A/N: This novel is for Dclovesfd's contest. As usual, I love to hear what you guys have to say, so if you read it, tell me what you think so far! Good or bad, I LOVE criticism. :D hope you like it!
Kolbie Kaplan smiled as she stared at the wallpaper on her phone. Kolbie wasn't one of those giggly girls who usually grinned nonstop over pictures of their boyfriends, but it had been five months since she'd seen Scott in person, and today she was finally going to be able to wrap her arms around his neck. She couldn't help but keep her eyes locked on the picture of the two of them kissing the night he'd left for school back in December.
She finally put her phone away, and adjusted the oversized shades covering her blue eyes. She sat back in the lifeguard stand and glanced out at the expansive pool and sighed. Of course the day Scott came home would happen to be the day the neighborhood pool opened for the summer, meaning Kolbie had to put in a full five-hour shift before she could see him. Now her shift was over, and her replacement was already five minutes late.
She sighed as she watched her friend, Alanna, climbing down the other lifeguard stand across the pool. Her replacement was waiting right next to her. As usual, Kolbie's replacement was TJ, and he was never on time.
She checked her phone. Now he was seven minutes late.
"Really, TJ?" she groaned.
Kolbie turned her head in time to see her cousin, Lexie, coming her way with their friends, Megan and Deena. The three of them had been at the pool all day, and their skin showed it. Lexie and Deena's legs were glistening with their tanning oil, and poor Megan's pale skin was sunburnt.
"Hey, guys," Kolbie sighed when they walked over.
"What's wrong with you?" Lexie asked. "You look extra pissed."
Kolbie leaned back, looking at her phone again. Ten minutes late. "TJ was supposed to be here ten minutes ago, and he's late. Scott came home today and I'm supposed to go meet him."
Megan beamed. "Aw! I bet you're excited."
Despite the current situation, Kolbie couldn't help but smile. She nodded. "I am. Four months of phone calls, text messaging, face time and Skype was tolerable. But I cannot wait to get my arms around his neck."
Just thinking about it made her smile grow. She could almost smell the soap he always smelled like; taste his favorite minty gum as she thought about kissing him for the first time when she saw him. She was getting more and more anxious and TJ was getting more and more late.
"I'm jealous," Deena said, popping on her gum "How much more perfect can a relationship get?"
"Right?" Megan added. "I need a Scott."
"Me and you both," mumbled Lexie.
Kolbie just smiled. "Well, Lexie, get rid of your Dawson and you can find yourself a Scott."
"He's like one of those homing pigeons," Lexie said with a long, exasperated sigh. "Every time I get rid of him he comes right back."
"Get a Scott and he'll beat Dawson's ass next time he comes back," Deena said.
Lexie laughed. "I can beat his ass if his ass needs beating. Rest assured."
Kolbie laughed. Lexie's boyfriend wasn't too awful. He just wasn't exactly Prince Charming. He drank too much, and could barely keep a job, but he was typically good to Lexie. Well, when he wasn't ditching her for his friends. OK, so maybe he was pretty awful. But he didn't hit her or anything, and that was good, because if he ever laid a hand on her, Kolbie knew he'd have her to deal with. She and Lexie weren't only cousins, they'd pretty much been sisters and best friends since birth.
Convincing Lexie he was an ass wasn't a lost cause, either. She knew it. Every time he pissed her off, they had a big fight, she dumped him, and then two or three weeks later, he'd beg for her forgiveness, start being perfect, and she'd take him back. It was an endless cycle.
"There's TJ," Deena said suddenly, looking passed Kolbie.
Kolbie whipped her head around and saw with both relief and irritation that TJ Ryan was walking through the gate, in his red swim trunks and a white t-shirt. He wore sunglasses and a backwards baseball cap, and was cockily slapping high fives with everyone he saw as he passed, as if he wasn't late. Kolbie found herself gritting her teeth.
"Damn, he got hot," Deena said, practically drooling, her brown eyes wide.
"He didn't get hot," Megan corrected. "He's been hot."
"OK, he got hotter, then. What did he do, body build in college?"
Kolbie examined TJ. So body building was a huge exaggeration, but he had toned up a lot since she'd seen him last August. Like most everyone else in their graduating class, he'd gone away to college, and she'd stayed home. But he had been the only one so far to come back looking better than he had when he left. Even Deena and Megan had come home last week from college sporting just less than the notorious freshman fifteen.
"He's talking to Grace Hoffman and he's already nearly twenty minutes late," Kolbie scoffed.
"Correction," Lexie said. "He's flirting with Grace Hoffman."
