There wasn’t time for Adam to explain himself, or even to open his mouth.
“Bastard!” Laura snarled at him, her face distorted with anger, then she turned on her heel and marched up the beach as fast as her legs could carry her. She didn’t look back as she entered the cafe, dumping her board and eventually wet suit in their closet room. In the security of the apartment she stood under a red hot shower, and it was only then, as the sharp needles of water pounded her face that she even began to contemplate what had happened at the beach.
He was the last person she expected to see here again. She hadn’t turned down going to London to piss anyone off, but she knew her father wanted her there. But that had nothing to do with Adam, so why was he here?
She shook her head, trying to banish any thoughts of him, but deep inside she knew that the only way to find out why he’d come was to talk to him. And that was the one thing she didn’t want to do.
Dressing in shorts and a t-shirt and her favourite flip flops, she headed back to the cafe for some breakfast. Alana was making pancakes, and they were always good. As she stepped into the bustling cafe she instantly sensed that Adam was there, and he had wrong footed her for the second time in an hour, because he was sat at a window table, dressed in a sweatshirt and combats, his hair stood at all angles due to the salt from his recent swim, and for the same reason his eyes were a little red. It wasn’t the fact that he was sat there in the cafe that caught her off guard; it was that Ben had pulled up a seat opposite him and the two of them were engrossed in a conversation.
Scowling, something that had become a permanent feature on her face since he’d stepped into her life; she stalked over to Alana, ignoring the two men.
“Pancakes and maple syrup?” She asked handing had a mug of coffee.
When Laura only nodded, Alana gave a questioning look, and when that was stone walled, she turned to get the pancakes.
“Here’s yours. Could you hand this breakfast to the guy on table twelve? Ben took him coffee and has got caught up gassing!”
Laura took a deep breath and ignored the second plate, instead grabbing her pancakes she muttered, “No!” Then turned away from her friend, seeking out another free table at the other side of the busy cafe.
If Alana was upset or angry she hid it well, and Laura hated her own petulant childish behaviour. He brought out the worst in her.
Laura deliberately didn’t look up; she didn’t want to see the confusion in her friends’ faces, or the smug contriteness in Adam’s. This was the final straw, he had invaded her family, her home, but her friends, her work? Well that was a step too far. After wolfing down the pancakes she was about to stand up and head over to launch at him, but the cafe was busy, Ben was still working the floor. No one needed to hear her rant.
“Good waves?” Ben stood at the next to her table and smiled at her. She desperately wanted to do more than scowl, but her unhappiness was all encompassing.
“Not bad, hit about a dozen sweetly!”
“I’m jealous!” Then his face fell, “I’ll be back into the swing soon, I promise.”
Laura smiled, “sorry, I don’t mean to sound so hard done by! It’s fine honestly, I’m just glad you’re ok. For a minute when that phone rang...” she shuddered at the thought of something worse happening to him and Alana.
Ben chuckled, “you can’t get rid of me that easily!” Then he bent down to kiss the top of her head, an affectionate gesture.
It calmed Laura somewhat, until she looked up and was speared by the two dark eyes and their heavy gaze. He looked angry, for the first time that smugness had gone, but rather than gloating, she got up and left the building, the need for fresh air, distance was upmost.
The veranda outside the cafe was backing in the sun, the roar of the sea was loud, the hacking squawking of the seagulls made the whole environment almost deafening. Laura knew that her internal stress was responsible for making her head so sensitive.
“You can hate me all you like.”
Her body stiffened as she heard the voice behind her. She wanted to turn around and snap at him, but she also knew that was what he wanted. So she took a few deep breaths and remained as she was, leaning against the railings and staring out to sea.
“Are you going to ignore me? Is that stage two of your childish plans?”
Keep breathing. It was an internal mantra as she felt every hair on her body stand on end in indignation. Then a hand touched her shoulder, and the tight bowstring tension within her body threatened to explode.
Spinning around she glared at him, “have you come all this way to insult me? Is that it?”
Then it was back, that lazy, infuriating grin. She was so tempted to smack his face that she had to grip her hand into a fist.
Adam’s hand rested on the railing beside her so that there was very little space between them, and it overwhelmed Laura, she could barely think straight.
“I’ve come here because your behaviour is repeatedly causing me grief. I am trying to make plans with my father, spend time with him, and all I have is him pulling back, the stress and pain caused by his spoiled daughter is making him ill. He’s trying to be everything...and ending up pleasing no one.”
She felt her lips curl up into a snarl, “I know my father, he’s never ill, and he never lets anyone or anything get in the way of HIS life. As you say, you’ve only known him five minutes!”
Adam leaned in until their noses almost touched, “all he asked was that you came home, try again, made an effort. But you couldn’t do that for him could you? Your childish hate of me is more important that your love of him!”
