Second(9)By: Chantal Fernando
I love the beach. I need to be reminded just how good life can be.
And I need to be surrounded by all the things I love.
I smile at the warmth from the sun on my skin. Rolling over onto my stomach on the towel, I lift my head and look over at Dean, who is lying next to me reading a book while I get my tan on. After we walked along the beach for an hour, we went for a swim, and are now relaxing on the sand as I hope my pale skin might turn the colour of Dean’s naturally tan one. The beach is deserted, so we don’t have to worry about him being hounded by fans.
“Thanks for dragging me out of bed today,” I say to him.
“I know it’s not easy,” he says, closing his book. “I wanted to come earlier but I had to finish the tour. Then I ran into Tara and she told me you weren’t doing so well, and I know how soft she is, so I thought I’d try the whole tough love thing.”
I smile at his description of my best friend. Tara is very soft. She’s kind-hearted and gentle, and also hilarious, but there’s no way she’d give me any kind of tough love. She took care of me in her way, and I love her for that. Dean, however, gave me the jolt of reality I needed. It feels good to be out of the house. I miss Ben so much, but he’s not coming back, and I need to deal with that. I need to get used to it. There’s no alternative. This is my life now. I’m a widow.
“I appreciate it,” I tell him, reaching out and touching his shoulder. “I’m glad you’re here, Dean.”
“Happy to be here,” he replies, reopening his book. I lay the side of my head back on the towel. We stay like this until the sun sets, and then we head back home. I put a towel on the bed in the spare bedroom, where I assume Dean will be staying tonight. He hasn’t said if he’s staying with Kate or not, but I wouldn’t want to stay there. He’s welcome here anytime, and to be honest, I like him being here. His company is just the distraction I need right now. After a hot shower I find him standing in the kitchen, fresh out of the shower himself, starting dinner. He’s wearing a pair of black basketball shorts with a t-shirt, his feet bare.
“Do you want me to help with anything?” I ask, leaning my elbows on the countertop.
“Nope,” he says, not bothering to turn around and look at me.
“What am I meant to do then?” I ask. I don’t want to do nothing, because that’s when my mind starts to wander to places it doesn’t need to. I don’t want to think. I want to just pretend that everything in my life is okay, until it really is. Fake it till you make it. Maybe I can make myself think that I’m fine. Lock all my emotions away in a box, and bury it deep. So deep that not even I can find it.
“Take a seat and relax,” he suggests, chopping an onion with a precision that impresses me.
My eyes find the bottle of wine. I grin, grab two wine glasses out of the cupboard, pop the bottle, and pour. He finally gives me his attention, green eyes narrowing on the amounts I put in the glasses.
“Pretty sure you’re not meant to fill them up to the top,” he says, sounding slightly amused, faintly horrified. Is he not much of a drinker? I’m not usually either. I’ll have a wine with dinner, and a few drinks out with the girls every now and then, but no one has ever worried about my alcohol consumption before.
“Says who?” I ask, raising my brow. “Are you the wine police now, or something? Adding that to your resume, along with famous musician and heart throb?”
“Says everyone,” he replies flippantly, returning to his vegetable chopping.
“Good thing you didn’t become a lawyer either,” I mutter under my breath, then take my first sip. It’s delicious. I let Dean know. He did buy the bottle after all; he wouldn’t let me pay for the alcohol, either. I decide that I’m going to pay for everything else we need for the next few days until he leaves. Yeah, I’m not rich like him, but I make a good living. I’d probably have more savings if I didn’t have a designer bag addiction, but that’s a whole other story.
“Your hair’s gotten longer,” he says after a moment of silence.
I touch my damp dark locks and nod. “Yeah, I think it looks better longer. It’s harder to maintain though. You should have seen how hard it was to brush the knots out this morning.”
“I like it,” he says, eying me. “And that’s probably because you hadn’t brushed it in longer than I care to mention.”
I roll my eyes at him and take another gulp of wine. “You’re not going to cut me any slack, are you?”
“Is that what you want?” he asks, washing his hands in the sink. “Tara was really worried about you, Sabina. She was crying as she was telling me that she doesn’t know what to do, that it kills her to see you like this.”