Authors: Elle Strauss
/body>by Elle Strauss
by Elle Strauss
Copyright © 2012 Elle Strauss
Cover by Free Trade Creative
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This is a work of fiction and the views expressed herein are the sole responsibility of the author. Likewise, characters, places and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are represented fictitiously and nay resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual event or locales, is entirely coincidental.
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He stood at the bonfire with his head high, shoulders back, radiating a military type of confidence. With one hand he swept his dark hair across his forehead and even through the flickering orange hue I could tell he had amazing eyes.
Something drew his gaze to mine. Fate? Providence? My heart stopped beating. He smiled shyly then glanced away, his focus returning to the erratic dancing of the flames.
I’d never seen him before which, in Eastcove New Brunswick, was an unusual occurrence.
My best friends, Samara and Becca, stood beside me, each with a can of Coke in their hands.
“Who is that?” Samara shouted over the noise of the music blaring from a truck that was backed up close to the pit. Four teens sat squeezed together on the tailgate laughing at someone’s joke.
Becca shouted back, “I think it’s a
Samara fiddled with her long black braid. “Since when does anyone new move to Eastcove?”
“He’s cute!” Becca said.
“I saw him first.” I gave him a little finger wave and started to make my way to the other side of the fire. I meant to clearly establish my intentions to claim this new boy.
I was intercepted by Colby Johnston.
“Hey, Seaweed.” He moved in a little too close for comfort. I took a subtle step sideways.
I couldn’t stop twisting my neck, watching the mysterious new guy. Another girl was chatting him up and a tickle of irritation curled up in my gut.
“What’re you looking at?” Colby’s gaze followed mine. “Ah, him.”
I couldn’t believe I hadn’t heard about
already. Eastcove was a dying fishing village, the kind of town people
A new family would’ve definitely made the gossip hotline.
“So, about us?” Colby said, like he’d said it a thousand times. Which he had.
I took a sip from my water bottle and tried to pretend I didn’t hear him.
“Dori. We need to talk about this.”
I let out a frustrated sigh. “Okay, talk.”
He swigged back his drink, then spoke into my ear, “I know you already know this, but I guess I always thought we’d get together sometime. Sometime soon.”
I did know this. I think everybody knew this. We were swim team champions. We were good friends. Even Samara and Becca thought we’d make the perfect couple.
Colby’s dark eyes reflected the jumping flames, and I resisted the urge to reach over and rub his buzz cut, wanting to make everything okay.
Instead, I shook my head softly. “I’m sorry.” I hated hurting him. I couldn’t help that I didn’t feel the same way.
His head fell forward. “I know, Seaweed. Forget I said anything.” He slipped away, losing himself in the crowd. I blew out a heavy sigh.
The flames of the bonfire licked high toward the murky, open sky. The burning wood snapped and popped at its base. Smoke meshed with the salty essence of the sea and I breathed it in slowly. Peering through the sparks I kept my focus on the mystery guy. He caught me looking at him and this time he didn’t look away. We gradually moved toward each other, until finally we were side by side.
“I’m Dori Seward,” I said, loudly.
“Yeah, like the fish in the movie.” Did I really just say that? “It’s a nickname because I like to swim. A lot.” Okay, so much for smooth. Just kill me now.
He motioned for us to move away from the music toward the waves slapping the shore.
“It’s a little quieter over here,” he said. Then he shook my hand. “I’m Tor Riley.” It was warm and strong.
“Where did you move from?” I asked, tucking my hands back into my pockets.
“So, you’re not that far from home.”
“I guess. I still have the Bay of Fundy.”
He sipped his soda and I relieved my dry throat with my water.
“What do you think of Eastcove so far?”
He shrugged. “It’s okay.”
“What brought your parents here?” I knew there wasn’t much left for work.
Tor fussed the sand with his shoe. “Uh, I’m not here with them. They, uh, travel a lot. I’m living with my uncle.”
I got the impression it was a touchy subject.
“What about you?” he said, turning the tables. “Tell me about you.”
We headed back toward the warmth of the bonfire as I gave him the rundown of my average family—a mom, a dad, two brothers. I was about to broach the less than exciting topic of pets when I was interrupted by shouting and loud laughter on the other side of the fire pit. Sawyer shook his can and let the contents fly. Mike got him back with his drink, and before long everyone was in on it.
I looked at Tor and he smirked. That was when I did the stupidest thing ever. I opened my water bottle and swung it at Tor, splashing him right in the face.
I thought it would be funny. It was all in the name of fun and games. But instead of laughing and throwing his soda back at me, he looked at me with wide, horror filled eyes.
