The Summer of Austin

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Chapter Thirteen

Three days had passed since the absolute disaster of Rodger’s party. Lara had felt better after she woke up from her nap, so she figured that all her ridiculous thoughts must have been caused by sleep deprivation. She was stupid to ever hide anything from her friends, and to think badly about them, and made a silent promise to herself that she would never hide something from them again.

This whole chapter in general could be blamed on exhaustion. She had never thought anything like this for the entirety of their friendship, and the only thing that had changed from then to now was an increase of extreme stress and decrease of sleep. She wasn’t a science expert, but she knew enough about it from what she was taught in school that she needed to find a variable that caused changes. She officially solved “Experiment Lara”: when she got no sleep, she thought completely irrationally. It was something she would have to keep in mind for the future so she would never have to go through it again.

As for the Austin debacle, she still hadn’t stopped receiving text messages from him apologizing for what had happened. The apology was not worth Lara’s forgiveness though, considering he continued admitting to not knowing what he was apologizing for.

Lara realized he probably just didn’t like the idea of someone being angry at him.

Austin was a nice guy. She ruled out the theory that he set up an elaborate plan to humiliate her. He was just being kind, but she took it too seriously. Now, he was just continuing to be a nice guy who needed to uphold his perfect reputation. And clearing the air with her was the way to do it. Austin was such a popular, well-liked guy that Lara figured she was probably the only person who had ever been mad at him in the history of… well, ever. He was probably just shocked that anyone was even physically able to dislike him.

Although she had gotten over what happened at the party, him trying to force her to accept his meaningless apology made her mad all over again, so she decided to ignore the messages. It did make her smile to think about the fact that she had full control in a situation over the Austin Evans. She didn’t feel too bad, because she knew he would eventually just get over it. She guessed that in a month he would have forgotten about it entirely.

Lara had still been avoiding her friends in person, as she knew she would feel guilty when she saw them for the first time, but she had been in contact with them over text. She knew that wasn’t an actual solution to the problem, and she was still an asshole for feeling the way she did, but at least some progress was being made.

She was reading a book on her bed when her dad knocked on her semi-opened door, pushing it open so he could fully fit in the frame.

“Hey, Lar,” he greeted.

“Hi, Dad,” she said back, putting the bookmark in the book. Her dad had a habit of not doing small talk, so she knew that whatever he came up to talk to her about would probably last at least fifteen minutes. “What’s up?”

“You’ve been in your room ever since graduation,” he said, a concerned look on his face.

“That’s not true, I’ve gone to the kitchen a couple of times,” she said, trying to lighten the mood.

It worked, as her dad’s frown quickly turned into a smile, his eyes crinkling at her snarky sense of humour.

“Very funny,” he said, deadpan, but Lara knew that he actually was slightly amused. “We need you to get fresh air. All this recycled oxygen is going to your head,” he teased.

“Is that how it works?”

“I don’t know, I’m only an architect.” They both burst into laughter at his comment, dropping the unamused act.

“But seriously,” he continued once they gained their composure. “I’m playing a round of golf today with a couple of guys from the office. George just called to tell me he couldn’t make it, so I thought it would be fun if you came to take his place.”

The thought of hanging out with her dad and his work friends at the golf course didn’t bother Lara as much as it would probably bother another girl her age. She actually enjoyed spending quality time with her dad, and his friends were nice enough. Plus, she had basically grown up golfing, and had a surprisingly strong swing for such a small girl.

“All you’ve been doing is reading anyway, let’s get those muscles working,” her dad added, giving a pointed look at the hardcover book in her hand. “What are you reading anyway?”

“Oh, this?” Lara pointed towards the book. “Just a little book called How to Beat A Group of Old Men at Golf. I’ve been training for this moment.”

The two of them burst into laughs again.

Lara’s dad spent a lot of time at work, but the moments he was able to spend with Lara were always filled with smiles and laughs. He always went out of his way to amuse Lara, and the two of them had the same sense of humour, as well as the same interests. She knew that they were always going to have a great time when it was the two of them, and time together didn’t happen often, so it was always a big deal when she was able to get quality time with him.

She let him know she would be downstairs shortly, she just needed to get ready first. Even though her book was good, nothing would be better than the time she was able to spend with her dad, even with some of his coworkers there.

