“Favorite food?” I ask him, switching it up.
“Ribs, chicken, steak,” he answers without thinking about it.
“So a meat guy?” I joke. “I almost gave up meat my senior year of high school,” I tell him, and he covers his mouth with his hand in shock. “I know. Trust me, I know. I just couldn’t go the final step.” I laugh.
“Favorite movie?” he asks.
“Sixteen Candles,” I say, and he groans.
“You know that Jake Ryan dude is a carpenter now, right?” he tells me.
“He is so hot. I bet he could do lots with his hands.” I wink at him as he pulls his knees up and hangs his hands on them.
We spend the next hour talking about everything and nothing. At the end of the night, I didn’t want him to leave nor did I get the feeling he wanted to leave either. He gets up on his feet and holds out a hand to help me stand. Flounder looks over his shoulder from his spot on the sand. “This was nice,” I tell him.
He puts his hands in his back pockets, the sweater pulling across his chest, and he smiles. “It was a good evening.”
He smiles and looks down and then up at me, or down at me since he’s that much taller. “Go on up.” He motions to the house with his head.
“You going soft on me, Jensen?” I laugh as I start to walk to the house then turn. “You aren’t that scary, you know?” I turn back and run to the house as his laughter fills the night. I walk in and shut off the lights, but don’t leave till I see him walk away. Holding his head high, he walks down the beach with his hands in his pockets.
“Late night visitor?” Crystal says from behind me, causing me to jump and yelp.
“You scared the shit out of me,” I tell her as she leans on the doorjamb with a coffee cup in her hand. She smirks at me.
“So your visitor?” she asks as she looks at me.
“You want to do this? What about the hickey on your left boob?” I point at her as her eyes go to slits.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about.” She feigns ignorance.
“Really? So who is the guy?” I ask her, and she just shrugs her shoulders.
“Again, you’re changing the subject,” she points out to me.
“So are you,” I tell her as she turns and walks away. “Night, hooker.” She flips me the bird as she walks away.
My dreams that night aren’t of the storm brewing but of calm waters with the sun shining.
I lock the back door as I walk through the house, going straight to my room. The phone in my pocket buzzes, so I take it out and see a shit ton of missed calls, some from Gabe, some from Brody, and one from my mom.
I open the text message from Gabe.
There is this bowling shit this Friday. Are you in?
Why haven’t you gotten back to me?
Where the fuck are you?
OMG ARE YOU WITH A GIRL? YOUR HAND MIGHT GET JEALOUS!
I laugh at the last one and send him the finger emoji.
Then my phone lights up with his name.
“Where the fuck were you?” he asks as I hear Sports Center in the back ground.
“I went for a walk on the beach. Mom has Mila,” I tell him, taking off my shirt.
“So are you in for this bowling shit? I asked Brody, and he said he would.”
What are you talking about?” I ask him, kicking off my shoes.
“This weekend at that retreat, they said we should have office gatherings, and someone mentioned bowling,” he says as he sighs. “So if I have to suffer, I’m bringing my people in.”
I laugh at him. “Okay, I’ll talk to Mom about babysitting Mila.”
“Good, and who knows, maybe you might meet someone.”
“Thanks,” I tell him as Hailey’s face flashes through my mind, “but I’m okay.”
“Whatever, dude. If your hand keeps you that warm, I don’t want to break up a happy home.”
“Fuck you,” I tell him. Hanging up, I bring up the other texts. My mother sent me a painting by Mila, and I swear it looks like a dick with balls, but it’s a pink spaceship.
I also text asking if she can babysit for me, and she calls me back. What is up with people and texting today?
“Hey, honey,” she says as soon as I answer. “Mila is sleeping.”
“Okay? Was everything okay tonight?” I ask as she tells me about the night, but the only thought I can think of is my walk on the beach.
“So can you watch Mila on Friday?” I ask her.
“Actually, I was going to ask if I could take her away for the weekend?”
“Where are you going?”
“My friend and I are going up to the springs for a weekend of hiking, and we will be stopping at Eleanor’s ranch.”