He was good with his words, but then again, Charlene was not allowed to go to the store again after that day. After a few days, she had accepted that she might never see him again. She walked to and from school with her friends, always looking around to see if she can find a familiar face along the way. But she never did.
There are many walk paths to get from one place to another in Bluebridge, most people go by bike or motorbike, the most common was by foot. The only time people go by car was to go out of town, or if you're a Ludlow or the very few upper class family in that very small town, then you get to go around town by car with a driver.
She was walking home from school that day. She and her friends Mandy and Kayla took the usual route past the lake near the woods. There were people swimming in the lake, they heard them laughing, jumping into the lake and splashes of water. They were teenagers, a bit older than them, not from their area, sure enough her eyes were immediately locked with those ice-blue-eyes, staring at her from the water. Something surged inside her, she didn't realize how much she wanted to see him again until she finally did.
"Charlie!" he shouted and came out of the water. His friends looked her way and made gestures to each other because they recognized who she was. Some of them were girls, all soaked and wet in their dresses.
"Is that him?" whispered Mandy. Charlene nodded. Tom was half naked and wet, his body leaned and muscled like it had been doing a lot of labor work. She noticed scars on his arms, back and some on the sides of his abs. It was the first time she had ever seen a male body up close without clothes on, and she thought it was a beautiful thing. Tom's body was a beautiful thing. Just as they were enjoying the view, Tom put on his shirt to greet them.
"Sorry, ladies, as you can see we were enjoying a nice day out at the lake," he excused himself for indecent exposure.
"Hi, Tommy," Charlie greeted him.
"Hey ... I haven't seen you in awhile," he mentioned the same thing that was running through her mind.
"This is Mandy and Kayla, we were just walking back from school ... where have you been, Tommy?" Tom shook hands with her friends who seemed a bit flushed at the sight of him.
"I went to Goldstone, working, I just got back last night, say ladies ... do you want to join us in the water?" he took a chance. The girls were giggling, they never dipped into a lake before.
"I don't know ... we should really get back," Kayla hesitated.
"Oh, come on Kayla, it'll be fun," said Charlie. There was a wide smile on Tom's face.
His friends were starting to call on him to get back to the water. "Do you wanna come, Charlie?" his tone of voice was soft and calm, he offered her his opened hand as she looked at it and grabbed it. Mandy and Kayla went along with her, it seemed like something worth trying. They took off their shoes and trotted into the water with their clothes still intact. Charlene was giggling in excitement as the water started to splash on her dress, it's a good thing she was wearing tight bicycle pants underneath her dress like her mom always told her to.
"I have to be careful, 'cause I can't swim," she said, still holding his hand firmly, Tommy immediately regretted his invitation.
"Your mom is so going to kill me," Tom said and made them laugh.
She had always wanted to dip in the lake, although if it weren't for Tommy, she might never have tried it. Despite what her mom had told her, Tommy's demeanor didn't suggest that he was anything other than an ordinary teenage boy.
His strong arms were guiding her in the water, something she wasn't familiar with. His warm body was constantly shadowing her as the result of her telling him that she couldn't swim. Getting her into the water was one thing, but if she was injured in any way, it would've been a death sentence for him. He was so cautious up to the point where Charlie couldn't really do anything.
She liked the way he feels around her, when their wet skin grazed against each other, it made her shiver, her body never done that before. But he was suffocating her, she pushed him gently, "Tommy, it's okay, please stop hovering over me!" she said it casually.
"Sorry ... I was just ..." he lifted his arms and stepped back.
"Yeah, Tommy! Leave her alone!" Samuel teased him.
Charlie was jumping from the swing to the water, she tried to leap from the small cliff. It didn't take long for her to get used to it. She was laughing out loud with her new friends like they've known each other for a long time. Mandy and Kayla seemed to enjoy themselves as much as she did. They choked on the water a few times, but that didn't prevent them from jumping off the cliff four more times. Charlie was about to take another jump when Tommy tried to stop her, "Charlie, don't you think you had enough jump for today?"
"What? Are you trying to tell me not to jump?" she felt challenged. Before he could answer, she was already leaping into the water. When she didn't emerge from the water, Tom's face was drained of blood. He ran as quickly as he could and dived in to look for her. She was pretending, of course, and she jolted out of the water and burst out laughing.
"That's not funny, Charlie, you really scared me there," he wasn't laughing and walked away with a long face.
She thought it was adorable how he was being protective of her, even though they've only just met. She had no idea he wasn't trying to be cute. "You know, Tom's brother died in this lake," Samuel confided in her when they rested at the shore.
"Oh my God, I had no idea," she gasped.
"Yeah, Teddy drowned when he was 9 and Tom was 13, they were out here playing in the water by themselves, Tom never really forgave himself for that," Samuel was one of Tommy's closest friend for the longest time. Charlie turned to look at Tom who was goofing around with the others in the water, she didn't realize how tragic his childhood was. "That's probably why he was very protective of you in the water, he still have nightmares about it ... but don't tell him I told you that," he patted her on the knee and went back in the water.
The day was almost ending, they've been in the lake for more than two hours, it was time to go home. "I'll walk you home." Tommy offered.
"No! That's suicide," Charlie declined.
"It's fine, I'm already dead," he didn't really care about the consequences, he was happy enough to have spent that afternoon with her.
"I'll be fine, Tommy, I'll go with Mandy and Kayla," she persisted.
"Can I see you again?" he asked. Charlie was putting on her shoes, all dripping wet, the lines of her body were visible through her wet dress and he took a deep breath for thinking what he was thinking at that moment.
She smiled, "I don't know ... we'll see," she said and waved goodbye.
He helplessly let her go with her friends, even though he wanted to be with her for much longer. Her beautiful face was what he couldn't stop thinking about when he first saw her, but then he just found out how adventurous she was, how easy she blend in with his friends, how easy she made him feel something for her and every curve of her body had made him felt all the things he knew he was not suppose to around this girl.
They were half running to her house which was a 15 minute walk from the lake, they made it back in less than 10. Her mom was frantic when she opened the door and found the girls soaking wet. "Charlene Ludlow?! Where on earth have you been? I'd been worried sick for you, I even called Mrs. Cooper and God forbid, I almost called your dad! You're all wet! What were you doing? You couldn't let me know you were running late?" she went on and on without letting her say anything.
She finally stopped and put one hand on her waist, "You were with that boy, weren't you?" it was her mother's instinct that put two and two together.
Charlene was squeezing water from her dress, "What boy?"
"Charlene? You better tell me the truth or I swear I will tell your dad!"
"What boy, mom? We were passing by the lake and thought it was a nice day to try to dip in the water," she lied.
"The lake??" her mom squealed and started to rant about the germs she might get from dipping in dirt water. Mandy and Kayla didn't say a thing about 'the boy', they excused themselves to go home before Mrs. Ludlow burst out into flames. "Scrub yourself nice and clean, young lady, wash your hair and clean yourself up before your daddy comes home," she kept going until Charlene was out of sight up the stairs to her bedroom.
She couldn't stop smiling when she bathed and washed herself in the bathtub. At least she got away with a lie that she wasn't with 'that boy' at the lake. She found out something new about him, something sad. The more she found out things about him, the more she wanted to know him. She loved the way he gave special attention to her, the way he looked at her. She often found him looking her way, even though he sometimes pretended that he wasn't. Then, she wandered away in her thoughts, his face, his lips, his beautiful body, his hands touching her, how good it must feel to be held in his arms, how much she wanted to see him again.