I Think I'm Falling For You

Macy Greene sat alone in a vacant coffeehouse, sipping at a hot chai tea while peering over her pre-calculus notes. She had a test the following Monday and was determined that she would pass with flying colors, if only she could understand what in the world a vector was. Mr. Bates, the math teach for juniors and some seniors had mentioned the word more than two dozen times in Macy's seventh period class, but he hadn't actually ever said what it meant. Frustrated, she dropped her notebook to the table and took an angry glance outside. It was raining, but in Astoria it didn't do much else. In the distance she could just barely see the ocean, the view of the waves blocked by rising houses, only just visible in the dense rain.

California had been so much . . . dryer. Warmer. Sunnier. You could actually swim in the ocean for hours without suffering from hypothermia. Considering this, Macy decided that one could potentially swim or surf in the cold pacific waters, as long as they had a dry suit or something. But surfing wasn't really on Macy's list of to-do's.

Being new wasn't much of a challenge for Macy anymore. In eleven years she'd attended seven different schools and lived in eight different states. She had long ago gotten used to her mother's eccentric love for change of scenery and sometimes found her self wishing for the move before it even came.

The roar of motorcycles swerving into the small parking lot jolted Macy from her thoughts. Uh-oh. She wished dearly that Ty Steel would find some one else to annoy. Especially when she was studying for her math test.

She glanced away from the window and back to her notes, hoping to remain invisible. She stared at the page, trying to focus, but she was only able to listen for the door. It jingled as it opened and she could hear one set of boots on the tile. Macy wished she wasn't alone. Ty Steel was trouble. She'd been warned of this more times than she could count on fingers and toes combined. He was the type fo guy who broke all the rules, all of them. Even the ones that weren't in writing. Rumor was he had several tattoos and that he always wore the same leather jacket and black combat looking boots.

To further Macy's horror, the door opened again and she glanced toward it quickly and than back at her notes so fast she kinked her neck. Eli and Gabe. They were laughing and scuffling, their shoes squeaking on the tile as they pushed each other toward the counter. Out of the corner of her she watched as they rough-housed, the cashier Lauren too afraid to say anything, until Ty sent them a look of annoyance. They stopped, but grinned at each other, snickering at some joke until Lauren snapped at them to make their order or leave. She couldn't hear what was said, but Macy could tell it did not make Lauren happy. She watched until someone stepped into her line of sight.

"Well, if it isn't Macy Grace Greene."

She glanced up and froze. Ty was there, his hands at the edge of the table, leaning toward her with a grin on his devilishly handsome face. There was no doubt that Ty Steel was good looking. None at all. He was tall, easily over six feet, broad shouldered, and had more muscle than some of Astoria High's wrestlers, combined. And, he was Chinook Indian, as if he wasn't already mysterious and terrifying enough. Macy mustered up a glare. "Can I help you, Steel?"

He laughed and shoved off the table, rocking it precariously and threatening to spill Macy's Chai Tea. "I could think of a few ways."

She blushed at the suggestive wink he tossed her way. She quickly mustered her confidence. "Then would you mind leaving me in peace, please? I'm trying to study." She motioned to her notes scattered in front of her and the text book open to the chapter on vectors.

But, of course, Ty Steel did not take no for an answer in any way, shape, or form. Instead he slipped into the chair opposite her with a lazy grin. "Hope you don't mind if we join you."

Eli crashed into the seat next to Ty, leaving Gabe the one next to Macy. She winced as he spilled into his seat, bumping the table and threatening to spill four hot drinks over her math book and all her precious notes. " Don't you three have something better to do?" she asked irritably.

"No." Gabe answered, as if it were obvious, as Ty reached out an snatched Macy's notebook before she could stop him. He tossed it to Eli who flipped through the pages at random.

"Of course not." Macy muttered.

Ty cocked his handsome, square-jawed face curiously. "Do we bother you, Greene?"

He was really asking, "Do I bother you, Greene?" Macy shook her head before she'd realized she'd even answered. "No." She admitted it, to herself, and in that one word to Ty that she was extremely attracted to him and his antics. She'd almost gown fond of them. It was, however, rather curious as to how and why he kept ending up in the same places as her; the same row at the football game the previous Friday, the National Honor Society meeting in the theater on Monday after school, the beach Wednesday where she had been collecting shells to study in her biology class, and the library Thursday during lunch.

