ANYWAYS...onto the next chapter of "Ocean Mist"! Hope you enjoy! :)
The next morning couldn’t come fast enough for Ray, who lay awake most of the night listening to Shawn’s quiet snores beside him. The minute the alarm clock read 7:00, he jumped into his favorite pair of jeans and tee shirt before racing down the stairs, effectively waking up the rest of the household.
“Someone’s excited this morning,” Shawn mumbled into his pillow after five minutes of realizing he wasn’t going to be going back to sleep.
“Coffee’s ready,” their dad said, knocking lightly on the closed doors leading into the two other teens’ bedrooms. “If you don’t hurry and get some, Ray’s going to drink it all.”
Shawn sighed heavily and rolled out of the bed. Twenty minutes later he joined the rest of the family in the living room for their morning devotions with a perfectly put together outfit and freshly groomed hair.
Nicole still looked only half awake with her hair sticking out of her side braid and frizzed all around her head like a halo. Coffee was her first priority; a shower and make-up came after that. Forcing her eyes to stay open and her mind stay alert for a whole chapter of Philippians felt like one of the hardest things she had done in her life.
Ray managed to wait until after his dad had said the final “amen” before blurting, “Can we ride our bikes today?”…a question he had obviously been waiting to ask all morning.
The pastor and his wife shared an amused glance at their son’s eagerness. “You’ll have to wait until after breakfast for our answer,” their dad answered.
From the look on Ray’s face, “wait until after breakfast” could have meant “wait until you die or have grandchildren…whichever comes last”, but, like the obedient child they were training him to be, he suffered his impatience in silence… At least until the said time was over and the three teens had helped clean up after their breakfast.
At their pleading looks, the pastor finally relented and told them that last night he and his wife had held a small conference over the offer.
“We decided that as long as you stay together at all times it will be all right for you to ride your bikes around this small tourist town,” their dad said.
“But you’ll have to be back for dinner,” their mom warned.
“Can I call Dillon’s dad to say it’s a yes?” Ray asked. At his dad’s nod, he bolted towards the outer deck where they had learned there was better reception before dialing the number on his mom’s cell phone they had been given the night before.
For a few everlasting seconds, the annoying buzz rang into Ray’s ear. When it ceased a confused “hello?” took its place.
“Hey, this is Ray Daniels,” he said. “Is this Dillon’s dad?”
“Um, no. This is Dillon.”
“Oh. Well hi. I was supposed to call him and let you know that we are indeed allowed to ride our bikes around town with you and Mark and Steven. Are you still available?”
“Yeah! That’s awesome! Dad must’ve given you my cell phone number instead of his last night. I’ll text Mark and Steven that our bike ride is on. Have you rented the bikes yet?”
“No,” Ray answered slowly. “I was hoping you could help us find a bike rental place.”
“Oh, sure! I know just the place. Text me the address to your house and I’ll grab Mark and Steven on my way over there. We can walk into town and then rent the bikes first and after that do the bike ride.”
“You think of everything, don’t you?” Ray asked admiringly.
Dillon’s laugh crackled through the small speakers. “Not as much as your two older siblings,” he informed him. “I’m sure they’ll think of several flaws in my idea by the time we finally get around to riding our bikes.”
Ray chuckled appreciatively. “It’s just their way of saying they care. They’re not just picking on you. Trust me, I’ve had to live with them my whole life. You’ll get used to it.”
“Ok,” Dillon yielded. “I’ve got to go now. See you later!”
The click that signaled the end of their conversation fell on deaf ears. Ray was already inside, ready to begin helping his siblings pack themselves a lunch.
Dillon waited for a few minutes before he checked his phone. Sure enough, there on his screen was a hurriedly typed address from Ray. With this information, he told his two friends to come to his house with their bikes.
While he waited, Dillon prepared his own packed lunch. His dad came in briefly to ask what his day was going to look like, and helped him finish before heading out to his pizza place. Once his dad had left, he walked over to his room and passed the time left by playing a mindless video game on his phone.
