"Remember when we were little, we used to always walk down this road? We only did when we ever wanted to be alone," he said.
"Yeah. So much has changed since then."
"I miss that feeling."
"So do I."
Sydney Edwards never wanted to fall in love. She always believed that a relationship could slow her down, not being able to spend enough time with her friends. But that was 5 years ago, when she was 13. Now, she only has one last summer before she goes to a 4-year college school without coming home.
When she arrives at her family's lake house for the first time in 5 years, she begins to hang out with her long loss friends. But she realizes...her best friend Niall has gotten 5 years cuter. The best friend she's been looking for her whole life has finally turned to her...the one she left behind.


2. Chapter Two

I walked out of the house, feeling that fresh gust of warm air hit my face. I breathed in, consuming everything about this place.

We walked all the way down the gravel road, remembering every memory that was spent. Walking to bonfires, carnivals, beach parties, the beach...pretty much everything. I looked at the scenery around me. Everything looks just the same as it did when I left. Even...

At the corner of my eye, I saw the tree. Mine and my friends' tree. Images flooded my mind, all the memories coming back to me as I eyed it up and down. I remember every night we all had camp outs under that tree. All the nights watching the sunset every night before I would leave the next morning. Even the carving we all put in it before I left the last summer I was here: Megan, Savannah, Britain, Niall and Sydney--Friends Forever. Britain I've known all my life. Literally. We met at the first carnival of the summer when I was 7. I was on my own, just walking around when he invited me to go on a ride with me. We instantly became friends. He had brown, curly hair with freckles running across his nose, and dark brown eyes. His dad was the one who always took us tubing and kneeboarding. I smiled.

Megan and Savannah come next. They were friends of Britain, and he invited them with us once at the 4th of July beach party. Megan had brown, curly hair and brown eyes as well. She was always so tan at the end of every summer. When the next year always came, she was as white as paper. But Savannah had always beaten her. Savannah always had really dark skin. Her hair would always turn from amber to blonde, kind of like mine. But my hair is always a dirty blonde, and it would turn to platinum blonde at the end of every summer. Savannah had really pretty green eyes, too. They always glimmered in the sunlight, catching the scene. 

But Niall...he was different. He had blonde hair with eyes the color of the ocean and skin the color of beach sand. He always reminded me of summer no matter what season it was. He just had that summer appearance. He always had a great sense of humor, and a perfect smile to complete it. I remember that he used to work at the ice cream shop, and that was part of the reason that all the rest of us would go there everyday. I wonder if he still works there. What if he's working there right now? What if Megan, Britain and Savannah are there right now with him? Without me? Will they recognize me? Will I recognize them? I wiped the smile off my face.

I snapped back into reality when Ariana started tugging on my shirt.

"Sydney...let's go! I want to get some ice cream."

"Sorry..." I quickly walked away, looking back at the tree. I suddenly remembered everyone's faces before I left the last summer I was here. I had all promised them I was going to be back the next summer...but that never happened. 

I quickly looked away.

We crossed the Island City beach, the trees disappearing behind us. We walked up and down the pavemented hill, crossing the street one more time until I saw it. I stopped, just looking at the shop in front of me. The ice cream shop. It looked the same as it did the last time I saw it, the sign still reading Olson's Ice Cream. 

"Syndey, come on! Why do you keep stopping? It's already 5:00. Mom expects us back by 5:30." Ariana protested.

"Nothing, it's just...I've missed this place so much."

"Yeah, so have I. Come on!" She grabbed my hand and pulled me along with her. 

I'm so nervous about what I'm going to see. What if they all really were here right now? I wanted them to see me first. I don't want to go in. I don't want to go in.  

I took a deep breath before opening the door. The bell at the top rang, just like it always did. To my right, there was a line of small booths running down the wall, the red plaid coating covering it. At the far end of the shop had small white tables with white wooden chairs seated around them. There was a bar with red stools, and that's where we all sat, with Niall always behind the counter. The smell of strawberries filled the room, along with a family of four in one of the booths and a group of teenagers seated at the bar. 

"Lisa!" Yelled Ariana at the little girl. Lisa turned and smiled at Ariana, suddenly remembering her long-loss summer friend. They hugged and started chatting. 

"Ariana, what do you want?" I asked her.

"Chocolate's fine." 

