Authors: Lisa Aldin
Tags: #One of the Guys
ONE OF THE GUYS
Copyright Â© 2014 by Lisa Aldin
Sale of the paperback edition of this book without its cover is unauthorized.
Spencer Hill Contemporary / Spencer Hill Press
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are products of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this book or portions thereof in any form whatsoever.
Contact: Spencer Hill Press, PO Box 247, Contoocook, NH 03229, USA
Please visit our website at
First Edition: February 2015
One of the Guys: a novel / by Lisa Aldin â 1st ed. p. cm.
Summary: A tomboy rents out dates with her male friends to students at an all-girl prep school and ends up falling for her best friend.
The author acknowledges the copyrighted or trademarked status and trademark owners of the following wordmarks mentioned in this fiction: ChapStick, Christmas Vacation, Cloverfield, Darth Vader, Diet Coke, Discovery Channel, Dr. Pepper, Dunkin' Donuts, Family Guy, Fight Club, Ford Focus, Ghost, Go Fish, GoPro, Hello Kitty, Home Alone, Honda Civic, Ice Spiders, Indianapolis Colts, James Bond, Junior Mints, King Kong, Mario Brothers, Mario Kart, Maxima, McRib, Moby Dick, Monday Night Football, Mountain Dew, My Bloody Valentine, New England Patriots, No Country For Old Men, Pale Blue Dot, Peach, Post-It, Road House, Skittles, Snickers, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, The Proposal, Titanic, Tupperware, Tweety Bird, VW Bug, White Castle, Yoshi
Cover design by Jenny Zemanek
Interior layout by Jenny Perinovic
Author Photo by Christopher Aldin
ISBN 978-1-939392-63-3 (paperback)
ISBN 978-1-939392-64-0 (e-book)
Printed in the United States of America
For Chris and Charlotte
LOVE THE BEGINNING OF A HUNT.
No one is tired or hungry or complaining yet. Plus the start is so full of
. Like maybe we'll capture our town's legendary lake monster on film tonight. Maybe we'll put to rest any doubts of his existence. Maybe we'll become the legend.
As Lake Champlain wrinkles with miniature waves, I imagine Champ swimming underneath, looking up at us and smiling. My knees bounce with the excitement of a kid waiting to see Santa. I can't sit still. But the guys are so relaxed and quiet, staring off into the night, waiting. The gentle
slosh, slosh, slosh
of water petting the side of Ollie's pontoon boat rises and falls. The scent of algae lingers.
Come on, Champ. Show yourself. I dare you
I look up clouds and hope for rain. After a hunt, I like to walk into my house smelly and soaked. The night somehow feels wasted unless I'm dragging mud into the living room.
I wish I knew what would entice the old monster to appear. Bread crumbs? Serenading the water with an enchanting song? Performing some weird dance? We've tried it all, but we haven't spotted Champ since the summer before fifth grade. The summer that forged our friendship. The summer all four of us noticed the giant, black tail grazing the surface of the lake.
A massive belch escapes me. Loch shifts in the driver's seat and shoots me a stern look over his shoulder, his plain white T-shirt flapping in the breeze. I smile sheepishly. Not the best time to showcase my talent.
. After three noise violations, we will end the hunt. Champ likes quiet. Why else would he hide at the bottom of a lake for centuries?
“Sorry,” I whisper, holding back another burp. Maybe I should lay off the Mountain Dew.
After a moment, Loch smiles and mouths the words, “Good one.”
I stifle a laugh. Yeah. The best ones sometimes come out of nowhere, as my dad would say.
Ollie slaps his arm. “Stupid bugs,” he grumbles.
I sigh. Let the complaining begin. I could sit here all night without saying a word, bugs swarming, heat crawling up my neck, but Ollie can barely go thirty minutes without whining about something. I dig through my duffel bag of monster-hunting goodies until I find the bug spray and toss the bottle across the boat to Ollie.
“Thanks, McRib,” he whispers. He sprays his arm until it shines with wetness.
Cowboy coughs and whispers, “Take it easy with that poison.” He scoots a few inches away from Ollie, covering his mouth and nose.
“Bugs carry diseases.” Ollie leans over to spray his thick hairy legs. He should really consider shaving those things. They look like fuzzy caterpillars. “I'm not taking any chances.”
“This coming from the kid who flies down mountains on a board for fun.” Cowboy rests his elbows on his knees. A huge bug crawls between strands of his blond hair. He casually shakes his head, and the bug vanishes into the dark.
“You can't get a disease from snowboarding,” Ollie adds, his whisper growing louder. I cringe, wishing he'd keep it down. It's too early to scare off the monster.
Cowboy rests his head back and closes his eyes.
Is he bored?
How could anyone find this
? We're monster hunting! An uneasy feeling bubbles in my stomach, like I'm watching my favorite movie but it's nearing the end. And I can't rewind.
“Careful,” I say, keeping my voice low. A mosquito lands on my elbow and proceeds to chow down. “You'll scare Champ away with your paranoia, Ollie.”
