place to lay low, she turns to the one person who’s always had her back.
“Stomp it out there.”
Relief sweeps through me and I smile, probably way more than his comment warrants.
“I plan on it.”
I fasten my wakeboard onto my feet, then slide over the side of the boat and into the water with a splash. I gasp a little at the chill of it—it’s only September, but up here in the mountains, the water is already pretty cold. Not cold enough for a wetsuit, but definitely cold enough to make me shiver at first contact.
“You ready?” Z calls.
I grab the line, get myself in position with my knees pulled toward my chest and the board on its side, running parallel to the back of the boat.
“Hit it!” I tell him.
He laughs a little maniacally, but when he starts moving forward, he keeps it slow and steady. But that’s Z for you. He’s an adrenaline junkie who will try just about anything once—even stuff that’s almost guaranteed to kill him—but when it comes to the rest of us, he’s totally rock solid, totally responsible.
It’s one of the things I love about him. One of the things that used to make me think I was with him even though it was really more infatuation than anything else. There aren’t many people in my life who try to take care of me—the fact that Z always did made him special. But confusing that kind of friendship with love was stupid on my part, and something I totally got over once I accepted Ophelia wasn’t going anywhere. Because she loves Z for real and he loves her the same way. What she’s done for him—how she’s helped him come to grips with all the shit in his own life—matters more to me than any feelings I might have had for him way back when.
“Hey, faster,” I call, when he seems determined to be all old lady about the speed thing. “We’re barely moving!”
He lets out another maniacal laugh, but waves his hand in acknowledgement. And then we’re moving, cruising through the water at a speed that’s enough to get my adrenaline pumping.
I shift my hips, let the board sink like it’s been wanting to since we started moving. I can feel the pull in my shoulders now, but resist standing up. Not yet, not yet, not yet . . .
We hit what feels like about twenty miles an hour, and that’s when I pull up. We’re racing across the lake now, and I’m laughing as water sprays up into my face. For long seconds, I keep my arms relaxed, my knees bent, and just ride. We’re going fast, and the boat is kicking the water up, making it a little choppy. But I like it that way—and as Z lays on the speed, I shift my weight and pop a couple Ollies.
Logan cheers, and I laugh, but settle in to do a couple more tricks for him—a corked spin followed by a monkey spin, an invert, a couple different turns. Z guns it then, gets the boat up to what I’m guessing is twenty-three or so miles per hour as he doubles, then triples up.
I’m grinning like a crazy person now, but I love riding when he does that, love what it feels like when the wakes cross and hit three times normal size. Lowering my shoulders, I tuck in, then when it feels right, when it feels perfect, I jump. I catch mad air, just like I’d hoped, and I do a double inverted cork that I land perfectly, despite the huge wake.
It’s a great fucking feeling. The trick. The landing. The rush.
Logan screams encouragement, and I can hear Tansy and Ophelia clapping, too, so I do it again.
I land harder this time—the wake is dissipating and I don’t catch as much air, but it still works. Except then Luc gets up, says something to Z, though I can’t hear what. Then the boat starts to slow, much to my disappointment.
I get one more small jump in before Z gets the speed down too low to board. I let go of the rope, fall backward into the water, then reach down and unlace the boots that hold my feet onto the board as I wait for Z to circle back and pick me up.
It only takes a minute or two, and then Luc is pulling me up and into the boat. Looks like he remembers I exist, after all. Which, hey, I’m not about to knock.
“Thanks,” I say as I set my board next to him.
He just nods, then drops his hands so fast that I can’t help being a little insulted. I mean, we’re not in elementary school and I don’t have cooties.