Home > Coming Up for Air (Hundred Oaks)(2)

Coming Up for Air (Hundred Oaks)(2)
Author: Miranda Kenneally

“You wouldn’t spend a year with Bieber? He’s rich and probably has nice houses.”

“He’s cute, but I don’t think I could handle his personality. I heard he was doing yoga on top of the Empire State Building the other day.”

He laughs. “Well, you gotta do your yoga somewhere, right? Okay, my turn.”

“Tom Brady, Prince Harry, and Elvis.”

Levi groans. He hates it when I don’t give him any girls to consider. Tapping his fingers on the steering wheel, he considers his options. “I’d spend one hot night with Tom Brady—maybe some of his good luck from winning all those Super Bowls would rub off on me. I’d spend a year with Prince Harry because he’s adventurous. He could get us into any party, and girls would be all over us. I’d throw Elvis overboard because he’s already dead.”

“You have to assume he’s alive! That’s against the rules.”

Levi smiles at me from the driver’s seat. “There are no rules in this game. Now, it’s your turn. Professor Dumbledore, Marie Antoinette, and Michelle Obama.”


The house is dark when we arrive, with only the porch light lit. His mom is working late, like every night. She’s an executive at Rêve Records, the country music label. Ms. Lucassen says music never sleeps, and as a result, neither does she. She adores all things country—horses, rodeos, line dancing. Levi even got his name from her favorite brand of jeans.

It’s after eight o’clock, and Wheel of Fortune is over, so Oma and Opa are already in bed. His grandparents have lived with him since he was a toddler, when his dad left his mom and moved to Texas. They’re Dutch, and forbade Levi from calling them Gram and Gramps. That’s what I call both sets of my grandparents. There’s Ohio Gram and Gramps and Tennessee Gram and Gramps. Levi thinks it’s hilarious I call them that.

Levi unlocks the front door, and his dog, Pepper, bounds up and, as usual, sticks her face in his crotch. She’s a bearded collie whose gray-and-white hair always falls in her eyes like a boy in a boy band.

He scratches her floppy ears. “Hey, baby girl.”

Levi flicks on a few switches to light the way to his room. When we get there, I kick off my boots and flop down on his soft bed, loving the way it bounces. He pulls his hooded gray sweatshirt off over his head, his T-shirt riding up a little to reveal ripped abs thanks to the three hundred crunches a day that Coach orders.

I love that sweatshirt. His last name is embroidered on the breast in cursive: Lucassen. Soft from so many washings, it smells like him, and I love stealing it to wear, but he always nabs it right back because it’s his favorite.

He places his wallet on top of his desk next to stacks of books and dozens of trophies. He lies down next to me, looking comfy in a pair of running tights with long athletic shorts over them. Even though Ms. Lucassen pressures him to wear jeans and nice button-downs, I never see him in anything but Speedos, athletic clothes, and the silver chain his mom gave him. It has a little pendant that says Make Waves.

I grab his iPad from the messy nightstand, which is covered by empty Gatorade bottles and a stack of Harry Potter paperbacks, and turn on some music. Levi starts fiddling with his phone.

“You better not be playing Candy Crush again,” I say. Coach Josh nearly took his phone away this morning because he was tapping the screen instead of diving in the pool.

“I’m texting Molly.”


“The girl I met in Clarksville a couple weeks ago.”

Levi always finds a way to sneak out at meets to hook up, especially when we’re in hotels and Coach can’t keep an eye on him every waking minute. He’s only seventeen, but could pass for a college guy. At six foot five and 190 pounds, he’s a beast. I look tiny beside him, and I’m five foot ten. Girls love his body, with his long, lean, muscled torso, and sleek blond hair. He says sex helps him take the edge off. I don’t care how he chooses to spend his free time, but a random hook-up at a meet has always made me nervous.

Not only would it distract me, it could hurt my reputation. I can’t risk other athletes thinking I get around. Especially Roxy. My rival already gets in my head in the pool. I can’t give her anything to lord over me.

But believe me, I really want to make out with somebody. The last—and only—person I’ve kissed is Hunter during an ill-advised game of truth or dare two years ago, when we each declared the other the worst kisser ever. Maybe I need to play truth or dare more often, I muse.

Levi’s phone keeps buzzing as he types.

“Are you sexting?” I tease.

“No,” he says a little too quickly, totally guilty, and then he cracks up. “I don’t know actually. Do you think her telling me ‘I need to kiss your plump lips ASAP’ is sexting?”

“Plump lips? Did she really say that?” I try to look over his shoulder at his phone, but he elbows me away. “What did you say back?”

“That I want to touch her bazongas.”

I bury my face in his pillow. “Nooo. You did not.”

He’s still laughing. “Okay, fine. I told her I finally cleared level 181 of Candy Crush.”

“How romantic.”

“She responded that her ‘lips have been known to taste like candy.’” He cocks his head, thinking. “I’d agree with that.”

I roll my eyes. “Are you into her?”

He stares at his phone, thumbs tapping the screen. “She’s nice…but I don’t want anything serious.”

What he means is, even if he did want a relationship, he’d have no time for it. Next week is conferences, two weeks later is regionals, and two weeks after that is the high school state championship. Then, if we qualify—which I will totally die if we don’t qualify—we have Junior Nationals in Huntsville with our club team, New Wave. Then there are two important long-course meets, leading all the way up to the Olympic trials in June. I eat, sleep, and breathe the trials. It’s on my mind every waking minute, and I haven’t even qualified for them yet.

We. Are. Busy.

Friday nights are literally our only downtime because we don’t swim doubles or lift weights on Fridays. This is why we don’t have time for serious dating: every other day of the week, we’d be asleep by now after a hard workout.

Speaking of which, I’m exhausted, and my muscles are tight. I stretch my arms above my head.

“Your shoulder still bothering you?” he asks. I nod, and he motions for me to flip onto my stomach so he can work on this knot from Hades that won’t go away.

His strong hands massage my shoulder until the dog jumps on the bed to interrupt my bliss. Pepper presses her paws on my back and barks.

“Pepper! That’s my job,” Levi says, motioning for her to get off the bed. He turns to me. “So. You excited for tomorrow?”

I hesitate. Based on my swimming record, Cal offered me a scholarship last year. I can’t wait to kick some ass swimming in college, but I dread the idea of moving away from my friends. Especially Levi. We’ve never been apart for more than a week.

“I’m sort of excited…? I don’t know.”

Levi nudges me. “You’ll have fun this weekend. I had a great time visiting Texas. Some guys from the team took me out to dinner and then we went to a party. Do you think you’ll do something like that?”

“I’m not sure… I wish we were going to the same college. I don’t want to leave you.”

I look back over my shoulder at him, and he gives me a supportive but sad smile.

My friend doesn’t want to leave me either.


I feel like I suddenly disappeared from America and turned up in Italy.

That is my first impression of Cal-Berkeley. The white clock tower looks like something you’d see in Florence. I wouldn’t be surprised to come across a naked David statue. Though the campus could be covered in naked statues, and I wouldn’t care, because it’s the best swimming school in the country. I’ve worked my ass off to be here and now that I am? I’m bouncing on my toes with excitement.

My flight took off at the crack of dawn. Even though I’m used to waking up early for practice, I feel a little off. I’ve traveled without my parents before but never this far and not without Coach Josh. It would have been nice if Mom and Dad could have come with me, but as event planners, Saturdays and Sundays are their busiest days of the week. The trip so far has gone fine; I made it to California in one piece and took a cab from the airport. The biggest problem I’ve encountered is sitting in coach on the plane. Having such long legs is great for swimming, but not for traveling.

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