Home > The Beau & the Belle(10)

The Beau & the Belle(10)
Author: R.S. Grey

It’s true…well, sort of. My mom was the one to suggest it as a fun farewell-to-summer thing. The weather is about to turn colder and there won’t be another opportunity to swim for a while.

Now, though, I regret the whole thing altogether. I stare down at my body, lying supine on the bed. There are no seductive valleys and peaks like there should be. If Rose was a state, she’d be Wyoming, what with her Grand Tetons and all. As for me? I’d be Kansas—flat, featureless, and generally the color of pale wheat. In the pool, I’ll be the floating plank of wood from Titanic that couldn’t even fit two people.

I try to add a second layer of padded inserts into my bikini, but they won’t fit. Rose stifles a laugh.

“Be glad you’re skinny,” she says, turning to inspect her butt in the mirror. “I have to worry about cellulite.”

Rose is clueless. It’s like a rich person complaining that they have to figure out where to put all their money.

Last week, yet again, she had boys fighting over her during cotillion practice. Meanwhile, I was forced to dance with Mrs. Geller since Todd Kelley was sick, leaving an odd number of students. I think I’ll save that special experience for the deepest recesses of my psyche. The only silver lining was that Mrs. Geller thought I was an exceptional dancer thanks to my practice with Beau, i.e. the best moment of my life. I still flush thinking about it.

“Are you ready to go down?” Rose asks. “Julie said she’s on her way, and the boys should be here soon.”

That’s right—boys are coming to my pool party. That was part of the impetus for throwing it in the first place, so I could spend more time with Preston and convince him that I am funny and cool and worth his time.

Earlier in the week I worked up the courage to invite him over instant messenger.

XO_LoULoU_XO: Hi Preston!

AFBaseballGuy05: sup

XO_LoULoU_XO: Haha nm. You?

AFBaseballGuy05: same

His lack of conversation skills only intrigued me more.

XO_LoULoU_XO: Cool! Well…Rose and I are throwing a pool party this Saturday at my house and I was wondering if you wanted to come?

AFBaseballGuy05: hmm…bball practice in the morning

XO_LoULoU_XO: It wouldn’t be until the afternoon!

AFBaseballGuy05: k cu there

There was a delay in our conversation here as I screamed so loudly my mom and dad rushed upstairs to make sure I hadn’t accidentally injured myself in some kind of horrific hair straightener accident. (I have a track record.) By the time I got back to my computer and replied, it was too late.

XO_LoULoU_XO: Cool!! It starts around 2:00 PM. See you then!

AFBaseballGuy05’s AWAY MESSAGE: **~~N I dont want tha world to c me, cuz I dont th!nk that theyd understand~~**

He never messaged me back after that. Technically, I have no clue if he’s actually coming, but Rose insists that he is. Apparently, she talked to Julie, who talked to Lincoln, who talked to Preston, and the party is officially happening.

“Girls!” my mom calls from downstairs. “Julie’s here!”

Rose and I leap into action, grabbing our matching sunglasses and monogrammed beach towels off my bed and dashing down the stairs.

An hour later, the party is in full swing. There are a couple girls from McGehee and some of the St. Thomas boys all gathered around my pool. My parents are being surprisingly chill and keeping their distance, though I know it’s killing my mom. I’ve seen her peek through the window three times already. She hasn’t cleaned the windows herself in a decade, but all of a sudden, she’s dug out a bottle of Windex to really make that poolside glass shine.

She prepped all these little finger foods, but she’s totally delusional. All the girls are way too nervous to eat, which is probably for the best because I don’t really want everyone to get poisoned by my mom’s snacks.

Even though it’s sweltering out, none of the girls are swimming. Julie, Rose, and I sit on the side of the pool with our toes dipped into the cool water. Rose and Julie don’t want to swim because they carefully applied their makeup beforehand. I don’t want to swim because I’m too nervous watching the gate and waiting for Preston to arrive.

The boys are enjoying the pool though, jumping off the side and trying to do cannonballs big enough to splash us.

“Hey watch it, will ya!?” Rose shouts in a fake Jersey accent after one of them almost succeeds.

I throw my head back in laughter, and a small snort escapes. Preston chooses that exact moment to arrive with Lincoln and a few of the other boys from the baseball team. My heart flutters. My hand finds Rose’s arm and I pinch her hard.

“He’s here!” I hiss.

“Ow! Jesus, I see that.”

Music plays through the outdoor speakers—Rose and I spent all morning painstakingly curating songs to burn to a mix CD—and I swear Preston walks to the beat of the song. Slow motion, cool, effortless. He and his friends are joking around with one another, jostling shoulders and laughing, wholly unaware of the fact that everyone at the party has stopped what they’re doing so they can watch them approach. Preston stops at a lounge chair farthest from where we’re sitting and dumps his baseball cap and towel. His friends follow suit and I sit there, humming with nervous energy, waiting for him to look up, meet my eye, and nod…or wave…or somehow acknowledge that he’s at my party.

I guess those etiquette classes aren’t really working for him though, because in lieu of a greeting, he opts to yank his t-shirt off over his head, toss it aside, and run full speed for the pool. It doesn’t take a genius to realize what’s coming. We all throw our hands up to block the water, but it’s no use. Preston’s cannonball drenches us all, sending Rose into a full-on fury.

“Preston, you freaking asshole!” she shouts, jumping to her feet and flinging water off her arms.

He surfaces and smirks, whipping his hair off his face like he’s a surfer in a PacSun commercial. “It’s a pool party, Rose—why’d you come if you didn’t want me to make you wet?”

The boys behind him chuckle at his double entendre.

Rose huffs and storms off with Julie, leaving me alone on the side of the pool.

Finally, Preston turns to me. “Blanc-O, you coming in or what?”

My eyes widen in shock. “Oh! Umm…” I glance back over my shoulder for Rose, but she’s disappeared inside. When I glance back toward the water, Preston is swimming closer. I scramble, fidget, toss my hair over my shoulder, sit up straighter, and then when I notice that that posture makes my boobs somehow look even smaller, I hunch back over. Yes, better.

He reaches me and props his forearms up on the stone beside me, treading water. I glance down and smile, dragging my feet back and forth across the surface of the pool. I hope I look like a dreamy mermaid.

“I think I really pissed her off this time,” he says, throwing a glance to where all the girls are huddling around the food table. It’s decorated like we’re at a Hawaiian luau and I loved it earlier, but now I wonder if Preston thinks it’s childish. “Think any of the girls are going to swim?”

I turn back to him, inhaling a shallow breath when I catch sight of his face. We’ve never been this close. All of our interactions—the ones I can count on one hand—have taken place through a computer screen. Honestly, a part of me wasn’t sure he could even construct full sentences. I’m pleased to know I’m wrong.

“I’m sure they’ll swim,” I say with a shy smile. “They just don’t want to ruin their makeup and stuff. Give it an hour or two and no one will care anymore.”

He chuckles and shakes his head. “You’re not wearing makeup.”

I don’t know what to make of his statement. I don’t really need makeup, and it seems like it’s more trouble than it’s worth. I’m sure some mascara would help with…something. I don’t know—what is mascara supposed to help with?

I shrug. “Yeah, I’m not very good at it.”

Which is honestly the truth. I tried to apply a smoky eye a few weeks ago and when I came down for dinner, my mom did a spit-take of her cocktail all over the kitchen island. Apparently, I looked rather raccoonish.

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