Anyone who says sunshine brings happiness has never danced in the rain.
Stepping out onto the patio of his childhood home, nervous, feeling like he was about to have the most important conversation of his life, Ewan walked up to the young woman standing there overlooking the cloudy Bay as darkness was falling.
Ewan’s father and brother had not wasted a minute after finding him, and taken Ava and Ewan home with them to Brindleton Bay.
“Always loved that view.” he started out.
“Yeah, very pretty.” she responded without turning to him, but looked up at him when he arrived next to her.
“Thanks for coming here with me. And thanks for not making a scene and saying all you probably wanted to say to me.”
“Your dad and brother were so happy to see you. Same goes for the rest of your family. Really good people. Didn’t seem right to burst their bubble about what kinda prick you really are.” Ava told him.
“OK, so here it comes …”
“No. I met you at a diner in the middle of nowhere, passing through. My own fault for believing a single word you said. In the end, it doesn’t really matter, I guess.”
“So you are not mad at me?”
“Mad? I think you are an asshole, Kevin or Ewan or whatever your name really is.”
“But you forgive me?”
“Why does it matter?”
“Then why did you come with us?”
“The truth? I was curious. I mean, not every day that some famous actor invites a girl like me to their childhood home. And you have seen that godforsaken town we were stranded in, with no way for me to get home. Would you have stayed when someone offered you a quick exit?” she told him plainly, making Ewan cringe on the inside about so much truth.
“Do you like it here?” he asked diplomatically.
“What’s not to like? Huge luxurious mansion atop some cliff with the most insanely pretty views I have ever seen.”
“Having money sometimes isn’t so bad, I guess.”
“Take your word for it. You witnessed the height of my wealth in the motel room.”
Ewan thought back to that day they were robbed leaving them desolate, then her handing him her perceived ‘wealth’ made by working on someone’s car, 100 bucks rolled up and stuffed into her bra, before sharing the food with him she seemed to like so much. A fuzzy warmth washed over him.
“What can I do for you to forgive my little white lies, Ava?” he asked, realizing it was incredibly important to him that she did.
“Is there more of that cake we had after dinner? I forgot what your mom called it, but that’ll definitely get the scale tipped in your favor.” a faint smile turned the corners of her lips upward.
“I can get your forgiveness with tiramisu? I’ll buy up an Italian bakery if that is all it takes.”
“What good does being mad at you do me?”
“Uh – not sure how to respond to that. So you are not mad then? I am confused.”
“Makes two of us. I am confused about why you lied at all. I get the part where you don’t want to be recognized, but I even told you right at the beginning that I didn’t own a TV or a computer. So why you still lied is beyond me. You could have given me your ID and it would not have changed a thing.”
“You really never heard of me?” Ewan sounded doubtful.
“Nope. So what kind of roles do you play?”
“I’ve pretty much done everything by now. Anything from chick flicks, rom-com, over action to thriller, even a TV series that’s still running. Uh – would you by any chance like to see one of my movies?”
“You got one here?”
“You kidding?! My parents have every single one I was ever in, even the early stuff and that wasn’t so great. Come on, living room is right inside.”
“Are we allowed to have that tiramisu in the living room?”
“You bet!” Ewan chuckled at the way she looked and sounded like a child sometimes.
“All right, let’s see what all the fuss is about.” she grinned at him.
They went into the living room, Ewan selected one of his personal favorite movies he ever starred in, with a storyline that had him the unlikely hero and spanned pratically everything from romance, lots of action scenes with intense special effects and a bit of a thriller, secretly hoping to impress her with at least some of that mix not knowing what kind of movies she was into.
As soon as the opening credits rolled Ava was glued to the screen, downing three entire pieces of tiramisu while Ewan basically just watched Ava eat and go through a range of emotions during the movie, living through the plight and joys of the protagonists with them.
When the end credits rolled he asked her.
“What did you think?”
“I liked it.”
“Just liked it?”
“What do you want me to say? I am not a movie critic and I am too stuffed for standing ovations. I’d buy that shit – if I had money and a TV. Feel better?”
He laughed, she got up off the couch, he followed.
“How close am I to being forgiven?”
“Getting warmer. Actually, you’re almost there. Keep trying.” there was that smirk again, that lit up her light green eyes and made them look like clear glass art.
“Good, I have another whammy I want to drop on you. Evidently my cousin Hannah is getting married in two days. Well, actually, she already did, they eloped while I was gone, which went over like a lead duck in high waters with her conservative parents, so we’re having a small make up wedding celebration this Saturday. I could use a date, because I have to go or Hannah will skin me alive.”
“Wow, sounds like you’ll be calling a few numbers in that little black book of yours. Fingers crossed someone’s available on such short notice.”
“Funny. You know what I am trying to ask you. Will you be my date, Ava?”
“No!?” Ewan’s heart sank into his shoes.
