“Come on I’ll take you home” Royce suggested helping Christopher from the bike.
“No way” he pushed Royce away “my parents will kill me if I show up like this.”
“Then you’ll have to come over to my place” Royce said.
Rolling his eyes Christopher allowed him to help him towards his car. “Fine” he muttered.
Smothering a grin he sympathized with his friends feelings. “This time will be different. Jason has friends over so he won’t be bugging you.”
“Good” his voice betrayed his relief the he wouldn’t be asked for information on his brother. “It’s not that I don’t like him” he tried to smooth over the offense.
“Don’t worry about it” Royce waved his apology away. “I’ve talked to him about it. Told him if he liked the guy that much he ought to just tell him.”
“That’s asking for trouble” Christopher sighed “Ben isn’t interested.”
“I know but the only way Jason will accept it is if he hears it from Benjamin” Royce went around to the driver’s side of the car. “I don’t look forward to picking up the pieces when it happens.”
“Maybe he’ll meet someone else before it does” Christopher suggested.
“Well there is someone….” Royce paused at the sound of someone tapping on his window. “Can I help you?”
“You no” he shook his head “your friend definitely.” He handing Royce a folded piece of paper. Then before anyone could react he turned and walked away. “I think this is for you” he tossed the paper over to his friend.
“What is it” he mumbled staring at the folded piece of paper on his lap like it might bite.
“Open it and find out” Royce said as he backed out of his parking space. “If I were to hazard a guess I’d say it was his phone number.”
The silence from the passenger seat had him glancing across at Christopher. Curious he asked “so am I right? Is it his number?” When Christopher nodded he asked “so will you call him?”
“I don’t know” he sighed thinking back at how they met. “Do you think I should?”
“If he has you at a loss for words I’d say go for it” Royce chuckled “who knows what might happen.”
“But I was so wasted” he put a hand over his eyes embarrassed at how he was acting.
“You said he helped you” Royce reminded him “obviously he likes playing hero.”
“Yeah maybe” he mumbled fumbling with his phone. “I’ll think about it.” To change the subject he asked “so what was so important you wanted to talk to me alone?”
“Well there’s this girl…”
“And you’re hoping I can give you some pointers” Christopher asked filling in the blanks.
“Well yeah” he shrugged “I’ve seen you pick up girls in the past.”
“”I have but I’m better with guys” they both laughed “do you know the girl?”
“Of course I know her” he huffed “It’s one of Jason’s friends.”
“In that case I’d say relax and by yourself” he suggested “be casual about it and see if she looks for ways to be alone with you.”
“Then what do I do” he asked.
“You really like her don’t you” Christopher asked. He had yet to meet someone he couldn’t walk away from. He felt somehow jealous of the younger man.
“I do” he sighed a goofy grin on his face “she’s perfect.”
“I sincerely doubt that” Christopher laughed getting out of the car. “How about I meet her then I’ll give you some pointers if you still need them.”
“Just don’t go getting any ideas” Royce warned.
“I won’t. I promise” he waved his phone around “besides I have the hero from the bar to occupy me.”
They were both laughing as they entered the houseboat.
“Hey you’re just in time to light the grill” January announced when Royce entered the room.
Glancing up Jason seemed to be searching for someone beyond his brother. His smile faltered when he realized it was only Christopher who had come. “Glad you join us” he mumbled attempting to appear happy to see him. Disappointment gnawed at his stomach that someone else wasn’t there.
He caught Royce staring at him. Plastering a grin on his face he said “Jace could use some help with the grill.”
Clapping a hand on Jason’s back Christopher said in jovial manner “point me in the direction of the grill and I’ll get it going for you.”
“It’s on the deck” Jason mumbled pointing in the general direction of the grill.
“You ok bro” Royce asked beneath his breath. He had seen the disappointment in his twin’s eyes.
“Fine” he lied “why wouldn’t I be?”
Royce knew Jason was pretending not to be hurting and valiantly trying to hide his feelings. Maybe for the others he was successful but Royce knew. “Sorry I should have called first” he apologized.
