.Sand Angels.

Chapter One...

Summer begins with Sully and I walking down the boardwalk, sipping Cherry Cokes and swinging our sarong-wrapped hips to the sounds of the breeze. Clipped notes of ukulele music drift from hotel longues, hug our bodies and leave a feeling of peace before quickly being swallowed by the crashing waves of the ocean. Sully finishes her Coke rather quickly and asks if I'm going to drink mine. I hand it to her.

'Thanks,' she says, popping the cap off and taking a long, slow swig. When she breaks, she slings and arm around my shoulder and points out at the Pacific. 'This is what summer is all about, huh? Soda, music, and the beach. Life can't get any better than this.'

'It could...' I start slowly. 'If only--'

'Don't even try it!' she exclaims, silencing me. 'This isn't the summer of you sulking about your new stepmother. This is the summer of you getting over the fact that your dad remarried. This is the summer of you having the time of your life before you jet off to university. Can you do that?'

'Of course I can do it,' I mumble, squinting off in the distance and wrapping my arms around myself. 'I was just saying...'

'Well don't say it,' Sully tells me. 'Just don't say anything. Don't ruin the first night of summer. Don't ruin this complete feeling of freedom.'

The setting sun casts brilliant pink and orange flames across the sky, reminding me a bit of Sully's golden red curls. Today, on the first sacred night of vacation, her hair is loose and cascading down her tanned back. This was the night of first impressions, she explained. It's when the tourists come flocking down, aching for the ocean, and drag their bored teenage sons with them. Fresh meat, Sully calls them like they are not humans, but merely poultry that she can use for the summer months to release her pent-up sexual energy that had been building since school started in September.

She finishes her Coke and throws the bottle in a nearby trashcan. 'Let's go down to the shore,' she says. 'Maybe we'll have better luck down there.'

So we do. We slip out of our thong sandals and toss them in a secluded spot because we don't want to get them wet. We stroll through the foamy water, me wishing I had brought my surfboard and Sully talking about mainly nothing. She doesn't mention college, because she hates to think what will happen after August. I will go to university down in Los Angeles and Sully will not. She will still be here, feeling left behind and rejected. I've given up on trying to convince her that that's not true.

The sun eventually vanishes into the depths of the ocean, forgotten until tomorrow morning. Bonfires pop up on the shore like the chicken pox, and Sully is having a hard time on deciding which to crash.

'My, oh my,' she murmurs, tugging on her beaded necklace and nodding in the direction of a fire surrounded by shirtless boys. 'Shall we?'

It's not like I can stop her...

She struts up to them, and immediately captures their attention with her beautiful smile and, not to mention, huge boobs. I trail behind her, feeling like a lame Skipper to Sully's barbie looks.

'Hello, gorgeous,' a tall, tanned boy whistles. 'To what do I owe this pleasure?'

Sully flips her curls over her shoulders and gives a sexy smirk. 'Can I bum a smoke?'

'Of course,' he says, raising his eyebrows. 'If you tell me your name...'

She hesitates but finally smiles. 'It's Rachael. Rachael Sullivan. But everyone calls me Sully.'

'And your friend?' he asks, winking at me. I want to vomit. 'What's her name?'

Sully grabs my elbows and shoves me toward them, like a human sacrifice. 'This is Mona. She likes a nice cigarette even more than I do.'

'Two cigarettes coming up then.' The guy reaches in his pocket and pulls out a couple. He hands me mine and places Sully's in her mouth and lights is for her. I have to light my own.

'C'mon, beautiful,' Cigarette Boy says to Sully when the radio that someone has brought down begins to play an old Usher song. 'Let's dance.' He twirls her, her sarong flying up in the air and revealing her string bikini. Several groups of people drift over and begin swaying their hips to the music also.

I stand there like a complete loser and look around. A short boy is coming up to me. 'Hi,' he says. 'I'm Tim. Did you...want to dance?'

Dancing is actually the last thing that I want to do. Right now, I just want to go home. But seeing that Sully is far from ready to depart, I reluctantly agree and we gently place our arms around each other.

'You're tall,' Tim observes like he was the first person to note that. 'Are you a basketball player, Mona?'

'No. I hate all sports. Besides surfing.'

'Oh.' He reaches up and touches my nose. I'm startled at first, but then realize that he's touching my small silver stud. 'Did this hurt?' he asks. 'Getting your nose pierced?'

