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Always Say I Love You (A Buzby Beach Novella) Part 05


DW is a veteran, a father, a husband, and a teacher. He's published 9 YA/NA novels thus far. The story you're reading might be next.


Quentin apologizes, sort of

Quentin took a deep breath and said to Mari, "Is that how we made you feel?"

Mari tilted her head and shrugged one shoulder. "Well, yeah, you made me feel like you thought we aren't good enough to hang out with you. You acted like you and your friends were better than us just because you play a sport."

Quentin looked at Hobart and shook his head. "She's right. We've been real jerks. What's so special about being able to play football if I fail Trig."

"Or Physics," Hobart added, looking down at his feet. "I barely kept a C average in Chemistry last semester."

"Y'all are brains," Quentin said with a hopeful look at Mari. "Maybe you could help us out, tutor us, or something?"

Will snorted. "Why would we want to do that?"

Mari cut him a sharp look. "Because it's the right thing to do." She turned and smiled at Quentin. "We'll work something out after school starts."

Hobart looked at Will and then Mari. "Thanks. Really. We appreciate it."

"And we've got to get to work," Will said as he began to fidget. "Let's go, Mari."


So, now you're a ninja

After Mari climbed into Will's truck and closed her door, she pointedly asked Will, "Why did you have to show off like some kind of ninja warrior? Do you think it impressed me?"

Will swung his head to face her as though he'd been slapped. "Quentin put his hands on me first!"

"He gave you a playful shove," Mari countered.

"There was nothing 'playful' about it," Will insisted. "It was his way of telling me I was nothing, no threat to him. I proved him wrong."

"Was proving him wrong so important?" Mari asked as Will started the truck and backed out of his parking space.

Will regarded her with narrow eyes. "Do you want to spend our senior year putting up with those brainless muscle heads treating us like crap? I don't. Now, maybe, they'll find someone else to pick on."

"Someone younger and more helpless than me and you?" Mari shot back. "Some sophomore or freshman who can't take it like we did?"

"I'm not helpless," Will insisted. "I think I just showed I'm not."

"I didn't mean you were helpless, Will," Mari said. "What I meant was..."

"It's what you said," Will reminded her. "You said 'more helpless than me and you,' meaning you think I'm helpless."

"You're twisting my words," Mari countered. "You and me, Mark and Angela, we can take it when the jocks taunt and laugh. We know they only do it because they're insecure underneath. All they can do is play a stupid sport. Not everyone they pick on knows this."

They reached the end of Bridge Street, and Will turned the truck right onto Ocean Street. Mari waited for him to say something more, but Will adopted a stubborn silence.

Finally, Mari said, "Look, Will, I'm sorry if I didn't say it right. You're not helpless. I know you're not. I just don't think you had to get violent with Quentin and Hob like you did. You overreacted, and I think you know that."

Will pulled the truck into the employee lot behind The Trident.

"We better hurry, or we're going to wind up clocking in late," he said as he turned off the motor and opened his door.

Mari expected him to wait for her so they could go in together, but by the time she reached the tailgate, Will was already at the back door to the restaurant.

If that's how he wants to play it, fine, let him stew for a while, Mari thought to herself. He'll come around. He always does.

Will hadn't 'come around' by the time they went on break. He barely said two words to Mari while they drank their sweet tea and took a breather on the back patio. Mari didn't push him. She knew pushing Will would only cause him to pull farther away.

When their shift was over, and Will was still giving her the silent treatment, Mari decided to speak up.

"Will, how long are you going to pout about this morning?" she asked in a teasing voice once they were seated in his truck.

Will grasped the steering wheel and said through gritted teeth, "So, now not only am I a helpless weakling, but I'm a pouting helpless weakling."

"Oh, come on, Will," Mari retorted. "Geez, I was just teasing you. You've been giving me the silent treatment all day. Don't you think it's gone on long enough?"

Will turned and looked her in the eye. "Okay. It's gone on long enough. I'll go ahead and talk to you. You know what I want to talk about. I want to talk about why you took Quentin's and Hob's side against me this morning. They were harassing you and shoved me, and you made me out to be the bad guy because I stopped them. I don't understand why you sided with them against me."

Mari's jaw dropped, and her eyes flew open wide. She couldn't believe Will saw the morning events in the way he described.

Will, taking her silence to mean Mari had nothing to say, started the truck and pulled out of the parking lot. Mari did have something to say, and when she found her voice, she said it.

"Sure, those two were being jerks, but you didn't need to fight them over it," Mari finally said when she found her voice. "Them and their buddies have done stuff like that before, and you didn't go all ninja on them. You could have really hurt them, Will."

Do you like Quentin?

Will hit the brakes a tad too hard when he slowed for the left turn onto Bridge Street. "If I'd wanted to hurt them badly, I would have. I just wanted to teach them a lesson. I wanted them to understand I'm not a helpless coward, and I wanted them to learn that if they keep messing with you and me, it would cost 'em."

"I hope you don't think this sudden tough guy act impresses me, Will," Mari said. "I always knew you could handle those guys if you had to. My dad taught us both, remember. I could have stopped Quentin if he'd actually tried to put his hands on me. But he didn't, so I didn't have to. Quentin might be a bully sometimes, and he may have the most ham-fisted style of flirting I've ever seen, but that's all it was, and I was just going to ignore it like I always do."

"So, if he'd put a hand on you, you would have taught him never to do it again, but I'm supposed to turn the other cheek when he puts his hands on me?"

Mari gnawed at her lip and looked out the window as they crossed the drawbridge back to the mainland.

"I guess I see your point Will," Mari conceded. "You took me by surprise, is all. I've never seen you react like you did this morning. Quentin's dumb act must have been the last straw for you. I suppose I can't blame you."

"Thanks for that," Will said. He stopped his truck in front of her house but kept the engine running. "My dad's waiting for me to go fishing with him."

Mari waited for Will to lean towards her for a kiss. He just kept staring out the windshield towards his house. She shrugged and opened the door.

"Call me when you get home, okay," she said.

"Yeah, maybe, if we're not too late," Will replied.

Mari climbed from the truck. "I don't care how late it is, call me, promise."

Will turned to look at her. "Tell me one thing."

"What?" Mari asked.

"Do you like Quentin?"

Mari didn't think Will could shock her more than he had when he accused her of siding against him. She'd been wrong.

"Your question doesn't deserve an answer," she said and slammed the truck door closed.

Will and Mari's story continues in Part 6

© 2020 DW Davis


DW Davis (author) from Eastern NC on December 30, 2020:

Thank you.

Happy New Year to you, too!

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on December 30, 2020:

You are a writing machine, and a good one! Happy New Year to you!

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