Saturday, 30 April 2011

CHAPTER 4.4: Pipe dreams

It had been three months since Iris and Cody had shared their first kiss, but one just wasn't enough for them.  Iris finally realised why Ivy had stuck to Bobby like glue, kissing someone you love was addictive.

When she was in Cody's arms the world seem to melt away, Iris was on cloud nine and she never wanted to come down.

Although they spent most days and evenings together, Iris had never seen the apartment he lived in with his father.  She knew that they were poor as his Dad had not worked in a while but when she showed up unannounced at his door she was shocked by the squalid area and the run down block that he lived in.

"Iris!  What are you doing here?"  Cody asked, clearly annoyed that she had shown up on his door without warning.

"I wanted to surprise you."  She said quietly, sensing his unease, "I was hoping to meet your Dad."

"I have my reasons for keeping you away from this place."  He replied touchily, ushering her out of the lobby and away from his home.

Iris decided not to press the matter further, things had been going so well between them and she didn't want to risk initiating their first fight.


A few weeks later and Iris had not seen or heard from Cody in days, she began to worry that her showing up at his door had driven him away.  She knew that he was fiercely private when it came to his family as he would always change the subject whenever she raised it but she hadn't expected him to cut her out for trying to find a way in.

She ventured down to the beach hoping to find him at his second home.

There he was sitting staring out to sea, Iris approached nervously and sat beside him.

"Hey."  She said simply.

"Hey you."  He answered her softly.

"I was worried about you."  She continued.

"I'm sorry Iris, I've just been dealing with some stuff is all."  He replied.

Iris looked up and noticed the rucksack at his side, "What's in there?"

"That Iris, is my life."  He replied, "Or at least it's everything i own."

"I don't understand, are you leaving?"  She asked her heart rate increasing with panic.

He smiled wryly a pained expression crossing his eyes, "No, at least not yet."  He admitted bitterly.

"Cody, please i don't understand." She pleaded grabbing his hand and pressing it to her lap.

"There's a reason i kept my home life away from you."  He began the words catching in his throat, "I guess it's obvious from what you saw the other day that my family is worlds apart from yours, i mean your Dad is the Mayor and mines a deadbeat drunk."  He bit his lip trying to control his emotions.

"Tell me what's happened Cody, please."  She pressed.

"My Dad's kicked me out, he said he doesn't want me around anymore."  He admitted.

Iris squeezed his hand tighter, "I'm sorry Cody."  She mumbled, unsure what to say.

"It's OK.  I'm used to him not giving a crap about me, it's been that way ever since my Mom left.  He says i remind him too much of her and thinking about her makes him angry."  He shook his head in frustration, "I had it all figured out too, until met you."  He sighed.

"What do you mean?"

"Me, Dalton and Alex we made this plan our freshman year, we promised each other that we would get outta this City and travel the world.  Anything but give up on life and do some boring 9 to 5 job.  But then you show up on the beach that day and, now i can't imagine my life without you in it."  He admitted.

Iris felt the hope swell in her chest at his admission.

"I can't leave not without you Iris, but i can't stay either.  I figure i can get away with crashing on the beach until graduation but after that..."

"After that you're leaving?"  She asked her hope deflating fast.

He shrugged and kicked at the sand with his feet, "That's what I've been trying to figure out these past few days."  He sighed, "I know what i want Iris, i want you to come with me."

She gasped at his proposal, "I know it sounds like I'm asking a lot but think about it, we can travel the world together.  Imagine all the places we'll see all the nature and the wildlife, it would be so perfect."

"What about school?"  She asked, "I don't graduate for another year."

"I know."  He replied, running his fingers through his hair in frustration, "I can't ask you to leave, i know i can't but i have to go Iris.  If i stay here I'll end up in some crummy job that i hate and every day I'll sit behind a desk as a part of my soul is destroyed."

"But if you leave how will you live?  If you don't work you won't be able to survive."  She countered.

"We got it all figured out.  We're gonna compete in surf competitions all across the country, the world even.  Then when we've made enough money we're gonna open a beach bar or maybe a surf academy.  We made a pact that we would never give up on our dreams, that we would never let them die." 

Iris could see the conflict written across his sun kissed face.  She had known from the minute she met Cody that his passion for surfing and for life was the most important thing to him, she couldn't now allow herself to be the reason that he turned away from those dreams.

"It's only a year until i leave school.  You could make a start on winning some prize money and then we can be together, i could come with you."  She offered.

