Nate knocked on the door to Peggy, Mitchie, Ella, and Tess' cabin. It was the morning after Final Jam, so everyone was packing and getting ready to go home. He was ready by then, and so were Shane and Jason, but he wanted to give a congratulations to a certain someone—the one that will be recording a duet with his band mate next week. The one that he had a secret crush on for three years.
Mitchie opened the door. "Oh…hi, Nate," she said, clear disappointment in her voice. Nate held back a laugh. Shane acted the same way when I came up to him instead of Mitchie. "Uh…can I help you with anything?"
"Yeah, have you seen Peggy anywhere?" he asked.
"Peggy? Oh, yeah. She's in the main parking lot, why?"
"Just wondering. Thanks," he said, trying to sound nonchalant. If he gave away his deepest secret to a girl that he barely knew, he would crawl into a hole and die.
"Oh, OK," Mitchie replied. They stood there awkwardly for a moment. Then, Mitchie opened her mouth to say something, but Nate beat her to it.
"Let me guess…you want to know where Shane is, right?" he said, raising my eyebrows. Mitchie laughed, embarrassed.
Nate laughed, too. "Shane is by the dock, I think. Don't you guys have a romantic canoe ride planned?" he asked menacingly.
Mitchie laughed and shoved him. "I think I know where Shane got his obnoxious side from!" she joked. Nate shoved her back. Then, she grabbed her bag and headed towards the dock. But deep down, Mitchie had a hunch why Nate really wanted to see her, and the thought of what he would find out if he flirted with her gave her an uneasy feeling.
Meanwhile, Nate raced through the entire camp. He was just worried about getting to Peggy on time, because only Shane would go into the recording studio, and this was the last chance he'd get to see her.
By the time Nate got to the parking lot, Peggy was just getting into her car. If he hadn't put on a burst of speed (and consequently injured himself by slamming into the Duprees' car door), he would have missed her completely.
"Hey! What in the world have you done to my car?" Mrs. Dupree boomed, storming over to the spot where Nate had made a rather noticeable dent near her front headlights. He winced, half from embarrassment and half from pain.
Luckily, Peggy was more concerned about Nate than her mother's car.
"You OK there, Nate?" she asked. She helped him up and even got a first-aid kit from the trunk
He nodded. "Sure, I'm all right. Just a little breathless, is all."
"And your knee is bleeding," she noted. "Why did you slam into our car door like that?" Peggy asked, laughing a little as she put a bandage on his skinned knee.
"I'm sorry," Nate said. "I just wanted to talk to you, that's all." Peggy opened her mouth to speak, but her mother broke in.
"I don't care whether you wanted to catch up with my daughter or the President of the United States. That doesn't give you permission to wreck my brand new convertible! Anyway, you can't talk to her. Margaret, you have a guitar lesson at five today. I think we ought to at least go to that one, since you got to miss them all summer."
"But I've been practicing all summer, anyway, and—" Peggy began, but was cut off once more.
"That may be true, but in case you didn't know, those lessons cost money, young lady, and money doesn't grow on trees."
Defeated, Peggy sighed. "I'm sorry, Nate," she said. "You can call me later if you want me to, though. Here, let me give you my number." But Mrs. Dupree grabbed Peggy's arm as she was about to reach into her bag.
"Margaret, this is no time for flirting. Come now, let's go. Anyway, I think we have to stop by the mechanics' on the way home," she said, giving Nate a piercing glare. He gulped in spite of himself.
Peggy's shoulders slumped, but she reluctantly got in the front passengers' seat.
"Well…bye, Peggy," Nate said glumly. They both waved to each other as the car drove away.
Later, Nate half-stomped back to his cabin. He was furious! That was the last chance I had to talk to Peggy, and her female dog of a mother pulled her away from me in such a rude manner that I felt like she thought I was going to murder her or something! I just wish that people wouldn't be so overprotective, he thought.
"What's got you?" Jason looked up from his handheld game as his band mate slammed the door. "And what happened to your knee?"
"I skinned it while I was running over to Peggy's mom's car," he answered irritably.
"And why did you run over to her car?" Jason asked, but you could tell by the look on his face that he had a hunch. Just like Mitchie.
"No reason, Jase," Nate snapped. If anything, he didn't want to blow his cover in front of Jason. Jason never kept secrets. "I just wanted to congratulate her, is all. I mean, I won't ever see her again, so…I just wanted to tell her she did a good job and stuff. You know, since that's what friends are for and all."
"Right, since you like Peggy as just a friend, don't you?" he asked knowingly. It was painfully obvious to him that that wasn't true. He once caught Nate writing her name on a sheet of paper when they were supposed to be practicing 'Play My Music' for the Beach Jam. Shane had seen it, too.
