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By: Amanda Palacios               Welcome To Ocean Shores

It was like any other Monday morning. Reggie woke up, yawned, and checked the clock.
It was 7:16 a.m. as she woke up to the smell of breakfast coming from downstairs… either her dad or Noelani was making it.
She got out of her bed, brushed her teeth in the bathroom and opened up her mirror door.
Otto and Reggie’s bathroom both had mirrors in the same spot so that if Reggie or Otto wanted to talk to one another, they just had to open their mirrors to face each other.

Reggie checked to see if her brother was already p, but noticed his door closed--- he wasn’t up yet.
Reggie went back to her room, changed out of her PJ’s and heard her brother calling her. “Reg, you up yet?”
“Yeah, Otto.” Reggie replied while walking back to her bathroom mirror. She opened the two-way mirror and started talking to Otto.  
So Reg, you ready for the big science test today?”
“You know it little bro.” “You know I’m never ready. Man, I never even aced science before! I’m just glad I’m not in your and Sam’s science class…or grade!”
“Yeah, I’m glad you’re not too,” Reggie said as she laughed a little.
She knew that out of the four (her, Otto, Sammy, and Twister) that Sammy and she were probably the smartest.

Meanwhile, Otto pretended to look slightly annoyed at his sister’s remark and shut the door.
Both kids went downstairs and went into the kitchen where Noelani was cooking their breakfast.
“Good morning guys! I made you two a big breakfast.” “Uhh…thanks Noelani!” Reggie thanked her step-mom.

“Cool!” Otto exclaimed as his “thank you” while he rushed over to the table to eat his breakfast.
“Wow, Noelani, I’ve never seen Otto this happy to start a Monday morning.” Reggie said while she looked at her younger brother and started to dig in.
Noelani agreed with Reggie as they laughed while watching Otto dig in, as he seemed completely oblivious to everything around him.

As the two kids finished up their breakfast, Otto spoke up, “We’d better get going Reg.” “Why? It’s still a little early…you never even want to go to school early…”
“I still don’t! I just want to try out a new stunt on the ramp outside… well, me and Twist want to.”
“So I’m guessing that means you want to show off and he’ll just follow you around?” “No…well, whatever. C’mon let’s go now!”
“Only you would try something stupid before even getting to school. What if we’re late?” Reggie pointed out.

“Whatever. C’ya Noelani---thanks for breakfast,” said Otto. “Yeah thanks! By the way, where’s dad?” Reggie asked.
“Oh, well, Ray and Tito had to go to the shack early today to set up, apparently there’s another retired lifeguards convention---early.”
“Okay, well…we’ll see you after school!” Reggie called out to her step-mom.

“Alright, but Reggie, Otto---I’ll be at the Shack around the time school ends helping your dad and Tito clean up. Come by there, alright?”
“Right. Later, Noelani!” Otto said back while he and Reggie walked out the front door.

As the two Rocket kids got outside, they met up with Sam and Twister who were sitting on the sidewalk with their skateboards beside them.
Monday mornings also weren’t Twister’s favorite time of the week just like Otto.
Sam got up to greet Reggie and Otto while Twister tried to stand up on his board, but since he was so tired, he fell after riding about two inches from the sidewalk.

“Hey guys, ready for the science test today Reggie?” Sam asked. “Yeah, I studied for it like crazy!” was Reggie’s reply.
“What about you Sammy? You study up for it?” “Of course, but I already knew the subject well enough…” Sam started off.
“Well, I don’t know about you guys, but I’m going to try my new move--- it came to me in a dream last night!” Otto boasted.

“Well you do that, Otto. Me and Sammy are going to school,” Reggie said as she prepared to skateboard down the hill. “Yeah guys, I’m going to school.”
Sam agreed. “Uhh…okay,” said Twister tiredly, “Let’s move. C’mon Otto---I want to get to school early today!”
At this, everyone starred at Twister. Did he just say he wanted to go to school?

Now, that was weird. Reggie looked up from adjusting her knee pads, Sam glanced at Twister with confusion, and Otto looked at his best bro in shock.
Even Twister himself couldn’t believe he had just said that!
“Well…I meant if we get to school early, then I could fall asleep on my desk faster…” Twister said as he appeared to wake up a little bit more.
Then foursome skateboarded with great speed down the hill to school.

 
Otto, Twister, Sam, and Reggie haven’t changed much over the years.
Besides maybe growing up (such as their voices and height), their looks and personality always stayed the same.
Reggie was just about twelve and the boys were eleven/twelve.  
Sam grew maybe and inch since the gang came back from Hawaii, right before the wedding.
He was still extremely smart and still the “Squid”.
The nickname just stuck to him that way (since he got it when he was still considered “the new kid on the block”) and he was still in Reggie’s grade and classes at school.

