Lyle picked through the last bit of camping gear in his garage. The sweat was dripping off his forehead, and the gang was running out of time. Wyatt tapped his foot impatiently.
"How can not one of us own a tent to camp with?" Dante asked rhetorically.
Wyatt walked into the Hugginson garage and tossed around various sport items, along with lawn game equipment and a dozen campfire stoves.
"Why do you need all of these stoves?" Wyatt asked, sifting through the maze.
"My dad used to put me in cooking competitions. We would use these for practice so I wouldn't burn the house down," Lyle explained.
Wyatt left the garage and pulled an iPhone from his cargo pant pocket. The boys needed a tent, and fast. The latest leak on the radar was a Midnight Dragon, cousin of the acid-spitting mini dragon. They would sleep in Lyle's car again, but after the acid-spitting mini dragon, Lyle wanted his car as far away from leaks as possible. My baby needs to be safe, he had said.
In order to catch the creature they would have to sleep in the Daventry woods, sitting and waiting for the best opportunity to bard the thing. Unfortunately, no one in the Never Fail clan even owned a tent big enough for three teen boys. It was nearing four o'clock, and before long it would be too dark to set up a tent in the prime location.
"Who are you calling?" Dante asked, spotting the phone in Wyatt's pale hand.
"Max. He'll lend us a tent no doubt," Wyatt said. "Well, if it's for barding a leak he will."
Lyle and Dante exchanged skeptical looks.
"Oh, hey Max! It's Wyatt. Can we borrow a tent perhaps? For catching a bard. All business, of course," Wyatt spoke into the phone. "I see…. Thanks for nothing. I hope you get eaten by a woodland fairy. Yep, you to."
Dante switched his board from one hand to the other and patted Wyatt on the back. "Guess he said no?"
Wyatt shook his head.
Strolling up from the sidewalk was Angie, Wakeen in toe. She had her Baer's uniform on and an unhappy look on her face.
"Hey, Wyatt," Angie managed a smile. "Calling in a future favor. Watch Wakeen again for me, please."
"We don't have time Angie. We need to… get rid of a thing but we are looking for a thing that we need to get rid of the thing but we can't find the thing and we need the thing before dark," Wyatt explained vaguely.
Wakeen turned to Wyatt, puzzled. "Huh? I told you, speak Hungarian."
"Okay, what's it you need? Maybe I can help you," she said with an overdramatic sigh.
"A tent. To fit the three of us," Lyle told her.
Angie looked up at the darkening sky for a moment, thinking about her collection of tents, and how this situation could benefit her.
"I have a six person tent, and I will let you use it," Angie said.
The guys began to high five and cheer, but she tsopped their jubilation with a stern hand.
"On one condition. I come with you on the bard," she said. "I want to make sure the tent isn't ruined."
Wakeen looked lost, which is a rare occasion. "What's a bard?"
"Then who will watch Wakeen?" Wyatt asked, ignoring Wakeen.
"I'll find someone. And someone can fill my shift at the diner. No big deal. Now, I'll meet you in the woods with the tent, okay?" Angie said.
Dante stepped towards Angie. "Wait, one tent? So we would have to share?" He asked.
"Is that a problem? Well, besides that fact that I have to be near you," Angie commented.
"We don't have time to argue, you two. We need to get moving. See you in a half hour Angie," Lyle said, pulling his crew along.
The boys started to set up camp without a tent. Dante began to cook cheap hot dogs on one of Lyle's grills while Wyatt made a map of the woods with plans of the attack in the margins. Lyle readied the weapons and protective gear.
Wyatt stood up and brushed off his clothes. "I'm going to get some firewood. Anyone want to come?"
Dante shrugged, and Lyle shook his head no.
"Fine, suit yourselves," Wyatt said, walking off by himself.
Lyle peered around a tree until he was sure Wyatt was out of sight. He didn't know what was up with Dante, but he knew it would be awkward to have a man to man conversation with Wyatt around. No offense to him, of course, Lyle thought. He whipped around and faced Dante.
"What's up? Why are being so weird? And not in a Dante-y way but in an angst-y way," Lyle asked.
