Home > Unraveling (Unraveling #1)

Unraveling (Unraveling #1)
Elizabeth Norris

PART ONE

The woods are lovely, dark and deep.

But I have promises to keep,

And miles to go before I sleep,

And miles to go before I sleep.

—Robert Frost

24:00:14:32

I can tell the exact moment Nick steps on the beach.

It doesn’t matter that we’ve only been on three dates or that I wasn’t his biggest fan for the last five years. It doesn’t even matter that his romantic attempts to win me over this summer could be just a means to an end—better girls have been taken in by lesser guys.

But when the air changes, the temperature drops a fraction of a degree, the wind picks up, and a shot of electricity moves through the sand under my feet, I know he’s here.

At least, that’s what I tell Elise, since she likes to swoon over my sort-of love life and gets annoyed when she thinks I’m keeping the details to myself.

I can tell the exact moment Nick steps on the beach, though.

But that’s just because it’s sort of hard to miss seventy-eight twelve-year-olds rushing the beach.

Today I’m actually relieved to see the tidal wave of Little Leaguers descend on Torrey Pines, and I can’t help but smile. Not because of them—not even because of Nick—but because their arrival signifies the end of another ten-hour shift. My last dawn-to-five lifeguard shift this summer. Which is bittersweet, because I love spending my days here—there’s something about the wide-open expanse of water, especially at dawn, when the only people here are the diehard surfers. But I don’t love the long days or the Little League camps or the weekend warriors.

“Damn, J,” Steve says as he gets out of the truck, his eyes wandering to the tendrils of my scar peeking out from under the left strap of my bathing suit. “You’re bailing?”

I grab my duffel and jump from the guard stand into the sand—and ignore the urge to remind him that the scar is nothing he hasn’t seen all summer. “Dude, it’s all you until sundown.”

Steve doesn’t get the chance to say anything else. A clump of wet sand hits me in the leg, followed by a chorus of prepubescent male snickers.

“Aw, Nick. How many times I gotta tell you not to throw stuff at chicks to get their attention?” Per usual, Kevin Collins, mediocre quarterback, star shortstop, and biggest man-whore of Eastview High School stands surrounded by a half-dozen of his Little League campers. “Sorry, Janelle, but you know my man. He’s got no skillz.” He throws an arrogant smile at me because he knows he looks good enough without a shirt that most girls will forgive anything.

But I’m not most girls.

Instead I turn to his best friend. A blush and a lazy smile on his face, he’s swinging his hands together nervously. Tanned skin, short black hair, almond eyes, washboard abs. If I were Elise, I might say Nick Matherson is so pretty it hurts.

Instead I say, “Hey. Happy last day of camp.”

His smile widens, and something in my chest flutters a little—like it always does when he directs that smile at me. “Thanks. They were punks today since, you know, they knew they couldn’t really get in trouble. I thought I might lose my mind, but I’m just glad it’s over.”

I nod—he’s already told me he doesn’t think he’ll coach or work camp again next year.

“I brought you something,” Nick says, reaching into the pocket of his board shorts and extending his loose fist to me. Only he doesn’t open his hand. He just waits.

“What is it?” I ask.

He shrugs. “Come here and see.”

I take a hesitant step closer and reach out my hand. I’m not sure what he could bring me that would fit into his hand, but the fact that he thought of me when I wasn’t around—enough to actually bring me something—makes me smile.

When I touch his wrist to turn it over, his skin is warm. I feel a tingle run through my body as I use my other hand to open his fingers.

And when I see, I can’t help gasping a little. It’s a hundred times better than a piece of jewelry. It’s a packet of lavender seeds. Something I’ve wanted. Something I mentioned to him just yesterday.

“The guy I bought them from said you can plant them in a planter, not like, actually outside, if you don’t want. Hopefully it will help your mom with those headaches,” Nick says.

“Nick, it’s perfect. Thank you,” I say with a smile, and I lean in to hug him. Instead he drops his head, and our lips brush up against each other quickly, before I pull back. I work here, after all, even if it is my last day for the summer.

“I heard you had a rough save this morning,” he says with a laugh. “Two grown men?”

“It was just a rip current,” I explain, a blush creeping into my face as I give a quick rundown of the incident. As I’m talking, I glance over Nick’s shoulder and see Brooke Haslen giving me her scariest death glare.

“But wait,” Nick says. “Elise said both guys were, like, three bills easy.”

“I had the rescue board with me. I swam out there, got them both on the board, and swam them parallel to the shore until we could get back in. It wasn’t a big deal.”

“Whatever, Janelle,” Kevin says as he throws an arm around my shoulder. “We know you’re hiding crazy guns. Think you could take me?” He flexes his biceps, which would be impressive if he weren’t so cocky.

“Dude, get off her,” Nick says, as he pushes Kevin. It only takes two shoves before they’re full-out wrestling and punching each other in the sand. Moments like this I wonder if they share the same brain.

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