Staring at her reflection Unity sighed “nothing looks good on me.” Turning to face her mom, “I’m a walking skeleton. Do I have to wear a dress?”
“Mom please,” rolling her eyes “don’t say I’m pretty. I know I’m not.” Her fingers strayed to the tufts of thinning hair peeking out from beneath the hat she wore.
Walking over to her daughter “do you want to know what I see when I look at you?” She turned her daughter towards the mirror. “I see a beautiful young woman. Not only beautiful but strong and brave. A fighter.”
“Mom,” she wiped a tear from her cheek “you’re going to make me cry.”
“Then you’ll make me cry,” Charity sniffed. “You’re going to be the prettiest girl at the Summer Social.”
Rolling her eyes she stared at herself in the mirror trying to see the girl her mom saw. All she saw was … herself. “Mom do you think RIley will like this dress?”
“He’ll like any dress you wear,” Charity assured her. “Boys don’t pay much attention to what we wear.”
“Then why do you fuss so much when you and Daddy go out?”
“Because I want to look my best,” she smiled at her daughter in the mirror. “Do you like him?”
Nodding her cheeks turning pink. “I’ve liked him for like forever.”
“Then he’s a lucky boy,” she squeezed her shoulders.
“I don’t think he’s lucky…not if he likes me.” Her bottom lip trembled “Maybe I shouldn’t go. I’ll call him when I get home and say I changed my mind.”
“You’ll do no such thing,” Charity turned her daughter around so she could look her in the eyes.
“But he’ll only get hurt …”
Tilting her chin upwards “is it him you’re worried about or yourself?”
“Unity’s eyes slid towards the floor. Her shoulders sagged as if she carried a heavy weight.
“That’s what I thought,” Charity sighed “you’re allowed to be happy. Enjoy what time you have. None of us are giving up and neither should you.”
“I’ll try,” she smiled up at her mom through her tears. “I really will.”
“That’s all I ask,” she pulled her close, hugging her tight. “Do you want the dress?” she asked, pulling away.
Turning to look at herself in the mirror once more “yes.” Grinning she added “with the wig Daddy got me I’ll look almost like I did before I got sick.”
“Dad, can we talk?” Justice asked, coming into the living room where his dad was reading.
Putting the book down Ryan sat back “of course, what’s up?”
Sitting on the couch Justice tried not to look as guilty as he felt. This was his dad not some stranger. “Um…” he inhaled deeply trying to settle his nerves and the rapid beating of his heart.
Frowning Ryan leaned forward .”Is something wrong? I know your mom and I haven’t been around much this summer but we’re always here for you. You can tell us anything.”
Smiling at the concern he heard in the dad’s voice he shook his head. “Nothing’s wrong it’s just…” another deep intake of breath. “I got accepted into University…” He saw the relief and pride in his dad’s eyes “It’s on the mainland….”
“Oh,” sighing he ran a hand through his hair. “Have you told your mom yet?”
Shaking his head, “not yet. I won’t be leaving right away. I’m planning on taking a gap year.”
“Are you sure you want to do that?” Ryan watched his son closely. He’d known for a while that Justice had wanted to leave the island. To do more than help run the resort.
“It’s not that I want leave” sighing he toyed with this hair. “I love you guys. I just don’t see myself running a resort. It’s not what I want to do . Noble loves it. I don’t share that love.”
Snorting a little Ryan chuckled “it’s going to be difficult getting him to release control once Charity and I are able to dedicate more time to the resort.”
“Why not just let him have it?” Justice asked “retire early and take Mom on a second honeymoon or something.”
“That’s a good idea,” he nodded thinking about it “but you kids deserve some free time to enjoy yourselves while you can.”
“For Noble that’s running the resort,” he chuckled softly. “But I guess even he will want time to spend with this girlfriend.”
“True but you can’t change the subject that easily,” Ryan said “you need to tell your mom. She’s going to want her kids close by especially now.”
“I know,” sighing he leaned forward, “but I have to live my life too.”
