~1~

In the Pretend World

If I had known the events that would occur over the next month caused by this one day at the pool, I wouldn't have even thought of going.

I was with Alex. We had swum over to a corner in the deep end of the pool. It was the public pool, since very few people actually owned their own pool in this tiny desert wasteland. Except this desert got a lot of rain. Clouds had started to well up in the sky that looked too thick for summer. I was worried that they would shut down the pool if a light drizzle started.

Alex's arm snaked around my waste. "What's wrong?"

"It's getting cloudy," I stated. He traced my line of sight with his eyes and ended up gazing at the sky with me.

When I tore my eyes from the quickly thickening sky, I saw a familiar face come through the changing room. Well, technically I didn't see much of his face. His blonde, swishy hair hung in front of his face, hiding it from view.

"Mason!" I said, jumping out of Alex's arms and startling him. I rushed up the steps of a silver pool ladder. "Maaason!" I yelled out like a little kid trying to get his attention. I never cared what people thought of me.

"Hey Cami." He never bothered to pronounce the r in my name.

"Hi!" I hugged him enthusiastically and soaked his shirt from all the pool water clinging to my body.

"Hey! Hey!" His tone was light-hearted but he didn't hold back in prying me off him.

"Hi. Cam, who is this?" Alex was finally catching up to me. It's not that he was slow or anything, I was just small, quick, and hyperactive.

"This is Mason." It was funny; I was extremely close to both of them, yet they didn't know each other.

"Hey," Mason said with a warm smile.

"Hi, I'm Alex," he put his arm securely around my shoulder, "Camri's boyfriend."

Mason's eyebrows shot up and he turned at me. His smile twisted into a smirk. "The infamous boyfriend, Alex?"

My face turned red. "Yeah."

"Infamous?" Alex said suspiciously.

I ignored him and shot Mason a death glare that clearly stated I would murder him if he said anything. Sadly, Mason was fearless. "So these are the devastatingly sexy crystal blue eyes that Cami always talks about."

My face turned even redder and I looked down at my feet.

The mood that was radiating off of Alex changed from unfriendly to flat out uncomfortable. "W-what?" His tongue tripped over the awkwardness.

"Cami's words, not mine." Mason cleared that up. Alex simply nodded, still feeling weird. "I'm not gay."

Alex raised an eyebrow in mock disbelief.

Mason seemed unfazed by it, but I knew he was a manipulative troublemaker who hid his emotions perfectly. He turned the tables by using Alex's weakness: me. "I mean, who can stay away from girls after knowing this pretty rose?" He ruffled his hand through my unique rose-red hair as if I was some annoying little kid. He loved flirting with me, even though he knew I was taken. He played more mind games than all the girls I know combined.

"Hey!" I was still trying to play a sweet smile as I shrieked. "You know the rules, paws off!" I swatted his hand away from my head.

Alex's arm stiffened around me. Mason bluntly stated his interest in me, and Alex felt threatened. Honestly though, Alex should have known that Mason was just playing around. I was never able to get a straight answer from Mason as what I was to him, but I saw him as an older brother.

Mason was actually younger than I was, but he was more mature, smarter, and taller than me. Even if I didn't know Alex, I don't think I'd seriously consider having a relationship with Mason. He had the long hair and, yeah, he was cute. But he had way too many social issues. He always beats around the bush and loves to play around with words. He was a bipolar manipulator with multiple personalities. I wasn't even sure if he was capable of feeling love.

He exposed his anorexic-looking ghostly white chest as he pulled his shirt over his head. "You comin' in the pool?" I asked.

"Uh, duh! Blonde Cami." He shook his head. It's true, though, my natural hair color was a light blonde.

"Her name is Camri, with an r." Alex seemed very… unpleasant.

"But Cami sounds so adorable." Wait, what? Mason would usually never say anything was "adorable." He would also never say anything about me was pleasant in the slightest. I'm telling you, this guy has the most twisted flirting style.

Except for today. In front of Alex, everything seemed to spill out of him so openly. He was being more straightforward with me about this than he'd ever been.

Nevertheless, the tension between these two was growing more uncomfortable by the second.

"Are you guys… okay?"

"Yeah," Mason said calmly, "I'm fine."

"So am I." I could hear the toxic leaking from Alex's beautiful lips. Ironic, is it not?

Speaking of irony, (irony itself just became ironic,) a small white car with speakers way too loud for its size pulled up at that moment. "That's my ride," Alex said, "I gotta go."

"Bye." I flung my arms around his neck and surprised him with a quick kiss. "I love you." I searched his eyes to find out what he was feeling. I saw a small part of his annoyance and jealousy turn to relief and love.

"I love you too," and for a second, he gave me a light, genuine smile.

"Don't worry Alex; I'll keep Cami company when you're gone." Mason said as he put his hand on my shoulder. That… I can't even find a sufficient word to describe him. Pig, jerk, douche, and many, many more vulgar words.

"Jesus Christ!" All of the hope that I saw crystallize in Alex's eyes shattered and faded away. He clenched his jaw as he stormed off to his mom's car, while I was left there watching him leave. My heart felt heavy and I wanted desperately for him to come back.

As he drove off, I bit my lip. I promised I wouldn't cry, but I hated seeing Alex upset and thinking a part of it is my fault. Even though Mason was the problem here, and I wanted to hit him harder than he could ever imagine, he was also the person I trusted the most other than Alex. So, not for the first or last time, I crawled into Mason's warm, open arms for comfort.