"Yes, you are." Drew cocked his head to one side. "It's a good thing, though."
Wide-eyed, she gazed at him in disbelief. "How is it a good thing?"
"Because you're strong. You put up a hell of a fight when I grabbed you. If you were any bigger, I would have drowned right along with you."
She thought that might be a compliment, but she wasn't sure. "Well, one day, I'll be tall and pretty like Alexis George."
"Alexis George?" He eyed her for a second. "Why do you want to be like her?"
Hannah froze. She could have slapped herself silly right then.
Water trickled down her forehead and dripped off her nose. The wind blew, and she shivered under the light breeze.
She let out a sigh and debated whether to tell him the truth or offer up a well-concocted lie. She knew that Drew liked how pretty and tall Alexis George was. She'd seen him kiss her, and she'd seen them hanging out together, when they thought no one was looking.
Yeah, she was a snoop, but so what? She was collecting vital information.
She settled on a half-truth and shrugged. "Boys like girls who look like Alexis." The older girl had boobs, curves, and long, pretty blonde hair. Hannah had none of those things, and her hair was the color of a log that had been sitting in the sun for years. "Ash-blonde" as her grandmother called it.
"Dirty like ashes," Alexis had sneered once.
"Yeah, most boys do like girls like that," Drew finally agreed.
She blinked. "I can't believe you actually agreed with me."
His lips twisted into a smile. "There's no reason to lie."
"I guess." She grumbled, wishing he had lied. She watched as he sat beside her, stretching out his long legs. They were tan all the way down to his toes.
"Doesn't matter, though," he said. " When you get older, you're going to look way better than all the Alexis Georges out there."
Cheeks heating, she rolled her eyes. "So much for 'no reason to lie' ... You're lying to me right now."
"I'd never lie to you, Hannah."
"Really?" she whispered.
"Never. You're one of the few people here who don't treat me any differently." He ran a hand through his thick, wavy hair. "You've never wanted anything from me, either."
Confused, she sat all the way up. "Why would I?" Except, she did want one thing from him. Okay, two things. A kiss and for him to look at her like she was Alexis George.
"My dad's money."
She frowned. "Oh, that."
Everyone whispered about Drew's family and how much money they had. Everything from the candy-colored designer cars that lined the driveways of their numerous businesses, to the fact that the "Montgomery" name was etched onto almost every brick building in this touristy town. They owned almost everything in sight, including the resort where Hannah's grandparents worked. Heck, there were rumors that they were attempting to buy almost every building on the coast of North Carolina, but none of that mattered to her.
"Yeah ..." Drew sighed. "That."
"But everyone who stays at The Majestic Dunes Resort has money," Hannah said. "Why would they want anything from you?"
Turning his attention to her, his forest-green eyes searched her face, as if weighing the truth of her words. He looked sad and hopeful—a strange combination to be sure. "When you get older, you'll understand why people act the way they do. But I hope you won't become like them."
"I won't," she promised.
"Good." Suddenly, he leaned into her, so close she thought he might kiss her. "Promise me something, Hannah. Two things, actually."
"Anything," she said.
"One, don't ever change. And two, don't ever go out swimming alone again."
He arched a brow. "Swear it."
"I already promised." She rolled her eyes. "Do you want it in writing?"
"I think I do, smartass," he muttered, but she could hear the smile in his voice.
"Fine, then." She scrambled to her feet. "Stay right here." She ran to her beach bag, grabbed it, and brought it back. Plopping down in the sand, she dug through the bag, producing a journal and a pen.
"You're really going to write the promise down?" he asked.
"Yup." She pulled the cap off the pen and stuck it on top. "I'm going to reward you for saving me, too."
"You don't owe me anything," Drew said, placing his hand on her arm.
"I know, but one day you just might need something from me." Ignoring the heat of his hand, she quickly wrote her promise, added a note at the bottom, and then signed her name. With a flourish, she ripped the paper out of her notebook and held it out until he took it from her. "Here."
I, Hannah Miller, promise to never go swimming alone again, and I promise to never change.
I also promise to give Drew Montgomery whatever he wants, whenever he wants, (one time only) in the future, in exchange for saving my life.
This is an official I.O.U., hereby signed by Hannah Miller.
"A promise and an IOU?" Drew scratched his head as he read the paper. "Have you, uh, written a lot of IOUs before?"
"No, you're my first. You saved my life."
"Right, well ..." He swallowed. "It's not a good idea to give a guy an IOU for anything he wants."
"I-I didn't mean anything." She stammered, cheeks heating. "We're friends. I only wanted to reward you for saving my life."
"I know that, but other guys wouldn't." Drew gently brushed the strands away from her face. "Look, you're a pretty girl, and that's why you shouldn't give anyone an IOU. Especially not one that's written like this."