“You work here?” I repeat after him, at a loss. Why didn’t Zeke or Ty mention that? Did they purposely overlook the small fact in hopes the two of us can learn to get along again?
“That’s what I said.” He answers in a sharp tone, not bothering to hide his irritation.
“Jeez. I was just confirming that I heard right. Relax. No need to be so uptight all the time.” I breathe out quietly, frustrated that Chase and I somehow always land up right back where we started: together.
I can’t help but wonder if Chase knew beforehand about this. He lacked the element of shock upon seeing me. I, on the other hand, was completely taken aback to see him.
What happened to staying out of each other’s way?
“How long have you been working here?” I question, intrigued, “I thought Zeke only opened shop like a week ago.”
“You’re full of questions today, aren’t you?” Chase snaps but goes to answer me anyway, “I started yesterday. I’m only working here for spring break before I leave town again to finish my studies.”
I nod before taking the chance in asking more, “Are you taking over shifts now or are you working beside me?”
“I thought Zeke would’ve explained this to you already. We’re working as partners like we used to.” Chase tells me as I’m overcome with a fresh wave of nostalgia. This is like revisiting the past all over again.
I raise a curious brow at his answer, “And you’re okay with that?” I frown, puzzled.
Chase turns to face me, his sea blue eyes revealing anger and coldness, “What do you think?!” He barks at me, his deadly gaze keeping me firmly in place.
If he’s suppose to be working long side with me, that means he should have pitched for the shift hours ago and now now when I’m about to lock up for the day.
“Don’t shout at me!” I huff, standing my ground, “You’re the one who pitched late for the shift.” I remind him, pointing out the facts. No way am I going to take the fall for him anymore.
In the past, Chase didn’t always turn up for shifts and if he did, he was late. That left me to do everything. I did all the work. I always had his back and used to lie to Zeke in the hopes of saving Chase from being fired. If Chase thinks that I’m doing that again for him, he must be out of his damn mind.
Chase rolls his eyes at me, “It’s day one and you’re already starting with me. You always piss me off whenever you get the chance.”
“Show up on time and I won’t piss you off.” I fire back, my own irritation rising. Chase and I are just not capable of civil conversation anymore. “Where were you anyway?” I prod, genuinely interested as to what was so important as to keep him from work.
“None of your business.” He remarks in a sour tone, “You’re so nosy.”
I ignore him, choosing to take his words with a pinch of salt, “I know you were with Summer - your girlfriend.” I state knowingly. It had always been for a girl in the past too. Some things just don’t change. “Tomorrow, be on time or I’m telling Zeke you’re slacking.” I threaten him, done being soft Gabby for his sake. He’s never going to forgive me no matter how many times I apologize and try take back all what I said to him. I might as well resort back to the old fierce Gabby who kept him in line when necessary.
“You’re such a b*tch.” Chase says, a viscous growl emanating from him as his stature visibly stiffens, his face having hardened and his eyes giving away nothing.
“Life’s a b*tch.” I curse in front of him, “Get used to it.” I can’t help the words escaping from my lips. Chase brings out the worst in me. Whenever I with him, I feel discontent - detachment from this world.
Chase lets out a humorless laugh at that, “Oh you made sure of that, didn’t you?” He says, referring back to that night when I said things that would forever destroy him.
He will never be able to move past from that night. I see that now. Ultimately, I will never be able to move on from that night either because Chase keeps pulling me back to that dark place.
A fleeting look of hurt crosses my eyes at his words. He always manages to have the last say, leaving me speechless.
Chase sees the guilt buried in my eyes and the pain laced in my expression, yet still, his eyes don’t soften and he doesn’t let up on the ‘tough guy’ act.
I avert my eyes from Chase, looking anywhere but at him as I mumble my next words, “Why do you always have to go back to that night?”
Chase, by chance, hears, “Because I live in that night.” He answers, emotionless, as he resumes cleaning all the dusty surfboards with an old cloth.
When will Chase free me from this heavy burden? I don’t know how much longer I can carry it before I’m squashed from the weight. I just want to start over with him, but that’s never going to happen. Chase hates me and I guess a little part of me resents him too.
I don’t hate Chase, I can’t. It’s physically impossible for me to hate him. Believe me when I say that I’ve tried. However, I hate who he’s become. I hate that I’m the cause of the severe change in him. All I want is to see him happy again, to see him smile and to hear him laugh. Is that really asking a lot? Maybe for Chase it is.
If I could rewind time and just go back…
Chase never used to be so standoffish, but today I can’t imagine him not being that way. I’ve grown used to the changes I’ve seen in him. He’s not the same person. He doesn’t care about me, not anymore. It really doesn’t matter because in the end, I will never stop caring for him.