Twister’s voice kept changing ever since the day he was going to sing in front of everyone at the Cinco de Mayo festival.
It was a sign that this little Latino boy was growing up too. Twister was still a bit naive and followed in Otto’s shadow quite often.
He was still Otto’s best bro and in his grade.

Otto’s voice was changing too, but not as much as Twister’s. He was still the same show-off boy who thought he was the greatest at everything he did.  
Reggie was in Sam’s grade and classes just as she’d always been.
She was the oldest in the group and didn’t grow much either physically. Her violet hair was still shoulder length, she was thin, and had no curves yet.

The four really didn’t change at all.
Even throughout all their amazing and not so amazing experiences as friends, things always kept moving forward and they all stayed the same.  
Team Rocket had done and gone through so many different things.
They’ve met famous skateboarders (like Tony Hawk, etc.) and pop stars once (like Shafikka), during their Beach Break (like spring break in Ocean Shores).

The whole gang went to New Zealand to compete in the The Junior Waikikamukau Games, they went to Hawaii and had many adventures. (good and bad)
They experienced so many memories, and to top it off, Ray (Otto and Reggie’s dad) got re-married to their late- mom’s best friend, Noelani.


The four kids skated down the hill and Otto picked up a lot of speed as they reached the bottom. Apparently they started to race to school and Otto was in the lead as always.
Reggie and Twister followed and Sam was in back. Reggie started to grind on a near by rail with her skateboard which led to the school.
Sam eventually caught up with Reggie and Otto as Twister, being as tired as he was, lagged behind practically sleeping while he was still skateboarding.

Suddenly Otto, Reggie, and Sam heard a loud “THUD!” and turned around. Apparently Twister skated into a light pole.
The three kids surrounded Twister, helping him up as the four of them all laughed together.
Little did they know that today would be the start of an adventure they’d never even thought was possible.
An adventure they didn’t even expect to happen. Something they were totally unprepared for.

Sam and Reggie left Twister and Otto to go to their first period which was science class. Reggie and Sam were always lab partners.
Today their science teacher was acting a little different to the class once she came in.
To Reggie and Sam, it wasn’t all that noticeable at
first considering that their science teacher,
who was always perky and extremely friendly,
acted strange when class began trying to organize her papers and take attendance.

What threw the whole class off was when she stood in front of the door, faced them all, and waited so very patiently for them to settle down. Everyone became quiet.
Trish and Sherry (Reggie’s two best girl friends) who sat together talking, suddenly quieted down.
Trent (Reggie’s old crush who came from New Zealand and was the last new kid to arrive after Sam) was talking to some kids in the row behind him, but turned around.
Reggie and Sam looked at each other at the same time and wondered what was going on.

All of a sudden, their teacher spoke happily with a smile on her face (as usual),
“Kids, settle down. We’ll start the science test soon…but first, I’d like to tell you all some news.” The whole class started to talk again.
They tried to guess what this “news” might be. “Oh boy,” Sam said, “This is gonna be huge.”
“I think so too… I wonder…” Reggie was cut off by their teacher speaking again.

“Class, we have a new student joining us today.” Everyone stopped in mid- sentence.
The room turned silent for about 2 seconds until their teacher walked over to the door, turned the knob, and opened it. “Class, this is Dani Ramirez.”
 Everyone was in shock at what they saw. After their teacher opened the door, in came a girl. She so didn’t look like a typical Ocean Shores, California girl.
Yeah, she looked alright, but not like everyone else. She looked different… she looked as though she knew she wouldn’t belong.

“Class, this is our new friend Dani. Dani, sweetheart, would you like to tell us about yourself?”
Their teacher asked with a sweet smile on her face, she so thrilled to have a new student there.

“Umm… okay. Well, my name’s Dani Ramirez, I’m turning thirteen in a few weeks, I’m from New York City.
We moved here because my dad’s job gave him a big promotion in Ocean Shores.”

“Well Dani, happy birthday. Wow, New York City… that’s a long way California--- I’ve been there before and I loved it there.”

“Yeah, I miss it a lot… I lived there with my mom, dad, and my pet turtle.”
“That’s very nice, Dani. Thank you so much for sharing with us,” the teacher said as she put her arm around Dani and smiled again.

The class all looked at one another. Everyone was slightly in shock since Dani walked into the room.
People in Ocean Shores looked ready for the beach, whether they were regulars or shoobies.
You were either a skater, a surfer, somebody who could do any sort of extreme sport, a shoobie, or considered a dork. Dani Ramirez didn’t look like any of those things.
Reggie and Sam looked at one another. They could tell what each other was thinking--- who is this girl?
For Sam, he felt a sudden pang inside him, like he didn’t know what was going on.
Reggie felt a sudden feeling too… but she didn’t know what it was of. The two observed Dani just like everyone else did.

