And...my sister is getting married in fifteen days!!!! *screams* *faints* *revives* *screams again*
In other words, I MAY BE A BIT SCARCE IN THE BLOGOSPHERE.
I will try to publish and reply to your comments, but I may only get as far as publishing them. ;) And it might be a couple days after you originally wrote them. I'm apologizing now. ;)
But now, here's the next chapter of "Ocean Mist". In which, you meet the rest of the gang. I hope you're enjoying this little story of mine. :) If you missed either of the two previous parts, you can go to the "Stories in Progress" page and find them there.
Dillon walked away kicking himself. Doggone it, he thought fiercely. You went and shocked the living daylights out of that girl. Nicely done, he added sarcastically. You’ve really done it this time Dillon Blake, you’ve managed to not only make enemies of her two brothers…but probably her too.
He glanced backwards and saw her tongue shoot out at him in disgust. Dillon felt his face reddening, and he jerked his head back around. Grudgingly, he began admiring her more for her nerve. After all, it wasn’t often that girls stuck their tongues out at him. In fact, upon reflection, he didn’t remember it ever happening. Until today, at any rate.
Up ahead, he saw his two friends walking towards him with smirks on their faces. Uh oh, he thought frantically. If they saw me talking with those kids…I’m in for some teasing.
“Hey Dill,” the taller one called out. “Didn’t you hear that kids are supposed to be with adults on this beach, not wandering around by themselves?
“Hey Mark, who let you loose on the beach?” Dillon shot back with a grin. “Did Steven let you out of your straight jacket?” Mark, as the oldest of the three teens at nineteen was constantly teasing him since he was the youngest at barely eighteen. Dillon could usually return equally damaging comebacks.
Steven, short and stocky with shockingly red hair, obviously dyed as the chocolate skin of his African ancestors showed, spoke up in his own defense. “Naw, I didn’t let him loose. Probably it was the seagulls,” he finished in a loud whisper.
Mark shook his head violently, his shoulder-length, blonde hair slapping his face. “Dude, if any of us are insane, it’s you.” A glimmer appeared in his eye, causing Dillon to instantly be on his guard. “Speaking of which, whom were you talking with just now? New friends?” He arched a knowing eyebrow.
Dillon shrugged. “Just some kids I came across on the beach and stopped to talk with. Nothing special.”
Mark snorted and rolled his eyes. “Right.” He elbowed Steven and both boys burst out laughing.
Dillon’s eyes narrowed. “What’s so funny?” he asked suspiciously.
“Oh, come on Dillon, we’ve seen you talk to enough girls…don’t try to hide anything from your old pals. Be honest with us.” He folded his arms and then rubbed his chin absently.
“I was being honest with you,” Dillon shot back indignantly. “I was just being polite.”
Steven grinned and nudged Mark. “He’s being defensive, that means it’s serious. He’s never defensive with ‘just friends’.” The shorter boy air-quoted the two last words emphatically.
Dillon gave an exasperated sigh and pinched the bridge of his nose. “I am not. Enough teasing guys.”
“Seriously Dillon,” Mark pressed, “Do you like her?”
“No! She was sketching something, her brother startled her with a crab, she dropped her drawings, and they went everywhere. One of them landed near me, and I gave it to her and said I thought it was a nice drawing. That’s it.” Dillon glowered at his friends.
“Really?” Mark’s eyes were narrow. “I think you’re leaving something out.”
“I told her she was an accomplished artist,” Dillon insisted. He paused before finishing. “And I told her that she was pretty,” he mumbled finally, his face flaming.
His friends hooted their approval. Mark slapped him on the back, a twinkle appearing in his sea-blue eyes. “Imagine,” he said in awe, “a girl falling for the likes of you!”
Dillon rolled his eyes. “Ok, so two things: first, Nicole didn’t ‘fall for me’ as you put it. In fact, she looked more shocked and displeased than happy, and she stuck out her tongue at me when I left. Secondly, it wouldn’t have been a shock if she had. Girls usually like me.”
Steven’s mouth hung open in disbelief. “She stuck her tongue out at you?” he asked.
Dillon nodded before allowing himself a chuckle. “You should have seen the looks on her brothers’ faces. If they could look daggers, I’d be dead.”
