Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Chapter Forty-Five

Coasting Down Memory Lane;
Chapter Forty-Five

The walls were a dull grey; everything in the office was the exact same colour. There was one light in the entire room and there wasn’t a doubt in Riley’s mind that the light hadn’t been changed in quite a while. She shifted in her chair noting that even the furniture wasn’t inviting.

“How do you work in this? It’s so depressing,” Riley said as she crossed her legs for the third time.

“Are you here for an interview or to critique my designing style?” The woman who sat across the Riley was known for her dull tastes. She had about an inch on Riley’s five-seven and wasn’t afraid to use her size for power. Her hair was a light blonde pulled back so tightly in a bun that it gave Riley a headache just looking at it.

“Sorry,” Riley muttered. “Now, Mrs. Norman, what are your thoughts on this upcoming project?”

“Well, I’ve always believed in the well being of our elders. They are always the ones who are targeted first you know. So, after witnessing some elder abuse, I decided to take a stand. My partner, Rodney, and I discussed this topic one time over brunch,” Mrs. Norman smiled politely. “We agreed that the elderly are capable of defending themselves – I mean have you seen them at their bingo?”

Forty-five minutes later, Riley walked out of the building rubbing her temples. She was going to need a tanker-load of Tylenol when she got back home. She tried a smile when she spotted Brett leaning casually against his car but it only came out as a wince.

“How’d it go?” He had an amused look on his face.

“I’ve got the mother of all headaches right now.”

“Oh come on. It couldn’t have been that bad,” he said with a small laugh.

“It could have and it was,” Riley said as she climbed into the passenger seat of his car. “First, I had to stare at her face for an hour. I know that sounds mean, but the woman wears her hair so tightly tied back her eyes were practically popping out of her head. Then she made these jokes,” she said, her voice going up an octave, “it was about as funny as watching a cat die.

“The room,” her voice was pleading now. “It just screams boring. Everything is this dull grey, it’s like prison. No, it’s worse than prison.”

“Maybe some lunch will brighten your spirits,” Brett said in a hopeful voice as he pulled into his parking space at his condo.

“Brett, you don’t have to do this for me. I can take care of myself.”

No, he thought. He had to do this. He had to make sure that she stayed healthy. It had been two weeks since she had left Sidney in Nova Scotia and he’d left her alone for the first week and that was a mistake.

He’d gone over to see her one day and she looked horrible. It was obvious that she hadn’t eaten and had cried out all of the water her body had saved. From then on Brett was sure to keep an eye on her. “It’s no problem, really. Besides, Jamie made it so it will be well worth it.”

Jamie was Brett’s main squeeze. Riley had never seen Brett happier than when he was with Jamie. With Jamie around the food was amazing, the house was clean, and everything was in order.

“I love Jamie,” Riley said as they stepped into the elevator.

“So do I,” Brett said as he pushed the button for his floor.

“Are you going to pop the question?”

“I’ve been thinking about it.” He led her off the elevator and to his door. “Now let’s get some food into us.”

The waves crashed against the rocks as the boats whizzed by. People were smiling as the soaked up the sun. It was the summer he was supposed to be happy. He was supposed to be relaxed. But he wasn’t. No he hadn’t been happy since she had walked out of his life… again.

Just thinking about it angered him. Anger was better than sadness, Sidney thought as he tossed another rock into the blue water. Everyday he’d come out in his backyard and sit on the dock, just as Riley had done. He’d think things over, contemplate whether or not he should go back to Pittsburgh and find her.

But he knew that was wrong. Sidney knew deep down that he and Riley belonged together and that they would eventually come back together. He needed her. She was the love of his life. But he would let her do what she thought she needed to do. He’d let her find herself if she really needed to. Sidney wasn’t about to make a move that could mess everything up.

“Sid, it’s time to go.”

“I’ll be right there, Dad. Just give me a minute.”

Sidney and his family were going out to dinner, as they had for the past two weeks. They had made sure to stay away from the topic of his relationship. As a matter of fact, Try Crosby hadn’t spoken a word about Riley since she left.

