One more post until after the wedding... but I will be back after the wedding! ;)
Are you doing school yet? If so, how has it been going? *tries not to sound smug* I hope it's been going well. :)
Here's the next part of the adventure down by the ocean, inspired by my own trip down there just this last May! Hope you're enjoying! If you missed a part, you can find it under the "Stories in Progress" page. Otherwise, read on and enjoy!
The first thing Shawn was aware of in the morning was his brother kicking him violently in the shin and exclaiming in a groggy voice, “Quit snoring already! You’re being so loud!” It crossed his mind that he couldn’t have possibly been being louder than Ray’s talking. With a resigned sigh, he bore the kicks and tried in vain to go back to sleep.
On his side, his eyes determinedly shut, Shawn cleared his mind in order to drift off. Instead, his ears began picking up sounds. Ray’s even breathing told him that his brother had successfully made it back into dream-land, and the clock on the wall ticked louder than he would have liked. Far away, from down the staircase, he could hear his dad already up and it sounded like he was making coffee. Good, Shawn thought tiredly, I’ll need a cup of that to keep me awake today.
Finally, giving up on going back to sleep, he opened his eyes and squinted at the red numerals on the room’s alarm clock. 6:35 am, it read accurately. Shawn rolled from the queen-sized bed he shared with his brother and opened the door as quietly as possible. He didn’t dare to look in the mirror, knowing his dark hair was probably sticking in all directions of a compass and not wanting to accept the reality yet. Already he was painfully aware of his bed-rumpled appearance, but rested in the assurance that he would be put together by breakfast since he had been forced awake before 7:00. He padded down the stairs in his stocking-feet and arrived in the living room.
His dad, caught in his morning devotions, looked up from his Bible in surprise. “Shawn? What are you doing up?”
Shawn gave a long-suffering sigh before plopping down on the other side of the couch and curling into a ball. “Apparently I was snoring.”
A knowing look crossed his dad’s face, and it was obvious he was trying very hard not to smile. “I’m sorry about that.”
“Yeah, me too,” Shawn answered truthfully. “When I couldn’t get back to sleep, I heard you working on coffee down here and thought I would snag a cup while it was fresh and then take an early shower to finish waking me up.”
“It’s dripping through right now,” his dad answered. “It should be done in a couple minutes.”
Shawn ran a hand through his crazy hair and smiled wanly. “Good, ‘cause I’m going to need some.”
His dad let out a chuckle, which Shawn couldn’t help but join. After a short silence, his dad finished the chapter he was reading and put aside his Bible to face his oldest son.
“Can you tell me what happened yesterday?” he asked suddenly, catching Shawn off guard.
His son gave him a startled look that had some puzzlement in it. “Didn’t Nicole tell you about it?”
His dad shrugged. “Sort of. She talked to your mom and I got the story from her. I’d like to hear it from an eye-witness.”
Shawn frowned, his anger and confusion of the previous day still somewhat affecting his attitude. “Well, as you know we went to the beach to take a walk, but Nicole wanted to draw a picture of the ocean so we took a break and sat on the sand. Ray went to ‘get his feet wet’ as he put it, but I stayed with Nicole on the sand and started to read more of that book I’m in middle of.
“Next thing I know, Ray comes running back, shoves a huge crab in our faces and Nicole screams and drops her sketchbook. The drawings go everywhere and we start picking them up after Ray puts the crab back in the water. A dude comes by and picks up one of the drawings to look at it, Nicole asked for it, and he gave it to her with a cheesy smile.” Shawn’s frown darkened and he paused.
“Go on,” his dad encouraged. “Then what happened?”
“He said he liked the picture and that he thought she was accomplished. Nicole admitted that she wasn’t really, and he disagreed, adding this time that not only was she accomplished…” Shawn gritted his teeth, “…but pretty.”
His dad raised his eyebrows. “And then?” he pressed.
Shawn’s glower had become almost thunderous. “Ray and I were stunned. We had no idea what we should say to him that would be at all proper, and I was just about ready to punch his smug face.” Shawn gave his dad an appealing look. “I couldn’t exactly do that, though, right? I mean, I’m a Christian for crying out loud! I’m supposed to treat everyone in love and stuff. But he was pushing it a bit. He left pretty quickly I can tell you that much.”
“Nicole,” Shawn’s frown dissipated somewhat and a glimmer of respect came into his eyes, “played a horrendous joke on Ray and me to get back at us for the crab incident…though I played no part in it whatsoever.”
His dad chuckled. “I do remember that part.”
Shawn grinned. “She got us good with her ridiculous acting. She pretended to actually think the dude was cute or something, which nearly caused me to explode. But she admitted her joke just in time and we continued our walk after a good laugh at my and Ray’s expense.” Shawn concluded his story with a shrug. “That’s about all.”
The coffee beeped, and his dad got up to make himself and his wife their cups. Shawn followed him into the kitchen and made himself up a cup. When they finally got back to the living room, Shawn had a troubled look on his face. His dad noticed and after they sat back on the couch, asked him what was wrong.
