Seventeen year old Dana Cruz picked up her suitcase from American Airlines flight 724 from Los Angeles to Miami with her best friends, Zoey Brooks and Nicole Bristow by her side.
Looking around the brightly colored airport, Dana was wondering how she had wound up so many miles away from home. She should be sitting in the library going over vocabulary words instead of standing in an airport.
It had all started the month before when her older sister, Jade, a college sophomore, called on Saturday night in mid March. Dana had invited Zoey and Nicole to spend the night. They were watching Pretty Little Liars when the phone rang. Dana was surprised to hear her sister's voice. Usually, the only time she called was when she needed money from their parents and they had just sent it to her last week. Her parents weren't super rich, but they lived a comfortable life. They lived in a 2600 square foot two story house in a guard gated community in Huntington Beach.
Before Dana had time to ask Jade why she called, she was beaten to the punch. Would Dana and her friends like to go to Miami during spring break?
"Why would we want to go to Miami for spring break?" Dana had asked.
One Zoey and Nicole heard the words spring break, A and the Pretty Little Liars girls were forgotten and they rushed to Dana's side, trying to hear Jade's part of the conversation.
"My friend Kristen's aunt owns this fabulous beach house and she invited us to come over from spring break. Three of our friends were suppose to go, but they couldn't make it, so I thought maybe you'd like to. Since I went away to college, we haven't been spending as much time as we used to."
That was true. When Jade had gone off to college at the University of California, San Diego, they hadn't been as close. She had missed her sister. Sure, they kept in touch through texting, e-mail, and phone calls, but it wasn't the same as having her sister right there by her side.
"You know that I would love to see you, the SATs are in May and I have to study for them."
"You can study down here," Jade insisted.
Before Dana could answer, Nicole snatched the phone away from her, and told Jade they'd call her back. After some arm twisting, Zoey and Nicole finally convinced Dana that they just had to go to Miami. How could they turn down a week in a luxurious beach house? With Zoey and Nicole by her side, happily jumping up and down, making plans for the week, Zoey called her sister back and told her they'd be going to Miami.
Thought of Jade made Dana check the time on her cell phone. It was almost two o'clock and her sister should have been here to pick them up already. Dana sighed and set down her suitcase and opened it, making sure everything was still there. Her clothes and shoes still were, but her SAT books were gone. Rummaging through her suitcase, she desperately tried to find them, but couldn't.
"What happened to my SAT books?" Dana screeched. She expected Zoey and Nicole to answer, but they didn't. "Guys?" There still wasn't an answer.
Dana turned around and saw the reason why they had ignored her. They were too busy checking out all the guys milling around the airport.
She couldn't blame them. There were lots of eye candy. She guessed the beach would be pretty packed this week.
A lot of the guys were staring at her. Dana had brown hair with caramel streaks in them. It was slightly wavy and her bangs were swept to the right side of her face. She had a sun kissed tan, teeth that were like perfect white pearls, warm chocolate brown eyes, long lean legs, and she had curves that showed off her well toned body. She stood at a height of 5'8 and was undeniably gorgeous. Right now, she was wearing a white chiffon tank top with black polka dots and black peter pan necklace which was under her collar bone, dark washed skinny jeans, a pair of black patent leather flats, and was carrying a black handbag and the cross body handle was resting on her shoulders. However, she was way too serious about her studies, never giving herself a break, an obvious turn off to guys, but that didn't stop guys from staring at her.
Dana walked in from of Zoey and Nicole, snapping her fingers in from of them.
"Guys! Are you listening to me? I'm kind of in a middle of a crisis here."
"Sorry. I wasn't paying attention," said Nicole tearing her eyes away from a Louis Tomlinson look-alike.
"Obviously," replied Dana rolling her eyes.
"What's up?" asked Zoey as she tossed her blonde hair behind her shoulders.
"This doesn't make any sense," Dana explained. "My SAT books were in my suitcase when we checked them in and now they're gone! Gone! What do you think happened?" She didn't give time for either Zoey or Nicole to explain. "You know what? I'm going to complain!"
"Dana, wait!" Nicole yelled as she ran over to stop Dana, panic clear in her voice.
Dana stopped and looked at her. There was a guilty expression written on her face. She turned to look at Zoey and she had on the same look.
She knew that look all too well.
She had seen it many times before. It appeared every time Zoey and Nicole teamed up to do something that they felt they "needed" to do for Dana.
Like last November when they told Brandon Morris, WCA's star pitcher, that Dana had a crush on him.
Or the time in sophomore year when they set her up on a blind date with Andrew Johnson.
Or the time when they were seven and they pushed her into the pool at a country club after she completed her swimming lessons since she was too afraid to jump into the water and start swimming herself.
Dana instantly turned to face them both and glared. "What did you do?"
"We didn't do anything," answered Nicole. "Right, Zoey? Why would you think we did something, Dana?"
Dana just glared at her causing Nicole to shriek and run behind Zoey.
"Except maybe we got rid of your books," Zoey said in a rush as she felt Dana's glare on her instead.
Dana could practically feel her eyes popping out of her head, her anger rising. "What! How could you guys?"
Zoey took this as a bad sign and began to quickly explain, "You're supposed to be in Miami having fun! Not studying for the SATs. Your suitcase was filled with test guides."
"When you went inside to get your e-ticket, we gave you books back to your parents," Nicole continued with the explanation, popping her head out from Zoey's back.
"May parents were in on this?" Dana shrieked.
"They just wanted you to have a good time just like what we wanted, " Zoey said. "They know how hard you've been studying."
"Because I have to ace my SATs in May!"
