- Text Size +
Chapter Forty Three

Letter Rule #1: Party like a rockstar if you want.

"I can't believe your dad talked mom into this."

I smiled. "My dad's pretty cool like that."

We both stuck our heads out of the empty car window and took a deep breath of ocean air. We looked at each other and squealed.

"Girls," Joe muttered.

"Nothing wrong with girls."

The latter comment had come from Joe's friend Javen. I didn't know Javen well; he wasn't one of the guys that Joe had been hanging out with the last school year. With that said, I had to admit that Javen seemed like a nice guy.

And he was all eyes for Stefie.

"Welcome to Cozumel, kids!" dad announced. I spotted mom's hand on dad's leg. They shared a look; I grinned. Beautiful view, good friends, and two parents deeply in love.

Life was good.

After another twenty minutes in the car, dad pulled up to the beach house he had rented. Bray and Tristan were the first out of the car. They started to run straight towards the water.

"I DON'T THINK SO!" mom called out. "In the house!"

Stefie and I climbed out of the car and stretched. After a short flight and the car ride, I was glad to be able to get up and move.

"Look, that whole wall is made of glass. It's probably got a great view of the ocean. Dad's new condo has a wall like that."

"New condo?"

"Paola's been spending so much time with him that he thought they should cohabitat."

I grabbed my bag and studied my bestie's face closely. She didn't seem upset.

"You're okay with that?"

Stef shrugged. "Like I've been telling you, she's super nice. I guess I could try to find something to hate about her but I can't. The only thing she did wrong was falling in love with my dad. And with my mom being," she paused, as if she needed to think of the right word. "With my mom acting the way she is about me, I can't blame my dad for wanting someone with a better outlook on life."

"You're mom's only doing it because she loves you," I said gently. Stef watched Joe and Javen grab their bags.

"I know, but it's like she blames my dad for giving me Lupus. It's not right, Al. It's not fair to him."

Once again I knew I couldn't place myself in her shoes. I also didn't want to spend the whole vacation making her talk about it. I nudged her and nodded towards the house. "Last one in gets the lumpy bed!"

"NO!" Stef cried. I grabbed my bag and took off. I heard her running behind me, her own bag hitting against the back of her legs. I swung the door open and tried to get my bearings. I headed straight for the stairs.

Bray and Tristan had already grabbed the bedroom closest to the stairs. I knew they wanted to be as far away from the master bedroom as possible. I looked to my right and opened the second door I came to.

The room had a large window. It didn't face the beach, but it still provided plenty of light. Two double beds with crisp white bed coverings were positioned side by side. A large wood dresser sat against the opposite wall. It was perfect. I swung my bag on the bed nearest the window and bounced down on it. Stef did the same with the other bed.

"Good choice?" I asked. Stef fell back, her dark hair fanning all around her.

"Perfect!" she said.

"Damnit, we've got the one next to mom and dad's!" Joe yelled. He popped his head in the door and glared at me.

"Give us this room."

"What? No way! We got here first!"

"C'mon, you won't get in trouble."

I smirked. "You plan on getting in trouble?"

Joe's eyes widened. "Did you just smirk at me? That medication is working too good. Now you're a smartass."



"No," Joe and I said in unison. Dad looked me and smiled. He looked at Joe and slapped him on the shoulder. BOth of them headed back down the hall. Stef waited until they were gone before she rolled over onto her stomach.

"So who's Joe's friend?"

I unzipped my bag and started pulling out clothes. "Javen? I don't know him that well."

"He's not one of the druggies Joe was hanging around last year was he?"

I shook my head. "No, I think he might have hung around with Javen in middle school. He looks familiar, but I'm not terrific with matching names and faces."

"So if you wouldn't remember the name of that hunky doctor you kissed?"

"Marquis?" My heart fluttered. "Oh, I'd remember him."

Stef giggled. "What would you do if you bumped into him here?"

I snorted. "I don't have to worry about that because it won't happen. He's in Kentucky working a hundred hours a week."

"So? That doesn't mean you can't daydream."

"I'm not wasting my vacation daydreaming! Kissing him was an after effect from going crazy."

"Wasn't it worth going crazy?"

Heat rose in my cheeks. "Absolutely."

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

"This is the life. I could get used to this. Spending all day on a white, sandy beach with a cherry slushie in hand. Ahhh."

"Yeah, maybe dad can get me a tutor and I can just have school under my beach umbrella," I added.

Stefie giggled. "Well the scenery is much more condusive to learning."

We both lowered our sunglasses and watched a buff guy with a perfect tan walk by in board shorts. Without a word, we clinked our slushie glasses together.

"Hel-lo ladies."

The moment was broken. Joe and Javen stepped in front of us. Joe shoved his hands in his jean pockets. Javen was wearing board shorts, but it wasn't quite as nice of a vision as what we had seen just moments before. Even so, Stefie sat up and leaned forward. I noticed with a dash of jealousy that she had perfected showing her cleavage.

"What are you two up to?" she asked.

"Joe's dad is taking us and his brothers fishing. Maybe tonight you ladies will accompany us downtown?"

I knew Javen was addressing Stefie more than me. Joe read my mind.

"I'm not going downtown and looking like I'm dating my sister," he said.

"Well don't think I want that either!" I complained.

"I can solve this problem."

The four of us looked over at my mom. She held her hand over her eyes; the wind was whipping her wrap skirt around. She had the whitest legs I had ever seen.

"We're all going downtown tonight. No date worries."

I smiled. Stefie and Javen looked disappointed. Joe rolled his eyes up to the crystal clear sky. Mom laughed.

"Family vacation, son," she teased. She pulled him to her; I was surprised that he didn't pull back. He even let her kiss his cheek. Suddenly, he smiled. I didn't trust the look.

I had a feeling he had just figured out a plan to get his party on anyhow.

And if I was right, I kinda wanted to know what that plan was.