Frayed Page 79

With Aerie gone from the office, I\ve been extremely busy at work and although she\s doing what she can remotely, there is some on-site work to be done. Well, maybe there isn\ , but I\ve volunteered to take it on nonetheless to keep myself busy. But with Trent\s arrival I actually took the week off. We\ve surfed, gone to the movies, and hung around talking about how college life is treating him. He really loves it.

’’Caleb called. He\s on his way from the airport,’’ Serena tells me.

I turn. ’’Great f**king news.’’

’’What\s great f**king news?’’ Trent asks, standing shirtless in the doorway.

Serena shoots me a glare.

I shrug.

’’Uncle Caleb will be here soon.’’

’’Oh, cool,’’ Trent says, then turns to me. ’’Want to hit the point?’’

’’Sure, just let me finish my coffee.’’

’’I\ll pack the shit in the car.’’

’’Trent! Cut the swearing now. I mean it.’’

He rolls his eyes. ’’I\ll put the stuff in the car,’’ he corrects himself.

’’Why are you looking at me like that?’’ I ask Serena.

She walks closer to me. ’’First time I\ve seen you laugh in a while. That\s all.’’

’’Really? I hadn\ noticed.’’

’’Well, I have.’’

I sidestep her and place my cup in the sink. ’’We\ e off. Will you be okay?’’

She laughs. ’’Like the two of you would be any help anyway?’’

’’Hey, I help.’’

’’Go have fun.’’

I salute her. ’’If you insist.’’

It\s a short drive to the beach and before I know it I\ve found some peace on the water. Surfing has always helped me rid my mind of everything. Time flies and I\m glad we hit the waves, but it\s time to get back. The ocean shimmers in the distance as the clouds move toward us. From where we stand stripping off our wet suits, the sky is bright with the afternoon sunshine casting upon us. A sun shower has already left its marks in the sand, but the tide is picking up in an indication that downpours are imminent.

’’Come on, the storm is coming,’’ Trent says.

I smirk at him. ’’Are you afraid of a little thunder and lightning?’’

Trent turns, rolling his eyes. ’’F*k no. It\s just Mom will be calling every five minutes if we\ e not home before it starts.’’

I swing my arm around him. ’’That\s sweet that you\ e concerned for your mother.’’

He snorts, shrugging out of my hold. ’’You were always concerned about Grandma too. And you wouldn\ have wanted her on your case for not calling.’’

I catch his eye. ’’Yeah. Yeah, I was.’’

I let Trent drive home and just stare out the window. As we pull onto the gravel of the driveway, the tires spin. My head snaps to Trent. ’’Hey, watch it.’’

He grins. ’’I love this car. It\s the shit. And you know, you really need to let me ride your bike.’’

’’No f**king way. Your mother will kill me.’’

He rolls his eyes. ’’I call car duty.’’

’’You\ e a little shit.’’

He shrugs.

I carry the boards around back to the deck as Trent unloads the gear.

’’Hey, man, how the f**k are you?’’ Caleb calls over the railing.

I toss the boards on the sand as he rushes for me and we collapse into a flurry of backslapping.

’’F*k me, you made it.’’

’’I sure did. And not just for a day. The week.’’

I slant him a look. ’’A week?’’

’’Well, I think so,’’ he says with a cocky grin.

’’F*king awesome. Where are you staying?’’

’’I was hoping I wouldn\ have to crash with the newlyweds,’’ he says with a laugh.

’’So, are you asking to stay with me?’’

’’Well, I was hoping . . .’’

I save him from groveling and push him into the sand. A headlock, a few rolls, and sand sticking to us everywhere don\ stop us, but my sister\s voice makes us freeze.

’’What the hell are you doing?’’ she calls from the top of the steps.

I rush to my feet.

Caleb one-ups me and rushes toward her. ’’Need help, Serena?’’

She narrows her eyes at him. He shrugs. ’’F*ker jumped me.’’

She sighs in deep exasperation and turns on her heel.

I catch up to Caleb. ’’Just a little piece of advice, f**ker. Keep the swearing to a minimum around my sister. Trent\s picked up the same nasty habit and Serena is not happy about it.’’

’’You could have warned me!’’

’’When? Between you begging me for a place to stay and using all your new fancy moves to beat the shit out of me?’’

His grin widens. ’’I did learn some cool shit.’’

I shove him up the stairs. ’’You\d better have time to teach me how to kick your ass, then.’’

An hour later the table has been set, the game is on, and Caleb, Trent, and I are sacked out watching it. I look up and see Serena gazing around the room with a peaceful look on her face.

’’Want some help?’’ I ask her.

’’Suck-up,’’ Caleb mutters quietly enough that my sister can\ hear.

’’Could you help me bring out the food? Jason\s busy trying to find the carving knife.’’

Trent clears his throat. ’’The one with the black-and-silver handle?’’

’’Yes,’’ Serena answers, casting her piercing gaze his way.


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