Authors: Shane Morgan
Somehow her fascination with Micah makes me feel
funny. “I don’t know, and maybe you shouldn’t do that,” I grumble. “I mean, I
work with him and I don’t want it to be awkward after you use him up and toss
him to the side when you get bored.”
She flies up and slaps my arm.
“Ow, what was that far?” I hiss, rubbing the
area as I sit up as well.
Her eyes expand as she blurts out, “Okay, first
of all, Saint Aldridge, I do not use guys up and discard them when I’m bored. I
simply choose not to tie myself down and I date guys who feel the same way.”
I slide to the edge of the bed. “Well, maybe
Micah isn’t one of those guys.”
guy, Reign. They all want the same thing.”
“So you think Nate will break up with me if I
keep putting it off then?”
Sighing, Claudia reaches over to her bedside
table for a scrunchie to put her hair up in a ponytail. “I doubt he’ll break up
with you for not having sex with him, at least, not until he starts college.
Besides, I bet his parents have already planned out your wedding, because
Nate’s gonna need a goody two-shoes wife once he makes it into politics.”
“Shut up.” I take up one of her heart-covered
pillows and toss it at her, jumping from the bed before she gets the chance to
hit me back. “Anyhow, I’m feeling tired so I’ll see you tomorrow.”
“Yeah right,” She gets off the bed and slithers
out of her jeans shorts and tank top, then climbs underneath the covers in her
underwear. “As if you’re really going to bed now, queen of insomnia,” she
teases as I open the door.
“You know me too well.” I smile and wave bye as
I slip outside into the hallway.
Claudia’s right. I have a tendency to stay up
into the wee hours unable to fall asleep. It’s been that way since my sister
drowned, like seven years ago. Sometimes when I close my eyes, I hear her cries
and see her panicked face, struggling to stay above the water. That’s something
I don’t talk about though. No one mentions my sister around here, not even my
Meandering downstairs, I briskly walk across the
marble tiles and go out the kitchen door. Claudia’s father left for his annual
summer vacation to Italy with her stepmom. It never includes Claudia because
she and Eleanor don’t see eye to eye. So instead, he chooses to leave behind
the headstrong daughter in the care of Ms. Nunez, the live-in housekeeper, and
takes off with his materialistic, playboy bunny-looking wife.
As I stroll across the Cavallo’s lawn toward my
house next door, the sound of treacherous waves crashing ashore draws my
attention. I stop for a moment to take in the night sky, looking up at the full
moon. Its silverish blue casts a limelight on the dark ocean below. Soon I’m
filled with a feeling of loneliness that’s all too familiar. I can’t escape
this, and I don’t believe I ever will.
Sighing, I glance down at the beach. Then I
notice the light in the workshop is still on at this hour. Seconds later I hear
the sound of saw cutting through wood. Dad’s burning the midnight oil to meet a
deadline, I guess. Mary and I used to sneak out at night and watch him work,
but after she died, I stopped.
I exhale deeply and continue off the lawn. I
tread down the steps until I reach the side door of my house, entering the
kitchen. Walking into the foyer, I stop and look out the window to see if Mom’s
car is in the driveway before I go upstairs to my room. By the looks of it,
she’s still at the restaurant.
I swivel and run upstairs. When I reach my room
I sit down on the side of the bed and send Nate a text.
He didn’t reply to my text earlier when I told
him I couldn’t make it to Lucas’ party. A few minutes pass and still no
response. I place the phone on my bed and stand up to undress and take a quick
shower. As I’m about to walk over to the bathroom, I hear the phone ring.
“No, I’m not mad, babe,” Nate says the instant I
answer. “I forgot to charge my phone so it was dead the entire time I was at
“Oh,” I sink down on my bed. “Sorry again, my
mom wouldn’t let me leave and I was beat by the time we closed.”
“It’s no biggie. Party sucked. But you can make
it up by letting me come over now.”
slide off the bed and look out the window, checking for his car outside my
house. My stomach settles when I see that it’s not.
“Yeah, now,” he laughs. “You can let me in
through the side door and sneak me up to your room.”
He’s never done that before. The only time he’s
been to my house is to have dinner with my parents. We’ve never been alone here
and he’s never been in my room.
Um, my dad’s still up,” I tell him.
“Okay, then text me when he goes to bed.”
“My mom isn’t home yet. She’s still at the
“Same goes for her too,” he laughs. “C’mon on, Reign,
I really want to see you tonight and kiss those lips of yours before I go to
I move my phone away from my ears and check the
time. It’s already eleven thirty. I don’t know if I should say yes and risk
either getting caught by my parents or end up sleeping with Nate when I don’t
want to. Gosh he makes me feel so pressured sometimes. That must be the real
reason why he wants to come over because he’s never mentioned sneaking in
“Babe?” he prods.
