Adam felt that spark of excitement; the thrill of a verbal battle with her was just what he needed to lift him from the bizarre feelings of depression that had engulfed him since the call to Kristi.
“What’s up sis?” he threw the comment casually as he slotted into step with her.
Laura hmphed, her anger and frustration palpable, as her smooth gait became sharp and aggressive, “I am not your sister!” With a sigh, she turned to him, “I am nothing to you, so why can’t you just get out of my life?”
His responding chuckle hit the spot, he could tell, her eyes widened, her nostrils flared, and he smiled smugly. The final spark that lit the fuse.
“Are you getting off on this? Does it please you aggravating me? Is your life so shit that you have to crash mine?”
It was exhilarating, and he could barely hide his joy at how an angry Laura made him feel, instead he offered a weak laugh, “if you bothered to hold a single conversation with me, then you’d know more about my life, and what my intentions were here. But you insist on playing these stupid games, and I am not gullible like your father. So don’t act the fool with me!”
Laura brought her hands to her hips and scowled, and that response elicited a laugh from Adam, “I rest my case!” Calling her bluff he turned and made to walk away from her and managed just a few feet before she reached out and pulled him around.
“What the hell does that mean? I don’t care about you; I don’t want to know you, so why the hell would I ‘play games’ with you? You are tapped in the head Adam whatever-your-name-is. Do you hear me?”
He gripped both of her upper arms in his hands and pulled her close, “you may have your parents in a position where they’ll accept all your bullshit just to spend time with you, but I’m not them. You manipulate and use them to your own advantage, someone like me who didn’t grow up with daddy to pay for everything...”
Laura stepped back as though she’d been slapped, it took a moment for her to compose herself, “Adam, you really are a piece of work!”
Despite her words, she had lost her aggression significantly, “cat finally got your tongue Miss Marshall?”
Laura stared at him, with his back to the moon she could barely see his eyes, but she could feel the animosity emanating from every poor. He hated her too, despite what he said. “Like I say, I don’t have to answer to you.”
He leaned closer, his face just an inch from her, “you apparently don’t have to answer to anyone, you and your silly games...” When her eyes widened again, questioning him, he laughed, “Hmm where do I start? Not turning up this weekend after promising your father you would...then there’s the school friends, I mean even I was impressed with that get out! You’re in one of the best restaurants in London, and some guys you haven’t seen in more than ten years appear out of the blue! What a great escape route! Let’s not forget to mention that unlike your parents, I do my homework, YOU went to a girl’s school. Not just any school, but the best girl’s school in the country. So unless you recognised some guys from kindergarten, then I’d say you are a liar and a manipulator!”
Laura was reeling, she’d not anticipated anyone seeing through her like that, she’d been desperate to escape that evening, not just from Adam, but from Jonathan too, the man her father seemed keen to force into her life. But then he was right about one thing, her parents were always so busy, that they’d never paid that much attention to the details of her life. She wasn’t unloved, but she had always had a free reign over her life and she’d used that to her full advantage. And to hear that analysis coming from the lips of this imposter, this threat, almost broke her in two.
Taking a few deep breaths she hated the fact that those home truths had caused tears to build up behind her eyes, she wouldn’t let him see how much his words had hit home.
“I’m fully aware you do your homework! You were snooping around here weeks before you played your hand! Sneaky, devious and underhand! And you think I’M playing games? You’re entitled to your own opinion.” She snapped out the words trying desperately to hide the anguish his words hitting home had caused, but it ended up sounding like a whiny child, and she gave what she hoped was a sickly smile, then turned away from him.
But as she walked as fast she could into the darkness, she heard his words echo around her.
“Truth hurts hey sis? See you tomorrow for our first working day together!”
Adam was looking forward to leading surf lessons, he’d supplemented his college allowance by teaching rich tourists how to stand on a board on Californian beaches for many years, and now that he was so absorbed in his usually hectic business it was a great reminder of how care free his life had been. Those were the days; college through winter, then surfing all summer, the only thing to worry about had been whether his fake id would get him served beer.
He’d had a fairly comfortable upbringing, and suddenly the argument with Laura from the previous night came rushing back. Her face as he’d delivered the final blow had occupied his mind all night, she’d looked so sad, so exposed. Suddenly he felt like a heel, a complete bastard. He’d overstepped the mark big style, but whenever he was near her he just wanted to push her...
