Authors: Melody Carlson
Tags: #Young Adult, #(¯`'•.¸//(*_*)\\¸.•'´¯)
“Stop right there,” Taylor called from across the pool. Somehow, she had slipped out of the water and gotten her towel around her. She was now marching toward them with DJ’s towel in hand.
“Oh, I see…there are two of you. Two pretty ladies.”
“That’s right.” Taylor walked up and looked him right in the eyes, which wasn’t difficult because she was as tall as he was. “And we are both guests of General Harding and my friend’s grandmother, and our guardian is in the house right now. So if you want to press charges, I suggest you go over there and inform her first.”
“Well, I might just do that.”
“Fine,” snapped Taylor. “In the meantime, I suggest you turn your back or we will have charges pressed against you. For your information we are both minors and we just arrived and haven’t had a chance to learn about your rules. But we are guests here, not to mention good friends of the general’s. If he hears how you’ve treated us, I’m sure you’ll be looking for a new job in the morning.”
Her words must have put the fear of something into him because he did turn around. And while he did, Taylor reached down and, using the towel as a shield, helped DJ out of the
pool. DJ quickly wrapped her towel like a full-body sarong and they both marched past the guard.
“We’re very sorry about breaking the rules,” DJ called over her shoulder. “It won’t happen again.”
“And we’ll be sure to let the general know you were doing your job,” Taylor turned as she said this, “along with all the details.”
DJ thought she saw the color draining from the man’s face as he skulked away and within a minute the lights were turned off. “What a loser,” said DJ angrily. “I hate to think of what he might’ve done if I’d been alone.”
“Welcome to Palm Beach,” said Taylor.
“Hopefully all the security guards aren’t dirty old men,” said DJ as they went into their room and locked the door and closed the drapes.
“I do intend to tell someone about that guy,” Taylor said as she dropped her towel. “I’ll bet he has a previous record as a sex offender.”
“And even if the homeowners here are old, they deserve a decent security guard,” added DJ.
“Don’t kid yourself,” said Taylor. “Guys like that might not care if a person was old or not.”
DJ made a face. “Gross! That is just sick.”
“Seems your grandmother was right,” Taylor called from the bathroom.
“Thank God for the buddy system.”
DJ nodded as she sank down into a chair. “Thank God!” And she felt almost as thankful for Taylor just then—for her quick thinking and fast action. And later she would tell her.
“Just so you know,” DJ told the others the next morning. “The night security guard is a total perv.”
“What?” demanded Grandmother as she poured her coffee.
“A pervert,” DJ explained. “A degenerate.”
“What are you talking about?”
The kitchen was quiet now and the others were listening too.
“DJ and I went for a little moonlight swim,” Taylor explained as she poured some orange juice. “But we didn’t know the pool was supposed to be closed, and suddenly the lights go on and this slimy little security guard is trying to pull DJ out of the pool and actually coming on to her like if she cooperated he wasn’t going to call the police.”
“He thought I was alone,” DJ explained. And then she told about how Taylor came to her rescue.
“But the guy’s a real lowlife,” said Taylor. “And I think we should tell someone.”
“We most certainly will,” declared Grandmother. “I will call the general and ask him to see that this pervert person is
relieved of his duties.” She shook her finger at DJ now. “But no more after-hours swims, understand?”
“Trust me, I have no intention of doing that again.”
“Still, that doesn’t give anyone the right to take advantage.” Grandmother had her phone out now. “I’m sure the general will be very concerned.” She smiled now. “And I want to thank him for having his housekeeper stock the fridge for us.”
“It figures the perv would go after DJ,” teased Eliza after Grandmother left the room to converse with the general. “She’s got that kind of appeal.”
“What a horrid thing to say,” Rhiannon shot back at her.
“I’m just kidding.” Eliza made a face. “Can’t anyone take a joke?”
Casey laughed. “I think it’s funny.”
“You would,” said DJ with a scowl.
“And what’s that supposed to mean?” Casey glared at DJ.
“Just that you used to think for yourself.”
Casey rolled her eyes. “That shows how much you know.” Then she walked away. But as she walked, DJ realized that she was, once again, dressed like Eliza. Probably wearing Eliza’s clothes. When Eliza packed Casey’s bags, she likely threw out all of Casey’s oddball garments, replacing them with expensive designer clothes that Eliza wouldn’t be embarrassed to be seen with. Poor Casey.
“Why is everything such a competition with some people?” Rhiannon was putting a layer of cream cheese on her bagel. Only Taylor and DJ were with her in the kitchen now.
Taylor laughed. “Not that you’re mentioning names.”
“It just gets so tiring. I mean, it’s so junior high, don’t you think?”
Now Taylor looked slightly hurt. “You mean me, don’t you?”
Rhiannon blinked in surprise. “No.”
“I know I’m competitive,” Taylor admitted. “It’s probably one of my worst faults.”
“Honestly, I didn’t mean you.” Rhiannon looked directly at Taylor.
“Me then?” asked DJ, suddenly feeling slightly guilty.
“No. I didn’t mean you either.”
“But I’m pretty competitive too.”
“Only when it comes to sports.” Taylor laughed. “The rest of the time you’re a pushover.”
