Frayed Page 36

’’Better than yesterday,’’ Beck responds.

Kale grins. ’’Always good. Catch you both later. I\ll stop by before I leave.’’

’’You\ e not going out tonight, are you?’’ Beck asks me.

My eyes cut to his. ’’I can go out for a beer on a Friday night. I\m not an alcoholic.’’

’’Ben, why would you do that now? What\s going on with you?’’

’’Nothing.’’

’’Is it that girl you\ e into? The one you like?’’

’’I never said I like her. I\m not fifteen.’’

’’You don\ have to say you like someone for it to be apparent that you\ e interested.’’

’’You know what, Beck, no offense, but I don\ want to talk about it.’’

He raises his hands. ’’Look, man, not trying to get in your business. I\m just looking out for you.’’

Sighing, I slouch over, resting my forearms on my thighs. ’’Yeah, I know. I appreciate it. How about you show me what you\ve got?’’

He hands me a stack of papers Beck\s budget seems doable. ’’Looks great, man,’’ I say after a quick perusal.

He nods. ’’I\ll leave them with you. I\m heading out for the day.’’

’’Thanks. And see ya.’’

I swivel in my chair and decide to look over the Sound Music budget Aerie gave me yesterday. Time flies as I spend the rest of the day analyzing it.

There\s a light tap on my door before it opens.

’’Ready to go grab that beer, mate?’’ Kale asks.

I glance at the clock on my desk. ’’F*k, it\s already seven?’’

’’Yeah, it is. What, did the day get away from you?’’

’’It did. I think I\m going to pass tonight. I want to finish this budget shit up and be done with it.’’

’’No worries. Take care and call if you change your mind.’’

’’Thanks, man. I will.’’ But I know I won\ . Beck is right. I don\ need to fall back into that scene again.

•••

It\s not quite six a.m. and I\m feeling restless, staring out in the darkness of my room. I pull out my journal to record my thoughts, but I can\ get them down because I don\ know what they are. I\ve never been at a loss for words before but today I am. After an hour or so I toss my journal aside and decide to go on a run.

By the time I hit the main road, the sun has already risen. I slow down and make my way through town and to the corner coffee shop. Grabbing a paper and a cup of coffee, I sit outside under one of the umbrella tables and catch up on the news. Once I\ve scoured the paper I decide to people-watch. I haven\ done that in a long time. Time slips away from me and when I glance at my phone it\s almost eleven.

Tossing my shit in the trash, I take the beach path home. When I pass the little run-down surf shack, I decide to stop in. It doesn\ look like much from the outside, but what Noel has done with the inside is f**king amazing. Blondie\s, the shop that used to belong to my dad, always feels like home away from home to me. My father named his business after his pet name for my mother, but back then it was no small operation. I don\ remember coming here before Noel bought it, but I know my father not only sold boards of every size and design, but also owned a fleet of boats that he chartered, along with any and every apparatus made for the sea. Sadly, it was his thirst to try out everything and anything new under the sun that killed him. My sister and I had recently discovered that his death resulted from taking a new sailboat out alone the police reports said his death was due to a piece of malfunctioning equipment that hanged him by the ropes. My mother never told us what happened to him.

My sister thinks it was because she didn\ want us to picture him that way;I\m not so sure. She also never told us she had been awarded ten million dollars as a wrongful death settlement. Again, I don\ think it\s for the reason my sister believes. I shake my dark thoughts away. Inheriting that money hasn\ changed me at all, but it has given me direction. It\s given me the ability to do something I never would have been able to do without it start my own business.

Taking one step at a time, I glance around the outside of the shack. It looks the same as always wind chimes everywhere, peeling green paint, a weathered roof that needs replacing, a ramp that has long since collapsed. I walk in and as usual my head circles the perimeter. Surfboards line the arched ceiling, covering every inch of it.

’’Just a f**king brilliant way to expand the merchandise,’’ I say to Noel. I say it every time I walk in because I\m so impressed.

He beams from behind the counter. ’’Hey, Benny boy. What brings you by?’’

Noel\s an out-of-shape, middle-aged man who at one time was the undisputed ASP World Champion. My dad was also a member of the Association of Surfing Professionals and that\s how they met. Noel bought the shop from my dad\s business partner a few years after my dad died, and he\s run it ever since.

’’Just out for a run and passing by.’’

’’Sure you\ e not checking on your board?’’

’’Ha, you caught me,’’ I joke. ’’I\ve got a car now, so I won\ have to leave her here much longer. I just have to have a rack put on.’’

’’She\s not bothering me. At least I know you\ll be stopping by once in a while with her here.’’

’’Noel, come on, man. I stop by as much as I can.’’

’’I haven\ seen you in three weeks.’’ He scrubs his beard. ’’Something tells me you\ e chasing tail.’’


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