Genevieve turns her head. It's Adrianne, of course, standing up at the other end of the cafeteria and grinning widely.
"Cabin 11 challenges Cabin 5 to a soccer game today after lunch!"
Adrianne's table of campers are grinning excitedly. Genevieve turns to look at her own kids, raising her eyebrow. "Waddaya think? We can take those guys," she says.
They all start babbling at the same time, nodding their heads, jeering, throwing catcalls across the cafeteria. "We will destroy them!" Bethany exclaims.
One thing you could say about Genevieve's campers this year -- they were not about to back down from a fight.
"We accept your challenge!" Genevieve calls back, and Adrianne's answering grin is practically blinding.
After breakfast, Adrianne comes up beside her on the way out of the cafeteria and winks. "Prepare for imminent defeat," she says.
"Oh, like last time?" Genevieve says, grinning. Her cabin had wiped the floor with Cabin 11 in last week's badminton tournament.
"No, in revenge for last time!" Adrianne says. Then she sobers a little. "Hey, can I talk to you for a sec?"
"Yeah, of course," Genevieve says, surprised.
She and Adrianne had connected on the very first day of counsellor orientation when Genevieve had caught Adrianne whistling "The Bright Side of Life" from Life of Brian and started singing along. Genevieve's a veteran at Camp Crescent Lake; she was a camper here when she was a kid, and this is now her third summer as a counsellor. Adrianne is a first timer, but they've spent a lot of time together over the course of the summer. And Adrianne is for the most part a pretty straightforward person, and Genevieve has never seen her looking quite so uncomfortable.
They have a few minutes before morning activities start, so Genevieve pulls Adrianne off the path into the shade of a tree. Down the hill, the cabins snake along the path towards the lake that glistens just beyond the trees.
"So," Adrianne says. "I have a huge favor to ask."
"No, I will not take Kim the Whiner off your hands," Genevieve says immediately. "Feel free to beg though. That would be fun for me."
"No, no, I've got Kim under control," Adrianne says. "Every time she starts complaining, I've started making her write a letter home to her parents about it instead."
Genevieve laughs. "Inventive," she says approvingly.
Adrianne smiles, and then looks down at the ground. "This favor is more of the personal kind," she says.
Genevieve stares at Adrianne's bent head, her blonde curls falling down to conceal her face, and is suddenly worried. "What's going on?" she says.
"You know this -- dance thing," Adrianne says.
Genevieve nods. Every summer the campers from Crescent Lake and Camp Sunstream, the boys camp across the lake, get together for a few events, culminating in a dance in the last week of summer. The counsellors all have to attend as chaperones.
"Well, one of my campers is a little upset about it," Adrianne continues, "and I kinda told her that, uh. That she didn't need to be worried about wanting to ask girls to dance instead of boys because I would be there with a girl, too."
"Oh," Genevieve says, a little dumbfounded. It's not that she didn't suspect (hope) Adrianne might like girls. But she hadn't really thought Adrianne had a girl. She's been friends with Adrianne for almost two months now and she's never even mentioned a girl.
"But of course," Adrianne goes on, "I don't actually have a girl to go with," and Genevieve's stomach fllps over. Adrianne looks at her pleadingly. "So would you please go with me? For the sake of my camper, I mean, who is pretty much freaking out right now. Or at least give me one dance? Just as pretend, obviously," she adds quickly.
Genevieve can barely hear over the pounding of her heart. "Um," she says.
"If you're worried about the camp warden disapproving, I asked her how she'd feel about two of her counsellors going together, and she said she doesn't mind but that she expects purely professional behavior."
Genevieve isn't worrying about that exactly. The camp advertises itself as LGBT-friendly, and the camp warden has known Genevieve was gay since Genevieve was fourteen and got caught kissing a girl behind the boathouse.
She's partly thinking about what a nice person Adrianne is to think of doing this for a camper. She's also partly thinking that if her campers saw her dancing with anyone, they'd spend the rest of the summer teasing her mercilessly and asking annoying personal questions. She's also thinking about how much she really, really wants to dance with Adrianne Palicki.
But even more than that, she's thinking about how much she wishes Adrianne hadn't said just as pretend.
She's so doomed, it's not even funny.
"It's okay," she says. "That's a really -- a really amazing thing to do for your camper. I'll go with you, yeah."
