If love were by design, p.7

If Love Were By Design, page 7

 

If Love Were By Design
 



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  “It was fun. But you know I would never do that. You wouldn’t, either!” Veronica affirmed. “Tonight was fun while it lasted.” She looked around for a light switch in the room, and then jumped up to get it. The bathroom light remained on, and was bright enough that it lit the way back onto the bed. They talked a couple minutes more, before falling into a deep sleep.

  CHAPTER EIGHT

  The next morning Veronica woke up to a poke in the ribs. She bolted upright, with one eye partially open and extremely wild hair. Kimmy was sitting up, and pointing to the door. Her smeared lipstick made her look like a deranged clown. “Someone came in here last night. Look, the chair isn’t there anymore.” Kimmy ran to the door. She jiggled the handle. “It’s locked.”

  “That’s weird!” Veronica said. It was creepy enough to startle her fully awake.

  “It’s nine! Your phone didn’t go off! We should go.” Kimmy said. “Everyone probably left hours ago.”

  “I hope so. This is really embarrassing. I can’t believe this is happening!” Veronica said as she jumped out of the bed with difficulty. “You have to swear to never breathe a word about this.”

  “Of course, I wouldn’t!” Kimmy hissed.

  “I would look in the mirror if I were you. You need to fix your lipstick. It’s everywhere but your lips!” Veronica teased her.

  “Yeah, well you hair looks like a bad beehive. So, I wouldn’t taunt me too much.” Kimmy said laughing and pointing.

  Veronica scurried as she put on her one shoe that had managed to fall to the floor in the middle of the night, and then combed her wild hair with her fingers until it was flat again. Then they tiptoed down the hall in a run before heading up the stairs. They got to the second flight of the winding staircase when Kimmy suddenly froze. Veronica ran into her almost knocking both of them over a second later, Veronica saw why she had stopped. William and four other men were sitting at a table drinking coffee and eating breakfast. For a moment they stood dumbstruck as one of the men at the table stared at them. He blinked.

  “Hi.” One man said. He was looking as shocked to see them as Veronica and Kimmy were to be caught sneaking off the yacht.

  Veronica gasped as all the color drained from her face. Kimmy stiffened. William and the other three men looked up. Veronica went from white to beet red. “You can join us. We’re having breakfast.” William said waiving them over to the table. Veronica was pleased and relieved that Kimmy graciously declined.

  “It’s okay.” Veronica added and then cleared her throat feeling uneasy. “I’m not even hungry, and there isn’t any room. We’ll be . . .”

  “Don’t be silly. There is plenty of room at this table for two more.” Another man reassured them.

  “You’ll have a hell of time escaping.” William said with a smile. “At least have a cup of coffee.”

  “No, we should go.” Veronica said and Kimmy agreed. Veronica felt mortified; she had to say something in lieu of an apology. “I had honestly not meant to . . .” Veronica started to say, but then mumbled because she couldn’t admit what she’d done. She looked down to her shoes. William laughed under his breath. “Well, thank you, but we should go.” She pressed against Kimmy’s back. They both started to walk up the stairs.

  “This is Veronica Mitchell, and her friend Kimmy.” William said to the four men as he pointed them out. Kimmy froze and once again Veronica was forced to stop. “And this is Brice Larkin.” William pointed to a tall man with a head of bushy blond hair, a trimmed goatee, and white–rimmed glasses that matched his polo shirt. “Frank Nigel.” He directed their attention to the man with freckles, fair skin, and red hair. “This is Connor Whiteman.” The man was short, stocky, balding, and a good twenty years older than the other men. His stomach was big enough to reach the table. “And next to me is Travis Cooper.” He gestured to the man who had first seen them. He had black hair, brown eyes, and was the tallest of the men. He was sitting almost three inches higher than William, who himself was tall, and he held a cup of steaming coffee as a silent greeting.

  “It’s nice to meet you.” Veronica greeted them trying to smile as convincingly as possible. Kimmy also smiled and said hello. Veronica waited a heartbeat to say, “Well, we should go. We accidentally fell asleep last night—too much champagne. We won’t intrude any longer. We’ll be off.”

  “That’s quite the swim back to shore.” Travis said. He laughed.

