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Authors: Amber Garza

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BOOK: Prowl
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“Hey you.”

I looked up. Isaac walked up the steps to the porch. He sported gym shorts and a t-shirt and held a basketball in the crook of his arm. Perspiration glistened on his forehead and he reeked of sweat. Despite all of that he looked amazing. He sat next to me, rattling the chains on the swing.

“Watcha reading?”

“Oh, nothing. Just a book Rhiannon loaned me.”

“Auras, huh?”

I hated hearing the disappointment in his voice. I shrugged. “It’s no big deal. I just find it interesting. Did you know that Rhiannon reads auras? And she’s always been right when she’s read mine.”

He eyed me skeptically.

“I’m serious. It’s amazing actually.”

Isaac leaned close. Instinctively, I moved back. “You know you don’t need to read auras to tell how someone is feeling. I bet I can tell you exactly how you feel right now.”

“Really?” I raised my eyebrows, challenging. “Then tell me, Mr. Psychic, how am I feeling right now?”

“Conflicted.”

His words unnerved me and I stared hard at my lap.

“What about me? Can you guess how I’m feeling?”

I looked up at his smiling face and took a wild guess. “Happy.”

“See I told you. That’s exactly how I feel right now when I’m sitting here with you. Happy.”

My heart fluttered. I knew without a doubt that I was falling for him.

“I actually came over for a reason.”

“So, you didn’t come over to practice reading my mind?”

He grinned. “No. I was thinking about something you said the other night at my house.”

“Oh?” My mind ran through our conversation, searching for a clue.

“Yeah, you said that since you didn’t have a dad, you never learned to play basketball. I thought I’d change that.”

I squirmed. The thought of humiliating myself by playing ball with Isaac filled me with dread.

“C’mon. I’m a really good teacher.”

“I don’t know.”

“Please? It’ll be fun. Besides, I’m always looking for someone to play ball with. You’d be doing me a favor.”

I gnawed on my lower lip. “Well, if you put it that way how can I say no?”

“Great.” He hopped up. “Let’s go.”

“Now?”

“No time like the present.”

“Okay.” I stood.

“You wanna change first?”

I looked down at my shorts and long sleeved shirt. “Nah. But I guess I should put on some tennis shoes. I’ll be right back.”

He furrowed his brow. “Sure you don’t want to change into short sleeves?”

“Nope.” I rushed inside and put on my shoes. When I returned we jogged together over to his front yard, and stood in his driveway beneath the hoop.

“Okay,” Isaac said, “the first thing I need to teach you is how to shoot a basket.”

This should be interesting.

“Here. Watch me.” Isaac held the ball between both hands, bent his knees, aimed for the hoop and shot the ball upward. It hit the backboard and bounced down. He caught it before it hit the ground. “Well, maybe not exactly like that.”

I giggled. It didn’t look too tough.

“Now, you try.” He lobbed the ball to me and I caught it.

Facing the hoop I held the ball at my fingertips the way I’d seen him do, bent my knees and threw the ball skyward. It rocketed into the air and fell straight down landing by my feet. My face warmed with embarrassment, sweat formed under my arms. This was not going well.

“That was a good try,” Isaac said. “Okay, this time I’ll help you.”

He handed me the ball and came to stand behind me. His hands gripped me at my waist and my pulse quickened. I could smell his deodorant, his minty breath. Reaching up he positioned my arms and then let his hands rest on my waist again. Gently he pushed me down so my knees bent lower.

“Okay, you’re aimed correctly. Now push up with your legs and throw it in.”

This time the ball came a little closer to the hoop but still missed. I grunted.

“It’s no use. I can’t do it.”

“It’s only your second try. You can’t give up now. You’re doing great.”

“Is this how your dad taught you to play?” I asked.

A cloud passed over his eyes. “No. My dad didn’t teach me how to play ball.”

“Really? “ This surprised me. His dad seemed like the kind of man who would spend hours playing ball with his son. “Then who did?”

“My brother.”

“Your brother? I thought you were an only child.”

“I am now. My brother died.”

My hand flew to my mouth. “I’m so sorry. I had no idea. Was he sick?”

He shook his head, ran a hand through his hair. “He drowned.”

A vision of a little boy floating in a pool filled my mind causing me to shudder.

“That’s terrible.”

“Yeah, it was. It almost destroyed my family. We weren’t always Christians, you know. It wasn’t until after my brother died that we found God. And we’re lucky we did. He really pulled our family together.”

“Was he older or younger?”

“Older.”

“He loved basketball. I think that’s why I like it so much. I feel closer to him when I’m on the court.”

“I can understand that.” I thought about how the smell of hair dye always made me think of Mom and how I felt totally at home in a beauty salon.

A thought struck me. When I went to the Giovanni’s for dinner there were pictures of Isaac everywhere, but I didn’t see pictures of other kids. “How come there are no pictures of your brother in your home?”

“It’s too painful for my parents to see pictures of him.”

“So, this happened fairly recently?”

“No, it’s been many years. I guess the pain of losing your child never goes away.”

I nodded. “I don’t know what to say. It’s just so awful.”

“You don’t have to say anything. Just being here playing basketball is enough.”

“Well, if this was your way of selling me on the game you’ve done a great job.” I winked. “Okay, give me the ball. I’ll try again.”

After several more tries I finally got the ball in the hoop. It didn’t swish in like I wanted. It bounced off the backboard, circled the rim and then finally fell in but I was still ecstatic. Isaac hooted and hollered and gave me a high-five. We played for about an hour and then my arms were tired and I was drenched in sweat.

Fanning myself with my hand I said, “Man, I don’t think there’s been any breeze today.”

“No, it’s supposed to be in the triple digits.”

