Bonus Scene #1 – Stepbrother With Benefits: Summer Break Celebration
The first time I saw Scarlet, I was, um… well, maybe we should back up a little.
The first time I even knew Scarlet existed was when Caleb mentioned her to me. He said that he had a crush on his friend, the girl that lived next door to him, and that was about it. I knew nothing else about her, but for some reason I imagined her as cute and sweet. Maybe she was a girl scout or a cheerleader and she smiled all the time. She must wear nice clothes and for whatever reason I thought she might look a little preppy, but not too much.
For all intents and purposes I thought she was probably a down-to-earth, friendly, nice girl, because that's generally how I thought of Caleb. I sort of projected Caleb's personality and appearance onto my mental image of Scarlet, and there you go!
Then I found out a little more…
This is probably where things take a turn for the worse. She was a bad girl, or something like that. Sort of like how Ethan's a bad boy, right? Maybe she can still look mostly the same, though? Um… maybe… right? That's how this works? It's not like Ethan looks scary or anything. He doesn't wear biker jackets and he doesn't have spiked piercings through his nose or anything.
Mostly, he looks muscular, athletic, sexy, and handsome when he wants to. I'm not sure if anyone would consider him handsome when he's walking around shirtless, but that's when he's sexy. When he dresses up nicer and the focus is more on his face and his posture, that's when he's handsome. There's a method to Ethan's bad boy madness, and that's how it goes.
I figured maybe Scarlet was the same, then. Not exactly, but maybe she was a bombshell seductress who broke men's hearts left and right. Probably not the best girl for Caleb to date, but that was just my mental image of her.
Then I found out more, but this was from Ethan, so…
Scarlet is insane! She's crazy and insane and dangerous and she's going to break Caleb and oh my God this was a terrible idea, wasn't it? I thought it'd be fun to help Caleb out with his crush except Scarlet is apparently the devil incarnate and she's going to eat Caleb alive and I definitely heard her say “Fuck off, Ethan” on the phone, which I don't even know how someone says that. I blush every time I even think about swearing, so the fact that she said it without hesitation or remorse is…
Yes, well, she's insane and crazy and dangerous so I think it makes sense.
I never meant to doubt Caleb, it's just that I know Ethan better, and I kind of trust him to have good judgment in these sorts of situations. To be fair, I don't know why I trust Ethan to have good judgment in these sorts of situations because he's got pretty bad judgment in a lot of situations.
Now I'm just confusing myself, but it's important that you know how I got to this point and what comes next.
Ethan and his dad were off doing something or other. I don't really know what. I'm with my mom, and we're talking and looking around at some of the maps at the front of the campground for local attractions.
“Ooh, look, Ashley!” my mom says, pointing to a pamphlet that catches her interest. “We can take a nature hike in the woods!”
I look around, because, um… “Mom, there's woods all around us. We can take a few steps in any direction and be on our way into the woods right here.”
“Yes, but if we do this nature hike there'll be a tour guide,” my mom says with a nod. “We'll be able to better understand nature that way.”
I stare at her, because I really don't know how that works. She gives me a funny look, nose scrunched up, sticking her tongue out at me, then she pushes the pamphlet into my hand.
“Look,” she says. “There's trees. It's a historical walk with historical trees.”
“Mom,” I say, trying to talk some sense into her. “Seriously, what's the difference between a regular tree and a historical tree?”
“You know what?” my mom says, huffy and standing her ground. “I have no idea, honey, but that would be the perfect question to ask a nature hike tour guide, don't you think? That's why we should go.”
“I don't think there's really even any difference, though!”
I mean, maybe there's a small difference. I'm sure some trees have been around for longer than others, but if you're walking in the woods, a tree is kind of a tree, isn't it?
“It says that one of these trees might have been used in ancient Native American rituals,” my mom says, still reading the pamphlet.
We're both distracted by the pamphlet now, and we don't fully realize that someone's just driven up to the front office. They park sort of near us, and my mind absently registers the fact that this person has turned off their car and opened the car door, stepped out, and is coming towards us, but I'm still trying to wrap my head around what my mom just said.
