Home > Coming Up for Air (Hundred Oaks)(11)

Coming Up for Air (Hundred Oaks)(11)
Author: Miranda Kenneally

I cringe. “That sounds like something my dad would do.”

“Exactly,” Ms. Lucassen says. “I know what sells. Jesse Scott flipping burgers in a Hawaiian shirt would not sell. Standing shirtless by a tractor always sells.”

Levi rolls his eyes.

“But Jesse did say to wish you both good luck at conferences tomorrow,” she adds. “He’ll be rooting for you.”

“Levi doesn’t need luck,” Oma complains. “He’s got my genes.” Oma was a champion swimmer back in the Netherlands.

Opa rearranges his Scrabble tiles, grumbling, “He’s got my genes too.”

“You were a mailman!” Oma says.

“Walking all day takes lots of endurance,” Opa retorts.

“Maggie needs to relax before tomorrow, so we’ll be going now,” Levi says, steering me away from a round of Oma-Opa WrestleMania.

In the powder room, I change into my suit, then I meet him on the back porch, which overlooks their yard and Normandy Lake. Their house is on a prime piece of property and has a private beach. When we were little, Levi accused me of being his friend for his lake access.

“Not just that,” I’d say. “You have a trampoline too.”

We still love to lie on it in summertime, as the smell of honeysuckle wafts over us. But since it’s February, we stick to the hot tub.

I pull off the towel I borrowed from Levi, revealing a navy blue one piece. I have exactly one bikini, but I only wear it to the beach. All my other suits are practical. Maybe I should get some more bikinis for college. I mean, what if college kids spend lots of time in Jacuzzis?

I ease into the hot water. Steam wafts off the surface into the brisk starry night. The air smells clean, as if it might snow.

Still standing on the deck, Levi strips out of his gray New Wave sweatshirt and track pants down to black jammers. It’s weird seeing him in those; normally he wears Speedos at the pool like the other guys. His other suits must be in the wash.

He slides in next to me and stretches his arms over the edge of the hot tub on either side of him. It seems like every day his muscles are getting bigger and bigger. I see him without a shirt on all the time, but here in the dark, suddenly his buff body and long blond hair reminds me of what happened with Dylan. I clear my throat.

“What?” Levi asks.

“I was just thinking about that weird guy at Cal.”

“Your thick, juicy steak dinner boy?” Levi says, flashing me a smile.

“Would you shut up about that?”

“You brought him up.” Levi throws his head back and looks up at the moon. Wispy clouds are floating in from a distance, stark white against the black sky.

“Why were you thinking about him?” Levi asks.

“I’m kind of pissed it didn’t work out.”

“Guy seems like a loser to me, Magpie. I’d never take a girl to a place where she wouldn’t feel safe.”

“You’re right, it was lame. It’s that…I was hoping before college I could fool around with somebody.”

Levi turns his head to look at me. “You gonna look for a boyfriend?”

“No, nothing that serious. You know I don’t have time for that. I just want to know what I’m doing when I get to college. Like, I don’t want college guys to think I’m a loser.”

“You’re not a loser. Besides, guys are easy to please.”

I want to hook up, but like Levi said, I want to do it in a situation where I feel comfortable. I don’t want a repeat of the thick, juicy steak dinner. Levi would never bring a girl to a room that wasn’t his.

A guy like Levi would take care of me.

Cool gusts of air rustle the trees and blow his scent in my direction. Like me, he always smells of chlorine, but there’s also cinnamon gum and his shampoo. It reminds me of cedar. I look over at him. His head is tipped back as he stares at the sky, lost in a comfortable silence. He really is cute.

That’s when I picture it. Him lying on top of me, kissing my neck.

The thought sets my skin on fire, flushing my body with heat, and it’s not because of the hot tub.

Holy crap, I’ve never thought about him that way before.

The vision switches from Levi kissing my neck to me unbuttoning his jeans, revealing Superman underwear.

Ack! I clench my eyes shut. What the hell is wrong with me? Did I just superimpose Levi’s face over Dylan’s in a weird, sexy daydream? I really must need to relax.

I shake my head, trying to clear my thoughts. But my imagination runs back to the idea of Levi pressing his forehead to mine as he teaches me what guys want.

He would whisper, “Touch the Superman logo.”

I squirm uncomfortably in the hot tub. Steamy water splashes over the side onto the porch.

“Oh my God,” I murmur.

His eyes narrow. “What’s wrong?”

“Nothing.” My voice cracks.


“Can you just talk to me about something?”

“Like what?”


“Did you see how Tom Brady was accused of breaking into Aaron Rodgers’s house to steal the Packers’ playbook?”

Levi starts rambling on about the Patriots, and my mind wanders again. This time I imagine rolling around in bed under the covers with him. Naked.

How would it even start? Would I climb in his lap? Would I just ask him?

“Maggie,” he says loudly.


“I thought you wanted to talk. You’re ignoring me.”

“Sorry. I was thinking …” If I can’t talk to Levi, who can I talk to? “I want to learn how to fool around.”

He furrows his eyebrows. “It’s not really something you learn. You pick up your own style over time.”

“Like swimming?”

“In a way, I guess. There’s a rhythm to it.” A grin breaks out across his face. “But it’s a lot more fun than swimming laps.”

“Could you give me some pointers?”


I see now I can’t beat around the bush. “I want you to teach me to hook up.”

The smile disappears. His Adam’s apple shifts as he swallows. “What?”

My voice shakes. “You heard me.”

“What do you mean, ‘teach you to hook up’? You want me to draw some diagrams?”

“No…I want you to demonstrate.”

He looks at me. Looks into my eyes. Then his eyes slide to my chest.

“Stop staring at my boobs.”

“It’s your fault.”

“How is it my fault you’re ogling my chest?”

“You’re the one who asked me to be your sexual Jedi Master.”

“Oh my God, you did not say sexual Jedi Master.”

“You can’t fault a guy for getting a little boob action.”

Boob action? What is wrong with him? He’s probably saying silly things to try to distract me while his mind races. That’s how his brain works.

“I didn’t say anything about a sexual Jedi Master,” I say. “I asked you to teach me how to fool around.”

“We can’t. That’s swimcest.”

What Levi means is that Coach Josh would kill us. He is very much against New Wave kids dating. For instance, last year Susannah was dating this older swimmer, Lucas, who wasn’t as serious about swimming as she is. He was always trying to get her to blow off practice, and as a result she swam horribly last year. Ever since they broke up, she’s been at the top of her game. And one time a couple years ago, two swimmers hooked up for a while and they were all over each other in the pool, which nobody wanted to see. Not even pervy Jason. After the couple broke it off, things got very awkward between them at practice, and they refused to share a lane. Which, again, nobody wanted to see.

Still, we have hormones and spend a lot of time together wearing practically no clothes, so Coach understands that people are bound to fool around. But nevertheless, he’d probably kill us.

“I was being serious,” I tell Levi. “I want you to teach me.”

Deep in thought, he runs both hands through his blond hair. “Why?” he finally asks.

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