Nate groaned. There was no point in hiding now. "OK, so I do like her as more than a friend. I have ever since we were campers three years ago! But I can't help it. Peggy told Ella who told Mitchie who told Shane who told me that she writes her own songs. And…I really liked the song she sang at Final Jam. It just kind of got to me, you know? And now…now I don't even know her number! Life can really stink sometimes, you know that, Jason?"
"Sorry…" Jason looked down at the floor awkwardly. Nate slapped his face. Jason always had to take things literally.
"What?" Jason asked. "T.M.I.?"
Nate rolled his eyes. "Yeah, you could say that."
Just then, Shane cleared his throat, and his two band mates turned to look at him.
"Well, you're back early," Nate said. "What happened? And how long have you been standing here?" He especially wanted to know the answer to the second question.
Shane sighed. "Long enough…our canoe got a leak," he said. "Anyway, I don't think Tess has left yet. I'll bet she has Tess' number."
Nate sighed in relief. "Thanks a lot, Shane," he said. "Oh, and you guys both know you're sworn to secrecy about Peggy, right?"
Shane and Jason looked at each other and shrugged. "Sure, Nate, whatever you want," Jason said. Nate swore he saw a smirk cross Shane's face just then.
He smiled good-naturedly; he knew it meant no.
Unfortunately, Nate's day nearly got worse after that. He managed to get to the girls' cabin on time, but did forget to knock…and walked in on Tess.
"NATE!" she screamed. He shut his eyes immediately. "What are you doing here?"
"Tess, I am so, so sorry! I should have knocked first." He really did feel horrible.
"Yeah, you should have," she snapped. "Anyway, what do you want?"
"Peggy's number; you have it?" Nate asked.
Tess was a little surprised. "Um, yeah? I have her number. But why do you need it?"
"Because I do!" Nate snapped. "Look, just give it to me!"
"OK then, chill…uh, one second. You can look now, by the way." He unshielded his eyes as Tess handed him her address book.
Suddenly, it hit her. She looked at Nate, and a look of sympathy crossed her face. She had to tell him the truth, even if it was one of the worst things you could say to a person. But the sooner he knew, the better. She took a deep breath and said, "Uh, Nate? I might want to warn you that Peggy has a boyfriend back at home."
Nate stared at her, surprised and naturally hurt. "She does? What's his name?" He was super-scared that his voice would crack any second. He could not cry in front of a girl.
"Anthony," she said quietly. "I'm really sorry, Nate."
"Whatever," he mumbled.
"No, I really am sorry. I've been there before," she said sympathetically. She really had been there before, about three years before…
It was in sixth grade, in about Mid-may. The end-of-year dance was coming up, and Tess and her friends were talking about whom they were asking.
"I'm thinking about asking Joey," this one girl named Talia said. "He's cute, and he's really nice to everyone."
" Are you kidding?" Tess' other friend April broke in. "Sebastian is so much cuter. He's always got this awesome tan, and he can make anyone laugh. He's just so goofy! You gotta love someone who's goofy.
"Who are you asking, Tess?" this quiet girl names Natalie asked.
"Oh, I was thinking of asking Pete," Tess said, and the three girls burst out laughing.
"What's so funny?" Tess demanded. She hated being made fun of.
"Tess, where have you been?" April asked. "Pete's been dating Isabelle for years! Man, do you live in a hole!"
"Oh, right. Sorry," Tess looked down at her tray, eyes stinging and cheeks burning.
"Aww, don't be a baby, Tess," Natalie said. "He's out of your league, anyway."
"Tess? Hey, Tess!" Nate was waving his hand if front of her face. "You there?"
"What? Oh, sorry!" Tess said. I was just thinking about something."
"Yeah…well, I guess I should get going then." Nate turned and headed for the door.
"Nate, hold up!" Tess said. He looked up at her. "You want to have lunch together or something?"
Nate looked at his watch. "You mean, like right now?" Tess nodded.
He eyed her suspiciously. "On a pity date?"
Tess blushed. "Well, yes…no…I don't know." She didn't think about how mean that could have sounded, but she would have wanted Pete to go with her on a pity date…maybe.
He laughed. "OK, I'm in!"
"Great, I'll meet you back in half an hour."
As Nate walked back to my cabin, he smiled. Things clearly didn't work out with Peggy and I, he thought, but maybe Tess could be my girlfriend.
Tess smiled, too. Unlike her friends, she wasn't going to make fun of Nate. Nate was a cool guy, and their dating seemed like a nice idea to her…because she felt that Nate actually liked her, for her.
A/N: So, what do you think, guys? I'm not sure it was my best piece of work, personally. :) Most things I was unsure about were involving foreshadowing, pronouns (switching between 'Nate' and 'he'), and whether or not the flashback was necessary. So, give me your take on those things, as well as anything else you thought!