Cole ducked outside quickly, narrowly avoiding his girlfriend as he made his way down to the bonfire by the lake. It was quieter down there, easier for him to think about how he was going to break up with Aiden. One of the guys called his name, motioning for him to come down and sit with them. There was one girl, sitting by herself with a soda in hand, staring stoically into the flames. He took a seat next to her by the fire, causing her to look up in surprise.
"Hey," he smiled at her.
"Hi," she said, looking into the fire, expressionless again.
"I’m Cole, you’re Carson, right?" He asked, recognizing her from school.
"Yeah?" She gave me a cautious look.
"I’ve heard about you, and I’ve seen you at school, but I hadn’t actually met you until now." He smiled, watching her expression.
"Oh, well, hi." She looked back into the fire.
"Cole!" A boy, Cole didn’t know his name, offered him a beer.
"Thanks," He grimaced a little, but accepted.
The liquid burned his throat and he forced himself to swallow it. Looking back at Carson, he saw her scrunch her nose as she watched him through the corner of her eye. “What? You don’t like beer?”
"It’s gross." She shrugged, looking at me with cold eyes.
"Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it."
I have.” She smirked.
"There’s a smile." He smiled a little, setting his beer down next to the log. He scooted closer to her and noticed her stiffen. "You looked pretty upset when I came over here, something wrong?"
"No." She said defensively.
"Okay, okay," He raised his hands in surrender. "I was just asking."
She sighed. “Sorry,” she mumbled.
They sat there in silence for a few moments, both staring into the fire. He glanced at her. She wasn’t as hot as her sister, but she was cuter. She had soft blue eyes, though they had a hard look in them, and curly brown hair that blew every which way in the night breeze. He had always noticed that she wasn’t like the other girls at school. She looked good in whatever she wore without looking as if she was trying too hard. She didn’t wear her make up caked on like Aiden did. She was so down to earth. There were many times when he’d see her get up from the table she usually sat at to sit with someone who was at a table alone.
She seemed like his kind of girl. You have a girlfriend, Cole, his conscious chided him. He thought again about Aiden. How in the world was he going to break up with her without her crying and making him feel guilty like last time? He glanced at Carson again and realized that she was staring at him.
"Why’d you come out here?" They both asked at the same time. They each smiled, laughing a little.
"Honestly? I’m trying to avoid my girlfriend."
Carson gave a short laugh. “I’m trying to avoid my crush.” A sad look crossed her face but disappeared quickly. “Why are you avoiding your girlfriend?”
Cole sighed. “I’ve been trying to break up with her for the past few weeks, but every time I try she’ll start crying and making me feel all guilty so I stay with her.” He ran a hand through his hair. “I just don’t feel like being around her right now. She’s inside so I came out here to hide from her.”
"Yikes, that sucks." Carson lifted her soda to her lips.
"Why are you trying to avoid your crush?"
The sad look was back. She looked down at her shoes. “He asked me to meet him at the beach and I went, thinking that he was going to ask me out. He asked me for advice on asking my sister out instead.”
Cole was silent for a moment, feeling for her. “I’m sorry, that sucks.”
"Yeah…" He watched a tear escape her eye, but she looked away quickly.
"I’m fine." She cut him off. If going out with Aiden had taught him anything, it was that, when a girl says ‘I’m fine,’ she was lying. He pulled Carson closer to him and wrapped his arms around her but she still didn’t look at him.
"He’s stupid, you know, for choosing your sister over you." He said softly, comforting her. "I would’ve chose you."
She looked up at him then, and he wiped the tears from her cheek with the sleeve of his jacket. “You don’t even know me.” She said quietly.
"Maybe I want to know you." He smiled a little.
"Cole!" He suddenly heard Aiden coming up to the bonfire. Letting go of Carson, he stood quickly and turned to meet Aiden’s angry gaze. The other kids around the fire stopped talking.
"I’ve been looking for you everywhere! You were here with her this whole time?" His girlfriend turned her angry eyes to Carson.
"Aiden-" He tried to put himself between the two girls.
"What? You couldn’t find your own boyfriend? So, you decide to take someone else’s?" She yelled at Carson.
"Aiden-" He approached her.
"God! I hate you!" She shoved him. "I hate you! We’re over!" She ran back up the hill, though he called after her.
Cole turned back around to see Carson silently laughing into her hands. “It’s not funny.” He smiled.
"Yeah it was," she grinned. "Looks like I solved your little dilemma. You can thank me now."
He chuckled. “I’m kind of disappointed.”
"I thought my first time being dumped would’ve been a little more upsetting." He looked at her. "But I’m not upset at all."
She laughed before standing. “Come on, let’s go inside.”
He took her hand and led her up the hill and back to the house.