“For the past two years, you’ve never come back for spring break.” I change the subject swiftly, “Why come back now? For what reason?” I might as well get everything out of him now whilst he’s already peeved with me.
Chase catches me off guard when he actually answers me, however, he keeps his eyes trained on the surfboards when answering, “I came back to tie up loose ends. That’s all you need to know.”
I close up after that, ready to start the entire routine again tomorrow.
The next day:
I reach up for the higher shelf where the surfboard she’d specifically requested lies.
Today’s been a bit busier seeing as Zeke has been advertising that he’s reopened the surf shack. Some of our old customers of two years back have actually returned. That’s what I call true loyalty.
Chase even showed up on time for our shift. Perhaps this could actually be the start of a great day, and perhaps that very statement is just wishful thinking.
I stand on my tippy toes, still trying to get the stupid thing down without it falling on me. I’d look like an idiot if that happened. It’s times like these when I wish I was as tall as Stella. When you’re short, everything is an effort.
I glance back - past my brown curls - over my shoulder, to see Chase still chatting up the blonde haired beauty. He could help, not that he ever would. It’s like I do all the work whilst he flirts with every damn female customer who will pay him even the slightest bit of attention. The worst part of it all is that he has a girlfriend. If Summer were here to witness this, she’d be furious.
I hate Summer, but even she doesn’t deserve this. Flirting is a form of cheating in my opinion. Chase is being an ass. If hes’ not happy with Summer then he should end it, not lead the poor desperate girl on. It’s just sad.
Oh but let it be a male customer that, very rarely might I add, stops to talk to me and Chase just about flips out. He’d say I’m lazy before scaring off the male customer though his dagger glares.
I sigh, still glancing back only to see Chase whisper something into the blonde’s ear before she turns red and giggles whilst twirling a spun golden lock around the tips of her fingers.
I roll my eyes at the sight. It seems Chase has kept all his crap qualities and lost all of his good ones.
“Chase.” I call softly, not wanting to disturb him, “Please help.” I say as I continue to reach for the surfboard up on the highest shelf. I even go as far as to jump for it.
Chase looks back at me, having heard my voice, before he completely ignores me and continues to make the pretty blonde in front of him blush. If only the girl knew that he is currently in a relationship.
I begin climbing the shelf, knowing fully well that Chase is going to be of no help. I’m on my own. He’s quite useless when it comes to holding down a job - specifically this one.
I’m just about at the top when something distracts me: Chase laughing. The sound is vaguely familiar, except, I hadn’t heard it in two years. I can’t describe the feeling that blossoms within me. The sound is melodious and takes me back down memory lane, a sense of peace washing over me.
It’s only then that I realize how much I’ve missed hearing that laugh. His laugh is beautiful and the sound is addicting. The only problem is that he’s laugh isn’t for me.
Somewhere along the line, I lose my footing and end up tumbling off the shelves, crashing to the floor with a loud thud, pain soaring through my right wrist seeing as I landed on it.
It’s enough to capture Chase’s attention this time round. He looks down at me, putting to and two together as he rolls his eyes at me as if I’m incapable of doing anything right. That scowl is back in place on his lips, the sound of his laughter no longer ringing through my ears.
He brushes past me, not even bothering to ask if I’m alright or to help me up, as he effortlessly takes down the surfboard the blonde had requested and hands it to her ever so courteously.
He could have just done that in the first place!
“Excuse my partner, she’s not well in the head.” Chase say to the blonde. He actually has the audacity to apologize for my unprofessional behavior when it’s him doing nothing.
The blonde gives Chase her number and then leaves to finally go surf - the reason she was here in the first place
I manage to get back to my feet on my own, but the soaring pain in my wrist refuses to seize. I’m in agony. Still, I hold my own and glare at Chase.
He sees this, “What now?” He barks, annoyed with me for no reason in particular.
I cross my arms over my chest, keeping up the defense, as I narrow my eyes at him, “You have a girlfriend.” I remind him, disgusted by his behavior.
“So?” He frowns, not at all seeing the obvious flaw.
I frown at him, “So act like you have one.” I say to him, extremely irritated. I’m on the verge of strangling him. He does not respect females.
Feeling slight discomfort, I shift position and try steady myself against the shelf with my right hand. Mistake! I wince when my wrist brushes up against the shelf.
Chase sees me wince and then looks down at my bruised wrist with the slightest hint off concern, “What happened?” He asks, trying to keep his voice even - trying to not let me see the worry in his eyes. I see it anyway and a small smile curves my lips at the thought that at least a small part of him still cares about my well being.
