Authors: Teal Wingate
Great, thought Sunny. I’m going to be riding the bus to her studio. Teaching little babies how to tap their toes to a rhythm. For ten dollars a week. The word ‘no’ was formed on her lips. But before she could get it out, Maude Evelyn interrupted her.
“You need to do this, dear. For yourself. You need something other than this restaurant. You need a creative outlet.”
“My life is very full. I have Billy, and,”
“Your life is a wasteland. You are a twenty year old spinster, Sumner. You are fruit drying on the vine of life. Hardly a desired fate, as I can attest to from personal experience.”
“I don’t have time to date,” Sunny mumbled. This had to be the strangest conversation she’d ever had with anyone. Nobody said
“I’m not talking about dating,” the old lady said with a primness that belied what she uttered next. “I’m speaking of life experiences. I assume you’ve had none?”
There was no way Sunny was going to sit here in the middle of Sea Glass Café and discuss her personal life. No way.
“She’s still a virgin, if that’s what you want to know,” Trinity commented as she slid into the chair next to Sunny.
“You don’t know that,” Sunny protested. It was true. But she didn’t want the fact broadcast to the general public. People would think something was wrong with her.
Trinity grinned. She shook her shaggy head. The blue streak fell over her eyebrow piercing. “Aw, come on Sunny. You don’t need to be embarrassed. You should feel special and unique, like a magical unicorn or an extinct dinosaur.”
“Of course, she’s a maiden. She’s not married,” Maude Evelyn said. She cast a stern eye on the pierced girl across the table. “I don’t know why you young people believe everything in the world revolves around the act of procreation. Not that there’s anything wrong with it. It’s necessary. And it can be quite pleasurable if engaged in with the right person. But I was speaking of creative passions, not carnal ones. Sumner is teetering on a precipice. If she doesn’t take action now, she’ll lose herself.”
“I don’t have time to talk about this,” Sunny said. She started to get up and leave.
“See,” Trinity said. “I told you she was a virgin. She’s getting all huffy.”
“Burger’s up!” Harry bellowed from the kitchen pass-through.
“Ha-burger!” Billy squealed.
“Sunny, you’ve never…?” Trey asked in disbelief from the open door. He stood there in his smart brown uniform with his mouth hanging wide open.
“Oh good, the County Mountie is here. Everybody hide your drugs and illegal firearms,” Trinity drawled.
“Shut up, Three,” he shot back at her.
“Don’t call me that. You know I hate it.”
“Yeah, that’s why I do it. Sunny, the Sheriffs’ Wives Association wants to hold another fish fry to help with the medical bills.”
“Children, please…” Maude Evelyn raised her patrician voice.
“I’ve got to go,” Sunny said, making her escape.
She was out the door and down the steps before any of them could stop her. She just needed a little space. That’s what she told herself. Just a little space and some quiet. She strolled down to the water’s edge and looked across the Pass. In the distance Sea Glass Towers dominated the skyline. The sun sparkled pale blue, green, and pink off its polished façade. The signature colors of the complex were lovely.
He’d been there for the grand opening, last year. JD McIntyre had reigned supreme over the whole of the newly incarnated Sea Glass Point. His picture, shaking the hand of every local politician and numerous imported celebrities, had been plastered all over the newspaper. She still had one of the clippings in her underwear drawer.
He’d been just as devastating in a bespoke business suit as he’d been in nothing but ragged jeans. His smile in the photo was just as enigmatic. His shoulders just as broad. His hips just as lean. The very sight of him had made her breath quicken, her face flush. And her dreams… well they had taken on a newer, darker intensity. She hadn’t known it was possible to reach fulfillment in your sleep. Now she did.
But the worst part, the very worst part, was that he hadn’t made the slightest effort to contact her. He was right there in town. Not two miles away. And he hadn’t even been remotely curious about Willie. Curious about why Sunny had called him so frantic on that midnight two years ago. That was the hardest thing to forgive.