Adrianne's face breaks into a brilliant smile, and she throws her arms around Genevieve. "Thank you, thank you! You're so amazing, thank you." She pulls back, still smiling. She smells really good, and Genevieve really wants to tug her back in again. "I'll be the best date you ever had," Adrianne adds.
Genevieve nods faintly. "No flowers," she warns.
"Cross my heart," Adrianne says solemnly. "I will never, ever bring you flowers."
There's a noise of chatter from the nearest cabin as the campers spill out onto the path, and Genevieve can see her own girls starting to congregate on the path down to the lake. They have swimming that morning. Adrianne flashes another smile at Genevieve, says, "Thank you," and then she's bounding down the hill.
Genevieve follows a little slower. Whatever she just agreed to, she is in so much trouble.
There are still two days until the dance, and Genevieve's campers are getting more and more excited. Over the course of the summer, the girls have only seen boys their own age on the few occasions when the two camps get together, so things are starting to get a little hysterical. Keeping this in check helps Genevieve from getting too nervous herself. Her date is just pretend, after all.
At arts and crafts that afternoon, a dark-haired girl from Adrianne's cabin approaches Genevieve. Genevieve doesn't think she's ever spoken to her before, but she looks very determined. She stops directly in front of Genevieve and stares at her for a moment. "Is it true?" she asks finally, and something clicks in Genevieve's brain.
"That's a pretty open-ended question," she says, keeping her voice mild.
"Are you Adrianne's girlfriend?" the girl says bluntly.
A few of the nearby campers look up. The girl notices and flushes. Genevieve beckons her out of earshot.
"Julia, right?" she says, and smiles reassuringly. "I'm going to the dance with Adrianne, yes. As her date."
"She told me you were her girlfriend," Julia says.
Genevieve thinks her own face might be a bit pink. "Um, we haven't actually said that to each other."
"Oh," Julia mutters. "Sorry."
Looking down at Julia's miserable expression, Genevieve's heart aches a little, and she knows exactly why Adrianne was willing to go out on a limb to help her. "Do you want to talk about anything?" she says gently.
Julia shakes her head. Then she says, "What if I don't want to ask any girls to dance?"
"Well, that's okay."
"Adrianne expects me to."
Genevieve shakes her head. "She just wants to make sure you know it's okay. You can ask anyone you want to dance. Or nobody. Y'know, I was a camper here when I was your age, and at the dance that year, I didn't dance at all."
Julia looks up. "Really?"
Genevieve nods. "I was too scared. I hid in the bathroom as soon as the music started. I can't say I really recommend that as a pleasurable way to spend the evening, though."
"There's a girl I'd like to dance with in Cabin 2," Julia says. "But I dunno if she'd say yes."
"You never know if someone will say yes the first time you ask them."
Julia nods seriously. "Okay. I'll think about it." She pauses. "Please don't tell Adrianne I came to talk to you."
"Okay," Genevieve says. "I promise."
"Will you dance with her?" Julia asks.
Genevieve's heart skips a beat. "I guess I'll have to ask her," she says.
Julia eyes her for a moment. "Don't worry," she says finally. "She'll say yes."
"Soooo," Bethany says that evening as the campers are getting ready for bed. "Is the counsellor from Cabin 11, like, your girlfriend?"
Everyone goes quiet and looks at Genevieve expectantly. Considering the way information spreads in the camp, Genevieve really should have anticipated this one.
"Not exactly," she says, because she doesn't really want to lie to her campers. "We're going to the dance together, though."
This raises a babble of excited questions and squeals which Genevieve stems as best she can. "Time for bed," she says firmly.
The girls go reluctantly.
"This better not mean we have to let them win at kickball tomorrow," Bethany mutters.
Genevieve goes into her room at the back of the cabin and sits down on her bed. She can't help the stupid leap of her heart every time someone mentions the possibility of Adrianne being her girlfriend. But Adrianne isn't her girlfriend and, apart from fake-asking Genevieve to the dance, has never given any sign that she's interested in the position. Genevieve sighs. She's just going to have to go to the dance for Julia's sake and figure out a way to ignore how her heart clenches in her chest at the thought of dancing with Adrianne.