“I’m a pushover?” DJ felt offended.
“I meant that in the best possible way. You’re easy to get along with,” Taylor persisted. “Why else would I want you for my roommate? I’m the one who’s difficult. And I’m too competitive too.” She looked at Rhiannon again. “You did mean me, didn’t you?”
“You guys had to know that I meant Eliza.” Rhiannon jabbed her cream cheese spreader in the air like a sword. “It’s like she just never quits. She never gives up. Even this whole thing with Casey is feeling like a great big ridiculous competition. It’s like Eliza lost Kriti so she wanted to carve me into her new best friend, and I played along for a while—just to be nice. But then I drew the line and refused. And so she went after Casey. And now she keeps throwing poor Casey in my face—like
! Or so it seems.” Rhiannon sighed and took a bite of her bagel.
“You’re probably right,” agreed DJ.
“And Casey is a big girl,” Taylor pointed out. “She’ll probably get tired of Eliza’s game before long. And she’ll possibly learn a good lesson from all this.”
“In the meantime, she’s eating it up,” said DJ.
Taylor shrugged. “I’m sure we’ve all been there and done that in one form or another.”
They joined the others in the living room now. Grandmother had finished informing the general about the creepy security guard and Eliza was begging to borrow the general’s car.
“Where do you want to go?” Grandmother asked.
“Shopping,” Eliza announced like it was a good thing.
“Why?” demanded DJ. “Didn’t you shop your brains out before we got here?”
“Yes, but that was before I shared my wardrobe with someone in need.” Eliza gave DJ a placating look. “Now I realize I’ll be running short. And Casey needs a few things too, don’t you, Case?”
Casey just looked down at her feet, which were wearing Eliza’s sandals.
“And we want to get our shopping done before the boys arrive.”
“Which will be when?” inquired Grandmother.
“Perhaps we should invite them for dinner,” suggested Grandmother.
“Oh, could we?” Eliza asked with enthusiasm. “I’d be happy to pay for the food.”
Grandmother smiled. “I think that would be lovely. I noticed a basket in the kitchen that’s just full of brochures from local restaurants and caterers. Why don’t you see what you can put together, Eliza?”
“Just make sure there’s no booze this time,” DJ said loudly.
“That’s right!” Grandmother shook her fist in the air. “No alcohol!”
“Now who wants to go surfing with me today?” DJ called out. “I found a surf shop in the yellow pages and it’s within walking distance.” She looked hopefully at Taylor.
“I used to surf,” Taylor told her. “Back when I was young and crazy and didn’t care if I ended up looking like a drowned rat with bad hair and broken nails.”
DJ moaned. “There’s more to life than looking good.”
Taylor nodded. “I know, but life’s more fun when you do.”
DJ looked at Casey. “There was a time when you’d have gone with me…but I’m guessing that’s not today.”
Casey smiled and shrugged. “Sorry, DJ, I already have plans.”
“Rhiannon?” DJ made a begging gesture with her hands.
“You know I’m scared of water, DJ. I’m a horrible swimmer.”
“Right.” She looked at Grandmother then shook her head. “You guys are all a bunch of old ladies!” Then she went to her room, hoping that someone would feel sorry for her. Unfortunately it didn’t work.
“I’m sorry, DJ,” said Taylor when she finally came to check on her. “I’m just not into surfing.”
“I got that.”
“But…” Taylor grinned. “If we found a game of beach volleyball, I might be willing to get a little sweaty.”
“As long as I get some down time too. I was really looking forward to just vegging on the beach.”
“Should we see if Rhiannon wants to come?”
And so the three of them set off for the beach. Thankfully, Rhiannon and Taylor both remembered their sunscreen and they made sure that DJ had plenty. And before long, they did
find a volleyball game. Taylor, true to her word, played good and hard. Rhiannon made an attempt, but she just wasn’t the athletic type, and before long everyone was glad to see her move to the sidelines.
“This reminds me of when we first met,” Taylor told DJ during a break. “Remember being at the beach last summer?”
DJ laughed. “I remember the bag mix up.”
Taylor snickered. “And you thought the condoms were candy.”
DJ groaned. “Please, don’t remind me. That could still go on record as one of my most embarrassing moments.”
“You seem to get more than your fair share.”
“And now I can add last night to the list.”
Rhiannon came over to join them. “Are you guys hungry yet?”
They decided to tell their volleyball friends good-bye and go off in search of food. “I’m thinking rock shrimp,” Taylor told them. “I’ve heard they’re really good around here.”
“I was thinking something cheap like a hotdog,” admitted Rhiannon.
“What if it’s my treat?” offered Taylor.
“Bring it!” said Rhiannon happily.
Before long, Taylor had discovered an outdoor café that boasted the best rock shrimp in Palm Beach.
“I don’t know if this is the best or not,” DJ declared as she finished her lunch. “But it’s the best I’ve ever had.”
“Yeah, thanks!” Rhiannon actually licked her finger, and then she pointed out toward the walkway. “Look at that!”
They all turned to see.
