Rylie looked up from her magazine just in time to see Luke walk through the gate of her neighborhood pool. Finally. It had only taken him an hour and a half to get there, she thought to herself with a sigh of annoyance and an eye roll. After the moment had passed, she returned her eyes to the image of Luke walking around the pavement, trying to find where she was sitting. She waited until he was looking her direction before putting up an arm to catch his attention. They locked eyes and he nodded, changing his direction to get to her. Rylie took this moment to fully appreciate the 15 year old walking towards her.
He was fit for his age, even though he was still growing. Skinny, with a bit of muscle. His dirty blonde hair was side swept across his forehead in the famous Justin Bieber cut that every guy had these days. His face consisted of inset puppy dog eyes that were a dark shade of blue, a very straight and thin nose, and red pouty lips.
Even though Rylie had seen Luke over a billion times before, recently, his appearance never failed to make her heart flutter.
Rylie and Luke have been best friends since kindergarten when Rylie sat with Luke at lunch because he had been sitting alone. She remembered seeing a blonde kid sitting alone at the back of the room looking sad and lonely, liking the color of his orange shirt, and deciding to sit with him. She shared her animal crackers and they had been inseparable ever since.
“What’s up loser?” Luke’s voice said, snapping Rylie back to the present. She looked to her left where Luke had put down his towel and phone and was now pulling off his shirt. It took everything in Rylie not to stare at his developing six-pack. She looked back down at her magazine, as Luke sat down on the lawn chair next to her. They sat in a non awkward silence while soaking up the sun, and enjoying the smell of the chlorine.
This was a typical summer day for Rylie and Luke. Meeting up in the late morning to go swimming, or hiking, or partake in other summer shenanigans to soak up the precious days before the start of term. It had been the same every summer, since they became friends. It had always been easy for them to be together. They could be doing nothing all day, and still entertain themselves. Everyone in their school thought that they were dating, and their parents expected them to be with each other every day, no matter the weather. They made the awkward transition from preteen to teenagers together, laughing at the weird changes their body’s were experiencing (except for the more private ones). They made it through Luke’s family moving to the next town over, and him switching schools in the 4th grade. They still found away to be with each other everyday, seeing as it was only a short bike ride away. They were extremely comfortable with each other and they were best friends. Always have been. Simple as that.
But the past year had felt different for Rylie. She noticed her feelings for Luke shift to a different perspective. She noticed herself noticing him in a way that she never had before. She had always looked at him as her dorky, scrawny best friend. But one day, she noticed that he had grown significantly taller than her. She noticed that his face had become a lot clearer of acne. His hair that was once crazy and unkempt was now smooth and stylish. His clothes had gone from boring and lazy, to hip and creative. He had a new found confidence that seemed to show up overnight. And she was not the only one to notice.
In the past year and a half, Luke had had 4 different girlfriends, each girl being prettier and more popular than the last one. And every time he dated one of the girls, Rylie felt herself become more and more jealous. That was natural right? She was spending less and less time with Luke. He was her best friend, she just missed him…right?
“Rylie, can we please get in the pool? I’m sweating my ass off,” Rylie heard Luke say, once again pulling her out of her thoughts.
“What? Oh yeah. Sure.” Rylie said, her thoughts still lingering. She followed Luke’s actions and got up out of the chair to follow him to the side of the pool. As they walked, she noticed how many teenage girls followed Luke with their eyes. They gave appreciative looks towards him. She caught one girl’s eye that she knew was two years older than them. Rylie raised her eyebrow at her in confusion and the girl replied with a stern look of disgust. Clearly she thought that she wasn’t good enough to be with Luke. Typical. It happened everywhere that they went together. She had just learned to not let it bother her.
Rylie jumped into the pool after Luke and felt the cool rush of water on her body, instantly making her feel more relaxed. She hadn’t noticed how hot she had been. After resurfacing, she saw Luke waiting for her with his head above the water. He smiled at her and started swimming in circles. Rylie went over and sat on the bench that had been built into the pool. She brought her legs up to her chest, wrapped her arms around her legs and watched Luke do some handstands and flips, he floated on his back and finally swim over to her. He stood up in the shallow water, crossed his arms on top of Rylie’s legs and put his head on his arms, leaning into her legs, so that their faces were within kissing distance. Rylie felt her heart flutter again.
