"I'm not gonna!"
"Just jump! Come on, you'll like it!"
"I'm not gonna jump!"
"Come on, Neiva!"
I stand at the top of the wet rock, bone dry, crossing my arms defiantly. I shake my head again. "No! You can't make me."
In the water below, clothed in her usual bright blue garb, soaking wet, Alora pouts dramatically. "Why not?"
"Because!" I sigh. "You know how much my hair frizzes when it gets wet. Plus, I don't have any proper swimwear. What am I going to wear when we have to go back to the village?"
"You'll dry off! Come on," Alora pleads. "You'll like it!"
"I'm not going to, and you can't make me," I reply defiantly, planting my feet firmly.
Suddenly, Alora's face breaks into a grin. "Maybe I can't... but he might."
"Who-" my sentence is broken off as I'm picked up like a rag doll and tossed off the rock into the river. Annoyed, I come back up, spluttering. "What do you think-" suddenly, I see who it is, and my lips curl into a wry smile. "Jordan Kilst, I hate you."
Jordan looks down at me and grins. "That'd be much more convincing," he replies, "if you weren't smiling quite so widely."
I stick my tongue out at him and splash him with water. "My hair's going to frizz terribly, and it's all going to be your fault."
"My fault?" he asks, eyes wide with fake innocence. "How is it MY fault?"
"You brat! Get back here and apologize!" I yell at Jordan, hiking my maroon skirts above my knees and running toward him, fully intent on clobbering him. He's too fast for me, though, even when I'm not dripping wet and in velvet skirts.
Eventually, I chase him around a tree and he comes up behind me and grabs my arms gently, pulling me back around. We're both laughing as he teases me, swinging my small body around with strong arms. Finally, I'm out of breath, managing to laugh out, "Okay! I give up! Put me down!"
He sets me down gently. "Ha! I win!"
I stick my tongue out at him. "I can still beat you up any day of the week. That I'm not wet and in heavy skirts, anyway." I reach a hand up to my hair and sigh. "You messed up my hair again!"
He shrugs. "I kind of like it, honestly. The curly with the frizzy."
I look at him, unamused. "Seriously? I have hip-length jet black hair. That doesn't look good when it's all frizzy!" I'm not that annoyed, but it's still obnoxious. I spent a while making it straight and looking nice, then Jordan goes and throws me in a river and makes me lose all the work I did on my hair.
He seems to think I'm angry, though, and wilts just slightly. His eyes turn apologetic. "Sorry, Neiva. I wasn't trying to make you mad."
I sigh. "You big dolt." With another laugh, I give him a hug. "I'm not mad."
He laughs back, crushing me in his much stronger arms. "Well, good. Because the only cure for being mad is being dunked in a river."
I pull around from him and giggle, running my hand through my hair. "Don't think you're exempt from this, Jordan. I will find a way to dunk you one day."
"You say that every time I dunk you..." Jordan says, smiling cheekily.
"You-!" I charge at him again, chasing him back into the clearing with the river. Before I even have a chance to react, he flings me back into the river. I swim back up to the surface with strong arms accustomed to swimming by now and glare at him. "What is wrong with you, Jordan?"
He's in spasms of laughter, collapsed on the river bank. Between giggles, he manages to choke out, "I... I think... you need... to lighten up... Neiva."
I manage to tread water with my arms crossed and look up at him, totally ignoring Alora laughing herself silly in the water next to me. The sight of Jordan laughing so heartily makes me smile beside myself. "I hate you, Jordan. I hate you."
"Again... you're... you're smiling!"
Finally, I pull myself out of the water and stand behind him, hanging my head over his. "What am I going to do with you?"
He grins, fully recovered from his laughing spasm. "I think the question is, what am I going to do with you?"
I shrug, eyebrow cocked skeptically. "Really? And what's the answer?"
He grins. "This." He pulls my hands forward, pushing me off balance and sending me stumbling back into the water. Fortunately, this time I keep a good grip on his hands and pull him in behind me. I hear a strangled yelp that's cut off by spluttering as Jordan gets a lungful of water.
I surface, almost having to pull Jordan, with his paltry swimming skills, up with me. "Ha!" I yell. "I got you that time!"
Alora laughs. "Ooh, Jordan! Now you have to come up with something else to get her back with, or she wins!"
He splutters. "Fine..." he concedes. Then he grins impishly. "I still got you three times in a ROW."
I shake my head and stick my tongue out. "Really? You're going to be like that?"
"Oh, you'd better believe I'm gonna be like that," he shoots back good-naturedly. "I live to make Neiva annoyed."
"I could believe it," I mutter with a smile.
He grins and splashes me.
"Leave it to me to ruin the fun," Alora pipes up, "but I think we've got trouble coming." She points up to the tall grassy hill, where I can see a small figure, sillhouetted against the sun, coming toward us. All three of us look toward each other, all of us thinking the same thing. Crap. We're getting into so much trouble for this.