“Who’s next?” Ophelia asks.
“I am,” Luc tells her, grabbing his own wakeboard and jumping over the side of the boat without even bothering to buckle in.
What. The. Hell.
“That was amazing!” Tansy exclaims, moving over to sit next to me. “I want to be able to do all the tricks you did!”
“It’s not as easy as Cam made it look,” Ash tells her as we wait for Luc to strap in—something that’s much harder to do when you’re in the lake instead of in the boat.
“Well, obviously.” Tansy rolls her eyes at him. “It’s not like I think I’m going to go out there and be able to do that tomorrow. But I want to learn.”
“I’ll be happy to teach you,” I tell her, even as I put a placating hand on Ash’s shoulder. The guy means well, but he’s super-protective of her. Which I get—he’s already lost his parents and had his little brother paralyzed. The last thing he wants is anything to happen to Tansy, who’s kind of already had her miracle since she beat cancer, twice. But he can’t keep her in a box, all wrapped up in cotton, either. The girl needs to breathe a little. And since she’s hanging out with a bunch of extreme sports fanatics, is it really such a surprise that she wants to try some of the things we do?
“Yay! When can we start?”
“Today. We’ll try some basic stuff later, okay?”
Ash looks like he wants to argue, but I lean in and whisper, “I promise, nothing crazy. Just grabbing the rope and standing up while Z goes slow, okay?”
He doesn’t look happy, but he nods reluctantly. “Promise?”
“Pinky promise.” I hold my pinky out, then laugh a little when he actually wraps his little finger around mine like we used to do when we were kids.
“Ready any time you are,” Luc calls.
“Shred it!” Z calls back. He starts moving, not quite as slowly as he did for me—the sexist—but it still takes a couple minutes for him to get up to speed.
As soon as he does, Luc rolls to his feet. And then he’s stomping it, nailing trick after trick after trick in a way he’s never been able to on a snowboard. It’s freaking amazing to watch—the air he catches is absolutely sick—and the way he spins is crazy. Like there’s no way he should be able to do what he does, at least not without a kicker to go off of. But he does it, again and again.
We’re all watching now, oohing and aahing, and I can’t help wondering when he got this good. When’s he been practicing? And with whom? We haven’t been out on the water in a couple of months, and the last time we were out, he could only do about half these tricks.
I’m still wondering about it when Z decides he’s had enough and slows the boat down. Luc lets go, falling back into the water with a grin and a shout.
“No offense, Cam, but maybe I want Luc to teach me,” Tansy says, eyes wide with awe.
“No offense taken. I think I want him to teach me, too.”
It’s a weird space to be in. Not that Luc isn’t talented and not like he can’t do a lot of things better than me, but nothing on a board. He’s a talented all-around athlete, but when it comes to boarding—snowboarding or surfing or wakeboarding—he’s always been just a little bit behind the rest of us. Just a little bit weaker. Still great, just not as great.
A quick glance at Ash tells me he’s having the same thoughts I am. Which is kind of a relief, if I’m being honest. Because if I was the only one who didn’t know Luc was working on this, if I’d been the only one he hadn’t told, I’d feel even worse about how things are between us. But if he hasn’t told anyone, maybe it’s just his thing. Maybe he just wanted it to be a surprise. Still weird, but maybe not as weird?
When we stop, I reach down to help him into the boat, but he shrugs me off, and climbs into the boat without any help at all. His biceps bulge a little as he pulls himself up, and I watch before I can stop myself. For a second, just a second, I flash back to the night we spent together—to the way his biceps flexed and tightened as he thrust into me again and again.
My cheeks heat at the thought, and this time I’m the one to yank my eyes away from his.