Willow held tightly to the steering wheel. I sat beside her, rubbing my chin.
"Willow," I said, "we've been sitting her for an hour."
"Maybe I shouldn't," she whispered, staring at the news station. "We'd be stooping to their level."
I looked at her, blinking. "I-I hadn't thought of it that way...." I sat back and sighed. "Wait, didn't your dad say you have a good lawyer?" She nodded. "We should consult him before we do anything... rash."
She sighed and put her head on the steering wheel. Hesitantly, I put my hand on her back and rubbed it a little.
It was a week after the attack on the house and barn. The investigation had brought up a few results. All were teenage girls and their boyfriends. They were currently under closer supervision and brought in for questioning. We suspected they had been at the bake sale.
"I need to get out of here," Willow said suddenly and started up the truck.
"To where?" I asked.
"I don't know," she said and started driving. "Somewhere they can't fucking follow us."
I frowned out the window in thought. I didn't know many places. I had enjoyed being in the spotlight so every place I had been to was within public view. She drove for maybe ten minutes before making a sudden right turn. I gripped the handle above the door. She made another sharp turn.
"What are you doing?" I asked, looking out the window. "Are we being followed?"
"Damn news crew," she answered. "I should've parked somewhere else."
Her eyes were looking everywhere until she nodded and pulled a sharp illegal U-turn. A black van went speed by us, unable to make the sudden turn. She stopped beside a First National Bank.
"Come on," she said, taking her flip flops off so she could run easier. "There's a lake nearby. It's not too well known so we'll have some privacy."
"Okay," I said and jogged after her.
We ran for about five minutes until we got to a dirt road. I was certain she would hurt her feet again but she seemed to be used to rough terrain, even after burning them. We were starting to run out of breath when I heard happy children's voice and she slowed to a walk.
"What's the name of the lake?" I asked.
She put her flip flops on. "I don't know, to be honest. I'm not sure it has one. It's just a little lake. At first I thought it was someone's property so I asked the places around. Just a random place," she shrugged.
She put her thumbs in the pockets of her shorts while we walked. I really liked it when she wore shorts....
The closer we got to the lake, passing by a car and picnic tables, I realized we were truly alone for the first time. I stepped over some roots and thought back to when we were baking pies. I still wanted to kiss her but, after everything that happened with the barn, I was sure she didn't want to kiss me anymore.
The lake was decently sized. A small family was by the dock and hadn't noticed us. They were the only other ones and we sat down near the bank. Willow stretched her legs out then lay back on her back. She inhaled deeply, her eyes closed, and I watched her.
Even though she had been thin before, she had lost more weight. I knew she wasn't eating even though she claimed she was. It worried me. Was it from the stress of everything? It was possible.
I looked down at my own body. My muscles had increased so much since I had been cut off from all the work I had done. My skin had reached the same tan as hers and Aaron's was. Normally, I would be ready to show my body off but that desire was gone.
"What could I possible get from this!?"
Had Aaron's lesson finally taken root in my mind?
"This is what it will be like until you get off your ass and contribute to society for once!"
Willow's words had deeply impacted me then and they still do. Was I contributing? Had I done enough to atone for all I did in the past?
"Hey, Willow?" I muttered, looking at her again. She grunted to show she was listening. "Do you think.... Have I changed?"
Her eyes opened. They were serious. "Yeah, Nathan, yeah I do."
I bit my lower lip. "Is it a good thing?"
She sat up. "It's a very good thing," she answered.
"I keep thinking about what you and your father said," I muttered. "Then I think back to what I was like before and I cringe."
"I was a jackass, Willow," I groaned, closing my eyes painfully. "God, I was a bastard."
"True," she said slowly, "but there comes a time where you grow up. You've grown up, Nathan."
I opened my eyes again. "You really think so?"
She smiled and nodded. I smiled back and looked at her. Her hand was resting on the grass and I took it gently. She blushed a little and I stared at her full lips. God I wanted to kiss her so badly. Slowly, as if she wasn't sure if she should or not, she held my hand back. My eyes flicked back to hers. They were confused and slightly afraid. I reached out with my other hand and held her chin lightly.
"I'm afraid," she breathed.
"Me, too," I whispered.
Our eyes locked and I leaned closer. Her hold on my hand tightened and I saw her gulp. She blinked a few times then her eyes closed completely. I was shaking as my face got closer. I closed my eyes, too, as soon as our lips touched.
I had kissed many girls since my first kiss when I was 13. This kiss, though, blew them out of the water. After a second, she began to kiss me back, leaning into me. She put her hand on my chest and sighed gently. I ran my hand into her warm hair, desperately wanting to deepen the kiss but not push her too far.
She pulled back, taking deep breaths, and looked into my eyes again. As if we read each other's minds, we met for a kiss again, this one more desperate. She pressed her chest to mine and I let go of her hand to wrap my arm around her back. I parted her lips and she accepted my request. I groaned and held her as tight as I possibly could.
As our tongues moved in sync, I realized what I was feeling.
For the first time in my life, I was feeling passion.
Passion and love.