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At The Seams

I rub my eyes, letting out a small yawn, “What is it Ty?” I ask as I follow him out my house after he’d forced me to quickly change, “It’s seven AM and I wanted to sleep in today.” I complain, still feeling down after the beach party.

After I spoke with Chase, I left. I got phone calls from Stells and Ty. I managed to reassure them that I’m fine. Seems Ty didn’t buy it or he wouldn’t be here right now.

I haven’t slept a wink and I’m really just exhausted after everything that’s been playing through my mind the entire night.

Ty motions me to follow him to his car. I let out a sigh and do what he says, knowing firsthand that with Ty, you can’t win.

I get in his car and notice Caleb passed out across the backseats. A small smile breaks out onto my lips at the sight. I shake the thought and turn back to Ty, “Shouldn’t you been hung over right about now?” I ask him, referring to how much he’d been drinking last night.

Ty nods as he starts the car and reverses out of my driveway, “Kind of am, got a pounding headache and everything.” He tells me.

Instantly, I feel guilty. I drop the attitude immediately, “Sorry.” I apologize, “I didn’t realize.”

Ty turn his eyes of the road to look at me, just for a brief moment, “You don’t ever have to apologize to me Gabs.” He winks as he slowly steers his attention back to the roads ahead.

I grin at his flirtatious attitude and shake my head at him playfully as he makes casual conversation, “Cal says he saw you talking to Jacob.” Ty states, subtly fishing for more information on the subject.

“Prodding are we?” I tease him before nodding to confirm it, “Yeah I spoke to him. To be short about it, I think we’ll be seeing him again real soon.”

Ty’s smile broadens to the point where he’s beaming, “Really? That is amazing.” Ty reaches over and gives me a pat on the shoulder, “Well done Gabs! We’ve been trying to get through to him for months. He didn’t want to talk to any of us, not even Stells or Cal.”

I shrug, “I guess it’s just because we can relate to each other more.” I reply. Jacob and I were the closest to Matt.

Ty nods, agreeing, “True.”

*~*~*~**~*~*~*

“What is this Ty?” I ask, confused. He and Caleb had taken me all the way down to the main coastal beach where the bonfire party was and where Matt died.

In front of me, on the beach front, is the old rundown surf shack I used to work at along with Chase.

Caleb, his hands raised in front of his face as if on guard, cautiously backs away slowly, “Please don’t hit me. This was Ty’s idea - another one of his plans to help you get your life back on track.” Caleb pins all the blame on his friend, completely throwing Ty under the bus. I don’t expect any less from Cal.

When Chase and I stopped talking two years ago, we both quit our jobs at the surf shack. The manager of the surf shack, Zeke Ferguson, closed down the entire surf shack as a result. He couldn’t find any replacements. The surf shack has been closed down ever since. However, in the last year I have noticed renovations being done on the surf shack. I didn’t realize that Zeke was going to reopen this month.

Ty grabs hold of my hand as he gently spins me around to face him, “Hear me out -“

“Gabriela!” Zeke comes walking out of his surf shack, a lazy grin on his face. He’s always been so laid back. He cuts Tyler off by throwing a loose arm around my shoulders. He draws me to his side in greeting, “When Tyler told me that you’re interested in working here again I was so stoked…” He trails off wearily when Ty’s eyes widen - Ty motioning for him to stop talking.

I furrow my eyebrows in confusion as I glance sideways at Ty in pure bewilderment, “What’s he talking about Ty?”

“You didn’t tell her yet?” Zeke questions, “I thought you said she’s the one who asked about this.”

So Zeke’s just as lost as me then…

“We’re caught! Run Ty! Run!” Caleb shouts dramatically as he runs down the shore in fear of my wrath.

Ty offers me a sheepish grin, “So how’s about working for Zeke at the surf shack again? Huh? Just like old times.”

I glance hesitantly from the new and improved surf shack to Zeke’s hopeful expression to Ty’s encouraging eyes. A small smile twitches against my lips as I finally nod, “It beats working at Bev’s Dinner and I really could use the money.” I agree and just as I do, Zeke takes me up in his arms to hug me. Ty, feeling left out, joins in on the hug - thus, making it a group hug.

Caleb, having returned from his brief departure, throws both of his arms around us three, “Gotta get in the action too.” He mumbles and then sighs contently against us, “I love life.”

I laugh at him as I push them all off of me, “I bet you do Leb, I bet you do.”

“You can start right away if you like. I’ll pay you.” Zeke persists and I easily agree seeing as I have nothing better to do.

“Why not?” I shrug as Ty and Caleb cheer in excitement.

