The walk back to the paddle boat and the trip back to land was filled with awkward small talk. Once we pulled the little boat back on the sand, we got back in the truck and headed towards Blaine’s house. It was getting close to dinner time so he dropped me off outside of the Wharf and headed back to his place to clean up. My head was spinning as I hopped in the shower. Did he really just kiss me? I couldn’t help but play the moment through my head over and over again. I changed into jean shorts and a hoodie, my thoughts reeling to the point of no return.
The smell of wood burning wafted through the house. I padded my way up the hall to peek out the back door as I was brushing out the knots in my brown crazy hair. Chris and Tammy were standing in front of the grill, burning pieces of wood flaming in the steel grated container. I could make out filets of fish laying out on the plate next to the grill, waiting to be slapped on the hot surface. Greg and his wife whose name I couldn’t recall walked around the house. There were greetings of hugs and high fives. Glancing around, I didn’t see Blaine anywhere. Had he realized what he done and decided to hide at home from me?
“Kerri!” Chris called, seeing me standing in the doorway. Putting on my best game face, I pushed the door open and stepped out onto the deck. Greg smiled at me while Jenna shot me a smile that I felt was as fake as mine. Blaine had told me that her and Tammy were best friends. She probably had gotten an ear full after Blaine picked me up yesterday.
“How are you enjoying your summer break so far?” Greg asked as Chris handed him a long neck bottle of beer.
“It’s been okay. Blaine’s been showing me around.”
“Oh you’ve met Blaine? Great! He’s a good kid, not to toot my own horn.”
“Of course she was going to meet him.” Tammy said, stepping towards me. She wrapped an arm around my shoulders. “He is Hannah’s boyfriend after all.”
“Ex-boyfriend.” Blaine’s voice said behind us. Tammy let go and we both turned to see him walk through the back door. You could tell that he had showered but was still wearing his t-shirt and jeans. He was carrying a casserole dish in one hand and a six pack of soda in the other. “We’ve decided to go our separate ways but still be friends.”
“That’s the adult the to do.” Chris said, shooting Tammy a look. She walked over to the grill and slapped a piece of fish on there a bit harder than she had before. I gave him a small grin that he returned as he tossed the salad on the table and the soda in a built in cooler that was apart of a bench. He sat on it and pointed to the open space next to it. I practically scurried over to sit next to him, leaving a good amount of room between us.
“So is Hannah joining us tonight?” Greg asked.
“No. She’s still a little upset so she is spending the night at a friends house.” Tammy called over her shoulder. I suppressed a giggle as I saw Blaine and Chris roll their eyes. Soon her and Jenna were chatting in a low whispers by the grill while Greg and Chris broke out a set of golf clubs and practiced teeing off, sending balls flying into the water. That left Blaine and I sitting in silence together on the bench.
“You mad?” He asked in a soft voice after a minute.
“The kiss. Might of crossed the line a bit without asking.” I shook my head.
“It’s fine. I mean it was a bit of a shock but a good surprise.”
“Yeah?” He asked, smiling at me. I returned the favor.
“Yeah. Let’s just skip the awkwardness afterwards though.”
“I’ll remember that for next time.”
After dinner, Tammy and Jenna declared they were going for a walk and left. Chris started a fire in the fire pit and brought out all the ingredients to make s’mores. Sitting in lawn chairs, Greg, Chris, Blaine and I roasted marshmallows. I was beginning to like Greg a lot. He was funny and always had a joke for everything. Him and Chris poked fun at each other, much like Cooper and Blaine had done yesterday. The sun was setting as Greg started telling us the story about when him and Chris met.
“It was the first day of our first semester. Your dad came into our dorm room with a case of beer under one arm and a guitar in the other. We’ve been best friends since.” Greg said, sliding a marshmallow on a graham cracker.
“Only cause you knew where I hid the beer.” Chris said, slapping his arm.
“That’s cause you bought the good shit. Well until you met Lynnie.”
“Whose Lynnie?” Blaine asked.
“My mother.” I replied, looking at the fraying bottoms of my shorts.
“Your mother sure knew how to keep your dad in line. Once, she found out that we had skipped a whole day of classes to meet the lead singer of our favorite band. She made him go to each of our teachers and personal apologize and do extra credit.”
“Yep. But hey, I made the dean’s list that semester.”
“Remember the time the three of us snuck into academic affairs office to see what grade Lynn got on her Art History midterm?”
“Yeah I do.” Chris looked at me.
“Your mother was so worried that she had failed the test that she couldn’t sleep. Refused to eat anything. Finally I couldn’t take it anymore and the plan to break in came along. We nearly got caught a dozen times. When she finally saw that she had passed, she was ecstatic. Art is everything to your mom and this meant she knew her stuff.”
“That’s Mom.” I said, smiling at my father for the first time since I got here. It made me realize I hadn’t really called her since I’ve been here. I made a mental note to call her tomorrow morning at some point. “What made you decide to get married?”
“Oh that’s a good one!” Greg said, grinning at Chris. “He proposed after our last frat party the week we graduated. Well kind of proposed. It was more of a ‘Let’s get hitched in the morning!’ deal.”
“And that’s what we did. We went to town hall and got married right in the justice of the peace’s office. Your grandmother wasn’t too pleased when she found out but I like to think she warmed up to the idea of me before she died. A few weeks after graduation, we bought that loft and found out you were on the way.”
“Shotgun wedding?” Tammy’s voice said behind us. Her and Jenna walked over from the deck. I had a feeling that they had found some wine on their “walk” and it was setting in. “Or just a way to suck a poor guy in?”
“Tammy!” Chris said, standing up. I stood, moving faster than Chris. I flung my soda, the wet and sticky contents finding it’s way all over Tammy. She gasped in shock, stepping back. It was in her hair, all over her face and all the way down her front.
“You’re the one that married a man who ran out on his family, you whore!” I yelled. Shoving past Jenna, I stormed into the house. Grabbing my bag from my room, I ran out the front door.
I found myself sitting on the sand on that same nearby beach. Tears streamed down my face as I tried to call my mother again. Still no answer. It must have been one of her late nights at work. She did say she was going to pick up some extra hours to kill the time while I was gone. I tossed my cell back in my bag and looked out at the ocean. I couldn’t see much in the dark but stars twinkled in the distance and the sound of water crashing on the shore was beginning to calm me down.
“Hey.” Blaine said softly behind me. I didn’t turn around. Wiping at my tears, I sniffled.
“Hi.” I replied. He walked over and sat next to me.
’If it makes you feel better, Chris just about let her have it after you left.”
“It doesn’t, shockingly.” Sighing, I looked at him. “There’s no way I’m going to belong to this family. It doesn’t matter how many times I try to lie to myself about it. That woman is never going to like me and her daughter has made it perfectly clear that it’ll never work. The only real thing I know about this damn place is that you are the only person I can trust down here. You’ve been honest with me about everything since the moment I met you. That’s more I can say about my own father.”
“Kerri, you shouldn’t count your dad out yet. I mean he’s gotta be trying.” I shrugged.
“It doesn’t matter. It’s not just him. I just want this summer to be over.”
“You should head back to the house and talk things out. You’ll feel better.”
“No. I can’t go back there. At least not tonight. I’ll find somewhere to camp out then head back in the morning.” He sighed, standing.
“I’ll be back then, I guess.”
“Where you going?”
“I have some blankets in the truck. We might get cold out here tonight.”