Playing it safe and fitting in may have rocketed Kayla West into the In crowd at Camp Juniper Point, but it’s left her lonely. The only person she’s ever been herself with was her former best friend, Nick, an outsider that pushed her to join the most popular girls cabin two years ago. Too bad being a Diva meant pressure to break up with Nick. Of course, Kayla had her reasons, but Nick can never know the real one. She always thought she’d forget him one day and move on. Until he returns to camp a super-hot Olympian snowboarder. Now, every girl wants him and Nick seems determined to show her what a mistake she made. Or at least, she thought that’s what he wanted. But when Nick starts sending her private notes–just like he used to–she wonders what kind of game he’s playing. Nick’s attention is making it tougher to stay in the background and play in safe, forcing Kayla to make a decision–stay on the sidelines and get overlooked? Or take a chance on trusting Nick and, maybe… herself.
“Where is Kayla?” Rachel’s voice rose.
Oh God. Please don’t let anyone hear her…
“Kayla!” chorused my friends.
I shot to the surface and sucked in a long breath. So much for the underwater hiding spot I’d ducked into when Nick flashed by in his swim lane. So far, I’d mostly stayed off his radar, and I meant to keep it that way until I left tomorrow. We had too much history to start another chapter.
“We were looking for you.” Rachel lifted her swim goggles and frowned down at me with light brown eyes that matched her springing, shoulder-length curls. “You scared the crap out of us.”
“Sorry.” I swiped my hair off my face and swirled in the cool water so that my back faced the returning guys. My pale shoulders crisped under the bright sun. “Didn’t think you’d notice.”
Brittany patted my hand on the floating rope, her eyes a light blue without her vampire contacts. “We’d probably notice if you were dead.”
“Ya think?” Rachel hoisted her sleek, Speedo-clad body onto the swim platform. “I thought you only had eyes for Nick, Britt.”
My heartbeat tripped over itself at his name. Despite the splashing, churning water around us, the catcalls and whistle-blowing, it was all I heard. Reason three for needing to leave camp: it sucked being around an ex that I still liked. Especially now that everyone else liked him, too.
“Nick!” cough/hacked Brooke, and we all froze. I swear, even the dripping water suspended in midair.
“What’s up? Everything okay?” rumbled a deep voice that was as familiar as it was different. “Everyone accounted for?”
I felt his eyes slide over me before he lifted the lane separator and joined us. Nick Desanti. Even when we’d been no more than hiking partners before we became best friends and nearly more, I’d always been super-aware of him. I met his hazel gaze for a split second, the vivid color contrasting against his dark Italian skin and black-brown hair.
“Nothing to see. Let’s move along, folks,” I muttered under my breath and reached for the platform. Strong hands spanned my waist and lifted me onto the worn wood.
I turned around to object, even though his touch sent heat streaking through me, but I closed my mouth at the sight of Nick’s back. Kayla dismissed. It hurt more than the splinter digging into my big toe. The quick boost was no more than he’d do for anyone. And that’s all I was to Nick now. Anyone. Or worse…no one.
“Ohhhhh, lift me next, Nick. You’re so strong!” Brooke wriggled her bikini-clad behind like a dog in heat, her purple-tipped black hair swishing in the water. Would I be justified in calling her a bitch? It was the right term, but I could never say that out loud. I was the girl who never spoke her mind…except in her mind.
A loud squeal sounded in the humid, mid-July air as Nick tossed first Brooke, then Brittany at Rachel and me, toppling us like bowling pins. From the shore, a whistle shrilled. Gollum. We’d nicknamed our camp director, Mr. Woodrow, after the Lord of the Rings creature for a whistle obsession so intense we called it his Precious. He waved his arms at us and our oblivious counselor, Victoria. Despite dripping around her like a rainstorm, we didn’t cause her to look up from her magazine.
“Thank you, Nick.” Brittany finger-combed her long blonde hair and batted her water-spiked lashes.
Nick’s eyes crinkled as he smiled up at her. “Anytime. If you need me, just give a shout.”
Brooke waved her hands overhead, her violet eyes flashing. “Shout!”
Everyone laughed but me. Instead, I scooted behind the pack of posing, preening girls.
“Careful or you’ll slide right off that platform again,” Nick called, and all eyes turned toward me. Some of the nearby campers laughed, remembering the time I’d once missed a relay race dive and belly-flopped off the slippery dock.
I crossed my arms and glared at him, my scowl only making his smile widen. First he ignored me and now he tried to humiliate me. Was that why he’d returned to camp? I didn’t believe his story about needing time off from practices and endorsement appearances. He could have gone somewhere way more glamorous. No, Nick came back to Juniper Point for a reason.