Chapter 4 - Part 1
Charlie hadn’t even bothered to return her call. She received a text message from him later that evening telling her to be at his place at ten the next morning to get her stuff. He had gone from the most important person in her world to a stranger almost overnight and she mourned for the loss of that, even though she knew she had made the right decision.
“You free at ten tomorrow morning?” she asked when Myles returned home after a workout at the gym.
“What are we doing?” He placed his gym bag beside the sofa.
His hair was still wet and she watched a droplet run down the side of his neck. She didn’t like how transfixed she felt as she watched it slide down his skin.
“Charlie sent me a text to tell me I can pick up my stuff tomorrow at ten.”
He nodded. “Sure, I’ll be there.”
She put her phone on the table and folded her arms as she thought apprehensively about seeing him tomorrow. But it was best to get it over and done with. Dragging it out would only make things worse for both of them.
“You got plans for tonight?” she asked.
He dropped down on the seat beside her. “Nope.”
She gave him an incredulous look. “Myles Shaw has no plans to go out?”
“I thought you could do with company.”
She curled her feet under her as she adjusted herself to face him. “I don’t want you to feel like you need to babysit me.”
“What’s wrong with wanting to spend some time with a friend I haven’t been able to hang out with for a while?” He gave her a serious look.
“I’m probably not going to be good company tonight.” She was tired of feeling the way she was.
“I have an idea.” He stood up and extended his hand to her.
She didn’t want to do anything other than allow herself to wallow in her self pity.
“What are you up to, Myles?” She eyed him suspiciously.
“Trust me.” His hand didn’t waver as he held it out to her. Knowing he would persist, she gave in and allowed him to lift her to stand.
He led her to the sliding door that led out to the backyard.
“What are we doing?” she questioned, confused when he pulled her the few feet to the pool, the backyard lights glimmering on the surface of the water.
“We’re going swimming,” he announced, letting go of her hand to pull his shirt off over his head.
She shook her head, refusing to discard any of her clothing. “I don’t have a swimsuit.” Her self-consciousness made her pull her large shirt further down.
It was dark, the only light coming from the one porch light and the pool light.
“You can swim in the clothes you have on.”
She looked down to his clothes she still wore. At least the shirt wasn’t white, but once she was wet it would cling to her body, which would accentuate every hang-up she had.
“I don’t know if this is a good idea.” She was hesitant to go along with him.
“You’re going in whether it’s on your terms or mine.” He gave her that determined look she knew all too well.
He was at least a foot taller than she was, and he was built. He could force her in if he wanted to.
She frowned as she stepped closer to the pool before bending to test the temperature of the water with her hand. It wasn’t too cold.
“Fine, but no splashing,” she warned as she walked around to the shallow end.
He ran and jumped into the air, pulling his knees into his chest as he cannon-balled into the pool in one swoop. She always took her time getting into the pool and allowing her body to adjust to the coolness, but sometimes she wished she could just jump in like he had.
He resurfaced in the deep end while she entered the pool on the first step by the shallow end.
“At this rate you’ll be all night,” he complained, swimming closer with a dangerous look in his eye.
“Don’t even think about it,” she warned with a glare as she reached the next step. The cold water closed around her mid-calf and she breathed through it.
He closed the distance between them and just when she was about to turn around to escape him, he put an arm around her, pulling her to him and deeper into the pool.
She yelped as the cold water hit her all in one go.
“See, that was much quicker,” he murmured by her ear, still keeping her close with his arm around her.
This time when she pushed away from him, he released her.
“That was underhanded.” She glared at him, shivering and rubbing her arms to no avail.
He shrugged. “You’re in, aren’t you?”
“So how is swimming going to make me better company?” she questioned, feeling her body start to warm to the water.
“Float on your back and you’ll see,” he said as he lay on his back while staring up into the dark night.
She didn’t get it, but she did as he instructed. It was only when she lay back, floating motionless on the surface, that she understood.
It was beautiful. The stars sparkled brilliantly in the sky and it felt like she was surrounded by it. There was no sound except for the slight motion of Myles beside her.
She was in awe.
They seemed to be magical, shining brightly down on them. It reminded her of a time of when she had been younger and had believed in fairytales—but that was before she had grown up.
Myles floated beside her quietly as she took it in, and his hand found hers. It was so peaceful, silencing her chaotic thoughts. Only this moment mattered, not the past or the future. She let out a breath and felt Myles’ hand tighten around hers, anchoring her to him.
He had always had that way of quietly knowing what she needed when she didn’t even know herself. Her hand gripped his like the lifeline he was to her. They stayed there for a while. She didn’t want to end it, but the water grew cooler. She was the first to allow her feet to drift to the bottom of the pool.
Myles still held onto her hand when he moved to stand beside her.
“That was…” There were no words to describe what she had just experienced.
“I know.” His voice came out in a whisper. “It helps block everything out.”
She gazed up at him. “I really needed that.”
But then she began to shiver.
“You’re getting cold.” His hand touched her arm. “It’s time to get out.” He led her away.
“I’ll get us towels,” he said, ducking back into the house before reappearing with two beach towels.
He handed her one and then began to dry himself.
Her hands shook while she attempted to dry herself off, but the oversized clothes made it a little difficult. “Turn around,” she instructed him.
He turned and waited. She slipped out of the clothes before wrapping the towel around herself, then reached to pick up the clothes and squeeze out the excess water.
“Okay, you can turn around,” she said, and he turned to see the clothes in her hand.
His eyes drifted over her, making her more self-conscious. His gaze stopped at her legs.
“What?” she asked, looking down to see what had caught his interest.
“Nothing… It’s nothing.” He moved to pick up his discarded shirt before pulling it back over his head. Then he headed back in the house, leaving her unsure of what had happened.
Tightening her hold on the towel, she followed him inside. He reappeared a few minutes later without the towel and new shorts.
“Here,” he said, handing her some dry clothes.
“It’s a good thing I’ll be getting my stuff tomorrow,” she murmured. “I look huge in your clothes.”
He studied her like he wanted to say something, but then he pressed his lips into a tight line.
“I’ll need to change.” Her mouth felt so dry.
She was feeling so self-conscious when she left to go to the bathroom to change and she was glad for the space from him. He was acting a little strange and she wasn’t sure how to handle him. She got into dry clothes and squeezed the excess water out of her hair.
They ended up watching some cheesy movie on cable, but things still seemed awkward, and she was left wondering what had happened to change the easy-going atmosphere they had shared just a short while ago.
He gave her a stiff, “Good night,” before disappearing to his room. She sat in the living room for a while before she got up and went to bed.
She stayed up for a while, trying to pinpoint the exact moment things had changed, but she couldn’t figure out what she had done to make Myles act so differently.