Chapter 10 iThink The Apocalypse Is Here

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Keeley bid the man good day and winced when her voice cracked. She had been at The Surf Shack since nine in the morning and it had been non-stop customers. How the store had survived with only one person working before was beyond her. She reached under the counter and grabbed the water bottle she had stored there earlier. Keeley took a long gulp, letting the cool water soothe her scratchy throat.

Her eyes slid over to Van who was standing near the surfboard wax. His face was cheerful and animated as he demonstrated to a customer how to apply the wax to a board. Keeley was fascinated at the transformation. Just minutes before, he had been berating her for not restocking the t-shirt table. How did he go from irate and frustrated one minute, to passionate and happy the next? Keeley continued to study him, trying to figure him out. Was he like that to everyone he worked with or just her?

Van caught her staring and frowned. Probably upset because she was standing around, taking a break. He jerked his head over to the wetsuit rack, indicating she should head over there. Right before his customer had come in, Van had ordered her to re-arrange all the wetsuits according to size and color.

Keeley barely managed to resist the urge to stick out her tongue at him. It was like he was purposely trying to get a reaction out of her, so there would be a reason to fire her. Well, if he thought she would be that easy to get rid of, he had another thing coming. Keeley Anne Brewer was not a quitter! She set him a withering glare before marching over to the racks and began re-arranging them by size.

It took her over half an hour to finally get all the wetsuits organized. She took a step back and admired her handy work. Not bad, for a girl who had a weekly fight with her mother about hanging her up her own clothes.

"Here," Van said as he appeared before her, and thrust a broom into her hands. He pointed to an area by the front door. "Sweep," he brusquely commanded. There was a hard edge to his voice, as if challenging her to disobey.

Keeley squared her shoulders and lifted her chin, letting him see the determination in her eyes. "Happy too," she replied curtly. She brushed past him and began sweeping the floor with short, abrupt strokes.

Out of the corner of her eye, she saw Van trifling through the wetsuits, double-checking her work. Keeley squeezed the broom handle with all her might, pretending it was Van's neck. He treated her like a servant he didn't trust, not a co-worker. Frustrated and angry, she began singing the first thing that came to mind.

"Cinderelly, Cinderelly. Night and day, it's Cinderell-"

"You know, I can hear you," Van interrupted.

Keeley glanced up and saw him staring at her. His arms were crossed over his chest and he looked infuriated by her song's implication. Keeley gave him a cheeky smile. "So?" she asked innocently.

His eyes narrowed at her statement. "So, that means the customers can hear you too."

She rolled her eyes and made a show of looking around. "What customers Van? The stores empty." It was six pm and starting to get dark. Usually the boardwalk became deserted once the sun set.

"You know what I mean," he said through gritted teeth. "Stop singing before you chase them all away."

"I think it would be your grouchy personality that chases them away before my singing," Keeley countered. She was gripping the handle so hard, she feared it would break in two.

Van looked her up and down before giving her a wry smile. "Well, you obviously haven't listened to yourself then," he remarked.

Keeley's jaw clenched. What the hell was his problem? He seemed to have it out for her since the beginning. "You know what Van? If I give you a nice, big straw, will you go suck the fun out of someone else's day?" she snapped.

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