I know he’ll be mad, but I’m not comfortable
with the idea. Biting my bottom lip, I mutter, “Sorry, Nate. I can’t.”
The phone goes silent for a moment, and then he
says in a low and frustrated tone, “It’s okay maybe some other time when you’re
cool with it.”
“Don’t be mad,” I say. Because I can’t stand the
dread in my heart that I feel when someone’s mad at me. Yes, it’s pathetic, I
“I’m not. Look, I’m feeling tired after all.
We’ll talk tomorrow.”
And without even waiting for me to say another
word, he hangs up.
IT RAINED most of Tuesday morning. When the dark
clouds move away and allow the sun to peek out again, I bring the chairs back
out on the deck, wiping water off the tables. I glimpse Reign at the corner of
my eye as I turn to head back inside. She’s leaning against the wall, staring
into space. I stand there and study her. Like that day at the park, she appears
lost in thought, troubled, as if the weight of the world is on her shoulders.
Damn it! I should walk away. Mind my own
business. But I can’t. Something else takes over, making me move towards her.
Before I can backtrack, I hear myself ask, “You okay?”
When she meets my gaze, light blares her face so
much that she almost looks unreal. Her hazel eyes are brighter than ever, and
at the same time they seem so sad. My stomach clenches. All I want to do now is
make her laugh the way she did last night.
Reign catches her breath before she answers,
“Yeah.” Still holding my gaze, it takes only a second for her to admit that she
really isn’t. “No...”
“Wanna talk about it?” I offer without thinking.
She drops her eyes from me and looks over the
wooden railing at the water below. I feel as if I’ve made her uncomfortable.
After all, we don’t know each other.
“I’m sorry. I’ll leave you—”
“It’s just,” She stops me before I walk away. “I
have this feeling like I should do so much more. Have you ever felt that way?
Like, there are too many things holding you back?”
“Yeah,” I say, remembering when I thought doing
more meant stepping out of my comfort zone. That feeling landed me in trouble.
I edge closer to her. “So, what is it you want
to do? And what’s keeping you from doing it?” I swiftly retract. “Sorry, I
probably shouldn’t have asked. I mean, we’ve been co-workers for just a day.”
“Where do you wanna go next?” she asks, ignoring
what I said.
I stare into her eyes, like really look into
them and grin as I answer playfully, “Why? You wanna come with me?”
She lets out a nervous laugh and tucks her loose
strands behind her ears, as if she’s shy all of a sudden. Collecting herself,
she counters with, “You wish.”
I grin, taking a second to regard her beauty
before I tell her, “I actually haven’t made up my mind where to go next.”
Narrowing her eyes, Reign starts to do that
thing again where she’s studying me. “But, my mom only hired you for summer,”
she says. “You should probably start looking for another job then, if you want
to stick around after that.”
“Oh, I get it,” I say, folding my arms and
winking at her. “You want me to stay in Newport. That’s why you were asking
about where I’m going next.”
She scoffs and walks over to the railing,
resting her elbows on the wood as she turns her back to the water to look at
me, still smiling. “I was only curious. I think it’s cool how you’re so young,
yet you’ve been travelling with no cares in the world.”
I loosen my arms, stick my hands inside my
pockets, and then move over to the railing to stand next to her. “You sound
jealous,” I continue to tease.
“Kind of,” she admits, never taking that
gorgeous smile off her face. “How come you didn’t go to New York?”
“Why New York?”
She shrugs as she replies, “Everyone I know goes
to New York or California, or just leave the country altogether.”
I bob my head slowly, figuring her out. “Your
mom told me you want to travel.”
She rotates to observe the sailboats in the
distance. “I do, but…it’s hard.”
I’m beyond intrigued, and also becoming aware of
the fact that I’m lessening the distance between us. I want us to keep talking,
because I want to learn everything about this girl. I also want our hands to
accidently brush somehow. I want to feel her touch again.
“Sounds like you’re looking for an adventure,” I
enthuse, continuing the conversation.
Suddenly, her lips turn down and she stares at
her fingers. Chipping at her already worn purple nail polish, she replies in a
We stand there for a moment not saying anything
else, until Mrs. Aldridge’s voice cuts in. “What are you two doing just
standing around? Customers are starting to come in.”
Startled, Reign slips away first and treads past
her mom. I follow suit shortly. Mrs. Aldridge has a questioning look in her
eyes as I walk by her. I make a mental note not to approach Reign when she’s by
herself at the restaurant again. Not when her mom’s lurking nearby.
A few hours before closing, I step out back to
take a break, staring up at the starry sky as I visualize Reign’s beautiful
face in each of them looking down on me. Man, I’m seriously losing it over this
Surprised, I turn my head fast. Aislin has an
eyebrow raised and a cigarette in between her fingers.