The patio door opened effortlessly and a wave of shimmering heat assaulted her. There was a scream from the pool but it was impossible to tell who was yelling. Lana Schwartz was still wondering if someone was in real trouble when the best-looking boy she had ever seen climbed out of the water. He sneezed twice on his way over. Lana automatically handed him a towel. His bare feet were long and deeply tanned. Lana imagined the concrete beneath them was really the rough wooden deck of an old sailboat. The boy would be struggling with inclement weather in some mystic seaport and when he fell overboard, she could be the mermaid princess who saved him. The story ran through her mind as she watched water stream down his flat reddish-gold hair.
The boy in front of her was drying off. He looked up and Lana felt her breath catch. She had never seen anyone with such beautiful eyes. Neither totally blue nor independently green the two colors merged and swirled together. The boy was looking at her so she looked at his feet again. How embarrassing to have been caught staring. “Hi, I’m Brad.” Widening his eyes he blinked rapidly. “Thanks for the towel.”
Lana watched the play of color in his eyes before she thought to respond. “Brad who?” Instead of answering her she saw his dark red lips quirk as his fantastic eyes focused on a spot behind her. Turning slightly she read the large birthday banner his mother had fastened above the patio doors. He gave her a devastating smile and her heart melted. She was a sucker for beautiful teeth.
“Brad Summerville.” The name echoed in her head while Lana fervently wished she could disappear. “But your mom…” She trailed off realizing how idiotic she must sound but Brad gave her a shy smile. “Don’t feel bad. My brother and I take after my dad’s side of the family.” Encouraged Lana held out her hand. “I’m Lana Schwartz.” She looked back at the banner. “You must be the reason we’re celebrating today.”
Shaking hands with his new neighbor in the late July sunshine Brad thought she had the most beautiful hair he had ever seen. It was long with heavy ringlet curls cascading down her thin back. Her intense green eyes shone with emotion and he felt an urge to wrap his towel around her to protect her delicate skin from the punishing rays of the harsh summer sun. Her words rang in his ears while he stood there, nervous and tongue-tied. He looked out over the pool. His brother was now hanging off the ladder and waving madly at one of their cousins. “Only half the reason I’m afraid.” Was it her imagination or did his voice sound wistful? Lana couldn’t decide. “That’s my brother Brent with the ball.”
How could there be two people who looked like that? It wasn’t possible but there he was. An identical copy of Brad standing on the ladder. They had the exact same hair and the same dark tan. Lana looked down. Their swim trunks were different colors. Brad’s were blue and Brent’s were green but other than that everything was exactly the same. There was a sick sense of dread in the pit of her stomach as Lana realized that now she and her mother had one card for two people with the same birthday. She was never going to forgive Rita Summerville for not telling them that Brad and Brent were twins. The thought fled when she realized Brad’s brother had just thrown the ball at her.
There was no way she could catch it. There was a painful burning sensation as she ran into a wooden deck chair and worst of all Brad had caught the ball so she wouldn’t have had to move anyways. He tossed it to an athletic-looking girl in the shallow end of the pool and if Lana had been impressed before she was more so now. Being left-handed herself she hated most sports because she was so klutzy. Overwhelmed by the situation and struggling to hide tears of pain she started back towards the gate in the side of the fence. Impulsively Brad grabbed her elbow. “Hey Lana?”
He watched as she studied the pavement. Her hair fell across his hand. He brushed her curls back. They were soft, heavy and warm. “It was nice to meet you.” He saw the startled expression in her sparkling green eyes as she nodded. Brad watched her long hair swing as she ran back towards the safety of her house. Tomorrow was another month and a new day. He would have another opportunity to see her. He hoped.