“No.” she confirmed.
“Why not?” he asked shocked.
“May I remind you that they stole my backpack with my clothes in it. Unless you think your cousin doesn’t mind me wearing something of yours or streaking, it will be a no from me. Sorry.”
“That’s all? We can get you a dress if you don’t want to borrow something from my mom or sister.” Ewan’s head was spinning at her odd priorities and the disaster averted.
“No, they don’t know me and I don’t know them, I cannot just borrow their clothes. I have 30 bucks to blow on clothing, since after all that tiramisu I just ate I think I will never eat again. Doubt you know any stores in that price range though.”
“I’ll buy you the damn dress anywhere you like. After all you are doing me a favor by going. I hate weddings.”
“I don’t take charity – if you want me in a dress, I will provide it. But why do you hate weddings?”
“Why I hate weddings? They are not fun for a dude. All men hate weddings.”
“Hmm, where I come from, the boys love weddings, but I guess they are different from how you celebrate. We got lots of good food, free booze, games, dancing – everybody goes crazy and has fun. The boys love it as much as the girls.”
“Yeah, it’s different. Do you miss home? When is the last time you have seen your family?”
“Well … you know that story I told you about running away from home at 13? It was a half-lie. I did, but I went back home after two days. I was born and raised in that town where the diner is, and I was actually still living at home when I got in the car with you. Yeah … But we really don’t have a TV, computer or a cell phone. Some dad-quirk has to do with my mom, long story, we all just respect it. Too expensive anyway, as you probably figured out by now, I am not a wealthy heiress. So that wasn’t a lie.”
“Aha, looks like I wasn’t the only one bending the truth, huh? Funny how that goes. Well, do you want to call your folks to tell them you’re okay?”
“Call them without a phone? I called the diner from the road, my uncle Jim will let them know. I am actually pretty close with my family too. The rest was true though, I swear.”
“Why did you lie?” Ewan wondered.
“Funny coming from you. And are you kidding? I had just gotten in the car with a guy I didn’t know the first thing about. Best you thought I was some rebel whackjob. Just in case.”
“Mission accomplished, especially when you started taking your clothes off in my backseat. Apparently you weren’t too afraid to do that?! But why did you go with me? Been wondering this the entire time, especially if you really didn’t know who I was.”
“Since we both realized lies aren’t worth it, here goes the truth: You’re cute. There is a shortage of cute boys where I am from and you told me you were single. It’s a small town, nobody ever leaves, few outsiders go there and like it at all, let alone enough to want to stay, so eventually the day will come that we all end up somehow related to each other. And trust me, with 5 older brothers and a very protective daddy, all practically attached to their shotguns, in a town where everybody knows everyone, dating was never easy for me! On that note, I’d like you to meet my family at some point too, now that I met yours. You could take me home, I could get my dress for that wedding if it don’t need to be anything fancy, and you could say hi to my folks.” she smiled.
“Your family?! To tell them I am that random guy you got in the car and ran away with, who lied to you the entire time? You really want me to get shot, huh?” Ewan frowned.
“They wouldn’t shoot you, because I like you. You just have to make sure that doesn’t change.”
“No pressure, huh? But wait, did you just say you like me?” Ewan smiled.
“Did I? Must have been another lie, I do not like you one bit, just waiting till you go to bed, so I can steal all your family’s riches.” she smiled back, winking.
“You should come home with me then, I have even more expensive stuff laying around there including those film awards you could steal.”
“Oh, you don’t live here?” she sounded genuinely surprised.
“No, I live in Del Sol Valley, where most of the work is.”
“Oh. Always thought actors travel.”
“I do, but the actual acting is only the tip of the iceberg. A lot of other stuff to do once you made it. Mostly talking about the same things over and over and schmoozing with people you don’t even like.”
“Sounds like a drag.”
“It can be.”
“Well, I’d attest you are not half bad as a busboy, if you ever need a career change.”
“I’ll keep that in mind. Hey, how about after the wedding you come home with me to Del Sol Valley, I could show you what it’s really like and tomorrow we can fly back to where you live, I’ll say hi to your family while you get the dress for Hannah’s wedding, if you can guarentee I get out alive because I really have to be back here before the weekend. I cannot disappoint Hannah.”
“Are you sure I’d fit in wherever you live? I already stick out like a sore thumb here and this is what you consider small town living. You’ll get the culture shock of your lifetime when we go to my home tomorrow.”
“Well, I’d be always with you. You fit in because I like you, just gotta make sure that doesn’t change.” he grinned at her.
“Stealing my lines again, huh?”
“Am I forgiven then?”
“Annoying is what you are, city boy.”
“All you have to say is that you give me a fighting chance and I’ll be on my best behavior.”