He pulled on a pair of board shorts, and a sleeveless t-shirt, then finger combed his hair that was still wet from the shower. He opted out of breakfast, instead he left his hotel room and out into the early morning sun. It was an exceptionally good summer according to the TV weather reports, and he was glad, as much as he loved surfing, the ice cold Atlantic in a storm was no fun. The sunshine made everything beautiful, and despite it only being six am, the early morning glow warmed everything in his sight.
Including the EarlyBird cafe.
Laura had cleared the tables, started the preparation for lunch, and began breakfast in the cafe when the door tinkled, the chime indicating the door was opening. Ben hadn’t slept the night before, his shoulder was giving him grief and he was waiting to see a consultant. If he needed surgery it’d be unlikely that he’d surf again this summer. He was low, depressed, and she wanted to help him, and taking over the cafe and the surfing was her part of sharing the load. He’d gone for a walk earlier in the hope that the sea air would help him find some sleep. Hearing the door she presumed it was him finally coming back.
But every time she thought of the day ahead, she grimaced, she’d inadvertently agreed to Adam helping her with the surf lessons the previous day, and now that was about to become reality. She flinched as she remembered his harsh words from the night before. She still wanted to hit him, to make him feel the pain that his accusations caused, but it all honesty, she knew that would serve no purpose, the man was worse than devious, she wanted to pay him back, see him flounder as she had, but it might take some time, this was not a revenge that should be rushed, that was for sure.
She looked up to the door and gave her best sympathetic smile, but that froze in place as she took in her nemesis.
Laura was studying the surf shack diary and paused for a moment, then she dropped her eyes back to the book. There were five groups of lessons through the day of various levels, then there was the young lifeguard group mid morning. Composed and in control again, she finally looked back up to see Adam still lounging against the door frame watching her. He looked so different to the horrible bully she had remembered in her head, instead in his shorts and t-shirt, his hair unruly he looked almost human, cute even. Laura almost gasped aloud, unsure where that thought had come from.
Taking a deep breath, she looked at him again, “I’ll take the early lesson, then the lifeguard training. You can do a group of four at ten, they’re here on holiday, never surfed before, then there’s another group of four at three. This is their third week of lessons, so they know the basics.”
Adam nodded, “the gear?”
She nodded to a store room adjacent to the shop, “boards, wetsuits, and all you need is in there. Doubt you’ll need to go in the water, but there’s enough for you if you need it.”
She looked back to the diary, dismissing him from her thoughts and plans, but she should have known that he’d not take a hint as subtle as that. When she stood back up, he was right beside her studying the diary over her shoulder.
“So you take a group of six, followed by twelve children, then another five at four o’clock?”
She shrugged, “I’d be taking the other two classes if you weren’t here.”
“Let me take the earlier class...”
Shaking her head Laura glared up at him, “you might think that this is crushing your alpha male ego me ‘doing more’, but actually, you have never taken a lesson here, you don’t know where things are...I’m just giving you a chance to settle in.”
With that she turned on her tail and marched off to the store cupboard.
Teaching enthusiastic people to surf was second only to surfing in giving pleasure to Laura. She’d sailed through the hour with the first group of six; they were all keen, and managed to get out on short boards by the end of the session. Excited they booked for the following day, tide dependent. The Lifeguard School were a crazy bunch, she loved them all, and an hour of body boarding in the shallow surf passed quickly. She’d been aware of Adam leading his own session between hers; there were apparently no issues, so she headed back to the cafe for lunch.
A broadsheet open on the table, and Laura flicking her eyes between it and a large bowl of chicken Caesar salad, was the sight that greeted Adam as he entered the cafe. He was tired after his lesson, he was ten years older than the last time he’d taught anyone, and he hated to admit that she’d been right in the way she’d split the events of the day. He DID need time to get into the swing of this.
When he finally lifted his eyes from her, Alana was smiling holding out food, a huge turkey and ham sandwich and an equally large mug of black coffee.
“Lunch is free!” She smiled as he took the items gratefully. “Ben is really grateful for all your help Adam.”
Adam grinned, “It’s been a revelation to me too. Taken me back fifteen years! Only things hurt a bit more!”
Alana was still chuckling as Adam approached Laura and kicked a chair out from under the table opposite her. Setting down his plate and mug, he lowered himself in to the chair and smiled.
When Laura’s eyes lifted from the sports section she scowled, “just because I agreed to you doing these lessons doesn’t mean I want you in my face all day!”
Adam smiled, those perfect lips parted to reveal dazzling straight white teeth, “hey little rich girl, you can’t always get what you want!”