“It might have been used in ancient Native American rituals?” I ask my mom, incredulous. “Mom, seriously, how can they even know that?”
“I don't know, I think they do DNA testing or something. They check for fingerprints, right? It's like a crime scene investigation, except this is a historical nature investigation. Maybe they commune with the spirits, too? They could have asked a Native American storyteller to check for them during one of his spiritual rituals and that's how they found out.”
“Mom,” I say, staring at her. I can't say more. I don't even know what to say anymore.
Thankfully I don't have to say much more, because the person who got out of their car and approached us clears her throat. Oh, um… it's a her…?
My mom and I turn to the side and smile at her. She looks friendly enough, but to be completely honest I have no idea why she's here. She looks like she's about my age, with glasses, kind of small and unassuming, which isn't too strange or anything, but then there's the fact that, um… she's alone? Kind of weird to be camping alone, I think.
There's no one else in the car with her, no one else standing with her, and by the looks of it she's woefully unprepared for any sort of serious camping. I notice a small backpack sitting on the passenger side seat and there's another bag in the back, but that's about it.
“Hey, um…” she says, kind of hesitant. “Do you know where the campground owner is?”
There's something about her that seems familiar, but I really can't place it. I'm certain I've never met this girl before, but still, I…
“John?” my mom asks. “Are you camping, dear? He stepped out for a moment, but he should be back soon.”
“Yup, him,” she says, smiling. “That's cool, I can wait. Was Caleb with him, do you know?”
That's it! I really haven't ever met her, which is why she seemed familiar but didn't look familiar. It's her voice, though. I couldn't hear her very well over the phone, but I definitely remember her yelling at Ethan and I could hear her speaking softly to Caleb the rest of the time.
Scarlet looks nothing like what I imagined. In fact, she's probably the opposite of everything I pictured.
From Caleb's perspective, I imagined her as some sort of cute, smiling girl with sensible clothes but a kind of deceptive, sensual curvaceousness to her. Not an “in your face” type of body, but attractive nonetheless. Just um… average, I guess? I don't know. I just imagined her looking quite at home at a bake sale or something, for whatever reason.
From Ethan's perspective, I imagined her as some sort of biker chick with short-cropped hair, wearing a tank top, with muscular curves, though still feminine in her own way, with maybe some metal spikes on her shoes, and a skull pendant necklace. He said she was crazy and dangerous, so, um…
From my new perspective…
She's pretty cute! But in a tiny sort of way. She's shorter than me, even, and kind of thin and small. I really don't see how Ethan can think she's crazy or dangerous, because she doesn't look like either of those things. I stare for far too long at her mouth, trying to will myself to see her tongue ring, because supposedly she has one. Except, um… yes, her mouth is closed and there's no way I could ever see it that way.
She's got this cute little stud piercing in her nostril, though, glimmering in the sunlight. Her hair is a dark brown with maybe a hint of red. In both of my mental images before, I imagined her as having… some sort of curvaceousness, but like I mentioned before, she's kind of small. She kind of reminds me of a cute little mouse or a kitten and I suddenly have the strangest urge to hug her.
Also she's got glasses! I know this is strange, because I don't have glasses anymore, but I feel some sort of kindred with people who have glasses. I like hers, too. She's got these fashionable sort of box frames that match her hair. Behind the lenses, her eyes are wide and vibrantly blue, outlined by dusky eyeshadow and mascara.
Apparently I've been staring at her for awhile, because she gets this strange, indignant sort of look, almost a sneer, and she's staring back at me. This is quite a bit less cute than before, but still kind of cute, like a fierce kitten nibbling your toes…
“Oh, um… you're Scarlet?” I ask.
I don't mean to creep on this girl, because, um… I'm not creeping! I'm investigating. I'm doing my due diligence and making sure that Caleb doesn't get his heart broken. That's what this is. Yup.
“Yeah, how'd you know that?” she asks, lifting one brow and giving me a weird look.
