“Why did he have to press the issue” Benjamin mumbled to himself as he got out of his truck. Slamming the door he stopped abruptly as the sound of someone laughing reached his ears.
“Hate to be the guy who caused that foul mood” a chuckled stepping away from the restaurant wall.
“What make you think it was a guy” Benjamin demanded.
“It doesn’t” the man shrugged “but you did say he. I heard it with my very own ears.”
Scowling at the stranger Benjamin found his lips twitching. The guy was cute. “I’m Ben” he said holding his hand out.
“Nice to meet you Ben” the guy smirked taking his hand giving it a squeeze.
“Err” he tugged his hand away “usually when someone introduces themselves you reciprocate.”
Shrugging he grinned “I’m not like most people. Normal is so boring.”
Leaning on his truck Benjamin gave the stranger an appraising look. “I don’t know about that. Normal can be kind of nice sometimes.”
“Boring” he yawned rolling his eyes.
“I’d at least know the guys name” Benjamin pointed out turning to retrieve his laptop from the passenger seat.
“I prefer to think it gives me an air of mystery” the said moving in close rubbing shoulders with Benjamin as he passed. “Wouldn’t you like to have a little bit of anonymous fun” he whispered in the younger man’s ear.
Closing the door Benjamin couldn’t hide the befuddled grin that spread across his face as he bumped into the stranger. His eyes were bright with interest even if a little unsure. “It does hold a certain amount of allure but….”
“No buts” the man grinned “I’ll pick you up here tonight at 9:00.”
Benjamin watched as the stranger walked away. “Hey” he called out “what do I call you?”
“How about Mr Anonymous” he tossed back with a wave before getting into his car and speeding off.
“This could be interesting” Benjamin mumbled staring after the car.
“Do you even know who he is” a familiar voice asked from behind him.
“Haven’t got a clue” he chuckled to himself turning to find Jonas standing behind him with a disapproving expression on his face. “Do you?”
“He’s bad news” he said eyes staring at the car disappearing around a corner.
“Speaking from experience “ he asked watching Jonas carefully. “He seemed nice enough.”
“You’re interest in him, does that mean you’re going out with him” Jonas asked. His voice sounded half strangled like he was having trouble breathing.
“Shrugging Benjamin said “I’m thinking about it.” Walking towards the resort he missed the look of disappointment that crossed Jonas’s face. Stopping when he realized his companion wasn’t following he said “are you coming? We’ve got a lot of work to do.”
“Huh oh… yeah” Jonas sighed ungluing his feet from the tarmac to follow Benjamin into the resort.
Christopher sat outside the familiar resort waiting. He had mixed feelings about his date tonight. He was grateful for the guys help but … blowing air through his nose he swung a leg over his bike. Maybe it’ll be better than he thinks.
“Hey” someone called out to him. Turning Christopher saw a familiar long-haired male rushing towards him. This time it was tied back “I was hoping to catch you before you went inside.” He was barely breathing hard despite having sprinted across the parking lot.
“You caught me” Christopher said looking around unsure with the entire situation.
Taking a step back Brandon gave his date an appraising look. Whistling softly he said “you clean up nice.”
“Err thanks” his heartbeat raced pounding in his ears. “So do you” he added not sure what else to say. His stomach felt jittery, an uncommon feeling for him. He was usually more confident than this. He didn’t know what it was but for some reason Brandon made him uncomfortable.
“I was hoping we could take walk along the beach before we eat” Brandon suggested his voice smooth as silk.
“Um” Christopher stared at his feet hoping his shoes would inspire him with what to say. “If you think we have time. The restaurant usually fills up fast…”
“We could always go afterwards” Brandon nodded as if that settled it. “Maybe by then you’ll have relaxed enough to enjoy my company.”
“That implies I’m uncomfortable now” he raised an eyebrow.
“Aren’t you” he asked. Without waiting for an answer he walked past to hold the door open for him. “See I’m a perfect gentleman” he said with a wink as Christopher walked past him.
“I never said you weren’t” Christopher protested “If anything you’re the type to rescue damsels in distress.”
Brandon’s lips twitched “are you a damsel in distress? Do you need rescuing?”
“Well…” his eyes darted around the busy foyer as if afraid someone might overhear them. “You did help me out of a sticky situation not long ago.”
“Oh yeah I did” he smirked “so you are a damsel in distress.”
Feeling as if every eye were on him Christopher wished he was turtle. Having a shell to hide in would come in handy in situations like this. “Am not” he hissed “I could have gotten out of that situation on my own.”
“With or without a black eye” Brandon asked grinning from ear to ear obviously enjoying teasing the younger man.
“You think you’re such a smart ass” Christopher mumbled turning his back on him.
“I may be a smart ass but you definitely have a fine ass” leaned in close whispering “I’d like take it for a ride.”
Gulping audibly Christopher admonished “we’re in public” he hissed eyes wide wishing he had not agreed to this date. What had he been thinking?
Letting his hand graze across his date’s tight jeans before stepping back. “Alright I’ll be on my best behavior. I promise. No monkey business until later. On the beach.”
“I never said I was going” Christopher reminded him.
“You will” Brandon nodded confidently.
Temperance stared at her phone. Her stomach twisting into knots. She had expected to hear from Unity by now but it had been days since she’d received a text message from her best friend. Unity always replied back regardless of what she was doing or where she was at.
Looking at the time she sighed. She could feel the eyes of her parents on her watching her like she was about to explode or something. She scrambled to her feet. She wasn’t in the mood for family movie night especially when her brothers were all out enjoying themselves.
