Next up in our short story celebrations, it’s one of our new authors – Lynda Stacey. We love this beach-themed birthday read. Only wish we had time for a barbecue today! Remember to read right until the end for the competition …
‘Sarah, are you sure it’s ok for us to be here? We don’t know anyone,’ Jen quizzed as she climbed out of the car, and inched towards the edge of the cliff, staring over its edge. Numerous fire beacons lit up the beach, and the sound of laughter and reggae music told her that the party was already in full swing.
‘Sure it’ll be fine. He’s a pompous rich kid who drives round in one of those big sports cars, he won’t have a clue who he has or hasn’t invited. Besides, everyone who is anyone is here. We wouldn’t want to miss it, would we?’ Sarah strutted over the grass in her high heels, wobbled precariously, and then purposely stood still while pulling at her mini skirt, as though attempting to alter its length. ‘Right. I’ll not be long. Just need to find Matt, I’ll meet you on the beach.’
Jen spun round on the spot. ‘Sarah, seriously, you can’t just abandon me,’ she shouted as Sarah began to disappear into the crowd.
‘Honey. I’m not abandoning you,’ Sarah called over her shoulder, ‘There are hundreds of people here. Go mingle, I’ll be five minutes. I promise.’
Jen reluctantly made her way to the beach. Avoided the crowd, pulled a picnic rug from her bag and sat quite happily, staring into one of the many fire beacons that stood by the water’s edge. The flames danced, bright orange, blue, and gold in the darkness. The smoky odour of barbecue filled the air and Jen smiled as an impromptu verse of ‘happy birthday’ filtered down the beach.
A cluster of fireworks shot upwards, fizzing and banging as an array of colour lit up the sky. A whoop went up from the people behind her and Jen once again dared to look around and into the crowd, wishing that Sarah would hurry and come back.
A man had appeared from within the crowd and dropped to his knees on the beach. He seemed to think about his options for just a moment, before unrolling a blanket and throwing it down on the sand. ‘Do you mind if I sit here? I could really do with finding a quiet spot for a while.’ He flashed her a smile and pointed to the space beside her. It was as though he was asking for permission to sit down, which made Jen laugh, especially after he’d already pitched his spot, put his blanket in position and seemed to be making himself quite comfortable.
Sure, make yourself at home; it’s as much your beach as it is mine.’ Her eyes continued to search the crowds: wondering where Sarah had gone and what’s more, it didn’t look as though she’d ever come back.
He pulled the picnic blanket up behind him and settled himself against the cliff.
Jen turned to look in his direction. He was well dressed and tall, or would have been if he’d stood back up. He appeared to be well built, but not overweight and his symmetrical, angular face took on the amber glow of the beacon. He rubbed the stubble on his chin with one hand, while his eyebrows moved in and out of a frown. Jen could tell by the way he stared into the fire that he was deep in thought. Making him look just a little vulnerable. It was a look that Jen liked, a lot.
He must have sensed that she was watching him. He turned, and for a brief moment, a smile lit up his face as he studied hers, ‘I’m Nick,’ he said in a matter of fact way, before turning back to the beacon and once again looking into where the flames reached for the sky.
‘I’m Jen. I came with a friend. But she went to find her boyfriend, Matt. She should be back anytime.’ Smiling, she once again began to search the crowd for Sarah.
‘Ah, wouldn’t be a blonde girl would she. Mini skirt on, that comes to here?’ His hand indicated the length of Sarah’s skirt, ‘If it is, she was last seen heading behind the cockle shed with Matt.’
‘Oh my God, why would they do that?’ Jen blushed and began to giggle as she realised what she’d just said.
Nick raised his eyebrows, pulled a face and then looked back out to the sea. ‘Well, by the look of them, I don’t think they were off to make sand castles.’
Jen resigned herself to the fact that Sarah wouldn’t be back anytime soon, pulled her boots off, and pushed her toes into the sand. She began to laugh. ‘Go on, give it a go. The sand tickles.’ She watched as Nick joined in the game, his feet were as perfect as the rest of him. Suddenly he turned and smiled. His eyes held hers for just a moment too long, searching hers. Her breath caught in her chest and she gasped for air.
‘So, you’re here for the birthday party?’ She asked, as she broke his gaze and stared at the waves, which rolled gently up the beach.
‘Of course.’ He looked puzzled, ‘How do you know the birthday boy?’
‘Well. I’ve never actually met him. He’s apparently some pompous rich kid, who drives a sports car and if I’m honest, we wasn’t invited.’ Jen cringed apologetically. ‘I just hope no one realises.’
Nick began to laugh, ‘So, what would you do if they did.’
Jen thought for a moment, ‘Well, I guess I’d have to be really nice to him, give him a cheeky birthday kiss and hope he didn’t mind that we gatecrashed.’
His face lit up with amusement, he smiled and once again, his eyes danced with hers, just as a large group of people walked past. One of the men walked over and held out a hand to where Nick sat. ‘Hey, Nick. Great party, mate. Happy birthday.’
The words made Jen spin on the spot to face him. ‘You … you … but … it’s your party.’
Nick smiled at her with a mischievous grin, ‘It is, but as you rightly said, the beach is as much yours as it is mine and if you don’t mind me saying, I’m very happy that you gatecrashed my party.’
Oooh, we were cringing a bit for Jen at the end there – but, from the sounds of it, Nick will forgive her Fabulous flash fiction debut from Lynda!
As Lynda is a new author, we don’t yet have a book to offer for this competition (although Lynda’s debut novel will be out very soon – keep an eye out!) However, Lynda has kindly sent us some goodies for a lucky winner and we’ll throw in another Choc Lit book too As before, just let us know what you think of this story, either in the comments section below or on Twitter/Facebook.
Competition closes Friday 17th June 2016.