  “Sorry?” Veronica asked. Her smile instantly fell. She looked at him as if he spoke a different language. She prayed it didn’t mean what she thought it meant. Her fear made her momentarily dumb, and she stupidly asked, “We’re not at the harbor?” Her heart began to race and her palms sweat. She laughed nervously under her breath in disbelief. Kimmy inhaled with shock.

  “Yeah, we’re probably three miles out by now.” William guessed. He smiled. “So do you want coffee or pancakes?”

  “What?” Kimmy asked. She didn’t want to believe it, either. “Three miles?”

  “William, I’m so sorry!” Veronica apologized with a weak voice.

  He simply smiled and asked again, “Coffee or pancakes?”

  “Coffee.” Kimmy said with a deep breath, sounding defeated.

  Veronica nodded, and then they both squeezed into the bench around the table after getting coffee from the kitchen. “So, when do we head back?” Kimmy asked. She scooted closer to Veronica for emotional support.

  “After we fish.” Connor said.

  “So, probably around five.” Brice added.

  “Who has the sports section?” William asked as he looked around.

  “I do.” Frank said. “I’ll swap you for the stock market pages.”

  They exchanged papers and as they did William glanced at Veronica. “You look upset, Veronica. Are you uncomfortable?” He smiled.

  “I accidentally fell asleep on your boat and crashed a fishing party.” She added sarcastically, “No.” She laughed, “But I will be.” Kimmy laughed in agreement.

  “Relax, you’re a guest. Connor did the same thing.” He grinned wickedly and added, “But he didn’t steal my bed.” Veronica felt her face warm.

  “You knew we were on your boat, and you left!” Veronica said shocked.

  “The Million Dollar Baby is like an airline. It waits for no one (except me).” He winked at her. He then got up from the table without taking notice of the newspaper. “I’m going to hit the shower, now that I have my room back,” he grinned. “Make yourself at home. There are showers in the bathrooms downstairs, if you want to use them.” He explained to Kimmy and Veronica. “I have spare clothes in the first cabin on the left, even swimsuits.” He left and went downstairs.

  “Is anyone going to eat that?” Kimmy asked.

  Everyone looked at the last pancake and declined it. “I’m not!” Veronica said when Kimmy looked to her.

  “So, how do you know William?” Travis asked Kimmy.

  “I know him through Veronica. I can’t say we know him, but I knew of him. Veronica just met him.” Kimmy said as she ate.

  “That’s why this is embarrassing.” Veronica admitted. She looked to Kimmy and when they made eye contact they laughed.

  “No, don’t be embarrassed. He’s pretty easy going.” Travis said.

  “I did the same thing.” Connor said with a shrug.

  “How do you know him?” Kimmy asked and took a bite of pancake as she listened.

  “We’ve been friends for years. I’m his fishing buddy for maybe five years now. Brice has been coming a little while now, and Frank and Connor are joining us for the first time.” Travis said.

  “Oh.” Kimmy smiled and then took another bite. “So, where did he say this room with clothes was again?” Kimmy asked.

  “First cabin on the left. Want me to show you?” Brice asked.

  “I think I got it.” Kimmy repeated, “First door—left.” She then nudged Veronica. “Let’s go change.” They slid out of the bench.

  “Can I take this with me?” Ver
onica asked holding up her coffee.

  “Sure. He’s pretty relaxed about stuff like that.” Travis said. “There are no rules, except don’t expect him to cater to you.”

  Veronica took her coffee and went downstairs. They immediately took the first door to the left and Kimmy shut them inside the room. “Oh, my gosh this is a nightmare!” Veronica groaned. Kimmy laughed hysterically. “What’s so funny?”

  “Nothing! I’m so embarrassed if I don’t laugh I might jump off the yacht. There goes our invite to the next boat party.” She laughed harder. “Oh, this is terrible.” Kimmy paused and took a deep breath before saying, “I guess we might as well make the best of it. We’ll tan and stay out of their hair.” Kimmy suggested, and started pulling out the dresser drawers to look.

  “I’m not getting into a swimsuit on a yacht full of people I don’t know. He doesn’t even have swimsuits, only bikinis.” Veronica snapped.