“You do and your mom will realize that once she’s done crying,” he assured him. “You’ll be missed.”
“Thanks Dad,” he grinned “I’ll miss you too but I’ll be back to visit.”
“You better or your mom will hunt you down,” he warned.
“Don’t I know it,” and the both laughed.
“I don’t know…” Noble frowned at what his brother had spent hours doing.
“What?” Loyal demanded “I think it looks good.”
TIling this head to the side “it doesn’t look right.” He walked towards the proposed photo area for the guests at this year’s Summer Social.
“What’s wrong with it,” Loyal asked somewhat defensively. They’d been at this for hours and accomplished so little.
Graham looked up from the reception desk where he had been checking a guest. “Boys keep your voices down,” he admonished them. “The guests don’t want to hear you two argue.” Joining them he asked “what’s wrong with what you have?”
“That’s what I want to know,” Loyal huffed.
“Well,” Noble rubbed his chin thoughtfully. “It’s too…” he waved his hands around searching for the right word “promie.”
“Promie,” Graham and Loyal repeated together staring at him.
“Yeah,” crossing his arms “it’s the Summer Social not the prom. It’s semi formal, beachy.”
Nodding Loyal sighed “You’re right. It’s a little too much like prom.” Taking a step back surveying all his hard work “maybe if we took some of the balloons down.”
“All the balloons,” Graham said, remembering all the families that come with their young kids. “We don’t want kids fighting over the balloons and popping them.”
“Yeah let’s nix the balloons,” Noble said. “Let’s do flowers instead. Maybe an arch.”
“I don’t know…won’t that be a little elaborate,” Loyal said thinking of all the dried petals he’d have to clean up afterwards.
“Better than people screaming every time a balloon pops and kids fighting.” Graham pointed out.
“Alright you win,” he sighed, not looking forward to redoing everything. “What kind of flowers should we get?”
“Something bright and cheerful,” Noble suggested.
“I’ll see what I can find,” pulling out his phone hoping Belle will be more helpful.
Stacy watched her friend put her phone away “what did he want?”
“Ideas on flowers, bright and cheerful.” She giggled a little “I guess Noble didn’t like the balloons. I tried to tell him that balloons were a bad idea but would he listen?”
Shaking her head she led the way to the store she wanted to take Belle to. “Do you think we should have volunteered to help with the decorating?”
“Maybe tomorrow,” she looped an arm around Stacy’s “today we shop.”
“Good idea,” she agreed “there’s a cute dress I want your opinion on.”
Raising an eyebrow at her “for the dance or a romantic dinner for two?”
Frowning “what’s the difference?”
“Well,” laughing she followed the girl into the store “not much if you ask my cousin but for me a little slinky dress that’s just waiting for some lucky guy to remove is perfect for a romantic night.”
“In that case it’s a dress for the dance,” Stacy said her cheeks burning at the images Belle had conjured in her mind.
“I take it you two haven’t gotten to that point yet…”
“Um no,” shaking her head “have you?”
“Well,” she idly started looking at the clothes on the rack “I’m not one to kiss and tell.”
Staring at her a moment Stacy wasn’t sure if she should believe the girl. “Well um this is the dress,” she pulled it out and held it up “what do you think?”
“It’s….nice,” she wrinkled her nose a little “it’s not really my taste though.”
“You don’t like it.”
“It’s not something I’d wear,” she tried to find something nice “it’s a pretty color.”
“Wow it must be bad if that’s the best you can say about it.” She put it back “the truth is I don’t know what to wear. Will you help me?”
“Of course,” she looked around the store before saying “first let’s find a different store. This one makes me think of menopausal women trying too hard to be appealing.”
“It does,” she giggled “I guess all that time I spent with my Nana has rubbed off on me.”
“Well by the time we’re done you’ll have Noble’s eyes popping out at how pretty you are,” Belle assured her.
Chapter 48 – Unpopular Decisions / Chapter 50 –