Sidney stood and made his way back into his summer house. Somehow it felt empty to him now. Silly. He’d bought the house before they were together and it had felt fine to him. Come to think of it, Riley had only spent a few weeks in that house and now that she was gone if felt hollow.

“What’s wrong, sweetie?” Trina Crosby asked. Sidney knew that she missed Riley. She had always treated her like another daughter.

“Mom, do you really need to ask?”

“I don’t suppose I do, no.” She scrunched her face up in her ‘thinking expression’ and said, “I think you should invite some friends over. What about Jack? He always used to visit you. Call him up.”

He pondered over that for about a minute before responding. “That’s actually a good idea. I’ll do that when we get home from dinner.”

For the first time in two weeks Trina saw her son smile.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Chapter Forty-Four

Coasting Down Memory Lane;
Chapter Forty-Four

Riley Jacobs sat with her legs dangling over the edge of the deck, the water barely touching her toes. She’d come out here to try and reach some serenity. Her head had been pounding, her brain fuzzy for the past two days. Not to mentions she’d been in a sour mood since Troy Crosby had brought up the topic of her career.

At what was intended to be a fun family gathering, Troy had told Riley that he believed that she was only successful in her career as a broadcasting journalist because of the man whom she’d fallen deeply in love with, Sidney Crosby.

Sidney, being the captain of the city’s much loved hockey team, was always a topic in the media. The media, the field Riley had chosen to be employed in. In September she’d be working for a well-known news station and had had her doubts when offered a position at KDKA. At twenty-two – almost twenty-three – years of age, Riley was considered and known as one of the city’s top reporters. She was young and fresh, determined and competitive. She also had the looks and the skills to work TV.

But even with all of that she still questioned her sudden popularity in the city. Would she have made it this far if she wasn’t dating a hockey superstar? She didn’t know and never really thought about it – until someone who she was close with brought it up. Now, two days later, the question was still buzzing around in her brain.

Sidney had been careful around her. He was almost positive that his dad and Riley had gotten into an acrimonious dispute. He had come to this conclusion at their gathering when his dad had come back with an angry expression and Riley with a distant one. Not wanting to make things worse, Sidney had kept quiet about it.

But now he’d had enough. He and Riley had fought continually since then. He would try to be kind to her – he always was – but she would brush him off. When he’d comment about her attitude, she’s send him an acidic glare. Underneath it all, he was jealous. He was jealous because he knew that when she brushed him off she went and emailed Brett Sharpe. He didn’t like the fact that Riley, his own girlfriend, told Brett more than she told him. He couldn’t say anything, though, because every single time he did she rushed to Brett’s side, defending him immensely.

Riley felt safe with Brett. She felt as if she could tell him anything and know he wouldn’t judge her. He would only listen and give advice when he knew she needed it. She felt that she needed him. One of the first friends she had ever made in Pittsburgh was moving away. Kaylan Penton was moving to Berlin with her fiancĂ© that summer. They had promised to stay in touch but Riley could tell they were drifting.

After all, she’d done something similar five years ago, hadn’t she? She had left the place she had grown up in to move to Australia for four years to get an education. She had left Sidney all those years ago so she could start a life for herself.

Maybe that’s what she needed to do now; she needed to find herself. But she couldn’t just pick up her things and travel the world. No, she had her family and friends to think about now. She had a career now.

But what if it was based on a false talent? Did she really have a journalistic talent, or were people just tuning in to get a good look at Sidney Crosby’s girlfriend?

Just thinking about it had her blood boiling. She thought rancorously about the comments Troy had made, but still couldn’t put them out of her mind. No, she couldn’t put them away until she proved to him, to herself that they were untrue.

With her mind made up, Riley strolled into the house. She made it all the way upstairs without running into Sidney. Satisfied with her sneakiness, she blew out the breath she’d been holding as she walked into the master bedroom. She sucked it back in as a surprised gasp when she nearly ran head-on into Sidney.

“Where were you?” He studied her face and noticed that she had calmed down a bit.

“Outside, I needed a minute to think by myself.” She walked past him and to her closet.

“Rye,” he began. “We need to talk.”

Without turning to face him, she responded. “Yeah, we do.”