Dani Ramirez was thirteen.
She had long brown curly hair with orange highlights at the ends and on the tips of her bangs which were swiped to the right of her head
(left towards everyone else who faced her). She also had her ears pierced--- five times, each earring was an extremely shiny, bright red color.
She wore a red shirt which was ripped all along the bottom and green colored jeans that had different patterns on it.

She had on bright red sneakers, her skin was very tan, and she had on her right wrist a black bracelet.
Most importantly, unlike every other girl in Ocean Shores, Dani had curves and a bigger chest---she looked older than she was.
She had the perfect body. The girls in the classroom starred at her and then back down at their desks, or tried to sneak a glance at themselves really quick.
The boys all looked at her in such awe. They never saw a girl like her before.

To herself, Dani was petrified. At her old school she was never considered “popular” and had only a few friends.
NYC was different than Ocean Shores. Once she got in the classroom, she noticed that everyone looked at her.
The girls looked kind of disappointed or excited and quite a few the guys never took their eyes off her.
She knew she didn’t belong though. Dani knew what they were all probably thinking; after all, Dani had been like them in her old school.
Whenever a new boy came and he was cute, the girls would go crazy. If it was a cool new girl, no one would be as excited as the boys.

“Well, dear, we don’t seem to have enough seats, and you probably don’t know what we’ve been covering in class… do you have your schedule with you?”
“Yeah, I put it in my backpack.”

The teacher looked at the class. She saw Reggie and Sam up in the front row. They were two of the smartest in the class.
They aced pretty much every test and project, and were very bright and attentive. “Reggie Rocket, Sam Dullard…” their teacher said,
“I’d like you two to skip the test today and help out Dani instead.”
“Really?” Reggie asked.

“Yes. There’s no room for Dani to sit today… the desks need to be moved around, and also I’m afraid if she takes the test she might not know the material we covered.
I think you two should help her out. Show her which rooms she’ll have each of her classes in---but don’t open the doors.
Get to know her and show her around the school. What do you say?”
Sam and Reggie looked at one another and happily said, “Sure!”
___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

As the three kids left the classroom Reggie was the first to speak up.
“Hi, I’m Reggie, Reggie Rocket.”
“Hey…I’m Dani.”
The two girls started laughing.
“I’m Sam.”
“Hi, Sam!”
“So how long have you been in Ocean Shores?” asked Reggie.
“For about four days. It’s been really hectic.”
“How so?” Sam asked.

“Well, my birthday was only a little while ago and I’m still getting used to being a teenager. I miss my old friends…my old home.
You see, because of my dad’s promotion, we had to move here as quick as we could.”

“Wow, that’s tough,” Reggie started to say, “I’m sorry…but maybe you’ll like it here. I’m sure you will!”  Reggie smiled.
She could tell that Dani was feeling kind of shy and sad so she put a hand on her and so did Sam. Dani looked up and tried to smile back.

“You know Dani,” Sam started, “I was new here once too, I grew up in Kansas and moved here when I was about nine with my mom.
Then I met Reg and Otto and Twister and I felt better knowing I made new friends on the first day.”

“Yeah, out friend Twister had another nickname too---Squid, and then when Sam moved here we gave him that nickname.” Reggie and Sam laughed a little at the memory.

“So I’m “Squid”?” Dani laughed.
This got all of them to start laughing a little and soon enough the three went down the hallways checking out different classes and showing Dani the ropes.
They all talked about random things like how Otto and Reggie became friends with Twister and Sam and how Twister, Otto, and Reggie learned to do all these extreme sports.

Apparently, since the Rocket’s dad was great at extreme sports when he was younger, he taught Otto and Reggie at very young ages.
If he never did, the kids might not have been where they were today.
Ray’s best friend and work partner who helps run the Shore Shack with him, Tito, also helped teach the Rocket kids and their best friend Maurice Rodriguez.

Maurice would twist around the instructions given to him all the time and he would always mix up his thoughts and get easily distracted.
Also, since he was (and is) so nave, gullible, and obviously would never become the next Einstein but could still manage to get the hang of extreme sports,
he was a pretty twisted kid. That’s how he got his nickname of “Twister”.
Reggie even felt comfortable enough to tell Dani how her real name’s Regina and no one ever calls her that and lives to tell the story.

At the end of one of the hallways, the three got to a classroom where Twister and Otto were in. It was their math period.
The three looked through the glass window on the door and tried to find Otto and Twister to point them out to Dani.
Twister was busy sleeping on his desk (as he previously said he would) and Otto was playing around with a pencil.
Sam waved and Otto caught a glimpse of him and Reggie with some girl he didn’t recognize. Otto punched Twister who suddenly woke up.

They looked at the window and around their classroom. Otto and Twister’s math teacher was busy writing on the blackboard, and the kids were all dozing off or asleep.
Otto mouthed the words “Who is she?” and Dani and Sam searched in her backpack for paper and a pen to write messages to the two boys in the other room.
Meanwhile Reggie mouthed, “She’s new. Her name is Dani Ramirez.”