The bus from Camp Sunstream arrives at seven, and there's a mass exodus from Cabin 5 as the girls race down to the Rec Hall to meet them. Genevieve is getting ready to follow them when there's a knock and she looks up to see Adrianne, smiling at her through the screen door.
"Oh," Genevieve says faintly, because Adrianne is wearing a dress and it sends Genevieve's brain off-line. It's a pale blue sundress with a halter neck and she's wearing strappy white sandals with low heels. Adrianne's a self-professed tomboy, and Genevieve hasn't seen her in anything except shorts or jeans before. Her legs look ten feet long.
"Hi," Adrianne says, and she's still smiling like there's nowhere else in the world she'd rather be right now. Her hair is tucked back from her face with a clip, and she's wearing lip gloss.
"Come in," Genevieve says belatedly, and Adrianne does. Genevieve's suddenly very aware of the way she has to look up to meet Adrianne's eyes.
Not to mention abruptly self-conscious about what she's wearing. Her denim skirt is okay, and the black tank top is simple but at least makes her sun-tanned skin look golden. The nicest shoes she managed to dig out of her bag, however, are the pair of black flip-flops that have the least amount of dirt on them, and she doesn't have any jewelry to speak of except the hemp bracelets her campers made in arts and crafts.
"You look really great," Adrianne says, though. Her eyes are warm and Genevieve gets goosebumps all over her skin.
"You too," she says. "I like your dress."
Adrianne laughs. "I wasn't sure why I even brought it!" she says. "But now I'm glad I did. Ready to go?" she adds.
Genevieve nods. "Hey, weren't you supposed to be doing set-up at the Rec Hall?"
"Yeah. But I bribed El to cover for me so I could come pick you up."
Adrianne's smiles are really addicting, Genevieve thinks despairingly. They really should make some kind of antidote for that.
They have to round up a few stray campers along the way, and by the time they get to the Rec Hall, Camp Crescent Lake and Camp Sunstream have managed to start mingling awkwardly with one another.
The music is playing, though no one seems to have mustered the courage to dance yet. "I'm on food table duty," Adrianne says in Genevieve's ear. She puts her hand low on Genevieve's back as she leans in, and Genevieve's breath catches in her throat. She swallows and nods.
They see each other only here and there after that, as both of them have chaperone responsibilities. Genevieve still gets a little thrill every time Adrianne stands close to her, or puts her hand on her arm, or smiles at her. She smells distractingly good, and despite the fact that the teenage hormones ping-ponging off the walls around them don't create the most romantic atmosphere in the world, Genevieve is having a hard time remembering that it's not a real date.
Partway through the evening, Genevieve catches sight of Julia standing near the snack table. She's talking to a girl with red hair who's smiling back at her, and Julia might not have enough experience to recognize the signals, but Genevieve thinks if she asked the girl to dance, she'd get a definite yes. Julia looks up then and sees Genevieve watching her. She flushes a little, ducking her head, and then looks up again to raise a defiant eyebrow at Genevieve.
Fair enough, Genevieve thinks. She finds Adrianne by the DJ, and takes a deep breath.
"Hey," she says, and Adrianne turns and her eyes light up. "D'you wanna dance with me?"
Adrianne looks surprised and for a moment Genevieve's heartbeat feels suspended in her chest.
"Yes," Adrianne says, her eyes warm, and Genevieve's heart starts to beat again. "Definitely, yes."
They walk together onto the dance floor. Adrianne reaches out and tugs Genevieve towards her. Their bodies are close but they aren't actually touching, which Genevieve is glad about, considering their audience. Adrianne's hands are on her hips, though, burning through the material of her tank top, and Genevieve curls her arm up around Adrianne's neck, fingertips brushing Adrianne's smooth, summer-warmed skin.
Just pretend, just pretend, she chants in her head.
"We should go out dancing when we get back home," Adrianne says, bending her head to speak low and soft into Genevieve's ear. Genevieve shivers a little.
"Yeah?" she says.
Genevieve's no stranger to the intensity of summertime friendships -- or romances for that matter, not that this thing with Adrianne is really a romance. They take up your whole existence for a few weeks, like there's something burning inside you with how much you feel for that person. You go back home when the summer's over, brimming with the promise to write letters, to phone, to email. And then school starts and there's homework and classes and extracurriculars and there are your other friends again, and somehow the memory of your camp friend fades with the colors of the autumn leaves.
