Chapter 3:

You Better Swim

Don't Miss The Target♥

I got no reason to be paranoid.Bookmark here

After all, today was the start of a two-day experience where I could have a direct influence on the happenings and make progress with my mission of getting Arty and Tabitha together.Bookmark here

There was no need for convincing and inventing reasons for people to come because we were all already there.Bookmark here

There was no meddling parent to bulldoze the plans I have laid out.Bookmark here

Most importantly, there were no more walls that could separate the two. Or rather, there were no more doors that our Boy would refuse to enter because he was such a wuss. For the two days and the night, there was just open beach and the roof we will all be under.Bookmark here

I was confident that there would not be many hindrances this time. It was just us eight kids by ourselves!Bookmark here

Well, there was Dana’s elder sister, too, who drove us all to our destination. Also, their relatives, who were kind enough to let us stay at their place for our summer tip. But they promised not to get too much in the way of our fun, so they may not be a concern with regards to my mission.Bookmark here

Also, I did obtain a little bit of a distraction. A side quest, if you will. That was to convince, and perhaps if needed, get in the way of Eric from asking Fran out.Bookmark here

A few days ago, I had met Fran’s dad, and I was explicitly told that I should not lay a hand on her. I was the only one he talked to, but he certainly meant his warnings for all of us boys. Basically, he has tasked – or more like threatened – me to keep anyone away from his daughter.Bookmark here

When the get together from last time ended, Eric informed me of his intentions and asked me for a bit of help. I told him I was willing if he waited after the trip. I figured her dad’s warnings were only specific for the trip, and he would no longer come after me if something did happen afterwards.Bookmark here

“It has to be the trip, otherwise I wouldn’t have a reason to see her anymore for the rest of the summer.”Bookmark here

He had a point, but I also had something to protect.Bookmark here

“Well, there’s still Lime. You can still talk to her there, and maybe invite her out once you think you’ve got a chance.”Bookmark here

“No, it has to be the trip”. He was adamant.Bookmark here

I tried explaining the situation about Fran and her dad, and the threats I was given. Since he was so upfront, I figured honesty was the best policy this time and he might see reason.Bookmark here

But then he said “I don’t see why that concerns me.”Bookmark here

“You haven’t met her dad.”Bookmark here

“I don’t see why her dad concerns me.”Bookmark here

“It should, it’s her dad. If you two get married in the future, he’ll be you father-in-law.”Bookmark here

“Then we’ll just elope.”Bookmark here

“Oi, you have to get the girl first!”Bookmark here

“All the more reason I should go through with it.”Bookmark here

He was unreasonable. He would not budge and there was nothing I could do to convince him to delay his intentions at least.Bookmark here

Evidently, I had the wrong impression of Eric. I thought that since he was the quiet type, he would not be the kind of guy that can easily talk to a girl, much less have the initiative to ask someone out. But, there he was upfront with his feelings and determined to follow through it.Bookmark here

Arty could learn a thing or two from him, I thought.Bookmark here

In the end, I agreed to help him. I figured it was much better to cooperate with him than be in the dark since it would be easier to get in the way if I knew what he was planning.Bookmark here

I was just thankful his crush was with another girl. If it had been Tabitha, I would probably have tested the love laser pointer on Charlie to retaliate on how wrong he was about Eric. There was a warning to not point it on lovers, and while I do intend to follow it, there was still some lingering curiosity in me of what would happen if I did.Bookmark here

Anyway, it was the beach!Bookmark here

The girls in their bathing suits were a treat.Bookmark here

Tabitha had her hair tied up in a ponytail, which exposed her nape unlike her usual hairdo. She wore a light blue hoodie, but she did not close the zipper so you could see her wearing a yellow swimsuit and denim shorts underneath.Bookmark here

Beth’s hair was also tied up in a ponytail, but that was her normal style anyway. She was wearing a baggy cream colored shirt but had it tied to the side so it was showing her midriff. She was also in shorts, so it was not easy to see what kind of swimsuit she was wearing beneath the extra layer. But going by the strap going through her neck, she probably had a purple bikini top on.Bookmark here

Fran was a bit bolder than the other two. She may have a sarong wrap hiding everything between her waist and feet, but for the top, she wore a black bikini bra which complemented her white skin and long black braided hair. She seemed like a model in some resort advertisement.Bookmark here

