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Things Liars Hide

By:Sara Ney

I trail in the wake behind my brother and his new girlfriend, the three of us paddling in kayaks across the surface of Lake Walton, slicing our oars through the dark water at a leisurely pace.

The day is calm, sunny, and perfect.

I adjust the brim of my straw sunhat so it completely covers my face, and push the sunglasses up higher on the bridge of my nose before maneuvering my kayak closer to my brother, Cal, and his girlfriend, Greyson.

They’re ahead of me, rowing side by side in companionable silence, and I trail after them, in no hurry to partake in their love-fest.

I try to avert my eyes when they steal glances at each other every couple feet as they paddle, trying to be sly about it but failing miserably. They cannot keep their eyes off each other, and if I weren’t so damn happy for my brother, I would be completely repulsed.

Nonetheless, as a single female, I feel it’s my duty to give an eye-roll towards the cloudless blue sky.

“Babe, let’s check out that sand bar over there.” My brother’s low voice carries back to me. He twists his lean torso and looks back at me. “Tab, we’re gonna stop at the island.”

“Hey, I know that place!” Greyson exclaims, excited. “You showed me a picture of it once.”

Cal grins at her, obviously pleased that she remembered, and we all paddle deftly towards the little island. It’s actually more of a peninsula jutting out into the water, with a white sand beach, picnic tables, and a campfire site.

As we get closer, I can see a small smokestack where the last campers had their bonfire, the faint, smoldering gray cloud rising into the canopy of trees from the dying embers.

My brother continues talking. “I’ve always wanted to stop, but stopping by myself always just seemed depressing.”

Greyson blushes at him prettily. “Well, now you never have to.”

My brother’s steely gaze lands on the cleavage appearing from beneath the zipper of her life jacket. “Kayaking with you is almost worse.”

Her large hazel eyes widen. “What! Why?”

“Because I just keep wanting to lean over and pull you into the water. Get us both wet.”

Gross. I want to splash them both with my paddle. “Alright, you two, stop. Just stop. You’re making me sick.”

My brother, who I never in a million years thought would so freely give PDA, leans his muscular, tattooed arm out to draw Greyson’s kayak closer, and he bends over the side of his, puckering his lips.

Their eyes close behind their sunglasses and their lips meet, pressing together over the water.

They both sigh.

Greyson lays her paddle across her red kayak, the delicate fingers of one hand reaching up to gently stroke the new gash under my brother’s left eye. “I have to put some Neosporin on this.” Her voice drifts over the water, soothing. “I’m worried.”

My annoying younger brother nods into her palm like a puppy dog. “Okay.”

What the…

Seriously, could this get any worse?

“I brought us a picnic.”

Never mind. It just did.

Greyson gasps in delight. “Oh my god, Cal, sweetie—could you be any more perfect?”

“I don’t know. Could you?”

“I love you.”

“I love you.”

They’re disgusting. Just disgusting.

Greyson sighs.

I sigh too, and with a jealous little huff, keep paddling.

Our kayaks hit the sandy bank of the island, and Cal hops out first, dragging Greyson’s up onto the shore with ease, and holding his hand out to steady her while she steps out onto the beach.

I hold back a groan when his hands go around her waist and their lips meet for another quick kiss. He gives her butt a swat when she starts up the bank towards the campsite.

My brother turns, wading in a few feet, and grabs the rope at the front of mine, pulling my kayak alongside Greyson’s and extending his hand to me the same way he did for her. Only instead of graciously accepting his help, I narrow my eyes at him from my spot on the water.

“What’s the look for?” he asks, glaring down at me.

“I don’t trust you,” I say.

Cal snorts. “What—you think I’m going to dump you in the water? What are we, thirteen?”

“Oh please. I know how you operate. Don’t tell me you aren’t thinking about it right now,” I tease, but extend my hand.

He takes it, pulling me up so I can step out. When my feet are on the shore, I’m ankle deep in water and my brother crosses his arms indignantly.

“You give me no credit at all. I would never shove you in the water.”

Now I’m laughing as I stand. “You are such a liar.”

