Read Second Star Online

Authors: Alyssa B. Sheinmel

Tags: #Juvenile Fiction, #Classics, #Fairy Tales & Folklore, #Adaptations, #Family, #Siblings, #Love & Romance

Second Star (8 page)

BOOK: Second Star
4.69Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

On the other side of the fire, Belle slouches, talking to some boys whose names I don’t yet know, a necklace she stole twinkling around her neck in the firelight. I can tell it’s not actually a nice piece of jewelry, probably won’t be worth much money when they try to pawn it along with everything else they stole. But the necklace looks really pretty on her—it suits her, somehow, even though she’s wearing it with an oversize sweatshirt and flip-flops. She’s so short that the sweatshirt fits her like a minidress. It’s probably Pete’s shirt, or at least it probably used to be.

Shivering, I step closer to the fire. From behind me, Matt hands me a beer.

“A toast to the criminal of the hour,” he says, clinking his own bottle against mine.

“Ha ha,” I say, taking a swig. “Very funny.”

“What’s funny?” Matt answers. “You saved our asses back there. We owe you big-time now, Newport.”

“Well, I’ll take my payment in free beer and surf lessons, thank you very much.”

Matt grins. He has tan lines around his eyes just like Pete’s, from squinting in the sun. I think he must be my age, and I wonder if he ever thinks about the fact that under different circumstances he might have graduated high school this spring.

“Aren’t you cold?” I ask. He’s wearing board shorts and a T-shirt. I’m wearing jeans and a sweater and am still covered with goose bumps.

“Nah, cold doesn’t bother me. I head out there in January in nothing but shorts,” he says, gesturing toward the waves. “If you’re cold, I can run up and get you a blanket or something,” Matt offers, but I shake my head.

I lower myself onto the sand, and he sits down beside me. This could be an opportunity to ask him about John and Michael, but I know I’ll have to tread carefully.

“What’s it like surfing here in January? The waves are bigger then, huh?”

Matt nods. “Oh yeah, they’re really something. Just you wait. If we get one of those sweet Northwest swells coming down the coast, you’re in for a treat.”

I nod, smiling at the way Matt assumes I’ll still be here come January.

“Did you get a nice swell this winter?” I ask.

“Pretty good. It hit the coast up north a lot harder than it hit us here.”

I know

“We still got some pretty wicked waves,” Matt continues. “I got hella worked out there.”

“Sounds dangerous.”

“It can be. But Pete always makes us come in when it’s looking too gnarly.”

“He does?”

Matt shrugs. “I’m not the best surfer here, you know? Pete knows it. He keeps me out of the worst shit.”

“Nice the way he looks out for everybody.”

Matt nods.

“Were there a lot of people around here in January? I mean, when those swells pick up, people must show up sometimes, right?”

Matt shrugs. “Well, this place is pretty far off the beaten path. But yeah, we get some people passing through from time to time. Belle calls ’em tourists.”

I’m sure she does
, I think,
though I’m pretty sure she calls me something a lot less mild.
I can see her through the flames on the other side of the fire, her blond hair waving around her face.

“Where do the tourists usually crash?” I ask. “Something tells me you don’t have any hotels in Kensington.”

“Some of ’em stay in the empty houses up there,” he says, gesturing toward the cliffs. “Most of ’em camp out down here. Or in the parking lot, waiting on the tides, you know?”

“Right,” I answer, nodding.

“Course some of them end up at Jas’s house, though they pretty much stay on the other side of the beach. Pete does what he can to keep it that way. Dusters on one side, us on the other.”

“Dusters,” I echo. I’m about to ask what that means when something clicks, and I remember the drug Pete told me about—fairy dust.

I picture Pete building an enormous fence slicing its way down the beach and into the ocean, Pete’s crew on one side and Jas’s spaced-out customers on the other.

“And sometimes a few kids end up on our living room floor, but only when Pete likes them.”

“Should I consider myself privileged that I didn’t end up on the living room floor?”

I laugh and so does Matt. “Yeah, well. We’ve had some trouble with strangers staying over in the past. You can’t blame us for being wary. Sometimes, they’re just not the right crowd, you know? We had a few kids staying with us last winter, man—I thought they were cool, but Pete ended up having to throw them out, right?”

“Really?” I ask. I try to imagine Pete throwing anyone out of the house.

“Yeah, they just got caught up on the wrong side of things, you know?”

I nod. I’m getting used to the cadence of Matt’s chitchat, the way he ends almost every sentence as a question. But he doesn’t seem to mind
questions, so I keep going.

