Douglas leaned against his car watching the passing tourists as they oohed and awed over some interesting bit of fauna. To his untrained eye it was just like any other plant. Shaking his head he turned at the sound of his name being called. He returned Kyle’s wave “I’m so glad you could meet me” he enthused “my sister has me running all over the place getting stuff for her party.”
“I thought it was just going to be a few friends” Kyle said beginning to worry that he was intruding where he didn’t belong.
“That’s what I thought” Douglas shrugged unconcerned. “I’m hoping with you along I can show you around the island and get whatever she wants.”
“You want me to come with you” he asked “wouldn’t you rather do the errands so you can get back to the party?”
“Not really” shaking his head emphatically “Sandi will just put me to work decorating or making some dip or something equally boring.”
“Maybe this isn’t such a good idea” Kyle said again.
“Don’t you want to spend time with me” Douglas asked sounding hurt. “I know errands aren’t fun but it’ll give us time to get to know each other.”
“I like the sound of that” Kyle admitted. “I’m not so sure about the party. Your sister might not want a stranger crashing it.”
Waving his hand Douglas dismissed his concerns. “Besides Sandi said I could invite anyone I wanted.”
Smiling Kyle asked “where to first?”
“I have to pick up a few things at the store” he explained holding up a list. “My sister likes to have people over but her organizing skills needs work.”
“That’s a long list” Kyle shook his head “what if we can’t find all of that?”
“Then I’m a dead man” Douglas laughed. “Seriously though Sandi wouldn’t hurt a fly much less her little brother. She’ll just be disappointed. She’ll make me feel about two inches high because I couldn’t do the impossible.”
“When is the party to start” he asked daunted by the task.
“People will start to arrive around three” Douglas shrugged. “Once you get to know Sandi you’ll learn to go with the flow.” Getting into the car he glanced over at Kyle “aren’t you hot in that jacket?”
“Maybe a little” he chuckled a self-consciously pushing the sleeves up. “I’m not used to the weather yet. I keep expecting it to cool off.”
“Stick with me I’ll have you dressing like a native” Douglas assured him as he merged into traffic. He mumbled something about tourists blocking the road to take stupid pictures of stupid trees.
“Have you lived here long” Kyle asked once they got out at the grocery store.
“Nope” he picked out a cart and started towards the door “my sister and I moved here a couple years ago. I didn’t want to go to college and she” he shrugged ruefully “was getting over a broken heart.”
“Oh” Kyle didn’t know what to say “I’m sorry.”
“Don’t be” Douglas said “the guy was a jerk. She deserved better than that guy.”
By the time they finished the errands they arrived at the house a little before two. Sandi glared at her brother as he came in loaded down with bags. “It’s about time” she cried in a frenzy “people will be arriving any minute and I’m never going to be ready.”
“Take a chill pill” Douglas laughed at her “your parties are always epic even when you’re scrambling to get things done.” Nodding towards his friend “this is Kyle. I invited him to the party.”
Kyle gave the girl a sketchy wave before being pulled away by Douglas. “Never mind her” he said “Sandi always freaks out right before a party. She wants everything to be perfect. When it’s not she takes it out one whoever is closest.”
“Which is usually you” Kyle added.
Nodding Douglas steered him towards a closed door. “We can hand out in my room until she settles down.”
Sandi watched her brother and his friend disappear leaving her with the groceries to put away. “Ingrates” she muttered under her breath.
“Hey” a familiar voice called from the door “hope we’re not too early.”
“You’re right on time to help” she squealed when Rex lifted her from the floor in his customary greeting. “Put me down” she demanded.
“Aw you’re no fun” he pouted.
Grant asked from where he was leaning against the wall “anything we need us to do?”
“Since my brother abandoned me” Sandi squealed again as Rex twirled her around. “Stop” she giggled hitting him on the shoulder.
“Ow” he whined “that hurt.”
Rolling his eyes Grant inserted himself between his twin and the girl. “What do you need us to do?”
“You’re no fun” Rex whined “all work and no fun is so boring.”
Shaking her head at the twins she asked “how can anyone mistake you for each other? Seriously your so different from each other. Like night and day.”
