The doorbell rang half an hour later and shortly after, Tammy stuck her head in my room. “Hey, honey. We’re all set up outside. Come meet everyone!” She disappeared fairly quickly. In the short time I had, I had changed from my shorts and t-shirt into a sun dress my mother had bought me on the way done. It was a light red color white flowers printed on it. I also fixed my hair and brushed my teeth. Even though I wanted nothing to do with these people, my mother always taught me to be respectful of hosts. So with that in mind, I ventured my way out into the hall and followed the sound of voices to the back door a few feet away from my door. It opened to a large deck that connected to the dock behind the Wharf. Next to the dock was a large portion of yard. They had a large picnic table set up and a fire pit as well. There was a small group of people standing and sitting around, a grill on the far left smoking. I could smell something cooking.
“There she is!” Chris said when he saw me. He was talking to a bald man wearing a bright yellow Hawaiian shirt and tan shorts. I wondered for a second if he realized he was quite a ways from the Island. Everyone in the group turned to look in my direction as I neared them. Chris stepped forward when I got close enough. “Everyone! This is my daughter Kerri-Anne. Kerri for short. She’s staying with Tammy and I for the summer.” There was a group murmur of hellos and welcomes. I tried my best to fake a smile. The bald guy beelined it for my father and I.
“Well look at that.” He said, smiling at me. “I haven’t seen you since you were about five. God, you look like your mother.”
“Umm…” I gave Chris a weird look.
“This is Greg. We went to college together. He was my best man at my wedding to your mother.”
“Oh.” I replied.
“Yeah I moved down here and your father followed right behind me. Can’t live without me this one.”
“Oh shut up.” Chris replied, smacking his best friend’s arm. I slightly remembered an Uncle Greg when I was younger.
“Your old man here tells me that you are into photography. You should talk to my wife Jenna. She just opened her own studio.”
“Really?” I said, the first spark of enjoyment breaking free since I left from Maine. He nodded.
“Oh yeah. That’s if you can tear her away from your stepmother. Those two should be attached at the hip.”
“How come Blaine didn’t come with you guys?” Chris asked, sipping from the beer in his hand. Greg shrugged.
“Something about Hannah and him having a fight. You know young love. I’m sure he’ll make an appearance before the night is over.”
“Food’s done!” Another man called from the grill. Everyone sat at the picnic table and ate. I picked at my food as everyone talked. I made small talk whenever someone talked to me. I tried my best to not be rude but I didn’t go above and beyond to be chatty. When everyone was done eating, I made my escape. I excused myself to use the restroom. Once inside, I grabbed my purse and went out the front door.
My flip-flops slapped the concrete ground as I walked up the street. I had no real destination. I just followed the sound of water slapping the coast and found myself on a small section of deserted beach. It wasn’t very far off. I could see a small fire in the backyard of my father’s house in the distance as I sat on the sand. Reaching in my purse, I pulled out my digital camera. Boats floated in the marina off in the distance, the sound of water licking their hauls drifted my way. I took a couple shots of the boats and the water as it moved. Pulling my sandals off, I extended my legs and allowed the warm water to lap at my toes. It felt nice. The sun was beginning to set, creating a perfect picture moment filled with hues of pinks, oranges and reds. I took picture after picture, in awe of view.
“It’s better at the Cove.” A voice said behind me. I jumped a little as I turned to find the person who had spoke. I found a boy sitting on the rock wall to the left, a camera also in his hand. He had brown hair, neatly combed on his head. Glasses were perched on his nose and a small smile was pressed onto his lips. Faded blue jeans hugged his hips and legs while a white t-shirt covered his torso.
“Sorry?” I asked.
“The sunset. It’s better at the Cove on the other side of the bay.” He repeated.
“Oh. Then why aren’t you there?”
“It’s at least a three hour hike one way. I would have had to leave three hours ago to make it to the best spot there in time.”
“Ok. Thanks for the hint then.” I turned back towards the water, taking more pictures. It was growing darker and my camera battery wouldn’t hold the flash function long.
“You should go sometime.” He continued.
“Right. I’ll get a map.” I called out, not bothering to look. I heard rocks shift and he stood next to me now.
“No need! I could take you. I’ve been there so many times, I could get there blindfolded.”
“Well you try that right now and let me know how that goes.”
“Wow. That was kinda testy.”
“You suggested that I take a hike with a total stranger. You are teetering on creepy.”
“My apologizes. Sometimes I forget my manners. My name is Blaine Forester. And you are?”
“Oliver? Like Chris Oliver?” Rolling my eyes, I looked back at the ocean.
“That would be my sperm donor.” He sat down next to me. No. Practically on top of me. I had to shift to remove my leg from underneath his. He didn’t seem to notice my annoyance.
“Sperm donor? You don’t like Chris?” He asked. I turned to look at him. He had a nice tan complexion that was blemish free unlike the boys from my hometown. All the boys in my high school were destined to become fishermen, following in the footsteps of their fathers who own boats in the marina. This Blaine character had something about him that made me almost instantly relax when his eyes locked with mine.
“This is the first time I’ve spent longer than five minutes with him since I was ten. How do you know him exactly?”
“My parents are best friends with him and Tammy.” A sad realization hit me.
“You’re Hannah’s boyfriend.” I stated looking back at the ocean.
“Ex-boyfriend. We broke up before the end of the school year. She just keeps telling people we’re still together. Wouldn’t want to ruin that perfect reputation of hers.” He rolled his eyes while leaning back on his elbows. “She’s one of the top bitches at school. Apparently, I was blessed to have her decide I was semi-attractive enough to be seen with.”
“She’s that shallow?”
“Have you met her?” He looked at me confused.
“Only for about two minutes. So why did you ditch the BBQ?”
“Why did YOU ditch the BBQ?”
“I see your point.” We sat quietly for a while, just gazing out at the ocean. The setting sun was almost completely gone now. The air was still warm though without the sun. I could feel it in the slight breeze that came off the water. I’ve never felt this peaceful with an almost complete stranger before. Gazing towards the house, I saw the fire was still glowing. I wondered how long they’d be out there for. I was hoping to stay out until they were all in bed. If I could stay up late and sleep all day to avoid human contact, this summer might be somewhat tolerable.
“You’ve got a good two hours before that party dies down.” He stated, almost as if he was reading my mind. “Especially if my mother and Tammy broke out some wine.”
“Great. I’ll be out here forever.” I muttered, resting my head on my knees.
“Well if you are looking to avoid going home, I got an idea.”