She's kind of been hoping that Adrianne will be different. After all, they discovered they live in the same city and even go to the same university. And they already text each other an awful lot for people who live together on a few acres of land in the middle of nowhere.
"I'd like that, too," she says, feeling kind of breathless.
Before Adrianne can reply, Bethany pops up beside them, and they break apart a little to look at her.. "I just want to let you know," she says. "You guys are adorable." Adrianne tugs Genevieve closer to her side, like they're actually girlfriends, and Genevieve can feel herself flush. "And we were thinking," Bethany continues, "that if Cabin 5 and Cabin 11 teamed up we could totally beat Cabin 8 in Capture the Flag. Even if they got Cabin 15 to join up with them."
"Oh, were you?" Genevieve says, a little amused.
"That's an interesting proposition," Adrianne adds. "We'll take it into consideration."
"No pressure!" Bethany says brightly. Then she gives Genevieve a meaningful look and disappears into the crowd.
"That girl is the most competitive camper I've ever had," Genevieve says.
Adrianne smiles. "Well, we probably could take on Cabin 8 if we teamed up," she says, and puts her hands on Genevieve's hips again.
They dance together for another song, and Genevieve wants to stay here forever with Adrianne touching her and the whole night to look forward to, even if it is just pretend.
When the song ends, Genevieve lets her arms fall from Adrianne's neck a little self-consciously. Adrianne drops her hands too, and they stand in the middle of the dance floor for a moment staring at one another.
"Will you stick around to walk me home?" Genevieve says. Another counsellor is supervising her campers while she's on Rec Hall clean-up duty.
"What kind of date would I be if I didn't?" Adrianne says, smiling.
"A lousy one."
"Well, I wouldn't want that. I mean, I'm still hoping for a good night kiss."
Adrianne's grin falters a little. "I didn't mean actually," she says, all in a rush.
This is ridiculous. Genevieve needs to get her act together and stop acting more immature than the teenagers for whom she's supposed to be a role model.
"No, no, I know," she says. She smiles, meets Adrianne's eyes again, and thinks, Tonight.
By the time the boys have been boarded onto the bus and the girls have been herded back to their cabins it's after midnight. It doesn't actually take the team stuck on clean-up too long to finish, and just as Genevieve is putting away the last of the recyclables, Adrianne appears next to her. She's pulled a light-colored sweater over her dress, and she's holding a blue hoodie for Genevieve. Genevieve takes it gratefully. It's warm and it smells like Adrianne.
They say goodnight to the others and walk together past the cabins and down to the lake. There's a cool breeze by the water, and Genevieve wraps her arms around herself. The stars are bright in the sky and reflect silver across the lake's surface. It's quiet except for the gentle lapping of the water.
"My camper asked the girl she likes to dance," Adrianne says, her voice soft. "So thank you again. It really meant a lot to her."
Genevieve smiles. "I'm glad it made a difference." She hesitates. "It meant a lot to me, too," she says. "I had a really good time. Well, when I wasn't confiscating alcohol and catching kids making out in the supply closet."
Adrianne laughs. "I had the time of my life," she sings. It's a little off-key. "And I've never felt this way before."
Genevieve bumps shoulders with her. "Dork," she says affectionately. She looks over at Adrianne. "I know you were joking before," she says, her voice sounding strange and breathless to her own ears. "But, um. If you tried for a good night kiss, you'd get one."
Adrianne opens her mouth in surprise. "You mean --" she says.
"No pretending," Genevieve clarifies.
"Okay," Adrianne says, and she sounds kind of breathless, too. Then she leans forward and Genevieve leans up, cupping her hand on Adrianne's warm jaw, and they're kissing. Genevieve tugs Adrianne close to her, their bodies pressing warm against one another, and Adrianne makes a small noise in her mouth. Genevieve really, really wants to hear it again.
"I didn't think you --" Adrianne says.
"Well, you never --"
Adrianne laughs, a clear bright sound. She leans her forehead against Genevieve's. "So we're both kind of dumb," she says.
"Maybe," Genevieve says, letting her fingers stroke through Adrianne's curls. "But I'm willing to overlook it."
"Yeah, me too," Adrianne agrees, and kisses her again.