“You’ve never flown on a plane?”
“No,” he retorted. “I’ve never had the need, or the opportunity.”
“We need to see what we can do to change that.” I’d flown in planes more times than I could count. I couldn’t imagine being nineteen-years-old and never having seen the earth from a bird’s eye view. Torin was seriously missing out; from what I knew of him so far, flying would totally be his thing. Maybe it was my turn to help him with his unknowns.
“Anything else you’ve never done?” I jeered, intentionally trying to rile him up because I liked what it did to him when he got flustered.
“I’ve never had sex,” Torin shot out, “but I’m fairly certain I’m not afraid of that, either.”
I tossed the stare from my face quickly and attempted to reclaim my composure, but it was completely lost. My eyes dropped to my hands, which had totally mangled our poor cootie catcher. It was nothing but a crumpled wad of paper in my clenched grasp. Torin pulled it from my fingers to smooth it out, grinning widely like he was proud that he caught me off guard, like maybe that was his plan.
“Don’t worry,” he smiled, his dimples deep-set, making something deep within my stomach flip-flop. “Unlike the flying, I’m not expecting you to ‘see what you can do to change that.’ “
I tried to swallow quietly, but I was certain he heard it. Like that awkward moment when you watched a movie with your parents and a full on sex-scene starts up on the screen. It was mortifying—humiliating on a whole new level. You tried not to move—tried not to even breathe—because the last thing you wanted was your mom thinking you were actually alive and watching it. It was like you played dead. Torin’s recent confession sort of made me want to play dead. I was possum-on-the-side-of-the-highway road kill and rigor mortis had already set in.
“Put this on.”
“Where?” I squeaked, reluctantly taking the red and white polkadot two-piece from his hold. Our fingers brushed and hiseyes caught mine in an unsure glance.
“I don’t know, behind a tree or something.” He continued digging through my backpack, pulling out all of my clothes and the blanket crammed inside. He took them to a nearby rock and spread them out onto its surface like he was a maid with a clothesline and a load of laundry to finish. I really wished I hadn’t fallen in that creek. Everything was soaked.
“I’m not changing out here.” I wrapped my arms across my chest, humiliation spreading throughout my body. Usually people’s cheeks turned red when they were embarrassed. I was fairly certain every inch of my skin was blushing brightpink, rivaling the reddened hue of Porky the Pig.
Torin cocked his head and thumbed his chin—something I was beginning to notice he did a lot of—and his dimples eased onto his cheeks. “You do realize this is a survival overnighter, don’t you? There are some things you need to let go of for survival’s sake. Modesty is one of those things.”
“If I remember correctly, yesterday you pretty much promised me that you’d keep me alive. And I’d like to keep my modesty. I really don’t want to change into this, Torin.”
He drug his hands through his hair and sighed my direction, sensing the sincerity in my plea. “Darby, it may currently be blazing hot out, but tonight it will get down into the 40’s. And as of right now, you have no dry clothes to sleep in and your overnight blanket is full of about ten pounds of water. You’ve run out of options.”
I pinched my lips together. What I wouldn’t give to be lounging on the couch back at the rental with Sonja, getting fatwith our beer and our Cheetos. Even the hope of visiting Lance didn’t make any of this worthwhile. I sort of wished Torin would have just let me float out there in the river a bit longer. Maybe I would have passed out and drowned. That would be slightly less humiliating than what I feared was in store for me at this summer camp.
“At least turn around.”
Torin looked up at me from the granite slab where he’d arranged my clothes. “What?”
“Please turn around. No peeking.”
He shook his head and returned his focus to his work. “I’m not gonna peek. Off limits.”
“I’m off limits?”
He stepped back and surveyed the spread of fabric, then moved a pair of my socks so they didn’t overlap with the t-shirt underneath. “Off limits. Taken.” His pale eyes pulled up to mine. “And even if you weren’t, you’re not really my type, Darby.”
Insult sucker-punched me in the gut. “Geez,” I murmured, feeling the hurtful sting of his comment. “Then by all means, please stare away. Take pictures if you like.”
“That’s not what I meant.” Torin stepped back from the rock and fiddled with his belt. Before I could register what he was doing, he’d unzipped his fly and was down to his boxers, pulling one leg, then the other from his cargo shorts. My throat went dry and I tried hard to swallow, but it was all sandpaper and it scratched my tongue. Where did his pants go? And why was I staring at his underwear that was covered in hundreds of yellow smiley faces, repeated over and over in adizzying, disorienting pattern? Seriously, why were his boxers smiling at me?
“I don’t think that stellar tooth brushing of mine should go to waste,” he blurted during a commercial break of Jeopardy. I’d been tucked under the cover of the sheet while he rested on top, so when he turned to face me he’d inadvertently pulled the fabric underneath him.
“Argh,” I growled as the sheets tourniqueted me.
“I’m sorry!” Torin laughed, and tossed off the covers to join me. It felt like the sleep sack again, but more intentional,because in this moment, he knew I was there with him. “Is that better?” He slipped down next to me, tugging the duvet up to our ears. I wasn’t really cold, but being under the comforter with him made me understand why it was named that: comforter. Because that was the exact sensation I experienced. Overwhelming comfort with the boy that I’d just discovered I more than likely loved.
“My mouth really does taste amazing right now, Darby.” He pulled at the fabric draped over us. I slid toward him an inch, and our legs pressed closer together. Fabric on fabric, with even more cloaked over us. “You should taste it for yourself.”
“Oh yeah?” I teased, and he moved forward. Our arms tangled. Skin on skin. Not much, but enough to change the way my heartthrummed inside my chest.
“Yes. And really, to get the full sensation, you’re gonna have to use your tongue. It seriously is all Double Mint Gum status fresh up in here.” Torin waved a hand over his mouth and smiled so widely I worried for a moment that the newly formed scab on his face would burst.
“This is how you want our first kiss to happen?” I asked, hesitant because it didn’t feel romantic or spontaneous the way first kisses should. Though in reality, I supposed it wasn’t a first kiss at all. A third, but the first one that we’d both intentionally desired. And the first one that was okay for us to have together. For all intents and purposes, we were about to have our first kiss. I started to freak out.
“This is how I want everything about you. Like this. Making the mundane monumental.” He scooted closer. “Seriously. Everything you touch turns to gold, Darby.”
“Ah, there it is,” I said, nodding, poking at him beneath the covers.
“Your plagiarizing. It’s been a while, but I see you’re back at it.”
Torinshrugged indifferently. “So what? I like quotes.”
“I like your originality,” I countered, because I did. I liked when Torin was just Torin; when I knew the things he said came from somewhere deep inside him, not from some surface level of past memorization.
“It is as though a thousand little garden gnomes chewed up mint-flavored crystals and then blew them into my mouth. In Antarctica.” I burst into laughter so loud I thought the neighbor on the other side of the adjoining wall might report me to the front desk. “That was a Torin original. You like?”
“I love,” I giggled, instinctively covering my mouth with my hand.
“Nah. I’m fine.”
“Butterflies?” he smiled.
Yes, there was a growing swarm of butterflies ramming about in my ribcage, but Ihadn’t expected Torin to not only acknowledge it, but point it out, too.
“Do I give you butterflies?”
“No, Torin,” I lied through my teeth. “