  “Live a little. You’re unnaturally shy. It’s my job to encourage you to be more outgoing and brave. There’s nothing else to do, anyway. We’ll look even dumber if we don’t . . . oh, look, we can wear these over them.” Kimmy said holding up a wrap. Veronica found a long shirt, which was see–through. There were both men’s and women’s swimsuits (all white and generic, but in different sizes), and even clothes for cooler weather. They easily found bikinis in their size. Then they went into one of the bathrooms looking for toiletries. They found spare toothbrushes, and even deodorant and suntan lotion in the cupboards. They split up long enough to shower and change into their suits. Then they met in the hallway like they had planned, before going upstairs about a half hour later.

  They didn’t stop at the floor above them, where the four men were still talking at the table. They continued up to the deck, and Veronica followed Kimmy to a big white cushion built into the floor of the yacht. Veronica sprayed Kimmy with a heavy coat of suntan lotion. “You look much better in this stupid white bikini than I do.” Kimmy complained when Veronica took off the long shirt.

  “No I don’t. Spray me quickly so I can put that shirt back on.” Veronica ordered her and spun in a slow circle as Kimmy sprayed. Then she put it back on, and they lay down.

  “Are you seriously going to wear that while you tan?” Kimmy asked.

  “It’s see through I’ll still tan.” Veronica said, but she wasn’t positive about it.

  “If we lay here they can’t see anything. And if you get up, put it back on. You’re not a nun! Loosen up, Veronica.” Kimmy said. “Use it as a pillow like I am.”

  “No. I don’t know anyone here. Well, not really. I don’t know William that well, and certainly not enough to be in a bikini in front of him.” Veronica blathered on.

  “And we’ll never see them again anyway, especially now after the way we are known to party crash. We’re like ghosts; we’re the guests that never leave.” Kimmy stopped talking. They could hear the guys coming up the stairs. They were talking about playing poker, and someone asked William to turn on the music. “They’re coming.”

  “Whose idea was it to fall sleep, anyway? But I’ll tell you one thing—I’m never falling asleep on a boat again.” Veronica said and laughed silently.

  “I know whose idea it was, and it wasn’t mine.” Kimmy said, and then put her arm to Veronica’s nose. “Doesn’t this suntan lotion smell good? It smells like that tropical stuff—like coconut. I could eat my own arm.”

  “Yeah, I wonder where he gets it.” Veronica said. “Probably a spa. Let me see the bottle.” Kimmy handed it to her. She didn’t recognize it.

  Music kicked on and played loudly all around the yacht. “Oh! I like this song.” Kimmy said and tapped her hands to the beat.

  “Me, too. I don’t know why but it always makes me want to eat pineapple.” Veronica said with a big grin.

  “What are you two talking about over there?” Brice asked, walking over to them. Veronica and Kimmy turned to see all four men, Brice, Travis, Connor, and Frank looking at them waiting for their answer. They had all changed since they last saw them. They were all in swim trunks and no shirts. Veronica quickly glanced away and didn’t look at them again.

  “Pineapple.” Veronica said.

  They didn’t believe her, and went back to setting up a table for cards. “You can play Texas Hold’em with us if you want.” Frank offered.

  “That’s okay, but thanks, anyway.” Kimmy said and they went back to soaking in the warm sun. “They aren’t wearing shirts. Travis isn’t half bad.” Kimmy whispered softly enough that only Veronica could hear her. She scrunched her nose and laughed silently.

  “You’re boy crazy.” Veronica whispered almost inaudibly.

  When William joined the four, they all started playing poker and chatting loudly. Kimmy and Veronica lay their heads down on the mat facing each other so they could talk quietly. “I can’t believe we’re still on this boat. I nearly peed when I saw all them at the table this morning.” Kimmy said.

  “Quit bringing it up! I’m mortified as it is. I’m trying to forget about it. Change the subject,” Veronica paused to think. “Have you gone to that spa by our work yet? You know that one that recently opened up? It’s called Rainforest or is it Relaxing Rain—I don’t know. No, that’s definitely not the name. Anyway, they have a day spa package. When I cash my bonus I was thinking about going and getting my hair cut there, and the avocado facial. We should go together.”

  “Are you serious? You still haven’t cashed that? You’re crazy!” Kimmy said.

  “I told you, I’m thinking about my options.” Veronica said.