"Ew, she's like fifteen," Megan said, her freckled face scrunching up with disgust.
"I think she's sixteen," Deena said.
Kolbie rolled her eyes. "I don't care about her. I care about Scott, and the fact that he's waiting for me. TJ can do his mating thing later. Right now, he's on my time."
She stood up, cupped her hands around her mouth and shouted. "TJ!"
He turned, and when he saw her, he waved with this huge grin. "Hey, Kolbie! Good to see you!"
"You, too! But It'd be better to see you over here in the stand so I can leave like I should have done twenty minutes ago."
He made a face, then turned back to Grace, saying something before he jogged over.
"Sorry, babe, I didn't know you were in a hurry," he said.
Kolbie raised her eyebrows. "I am. But even if I weren't, you're still late. And don't call me babe. I'm not your babe."
TJ folded his newly toned forearms over his chest and beamed. "You're still Type A as hell, aren't you, Kaplan?"
Kolbie climbed down from the lifeguard stand and nodded. "It makes my life easier."
"It makes you more likely to have a heart attack. And a stroke. You need to lighten up. Babe."
Kolbie narrowed her eyes and grabbed her bag. "I'll see you tomorrow, TJ. 4:00. Not 4:20. Got it?"
He saluted. "Aye-aye, Kolbie."
So she rolled her eyes one last time, and started toward the bathrooms, Lexie and the girls right behind her.
"TJ likes you," Deena told Kolbie.
Kolbie shook her head. "No, he likes annoying me."
Lexie shook her head. "You've been out of the dating circuit too long, Kolbie. That guy likes you. That's why he does it."
Kolbie thought about it. He did do a lot of teasing and nitpicking with her. Anything to get on her nerves, really. He'd been that way for a while, too. But annoying her because he liked her? Wasn't that really fifth grade?
"I doubt it," Kolbie said, shaking her head as they walked into the bathrooms. "He's just an ass. He's got a different girl every week. His attention span is super short, so there's no way he's got that much attention focused on me."
If he did, anyway, that would just get on her nerves more. She had a boyfriend, and Scott was only a few minutes' wait away.
Kolbie walked into a free stall and changed out of her uniform red swim suit, and back into a simple white t-shirt and blue cotton shorts. When she walked back out, she saw that her friends were still waiting for her.
"Are you guys staying around?"
"For a few more minutes," said Lexie said. "Then I'm going to Dawson's."
"We're going shopping," Deena said, motioning toward her and Megan.
Kolbie nodded as she tied her mess of golden-blond curls in a high ponytail out of her face. She reached down, grabbed her beach bag, then started out of the bathroom. "See you, guys!" she called.
"See you in two days!" Lexie called. "That's how long it'll be before you two come out of his bedroom, anyway."
Kolbie continued to walk, but held her hand up, her middle finger standing tall, and heard her friends burst into laughter behind her.
Kolbie's house was only about a ten minute walk through her neighborhood from the pool. She never drove there because she was really into keeping fit, and loved to get as much exercise as possible. But she wished that she had driven today, because then she would have been home much quicker.
The streets of her neighborhood, Briar Path, were curvy, and hilly, surrounded by thick trees on either side. Most of the houses weren't visible from the road, and the only indication of the houses were the mailboxes and driveways every few feet.
Kolbie's house was no different.
When she finally got to it, she had a long walk up the concrete hill to the garage.
The air condition in the living room was a huge relief after the walk home. It was only early May, but in Rock Hills, North Carolina, spring didn't really exist. Summer hit there early, and it hit hard. Humidity was a beast, which was why Kolbie was happy her job uniform was a bathing suit.
Her house was empty, but she wasn't surprised. Her parents owned Rock Hills most popular bar and grille, the Rodeo, and Fridays and Saturdays were their busiest nights. No doubt her mother and father were both out there.
Kolbie quickly showered, scrubbing her body with her favorite soap, and her hair with her favorite tropical scented shampoo. She shaved every necessary inch of her body, then hopped out of the shower, and got dressed.
She and Scott had been together since the summer before junior year of high school, and they were well beyond that new, have-to-look-cute-every-time-they-saw-each-other part of their relationship. But this was the first time she'd been so long without seeing him, so she wanted to doll herself up for him.
Finally, Kolbie stood in front of her full-length mirror. Her skin was sun-kissed and dark from hours under the sun and in the tanning bed, and her golden curls fell to her shoulder blades. She wore the dress she'd bought just for tonight, strapless, orange and yellow floral print, and falling just above her knees.