Reggie and Sam stuck around with Dani as much as they could that Monday. During periods in which they weren’t in the same class,
Dani would start to read a book or daydream. When recess came around, Reggie and Sam rushed up to Dani just as she walked out the door.
They tugged her arms and pulled her over to meet their friends. First Dani met Trish, Sherry, and Trent and a few others.
Then Reggie and Sam pulled Dani over to meet Twister and Otto.
___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

They reached two boys who were high-fiving at something and laughing. Out of the blue, Reggie said, “Hey guys, this is Dani. She’s new.”
“Hi…” Dani said shyly.
“Hey, I’m Otto and this is Twister.” Otto said pointing over at his best bro.
“What’s up dudes?” Twister said.
Sam thought to himself how Twister probably got a lot of sleep in his last few classes considering the fact that he seemed a lot happier and awake than before.
“Nothing. We showed Dani around during science,” said Reggie.
“So we didn’t have to take the test!” Sam finished.
Reggie continued, “Yeah that was so rad! I’m glad we were chosen to show you around Dani--- you’re so cool!”
“Thanks!” Dani smiled, “That means a lot.”

Then the five kids started to make a plan for after school.

“So Dani,” Otto started saying, “You wanna hang with us after school?”

The whole group looked at Dani, waiting for a response.
“Sure---cool! Thanks. What’ll we do?”

The gang looked at each other and they all had smiles. Then they started laughing and Reggie put her hand on Dani’s shoulder. 

“We’ll do what we always do.”
“Which is…?”
“Skateboarding at Mad Town, surfing at the beach, and going to the Shack--- you remember the place I told you our dad owns with his best friend?
That’s what we always do.”

Everyone looked at Dani to see her reaction. They thought she’d be so happy to have new friends on her first day that wanted to hang with her their usual way.
Apparently, that was enough to break down Dani.

“Well… the thing is… I can’t skateboard or surf. I don’t know how to.” Dani said with such a sad look on her face.

The gang exchanged looks again. Twister was the first to speak up, “Well, when the Squid was new we taught him how to skateboard, and stuff.”
“And they also taught me how to dirt bike, snowboard, surf, and be better at street hockey,” Sam added.

“Yeah, we’ll teach you if you want,” Otto offered nicely.
“C’mon Dani, it’ll be fun!” Reggie pleaded.
“Okay, guys, I’m in.”

After school ended, everyone rushed out on their blades, skateboards, bikes, or went running out the door.
The Rocket gang rushed out on their skateboards too but remembered to wait outside for their new friend, Dani.
Dani walked out the door soon enough and met up with them outside. She noticed how cool they all looked right then and there. The four kids looked so rad.
First there was Otto.
He was on the short side and had tan skin and auburn-colored dreadlocks
held in place by a green headband, sunglasses, and a pale yellow v-neck t-shirt with red walk short and white basketball shoes.
He tucked his skateboard under his right arm and held his head high. He looked amazing.
Next to him stood his best friend, apparently named Maurice Rodriguez but nicknamed “Twister”.
He had a gray/ light blue t-shirt overlaid by a blue tank top, green cargo pants, rebooks with red/orange stripes, and a striped yellow and brown fat cap worn backwards.
His style looked baggy. He had orange hair and when he took his hat off, it was different yet very cute, and he had one foot on his skateboard just then.
Reggie was next, apparently her real name was Regina. She was the tallest and oldest in the group. She had wavy purple hair and sunglasses on top of her head.
She had a magenta shirt and a yellow rocket on it (probably a logo from her father’s shop that Dani had heard about.) Her pants were camouflage and she wore red shoes.
Reggie leaned on her skateboard and her big eyes shown so brightly. She was totally rad and different than other girls Dani had met.
Right next to Reggie stood Sam. He wore blue pants and green/ blue sneakers with an orange shirt with an “N” printed on it. His hair was blonde and short.
His glasses were black and his helmet he wore resembled a shark- like creature. He was such a nice boy.
 
The five kids went to the Shore Shack. Once they got there, Otto, Twister, Reggie, and Sam introduced Dani to Tito, Raymundo, and Noelani.

“Hey kids, how was school?” Ray asked.
“Great!”
“Sammy and I didn’t have to take the science test because we were showing our new friend around the school.”
“She’s totally awesome Raymundo!”
“Definitely!”

All of the kids started to talk at once about their day and about Dani. Finally Otto pushed her forward to meet the adults.