“Look, we’ve been arguing a lot since—” he broke off when she pulled out her suitcase. “What are you doing?”

“I’m packing up my things.” This time she turned to him. “Sid, when I was sitting outside I thought it all over. I need some space, some time to… find myself. I don’t want us to break up, and it pains me to say this, but I think it would be best if we did take a little break from our relationship.”

“No.” He crossed to her, held her. “No, I need you. Riley, no, you are everything to me.”

She ordered her voice not to quiver, for her heart not to break. “Sidney, I’m sorry but it’s for the best. I love you, you know that. And you know I hate this but I need it, we need it.”

While he stood there silently, she packed. She fought back the tears that threatened to spill over and ignored the burn in her throat that felt like an untamed fire. When her suitcase was full she turned to him.

“Should I call a cab?”

“No,” he said, swallowed hard. “I’ll drive you.”

“I’ll be in the car,” she said as she walked past him.

He couldn’t believe what was happening, didn’t want to believe it. He was letting the only girl he’d ever loved walk right out of his life without an explanation. He would get one, he’d damn well get one if it killed him.

He sat in the driver’s seat next to Riley who was picking at her nails. A sign of nervousness, he thought as he stuck the key in the ignition.

They rode in silence. The only things that they could hear were internally. The rapid beating of their hearts was drowned out by the sound of their hearts breaking.

“Why are you doing this, Rye?” Sidney asked as he pulled up in front of the airport.

“It’s just something I need to do.” She pulled her suitcase out of the back seat. “I need to find myself.”

“This is a mistake.” His voice broke.

“Then it’s one I need to make on my own. Goodbye, Sidney. I love you more than anything.” She kissed him once, lightly on the cheek.

“Take care of yourself,” he said as he watched her walk into the airport. And out of his life.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Chapter Forty-Three

Okay, so I am so, so, so sorry about the lack of updates lately. School is over in about four days - on Tuesday - and tomorrow we start our exams. Life has been crazy but it will calm down soon. Good news though, somehow I found a ton of inspiration for this story. I've already got the next ten, fifteen, chapter planned. And trust me, it will be good.

Anyway, I'm a little late on this, but hey, we still love to hear it. I was super excited that the Pens won the Stanley Cup. They deserved it. Oh, and I cried when Sidney lifted the Cup. I think it's love. =)

Coasting Down Memory Lane;
Chapter Forty-Three

The sun was out and shining which meant that most of the entertainment would be outside. Over the past three weeks they’d been at Sidney’s summer house, it had only rained three or four times which was staggering because usually out in the Maritimes it rained a lot.

Ben and Kim had arrived first, much to Riley’s delight. They had gawked over the house, easing the tension building in Riley’s neck considerably. The four of them talked on the front lawn for several minutes until Ben could no longer wait for a tour. Sensing some of his girlfriend’s uneasiness, Sidney sent Riley off with her brother and soon to be sister-in-law for a tour. As Riley led them into the house she cast one last glance Sidney’s way and her stomach clutched as she saw the Crosby’s car pull into the driveway.

She had given them a tour, trying to remember what all of the rooms were used for, and was making her way down the stairs when her Ben stopped her.

“Rye, what’s wrong?”

She was about to shrug it off as nothing but knew deep down that her brother could help her. He always had. “Ben,” she started. “I’ve got a little dilemma.”

He grabbed her arm and steered her into a room. “Go on,” he urged as he sat on a chair. Riley noticed that they were in the master bedroom.

“Okay.” She took a deep, relaxing breath. “So, you know Sid’s dad, Troy, right?” He nodded as she took a seat on the bed. “Well, normally we’re cool with each other but lately…” Riley trailed off as she walked away from the bed. She found that there were too many nerves bubbling in her stomach for her to sit patiently.

“Lately,” she continued. “He’s been cold and distant towards me and me only. Like, I don’t know if I did anything to upset him or something. Sid told me that he’d talk to him but that I’d have to face him and all.” She turned to stare hard out at the backyard. “I don’t know. I don’t know,” she repeated. “Maybe he just doesn’t like me.”