“I just want to know…what could I have done to help Nicole out?” he asked. “As we grow up, there’s probably going to be times when guys approach Nicole when you and Mom aren’t there, but we boys are. What should we do?”
His dad took a sip of the steaming liquid before answering slowly. “First, try not to judge them right away.” Shawn gave him a puzzled look, so he hurried to explain, “I think you tend to jump to conclusions about people. Ray is better at not doing that, but he probably will have the same problem when it comes to guys interested in his sister. We’ve raised you both to feel protective about her, and for good reasons. We want her to feel safe, and brothers are natural protectors. Granted, some more than others, but I think you and Ray fall under the ‘some more’ category.”
Shawn met his dad’s eyes and was surprised by the warmth he found there. There was no doubt that his dad loved him and his siblings. A lot. Had he ever doubted? Well, if he had, he shouldn’t have.
“Last afternoon was a surprise, and it caught you and your brother off guard.”
“I’ll say it did!” Shawn exclaimed emphatically. “I mean, what could we say? ‘No, she’s not talented and pretty’? That would have been a lie! Besides which, we would have called Nicole’s wrath down upon us later…which would not have been a pretty sight.”
His dad chuckled. “True. Let me get back to what I was saying. You need to first not jump to any conclusions about them. Very few people do relationships the way we do. So you can’t judge them by our standards. Secondly, make sure the young man involved is a Christian, and then send him my direction if he seems honestly interested in a serious relationship. Otherwise, just treat him like you would any other friend. It’s not a sin for him to compliment someone. God may want you and your siblings to reach out to this young man, and this was His way of showing you.”
Shawn crinkled his nose. “If God is, He sure picked a strange way.”
“God sometimes picks strange ways,” his dad replied wisely, “and you have to be ready.”
“I will,” Shawn answered uncertainly, “but—”
A pattering of footsteps came from above them, and soon a pair of socked feet and pajama pants appeared to announce the entrance of Nicole. She walked over to her dad, gave him a quick hug and questioning look.
“The coffee is only about twenty minutes old,” he assured her.
A relieved expression replaced the questioning one, and she walked into the kitchen to get herself a cup. “I was afraid it might be stale,” she explained upon re-entry, her hands clasped around the warmth of her mug.
“Nope,” Shawn said, glancing down at his almost full cup. “I’ve barely started drinking mine. We were talking about yesterday.”
Nicole’s face heated at the thought, and she squirmed a little in her chair. “Yeah…well, let’s just hope it doesn’t happen again.”
Her brother grinned. “Oh, don’t worry, Dad was giving me tips on how to act if it did happen again.”
“Really?” Nicole raised an eyebrow. “Well, as long as it doesn’t involve a giant crab being thrust into my face when I’m not expecting it, I’m good.”
“What’s this about a giant crab?” Ray asked as he sat Indian-style on the floor with his legs folded and his own mug of steaming coffee balanced on a knee.
“Oh hi!” Shawn smirked. “We were just talking about you!”
Ray cocked an eyebrow. “I’m a giant crab?” he asked in disbelief.
Shawn and Nicole burst out laughing, were joined by their dad, and eventually even Ray joined, still not sure what was so funny, but finding their merriment contagious.
“No, we were discussing the things that happened yesterday,” Shawn finally exclaimed after their laughter had died down.
A frown wrinkled Ray’s forehead. “I’m really bummed that had to happen,” he said finally.
Nicole smiled. “Hey, I said I forgave you, right?” Her brother nodded. “So, it’s fine. It’s not like my sketches got ruined or anything.”
Their mom came out of her room and asked Nicole to start helping her get breakfast together. It wasn’t long before they had finished eating and cleaning up after it since the meal wasn’t super fancy.
“What are we planning on doing today?” Nicole asked finally, when the family was sitting down around the living room in order to decide that very thing.
Her dad looked thoughtful. “Well, I was thinking maybe we could do some tourist stuff and shopping this morning and eat lunch out.” He looked over at his wife sitting next to him.
She smiled. “That sounds great honey! When do the shops usually get open?”
Shawn raised a hand. “I saw most of the ones we passed on the way through town said 10:00 am or 11:00 am,” he informed them.
Ray’s mouth dropped open. “You were paying attention?” he asked. “I thought you were reading your book!”
Shawn sat straighter. “I always pay attention!” he declared indignantly. “Just because I’m reading doesn’t mean I don’t see and hear the things going on around me!”
“Boys,” their mom warned gently, “the important thing is that Shawn knows what times the shops open so we can plan our day.”
Nicole glanced at her wristwatch. “So, we should head out in about half an hour?” she asked.
Their dad nodded. “We’ll head out whenever we’re all showered and ready.” He gave a knowing look in Shawn’s direction. “But we’ll try not to take too long, right?”
Shawn nodded obligingly. He’d do his best to not keep the family waiting. “I’ll start getting ready next,” he promised.