She could overlook his treatment of her out on the beach that night. She could understand his making her the butt of a cruel joke to his fiancée. But she would never, never fathom the reasons he’d turned his back on his own sister when she needed him most.
His business card burned in her pocket. Sunny always kept it with her. She didn’t know why. But she did. She felt its presence now as if it was alive. It taunted her.
She plucked it out. She traced the darkened edges that had once been a shiny gold. Her finger rubbed over his name.
. Her conscience was ragging her hard today. Some days were like that. Some days she wondered if she was any better than he was.
She hadn’t spoken to her mother in two years, if you didn’t count Christmas cards. And she hadn’t cared, one way or the other, if Lee was dead or alive. She dreaded the day he’d show up wanting money or his half of the house and café. Part of her hoped he stayed away permanently. She’d been notified when her father was killed in a prison fight. She hadn’t attended his funeral out west because there was no money for a plane ticket. Was she a bad person?
She looked down at the card in her hand. It wasn’t as perfect as it’d been the night she’d found it under Willie’s pillow. She’d handled it far too many times for it to be nice and clean. But the name and the phone number still mocked her. She looked at her watch. It was just before lunch. Surely, if she called him again, if she gave him one more chance, he’d not be too busy to speak to her. Hopefully he wouldn’t be in bed with the viper in the middle of the day. Sunny shuddered. She didn’t think she was up to another conversation with the woman. She wasn’t real sure she was up to talking to JD. But if she kept it on a strictly professional level, maybe she’d get through it. And just hearing his voice would be… wonderful.
She took her cheapie, pay-as-you-go, cell phone from her pocket. She hit the power button, waited for the little bars to show up, and began dialing. She didn’t need the business card. She’d looked at that thing so many times, she knew the number by heart.
Helene McIntyre frowned when the tiny little jewel of a cell phone began its musical chiming. She hated the thing. But JD insisted she keep the expensive toy with her at all times. Even here, by the pool. There’d been a kidnap attempt on one of his CEO’s daughters last year. He was taking no chances.
On the fourth round of chimes, Helene picked up her sweating wine glass along with the phone. Taking a sip of what Wine Spectator called the
Best Chardonnay of the Year
before she answered, she drawled, “This better be important. You’re interrupting a very important meeting.”
“I’m sorry. But I was wondering if I could speak to Mr. McIntyre,” Sunny voice faltered.
“Which Mr. McIntyre?” Helene asked just to be difficult.
“Mr. JD McIntyre.”
“This is about a paternity suit, isn’t it?”
“No, of course not.” Sunny was aghast. What kind of question was that? “Are you Mr. McIntyre’s assistant?”
you,” the woman in the designer swimsuit hissed. She sat straight up in her custom redwood lounge chair. She flicked a drop of condensation that had dripped from the wine glass onto her brown toned thigh.
“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to be offensive. I just need to speak with Mr. McIntyre.”
“Listen, you little tramp. I’m Helene McIntyre, JD’s mother. I don’t take calls from his bimbos. If you think you can bring a paternity suit against him, go for it. But you ought to know the first step will be establishing if there’s even a remote possibility he’s the father of your bastard. You can stop by the McIntyre building in downtown Dallas. The receptionist keeps the paternity kits there. Just tell her who you are and what you need. She’ll give you one. Have the brat spit in the little tube and mail it. The address and postage are already on the envelope. But if I were you, I wouldn’t waste my time. A kid is the last thing JD wants. And, for your information, I made sure my boys knew all about protection before they sprouted facial hair.”
“But… but…,” Sunny stuttered. “It’s about Willow.”
“You can tell Willow that until she comes to her senses and leaves that wetback she’s been shacking up with, I don’t want to hear from her. Don’t call this number again.” Helene threw the phone into the pool. It hit with an impressive splash and sank to the river-rock bottom. Satisfied, Helene drank the rest of her wine in one long thirsty gulp. When she was done, she screeched, “Consuelo! Get out here! I need more wine!”