Ty's dark eyes locked with her. "What do you say we go for a ride, Greene?"

Gabe and Eli, cousins and also Chinook, like Ty, snickered. Gabe nudged Macy and leaned closer to her, leering. "Yeah, Mace. Let's go for a ride."

Macy jerked her head away from him, shoving his shoulder and nearly pushing him to the floor. "You're a pig, Gabe. A pig!" She looked quickly to Ty wondering if he was that sort of dangerous. He shook his head once, quickly, barely discernable, and then glared at Gabe, kicking him sharply under the table. He let out a grunt of pain. "Go flirt with someone else, West. Greene is mine." Macy shivered and pulled her eyes away from him, unsure if she was delighted or scared by his claim to her.

"Come on, Gabe, let's go. This isn't much fun anyway." Eli muttered. He grabbed his coffee and stood. Gabe did the same, a scowl, clearly meant for Ty, on his lips. They left and Macy watched as they went to their bikes and then peeled out of the lot.

"Well?" Ty asked impatiently.

Macy looked up at him, the handsome, devil-may-care, senior before her, and shook her head slightly. "I shouldn't. I really do need to study, Steel."

"Please," he pressed, leaning closer across the table. "I'll help you with your math later."

"You. Ty Steel? Help me, with math? Be serious, Ty, you've skipped every day of math since the fourth grade."

He shrugged. "Come off it, Greene. Just because I don't go to class every day, doesn't mean I don't know what the hell the teachers are droning on about."

Macy wasn't so sure. He noticed. "I think you seriously underestimate my abilities."

"I don't know, Steel." Macy glanced outside at his bike. It looked dangerous, imposing.

"Greene, I have a helmet for you. I won't speed."

"I don't know . . . It's raining."

"Rain, shmain. Come on, Greene."

"My mom–if she finds out–"

"Quit worrying about your mom. Loosen up a little, will ya? It's like you're . . . afraid of the challenge." Ty stood and walked around to her side of the table, holding out his hand.

"I'm not afraid of the challenge!" Macy snapped. She stood as well, pushing her straight dark hair over her shoulder and securing it in a ponytail, similar to the one that Ty wore. "I just don't want to die at seventeen, thanks."

He laughed. "Seriously? You think I would let that happen?"

Macy looked away. "Having a change of heart, Steel? It doesn't really suit you."

"What the hell is that supposed to mean?" he demanded angrily.

"All of a sudden you're being so nice. It's weird."

He rose one eyebrow. "I could got back if you'd like."

Macy quickly shook her head. "No, thanks."

He sighed. "People just love to talk about me, don't they?" He paused. "Let's go, Macy."

Lauren, the sole worker in the coffeehouse cleared her throat. "I don't think she wants to go with you."

Ty leaned over the table, staring directly at Macy as he responded, his eyes never flickering an inch from hers. "I wasn't talking to you, Lauren."

Macy gulped and leaned away from him. He smelled heavenly and she couldn't–didn't– what— "Stop! OK? I'll go with you, jeeze." Macy pushed him away, ignoring his laughter, and began to gather her notes and text. She put them in her messenger bag and gulped down the rest of her tea.

Ty opened the door for her and winked as she shouldered past him. She stood next to his gleaming black bike in the rain, wishing she'd remembered to bring a coat. Ty crossed his arms and stared at her as the rain soaked her hair, clothes, and bag. He sighed. "Where's your damn jacket, Greene?"

"It wasn't raining when I left."

He let out a low whistle and said in a sarcastic voice, "And they say you're the smartest junior! I'll be damned! It's Astoria, Greene. It's always raining."

Stung by his sudden change of attitude, Macy made up her mind and turned away from him and his stupid bike, beginning the three block walk to her house. "See you later, Steel. I'm going home."