  “Alright, I’ll go for avocado facials when you cash it.” Kimmy said.

  “What are you two whispering about?” Travis asked.

  Once again they turned their heads. The five men momentarily stopped their game to look at them. Kimmy said, “Avocados.”

  “Wait. First you were talking about pineapple and now avocados?” Brice asked with a raised eyebrow. “I have a hard time believing that. And I’m a lawyer. I’m paid to believe lies or at least try to.”

  “Its code for ‘play your poker game’.” Frank interjected. “And it’s your turn, Travis.”

  “No, honestly. Veronica said this song always reminded her of pineapple, and then we talked about trying out a new spa that gives avocado facials. So you see, pineapple and avocados.” Kimmy explained.

  “Travis, it’s your turn.” Frank said again with growing impatience.

  “I fold.” Travis said.

  “So how does this song remind you of pineapple?” William asked with a smile.

  “I don’t know. It just does. I want to eat pineapples when I hear it.” Veronica confessed.

  “I think I might have pineapple downstairs. You can help yourself.” William said.

  “It’s hot. I could use some water.” Kimmy hinted.

  “There’s bottled water downstairs. I can get you one.” Travis said.

  “But we’re playing cards.” Frank protested.

  “I folded. I’m out. I won’t be long.” Travis said as he got up.

  “I’ll go with you. You can show me where it is.” Kimmy said. She stood, and told Veronica she would get her some, too. They went downstairs.

  “I didn’t know you had curly hair.” William said to Veronica. “I like it.”

  “Oh, yeah.” She touched her hair self–consciously. “I got it from my grandma, a curse, and I hate it. I can either wear it up, or straight.” She said with a laugh.

  “No, it looks good.” Brice added.

  CHAPTER NINE

  “Is she okay?” Brice asked Veronica. She had left Kimmy lying down after taking seasickness medicine.

  “No.” Veronica said. “She’s lying down until it kicks in.”

  “I’m getting some water, do you want some?” Brice asked her.

  “Yes, please.” Veronica said.

  “It’s a nice day. We lucked out!” Brice paused before saying, “I’m sure she’ll be fine. I wouldn’t worry about h
er.” Veronica smiled, but thought to herself that of course she was going to worry about her. She followed him into the kitchen. He took some bottles of water out the fridge and handed her one. “So how did you say you met William?”

  “It’s embarrassing, but I broke his nose about a month ago.” She said.

  “That was you?” He laughed. “And he still talks to you? He must like you.”

  “No. He wanted me to make him a pair of shoes.” She said.

  “Yeah, for a guy, he’s weird about clothes. But then that’s what he does. So, is that what you do? Make shoes?” Brice asked. He took a drink of water.

  “Yes.” She said.

  “I’m a lawyer.” He bragged. “As of six months ago. I was hired into the firm of Black & Chase. Have you heard of them?”

  “I’ve heard of them, yes.” She nodded.

  “Yeah, they’re a big company. I had to beat out five hundred people to get the job.” He gloated and then sniffed confidently.

  “That’s great. Wow.” She said trying to sound as genuinely impressed as she could, but truthfully she wanted to go upstairs. She was painfully aware that she was standing in a bikini and a see–through shirt. She shifted uncomfortably as she had several times since their conversation began, which once again went unnoticed by Brice.

  There were footsteps coming down the stairs, and a moment later Frank popped his head into the room. “Oh, what are you two doing?”

  “Getting water.” Brice said.

  “Can you bring some beer up when you come?” Frank asked Brice. He stopped on the stairs and waited for a response.

  “I’ll be a bit. I’m hot.” Brice said.

  “I’ll bring some up.” Veronica offered quickly. It was a perfect opportunity to not be rude, but get out of the awkward intimacy of being alone. She turned and opened the fridge.

  “Yeah, we got it Frank. We’ll be up.” Brice recanted. Frank left and Brice continued to talk as he stepped in front of her and began gathering beers from the bottom of the fridge. “I take it you were at William’s birthday party last night. I keep forgetting he had one. I couldn’t make it. I was working. I got here as the cleaning crew was leaving, a few minutes before seven this morning. You must have had fun last night to wake up, as stowaways.” He laughed.

 
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