I could see why Eric would fall for her.Bookmark here

Dana’s hair was cut in a short bob, so she probably had no need to tie it up. As for her swimsuit, she was wearing a blue skirted bottom. I was not sure if it was a one piece or two because she was also wearing a white shirt on top but she did not expose her belly like Beth did.Bookmark here

Well, they were modest, but what did you expect? This is not an ecchi anime. High school girls in real life don’t simply wear risque bikinis to the beach. Even less chance of it happening when guys who aren’t their boyfriends are around.Bookmark here

Though you must be wondering, what of Dana’s sister? Well, she wasn’t around. She just dropped us off at our destination as she had to be somewhere else. She won’t be coming back until early evening to take us to our accommodations, so we probably won’t see her in swimwear.Bookmark here

Still, it was nice seeing the girls in their outfits. Also, they still have to take some of their gear off when going into the water. Also, even if they did not take their shirts off, it will still get wet and expose what’s underneath.Bookmark here

I was glad I brought sunglasses!Bookmark here

But as soon as Tabitha noticed me wearing it, she took them off my face and confiscated it.Bookmark here

She just gave me an angry look and walked away without a word.Bookmark here

I did not dare protest.Bookmark here

Beth was with her. Jokingly, she said to me “You lech”.Bookmark here

Anyway, it was still 7:30 in the morning, so there were not many beachgoers yet. In fact, we had the whole beach almost to ourselves that it felt like we were in a private resort. The water would still be a bit too cold to be enjoyable, but it was the perfect time to play around in the sand without worrying about bothering anyone else.Bookmark here

We raced, we played tag, we played with a Frisbee, us guys played some beach soccer while the girls played some volleyball. When the four of us realized we sucked at beach soccer as we found out it was difficult to play because the ball doesn’t roll like it does on grass or dirt, we decided to just join the girls. Bookmark here

Then we decided to hold a little beach volleyball tournament. Since the gender distribution was equal, we thought it would be fun if the teams were in boy-girl pairs. We have not decided who would be doing what for lunch yet, so we decided the winners would be free from doing the chores.Bookmark here

The teams were decided pretty quickly. The Charlie and Dana pair forming was a no-brainer. Eric acted quickly to pair up with Fran. I paired up with Beth to force the last two people, Arty and Tabitha, to team up.Bookmark here

Hopefully, some team play could bring them a little bit closer.Bookmark here

Beth, of course, saw another opportunity to tease me.Bookmark here

“Hmm? Are you and Tabby fighting?”Bookmark here

“How did you get that idea?”Bookmark here

“Well, you’ve paired up with me instead her for starters.”Bookmark here

“I just thought my chances of winning increases with you”. That was a response I prepared beforehand, by the way. I had also anticipated she would ask something along those lines.Bookmark here

She seemed to have accepted it though. “Then we’ll leave it at that”, she said.Bookmark here

It was not exactly a lie. Tabitha was not clumsy and was okay with sports at best, but Beth, while not part of any athletic club at school, was good with it. You would usually see her being one of the better players in team sports during PE classes. Anyone who knew the two girls well would easily pick Beth over Tabitha in situations like these.Bookmark here

But, the explanation was still just a half-truth since I did not reveal my real intentions.Bookmark here

Anyway, it was already ten minutes past ten when we decided on the tournament. We wanted it done quick as we planned to send someone out to the supermarket to buy food for lunch by eleven, so we decided it would be a short knockout tournament. Two matches in the first round, and then the winners will play against each other for the prize.Bookmark here

The match-ups were decided by drawing lots. Bookmark here

The first game was between the Charlie and Dana pair against Eric and Beth, which the former won through impeccable teamwork. It was a surprisingly close match, actually. We thought it would be an easy game for the lovers since Eric was bad at sports, but Fran was pretty good at volleyball and carried him. Though in the end, the more balanced team won.Bookmark here

The second match, it was a quick victory for Beth and I. Tabitha and Arty’s teamwork was all over the place. Or rather, Arty’s lack of communication cost them countless errors. Tabitha tried making all the calls instead, which improved their play, but we were already too far ahead.Bookmark here

I could see Tabitha was frustrated. If it was me who had caused the loss, she probably would have been chewing my ear out by now, but she was lenient with Arty.Bookmark here

The final match was again a close one. Both pairs were relatively close in skill, so the score went back and forth until fatigue set in. By then, the advantage went to Beth and I since we had an easier first match, so we went on a bit of a scoring streak and won.Bookmark here