Lara went over to her closet to grab an outfit for the golf course. Unlike the struggles she had trying to find an outfit for a party, she had no issue finding the perfect outfit for a golf course. Lara’s closet was curated for posh events, not fun parties. It was yet another confirmation that going to Rodger’s party was a total mistake, completely out of her character.

She pulled out a pink polo shirt and a white pleated skirt. She topped it off with a navy blue sweater vest and grabbed a matching navy baseball cap, along with her recently cleaned white golf shoes.

As she quickly changed into her outfit, she glanced at herself in the mirror. The remnants of the stressful couple weeks were still visible on her face, so she quickly dabbed concealer on the dark circles under her eyes and did a light makeup look for good measure. Even though she tended to break out a sweat on the golf course, she figured some makeup would be necessary considering she would be going out in public.

After applying a light shimmer on her eyelid, mascara and nude matte lipstick, she was ready to leave. She left her hair as it was, as she figured most of it would be hidden under her baseball cap anyway. She grabbed a tote bag from her closet and threw her golf shoes and hat in, and rushed downstairs.

“Took you long enough!” Her dad called out as he saw her walk down the stairs to meet him in the entryway, where he was pulling their two golf bags out of a closet.

She rolled her eyes, looking at her phone to confirm the time. “I literally took 15 minutes!” She cried out.

Lara’s mom appeared from the kitchen, coming to send off her family. “Oh, come on Bryan. I thought after 20 years you would be used to how long I took to get ready. Lara is practically an Olympian compared to me,” she told her husband.

Lara gave her mom a smile, glad she was taking her side, and then turned to her dad to stick out her tongue.

“So, you girls have been conspiring against me, haven’t you?” He laughed before turning to give his wife a kiss on the cheek. “Be back in a few hours, Carla. Don’t cause too much trouble,” he said, pointing at her accusingly.

They all laughed as they said their goodbyes.

Lara loved when the three of them were able to be together.

The Willingferd’s were a close knit family when they had the chance to actually spend time with each other. With Lara’s dad always working, their time was limited, but their love for each other was still strong despite the distance between them.

The last couple of times they had been together had been tense due to the stress Lara had been under. She let it get the best of her as it overpowered the valuable time she spent with her family. But now that she didn’t have any daunting tasks looming over her, she was finally feeling lighter, and back to herself, meaning the family dynamics were back to normal as well. She was looking forward to all the quality time that they would have together over the summer.

As Lara heaved her golf bag into the trunk of her dad’s Mercedes, she smiled as she made eye contact with him.

She knew that the real start to her summer, the one spent hanging out with her family and friends, the one without Austin and overthinking and embarrassment, had finally begun.

As Lara’s father pulled up to the Rose Manor, she was hit by the memory of the last time she was there. Even though just a couple of minutes prior she told herself she was starting her summer without Austin now, it was hard to visit the place that this whole thing had started and not feel anything.

She tried to shake it off, but her mind kept going back to that night. Every place she walked past, she thought of her and Austin.

There was the bench that Austin had sat with her during her panic attack. There was the hall where the dance took place and they stole glances from each other.

“You okay, Lar?” Her dad asked her. She didn’t realize that she had slowed her pace so much that she had fallen far behind her dad.

“Yeah, yeah. Sorry, just thinking about how I can beat you,” she said, laughing off the awkward moment.

The two of them walked side by side as they entered the pro shop and asked if the rest of their party had arrived yet. The man working at the desk let them know that they were the first to make it, but instructed them to go to the golf carts, as their caddy was already waiting for them there. He also made a point of mentioning that there would be a tray of refreshments waiting too.

“Oh I hope they have the cucumber sandwiches,” Lara said excitedly to her dad as they made their way over to the cart garage.

She felt her mouth watering as she thought about the refreshing sandwiches, and started thinking about how she could get away with eating most of them before her dad’s friends arrived.

Her dad was looking at the numbers marked over each parking spot, looking for the one that they were assigned to. As he found the number they were looking for, he turned to Lara. “I think our caddy is new, I don’t recognize him. Do you?”

Lara did recognize him, but not because he had caddied for them before.

It was because she had spent the last four years with him at high school. And more recently, the past couple of days becoming even closer with him.

Just my fucking luck.

Of course, Austin Evans was going to be their caddy for the day.

Suddenly, the cucumber sandwiches didn’t sound as appetizing.

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