By the time her mother called that evening, Laura had had a lot of time to think about her predicament. She’d spent the afternoon teaching the local life guard club some basic surf techniques, and she loved time with the kids. This group were all between eight and ten and throughout the summer they came to the beach every weekend morning for two hours to work on various components of their life guard skills. They were enthusiastic and well behaved. It was a pleasure teaching them.
Laura had realised during the afternoon that Alana was right, her parents had loved her last weekend, the emergence of some ‘brother’ didn’t change that. It couldn’t. So after a shower, she was about to call her mother when, for the second time in a weekend, her phone rang and it was her mother, beating her to it.
“Hey darling, how are you?”
Laura sighed, her mother sounded terrified, and it was only at that moment that she took into account her mother’s insecurities. She couldn’t have children and how much of a stark reminder must this new child be? She’d always been told that her mother was the parent desperate for a child, her father was never that bothered, but now she couldn’t begin to imagine the insecurities and pain that her mother must be dealing with, she should be supporting her, not stropping like a petulant teenager.
“I’m good Mum, busy but good. How are you?”
She heard a whimper in her voice but Laura also knew that Maggie Marshall was the least likely person to break down in front of her daughter, calling her for help when Stafford had disappeared would’ve taken every ounce of her self-respect, and she wasn’t likely to let her defences down again.
Laura smiled, “Mum, you are allowed to be upset, stressed...I don’t know. It’s taken me a while to not hate this ‘brother’ of mine, and I’ve not even met him...”
She was rewarded by a chuckle, “your father is so...confused. He is excited, disappointed, and then he thinks of me and then he tries to pretend it’s not happening.”
“Well if we find it hard, then how the hell must he be. Are you cool with it though, really?”
There was a pregnant pause and Laura could tell her mother was desperately trying to find the right words. “I just want your father, and you of course, to be good, happy, that’s all I care about.”
“So has Dad met him yet?”
“Yes, today. He wants me to meet him tomorrow, and I know he wants you to meet him, he wants to do stuff next weekend, can you make it?”
Groaning Laura faced the realisation that she no longer had her own life. She’d not been home for months, now next weekend was looking like being the third consecutive weekend that she’d gone to London, and whilst she wanted to refuse, wanted to absorb herself with her own life, this was a large headache that wasn’t going away. And her mother needed her, she’d never before, her life had been easy until now, relatively, she owed her parents for that. So she smiled sweetly and made her mother promise to call with the details later in the week.
In denial until she had to face the reality, Laura devoted herself to her dogs.
The day before she was due home for a ‘family’ dinner was the return of Dan Martin to the area. Laura had found reliving their kiss a welcome relief from the trauma of her life at the moment. It had been special and the two weeks would have dragged by had it not been for the drama of her family. Michaela was excited, she liked going out with Laura, and it seemed that Paul from the Sheep’s Head was meeting them at the Pilot. He was working until nine, but had promised to meet them there.
This pub was in walking distance of her home, and so she planned to leave and walk along the seafront, Michaela lived the other side of the town a few blocks away from the beach. But as Laura was walking out the door she heard Alana call to her.
“We’re going to try and come to the show later, will you keep us seats?”
Laura groaned a confirmation then left, knowing that Ben and Alana were only interested in seeing her squirm, prior to Michaela blabbing about her snog with Dan they’d have found something else to do. Instead she had more witnesses to her torment!
Michaela was almost floating with anticipation of seeing Paul, and the five minute walk to the pub was littered with an in depth description of their two dates since the gig they’d met at, but again to Laura it was all a distraction - from her dread of both seeing Dan again, and of course the coming weekend with her family.
The pub was packed, and unlike the last gig this wasn’t a stage in the corner of the lounge, they had a marquee attached to the building with a permanent stage erected, there was live music most evenings, and the benefit was they could gather anywhere in the huge beer garden and watch from a bench or the floor, or standing. For Laura as far from the stage was the most important thing, she was feeling a little self conscious partly because it had been a while since she’d last seen Dan, and it had all been left hanging in the air, but also because for a moment she was questioning her identity. She didn’t really feel she belonged anywhere at the moment and it really was wrong footing her.
Dan’s set was far more lively than the one he’d performed in the Sheep’s Head a few weeks earlier, and it was appropriate, the crowd was louder, younger and probably harder to please, so he sang newer numbers, Oasis, Elbow and the Arctic Monkey. Whilst Laura loved this genre of music, she still thought she rathered the other set, the one that appealed to all ages, maybe that was the legacy of her father. He always had music on, she was as familiar with the Beatles as she was Dire Straits or Eric Clapton, and the variety of Dan’s ‘other’ show was perfect in her eyes.
Still this version had people up dancing, the crowd singing, and most importantly girls swooning. Sometime well into the set Ben and Alana had arrived, holding hands and being all dreamy eyed. Either they had stopped en route to the pub for a quickie, or he’d taken Laura’s advice seriously and was starting to show Alana how he felt.
Alana leaned into her as Dan was straining over a Foo Fighters song and whispered, “I forgot just how hot he was!”