“Told you she would say yes.” Caleb smirks at Ty.

Ty rolls his eyes, a frown on his face, “I said that. You said she’d end up throwing our bodies to the sharks.”

“I don’t have any recollection of that. I don’t recall ever saying that.” Caleb argues when no doubt he had said that.

“That’s ’cause you have selective memory.” Ty fires back, the two of them up to their usual banter.

I shake my head at the two before following after Zeke into the surf shack.

I glance around. The surf shack is much tidier than I remember. All the surfboards are neatly packed unlike when I worked here two years ago. The walls have been repainted, however the space is still very limited. All in all, the surf shack looks a million times better than before.

“I like what you’ve done with the place.” I tell Zeke, honest in my opinion.

Zeke is a few years older than me. He’s always been a super great guy. I’ve always been fond of him. He’s the best boss one could ask for. He, himself - much like Chase - used to be a famous surfer back in the day. Zeke gave surfing up for personal reasons just after he turned twenty one. He’s twenty six now, he’s come a long way since then.

“I thought you would.” Zeke grins as he stretches out his arms and lets out yawn. The guy is working and studying at the same time. I pity him. He motions to the front counter, “Do you want a trial run again or do you got this?”

I playfully push him out the surf shack, “I got this Zeke. I will start right away.” I reassure him before advising him to go revise seeing as he’s studying Micro-Biology right through spring break. I feel for him. I’d be stressed if I were him, but nothing really fazes Zeke Ferguson.

Ty, upon seeing Zeke retreating, bids his own goodbye, “I better be off too.”

I raise an eyebrow at Tyler, “What? You got somewhere better to be than with me?” I ask him with a disappointed frown from behind the surf shack counter, him just outside it.

I can’t help but feel more comfortable when I have Tyler with me. He’s that guy that makes me feel more confident about myself. Ty makes me feel like I’m capable of doing anything and going anywhere. He’s like my anchor in a storm; my life jacket when I’m drowning in despair. I need him, I really need him.

His dark eyes glaze over with amusement as he leans over the counter toward me with a suggestive look, his elbows on the surface and his chin atop his hands as he sets his sights on me, “If I didn’t know any better, I’d say you enjoy my company too much.” He teases as I hold back a smile.

I do love Ty’s company, but I’m not admitting that to him. From all my friends, I feel closest to Tyler whereas in the past it was always Chase.

I roll my eyes at his cheesy attempt to flirt, “And if I didn’t know any better, I’d say you’re incredibly desperate and in need of a girlfriend pronto.” I retort back playfully.

“You could always help me out with the girlfriend thing.” Ty suggests with much suave. He has so much charm, it’s unbelievable.

A blush forms on my cheeks at his bluntness. The nerve of him. I give him a dead panned stare, waiting for him to just answer me already. “Fat chance.” I retort back.

Ty, mocking offense, moves back with a pout, “And here I thought I was finally getting your attention in a way thought would make us romantically inclined to each other.” Ty waggles his eyebrows with a mischievous fleck to his dark eyes. I narrow my gaze at him before crossing my arms over my chest. He caves with a sigh, “I got work to attend to. Not all of us get a clean spring break Gabs.” Tyler explains and I nod at him, understanding.

If Tyler’s to be an official lawyer one day, he has to attend work at the local law firm. They are, after all, interested in hiring him after he finishes his degree.

“I’d rather spend the whole day with you if I could, but the working class ey? You understand.” Ty winks at me, referring to me starting work here at the surf shack.

I raise an eyebrow as a thought occurs to me, “Does this mean you’re leaving me with Leb?” I ask wearily as my eyes moves off Ty to Cal in the distance. He’s currently arguing with a six year old over the sand castle she’d made, explaining to her that she has no future as an architect.

Ty doesn’t give me a direct answer and merely flashes me a cocky grin, “Don’t miss me too much.”

Then, just like Zeke, he’s gone.

*~*~*~**~*~*~*

“What about that one? Can I touch that one?” Caleb asks for the billionth time, with childlike wonder in his blue eyes, as he points at yet another one of the surf shack’s surfboards.

“No.” I repeat, exasperated.

“Awe please.” He begs, always persistent, “Zeke won’t mind. He’s chill.”

I hate Tyler, I hate Tyler so much. How could he be so heartless to leave Caleb with me whilst I’m working?

“Caleb, you’re full of sand. This store was super clean this morning and now there’s sea sand everywhere.” I huff, exhausted. “I’ve swept after you like five hundred times already.”

There hasn’t been many customers seeing as people are only recently coming to learn that Zeke’s surf shack has reopened for business. In the past, this shack was pumping with people. Today, the tables have turned.

