Posts tagged “Honesty

Chasing Truth: Chapter 50

Posted on 10/07/2020

“What are you working on?”

Mari glanced up from the notebook where she was planning out the tour schedule at her dining room table. Reese stood with his hands in his pockets a few feet away, just outside of the hall. “Schedule for next week,” she murmured as she looked back down.

“Schedule yourself off.”

“And why would I be doing that?”

“I talked to Blake.”

Mari lost all interest in the schedule then.

“We had to adjust the timeline to account for some other things,” Reese continued. “He’ll be able to get out here in another two to three days.”

“Really?” she asked, unable to hide her excitement and not trying to. “How long is he going to be able to stay?”

“We don’t know that yet. A couple of days maybe.”

“Oh. Well, I don’t need to be off the whole week then.”

“You want to be on the schedule if it happens he can stay longer?”

“Okay, maybe you have a point. The whole week it is.”

She balled up the paper she’d been working on and tossed it to the side. She drew lines on a new sheet and started reworking her plans. A few moments later she registered Reese hadn’t moved from his spot and was still watching her.

“Did you still want to walk the beach today?” he asked

“Yes,” she returned immediately without looking up.

“You need to come now then. I don’t want you out once it starts to get darker.”

“Seriously? First, you completely wreck my scheduling and now you’re rushing me?”

“So you don’t want to walk?”

She glared at him. 

“I’ll meet you at the door,” he said simply and turned away.

Muttering to herself, Mari pushed back from the table to go in search of her shoes. He was at the door as promised when she walked into the living room with her sandals. As usual, he walked out first. She waited obediently for his all-clear before she joined him outside. Only once the door was locked did they start walking. Neither of them spoke until they started down the path to the beach. 

“Do you think he bought it?” she finally asked.

She’d wanted Reese to remove the bugs immediately once he told her about them, but he warned it would tip their hand and he could use them to his advantage if he left them in place. Given their plan now, she could admit he was right.

“He wants Blake and he asked you more than once about his plans to come back,” Reese answered.
“He’ll bite.”

She blew out a hard breath. “I still haven’t worked out whether that’s good or bad.”

“It’s not for you to worry about.”

She snorted at the easily delivered words but didn’t waste her time arguing with him about it. They continued on in silence as sand slowly replaced gravel and the sea breeze danced over their skin. 

For once Mari’s focus wasn’t on the water or how good it felt to be walking on the shore. She kicked at the sand. 

“Are you going to be mad at me forever?” she asked her feet.

Silence. It stretched out for a moment. Two. Hesitantly she peeked at him from the corner of her eye.

“I’m not mad at you,” he said what felt like an hour later.

“If this is you not mad, I’d hate to piss you off,” she mumbled.

His soft huff of amusement sent hope flooding through her.  “I have a job to do. Two jobs. Protect you and protect Blake. I’m trying to protect Blake from a distance and I’m behind the curve on a threat. I have to focus right now.”

She thought that over and admitted to herself he wasn’t wrong. 

“I’m not happy you kept that from me, but Blake and I were strangers to you. I understand why you did it.”

Mari’s feet brought her closer to him even as she bowed her head in relief. Her arm brushed against his as they kept walking. Nibbling at her bottom lip, she forced herself to look up at him. 

“Thank you. Your friendship means something to me,” she confessed quietly. “And maybe that’s me assuming we’re friends, but I feel like we are after spending all this time together and I don’t want to lose that.”

“It’s not you assuming. I-“

The sound of her ringtone cut through his words. She clenched her teeth to bite back the groan wanting to rip free. What had he been about to say?

He was looking at her expectantly now though so she pulled the phone from her pocket. They both looked down at the screen. 

Tyler calling.

Reese nodded in encouragement and she swiped her thumb over the screen to answer.

“Hey, Tyler.”

“Hey, sweetheart. How are things going?”

“They’re good. Reese and I are just walking the beach.”

“I should’ve known,” he teased. “I was just calling to let you know I’m wrapping things up here. I’ll be home in a couple of days.”

“That’s great! I can’t wait to see you.”

“I can’t wait to see you either. I miss you. I’ll let you know as soon as I have my ticket.” He paused for a moment. “Dad’s calling so I gotta run. Just wanted to let you know. See you soon.”

“See you soon,” she echoed before ending the call.

“When’s he coming?”

“Two days.”

Reese nodded. It was what they wanted. Almost more than that, she wanted to know what he would have said if Tyler hadn’t chosen that moment to call. The moment was lost now though. Reese was already pulling out his own phone to confirm the rest of their plans. He was focused. She needed to be too.


<< Chapter 49 Chapter 51 >>

Chasing Truth: Chapter 49

Posted on 26/06/2020

Calories in a Glass of Wine

Mari was practically coming out of her seat by the time she and Reese arrived at Julia’s place. She dreaded dancing around the truth with her best friends, but she was excited to be able to bring them in at least a little. She needed their insight.

