Daisy acknowledges Ryke, and then looks back at the water when his mouth starts moving. His face grows red and veins begin to pop from his neck as he rants. If I was closer, I wonder if I would see spit flying from his lips, beyond furious.
The locals let him say what he needs to, and then Ryke turns to them, speaking a little, but his motions are calm, less irate. They nod and then point to the water, replying back. God, I wish I could hear.
When Daisy begins talking, I think maybe Ryke has succeeded in convincing her to return to the parking lot. But her hands start gesticulating, angry and as irritated as he is.
He steps closer, his foot halfway on the ledge as they straddle the side of the f**king mountain. His nose touches hers as he gets into her face, shouting. Her chest puffs out and she yells back. Their voices begin to echo through the ravine but not loud enough to make out words or syllables.
And then she puts her back against the ledge and says something to the local man. He nods, and Ryke screams at her, “NO!” We can all hear the fear and anger writhing in his voice.
But it’s too late.
I hold my breath, my lips parting as my jaw drops. Not even a full second after she dives, Ryke impulsively jumps right in after her.
This…is not good. Both Lo and I are going to lose siblings in one day.
I wait for them to come to the surface for what seems like hours. Waiting. Waiting. The water rushes in and then back out of the ravine in a systematic cycle. White foam smacking slick black rocks.
Where is she?
Ryke pops up first in the center of the water, hitting the right spot. His head whips around, searching for Daisy. He spins in circles. From where I stand, I can see the panic lacing his eyes, and my stomach does a thousand summersaults.
“Ohmygod,” Cleo mutters. “Where is she?!”
The other girls keep out their cellphones, still videotaping. I should have realized that Daisy would be in more danger doing something potentially life-threatening than being kidnapped. I should have had a discussion about no cliff diving to your death before the trip began.
And then, her head breaks the surface of the water, a few feet from Ryke.
In what seems to be a deep, safe region.
I let out a small breath of relief.
Ryke looks ready to burst a blood vessel in his neck. He takes his aggression out on the water and splashes her. She splashes back, and they start screaming again. She shakes her head and ends up swimming away towards the rocky bank.
Ten minutes later, they appear near the top of the hill, waiting for us and dripping wet. Ryke runs his hand through his thick, soaked hair. And Daisy’s green tank top sucks to her slender frame while her jean shorts sop. We all start walking, and I hear their argument the closer I approach.
“He told me where to land!” she shouts “I took diving lessons in seventh grade. I was fine, Ryke!” She did take lessons, I remember now. Our mother made her do a ton of things, trying to find her talent until she ended up modeling.
“You left all of your friends at a f**king restaurant!” he shouts back. “Your sister thought you’d been kidnapped! How selfish are you?”
Her cheeks grow red. “I didn’t think anyone would care…”
“Bullshit,” he sneers. “You knew we’d come after you. You knew we’d track you down and ruin our plans to make sure you were alive. You wanted us to chase you.”
She shakes her head rapidly. “No. I just wanted to do this, but I knew Lily wouldn’t let me. This is why I chose Acapulco—for this cliff. It’s famous. And I’m sorry for ruining everyone’s day, but it was worth it.”
“You could have died,” he growls, his eyes narrowing with such anger—I would have already cowered back. Daisy has her shoulders locked tight, her head held high, resolute. Ryke is right. Nothing scares her.
He stares at her for a long, long time, and as I reach, I hesitate on breaking up their heated fight. “Did you want to die?” he finally asks.
Daisy blinks for a couple seconds, not in confusion. It’s as though she expected this reaction. She shrugs and then says, “How’d you find me anyway?”
“Freefalling,” he tells her. “You said it’s better than sex.”
Her lips twitch into a smile. “Do you agree with me now?”
“As fun as that was,” he says roughly, “it’ll never be better than f**king someone you love.” He adds, “Don’t do that shit again.” And he turns around and motions to the pack of girls to follow him back to the parking lot.
I catch Daisy’s arm before she goes to Cleo. Her weak smile immediately falls to the wayside at my near-tears frown. I’ve never been more terrified.
“Lily…I’m sorry. My intention wasn’t to scare you.”
“What if you died?”
“I didn’t.” She touches my arm and shakes it. “Come on. Be happy, we’re in Mexico.”
“That’s not okay, Daisy,” I say. “You can’t just sprint away without telling someone where you’re going.” I have never read the Big Sister Handbook, so I decide to just tell her what I feel. That has to be enough. “We could have found a cliff that was supervised, not one clearly meant for professional, local divers.”
“I wanted to jump off this one.”
I sigh heavily. “Do you hear yourself? You wanted this one? You sound like Cleo and Harper, spoiled and entitled.”