He smiled at her but the tortured look did not leave his face. "You'd really want to leave Bridgeport?  Leave your family behind?"  He asked.

Iris felt her face fall as she realised that she could never go with him, she had too many responsibilities here since her Dad had made her heir. 

She knew if she told Cody that they could never share his dream together that he might chose to stay, and maybe they would be happy for a while, but eventually he would grow to resent her.

So instead she said, "My family will understand."

A smile spread across Cody's face and he virtually leaped up from the log they were perched on.
He headed for his rucksack and said, "Help me put up the tent?"

Iris nodded and proceeded to assist Cody.  The tent was just a small canvas one and they erected it in no time.

Once they had finished Cody lit a fire and produced some fish for them to cook.

"This is how my life will be from now on."  He told her, "Outdoors in the big wide world."

Iris noted that the optimism had returned to his voice, she smiled at the thought of Cody living from his tent knowing that this life was a perfect fit for him. 
She couldn't help but think that it would be pretty perfect for her as well.

After they had eaten the fish Iris headed over to the tent, unzipping the front part she climbed inside. 

Although the tent was small it was cozy and as she lay back on his makeshift bed she closed her eyes to hear the sounds of the ocean lapping the shore.

Cody climbed in and lay beside her, she turned and laid her head on his chest and allowed him to hold her as they both lay silently listening to the sounds of the beach.

As she listened the sound of Cody's heartbeat, thumping against his chest, echoed in her ear as her own heart sank to the pit of her stomach. 

She was in love with Cody and her heart was beating a loud drum pleading with her to ask him to stay, but her head was instructing her to let him go.

She nestled closer to him willing the tears to stay behind her eyes but they fell betraying her feelings and spilled across his chest.

Cody drew her face to his and kissed her, "I love you Iris Traytor."  He said stroking her hair.

Iris sat up and pulled the zip to the tent closed, turning to face him once more she said "If all we have left is a week then i don't want to waste any of it.  I want us to be together, really together."

Cody looked at her uncertainly, he wanted to be sure he understood her request.  Iris smiled at him before he pulled her down on top of him.

Ivy preened herself in the mirror, only this time she was not practising lines or exercising her facial muscles.

This time she was considering her predicament.

She thought of the week earlier when she had asked her sister to contemplate that her new boyfriend would want more than to hold her hand. 
Ivy knew for a fact that boys wanted more, at least she knew that Bobby did.

Stepping back from the mirror she recalled his words earlier that week.

"C'mon Ivy, we've been together almost seven years!  You know i love you and i want to marry you, i don't see what the big deal about waiting is."

She guessed he had a point, she knew Bobby loved her but they had waited all this time what difference would another year make? 

In a years time they would both graduate and Bobby would ask her to marry him and of course she would say yes. 
A glittering career would follow leading to certain super stardom, Ivy saw it all so clearly.  She would be the wholesome girl next door adored for her clean cut image. 

How would it look if people knew she had not waited until her wedding night to have sex for the first time?

But she didn't want Bobby to dump her either, marrying her school yard sweetheart was the icing on her wholesome image, if he left her in favour of one of the more accommodating girls at school she could kiss her future persona goodbye.

She sighed, it was all arranged, Bobby's Mom was out of town that night all she had to do was sneak out and pay him a visit.

Straitening down her top she took a deep breath and exhaled it slowly.  As long as no one found out about it she could paint whatever picture she wanted to her fans, it had worked for Britney Spears, until Justin dumped her anyway.

Shuddering at the thought she strengthened her resolve and headed for the balcony, she figured if her parents hadn't wanted her to sneak out then they wouldn't have made the drainpipe so easily accessible.


Wednesday, 27 April 2011

CHAPTER 4.3: Falling

His name was Cody Franklin, a senior at Bridgeport High. 

Iris stared into his eyes for as long as she could get away with and perhaps a little longer, his lips curled into a smile as he regarded her interest. 

"So Iris, this is the first time I've seen you down here."  He stated.

"I guess i don't come to the beach that much."  She murmured.

"That's a shame, i practically live here."  He gestured to the ocean.
Cody wasted no time in welcoming Iris into his little group, he showed her his surf board proudly.

"I've never seen anyone surfing out here."  Iris exclaimed.

"Yeah the waves aren't so great around here this time of year, just a couple of ankle busters, come the summer time we'll be out there twenty-four seven."  He told her.

