Second(12)

By: Chantal Fernando


“Sorry,” he says, when he gets into the car. I can hear the cringe in his tone. “She’s so inappropriate. If it wasn’t for my mum and my cousins, I’d never bother to come here in the first place.”

“It’s fine,” I say, crossing my legs. “I’ve been dealing with her for years now.”

“I know,” he simply says, sounding appropriately sympathetic.

“I haven’t done anything in the last month, definitely not calling Ben’s insurance company asking for his life insurance money. It didn’t even cross my mind until she mentioned it,” I say, turning to look at Dean. “Her son just died and she’s thinking about money? I can’t believe her sometimes.”

I know that she loved Ben, but Dean summed it up perfectly: she’s so fucking inappropriate.

“What have we got planned for the rest of the day?” I ask him, knowing that going back to bed isn’t an option. At least it’s not while he’s still here. The second he leaves though, I know exactly how I’m going to be spending my days until I have to return to work.

“I don’t know. What do you want to do? Name it and we’ll do it,” he says, then adds, “Except sleeping or staying in bed.”

“There’s always a catch,” I mutter, then rack my brain thinking of things that I’d actually enjoy doing today. “You can’t really go out in public, so that limits the options.”

“No,” he says, acquiescing. “But I do come with some other pros to make up for that.”

I eye him warily. “Such as?”

I suppose he would have some pros, but the ones that I can think of I wouldn’t be comfortable with. I’m not going to let him throw his money around to try and temporarily cheer me up, no matter how much I appreciate the gesture.

“We could travel somewhere, or we could go see any concert that’s in town with backstage access. We could hire out your favourite restaurant so no one else is there….” He pauses and glances at me. “But knowing you, you wouldn’t want any of those things. So how about a hike and a picnic? Away from everyone, and we get to go out and about and see some cool views.”

I smile widely. “That sounds perfect.”

He makes a noise of amusement in his throat and shakes his head, his brown hair moving. “We could fly to New Orleans and have beignets, or fly to Vegas to hit one of their clubs, but no, that’s too much for you, isn’t it?”

“Unless I’m paying for it,” I say, shrugging. “Look, you’re all famous and shit, I get it. But that doesn’t mean I’m going to take advantage of that, it just doesn’t feel right. It’s your success, not mine.”

He sighs, like I don’t get him at all, and mutters something under his breath that I don’t really catch.

“What?” I ask him.

“Nothing, Sabina,” he says, grinning. “Hike and picnic it is.”

I eye him suspiciously, but stay quiet. I’m happy that I get to wear my new sneakers. It’s been so long since I’ve been on a hike, and I’m really looking forward to it. Ben hated hiking, or anything outdoorsy really, while I love that shit. I love going on adventures. Trying new things. Exploring.

The truth is—I have a wild side in me.

And it’s been a while since I let her out.



*****

“This view is insane,” I call out to Dean, laughing once more when I see him carrying the picnic basket in his masculine hands. You can’t have a proper picnic without the basket and blanket, and when he offered to carry them I wasn’t about to say no, however, he does look kind of ridiculous. I was going to make sandwiches and do a nice little spread for our expedition, but Dean said there was a place where they made it all up for you, and all you had to do was pay for it. So I let him throw his money at the situation, and in return we got a beautifully crafted basket filled with gourmet goods for our lunch. I brought my own blanket, a tartan one I bought when I was on holiday in Scotland, and all in all I think we have a pretty sweet set-up. We walked up this trail, which took us an hour, and now we can sit down and enjoy the food. Dean lays out the blanket, while I drink some water then pull out my hand sanitiser and rub it into my hands, then offer it to him.

“You carry around hand sanitiser?”

I nod.

“What are you, a soccer mum?” he teases, but accepts the little bottle.

“No, although I think I’d make a good one. I’m just a girl who likes her hands to be germ free.”

He chuckles and hands me back the bottle, then rubs his hands together. We both sit down and open the basket, pulling out its delicious contents. Impressed, I eye the cheese, crackers, cold cuts, olives, fruit, and sandwiches and give them my approval.