In the pool Drew laughs. “Grilling meat isn’t much of a culinary skill.”
He hauls himself out of the water; his muscles flat and well defined. I spend so much time training for volleyball these days that it’s easy to tell myself I’m just taking an interest in another fitness fanatic, but he does look gorgeous. Not as gorgeous as Nat, maybe, because there isn’t that history with us, but still pretty hot. His presence is hard to ignore, and I find myself taking him in from head to toe.
He throws on his shoes. “If Nat’s showing off his ‘culinary skills’ I’d better go too.”
“Like that?” his brother says. “You’re wet, bro.”
Drew looks across to me and shrugs, those muscles of his moving in complicated ways. “You mind or do I need to change?”
I stare at him, then remember to answer. “A t-shirt would be good.”
“You don’t mind about the boxers?” Drew asks, and he moves a little closer to me. Is he trying to tease me? His boxers are wet, dripping, and cling to him like a second skin. My mouth nearly drops open. I can feel myself getting ready to blush, but I’m ready with an answer. “I didn’t notice them. I’m more interested in the water you’re planning on dripping on the rugs while you go through the house.”
Drew grabs a towel, and while he’s busy drying off, Nat takes my hand. “Come on,” he says. “We should get going, or there won’t be time to cook.”
“Hold on,” Drew insists, rushing inside. He comes out in just over a minute wearing jeans and another white t-shirt. Maybe he didn’t dry himself that well, but the t-shirt clings to his muscles.
“That was quick,” I say.
“With all those one night stands of his,” Nat explains, “he had to learn to dress fast. He has to get out of there before a girl can think he might actually care.”
I look at Drew and he shrugs again. “They know what they’re getting into,” he says. “Why complicate things with emotional stuff?”
“You’re a pig, you know that?” Rachel calls out from the pool.
“You want to join us, Rachel?” I ask.
She shakes her head, getting out of the pool and heading for a lounge chair near it. “I’m fine here. It’s going to be good having some time away from these two.”
“Then we should go,” Nat says. His hand is still in mine, and it’s so gentle and warm there. Compared to his brother, he’s a total gentleman.
The three of us drive over to the nearest Trader Joe’s and Nat starts picking out food for the grill: corn-fed beef, scallops, fish. He seems to know what he’s looking for, and pretty soon, he’s filled most of a cart with it. By the time he’s done that, Drew has been around the store and comes back with a cart of his own, filled with soda, chips, hot dogs, hot sauce and more, exactly the kind of junk food he said they were going to get.
“Glad you remembered,” Nat said.
“Like I’d forget the hot sauce.”
While they’re doing that, I become aware of two things. The first is just how well the brothers still get along. It seems three years haven’t changed that. The second is that there are two girls around my age, maybe a little older, checking them out. I can’t blame them, but they’re pretty obvious about it, just watching them and talking in low voices to one another. One, a dark haired girl whose tight clothes do a lot to emphasize the curves she has, even comes over and pushes what looks like a slip of paper into Drew’s hand. They both walk off then, giggling.
“What just happened?” I ask.
Nat shakes his head with a smile. “Just the Drew effect. I’ll be back in a second. I just need one more ingredient.”
He heads off, leaving me with Drew. I look at him. “The Drew effect? Seriously?”
“I get it most places,” he says, starting to grin but then stopping himself. “Honestly, it can get pretty annoying.”
“Oh, poor Drew,” I say. Like pretty girls giving him their number is really a problem.
“I mean it,” Drew says. “Think about it. If I was a pretty girl, and guys were constantly coming up to me harassing me, judging me just by my body, that would be a problem. But because I’m a guy, that’s somehow okay?”
“So, girls just want your body?” I ask, as innocently as I can. After all, I’ve stared at him.
“Ever since I got in shape and made the football team…it’s been non-stop.”
“Why can’t you stop it?” I look around, hoping to catch sight of the girls and tell them to leave Drew alone, but they’re long gone.
Drew shakes his head. “It’s just what guys do. A girl throws herself at you, you go with it.”
“Nat doesn’t,” I point out.
“No, Nat doesn’t,” Drew agrees. “He never takes a chance. Never does anything. He wouldn’t know a good thing if it were standing in front of him.”
