Vacation has officially started. As Logan walked out of the school, he scanned the courtyard for his friends. There was fun to be had. Sitting on the wall, Dick was telling everyone an animated story. Logan walked up to the group; as he got closer, he snuck up behind Veronica who was giggling at Dick's antics. Lilly and Duncan could easily see him approaching and became distracted from Dick's exuberance to watch what was about to unfold.
Logan knew this story; he'd been there. Just as Dick was reaching the climax, Logan grabbed Veronica around the waist. She screamed and tumbled off the wall into Logan's arms. The entire group fell into a fit of laughter at the sight of it. "Falling for me, Mars?"
Logan helped Veronica back onto the wall and climbed over it to sit beside her. She was still recovering from the fit of giggles she'd been having prior to Logan grabbing her. Logan bumped her shoulder with his. "You gonna be okay, V?"
"Yeah, just need to catch my breath. Ready for a fun filled summer, Lo?"
"Surfing, pool parties, and sleeping in. Of course I'm ready."
Lilly chose that moment to interrupt. "V, Carrie wants to hit the mall; let's go!"
Veronica went rigid next to Logan. It was at times like this that Logan got disgusted with Lilly's behavior. She knew how strict Veronica's dad was about knowing where she was all the time, but she kept trying to coax Veronica into doing something else. Always testing the boundaries to see what lines Veronica was willing to cross. Veronica didn't have parents like they did, who didn't care where they were or what they were up to. Logan was glad to be pulled from his thoughts by Veronica's annoyed tone. "Lilly, you know I can't go. I told Dad that we were going to the beach together. He's expecting to pick me up there. Isn't that why we were all meeting here?"
Lilly didn't seem fazed by Veronica's argument. As usual, she blew off anyone else's opinion. "Live a little, Veronica; we have all summer to hang at the beach."
Logan had heard enough. "You have all summer to go to the mall, Lilly," he spouted off, putting his arm across Veronica's shoulders.
Logan respected the relationship Veronica had with her dad. Mr. Mars truly cared about what was going on in Veronica's life. Logan had seen it first hand. He was envious of the interactions between Veronica and her dad. They spent time together doing things and talking. Mr. Mars always asked Veronica about her day and how things were going when something specific was happening. He even asked her friends about what was happening in their lives. Mr. Mars knew about Logan's interest in literature and that he loved reading. He would occasionally ask him what book was currently occupying his time. He's been to the Mars residence several times for meals, even helping them cook. Logan felt at home at their house. He felt safe, unjudged, and welcomed.
"Yo guys! Let's hit the beach, limo's waiting!" Duncan was yelling from the back of the limo, oblivious to his sister's current plans. Logan stood up, guiding Veronica with him towards the limo, leaving Lilly standing there. Logan followed Veronica's movements as she glanced back at Lilly with a half smile that never fully made it to her eyes. He was not going to let Lilly have her way. "Come on V, I told you I was going to make you a surfer this summer."
As everyone descended onto the beach, Cedrick unloaded the food and drinks from the trunk while Ben carried firewood to make the pit. Dick and Enbom were getting the surf boards off the racks and Cassidy was sticking them into the sand.
Veronica looked to Logan as she fanned her towel out. "Do you think Lilly's going to ditch us ALL summer?"
"I don't know V, but you can't let her boss you around. She has a tendency to get into trouble. You have enough problems at home. She is just going to make it worse."
"She seems so carefree about everything. Like she's going to take on the world."
Logan looked at her with a raised eyebrow. "If she's not careful, the world is going to crush her."
Veronica sat on her towel removing her shorts and t-shirt showing off her tankini. Logan took off his t-shirt and cargo pants to reveal his swim trunks. Duncan came running over carrying a bottle of sunscreen. "V, can you help get my back? I'll get yours for you."
"Yeah, I'll help you, but I'm not going to need any. I'm wearing a wetsuit over this." Veronica took the bottle from Duncan and began applying it to his back and shoulders. When she was done, she used her towel to wipe off her hands.