However, it’s dealing with Caleb that exhausts me. He’s like a leech, slowly draining the life out of me. I love Caleb, he’s just a handful is all. He’s a special character.

“This one?” Caleb ignores me and asks again as he stares up at one of the surfboards hanging from the ceiling.

“Caleb.” I whine, “Why do you have to be so difficult?”

Caleb’s head snaps to me as he spins around to glower at me, “How dare you insinuate that I’m difficult? I’ll have you know that I’m a pleasure to be around.”

I didn’t insinuate, I said.

I stifle my laughter at his words behind my fist, “I love you Leb, I do, but you tire me.”

I will never understand how Ty puts up with this guy - though, Ty is just as annoying with his corny pick up lines.

“I’ve always had a sneaky suspicion that you’ve been madly in love with me for years.” Caleb jokes before adding beneath his breath just loud enough for me to hear, “Unfortunately for you, I think I can do better.”

My mouth falls agape at his comment. He bursts out laughing at my reaction as he pinches my cheeks. I swat his hand away from my face. “You’re such a bully.” I comment, barely containing the smile that creeps onto my face.

A knocking at the counter top draws my attention to the front of the surf shack. I’m there in a flash, thinking it to be a customer. However, I’m met with the faces of Stella and Duke instead.

“Got your text.” Stella remarks as she holds up her phone to me to reveal what I had sent her earlier on: ‘Come get Caleb from the surf shack before he ends up dead.’

I quickly lower her hand and try to cover the message, but it’s too late, Caleb has already seen it.

I take my chances and sneak up a peak at Caleb to see him shaking his head at me, “I’m not mad Gabriela, just disappointed.”

Duke laughs, “I don’t blame Gabs for wanting you dead. I bet you were pestering her.” Duke says, rising to my defense. He’s always the first to back me up.

“He totally was.” I confirm quickly.

“Nah uh.” Caleb protests like a child before Stells enters the shack and forces Caleb out and after her. “Awe c’mon. You guys suck.” Caleb complains when trying to enter the shack again, only to be yanked back by the all powerful Duke.

Stells giggles at Caleb being dramatic before she turns to me and winks, “We’ll take him from here. Keep him out of your hair for the time being until your shift ends. After that, he’s yours again. Duke’s taking me out tonight.” I nod at her, smiling.

Stells and Duke are the cutest. I can’t not gush over them. They’re high school sweethearts and have been dating for as long as I can recall. They’re also total polar opposites. Stells is loving, too open and compassionate whilst Duke is temperamental, reserved and too insensitive. They bring out the best in each other.

“Sometimes, I just feel unwanted in this group of so called friends.” Caleb glowers at each of us.

Duke slaps Caleb upside the head, “Don’t be so over the top all the time then.” Duke turns to me, his dark blue eyes immediately softening as always, “Good luck with the rest of your day girl.” He salutes me before he and Stells leave with an unhappy Caleb, the sun just setting over the ocean. Soon, I’ll be able to go home and rest.

I let out a breath of relief as I run a hand through my dark curls, “Thank goodness.” I say softly to myself as I lean back on the counter in an attempt to catch a small break.

Unfortunately, I’m Gabriela Hill and catching breaks just never works out for me, because next thing I know, in comes Chase Fuller himself.

I quickly scramble off the counter at seeing him set foot into the surf shack as if he had ever right to.

Chase glances at his watch on his cellphone without noticing me. I’m too stunned to even say a word.

What is he doing here?

It’s when he looks up from his phone that his piercing blue eyes meet my own. His neutral expression immediately changes to one of distaste at the sight of me.

My own face falls as the pain and guilt that I always feel when seeing him lurches back into my heart.

“Hill.” He retorts bitterly, acknowledging my presence by using my surname, as if he’d expected to see me here. I guess I should be grateful that he actually bothered to greet me, even if it’s a rude greeting.

Am I missing something?

Perplexed, I furrow my eyebrows in confusion as I ask what’s on my mind, “What are you doing here Chase?” I breathe out, timid and feeling rather intimidated by his fierce glare.

He turns his back on me as a result and begins cleaning one of Zeke’s surfboards as if answering me is nothing but a waste of his breath.

I sigh to myself, hurt. Chase is slowly but surely killing me. I can’t do it anymore. I can’t keep acting like I’m going to be fine when I know I’m ready to fall apart at the seams any second now.

Chase must hear my defeated sigh and I don’t know if it’s out of pity or something deeper, but surprisingly enough, he turns back to look at me over his shoulder before finally giving me an answer, “I work here.”

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