'Not really. Only for a moment.'

'I've always wanted to get a piercing,' Tim boringly drones on. The conversation has reached the level of pointlessness that I want to shoot myself. '...Or maybe get a tattoo. Do you have any tattoos?'

I turn around, lift up my dirty blonde strands of hair to reveal the small rose I got on my 16th birthday. Tim touches and slowly traces it.

'Wow,' he says. 'Looks like we got ourselves one of those fearless girls. Piercings, tattoos, and surfing? What will she show me next?' He starts chuckling, and when I don't smile back, he frowns. 'I'm sorry. Am I doing something wrong?'

'No,' I sigh. 'I'm just tired and I want to go home.'

'So why don't you?'

I nod toward Sully, who is now grinding on Cigarette Boy. 'I came here with her. And it's impossible to pull her away from anything.'

Tim grins. 'I have a couple of friends like that. Complete train wrecks.'

'Yeah.'

Time slips by, and Tim and I continue to dancing. I glance over his shoulder occasionally to see Sully drowning beer after beer and think how fun it's going to be to get her home.

'Are you a local?' Tim questions after the song changes to a fast number and we just opt for sitting down on the sand.

'Yeah,' I reply. 'Unfortunately.'

'Unfortunately?' he laughs. 'Why unfortunately?'

'It's boring,' I sigh, digging my bare feet into the sand. 'Besides during the summer when the tourists come in, it's dull and very, very quiet.'

'Are you going to university in the fall?'

'Yeah. In Los Angeles. Sully's staying here though. What about you? Where are you from?'

'Texas, actually,' he chuckles. 'I'm going to college there.'

'What are you doing in California?'

'My parents are divorced. My dad lives here...'

The conversation dies down after that, and about ten minutes later, the fire does the same. I tell Tim that I should get Sully home, as well as myself.

'Well, okay,' Tim says gloomily. 'I'll see you later?'

'Maybe.' I force a grim smile and make my way toward a very drunk Sully. It's hard to pry her away from Cigarette Boy, who is also extremely wasted, but after I inform her that I'm taking off with or without her, she reluctantly gives her beau a lazy kiss on the lips and tells him that she'll see him later.

It takes nearly twenty minutes to even get to the boardwalk.

'Look at all the stars!' Sully screams toward the heavens, which earns her a few amused glances from the tourists. 'ZOHMIGOSH, they're so beautiful!'

'Yes, they are,' I mumble, dragging her up the steps toward the neon signs of the boardwalk stores.

'Oh, Mona, I'm so happy...'

'You're so drunk.'

'Isn't Nick so amazing?' Sully asks, laughing hysterically. I asume she is talking about Cigarette Boy. 'He has such dreamy eyes, doesn't he?'

I don't bother responding. Instead, I yank open the door to a video store, in search of something hot for her to drink. I vaguely recognize the boy behind the cashier from my physics class in junior year.

I clear my throat, and he looks up from his novel. 'Hey...Christian,' I say, suddenly remembering his name. 'This may um, sound really weird, but do you have any...coffee or something? I have a little situation...' I motion to Sully, who is giggling at a DVD case.

He grins at Sully and then turns his attention to me. 'Yeah, I'll be right back. We have a maker in the back. The coffee is complete shit though...'

'I don't think she'll even notice.'

'Gotcha.' Christian closes his book and disappears behind the EMPLOYEES ONLY door. Sully begins cackling even louder.

'Oh, my gosh,' she wheezes. 'That guy was in my...my...my health class last year! He's such a geek...Mona, isn't he so lame?!' Sully continues laughing as if what she's saying is the funniest thing ever. 'He's just so damn dweeby...'

I awkwardly shift my weight from one foot to the other and cast a look over to Christian, who has returned from the backroom and is just kind of staring at Sully and he's listening to everything she's saying about him. I massage my temples and turn to him.

'I'm sorry. She's drunk. Very drunk.'

'No problem,' he replies, forcing a chuckle. I can tell his feelings are hurt. 'I'm used to it.' I'm not sure if he's referring to having drunk girls come into the store late at night or at being laughed at. I have a feeling it's more of the second one. I vividly remember just about everyone making fun of him at some point in time or another because of his stellar grades, his knowledge of Star-Trek, history, and just random things, his job as a video store clerk...the list just goes on and on.

