Rebecca went downstairs and out the back door. Then she walked across the lawn until the grass turned to sand. She took off her sandals and carried them so she wouldn’t get sand in them. He was still there; in the same place that she’d seen him earlier from the upstairs balcony. “Excuse me,” Rebecca called to him.
He didn’t move or respond. He was wearing red shorts and a sleeveless white tee shirt. His dark hair hung in silky wings over his tanned forehead.
“Hello?” she said louder. “This is a private beach; you aren’t supposed to be here.”
Now she stood in front of him, her hands on her hips. He looked at her and she saw that his eyes were a startlingly shade of greenish blue “Hi,” he said pleasantly.
“Hi,” Rebecca replied, her tone clipped and rude. It was a tone the members of her family were very familiar with. “Did you hear me? You aren’t supposed to be here, this is private property.”
Rebecca blinked in surprise. “You know? What do you mean, you know?”
He put his hands on his hips, in imitation of her hostile stance. “I know it’s private.”
“Okay. Then you also know you should leave.”
The guy had the nerve to smile, revealing great teeth. “Okay, I’ll leave. I just wanted to introduce myself.”
“If you wanted to introduce yourself, you would have rang the door bell, like a normal person.”
“I never said I was normal.” He was teasing her. “My name is Colin.”
“Okay. Goodbye, Colin.”
“Are you always this rude to strangers?” he asked.
Rebecca frowned, and her cheeks burned with embarrassment. “No,” she admitted.
“So I should be flattered that I get special treatment?” he quipped.
Rebecca shifted her weight from one leg to the other. “Okay, I’m sorry I was rude.”
“Forgiven. And I’m sorry I was trespassing.” He grinned at her. She felt her earlier anger at him slipping away. How could she be angry at such a beautiful guy? A beautiful guy who was checking her out and apparently liking what he saw.
“Okay,” she grinned back. “My name is Rebecca, but everyone calls me Becky.”
“So, your family is staying here for the summer?” Colin asked.
“Yes, we just got here today,” she said, falling into step with him as he walked along the sand.
“What do you think? Pretty awesome, huh?” he indicated the house behind them.
“Yeah, it’s the biggest house I’ve ever seen,” Rebecca laughed. “Did you know there’s a hot tub in the basement?”
“I heard about that. But, you hear rumors and you wonder which are true and which aren’t.”
Rebecca glanced at him, admiring his profile. He had perfect features; long, dark eyelashes and a tiny mole under his left eye. She still couldn’t tell how old he was, at least twenty, she guessed, five years older than she was. “Yeah,” she agreed, “you can’t always believe rumors.”
“This town is full of them. But I guess most small towns are.”
“I’ve never been in a small town before. We usually go to my grandparents’ house in the summer and they live in New York.”
“Where are you from?” he asked.
“Wow, you’re a long way from home.”
They walked in silence for a while. Rebecca brushed a strand of dark hair off her face and hoped she didn’t look too windblown.
“Do you think your parents would let you go out tonight?” he asked suddenly.
Rebecca grinned, “Yes!” Then she caught herself. “I mean, um, yeah. I’m sure they won’t mind.”
“Cool. So I’ll come by your house tonight about 7 o’clock, okay?”
“Okay. Where are we going?”
“Nowhere really. If you saw the town, you know there’s not much to do. We just hang out around here.”
“We do that in Ohio, too.” As soon as she said it, she realized how stupid it sounded, but by then it was too late to take it back. However, Colin didn’t seem to notice her silly comment or her discomfort, if he did, he chose to ignore it.
“So, I’ll see you later.” He started walking backwards across the sand.
“Where do you live?” Rebecca wanted to know.
“Down the block, in the yellow house with the red roses in front.”
“Oh. That’s pretty.”
“Yeah. No hot tub, though,” he grinned.
“You can use ours, whenever you want to.” She imagined him in swimming trunks, surrounded by steamy water, and the thought made her blush again.
“Okay, maybe I’ll take you up on that. See you, Becky.”
“See you.” She watched him jog away until he disappeared around a corner, then she turned around and ran back to her own house, grinning like a happy idiot.
“Well, you look happy,” her mother, Sheryl, observed, as Rebecca burst into the kitchen, her cheeks flushed, her eyes bright with excitement. “Did something happen?”
Rebecca opened the refrigerator, searching for something to drink. “As a matter of fact, it did. I have a date tonight.”
Sheryl turned in surprise, still holding the knife she was using to cut tomatoes for a salad. “Oh, really? With who?”
“This really cute guy who lives down the block.” Rebecca poured herself a glass of Pepsi and took a drink. “You remember the yellow and white house you liked? The one with the roses and the pretty white fence? That one.”
“Hmmm. Where’s he taking you?”
Rebecca shrugged. “We’re just going to hang out. This town is too small to really do anything in.”
Sheryl laughed. “It’s not that small, Becky. There’s even a movie theater.”
Rebecca rolled her eyes. “I bet the movie is three months old. Anyway, I don’t care what we do. If nothing else, I can spend the evening staring at him.” She swiped a chunk of tomato from her mother’s chopping block and left the kitchen.
