Chapter 2

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Niall leaned over the counter next to the register and watched Lauren glue together a traction pad that had come off the tail of his shortboard that morning. He rolled a hacky sack in his hand and tapped it against the counter.

"You know, you can just have a new one." Lauren mumbled, brow furrowed.

Niall shrugged. "You're not exactly Ron Jon's here."

"And thank fucking God for that." Normani emerged from the back room with an overflowing pile of spring suits in her arms. She dumped them on the counter next to Lauren and panted loudly.

Lauren ignored her. "This is pretty shoddy." She admitted, running her fingers along the glue job. She knew it would come apart right down the middle. Niall liked to carve up the crests like an agile little rabbit.

"If it comes off again, I'll stick it back on."

Lauren nodded, satisfied. "You're an easy man, Horan."

"And it's disgusting." Normani added absently. She was now checking all the tags on the wetsuits and sorting them by size. Child sizes on the back of Lauren's chair, adult sizes draped over the counter.

"Do you really need to do that in here?" Lauren irritably elbowed a small pile out of her way.

"Louis went for coffee. I need entertainment."

Niall brightened. "Oh, hey, Lauren had a girl here yesterday!"

Lauren shut her eyes. Normani locked right onto her target. A dog with a bone, a baby with a rattle.

"Did she?" she proclaimed, smiling at Lauren. "Who was she? Was she cute, Horan?"

Niall grinned. "Oh yeah, man."

Lauren grumbled to herself. She was getting glue on her fingers like a kindergartener with an art project. Stupid moron employees. She never should have hired these people

"That's good, Lo. Little baby's growing up. You should go on some dates, meet some more girls."

"Get lost." Lauren muttered.

"Lauren doesn't do random girls." Niall supplied helpfully.

Normani scoffed. "Lauren doesn't do any girls. Lookin' for love, right Lolo?"

"Shut the hell up." Lauren bit out without looking up. She dug her fingers into the traction pad to see if the glue had dried yet.

Normani chuckled. "Seriously, who was the girl?"

"Her name was Ca-"

"She's nobody." Lauren interrupted sharply, seizing the hacky sack from Niall's grasp before he could blink. "She tripped over my surfboard, called me an inconsiderate bitch, and then got herself stung by a man 'o war. Now get back to work."

She tossed the hacky sack into the adjoining section of the shop, where surfboards were lined up in long, close rows like bookcases, and Niall chased eagerly after it. Lauren tapped her fingers along her thigh.

Normani sighed. Lauren could feel her gaze on the side of her head. She ground her teeth and looked up, if only to tell Normani to get lost. Normani's stare didn't waver.

"The last one told me I was a head case." Lauren said lowly, eyebrow quirked. She was actually surprised that it came out of her mouth and she flushed slightly. "I-that's-I don't need that."

"She wasn't totally wrong."

"Just...fuck off." Lauren said without any real malice.

Normani smiled and started picking through the wetsuits again. "Maybe one day. If it's any consolation, I don't think you're completely crazy. Even when you don't wear shoes and dress like a goddamn hobo."

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