“Hi, I’m Dani.”
“Hey there new little cous! I’m Tito.”
“I’m Ray, Otto and Reggie’s dad…and this is Noelani”
“Glad to meet you guys,” said Dani sweetly. She didn’t know why or how, but apparently California liked her.
Most importantly, Ocean Shores liked her and that was a totally new experience for her.
The adults looked at her as she sat with the other kids at the table. They all seemed to notice that she didn’t look like the typical Ocean Shores kind of girl.
They also noticed how much older she looked than all the other kids, but they didn’t seem to mind. The kids really liked this new girl.
The five kids went up the hill to put away their school stuff and get their gear. As they went up, the Rocket gang all told Dani stories about their adventures and lives, etc.
Then they reached Dani’s new house. It wasn’t exactly on the cul-de-sac where the other kids lived but it was on their street (surprisingly).
“You guys wanna come in?” Dani offered.
“Can we?” Reggie asked.
“Sure! C’mon in, my mom would love to meet you guys and I want you to meet Lightning.”

The five went into the Ramirez house. It smelled new, obviously looked new, and not all the boxes were unpack yet.
“Hey mom…?” Dani called out, “I want you to meet my new friends!”

Suddenly a woman came out of the next room. She looked a bit like Dani in the sense that she had long brown hair with light highlights and her skin color.
She came around, hugged Dani and then stopped and stared at Otto, Twister, Sam, and Reggie.
Then the woman looked at Dani quizzically and Dani tried to avoid the stare. The woman stared at the other four just a little longer before she said something.
“Hola Dani,” she spoke in Spanish and then switched to English still smiling, “How was your first day?”
“It was great! I made new friends--- they’re awesome.” Then Dani pointed out each of the kids.
“This is Otto, Twister, Reggie, and Sam! Hey Twister…are you Spanish?”

Everyone turned to Twister.

“Yeah…how’d you know?”
“Lucky guess, Maurice!” Dani said, “Actually it’s because your last name sounds Spanish.”

When Dani said “Maurice” mockingly, everyone started laughing---even Twister!
Earlier on, Sam and Reggie told Dani that she should make fun of Twister’s real name--- just for the laughs!
Dani was either getting good at being funny, or her friends were good at making her feel good.
Once they all stopped laughing, Dani showed the gang her pet turtle, Lightning.
The kids then all went to their separate homes and planned to meet back at Dani’s front door. They decided to walk down to the beach and surf.
Since Dani didn’t know how to, she offered to just sit on the sand and watch them.
Dani met with them outside. Reggie’s bathing suit was a green two piece and she wore it well. Dani looked at Twister and she could only think of one word--- wow.
To the other kids, they all noticed that Dani really filled out her bathing suit.
Her top and her curves were so unlike anything the boys ever saw in a girl their age in Ocean Shores. Reggie grew jealous but didn’t show it.
Dani’s bathing suit was a two- piece which was black and red.
She looked like a much younger and hip version of Noelani like when she went surfing with Ray, Otto, and Reggie once.
“Ready?”
“You bet.”
“Let’s go catch some waves.”
“Just don’t beef it Sammy!”
“Maybe I should wait on the beach with Dani?”
“Stop being a wimp Squid!”

The five started laughing and walked down the hill.
On the beach, Sam, Otto, Twister, and Reggie went out to ride the waves. Meanwhile, Dani sat on the beach--- her hair waving from a slight breeze.
She thought about her best friends that she missed from NYC. What was Austen doing right now?
What about Trey or Leah Ann? Dani laid on her stomach, laid her hand on her hands and thought.
“Dudes, it’s the perfect swell!”
“You know it Ottoman!”
“Hey, Rocket Boy, why don’t you take that tasty curl?”
Otto did what his sister said and took the chance to ride this amazing wave. “Maybe Dani’s watching,” he thought to himself.
As Otto ended it he raised his arms in the air and started shouting about his awesomeness when he just rode that wave.
Unfortunately, since he wasn’t paying attention, he didn’t notice that the wave crept closer towards him throwing him off his board.
“Yo, Otto, you just totally beefed it!” Twister shouted out loud. The gang started laughing.
Just then, as Reggie paddled out towards her brother to make more fun of him, Twister and Sam did the strangest thing.
They both looked out towards Dani on the beach and decided to paddle out to the beach.
“Hey, why aren’t you joining us---hit the waves?”
“She can’t Twister, remember? She doesn’t know how!”

Dani and Sam glanced at each other then back at Twister who was still trying to figure out why Dani didn’t join them.
Out by the waves, once Reggie finally stopped laughing at Otto, she realized that Otto wasn’t really paying attention anymore.
He was looking at his best bros sitting on the beach talking to the new girl.
“Hello?” Reggie said in such an annoyed attitude, “You there Rocket Boy?” Reggie waved her hand in front of Otto’s face, which was completely focused on the beach.
Meanwhile on the beach, Twister randomly asked Dani, “Why’d your mom give us a weird look before?”
The two boys looked at Dani, waiting for her response.
“It’s just that I’ve never really had guy friends before. Well, one, but Trey’s a family friend so that doesn’t count…”
“Who’s Trey?” asked Twister.
“You lame-o,” Sam said, “She just said he was a family friend.”
“Ohhh…” was Twister’s response.
“Yeah, and he was the only guy that ever came to my house so my mom was probably freaking inside her head!”
“Why?” Sam asked.

