Anyways, onto chapter five of "Ocean Mist". Hope you're enjoying it as much as I did while writing it. ;) If you missed a part, there should be all the parts you missed in the "Stories in Progress" page. Otherwise, read on and enjoy! :)
“Ready to work yet?” A voice plowed through Dillon’s dreams and he groaned, trying to drown out the noise.
“Come on, five more minutes?” he pleaded into his pillow, halfway awake and not wanting to be.
A chuckle sounded not very far from his ears and he felt breath stir his already messed up hair. “I thought you wanted to learn the ropes of being a waiter in my restaurant…well, I could always give your job to Steven—”
Dillon shot out of bed, his memory finally working full-time and nearly bulldozed his dad in his effort to stop him from leaving the bedroom. “All right, I’m up, I’m up! You know me too well,” he grumbled on the way to take a shower.
His dad watched him go with a smile tugging at the corners of his mouth before walking down the hallway and into their kitchen to work on a quick breakfast he and his son would eat before opening their restaurant for the day.
As the warm shower water washed away all the dirt and sweat from the day before along with the soap bubbles, Dillon’s mind wandered back yet again to his encounter yesterday. He felt regret for not apologizing for startling her, but felt a little confusion why she hadn’t taken the compliment well. After all, most girls like being told they’re pretty…but I guess not this one. Rinsing the shampoo from his hair, he shrugged, consoling himself that if he was to ever meet her again, he would apologize and hopefully she wouldn’t hold it against him anymore. Maybe he would even go so far as to apologize to her brothers, who, if it were even possible, had looked more shocked and dismayed than the girl had.
He turned off the water reluctantly, dried himself off, and began getting himself ready for his first day of work. Dillon was excited at finally getting a job, but also felt apprehension that he wouldn’t make a good waiter. Well, his dad would help him out. He always had been there when Dillon needed him.
Carefully, Dillon squeezed a dollop of gel into his palm, and then rubbed his hands together before running them through his hair. His dark blonde locks were getting a bit long…he would have to remind his dad to make an appointment with the barber sometime in the next couple weeks or he’d start looking a little too much like his friend Mark. Not that he judged his friends’ hair styles…he just didn’t like doing anything crazy with his own hair like growing it out or dying it.
After his preparations for the day were done, he looked over himself in the mirror with a satisfied air before following the sounds of his dad making breakfast.
“You look nice!” his dad exclaimed, regarding the black polo shirt with the “Pizza Pizzazz” logo and brand-new jeans he had been given as his waiter uniform. It was amazing how much his son looked like a younger version of himself. He shared his son’s straight, a-little-on-the-long-side dark blonde hair and chocolate brown eyes that could smile all by themselves as well as the easy, friendly way with people. With a mental note to call the barber and schedule a hair-cut for his only child, he motioned to one of the chairs that were situated on opposite sides of a round, set table.
Dillon grinned. “Thanks. You don’t have to sound so surprised. What’s for breakfast?”
His dad sat down across from him and raised an eyebrow. “I thought an omelet would be nice to share in celebration of your first day before work.”
Dillon licked his lips, his stomach growling in anticipation of his dad’s delectable cooking. “Sounds good to me!”
After breakfast was finished and cleaned up, Dillon’s dad gave him the run-down on his new job and told him which tables he was assigned once he had finished introducing the other three staff members.
Stacey was a newly married waitress and doubled as a cook if his dad was ever overwhelmed with being the owner, manager and main cook. Dave was not only a waiter and part-time clean-up or set-up person like him but also Stacey’s younger brother by two years and Dillon’s assigned helper until he felt confident in doing his job by himself. Then there was Uncle Sam. Well, his real name was Samuel Simmons, but everyone at work called him Uncle Sam and Dillon could see why. The fiftyish-year-old man with a booming voice and balding head was everybody’s best friend. He worked as a waiter, a cook, part of the clean-up crew, and anything else that happened to be needed at any given time.
