“Was that Temperance” Talia asked looking up from where she was making mac and cheese for lunch.
“Yeah” he stared at his phone a perplexed look on his face.
“What’s the matter” she asked setting her spoon down. “She didn’t call to break up with you, did she?”
“Mom” he groaned “we’re not dating.”
“Uh huh” she turned to dish up the plates.
“She called to apologize” he explained taking the plate she handed him.
“That’s nice of her” she said taking a seat at the table.
“It was my idea” he protested “I talked her into it because I wanted to impress her.”
“Will I know you” she looked up “you wanted to help. You knew how much she wanted to see her friend. You made it happen. Don’t make your gesture less than it was.”
“I guess” he mumbled not sure if it was a noble as his mom was making out to be. “I mainly wanted a way to show her I wasn’t the jerk she thought I was when we first met.”
“You really like her don’t you?” she asked.
Rolling his eyes “don’t go and plan our wedding.”
“Yeah right” he mumbled taking a bite of his mac and cheese. “I saw that look in your eyes.” Pausing he ate in silence for a minute or so “we’re just friends.”
“You want to be more though” she prompted.
Squirming beneath her gaze, he nodded. “I know we’re too young. I really like her though. I want her to be happy.”
“Then what’s the problem” she asked getting up to wash her dish.
“I don’t know if she likes me” sighing he stared glumly into his plate.
“Of course she does.”
“You’re just saying that” he mumbled.
“I’m not” she protested taking her seat across from him at the table. “She did just call to apologize, didn’t she?”
“Yeah” picking at his food he pushed it away from him.
“It seems to me she cares about you” she waited for him to respond before adding “if she didn’t she wouldn’t have felt the need to apologize. She must feel bad that you might have gotten in trouble.”
“I didn’t though” he said meeting her gaze.
“Not because you didn’t deserve it” she gave him a brief smile. “However I understand why you did it.”
“I know” he sighed, “what do I do now? He’s totally out of my league.”
“Stop” she raised a hand “I don’t want to hear you talking like that. No one is out of your league.”
Giving her a disbelieving look he stood up “what should I do?”
“First of all you’re going to stop thinking you’re not good enough.” Standing up she ruffled his hair like she’d done since he was little. “Second you’re going to ask her to the summer social.”
Jerking his chin up “do you think she’ll say yes?”
“I’m positive” she winked at him before turning to finish the dishes.
“Christopher” Hannah called through her son’s bedroom door. “You have a visitor.”
“Tell them to go away” he shouted from where he sat inside his dark room.
“That’s not very nice considering he came all the way here to see you.” She called refusing to let him push anyone else away. “You can’t stay in your forever.”
Donovan approached her “I’ll take care of this” he offered. “Go keep his visitor company. He looks like he could use some calming down.”
Nodding she walked away tears in her eyes. She resisted the urge to turn around and caution Donovan to be gentle and not to push him too hard.
“Christopher if you don’t come out I’m coming in” he called through the door. “You have until I count to ten.” Paused hoping his son wouldn’t force his hand. When there was no response he started counting “one…two…” the door clicked and his son peeked through the crack.
“I don’t want to see anyone” he mumbled eyes a mixture of fear and anger.
“I know you don’t” Donovan acknowledged “but sooner or later you’re going to have to come out. It’ll only get harder the longer you seclude yourself.”
Hesitantly Christopher opened his door wider, eyes darting from side to side. His chest moved rapidly up and down as he started to hyperventilate.
Putting an arm around his son’s shoulder’s Donovan walked with him to the room where his visitor waited. Opening the door they found another young man nervously tapping his toes on the floor while he waited. “Jace” Christopher mumbled in greeting. He was somewhat disappointed that his first visitor wasn’t one of his childhood friends.
Standing up Jace clearly looked like he was about to run from the room. “I wanted to see how you were doing” he stammered staring at Christopher’s feet instead of his face.
Frowning Christopher found himself wondering what made his visitor so timid. “Thanks” he grunted.
Shoving his hands in his pockets he took a step back almost falling back into the couch he’d been sitting in before. “Yeah um I…” he stammered his breaths coming out in a wheeze.
“Are you alright” Christopher found himself asking somewhat concerned.
“I’m” he nodded pulling out an inhaler “my asthma always acts up the more nervous I get.”
Frowning Christopher sat on the far end of the couch. “Sorry…I’m not good company” he looked across at the young man. His breath caught in his throat. Maybe it was the angle “it was you. That night. You helped me.”
Nodding his eyes darted towards Donovan seeking reassurance. “I didn’t mean to bring that up. I needed to know how you were.” Standing he moved towards the door “I should go.”
“Hey” Christopher called him back “thank you.” He stood reaching out and touching the boy’s hand causing Jace to flinch “sorry. I….I’m sorry.”
“It’s okay” he mumbled taking a step back “I don’t like … you know …being touched. People think I’m weird but Jason understood.”