"Aw, dammit, Greene!" Macy heard him jog after her and catch up. He grabbed her wrist and pulled her to a stop. "I'm sorry, okay? Here—take my coat." He slipped the leather from his shoulders and tossed it to her. She caught it and stared at the soft, dark material. Was she really about to do this? If her mother found out—

What the hell? What her mother didn't know wouldn't hurt her. Macy handed Ty her bag and slipped his leather jacket on. It was huge on her; it practically swallowed her whole, but it was warm and it smelled good. She twisted her head to breathe in deeply. The scent of leather had almost vanished and was instead replaced with old-spice, rain, and pine-needles.

"You done over there, Greene?" Ty was leaning against the bike, his arms crossed, watching her inhale the smell of his coat with a grin.

Macy flushed and walked quickly to his bike. He'd stored her messenger back under one of the seats and retrieved a helmet. He held it out expectantly. It looked huge. Like his jacket. "My mom is going to murder me if she finds out— "

"Shut-up about your mother already, Greene. Would you?" Ty muttered. He straddled the bike and turned it on. Macy jumped as it roared to life. "Come on, Greene, I don't have all day."

Nervously, Macy slid onto the bike behind him, placing her hands lightly at his sides. The bike trembled beneath her and she did not like the feeling one bit. She felt as if she would fall out sideways at the first turn. Ty laughed. "I don't bite, Greene." he said, turning to look at her. "At least not now." He winked.

Macy shivered and pulled her eyes away from his, looking instead at the ground. "Just go, already."

Ty laughed. "If you say so."

Suddenly the bike lurched forward and Macy screeched and clutched Ty's black t-shirt in terror. He turned sharply on to Main Street and she shrieked again, wrapping her arms tightly around his waist and pressing her face into his back. "Relax a little, Greene." Ty called back over the roar of the wind. "Before you squeeze the life out of my like some damn snake."

Macy loosened her grip on his waist and pulled her head away from his back. She drew in a sharp breath as they raced past the piers and then next to a strip of beach where the road was protected by a rock wall. It was beautiful, even with the mist of rain falling on them as they sped past.

Ty continued to drive until he reached a small, deserted park with a few small, roofed play structures. He veered into the parking lot and parked. He got off and held out his hand fro Macy. She got off the bike somewhat clumsily and was convinced that she would have fallen flat on her face, had Ty not been there to help her. He just hid a grin and asked, "Wasn't so bad, was it?"

Macy shrugged pulling her hand out of his. "It was okay."

Ty crossed his arms skeptically. "Just okay? It was just okay."

She smiled lightly. "Yep." She stuck out her tongue at him, the most ridiculously childish thing she'd done since the seventh grade when she threw a dodge ball at a very unprepared Matthew James, and ducked away, heading for the park. She squealed when he nearly got his arms around her waist, but she managed to avoid him for a few more minutes before she stopped running and doubled over to catch her breath.

"You're pretty damn fast, Greene." Ty said with a laugh as he caught her from behind.

She wiggled free and turned to face him, her face flushed from the activity. "Mind if we get out of the rain?"

"Good idea," Ty said, following her to one of the little play structures. They were made for children smaller even than Macy was, so it was a tight squeeze, but Macy had to admit that she didn't mind. Ty had to duck his head to fit and when they'd settled themselves on the dry ground, they were only a foot away from each other. Their knees touched. "This is cozy." Ty murmured, giving her a rather wolfish grin.

She looked away to keep from getting caught in it. "You need to stop that."

"Stop what?" Ty asked curiously.

Macy glanced down, looking at his forearms before she answered, and spotted a tattoo of a whale. It was red, black, and white, and took after what Macy's mother would have called "Traditional Indian Art". Macy thought it was beautiful. She reached out and touched it gently, trailing her fingers lightly over the four inch design. "What does this mean?"

"What do you mean, what does it mean? It's a tattoo."

"I mean, what does it stand for, to you. Why did you get it?"

"I like Orcas." he said simply. "My people respect them. Would you like to hear a story, Macy? About the Killer Whale?"

She nodded and lifted her gaze from the tatoo to Ty's black eyes. He began speaking, slowly, almost cautiously. "My people believed once that if a fisherman were to ever injure an Orca, it would sink their boat or canoe and pull the men aboard down to the depths of the sea, to the Village of the Whales. It is said that once there the fishermen themselves are transformed into whales. Forever bound to the sea."

