Next time Toria goes for the hotdogs and I watch our stuff, thought Alexis to herself, as she just missed getting those hotdogs knocked out of her hand by an errant football.
"Sorry!" said a voice just behind her.
Alexis turned to tell the voice's owner to take his game elsewhere but ended up saying, "No problem." As she continued her trek she mentally kicked herself. I'm sure that guy gets away with way too much just because he has a killer smile. Next time she'd really speak her mind no matter how cute the guy's dimples might be. As she got closer to Toria, who was sitting on their beach blanket, she noticed her friend was staring at a spot on the boardwalk down the beach. When she spotted the object of Toria's gaze she thought it was a site definitely worth a stare. Those two guys definitely qualified as delicious eye candy.
She reached the blanket. "Very nice," she said.
A startled Toria turned to her. "What?"
"The hunks you were giving the eye," said Alexis. "Here's your dog."
"Thanks," said Toria accepting the one with only a bit of ketchup.
"I'm the one that's usually ogling the guys," said Alexis just before taking a bite of her own everything-on-it hotdog.
"I wasn't ogling any guys," said Toria.
"Really?" said Alexis. "Sure could have fooled me. Don't look now but I swear the fair one is looking our way."
"Uh-huh. Hey, they're coming this way. Why did I get onions on this thing?"
"Because you never met a condiment you didn't like?" asked Toria with a smile.
"Very funny, my friend," said Alexis as she finished the maligned hot dog and started rooting through her purse for breath mints. She took a quick peek in the mirror of her compact to check her face and hair.
"Only you'd worry about your makeup at the beach," said Toria.
"They make it waterproof for a reason," Alexis replied with a grin. As the two men got closer she whispered to Toria, "Dibs on the dark one."
Before Toria could respond, the pair had reached them.
"Hello," said the fair-haired one looking at Toria. "I think we've met before but I can't recall where."
Toria looked at him. "I had the same feeling."
Well, that explains Toria staring at him, thought Alexis. She was trying to place him. Alexis realized years ago that Toria did not have the same appreciation for men watching as she did. How anyone could forget either of these men Alexis would never know.
"Interesting. Maybe my name will help. I'm Will Neville."
"There is something familiar about your name, but I'm afraid it doesn't help me remember. I'm Toria Winston. And this is my friend, Alexis Brown." Toria pointed toward Alexis.
Will shook Alexis' hand saying, "Pleased to meet you. This is my friend, Dave Stevenson."
"Hello Dave," said Toria.
"Would anyone like a soda?" asked Alexis while opening a cooler next to the blanket.
"If you have enough," said Will.
"Toria always packs extras," said Alexis. "She took the scout code to heart and is always prepared. Grab a corner of the blanket and sit with us."
"I'd like that," said Will. "Thanks."
The four sat on the blanket enjoying the June sun and talking of the weather, movies, music and other topics for which they discovered they shared an interest.
"Do you live around here?" asked Will of the young women.
"No," answered Alexis. "We're just here for the weekend."
"So are we," said Dave.
"Do you come here often?" Will asked, looking at Toria.
"Not as often as I liked," Toria replied with a smile. "My grandmother, who I was very close to, used to bring me here often. It seemed to hold special memories for her."
"Same with my grandfather," said Will. "Toria, would you like to take a walk with me?"
"I'd like that," said Toria. "That is if it's OK with you, Alexis."
"It's fine," said Alexis. "Just stay in view."
"Yes, Mother," said Toria, laughing.
"I did rather sound like that, didn't I?" said Alexis, laughing too.
"I promise we won't go far, we'll be back soon and I'll be a gentleman," said Will, smiling.
"Well, OK, then," said Alexis. "See that you are." She tried to look stern but it came out as a grin.
Alexis was watching the couple walk off and wondering what had come over her shy friend. Toria was almost flirting which was so unlike her.
"Must be killing you to see a guy with no interest in you," a voice said ending her musing.
"What are you talking about?" she asked.