That was the final straw, with a hand firmly at the centre of his chest; she shoved him away, hard. “Get out of my face! You know nothing about anything! For your information I have been home more in the last few weeks than I have in a year, I have a life and contrary to what people seem to think it’s important! Now get out of my way!”
With that she stormed off to her van.
Adam watched her stomp across the sandy car park to a ridiculous luminous green camper van that looked a hell of a lot older than him. As she drove off he could swear she poked out her tongue, and it made him laugh. She was so fiery, and it was a breath of fresh air.
He was still coming to terms with his new family. He’d expected animosity, anger, distrust, but as soon as he set eyes on Stafford Marshall, they’d become instant friends, they had so much in common, they was no doubt over paternity, not that Stafford had asked for any. The moment he’d mentioned his mother’s name, he’d looked rather wistful for a moment, and not questioned him since.
Even Maggie, who really had every reason to despise him didn’t, she was genially, graceful and beautiful. It was no wonder Stafford was devoted to her. From the little his mother had divulged about his father he’d expected to find a man who still played the field in his late sixties, the inability to settle down into their thirties was yet another thing they had in common, so he’d been surprised to find out that his father was a dedicated and devoted husband, though Maggie brought out that protective influence in everyone, she had a vulnerability that made you want to look after her, yet an inner strength that was commendable. She was a real paradox.
Then there was Laura. Adam watched the dust clouds her van had created settle in the calm that she left behind. She was such an unknown quantity. He didn’t understand her animosity really, though he knew it must be difficult to have him arrive out of the blue. But in all honesty, Stafford worshipped her too; his description of the torn man trying to do the right thing earlier was no lie. He could tell that the older man wanted the two to get along, but Laura’s distance both upset, and scared him.
He sighed, he’d travelled to this town to make her come home, he’d promised Stafford he’d make her see sense. And as she wouldn’t come to London to see him, he’d come to this godforsaken Welsh village to see her...though he couldn’t be too derogatory, the surf that morning had been the best he’d seen in a while.
Glancing toward the cafe he spotted Ben trying to clear the tables one handed and smiled to himself, there was more than one way to skin a cat, and if she was deliberately ignoring him, he’d have to put himself in a position where she couldn’t avoid him. With a grin he made for Ben.
“So it’s the Pilot again tonight?” Michaela was lounging across the blanket from Laura painting her toenails, they were enjoying a few rays, and escaping, for Michaela it was from work, for Laura it was the cafe, her home and the bloody irritating man who might still be there.
Laura was flat on her back, her sun hat tipped over her eyes, “Well, Dan is there. Not sure I’m going to go, I mean he needs to make a bit more effort, doesn’t he?”
Michaela paused for a moment, “he’s a man, they don’t know what they want until we tell them!”
Chuckling Laura threw her hat at her friend, “you are always crazy, but on this occasion you might have a point. Shit or bust tonight!”
Michaela waggled her eyebrows, “really? I know what that means for you. Full on Laura Marshall is pretty impressive!”
Laura grinned, “She rarely comes out to play, but she might tonight!”
Rubbing her hands together in glee, Michaela laughed, “I can’t wait until later now! Fancy some food first?”
Laura looked wistfully at the sea, “would you be offended if I try and catch a few waves, the tide is due to turn in an hour or so, I fancy expelling a little energy first.”
Laura was glad to find no sign of Adam back at the cafe. She had so many questions that weren’t answered, who was he? What did he want? Why was he here spying on her a few weeks earlier? Answers would only come from spending time with him, and she had no intention of that happening. So she was left to speculate as she grabbed her board. She was only going to body board, swim a bit so she didn’t slither into her wetsuit. Stripping off on the sand to her cotton shorts and sports bra top she jogged into the surf ignoring just how cold the water was.
Her body itched from the salt as she walked up the sand back towards the cafe, her home, but she was exhilarated, relaxed and for once her problems seemed to be miles away. Stretching her free arm over her head, she grimaced at the tightness in her triceps, she’d feel it if she was dancing later.
She hadn’t really had the chance to think about him with all the chaos in her personal life. He’d been so evasive on their last two encounters, and she honestly wondered whether she could even be bothered to look for him again. She wasn’t the type to throw herself ridiculously at someone who couldn’t be bothered. But suddenly he was a distraction; another interlude with him would drag her head away from the bother of her family.
Skipping up the steps to the cafe veranda, she de-sanded her feet using the tap there, then stamped them dry as she entered the cafe.
Only to freeze.
Sat at a table giggling like old friends were Ben, Alana and of course bloody Adam.
Ben looked up and grinned, “there you are Laura! I’ve got great news! I’ve found you some help for the surf lessons, this is Adam! He’s offered to help us out...isn’t that great?”