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Authors: Erin L. Schneider

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BOOK: Summer of Sloane
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“I guess so.” The corner of his mouth twitches ever so slightly. “How’s it goin’, Penn?” He slaps hands with my brother like they’ve been friends forever. I’ve always been amazed how guys can do that. “So what time are your swim lessons with Luce today? Maybe I’ll bring her over.”

“We’re on for one this afternoon. You in need of a lesson, too?” He laughs, and it makes my stomach shift in a way it hasn’t done in years.

“I think I’m good, but I’ll let you know if that changes.” He eyes the uniforms tucked under my arm, then those under my brother’s. “Hold up, don’t tell me the two of you are working here?”

For a second, I think he’s giving us a hard time for getting a job, and it makes my face flush. “Why, what’s wrong with working here?”

“Nothing. Nothing at all. But I think this summer just got a lot more interesting.
A lot
more.” He starts walking backward, that devilish grin now more present than ever. “I’ll see you this afternoon. Oh, and, Sloane, you still owe me a chicken rematch. Don’t think I’ve forgotten.” He taps the side of his head before he turns and walks back to his chair. And I feel my heart actually skip a beat. Like I’ve never talked to a cute boy or something.

We weave in between hotel guests as Logan leads us back out to the lobby. “Any idea what that was all about?” I ask.

He laughs and I get the feeling I’m not going to like what I’m about to hear. “Oh, you don’t know? Finn’s dad is the owner of the Echelon. He lives here.”

“Huh, no shit.” I glance over my shoulder one last time at Finn, who’s lying back on his chaise lounge. He doesn’t even try to hide the fact he’s watching me from over the top of the magazine he’s picked back up. I can even see his smile from here.

Of all the hotels in all of Waikiki, I pick the one where Finn is a permanent resident.

And now I work for his father.

I stare at Mick’s name in my in-box, but can’t get myself to open up the e-mail, let alone read it. I hover over the delete key, then press enter. Thirty seconds later, I go to my trash and retrieve it, filing it away in Mick’s folder. I’ve been at my mom’s for a little over ten days now, and I can’t believe it’s already been that long since Mick and I were standing in the park and she was unleashing her monsoon of crap.

I’ve read a few of her texts, but for some reason, I can’t get myself to open up and read any of her e-mails, or letters for that matter. She’s already sent me three of those in the mail. They’re sitting, fat and unopened, in the top drawer of my desk.

I’m not sure what it is that makes her e-mails or letters seem that much more intimate, more personal, than a stupid text. Nor can I explain why I can read the ones from Tyler, but not the ones from Mick. Maybe deep down inside, the betrayal hurts more coming from her, because she knows me better than anyone else. She knows every last detail of what makes me tick and somehow it feels like she took advantage of that. Advantage of me. Whatever it is, all I know is that whenever I see her name in my in-box or her handwriting on the outside of an envelope, it literally makes me want to fold myself into tiny confetti-sized pieces and hope a giant gust of wind will blow me away.

I glance at the clock. Three
A.M.
It’s moved only two minutes since the last time I checked, even though it seems like it’s been well over an hour.

I hate McKinley. I hate everything she’s done and how she’s changed my life. But I also hate Tyler. From his many messages, I know he’s trying to pin this on her, like he had nothing to do with it. And based on what I’ve heard from Penn, our friends have all but abandoned her, like she’s carrying some form of the Ebola virus and not a child. How cruel and quick the unfriend button can be.

What’s worse is knowing what that’s going to do to Mick. As if it weren’t bad enough already that she’s pregnant, seventeen years old, and about to start her senior year of high school. If everyone’s bailing on her, leaving her to deal with it all by herself, I can only imagine what this is doing to her. She must be
freaking out
. But then part of me thinks she deserves everything she’s got coming her way and I shouldn’t feel sorry for her at all.

But I do.

Because Mick and I have been through so much together, and I’ve always been there for her, no matter what.