“I prefer winter.” Ollie wipes his hands on his cargo shorts. “Bugs hate winter.”
,” Loch whispers, fidgeting with the GoPro dangling around his neck.
“Agreed,” Cowboy says softly, eyes still closed.
Everyone shuts up. I scratch at my bug bite and breathe a little easier, pleased with the silence, however fleeting it may be. But Cowboy is irritating me. I mean, this is ridiculous. His eyes are
. On a monster hunt. How does he expect to
I take a deep breath. Try to relax. I don't want to scare Champ away with any bad vibes. As the breeze ripples the water, my gaze wanders to the mountains surrounding the lake. I bet those mountains have seen Champ a million times over hundreds of years. Witnessed every sighting. Every story. The mountains know our story, too. If only they could talk. Because no one believes what we saw.
Eventually my gaze lowers to Loch. His fingers rest on the wheel, guiding the boat with ease. I never get tired of seeing him in his natural habitat, on the hunt for a legendary beast, working to prove skeptics wrong. After a few minutes, he cuts the engine, stands, and slides his hands into the back pockets of his jeans.
On second thought, this is my favorite part of a hunt. Watching Loch hold his breath. Studying his lips as they move in a prayer-like fashion. I know he isn't really praying, though. He's talking to Champ, making deals and promises with the monster in exchange for a glimpse.
“Hey, McRib. Can you toss me a bag of sour cream and onion chips?” Ollie asks.
The request startles me. Ollie doesn't even bother whispering anymore. I pull my stare away from Loch and fumble through the bag. No chips. Oh, right. I ate them on the way here. I throw over a can of delicious Mountain Dew instead. Now the silence can continue. I hope.
“Hey,” Cowboy says, his voice soft and quiet, but not quite a whisper. “Throw me one?”
Or maybe not. I should probably just hand Cowboy his drink, but I'm too lazy to get up. I'm comfy. So I toss it. But the can slips from Cowboy's clumsy hands and hits the floor of the boat with a
before rolling toward me. Quickly, I step on it. Loch's shoulders tense. His dark eyes focus on the dark water.
Suddenly, there's a splash behind me. Ollie and Cowboy jump up and peer over the edge of the boat so quickly I think someone might go overboard. Cursing, I search the bag while Loch aims his flashlight and GoPro at the water. After I find my flashlight, the two pale strips of light roll over the water together.
My heart pounds.
I hold my breath.
The only sound is the
slosh, slosh, slosh
of the waves.
Wedged between Ollie and Cowboy, I smell the stench of bug spray on Ollie's arms mixed with Cowboy's eye-stinging cologne. I suspect Cowboy wears the cologne on hunts because he secretly hopes we'll run into Katie Morris, his long-time crush. Like she'd happen to be out monster hunting one night.
A few minutes pass as we search the water for the source of the splash. Maybe Champ will show us his face this time? Or a shoulder? A claw? That'd be sweet.
Ollie steps back from the railing, sighing. My heart drops.
No. Don't give up yet. He's under there. Just wait
. Seconds later, Cowboy plops down and opens his dented Mountain Dew can. The
of the tab echoes. I cringe again.
I look to Loch. Not yet. His tall body's a statue.
Loch and I remain fixated on the lake. I don't understand why Ollie and Cowboy have given up already. It's freaking early. We've survived so many false alarms over the years. Big deal. False alarms don't mean we just
A thick branch floats by the pontoon on a wave. Loch turns off the flashlight and scratches the stubble on his chin. I sigh and turn off my flashlight, too. If Loch's given up, the hope is dwindling. His shoulders slumped, he returns to the driver's seat. I feel like saying something encouraging, anything, but I'm afraid the hunt will officially end if I do.
Before I sit down, I give the water one more good look. Nothing.
Ollie chuckles. “Hey, Loch. You could add that to your hours of floating twigs footage.”
I sink further into my seat, annoyed. And there it is.
Loch starts up the engine. “That shouldn't count,” I say, sighing.
“Champ could be swimming circles around us and we'd miss it,” Loch says, steering the boat back to the dock. “What's the point of being out here if we're scaring the guy away every two seconds?”
I look down, press my lips together, and fidget with my black basketball shorts. I hate the end of a hunt. Everyone's so crabby and pessimistic.
Cowboy yawns. “Maybe we just saw an eel or something that day, you know? Maybe we're wasting our time with this.”
Ollie nods. “Yeah. Like maybe my eleven-yearold imagination saw a giant tail, but in reality, it was probably just a stick.”
No. No. No. These are not the
I love. I snort and try to lighten the mood with a stupid joke. “Good point, Ollie. You do like to pretend certain snake-like things are larger than they actually are.”
Cowboy laughs, squirting Mountain Dew out of his nose. Ollie breaks into a grin and shakes his head, swatting at a bug. I look to Loch for his reaction. He curls his fingers around the wheel over and over again, lost in thought, quiet. I'm kinda hurt. Loch usually laughs at my lame jokes.