Ben stared at her for several long, gruelling moments. When she didn’t turn around he started to speak. He knew his sister too well to go and approach her when she was in this mood. “You think he doesn’t like you. Riley, I think you’re an idiot.”

She turned quickly, with an expression that could kill frozen on her face. “What?” The word came out quick and harsh. Her green eyes were turning a shade lighter. Her eyes always did that when she was angry. They’d go this light, insane green that could burn holes through the toughest of walls.

Ben smiled but kept his tone flat. “I said I think you’re an idiot.” Her eyes got lighter, her nostrils flared. “You’re an idiot, Rye, for thinking that he doesn’t like you. The Riley that I know would never think it, she’d go right up to them, look them straight in the eye, and demand why they were treating her the way they were. The Riley I know would never put up with anyone trying to belittle her.

“So, why have you let him?” Ben questioned as he watched the light shade her eyes had turned dim a bit.

Her expression had gone from seething to stupefy. She opened her mouth as if to speak, but closed it firmly. “I haven’t, have I? Goddamn it. He just caught me off guard, that’s all. I’ve still got my attitude. I’ve still got my spine, damn it.” She paced around the room, and Ben knew that he’d given her all the advice she’d need.

“Then now would be a good time to put it to use because I think they’re coming in here.” Her expression changed again. This time she looked slightly nervous and scared, but before Ben could say anything, she pulled herself together. She replaced a vulnerable expression with a determined one. “Go kick some ass, Rye.”

And as she strode out of the bedroom and down the stairs, he knew she would.

Sidney’s parents had arrived just as Riley had gone off with her brother and his fiancĂ©e to give them a tour. His dad had no real expression on his face but that wasn’t much of a surprise. His dad never did.

“Hey Sid,” Troy, his dad, said.

“Hi Dad, Mom, and Taylor,” Sidney said, hugging each of them.

“Hi honey,” his mom cooed. “Where’s Riley?”

Sidney watched out of the corner of his eye his dad tense up and look around. “She’s inside with Ben and Kim. She should be out soon.”

“Oh, why don’t we just go in? Taylor and I have something to tell her anyway.”

Great, Sidney thought, my mother and little sister love her, but my dad’s got something against her. So much for a simple summer…

Riley was in the kitchen getting a drink for herself when she heard the steady footsteps behind her halt. She froze as she heard someone clear their throat. She blanked her face as she turned around to face Troy Crosby.

“Would you like a drink?” Her voice was polite, her eyes were empty.

Troy merely grunted at her, watching her with his cool, calculating eyes. When he turned his back to her to walk off, Riley spoke up.

“You know, that’s no way to talk to someone.”

He turned around with a look of sheer amusement lighting up his face. “Does it bother you?”

“No, not really,” she answered nonchalantly. “I couldn’t care less if you like me or not.”

“Who said I didn’t like you?”

She thought about sitting but couldn’t. Her blood was boiling; she was ready for a fight. “Actions speak louder than words, Mr. Crosby.”

“I don’t recall demonstrating in any way that I didn’t care for you.” He went to the fridge to get a drink.

“Oh, shut up.” Riley slammed the fridge door closed before his hands could reach in. “You’ve been cold and distant from me for the past month. So here’s your chance, tell me what I did to upset you.”

Troy took a minute for himself so he could calm down. He wasn’t expecting her to react the way she had. It surprised him. “You should know very well why I treat you the way I do.”

“What?” She was angry. “What the hell does that mean?”

“It means that you’ve no real reason to question me on my actions, seeing as the answer should be quite evident to you.”

“I’ve said it before and goddamn it I’ll say it again, what the hell does that mean?” Riley could see red now. “And don’t get all grammatically correct on me; remember who the English major is here.”

“Riley, why are you here with Sid?”

“I’m on vacation with him,” she said. “Don’t try to change the subject.”

“I’m not. Why did you get a two month vacation?”

“I got one because I received a promotion. In September I’ll be working for KDKA instead of Sports Guide.” She finished off her drink. “Mr. Crosby, I fail to see what this has to do with anything.”

“It has everything to do with this particular topic. Haven’t you ever wondered why you received that promotion?”

