Released on March 31st
That's in one week, people...
By the time we reached the Mermaid Inn, he was finding excuses to pinch my waist and tickle the insides of my forearms. For every brush of his fingers, I bit down on the urge to giggle; the walk had loosened my surf-stiff limbs and I felt euphoric in the stretch of them. When we collapsed on a table outside the bar, I took great, heaving breaths of warm air and sun-soaked scenery. We were right on the edge of the cliff, and all that separated us from the beach below was a silver rail and a drop of thirty feet. Seagulls gathered on an empty table opposite and eyed me in that suspicious way birds have a habit of doing.
It was too hot for proper food. Instead, Gabe ordered us stodgy ice cream sundaes with velvety chocolate flakes and fluted wafers. They arrived at our table already melting in their glasses.
“I’ve never tried pear cider before.” I watched the ice swim in the pale gold liquid. “It’s yummy.”
“Don’t tell your mother.”
“I can drink. Mr. Law says so.”
“But your Mum doesn’t, and she’ll bitch kick me in the hairies.”
I watched him lick strawberry ice cream from his spoon. Studied the way his tongue lathed the flat of it. Oy vey.
“Did you think any more on what we talked about?” he said.
“You know. About your Mum’s boyfriend, and cutting her a bit of slack.”
I sipped the cider to cool my throat. “Yeah.” Liar! “I…um. I’ll try. I’m not sure how good I’ll be at it, though.”
“Does she wind you up?”
“Like a jack in the box.” I prodded my wafer, now floating in a pool of melted vanilla. “She always has to pick, pick, pick. Like every argument we have is a scab. She can’t let anything go and then I end up saying something stupid.”
“You’re eighteen. You’re going to say stupid things.” He nudged my hand gently. “Cut yourself a little slack too, Danni.”
“Why? I feel like she really hates me sometimes. I missed my favourite band’s gig last night because she made me come here.” I stabbed at the wafer, resentment simmering in the gaps between my ribs. “It’s all right for you—you don’t live with her.”
“But I did. Once.”
I poked my tongue out at him and he ducked his head, tittering.
“Grow up, Danni.”
“Do you ever wonder what it’d be like not to be a smug eco know-it-all?” I teased.
He sat back, folded his arms. Eyed me with malicious curiosity. “Do you ever wonder what it’d be like to be with a man?”
I don’t know who went red first, but it was a close call. He knew it was inappropriate before the words fell out of his mouth but there they were, hanging in mid air with dubious expressions. Er, dude, they said. Really?!
“I kissed a couple of boys,” I said feebly. “Esmé’s…special.”
“Special’s…special’s good.” He cleared his throat, looking away. “Sorry. I shouldn’t have brought it up.”
But he had. He kept doing it. And with that realization, a pair of raspy voices began an argument in my head:
He likes you, Danni. He likes you.
Oh, come off it. He’s practically your uncle. That’d be just WRONG.
Look now. Right now! He’s staring down your top!
No, he isn’t. Even if he was, he’s too hot for you. If the sun looked at Gabe it would get BLISTERS.
He’s not Chuck Norris.
And thank God for that. Who’d want to screw Chuck Norris?
I think we got off topic.
You’re right. Quick. Stare at his crotch!
“I’ll blame the cider if you will,” I managed to say, making a great effort to stare at the gorse bushes behind him and not his crotch.
“Let this be a lesson to you, madam.” He pointed at me with a mocking grin. “Don’t ever get me drunk.”