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Ant rested his board against Dan’s Kombi.  The surf was crap this morning so they’d come back to shore early which meant there was time to talk before he belted home to get ready for work. 

“What are you supposed to do when a chick has bruises?” 

Dan’s head came around sharp.  “What kind of bruises?”

“Multicoloured ones, lots of them.”

“Assume she’s accident prone,” said Mitch.  He hopped about brushing sand from his foot.  “Or she’s got a second rate ballroom partner who’s got two left everything.”

“That’s never going to get old is it?” said Dan.  He pulled himself up on the promenade railing between the Kombi and Ant’s Alfa and sat, his bare feet on the lower rail.

“By the time we’re sick of it you’ll have more than two left everything and the stand-off with Ferdy over that viral make-out video with you and Alex will be a full on knife fight” said Fluke. 

“It’s because you have a girlfriend you feel you can say any friggin’ stupid thing that comes to mind, right?” said Dan.

Fluke grinned.  “Yeah, pretty much.”  He dodged a back hander from Dan only to have the one Mitch aimed at him connect with the side of his head.  Classic.  He was still grinning though.  Nothing could wipe the grin off Fluke’s face since he and Carlie had gotten together.

“The bruises,” said Dan.  “Do you think some bastard is knocking her around?”

“I don’t know what to think.  I’ve seen bruises, ugly, purple and green, on her arms twice now.  Once weeks ago, early in the office before the air con kicked in.  She had her jacket off and there were bruises all over her arms.  And then this week I ran into her on the street.  Her shoulder was like a rainbow.  Both times she covered up as soon as she saw me.”

“Is this same chick that makes you rave on about how equal opportunity is a bad thing because it stops the best and brightest?” said Mitch.


“The same chick who got promoted ahead of you,” he said.

“Thanks for the reminder.”


“What are we talking about here?  You think some fuckwit is hurting her?” said Dan.  Fluke got up on the railing beside him and Dan casually pushed him off.

Ant shrugged.  “I dunno, but what if there is?”

Dan sighed.  “You find out.”

“It’s none of my business.”

“She’s a colleague.  If someone is knocking her around, it’s your business.  If some bastard is knocking any woman around, it’s your business.  Why are you even hesitating?”

“You don’t know this chick.  She’s private, reserved.  She’s a snob.”

“You think she’s beating herself up?” said Fluke.  He got up on the railing without interference from Dan.  It’d be so easy to tip him backwards onto the sand below.  Almost deserved it for the stupid comment.  Ant took a step towards him and Fluke let go his towel and grabbed the railing.  “I mean she says she walked into a door, or fell down some stairs.”

Ant stopped with both hand on Fluke’s shoulders and gave him light shove, just enough to be threatening.  “No, I don’t think she’s beating herself up.”  He let go of Fluke and stepped back.  “And I don’t think she’s accident prone, has a rare medical condition, or plays a contact sport.  This girl is no Toni, no Miss Behavin on skates.”

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