She looked him dead in the eye, and responded. “They told me it was because I’m a good journalist and TV reporter.”

He lifted a brow. “And did you believe them?”

“Yeah,” she said at length. “Why wouldn’t I?”

“Did it ever occur to you that maybe you’re as far as you are in career not because of your talent, but because of who you’re dating?

“Think about it, Riley,” Troy continued. “Sidney is a very important person in Pittsburgh – which just so happens to be the city in which you work.”

He walked out of the kitchen, leaving Riley sitting there with an expression of complete shock.

When she heard the door close, she dropped her head in her hands.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Chapter Forty-Two

Coasting Down Memory Lane;
Chapter Forty-Two

“Morning, baby,” Sidney said as he kissed Riley on her forehead. He’d just stepped in the door, and much to Riley’s delight, held two cups of coffee and a little bag from Tim Hortons.

“No freaking way. There’s a Tim Hortons here?” She took the coffee that he offered her. “Did I ever tell you that I love you?”

“Once or twice,” he said with a smile. “I know how much you love your Timmies; as do I, so I figured that since we’re only here for the summer, why not indulge a little?”

“Yup,” she said, paused, took a bite of the doughnut he offered, “you are definitely the one for me.”

He laughed as they sat down in the den area. “I suppose that’s always good to know.”

“Of course it is. I just thought that I’d let you know.”

He shook his head at his girlfriend who he was so hopelessly in love with. “Oh, we’re having lunch with my parents at noon today.” He watched her stop mid-bite and tried to cover up the grin on his lips. “I just thought I’d let you know.”

“Sid, now I don’t mean to be rude or anything, but we’ve had lunch or dinner with your family for the past three weeks. Can’t we have a little time together, you know, just the two of us?” She watched confusion spread over his face just to have it replaced quickly with a loving expression.

“Yeah, of course we can. It’s just my parents barely ever see me throughout the season so when I’m home we try to spend as much time as possible together. But I can tell them we have other plans tonight, if you’d like.”

She felt bad – guilty. They spent a ton of time together over the past three weeks they’d been in Nova Scotia; Riley just didn’t want to have to face Troy again. She had called herself a coward when she had thought about avoiding Sidney’s dad. “Well… it’s just that we’re going to spend tomorrow with them because it’s Canada Day and all, so why can’t we just have today for ourselves, you know?”

“Of course, love. I’ll just tell them that we’re busy.” He picked up the phone and dialled his parents’ number. He spoke to her while he waited for them to pick up. “What did you want to do today? We could just stay here if you’d—Oh, hey, Dad.”

Riley pretended to pick at her nails while she listened to Sidney talk with his dad over the phone. She’d have to face him sooner or later. She chose later. Well, later would actually be the next day because everyone – including Riley’s brother and soon-to-be sister-in-law – was coming over to Sidney’s house for Canada Day. Again, she invited them for moral support if things got heated or awkward between her and Troy.

“They’re kind of bummed, but they understand,” Sidney said, startling Riley. “You ok?” He looked concerned and that made her feel even guiltier. He was perfect, she thought. He understood everything about her, and sometimes, she admitted, it was annoying but she loved every minute of it.

“Yeah, I’m fine,” she said quickly, too quickly.

“Don’t lie to me, Rye. What’s wrong?”

She thought about making something up but there was a look in his eye that told her to come out with the truth. She swallowed hard before speaking. “Okay. It’s just… it’s…”

“Riley,” he snapped. “Tell me.”

“Okay, okay. What’s up with your dad?”

“What are you talking about?” He put his hands on her shoulders and turned her to face him.

“Normally we get along great, but ever since we got here he’s been distant and cold towards me. Did I do something to offend him?”

“This is been bothering you for the past few weeks?” At her confused look he smiled. “Hun, I can tell when something big is on your mind. You’ve been careful about not showing it but I can see it in your eyes.” He grabbed a hold of her hands and held them tightly in his. She felt safe with him, so she opened up.

“Yes, that’s what’s been bothering me. Normally, he’s all like ‘Oh hey, Rye, how’s it going?’ Where now he just stares at me, and it’s kind of creepy,” she said and pinched the bridge of her nose to relieve some of the pressure that was building in her head.