Iris smiled as she listened to Cody talking about surfing, it was clearly his biggest passion.
His whole face lit up as he talked about the waves he had caught, "Yeah me and Dalton caught some heavies last summer."

"You should come check us out this year Iris!"  Dalton interrupted.

Iris noticed that the girl they were with, who Cody had introduced as Alex hung back and didn't join in the conversation she just kept on rubbing down her surf board and staring over at the three of them talking.

"So what were you taking photo's of earlier?"  Cody asked.

"Oh i just took a few shots of the falls and a couple of those water beetles over there."  She stopped herself short wishing that she could take back her words, stupid Iris!  Guys don't want to hear a girl talk about bugs!

"Oh yeah?  Hey i saw something pretty cool over the far end of the beach earlier, you wanna check it out?"  Cody asked.

"Sure!"  Iris answered, relieved that he hadn't looked at her like she was weird.
"Over here Iris!  Check it out!"  He called.

As she approached she noticed him bending down and scooping up a beetle from the sand.

"Oh!  I think it's a light beetle."  She exclaimed, grabbing her camera she started taking shots although the camera may have focused in on Cody more than the beetle.

"So you're really into this stuff huh?"  Cody asked, releasing the beetle back to its sandy home.

Iris hesitated before replying, he didn't seem to be freaked out by it so she guessed it was OK to come clean, "Yeah, i love the outdoors, i guess i feel at home here."  She confessed, hoping she didn't sound totally lame.

"Me too."  Cody agreed, "I don't get those Sims who just sit indoors all day in front of the TV, where's the fun in that?"

Iris giggled and smiled again, much more of this and my jaw is gonna start aching, she thought.  But she was happy to take a little pain as long as it went hand in hand with spending time with Cody.

"Cody!  Come on we gotta go!"  Alex called him from the other side of the beach.

"Aw bummer, she's right!"  He said glancing at his watch, "I gotta split Iris, but its been excellent hanging out with you."

"Y-you too!"  She called as he ran away towards his friends.

Iris slumped to the sand, she had hoped he would ask for her number or whatever guys do when they like you, maybe the bug talk was too much, she berated herself.


She looked up to see Cody standing close by, "I forgot to ask if you were doing anything tonight?"  He said smiling.

Iris shook her head no, "We usually meet up here on Saturday nights if you can make it?"  He offered.

"Sure."  She replied, her heart beating out of her chest.

"See you at 8 then."  He beamed before running off along the beach.

Iris ventured back to the beach that evening, she was still a junior so her curfew was 10.30 on a weekend, she hoped they wouldn't make fun of her for leaving so early.

As she approached, Cody was stoking the fire while the others warmed themselves.

"Hey Iris!  You made it."  He called spying her arrival.

"Hey!"  She replied nervously, "I brought marshmallows to toast."  She ventured.

Alex burst out laughing, "This ain't girl guide camp!"

"I like marshmallows."  Cody said smiling at Iris.
Although Alex had made fun of them she sure did tuck into them with great pleasure, Iris thought watching her suspiciously. 

So far she hadn't said much to Iris and what she had said had been snarky, i wonder what her problem with me is?  Iris wondered.

She was soon distracted though by the sight of Cody.  The light from the fire pit created a soft glow across his already perfect face and Iris found herself staring at him from behind her marshmallow.
"So Iris tell us about yourself."  Dalton encouraged.

"Yeah we know you like bugs, but what else?"  Alex snorted.

"Erm, well I'm a twin."  She announced, "I guess that's sorta interesting?"

"Hot is the word you're looking for!"  Dalton quipped, prompting a raised eyebrow from Cody, "What?  Twins are hot."  Dalton shrugged.

"Are you identical?"  Cody queried.

"No Ivy is blond."

"But is she single?"  Dalton pressed.

"No she's been dating the same guy for years now."  Iris apologised.

Alex suddenly sprang from her seat and yelled, "Come on guys lets have some fun!  Who's up for a little dare?"

"I bet i can hold my hand over the fire longest."  She challenged them.

"No way Alex you blow at this game."  Dalton replied, instantly taking up her dare.

"Actually you both suck at it!"  Cody replied joining in.

Iris stood back and watched as they each placed a hand over the fire and tried to hold still the longest. 

She noticed the look in each of their eyes, a kind of wild excitement seemed to have washed over them at the thrill of the game.  They must be adrenalin junkies, she thought.

