~ One ~
“Dad, I can’t believe you thought it was a good idea to send him here,” I said, fighting to keep the bite from my voice.
“Now, Maggie,” he rebuked. “He really missed you. I’m sure Bish is not that bad.”
“He could find out about us, Dad, about what we are.”
“We- Peter and I- thought it would be better to send someone who had no powers or...whatever, there to watch you and keep everyone else here. They are planning a lot of things and need all the hands they can get. So Kyle insisted on going and Bish said he’d go too and be a chaperone to you all. He doesn’t know what he’s doing just that he’s keeping watch over a bunch of teenagers. Give him some slack, Maggie. He’s having a hard time. He quit his job, ya know.”
“I know. He told me and he wouldn’t have if not for me. None of this would be happening if not for me.”
“Don’t be like that.” I could hear him shuffling papers and imagined him putting the newspaper down to further focus on me. “These people care about you. That’s evident from the time I’ve spent with them.”
“What do you mean? You spend time with them?”
“Yes. I met them at Kyle’s or Peter’s for those meetings they have and have eaten dinner with them more than once. Rachel is a fantastic cook.”
I balked. What?
“Why what? Why would they want me hanging around?” he asked wryly.
“No. No, that’s not what I meant. I meant why would you want to? I thought you’d be...more upset or cautious of them, because of the abilities and all.”
“Maggie, you are one of these people now. It’s not ideal and I still have some things to work through but I want to know everything there is to know about them and their history. Plus,” he cleared his throat, “you and Caleb aren’t going to have some big break-up anytime soon down the road are you?”
“No, Dad,” I answered and almost smiled.
“Well then I need to like these people. I need to know all about them and be around them, to get used to them. They’re going to be my family one day, right? One day a long, long, long, long, time away.”
I laughed and tangled my fingers in my long hair, still wet from the beach.
“Ok, Dad. You’re right. And I’m glad that you’re getting along. It was more than I could hope for.”
“Good. Well, be nice to Bish. And just be careful around him. I’m afraid he’s not as enthused about Caleb as you are.”
“I can tell,” I said not even trying to tamp down on the sarcasm.
“Love you, baby girl. Thanks for calling your old man.”
“Love you too, Dad. See you soon.”
We hung up and I blew a settling breath, leaning back on the white chaise in the library of Caleb’s aunt and uncle’s beach house in California. This was our second day here. We’d gone straight out to the beach once Bish and Kyle had shown up, unexpectedly, this morning.
We had padded our way out past the back gate and into the white sand. I laid my towel out and began to take Caleb’s shirt off that he had gotten for me to wear when Kyle wasn’t being shy about his looking or thinking about me in my bathing suit. Bish had immediately come up and said I should leave it on. It was a little chilly with the wind, he said. I had scowled at him while I peeled it off and threw it in the sand. Then he sank down, laying back and closing my eyes to the warm bright sun just like any normal day.
Though I couldn’t see him, I could hear his thoughts. He was pissed. He thought I was being reckless with my life and with this guy who was apparently some kind of swindler to have convinced everyone to like him and let him take me away to the beach alone. The slutty bathing suit was just icing on the cake. I gasped at his thoughts and sat up to glare at him, forgetting that he hadn’t said it out loud, but his back was already turned.
Caleb sat down in the sand beside me, his shirt off too, and placed a soothing hand on my seething back as he spoke softly to me.
“He’s your brother, Maggie. He’s not gonna be happy unless you’re wearing a sweater.”
“He used the word ‘slutty’,” I whispered harshly so Bish wouldn’t hear me. “I can’t believe him...ugh. I just thought this trip was gonna go differently. And I have no idea why Kyle’s here either. What the heck is that about?”
Caleb grunted unhappily in agreement.
“Dad said they couldn’t spare anyone else.”
“Boo,” I complained.
“Hey, why don’t you let me teach you how to surf in the morning? It’ll take your mind off things. There’s a stash of boards at the house. If we come out early the surf should be good.”
“Yeah,” I agreed a gleaming spot of hope seeping in. “I always wanted to learn to do that.”
“Good. It’s a date.”
“So,” I said and snuggled against his bare sun warmed side.
“Are you going to take me on a real date while we’re here?”
“I have quite a few places I intend to take you before we leave, actually,” he said smugly.
He smirked and went to bend his head to kiss me but did a quick peek at Bish and decided against it. He leaned back onto the towel on the sand beside me, his arms under his head, his foot rubbing mine and we stayed that way until we came back into the house a while later. Kyle had spent the entire time in the water and Bish had stayed an annoyingly close distance to Caleb and me.
And here we were now, me, sulking on the phone with my dad, complaining. Caleb was trying to fix something for supper in the kitchen. Bish was taking a shower upstairs and Kyle was playing video games on the TV in the den.
I placed the phone on the table by the chair and laid my head back in frustration. I closed my eyes, crossing my ankles and pulling Caleb’s t-shirt further down over my thighs.
I thought about everything that had happened that day. About everything I wanted to do while we were here. About what Caleb and I had been doing when we were interrupted by Bish and Kyle.
To my unbeknownst dismay, I drifted off to sleep.