“It’s the people who don’t know us that get tricked” Grant explained going to answer the door. “January” he greeted warmly.
Rolling his eyes Rex said “that’s the last we’ll see of him.”
“Has he asked her out yet” Sandi asked handing him a bag of chips and a bowl.
“She asked him before he worked up the nerve” Rex chuckled. “You should have seen the grin he had plastered on his face.”
“January’s a sweet girl” Sandi said defending her friend. “It’s her brother you have to watch out for.”
“Don’t tell Grant that” Rex begged “ he’ll want me to meet the brother in his place.”
“I won’t” she promised “I like your face the way it is. I wouldn’t want Brandon rearranging it.”
Taking the bowl he had filled with chips into the living room he found Grant cuddling on the couch with a girl. “Hey” he called “I thought you were going to help.”
“Got a better offer” Grant said between kisses January was peppering him with.
“Ugh…get a room” Rex groaned shaking his head as he went to answer the door as more guests arrived.
He found three girls waiting on the porch. “Hey” he smiled at them all.
“Let me in before I lose my mind” Montana pleaded pushing past him. “Those two love birds are driving me crazy.”
“It’s not much better in there” Rex warned as she moved entered the living room.
“Where’s Doug” she asked thinking she could at least hang out with him.
“In his room I think” Rex shrugged “what’s up with her” he asked Dakota.
“She’s upset that Macy and I have decided to make it official” Dakota explained beaming at the girl beside her.
“Moving a bit fast aren’t you” Rex frowned hoping that they didn’t give Sandi any ideas. They had been dating a few months longer than Dakota and Macy.
“Fast” Macy asked “what do you mean?”
“Dakota said you made it official” it was his turn to be confused “I thought she meant you were engaged….”
“Oh hell no” Macy shook her head tossing her pink braid from side to side. “We’re dating exclusively now. It’s going to be a long time before we take it to the next level. Engaged…” she shivered.
“You make it sound like it’s a bad thing” Dakota said with a frown.
“I’ve seen too many of my sorority sisters get married and they’re all miserable.” Taking her girlfriends hand “I want to have fun. Enjoy life while I’m still young and able.”
“My parents were married young after meeting in college” Dakota said pulling away from Macy “They’ve been happily married for over twenty years.”
“They’re the exception then” Macy let her hand drop as she walked into the kitchen to see if Sandi needed any help.
Montana threw open the door to Doug’s room gasping when she found him sitting on some guy’s lap. “I’m sorry” she squeaked backing from the room.
“Montana” she heard Doug call after her. She didn’t stop preferring to pretend she didn’t hear him. She hadn’t expected her best friend to be with someone. Was she the only single person here? Maybe Dakota’s harsh words about her being an old maid were true. Maybe she was going to be the one watching all her friends fall in love and leave her behind.
She found her twin bickering with Macy about something inconsequential. Grant had his tongue down January’s throat. Sandi was squealing in the kitchen as Rex chased her. So normal. Yet she felt so alone. She hadn’t realized how much she had counted on Douglas always being there to hang out with her. Now he too had left her behind. Found someone else.
“Montana” Douglas said having come out to find her “I’m sorry. I should have told you I invited Kyle over to hang out with us.”
“It’s ok” she assured him attempting to give him a smile. “I should have knocked first.”
“We weren’t doing anything” he said not sure why she was acting like she had caught them in bed together.
“I shouldn’t have come” she cried moving towards the door. “I’ll call you later” she said as she opened the door to leave.
“At least let me give you a ride home” Douglas offered following her.
“I want to walk” she gave him a brief smile that didn’t quite reach her eyes. “Please I just want to be alone.”
“Alright” he agreed reluctantly “text me when you get home so that I don’t worry about you.”
“I will” she promise. When the door closed behind her she took several deep breaths before setting off in the general direction of home.
A heavy sense of melancholy weighed heavily upon her shoulders. Her feet slowed as she passed the entrance to the beach. She remembered how Jason once told her how he liked to go to the beach when he was having a bad day. He had said something lame about the the waves were soothing. A wry smile replaced the frown she’d been wearing since leaving the party. She had a pretty good idea Jason’s interest in the beach had less to do with the waves than it had to do with the surfers on the waves. Nodding she decided she could do with the distraction too.