"You already aced the PSAT and you've been studying like crazy. You also took that prep class," Nicole reminded her, stepping out from behind Zoey. "You're more than prepared Dana. You're super prepared and practically the whole school knows you'll get into any college you want."
Dana let out a sigh and sat down on a nearby bench. "Okay, you geniuses, you've succeeded with your plan. I won't be able to study while I'm down here."
Zoey took a seat next to her friend. "Come on, Dana. Loosen up a little, at least this week. Relaxing won't make you forget everything you're learned. You're one of the smartest juniors at West Coast Academy. Actually, scratch that. You arethe smartest junior at WCA. In fact, you're smarter than most of the seniors and I can guarantee that you'll be our class valedictorian."
"You're not mad are you? asked Nicole, her bubbliness gone.
"Of course I'm mad," Dana grumbled. "But I'll get over it. I always do, don't I?" After all, they were her best friends and you just can't stay mad at your best friends for very long.
"Hey! Look! There's Jade!" Nicole exclaimed, jumping up and down, pointing a finger to the direction where Jade was standing.
Dana looked across the airport. There was no mistaking her older sister. Guys had their eyes glued to her. Why wouldn't they? Jade was gorgeous.
Today, she was wearing faded denim short shorts with a white halter top and nude four inch suede sandals. Her hair was tied up into a high ponytail.
Kristen, whom Dana had never met before, was just as gorgeous. She had brown hair that reached the bottom of her chest and was wearing a cream colored tank top with a lace pattern, white denim cuffed short shorts, and a pair of five inch black patent leather sandals.
"Hey you guys," Kristen greeted. "Welcome to Miami."
"Okay what's wrong?" Jade asked as she gave Zoey and Nicole a quick greeting before hugging Dana. "You have on a pout and I know that look." Jade checked her watch. "We're not that late. Only by like fifteen minutes."
"I'm not mad at you. I'm mad at them," Dana yelled pointing a finger at Zoey and Nicole.
"What'd they do?" Jade asked as she took off her sunglasses and threw them in her Prada handbag.
Dana quickly filled Jade and Kristen in on Zoey and Nicole's latest scheme.
"Can I give you my opinion?" Jade offered.
"What?" Dana asked.
"They did the right thing!" Jade exclaimed.
"What?" screamed Dana not believing it.
"You can't always be studying, Dana. You need to have some down time, for fun. Otherwise, you're just going to burn yourself out. Why are you worrying about your SATs anyway? You're going to ace them and get into the college you want. Forget about being Dana the Bookworm. For the next few days, be Dana the Party Girl!"
Aren't you the party girl in this family? Dana wanted to say, but she didn't knowing she wasn't going to win this argument.
"Now, that's settled," said Jade. "Let's head to the car."
"What do you guys have planned for this afternoon?" asked Nicole as they headed to the parking garage. "Is it something fun? I hope it's something fun!"
"Nicole!" screamed Dana. "Shut up!"
"Sorry. I'm just excited." Nicole was now looking down at the ground.
"Nicole, I didn't mean to scream at you," Dana said, her face softening and she uncrossed her arms, putting a hand to Nicole's shoulder, while she nodded in response.
"Anyways, we were thinking about having a BBQ today, so why don't we head back to the house, drop your things off, grab some lunch, and then we can go grocery shopping," Jade answered.
"Perfect!" squealed Zoey grinning.
"Does that sound okay to you Dana? Or would you rather do something else?" asked Jade.
"That sounds fine," Dana answered, pasting a fake smile on her face while on the inside, she was fuming.
When they got to the beach house, they met Kristen's aunt, Megan, who was in her fourties and just as gorgeous as Kristen.
"Feel free to make yourselves at home," Megan said. "But I'm afraid that the cupboards are bare. I haven't had time to stock up on food yet."
"Don't worry, Aunt Megan. We'll do it," Kristen offered. "We're going to lunch soon; then we're going grocery shopping for the BBQ.
"Great! Have fun!" said Megan as she headed out.
"Ready for the grand tour?" asked Kristen facing the group of girls.
The beach house was beautiful. Walking from room to room, Dana felt like it was something out of a design magazine. The floors were a cherry wood and all the furniture were super comfy, in bright ocean colors with huge cushions and pillows. The walls were painted a pale sky blue, and the drapes were all sky blue and white. Seashells were scattered everywhere, and there were tons of plants and fresh bouquets of flowers. The whole interior of the house felt as if a little bit of the beach had been brought inside.
After the tour, they divided the bedrooms among themselves. Zoey and Nicole were sharing a room as were Dana and Jade, but they didn't mind since each room was huge with two queen sized beds ready for them. Kristen, on the other hand, had a room to herself. Once they were all settled in, they walked outside towards the black BMW convertible Kristen rented.
"Don't look now," said Zoey excitedly. "But I think that we've got ourselves some admirers.
"Where? Where?" Kristen asked her eyes darting everywhere.
"Don't mind Kristen," Jade explained. "She's a little guy crazy."
"The house next door," replied Zoey. "I saw a guy peeking out the window and I'm pretty sure he was checking us out."
"Was he cute?" asked Kristen as she casually glanced at the house next door.
Zoey shrugged. "Not sure. I didn't have a good look."
Kristen slid into the driver's seat of their rental car next to Jade who was riding shotgun. Dana, Zoey, and Nicole were all piled in the back. The top was open and wind was blowing their hair slightly.
As Dana buckled up her seatbelt, she listened to the conversation going on. Excitement was clear in their voices as they discussed plans for this week. It got Dana thinking.
Maybe she'll loosen up and have fun, too.