#6 Snooty and the Book Cover. This one got away from me. I need to learn how to say: STOP…
in the name of love! 🙂
I’m Walking on Sunshine!
It’s hard writing on a balcony that overlooks the ocean, I won’t lie. I frequently find my attention wandering from my laptop to what’s happening on the beach, because there’s something always happening: Teenagers tossing a Frisbee or dogs running into the ocean to fetch tennis balls or couples showing their toddler the beach for the first time. And then much to my dismay, my attention shifts to the construction of the house next door. When I know Steve’s working, he’s like a magnet drawing my eyes constantly in his direction.
Today his radio blares and I don’t mind. Typically I would. Typically I’d dislike someone’s music interfering with my day, drifting into my consciousness, controlling my mood, but I hear Soundgarden’s “Black Hole Sun” and find myself humming along.
I’ve written two chapters. I think it’s going fine although the prose is shaky and I am doing my best to not go back and start reading and changing and rewriting everything I’ve written.
“Yoohoo, Princess.” Or it was going fine.
I look over the balcony where Brittany is standing, her arms laden with bags. “I’ve brought lunch for us and the guys.”
Us and the guys. When did I become a carpenter’s groupie? Isn’t that what started a religion?
I save my document and then throw a cover-up over my tankini. I may have become a groupie, but I don’t need to be a groupie in a tankini. Except that I see Brittany is—and forget the tankini; she’s bikini all the way. It’s light blue and white polka dot with a very short layer of fringe. She is so confident. I wish I had an ounce–or twelve–of her confidence.
Steve is leaning against the fence that separates the house they’re building from the beach cottage where the writing retreat is being held. His sunglasses hide his eyes from me, but a bemused smile plays upon his lips. Clayton watches Brittany, or should I say, Brittany’s bikini top, very carefully. Mark and Riordan just stand there talking to each other about a minor league baseball game as Brittany hands out sandwiches.
She laughs. “I picked something out for everyone. Tell me if I got it right.”
She hands Mark, Riordan, and Clayton roast beef with extra meat. They seem happy. She looks at Steve. “I think you eat healthy so I got you turkey,” she says.
He says thanks, but doesn’t confirm her guess one way or another. Then she looks at me. “Princess, you’re definitely California vegetarian. Sundried tomatoes, avocado, goat cheese, sprouts…”
Clayton snickers. “Figures.”
“That’s great. Thanks.” I try to hand her money but she shoos it away. She leads us to the picnic table where she makes certain she sits next to Steve. Not one to be outdone, not today anyway, I sit on his other side and try not to figure out my motives because I did just get rid of one headache and don’t want to succumb to another.
“Whoa, Steve, you’re in solid, man,” Riordan says.
I don’t know what that means, but I could guess. I feel ill at ease and before my appetite can completely disappear, I stand up. “I’m actually going to eat on the beach.”
“Damn snooty,” I hear Clayton say under his breath.
“But there’s sand,” Brittany says.
I can’t help my raising eyebrow. “It’s a beach.”
“I’ll come with,” Steve says.
I want to tell him that he doesn’t have to, but he’s already striding ahead of me. Brittany’s bottom lip pouts. I follow Steve and sit next to him a few yards from where the waves wash up on the shore. I start eating my sandwich, which is very yummy as Brittany flops down on Steve’s other side.
“I hate the sand,” she says. She takes a bite of her sandwich, also turkey, and chews contemplatively.
She kicks out her feet and then shimmies her toes into the sand.
“It gets everywhere especially when you have sex on the beach. Have you had sex on the beach?” she asks Steve.
Steve almost chokes on his sandwich. “I…uh—”
“No matter. There’s a first time for everything. I could be your first sex on the beach and you could help me with my research,” she says so matter-of-factly that I am frankly awed.
While Steve hasn’t moved a muscle, I can almost feel his mind squirming. He removes his sunglasses and swishes the back of his hand over his eyes. He glances at me with a raised eyebrow. Is that a signal? Am I supposed to save him? My brain panics. I don’t do these kinds of things. No, I am quite capable of walking in on my husband and his assistant grinding away on my bed and asking him to please wash the sheets when they’re done. Yes, I know, but seriously, I don’t have meltdowns. Ever.
“Brittany, I wasn’t totally honest with you before,” I begin. She leans down in front of Steve, her eyes meeting mine.
“Uh, no. Steve and I slept together,” I say, which is the truth, but not the kind of truth she’ll interpret it as.
“But you said you didn’t score.”
“I didn’t understand what you meant.”
“Oh, yeah. I keep forgetting that you’re not very smart,” she says. Ouch.
Between us, Steve is shaking his head and grinning at the sea. “I didn’t realize how mundane my life had gotten until you ladies came into it.”
“Well there’s more where that came from,” Brittany says. What does she mean by that?
I bite my sandwich wondering what I’ve gotten myself into. It’s not like she’s going to do a bed-check, now is it?
“We could do a threesome,” she says.
This time I sputter. Iced tea spews from my mouth. “I don’t—”
“Yeah, I know. You don’t do that. You’re like this little Princess who has only ever lived in a tower. You are your own fairytale. Calista, the Princess in the Tower.” There’s an edge to her voice now that is verging on unpleasant.
Steve puts an arm around my shoulder. “But she’s my princess,” he says, softly, sensually. And there’s something about that, his tone, his words that make me think I am floating and suddenly, I don’t mind being called Princess or that his very long beard is tickling my skin.