“Well, it’s understandable her not liking you,” Mark said suddenly. “If I had been the one to pick up her drawing, she would have swooned right there I bet.”
Steven snorted. “Whatever,” he said. “Everyone knows I’m the handsomest of us three.”
Both Mark and Dillon looked at Steven with disbelief.
“Your hair alone is enough to give any girl a heart-attack,” Mark declared. “My hair, on the other hand—”
“Makes you look like a girl,” Dillon finished with a grin.
“It does not,” Mark shot back indignantly. “It’s gorgeous.” He twirled the end of it and fluttered his eyelashes.
“Puh-leeese,” Steven groaned aloud.
“It’s not fair,” Mark declared, glaring. “Dillon has girls falling in his pathway left and right, all he does is give them his Look and they swoon, yet he doesn’t ever take advantage of the opportunities.”
Dillon gave his friend a puzzled frown. “My look?” he asked.
“Yeah,” Mark shrugged. “I can’t do it, but you do it to girls and they loose themselves.”
“I don’t think I give girls any looks. Not on purpose at any rate,” he added with a grin. “Personally, I don’t want to bother about them quite yet.”
“It’s like you raise an eyebrow and give them a dashing I’ll-save-you-from-the-world smile,” Mark said thoughtfully. “It’s a thing you do.”
Dillon shrugged. “I mostly try to be polite to girls. Maybe they like guys who are polite. I dunno. Hey, next time you catch me doing whatever you say I do, let me know so I know when I’m doing it.”
Mark grinned. “Sure thing. Anyways, dinner’s on you tonight.”
“What?!?!” Dillon exclaimed. “I thought it was Steven’s turn!”
“Well, since Steven quit his job, and since I don’t have cash on-hand, and since it’s your dad who owns the pizza place…we voted for you to pay tonight.”
Dillon sighed. “Oh, fine. Dad will probably give us a discount anyways.”
“Exactly,” Mark nodded decisively. “Shall we go?”
He rolled his eyes. “Sure, why not?” At least they weren’t teasing him about that girl.
Nicole slipped into the house after her brothers and walked into the small kitchen. Good smells assaulted her nostrils, and for a moment, the growling in her stomach almost made her forget why she was in there.
Her mom was standing over a pot, stirring something in it. She looked up and caught sight of her oldest child standing awkwardly in the doorway. “What is it, honey?” she asked softly.
Nicole chewed on her lip. This was turning out a lot harder than she thought it would be. Just tell her everything! her impulsiveness yelled. What will she think? the timid side answered softly. She’ll understand, she’s MOM for crying out loud! replied her sensible self.
“Can I have a mother-daughter talk with you later this evening?” Nicole finally managed.
A puzzled frown settled between her mom’s eyebrows, but she nodded. “Of course sweetie. Now help me with dinner please.”
Relieved that it was over for now, Nicole enthusiastically plunged into dinner prep. Later…she would tell her mom everything later.
“So, what’s the problem?” her mom started, patting the bed beside her with a concerned look on her face.
Nicole plopped down and sighed. “It’s not really a problem I guess, just…well, when we went on our walk this afternoon, we met a guy on the beach.” Her face flamed red at the memory as the whole story came out. Nicole’s mom quietly listened, raising an eyebrow at the scare her daughter got from Ray’s crab and again at the shock and confusion her daughter felt when the boy had called her accomplished and pretty.
Finally, when Nicole had finished her tale with how she had duped her brothers, they shared a laugh at the boys’ expense.
Her mom’s eyes twinkled. “Well, honey, I’m not sure that was exactly the most mature response.”
Nicole nodded unhappily. “I know. That’s partially why I wanted to talk to you. What would be the right response? I couldn’t just let him say things like that, right?”
“Well,” her mom chose her words carefully, “there are times when ignoring things like that is best. Most of the time, boys who say things out of the blue are only looking for a reaction, whether good or bad, and you’ll end up encouraging them with things like sticking your tongue out at them.”
She paused for a moment, smiling at her only daughter. “However, if the boy really meant to compliment you, like he complimented your art, the proper response is probably a simple ‘thank you’. It’s always a little awkward at this age. I remember my mom bringing up two verses in first Timothy when something similar happened to me when I was about your age.” A far-away look crossed her face, and she reached over to the nightstand where her Bible sat.