“It feels like it.”

“Let’s take a rest. I’ll go grab us some waters.” He ran into the house and returned a moment later, bottled waters in hand. I plopped down on the ground, stretching my legs. Unscrewing the cap, I lifted the bottle to my lips and gulped in the cool liquid.

“Thanks,” I said. “This was fun.”

Isaac sat next to me. “Yeah, it was for me too.”

“Anytime you want to play again, just let me know.”

“I will. Hey, do you wanna go with me to this event my youth group is having tomorrow night?”

Church wasn’t my thing. “What kind of event?”

“We’re going miniature golfing.”

“Ah, so it’s not actually at your church.”

He shook his head. “No, it’s at Scandia.”

I contemplated his offer. On the one hand, I would love to spend time with Isaac. On the other, I didn’t want to hang out with a bunch of goodie-two-shoes who would look down their nose at me.

“I’d love it if you’d go with me,” he said.

Sold.

“So, how do you know Isaac?” A tall, leggy girl with platinum blonde hair approached me. Isaac was at the counter getting our clubs and balls. I had been doing my best to avoid eye contact with everyone around me but apparently this girl couldn’t take a hint.

“I’m staying next door for the summer.” I extended my hand in an effort to be polite. “I’m Mackenzie.”

“Brooke,” she said without shaking my hand.

Embarrassed, I dropped my arm. I guess not all Christian girls were friendly.

“Here you are.” Isaac swept in, the overpowering scent of too much cologne washed over me. Our fingers brushed as he handed me my golf club. “Ah, I see you’ve met Brooke.” I detected wariness in his voice.

Brooke flashed a gleaming white smile at him. “Yes. Well, it was nice to meet McKenna,” she said.

I didn’t bother correcting her. It was obvious she purposely said my name incorrectly.

“Catch up with you guys later.” She sauntered off, swaying her hips a little too aggressively.

I glanced over at Isaac to see if he noticed but his eyes were trained on me. Once she was out of sight my shoulders relaxed.

“So, are you ready for me to completely kick your butt in miniature golf?” I asked.

Isaac chuckled. “You obviously haven’t seen me play before. I’ve got mad skills in mini golf.”

“Oh, you think so, huh?” I snatched one of the golf balls out of his hand and stalked over to the first hole. “Just wait.” I lined the ball up and squared my shoulders over it. Holding the club between my hands I gently brought it back and then hit the ball. It careened down, picked up speed and ended up curving to the right and slamming into the wall near the hole. It bounced off and rolled slowly back toward the hole only to stop inches from it.

“Not bad, not bad. Now move over and see how it’s done.” Isaac playful nudged me with his hip. His ball ended up doing almost exactly what mine had done but actually went in.

“Oh, now it’s on,” I said as I headed over to my ball to tap it in.

Isaac jotted down the score while we walked over to the next hole. Behind us I could hear girls giggling and peered back to see that Brooke and her friends were behind us. When she caught me looking she narrowed her eyes. Ignoring her, I turned back around.

“Still think you’re gonna beat me?” Isaac asked, his eyes dancing in the moonlight.

“Are you kidding? That last hole was just a warm up. You aint seen nothing yet.”

The rest of the evening we bantered and teased but in the end Isaac ended up beating me by ten strokes. I finally admitted to him that I’d only played miniature golf a couple of times in my life and the last time had been several years earlier.

“Really? The way you were trash talking I thought you played all the time.”

“Nah. I was just teasing you.”

He smiled, put his hand on my arm. My skin broke out in goosebumps.

“Well, then you’re a natural.”

Feeling bold I said, “You’ll just have to take me more often so I can get better.”

His hand still on my arm he said, “I’m gonna hold you to that.”

Just then a group of students descended on us. It looked like the rest of the youth group had finished as well. After everyone decided to go inside for some pizza, Isaac and I followed them in. I was a little disappointed as we sat down amidst the group. The time alone with Isaac was so enjoyable that I hated to have to share him now. When he left the table to order, an attractive girl with dark hair and a smattering of freckles across her nose and cheeks scooted into the booth next to me.

“Hi. I don’t think we’ve met before. I’m Stephanie.” She stuck out a hand and her smile was genuine, unlike Brooke’s.

“I’m Mackenzie, but you can just call me Kenzie for short.”

“Nice to meet you, Kenzie. Are you new here?”

“Sort of. I’m just staying with my grandma for the summer. Isaac lives next door. He invited me tonight.”

“Oh, that’s great. Well, I’m glad you came.”

“One pepperoni pizza coming up,” Isaac said when he returned. I was disappointed when he slid into the booth across from me. Even though Stephanie seemed nice it irritated me that she took Isaac’s seat.

By the end of the evening I was stuffed from the pizza, tired from the golf and happier than I’d ever been before. I’d had so much fun with Isaac and his friends. The only downfall of the night was meeting Brooke but after that one encounter she’d pretty much left me alone.

“So, was it really that bad?” Isaac asked when he walked me up to my front door to say good-bye.

“It was wonderful.”

“Good. I’m glad you came. My friends all really liked you.”

“I liked them also.”
Most of them.

“I had a lot of fun with you.”

My pulse raced. “Me too.”

“See you tomorrow morning?”

“What’s tomorrow morning?”

“Church.”

“Oh, I don’t know.”

“C’mon. It’ll be fun.”

I never thought I’d hear the words church and fun in the same sentence.

“You said it wasn’t so bad.”

“Yeah, miniature golfing and pizza wasn’t so bad, but going to church is completely different.”

“Maybe not. Maybe you’ll find that church isn’t so bad either.” He nudged me. “C’mon, just try it out. For me.”

BOOK: Prowl
7.75Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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