Listen to Your Heart

Page 14


“Or they’ll want you to help them with math homework,” Liza said in her robot smile voice. Then she checked her phone. “Oops, my mom just texted that it’s dinnertime. I’ll see you guys later.” She bounded off my bed and was gone.
Alana squeezed my arm. “You are being too hard on yourself. Let’s forget about this stupid podcast for now, okay?” She pulled me to my feet. “It’s Friday. We are going to find something amazing to do.”
“This is Mr. Young’s hotel,” I whispered to Alana half an hour later. We stood outside the metal gate that led to the pool and hot tub. “Are you trying to make him hate my family more?”
“You think Mr. Young mans each and every one of his properties on a Friday night?” Alana waved her hand through the air, her big brown eyes sparkling with excitement. “Please. Besides, he owns all the hotels in town. So it’s not like we have a choice if we want to go hot tub hopping.”
This had been Alana’s amazing plan for Friday night. The two of us wore swimsuits under our shorts and tank tops, and we were ready to sneak in.
“Mr. Young doesn’t own Sierra Inn,” I pointed out.
“True,” Alana said. “And that’s why Sierra Inn doesn’t have a hot tub.”
A couple headed down the path toward us and Alana pulled me out of the way. “We forgot our key,” she said when they reached the gate.
They used theirs to let themselves in and held the gate open for us.
“See, easy,” she said under her breath. “Think of this as what Mr. Young owes you for all the trouble he causes your family.”
I looked around. Lights strung overhead reflected off the wet, stamped concrete. The pool was lit a bright blue and the hot tub bubbled with white steam. Pine trees hugged the back side of the fence, like towering guards. The moon rested just above one, as if the tip of the tree had pierced it and held it in place. The whole atmosphere was gorgeous and I could see why people came to Lakesprings for honeymoons and family vacations and weekend getaways. What I didn’t understand was why anyone ever wanted to leave.
Alana and I stepped into the hot tub and I slid into a corner, letting the heat work at my muscles.
Alana nudged my foot with hers. “See, I knew you needed this. You should never question my plans. They are always perfect.”
That night, after Alana dragged me to three more hot tubs, I lay on my bed decompressing. As much fun as I had with my best friend, I liked my alone time, too. That reminded me of a text Hunter had sent me months ago. I pulled it up on my phone.
It’s okay to gain your energy from silence, he’d written. Silence isn’t static.
I smiled. Hunter got me. No, Hunter obviously didn’t get me, because he’d stopped texting me ages ago. I should’ve just deleted all his texts and his contact info and unfollowed him on social media so I could stop torturing myself. But I didn’t delete anything.
My bedroom door was nudged open and Uncle Tim’s dog walked in. He was a big dog, some mix that included Great Dane. Of course he came straight up to where I was lying on my bed and stuck his nose on my cheek.
I covered my face. “No, CD.”
My cousins and I called him CD, short for Community Dog, because he spent so much time in all of our houses. I didn’t even remember what my uncle had originally named him two years ago.
“Come on,” I added, “you’re in the wrong house.” I rolled off my bed and stood up. CD followed me out my door, outside the house, and into the backyard. I walked to the right, stopping at my uncle’s back sliding door. I gave a cursory knock and waited ten seconds before I slid open the door, pushed the curtains aside, and directed CD inside.
My uncle sat at the kitchen counter eating a bowl of cereal. He looked up when I appeared and a smile lit his face.
“Kate! Hey.”
“Hi, Uncle Tim. CD thought I needed a friend tonight.”
“Ah, sorry about that.” Uncle Tim patted his leg. “Come here, boy.”
I’d started to leave when my uncle called me back.
“Do you want some cereal?” he asked.
“It’s eleven o’clock at night.”
I shrugged. “And nothing, I guess.” I pulled out the stool next to him and sat down. He got me a bowl and pushed over the milk.
“How’s the new school year so far?” he asked as we ate together. Uncle Tim’s kids were my younger cousins; they were all still in preschool or elementary school.
“Decent,” I answered, my mouth full of cereal. CD, curled up beside my uncle’s feet, began to snore.
“And your brother? Is he adjusting to high school well?”
“I think so. He hangs in the library and reads.”
“Sounds about right. And why are you hanging out at home on a Friday night?”
“I wasn’t. Alana and I went out and now I’m back.” I hoped Uncle Tim wouldn’t ask me what we’d done. I didn’t like lying, but I would never tell my uncle about trespassing on Mr. Young’s properties. He’d be disappointed, maybe worried. My parents always said we needed to maintain a squeaky clean reputation, never give the Youngs ammunition.
“You seem down,” my uncle said in his thoughtful way.
Despite Alana’s attempt at distracting me, my brain was still wrapped up in my major fail at hosting. Thinking about struggling through a year of something I never wanted to do in the first place wasn’t sitting well.
“How do I convince my podcasting teacher to let me switch jobs?” I asked my uncle, turning to face him. “She’s really stubborn, but I feel like the entire class wishes that would happen.”
“Ah. Yes.”
My heart sank. “You listened to it, didn’t you?”
“I did.”
He didn’t finish that sentence with: you were great or you were funny. Instead he said, “You’ll get better. And don’t worry, the class will come around.”
Ouch. “Yeah … maybe.” We finished our cereal in silence. I stood up and dumped the remainder of my milk into the sink.
“Don’t stress about it, Kate. Success doesn’t happen without some failure.”
I turned back around to look at him at the counter. “That’s one of those things adults say that really means nothing, isn’t it?”
He laughed. “I stand by it.”
I wanted to believe him. But his statement implied that success always came after failure. I knew that wasn’t true. “Maybe I should just drop out of the class,” I mused out loud. “Take pottery instead.”
“Your mom wouldn’t like that. She’s excited that you’re taking this class.”
“I know.” I rolled my eyes. “She’s all into podcasts thanks to Alana.”
Uncle Tim laughed. “I think it’s more that she wants you to find some new passions. Make sure you’re living up to your potential and all that.”
“But I already have my passion!” I protested. “I want to run the marina. Why are my parents suddenly acting like my caring about the lake is a horrible thing? Their lives are about the lake.”
Uncle Tim nodded. “But there’s nothing wrong with exploring some more options before making a decision about your entire future. That’s all your parents want.”