Logan handed Veronica the backpack after taking his wetsuit out. "You not surfing, Donut?" Logan asked.
"No, Casey, Sean, and Luke want me to play volleyball with them against the girls. They need me to even it out against Madison, Shelly, Kimmie, and Meg. You guys could play too." Duncan offered.
Veronica looked as though she was considering it until Logan heard her respond. "No thanks, Logan promised to teach me how to surf." Duncan glanced out at the water where Dick, Cassidy, and Enbom were already surfing, then turned back to Logan and Veronica. "Okay, good luck, Veronica." He then got up and jogged over to the volleyball net that Ben had helped Cedrick put up.
Logan looked down at Veronica. "We could play volleyball with Duncan if you want. I have all summer to get you on a board." Logan knew Veronica liked Duncan. He didn't want her choosing to surf if she really wanted to spend time with him instead. Veronica gave him a genuine smile. "Don't be silly. If I wanted to play volleyball then I would have played volleyball." She zipped up her wet suit, grabbed his arm, and pulled him towards the surfboards. "Come on, Logan, it's time to teach me to surf."
Veronica thought she had done pretty well for her first day of surfing. Logan had been patient with her and the others didn't laugh when she continually fell off the board. Everyone was really encouraging; all the guys giving her tips as they sat waiting for the next wave. She had worked up to staying on the board for more than a few seconds and it felt amazing. She wanted to try to do it all on her own and Cassidy and Enbom finally convinced worrywart Logan to let her try. She made it up and was riding the wave...and then, suddenly, she wasn't. Veronica struggled under the water, trying to find the surface. She kept rolling around in the wave and her lead rope was tugging at her ankle.
Logan began to panic. Veronica wasn't coming up. He jumped off his board and started swimming but he wasn't close to her. Dick was headed back out. "I've got her, Lo!" he yelled from his board. He was a lot closer to her than Logan had been. Logan stopped and waited to see if Dick really had her. It felt like hours waiting to see them break the surface. Dick surfaced first, Veronica's head bobbing to the surface right after but Logan wasn't sure she was okay. She needed to be okay. He didn't know how he would handle it if she wasn't, not to mention how he would explain himself to Sheriff Mars. Logan swam toward them, relieved when he saw Veronica coughing and sputtering water. Dick clapped her on the back, then pushed her back onto her board. The rest of the group paddled over to make sure she was okay. Logan finally reached them and hung off the edge of Veronica's board, watching her continue to cough as she listened to Dick telling her how amazing she looked up there. "Next time, you'll ride it the whole way in, Ronnie."
"Hey V, you doing okay?" Logan asked in a shaky voice. He didn't even try to hide his concern. "That was some wipeout!" She looked tired. "Maybe we've surfed enough for today. You wanna head in and maybe join the others playing volleyball?"
Veronica frowned at him. "No, I wanna surf. I can do it, Logan. I need to try again."
Dick let out a chuckle. "Of course you can do it, V, come on, let's go at it again," he encouraged her. Logan just smiled and nodded his head. They paddled back out, Logan giving Veronica pointers about what went wrong the last time. She looked determined paddling out past the breakers.
Veronica stuck with it. They stayed out there for almost an hour before the surf died down and everyone came in. They all dried off and changed into warmer clothes before heading over to the bonfire that Ben was tending. Surfing had really given Logan an appetite so he was sure Veronica was famished. She could always out eat any of them. They had a table set up with all sorts of choices and, as Logan looked them over, his thoughts remained on Veronica. He noticed that a lot lately-how much he thought about her. She seemed to gravitate to the foremost parts of his mind. She'd been courageous out there today. If she kept this up, she'd be just as good as the rest of them by the end of the summer. She was a lot stronger than Lilly gave her credit for. If he could keep the Kanes' influence at bay, Veronica would be a force to be reckoned with.
