Laurel’s mom hadn’t specified she had to give her little brother an equal share of turns…
“Come on, Laurel, it’s my turn.” Jimmy’s voice whined as he spoke.
“No it’s not.” Laurel held onto the outside of the tire swing, threw her legs out and leaned back so her long, red hair would trail out behind her.
“Yes it is. Mom said you had to give me a turn.”
Mom had said that, but she hadn’t specified that Laurel had to give her annoying little brother an equal share of turns. She figured she had another five minutes before he’d get mad enough to stomp back to the cabin and tattle on her. Five more minutes hanging out over the lake on the swing.
If only Miles were here. He would climb as high as he could in the tree before jumping into the lake. Laurel blushed as she thought about Miles without his shirt on. A year ago she wouldn’t have cared—she and Miles had spent plenty of time in the lake in their childhood—but things had somehow changed. She noticed new aspects about her friend. And he was getting so tall!
“Laaaaaurelllll…” Jimmy wailed.
She sighed and kept thinking about Miles. The tire swing continued to go back and forth, making it feel as if she were weightless and flying.
Then she heard a krlump and a splash. Cold water hit her back, and she sat up and screamed. “Jimmy! Mom said no splashing!” She turned her mean gaze on her little brother.
Jimmy blinked. “I didn’t do anything.”
Laurel eyed him. He was near the shore, standing close enough that he could have tossed a rock into the lake. But he had his hands in front of him. “Don’t you lie to me.” The words always sounded tougher coming from their mom.
“I’m not,” Jimmy said.
“Then why did I get splashed with water?”
He shrugged. “Fish?”
“You did it.” Laurel pumped her legs to swing higher. “Now I get ten more minutes.”
“You do not!” Jimmy balled his hands into fists and stomped the ground.
“Do too.” She closed her eyes and returned to daydreaming about Miles. He’d never had muscles before this year. She liked his muscles.
Another krlump and a splash.
More cold water hit Laurels’ back. She whipped upright and glared at Jimmy. “I told you to stop it.”
Instead of a guilty expression, she found a look of surprise on his face. “I…it wasn’t me.”
She narrowed her eyes. “Liar.”
“I’m not lying!”
“Then what was it?”
He shook his head. “I don’t know.”
Now he was playing with her. “Twenty more minutes. And you can whine to mom all you want, but when she finds out you’ve been throwing rocks at me you’ll be the one in trouble.”
“I didn’t throw anything!” Jimmy shouted.
“Whatever.” Laurel pretended to lean back and close her eyes, but really she kept them open a slit so she could catch her brother in the act. If He would be grounded for sure.
Laurel had had her eye on Jimmy. He hadn’t moved. She quickly craned her neck to see the water directly beneath her, but only caught a glimpse of concentric rings on the water moving away from her toward the shore.
Instinct caused Laurel to pull her feet up. Well, instinct and the horror show she’d watched with her friends. Anything could be in the water.
“See, it wasn’t me!” Jimmy yelled.
Laurel forced an aloof calm in to her voice. “Well, it has to be someone, now doesn’t it?”
“Or something,” Jimmy said.
“Don’t be stupid.”
“I’m not stupid.”
She could argue with him on that for days and still not convince him.
Still, it had to be something.
Someone, she corrected herself. “Jimmy, you watch the water while I swing again. Tell me what you see.”
He nodded, his eyes still wide.
It took a steadying breath before Laurel could convince herself to lower her legs. She didn’t close her eyes all the way as she started to swing.
Let it be a fish, she chanted in her mind. Just after my shadow.
It took a long time before the sound came again. Laurel was ready. The moment she heard the krlump, she twisted and looked at the water below. She sneered when she saw the outline of a white stone sinking into the lake.
Jimmy still stood on the bank, innocent. But he wasn’t entirely innocent, now was he?
Laurel pumped her legs and lay back again. “You may as well come out, Miles.” She shook her hair back and forth like women did in the movies. Surely it would entice him to her.
A few thumps sounded before a war cry and a huge splash.
Laurel forced herself to stay laying back as a wave of water hit her. She screamed, pretended to lose her grip, and fell into the water right next to where Miles surfaced, his lips pulled into a smile.
It took more effort to swim badly than it did to do it right. She made a few pathetic sounds. Miles was quick to come to her rescue, cutting a line through the water and getting behind her. His arm wrapped around her neck. Her back settled in his chest.
“Sorry,” Miles whispered in her ear. “Didn’t mean to scare you.”
“Liar,” she said. Barely getting the word out around her beating heart.
“Maybe.” His lips touched her ear. She shivered.
“Is it my turn now?” Jimmy whined from shore.
Laurel sighed and relaxed into Miles’ arms. “I missed you.”