I’m suddenly, hotly, angry. Drew can’t talk about Nat like that. “Nat might not have your body, Drew, but he’s considerate, kind… he wouldn’t do anything to hurt a girl.”
I can feel tears starting to form in my eyes. Why? Why should they?
Drew takes in a slow breath. “Look, I’m just trying to be honest, Summer. I’ve forgotten what it’s like to have a girl around me who only wants to be friends. Except Rachel, every girl my age is suddenly a prospect.”
“Well I’m not,” I say sharply. “I’m not the kind of girl who could sleep with a guy without it meaning something, the way it works for you, so I guess you have one girl who’ll never be anything else. Besides…”
I glance over at where Nat is still hunting for his missing ingredient, his height making him easy to spot.
“You’re still into Nat,” Drew says, “so even if you were that kind of girl, you wouldn’t be into me. Three years, and you still love him? Summer, let him go. He’s not ever going to feel that way about you.”
“You don’t know that,” I insist.
“I’m his brother,” Drew says. “I know.”
Nat comes back, a jar of something in one hand and his cell phone in the other. “I know,” he says, “Chrissy, I miss you already. No, don’t worry, there’s nothing here that could ever make me forget you.” Chrissy?
I push the shopping cart away, heading down the ice cream aisle. After this, I’m going to need it.
“I was trying to tell you,” Drew says, keeping pace with me. “Nat has a girlfriend.”
“He knows how I feel,” I insist.
“But he still isn’t with you,” Drew points out. He puts a hand on the cart, bringing it to a halt. “You need to move on, or this summer is going to be a hard one for all of us.”
Kailin Gow is an international award-winning author, producer, woman director, and spokesperson for charities who hopes her stories will inspire women of all ages to become their most beautiful, independent, and happy self. Currently the Program Director and Emcee of the Celebrating Lives, Fighting Cancer International Musical Charity Concert Benefiting the American Cancer Society held at the Pasadena Civic Center (home of the Annual Emmys Awards) to be televised to over 25 million viewers worldwide, she is also a recognized humanitarian. Goodreads calls her an “Innovative Author” and “Author Influencer” during BEA 2014 where she was a speaker. Amazon profiled her on the homepage and also in their book, Transformations. She has written and published over 300 books under “Kailin Gow” and more under pen names since 2001, selling over 5 million books in multiple genres such as Thriller, YA, Fantasy, Sci Fi, Contemporary Romance, Erotica, New Adult, and Non-fiction in multiple languages. An indie publishing pioneer, she has written for and been quoted in Fast Company and Huffington Post as a publishing authority, and have appeared in the top radio shows as an authority on Women’s image and self-esteem. USA Today recommends her steamy thrillers, while PBS Kids recommend her fantasy YA books. Internationally, she was featured on the front page of The World Journal, the largest Chinese-language newspaper outside of Asia, as an Author Phenomenon and been a speaker for Asian Week. Noted as a top bestselling author of YA and Contemporary Romance on CBS TV, she has won the Reader’s Choice Nomination in Fantasy/Sci Fi from the ALA YALSA for her Bitter Frost Series, the Benjamin Franklin Silver Award for her Dystopian Thriller- The FADE Series, for Best in Class, and the Best in Erotica Award from the NIEA for The Protégé Series. Bitter Frost was made into a mobile game and adapted into an animated film that was released on Amazon Prime TV and more channels in March 2017. PULSE Vampire Series, The FADE Series, and the Wordwick Games Series were also adapted into animated films that released on Amazon Prime TV and other channels in February and March 2017. Her bestselling Romantic Thriller and Family Saga, The Loving Summer Series, is currently in development as a Featured Film.
In 2016 and 2017, Kailin Gow completed and hosted an entire season of the popular KAILIN GOW’S GO GIRL Travel, Food, and Lost History show that is on Amazon Prime TV. She just completed an entire season of hosting and directing the tv series, KAILIN GOW: THE CRAZY ONES, a series where Kailin presents and analyze past and present day innovators who have disrupted business and society with their innovations, and the animated superhero series, Super Supers: No Fan of the Ban.