The Storm Spirits

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Chapter Three

A little while later, I hiked back up to the apartment, dry as a bone. I hadn’t gotten in the water at all, just sat and read and enjoyed being on the beach. Nana was sitting on the porch when I returned, and I dropped into the chair beside her. “How was it?” she asked as she sipped the glass of iced tea she was holding.

“It was … interesting.” I hadn’t been able to stop thinking about Zack. “Nana, a guy was hitting on me.”

An eyebrow shot up. “Hitting on you? Were you safe?”

I nodded. “Perfectly, don’t worry. I get the feeling he wouldn’t hurt me.” I glanced at her. “He was downtown this morning, the guy who picked up my bags for me.”

“Really?” Nana put her glass down.

“Yeah. He said he wanted to find me so he could apologize for running into me. Kinda sweet, I guess.” I ran a hand through my hair, and something grainy stuck to my hand. “Ugh, I think I need to shower.”

“Take your time, dear,” Nana said as I rose, picked up my bag, and went inside. “I’ll get supper started so that we can get to the boardwalk.”

“Sounds good.” I picked out my clothes for the boardwalk, then jumped in the shower. It didn’t take me long to get clean, and then I threw on a T-shirt with a TARDIS on it and some jeans. I joined Nana in the kitchen. “Smells good!”

She smiled. “I’m making Shepherd’s Pie. I started the mashed potatoes while you were down at the beach and finished them while you were in the shower.”

“Amazing. You want me to cook up some green beans or toss together a salad?”

“Green beans sound good, dear, thank you.”

I got out a frying pan and set it on the burner next to where the ground beef was finishing up, then went to the fridge and retrieved onions, green beans, and the soy sauce. Chopping up the onions and breaking the ends off of the beans, I tossed them into the pan with some of the sauce and turned on the heat. While Nana put together the Shepherd’s Pie and stuck it in the oven, I cooked the green beans. Standing at the stove, I couldn’t take my mind off of Zack.

“Char? Earth to Char! Charlotte!”

I jumped at the sound of my full name. “Huh? What?” I quickly stirred the green beans, which were sticking a little bit to the pan.

“You were staring into space, dear.”

“Sorry.” I sighed. “He’s stuck in my head.”

“The young man from downtown?” I nodded. “I see.”

I picked up a green bean from the pan and ate it, testing if it was cooked or not. “They’re done.” I found a lid and put it on, shutting off the heat under it. “I’ll set the table.”

“Thank you.”

I set the table with two plate, two forks, two spoons, two napkins, and two cups. Nana found some trivets for the Shepherd’s Pie. I served up the green beans and poured lemonade while she pulled the main dish from the oven. We sat down to a wonderful meal.

“So, are we getting ice cream up on the boardwalk?” I asked as we finished up.

Nana nodded. “Of course. It wouldn’t be our first night up there if we didn’t.” She smiled. “May I challenge you to a game of mini-golf?”

I grinned. “Absolutely!” I sat back in my seat. “I’m ready to work off this wonderful meal! Looks like we have leftovers.”

“Precisely why I made such a large dish,” she responded, getting up and clearing her place. I followed suit. “I’ll put it away when we get back. Put your shoes on and we’ll go.”

“OK.” I slid my feet into my slip-on Converse, grabbed my purse and jacket, and followed Nana out the door. Our apartment was on 2nd Street, and the entertainment part of the boardwalk started at 6th Street, so we walked the four blocks, then another three to get to the mini-golf place we always played at. We kept a brisk pace, but I stopped in my tracks when I looked out at the water and the cloud-covered sunset. “Nana! Look!” I hurried over to the railing of the boards and gazed at the pink, yellow, and orange clouds hanging over the ocean.

She joined me. “It’s lovely.”

I whipped out my phone and snapped a picture. “We should take a selfie.”

“Good idea.” Nana leaned in as I turned the front-facing camera on. We smiled and I took the picture.

“Oh, it’s a good one!” I said when I looked at it. I put my phone away. “All right. Let’s play some golf!”

When we reached the mini-golf place we always played at, Nana paid for a game, received the score card and the clubs, and we picked out golf balls. I chose the green one, and Nana picked the pink.

We were at the last hole of the small course (although it did have eighteen holes) when I heard my name being called. “Char! Char!”

I looked up sharply, then saw Zack standing at the entrance of the course. “I don’t believe it.”

“What?” Nana asked.

Zack waved, and I raised my hand in a small wave back. “It’s … it’s him.”

Nana looked in the direction I was staring. “The young man from downtown.”

“Yeah.” Zack was walking over to us. “You really are stalking me, aren’t you?” I said as soon as he was close enough.

He shook his head. “No, I was just walking along here and heard you, so I thought I would say hello.”

“What happened to tomorrow, if you were even going to tell me where and when?”

“Like I said, I saw you just now and wanted to say hi. We can still do something tomorrow.”

I sighed. “Zack, this is my Nana, Cleo. Nana, this is Zack.”

Nana extended her hand to him. “Very nice to meet you, Zack.”

He took her hand, and she jumped a little, I guess from the shock he seemed to always give off. “Nice to meet you as well, Ms. Cleo.”

“We, uh, kinda need to finish our game,” I said, hoping he would leave.

“May I buy you ladies ice cream afterward?” he asked me.

My eyebrows shot up, but Nana stepped in. “That would be wonderful, Zack, thank you. Let us just putt this last hole and we’ll find some ice cream.” She smiled up at him, then smirked at me. “And I win.”

“Not if I get a hole-in-one here, Nana!” I smirked back, but inside I was “defeated.” I turned to Zack as she lined up her shot. “She always wins at golf; I basically have no hope at this point.”

“What about a hole-in-one?”

“Do you even know how rare those are among amateurs? I’ve only gotten one in my whole life.”

His eyes flashed. “Maybe tonight is your lucky night.”

I shrugged. “Maybe, but I doubt it.”

“Your turn, Char!” Nana called to me, still smirking. “Can you beat two shots?”

“I can sure try!” I called back to her. I put my ball down and lined it up with the hole as best I could. Then I swung my club. The ball arced away from the hole, and my shoulders slumped. Light flashed suddenly, just a little, and my ball curved back toward the hole. My eyes widened as it went in, clattering a little against the metal grate at the bottom. I looked up at Nana and smirked at her. “I win.”

She chuckled. “You sure do.” She marked it on the scorecard as I picked my ball up. We returned our clubs and balls to the hut. “Ice cream?”

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