The house was ridiculously huge. Standing in front of it, I had to walk a quarter of a mile from the start of the driveway to the front door.
After days of begging my mom to let me go to the party and several promises of texting her every hour, she finally agreed to let me go. Hannah jumped a step up and grabbed my arm.
“We go through the back, you silly goose!" She pulled me down, almost causing me to trip backward.
My phone made a ding sound. Pulling it out, I saw another text from my mom asking me to be careful.
“Okay, whoa!" I caught my footing before walking around half of the house to see a small iron-black fence. The music could be heard from the front. People's voices, hollering, and screams could be heard once you hit the gate. Wait, were the girls inside all wearing bikinis?
“No, is this a pool party?" Stuttering was not something I found myself doing a lot, but I hated standing out.
Hannah finally realized why I was in panic mode. “Oh! Sorry, I received the party's dress code last night. It was too late to tell you it was a pool party. Don't worry, I brought you one of my spares." She tossed it to me and turned me in the direction of the outdoor cabana.
Closing the curtain, I held up the neon pink bikini. It was maybe half a size bigger than I was. Checking myself out in the mirror, I thought I could be easily exposed. I realized this was the most I had ever been out of my comfort zone. I felt I needed to get out of there. I didn't belong there at all.
Hannah was right outside of the cabana. I did not realize she was so close.
“You look great! Just don't jump or run." Her laugh echoed, and she directed me to the drink table.
“How many people are here?" I asked, thinking when I should tell her I wanted to leave.
“The entire senior class! I doubt there are any no-shows. This is Chase Handler's house. No one misses his parties. He even was throwing these when he was a freshman."
“Okay, I heard people mention his name many times, but I have not laid eyes on him all week." Nervousness shook my body.
Hannah stopped and turned me to face a group of crowds. “He's there. Aria. That's Chase."
To satisfy my curiosity, I took several steps forward, hoping that at five feet, four inches I could see the king in his beach chair through the wall of people.
Unfortunately, a beach ball came and hit me in the face. There was some laughter but nothing I could not shake off. From the corner of my eye, another ball was coming. I tried stepping back to avoid it, but the step was too big. Instantly, I felt my back hit the water.
'I guess now would be a bad time to mention I can't swim,' I thought.
'Is this how I die? Drowning at a party of someone I never met, in front of people I barely know?' My eyes opened. I could see people standing on the side of the pool. Muffled voices circled me. They probably expected me to come back up. After all, what seventeen-year-old couldn't swim?
A huge splash landed next to me. Arms grabbed my waist, and another face looked into mine. Lifting me to the surface, the mystery body lifted me onto the side of the pool. Hands rolled me onto my back.
I coughed some water up and turned on my side. My eyes were blurry, but I could hear Hannah in the background asking if I was okay.
“Hey, hey… Are you okay?"
His voice was soft, and his face came into view. His short dark hair dropped a few strands in front of one of his eyes, which were also unclear.
I nodded, his muscular body distracting me from not being able to swim.
“Of course, she's not okay. She's popping out of her swimsuit!" a girl shouted, causing the crowd of students to erupt in laughter.
Hannah pulled me to my feet and covered me with a towel. Mortified does not begin to describe how I felt now.
“Courtney, shut up. You, of all people, shouldn't say a thing about people showing off their bodies. You do it when no one wants you to."
The crowd laughed even harder. He looked directly at me.
“You look great. Maybe choose a smaller size next time." He winked and grabbed a dry towel from a bench. He took my hair and dried it off, section by section. He handed me another to wrap around me.
“Uh… Right," I whisper and look down. My cheeks were red. It was like I had a fever because my face was hot, but my body's skin was cold.
He chuckled in a low voice and walked through the crowd. People separated for him.
“Wow, Aria, one week, and you already have Chase's attention. I am impressed! That was amazing!" Hannah pulled me away from the crowd. Everyone dispersed as if it had never happened. I rolled my eyes.
“I mean, he pulled you out of that pool, and I swear everything was in slow motion. Someone turned the devil into an angel," she said.
“Hannah! That was the most embarrassing moment of my life!" I sat in a pool chair and covered my face.
“I had no idea you couldn't swim, but I'm glad you wore my swimsuit because it definitely got you some attention from a hottie." She laughed and chugged the rest of her drink.
“So what all do you know about that hottie, aside from the fact that he is gorgeous and saved my life?" I asked. Looking around, trying to find him was pointless. Plus, the embarrassment had not left my face enough for me to even try.
“Hold on, what are you saying? Do you want to get to know Chase? I'm impressed. I didn't think you had the nerve." She nodded and winked, laughing at me.
I could see she was going to give me a hard time about a lot of things.
“He was nice and saved me. I don't think I even thanked him. I know I probably looked so stupid, and oh my god, people saw parts of me!" I looked around frantically.
“Do you think anyone took photos?" It almost came out as a scream, but she just sat in front of me laughing like she had been doing all week.
“Girl, you are fine, relax. You had an embarrassing moment. We all have them. The plus side is you got some sexy attention from Prince Hot and Charming." Hannah did have a good point, not that I was very good at talking to guys. I had never had a boyfriend before. I always focused on school, a few friends, and my overbearing mother.
“He has different types of girls around him, so we will have to be creative to attract his more attention." She made a weird face as if she was trying to think.
“Wait, you don't know him very well?" I asked, and she shook her head.
“Aside from these awesome parties he throws, no, I don't think anyone does, actually. He mostly keeps to himself. I know he is often in the principal's office. He flirts but never goes out on dates. Everyone loves him, but no one knows him enough to know why."
Hannah explained, and the look of wonder surfaced on her face, too, as if she had never fully considered why he was so interesting.
I got it; he was a mysterious stranger with different types of 'female fans.' At least I didn't want to be another person to admire a stranger. Well, that settled. I'm not really a fan of mysteries, but I should at least thank him for saving me from drowning and permanent embarrassment.
Speaking of embarrassment, I drugged around Hannah's bag for my cell phone and quickly texted my mom. Otherwise, she would be here in minutes to check on me.
“Well, we can't say the same for him. He must be interested in clumsy girls that show their goods in front of the entire class." She smirked.
I must have looked as confused as I felt because she tilted her head to the left. My eyes followed hers, and from across the pool was Chase, and he was looking directly at me.
“No. Just no." I looked behind me and back at him. I could see a small laugh, and his lips parted, showing his teeth. Wow, he had a fantastic smile. My face accidentally returned the gesture.