She once took Josh down to the river.
He laughed when she announced their destination, because, apparently, he knew about what happened down at the river. Josh was Manhattan born-and-bred, a true preppy rich boy, and it amazed her that he knew so much more than she did. She'd lived by a river her whole life, and yet she had no idea about the sexual connotation of a riverbank.
He laughed, but he went with her, and he wore his blue designer swim trunks. She'd called him on that, and he smiled-could he help where his parents shopped? Sometimes she wanted to slap him, because he seemed so ungrateful, but she knew that was just how he was raised. Alex and Cass and Charlotte and Noah and Adele and Tristan, her rich City friends (except for Charlotte, because while Josh introduced her to double entendres, Charlotte introduced her to the idea that people might just hate you for no good reason) were like that too. It kind of made her sad. It kind of made her awkward, too, in her department-store two-piece that was blue, not black, and showed off a t-shirt and shorts tan. Josh was slightly bronzed all over.
But she knew he didn't care about that.
She hadn't wanted to swim at first, only to take in the scenery, and he'd happily complied. They drew in the sand at the drier parts—"CAITLIN," she wrote, in tall block letters, next to Josh's perfect cursive "J S BEGAAN."
"Why don't you write Joshua?" she asked. "It's a nice name."
He shrugged. She'd seen his dad's papers, at Josh's flat back in the City. His dad signed things A M Begaan.
"Are you okay?" she asked.
"I'm fine," he said, and wrote "I love" over "CAITLIN" in the sand.
She smiled at him and traced a star over the J.
As a small-town girl, she doesn't know if she feels quite comfortable in New York City. She's back there now, at St. Veronica's Academy for Girls. It's prestigious, and she's on a half-English, half-History scholarship. That's mostly because of Josh.
Caitlin's mother always said that Veronica was a whore's name. Caitlin's mother's been dead for two and a half years. Caitlin thinks that her mother would understand, because Chad had just turned 18 and been offered a full scholarship to study theater at NYU and she would never expect him to give that up. There weren't many options about what to do with Caitlin.
She doesn't fit in at St. Veronica's. Never mind that Charlotte hates her and picks on her constantly-apparently, Caitlin's hair is too short (she'd thought a pageboy mop would look cute) and her speech too fast (could she help it if she had a lot to say?). Cass is busy a lot, practicing for whatever sport is in season or working out, and Adele is…Adele. Usually, she's on the phone, flirting with some boy, and when she's not, she's telling Caitlin to jump Tristan.
Caitlin doesn't think she would object to that. Tristan's gorgeous-tall and blonde and blue-eyed, and a guitar protégé. He's also Adele's cousin. He's a nice guy, for all of his silence, and Caitlin likes him enough.
She doesn't want to become a part of the twisted love-triangles that inevitably arise within friendship circles. Her admission into their group was shaky, and might never have even happened if not for Josh's amazing powers of persuasion. She doesn't want to rock anyone's boat.
Josh slept over because he was tired after an eight-hour drive from the City. She would have taken a bus, but he insisted on driving her, and she kind of hated the way her neighbors looked at his BMW.
He wouldn't tell her ghost stories, like her first boyfriend, who insisted on scaring her. Then again, Josh wasn't her boyfriend.
They lit a fire in her backyard and made S'mores. Josh, used to crème brulées, loved them. She put the box of graham crackers in her suitcase.
The next morning, she took the first shower and was ready by the time Josh was, and they share the newspaper and ate frozen bagels together.
"I miss New York City bagels," Josh said.
"Brat," she accused him. He smiled ruefully.
"Pass the sports, please," he said.
The domesticity of it made her feel an innocent kind of giddy, and she thought, This is why Charlotte hates me.
She does her Calculus homework obligingly, hating it because, well, it's homework and it's Calculus, and Josh eventually calls.
He says hi, and that Alex says hi, and she tells them both that Cass says hi, while Cass can't even look up from her English project that's due in two weeks. Josh and Alex both probably know this.
They set tentative plans for Friday night: they'll see Tristan play at whatever club he's at, and then scatter, as Josh promised Caitlin a new Yankees hat and she was going to get it.
She doesn't understand Josh's fascination with new; her hat fits her fine, even though it's worn. Josh, though, says that he saw one in one of the Yankees shops that made him think of her, and of course he'd buy it.
She wonders what it's like being rich, but she'll never ask him. He'd just say that it wasn't important or that he didn't even notice it half the time, which seemed…disrespectful.
He'd think it was the right thing to say. That's why she won't ask.