It seemed like ages since the game started and still all three had refused to concede and admit defeat.
Suddenly Alex withdrew her hand sharply and yelped in paid.

"Oh ouch!"

The two boys just roared with laughter at her predicament but Iris rushed to her side to offer her help.

"Oh Alex are you OK?"  she asked worriedly.

"It's nothing."  She mumbled, shaking her hand back and forth to cool it in the crisp evening breeze.

"Let me see?"  Iris asked.
"I said it's nothing!"  She yelled.

Drawing her injured hand to her body she gave Iris a wounded look and ran away back up the dirt track which lead to the beach.

"Hey Alex!  Come back!"  Dalton yelled after her.

"Just leave her dude."  Cody said, rolling his eyes.

"Did i do something wrong?"  Iris asked looking worriedly at Cody.

"Nah, it's not you it's just Alex.  She hates to lose."  He explained.

Iris smiled at his reply, but she wasn't so sure that, that was Alex's problem.

"It's getting late."  Cody announced, "Do you need to be home soon?"

Iris glanced at her watch and noted that it was 10.15, "My curfew's in 15 minutes."  She admitted ashamedly, not wanting to put too fine a point on the fact that she was younger than him.

"Need a ride?"  He smiled.
Cody's truck was parked up by the entrance to the beach, "Looks like you're in the back with the boards Dalton."  He laughed.

"I think I'm gonna go look for Alex."  Dalton called before running off into the night.

"After you."  Cody offered, opening the door for Iris.

He was so thoughtful, first giving her an easy escape from the embarrassment of her early curfew and now making sure she got home safe.  
Safe was just how Iris had begun to feel in his presence, as though she was free to be herself.

The next day Cody called her and invited her out to the beach again.
 But when she arrived she realised that it was just the two of them, is this a date?  She wondered.

"Hey Iris."  Cody waved to her, "You up for some fishing?"

"Sure, but i don't know how."  She admitted.

"That's OK I'll show you, come on I'm all set up over here."  He gestured to the two rods he had prepared.

Cody showed her how to bait the hook and cast the line out to sea, as he demonstrated the movement required to cast out far enough Iris couldn't quite get the hang of it so he came up behind her and placed his hands over hers telling her to move back gently then whip the line as fast as she could.

Iris could hardly concentrate as his hands touched hers, It was as though a volt of electricity had passed through her.

They stood for hours, soaking up the late autumn sunshine and waiting patiently for a bite.  Suddenly Iris's line began to jerk and bob in the water.

"Hey we gotta live one!"  Cody called, helping her to reel it in.
He presented her with the tiniest fish she had ever seen and said, "Hmm it might be kinder to just throw this one back."

She laughed and nodded, thinking how amazing he was.

Iris's blossoming relationship hadn't gone unnoticed by Ivy who decided to confront her one lunch time.

"Hey i saw you hanging out with those seniors earlier, how d'you know them?"  She pried.

"I met them at the beach a couple of weeks ago."  Iris replied cautiously, "Why?"

"It's just, well you know about them right?"  She asked raising her eyebrow.

"No what?"  Iris replied.

"They're stoners!"  Ivy mouthed dramatically.

Iris laughed, but Ivy persisted, "It's true, Debbie Rickman saw them under the bleachers."

"Ivy you don't even know them."  Iris complained, "Please don't ruin this for me, i really like this guy."  She begged.

Ivy sighed, "OK, I'm sorry i just don't want to see you end up with some waster."

"Cody isn't a waster."  Iris snapped irritated at her sister and her gossipy friends, "I think he might be the one."  She revealed.

"Really?  You're not going to rush into anything with him are you?"

"So what if i am?"  Iris asked, losing her patience, "He's the only guy who's ever liked me for me, he doesn't think the things i like are dumb."
"I get it Iris, but he's a senior, he isn't just gonna want to hold your hand."  Ivy advised.

"Like i said, you don't know him.  Cody is different."  She retorted before storming away.

Ivy sighed, if only her sister weren't so naive she might have noticed that most teenage guys were the same when it came to sex, she hoped her sister wasn't in over her head.
But Iris had fallen hard and when Cody took her to the falls that weekend and held her hands in his she knew without hesitation that he was the one.  They were like two sides of the same coin and she could not deny the way she felt whenever she was with him.
"Iris?"  He asked softly, "There's something I've wanted to do for a while now and, well, would you mind if i kissed you?"  He asked fixing her with his ocean eyes.