Beth and I had won the right to slack off until lunch.Bookmark here

Although, while we were free from the chores, we have been placed on guard duty instead. The beach has since gotten crowded, so someone had to do keep an eye on our stuff while everyone was else was away on an errand. We were not really free to roam around unless we wanted all our luggage stolen.Bookmark here

Tabitha and Arty headed to the supermarket to buy what we were going to eat for lunch, which would be a barbecue.
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I was hoping Arty was not clamming up like he did previously and making proper conversation.Bookmark here

Charlie and Dana were in charge of cooking, so they were out buying coal somewhere.Bookmark here

Eric and Fran were tasked with the cleanup. Well, they had nothing to clean up yet, but since they would be the one returning it, the others figured that the two would be in charge of borrowing a grill from the beach’s management that we could use for the barbecue.
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I was not worried about Eric suddenly confessing during this errand since he had divulged to me he planned to get a good atmosphere going between him and his crush first during the day then reveal his feelings at night. So unless he had different standards than normal, he probably would not think that the two of them lugging some equipment gives a romantic vibe.
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So it was just me and Beth tapping on our phones with all our luggage. Beth started making conversation without taking her eye away from her screen.Bookmark here

“Are you really sure you don’t want to be shopping with Tabby instead of hanging out with me right now?” she asked.Bookmark here

“What do you mean?”Bookmark here

“Well, it seems like good practice for when you two are married in the future.”Bookmark here

A bit irritated, I replied “Like I said, we’re not like that.”Bookmark here

“Maybe not now, but what about in the future?” she persisted.Bookmark here

“Who knows? I don’t know what the future me will be thinking, so I can’t say.”Bookmark here

“Oh, so you do have feelings for her!”Bookmark here

“I’ll just ignore you if you keep teasing me like that.”Bookmark here

She was more persistent than usual with the topic, which got me annoyed.Bookmark here

“Sorry”, she said.Bookmark here

I think that was the first time she apologized for teasing without laughing.Bookmark here

“It’s all right”, I said as I looked at her profile. “Why do you keep asking anyway?”Bookmark here

“I told you, didn’t I?” she replied as a matter-of-factly. “This trip was a chance for romance.”Bookmark here

I guess I had forgotten that. I was busy only thinking about the things I had to do for the trip.Bookmark here

“Wait, are you hitting on me?”Bookmark here

She made eye contact with an awkward smile. “Well, you know, Charlie has Dana, and the other two boys seem to have their eyes on someone else...”Bookmark here

I was not sure whether to be surprised at how perceptive she was, or be hurt to hear that I was only a choice by default.Bookmark here

“I’m kidding”. She paused for a bit to think before continuing with a neutral tone. “You know, from an outsider’s perspective, you and Tabby seem like an item, but neither of you are willing to admit it.”Bookmark here

I have heard that a few times in the past, actually.Bookmark here

“From the same point of view, you two and Arty seem to be in some sort of love triangle”, she continued. “Going with that, don’t you think I’m the pitiful one? I’m the only girl who doesn’t have a boy I’m linked with.”Bookmark here

I did not answer. She said it humorously, but someone making a joke about their own misfortune was not something I can lightly comment on, so I said nothing.Bookmark here

“But for some reason, it doesn’t seem like you’re concerned about the love triangle”. Playfully, she held her hand in front of me as if she was a reporter in the streets holding a microphone to her interviewee. “Why do you think that is?”Bookmark here

“Because there is nothing between me and Tabitha.”Bookmark here

“Only half right, so no points”, she said while waving a finger. “It could also be because you’re confident Arty will fail.”Bookmark here

That comment felt like she was baiting me to react to it, but I just asked “So? What’s that got to do with you looking for romance?”Bookmark here

“I was testing the waters, so to speak, to see which is the truth.”Bookmark here

“So, what is the truth?”Bookmark here

“I don’t know. I don’t know yet, but...”Bookmark here

She paused for a moment. I waited for her to continue with the noise of the crowded beach and the waves in the background.Bookmark here

“But I’m willing to bet on one of them being the truth”, she said sounding determined. “Even if I have a feeling that my odds are low.”Bookmark here

Before we could continue with the topic, Charlie and Dana arrived from their errand. Bookmark here

“It’s so hot”, Dana complained as she entered under the shade of the large umbrella Beth and I were in. The sun was already high as it was close to noon.Bookmark here