Sea Glass Point
Sunny stared in disbelief at her cell phone. How could anybody be so rude to another person? She could see now why Willie wanted nothing to do with her mother. Helene McIntyre was a nightmare. And really,
? Sunny sniffed and rolled her eyes. She tucked her phone back in her pocket. She retrieved the business card. She was tempted to rip the thing into tiny, tiny bits. She could open her hand and let them be carried by the ocean breeze into the steel-blue waters of the Pass. But then she realized the business card was all she had left of JD. She didn’t question her motives too closely when she slid it back into her pocket.
Even though she was keeping the card. She made a solemn vow to herself, she’d put it away somewhere. She was never, never going to try and contact JD again. She was done.
She turned to see Trey walking towards her. She smiled at him.
“You’re not mad at me, are you?” he asked.
“Well, I do wish you’d quit taking cheap shots at Trinity.”
“Not about that. About the… you know… the stupid comment I made back there.” He looked a little sheepish.
“About me being a virgin?”
“Yeah, I was just surprised. You know.” His boy-next-door face turned a deep embarrassed red.
“No. I don’t. Why don’t you explain it to me,” she answered him.
Sunny had a sinking feeling he was going to make some kind of snide comment about helping her with her pesky little
. Or at the least question her lack of experience. So his next words floored her.
“It’s just that you’re so beautiful. I was sure some guy had claimed you and sweet-talked you out of your panties by now.”
“You think I’m pretty?” She couldn’t believe it. Maybe he needed contacts.
“Come on Sunny,” he said as if she was putting him on. “Everybody around knows you’re the best thing that’s ever happened to Sea Glass Point.”
“Oh, you mean I’m a hard worker.” Now
she could believe. Her mother had drilled hard work as a means of gaining approval into her from an early age. Just like her father had told her every day of her life that she was an ugly, unwanted mutt.
Trey came closer. He reached out a hand to her. He frowned when she took a step backwards.
“No, I’m not talking about hard work. Although you’ve just about reinvented everything you’ve touched. Everything you’re involved with is better because of you. I mean, just take the medical bills as one example. How have you managed to just about pay those things off? What do you owe now? Ten thousand?”
She shook her head. “Fifty, but I’m getting that whittled down.”
“See, that’s what I’m talking about Sunny. You’re almost a freaking force of nature.” The blue in his eyes deepened. He stepped closer once again.
The girl bit her lower lip nervously. She planted a hand in the center of his chest. She gently pushed him away.
Trey shook his head. “I know you’re a hard worker. Everybody does. But do you even realize you’re drop dead gorgeous too? And I’ve got to tell you, I’m really tired of you backing off any time I get too close. What did he do to you?”
“Who?” Sunny whispered.
“The man who made you so afraid. I’d like to pound him into the ground for scaring you like this.”
“I’m not… scared.”
“Sunny, you won’t even let me kiss you. Of course you’re frightened. What did he do? Hurt you?”
“There was no man. I don’t want to talk about this.”
“Did he try to rape you?”
“No.” Her head shot up. “Of course not.”
“Then was he rough with you? Did he make you do something you didn’t want to do?”
“There was no man.”
“Quit lying. At least to yourself. You know I’d never hurt you. But I’d like to show you how good it can be, between a man and a woman.”
She nodded. “I know that. I do. I just don’t have those kinds of feelings.”
“Just not for me or not for anybody?”
Sunny didn’t answer him. She stared off at the water. After a few moments she began to speak, “There was a man. A long time ago. He made me feel things, crazy wonderful things. But he wasn’t who I thought he was. And he didn’t want me like I wanted him. He just used me. And then he made a joke out of what we’d done together. How I’d responded to him. And now… now… I just don’t think I could live through something like that again, Trey. I really don’t. You’re right, he hurt me. But not physically. He took something that should have been almost holy and he made it ugly. I still feel dirty. I don’t know if I’ll ever feel clean. And I’m too much of a coward to try and find out. So you need to move on.”