by Karli Banas
“You must be Kayla.” Announced an unfamiliar male voice that caused me to jump.
I was standing in the kitchen of my great aunt and uncle’s lake house, where I would be staying for the next two weeks with my mom’s cousin, Paul. My parents had won a trip for two to Hawaii and thought that me spending two weeks in Virginia with Paul, a fifty-year-old sci-fi geek, would be comparable to their trip. The man standing in the kitchen was not Paul, though. He was young, probably twenty, had black hair that was the perfect balance between messy and styled, and warm brown eyes. I had never seen him before, and we definitely weren’t related.
“Who are you? How did you get in? How do you know my name?” I asked defensively.
“Woah, calm down! My bad, I thought you knew that I was going to be here. I’m Roberto,” he explained with a smile. “Your great aunt and uncle hired me to help out around the house. They let me live here, too.”
That made sense. Aunt Elizabeth and Uncle Don were getting older, and they needed someone to cut the grass. Lucky for me, Roberto was very good-looking, and now I had someone closer to my age to hang out with. The guys back home were too full of themselves to hold my interest, but Roberto didn’t give off that vibe. He seemed relaxed and had a friendly, genuine smile on his face.
“So, where’s Paul?” I asked.
“He went to take the jet ski out. You can probably catch him if you go down to the dock,” he replied, pointing to the side door.
“Alright thanks,” I decided to be bold. “Do you want to come down to the dock with me?”
“I don’t know, I kinda have some work to do.”
I wasn’t giving up that easily. “Come on! As long as you feed the cats everything is fine.”
“Don’t joke about feeding the cats! There’s a schedule I have to follow,” he shook his head dramatically, then grinned at me. “But I guess I could go down for a little bit.”
The lake was warm as it always was when we got down there. It was a great day to be outside as the sun shone down brightly on the dock, but there was a light breeze in the air. The water was also pretty calm given there weren’t many boats out on weekdays. I watched a black cat slowly prowl along the red clay shore. It jumped as a wave came through and the water brushed its tiny paws. Roberto and I laughed as it ran away.
Paul then came flying past on his jet ski. He turned around and then stopped by the dock.
“Hey Kayla, you made it! Want to go for a ride?”
Before I could even respond Roberto butted in and asked, “Actually can I borrow the jet ski for a while? You don’t mind, do you Kayla?”
I did mind, but he didn’t even wait for my response. I was annoyed that we were just getting to know each other, and he ditched me like that. I went back up to the house feeling disappointed. I wasn’t sure what else to do, so I decided to unpack. I managed to accidentally doze off on top of the pile of clothes I was putting away, when a knock at the door awakened me.
I opened the door and Roberto was standing there with a look of excitement on his face. “I’m sorry I kind of acted like a dick earlier,” he said.
“It’s fine, don’t worry about it” I replied casually.
“No, I shouldn’t be interfering with your vacation fun. Let me make it up to you! Come on a jet ski ride with me.”
“Now? It’s going to get dark soon!”
“It’ll be fine. Just come with me. Please.”
I was apprehensive at first, but the longer I stared into his eyes the better his idea sounded. I had never really hung out with a guy before, which was a little intimidating, but I really wanted to say yes. “Let me think about it.”
“Alright. I’m going to be leaving in like 10 minutes so if you change your mind meet me down at the dock.”
I thought about it over and over. I pulled my long, dark brown hair into a ponytail and smiled at my reflection. I didn’t get the chance to go on jet ski rides when I was at home. This was supposed to be my vacation. I needed to stop overthinking everything and just have some fun.
When I got down to the dock, Roberto was already sitting on the jet ski ready to go. There was no one on the water now, since the sun was about to set.
“So where are we going?” I asked as I sat down behind him. I had butterflies in my stomach sitting so close to him.
“You’ll just have to wait and see,” he said, a sly smile creeping across his face.
We rode around for a good while until he pulled up next to a random dock. Up on the hill had to be the nicest house in town with a modern design and huge windows. The house was also far away from its neighbors. The owner was definitely wealthy.
“We have reached our destination,” Roberto said, gesturing towards the house.
I got out and stood on the dock, wondering what we were doing there, while Roberto was digging through the front compartment of the jet ski. He started handing me a bunch of different stuff: gloves, boat shoes, shoe covers, and a flashlight. He had a wild look in his eyes, and I was starting to feel like maybe I should have stayed at the house.
“What are we doing with all this?” I asked, confused.
“We’re going to rob the place.” he said like it was obvious.
“What? No! There’s no way I’m doing that!”
“Kayla, come on! Don’t back out now. The fun is only beginning.”
“Why are we doing this? How are you even going to get in?”
“Let’s just say these people have it coming.” His expression transformed into one of hatred that made me not want to ask. “And I have a key.”
“You stole their key?”
“No, someone gave it to me. Now come on, it’s fine,” his voice became gentler. “I knew I shouldn’t have brought you, but I just couldn’t-” he paused for a second. “Please, will you just do this with me?”
“Okay,” I said softly. My stomach started to feel uneasy at the thought of stealing from someone random, but it was too late to turn back.
The house was huge, but Roberto was able to locate the safe right away. The password was 1-2-3-4, which made me feel a little less guilty.
“Why are we doing this?” I couldn’t help but ask.
“They don’t need this money.”
“What do you have against these people?”
“So much! They used to be my parents. They adopted me when I was twelve. For years, everything was fine, until one day they noticed some valuable jewelry missing. I didn’t even take it! But they didn’t believe me no matter how much I pleaded with them. I was kicked out of the house, since I had just turned eighteen.”
“Damn, did they press charges against you?’
“They didn’t have any proof. Deep down they knew I didn’t do it, but they never really cared about me. That’s the worst part, how they pretended to care. That’s why I made sure to get revenge. I’ve been planning this for over a year.”
“Roberto I’m sor-”
“Let’s just go. I got what I needed,” he said cutting me off.
We took the money and rode back to our house without saying a word. We snuck in quietly because Paul was asleep. I started to go upstairs when I felt a hand on my shoulder.
“Hey, I know I dragged you into a lot, but I’m really glad you came with me. I’m sorry it made you uncomfortable though. So how about tomorrow we do something you like, would you want to go to dinner?”
I should have just kept walking up the stairs. I should have told him to stay away from me. I should have flat out said no. I should have called the police. I should have had my parents come get me. I should have at least paused for a moment to think.
“I would love to have dinner with you.” I whispered.
He slowly pulled me in and kissed me. I knew it was a dumb thing to do, but I couldn’t pull away. He was temperamental, vengeful, a law breaker, and I was falling head over heels for him.
When I got upstairs, I saw a flash of black zip past me and land on the bed. The black cat must have followed us in. I swear if a cat could look pleased, this one did. He had claimed my pillow as his place to sleep.
I looked at myself in the mirror again. I couldn’t stop smiling. Partially because I was going out with Roberto tomorrow, but also because robbing that house with him gave me a rush of excitement I had never felt. And I didn’t want that excitement to go away.