Dillon felt right at home with his co-workers, and they accepted him almost immediately into their little family. He and Dave had already met before since Dillon sometimes hung out at his dad’s restaurant during work hours with his friends Mark and Steven but now he could feel a brotherhood building between them already. He got to work right away and found it fun to meet all the new faces that came in to eat his dad’s fabulous pizza.
It was during the middle of lunch rush. Dave, Stacey and himself were being kept on their toes between tables, and Dillon was just telling himself that he could get used to this. That was when he got the shock of his life. The kids he had met just the day before came walking through the restaurant’s door followed by two adults whom Dillon assumed to be their parents. He watched as Stacey greeted them and led them to a table in the back.
It wasn’t until after Dave came up behind him and jolted him out of his astonishment with a playful punch and “Hey? Anybody home in there?” that he realized with a stab of…excitement? that Stacey had brought them to one of his tables. His afternoon had just gotten a lot more interesting.
Their shopping completed, and their bags safely back at the rented house, the family decided to vote on a restaurant to eat lunch at. Pizza, being the favorite meal of everyone, was the chosen food, and so they Googled pizza restaurants in their area and found one that had good reviews.
That done, they piled into their car, thankfully this time they didn’t have their baggage with them, and drove to Pizza Pizzazz at almost one in the afternoon hoping to skip some of the first lunch rush.
Upon walking in the door, their family was greeted by a young lady in her mid-twenties. “Hi there!” she said brightly. “Welcome to Pizza Pizzazz! How many?”
“Just us five,” their dad answered quickly.
“Great! Come on back! We have a great view of the ocean if you want to sit by a window.”
After receiving several ‘yes-please’s, she ushered them back to a table on the far end of the small restaurant and handed out menus. “Your waiter will be with you in just a moment to take your orders. No rush.” With that, the woman walked off to greet another customer with the same sunny smile.
“So,” their dad questioned after she had left. “What do you think we should get?”
“Pizza!” the three kids chorused as one, and then burst out laughing.
“Well, I figured that,” their dad replied with a grin. “But what kinds?”
Just as they had finally finished haggling between themselves on which two pizzas to order, a young man dressed in a neat black polo shirt and jeans came up to them with a notebook in hand.
“Hello and welcome to Pizza Pizzazz,” he began. “What can I get you?”
Nicole jumped a little, then felt her face getting red. She knew that voice. Pretending to be looking carefully at her menu, she snuck a glance at the guy and confirmed her suspicions. Then she met Shawn and Ray’s looks from across the table. A silent understanding passed between them.
“Um, we decided to get two family sized pizzas, one Hawaiian and one Pepperoni with sausage added,” their dad was ordering.
Their waiter began scribbling it down on his notepad and Nicole risked looking up at him, wondering if he recognized them from yesterday.
“Anything to drink?” he asked.
“I’ll have just water,” their dad answered before looking questioningly around at his family.
“Same here,” their mom said.
“Just water for me,” the boys said almost at the same time.
“Yeah, me too,” Nicole put in last minute, still watching for signs of recognition.
“Ok. Anything else?” he asked once everything had been written down. His gaze swept over the kids for the first time, and Nicole thought she saw a spark in them, but he refused to make eye-contact with anyone but their dad. Maybe she had just imagined it.
“Nope, I think that’s all, thank you.”
“Great. I’ll be back with some water soon.”
With that he left, and Nicole glanced again at her brothers. Her brothers’ faces held the same shocked disbelief that she was sure her own face mirrored.
Their dad looked around at his kids curiously. “You guys are suddenly quiet,” he observed. “What’s going on?”
“That guy,” Ray blurted out, “our waiter, he’s the dude we met yesterday on the beach after the crab incident!”
Now it was their parent’s turn to be surprised.
“Are you sure?” their mom asked, her forehead wrinkled in thought.
Nicole nodded miserably. “I would recognize him anywhere,” she declared. Her brothers could only nod their agreement. After all, her claim to fame in their family was her remarkable ability to remember faces.
“Well, this just made our lunch here more interesting,” her dad finally remarked with a raised eyebrow.
No one could have made a bigger understatement.
