Chapter Eleven ~Maddie~

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"No! No, no, no! Don't do it! Don't you dare!" I struggle against his arms, trying to break free. "Alex! Do something!"

"What am I supposed to do from all the way in here? You promised you'd come in anyway. I'm team Aiden on this one, sorry." She scrunches her face like she feels sorry for me. Yeah right.

"Oh..." I growl at her. "You suck!" And I feel Aiden chuckle against me, right before he launches me into the water.

I crash into the lake, plunging beneath the surface. It instantly feels amazing, and I paddle myself up to the top, gasping for air when I break the surface. Meeting Aiden's eyes, I glare. "You didn't have to do that! I was going to get in." I turn myself in a circle to face Alex, "And you! Next time Aiden has it in for you, you are so on your own." I say the last part as a threat and it seems to work because her eyebrows shoot up.

"Oh, come on!" she says.

"Nope, sorry." I say sarcastically, mocking her previous words.

"You know it feels good, stop whining." Aiden says as he swims over to us.

I launch myself at him, moving through the water at full speed, paddling towards him with all my might. I move pretty fast, because he hardly reacts before I get my arms around his neck and try to pull him under. It doesn't work, and instead of me pulling him under, he yanks us both down into the water.

I come back up choking on water and sputtering an unintelligible, "Oh, I hate you so much. You suck. You suck. You suck!"

His howls of laughter are his only reply and Alex joins in with some snickering of her own. They sound ridiculous.

"You," I point to Aiden, "sound like a baboon and you," I point to Alex, "sound like a hyena. So suck it." I tell them both, smiling the entire time, trying not to laugh.

They both go to splash me, but I expected that so I duck under the water and make a dash for it. I hold my breath and swim as far out as I can before I need to come up for air. I take a look behind me and see that while I've made my escape, they've already started in on each other. A full on splashing war has ensued between them.

I turn back and keep swimming, moving farther and farther away from them. When I'm a good distance away, I turn over onto my back and float, staring up at the sky. It's a clear crisp blue, not a cloud in sight. The sun is shining bright and hot, but the water surrounding me is cool, and as I make angels in the water, I can't think of anything that could feel as good as this.

I've missed hanging out in the water. It's only been a few weeks since we left Albuquerque, and I was only there for a couple of months, but it had started to feel like home. Well, as close to home as I've gotten since leaving my real home. Or what used to be my real home.

I won't let myself go there anymore though. At first, my talk with Aiden pissed me off and I fumed the whole day, but after a while it sunk in. He was right. If I continued to dwell on the decisions I've made, I'd never have a chance at being happy again. So that's what I've been doing, attempting to make peace with it, trying to let it go, and doing my best to live my life for what it is now, because I'll be damned if after everything I've been through, I let anything else get in the way of my happiness.

The thing is, I haven't been able to accept it yet, so until I do, I've settled for pushing the thoughts and memories of who and what I left behind to the back of my mind. I know it's not the right way to go about it, but again, Aiden was right, it works for now. I think that eventually it'll click, and it will be easier to remember them without it being so hard.

A splash to the face draws me right into the present moment, and I immediately pull myself up to see which pain in my ass it was this time.

Aiden, of course. "Wanna race back?"

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