She cringes. “I’m sorry. I really am.” She shakes her head. “I shouldn’t have…If I’d known your reaction beforehand, I would have stopped.”
The scary thing—I don’t believe her. Not one bit.
“Okay.” Nothing else can be said. Ryke grilled her. I gave her the disapproving, brokenhearted look.
“I’m not on your shit list, am I?” she asks. “Honestly, I didn’t even think you had one.”
She gasps. “So I’m the only person on it?”
I can’t help but smile. We begin to walk back together, her friends farther ahead of us. “I guess.”
“What can I do?” she asks. Her eyes brighten. “I know! Cake. Cake fixes everything.” She shouts at the girls, “Cake time!”
They let out cheers and clap and spin around to record Daisy for the end of their videos. I’m sure those will be circulated around her prep school for quite some time. She’ll be a superstar. For all the wrong reasons.
Ryke turns his head at the announcement and still looks pissed. He rolls his eyes and shakes water from his hair with a firm hand.
“You know what he said to me?” Daisy says. “He told me that I was going to crack open my skull, bleed into the ocean, and be eaten by sharks. And then he goes and jumps in after me.” She lets out an irritated laugh. “I didn’t need him to be my hero, showing up, scaling the cliff and speaking Spanish to the locals—”
“Wait, they didn’t speak English?”
Daisy realizes she let that little part slip. She winces as she flashes an apologetic smile. “They were telling me stuff, and I just replied back with, ‘Sí,’ over and over again. I got the gist of what they were saying when they moved their hands. You should be more surprised by the fact that Ryke is fluent in Spanish.”
“I’m not,” I snap, “because he grew up with a mom as neurotic as ours.”
“He did?” Her brows furrow.
“I don’t know her personally,” I clarify. “But she kept him busy.” I refrain from saying like you because she does not need to be attracted to him anymore than I think she already is. Their age difference is no-no territory. Ryke understands this, and I’m afraid, Daisy may not.
I hesitate. “Daisy, you don’t…” have a crush on him.
She meets my eyes and reads them well. “Like you said before, Lily, he’s seven years older…well, about to be six.” She tries to give me a reassuring smile before she breaks from my side and catches up to Cleo, but I’m not satisfied. Because she glances back at Ryke as he peels off his wet shirt and wrings it out. Her eyes flit over his body, and I see a not-so good future.
I’m not sure how Lo would react to a Daisy and Ryke scenario.
All I know is that he wouldn’t be happy.
Back in the states, the March chill makes it near impossible not to layer up. I devise a plan to stay at the house until the very last second. Usually I arrive seven minutes late to class when I decide to go, but I think everyone should have a ten minute grace period. Seriously. It’s cold.
The only other time I brace the weather is for my therapy sessions with Dr. Banning. Today went decently well, I think. I feel like I’m on the road to uncovering why I have this addiction, and she gives me some much needed perspective and guidance.
To preoccupy my thoughts and not obsess over sex, I watch a romantic comedy on Netflix in my bedroom. I closed my canopy so I feel a little like I’m in a jungle, my net keeping me safe from mosquitos. Which is kinda fun. I’d make some safari jokes, but I remember that I’m alone. And no one is around to appreciate them.
The laptop rests on my stomach while I munch on a Twizzler. After abstaining from self-love, I’ve turned to sugar and sweets and generally anything that will rot my teeth. It barely helps, but it’s better than succumbing to the urges.
My phone rings, and I wiggle from my Marvel throw blanket. When I grab my cell, I notice the unknown number on the screen. My chest lightens as I mute my computer and press the receiver to my ear.
“Hey, it’s Lo.”
That’s enough to make me grin from ear to ear.
“Lo who? My boyfriend’s name is Loren.”
“Your jokes have gotten progressively less funny without me.”
I mock gasp. “No way. You should have been here when I made the best giraffe joke. It was hilarious.”
“Doubtful,” he says, but I can sense him breaking into a smile.
I bite a Twizzler, trying to contain my own silly look, even if he can’t see me. “What are you doing? How’s rehab?” Before he called, I made a plan to ask more about him. Last time, the conversation revolved around me, and I don’t want that to happen again. Even if my recovery takes effort from both of us, it doesn’t make his any less important.
“It’s fine,” he says. I imagine him shrugging. “What about you? Did you go to therapy today?” So I have a boyfriend who doesn’t like to talk about his problems. This may be harder than I thought.
“Don’t change the subject. I want to know how you’re doing.” I braid three Twizzlers together to form a giant, delicious piece.
“My life is boring,” he sighs.
“No, it’s not,” I refute. “You’re probably doing all sorts of cool things. Like talking to people. And…playing pool. And…” I have no idea what the hell he does in rehab, which I think is the problem.