After flipping through it to almost the end, she skimmed down a page and then pointed to a few underlined verses triumphantly. “Here it is: first Timothy, chapter five, verses one and two. Paul was giving Timothy help as he was trying to pastor one of the brand-new Christian churches. He gave him advice regarding who the leadership should be, and how they should act. As you probably know, this is one of your dad’s favorite books of the Bible.” Her mom smiled. “But let me read the verses to you and explain how they apply to a teenaged girl instead of a young pastor: ‘Do not rebuke an older man, but exhort him as a father, younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, younger women as sisters with all purity.’”
Nicole met her mother’s eyes. “How does this apply to me?” she asked with a puzzled frown.
Her mom shushed her. “Listen,” she said, “while I switch the words a little.” She grinned before adding, “Don’t try this at home.”
Nicole giggled. “Fair enough.”
“This is the young lady’s version: ‘Do not rebuke an older woman, but exhort her as a mother, younger women as sisters, older men as fathers, younger men as brothers with all purity.’” Her mom clarified, “In a nut-shell, Paul told Timothy to treat the younger women like sisters, but to keep himself pure. I changed it for you and am telling you to treat the young men around you as brothers, but to keep yourself pure. Does that make sense?”
Nicole chewed on her lip thoughtfully, but then slowly nodded. “I think so,” she said. “So next time, if there is a next time, I should treat him like I would if Shawn or Ray were talking to me.”
“Possibly a little nicer,” her mom added, the blue eyes twinkling with a knowing light.
“I will,” Nicole promised, leaning across the bed and giving her mom a hug. “Thanks for talking to me and helping with that.”
Her mom smiled. “Anytime sweetie. I’ll always be here to listen.”
Nicole left with a lightened heart and walked up to begin her nighttime preparations.
“That was a dirty trick she played on us,” Ray said to the air as he lay on his back, letting dinner settle in his stomach. His mind had returned already to the excitement that had happened in the afternoon, and a frown had settled on his face.
“She got us good,” Shawn admitted reluctantly.
“Where is Nicole anyways?” Ray asked suddenly, rolling over and propping himself up on his elbows. “We at least deserve an apology!”
Shawn shrugged. “I saw her go into Mom and Dad’s room. I think she said something about having a mother-daughter talk tonight before bed while Dad was taking a shower.”
“I hope Mom gives her a good talking-to,” Ray grumbled.
“Hey,” Shawn reminded, “you did call it on yourself after putting that crab in her face.”
A grin spread across the youngest boy’s face as he recalled the sight of his sister’s face when she saw his prize find. “Well,” he said finally, “I guess it was worth it.”
The upstairs bathroom door opened and closed suddenly, stopping the boys’ conversation.
“I bet that’s her now,” Shawn said, half to himself. “That talk didn’t take as long as I thought it might.”
Ray slipped out of his side of the bed and padded in stocking feet to the bathroom to knock on the door. “Nicole? Is that you?” he said over the sound of running water.
Nicole rolled her eyes at her reflection in the mirror and spit out her mouthful of toothpaste before scrubbing her teeth more. “Yeah, why?” she asked around the toothbrush in her mouth.
“Just wanted to, you know, apologize for putting that crab in your face earlier.” Her brother sounded actually sorry.
“I forgive you,” she answered, her heart softening at his tone of voice. “Besides,” she added with a grin. “I did get you back pretty good.”
She heard the smile in her brother’s voice. “That you did. Anyways, I didn’t want the sun to go down on my wrath, you know, like Mom and Dad are always telling us.”
“I’m not angry at you, Ray,” Nicole assured him.
“Good,” the relief was obvious in his tone. “Well, goodnight then.”
“Goodnight,” she replied. “Sleep tight,” she added, “busy days start tomorrow.”
“I’ll do my best."
“Oh,” Nicole continued, “ and tell Shawn goodnight too for me.”
“Will do,” Ray answered and walked back to deliver his message and try to fall asleep quickly.
Nicole finished her preparations, changed into pajamas and fell asleep only to dream of large crabs and losing her beloved drawings to the ocean waves.