"No friendship is an accident. " ~ O. Henry
"It's not funny! Stop laughing!"
V.C. just laughed harder, bending at the waist and resting both hands on her kneecaps. She was pretty sure that if she didn't stop laughing soon, she'd be wheezing by night's end.
Jack groaned and continued walking down the pier, his hands covering his face in distress. The wooden pallets of the sea-worn pier creaked under his weight.
V.C. followed Jack's dragging footfalls with eager steps.
To the left, the ocean waved as it retreated further from the shore, leaving behind remnants of broken shells and patches of blackened seaweed. Swarms of grey clouds pillowed the heavens, blocking the glowing sun from reaching the earth.
However, the overcast sky or the season didn't dampen the environment of Bleeding Heart. Lined up along the edges of the pier and the surrounding beach, vendors sold little trinkets and carnival foods. The greasy smells of clam cakes and corn dogs, mixed with the salty scent of the sea, drew V.C's attention away from the retreating Commander.
Above, a seagull cackled and divebombed the water, only to surface moments later with a fish trapped in its beak.
She longingly eyed the man passing out free samples of New England Chowder but begrudgingly trudges after Jack. She had to make sure he didn't throw himself into the sea when he reached the end of the pier.
He looked that desperate.
Reaching his elbow, she fell into step beside him. He cast her a side glance that was riddled with suspicion.
"Have you always been this meddlesome or was it just something that came on with age?"
She grinned at him, pulling her bottom lip between her teeth. Elbowing him playfully in the side, V.C. shook her head. "I think I've always been this way. Comes with the territory of being the youngest child."
Jack fumbled with his reply, still flustered over his impending date with Agent Sadiq. "Why. . . why would you volunteer me to go on a date. . . I haven't been on one in. . ." His voice trailed off at the end.
Either he was having a hard time remembering the last time he had gone on a date or it was so long ago, he was too embarrassed to say. Regardless, V.C. filed the information away for future use.
"So it's about time you get back on the horse. Or so they say. Maybe this will stop you from being so. . . uptight!"
Jack jerked his head towards her, a look of offense writing across his face. He barked back indignantly, "I'm not uptight!"
V.C. shot him a deadpan look. "Jack. . . you once tried to arrest me for not using a coaster. Watermarks are not a good excuse for handcuffs! Or how about that time you jailed me for petting a sniffer dog?!"
"Officer Patches was on duty! You were disrupting a police investiga—" Jack tried to finish the sentence but V.C. started to laugh before he could complete his thought.
She pushed a hand into his chest and Jack stumbled back, a palm shooting to his chest, feigning hurt. A chuckle slipped from his lips at the same time. V.C. froze in shock as more laughter slipped from Jack, a rich rumble of amusement.
Steadying herself, the doctor rolled her eyes at the still laughing Jack and continued down the pier, narrowly avoiding being run down by two cantankerous toddlers, desperately in need of a nap.
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Eridanus Flooding (WATTY 2018 WINNER)Mystery / Thriller
Commander Jack Rhodes is a retired Navy Seal. Well. Retired isn't what he would call it. More like fired. Yes. Fired would be the correct choice of word. No one retires at the age of 32. When a mission went wrong, leaving Jack as the only survivor...