She pulled away for the briefest of moments, suddenly self conscious that this was her first kiss, her first glimpse of romance, but as Cody stared deep into her eyes she turned toward him and allowed him to brush his lips to hers.

When Iris opened her eyes she noticed the sunset reflected in the lake, the beauty of the falls as they washed over the rocks at the base and the call of the birds from their tree top homes, none of this was as perfect as the experience of kissing Cody.

He took her hand in his and lead her back towards the dirt track down the mountain, Iris knew then that there was nothing that she wouldn't do for Cody and nothing that she wouldn't give to be with him.


Monday, 25 April 2011

CHAPTER 4.2: Natural beauty

Iris flicked through the photo's she had taken in Champs Le Sims.

The steam train rolling through the hills had taken her ages to capture.

 But not nearly as long as the frog jumping from the pond had taken.
Her favourite by far was the moon fading into the horizon just before the sun made it's morning appearance.
She had to sneak out of the hotel extra early to capture that one.

As she sorted through them she smiled, France had been an amazing place so full of natural beauty she could have stayed forever roaming the hills and revisiting the amazing lake she had found. 

It had been so peaceful, not another Sim in sight and there in the shade of the trees she had been surrounded by at least ten different varieties of butterfly.
She didn't think she would ever see anything as beautiful as that spot.

The holiday had rejuvenated the entire family especially Finlay and Charlie who were acting like teenagers again, always cuddling and kissing each other and grossing out the kids.

But Hope had resumed her position back at the play area.

She had hoped that during their two weeks away Grady would have made some improvement, but her visit that morning found his condition unchanged.

As she sat on the swing she had so loved playing on as a child she wished bitterly that she could go back to those days, when everything on reflection seemed so simple.

"Hope you have a visitor!"  Charlie called disrupting her thoughts.

Looking up in response to the call she saw Chase Cunningham waiting by the gate to the house, she hadn't seen him since graduation.

After the night of Grady's accident when Chase had comforted her she had felt nothing but embarrassment whenever she saw him. 

She had talked him into going to look for Grady and Neriah and gotten him arrested for his troubles. 
The police had assumed that Chase was in some way responsible, but thankfully her father had managed to persuade them of his innocence.

"Hey."  He said, smiling broadly as he sat at the swing next to her.

"Hey yourself.  It's been a while."  She replied.

"Nothing much has changed around here."  He laughed, "Still the same old Bridgeport, same beautiful Hope."  He added cheekily grinning at her.

Hope couldn't help it, her lips would not resist the grin and she beamed at his compliment.

"Hey, there's the girl i remember."  He said returning her smile.

The two of them sat and caught up for what seemed like hours until Charlie called that dinner was ready.

"There's plenty to go around, can you stay?"  She asked Chase, who nodded hungrily in reply.
"So Chase."  Finlay started, "What have you been up to since school?"

"I enrolled in the police training programme about a year ago and i just graduated so i start on the force next week."

"Right here?  In Bridgeport?"  Charlie asked.

"Yes Ma'am."  He replied dutifully.

"That's what we need, more brave young men like you willing to step up to protect this City."  Finlay said.

"Well we've got a lot to protect here Sir."  Chase replied, eyeing Hope discreetly.

"Dad, stop with the twenty questions."  Hope pleaded.

"Just trying to get to know the young man who put a smile on my daughters face is all."  Finlay replied making her blush furiously.

She got up and began clearing the table but Chase jumped up, "Oh let me help you."  He offered prompting more blushes from Hope.

Finn and Charlie exchanged knowing looks.

"Here let me."  Chase said taking the plates from Hope and stacking them in the dishwasher.

"You don't have to do this."  She said.

"I know."  He smiled.

"Chase?  How did you get into the academy?"  Hope asked.

"Well after my Dad freaked out about me getting arrested that night he made me promise to stay out of trouble so i agreed to finish out my last year at Bridgeport High and enrol. You just need a High school diploma that's all.  Why do you ask?"

"Can anyone enrol?"  She replied smiling sweetly.

"Sure, why?  You're not thinking about it are you?"

"If i was, where would i go to sign up?"

"Meet me tomorrow and I'll show you."  He offered.

The next day Chase waited anxiously outside as Hope entered the police station. 

She would need to get through the interview stage but if they liked what they heard she could enrol in the academy straight away.

"Well?"  He pressed as soon as she exited the building.

"They said they had a lot of applicants this year, so they're only taking on the best students."  She replied not meeting his gaze.

