There was silence amongst us, the only other sound coming from the lapping of the waves on the beach. I’d come along to relax and forget about the irritating first few weeks back. This was supposed to be one of the last days of warm weather before the winter started setting in. Connelly’s mysterious behavior had continued, going from tense silence to a small attempt at conversation to complete indifference to anything that had to do with me. I was so tired of being around him and dealing with all his weirdness. In some ways, he was even worse than Alister, because at least Alister was consistent in his anger, his hatred for me. Connelly’s unpredictability just put me on edge.
Laying there, feeling my skin bake and listening to the sounds of Wolf Lake, Monday seemed so far away. Monday, the day when we would be permanently paired with a partner for all three competitions. And judging by how they always put me and Connelly together, I was left to hope and pray they hadn’t already picked him for me. I let out a slow deep sigh. Enough. I told myself. No more thinking of him.
“So Louis,” Dale’s voice cut through the silence and almost made me jump. “Tell us about yourself.”
“Isn’t it a little late for this?” Sue asked from on my right and I agreed.
“Better late than never,” Dale said on my other side.
“Well, what do you want to know?” he replied on my far left.
“Be careful what you say, Louis. He lured you here for an interrogation,” I said, smiling and keeping my eyes closed. Sue giggled quietly and Dale hit my arm.
Louis let out a laugh.
“No I didn’t,” Dale said quickly. “Where are you from?”
“Uh, all over really; I’ve kinda been moving around a lot for a few years now.”
“Do you not live with your parents?” asked Sue.
“No, they uh, they, died.” Louis hesitated. “A couple years ago.”
“Oh, I’m so sorry,” I said and the others added their condolences.
“How did you end up here?” Dale asked.
“I’ve got some friends near here and they convinced me to stay awhile.”
“Oh really? Who?” Dale asked.
“Okay, okay,” I said, sitting up on my arms and looking at them. “I think that’s enough questions for today.”
I gave Dale a look and he feigned innocence. “What? I was just trying to get to know the guy and who he knew around here.”
“What are you going to do? Go question them about him too? Calm down big brother,” I said and after sending me a look, he did relax.
Louis raised up on his arms too and looked at us. “I didn’t know you were related?”
I laughed. “We’re not.” He raised his eyebrow questioningly. “He’s always been protective of me and Sue since we were little. He’s like the big brother I never had, so that’s what I’ve always called him.”
Louis smiled a little and nodded, “It’s nice to have someone look after you. Make sure you’re safe.” A warm smile played on his lips as he continued to hold my gaze. He looked so good in his dark blue swim trunks, with those chiseled muscles and that copper tan. It made me wonder why I was at all still even interested in Connelly.
Suddenly Dale slapped my arm so hard it buckled and I fell back into the sand. “Ow! What the hell was that for?”