Chapter 19 There Goes My Baby

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I couldn't find Parker when I finally left my dad's study. Isabella had returned and that had allowed me to slink away. Dad, like me, hated confrontation and neither of us wanted to argue in front of Charlie.

I texted Parker to thank him for the awesome date and apologised for Isabella but fell asleep waiting for a response. Strong emotion always wore me out.

I still hadn't had a reply by the next morning. I felt stupid and needy that I was worried after just one unanswered text, but I knew something was up. Parker had always text me back before, he was an all or nothing type of guy. He didn't mess people around.

The uneasiness didn't leave me all morning. Another one of the problems with my anxiety was that I didn't know what a reasonable amount of worry was. Second, third and fourth guessing myself, I finally decided to take a walk along the beach. The sun was high in the sky and the chances of bumping into Parker is he collected deckchair money strong.

My stomach churned over and over as I made my way along the broadwalk. I scoured a sea of faces all enjoying their day completely untouched by me my problems. I felt my usual lost and alone. Then I saw him.

He was a little way out in the ocean with a bunch of kids on paddle boards. I could tell it was him by his long lean frame and the way he stood on the board. He was too far out though to read the expression on his face. Many of the parents were sat around the beach. He had quite a following, several of the mothers and older daughters were definitely checking him out.

Sat down on the sand, my heart was in my throat as I waited him out. I watched him so patiently work with the kids. He looked like a great teacher and was clearly popular with his students. It was very crowded by the time the lesson finished and they all waded back in to the shore.

It was fairly chaotic and I sat quiet and still, unsure of myself. Parker was all business, I knew his schedule was tight and he would be off onto his next job, what I didn't expect, was for him to march right past me. Scrambling to my feet I called out to him, catching the eye of one of the women sat nearby who looked at me with sympathy.

He kept moving and I had to jog to catch up to him. "Parker?" I tried again. This time he heard me and stopped dead causing me to run straight into him. He looked genuinely startled. His strong arms grabbed me still, holding me upright before taking a step backwards. He kept his sunglasses on and I squinted in the sun trying to read his face. He looked sad.

"What are you doing here?"

"I wanted to see you. I wanted to apologise for not saying goodnight yesterday."

"You came to say good night? There's nothing to apologise for."

This was all wrong. Awkward. I started to panic. I wasn't worrying over nothing, Parker was definitely off.

"Do you really want to do this here?" He looked around the beach frustrated.

"Do what here?" My voice sounded tiny even to my own ears.

Parker blew out a long breath. I braced myself. "Look, I didn't stick around to say goodbye last night because frankly, I hate goodbyes and it struck me that in a couple weeks it will be goodbye for good. You're going off to uni and I'm travelling. I need all the money I can get so I won't be able to see you much anyway. Why deny the inevitable, everyone always leaves. It's better to just call it quits now before it gets any harder."

My stomach dropped like a stone. Well at least it had stopped churning.

Harder? How could it get any harder? This hurt right now.

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