At a persistent knock on the door, Dillon shut off his phone and rushed down the hallway to let in Mark. They hugged briefly, slapping one another on the back to make it seem more manly.
“Hey dude,” Mark greeted him with a wide grin. “You texted me to bring my bike and meet you at your house. I take it this means the bike ride is on and the new kids are available?”
“Yep,” Dillon confirmed. “Come on in and make yourself at home. Steven’s late.”
Mark rolled his eyes. “Of course he is. Probably trying to make his hair perfect in order to impress that girl.”
Both boys laughed aloud at this thought, knowing that was the last thing from Steven’s mind. Of all of them, Steven was the most shy…although Mark and Dillon had seen him out of his shell a few times. Even after he dyed his hair, and he remained close-lipped even to them about how that had happened, the bashful teen had remained the quietest of the trio. Not that such a feat was so difficult, considering that both Mark and Dillon were extreme extraverts.
In his living room, Dillon and Mark bantered back and forth like the good friends they were until a crunch of gravel in the driveway told them that the missing link had arrived.
“Guys, I’m so sorry I’m late,” Steven apologized breathlessly. “My sister…” he trailed off with an expressive wave of his hand and rolled his eyes. “You know how she is.”
Mark and Dillon excepted his apology with grins and patted him on the back. “We do,” Mark assured him, stifling a chuckle. Steven’s sister had quite the reputation, and the two other boys considered themselves lucky indeed to have escaped the trails of having a sister that would boss them around.
“How is your sister?” Dillon asked.
“In very good health,” Steven mumbled. “Unfortunately.” He brightened. “However, she’s been taking classes at the college, so she’s not home as much.” Steven gave a longsuffering sigh. “I love her, I really do…but she can be a bit too much sometimes.”
Mark plopped back down on the couch. “I’m glad my brothers are both out of the house,” he said. “They were awesome and everything, but we were never very close…I mean Gary was ten years older than me! And he was the closest to me. Dan was in high school when I was still a toddler.”
Dillon sat down cross-legged on the couch next to his friend and sighed. “Sometimes I wish I had at least one sibling…” he looked up and grinned. “But, hey, you two guys are the next best thing."
“Aw, thanks,” Mark said. “You’re so sweet.”
“Are we going to ride our bikes, yes or no?” Steven broke in after Dillon sent his tall friend a withering look at his last comment.
“Yes,” Dillon answered quickly. “Did you both pack a lunch to eat at the park?”
“I figured I could borrow some of your food,” Mark replied. “And once lunch was finished I’d give it back…probably with interest.”
“I wouldn’t want it back after you ate it!”
“Just kidding, I did actually pack a lunch,” his friend said.
“As did I,” Steven added.
“I’m glad to hear it.” Dillon glanced towards the clock and stood up. “We should head towards their house and pick them up on our way to the bike rental place.”
“When did you say Dillon and his friends would show up?” Shawn queried, looking up briefly from his book and noting the time.
“He didn’t exactly give a time,” Ray admitted reluctantly, “but he said he would get Mark and Steven before making his way to our house.”
The three teens were waiting in Nicole’s room, since it commanded the best view of the road, and their impatient excitement was beginning to show…even in Shawn.
Nicole glanced up from her sketch of the group roasting marshmallows and saw the long awaited boys riding up on their bicycles. She closed the sketchbook with a resounding smack. “Here they are,” she announced.
“Finally,” Ray muttered, bolting towards the door in order to be the first to welcome their new friends.
“Thank goodness,” Shawn agreed, putting up his book with a relieved sigh and following his brother and sister to the door.
“Are you ready?” Dillon was asking as Shawn joined his siblings.
“Absolutely,” Ray assured him.
“Then let’s go!”
Nicole grabbed their bagged lunch, the three pastor’s kids gave each parent a quick hug, and then the six friends headed towards town.