Her leg bounced restlessly while she waited for Reese to open her door. She hopped down the second he did and just barely restrained herself to keep pace with him. They were walking up the pathway when the door swung open to reveal Leilani. She didn’t come out.

“I knew it was you. I checked out the window and again out the peephole,” she rushed to say since she knew she wasn’t supposed to open the door until Reese was actually at said door.

Reese shook his head. Mari just grinned. Leilani latched onto her arm the moment she was within reach. 

“You can have the living room, Reese. We’re not going to watch TV and this way you’re between us and the door,” Leilani continued as Reese closed the door. “We’ll be in the kitchen.”

“Is anything that comes out of the kitchen going to be edible?” he called after them teasingly.

Leilani turned to stick her tongue out at him but didn’t stop herding Mari to the kitchen. Julia stood at the stove, frying fish when they entered. Leilani let go of Mari to retrieve a wine glass, which she filled generously.

“Okay, spill,” Leilani prompted and handed Mari the glass.

Mari laughed, settling onto the nearest stool and taking a sip. “Well, at least I got wine first.” Leilani’s mock glare made her laugh. “It’s nothing that extreme. Really. Things with Tyler have been…off lately. I don’t really know how to explain it. Things don’t feel the same anymore.”

“Feel the same like how?” Leilani pressed. “Like you  don’t feel the same way about him as you used to or the relationship feels different?”

“I…both? The relationship feels different, distant almost. I think that’s affecting how I feel.”

Julia cut straight to the heart of the matter. “You’re having second thoughts.”

Mari dropped her head to stare into her wine. “Yeah. Maybe it’s just me and I’m imagining things being different, but…” She hated lying to her friends, but this was the closest to the truth she could get. She lifted her gaze. “I was kinda hoping you two could pay attention when he comes back. You know, tell me if I’m just being crazy.”

“I’ve never known you to just be crazy,” Julia said as she laid fish onto a plate.

Leilani glanced toward the doorway before leaning forward. “How much of this maybe has to do with you spending all of this time with Reese?” she whispered.

“I don’t know,” Mari groaned. “That’s part of the whole problem. At first, everything seemed simple. Things with Tyler were great. They changed some even before I met Reese, but when he showed up, things got even more complicated. I wasn’t expecting to interact with him at all. And then when he stayed, I wasn’t expecting to actually enjoy talking to him or anything. I was just planning to put up with him so Blake wouldn’t hassle me.”

“But now it’s more?” It was a statement from Julia, not a question.

Mari opened her mouth to deny it, but there was no point. Julia and Leilani knew her too well. 

“You two have gotten close over the last couple of weeks,” Julia continued. “Nothing that crosses the line, but he fits. You two fit in a way Tyler never did.”

“My life is out of control,” Mari whispered as she buried her face in her hands.

“So take back some control,” Leilani suggested. “End it with Tyler.”

“I can’t just end a relationship with a guy I’ve been seeing for months just because I think another guy is attractive. Reese doesn’t even live here. This wouldn’t even be a discussion if he and I weren’t attached at the hip these last few weeks. He’ll go home and this…this will wear off.”

“You don’t believe that, do you?” Leilani chided softly. “Maybe the closeness got you here faster, but it’s not just going to go away. It’s not like you’ll never see him again. If nothing else, he’d be back whenever your dad visits and there whenever you visit him.”

Mari waved off her words. “He doesn’t even like me that way. He’s here doing a job. That’s it.”

Julia snorted while Leilani rolled her eyes. 

“Oh, please. He totally likes you.”

Julia checked the doorway before approaching the island. “There are things he does because he’s here to keep you safe, but there are things he does that don’t fall into that. He almost always brings you your food, even when we’re just in the house. When he calls you Ellie, it’s not because he’s trying to come off as a close friend. He caters to you in ways that have nothing to do with protecting you.”

“We were talking about Tyler,” Mari protested weakly.

“And now we’re talking about Reese,” Leilani returned without hesitation. “Allie really likes him. She told mom Raoul does too and that you guys had a great time camping.”

“They like him because he’s keeping me safe and they know that,” she pointed out.

“Mari, stop being deliberately blind. He would have been perfectly capable of coming here and pretending to be a friend without ever getting as close to you and people that matter to you as he has. We’ll pay attention when Tyler comes back. You know all you had to do was ask. You’re not going to be able to sort out things with Tyler if you can’t be honest with yourself about what’s happening between you and Reese though. Start there.”

Wisdom imparted, Julia turned back to the stove to finish preparing dinner. Even Leilani found nothing else to add.

Be honest about what was happening between her and Reese? Now that the girls laid it out, it was harder to ignore. It had already been hard enough to dismiss before today. 

Mari drained the rest of her glass. It was going to be a long night.


<< Chapter 48

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