Dillon forced himself to not panic. As calmly as possible he tried to act as the perfect waiter, but was painfully aware during the whole conversation how the girl had avoided eye contact and her brothers, at least…what had been the tall dark one’s name? Shawn. Yeah, Shawn had been watching him with a mixture of protectiveness and curiosity. The other one simply gaped at him with completely understandable shock and disbelief.
After they had finished ordering, he made his escape to the kitchen. His mind was a tumble of confusion and racing to figure out exactly how to act. While he waited for Dave to fill the water pitcher and find him cups, the whole story came out into the listening ears of his dad and co-workers.
“I’d just act like nothing happened,” Dave advised thoughtfully, handing him the tray with water, cups, and straws balanced on it.
Uncle Sam shook his head and frowned. “No, no…face your fears boy,” he stated wisely. “Go up to them, apologize like a man, and get your mistake behind you once and for all.”
Amazingly, his dad agreed with Uncle Sam, and even Dave reluctantly admitted the older man was right. So Dillon decided to act on their advice and face the music. Holding the tray with both hands he made his way to the table and noticed that now both the parents were also eyeing him suspiciously. So the parents knew now. That would actually make his apology a little easier since everyone would know what he was apologizing for.
He put down the pitcher, allowing recognition to light up his face this time when he handed out the cups and straws. “Oh, hey! I know you three, right? Didn’t we meet on the beach yesterday?”
“Yeah, we met on the beach,” the dark-haired boy answered, pushing his glasses up his nose habitually. “I’m Shawn, remember? This is my brother Ray and my sister Nicole, and these are our parents.”
“Nice to meet you guys,” Dillon said easily, thanking his stars for giving him natural friendliness. “And nice to see you three again.” He looked at Nicole until she met his eyes and added, “Hey, I’m sorry if I offended you with anything I said…I have a bad habit of speaking whatever first comes to my mind without thinking.”
Nicole felt her shoulders relax a little. Not much, but a little. “That’s ok. I was just kind of shocked.” She shrugged, and felt herself blush in embarrassment. “I’m sorry for sticking my tongue out at you,” she continued softly, ashamed more than ever at her behavior the day before. “That was very immature, and you didn’t deserve it.”
Dillon chuckled. “I accept your apology.” He grinned suddenly before saying, “and I probably did deserve it. Me and my big mouth.”
Just like that, the tension that had been surrounding the table like a cloud, melted into oblivion and everyone was smiling and chatting like old friends. Dillon was easy to talk to, and his quick sense of humor and infectious laugh filled their conversation with fun.
All too soon it was time for them to go, and they bid Dillon goodbye with promises to let him help fly their new kite the next day. He asked if he could bring some friends and his dad along too. Their dad gave his permission, and they left with promises of seeing him tomorrow.
In the car, Nicole sighed happily. A burden she had not realized she was carrying had been lifted after a simple apology. It was amazing.
“He seemed like a nice kid,” their mom broke the silence thoughtfully.
“It’s incredible that he took the responsibility of apologizing to Nicole and Shawn and Ray even though he obviously didn’t understand what he said that made them upset. That took guts,” their dad put in.
“I like him,” Ray announced finally. “He and I have a lot in common. I think we’re going to become good friends while we’re here. I’d like to keep in touch with him after we leave too.”
Shawn was frowning. “I like him too,” he admitted, “but he’s not a Christian.”
“Well, maybe you can change that,” their dad replied. “Maybe this was God’s plan when he brought Dillon into your lives, however shocking the first meeting turned out to be.”
“And we could reach out to his friends as well!” Ray charged enthusiastically into the idea of evangelizing their new friend. “His dad is coming with him to fly our kite tomorrow, maybe we could save him too!”
Nicole giggled, despite the effort she put into keeping silent. Of all of them, of course it would be Ray who got fired up at the idea of evangelizing. If any of them were natural evangelists, it would be him or their dad.
Shawn met her eyes and rolled his own. Dream on, he mouthed, causing Nicole to giggle again.
“What’s so funny?” their mom asked suspiciously.
“Nothing,” Nicole answered. “I’m just glad the awkwardness is over.”