'Thanks for this,' I say, taking the cup from him and trying to pursuade Sully to drink it. 'She normally controls herself better than this.' Sully slowly begins to drink and I walk up to the counter again. 'I'm sorry about what she said.'

Christian grins and reveals a bit of his clear braces. 'It's okay. No big deal.'

I look over my shoulder and see that she's still sipping, looking at a copy of Dirty Dancing. I roll my eyes. 'So, do you have any plans for the summer? Going anywhere?'

He shakes his head, a lock of his layered-blonde hair falling into his chocolate-colored eyes. 'Not really. I'm going to Mexico in July with my family, but besides that, I'm stuck here. What about you?'

'I just got a job at the um, Lamoore Resort. I start next week.'

'Cool,' he says. 'I heard that that was a really nice place. Great benifits. Congratulations.'

'This coffee is so bad...' Sully mumurs behind us. 'Mona, I wanna go home...'

'I know,' I reply, taking the empty cup from her and chucking it in the garbage. 'We're going right now.' Sully stumbles out of the door, and I look at Christian and smile.

'Thanks a lot. Now I just have to find a way to get her home...'

He laughs and tells me, 'Good luck.'

'Thanks.' I'm nearly out of the door, but then I turn around again. 'Hey, Christian?'

He looks up from his novel again and raises his eyebrows.

'See you later?' It comes out like a question, but I didn't mean for it to.

He smiles again. He likes to smile, I can tell. 'Yeah. See you, Mona.'

He says it like he means it.

-

-

-

The walk to my car is extremely difficult, no thanks to Sully constantly tripping and wanting to go in every store that catches her interest. Even after eleven o' clock at night, the boardwalk is still relatively bustling, mostly with teenagers who are not quite ready to call it a night. We finally reach my navy blue Jeep. I literally have to shove my super-drunk friend in the passenger seat and after several tries I finally buckle her seatbelt.

'I'm never letting you drink again,' I declare, sliding the keys into the ignition and pulling out of my parking space. 'You're a complete moron when you're drunk, you do know that, right?'

'You love me,' she murmurs, her forehead pressed against the cool glass window. 'I'm just so awesome...'

I smirk at her statement, pull onto the highway and make my way toward the residential part of town. Seashell, California is particularly popular with the tourists, not only because of the cheesy beach town name, but for the luxorious resorts and spas. The section of the city whewe people actually live is mainly surrounded by the ocean, my house included. When we pull into the driveway behind my stepmother's black BMW, the sparkles from the sea reflect on the house, creating mesmerizing shadows.

Now, Sully is passed out in the passenger seat, so getting her up to the guest bedroom is easier than it would be if she was awake. I'm quiet so I disturb my parents, who wouldn't be as amused by a tipsy Sully as I am. She collaspes on the bed, and I throw a light blanket over her legs. She merely sighs and snuggles under the covers deeper. I turn off the light and gently close the door.

Once I'm in my bedroom, I turn on my nightlight, put the radio on low, and change into my pajamas which is a tank top and a pair of plaid bottoms. It's past midnight, and the moon looks huge and bright over the Pacific. I sit on my window seat and quietly push the window open to let the warm and comforting summer night air in.

Well, Mona, my mind says to me. You did it. High school is over, the summer has arrived, and you're leaving for university in the fall. That's quite a feat. Don't you feel really proud?

'Not really,' I reply mindlessly. 'Should I?'

Of course you should! Think of how happy your mom would have been. Getting out of Seashell and going to the big city is what she always wanted for you. She'd be really excited for you, Mona. She really would. You always made her proud.

I look down at my hands and tuck my much-too-long hair behind my ears. The sound of the crashing waves against the rocks below make me feel as if I'm a princess stuck in a castle waiting for something that would never come back. I sigh, lift myself up, and tuck myself into bed. The sounds of Sully's soft snores next door make me giggle at first, but eventually lull me to sleep.

And this is the first night.

.Author's Note.

Well, what can I say about this first chapter? Nothing much...Seashell is a fictional town in northern California, and all of the characters are completely made up. Mona's mother, in case you hadn't figured it out, is dead and she now has a stepmother. If you continue reading, the character of Crystal, the stepmom, is introduced in the next chapter. Review please and constructive critism is always welcome. Thanks for reading ;)

-J.