Summer Girl, Winter Boy(7)

By: Barbara Elsborg


Javier took the dog from her, tucked it into her backpack with her laptop and refastened the strap.

“He’ll keep you warm at night,” he said with a grin. “Then you think of me.” He pouted. “I could have kept you warm.”

He was probably right, but much as she might have been tempted, there was no way she’d have said yes if he’d asked. Piero would have probably killed him.

“Summer!”

She turned to see the guys’ mother heading for her. Piero carried Summer’s suitcase. The opposite of his younger brother, Piero was round and short and always had a smile on his face for her. Unfortunately.

Marguerite wrapped Summer in her arms. “Goodbye, niña. I hope you have a safe journey.”

“Thank you. And thank you so much for inviting me to your home for my last weekend in Colombia. It was very kind of you.”

“Con mucho gusto.It was nothing. You must come back again soon. Piero will waste away pining for you.”

“You say that like it’s a bad thing,” Javier said. “He could do with losing some weight.”

His mother clipped his ear and Summer bit back her laugh at Javier’s pained expression.

The four of them walked outside and Piero loaded her case into the trunk of his car. Summer put her backpack on the rear seat. She’d shipped the rest of her belongings and the company equipment back to the UK a couple of weeks ago. She’d accumulated more than she was allowed to take on a plane after eighteen months traveling between several South American countries.

As she turned to say goodbye to Javier, he suddenly pulled her close to his chest. “If you don’t like the dog, I don’t mind.”

“Don’t be silly.”

He jerked loose and paced away as Piero put his arm around her shoulders.

“What’s Javier being silly about?” he asked, a sharpness in his tone that set Summer on edge.

“He said I’d be safer on his bike than in your car.” She didn’t want to embarrass him by mentioning he’d given her a cute little toy. Wriggling from under Piero’s clinging embrace, she climbed into the vehicle.

As they drove off, she looked over her shoulder. Marguerite had gone into the house but Javier stared after them. When Summer waved, he didn’t wave back. The usually happy-faced guy looked worried—and that worried her.

Piero had constantly asked her out from the moment he’d bumped into her at Bogota University, and Summer had consistently said no, but Piero had just laughed and said he’d keep trying. He hadn’t made Summer feel awkward enough to avoid his company and she liked the group of friends he’d introduced her to. Her last three months in Colombia had been fun.

Javier had looked at her sometimes in a way that told her he was interested, but he’d never asked her out. If he had, she’d have had a much harder time saying no, even though Javier was younger than her and didn’t have a reputable bone in his body. From what his brother had said, he had one rather disreputable one. Piero was too intense and Javier too reckless. Going out with either brother would have caused problems between them and she wouldn’t do that, they already argued enough.

“I can’t believe you’re actually leaving,” Piero said.

“Me neither.”

“Do you want to go home?”

“It’s time I did.” She couldn’t hide forever. Summer gave a heavy sigh.

“I’ve known you for three months yet I know little about you.” Piero glanced at her.

“There’s nothing to know. I’m no one special.” I’m really not.

“I wanted you to be,” he murmured.

Yes, I know. Another reason it’s time to go home.

The moment they turned onto the road that led up through the mountains, Summer gripped the sides of her seat. “Oh wow, look at that drop.” She squeezed her eyes shut. “No, don’t look at it.”

Piero chuckled. It had been dark when he’d driven her here on Friday night. She’d slept for much of the journey and hadn’t realized how narrow the road was, what bad condition it was in or how steeply it fell away at the side. Summer opened her eyes again. It was too worrying to keep them closed. If she was going to die, she wanted to make sure she didn’t miss her last moments on Earth.