“What kind of an asshole shoves his sister in the water with his girlfriend watching?” He leans over as he bends to steady my kayak, busying himself by pulling them onto the shore farther so they don’t float away. “You know—” he looks slyly over at me “—you’re right. I did think about shoving your ass in the water.”

“I knew it!” My foot gives a kick, and I splash him.

“Yeah, well, you deserve it. I still owe you from the time you laid under my bed hiding while I changed my clothes, then scared the shit out of me once I turned off the lights and climbed into bed.”

I throw my hands up, exasperated. “That was three years ago!”

“Whatever—you’re sick. Watch your back, that’s all I’m saying.”

“Shut up,” I scoff, glancing up to where Greyson is walking around the picnic area, alone, while we bicker like children. “And why are you bothering me when your girlfriend is waiting? I love you to death, but the two of you make me sick.”

And I already love her to death—like a sister.

I love them both.

They have formed an unbreakable bond, an incredible friendship.

And I want them to continue being happy.

“I don’t understand why you’re not getting this one. It’s perfect!” My sister nags beside me, pulling the lavender shower curtain off the hook and tossing it in the cart. “I think it’s so cute.”

I reach into the cart and snatch it up, replacing it on the display. “I’m not putting this in my new condo. It’s purple. And floral.”

My little sister tsks. “More like a grayish lavender. Girls will love this.”

“Greyson, I don’t plan on parading a string of girls through my condo, and I am not going to look at this ugly-ass shower curtain every damn morning before work.”

She sighs loudly, relenting. “Fine, have it your way. I’m just trying to make your place a babe magnet.”

I laugh and grab hold of the cart. “Let’s just grab towels and everything else on the list, and then we can come back to this aisle. Right now, I’m over picking out shower curtains. Agreed?”

Greyson nods, her pale blonde ponytail swinging jauntily and settling on her shoulders. With tan skin from perpetually being out in the sun, pert nose, and large hazel eyes, my younger sister by five years is beautiful—inside and out.

Not to mention kind, sweet, and funny.

We are nothing alike.

Where she is all sunshine and light, I am stormy and dark. Greyson is five-foot-five and delicate; I am six-foot-two and imposing.


I stand brooding beside her, leaning my elbows against the handle of the red cart as we trail aimlessly through the center aisle of her favorite supermarket chain. She lets me push the cart of household items and cleaning supplies I’ll need for my new condo, chatting next to me about her new boyfriend, Cal.

We arrive at the lighting department, and Greyson halts the cart, nudging me. “Didn’t you say you needed a lamp for your living room?”

I shrug, pausing to adjust the sunglasses perched on top of my head. “Yeah, but I was planning on just stealing one of Mom’s.”

Greyson tips her head back and laughs. “And you don’t think she’ll notice?”

I shrug again. “Maybe. But by the time she notices her lamp missing, I’ll be long gone. It’s a solid plan.”

“But she’ll see it at your housewarming party next weekend.” My sister knocks me with her hip. “Just go pick out a lamp, tightwad, and spare us all the drama.”

“Fine,” I grumble. “But explain to me why I have to pay thirty bucks for a lamp, then another twenty for the shade? That’s highway robbery. All I really need is a light bulb and a switch.”

But I comply, knowing it’s a losing argument. She’s going to make me buy a lamp no matter how long we stand here disagreeing. Striding with purpose down the lighting aisle, I eyeball them all and reach impulsively for a silver base with sleek lines.

There. This will do.

Now for a shade to coordinate; something simple with clean lines would work.

Sleek. Clean lines.

What the hell is wrong with me? I sound like a goddamn interior decorator.

“That one’s actually really nice!” Grey exclaims excitedly, helping me rearrange the shopping cart contents to make room for the lamp and shade among all my other crap.

“Gee, don’t sound so surprised,” I deadpan. “I’m not a total Neanderthal.”

“Well, I mean… not totally. Although your usual decoration of choice is Star Wars posters and The Incredible Hulk.”

I scoff loudly, crossing my muscular arms over my broad chest resentfully. The navy-blue tee shirt I shrunk doing my own laundry strains across my shoulders. “I’ll have you know, my condo in Seattle had none of those things, smartass.”