“I think I sprained it now when I fell.” I answer him, testing out my wrist. It hurts to move it.
“Let me see.” Chase insists, not even waiting for my answer as he carefully takes my injured wrist in both his hands.
Chase forces me to move my wrist. I bite back my whimper and swallow the pain, choosing to suck it up. “Easy.” I breathe out, “It hurts.” I inform him seeing as he isn’t exactly handling me with care.
Chase doesn’t bother to apologize for his roughness as he grabs his car keys and tugs me after him without so much as an explanation.
“Chase, what are you doing?” I question, caught off guard that he’s willingly pulling em along after him by my hand.
“Taking you to the doctor to get that checked out.” He answers nonchalantly, making out as if what he’d just volunteered to do for me is nothing big.
Just as Chase locks up the surf shack for the time being, Summer Rawlins (Chase’s girlfriend), comes sprinting down the shore to greet her boyfriend.
Summer ignores me completely as she embraces Chase lovingly before planting a kiss on his lips. I look away as if to give the two of them privacy, suddenly feeling uncomfortable.
It’s when Summer pulls back from Chase that she notices the hold he has on my hand. Summer’s smile drops and transforms into a scowl as her eyes meet mine, “What is she doing here?” Summer asks Chase, keeping her steady gaze on me.
I try to pull my hand out of Chase’s grasp, but he’s not having it.
Before Chase can answer her question, she’s already moving onto another question, “Why the hell are you holding her hand?!” Summer snaps at Chase, clearly jealous and insecure of her relationship with him. I don’t blame her. Chase has been flirting with other girls all day. He’s not exactly faithful.
“This is your fault!” Summer hisses at me as I finally force my hand out of Chase’s.
My fault? If only she knew that I had her back a few minutes ago when I told Chase to stop flirting with the entire female population for Summer’s sake.
“Calm down.” Chases soothes Summer, “I’m just taking her down to her GP(General Practitioner). She hurt her wrist.” Chase explains to his girlfriend in the hopes of shutting her up.
I fiddle with the hem of my shirt anxiously as I speak up, “It’s fine Chase.” I say, turning to face him. “I have a car. I can drive myself. You can stay here and keep the shop going.” I suggest, not wanting to upset Summer any further. “Besides…” I add, “Zeke wouldn’t be very happy if he finds out we closed early without his permission.” I try to convince Chase into doing things my way for once.
Summer - eager to get Chase away from me - nods along with me, agreeing. “Yes. She can drive. She doesn’t need you. Let her drive herself to the doctor.”
You’d think she’d appreciate my kindness to her despite her hostile attitude…
Chase ignores Summer flat as he turns to me with a cool gaze that has shiver running up my spine at just the sight of his harshness, “And how are you going to drive with that wrist?” Chase asks in a low tone, doing his best to not lash out at me for my stupidity. I get the impression that he’s trying to be a little more understanding with me and my current predicament.
I didn’t even consider his point. I won’t be able to drive with one hand - well I could, but I’m already a nervous driver to start with and Chase knows that.
I don’t answer, mostly because I can’t.
“C’mon. Let’s go.” Chase demands, already knowing that he’s right about what he said. I am kind of depending on him driving me to the doctor right about now. I don’t like the feeling of being dependent on him. It makes me feel uneasy. He’ll probably expect something in return for the favor.
I make another attempt to persuade him otherwise when Summer’s expression hardens with rage, “I could always just phone Tyler and ask him to take -“
“I said, let’s go.” Chase cuts me off, his blue eyes now blazing with irritation at the mention of Ty.
He’s always so stubborn and narrow minded. I should know by now that once he’s mind is made up, there’s no changing it.
“Chase!” Summer huffs, frustrated, “She’s not your priority. Let her handle herself.” Summer insists through gritted teeth, bitter inside with jealousy. It’s not like I injured my wrist on purpose.
Chase ignores Summer for the second time as he brushes past her in the direction of his car. Summer races after him before she sidesteps him, stopping him from walking any further as she makes herself an obstruction in his path, “Chase! I’m talking to you!”
“I’m ignoring you.” Chase retorts rudely, annoyed.
I’m not sure if I should follow after him, especially not now whilst he’s having and argument with his girlfriend. I don’t want to make it any worse than I already have.
However, Chase has other plans. He narrows his eyes at me and motions me over, “Gabriela! Hurry up!”
Hesitantly, I cautiously and slowly make my way to the fearsome couple where both individuals terrify me equally.