Like the time she asked me to help her with the Justin Donovan “situation.” For months, Justin wouldn’t leave her alone, and she’d begged me to get him away from her. Begged. So I did what was needed. Granted it all didn’t quite go according to plan thanks to a little too much liquid courage on my part. But when Mick ended up slapping Justin for trying to stick his hand up my shirt while I was passed out, it had all been worth it. Because Justin never bothered her again. Or me, for that matter. Later that night, she even held my hair back as I puked something nasty into the hedges.

And it would be impossible to count how many of her dance recitals I’ve sat through over the years, even though Mick didn’t always make it to my swim meets.

But after everything, she still betrayed me in the end. I mean, if she’d wanted a boyfriend, fine—but why did she have to go after mine? Why would she do the one thing she knew I’d never forgive her for? Whywhywhywhy?

I don’t know how I’m going to go back to Seattle at the end of summer and show up for my senior year as if nothing’s changed. How I’m going to walk the halls, sit through class, and act as if a few months in Hawaii cured me of everything. Because I know how everyone is going to stare, that pathetic look in their eyes, the tilt of their heads. Like they’re sorry for me, but really, they’re all just hoping I’ll blow up at Tyler or Mick and cause some epic drama in the hallways.

And what do I do if Tyler or Mick tries to talk to me? Do I ignore them? Do I talk to them indifferently? Do I pretend like I’m fine? I don’t think I have enough courage to do that. I’m not even sure if I can handle seeing her pregnant, like that will be the defining moment that makes it all real.

All of it makes me want to stay here, in Hawaii, far away from them and everything else back at home.

I realize my dad is probably in the middle of his morning commute. It’s been a couple of days since I’ve talked to him, so I pick up my phone and shoot him a text:

Good morning…

A second later, my phone rings. “Hey, Dad. You on your way in to work?”

“Hey, kiddo, I’m headed in to the office now. So…do you want to tell me why you’re up at, what is it there, three thirty in the morning?”

“Oh, you know, hard to sleep in paradise.”

“Yeah, I’ll bet that’s really tough. Hey, while I have you on the phone, I should probably tell you that both McKinley and Tyler came over yesterday—not together. Although their reasoning was the same. They both wanted to apologize. And to ask if I’d talk to you for them.”

I squeeze my eyes shut tight. Because it pains me that they would have the nerve to go and talk to my dad. I’m pretty sure I’ve made it clear I want absolutely nothing to do with either of them, so I don’t understand why they think wrangling my dad into all of this is an obvious choice.

I’m trying to move on, and so should they.

“I’m sorry, Dad. What did you say to them?”

“Well, I told them both it’s not me they need to apologize to; I’m not the one they hurt. But I did also tell them that they need to give you some space, let you figure everything out…even if the result isn’t in their favor. But can I give you some advice, Sloane?”

Honestly, I really hope he has the answer to all of this, so of course I’m all ears. “Sure.”

“Even if you can’t bring yourself to let them back into your life, you do need to try to find a way to forgive them for what they’ve done.
Everyone
makes mistakes, Sloane, some worse than others.” He pauses for a second and maybe I’m just imagining it, but it sounds like he might be talking about more than just Mick and Tyler. “Just know they’ll have to live with the guilt of what they’ve done for the rest of their lives.”

I hear him, but I’m not quite sure how to respond. I think it’s the words “the rest of their lives” that hits me the hardest. Because unless Mick decides not to carry out this pregnancy, in less than nine months, there’s going to be an entirely new person added in to all of this that will be a constant reminder of what happened.

“I’ll try,” I manage.

We chat for a few more minutes about how Hawaii is and how Mom is doing. I know he misses her, and I can almost guarantee there’s a hidden meaning behind what he said. I can’t believe I never put it together before, never really asked why they got divorced. I only cared how much it had impacted me. I guess as a nine-year-old, I only noticed that my mom and dad weren’t both there, together, in the same house. And then as the years went on, it was something I grew used to, never giving it any further thought. Until now.