“Is that Eliza and Casey?” DJ removed her sunglasses and squinted in the sunlight. “I mean, it looks like them, except that they’re…like…
Taylor broke into laughter. “I bet they went to a spray-on-tan booth.”
“A really bad spray-on-tan booth,” said DJ.
“What about the photo shoot?” Rhiannon sounded worried.
“Maybe it’ll wear off by then,” said DJ.
Taylor stood and waved at the two girls, calling them over to their sidewalk table. “Hey, did you guys have lunch yet?” Taylor looked like she was about to lose it.
“It looks like they had oranges for lunch,” said DJ.
“Very funny.” Eliza glared at them.
“No, we haven’t had lunch.” Casey looked like she wanted to hit somebody. “We went shopping and…well, other things.”
“Obviously,” said DJ. “Anyway, we can recommend the rock shrimp here.” She held out one last one in case they were interested. “In fact, it kind of matches your skin.”
“I was thinking more along the line of Cheetos,” teased Taylor. “Seriously, have you guys looked in the mirror lately?”
Eliza narrowed her eyes. “Yes, but thanks for reminding us. I’ve already put my lawyer onto it. A certain day spa is going to be served shortly.”
“What happened?” asked Rhiannon.
“It was her idea.” Casey jerked her thumb toward Eliza.
“I’ve had lots of spray-on tans.” Eliza shrugged. “It’s never been a big deal.”
“Until now.” DJ just shook her head.
“But HOW did it happen?” persisted Rhiannon. “How did you both end up looking like tangerines?”
“This idiot girl claimed she knew what she was doing.” Casey rolled her eyes. “She looked like she was about twelve and she was running the tanning section. She happily agreed
to let us both get sprayed at the same time—too bad I didn’t wait to see how Eliza looked first.”
“So we picked the color we wanted—Malibu Gold,” Eliza continued. “And this devil child punched the supposed formula into the computer. Then we went into the booths and got sprayed.”
“What will you do about the photo shoot?” asked the ever practical Rhiannon.
“We’re working on it.” Eliza grimaced as she held up a glitzy pink bag. “These products are supposed to help.”
“Are you still planning on having the guys for dinner tonight?”
“I already ordered the food and called Lane,” Eliza said quickly. “But I’m thinking of canceling.”
To her surprise, DJ actually felt sorry for the two orange girls. “Maybe we can help put things together for you tonight,” she said suddenly.
“While you two are exfoliating,” added Taylor.
“Do you think it would help to soak in the pool?” offered Rhiannon. “I mean, before you exfoliate or whatever it is you’re going to do?”
“What about the ocean?” suggested DJ. She wanted to add “so you don’t leave an orange ring around the pool,” but thought better or if. “Maybe the wave action and salt water can help remove the dye—kind of like a washing machine.”
“Maybe.” Eliza nodded. “That’s not a bad idea.”
“Anyway, we’ll do whatever we can to help,” Rhiannon assured them.
“Thanks.” Now Eliza almost smiled.
“Yeah, thanks.” Casey actually seemed grateful.
“I’m sure it’ll come off,” DJ called out as the two walked away.
“I hope you’re right,” said Taylor. “That could really mess up the photo shoot.”
“What if Josie makes us pay her back for the airfare and everything?” Rhiannon looked seriously worried now. “I mean, I’ve saved up some money for school, but that would wipe it out.”
“We’ll figure out something,” Taylor said with confidence. “One way or another, we’ll get those girls looking photo-worthy by Tuesday. If nothing else, we could get some bronzer and their skin could be as dark as mine.”
“And Rhiannon and I will look like albinos next to you guys,” said DJ.
“And now that we offered to help with dinner, I insist we get some down time before it’s time for KP,” said Taylor. “I’m heading back to the house.”
No one argued. But once they were back, DJ felt restless, and since it was daylight and the pool was open, she decided to swim laps. After that, she fell asleep in the sun and when she woke up, she realized she’d forgotten the sunscreen. Still, it wasn’t like she was seriously burnt. Just a little pink.
Of course, that pink got brighter as evening came. And when Grandmother saw DJ arranging things on the patio table, she let out a little cry.
DJ nearly dropped the stack of plates. “What’s wrong?”
“Oh, Desiree, I thought I told you to use sunscreen!”
“And I thought you’d agreed to call me DJ, Grandmother. Remember?”
Grandmother pressed her forefinger onto DJ’s arm, releasing it to expose a white spot. “You are burnt to a crisp, child!”
“It’ll turn into a tan in a day or two,” DJ assured her. “It always does.”
“And I already lathered her up in a special Aloe Vera after-sun product,” Taylor said as she set some glasses on the table. “I promise you, she’ll look great by Tuesday.”
“I certainly hope so. It’s bad enough that we’ve come here one girl short. But if we show up with DJ looking like a cooked crab, we could be in trouble.”
“Speaking of seafood, Mrs. Carter…” Taylor glanced at DJ. “You haven’t seen Eliza and Casey, have you?”
Grandmother frowned. “I was just about to ask why you girls were getting things ready for dinner. I thought Eliza was seeing to it.”
“We’re helping,” DJ said quickly.
“And what time is dinner?” Grandmother asked.
“Eliza said the guys should be here by seven thirty.”