“I’ll talk to him about it, but I really think that you should. Straighten it out with him.” He kissed her lightly on the lips.

The next day Riley was sitting in the den checking her emails before everyone was set to come over. She had one from Ben confirming that they were on their way to Nova Scotia, one from her mom just asking how everything was, and one from Brett. She had told him about the whole Troy issue and he wrote back some advice for her.

Oh, Riley,

I guess everything isn't all smooth sailing out there. I understand completely how you feel and what you’re going through – I’ve dealt with something similar to that in some of my past relationships. All I can tell you is that you have to talk to him. Approach him and say, “Okay, Mr. C, what’s your deal? You don’t like me? Too bad, because I don’t really give a rat’s caboose; I love your son and that is not going to change any time soon.”

You see where I’m going with this, Rye? You need to toughen up, girl. I know you are the whole goody-goody kind of girl but, come on, speak up. From what you’ve told me, he wants you to be intimidated by him, that’s why he’s acting that was he is right now. If you’d only stand up to him and show him that you are not going to put up with any of this, then maybe he’d have a little more respect for you.

But I don’t think that he doesn’t like you. What’s not to like? You’re a smart, independent girl who’s got her head on straight. If he didn’t like you he’d come out and say it. Think about it, would a father that protective of his son really let him date a girl who was no good? No. I think he just doesn’t understand you, and maybe, just maybe, he’s a little intimidated by you.

Yes, he knows you from before, but, Hun, people change. He still may only know you as the girl Sidney dated when he was sixteen. You’re not seventeen anymore, you’re a grown woman who is quite capable of taking control of a situation when things aren’t going the right way. He also knows that you’re capable of breaking his son. Face it; Sidney is so ridiculously in love with you that you’ve become his everything. I’ve seen it in his eyes and the way he is around you. He needs you, and maybe Troy fears that if you were to leave Sidney for some strange reason, his son may fall apart.

So, all in all, just go talk to him. You need to know how he feels and he needs to know how you feel.

Let me know how everything goes.


Taking a deep breath, Riley closed her laptop and made her way out to the front lawn to join Sidney in welcoming everyone. She was finally going to stand up to Troy.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Chapter Forty-One

Coasting Down Memory Lane;
Chapter Forty-One

“Riley,” Taylor began, “you totally have to hang out with us this summer. You know, do all the girly things.”

They were making lunch in the kitchen as Sidney and Troy were outside talking by the water. Trina had insisted on the meal being healthy, so they were preparing a salad. “You know I’d never miss out on the girly things. I’m sure there is a spa around here somewhere, right?” She looked at Trina.

“I’m sure there is,” Trina replied with a smile. “We’ll set a time then the three of us can go.”

“And get the full treatment, too.” Taylor added.

“Well, of course.” Riley chopped up some green pepper and looked over at Sidney’s mom and sister. Taylor was adding some tomato cubes as Trina was working on the chicken strips. “So, what have you guys been up to all year?”

“School and hockey,” Taylor said quickly.

“And how’s that going?”

“Good. I got all eighties this year in school and got seven shutouts this season.”

“Nice. You’ll give Sid a run for his money in hockey.” Riley smiled at Taylor. She loved Sidney’s little sister. “How about you, Trina, how’s everything?”

“Everything was crazy but it’s calmed down considerably. Trying to get Tay from school to hockey most nights was a little hectic. Plus, we would try to catch as many Penguins games as possible.” Trina looked out the window towards her husband and son. “It was kind of hard because Troy is always in Pittsburgh or traveling with the team, so I was usually doing it myself. But now everyone is home.”

Riley kept the smile on her face even though she felt some sympathy for Trina; her husband was leaving her alone with one of their children while he followed their other. “Well, I’m glad that you’ll get a break. Sid is so happy to be home even though he’ll tell you that it’s sooner than he wanted.”

Trina shifted her gaze from Troy and Sidney to Riley, and smiled. “Riley, you are perfect. Sidney is so lucky to have you. We’re lucky to have you.”

