With a feeling of trepidation making if feet feel like lead weights and his heart race in his chest Will trudged up the stairs towards the intimidating door. He stood at the top gathering the courage to bring his hand up to knock on the same door to summon from inside the house.
The door opened while he was still coaxing himself into knocking. “What are you doing here” a girls unfriendly voice demanded.
His eyes lifted to find Temperance scowling at him holding the door like a shield between them. He dropped his eyes to her feet where he could see small scratches going down her legs ending at an ace bandage around her ankle. “Did I do that” he asked his voice coming out in a squeak.
“What do you want” she repeated moving the door like she was about to close it in his face.
“Temperance who is at the door” Hannah called coming up behind her.
“Just some idiot” she pointed in the direction of Will’s shocked face.
Hannah frowned “isn’t that Unity’s cousin?”
“Yeah the loser” Temperance said emphasizing loser rolling her eyes.
“Temp” her mother’s voice rose in reproof “ask your guest inside. Honestly where’s your manners?”
“I don’t think that’s wise” Temperance objected “Dad might kill him.”
“Whatever for” she exclaimed shocked.
“He’s the one who did this” she waved a hand towards her wounds.
“Let him in” Hannah insisted “maybe he came to apologize.”
“But Mom” Temperance whined.
“Invite him in” Hannah insisted giving Will an apologetic smile.
“It’s your funeral” Temperance mumbled stepping aside and motioning Will inside.
Will gulped loudly as he was met by an older red-haired male. He took the offered hand “I’m Donovan” the man smiled introducing himself.
The ice blue of the man’s eyes made Will think of the iceberg that sank the Titanic. “I’m sorry” he yelped “I should have stayed to help. I’m sorry I didn’t.”
Donovan stared at him noticing how the boy fidgeted under his glare. “Just don’t do it again. We all make mistakes. I trust you’ve learned something from this.”
“Yes sir” Will nodded his head feeling the anxious knots release from inside his stomach.
“That being said I’m not the one you should be apologizing to” Donovan nodded towards his daughter. She was leaning against the door giving her visitor a nasty look.
“Err” Will murmured tongue-tied at the prospect of facing her. It was worse than facing her parents. Taking a hesitant step forward he said “I’m sorry.”
“You should be” she snapped unwilling to give him an inch much less to forgive him.
“I should have helped you get home” he continued “I’ll do anything to make it up to you.”
“Anything” she asked her eyes brightening.
Nodding he felt he had somehow walked into a trap. “I guess” he said with some trepidation.
“Take me to the end of summer social at the resort” she said.
“Temperance” her mother scolded “you can’t use his apology to get a date.”
“But mom” she cried “ how else am I supposed to know he’s sincere?”
“You know better than that” Donovan’s voice was stern making her sigh and gave him a penitent look.
“I’m sorry” she said turning to face Will giving him a sweet smile. “I accept your apology. No strings attached. You don’t have to take me to the summer social.”
Benjamin hopped out of his truck hurrying towards the hood where steam was coming from beneath it. In his head he could hear his dad rebuking him. He had been warned to have the radiator checked. He thought it would be okay. It’s not like his dad was a mechanic or anything. He knew computers not cars. No doubt his mom would use this as an example of why he should follow the recommended maintenance schedule. Sure he received the email alerts from On Star every month. It’s not like he read them all. Who had time for that?
He reached for the hood release only to jerk his hand away with a muttered curse. “Shit” he shouted waving his hand around attempting to cool it off.
“Didn’t anyone ever tell you not to open the hood when there’s steam coming out of it” a voice asked behind him.
Scowling he turned around “mind your own damn business.”
“Whoa” the boy raised his hands up in mock surrender. “Whatever your issue is I didn’t do it.”
A low rumbling growl from the dalmatian standing at attention beside the stranger had Benjamin taking a few steps backwards. “Call your mutt off” Benjamin snapped eyeing the dog uneasily.
“He’s not a mutt” the boy cried defensively his hands rubbing the dog’s head as if to reassure it. “He’s a purebred dalmatian.”
Rolling his eyes he stretched his neck. “Whatever” he mumbled. The last thing he wanted to do was get into a discussion about dog breeds.
“You should get your hand looked at” the boy observed “I live just over there. If you wanted to follow me I could put something on it.”
“It’s not that bad” Benjamin lied wincing as he forced his fingers to bend.
“Suit yourself” he shrugged turning to leave. “Whatever you do better make it quick before infection sets in and you can use that hand anymore.”
Benjamin scowled watching at the boy walked away with his dog in tow. He looked at his hand and the painful red blisters stretching his skin. “Wait” he called hoping the boy was still willing to help him.
Stopping the boy turned “change your mind” he asked giving him a doe eyed innocent look.
“Yeah” he shrugged “give me a sec while I get my stuff from the truck.”
Reaching inside the cab he grabbed his duffel bag and laptop case. He could feel the curious gaze of his benefactor watching him. Catching his reflection in the rear view mirror he hastily finger combed his hair.
“Do you always have a laptop with you” the boy asked eyeing the case with distaste.
“Only when I have work to do” Benjamin shrugged “currently I’m redesigning the web page for a friend’s resort.”
“Oh” his eyes lifted with interest “that’s ok then.”
“You have a problem with gamers or something” he asked unable to contain his curiosity.
“Not especially” he shrugged “it’s a long story.”
“Maybe one day you’ll tell me about it” Benjamin flashed him a boyish grin. “For now I’ll settle for your name.”
“Oh” the boy seemed somewhat flustered “I’m Jonas Matthews.”
