"Jordyn Alexis Hamilton, you stop right there, young lady!"
Jordyn stopped mid-step as she'd attempted to escape to her room before her mother caught her. Certainly Zara knew she'd skipped gymnastics today, and Jordyn was about to hear about it.
Please don't ground me, please don't ground me Jordyn prayed silently as she eased back down the steps to face her mother. Zara was waiting for her at the bottom of the stairs with her arms folded on her narrow hips and extreme look of displeasure on her face. Oh yeah, she knew.
"You have some explaining to do, Jordyn," she said simply. Her accent was thicker than normal as she spoke through gritted teeth. That's how Jordyn knew she was mad. Usually her accent was barely noticeable to Jordyn. To others, it was obvious English wasn't her first language, but Jordyn was used to it and barely ever thought about it. Unless she was mad.
"Mom, I'm sorry," Jordyn tried. "But, we're leaving in two months! I want to spend my time having fun and hanging out with my friends while I'm still here, not waste it on gymnastics and dance."
OK, that came out wrong, Jordyn realized when she saw that taken aback look on her mother's face.
"Jordyn," she sighed. "I understand where you're coming from, but if you're going to start at the Cedarwood Dance School as soon as we arrive in Pennsylvania, you have to audition. You'll get in no matter what. Your audition is just what determines you level there."
Jordyn was confused. The what? Zara was already looking at Dance Schools in Pennsylvania? Well, it couldn't be that great, if it was in tiny Cedarwood.
"You need to keep up with the gymnastics once we get there, too, Jordyn. I understand you want to spend time with your friends while you're still here in San Diego, but honey, if you slack off at all, it will greatly affect you when you get to Pennsylvania."
Jordyn sighed. Maybe now was a good time to tell her mother she wasn't exactly looking forward to another full schedule of dance in her new home. Then again, Zara would be heartbroken. She was a dancer herself, back in Sweden. She came to America when she was 17, after getting into Julliard. Unlike Jordyn, though, dance was Zara's life. There were no boyfriends, no late-night parties, none of that. Until the ankle break that ended her career. That was why Zara was a chef, not dancing on Broadway like she'd dreamed of doing.
Jordyn inherited the natural talent from her mother, so of course, Zara was going to push and push and make Jordyn into the dancer she'd wanted to be. Her heart had been broken when her life was pretty much ripped away from her, so Jordyn didn't quite know how to tell her she was choosing another life.
She just knew it wasn't going to be easy.
"So, mom," Jordyn said, quickly trying to change the subject. "Uhm, guess who asked me to hang out tonight?"
"It doesn't matter because you are not going," Zara said.
Jordyn's jaw dropped. Her mother could not be serious. "Mom, no."
"Jordyn, you skipped gymnastics today. You have gymnastics only once a week. It was very important you be there today."
"No, it's very important I be with my friends while I still can, mom! Please, let me go out with Ryan!"
Zara raised her eyebrows. "Ryan?"
"Yeah," Jordyn said slowly. "I told you about him. He asked me to hang out with him tonight, and I really want to go."
"You really needed to go to gymnastics today, Jordyn, and you didn't." Jordyn didn't respond, but waited as her mother studied her with her arms still folded over her chest. Then she finally sighed and nodded. "Jordyn, you can go out with this, uh, Ryan, but you better go to gymnastics Saturday."
Jordyn was beaming. "Thank you, mom! I will, I promise!"
She skipped up the stairs, not caring that she'd just agreed to go back to gymnastics next week when she should have been planning her 'I wanna quit' speech for her mom. Right now all that was on her mind was that she was about to go out with Ryan. She hurried into her room, pushing past Ty as he stepped out of his own bedroom.
"Sorry!" she said, but didn't stop.
"Why are you in such a hurry?" he asked.
She turned around in front of her bedroom door and grinned at her brother. "I have a date."
Ryan had a car. He picked Jordyn up in a nice, brand new Camaro. He worked at a beachside burger joint only to earn a little work ethic and spending money. Otherwise, his lawyer dad bought him whatever he wanted and when he wanted it. Or at least that's what he said when Jordyn had questioned the 'awesome sports car.'
She learned pretty quickly that Ryan liked to talk about himself. Once he was done bragging on his rich dad, Jordyn figured she had a chance to talk. She was wrong.
"So, you coming to my party next weekend, Jordyn?" he asked as soon as she'd opened her mouth.
"Uh, I hadn't heard about a party," she said honestly. "Your house?"
"Yeah, Friday night. It's gonna be epic. My dad's letting my use his guest house on the water, and since we own that whole part of the beach anyway, we'll have it all to ourselves. Everyone will be there."
"Cool. Yeah, maybe I'll drop by."
He flashed her a flirty, knee melting smile. "Hope you will." Then he changed gears and sped through Moon Bay Beach.
She glanced out of the corner of her eye at his strong arm, his muscles flexing as he changed gears on the 5-speed Camaro. She thought it was so sexy how he could handle a car with so much power.
"Could've had a Vette," he said with a nonchalant shrug. "Dad offered me pretty much anything. But I usually have a lot of passengers, so a Vette wouldn't have worked for me."
It wasn't sexy, however, how much he talked about himself. She wondered if he'd always been so into himself. Truthfully, though, this was the most time she'd spent with him, and it was the most conversation she'd had with him.
"So, where are we going?" she asked.
He shrugged. "Thought maybe we could head to my place. Watch a few movies. Just chill, you know?"
Oh she knew. First time hanging out? And he wanted to go to her house, where she was certain they would be alone.
Jordyn was squirming in her seat. She hoped Ryan wouldn't notice. She had thought they were going to Blue Moon, or to the beach or something. She didn't think they'd be going back to his house.