Dante shrugged, flipping the dogs, which just flipped to their original positions anyway.
"Does it have anything to with Angie… sleeping in the same tent with us? You really hate her that much? You were pretty quiet until she said something about having one tent," Lyle probed Dante's feelings relentlessly.
"I'll sleep under the stars," Dante stated, motioning towards the sky above him.
"Dude, you know you can say whatever you want around me. I already know way too much about you to think any less of you as a person," Lyle said with a laugh.
"Don't mention this to Wyatt," Dante started.
Lyle held up his left hand. "Scouts honor."
"Okay… well, I'm kind of… nervous about sleeping in a tent with Angie. I feel... tingly inside when I think about it," Dante shivered.
Lyle bounced up and down, making 'woo!' noises and laughing.
"You like Angie, you like Angie!" Lyle taunted as he pointed towards Dante, like he was a kid at the playground who just saw a classmate fall off the monkey bars. "Huzzah!"
"SHHH!" Dante shouted. "I do not."
"Prove it, man," Lyle said. "When you think of Angie, what pops in your head first?"
"Her lips," he responded quickly. "They are so red and soft… and her hair, I could run my hands through it…."
Lyle smirked. He was good at this interrogation stuff. Maybe he should be a cop instead of a mayor like his dad. However, Dante had a better cop voice, and he did look good in a pair of aviators and a fake mustache.
"Her body is well proportionate, don't you think?" Dante asked absentmindedly.
"Uh…." Lyle didn't quite know how to respond to that.
Dante cupped his hands and put them in front of his chest, "And her huge—."
"DUDE!" Lyle yelled.
He didn't want to hear any more of this.
"I could just look at those all day-."
"Kiss her all over her body as I-."
Dante started to use pelvis thrusts to explain his fantasies and Lyle decided he needed this suffering to end.
"DUDE, SHUT THE HELL UP!"
Dante abruptly stopped. "Sorry, forgot you were there."
Wyatt came back to the group with his arms filled with sticks and hunks of branch. Lyle and Dante went to his side and helped him put it next to where the tent was going to be put up.
"Hey, do you smell smoke?" Wyatt asked.
Dante glanced over at his hotdogs and saw them engulfed in orange and red flames.
"Fire in the hole!" He yelled.
Angie, who was walking up the little hill in the forest, dropped her things and held tighter to the bucket filled with water that she brought and poured it over the hot dogs.
"I knew you guys wouldn't prepare for an out of control fire, so I did," she said, putting the bucket next to the stove.
She dragged her things to them and began to unravel the tent from its bag. Dante pranced to her side and grabbed one end of the tent.
"I'll help you with that," he said.
Lyle stifled a laugh.
After the tent was pitched, all four teens sat on a couple of logs, waiting for the time to speed up and hit midnight. Every opportunity he got, Dante accidently bumped Angie's knee with his. After Lyle put in his head that he might… like, like like Angie, he wanted to be closer to her.
"What's that smell?" She asked.
"Oh, that's me. It's always me," Dante answered.
Angie scooted away from Dante. He cursed under his breath. A beeping sound cut through the hot summer air.
"It's midnight," Wyatt said. "Lyle and Dante, you take the north side of the woods and Angie and I will take the south side."
Lyle coughed. "Actually, Dante and I are in a big fight and I can't be with him," Lyle lied.
Dante turned to his friend. "We are?"
Lyle gave Dante a just-go-with-it look. He was trying to help this pathetic little man get the girl of his perverted dreams.
"Right. So pissed," Dante added.
"You seemed fine before," Angie pointed out.
"It was all a show," Lyle told her. "Don't want to insult such a beautiful lady with our distasteful feud."
Angie smiled, falling for Lyle's lame ass excuse. Angie and Dante grabbed their weapons and started down the hill.
"What are you and Lyle fighting about?" Angie asked.
"Stuff…." Dante faded away.
He has never felt like his heart was coming out of his ears. But he felt that way as he walked through the quiet forest with Angie, the girl he's always wanted. She was beautiful, strong, smart and sassy. He has seen girls that he thought were hot, but they didn't have the substance that Angie had. And a major plus was that she could put up with him. Not even Barbra could do that.