“It’s nice to meet you Jonas. I’m Benjamin Bennett” he said introducing himself. “If you haven’t guessed yet I work for the best resort on the island.”
“I kind of guessed that” he smiled. As they entered to houseboat Jonas asked “do you need any help with your redesign? I have a lot of ideas on how you can improve their site and get the most from social media.”
“You may have just saved my life” Benjamin announced “I’ve been stuck on how best to redesign it. The last guy really botched the job and made a royal mess.”
“Let me fix up your hand and you can show me what you’ve got” Jonas suggested.
“Aren’t you curious how much you’ll get paid? It won’t be much. This is pretty much pro bono for me” Benjamin lost his smile becoming serious.
“How about we get the job done” Jonas suggested “When it’s done you pay me what you think it’s worth. I just really want to get my name out there. If I do a good enough job on this maybe it’ll lead to something else.”
Christopher swung a leg over his motorcycle as his eyes swept the parking lot. He had arrived early just as Royal requested. “Typical” he muttered beneath his breath. He had only agreed to come because Royal said it was super important. Royal’s words not his. Everything to Royce was super important. With an irritated huff Christopher stood from his motorcycle, striding towards the bar.
The bar was fairly empty. The bar man nodded, a knowing grin on his rugged face. “The usual” the barman asked.
“Yeah” Christopher sat at the end of the bar closest to the speaker. The music so loud and the base so high it vibrated through his chest. Lifting the drink to his lips he gasped as the whiskey burned it’s way down his throat. His eyes watered blurring his vision. Blowing fumes from his nostrils it felt like he had snorted gasoline. “What the hell” he croaked.
Despite the ringing in his ears he knew the bartender was laughing at him. Someone slapped him on the back sending him reeling.
“Hey leave the kid alone” someone said moving to help Christopher up. “Here let me help you.”
Feeling like an idiot he jerked his arm away falling completely off the bar stool to the floor. The gales of laughter making his face burn.
The bartender nonchalantly leaned over the bar “next time you come into my bar pup, order a man’s drink.”
“Leave the kid alone” Christopher’s self appointed protector repeated.
“The kid shouldn’t be in here” the bartender growled mopping up the spilled drink.
“You’ve obviously served him in the past,” the man pointed out.
“Always coming in here ordering coke” the man muttered.
“Good thing too” the man said “you could have your liquor licence pulled if anyone found out you were serving minors.”
“Hey now” the bartender scowled “I was just having a little bit of fun.”
“You had your fun” the guy growled “now leave the kid alone.”
Christopher pulled his feet beneath him. With flushed face he staggered to the exit. Bumping into someone on his way inside. Looking up he found his Royal staring at him in shock. Growling he snarled at Royal as he pushed past him to the outside.
“Hey” Royal shouted after him.
“What do you want” he demanded sitting on his motorcycle revving the engine.
Running up to him Royal yelled over the noise “I thought we were going in for a few drinks.”
“Change of plans” he breathed heavily into Royal’s face.
“Have you been drinking” he asked waving a hand in front of his face. “Should you be driving?”
“Who the fuck cares” Christopher shouted back revving the engine louder.
Reaching for the kill switch Royal said “I care for one. Your parents for another.”
Somewhere the words sunk into his brain making inroads into his anger. “Sorry” he sighed “I don’t know what got into me.”
Nodding towards the entrance Royal asked “anything to do with that guy?”
“Naw” shaking his head Christopher said “he tried to help.”
Talia leaned into her date as they walked along the shoreline. It felt nice to have someone hold her hand and treat her like she were special. A small contented sigh escaped her.
Jeremy looked down smiling “I be I know what that was for.”
“What was what” she asked wishing she could pretend everything was alright.
“You’re wishing Will liked it here” he stopped gazing at the ocean. The seagulls calling to each other was the only sound besides the lapping of the waves.
“That would help” she agreed.
“But…” he looked at her expectantly.
“But he doesn’t like you either” she admitted.
“Do you want him to like me” he asked.
“Of course” she agree a little too loudly and without meeting his eyes.
“Then why haven’t you introduced us” he asked “I don’t mean the incidental introduction either. Let us get to know each other.”
“I guess” she said somewhat hesitantly as if she had something else on her mind.
“What” he prompted. He half suspected what she was about to say.
“Do I get to meet your kids” she asked “I gather from the frowns your daughter gives me she doesn’t like me anymore than Will likes you.”
“It’s not that bad” he protested laughing softly. “She just wants to make sure you’re not some sort of nut job.”
“This weekend” she said “we do something as a family. You me and the kids.”
“This weekend won’t work” he shook his head “it’s my weekend rotation at the E.R.”
“I thought you were an oncologist” she frowned up at him.
“I am but the E.R. is short-staffed so everyone is taking turns to cover the E.R.” he explained.
“That’s nice of you” she said.
“It is but I’d save any emergencies for another weekend” He chuckled at the shocked look she gave him “I’m a little out of practice on skinned knees and flu bugs.”
“That’s not the only emergencies the E.R. gets” she chided him.
“I know but those are the ones I’m hoping for” he said. “How about the following weekend? We could have a family picnic at the beach.”
“Sounds like a plan” she smiled up at him not exactly hiding her concern how the kids were going to react to their plans.
“Don’t worry so much” he put a gentle arm around her shoulder “it’ll be great.” He chuckled at the image of Tony the Tiger that entered his mind. He could only shake his head at Talia when she gave him a baffled look. Instead of explaining he kissed her cheek instead.