"So what is it about you and Shan?" Carson's question was like springing a leak of some kind.
Essie couldn't think of a thing to say. Up until now, it had been sweet. Maybe not what some romances were made of, but she really thought Carson got her.
He loved her creativity. And they could talk. Especially, about wood and workshop skills. He was getting better with a saw now. And she liked expecting their ten minute max reprieve before they called it a night.
He would walk her to the door. They would hold hands, and when he kissed her, it lingered.
Was he getting tired of it now? Would he stop putting his arms around her. No more cheek to cheek.
"I dunno." She winced as if she didn't want to get into it. "Maybe..maybe he thinks ..I'm a bad influence."
"You?" He cracked up with a smile. When he put his arms around her, there on the porch where they would call it a night, Carson asked "How could you ever be a bad influence?"
"He..he doesn't know me..." She sighed. "Like..like you do."
He stared into her eyes in the moonlight, and she crumbled. Essie was sure it was over. But he sat with her in the old bench swing for the next twenty minutes while she told him every miserable detail of her past.
Archie was pretty much unconscious these days. He was going to finish Great Expectations or else. Although, he didn't really know what was so great about it. Besides, wasn't like it mattered to him if Halie got on with it, with this Jax who spent the rest of the afternoon with his Dad in the garage talking about pest.
He carried his book with him to dinner and read through most of the dining. He suspected Halie was on to something with this Jax. At the end of the evening, Jax turned to Archie and asked if he'd like a drink.
Archie winced as if he didn't know what he meant, but he followed.
Naturally, Jax lit up as soon as they were on the street.
"You, live here?" Jax asked on the walk.
"Not during the week." Archie yawned thinking he'd be a goner by the time they got to the pub, but Jax bought the lagers.
"If you don't mind me asking, that sister of your's just fat or a bun in the oven?"
"Sister? Oh, Halie,..we're not exactly..um..yeah, a kiddie on the way ..with some American." Just as Archie suspected, he'd have to chat up Halie. That's what this is about.
"Huh?' Jax winced a grin. "Glad I'm not mixed up in that shit." He nursed on the lager. Archie did his best with his. Of course, he really wasn't drinking much.
"You really, look as if you could use mate." Jax said later as he ordered another.
"Do I?" Archie winced, thinking no one had ever asked such a question.
"All me, mates went away to the Uni. I thought I could be in a band, but we were horrid. I dunno, finally fell to earth and got my head on straight. Hope pest control is the ticket." He said he lived with a sister and her family.
"Really, want to make some cash, get a place of my own." He said when they went outside so he could have another smoke. This time he let Archie have a drag.
Archie coughed endlessly. That was no ordinary cigarette.
"Did I forget to tell you about that?" Jax just smiled and took another drag. He handed it back to Archie to give it another try.