The two teens walked together through the woods and paused for irregular sounds. During the walk, Dante purposefully bumped her arm with his. His stomach was in knots. He didn't know how to get rid of the feeling, but he knew he had to.
"So, Angie," Dante said. "You still after Philburt?"
Angie looked shocked. Why would he be asking her that? Right out of the blue?
"Nah. That was just a crush. You don't always "go after" some person you have a crush on," Angie replied.
Dante switched the Skull Cracker to his other hand. "If they're worth it you do."
Dante smiled. Angie was worth it. He would go after her. There was a silence.
"I guess so," Angie said finally.
"My crush is worth it," Dante said.
"Who is she?" Angie asked.
Dante contemplated his response for a moment. What if she rejected his advances? What if she punched him in the face? Ah, what the hell.
Dante licked his lips and stepped in front of Angie and said, "You."
Angie stepped dead in her tracks. She needed a chance to collect herself. Dante Ontero, liking her? Impossible. That goes against everything the universe is about. If she requited his love, the world would stop turning.
"Oh, Dante," she began. "You don't mean that. It's human nature to want someone you can't have."
"Who says I can't have you?" Dante retorted.
He would show her. He could take her, without asking and she wouldn't be able to say no. He dipped his head down and kissed Angie's lips; the lips he had dreamed about late at night when he was supposed to be asleep. She didn't push him away instantly, which was a start. She did eventually.
"Dante!" Angie scolded half-heartedly. "You can't just go around kissing random people!"
"I'm not," he said. "I'm kissing you."
"Well… I … you…," Angie stuttered.
For probably the first time in her existence, Angie was speechless. She was tongue-tied. She felt like a cat really did grab her tongue. Just because they shouldn't like each other, doesn't mean that they can't, right? She had been noticing him differently lately. And now, as he stood in front of her, lips swollen with a kiss and his hair tousled and his breath uneven with anticipation… she had to admit he looked fucking sexy as hell.
Angie went in for the kiss this time. She brought her body closer to his, desperate to feel his heaving chest against hers. Something wrong could never feel as good as Angie grabbing onto Dante's chocolate brown hair. Dante's was confused; women really were fickle bitches. But he loved that she changed her mind. On the other hand, he isn't very experienced, and he wanted to impress Angie. He didn't know what to do with his hands, or if he should use tongue or not.
Angie made the decisions for him. She darted her tongue in his mouth, begging for a battle. She took a hold of Dante's hands and put them on her waist. He was happy, he couldn't even believe this. Their pulses seem to beat as one. Angie pulled her lips loose from Dante's, and they rubbed their noses together.
"You're a good kisser," she whispered to him.
"Not so bad yourself," Dante smiled. He bent over and kissed her neck, trailing kissing up to her ear. "I have been waiting so long for this."
Angie blushed and hugged Dante while he traced circles on her back. She smelt him; bad as usual; but hey, you take the good with the bad. She kissed him on the mouth again, feeling his shiny braces with her lips. He deepened the kiss, and their feverish feelings began. Dante's hand hovered over the hem of Angie's shirt.
Angie knew what he wanted and she whispered, "Go for it."
Dante smiled as his shaky hand traveled across the hot skin of her creamy white stomach under her shirt. He reached what he wanted, and went for it. He felt her body heave underneath his stroking touch. His body almost exploded and Angie moaned inside his mouth. Dante was so excited he was actually doing something right and making someone as deserving as Angie that happy. Angie smiled into the kiss as she pulled Dante's belt and undid the buckle. She daringly reached her hands down his pants and Dante almost screamed when she touched his most private part. They jumped when they heard what sounded like the coo of a dragon. Angie took a step back.
"I'm sorry," she blurted out.
"For what?" Dante chuckled. "There is nothing to be sorry about." He wiggled his eyebrows. "except stopping."
Angie laughed, "Thinking you aren't good enough for me. That you couldn't have me."
"So I do have you?"
"If you want me."
Dante snorted, "Hell yeah. It's human nature to want someone like you."
Angie hit Dante's shoulder, but she was smiling. Yeah, the nature of a human was a crazy thing.