Chapter 2 - I Can't Get Started

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Jonathon approached Billy's bedroom door through the bathroom that connected their two rooms.

"Let's go!" he shouted, knocking on it.

"Hold your horses! I'm still changing!" The door opened a minute later and Billy was in his swim trunks. "What's the rush?" he said, going to his bed to get a shirt.

"It's almost time for people to arrive," Jonathon said, walking through his brother's room and opening the door. "I don't want to be late."

"What's the big deal? They'll wait for us if we're a few minutes late," Billy grumbled, but Jonathon didn't bother answering and headed for the stairs. He wanted to be outside when Helen arrived, not after.

When he stepped outside, two cars were coming down the drive to the house. The first car had Kitty, Billy's sweetheart, and her two friends driven by her father. The second one was filled with his best friends, Leonard Melleville, Stan White, and Joe Baker. He was surprised to see Walt Dwyer climb out of the back seat. Billy must have invited him and he'd bummed a ride.

As he passed the first car, Kitty's two friends smiled encouragingly at Jonathon, but he ignored them. He would prefer not to have freshman attend their bonfire, especially freshman girls. They were far too silly in his opinion, but Billy was smitten with the small dark haired girl, and she was too young to be allowed to attend alone.

He shook hands and joked with his friends, but the whole time he kept an eye on the spot where cars were appearing from out of the trees. When Helen appeared riding a bike with Annie riding beside her, his heart skipped a beat. He didn't hesitate to step away from the fellows to go meet her.

"Welcome!" he said as they pulled up and got off their bikes.

"Hi, Johnny. Thanks again for asking us," Annie gushed, wiping sweat off her forehead, but Jonathon's attention was on Helen.

"Yes, thanks," Helen said in a more subdued voice.

"I'm glad you could make it," Jonathon said, watching her push the blonde curls off her face that had escaped her hair pin. She tucked them behind her ears, but they were too short and fell back. His hand twitched with the urge to brush them back for her. He could tell they were natural curls, not the pin curls all the other girls had.  Noticing him watching her, she averted her eyes, her pale skin reddening, and he realized his mistake.

"I meant, I'm glad both of you could make it," he said, taking a step back. He was making a darn fool out of himself, and he was embarrassed he'd been caught staring at her again. "Why don't you set those against the garage?" he said, indicating the bikes, and they wheeled them over. It was then he realized they hadn't brought towels or bags. Were they wearing their swimsuits under their dresses?

"If you gals need to change into your swimming clothes, there's a cabin on the way to the pond."

Annie cast a worried expression in Helen's direction. "We don't own swim suits," Helen said, lifting her chin defiantly, and he knew he'd made another misstep. Annie's people were poor, so it was no wonder she didn't own one. Helen had probably left her suit at home so Annie wouldn't feel left out.

"That's alright," he said, meeting Helen's challenging gaze with an easy smile. "Not everyone swims."

By now, it appeared everyone had arrived and he and Billy led the way to the path behind the garage. Once they were in the woods, Jonathon glanced over his shoulder. Annie and Helen were at the rear of the group, the only ones not carrying towels or bags with blankets and badminton rackets sticking out.  Jonathon faced forward. As long as Annie was tagging along with Helen, he was going to have to be more careful about what he said. It would make Helen mad if he kept saying things that pointed out how little Annie had.

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