“Ry, are you okay? I know you too well to not notice when something is up. So being your best friend, that means you have to tell me what is bothering you, so that I can help you fix it,” Luke said confidently. This made Rylie smile. She couldn’t tell him what was wrong. All she knew was that being this close to him was making her stomach have intense butterflies, and she didn’t want to accept the reason why, even though she knew it was because of him.
“Luke!! Didn’t expect to see you here! How are you??” a girl’s voice said from behind Rylie’s head. Luke moved suddenly at the sound of the voice, and took a step away from Rylie. Rylie got off the bench, and turned around to see the owner of the voice. Rylie couldn’t believe her eyes. An incredibly beautiful girl, with a very fit body was standing on the edge of the pool above her. She had to be at least 17 years old. She was staring at Luke intensely and didn’t even shift her eyes to look at Rylie.
“Hi Christine! Uh yeah I am here hanging out with my friend, Rylie. Rylie, this is Christine, she goes to my school. Why are you here?” Luke said to Christine. She quickly glanced in my direction and gave a fake smile.
“I am here with some family. My cousin lives in this town. What a coincidence to see you here though!” she said and then giggled loudly.
“Yeah it’s good to see you! But look, can we catch up in a little while, I have to go use the restroom.” Luke said and then flashed his famous perfect smile with flawless white teeth. Christine nodded with a smile.
“Great. Why don’t you sit down and talk to Rylie, and I’ll be back in just a couple of minutes,” Luke said getting out of the pool and walking in the direction of the bathrooms.
Rylie sat back down on the bench and faced forward. Christine sat down to put her feet in the water. She didn’t say anything to Rylie for about 30 seconds.
“So Kylie, are you and Luke dating?” Christine asked abruptly. Rylie was taken aback by the such forward question, and immediately irritated by the fact that she had just called her Kylie. She took a minute to think of her answer. Well of course they weren’t dating. But she didn’t want Christine to know that. She didn’t really want Luke dating other girls, but especially not this one. She was trouble. If she lied and said they were, then Luke would find out and how would she explain that? She wouldn’t be able to without admitting to the feelings that she knew she had deep down inside of her. Then an idea popped into her head.
“Umm eww no. I would never date him,” she said trying to sound disgusted.
“Oh. Well why not? He’s hot.” Christine said. Feeling even more irked, Rylie pushed further.
“Because of his past. He’s such a flirt, and a player. Do you even know how many girls he’s been with in the past year? He may only be 15, but you wouldn’t believe the stories even if I told you,” Rylie said.
“What do you mean?” Christine said sounding nervous to hear Rylie’s answer.
“Oh well, rumor has it that he has been all the way with a lot of girls, and might have even contracted something, if you know what I mean,” Rylie said.
“Umm what?? He doesn’t seem like that kind of guy at all! Everyone always says how sweet and innocent he is!” Christine said now sounding worried.
“Oh no. That’s what he comes off as, until you are alone with him. He’s definitely pushy. And he gets what he wants. No matter what’s standing in his way. And if you are lucky, you won’t catch what he’s spreading,” Rylie said.
“Oh my gosh. That’s insane. Well thanks for telling me all that. I should probably get going,” she said with disgust as she took her feet out of the water. Rylie felt herself smile with victory. She saved Luke from the gross Christine.
Where was Luke, Rylie thought? It’s been about 6 minutes since he left. Boys don’t take that long to go to the bathroom. Rylie stood up to look towards the bathroom, maybe had gone to the concession stand, she thought. But when she turned around she saw Luke. Not by the concession stand, but standing 5 feet away from her. He was staring down at her with a look that she had never seen on him before. Anger. And not just anger, he was furious. In that instant, she knew that he had heard the whole thing.
Rylie opened her mouth to explain, but before she could say anything, he had turned around and was running back to the place they had been sitting. She got up to follow him, but slipped on the side of the pool. By the time she had gotten out of the pool, he was on the other side. Desperately, she got out and started to run to him, but was whistled at by the lifeguard not to run. She stopped the run to look up and see Luke walk out of the entrance. She sped walked as fast as she could, but by the time that she got out to the front, Luke and his bike had gone.