Mari breathed the fresh scent of the ocean as she reclined in her favorite hammock in Raoul and Allie’s backyard. Her night with Tyler was phenomenal. He and Reese hadn’t gotten into an argument when Reese picked her up that morning. Work was fun and short. Now there was a steady supply of lemonade for her to enjoy and the smell of charcoal and meat wafted under her nose. Life was good.
She cracked one eye open to spy on Raoul and Reese standing at the grill together. She hadn’t been paying attention, so she missed whatever Reese said to make Raoul laugh. Her smile came easily anyway. She’d anticipated helping bring Reese into a conversation, but he and Raoul fell into an easy discussion only a few moments after they arrived. When Raoul suggested grilling, Mari didn’t hesitate to make her way out to the hammock.
Allie crossed the grass and plopped down on her in the hammock, sending it swinging and Mari into laughter as she fought to keep them from tumbling out of it. Once it steadied, she wrapped her arms around Allie.
“Reese should be leaving in a few days,” Mari said. “That camping trip is definitely on. I’ve already worked out the schedule.”
Allie tipped her head back with a grin. “Of course, you have. I don’t know who’s worse; you or Raoul. He already has a bag by the closet.”
“That right there is just proof we’re equally amazing.”
Allie snorted in laughter. “Of course. What was I thinking?”
“I don’t know, but that’s what I’m here for.”
“Have you given any more thought to your plans?”
“Plans?” Reese echoed joining the conversation before Mari could answer.
“Mari graduated a handful of months ago,” Raoul explained. “She came home and picked back up where she left off with touring, but we haven’t discussed long-term plans.”
Mari freed one arm to reach for her glass and took a sip from her straw. She liked touring and working with Keon. She liked being able to have an impromptu girls’ night at the drop of a dime and dinner with Raoul and Allie whenever she felt like it. Her boyfriend was settled on the island. She had a million reasons to stay right where she was.
“I talked to Gage about traveling some,” she admitted quietly. “Not right away, but later. Just to get a change of scenery and see what things are like in other places. We’ll have plenty of time to work the schedule around whatever trips I take.”
She hadn’t gone to school incredibly close, but she hadn’t gone somewhere completely different either. She wanted that experience. Guilt still ate at her for the desire.
“Have you discussed it with Blake?” Raoul asked.
“I hadn’t even discussed it with you, so no. Besides, it’s not his choice.”
Raoul glanced at Reese before he grabbed the spatula. “I’m just thinking if you want to travel, he might want you to visit him. I think you would enjoy that.”
“Good point,” she admitted. Her shoulders lost the defensive edge. “I’ll talk to him about it next time we have a call.”
“When did you talk to Gage?” Reese asked with a grimace.
“We texted the other day. Why? I don’t like the face you’re making. Don’t stick your nose into it.”
He arched a brow and she read the expression immediately. “Just because you didn’t say anything about that other thing doesn’t mean you wouldn’t run your mouth about this. I said I would talk to him.”
“What other thing?” Raoul asked.
“You’ve done it now,” Allie murmured before she carefully rose from the hammock to head inside the house.
“Nothing to be worried about,” Mari said as Reese chuckled. “You are such a menace.”
“I haven’t done anything. You do just fine on your own.”
“I’m still waiting to hear about this thing,” Raoul said, plating the burgers.
Mari groaned as she rolled out of the hammock. “It’s not even a thing. I promise. Allie probably needs help in the house.”
Raoul sucked his teeth. “Convenient.”
She leaned in and kissed his cheek. Her warning glare at Reese melted into a smile she couldn’t quite hide. Ducking her head, she walked back inside the house.