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My version of Kim/Jared.

My theme song for this story is Awake, by Secondhand Serenade. You can listen to it here: http://search.playlist.com/tracks/awake/2

1. Chapter 1

Rating 5/5   Word Count 1315   Review this Chapter

It was so hot out here. Sweat streamed down my body, making my freshly shaved legs sting. I blinked the sweat out of my eyes and kept running.

The music in my ears pounded the same rhythm as my heart as I made my way down to the beach. I normally ran on the cliffs closer to home, but today I decided I needed a change of scenery.

The waves slapped the shore rhythmically as I picked up my pace. I smiled as the lyrics to my favorite song blasted in my ears.

And I’d swim the ocean for you,
The ocean for you
Whoa oh oh oh oh-h Kelsey

Sure, it was a dance-y tune, but sort of energizing. I sang along in my head, distracting myself from my physical exertion. I figured out long ago that it always helped me to have something to think about as I ran. Some people run to clear their heads, to lose themselves in it, but I run to think.

I sprinted the last few yards to my destination- the big, bleached white tree that was so popular for bonfires. I stopped to catch my breath, sweat still running down my body. I stood gasping like a fish out of water for a minute before I sat down on the weathered trunk. My legs were trembling and my heart was pounding, but I felt good.

I rested a few minutes more before I groaned and clambered back to my feet. This was my least favorite part of my run. I had gone two and a half miles already, and I was pooped. I hated getting back up and forcing myself to run back home. It was almost as bad as waking up early on a Saturday morning. Or a geometry exam.

I glanced at the ocean warily and then eyed the deserted beach. Maybe…oh, what the heck. I kicked off my shoes, stripped off my tank top and shorts, and stood at the water’s edge in my sports bra and underwear. I briefly considered skinny dipping, but then decided that would probably just be tempting fate.

The water was shockingly cold compared to the hot day. It felt amazing. There was probably some medical condition I could get from cooling down too quickly, but I was too hot and sweaty to care. I waded out and treaded water for a while, enjoying the sensation of the cool water against my overheated skin.

I dove down, allowing the cool water to wash away the sweat from my face and hair. I rose to the surface and swam back towards the shore.

The current had swept me farther down the beach than I realized, towards the rockier half of the shore. I swam as close to it as I could, then stood up and began walking through the water towards where I had left my clothes. Unfortunately, I tripped on a rock and fell down. Aside from the aching pain in my foot, I felt a sting on my knee. I looked down to see a river of blood gushing down my shin. I groaned in pain and frustration as I hobbled back to my clothes.

I was busy inspecting the gash on my leg when I heard a distinctly masculine laugh from the other side of the tree. I screamed.

“Paul! What are you doing? How long have you been here? Were you watching me?” I screeched as I snatched up my clothes and yanked them on haphazardly.

“Relax, Kimmy!” I scowled at his use of my childhood nickname. “I just got here. It’s not like I’m stalking you or anything. Chill out. But I am sort of wondering why you were walking half naked on the beach.”

I glared at him. “I was running and I got hot, so I went for a swim. Bite me.” I laced up my shoes, inserted my headphones, and took off towards home, my leg still dripping blood onto my shoe.

Paul was running next to me a minute later. I stopped suddenly.

“What do you think you’re doing?!” I yelled at him.

He sighed. “Kim, I’m going home. You know as well as I do that I live right next to you, and I don’t see why I can’t run home the way you’re going,” he finished with an evil grin.

“Fine, whatever,” I growled. “But if you want to run with me, you’d better be able to keep up.”

“Ouch, Kim. What’s got your panties in a twist today? Geez. Wait. If it’s one of those girl things, I don’t want to know. You can keep your hormonal imbalances to yourself.”

He laughed. I hated how he got cocky when I got angry. It was so frustrating that he wasn’t intimidated by me. I debated whether to stomp on his feet or ignore him.

“Seriously though, Kim, if there’s something wrong, you can trust me. I promise not to tell if you don’t want me to.”

I softened. As obnoxious as Paul was, he was also trustworthy. I knew my secrets would always be safe with him. He was also incredibly nosy, and would probably weasel my secret out of me anyways. Paul’s interrogations were like Chinese water torture; they could drive anyone crazy.

I caved in to his begging puppy face. “Paul, have you ever liked somebody, but they don’t seem to realize that you even exist, even though you’ve known them for practically all of your life?”

A strange look crossed his face, like he was surprised by what I had just said. He stood there for a minute, looking at the ocean.

“Paul?” I waved my hand in front of his face. “Hello? Earth to Paul! Were you even paying attention to what I just said?” I began to run home when he didn’t respond, knowing he would wake up and follow in a minute.

“Oh, right, yeah Kim, I was listening. Wait a second…” I stopped to let him catch up. “Yeah, there’s actually this one girl that I have the same problem with. It’s like she’s blind- she doesn’t seem to see how much I care about her.”

“Why don’t you just tell her?” I asked. This was so unlike Paul. He was usually so stoic.

He blushed. This was seriously getting bizarre. Paul didn’t get embarrassed.

“Er, I kind of did already. But I don’t think she realized what I was doing.”

“Oooh,” I sympathized. “I’m sorry. That stinks. What’s she like? Do I know her? Do you want me to tell her for you?”

He chuckled, nervously, I thought. “Naw, you don’t have to tell her. She’s really pretty, and funny, and nice. She’s actually kind of like you. Yeah, you know her, but I’m not going to tell you who she is. So who’s this guy you like?”

“Do you swear not to tell if I tell you who it is?”

He nodded.

“You promise? Even if it’s one of your friends?”

He nodded again and let out an exasperated sigh. “Just tell me Kim. I wouldn’t tell anyone, even if you liked my little brother. And that would definitely be a piece of hot gossip, considering the fact that he’s nine.”

My stomach turned over. I’d never told anyone before. I sighed. “Ok. It’s Jared. I know it’s completely impossible and he’s way out of my league, but I’m…Paul, are you ok?”

He was shaking pretty violently, although he looked confused. “Um, yeah. I just felt sort of weird for a second there. I’m ok. Are you ready to go home now? I need to get started on my homework.”

I was puzzled by his sudden change of subject. “Sure, ok. Let’s go.”

We ran home in silence. “I’ll see you later Paul,” I gasped as I ran up my front porch steps.

I didn’t see him watch me leave.