Never Too Hot
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A part of her wanted to replay, to savor, her encounter with Andrew. But another part of her wished she couldforget it entirely. Best case, he simply thought of her as a little girl. Worst case, he would laugh with hisfriends about the huge crush she had on him.
Curling her knees up to her chin, she wrapped her hands around her legs and sighed. No wonder why singers werealways going on about love hurting. It did. It really did.
Especially when it was wholly and completely unrequited.
“Mind if I join you?”
The low voice startled her and she spun her head around with a gasp.
Andrew's smile was warm, maybe even a little apologetic. “I didn't mean to surprise you.” He held out an ice-cream cone. “Maybe I can make it up to you with this?”
His hair was all wet and there was rain dripping down his cheeks. Isabel couldn't hold back the huge smile thattook over her face. How could she, when every one of her dreams was coming true? But as she took the dripping icecream, sudden shyness tied her tongue again, making it impossible to speak.
“Nice place to wait out a thunderstorm,” he said as he sat down beside her, kicking his long, tanned legs out infront of him.
She licked her ice cream and nodded, still too unsure of herself to say a word. Why, she wondered, had he soughther out? Was it because he felt sorry for her, the red-faced girl from the store whose world he'd totally rockedjust by speaking to her? Or, could there be another reason?
Was there some slim chance that he actually liked her too?
“So,” he said casually, “what grade are you going into next year?”
She swallowed a bite of her vanilla cone so fast it went straight to her forehead and she winced at the suddenice-cream headache. “Eleventh.” She looked at him out of the corner of her eyes, but he was so good-looking all itdid was make her head spin. Turning her gaze back to the water, she asked, “What about you?”
“I'll be starting NYU in the fall.”
She didn't live far from campus. “Congratulations,” she said. “That's a great school.” Screwing up her nervesome more, she asked, “Do you know what you want to study?”
“Industrial engineering. But not for buildings. For boats. I'm going to build a boat and sail around the world.”
She found herself nodding, smiling at him. “Oh, I love to sail. There's nothing like it.”
He looked into her eyes. “Sounds like we'd make a pretty good team, doesn't it?”
Midlick, she almost dropped her cone. She'd had a crush on him for so long, she knew she was reading volumesinto everything he said.
But he was looking at her so intently, she didn't know what to think, until he said, “You've got a little icecream right here,” and then his fingers were on her cheek and he was brushing at her skin, and her entire bodyerupted in goose bumps at his touch.
She felt her mouth drop open just in time to clamp it shut.
Not only had he talked to her, but he'd touched her.
And then, just as quickly as the storm began, it ended. Soon, the sun was shining off the water, steam risingfrom the lake's surface.
“Looks like it's safe to head home now,” he said as he stood up. Helping her up, he asked, “Can I give you aride back home?”
She pointed to her bike, sad to have to turn down the best offer she'd ever had.
“It'll fit in my trunk, no problem.”
Walking together to get her bike from the front of the Blue Mountain Diner, she followed him to an amazing-looking classic car.
He opened the trunk, trying to sound nonchalant. “I fixed it up myself. Wanted to have it ready by summer.”
Easily lifting her bike up, he slid it into the huge trunk, then walked around to the passenger side of the carand opened the door for her.
“You're my first passenger.”
Beyond thrilled, Isabel slid onto the cool leather seats, tightly clasping her hands on her lap so they wouldn'tgive her nerves away by shaking. But instead of getting in behind the wheel, Andrew leaned into the car and found acrank beside the backseat. Moments later, the roof was coming down.
Sensing his pride, she said, “Wow. What a car!”
Again, he smiled at her, the pleasure in his green eyes taking her breath away. “I'm glad you like it. And I'mglad you're the one helping me christen it.”
For the first time since running into him on the steps of the general store, she forgot to be nervous. How couldshe be scared when he was looking at her that way, like she was the most beautiful girl in the world? No one hadever looked at her like that before. It was beyond thrilling.
Andrew pulled out and as they slowly drove down Main Street, she noticed more than one person admiring his car.
As they took the lakeside road out of town toward their cabins, she pulled out her ponytail and closed her eyes asthe wind rushed through her hair. She'd never been so happy. Never felt so alive.
The five-mile drive went far too quickly and before she was ready for her time with Andrew to end, he wasparking his car in the small gravel lot behind his parents' log cabin.
“I'll walk you back to your cabin,” he offered and even though she could easily traverse the two hundred yardson her own, she didn't turn him down. He wheeled her bike between them as they walked through the thick grove oftrees that separated the two cabins.
“Thanks for the ride,” she said softly as the poplar trees thinned out and her parents' cabin came into view.
“And the ice-cream cone.”
For the first time, he was the one who looked nervous. Isabel was surprised to feel the shift between them, evenmore surprised when she realized he was about to ask her out.
On the verge of screaming, “Yes!” before he could even ask the question, she bit down on the inside of her cheekto let him make the first move.
“I'd, uh,” he cleared his throat, “I'd love to see you again, Isabel.”
“I'd like that too,” she said softly, then before she could stop herself, went up on her tippy toes and brusheda kiss against his lips.
She ran through the forest the rest of the way to her house, leaving Andrew standing alone, still holding herbike.