"Will is interested in your friend, not you."
"That's obvious, but why would you think it would bother me?"
"I know your type. You expect ever guy to fall at your feet."
"Do I? Including you, I suppose?"
"Yep but I'm immune."
"You are ridiculous is what you are."
"I saw the way you looked at me when we met."
"I like looking at men. Last I knew, it wasn't a crime and I don't expect anybody to be falling at anybody's feet."
"Sure." He laughed making Alexis more annoyed.
"Can we talk about something else? Or silence even would be fine."
"OK. I wonder what got into Will. I've never seen him react to a woman like he has with Toria. He's a pretty reserved guy."
"True enough." Dave grinned at her.
"Toria is acting a little odd, too. There's a sort of spark there that I've never seen in her before."
"I've known Will nearly our whole lives. It's hard to believe there's anyone he'd know that I didn't meet, but I swear I've never seen her before."
"I think I know what you mean. I've known all Toria's friends, too. We've been best friends since we were in training bras."
Dave looked at the cleavage her very low cut one piece suit showed.
"Looks like they need more training. They're trying to escape."
Alexis didn't say a word to that, though many ran through her head. She just went to a dufflebag, sat down, withdrew a T-shirt and put it on. She stayed there, silent. She had to admit to herself that she did buy this swimsuit to show off her 'best feature,' to compensate for the face considered too round; too round and so plain that she let no one see her without her makeup.
Dave wasn't sure what to think. She acted hurt from his remarks. It made no sense to him. He went and sat beside her.
Alexis looked at him. "It's OK."
She smiled, but it seemed like a forced smile to him. What happened here, he wondered. He'd been so sure he knew her type; so sure of themselves they expect everyone to fall in with their every whim. He wasn't sure what he should say.
"As I was saying, I've never seen Toria react to a guy like she has Will."
"How so?" asked Dave.
"I'm not sure, exactly. She just doesn't become attracted to a guy just by looking at him."
"Sometimes, but we're talking about Toria here. Don't get me wrong, she's had boyfriends."
"Well .... emphasis on 'friends.' She's too kind to say no when a guy asks her out, and with her looks she's been asked out a lot. The trouble is she never feels anything for them beyond friendship. She tries, but after a few dates she finally tells the guy they can only be friends."
"That's pretty much how Will is, too. He has dated more because people expect him to than because he wants to go out with a certain woman. He can never say no if his mom or sister asks him to take someone out, so they keep matching him up hoping he'll find the right one."
"Where do you think we might have met before?" Will asked Toria as they walked along the beach with the waves lapping at their ankles.
"I don't know. I wonder if maybe we only saw each other but didn't actually meet," she said. "Have you done any acting?"
"No but why do you ask."
"This might sound silly, but I get a picture of you in period costume. Actually, a few pictures all from different periods."
"Yep. Like Edwardian splendour, complete with muttonchop sideburns and moustache; 1950's slickbacked hair and white T-shirt with the sleeves rolled up."
"That is interesting because I get similar pictures of you."
"Muttonchop sideburns and a moustache?"
"No," laughed Will. "Your hair up in a topknot and you're wearing a long white dress or your hair is pulled into a ponytail and you're wearing capri pants and a blouse with bobbysocks and saddle shoes."
"I'm amazed you know what capri pants are," said Toria.
"Actually, so am I," said Will, looking perplexed. "Have you ever worn anything like that?"
"Nope. I did dress up for a 50s dance once, but I went with the poodleskirt and cashmere sweater and my hair teased into a beehive."
"But, that wouldn't have been very practical at the beach," said Will.
"No, it wouldn't, but what does that have to do with it?"
"I see you at a beach then. It looks a lot like this beach."
"The same island with the lighthouse?"
"Exactly. How did you know?"
"I see it in the background of the picture with you, although it can't really be you. This is getting too weird."
"Why don't we talk of something else then?"
"Do you and Alexis have dinner plans?"
"Not really. We were just going to go get some fast food and come back for the sunset. They are beautiful here on the lake."
