The next few weeks went by in what seemed like a blur. The days were filled with working at the gallery for Jenna and the nights with Blaine. We did everything together; walks on the beach, swimming, getting ice cream. He even introduced me to a bunch of new places to take pictures of wildlife like dolphins and seals. We spent everyday together even if it was just an hour or so. He was becoming the missing thing in my life I never knew was gone.
The beginning of August came and with it came warmer weather. Jenna informed me that she closed down the art gallery for the first week of August every year to celebrate their wedding anniversary. So on the first day of my vacation, I woke up without any plans. Getting out of bed, I heard Dad and Tammy talking quietly in the kitchen. They stopped when I opened the door.
“Mornin’, Ker-Bare!” Dad exclaimed, smiling at me over his coffee cup.
“Morning. Everything okay?” I asked, looking at them. Tammy stood on the other side of the counter, worry filling her face. She realized I was staring at her and quickly smiled.
“Yes! Everything is great.” She said, turning towards the stove. She started cooking something that smelt like bacon.
“So, kiddo. What do you want to do for your birthday?” Dad asked as I sat on the stool next to him. I shrugged. My eighteenth birthday was tomorrow. I really hadn’t thought much about it because my birthdays are usually spent at home while Mom works doubles. Every year, she would get me a new lens or accessories for my camera. Well her and Dad did apparently.
“Haven’t really thought about it.”
“Let’s have a party!” Tammy called over her shoulder. “We’ll invite Greg, Jenna and Blaine over for whatever dinner you want with some cake and ice cream!”
“Okay.” I said. I haven’t had a birthday party since I was ten years old. After Dad left, I never really wanted to have a party. The house phone on the wall near the fridge began to ring. Tammy put down her spatula and picked it up.
“Hello?” She answered. A wide smile filled her face and she looked at me. “Hi Blaine! Kerri is right here.” She went to hand me the phone but stopped. “Oh! Okay. He’s right here too.” She held the phone out to my father who raised an eyebrow at me.
“Hey, Blaine. What’s up?” I could hear muffled talking from the ear piece as I tried to listen as best as I could. “With Cooper? Who else is going? Is he still dating that Yara girl? Will there be drinking? I trust you, kid. Don’t change that. If she wants to she can. You wanna talk to her?” He held the phone out in my direction. I took it and brought it to my ear.
“Hey. You aren’t proposing are you?” Blaine’s laugh filled the receiver as my Dad shot me a glare.
“No but I felt like I was just interrogated. Do you have any plans for tomorrow night?” He asked. I heard shuffling on his end.
“Nothing that I can think of. Why?”
“My parents are gone for their anniversary in Myrtle Beach so Cooper and I plan a camping trip every year for the same weekend. It’s so my parents don’t need to hire a babysitter for me. But this year, he invited his girlfriend Yara and I wanted to know if you wanted to come too. We could celebrate your birthday.”
“Where do you guys go?”
“Moose Head Island. Don’t ask. Cooper named it that.”
“Alright I’ll go.”
“Awesome! I’ll see you later, beautiful.” I heard the phone hang up and I hit the end button. Tammy took the receiver and hung it back in the cradle. She placed a plate of eggs and bacon in front of Dad and me before sitting across from us.
“So camping?” He asked, putting some hot sauce on his scrambled eggs.
“I guess so.” I said, picking up the hot sauce once he was finished with it.
“It was very nice of him to ask your father before inviting you!” Tammy said, taking a sip from her mug of tea. “He’s such a sweet kid. Jenna and Greg are lucky.” She glared at the ceiling where movement could be heard in Hannah’s room. “Well I suppose I will get princess going so she can start shucking corn. And the back desk isn’t going to paint itself.” She set her mug in the sink before disappearing out of the kitchen.
“Thank you for letting me go.” I said, taking a bite of my eggs. He nodded, mouth full of food. He sipped his coffee to clear it.
“No problem, kiddo. Just make sure you aren’t doing anything that would make your Mom make that noise. You know the one.” He did his best to make an irritated noise come from his throat. He failed.
“You aren’t doing it right. It’s like this.” I closed my mouth and cleared my throat loudly. Then, I made a throaty noise using a breath of air.
“Damn, you’re good. It’s like your mom was not yelling at me about something.”
“I do learn it from the best.”
“Speaking of your mom, have you talked to her recently?” I shook my head.
“No. I tried calling her a few days ago but she never answered. She sent me a text that she had been working the night shift so she was sleeping when I called. Why?” He shrugged.
“No reason. Just wondering since you haven’t said much about it.”
“Yeah she’s been working a lot since I’ve been down here. Said she was going to call me today when she went on lunch.” The doorbell rang, echoing throughout the house. Dad stood up from his stool and shuffled his way to the front door. I heard him open it as I finished my food.
“Kerri! Can you come here please?” He called from the foyer. Confused, I stood up and made my way up the hallway. I gasped when I saw who was standing there: My Mom. She smiled when she saw me.
“Hi baby!” She said, holding her arms out for a hug. I ran towards her and engulfed her petite frame, practically knocking her over. She felt skinnier as I hugged her. Letting go, I looked at her.