“Then do you want to go into the water?”, Beth asked her. “I want to cool off a bit, too.”Bookmark here

So the two went.Bookmark here

Charlie and I idly chatted until Eric and Fran arrived with the grill.Bookmark here

Fran soon joined the other two girls in the shallows.Bookmark here

“What a sight for sore eyes”, I commented.Bookmark here

The two girls with shirts on already had their top soaking wet which revealed the swimsuits they were wearing underneath. Fran had removed her sarong which revealed a side-tie bikini bottom along with her long legs.Bookmark here

The two boys then sat in front of me to block my view, both of them visibly annoyed. Bookmark here

“Turn around”, both of them said.Bookmark here

I obeyed without a fuss. I knew why they were doing it, plus it would have been a needless argument if I had not budged.Bookmark here

Besides, there were plenty of people to view in the beach as long as I had my shades... which I forgot was still with Tabitha. I forgot she had confiscated it and had been searching for it in my bag until I spotted her coming over to our spot while wearing said sunglasses.Bookmark here

“The meat is here”, she announced proudly despite arriving later than our estimates. Bookmark here

The supermarket was supposed to be down the road and only maybe five minutes away by foot. The trip would probably have taken around thirty minutes, unless they decided to goof around the store. But, the two arrived at half past twelve, which was three times the amount of time we thought it should have taken.Bookmark here

“Sorry we took so long”, she apologized even though no one asked her to.Bookmark here

The two guys did not seem to have minded the tardiness. It also did not bother me. No one’s ever died from having a late lunch after all.Bookmark here

As soon as Tabitha handed Charlie the only bag she was carrying, she took a water bottle and gulped all of its contents down in one go. She seemed to have been really thirsty for some reason. Then she looked around and asked “Where are the other girls?”Bookmark here

“Over there”, I said, pointing with my thumb to my back.Bookmark here

She spotted them almost immediately and proceeded to take off her hoodie. Bookmark here

“I’m gonna join them, hold this for me”, she said as she tossed the piece of clothing to me. Bookmark here

I figured she might want to leave another item behind, so I held my hand out.Bookmark here

“What’s the hand for?” she asked, raising her eyebrows. I was not sure of her exact facial expression since the sunglasses were hiding her eyes.Bookmark here

“Aren’t you going to leave the shades, too?”Bookmark here

“In your dreams”, she said sarcastically, and then ran off.Bookmark here

Charlie tried calling to her to tell Dana to return and help him with the cooking, but none of us were sure if he was heard. Regardless, the cooking needed to be done so he started preparing for his task. Eric offered to help, taking the two bags of groceries off Arty’s hands, who proceeded to stretch once the load was taken off him.Bookmark here

I wondered how heavy a few kilos of food actually was when Arty complained that his arms were aching.Bookmark here

Before Charlie and Eric went to their task, they turned to Arty, pointed at me and said “Make sure this guy doesn’t face the sea, you hear?”Bookmark here

Then they walked towards the grill, which was a few steps away from our space. It was placed there for safety, of course. Small embers that may fly from the grill could damage the mat and the umbrella. Not to mention, our stuff would smell of smoke if it was too close.Bookmark here

Arty followed what he was told to do and sat in front of me as I sat with my back behind the sea.Bookmark here

His task aside, I thought it was a good chance to talk about what went between Arty and Tabitha on their errand, so I asked him if there was anything of note that happened.Bookmark here

“Nothing”, he said.Bookmark here

“What do you mean by nothing? Did you not talk to each other?”Bookmark here

“We did, but...”Bookmark here

“But what?”Bookmark here

“We only talked about what we were getting. She was more business-like this time and didn’t ask me personal questions like last time.”Bookmark here

“And you didn’t ask personal questions instead?”Bookmark here

He meekly shook his head. “I didn’t feel it was the right time to ask them.”Bookmark here

Another chance wasted, I thought. That was a great time to bond with her!Bookmark here

“I’m not quite sure why they told me to do this”, he said, pertaining to the duty Charlie and Eric had given him when he felt that the previous topic was over.Bookmark here

“Oh, they’re trying to protect the view behind me”, I jokingly replied.Bookmark here

He took a look beyond me, and then gave me a look of disgust. “The kids?” he asked.Bookmark here