"Alright." I walked over to the bar, sitting on a stool. I looked at the menu, thinking of what I want. I smiled when I read Zanzibar Chocolate. That was my favorite kind. 

I looked at the boy behind the counter. He had his back turned to me, washing his hands. He had blonde hair, and he was wearing a white cut-off with tan jean shorts. He looked a lot like Niall...considering that was what he used to wear. Could it be Niall? No, it can't be. I wasn't able to see his actual face to see if he was Niall or not. I looked back over at the group of teenagers. One girl was staring at me, while the other girl was whispering to the guy. I quickly looked away.

I took my damp hair out of my pony tail, letting the ends drip down my sides.

 The guy behind the counter turned to me, and my heart skipped a beat. It was Niall. The funny, blonde-haired-blue-eyed weirdo I was best friends with. And he was standing right in front of me. My lips parted at the sight, eyeing him up and down. He scanned me too, neither of us saying a word.

Does he recognize me?

"N-Niall...?" I almost whispered. He looked so different since the last time I saw him. Yet, he looks...somewhat the same.

He ran a hand through his hair, looking me in the eyes. "Sydney..? Is that really you?"

I nodded as a smile spread across his face.

"Sydney Edwards is actually back! Guys..." He turned to the group of teenagers, pointing at me. "Do you remember? It's Sydney! Sydney Edwards!"

I suddenly realized that the group of teenagers was Megan, Britain and Savannah. My summer friends are still here, the same as I remembered them.

"I knew it was Sydney! I told you!" Savannah said, slapping Britain in the chest.

"Sydney! Oh my god, we thought you were never coming back! We missed you!" Megan exclaimed, hugging me. Britain, Niall and Savannah followed, having us all be in a group hug.

"You haven't changed a bit." Britain said.

"It was so lonely without you here. Why did you stop coming here?" Niall said as we all let go of each other.

"I don't know. My mom never really made any plans to come back here."

"Nothing was the same with out you. Remember 4 years ago, the first summer she wasn't here?" Savannah asked, looking at everyone.

"Yeah. We hardly did anything." Britain replied, looking down.

"We were so bummed. The beach parties, the camp outs, nothing was the same." Megan remarked. 

"I know. I really missed you guys, too." 

"Well, we should celebrate! Can I buy you an ice cream?" Niall asked me.

"No, but thanks. I have to pay for my sister's, too."

"Oh, that's ok! I can buy both of them." Niall said, returning back behind the counter.

"Are you sure?"

"Yeah! It doesn't bother me! Hey...still like Zanzibar?" 

I laughed. "Yes." 

"You used to get that everyday." Britain remembered.

"Yeah, I know."

"How's Ariana doing? How old is she now?" Megan asked.

"She's 10."

"She's grown so much! I remember how little she used to be!" Savannah said, looking at my sister. 

"So much can change in 5 years." Britain said.

"Hey, what does Ariana want?" Niall asked, turning to me.

"Chocolate." I said. 

"Well, now that you're back, we have a lot to catch up on! So...what have you been up to?" Megan asked. 

"Nothing much, really. I leave for college on August 1st..."

"A whole month cut off? But we'll only be together only for two months." Britain said, looking down.

"I know. I'm mad about that. But hey, it's better than nothing."

"Yeah, I guess that's true." Savannah said.

"Here you go." Niall said, passing me the two ice cream dishes. I handed one to Ariana.

"Niall, are you sure you want to pay for both of these? I have money."

"Yeah, don't worry. It's fine."

"Hey, Sydney?" Ariana asked, tugging on my shirt.


"We should start walking back. It's already 5:10, and it takes about 30 minutes to walk back. Mom expects us home by 5:30."

I looked at the time. It read 5:10, just like she said. 

"Alright. I'm sorry, guys...I'm going to have to go. But where should we meet tomorrow? We can hang out again."

"By my house." Britain said.

"You still live in the same house?"

"Yeah. We all do. Same house, same street, same...'beach neighborhood.' " Megan said. We all called our neighborhood the Beach Neighborhood, just because we live close to the beach.

"Yeah, ok. Well it was great to see you all. I'll see you tomorrow!"

"Bye!" They all waved at me when me and Ariana walked out the door.

When we passed the tree, I smiled. Bigger than ever before. I'm finally back with my summer friends. This is going to be an amazing summer.

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