Chapter Three

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The sand felt like fiery lava against my feet.

Even with my slippers on, my feet sunk deep into the soft sand with every step I took towards the benches where my friends stood taking pictures under the dehydrating heat. My steps were quick as I focused on my sole mission which was to get as far away from the strangers in the lobby as possible. Their presence held so much dominance and power it would have anyone cowering in fear; and I despised it.

I was surprised to find that my friends weren't the only ones there. Seth had mentioned that the property was fairly isolated and that there was a huge chance of us having the place completely to ourselves, however, there were a handful of people sunbathing and swimming in the lake.

"Nora!" A familiar voice called out for me excitingly, running towards me in a speed much greater than I anticipated. I didn't have time to look at who it was before I was squished in an extremely tight embrace, it had me taking two steps back, and I would've surely fallen on my butt had they not held me still. "I missed you so much, Princess!"

I only had one friend that had been calling me by that sweet name for the past three years, and my heart suddenly warmed when I recognized who I was hugging. "Noah!" I giggled as I wrapped my own arms around his torso and gave a tight squeeze.

"Alright, that's enough. It's my turn." Noah was suddenly yanked out of my embrace as Elliot stepped forward next, wrapping his arms around my waist and raising me above the ground, spinning me once as he held me tight. I squealed and slapped his shoulders, ordering him to set me down at once. "Missed you, little one." He gave me a warm smile as he gently set me down, ruffling my hair.

"Missed you too, big boy." I pinched his cheek teasingly. He rolled his eyes and swatted my hand away, holding back a smile. "Where's Bella?"

"Over by the shore snapping pictures with your idiot friends." He pointed behind him and I glanced over his shoulder to see both Ariel and Bella posing together as Seth bent to take their pictures from different angles.

I laughed and ran towards them, photo-bombing one of their pictures in the process, much to Seth's dismay - who groaned and scolded me for ruining what could have been an "aesthetic shot". I all but slammed into Bella and hugged her tightly, her own arms wrapped around me firmly as she laughed cheerfully, stumbling backwards at loss of balance from the impact.

"Nora!" She exclaimed cheerfully.

"How've you been? I can't believe it's been that long since I last saw you!"

"I'm doing great, babe. And there's so much I wanna tell you about, I feel like if I start I'll never stop." She groaned frustratingly.

"Well, you've got an entire week to plan it topic by topic." She laughed and nodded along to the idea.

"You guys can catch up later! Now pose," Ariel exclaimed as she grabbed my arm and pulled me to her left. She turned a bit to her side, flipping her strawberry-blonde hair over her right shoulder and giving Seth - or rather, the camera - a flirtatious look. Bella posed alongside her with her hand on her hip, and I copied her movement, ignoring the awkward stares some of the strangers directed our way.

Seth whistled, "Alrighttt! Give it to me!" He exclaimed and I couldn't hold in my laughter. He snapped some pictures of us before Elliot approached him and slapped him on the back of his head, calling him an idiot. "You're just jealous you don't know how to hype up our girls."

Elliot rolled his eyes and walked away towards where Noah stood, his arms crossed over his chest and a light smile on his lips as he watched us being total chicks.

"Okay, that's enough for today." Seth announced as he stood tall once again, groaning as he stretched his muscles. He must have been bending in weird angles for a while to take those pictures from different sides, knowing how picky Ariel could be when choosing a decent picture to post on her Instagram page.

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