“What? No!” I quickly denied, and took a look to see how the scenery behind me had changed. The girls seem to have moved, and in place of where they were before, there were a couple of little girls running around in the shallows.Bookmark here

A few seconds later, I felt something hit the back of my head. I looked to see what it was and found a piece of coal that was not there before. That was probably it.Bookmark here

“Nice throw!” I hear Charlie shout. I saw him and Eric high-five each other, then both glared at me.Bookmark here

I raised my hands in surrender to signal that I was going to be good. The two doesn’t seem to have noticed the girls have moved somewhere so there was nothing they needed to protect from me anymore.
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I turned back to Arty to plead my case. “As you’d have noticed from the other two’s behavior just now, they’re trying to prevent me from enjoying a certain view.”Bookmark here

“They were trying to prevent you from enjoying the view of little girls playing in the water?” he reiterated.Bookmark here

“No!” I exclaimed, feeling like I had to protect my dignity. “Before those little girls were there, I was trying to look at our girls when they were playing in the water!”Bookmark here

“Eep!”Bookmark here

I heard a little shriek behind me. I also sensed something menacing from the same direction.Bookmark here

I looked back and found the girls standing behind me. I had not noticed they have already returned. The reason I did not find them was probably because they were already returning and I did not bother scanning the beach.Bookmark here

Fran looked a little bit creeped out, she was probably the one that let out the cute shout. Beth had a smile on her face as if saying “Ooh you’re in trouble”. Tabitha was also smiling, but since she now had the sunglasses off, I could see that she was not smiling out of happiness.Bookmark here

It was the scary kind of smile.Bookmark here

“My hoodie, please”, she demanded, holding out her hand.Bookmark here

I wordlessly handed it to her. She proceeded to put it on and quickly zipped it up.Bookmark here

While this was happening, I noticed Fran putting on her sarong, but instead of wrapping it around her waist like she had earlier, she put it higher to also hide her chest.Bookmark here

“So I hear you’ve been ogling the girls?” Tabitha asked.Bookmark here

I was scared to answer. In fact, I would likely make it worse if I did, especially after she heard it right out of the horse’s mouth.Bookmark here

The only thing I could do to salvage the situation was prostate myself and apologize, which is what I did.Bookmark here

“I’m sorry!” I shouted. “Don’t ban me from eating meat, please!”Bookmark here

I knew what the punishment was going to be. A similar scenario had already happened in the past when Tabitha and I went on a trip during middle school with some of our classmates, which was to the beach as well. This was also why she immediately took my sunglasses off me. She knew what my intentions were by wearing it because back then she had overheard me telling one of our classmates I was using it to hide where my eyes were looking at, which were upon all the girls in our class. Hearing that, she had forbidden me to eat meat, even going as far as instructing everyone on the trip to only serve me vegetables.Bookmark here

I thought that this time was going to be the same. But contrary to my expectations, the penalty this time was just blindfolding.Bookmark here

“So you don’t ogle anyone when we’re sitting close to you while we’re eating”, Tabitha explained.Bookmark here

“Wait, how am I going to eat?”Bookmark here

“You’ll manage”, she answered. “The barbecue will be on a stick.”Bookmark here

“What about rice?”Bookmark here

“How about I feed you then?” I heard someone else say. I think that was Beth.Bookmark here

“That’s not a bad idea, I guess.”Bookmark here

“Beth!” Tabitha protested. “If you did that then this wouldn’t be much of a punishment anymore.”Bookmark here

Then I heard their voices fade as if they were walking away from me. Bookmark here

“Hello?” I asked out loud, seeing, or rather hearing if anyone was around me because the only voices I could sense were coming from the crowd.Bookmark here

Feeling lucky, I tried adjusting the blindfold to give me a little bit of vision, but before I could see more than the ground, someone grabbed my hand to stop me.Bookmark here

“I didn’t say you can take the blindfold off yet”, I heard Tabitha say menacingly.Bookmark here

I put my hand down obediently, and she readjusted the blindfold.Bookmark here

“Don’t worry about rice”, she said. “Someone is going to feed you.”Bookmark here

I perked up. I thought being fed by a girl would be nice.Bookmark here

Then Tabitha continued “But it’s not going to be a girl.”Bookmark here

“I’ll feed myself”, I immediately replied as I prostrated myself again.Bookmark here