“It’s your house too, invite who you want” Jason said turning away. “January have you met my brother yet?”
Her eyes moved up down checking him out. “I’ve seen him around” she said in an overly bored voice.
“I’ve been around a lot” Royce tried to appear casual and unaffected. He knew he was failing by the look Jason was giving him. His voice always took on a quiver when he got nervous. It wasn’t real noticeable but it was there. Jason knew him better than anyone and had picked up on it.
“Guess I haven’t noticed” she yawned taking out her phone she directed all of her attention to it.
“Um” Royce strained his mind for something else to say to get her attention. “I’m in a band” he squeaked earning himself a concerned glance from his twin.
“Oh yeah” she raised her face from her phone. “I haven’t seen you play anywhere. What’s your band’s name?”
“Um well…” he groped for words “it’s still being put together.” He glared across at his twin daring him to say anything.
“Too bad” January said returning her attention to her phone “you were almost interesting.”
Feeling like he just received a mortal blow Royce wandered off. He couldn’t help but wonder if this was how Jason felt each time Benjamin failed to notice him. If it was he had a new found respect for him for being able to persist. He was distracted from his thoughts by the sound of Christopher’s laughter.
“You’ll never get it lighted like that” Christopher’s laugh was boisterous causing the younger boy to jump back.
“I don’t like fire” Jace stammered taking shelter behind Christopher when flames shot upwards from the grill.
“Watch it” Christopher yelled as Jace jostled his hand sending it perilously close to the flames. “What’s the matter with you? You almost got me burned.”
“Sorry” he took a step backwards “I didn’t mean to. I guess I kind of freaked out.” His eyes were glued to the flames watching them as if they were a living breathing thing.
“It’s ok kid” Christopher said deciding to give the guy a break. “We can’t all be brave like me.”
“You can be brave for both of us” Jace mumbled.
Shrugging Christopher decided to drop the subject. “Where’s the steak” he asked instead.
“Err” Jace pointed towards some tofu burgers and hot dogs. “January’s a vegetarian” he explained.
Shaking his head Christopher arranged the tofu on the grill. He could feel Jace’s eyes following every move he made. It filled him with a warm fuzzy feeling deep inside. Something he hadn’t felt since Lindsey dumped him.
“Where do you think you’re going” she asked as her son ran past her to the door.
“I’ve got things to do” Aaron said without stopping.
“Like Raven” Riley snickered from the table where he was helping himself to another stack of pancakes.
“Shut it” Aaron glared at his younger brother.
“K I S S I N G” he sing songed ignoring the murderous glare his brother directed at him.
“Have you gotten the balls to ask Unity out yet” Aaron challenged.
“Leave her out of this” Riley shouted getting to his feet.
“Boys” Erika yelled putting her hands up as if to referee between them “enough.”
Her son’s glared at each other. Neither one wanting to back down or apologize.
“I’m out of here” Aaron announced turning towards the door.
“No you’re not” Erika called after him “I need your help today.”
The slamming of the door was the only response she received from her departing son. “What was that all about?” she asked her youngest.
Sitting back down at the table he stuffed his mouth full of pancakes. Riley shook his head shrugging his shoulders.
“Who is this Raven” she asked when the plate was empty.
“Just some guy” he mumbled getting up to wash his plate. “You might want to talk to Aaron about it.”
“I’ll do that” she agreed “so you like Unity?”
“Mom don’t” he begged running up the stairs to his room.
Shaking her head she cleared the rest of the dishes up from breakfast. Afterwards she went outside to collect the mail. Walking outside she noticed a moving van outside the house next door. Shuffling through the mail she didn’t notice the dark-haired man approaching her.
“Hello” his voice was deep and pleasant “I’m Malcolm.”
Glancing up she felt her face flush with heat. He was as good-looking as his voice indicated he would be. “I’m Erika O’hare” she squealed internally as he took her hand. She felt like a teenager again facing her crush instead of a thirty-six year old single mother of two teen boys.
“It’s nice to meet you” he said with a debonair smile that resembled more of a smirk.
