Lemon Cove, California had a population of roughly 300 people. Not knowing who just walked by you on the street was rare. So when an unknown beautiful girl showed up, someone was quick to try and figure her out.
Damian and CJ sat on the park’s wooden bench for the third summer afternoon in a row, drinking semi-spiked Cokes. Across the park in the big oak tree sat a beautiful girl intensely reading a book. She seemed to be concentrating so hard on the words that her forehead wrinkled up and yet, she still looked pretty. Her short blonde curls blew around her face in the slight breeze along with the hem of her lime green baby doll dress. A pair of purple flip flops sat at the bottom of the tree.
“I dare you …” CJ murmured in a game-show announcer voice, “To go talk to her.”
Damian glanced over at the girl again. She seemed easy enough to hold a conversation with and even if she wasn’t, he did not back down from challenges. Especially challenges issued by CJ, who would rub every loss in his face. “Thirty bucks says I can get a date by the end of the week.”
“Okay. But if I take bet money from you one more time, I swear it’ll become a sin. Still go and talk to her of course. I live to see you fail.”
“Shut up.” Damian snarled jokingly as they shook on it. He stood up and started toward the tree confidently. The only problem: he had no idea what he was going to say. He normally handled things pretty well in the “ladies’ department” but this girl didn’t look like the usual girls in town. Nor did she look like the typical type of people he messed around with. And he’d messed around a lot. She looked almost eerie beautiful, like he didn’t want to stare for too long. Once at the oak though, Damian said the first words that popped into his mind. “Um … you know your shoes are down here.”
He could hear CJ’s laughter from across the park and so this girl probably could too. Damian panicked and he normally didn’t panic, so it was a strange feeling that overtook him as a blush crept up his cheeks. So focused on not letting her see his blush, he almost didn’t hear her laugh sweetly. “I know,” she told him with a smile of straight, perfect white teeth. “But thanks.” She bent down a page in her book and motioned at Damian. “Catch this for me?”
“Sure.” He breathed, holding out his hands while she tossed down the book. He noticed it was surprisingly heavier than it looked; she had to be a bookworm. After he caught the book, the girl jumped down. “So … what’s your name?”
“My name?” she repeated appalled. “You aren’t gonna try and charm me first? And then ask for my name?”
Damian cackled nervously, he couldn’t be sure if she was kidding or not. “Uh no.”
“Oh. Okay,” she shrugged with what seemed to be a flirty smile though he wasn’t too sure. “I’m Rene. And I only said that ‘cause the look your friend is giving me … is … surely one to remember.”
Damian turned around quickly, glaring at CJ fiercely and giving him the bird before turning back to Rene. “Sorry about him.”
She waved it off. “So did he put you up to this?”
“Up to what?”
She raised her eyebrows, knowing he knew what she was referring to. “Coming across the park to talk to a random girl—”
“A random cute girl,” he interrupted and Rene giggled a sweet musical tune.
“Ah, there’s that charm.”
He shrugged his shoulders like he couldn’t help it and handed her back the heavy book. “My name’s Damian. And no, he didn’t put me up to this. He was too nervous to come and talk to you. But I was willing to take the chance.” Damian now grinned, but for the wrong reasons. He figured he might as well bite CJ back while getting the girl. Since in his mind he was all too sure he already had her.
Rene nodded slowly, looking up at him from under long lashes. “Well … so far, you’ve got a way better chance than he does.”