Reggie woke up to the sound of voices in the hall, loud voices. She was in a daze, so she didn't even question who might belong to those voices. Instead, she crawled out of bed, yawning as she opened up her door and realizing the voices were that of her brother, and more importantly, his best friend.
"Twister!" she exclaimed, running towards him and wrapping his arms around him.
"Hey," he said cheerfully as he wrapped his arms around her, pulling her closer into him while her head rested against his chest.
Right before the end of his sophomore year, Twister had informed the gang that his parents were sending him to spend most of the summer in Mexico with his extended family. They thought it would be good for him to have new experiences, get closer with his relatives, learn more about his culture, and do something more than just hang around Ocean Shores with his friends all summer. Reggie, Otto, and Sam had missed having him around, feeling like their whole summer was thrown off. For as long as they'd known him, they'd never been apart from him for more than a few weeks.
He had told them he would be getting back that day, but Reggie didn't expect to see him in her house so early in the morning. As she hugged him she felt like she was engulfed by him, an extraordinary feeling that she hadn't experienced before his apparent growth spurt. She was comforted by his familiar scent, which, until that moment, she hadn't realized she had missed so much.
"You're so," she started after pulling away and getting a better look at him. His hair was shorter, or, at least she thought it was, she hadn't ever really noticed his hair before. She then realized it was because he wasn't wearing his hat. He seemed unconcerned about that fact and she wondered if not wearing it was a regular thing these days. His skin was tanner than when she had last seen him; his freckles were more prominent now that summer was nearing an end. And he was tall, a lot taller, in fact. She wondered if he had really changed that much in one summer. It could've been that he had looked the same (with a height difference) as when he left and it had just been so long since she'd seen him that she didn't remember. She struggled to find the right word to describe this seemingly new version of Twister that stood before her. Super-mega-foxy-awesome-hot? That seemed like an understatement. "Tall," she finished.
"Um, thanks?" he laughed.
"It's so great to see you again," she told him, realizing that her hand was still resting against his forearm. She quickly moved it away without really knowing why.
"Yeah, I've really missed you," he smiled at her, then noticed Otto still standing there. "Um, all of you guys."
"Alright, alright," Otto chimed in. "We've all missed Twister. Let's wrap up all the 'welcome homes' and hit the waves. It's been way too long since I've gone surfing with my bro."
"Sounds like a plan, Otto-man."
"Awesome, go wake up the Squid on your way to change and we'll meet you in the culdesac in ten. And dude," Otto started, receiving a curious look from Twister. "It's good to have you back."
Twister smiled. "Glad to be back, bro."
Otto turned and went into his bedroom and Twister turned to go downstairs, looking back and giving Reggie another smile. Of course, she had seen Twister smile more times than she could ever count, but none of those smiles had given her the melting feeling she experienced as she received this particular smile. She smiled back before quickly going back into her room, a little worried that if she stayed there too long, he would somehow be able to see everything she was feeling in that moment.
Twister paddled in towards Reggie.
"Man, these waves are awesome today," he said as he sat up on his board next to her. The two watched as Sam and Otto looked back, preparing to catch an incoming wave.
"Yeah," she agreed happily, watching the two before turning to Twister. "So come on, I'm dying to hear about your summer!"
"Same old," he joked nonchalantly. She couldn't help her self from smiling and almost instinctively held up her hand to push his arm, almost making him lose his balance. She wondered again if this was something she had always done or if it was new. She felt like there was a lot more touching between them then there used to be, but she couldn't quite remember. Maybe she was just starting to become more aware of it now for some reason.
He laughed, "It was pretty awesome actually. The food was amazing. Man, I thought my mom's cooking was good, but my aunt should like be on the food channel or something."
She continued to look at him, widening her grin. It was just so very Twister to start with the food. "Not crazy Aunt Tilda, right?" she asked.
"No way," he grimaced. "Yikes. No, I stayed with Cleo's family most of the time. I don't think you've met any of them except for her, but she has three brothers and a little sister who just turned six."
"I'll bet she loved you," Reggie said, thinking back to the days when little Scotty had looked up so much to Twister.
"Probably only because I was the only one she could rope into giving her piggyback rides," he laughed. "Her brothers always refuse, but I don't know how they could turn her down when she gave that look. She like has some sort of mind-control power or something."
"Aw, that's sweet though. And what about Cleo? How is she?" Reggie asked as Sam swam up to join them.
"She's good. I actually ended up hanging out with her more than most of my other cousins. Me and her teamed up against her brothers most of the time when we would play hockey. I guess since she's the only one that's actually met you guys, hanging with her was almost like having a part of you guys there too."
"Are we talking about your trip?" Sam asked, glancing at Otto catching another wave.
"Yeah," Twister answered.
"How was the food? I bet it was awesome."
"Dude, you have to come down one day. The food was amazing."
"Wait, Cleo's not the only one we've met," Reggie said, changing back to the last topic. "What about little Scotty? Did you see him at all?"
"Oh, yeah! I forgot you guys had met Scotty!"
"How could you forget?" Sam asked, bemused. "You lost him at the boardwalk like you lost your puppy."
"Enough with the puppy, already. I thought we dropped that years ago!"
Sam and Reggie laughed. "Bust," they said at the same time.
"Anyway, Scotty's actually gotten pretty cool. He lived not too far from my aunt, so he would hang with us once in a while. He's actually gotten pretty good at-"
Twister was interrupted as Otto made his way to the group. "Are you guys even gonna surf at all?"
"Chill, Otto. Twist was just telling us about his trip," Reggie said.
"Well, if we're just gonna sit around and talk, can we at least do it at the Shack? I'm getting hungry."
"Good thinking, Rocket boy," Twister agreed as they started to paddle back to shore.
Twister had continued his story as they walked to the Shack, where he was immediately greeted by Raymundo. "Well, there's a face I haven't seen in a while! Tito, Twister's back in town," he called into the kitchen as the kids sat on the stools.
Tito emerged from the door giving a big-bellied, "Aloooo-ha, little cuz!"
"Well, this calls for a celebration! Everything is on the house!" Raymundo exclaimed.
"Um, correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't everything always on the house?" Sam asked.
"I think the cuz has got a point," Tito laughed.
"I know! Sundaes! We haven't done ice cream sundaes for you kids in ages!"
"Aloha to that, bruddah!" Tito said as the two disappeared back into the kitchen to get the supplies.
"Okay," Reggie turned back to Twister. "So what was your favorite part?"
"As far as sports go, it was probably the surfing. They live by this great beach, huge waves and crystal clear water," he started before being interrupted again by Otto.
"Dude, that reminds me, did I tell you I won the junior regional surf competition over the summer?"
Twister wasn't bothered by the interruption, but happy for his best friend. "No, I didn't hear. That's awesome, man!"
Reggie was annoyed with her brother, who didn't seem to care to hear any of what his best friend had been up to for the past two months. However, she admired how Twister always seemed to be genuinely excited for Otto, despite the fact that he won practically ever competition he entered. She put a hand on Twister's arm to get his attention.
"So the surfing? Better than the surfing here?"
"It was pretty great, but nothing beats surfing with you guys."