Daniel’s admission to the group had lightened the mood again, and they all laughed and joked with each other as they enjoyed relaxing in the hot tub. Even Danielle joined in again after a while, putting her dark feelings to one side and adding to the banter, although they continued to bubble away under the surface.
Time passed quickly, and without any of them realising it the sky had turned dark and night had set in, along with an unexpected coolness which they didn’t really notice because of the hot water. Eventually, Em announced that she needed the toilet, and that unlike Daniel she wasn’t going to traipse all the way through the house, dripping water everywhere – although to everybody’s great relief she also made it clear that she wasn’t going to pee in the tub. Instead, she hoisted herself out of the water, and with a quick glance towards the house to make sure that her Mum wasn’t watching, she ducked behind the garden shed.
Realising that the end of their garden was overlooked by the apartments on the next street, and feeling a little self-conscious about stripping off so publicly, with the chance that somebody was watching, Emily nearly had second thoughts and even considered dashing indoors to use the loo, but that was too much effort – and she was concerned that if her Mum saw her, she may suggest that it was time for everybody to head indoors, cutting short their fun. Instead, after another furtive look around in all directions, she quickly squatted down and relieved herself through her purple swimming costume, leaving quite a puddle on the ground. Feeling much better, and after checking that there was no embarrassing wet patch for the others to see, she padded back over to the hot tub, shivering and with teeth chattering as she realised just how cold the late evening air felt on her skin, and wondering whether perhaps it may be time to think about taking things indoors soon after all.
“Guys, it’s getting quite late now, almost 10 O’clock. How about you think about coming in to dry off and warm yourselves up? Don’t worry, I’m not going to insist that you go to bed, haha, but you may be a bit more comfortable inside? How does a pizza midnight-ish feast sound?” Lisa had lost track of time herself, having become engrossed in a legal drama on the TV, and had almost forgotten the kids were outside in the garden, until she’d gone to return her empty glass to the kitchen and heard them still splashing about and giggling away amongst themselves.
None of the kids protested, all seeming to agree that it was time to call it a night, and particularly excited at the prospect of pizza! Whilst they were clambering out of the water and wrapping themselves in towels, Lisa called through to the local takeaway and ordered a stack of pizzas in different varieties, for everybody to share, and was told the delivery would arrive within half an hour or so.
“Ok, food is on it’s way, so you’ve got about half an hour to get yourselves dried and into your PJ’s please. Go on, up stairs with you, I’ll take care of the tub.”
In similar vein to earlier, the 7 youngsters trudged upstairs, this time each tightly wrapped in a fluffy tower, leaving a trail of wet footprints and small puddles throughout the house as they went on their way. Once they reached the first floor, with nobody needing to use the bathroom this time, 5 of the girls headed straight into Emily’s bedroom, definitely feeling the cold now and keen to get snuggled up in their sleep things. Lucy, however, hung back briefly, and caught Daniel’s eye before he closed Lisa’s bedroom door behind him, indicating that she wanted to talk.
“I meant what I said out there Dan, that was so brave of you to do that. I know how worried you’d been about people finding out, and you hadn’t even wanted to tell us, so well done you! And I’m so sorry that Danielle has been the way she has, you know what she’s like – but it’s really no excuse. I wish Em hadn’t invited her.”
Dan glowed under Lucy’s praise, unable to keep the wide, cheesy grin from his face as he looked at her, taking in her every word and lapping it up. “I just figured the best way to stop her being a jerk was to tell the truth. There’s nothing to hide now, and nobody else had a problem with it. Plus, it makes me feel a whole lot better now I’m not worrying so much. If it happens, it happens. Everybody already knows. And if it doesn’t, then even better.”
The pair regarded each other for a moment, and then without either needing to say a word they both stepped forward and embraced the other, hugging tightly and warmly, and each understanding exactly what was being conveyed.
“Lucy Daniels, I think I may love you.”
“Oh Daniel, I know I love you. I don’t really know what it means or why I’m I’m feeling what I’m feeling, but I do know that.”
And with that, both quickly disappeared into their respective bedrooms, looking particularly sheepish. Barely a week ago, if anybody had asked them what they thought about boys/girls they’d probably have giggled and made some silly comment about them being gross. But now, well, now it was different.2
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