A popular hangout for the young people of the town was the town square, and that’s where Colin led her that evening. “Wow,” Rebecca said when she saw the crowd. “The town isn’t as small as I thought.”
Colin grinned and held her hand. “It just seems that way ‘cause they’re gathered together, the population is only about eight thousand people.”
He continued to hold her hand as they walked through the streets. The shopkeepers kept the stores open late on weekends in the hopes of making sales to the young people, and Rebecca couldn’t resist gaping at the beautiful window displays. The windows were decorated with tiny white Christmas lights, which really made them spectacular. “Wow,” she said, “for a small town, they sure sell neat stuff.”
“Yeah, expensive stuff. You’d have to sell your soul to be able to afford anything in the square. It’s a place for tourists; the locals do their shopping in Loriel, which is about 20 miles from here.”
They passed other couples on the sidewalk, either holding hands or openly making out against the walls of the brick buildings. Several of the guys looked Rebecca over and gave her suggestive glances. She looked at Colin to see if he had noticed, but he hadn’t. He was talking about something. “-house you’re staying in. But it’s just another of those rumors. You can’t always believe them.”
“What did you say? I was daydreaming.”
“I said something happened to a girl who was staying in that house your family is renting. She was here for the summer, just like you.”
Rebecca didn’t like the way that sounded. She also didn’t like the way he just let the comment hang there. “Well?” she prompted him impatiently, when he didn’t say anything else.
“Well, what?” he said absently. Now it was his turn to watch the passing of a pretty blonde girl out for the evening with her girlfriends. The blonde returned his gaze, and then turned to whisper something to her friends. They left behind a cloud of cheap perfume and adolescent giggles.
“What happened to the girl?” Rebecca asked, choosing to ignore the fact that he was actually flirting with someone else while they were on a date. “You said something happened to her, but you didn’t say what it was.”
“Oh, she was murdered. They never caught the guy who did it.” He paused to wave at a group of teenagers across the street who were feverishly waving at him. “Come on,” he said, indicating that they should cross the street.
“Wait a minute!” Rebecca cried, pulling her hand away. “You mean someone was murdered in our house? Oh my God!” She ran a shaking hand through the front of her hair and gasped in shock.
Colin frowned. “She disappeared and was never found and everyone assumed she was killed. And I never said she was killed in the house, I said she stayed there for the summer. What’s the big deal?”
“If someone died who stayed in your house, wouldn’t you care? Wouldn’t you be afraid?”
Colin shrugged and gestured to the party across the street. “Not really. I’m originally from Los Angeles so stuff like that doesn’t bother me. Besides, I said it was a rumor. I didn’t mean to upset you.”
Rebecca stared at him. She couldn’t believe he could be so detached about it. Death was horrible no matter where you came from. Colin’s friends joined them, laughing and shrieking over some joke. Colin introduced her as the girl who was staying in the old Brinkley house. Everyone looked at her with awe. “Wow, you must be really brave,” a girl named Christy said with feeling, her eyes round behind a pair of stylish, rimless glasses.
“Why?” Rebecca asked irritably. “Because a girl may or may not have been murdered in my house? Who cares, right?” Frustrated, she crossed her arms under her breasts and turned away.
The group fell silent. They all looked at Colin, who made a series of gestures and facial expressions, Don’t mind her, she’s a little weird. Then he went over to her, putting an arm around her shoulder. “Hey, Becky, don’t weird out on me, okay?”
She didn’t move away from his touch, although she was tempted to. She didn’t meet his eyes. “I’m not weirding out. I’m just- just concerned, is all.”
“Well, don’t be. You’re okay.” When she didn’t look convinced, he hugged her to his chest, her head resting on his shoulder. “Hey, I’m sorry if I came off as crass before. I admit that was insensitive of me. I’m not really like that. Ask anyone.”
Rebecca hugged him back out of instinct. She didn’t say anything.
“Let’s just drop the subject, okay?” he whispered. “We can talk about it later if you want to, but not right now.”
Rebecca pulled away from him, reluctantly. She sighed. “Okay, you’re right. I didn’t mean to spoil your time with your friends.”
Colin smiled and touched her cheek. “You didn’t spoil it. I can’t ever see you spoiling anything.”
Rebecca blushed. She could hear his friends talking among themselves behind her. “I’m okay now.”
“Good.” He started to turn away, but she stopped him.
“Can I ask you one more thing about the girl? The one who disappeared?”
He didn’t look pleased about it, but he didn’t say no. He shoved his hands in the front pockets of his jeans. “Go ahead.”
“What was her name?”
“Why?” he asked in surprise. “You didn’t know her. Obviously.”
“I just wondered.”
“I’m not sure I remember. Tina or Tammy or something. Can we go back now?”
They rejoined his friends who were making fun of oddly dressed tourists. Rebecca didn’t mention anything else about the girl for the rest of the evening and neither did Colin. But every time she caught him looking at her, she knew he regretted mentioning it.
2007, Yolanda King. ©
This work is protected
under the U.S. copyright laws.
Yolanda M. King is a writer-slash-artist; from the time she learned the purpose of a pencil, she has been writing and illustrating her own stories. She has a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in painting and a Master of Arts degree in communication and multimedia. She lives in Saginaw, Michigan with her family where she is hard at work on several novels