“I guess it’s inevitable,” I agree. “But what about the kids who are just passing through—the tourists? Do you ever get to know them?” Just because Pete never met my brothers doesn’t mean that Matt didn’t. Maybe he was down here some morning when Pete was sleeping late.

But before Matt can answer, I feel the heat of someone’s body sitting down close on my other side.

“What are you two chatting about?” Pete asks, and I swivel around to face him. The goose bumps vanish from my skin.

“Nothing important,” Matt answers before I can say anything, standing up and brushing the sand from his shorts. He gives Pete a short little nod and a small grin, ceding his spot beside me.

“He didn’t have to get up,” I protest.

“He was just being polite,” Pete says. His hazel eyes study my face intently, the crinkles of a smile playing at their corners.

I shake my head, trying to avoid his gaze. I don’t want Pete to get the wrong idea, even though sitting this close to him reminds me of our night on the cliffs, of the way his arms felt around me. Those are the last things I want to be thinking about right now.

“So,” Pete says, “did you have fun tonight?”

“You mean did I have fun robbing the house of a family of innocent strangers?” I say, trying to make my voice sound steady, harsh, disapproving. Trying to mask that fact that I did, in fact, have fun.

“Well,” Pete says, “you certainly won the boys over, that’s for sure. Hughie over there can’t stop singing your praises.”

“It wasn’t a big deal,” I say, but I’m smiling. What a strange thing to be so proud of. “Anyway,” I add, “I don’t think it helped me earn any extra points with Belle.”

“Give her some time,” Pete says, shrugging. “Pretty soon she’ll love you just as much as the rest of us do.”

I laugh. “I think it’s a little early to say that anybody loves me,” I say.

Pete cocks his head to the side. “All right, maybe,” he agrees. “But it’s not too early for a pretty serious crush.”

“Oh really?” I say, gesturing at the crew around us. “The whole gang has a crush on me?”

“Well,” Pete says, pausing as though he’s thinking hard. “Maybe not the

I look at my lap. I don’t want Pete to see the smile overtaking my face, no matter how hard I try to will my mouth into a straight line.
You’re not here for him
, I remind myself.

But before I have a chance to look up, Pete’s lips brush gently across my cheek, warm and soft as morning sunshine through the fog. Without saying anything, he gets up and heads over toward the cooler they filled with beer, even though there’s no ice to keep it cold.

I stand up and inch a few steps closer to the fire, reaching my hands out in front of me until they feel hot. Just a few more millimeters and I’d be burning myself, but I don’t back away. On the other side of the flames, Belle is doing the same thing. Suddenly, she takes off her necklace and throws it into the center of the fire, sending sparks flying everywhere. Instinctively, I take a few steps hurriedly back, but Belle holds her ground. She’s laughing, but I’m not smiling anymore.


It’s still dark when I wake up in the morning, too early for even Pete and Belle to be on the water yet. I tiptoe down the stairs, shivering in my bikini, walk out the front door, and get one of my brothers’ boards from my car.

The board I grab this morning is John’s; it’s the smaller of the two, dark blue with bright yellow stripes running up the sides. I carry it down to the beach like I think it might break, careful not to let it bang against the wooden railing along the stairs. By the time I reach the water the sun has made its first appearance on the horizon, casting a gentle pink light on the ocean. I breathe in deeply, watching the waves crash against the sand one after another. Each time one wave recedes and another builds, it looks as though the ocean is taking in a deep breath, then blowing it out.

I’m standing at the edge of the water, my toes soaked by the waves, the board propped up beside me, when a deep voice says, “Thought you said you weren’t a surfer.”

Startled, I turn to see the guy who gave me directions when I first got to Kensie.

“You scared me,” I say.

“Sorry,” he says. “You okay?”

“I just didn’t expect anyone else to be awake at this hour,” I say, but the truth is, I don’t even know how long I’ve been standing here. The sun has grown higher, its light on the water more yellow than pink now.

“I’m an early riser,” he answers. He plants his own board in the sand beside mine; it’s nearly twice his height and kind of old-fashioned-looking, the kind of board that’s called a gun, I think. He’s wearing the same board shorts he wore the first time I saw him, the tiniest stripe of pale skin peeking out from beneath the waistband. I blush beneath his gaze.

“I didn’t think anyone else surfed this stretch of the beach,” I add, bringing my focus back to the water.