Taking a detour she walked down towards the beach. She knew several surfers claimed this beach had the best waves. She couldn’t tell what made a wave good or not having never surfed in her life. She had wanted to take lessons when she was a kid but she knew it would freak her more timid father out. He no doubt would have worried about her being bit by sharks.
Wishing she had brought along her sunglasses she raised a hand to shield her eyes. She jumped to her feet searching the horizon for the surfer that had gone down. She felt time slowly tick by as he failed to emerge from the water and reclaim is board that was being tossed back and forth on the waves. Had he hit his head? When she thought all was lost his head broke the surface causing her sigh in relief upon seeing him. He looked a bit dazed as he swam towards his board and rested on it for several minutes before making his way to shore.
For some unknown reason she found herself walking towards him. She watched as he planted his board in the sand and plopped himself beside it. “I saw you wipe out” she blurted out “are you alright?” Her eyes bulged out at what she had done. She never approached strangers much less talked to them.
Something flickered in his eyes, annoyance, anger, embarrassment. Maybe a bit of all three. Opening his eyes he seemed to have changed his mind on whatever he was going to say and instead flashed her his trademark grin. “Just a little winded” he said making light of his situation.
“Your bleeding” she gently touched his forehead inspecting his head wound. “You were under so long I was you must have hit your head on something.”
One eyebrow rose “you were watching me?”
“Well I…I…um” her cheeks turned as red as her hair “I should go…”
“Hey don’t go” he reached up grabbing her hand “I’m not upset that you were. I’m kind of flattered that you were.”
“Um” she stared at his hand. His fingers wrapped around her wrist sending electric shock waves up her arm. She wanted to run. To hide. To stay. It was altogether confusing.
“I’m Tanner” he introduced himself smiling down at her.
“I’m…” she paused almost afraid of saying her name. She always got some smart remark about her being named after Hannah Montana or you know the state. “Montana” she mumbled after he had given her a questioning look.
Castel tossed the magazine to the sand at his feet. He should have known better than to pick a random magazine off the sales rack to read. Why seeing their smiling faces still bothered him he didn’t know. After ten years he should have gotten over the sting of her rejection. It’s not like she wasted any time reconnecting with Bentley Adams again. The mention of the guys name made his heart beat speed up and his hands to shake. Maybe if Blair had married someone else he wouldn’t still be hanging onto the sting and pain her rejection caused.
The shrill screams of a woman in distress jolted him from his sulk. Glancing around he found a young blonde woman struggling against the current screaming. Standing up he shielded his eyes against the harsh glare of the sun. At first he couldn’t see what was causing the woman’s distress and panic.
Running towards her he couldn’t help but wonder what he hoped to accomplish. He was no one’s hero.
“My little boy can’t swim” she cried latching onto his arm.
“Who” he asked confused.
“My son. He was playing right there” she pointed towards a few sand pails and shovels. “I turned my back just for a second….
Her terrified eyes pleading with him to do something galvanized him into action. He scanned the ocean spotting what he hoped was the boy’s head bobbing to the surface. Without thinking he took off running. His Dulce and Gabbana sunglasses sliding from his face to the sand to be swept into the ocean a moment later by the waves. His shoes followed a moment later as he dove into the ocean swimming in the direction he had seen the fleeting glimpse of a little blonde head.
He floated in place gulping air into his aching oxygen starved lungs. The beach seemed to far away and impossible to reach. All he could see was water is every direction. Wave upon wave crashed over his head. Shivering he imagined what it must like to a small child. Swimming in circles determined to find the child.
He was about to give up, retreat back to the beach exhausted and defeated. With flagging energy he swam towards something bobbing on the surface. As he got closer he could see it was the body of a little boy about 2 years old. With dread he reached for him turning his face upwards and breathing into his mouth hoping he wasn’t too late.
Clutching the child to his chest as a wave crashed over top of the driving them both beneath the surface. Struggling he kicked to the surface. He gulped for air then breathed into the boys mouth again before making the agonizing trek back to shore.