“What is your problem?” Summer asks Chase with a hurt expression on her face, no longer bothering to acknowledge my presence. It’s better this way. I prefer going unnoticed by people like Chase and her.
Chase meets her gaze head on with a chilling gaze that freezes not only her, but me too, to the spot. “You want to know what my problem is, it’s you.” Chase states ruthlessly in a ‘bone-chilling’ undertone.
Summer’s mouth falls agape at his answer as if it was the last thing she’d been expecting. Hell, it was the last thing I was expecting too.
Chase then turns backwards to face me seeing as I’d been cowering behind him in fear of this turning ugly. He points an accusing finger at me, “And it’s her!”
Yup, I knew there was no way he’d leave me out of the equation.
“It’s me.” Chase continues, his voice falling a decibel softer, “It’s everything.” Chase confesses, his voice - for once - laced thickly in raw emotion. He’s actually allowing us to see his vulnerable side.
“What are you saying?” Summer asks quietly, her eyes glossing over with tears.
“It’s over. We’re done. I don’t want anything serious right now.” Chase says point blank, getting straight down to the point.
Summer slaps him through the face before stalking off. Watching the scene unfold is déjà vu. I, myself, have slapped Chase through the face too.
Chase heads to his car, not reacting at all. Surely, he should feel something. He just broke up with the girl he’d been dating for weeks now. It’s not normal to be emotionless over something as serious as a breakup.
The ride to the hospital is so silent that it becomes deafening - suffocating. Chase is extremely tense, that much I can tell. He’s gripping the steering wheel so hard that his knuckles are turning white. His jaw is clenched tightly; he’s upset.
I want to say something to comfort him, but I know better. I’ve come to learn from a lifetime of experience that when Chase is distraught over something, it’s best to give him some space to cool off. Don’t interfere until he’s had time to process and analyse. Until then, back off.
I keep my mouth shut and stare out at the window instead, watching the passing sea in place of comforting Chase.
“So it’s broken?” Chase asks yet again as he drives us back to the surf shack from the town’s local doctor.
“Yeah.” I mumble, “That’s what the doc said.” I remind him. He’s almost as terrible as Caleb with asking things over and over again.
Chase takes his eyes off the road to glance at my right arm in a cast. His blue eyes fill up with regret and guilt.
He doesn’t have to say anything for me to know that he feels responsible for what happened - for my broken wrist. If he’d helped me when I asked, I wouldn’t have fallen.
I won’t pin the blame on him again. It’s not his fault. I’m the idiot that decided to climb a shelf and I’m the klutz that lost my balance and fell.
“Broken broken?” Chase asks, making sure that it’s not a sprain like we’d originally thought it to be. Turned out to be worse.
“Yes Chase.” I say with a small laugh that I quickly muffle before I get him mad all over again. “Broken.” I emphasize the word, knowing fully well that he wants to apologize but also knowing that he will never say it.
Upon arriving back at the main beach, we rush our way back to the surf shack. Zeke doe snot need to know that we closed for an hour in between our shift.
I trail after Chase, trying to match his quick and long strides. Eventually, I decide on instinct and grab hold of his upper arm, pulling him to a stop.
Chase turns around with an expecting expression as if waiting for me to say whatever it is I have to say. I’m a little surprised that he’s actually giving me his time of day. He could easily keep walking and ignore me like he’d done earlier with Summer, yet he chooses to stay behind to listen to me.
“Do you want to talk about it?” I ask, hesitant in the fact that he could blow up at any second or completely shut me out - either way, I’m petrified.
“There’s nothing to talk about,” is his answer.
“Chase, c’mon, I know you. I know when you’re hurting. We used to be able to talk to each other about anything. You used to come to me with everything. Talk to me.” I encourage, hoping I could get through to him.
His eyes flicker down to the light hold I have on his arm and then back to me as if he’s actually considering it. He contemplates further before he reaches a conclusion.
He shakes my hand off his arm, “Get your head out the clouds Gabriela. This isn’t the past. This is the present.” Chase replies back in his usual icy tone reserved just for me, “I told you, there’s nothing to talk about.” Chase breathes before he turns his back on me, as always.
I just have to keep pushing forward and eventually I’ll make a break through. I’ll tear down the walls he put up in place to protect himself, even if it means I have to do it with my bare hands - brick by brick. In the end, I’ll get past his guarded heart and it will all be worth it.
I’m not giving up on him, not yet.
I stare after his retreating form wistfully, hurt. I let out a sigh, dropping my head to avoid his gaze as I reluctantly follow after him back to the surf shack.
Hi all :)
1. Do you think Gabby is making progress with Chase?
Thanks for all the support and encouraging words =)) Xx