Next thing I knew, Tor was sprinting down the beach into the darkness.
“Tor!” I yelled. With all the shouting, the blaring music, and the roar of waves crashing to shore, no one heard me.
“Tor!” I took off after him, and in the mayhem, no one noticed. “I’m sorry. Please, come back.”
I could make out his outline in the moonlit darkness when I followed him around the bend. My heart raced and I wanted to tackle him to the ground until he told me what was going on.
I didn’t have a chance. I got to a cropping of rocks just in time to see him dive into the frigid ocean.
There was a quarter moon out, but a haze of clouds had drifted by. I couldn’t see Tor anywhere. I raced along the beach scanning the dark waters, desperate to see his head bob up and for him to swim back to shore. And when he did, I was going to kill him. New guy or not.
“Tor!” I shouted again. My heart beat madly against my ribs. Before I could think it through rationally, all those years of life guard training kicked into gear. I stripped off my hoodie, threw off my shoes and dove in.
It was freaking cold! The North Atlantic was not famous for its warm waters, even in June. Especially at night. I decided then and there that this guy Tor was completely crazy. A lunatic. Nut house candidate.
Even so, I couldn’t let him drown.
I swam out as far as I dared, icy waves slapping my face, causing my breath to catch. I searched above the surface and below: Where are you, Tor? Please, surface, surface.
Only dark, rolling waves. No sign of him. My core was dangerously cold, hypothermia a real danger. I had no choice but to go back.
My fingers wouldn’t work. They were frozen, locked in a cramped position. I was shivering so hard, my bones rattled. I struggled to get my clothes on, freaking because it was taking so long and I needed to get back to the bonfire, pronto. Somehow I managed to slip my feet into my sneakers, but I didn’t bother attempting the laces.
I limped back to the bonfire and tugged on Samara’s sleeve.
“Dori!” Samara cried out when she saw the condition I was in. “What happened to you?”
I pushed close to the fire for warmth.
“It’s T-t-or,” I stammered. My teeth were chattering.
“That new guy?”
“What happened? Did he push you in?”
“N-no. He, uh, fell into the ocean and didn’t come out.” I don’t know why I lied for him, but diving in was just too stupid.
“I tried to find him, but I couldn’t see.”
“Oh, my God.” Samara jumped to action. “Dori needs a blanket, she’s wet and freezing.”
“What’s going on?” Mike shouted.
“It’s that new guy. He fell into the ocean. Dori saw it. He didn’t come back out.”
Colby took charge after that. He instructed groups of three or four to scour the beach.
I was as close to the fire as I could stand without burning the car blanket that was wrapped tightly around my shoulders.
Colby approached me. “Are you okay?”
He knew me. He knew I could handle cold water and the stress that came with life guarding, but he was asking a deeper question.
“I don’t know.”
He considered my answer, then added, “We should go to the police.”
Officer Bob Richter took our story seriously and immediately dispatched a search and rescue team. I was warmer now but still, I couldn’t stop quivering. Nerves. Fear. Did I just watch someone dive to his death? I felt a sob build in my chest.
Strong, sturdy arms wrapped around my shoulders and I knew it was Colby. I tilted my head to see his face. His mouth was set in a grim line, and I could tell by the dark narrow squint of his eyes that he was worried about me. Tor too, but mostly me. His arms felt good and not just because they warmed me up. I pressed into him and he didn’t let go.
Maybe I was wrong about Colby. At least I knew who he was. I knew his family. I knew where he lived and what his bedroom looked like (a mess). I knew his favorite food (steak and shrimp kabobs) and his favorite movies (
, the old ones).
I didn’t know anything about Tor and I’d risked my life for him tonight. I couldn’t understand what had happened at all. Why he ran and why he dove into the ocean.
I really hoped they found him.
Mom and Dad were snuggling on the couch watching a movie and Mom jumped up when she saw Colby and me walk in.
“Dori, what happened?”
Though the shivering had subsided somewhat, my hair was still a wet matted mess and I suspected my lips were an unhealthy shade of blue.
Colby answered for me. “A new kid from our school fell into the ocean and didn’t come out. Dori tried to rescue him.”
“Oh, my goodness,” Mom said, reaching for me. “Let’s get you upstairs and into a hot shower.”
Dad and Colby waited in the living room.
“He fell in?” Mom said as she guided me up the stairs. “How did that happen?”
I didn’t want to tell her the truth—that Tor dove in of his own accord. My teeth chattered whenever I opened my mouth, keeping me from saying anything coherent anyway. Mom ran the water, until steam formed. “Okay, get in. We’ll be waiting for you downstairs.”