"Oh well never mind there's always next year."  He said sensing her fragility over the subject.

"But luckily for me i got straight A's at school so I'm in!"  She revealed.

"Your in!  Ha!  That's amazing!"  He yelled picking her up and swinging her around.

"Chase!  Put me down!"  She called, holding onto her skirt hoping she hadn't revealed herself.

"I'm sorry Hope it's just so amazing to see you like this i mean yesterday you looked so lost it was like you'd given up on life, but look at you now."  He answered stroking her cheek.

"Seeing you made me realise that life goes on, it has to."  She told him, "I can't punish myself for what happened to Grady anymore but maybe if i can stop it happening to someone else, if i can save just one person then maybe..."  She trailed off.

"You will save more than one person, I'm certain of it."  He said.

When Hope told Finn the news he was understandably worried.

"Hope this is a difficult job and very dangerous."  He lectured.

"But you said it yourself Dad the City needs people like me and Chase to protect it, I just want to help people."  She pleaded.

"You don't have to worry Mayor Traytor, I'll look out for her."  Chase interjected.

It wasn't long before Chase became a regular fixture at the house, he would come over every day to help Hope with her training and their relationship soon blossomed into more than friendship, especially when Hope saw him in his uniform for the first time.

But all these couples had began to make Iris feel decidedly left out. 

It seemed like everywhere she turned there was someone making out or cuddling, even meal times left her feeling like a gooseberry.

She suddenly felt more alone than ever before, as if she wasn't already different from her sisters she now felt totally inferior to them. 

She was pretty sure that her Dad must be regretting his decision as it seemed like she would be his only daughter never to settle down.
"Ivy?"  She called knocking and entering her sisters room, "Do you have a minute?"

Ivy continued preening herself in the mirror, she was pulling and pressing at her face and making strange noises.

"Erm, i'll come back."  Iris said backing towards the door.

"No need I'm done!"  She said, "Just exercising my facial muscles, my face needs to be expressive for the cameras."  She explained.

"Erm OK.  Can i ask you something?"  Iris ventured.

"Is it weird that i don't have a boyfriend?"

"Weird?  No, not weird just a little strange."  Ivy replied trying to be diplomatic, "I mean it's fine and all but honestly some of the guys at school have started to wonder if your playing for the other team."  She said winking conspiratorially at her euphemism.

"Oh."  Iris said, she hadn't been expecting that reply, "So you think i should go out on a date then?"

"Why not, it can't do any harm.  Ooh what about Craven, he's totally single right now!"

"Should i ask him out?"  Iris asked.

"No way!  We don't do the asking, the boys come to us."  Ivy instructed, "I'll tell Bobby to ask Craven to meet us at the park and we'll go from there."

"OK, thanks?"  Iris replied, suddenly feeling like she had made the biggest mistake ever.

The next night and the girls headed over to the park where Bobby and Craven were waiting for them.

Craven was part of Ivy and Bobby's crowd and one of the most popular boys at school, he had just recently broken up with his girlfriend and was "just looking to hang out", Ivy had assured her

"Hey you!"  Bobby called, walking straight passed Iris and embracing Ivy.

They began making out immediately, as always, leaving Iris standing alone like a third wheel.

"Doesn't it make you sick!"  Craven said nodding towards the pair.

Iris shrugged, "I think it's sort of sweet, they've been together so long."
"How about you Iris?  How come i never see you with any of the guys from school?"  Craven asked.

Iris flushed at the memory of Ivy's words about her playing for the other team, she wondered if Craven was one of the boys who thought that.

Shrugging she replied, "I guess I've just not met the right guy yet."

Craven smiled at her response and nodded towards Bobby, "Hey come on he's lighting a fire."
The four of them sat around the fire pit trading gossip about school friends and mimicking teachers they disliked.

Iris wondered why she had been so uptight about hanging around with Ivy and Bobby's friends before, Craven seemed like a nice guy and he kept smiling her way.

Soon it was almost curfew and as Bobby and Ivy said goodbye by chewing each others faces off Iris once again found herself waiting awkwardly for her sister.
"You know we don't have to just stand and watch them, we could have a little fun too."  Craven said sidling close to her.

Iris felt the awkwardness increase as Craven pressed closer and closer, she raised her arms and blocked his advances, "I don't think so Craven, we only just started hanging out tonight."

"Aw come on Iris, just one kiss.  You'll enjoy it i promise."  He persisted, moving forward to kiss her.

