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Rated: 13+ · Prose · Drama · #2236086
Background story for my NaNoWriMo novel... the continuing saga....
“I’m tired of hearing about some goody, goody who seems to be able to do no wrong. Emily’s a stupid little twit who hasn’t a clue what the world is like. You’d think this friend of hers walks on water,” Darla said giving a sniff of derision.

Ryan looked over at Emily, who was sitting at a table nearby with a few of her friends. He could still hear her chatting on about her friend. Apparently they had gotten into the College of Art in Toronto. They were going to the big city. They were going to have an adventure. Darla’s voice flared up again drowning out Emily’s joy.

“You’d think only they could go to the Big City. You’d think only they could get into some prestigious art college. Who cares?”

Ryan wondered for the umpteenth time who this friend was. Was she the girl he’d seen all those years ago? The one at the lake? The one drawing... like no other kid he’d ever seen? How old had he been? Ten? Twelve? Twelve. She’d been only ten. He remembered in sharp contrast to the years that followed. That had been his last summer of real freedom. That had been eight years ago. Since then he’d been shipped off to his uncle’s farm, until he’d graduated and gone off to university to study Criminology.

“Bet she thinks Sudbury is too good for her,” Darla snarked on. To Ryan it was like nails on a chalkboard.

“Does it matter?” he muttered dragging in a sip of his beer and trying to listen in on the conversation at Emily’s table.

“Of course it matters. You could have at least tried to get into U of T to study criminology, but no. You wanted to stay closer to home.”

“My Dad wasn't doing well... he still isn't,” he reminded her, but she snorted.

“He’s fine. Probably outlive you.” she muttered back offhandedly as she waved to Jack to get her another Long Island Tea.

Ryan pulled in a calming breath and let it out nice and slow. He refused to let Darla get under his skin. What he really wanted to do was leave. Get out into the fresh air and walk. Walk down to the river and let the sound of the falls thunder around him. But he wouldn’t. That wasn’t the gentlemanly thing to do and though Darla annoyed him at the moment, he refused to treat her unkindly. He did love her.

She was just mad that she hadn’t been accepted to any big name schools in the south. She’d have to do another year at Laurentian. Of course, he’d tried to tell her that if she’d study more and party less, she might be able to get the grades needed to transfer, but she wasn’t hearing him. That was happening a lot lately... since he’d proposed, she’d gotten crankier; like it was his fault she hadn’t made it in. Still, he’d been secretly happy the pregnancy scare was a false alarm, though a part of him figured it was a hoax to get him to propose. Darla figured she’d have him by the balls, but he’d put on the breaks. He had two more years of university, then it was the police academy. He’d have to tread carefully if he wanted to follow his own dreams. He could sense Darla was up to something and that something couldn’t be good. Maybe it was a good idea he’d accepted a job out at the ranger station for the summer. He needed some space. He still had to tell Darla, but something told him, now was not the time. she’d be pissy. There was probably no way around that, but now was not the time to drop that bomb.

He felt a draft just before Darla grabbed his arm and announced that her friends had arrived. She headed for their table already bubbling about something or other. Ryan hung back to order another beer and catch more of Emily’s excitement.

A name floated over him. Arlynn. An unusual name, but he was almost certain that was the name of the girl from so long ago. It was a name tied to sweet memories of a summer when freedom was a day with no worries and hours of time to fish with your buddies. He remembered a intense blue silver gaze and auburn shade of hair tied back in a bouncy ponytail. He remembered a body shock he’d never experienced before or since.

“Ryan get over here,” Darla called over to him. Her tone was flint, dark like thunder clouds waiting to erupt.

Oh how he longed to just walk out that door. But hell hath no fury like a bitchy woman... and he did love her, he told himself again. Still, he took his time and left Jack a generous tip before ambling past Emily's table and back to his own cauldron of hell.

Won 3rd Place.
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