me sign this damn thing.”

A smile spread across her face before she could stop it and she practically skipped over to where he was sitting, threw her broken arm at him and shoved the pen in his face. Gosh, could she be any more of a spastic? She needed to control herself. He was just Pete’s brother Scott. That’s it. He couldn’t be anything else.

Jeez Natalie, you’re talking like he’s in love with you.

Which he wasn’t. He just saw her as Pete’s little beauty queen friend. He’d only ever spoken to her out of pity, taken her to the waterhole for the same reason. He saw her as some naive little kid. Yes, technically they were the same age, but he’d seen so much more, experienced so much more than she had. It made him seem years older than what he was.

He took the pen from her, his fingers lightly brushing against hers, heat shooting up her arm as her stomach broke into a round of summersaults. This was the complete opposite of controlling herself. The complete opposite. She took a deep breath, trying to calm the rush of adrenaline that now pumped through her body thanks to this guy lightly brushing his fingers against hers. Gosh she was pathetic.

He gently grasped her cast as he steadied her arm, reading all the other messages as he thought of what to write. Finally something clicked, and he brought the pen down onto her cast.

A mathematician and a baker stood next to each other. The mathematician, working out the area of a circle, said aloud, ‘pi r squared’, and the baker turned around and said, ‘No, they’re round, cakes are square’.

“That’s the worst joke I’ve ever heard.” Natalie said after reading the message.

“It’s how I always remembered the area of a circle.” He replied, smiling as he handed her back the pen. She took it, and again his finger brushed against hers. Except this time he didn’t move his hand away, he kept it there, resting against hers, his thumb gently stroking her index finger.

“My mom would always ask me how you find the area of a circle. I’d say, pi r squared and she’d yell, no they’re round.” His voice was so low, down to a husky whisper, making her body tingle more than her hand was.

“Um, that kiss.” She said, barely able to form the words as her body hummed with the sensations of his touch.

“You asked for a distraction.” He said moving away from her. Disappointment crushed her stomach, but she pushed the feeling aside and put more space between them. “I’d say I did the job.”

“You really think highly of your kissing ability.”

“I’ve had no complaints.” He replied with a wink.

“And that was it? Just a distraction?”

“Why Beauty Queen? You want it to be more?” He leaned toward her, making as if to kiss her again, but his lips never pressed against hers. He just sat there, tantalisingly close but not close enough.

“I was just wondering.” She replied.

“I’m glad to have put your curiosity to rest.”

He hadn’t done anything of the sort. He’d only made her more curious. Curious to learn more about him, to feel his lips on hers again, to know what it was like to be properly be kissed by him, to know how it felt to be wanted by a boy like Scott.

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