"I really don't feel like it Craven."  Iris replied, pushing against his chest more firmly than before.

"Come on just one little kiss."  He insisted grabbing her waist and pulling her to him.

"I said no!"  She hissed under her breath, not wanting to cause a stir.

"The guys were right about you, you are a dyke!"  Craven spat nastily.

Ivy pulled away from Bobby's lip lock to check on her sister, it looked like she and Craven were arguing not making out! 

Typical Iris, she probably started telling him about her bug fetish, Ivy thought rolling her eyes. 
But then she caught sight of her sisters face and realised something more serious was occurring.

Rushing over she said, "Hey is everything alright?"

"Can we go home now please?"  Iris asked, tears glinting in her eyes.

"What did you do to her you jerk!"  Ivy yelled turning on Craven instantly.

"What!  It's not me it's your sister she's frigid."  Craven yelled in reply.

Iris felt her face turn bright red at his harsh accusation and before the tears began to fall she turned on her heel and ran from the park. 

She should have trusted her instincts, boys were all the same.

"Are you sure you're OK?"  Ivy asked for the hundredth time once they were both back at home.

"Ivy please I'm fine."  Iris confirmed.

"I feel so bad about fixing you up with Craven, no wonder his girlfriend dumped him, he's a total pig."

"Maybe he's right about me."  Iris mumbled.

"You mean about liking girls?"  Ivy ventured.

"No, not that part.  But what if i am frigid, i mean I've never even kissed a guy before."
"Oh well you should be thankful you didn't start with Craven, Julie West told me he kisses like a hoover!"  Ivy replied.

The girls giggled, "Wait if you knew that then why'd you fix me up with him!"  Iris laughed, play punching her sisters arm.

"I'm sorry Iris, but you shouldn't listen to what Craven or anyone else says.  You'll kiss a guy when you meet the right one."  Ivy said giving her a hug.
Later that week Charlie and Finn received the girls report cards, both of them were doing excellent at school and had made it onto the honour roll.

"We have to get them something."  Charlie declared.

"Well i think we both know what Ivy wants."  Finn laughed.

Everyday since she was twelve Ivy had stood in front of her mirror rehearsing the audition she would give when she finally got to go to Ms Rossini's acting academy, an after school programme which specialised in preparing young actors for their glittering careers.

"So it's agreed then, Ivy can go the acting lessons."  Charlie said clapping her hands in delight for her daughter, "But what about Iris?"

"I've got that covered."  Finn replied patting his wife's knee.

The next morning Iris woke to a gift, left out on her desk atop a note which read;

For Iris,

We are so proud of you. 

 Love Mom and Dad xx

It was her very own digital camera!

Iris picked it up carefully and flicked it on. 
The front whirred open revealing the lens and the digital display showed a view of her feet standing on the wooden floor.

"Well i think we can find something better than my feet to photograph!"  Iris said to herself.

She showered and dressed as quickly as possible and grabbed a toaster pocket before heading out towards the bay.

Although it wasn't her usual stomping ground, she had always wanted to see the waterfall from a distance, instead of the view from the top which she was normally rewarded with after her hikes.
She lined up the shot just right and captured the falls in all its glory.

Admiring her handy work she ventured further along the coast toward the beach, i bet i can find some interesting stuff to photograph along there, she thought.

Sure enough she found a crowd of water beetles congregating on the sand and she knelt down to inspect them more closely.

 When she looked up she noticed that she wasn't alone on the beach. 

Picking up her camera she zoomed in on them as close as possible.  It was two boys and a girl they were standing around near some surf boards talking animatedly. 
Suddenly one of the boys looked right at her.
Iris quickly put the camera down but it was too late he was walking over to her.
"So you trying to get a shot of the number one Junior surf champion?"  The boy asked cheekily, "What is it some kind of profile for the school paper?"

"I erm, I...."  Iris wasn't sure how to respond, but it didn't seem to bother the boy who kept right on talking about how he was some sort of surfing legend.

"You're not buying any of this are you?"  The other boy asked, running up behind his friend, "The only thing Dalton here is champion of is Kelly Slater's Pro surfer, Xbox 360!" He added in case she was a technophobe.

Iris tried to reply but her lips could do nothing other than smile, she could find no words.
All she could do was stare into the boys ocean blue eyes. 

Suddenly she realised that she had found something more beautiful than that hidden lake in France and he was standing right in front of her.