"Yes, they are. Would it be alright if Dave and I joined you?"
"I'll have to ask Alexis, but I don't see why it wouldn't be OK."
"Let's go ask then."
Alexis looked down the beach and saw that Toria and Will seemed to be heading back toward her and Dave. Thank goodness. Being alone with Dave made her feel funny, which was absolutely ridiculous. Or so she told herself.
"Looks like they are returning," said Dave, motioning with his head toward Alexis and Will.
"Yes, it does," said Alexis.
"I wonder if they figured out the mystery."
"I hope so, because I know Toria will keep thinking about it till she does. She really has a great memory."
"Will's a pretty smart guy. They'll work it out."
"Of course they will."
"Before they get here, I want to apologize again if I hurt your feelings earlier, Alexis. I thought you'd just laugh it off."
"I should have. I was the one flaunting my ... well ..."
"Maybe. If you aren't comfortable about it, why do you wear something like that?"
"I don't know."
"I think you do know. If you don't want to tell me now, maybe you will another time."
"Another time? I don't think we are likely to bump into each other again."
"Look at Will and Toria. Do you think they won't be seeing each other after today? And as their closest friends we're likely to see each other too."
"I hadn't thought of that," replied Alexis with a bit of a frown.
"What's the matter, Alex?" asked Toria as she reached the beach blanket and she noticed her friend's furrowed brow.
"Nothing," Alexis answered, smiling."Just trying to figure out a puzzle I came across."
"Today seems to be the day for puzzles. Maybe I know the answer to yours," offered Toria. "What is it?"
"I'm not ready to give up yet, Tor."
"Okay, but if you change your mind, maybe one of us can help."
"Yeah," said Dave causing Alexis to look at him. "Maybe one of us could."
"I'll keep that in mind," she said.
"Toria and I were thinking we could all go to dinner together ... if you two don't mind, that is," said Will.
Alexis looked at Dave who winked at her as if to say 'told you so.' "Fine with me, as long as I'm back here for sunset," she said.
"Any preferences?" asked Will.
"Sunset is pretty late right now, so how about the Chinese buffet in town?" suggested Dave.
"Have you guys tried it before?" Toria asked.
"Yes," said Will. "It's pretty good."
"Is that OK with you, Alex?" Toria asked.
"Sure," replied Alexis. "Sounds good."
"Explain to me how it happened that I'm driving you to the restaurant," said Alexis to Dave.
"It's very simple, really," said Dave. "Will led Toria to his car, which we drove here and which we could have all gone in, but you didn't want to leave your car, in which you and Toria got here, at the beach. So, I offered to accompany you in your car."
"How gallant," said Alexis sarcastically.
"Would you really want me being a third wheel in the other car? Do you think they'd really want me there?"
"OK. You have a point. So, you two come here a lot, do you?"
"To the lake?"
"Yep. In fact, most summer weekends, although we don't go down to that beach much."
"Will's grandfather left him a cottage right on the lake. The shore is kind of rocky and not suitable for swimming by the cottage. There is a dock though and we fish sometimes. He has a sailboat we take out, too. But for swimming, it's a toss up which beach is closest. Today we happened to choose the one you were at."
"Wow! I bet he can see the sun setting from his place then."
"Sure can. We added a large deck on the lakeside a couple of summers ago. It's perfect for watching the sunset."
"Sounds like heaven to me."
"You really dig sunset, huh?"
"I do! Each one is so different. Even minute to minute it changes, as clouds move in and out. More beautiful than any painting."
"I can almost fill a memory card with just one sunset."
"Memory card? As in digital camera?"
"Yep. Nothing very fancy, but I love it."
"What do you take pictures of besides sunsets?"
"Anything I find interesting, really. Animals and birds are a challenge, but I love taking their pictures. It's so rewarding when one turns out well. Flowers, trees, clouds. Sorry. I can get carried away talking about pictures."