Laura had no control over the blush that caused, “he’s ok!” She whispered back, but her eyes didn’t leave the stage. Every now and again his eyes scanned the crowd, and lingered on her when he found her, those snatches of intimacy were all she had to hang on to until the show ended.
During the encore Ben emerged from the bar with a full round of drinks, Laura tried to ignore the feeling of being a gooseberry, Paul was also there by then and he and Michaela were equally struggling to keep their hands off each other.
“Is it the sun or something that’s making everyone around here horny?” Laura snapped knowing that she may create awkward feeling, especially in the fledgling relationship of Michaela, but she was feeling a little swamped by it all.
Ben giggled immediately diffusing the moment with his comment of, “spot the girl who ain’t getting it! Chill out vixen, your turn may be coming!”
Huffing and rolling her eyes Laura stormed off leaving them alone, knowing that her anxiety was building like the crescendo of the show. She was out the front of the pub drinking her beer when she heard the music end. But instead of seeking out Daniel, she kicked off her shoes and jumped down the banking that took her onto the cool sand. Walking a little way towards the sea, she dropped down to the sand, uncaring of the effects it would have on her white jeans. There she took a slug of beer and watched the moonlit waves breaking on the horizon. She’d surf in the morning, it was her turn, and her only chance before returning to the big smoke and the hell that entailed the following evening.
She’d been there ten minutes of more when she felt rather than heard feet on the sand behind her. She refused to look up; figuring if it wasn’t someone she knew that split second of warning would give her little chance to defend herself. Laura was justly rewarded with a warm “hello”, and a body lowering itself beside her.
She looked up to see Dan’s face watching her, illuminated in the bright moonlight, “fine, was just outnumbered by couples back there!”
“Needed some ‘me’ time?” he smiled as he asked her.
She laughed, “like you wouldn’t believe!”
“It’s busy here tonight!” He murmured before lifting a bottle of beer to his lips.
Laura nodded, “it’s busier than usual for this time of year, and to be honest you’re quite the name around these parts!”
He laughed, and she felt he was genuinely flattered.
With that, his hand cupped her cheek and directed her lips to his, and for Laura she was lost in a haze of lust and passion. Within seconds she was lying back on the sand, him almost on top of her, their lips and tongues clashing like an exciting sword fight, for every parry, there was a riposte, as the control swung between them. It was full of passion, aggression, dominance. What the kiss lacked in romance, it had in red hot desire.
“Wow!” he murmured against her lips, “you’re amazing, so...hot!”
It was a corny line and she should have felt embarrassed, but she wasn’t, she was too fired up for that. She took a few steadying breaths, really concerned that she’d end up naked and indecently behaving on the beach, she may be getting carried away, but she was neither a stupid teenager nor voyeuristic. There were some things that were definitely private. Plus she’d only spent fifteen minutes with him two weeks earlier, she wasn’t cheap or easy, even though she wanted no long term commitment, she insisted on respect, and a quick shag on the sand may be the name of a tropical cocktail, but it wasn’t a benchmark that she lived by.
“So are you!” she reciprocated the smile.
He rolled to lay beside her, propped on his elbow, the fingers on his free hand twirling a blonde curl that rested on her shoulder, “and you’re beautiful especially in this light.”
She laughed, wondering if he realised how dark it was, “I’m sure that’s meant as a compliment...”
It was his turn to laugh, “maybe I should stick to singing, I don’t tend to fuck up then!”
With a smile she craned her neck to kiss him again and he groaned before devouring her again.
His hands were surprisingly soft as they snuck under her t-shirt, caressing her waist and ribs, and her skin tingled as he touched her. Her moans were only encouraging him as his lips descended to her throat.
A car door slammed in the distance and Laura bolted upright, pulling her t-shirt back over her body and straightening her hair. This was all a little too quick, and she needed a little space, a little free thought.
Dan looked like he’d been slapped, his face was contorted and he was fighting obvious anguish.
“Timing hey?” she offered limply.
He took a few steadying breaths, “you could say that.”
She was relieved to see him calm down a little, “sorry!”
Smiling he took her hand, “no you’re right, this is a little reckless...and illegal!”
“Imagine THAT headline!” she grinned. “Are you staying locally?”
She wasn’t fishing to ‘go back to his’, but she did wonder about how his life worked.
He shook his head, “I’ve got to go back to the Midlands, have some work stuff on tomorrow.” He pulled himself to his feet, then offered her a hand, helping her up. “What was that about timing?”
They walked back up the sand to the paved walkway that flanked the beach, the lights of the bars and restaurants gave a healthy back drop to their goodbye.
“So I’ll see you again?” she half asked as he took her hands and pulled her to look at him. He’d not given her a telephone number before, and she wasn’t going to ask again.
“Two weeks, back here on a Friday, and then I’m opening the West Beach Festival! So we’ll have plenty of chance to see each other.”
After a chaste kiss Laura watched him head towards his car that was already loaded with his guitar and gear, then he drove off leaving her no better off than at the start of the evening.