“Dad” a young girl called “the dork is refusing to help.”
“I’ve got to go” he said a look of regret in his eyes.
Erika sighed watching him go “pity he’s married” she muttered to herself.
Keli glared at her father as he hurried towards her. “You can chase skirts after we’ve moved in.”
“She’s a nice lady” he said winking at his daughter. “If you want to ask her out for drinks and a nightcap that’s none of your business.”
“Whatever” she rolled her eyes at him. Grabbing a box she stomped towards the house.
“You like that lady” his son asked pointing towards the neighbor’s house.
Malcolm could see the troubled expression in his son’s eyes “she’s nice” he said.
“I don’t want another mother” the boy said before turning and running towards the house leaving his father alone beside a pile of boxes.
It was generally a bad idea to walk with your head down watching your feet. Yet that’s exactly what Kyle was doing after his interview. He let his nerves get the best of him. He completely bombed the interview. He was so distracted by his failure that he collided with someone as they were entering the resort.
“Excuse me” the mild mid range voice said “I should have been paying attention to where I was going.”
Kyle looked up in time to see a pair of gorgeous eyes. He was struck dumb as his mouth moved but no sound was produced. His mind was mush.
“Are you alright” the man voice asked with a note of concern.
Shaking his head Kyle managed to single stammered “yyyesss.” He tried to stand p but found his limbs to weak to support him. Closing his eyes Kyle counted to ten willing himself to pull himself together.
“Here let me help you” the guy with the gorgeous eyes offered taking Kyle’s hand and pulling him to his feet.
Kyle blinked wondering how they guy could be so casual like he had no idea how he affected others. “Thanks” he mumbled leaning against the door frame.
A frown creased his perfect skin as he observed Kyle. “Should I get a doctor? They have one on call here. I can get him.”
“No really I’m alright” Kyle took a deep breath. He stood tall and straight “see? I’m fine.”
“That’s good to know” the blonde flashed Kyle a boyish grin that would have diffused a bomb. “I’m Douglas Bennett. My friends call me Doug.”
“It’s nice to meet you” Kyle took his hand giving it a shake as an electrical charge surged between them. “I’m sorry for running into you” he started to apologize.
“Don’t worry about it. It was my fault for not paying attention” Douglas assured him.
“We’re two peas in a pod then” Kyle said laughing a bit “I wasn’t paying attention to where I was going either.” For some reason he found himself telling Douglas about his interview and how bad it was.
“We all have off days” Douglas commiserated “don’t let it get you down.”
“I won’t after all it led me to you” Kyle could feel heat warming his cheeks “err I mean if we were paying attention we wouldn’t have met.” He couldn’t seem to stop the words as the dribbled from his mouth. No matter what he did the dribble continued.
Douglas for his part didn’t seem to notice. “Are you new to the island” he asked once Kyle’s ramblings ceased.
Instead of replying Kyle simply nodded hoping that would keep him from saying anything else embarrassing.
“My sister is having a party tomorrow” Douglas continued as if he didn’t notice Kyle’s lack of response. “It’s just a small group of friends really but it’ll give you a chance to meet some people.”
Kyle met Douglas’s eyes. There was an anxious hopeful look in them. It made Kyle think he might be afraid Kyle would tell him no. “I’d like to come if it’s alright with your sister. I don’t want to intrude.”
“Sandi won’t mind. She said I could invite a friend.” Douglas seemed to relax and the anxious look in his eyes disappeared. “Give me your number and I’ll send you the details.”
“Only if I can have yours” Kyle teased pulling his phone out his nervousness abating.
“No problem” Douglas said “you’d have had it anyway once I sent you text.”
Kyle paused a moment to wonder if Douglas was really as innocent as he appeared. “I’ll text you later” he promised.
“Great” Douglas grinned “I have to go or I’ll be late.” He turned to walk away. Halfway to his car he turned to wave relieved to find Kyle still standing there.
Kyle smiled to himself. What seemed to be a lousy day was suddenly not so bad. He was looking forward to seeing Douglas again.