It was after the actual solstice, after darkness fell and the sun went to bed that we went out and had a simple swim in only our birthday suits. Just Lochlan and I as everyone else wound up thankfully preoccupied with their hurt feelings and tense disregard after a brutal family meeting in which nothing was resolved whatsoever. It happens and when it does the best course of action is to leave it before we make things worse, walk away and come back when a little time and cooler heads prevail.
New-Jake is coming back. Hereafter to be known as Jay, because I can't get that k sound to come out when I say it out loud, still.
Lochlan puts his arms around me, holding me up and in from the cold water.
I don't want him to come back but I was him once and I believe in fresh starts, second chances and all that mumbo-jumbo but so help me, Peanut, if you get too close I'm drowning him.
I nod. My boundaries are well
We go back to the side of the pool where our champagne awaits.
To summer, Lochlan says, raising his glass.
To summer. I nod and drink half of it. The bubbles go up my nose along with a good amount of chlorinated water and I cough briefly. It's enough for Lochlan to decide that we should go in now, that it's late even though I had a perfectly timed coffee earlier and I bit my tongue through the whole meeting and now I'm wound up tight like a spring and need to unwind. He wraps himself in a towel and goes around the pool blowing out the candles we lit. Then he stands waiting.
I don't want to go in yet, Locket.
This is nice.
What if we went in and had a hot bath?
I stare at him while I push off repeatedly from the side without letting go. It feels nice on my very very sore elbow. I stare at him until I realize he's not the bad guy here, that he is the one who recalled New Jake even though he was the last one to become friends with him, and he was the one who defended him when everyone else said to leave well enough alone. It was those words that changed an entire army's direction.
The Collective saved my life once. The least I can do is pass it on.