A few hours later, I drag myself to work for my first day. I can’t stop thinking about what my dad said, and deep down, I know he’s right. But then the beach is there in front of me and the sun is slowly beginning its rise for the day, and somehow that makes it easier to ignore everything else that’s taken an ugly turn in my life lately. Not to mention, just pulling into the hotel parking lot now makes me think of Finn…and I wonder if maybe I’ll see him today.

Then I realize I’m
hoping
I’ll see him today. And it feels good to be thinking about someone who’s not Tyler—to be excited about someone who’s not Tyler.

I can’t believe how busy the activities counter is, especially at seven in the morning. There are actually people milling around, waiting for it to open. But I guess when you work in a city that caters to people from time zones all around the world, there’s no such thing as closed.

Whoever else I’m supposed to be on shift with isn’t here yet, and I don’t have a key to unlock the door, so I smile and explain this to a few of the guests. I’m not sure if they all understand me, as some of them don’t appear to speak English very well.

A local girl around my age, with tattoos on both arms and wearing the same uniform I am, scrambles my way with less than five minutes before we’re slated to open. I recognize her from the bonfire party the other night, but we never actually met. Her dark hair is still wet, but tied up in a messy ponytail, and she has toothpaste on her cheek. She fumbles with a set of keys to unlock the door.

“Folks, it will be a few minutes while we get everything ready.” She repeats the same thing in Japanese for the customers I feared hadn’t a clue what I said earlier. Everyone nods her way as she turns back to me. “Hey, I’m Maile. And no, even though it sounds the same, I’m not like the singer. And you are?” She unlocks the slatted door and shoves gently against it with her shoulder to pop it open, then motions me inside.

“Sloane McIntyre. Nice to meet you, not-like-the-singer Maile.”

She shoots a grin in my direction, then flings her bag in a closet behind the cash register, exposing another tattoo on the small of her back when her shirt hitches up slightly. She sets about getting everything ready before opening the doors for the customers. I gesture at her cheek.

“You’ve got a little toothpaste there.”

She slaps a hand to her face, yanks open the door to the closet where her bag is stored, and checks out her reflection in a small mirror that’s mounted to the inside.

“Damn. I just can’t get myself out of bed on time!” She scrubs at her face until the toothpaste disappears. “If I’m late one more time, Rick’s gonna fire me for sure.”

I can sense the urgency in her voice as she flings the closet door shut and hurries around the small shack. It’s definitely meant to look like a tiki hut, with a fake coconut tree up against one wall and thatched grass tacked up on the ceiling and counter. Even the floor is covered in a thin dusting of sand.

I feel like I should dash around with her, to get whatever needs to be done, done. “What can I do to help?”

“Turn on the open sign behind you, the printer over there, oh, and you’ll need a name tag.” She points toward the closet where her bag is. I dump my own bag with hers and pull a couple of the name tags off one of the shelves. Yeah, I think I can pull off being Kela Kekai from Hilo, Hawaii, today. I clip the tag to the front of my polo, then scramble to get the other things done as Maile powers up the computer for the cash registers. She motions toward the rolling door over the counter that opens to the outside. “If you can open that window, I’ll get the front door. And would you look at that, we still have twenty-two seconds to spare!”

Fifteen minutes later, we’ve successfully handled the five people waiting to book a scuba tour and a sunset dinner cruise. Well, I should say Maile handled the five people as I stood there and listened to what she offered them and booked them into the system. And I must say I was super impressed when she checked the Japanese couple in for their dinner cruise all while speaking to them in their native tongue.

A guy a few years older than us with a buzz cut and starched khakis strides by. He gives Maile a two-fingered salute, taps his watch, then gives her a thumbs-up. She shoots him a fake smile and returns the thumbs-up, but as soon as he’s out of sight, she replaces her thumb with her middle finger.

BOOK: Summer of Sloane
12.78Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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