Marcus waited on me in the kitchen, drinking sweet tea and talking to Ms. Mary. He stood when he saw me. "Well, how did it go?"
"He thought I was a fan who slid through the cracks and wanted to know how I did it. I informed him I had replaced my mother because of her pregnancy, I wasn't a fan, and I didn't realize this house belonged to him when I took the job." Marcus frowned. "How did he take your explanation?"
"I don't think there will be any problem now he knows I am not a crazy fan about to slip him my number on a dinner napkin. I doubt he notices my existence from now on." Marcus raised his eyebrows as if he didn't believe me.
Ms. Mary walked forward and took the tray from my hands. "Good, I knew you were going to work out just fine. Now, go change out of your uniform and head on home. You won't be expected in until seven in the morning."
I hurried to the laundry room to change. Once I changed back into my own clothing, I headed for the door. Ms. Mary hummed while she cleaned, and Marcus stood leaning against the door waiting.
"It's late, did you drive or walk?" he asked when I got to the door. "I rode my bike." He opened the door, and we walked out into the night together. "Let me put it in the bed of my truck and take you home." He genuinely seemed worried about me.
"Okay, thank you."
* * * *
Once we were both in the truck, I relaxed and leaned back on his worn leather seats. "So, how long have you worked at the Stone Mansion?" He looked over at me. "I just started last summer. I only work summers here. I'm a local, but I am currently attending the University of Alabama. This is a summer job for me."
"It's obviously just a summer job for me too. I will begin my senior year this fall. We just moved here from Tennessee." We sat in silence for a few minutes, and I watched out the window as families walked down the sidewalks still in their beach clothing. I'd never seen the beach before we moved here. I couldn't help but be fascinated catching glimpses of the waves crashing on the sandy shore.
"You seem so much older than a senior in high school. In fact, you're more mature than most girls I go to school with." I smiled to myself, If he only knew. But tonight wasn't the night to unload my life on someone who just might turn out to be a real friend. "I know. I have always been an old woman in a kid's body. It drives my mother crazy."
"I wouldn't call you an old woman, just more mature than the average seventeen year old girl." The normal teenage girls laughed and flirted on the side of the streets. Summer romance wasn't something I understood, but apparently it was a very big thing around here. The girls here referred to the tourists as the summer boys. I didn't real y get it or understand it, but then again I wasn't normal.
Marcus turned to me. "Did I hurt your feelings? I didn't mean to if I did. It was a compliment, real y. I get tired of the silliness and shallowness of girls. You're like a breath of fresh air." I turned my head back in his direction and smiled. He really was a nice guy. I wished my insides got al warm and tingly when he stared at me, but apparently my body only reserved that response for teen rock stars, and the thought I might be shallow made me feel sick inside.
"Thank you, I have never been complimented on my strange personality before." He frowned and shook his head. "I wouldn't call you strange...more refreshingly unique." I laughed at his attempt to make it sound better.
"Thanks. Refreshingly unique sounds much more appealing. Turn right at the next light, and it's two houses down on the left." We remained silent the rest of the way to the apartment.
"Pull over to the side. We are not allowed to use the owner's drive. They own the house. We rent the small apartment below." Marcus pulled up at the door.
"Thank you again for bringing me home." He opened his door, jumped out, and got my bike from the bed of his truck. I watched as he got it down and leaned it against the side of the house by the door.
"Anytime, if you leave the same time I do, I can always give you a lift." I thanked him again. He shuffled his feet and glanced up at me.
"Since you're new here, and we are working together this summer, why don't I take you out one night after work, or on Sunday during the day when we are both off? I can show you what fun around here and introduce you to some people. You know, just as friends." It sounded like fun, but I was a little surprised about the Sunday comment. "Sunday?" I asked.
He frowned. "You didn't know we are all off on Sundays, even Ms. Mary." I shook my head. "No, I didn't know. But, yes, I would love to go enjoy this area with someone who knows where to go." He grinned and ran his hand through his blond hair. "Great. I'll make plans this week and let you know what we are doing."
We said our goodbyes, and I watched him get back into his truck. I waved and turned to go face Jessica and her doubtless twenty questions as to what took me so long.
The apartment was silent and dark. I peeked into Jessica's room and found her asleep on top of the covers with the window unit cranking nonstop. I grabbed a quilt and covered her up before going back to my room and getting ready for my shower.
She'd gone to sleep early. No twenty questions and no having to cook dinner. I smiled and headed toward the bathroom. I needed to be clean and needed sleep. Today I managed to get past my biggest hurdle. Tomorrow should be easier. No more encounters with Jax. Having a friend would make things even more enjoyable.