"Kimmie," my girls yelled, bursting through the door in their usual exuberant way. Most of them rushed over to hug me like they hadn't seen me in days. Only Alyssa refrained from the hug-fest.
"Hey, Lyssa, how was archery?" I asked, setting the stack of colored tissue paper on the table.
"Fine," she answered, no longer bristling at my questions.
In the beginning, I thought she would balk at the nickname I had chosen for her, but much to my surprise, she seemed to like it. She never actually told me so, but the first night I overheard her correcting Parker when she called her Alyssa. She had informed her that it was Lyssa from now on. I was proud of myself, thinking I alone had broken through her shell. Of course, she burst that bubble when she continued to snub me.
"At least you're making more progress than the rest of us," Amy said admiringly anytime she was around to see it firsthand.
I was still frustrated I couldn't break through Lyssa's wall completely, but I wasn't giving up.
"Did you show up the boys?" I asked.
She nodded, flashing me a rare grin before ducking her head down to read the open book on her lap. The first day I had tried to engage her with the art project, but saw her instant withdrawal and backed off.
"Can we make flowers again today, Kimmie?" Parker asked.
"Sure, we're going to make ones with more sheets today. You up for the challenge?"
"Heck yeah," she squealed, hurrying off to the table to join her friends.
"Okay girls, we're going to do the same flowers as last week, but today I'm going to show you how to make ones like this," I said, holding up the sample flower I had made that was roughly the size of a Frisbee. "You'll be using twelve sheets of tissue paper, so pick your favorite colors. The key to the bigger flowers like these is to keep your folds smaller and more concise."
"Ohhhhhh, I want that one," Frances, one of the younger girls, declared, eyeing it.
I laughed. "I'll show you how I made it and yours will be even better than mine," I promised. I glanced around the table and saw all of them watching me with rapt attention, including Lyssa. It was a unique feeling to have younger kids eating up what I had to say, and made me second-guess my career choices. Maybe I had a future in teaching.
Amy joined me after the last rotation of the day as I was putting supplies away. "So guess what? We're having an after-hours campfire tonight," she declared, dramatically sitting on top of the table I was cleaning off. She lifted her butt as I swiped the rag where she was sitting.
"Um, has it been approved through the boss?" I asked, not keen on the idea of breaking the rules when I was just beginning to fit in.
"Duh, it was his idea. He said it's a treat for all of us, since everything has been running so smoothly. He said he and Louise will check on the campers while we party it up, baby!"
I raised my eyebrows at her.
"Okay, so I may be paraphrasing, but you get the gist. We're off babysitting duty for the night, sweets," she said enthusiastically, hoping off the table to give me a one-armed hug.
"Sooo, are all the counselors coming?" I asked nonchalantly as I turned out the light before we headed out the door.
"Yes, Miss Avoidance, everyone will be there," she said, making her point clear. "And you are going, even if I have to kick your askish all the way from our cabin."
"Whatever," I sighed. I had been avoiding Mason like the plague, but knew I would eventually have to face him. I wasn't the kind of girl that normally hid from anyone, let alone a sarcastic ass. I was disgusted at myself for letting him dictate my life.
"Fine, but I don't want to sit anywhere near his smug self," I grumbled as we made our way to our cabin to clean up before dinner.
"Don't worry, my sista from another motha, I got your back," she teased, nudging me with her hip.
"Right, like I don't see your ploy."
"What?" she asked, feigning innocence.
"Um, let's see he's tall, has long auburn hair, eyes that could only be described as bedroom eyes and oh yeah, grins like a goon anytime you're around."
"Travis and I are just friends," she protested for the hundredth time over the last few days.
"Right, and I'm married to Channing Tatum," I teased.
"How can you be sure he doesn't just think of me as a friend?" she asked in a voice filled with insecurity.