“A fighting chance, huh, Ewan? Let’s see: you did shield me when two people robbed us at gun point. Definitely something that outweighs a lie. Fine, I’ll accept one of your invites. I’ll go to the wedding with you – under one condition: you come home with me to meet my dad and brothers. We’ll see about Del Sol Valley.”
The old Ewan would have grabbed the girl and tried kissing her, usually successfully. Although with Ava he wasn’t so sure. She was definitely the kind of girl without any inhibitions to tell him no. This new version of him just stood there, smiling like he won the lottery.
“What?” she asked.
“Just thinking, about people and change. About how that trip actually really did what I wanted it to do. I am a changed man, just realized it. I’ll take you home and meet your family and their shotguns, because why not, right?”
“Ok you changed man, I am going to bed. Night Ewan.” she smiled up at him.
Hearing his real name felt so good, he was really not ready to let her go just yet, so he said the first thing that came to mind to keep the conversation going.
“Oh yeah – look there. One reason why I moved to Del Sol Valley, it’s almost always sunny there. Rains all the time here. Annoying!” Ewan pointed at the sudden downpour, while Ava stepped to the window.
“I think it’s pretty. It’s just rain, it’s what makes everything so green around here. My grandma used to say ‘God is in the rain’. Give me your hand.”
“You want me to forgive everything? Then come with me – now!”
Ewan took her hand and followed her outside where she began to dance with him to imaginary music, in the pouring rain.
Awkward at first, Ewan went along stiffly and afraid someone could see them, as he felt the wetness soaking though his clothing but soon all he could see were her green eyes, until she leaned her head against his shoulder, making Ewan feel like he was dancing on clouds.
In the evening of the next day Ewan’s ears were still ringing back at the motel, sitting on the bed, feeling drained and worn out. They had just gotten back from some impromptu BBQ at her family’s home, by the looks of it half the town had attended. A rock concert could not have been more noisy … probably less booze there too. Ava was so lithe and delicate, but her brothers and father sure weren’t. Ewan felt like a scrawny teen boy around them.
Ava’s condition if he wanted her to attend Hannah’s wedding with him – for some reason it was important to him that she would – had been to meet her family and what a meeting it had been! He had never been more scared and confused in his life. Or had more fun – oddly.
His life spirits returned when the bathroom door opened and Ava stepped out, again with just a towel wrapped around her, skin damp and rosy from the shower.
“Forget your change of clothes again?” Ewan’s voice sounded huskier than intended.
Smiling, she shook her head as she slowly came towards him, making his heart beat faster.
Standing before the bed now, she beckoned him with her index finger. Ewan obliged, rose up off the bed.
“Oh, you’re killing me. I just spent several hours with several pretty butch men who all took turns beating around on my back so hard I am sure I have some hairline fractures, while telling me about various terrible things they’d do to me if I did anything wrong to their little sister – or daughter.”
“Are you planning to do me wrong? If not, you have nothing to worry about regarding my brothers and dad.”
“Not intentionally, but I am that kind of asshole that screws up effortlessly.”
“Speaking of assholes, that’s what you smell like. Take a shower, man, you need one bad.”
“Wow, thanks. Mood successfully killed. In my defense it was hot, no a/c, it was dusty and everybody sweat. All your brothers reeked to high heavens already when we got there especially with all that booze flowing so freely. Didn’t hear you tell them what you just whacked me in the head with.”
“Difference being, I am not sharing a bed with them.”
“We are sharing?”
She gave him that look, that could have made him do anything as he hurried into the bathroom. Reaching for the faucet to turn on the water he felt hands on his back, nearly making his heart stop.
He turned around, facing her as she slowly began unbuttoning his shirt, then peeling it off his shoulders.
Ewan felt hot under the collar, even more so when she began to fondle the button and zipper of his jeans, but he noticed her hands were shaking terribly, so he assisted.
The pants dropped to his ankles, he stepped out of them.
Time seemed to stand still as Ava looked up at Ewan with big doe eyes melting every single doubt he may have ever had away like ice in the desert. It was obvious that she had no clue where to go with what she had started, her perfect mixture of feistiness and innocence really did something to him.
She pulled away, stepped out of reach and quickly left the bathroom, shutting the door from the other side.
“Cruel woman!” he protested, his answer was just a nervous giggle, making him smile, as he shook his head, took off what little was left of his clothing and just got under the shower, knowing he met his match. She was as fierce as she was pure. He knew he was long gone without a single regret. He also knew he’d not push her. She may want to do things with him that she was just not yet ready for. He didn’t mind waiting, for reasons unbeknowst to him. Sure didn’t sound like him. Not one bit.
She’d make him work for it. And he would, until he’d get her to that point where they could both admit what both probably already knew. It was worth it to him.
The only thing certain was that point was not gonna be reached tonight.
When he got out of the shower, he found her already in bed, her even breathing told him that she had fallen asleep. He straightened out her covers and laid down in the other bed, turned off the lights, and fell asleep soon, still smiling.