Four Summers - By Nyrae Dawn

I’ll never forget the first time I saw Nathaniel Chase. I was fifteen-years-old and leaving cabin 3B with my best friend Alec, who up until that moment, I’d always figured was the boy for me. It wasn’t that Alec and I were in love with each other, but we still knew that was our future. Without ever talking about it, we accepted it. Everything changed when Nathaniel pulled up to our lake cabins for the summer. Now, I had another boy in my life. Another best friend, but this one only part-time. This one, I loved.

My legs hang over the dock, feet dancing in the water as they do every summer. It’s early June, but already sticky hot. Any time I can, I sneak away from Dad before he finds more work for me to do. The water is the only way to stay cool on days like this.

I make circles with my toes, watching tiny waves ripple out until they disappear and I wonder how long I’ll be able to avoid Dad. He seems to be immune to the heat. He’s spent all day every summer working outside at our lake cabins since he was a kid and Mom’s parents gave him a job. My grandparents are long gone now and the place belongs to him and Mom. I get the joy of working alongside him.

“Hey, Charlie Rae. I’ve been looking for you.” Glancing up, I shield the sun from my eyes to see my best friend Alec standing next to me in a pair of cut-off denim shorts and a red, sleeveless shirt showcasing the firm muscles that haven’t always been there, running the length of his arms. He smiles, showing me the little chip in his tooth he got when he fell off the tire swing when we were eight. Alec pushes a hand through his sun-bleached hair.

“Let me guess, my dad’s looking for me?” I groan.

“How do you know it’s not me who wanted to find you, huh?” He winks.

I shake my head. Alec is such a flirt. He playfully does it with all the girls, but he’s the only one who does it to me. Which, embarrassingly, makes my cheeks warm up a little bit. I know it doesn’t mean anything. Alec is just nice like that, but when he’s the only boy who’s nice to me like that, it makes it hard not to get girly. Even though he’s only my best friend and I know that’s all he’ll ever emotionally be.

When I go to stand, he holds out his hand, and I let him pull me up.

“So…your dad’s looking for you,” he says, making me roll my eyes.

“See! I told you, Captain Liar. Where is he?” Crossing my arms, I try not to pout. I’m not sure why I feel like it. Maybe because of his stupid teasing. Maybe because I’m annoyed that Mom and my sister, Sadie Ann, are sitting in our air-conditioned store right now and I’m the one who has to work outside with Dad. Not that I wouldn’t rather be with him than them. Dad and I have more in common, but it’s still not fair.

“Captain Liar?” Alec laughs. “You’re such a dork. I mean, a cool dork, but a dork all the same.” My face feels hot again, but for a different reason this time. Shoving past Alec I try to walk away, but he runs after me. “I’m kidding, Charlie. Wait up! Hey, what’s the problem?”

Actually, I don’t know what my problem is. Or maybe I do. I’m tired of being the “dork”. Tired of being teased and just plain old Charlie Rae. Never Charlotte. Charlie. “Just grumpy. And hot. Where’s Dad?” I pull my hair tie out before putting my long, dark hair into another ponytail. According to Sadie Ann, ponytails are “so out” but it works for me.

“He’s busy getting some boat rentals ready. He wanted me to tell you he needs you to make sure cabin 3B is ready. Got a family coming in. They’ll be here the whole summer.”

I don’t try to stifle my groan. Why would people choose to come here for a whole summer? They think it’s such a great place to spend time, when really it’s just because they don’t live here. I do. I know how much it sucks. Luckily, the people who come the rest of the year never stay very long. “What do we know about them?”

“Some rich family. Parents and two sons. They’re probably too afraid of