“Jason’s a good friend” he smiled softly “I um” he stopped unsure what else he wanted to say but not wanting Jace to leave either. “Would you like to stay? Maybe we could watch a movie or something?”
There was a moment of shock in the timid eyes “um yeah I’d like that.”
Grinning in relief he asked “what do you want to watch? We have a big movie collection.”
Cheeks turning a soft pink Jace mumbled “comedies. Romantic comedies.”
“You’re in luck” Christopher said over his shoulder as he went to where they kept the movies. “My little sister likes those too.”
Neither one of them noticed when Donovan left the room smiling as he watched both young men discuss what movie to watch.
Benjamin finished setting up the resorts website. He was proud of the design he and Jonahs has come up with. He couldn’t wait for Ryan and Charity to see it when they got home. He sucked in his bottom lip as he concentrated on his task. Why wait? He could email the link to them. Give them something to look at while they deal with Unity’s health issues. His fingers flew across the keyboard as he typed up an email so he could wait for their feedback.
“Hey” Kade called as he approached the front desk. “Fancy meeting you here.”
“Oh hi” he glanced up frowning “do we know each other?”
“Wow I must have made a poor impression the first time we met” he joked. Leaning on the front desk “we met here at the resort a few nights ago. Sed was giving you a hard time.”
“Oh yeah” he blinked as he recalled that night. “Sorry I hope I didn’t offend you.”
Shrugging “don’t worry about it. However you can make it up to me by suggesting places I could visit while I’m here.”
“There’s a whole section on our website that lists all the places to visit while you’re on the island.” He moved the monitor so that Kade could see it. “I could print a copy for you you” he offered when Kade made to copy a couple of interesting places.
“That would be great” he grinned. When Benjamin returned with the printout he asked “have you been to all of these places?”
“Most of them.”
“Does the resort offer guided tours” he asked a hopeful gleam in his eyes.
“That’s a good idea” he enthused “I’ll have to suggest that to the owners. Unfortunately at this time the resort doesn’t offer tours yet.”
“Oh” he sighed pushing off the desk.
“If you could wait a day” Benjamin suggested “I could show you around. I have the day off tomorrow.”
A huge grin spread like sunshine across Kade’s face. “That would be wonderful. I can move all my meetings around so we can spend the day together.”
“If that works for you” he nodded “I can meet you here say at 8 o’clock tomorrow morning. I can arrange for a picnic lunch to be packed by the resort restaurant.”
“I think it’s a date” Kade said taking a step back “I’ll see you in the morning.”
“You won’t regret it” Benjamin assured him looking forward to spending a day away from the resort and from his family.
“Sucks to be you” Sed hissed in Jonah’s ear as he came up behind him.
Jumping Jonahs turned to find the man he most despised gloating behind him. “What’s that supposed to mean” he hoped his wasn’t as squeaking as it sounded. The smirk on the Sed’s face told him it was.
“It’s obvious you like him” he leaned in close crossing his arms. “That poppy dog look is unmistakable.” Tsking “too bad he doesn’t feel the same way about you.”
Swallowing hard Jonas’ blinked back tears. He had no reason to be upset. He never had a claim on Benjamin. “What do you want” he forced his tone to be cold, distant, firm.
“I’m here to watch the show” he stood up straight closing the gap between them. His eyes flashed with malicious delight “when he realizes that website design you made falls flat I want to see his face. I want to see your face when he realizes that you’re a failure.”
Taking a step backwards Jonas brought his hands up like he was trying to protect himself. “Why do you hate me so much” his voice hoarse.
“I don’t hate you” he laughed “I just don’t think you deserve to have anything.”
An indistinct groan came out as his eyes moved around seeking escape. He looked across the room towards the front desk. Benjamin was still talking to Kade. Why did both of his ex’s have to show up here? “Leave me alone” he almost pleaded as he turned away.
“Not gonna happen” Sed said behind him causing him to freeze in place. Laughing at the hurt bewildered expression on Jonas’s face reminiscent to a fly trapped in a spider’s web.
“Is this guy bothering you” Benjamin asked coming over to them.
“Um” he tried to come up with something to say that didn’t make him look like a loser.
Benjamin gave him an appraising look before deciding to ignore Sed standing nearby. “The website you designed is getting a lot of buzz. I can’t believe it.”
“You helped” Jonas stammered.
“You’re the genius behind its success” he enthused “we should go out to celebrate. Tomorrow night. Dinner. I’ll pick you up.”
“Okay” he accepted feeling his knees go weak.
When Benjamin walked away Sed stepped in close whispering “enjoy it while you can. It won’t last long.”
Before Jonas could respond Sed walked away like a man on a mission. Watching him Jonas wondered what he’d done to deserve the man’s hatred. Surely it couldn’t be so simple or as petty as him being jealous of the affection he gave to his dog? He shivered wondering what Sed would do next.