"That's OK. I liked listening to you. Your enthusiasm is nice. There's more apathy than enthusiasm in the world these days."
"Sadly, that seems to be true." Alexis turned into the restaurant parking lot. Just when we started getting along, she thought to herself. A few more minutes would have been nice.
Meanwhile, in the other car, Toria was a little concerned."Did you notice some tension between Alexis and Dave when we returned?"
"Not really," replied Will.
"It isn't like Alex to frown like she was," insisted Toria. "I wonder what she was puzzling over."
"You two know each other well, then?"
"We've known each other since we were about ten years old. I was new in town. It was such a small town that everyone knew everyone else. Alex took me under her wing and got me involved in everything that was going on."
"It's difficult to move when you are a kid."
"It is. I'm not sure parents realize it. Oddly enough, though, it felt right. Sort of like coming home."
"I don't know really. Just a feeling."
"Were your parents from there originally?"
"No, but my grandmother was. Now that I think of it, I think part of the reason we moved was for her. She wanted to return and my dad found a chance to transfer to a city nearby, so we went."
"Your grandmother lived with you?"
"She did then, yes."
"I take it this is the grandmother that brought you to the lake?"
"Yes, she loved to come here."
"My grandfather liked it so much he bought a cottage on the lake and spent his last few years there. I visited him and he left the cottage to me."
"I think so."
"Do you spend a lot of time here?"
"In the summer, Dave and I hang out at the cottage a lot, away from the noise of the city. The cottage is winterized, so we occasionally visit other times of the year."
"I'm surprised we never ran into each other before."
"I am a little, too, although we mostly stay at the cottage. We visit a couple of the beaches now and then. Do you generally go to the same beach?"
"We do. That is, when we go to a beach. Alexis likes to visit some trails and parks in the area, too, to get pictures."
"She's a photographer?"
"It's her hobby and she loves it."
"How about you? Do you have any hobbies?"
"Not really. I like doing a variety of things, but am not really devoted to anything."
"Reading; occasionally a knitting or sewing project. How about you?"
"I like to read, too. I fish some. Sailing. I like trying new things. We're here." Will turned into the restaurant parking lot.
Later, back at the motel room they were sharing, Toria asked Alexis, "Well, what do you think of him?"
"I'm not sure," Alexis started. "He's not like any guy I've met before."
"He's so good looking."
"And so nice."
"After he got that chip off of his shoulder."
"He had such an attitude at first."
"He did? I didn't notice that."
"Well, you were off with Will."
"Oh! You're talking about Dave!"
"Well, sure. Oh! You were asking about Will?"
"Yes, but I see you have eyes only for Dave."
Alexis giggled. "He was the one on my mind, but obviously not yours. I guess Will is handsome, too. He sure seemed drawn to you."
"There's something about him," said Toria. "I don't know what it is. In some ways, I feel like I've always known him. You're going to think I'm crazy, but I feel like I've loved him for years."
"That is crazy and not at all like you."
"That's true. I don't understand it, but it feels right."
"Don't rush into anything. Toria, you're usually the sensible one, not me."
"That's not true, Alex. You are not nearly as impulsive and wild as you let people believe."
"Yeah, well, don't ruin my cover." She smiled. "You're the only one to see beyond appearances."
"I know. I won't ruin your party girl image."
"So, you really think Dave is good looking, huh?"
"Oh yeah," Alexis smile faded. "You don't?"
"Well, not compared to Will."
"I beg to differ with you. Dave's got great eyes, and I wonder if that moustache tickles when he kisses." Alexis smiled dreamily.
"Alex, Alex, Alex. What am I to do with you?" asked Toria. "You get infatuated with every man you see."
"I don't!" protested Alexis.
Toria glared at her with her arms crossed against her chest.
"Oh, I just appreciate a man's finer qualities, is all. That's not infatuation. And neither is what I feel for Dave. I'm not really sure what it is though."
"Well, heed your own advice and don't rush into anything," said Toria.
"You know I won't," said Alexis.
"Yes, I do."
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