Dani didn’t respond. The three kids just sat quietly until Sam asked, “So, do you like having us as friends?”
“Of course! It’s only been my first school day in Ocean Shores and I feel so welcomed already!”

At this point, Otto and Reggie stepped onto the sand and came to chill by their friends with their surf boards tucked under their arms.
“Dude! You missed some totally tubular swells now,” Otto exclaimed.

Dani watched as Otto stood up facing her and the two guys by her side. He looked amazing.
She thought how her and one of her best friends could have dated Twister and Otto together. It was the New York City girl’s style.
You’re about twelve, but you seem older than you are. From what Dani saw, apparently in Ocean Shores you always stayed the same.
It’s as though you’re always the same kid you were from when you were younger.
Twister, Otto, Sam, and Reggie took their boards and heading to the Shack with Dani. As they were walking up the ramp by Mad Town, Reggie asked,
“So why was your mom so tweaked earlier?”
“Yeah dude, what’s up with that?” Otto asked.
“It’s just that she never saw me bring home guy friends before. It just wasn’t what she was used to.” Dani said.
“So you never had guy friends?” Reggie asked curiously.
“Well I did, it’s just that my mom never met them and I never invited any of them over.
Also, I only had one best friend who was a guy but he was a family friend…I don’t think that counts.”
“But Twist’s a family friend, he’s my best bro,” Otto said back.
“But it’s not the same as back home. A family friend’s more like my parent’s friend’s kids who end up being my friends because their parent’s are my parent’s friends, get it?”
Dani attempted to explain as easily as she could.

Reggie, Otto, and Sam got it but Twister took a while. Reggie, Otto, Sam, and Dani starred at Twister doing the math.
He was running his finger through the air trying to calculate. They looked towards him quizzically; the expressions on their faces were priceless.
Once the five got up to the Shore Shack, they took a seat at one of the round tables (they’re only four bar stool seats by the surf board table
where the Rocket Gang usually sits). It was getting late, almost 5:30, when the gang sat down.
“What’ll it be, lil couses?” Tito asked grinning from ear to ear. Reggie and Dani looked at each other and decided on a burger and fries, as did Otto.
Twister and Sam, with cast iron stomachs, ordered something of their own creation.
Otto winced at the sound of it and Reggie and Dani made barfing gestures at one another, then to Sam and Twister.
Twister shrugged and said, “What? It all ends up in your stomach anyway!”
“Gross, Twist!” Reggie said.
“Uh, yeah, that’s just wrong.” Dani added with a slight smile on her face, her eyes met up to Twister’s, then glanced back down at the table.
“So what?” said Sam, “I actually agree with Twist--- it’s all good.”