A slap on his back distracted Logan; turning slightly, he came face to face with Duncan. "Hey."
"Hey, man, how was the game? Did the girls teach you guys a thing or two?" Ragging on Donut was becoming a favorite past time. Logan knew Veronica liked him and giving Duncan a hard time made Logan feel better about his own unrequited feelings for her.
"We didn't do too bad. They did end up winning but it was only by one point. How was surfing?" Even though Duncan asked, he didn't act like he cared what the response would be, instead turning away to pick at the food spread. Logan gave him the response he assumed Duncan wanted to hear.
"It was good. We got some nice waves tonight."
Still seeming distracted, Duncan responded, "That's cool, Logan." Gesturing to the plates, he added, "You really going to eat all that?"
Logan looked down at the two plates he had in front of him. He hadn't even realized he'd been filling them. Turning towards the bonfire, he ignored Duncan and started scanning for the petite blonde who had his full attention. She was watching Cassidy poke at the fire with a stick. They were talking but he seemed more engrossed with the fire than whatever Veronica was saying. Dick sat down beside Veronica and handed her a soda. As Logan got closer, he could hear Dick's booming voice.
"So, V, how was your first day on the waves?"
Her face lit up and Logan got a weird feeling in the pit of his stomach; he could tell that she had loved it. He gave her that. When she began describing how it felt to be out on the water, she seemed just as excited about it as he always did. "It was amazing! Being up there, I started to get the feel of the water under my board; it felt like I was soaring. I am so glad Logan talked me into learning to surf." Logan couldn't wipe the smile off his face when he sat down on her other side. He reached out and handed Veronica the plate he'd made for her as she talked to Dick. She paused, gave him a grateful smile, and finished describing her feelings about surfing to Dick. Logan understood exactly what she was talking about. That exhilarated feeling was why he surfed.
They'd been enjoying the food, the fire, and each other's company when Lilly, Carrie, and Susan showed up. They had clearly had a good time at the mall and were all sporting new looks that the boys were thoroughly enjoying. Logan had to admit that they didn't leave much to the imagination. Lilly didn't seem to mind Sean's wandering hands, in fact, it appeared she was encouraging him.
Duncan walked over to Lilly and grabbed her arm angrily. "What do you think you are doing?"
"Chill out, Donut. This is my last summer before high school. I plan on enjoying it!" Lilly was flaunting everything she had, clearly enjoying the attention. Logan was glad Veronica chose to come with them instead of Lilly. He hated to imagine what she would have convinced Veronica to do if she'd gone to the mall. Logan thought for sure that all the fun was over when Lilly showed up but he was relieved when Lilly was more interested in the attention she was getting from the guys rather than monopolizing Veronica. However, his evening was instead spoiled by Sheriff Mars pulling his car into the parking spot beside the limousine. He knew it was getting late but he had hoped that Veronica's dad would get caught up on a case and be later than expected. He watched the older man make his way across the sand to them, his eyebrows raised at the sight of Lilly gyrating against Sean on the other side of the bonfire.
"Hey honey, you ready to head home?"
Veronica looked up at her dad and Logan saw her blush as she saw him looking at Lilly and Sean. Logan was sure her dad would have something to say about what he just witnessed. "Yeah Dad, my bag is in the limo." Turning back, Veronica waved to Duncan and the others on the opposite side of the bonfire and reached out, giving first Cassidy and then Dick a quick hug before wrapping her arms around Logan. "Thanks for today, Lo. I know my wipeout made you nervous but you let me keep trying anyway. I'll see you tomorrow?"
Logan savored the moment of having Veronica in his arms. This had turned out to be an amazing day. Logan tightened his grip on her. "Sure, I'll see you tomorrow, Veronica." He kissed the top of her head and released her. "Good night. Sweet Dreams." Veronica turned and followed her dad to the car, giving him a little wave and a smile over her shoulder as she went. This is going to be the best summer! thought Logan as he watched her leave.