1. Leigh Ann

As I stepped on the bus, I inhaled the exhaust fumes and anger.

I wanted so much to be anywhere but here; spending an entire summer at a musty camp with strange kids had not been part of my plans. And to make matters worse, my two sisters are on their way to Italy. Not Camp Cherokee, but Italy. I mean, my mom says that when I turn fourteen next year I can go with them, but until then I am going to be in my bad mood and she can’t say anything about it.         

“There’s an extra seat here.” A cute brown haired boy motioned to the free seat next to him. I realized that I still hadn’t taken a seat, and, looking around and seeing no other empty spaces, sat down next to him.

“I’m Justin.” I give him a quick smile then cross my arms and begin my pouting.                               

“Do you have a name?”                                                                                                                                                               

A dozen smart remarks enter my head but I keep them to myself. “Leigh Ann.”

“Leigh Ann…that’s a pretty name.” He looked at me with interested eyes. “Is this your first time at camp?”

“Yeah,” I sighed and looked at him. “I could’ve gone to Italy with my sisters but my parents thought it would be better for me if I stay at a smelly camp for two months.”                                    

He smiled. “Well it’s not that bad. We hike and swim a lot. Oh, and on the first night there’s this annual camp out where we have a bonfire and everyone stays out all night.”                                       

“Sounds like fun.” I sunk down into the vinyl seat and stared up at him. “What about the cabins?”                                                                                                                                                                                                    

“Well for starters, they’re not coed,” He looked disappointed and I chuckled under my breath. “They’re pretty nice though. I’ve seen the girl’s cabin; bunk beds, huge closets, oh, and the bathroom is pretty spacious; a lot of room for a little...ya’ know,” He nudged me and wiggled his eyebrows. I rolled my eyes.                           

“You wish.” I sat up straight and crossed my arms over my chest.                                                             

“Yeah, I do.” He laughed. “So, who are your sisters? Are they as cute as you?”                                   

I ignore his flirting. “Meaghann is seventeen and Jewelia is fifteen.”                                                 

“And you are...?"                                                    

“Thirteen.” I paused for a moment, contemplating his enticing charm. “Now it’s your turn. Any siblings?” I stare at his gorgeous blue eyes for a second too long and turn quickly away, hoping he dosen’t notice my pink cheeks.                                                                                                                                      

“I have twin older brothers, Sam and Gabriel. They just graduated high school and Gabe is getting ready to go to Virginia Tec in August. Sam got in this huge fight with my parents over not going to college. He wants to join the marines and mom and dad were planning on him continuing school and getting a doctor’s degree, so they weren’t pretty happy.” He pulled a loose strand off his Bermuda shorts as he talked.                                                                                                     

I pulled my knees up to my chin before continuing. “So what are your plans?”

He sighed. “I’m going to college like my mom and dad want…”                                                                                  

I left it at that, getting the vibe that he didn’t want to talk about it. We were quite for a little while, listening to the hum of the tires rolling over the cobblestone road. I was thinking about Justin; about his gorgeous blue eyes, his adorable dimples, his shaggy brown hair…                                                                                                                                                       

No, stop. I told myself. You didn’t come here to find a boyfriend, the only reason you did come here was because mom and dad made you…

“So what do you like to do?” Justin’s velvety voice interrupted my thoughts and I found myself staring at his magnificent baby blue eyes once again.                                                                                               

“I paint. Landscapes mainly. I’ve tried drawing people but I just can’t seem to get the features down right. The last person I drew was Jewelia and it turned out looking more like a cow than a person.”                      

He laughed and I closed my eyes briefly, enjoying the sound of it. “What about you?”                           

He turned and opened the window, letting the cool breeze and bright rays of light into the bus. “I skateboard and surf. Mainly surf. The Chesapeake Bay is only few miles from where I live so I skateboard over there in the morning, surf, and get back home by nightfall.”                                    

“Cool,” A heavy breeze flew in and ruffled my blonde hair, sending loose strands soaring across my face.                                                                                                                                                                           

“I would love to know how to surf. I tried with Meaghann when we were in Jamaica for spring break but I failed miserably.” I couldn’t help but picture what he looked like in a swimsuit and I could feel an embarrassing smile appear on my face.                                                                                                              

Wow, he’s hot…

“It’s pretty easy.” His own lips had formed into a smile and the breeze tangled his already messy hair. “I could teach you sometime.”                                                                                                                                               

“Thanks, but how would I learn without any water?” I looked at him with my emerald green eyes full of sarcasm.

“There’s a lake.” He said with a hint of obviousness in his tone.                                                                 

“Yeah, but lakes don’t have waves.” I crossed my arms triumphantly. I could tell he was about to respond but one of the adults in charge stood up in the front of the bus and got everyone’s attention.

“I am Camp Counselor Bryan,” he was bald, though only looked to be in his twenty’s, and had a Camp Cherokee logo on his shirt. He was holding a clipboard and had a pair of thin glasses on the tip of his nose. “We will be stopping shortly to get some food and use the restrooms. Camp Counselor Susie,” he motioned toward a big red-headed woman who waved at our group of forty-plus kids, “will be coming around shortly to take your McDonald’s orders.”                             

“Ugh, McDonald’s,” I sighed and began rummaging through the backpack I had thrown under my seat.

“What’s wrong with McDonald’s? Watching your weight?” Justin teased as I sat up straight with a protein bar in my hand.

