Last chapter recap:

And then Carter left the house. And Hank went off to do... whatever it is butlers do... and Eliza was in her room. And I was still standing in the hallway. 'Something's wrong with this picture,' I thought to myself, and after Carter was out of the driveway, I left the house too.

'Eliza, Eliza, Eliza… what have you done to me?'

I needed some space. Things with the O'Connor siblings were not going the way I wanted them to, and I felt like it was the bottom of the ninth inning of a baseball game, and there was no way my team could ever win. I needed to figure out how to fix this situation. I was Nick Maguire, for god sake, and I wasn't going to let them push me away like that. Especially since it never would have occurred to me to push away either Carter or Eliza.

There were two things I didn't understand:

1. Why had Eliza reacted the way she did? There was something she wouldn't tell me, and that concerned me, because I probably would have told her anything.

2. What was Carter's problem with my dating Eliza? Austin had dated her, and Austin goes much crazier with the girls than I do, so I wasn't completely buying the 'Nick, you're too much of a player' excuse that Carter had given me.As far I was concerned that was complete bullshit.

What was I missing?

I bit my tongue and tried to stop thinking about it. I needed to take a break. I felt like I was in the middle of one of Ms. Smithson’s impossible math tests. They're multiple choice, and they suck worse than swirly straws, because the answer is right in front of you, but the problems are ridiculously hard to figure out. My situation with Eliza was comparable to that; what was really going on with her, like how to solve a math problem, would either suddenly dawn on me - or I just wouldn't figure it out.

I walked into the enormous backyard and immediately became more relaxed. The great outdoors has that effect on me. It was an unusually warm night, but I wasn't going to complain; warm weather is awesome. The O’Connor’s' nearest neighbors are about two miles down the road, and as I walked across the dewy lawn with my bare feet, I had a feeling of total solitude. There was no one around me who could talk to me, interrupt my thought process, or make me share the moment with them. It was just me and the midnight sky. I felt like I was on vacation. The bright stars shone through the dark, nighttime blanket like diamonds sparkle on wedding rings, and it seemed like every mosquito was asleep. It smelled like the consummate amalgam of the items sold in a perfume store. Not that I'd ever actually been in one, but I could imagine that those places smell an awful lot like Mrs. O'Connor's prized carnation beds.

The atmosphere was perfect. 10:00 at night is my favorite time of the day, and despite what I'd told Carter, I had never been more wide awake. Their pool was smack dab in the middle of the yard, and I was suddenly struck by an irresistible urge to go swimming. What the hell, I thought to myself. Whynot? I knew the water was safe to swim in, and I knew none of the O'Connor's would mind if I went in. When my dad first started to get sick and I was spending almost every night in the O'Connor's guest room, I went swimming by myself all the time. As I stood in the middle of the yard, trying to clear my mind of everything that had happened in the last hour, going swimming looked like a good idea.

Seems legit. I trudged over the edge of the water and pulled my soccer t-shirt over my head, throwing it on the concrete rim that surrounded the pool. I was wearing basketball shorts under my jeans, and I decided it would be okay to swim in those. Most of the guys I know wear shorts under their pants. Girls always think that's really weird.It's for situations just like this,I thought to myself. Really comes in handy.

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