Stunned that the conversation had taken a different route, Riley was silent for a few seconds. “Thank you. Really, I’m the lucky one. I love your family.” She was going to ask about the look Troy gave her but decided against it. Maybe he was caught off guard that she had come along with Sidney.

Troy and Sidney walked into the kitchen laughing. Sidney came and stood next to Riley and kissed her forehead. Troy kept his distance. Riley saw the distant look he gave her when she glanced at him and made sure to reduce the amount of glances she’d throw his way.

“Lunch is ready,” Trina announced.

They sat at the kitchen table and make polite conversation. Riley was quiet for most of trying to figure out what was up with Troy. Had she done something to offend him? Impossible, she hadn’t seen him in months.

Everyone else seemed fine with Riley, so why wouldn’t Troy be? He’d always liked her. He had always shown nothing but kindness and affection for her. Well, there was that time in September when she and Sidney had reunited without either of them knowing, Troy had been unkind and distant then. But they’d made up, hadn’t they?

“Riley?” Sidney said it in a loving tone with just a hint of impatience and confusion bubbling underneath. “My mom asked you a question.”

“Hmm? Oh, sorry!” Riley pushed the thoughts and questions aside and focused on Sidney’s mother. “Could you repeat the question? I kind of zoned out.”

“It’s all right. I asked how your parents were, and your siblings.”

“Right. My parents are fine, so are my siblings. I haven’t heard much from Storm and Keaton lately but I’m assuming that they’re fine.”

“You should invite them over sometime.” This time Troy spoke.

Shocked, Riley turned to face him. “Oh, I wouldn’t want to impose.”

“Riley, your family is welcome. We should’ve brought Ben with us.” Sidney said as he squeezed his girlfriend’s hand.

“I’m sure they’ve got plans of their own this summer. Enough, anyway, to keep them busy.”

There was a bit of a silence after that until Taylor decided to break it.

“We should go swimming,” she said and looked directly at Riley.

“That sounds like fun. But you have to wait at least half an hour until you get in the water after eating,” Trina said in such a motherly tone that Riley smiled.

“Did you bring a suit?” Sidney asked his little sister.

“No.” A frown formed on Taylor’s face.

“That’s all right; I probably have something that’ll fit you. You’re about my size,” Riley added as she scanned Taylor.

Sidney shot Riley a look that said ‘It better be appropriate’ she smiled at him.

Taylor and Riley headed upstairs into the master bedroom where Riley had all of her clothes. They talked on the way up and laughed when Riley had to stop a moment to think about which way she was supposed to turn once up the stairs.

“Alright, so what type do you want to wear?” Riley opened her suitcase and turned to Taylor. “One-piece, bikini, covers a lot, or doesn’t cover a lot?”


“Now, I’m supposed to make sure that it’s an appropriate choice, but really, does it matter? I mean, it’s not like there are dozens of guys here. There are two: your dad and your brother. Mind you,” she said with some thought, “do you really want to look slutty in front of your dad? No. So we’ll go with conservative.

“I think I found a good one for you,” Riley continued as she pulled out a bikini that was orange and pink. She thought it was one of her more conservative bathing suits. “Do you like it?”

Taylor examined it, and smiled. “I love it.” She took it out of Riley’s hands then looked at her. “Which one are you going to wear?”

“See, I thought about that before I left Pittsburgh. I made sure to pack some things that weren’t so… revealing. Not that I have things that, you know, are it’s just when you go on vacation with your boyfriend and you know that there is going to be water and swimming…” she trailed off as Taylor’s expression got more and more amused.

“Go on,” Taylor urged.

“Shut up.” Riley laughed. “Anyway, my point is that I packed parentally-acceptable things. Ah, I found one that I guess is fine.” She held up a two pieced, army green bathing suit.

They changed and critiqued each other. After deciding that they looked fine, both Riley and Taylor made their way downstairs. It was empty so they looked out the door and saw Trina, Sidney, and Troy all sitting outside in the backyard. Sidney was in his bathing suit as well. Trina and Troy had opted to not swim that day.

“I’ll race you,” was all Riley heard Taylor say before she shot out the door.

“Oh, it’s on.” Riley mumbled and raced after her.