"Wouldn't it be more fun to just go get a burger or some pizza or something?" Jordyn asked with a shrug.
He chuckled. "I'm not really that hungry. If you are, I got a fridge full of food that I must admit, I'm great at cooking."
Of course he wasn't hungry. Jordyn didn't have the best feeling anymore. She wasn't ready to go over to a boy's house with no one home. They hadn't even been on a date, yet. She wasn't about to let him do anything she knew she wasn't ready for. She knew Holly Daniels would do anything Ryan wanted her to do. Holly Daniels would be here in August when Jordyn was freezing her butt off in Pennsylvania.
But maybe she was wrong, Jordyn thought. She didn't say much more the ride to Ryan's house, but she spent it hoping this would just be a fun visit, innocent and watching movies like he'd said. But something seemed fishy to her, and usually her gut feelings were right.
But he seemed to be a real gentleman when he pulled up to his beach house-much more luxurious than Jordyn's-and insisted on opening the passenger door for her.
"Nice place," she said as he let her into the dark living room, flipping on the light so the place was lit up and she could see the detail. The walls were covered in exquisite art work, the whole room big and open, no door or wall to the kitchen, and from there, Jordyn could see a great view of the ocean through sliding glass doors. Most important detail she noticed? They were definitely alone.
He stepped up next to her and smiled as he slid his hands into his pockets. "It's alright," he said simply. "So, you want anything to drink?"
"Sure," she said. She turned around to face him with a smile. She actually had to tilt her head back to see his face. Ryan was tall. At around 6 foot, he towered over Jordyn's 5'4. She liked tall guys, though. Especially basketball-playing tall guys. Rumor had it, Ryan was going to be senior varsity captain next year. He was going to be Mr. Reed High School, that was for sure. She'd be the envy of all the girls if she walked the halls with him.
Not gonna happen, Jordyn, she reminded herself glumly, feeling that sickening punch to the stomach she'd been getting every time she thought about the move. Nope, Jordyn would not be walking the halls of Reed High School on the arm of Ryan Carter next semester. She'd be walking the halls on Cedarwood High, probably on no one's arms. Here? Here, Holly Daniels would be sinking her teeth into Ryan the second Jordyn was gone.
After they both had something to drink, a bottle of water for her and a Budweiser for him, Ryan lead her into the living room-thank God it wasn't his bedroom-and turned only one lamp on, shedding some light on the place, but leaving it dim enough to make Jordyn nervous.
"So, what kind of movies you like to watch, babe?" he asked, plopping down on the couch with the remote.
She sat next to him with a smile, sipping on her water. Oh, but how she loved the way he called her babe. "Uh, anything's fine with me. I'm not picky at all."
"Me, neither," he said, putting the remote down. "Who says we even have to watch a movie."
Red flag! Red flag! Alarms sounded in Jordyn's head as Ryan set his beer on the coffee table and put his arm around her.
"Ryan, I'm a virgin," she said quickly.
He looked surprised by her outburst, but not surprised by her confession. "It's OK, Jordyn, I know."
He leaned in to kiss her, but she pushed him away gently. "How do you know?"
He chuckled. "Come on, Jordyn, everyone knows. It's not a big deal, though."
Oh yes it was. She knew exactly why she was here. She might have been inexperienced, but she wasn't stupid.
"Ryan, I want something to be clear," she told him, putting her hand on his chest when he leaned in to kiss her again. "I said I was a virgin, and I'm not changing that tonight. This is only our first time hanging out. I don't know what kind of impression you have of me, but I'm not that kind of girl."
"Hey, it's cool!" he said, holding his hands up. "I won't push you. Wherever you want to stop, give me the word and we stop. But I thought maybe we could make out a little."
Oh, well, that sure sounded tempting. She bit her bottom lip, thinking. No harm could come from kissing, right? And Ryan looked so cute, so hopeful.
Jordyn leaned forward, touching her lips to his, lightly at first, and then when she felt his tongue pushing against her lips, she parted them and let him deepen the kiss. His hand was on her cheek, but then, he let it drop. He cupped her breast over her shirt and squeezed.
She quickly broke the kiss, pushing his hand away.
"Uhm, that's too far, Ryan," she said. "Maybe it's time I go home."
She didn't want to go, but she knew better than to let this go any further. She wasn't in a hurry to lose her virginity, although, she was tired of being inexperienced little Jordyn Hamilton. But her own self-respect was far more important to her than getting laid on her first night hanging with Ryan.
"You want to go home already?" he asked, almost in disgust.
She nodded. "I think it's for the best. I'm sorry."
"I thought you liked me, Jordyn," he said. Wow, he really was full of himself.
"I do like you," she said. "I'm just not ready for all this, and it's obvious you are. Besides. I'm sort of moving at the end of the summer."
"You're moving? Where?"
"Well, uhm, OK, then, I guess I'll just drive you home if you really want to go. I'll call Holly to hang out."
Jordyn's heart skipped a beat. So he really only brought her there for sex? She was incredibly offended, but she was more offended by the fact that he probably thought by telling her that he would call Holly it would turn her around and sit her down to let him have his way with her.
She just smiled. "I'm sure she'd love to come over, too." She grabbed her purse and waited by the door, indicating she still wanted to go home. Holly could have him. She spread her legs for anybody. Well, at least Cedarwood was starting to look appealing. It meant, at the very least, she wouldn't be here in August to watch Ryan and Holly be the year's It couple, giggling together, her wearing his basketball hoodie, them making jokes about Jordyn.
She gritted her teeth. Yeah, Cedarwood was starting to look really good.