“Temperance” her dad called shutting the TV off before she could make good on her escape.
“We need to talk” her mother’s gentle voice added making her anxiety grow.
Reluctantly she turned around “I really should start getting ready for bed. I have to work early in the morning. With Unity gone we’re all working extra shifts.”
“That’s what we need to talk about” Donovan said patting the spot next to him on the couch.
Moving slowly across the room she sat between her parents. Glancing between them she said “I’m sure it’ll only be temporary. Once Unity comes back my hours will go back to normal.”
“She may not be going back to work” Hannah said reaching for her daughter’s hand.
“Of course she is” Temperance cried. “She’s going to get better. You’ll see….” She bit back the angry hurtful words she wanted to say. Unity had to get better. They had so many things they had to do yet. College. Tour across Europe. The Summer Social. All the things they’d dreamed about doing since they were little kids. She had to get better!
“Sweetie” her dad’s voice cut through her thoughts. “We hope she does get better.” He looked across at his wife with anguish in his blue eyes.
“Mom” she turned “Unity is getting better isn’t she?” The unanswered messages took on an ominous note. What if she couldn’t return them? What if she was sicker than they thought? What if she was dying?
“She’s not responding as well as they hoped to the treatment” Hannah explained.
Tears swelled in her eyes, rolling down her cheeks. “She has to get better” Temperance insisted. “She just has to” she turned to her dad burying her face into him. Her cries turned into sobs as his arms wrapped around hr holding her tight. “I want to see her” she sniffed once she was able to speak again.
“You will” Hannah said rubbing her daughter’s back.
“When” she demanded clinging to her dad.
“Just as soon as we can arrange it” Hannah said. “We have to wait until after your grandparents come….”
“I want to go now” she cried turning red rimmed eyes towards her mother.
“It’ll just be a couple of extra days” Hannah explained.
“What if something happens between now and then” she cried “I need to see her now before it’s too late.”
“We understand that” Donovan interceded between his wife and daughter. “Right now it isn’t possible. Unity can’t have visitors right now. In a few days that’ll change. Have patience.”
Temperance pulled away from him. Why couldn’t they understand that she had to see Unity now. Not days from now. Standing she ran from the room. She heard them calling her but she ignored them. She had to get away. To think. To plan.
It had been the longest day ever at work. Usually working at the boutique was therapeutic. It was something that made here feel closer to her best friend, Unity. Today her thoughts kept going back to what her parents told her. Her friend might not ever come back. Might not get better. It filled her with a sense of dread. Unity was going to die. Those terrifying words kept repeating themselves throughout the day.
She kept seeing Mindy’s scowl of disapproval as she let another customer go without a purchase. Her commissions for the day was going to be the lowest ever. The other girls tried to cover for her. To help but nothing could ease the frantic racing of her thoughts.
She sat on one of the benches outside the boutique after her shift. “Aren’t you coming with us” London asked.
Shaking her head Temperance waved her friends away. “You go on without me. I don’t feel much like the beach today.”
“If you need someone to talk to” London offered before joining the others.
“That’s nice of you” Temperance gave her a small smile. “I’ll be okay. I’m not feeling sociable is all.”
Frowning at the unusual admission London asked “are you worried about Unity? I’m sure she’ll be good as new in no time.”
Temperance felt a surge of anger sweep through her at the words. “I’m sure she will be” she lied not wanting to destroy the girl’s hopes like her’s had been shattered.
London gave her a doubtful look before letting others drag her off with them. Alone Temperance glanced at her phone. Still nothing. A sense of foreboding filled her. She couldn’t imagine not having her best friend by her side.
“Hey” a familiar voice said beside her “what’s up?”
His overly cheery voice grated on her nerves. “My best friend is dying” she growled needing to vent on someone.
“You’re joking” he laughed. When she didn’t join him he lost his smile “you’re not joking are you?”
“No” she shook her head as tears spilled out.
“I’m sorry” he apologized moving to sit next to her on the bench. “I didn’t know.”
“No one does” she sniffed wiping at the wetness on her cheeks. “I just found out she wasn’t responding to treatment.”
“That doesn’t mean she’s dying” he said wanting to give her something to hope in.
“But she will” she said doggedly holding onto her dark thoughts.
“Not necessarily” he insisted “it just means they haven’t found the right treatment yet.”
“What if they never do” she demanded glaring at him. “She’s my best friend. I should be with her.”
Will was silent for several minutes contemplating her words. He needed to help her. To show her he wasn’t the jerk he was when they first met. “What if I take you” he asked holding his breath hoping that would be something she’d let him do for her.
“How” she sniffed “she’s not on the island. She’s on the main island. We don’t have enough money to fly or take the ferry across.”
“I’ve got an idea” he smiled at her “meet me at the pier tonight at ten.” He stood up with renewed energy and purpose.
“What… why” she cried looking up at him with the first flicker of hope she’d had all day.
“I know someone whose going across to the main island tonight on the midnight ferry. We can stow away in his car. Bring snacks and drinks because we won’t be able to buy anything once we’re on board.”
“Isn’t that illegal” she asked frowning.
Smiling “yeah but you want to see your friend don’t you?” Shaking her head he continued “then this is the only way.”
Biting her lip thinking over his suggestion. “I suppose so” she said hesitantly. She didn’t want to worry her parents but she needed to see Unity. “I’ll do it” she said nodded firmly.
“Great” he gave her his best charming smile “I’ll make the arrangements then.”
Watching him go she felt herself becoming excited over this adventure. She couldn’t wait to tell Unity all about it when she saw her. With a burst of energy she caught the bus home making a list of things she would need to take on the trip.