Eating while blindfolded was pretty hard. The barbecue would have been fine if it was not so easy to accidentally poke my mouth with the pointy end of the stick. Rice was a challenge because I could not pick them up properly, and I was constantly dropping them somewhere. After a few tries, I complained that it was really hard to eat that way. Bookmark here

Thankfully, Tabitha compromised and allowed me to remove the blindfold. But, I could only face the guys while I eat. I was more than happy to comply.Bookmark here

We were eating in a circle where everyone was facing to the center. I was the only one positioned at an angle where I can’t see half of the encirclement without turning my head. The only two people in my line of sight were Arty and Eric. I could see Charlie at the corner of my eyes, and that was it. I did not have an angle to see any of the girls.Bookmark here

Whenever I turn to look somewhere else, Tabitha, who was sitting beside, or rather behind me, would return my head to make me look straight ahead.Bookmark here

“Quit it”, I heard her say from behind. “Or would you rather be blindfolded again?”Bookmark here

“I just want to get some food”, I replied, which was only half true. I intended to peek a glance while picking food.Bookmark here

“I’ll get some for you so stay still”, she countered.Bookmark here

My plan was foiled.Bookmark here

Of course, being in a circle where everyone – well, almost everyone can see each other, that did not went by unnoticed.Bookmark here

As Tabitha was picking my food for me, Beth started with the teasing. “Oh, look at this couple over here!”Bookmark here

“Even my relationship with Dana isn’t at the level where she knows which food to pick for me without asking first”, Charlie followed.Bookmark here

“That’s because you’re a picky eater, Charlie”, I added in on the fun.Bookmark here

“Come on, guys”, Tabitha said sounding embarrassed. “Who do you think I’m doing this for?”Bookmark here

“Your hubby?” Beth answered quickly.Bookmark here

I was not sure what was going on behind me as I did not have eyes in the back of my head, but there was a lot of giggling.Bookmark here

Meanwhile, I noticed Arty was deep in thought. It was kind of hard to not see his mind was somewhere else instead of the laughter as he was directly in front of me.Bookmark here

“What’s up with you?” I tried asking him.Bookmark here

But he just said “Nothing”.Bookmark here

I did not push the issue any further, thinking it was really nothing.Bookmark here

Lunch ended, and everyone else but me, Tabitha and Beth were doing the cleanup. It was supposed to the task of Eric and Fran, but everyone else thought they should move around after eating so much. Beth and I, of course, won the right to skip on the chores. She and I thought it would be a waste of victory if we had helped. Tabitha, meanwhile, just stayed to rest.Bookmark here

I was not sure if I was already allowed to face any of the girls so I stayed in my position waiting for Tabitha to say it was fine. But instead, I felt someone leaning on my back.Bookmark here

I looked back to see who it was, and it was Tabitha. Beth was also in my line of sight, so I saw her smiling. Her eyes looked like a cat's who has seen prey that it wants to play with.Bookmark here

But before she could launch an attack, Tabitha preemptively said to her “Spare me the teasing, Beth, I’m tired”.Bookmark here

“From eating?” I teased instead. “That’s a first.”Bookmark here

“And you, don’t you give me any more headaches”, she demanded as she bumped the back of her head on my back. Bookmark here

“Why?” Beth finally asked. “I didn’t realize you had such low stamina for playing.”Bookmark here

“It wasn’t the playing”, Tabitha explained. “It was that stupid Arty.”Bookmark here

My ears perked up. It sounded like bad news for my mission in getting Arty and Tabitha together.Bookmark here

“What did he do?” I asked.Bookmark here

“He dragged me around town for no reason”, she explained.Bookmark here

Now Beth sounded intrigued. “What? How did he do that?”Bookmark here

I was intrigued, too. Arty did not mention that when I asked him earlier.Bookmark here

“He said he found a place on the internet where we can buy food cheaper, but he just asked me to follow him and didn’t tell me where it was exactly.”Bookmark here

“Wait, he did not do anything to you, did he?!” I heard Beth raising her voice.Bookmark here

I was about to react violently, too, when Tabitha immediately corrected Beth.Bookmark here

“No, no”, she said. “He didn’t do anything to me. He was telling the truth, actually. The problem was it was a twenty or thirty minute walk from here.”Bookmark here

That was a relief. That also explained why the grocery team was late.Bookmark here

“Also, the difference in prices didn’t make it worth the trip. I was so mad at him, I avoided talking to him unless it was necessary.”Bookmark here

