Kai finds out a little more about Paisley, mostly that she left Tennessee because of an abusive boyfriend.
“I wish I had you for a brother.”
“No you don’t. I scare every guy away, who even looks at Tempy funny. She’s told me a million times I’m killing her love life.”
“How old is she?”
“Fourteen. I think her love life needs some killin’. She’s too young to think about shit like that.”
“I still wish I had a brother like you. Then he’d have left me alone.”
“I can’t be your brother, Paisley, but I’ll sure be your friend. You don’t have to worry. We’re like family here. We take care of our own.”
Pasiley sniffled again, wiping tears, but a grateful smile flickered at the corners of her mouth. “I feel like I just came home,” she whispered. “I better get back inside.” She wiped her eyes on the hem of her shirt and scrambled off the table.
“Paisley,” Kai stopped her with his voice. “If you need anything, ever, you let me know. I’ll give you my number before we go today. I’m serious. Anything at all, you tell me.”
“Thanks, Kai. Just knowing that—it means a lot.”
He watched her jog back to the main facility and wondered what she was doing inside. It was pretty obvious his mother had hired her full time. Most instructors came in to teach their classes and left. Paisley was still there, so she must be doing more than just teach water exercise.
Kai headed back to the pool, relieving Cody on the slide tower. His brother looked pretty rough. Even with the umbrella, the sun was brutal up there. Kai decided to close the slide for the day. He let the last of the kids up and roped off the entrance. Cody looked relieved as he headed down.
“Wish you’d done that an hour ago,” he said.
“Should have told me, bro. I’m not always the most observant.”
“Been lookin’ at Miss Paisley’s fine ass,” Cody said with a sassy smirk.
Kai smacked his arm in reprimand. “What are you doin’ lookin’?”
“I knew you were checking her out. Hurt much?”
“Don’t know what you mean,” Kai tried to sound innocent.
“You heard me. I’m not a baby, I know how things work.”
“Just so you aren’t exercising your knowledge yet, kid….”
“Oh, lighten up, Kai. I’m almost seventeen. Lots of guys my age are already active. I’m some kind of freak, to still be a virgin.”
“Take your time, kid. Trust me. There’s plenty of tail out there….”
“Sorry, man. I wasn’t thinking.”
“Hey, shit happens. Go to the office. Cool down some, and get a drink. You look terrible.”
“Do it. Don’t make me bench you.”
“Asshole. I swear, I liked you better before you knew anything.”
Kai grinned, swatting his brother again. “Do it. I can still kick your bony ass.”
Cody didn’t argue. He did exactly what Kai told him. He just wanted it plain that it was his idea, not because his big brother, the paramedic, told him to.
The day finally drew to an end. They closed the pool, cleaned up and headed inside. The main facility stayed open until 9:00, but the pool closed at 6:00. Kai flopped in a chair to wait for his mother. She’d given him a ride that morning. They car pooled as much as possible.
Paisley sat at the bus stop outside. Kai went out to talk to her.
“Hey there. Need a ride home?”
“I’m good. I’m taking the bus.”
Kai wrinkled his nose. “No offense, but there’s some weird folks ride the bus.”
Paisley giggled, tossing her dark hair. “I know. But I sold my car, and used my cash to set up my apartment, so not getting a new one anytime soon.”
“You can catch a ride with us. Mom can take us to our house. I’ll grab my car and take you home.”
“Are you sure? I don’t want to be any trouble.”
“No trouble, Paisley. Nobody should have to ride the bus.”
“You’re a hard guy to figure out, Kai.”
“Me? I’m simplicity itself.”
He stretched his long legs, folding his arms behind his head. His shirt inched up, revealing a masterfully sculpted abdomen. Paisley eyed him cautiously, as if she were afraid to look at him. Kai let his arms down.
“Is that a yes?”
“Sure. I’d like a ride. The bus driver ogles me whenever I get on. Kinda uncomfortable.”
“Not surprised. If I were him, I’d ogle you too. You’re damn pretty,” he said without thinking. “Sorry. Me and my blurting problem.”
© 2019 Dellani Oakes