The food came and then the five started to dig in. Reggie and Dani sat next to each other.
Reggie was in between her brother and Dani, and Dani in between Reggie and Twister; across from Sam.
The two girls ate mostly their fries and Twister and Sam chowed down on their gross food creations.
The gang started talking about Otto’s sweet, new stunts and then they talked about many off- topic things.
“Hey Dani,” Otto started to say, “is your real name Dani?”
“Well… I’m not sure if I already told this to you guys yet, but my real name is Dani.
My cousin who was like, 15 when I was born said that “Dani” was a really hardcore name and my parents thought it was cool.”
“Our mom’s name was Danielle…” Reggie started to say and trailed off not knowing at all why he even said that.
Otto looked at Reggie who quickly looked away but then he whispered to her, “What are you doing? That’s so random… it’s not you Reg.”
“Cool! So, what about your earrings?” Reggie suddenly and quickly asked.
This was the first time ever that Reggie actually gave even the smallest hint about being a true girl.
A few years ago when Twister’s cousin, Clio, came with Team Rocket for an important ice hockey game
(but she went to compete in a figure skating competition which was just next door---explaining why she tagged along), Reggie looked like a real girl--- just for once.
She and Clio switched spots to compete to see if girly-girl Clio could play ice hockey with the boys
and if tom-boy Reggie could wear a pink tutu and win a figure skating competition.
They managed to fool the boys in the ice hockey game when Clio posed as Reggie, but when it came down to the figure skating part,
Ray, Tito, Otto, Twister, Sam, and Clio were there to support Rocket Girl all the way (surprisingly).
“Oh, well, glad you asked; back home me and my two best friends, Leah Ann and Austen, went to a place and got our ears pierced!
It was so much fun,” Dani said with such thrill in her eyes.
She continued the story, “Most people think that it hurts a lot but it actually doesn’t! It’s extremely addicting and fun too.
Why don’t a lot of girls here have their ears pierced? Also, why don’t a lot of people here have braces?”
The Rocket gang all looked at each other. Dani was absolutely right--- they never even really thought of those things before.
“Good point. Uhh…I don’t know actually,” Reggie said, “And I’m sorry about before… I have no idea why I mentioned what I did Rocket Boy.
It’s not like me, I mean, you know?”
Dani noticed how all three of the boys were about to drown Reggie with questions and were starting to look at her funny.
Dani knew so much about the gang just from one day, and she knew that she shouldn’t let her new friend feel bad right then and there either.
Also, she noticed Tito by the counter listening in while Ray and Noelani were unpacking boxes out back. He looked down and was just about to approach the kids.
She could sense these things.
Reggie looked around her and saw all the guys starring at her, by the counter was Tito who pretended not to notice.
Reggie tried to smirk and shrugged her shoulders as she tried to say as plainly as she could, “What?”
Dani thought about what she should do…
Reggie was apparently in a tight spot and was either starting to feel very uncomfortable, sad, angry, feeling stupid, or embarrassed at her sudden outburst that she rarely had.
‘What would I do back in NYC?’ Dani thought to herself. Better yet, what would her best friends do to make each other feel better? The answer was so totally simple, it was starring at Dani right in the face!
Distraction.
“Hey guys,” Dani started to say as she cut off the major silence from the past two seconds,
“Umm… I wanna learn to surf.” Dani tried to change the subject completely and surprisingly it worked like a charm.
“Well, I’ll teach you how, after all I am just that amazing of a surfer. I AM THE KING!” Otto exclaimed with such a proud and powerful tone of voice.
He raised his arms and tried to flex his ‘muscles’ even though that didn’t work out too well. Dani started to giggle which made more conversation flow.
“I could teach too you know Otto!” Reggie challenged her brother. Tito even joined in seeing how the kids started laughing and smiling again.
“Hey little new cous, I could teach you too--- I taught young Sammy here and he’s a mighty fine surfer now, right brotha?”
Tito said with a mighty smile and a laugh to match.
“Yeah, Tito did teach me how but I’ll admit, I’m not the right person to teach you to surf, sorry,” Sam said.
“Yeah, the Squid’s good but not all that good like me and my best bro Otto here,” Twister teased, “Right Ottoman?”
“Well Twister, I can surf too--- did you not just hear me say that to Otto?” Reggie stated.
“What if you like, drown or something or fall off your board when you wipe out?” Dani asked questioningly.
“Well, there’d be no air in the water so you’d---“Twister was cut off.
“So you’d take all the air you can from inside Twister’s head. There’s definitely plenty of it in there!” Reggie made fun of Twister and laughed.

Everyone started laughing, even Tito. Twister just said, “Hey! That wasn’t funny Reg!”

“Well you lil couses,” Tito started to say, “If you want to, you can go back out on the beach now, you still have time until it starts getting dark.”
“Alright!”
“Thanks Tito!”
“You rule!”
“So true!”
“Bye, thanks!”

And with that, the gang departed for the beach.
“So you wanna surf?” Otto asked. Dani thought that Otto would be hitting the waves right about now.
They looked so intense, even the Squid was joining Twister and Reggie while surf board racing.
“C’mon lemme show you around,” Otto said extending his hand to help Dani off the sandy beach floor.

