734K 31.3K 12.8K

In true New England fashion, the dry weather streak didn't last long.

I roam the camp after dinner, eyeing the dark gray color of the accumulating clouds above. A droplet of rain plops onto my nose, but I try to convince myself it's just sweat. It's kind of hot...?

Earlier this afternoon, Axel initiated our first session in the camp's pristine gym. For the most part, the air conditioning and lack of uneven terrain rendered the workout less arduous than I thought it would be, with most of my struggles coming from figuring out how to use the many novel machines. I hadn't seen Axel so annoyed since our first workout on the beach, but it wasn't my fault for not knowing the difference between a stair climber and elliptical.


In the distance, I make out Axel, Austin, and Isla. Austin says something that makes her drive her elbow into Axel's side, but instead of looking offended, he laughs with them, the sound faint yet pleasant from where I'm standing. Austin switches gears and leans in for one of those bro hugs with Axel before heading back inside.

Realizing how creepy I'd look if Axel caught me, I try to find an open bench to rest my tired legs, but they're occupied by Adriana, Willow, and Natalie, apparently Joanna's replacement for the day. She lays her hands daintily on top of pink shorts, laughing with a little too much amusement at whatever Willow says.

Her doe-like brown eyes fall on me as I walk by, and she reaches her hand up for a wave. Adriana's pointed glare intimidates Natalie enough to shyly look away, and I arch a confused brow. In turn, Adriana turns her head my way, silky long hair bouncing against her back.

"Whitney, hi," she says, beaming as if we're long lost friends. "You should come sit with us. There's some room here." She pats the empty bench space next to Willow, still smiling.

I take turns staring at her and then at Natalie, wondering where the bubbly girl from the first day of the camp went. "Thanks for the invitation, Adriana," I begin wryly, "but I'd hate to make Willow uncomfortable. Some of us have a little more surface area."

At the sound of her name, Willow snaps her blonde head up, affronted by my calculated words, even if I was just insulting myself. Curling her fingers around the edge of the bench, she opens her mouth to respond, but my attention disappears when I hear a call of my name. Turning around, I see Axel beckon to me.

On the one hand, I'm relieved to be freed of this high school drama, but on the other very related hand, I can only wonder what the three will think of Axel's smirk, somehow visible from several yards away.

I stop in front of his waiting form, propped up against the back wall of the trainers' dorm. He's traded in his typical T-shirt for a gray sweatshirt and smells like a fresh shower.

"Uh, I'm not missing a workout session, am I?" I ask nervously.

"It's past seven, Whitney," he says, stating the obvious. He glances up at the clouds, then back at me and then he dips his head a little closer to my ear. "Get a head start on those airheads over there and go back inside. It's gonna rain any second now."

I open my mouth to thank him for the warning, but the sky responds to Axel no more than five seconds later, sending the first wave of heavy rain. Moments later, a standard summer rainstorm morphs into a biblical deluge, rumbling thunder and all.

"Oh crap, oh shit, oh crap." I duck down and hide my tame hair with my hands as I try to figure out the quickest way back to my room without destroying my spotless white sneakers. Natalie and company squeal in fright and disperse like city rats.

With the speed I can only attribute to the guy behind me, I begin to sprint away, but for once, Axel doesn't care about how fast I can run. He takes me by the elbow and pulls me through the rear entrance of the building, almost shoving me into the dry indoors. As I wipe the water from my face with my sleeve, I notice the interior is much more modern and spacious than our building's.

Boot CampWhere stories live. Discover now