Oh my gosh she looks both fierce and adorable at the same time. I want her to be Caleb's girlfriend so bad.
Ethan, I don't even know what you were talking about. Scarlet can't be dangerous or insane. I want to be her friend. It's like love at first sight, but friends at first sight. That can be a thing, can't it?
“Um… I was with Ethan and Caleb when he called you before,” I say.
This is about as good an answer as I can give, and I don't think I should be randomly asking her if we can be friends yet. That's weird. I'm pretty sure that's weird?
“Fuck,” she says. “He's here, isn't he? Mr. Moneybags?”
“Whoa, she's got a mouth on her!” my mom says.
As if she didn't even realize what she just said, or that my mom was there to hear it, Scarlet blushes. And… yup… oh my God she's too cute.
“Sorry,” Scarlet mumbles. “It's just… I never thought Caleb would hang around with someone like him. It's not his crowd, you know?”
Which reminds me that Ethan hangs out with Scarlet. Also, Ethan told me he's never even thought of Scarlet sexually, or that's what I inferred, except I'm starting to question if this is true or not. I'm going to need to have a talk with him. He's really a very bad judge of things, except…
No, even Caleb admitted that Scarlet is kind of a troublemaker sometimes. Really, I've just met her, so maybe I should reserve judgment a little. I just don't see it, though. I…
Then Caleb and his dad come back. We hear them before we see them. They're chatting about this or that when they come around the corner of the main office and into view. Us girls are all standing by the entrance to the office, where the pamphlets with maps of local attractions are, which isn't exactly conspicuous or anything, but it's a point of interest all on its own.
Caleb and his dad see me and my mom first, since we're closer. They smile and wave, but then Caleb peeks to the side and over my shoulder and sees Scarlet standing there with us.
Something happens then. I really couldn't even begin to explain it, but something happens, and it's like time stands still for a second, but not for me. Kind of like watching time travel in motion, you know? I can see the effects, notice that time's standing still for two people, but it doesn't seem much different to me as an outside observer. Um… maybe that doesn't make sense. I'm confusing myself.
Somehow they come together, though. It's not a lover's run, no slow motion rush towards each other. In fact, Caleb kind of just shuffles, I think. He stands tall, but I'm pretty sure he's stopped breathing now and he's just staring at Scarlet like he's trying to take all of her in, like she's some sort of amazing piece of art and she's made him breathless with her beauty.
Scarlet smiles at him, bright and deep and full, and walks towards him. They meet in the middle, which isn't that far away from where they started. Maybe a couple of steps closer for each of them?
Scarlet wraps her arms around him and hugs him tight. This seems to snap Caleb out of his breathless reverie and he puts his arms around her, too. She's so tiny compared to him, which is weird to me because Caleb seems small compared to Ethan, but next to Scarlet he seems tall and strong and wondrous.
They are the cutest. Completely shipping them! As in, um… a couple… um… I'm being a nerd right now, aren't I? Sorry…
Except it's just a hug. No kiss. Not even a kiss on the cheek, and the hug doesn't last too long, despite it being close and tight. They step apart after that, and Caleb returns to being kind of awkward while Scarlet animatedly talks about her trip and how she can't wait to check out the campground. She's never gone camping before, but she wants to paint a picture of a sunset by the lake if she can. Is that possible?
That's when I spot Ethan out of the corner of my eye. He's standing far away, out of view of Scarlet, frantically waving his hands at me. He mouths some words at me and I can barely make them out but I'm pretty sure he just said…
Fuck, is that her?
I give him a strange look. Is he being serious? Ethan's scared of Scarlet? I don't see how. She's like… less than a third his size. This isn't precise or scientific, and I'm sure she's not actually, but she looks like she might as well be.
Oh well. I'll favor my bad boy by going to see what he wants. I think he's the crazy one now, though.
There's really no possible way that Scarlet is crazy, insane, or dangerous. I don't see how that's even possible.
I suppose looks can be deceiving, though…