“This is where Lt. Tyce Ryan is,” Otto explained, “He’s the lifeguard on the beach and majorly strict. Dude, he’s really something else.”
Dani and Otto stood there watching Lt. Tyce Ryan doing these push ups which seemed impossible.
Then they walked on when suddenly they spotted four guys on the beach. It was Lars and his gang.
“Hey there Rocket dork,” Lars said looking straight at Otto who didn’t seem afraid at all.
“Ohh… and who’s this?” Lars said looking over at Dani.
“My name’s Dani.” Dani could tell that this was where she should really bring the New Yorker’s sass and attitude.
These dudes were obviously not wanted around the Rockets.
“Well then, my name’s Lars. I’m the Twisted one’s brother,” Lars said pointing at Twister in the water and then back over at his friends, “This is Pi, Sputz, and Animal.”
The four grinned an evil grin and took a step forward towards Dani and Otto.
Twister, Reggie, and Sam noticed the two getting bullied by Lars and his crew so they decided to come out of the water and help their friends.
“Hey, Lars!” Twister shouted once he laid his surf board on the sand. What could he possibly say to his own brother to make him stop bugging Otto and Dani?
Twister managed to remember what Otto once said to a big bully in an ice hockey competition when they were only about nine or ten years old.
“Lars, Pi, Animal, Sputz--- pick on someone with your own steroid dosage!” At this, the four older teens came right at Twister.
Twister didn’t even know if what he said was the same thing Otto had once said and also, he didn’t really get it either.
All he knew was that it got the older, rough, mean teens mad and that Otto once used that line.
Dani and Otto rushed to his side and Twister whispered to them, “What does that even mean? I heard you say it once Otto.”
Dani and Otto looked at each other annoyed and Dani flicked Twister on the head.
Then they told Twister what it meant and his eyes turned big with disbelief.
He couldn’t believe he just said that to his brother and his friends that could whomp him without mercy.
Dani needed to distract again. This time it was even more important and also much more crucial.
Reggie and Sam backed up to the surf boards, telling the other three to join them by where Lt. Tyce Ryan was (just incase).
“Twister, Otto, GO! I’ve got this you guys!” Team Rocket looked at Dani in total disbelief. 
“What? Dani you have no clue who you’re messing with,” Twister said out loud, trying to block Dani since she was stepping too close to Lars and his friends.
“Yo Twister, I thought this was the Rocket dork’s girlfriend. Why you stealing little bro? You know you shouldn’t---unless you’re us.”
Lars laughed like an evil maniac and his guys followed.
“Lars, she’s not my girlfriend!” Twister said to his brother. “Mine either dude,” Otto also agreed.
Dani couldn’t decide now; Otto or Twister? Should she use herself as a distraction now? What about Reggie and Sam?
Unlike anything the kids have ever witnessed before, Dani did the unexpected.
She fixed up her bathing suit little by little and managed to push Twister back a few feet to where Reggie and Sam were standing. Otto however wouldn’t go.
Oh so quickly, Dani turned back to Otto, kissed him on the cheek, and said, “Move Rocket Boy. Please?” Also to everyone’s surprise, he did.
Dani walked up to Lars and said oh so smoothly, “Que pasa,” then changed back to English, “Why you so mad?”
Dani made sure she looked extra attractive right then and brushed back her long curly hair which exposed her three earrings on her left ear.
“How could be hanging out with these lame-os when you could be hanging out with us?” Lars said so temptingly, “We have so much more fun, we do much cooler things.”
The gang thought Dani would give in, but she didn’t. This time she leaned in even closer.
“So, Lars…”
“So, what?”
“Tell me something..?”
“Sure, what?”
“You think me hanging out with them is a bad idea?”
“Uh, no kidding. They’re a bunch of losers, just a whole bunch of little kiddies.”

“Then tell me, would this bother you---“

Dani swiftly turned around and marched right up to Twister. She wrapped her arms around his bare back and pulled him in.
Right there, on the beach in front of the lifeguard shack, surrounded by the four bullies, three other best friends, and the waves, Dani kissed Twister.
The group was in shock. Lars and his friends looked so mad and also pretended to get somewhat bored with this, so they started to bail.
Reggie, Otto, and Sam were so shocked and apparently so was Twister. At first he was kind of tense considering that he was taken by surprise.
Eventually he calmed down and grew more into that kiss. When Dani and Twister parted, they starred at each other for what seemed like the longest amount of time to pass.
Dani held Twister’s hand and yelled out to Lars, “Did that bother you now? Your own brother can get a girl! Hah!”
“I’m gonna tell mo and dad about this Twister, don’t think I won’t!”
“No Lars, don’t!”
“You’re gonna be so busted!”
“No he won’t,” Dani saved Twister.
“How?” Lars demanded.
Dani’s quick thinking saved Twister when she said, “Because up until a few minutes ago, you didn’t even know I existed!
When you tell your parents, they won’t even know who I am--- you have no proof!”
Reggie joined in, “Yeah, besides Lars, who will your parents believe? You or Twister? I’m thinking---“
“Twister,” Sam finished Reggie’s sentence.

Lars and his posse left the beach saying to the five remaining kids, “We’ll get you, you little twerps!”

“Oh yeah!” Otto cheered and celebrated.
“Victory is ours!” Twister added in.

Reggie, Otto, Sam, and Twister ‘woogied’ and started laughing again but saw Dani walking off the beach.
They ran up to her and Twister put his hand on her shoulder. Reggie said, “For knowing you only one day--- it’s been a real adventure so far.”
Sam nodded and Otto finished, “Can’t wait to hang with you tomorrow, Dani.” And the other four agreed completely.
Once the five reached Dani’s house, Dani apologized for the crazy day she led and how she felt she was a burden because she couldn’t surf with the rest of them.
They told her that tomorrow they’d teach her to surf and do other things. Each day would be a new adventure.
Then as they were all leaving and said their “goodnights” and “c’yas” by Dani’s house, Dani turned to Twister in front of them all and said, “Sorry about the kiss…”
“It’s okay, I didn’t mind.” Twister replied blushing a lot as the others witnessed this.

Dani also blushed and they stood close to each other. Reggie “awwwed” and Otto rolled his eyes but held a smile. Sam tried not to laugh.
Dani then spoke, “C’ya tomorrow Twist?”
“You know it.”
“Cool.”
“And by the way…”
“Yeah, “Dani said as she looked into his eyes.
“Welcome to Ocean Shores,” Twister said, his arms outstretched wide to show all of Ocean Shores.

The five kids laughed and high-fived. It really wasn’t a bad first day of school in Ocean Shores for Dani Ramirez.

 

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