She dabbed just a bit of lip gloss on her full lips, then she grabbed her cell phone and texted Scott.
I'm home. :) You can come over. I can't wait to see you, baby.
He texted back pretty quickly.
She frowned. OTW. No, 'I miss you, too?' 'I can't wait to see, you, either, Kolbie?'
Oh well, she thought. They'd have time for that when he got there.
So Kolbie went downstairs to the living room, and she sat by the window, watching for his truck.
She could barely contain her excitement as she waited. All she could think about were the next three months they would have together. No more Skyping, no more Face Time. Just real togetherness. Any minute now, and that togetherness would start.
She wandered boredly into the kitchen and poured herself a Diet Coke filled to the brim with ice, then sipping on it, returned to the living room.
Kolbie sighed as she plopped down on the couch, staring back down at the picture of her and Scott. Her stomach was buzzing with butterflies. She smiled to herself. God, she hadn't had butterflies since she and Scott got together. Who knew at nineteen she'd still be getting them?
At the sound of a loud rumble in her driveway, Kolbie felt her heart skip about ten beats. She recognized that sound anywhere. Quickly, she turned around, and peaked out the window. Sure enough, Scott was pulling in the driveway on his oversized truck.
She quickly jumped up, and ran to the doorway, feeling like a little girl on Christmas morning.
She flung the door open as he made his way up onto the front porch. The sight of him in person was so overwhelming. After so long, he was finally home.
"Scott!" she shouted, running toward him. She wrapped her arms around his neck, then kissed him hard on the mouth. It only took a moment to realize that he wasn't kissing back.
So Kolbie pulled away, confused. He hardly looked as excited to see her as she was to see him.
"Scott?" she asked. "Is everything OK, baby?" Something was very off. This wasn't like Scott at all. Why wasn't he happy to see her? After almost three years together, and four months apart, this was his response to their first time seeing each other?
Yes. Something was definitely off.
"Scott?" she repeated when he didn't answer her.
His eyes met hers, then. A sadness was in them she wasn't used to seeing, certainly not something she was prepared to see on their first face-to-face encounter after all this time.
"Actually, Kolbie, no," he said. "Everything isn't OK."
Panic swept through her then. Flashes of his family went through her mind. Did something happen to one of them? God, what was going on?
"Kolbie, I met someone."
Kolbie stared blankly for a moment, not sure exactly how to respond. Of all the things she thought that wasn't alright with Scott, that was the furthest thing in her mind.
"Uhm, what do you mean you met someone?" she asked.
"I met a girl. At school."
He couldn't have stung her worse if he'd reached out and slapped her across her face.
"A girl?" she asked flatly. She hoped her voice wasn't cracking, because she could already feel the hurt in her heart working on getting the tears ready to pour.
"Look, I wanted to tell you," he said, looking down at his lap.
Kolbie gulped. This couldn't be real. He had to have been joking, right?
"Scott, I don't understand," she said. "We're still together."
He nodded. "We are. But, I think maybe it's best, that we sort of see other people."
She nodded, feeling her breathing get heavier as her blood heated up. Hurt pulsed through her. She felt like she'd been punched in the stomach. Hard.
"So, you want to see other people," she repeated to him. "But you're already seeing someone."
"Kolbie, I'm sorry, if I hurt you, I-"
"If you hurt me?" She was hot now. She was in that place where could cry, but at the same time, if she exhaled too hard, she might set his hair on fire. "Of course you hurt me, you ass hole. You cheated on me."
His eyes widened in realization, like this was news to him or something. "No, no. Kolbie, it wasn't like that-"
"Then how was it, Scott?"
He got quiet, and it became very clear that Scott had no more words. No explanation, nothing. Kolbie felt her jaw tighten with anger as she glared at him. She could feel the tears coming, but she wouldn't let Kolbie see her cry. No way in hell.
"You ass hole," she told him through gritted teeth. "All this time. I've been faithful. I've been waiting for you. And you've been here, playing me, and hooking up with another girl."
"Kolbie, please," he begged. "It wasn't like that. It just happened. I fell for her, and I wanted to tell you, but I didn't want to do it until we were face to face. I'm sorry."
She couldn't think anymore. She decided to let her anger get the best of her. She grabbed her drink from where she'd sat it on the end table, and with a quick flick of her wrist, dumped it all over his head. Maybe not the most mature move, but it was either that or she was going to let her other emotions get the best of her and uppercut him hard. So the drink would do.
"Kolbie!" he shouted.
"That's for being a cheating bastard," she told him, feeling the tears threaten the edges of her bottom eyelids. "Now get the hell out of my house."