“No,” I rolled my eyes for what I thought was the hundredth time, “I’m a vegetarian.”

“Really?” He watched as I unwrapped the bar. “Well they have salads and stuff there; why are you eating that crap?”

“Because Justin,” I said in a frustrated tone, “being a vegetarian, I am opposed to animal cruelty, and eating at someplace like McDonald’s would totally go against my morals.” I took a big bite of my lunch for emphasis.                                                                                                                                                             

“Okay Leigh Ann,” He said mockingly, “but hopefully your morals will allow you to keep sitting next to me when I order a huge, juicy cheeseburger.”                                                                                         

He did as he said he would and ordered his dinner when Counselor Susie came around. I declined the offer and resorted to my stash of protein bars to satisfy my hunger.

After about ten minutes the bus came to a stop and Counselor Bryan stood up.                                  

“Alright, we’ve reached the McDonald’s,” he said, “now Counselor Susie will take the girls into the restroom and I will go in and place the orders.”

Counselor Susie rose and motioned for the girls in the bus to follow suit. When we exited the vehicle we formed a single file line leading into the restaurant. I lag behind, hoping to use the restroom at another facility instead of the non-animal friendly one I was about to enter.

“Um, Counselor Susie...?” I tapped her on the shoulder and she turned around to face me.

“Yes, uh…”                                                                                                                                                                                         

“Leigh Ann.” I finished                                                                                                                                          

“Ah, yes that’s right. Leigh Ann, you’re our newest member.” She said cheerfully as she jotted my name down on the clipboard she was holding. “What can I do for you, dear?”                                        

I crossed my arms over my chest. “Yeah, well, you see, I’m a vegetarian and I don’t feel comfortable using the restroom at this animal-abusive-scum of a building. Do you think I can go over to the CVS across the road and use the bathroom there?”                                                                                               

Counselor Susie stared at me with wide eyes like I was some kind of nut job. “Um…let me go check on that for you, dear.” She walked off towards the bus entrance and mumbled something to Counselor Bryan, who then made his way off the bus and towards my direction.

“Hello, Leigh Ann, I hear you have some issues with where we have stopped for lunch.” Up close, despite the baldness, he was pretty cute. He had freckles all across his cheeks and under his eyes, which were, by the way, a gorgeous shade of green.                                                                               

“Yeah, like I told Counselor Susie, entering a place like this is totally against what I stand for.”                     

“Well I apologize for that,” he said in an understanding tone, “but right now it’s all we’ve stumbled upon and you’re going to have to deal with it.”                                                                                                

I sighed, frustrated. “But—” He walked away, mumbling into a walkie-talkie before I could say anything else.


I ended up being the last person in line right behind a group of giggly girls talking about some cute boys they saw on the bus. Due to their high, squeaky voices and the glares a couple of them were giving me, I found myself silently praying that they weren’t in my age group.

“That’s her.” I heard one of them whisper. “The one who’s sitting next to Justin.”

A couple of redheads turned around and looked me over, obviously not impressed.

A tall, thin blonde wearing a skin tight tank top and a super short jeans skirt emerged from the middle of the circle. She mumbled something to her friends and they giggled in unison. “Hi, sorry about my friends here,” she said innocently. “I’m Mikayla. You are…?”

I had seen this girl when I first got on the bus, trying to figure out where to sit. When Justin had offered his seat to me I noticed her glare in my direction a couple of rows back. “Leigh Ann.”

“Huh,” she put the edge of a long, pink painted fingernail into her mouth and examined me from

head to toe. “You’re the one sitting with Justin, right?”

“Um, yeah I guess.” I switched my weight to my left foot and crossed my arms over my chest.

She dropped her hand from her mouth and placed it on her hip. “Ohmigod, you are sooo lucky. The view you get is gorgeous. Right girls?” She looked over her shoulder and the two redheads along with a blonde and a few brunettes nodded their heads and sighed dramatically. Then she turned back to me, “I just wish you could return the favor.”

My eyes opened wide and she smirked in satisfaction.  

“Oh, please, Mikayla,” A short, spiky haired girl with a nose ring walked up to where we were standing, obviously having eavesdropped on our conversation. “Don’t you get it; Justin doesn’t want you, he dumped you. So get over your incredibly fat ego and go hump someone else.”

Mikayla clenched her jaw and turned towards the girl. “Oh shut up, Max-ine.  Just because you have a boyfriend doesn’t mean—oh wait,” she smiled devilishly, “you don’t have a boyfriend.”

Maxine rolled her eyes. “Then what do you call Sam?”

“I dunno, but he definitely didn’t call you his girlfriend when we were—ehm—talking last night.”

Maxine’s mouth dropped open and she stepped towards Mikayla, who, once again, had a triumphant smile on her face. “You little—”

“Girls, keep the line moving!” Counselor Susie motioned with her hands for us to fill the large gap that had formed between us and the rest of the line.

Mikayla walked back to her group leaving me and Maxine dumfounded.

“Um, I don’t think she likes me very much.” I said more to myself then to Maxine.

“Same here, but she’s never liked me.” My new—I suppose I can call her a friend—ran her hand through her jet black hair, then held it out to me. “If you haven’t already guessed it, my name is Maxine, but you can call me Max.”

I took her pale hand, shook it, and smiled. “I’m Leigh Ann.”

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