Macy traced the outline of the whale again, pleased to see goosebumps rise on Ty's golden skin. "What else do they say?" she asked, knowing that there was more to the story that he hadn't told her.

"That the whales we see near land are those fishermen who have been changed. That they are trying to communicate with their human families and lovers on land."

"How sad." Macy said, truly meaning it. She could picture the whales near shore keening and singing to one another as they rose and dove in the cold waters. Never to see their loved ones again. The thought made her shiver. "Do you have any other tattoos?"

Ty laughed. "Is this some sort of ploy to get me to take off my shirt? You know, all you had to do was ask." He winked at her before swiftly pulling his soaked shirt over his head. Macy flushed. Why did he always say things like that? It made her angry, yet . . . some part of her liked it. A lot. His shirt fell silently to his lap and Macy couldn't help but stare. On one side of his navel was a crescent moon and on the other was half of a sun. The tips of each semi circle met at the median of his navel, connecting the two shapes. Day and night. Night and day.

She reached out to touch them, expecting them to be as three-dimensional as they appeared, but was met with warm, taut skin. "You're beautiful . . ." she murmured quietly, tehn alarmed with the realization of what she had just said, "Oh! I didn't—I was talking about the—"

"Macy Greene, if you don't shut up, I'm going to kiss you." he muttered, but his eyes were closed and his head was leaning against the wall of the play structure. There was a trace of a smile on his lips.

"My mom will murder me in my sleep if she found I was doing this." Macy mumbled.

"Doing what?" Ty asked, offhandedly, without moving or opening his eyes.

"Sitting under a children's play house with a half naked Chinook boy." she answered, picking up his forearm and examining the whale again.

"Boy?" he lifted his head and glanced at her skeptically.

"Her words, not mine."

"So . . . you've talked to her about me."

Macy sighed and let his forearm drop gently. "Not exactly. Mrs. Mason, from the gas station, saw us at the beach the other day and decided it would be a good idea to call my mom . . ."

He grinned. "How does it feel to break the rules, Greene?"

She pondered this, her eyes settling on a third tattoo, this one on his left shoulder. It was a tree. A colorless madrone tree. It's branches crawled up towards his collar bone and reached around, grasping for his shoulder blade. The trunk and the roots fell nearly to his elbow. She liked this tattoo a lot. She stared at it, folloing the branches and leaves intently until Ty cleared his throat. "Macy? You alright? I know I'm good looking, but I didn't know--"

Macy pushed his shoulder playfully. "Shut up, Ty."

He laughed. "So your mom doesn't like me much, does she?"

"Nope," Macy said, popping the "p". "Not one bit."

"That's too bad."

"Yeah, it is." Macy said truthfully, staring at his large calloused hands where they rested in his lap. "Because I think I'm falling for you."

"Really?" Ty asked, grinning. "That's good."

Macy flushed at his tone. "Mom will never—she won't understand this—us—you."

"Macy. What did I say about talking too much?"

She looked up, preparing to meet his laugh gaze, but instead her lips met his. For a second she wasn't sure what to do. Kiss him back? Pull away? Slap him? Attack him? Kiss. Definitely. She decided. She tentatively took one of her hands and rested it on the side of his warm neck where she could feel blood pounding through his veins, while the other rested on his jean-knee.

He pulled away first, looking smug. "Who taught you how to kiss, Mace? I might have to wring their neck—they didn't know what the hell they were doing."

Macy flushed, more embarrassed than she ever had been before, and pulled her hands away from him. The last boy she had kissed had been Eric, a somewhat cute sophomore. She'd dated him for a month before realizing that she didn't really like him. He hadn't known what he was doing at all. "Sorry."

"Don't be," Ty said seriously, threading a hand through her long hair and pulling her closer. "You just need more practice . . . and a good teacher." He winked and her stomach flipped happily before he kissed her again. Deeply. They shifted, trying to find a more accommodating position, and Macy felt herself loose any resolve she had once had to stand up to Tyee Hill's advances. So much for that . . .

Mom is going to kill me . . . she thought halfheartedly, giving in to all that was Ty; smooth skin, the smell of pine trees and cinnamon, rough hands, tenderly touching her skin. This was Ty; class skipper, rule breaker, daredevil, motorcyclist, Chinook Indian at heart.