That explained why Arty thought personal questions were not proper during their trip.Bookmark here

“Also...” she continued but hesitated.Bookmark here

“Also what?” Beth asked.Bookmark here

“No, never mind”, Tabitha said. “Just let me rest for a bit.”Bookmark here

I would have been happy to let her rest, but my legs were starting to get numb from being in the same sitting position for a while. Although I thought I could soldier on if it was only for a bit as she said.Bookmark here

In the afternoon, the fun continued. We have not done much as a group, however. The beach has gotten more crowded, so there was not much room to play for the eight of us. Instead, we would either be in pairs, sometimes as a trio, sometimes in a group of four. Some of us played in the water, some of us tossed a volleyball, some of us took walks on the beach, and some of us just hung around our spot to snack on some food. But, the only times all eight of us were doing something together was when we were hanging around our area.
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I did not really time them, but I had a feeling that the two people who have been together the most whether alone or in a group was Eric and Fran. That was making me nervous since the scary expression of Fran’s dad when he told me to make sure no one lays a hand on his daughter was still fresh in my mind. Bookmark here

I tried asking Eric if he was moving his plans ahead of schedule.Bookmark here

“Kind of hard to do it with all this crowd”, he said, which made me sigh in relief. Bookmark here

I did not have to worry about him, at least until later that night. I really only needed his confession to be delayed until after the trip, so him getting some quality time with Fran was not something I thought I should interfere with.
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Besides, another thing I noticed was that Arty and Tabitha were rarely together even in a group. I thought that was the more pressing matter and tried intervening, but I was failing each time.Bookmark here

It was either the girls somehow finding something else to do, or they outright exclude us.Bookmark here

“Girls only”, they would say. Especially when they were going into the water.Bookmark here

I had a feeling they had their guard up against me after lunch. It kinda hurt that they started leaving me out of their fun explicitly, too.Bookmark here

Disheartened, I just volunteered to be on guard duty for our things the rest of the afternoon. At some point, Tabitha joined me and we spent the time by idly chatting.Bookmark here

Arty came some minutes after to rest, and as soon as he sat down, I saw it as an opportunity to leave him and Tabitha alone together. I thought I should hit the showers early to rinse the smell of the sea off me because I was done swimming for the day.Bookmark here

But before I could actually stand up and excuse myself, I felt a tug on my trunks. It was Tabitha, who was looking at me silently smiling and lightly shaking her head. It was a signal for me to stay. Or rather, it was a signal for me to not leave. Why though, I was not sure, but I complied with her unspoken request anyway.Bookmark here

I was wondering if she did not want to be left alone with Arty, which was the only reason I could think of why she would ask me to not leave. I suspected she was still mad at him for earlier, but she was already talking to him normally during the conversations between us three, so that just left me more confused.Bookmark here

Dana later arrived along with Charlie and Beth. She announced that her sister was on the way to pick us up to bring us to our lodgings, so we had to gather everyone else to clean up and prepare to leave the beach.Bookmark here

Well, most of us were already gathered except for Eric and Fran.Bookmark here

I suddenly felt my stomach turning. Call it intuition, but I had a bad feeling about them missing from the group.Bookmark here

It was already around 5:30. The sun may have not yet start to set on the horizon, but I thought the low position it was in would not be too bad a background for a confession. Bookmark here

Also, there were already fewer people on the beach. There were fewer potential hindrances and the background noise is back to just the waves. I thought that could also give a romantic vibe.Bookmark here

Those could give him the good ambiance he was looking for before confessing. Not only that, but he has had plenty of opportunities for creating a bond between him and her all day, and I would not doubt if he had made them count.
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I worried that Eric might just jump the gun and do it! I was nowhere near them so I could interfere!
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Beth and her keen eyes for teasing was the first to spot them and pointed at their direction. The two were walking along the beach side by side, and all of us spotted them. Before they could notice we all had their eyes on them, Beth started the jeering because the two were holding hands as they walked. Bookmark here

At least, until they heard the noise coming from us. Bookmark here

Everyone knew what that meant though. Of course, that included me.Bookmark here

The mad man went through with his plans of confessing to Fran ahead of schedule.Bookmark here

Worst of all, at least with regards to my little brother, they were probably together now.Bookmark here

The jeering and whistling continued as I looked over the horizon and scanned the sea for some islands. I wondered if any of them were isolated and if I could swim over there from the beach.Bookmark here

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