He nods. “I don’t, usually. Usually stick to the other side of the beach. It’s

just…” He pauses, a shadow passing over his face. Finally he says, “It’s just easier that way.”

I turn to face him again, though it feels as though I’m seeing him for the first time. Matt said that Jas and his dusters surfed the other side of the beach. How could I have failed to realize until now that this guy is Jas, the drug dealer who lives on the other side of Kensie?

“Well, then why are you here this morning?” I ask, taking a step back. Away from him. The water laps up around my ankles now.

He doesn’t answer right away. He looks from me to the ocean and back to me again. I think he might actually be blushing. Finally, he says, “Gotta go where the waves lead, you know?”

I nod, but the truth is, I don’t really know.

He smiles and gestures out to the water, to the waves that are building ever higher. “Do you mind?” he asks politely, as though he needs my permission to surf here.

I shake my head quickly. “Go ahead,” I answer, stepping away from the water, dragging my board behind me until I’m halfway up the beach, close enough to the stairs that I could run back up to Pete’s house if I needed to. I really should just go back up there now; I shouldn’t stay here, alone on the beach with someone like him. But I don’t feel unsafe, standing down here with Jas. Maybe I should, but I don’t.

He lifts his board and heads into the water. Watching him surf is exhilarating; he takes wave after wave, graceful as a dolphin in the water. On smaller waves, he shifts his weight so that his board ascends, floating over the foamy crest.

Like Pete, he’s so tall that he has to crouch down to ride beneath the waves’ crests. He moves on his board like it’s a balance beam, sometimes standing at the front and sometimes at the back. Suddenly, he spins his board around completely, like a ballerina doing a pirouette. I’ve never seen anyone surf like this, not even Pete. When he finally comes back to the beach, he’s grinning at me like a little kid, shaking the water from his hair. He takes a few deep breaths, the sinewy muscles across his chest expanding and contracting.

“You really know what you’re doing out there, huh?” I hate myself for stating the obvious, but how am I supposed to know what are the right things to say to a drug dealer / ultimate surfer?

He smiles at me. “Now it’s your turn,” he says. “Waves are getting gentler now. Perfect for a beginner.”

I shake my head. “I’m not ready yet,” I say. “I think I need a few more lessons before I’ll be able to head out there by myself.”

“Then what are you doing down on the beach all alone this morning?”

I bite my lip. I’m not really sure. Maybe I thought that if I just waited here long enough, my brothers would magically appear, conjured by the ocean itself.

“Studying,” I say finally. “You know, trying to get acquainted with the waves. Oh my god,” I add, blushing hotly, “is that a ridiculous thing to say?”

He shakes his head. “Not at all. All the best surfers watch the ocean before they paddle out. You gotta be strategic, man, especially on big days.” His smile is infectious. “Looks like Kensington agrees with you,” he says.

“What do you mean?”

He shakes his head. “You just look a little different from when I saw you the other day.”

“Different? Different how?”

Instead of answering my question, he says, “I could take you out there, if you want.” He gestures to the water. “It’d be a shame to miss out on these waves.”

“Really?” He’s the best surfer I’ve ever seen. I wonder what it would be like to be out on the waves with him. “I mean, don’t you have more important things to do?”

Suddenly, his gaze shifts; he’s looking behind me, and his smile vanishes. I spin around. Pete, Hughie, and Belle are walking down the beach, past the black remains of last night’s bonfire.

“I better go,” Jas says, but at once Hughie breaks into a run; I have to jump out of the way to avoid getting shoved aside when he lunges for Jas, who steps aside gracefully.

“What are you doing here?” Hughie says, his voice as rough as sandpaper. “You’re not supposed to be on this side of the beach.”

Jas’s voice is preternaturally calm when he answers. “Gotta follow the waves, you know? You and your crew don’t own the beach, Hughie.”

“Waves are perfectly fine on the other side of the beach,” Pete says icily, coming up from behind us and planting his hand firmly on my shoulder. “I could see them from the house this morning.” I look from Pete to Jas, confused. What was Jas doing here, on this side of the beach, if not chasing the waves?

BOOK: Second Star
4.69Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

Other books

Counterfeit Love by Julie Fison
REMEMBER US by Glenna Sinclair
His Every Need by Terri L. Austin
Faith by Lesley Pearse
Cold Blooded by Lisa Jackson
Coastal Event Memories by A. G. Kimbrough
Heaven and Earth by Nora Roberts
Deadly in High Heels by Gemma Halliday
Dark Entries by Robert Aickman