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as AUTHORS: Fauxscandinavian and PrincessofJLin

(continued from Landry and Karin 8)

“I am too old for this shit,” Jared complained as yet another wave forced him off the surfboard.

Landry and Jeremy were trying really hard to keep a straight face.  After breakfast this morning, they had decided to teach Jared to surf – it wasn’t going well.

“Let’s take a break,” Landry said.

They sat on the beach and just stared at the ocean – not a single word exchanged for nearly ten minutes.

“Do you realize that we’ll probably meet as opposing players next season?” Jeremy asked.

“Definitely,” Jared answered.

“Oh, yeah,” Landry replied.  “It’s going to be weird, isn’t it?”

The other two nodded.

Landry groaned, “And I’ll be playing against Novak, Ty and Shump!”

“It’s gonna be different,” Jared assured him, “but that’s basketball for you.”

“I’m afraid I may mistakenly run to you guys for celebratory hugs.” Jeremy confessed.

“Or butt bumps,” Jared grinned.

“High fives,” Landry laughed.

“I have to find someone to do the secret handshake with – or make up a new one,” Jeremy joked.

“Aw, my heart,” Landry groaned.

“Okay, THAT I will not miss,” Jared pointed out, making Jeremy laugh.

When the laughter died down, they went back to staring at the sea.

“Just don’t be strangers, okay?” Jared told them.

Jeremy and Landry both nodded.

“And if either of you need to talk…” Jared said. The unsaid promise hung in the air.

***

The girls sat on chairs on the deck, each nursing an iced tea in their hands.

“So you’re meeting the in-laws?” Pansy asked Karin.

“Don’t call them that,” Karin shook her head.

When they came out for breakfast none of their friends made any comments about the past evening or the fact that they came out of the same room. Joe and Jonnie stared for a few minutes, but they, too, said nothing.

“Pansy…” Jess said, a warning hinted in her voice.

“You two should lighten up,” Pansy sighed, because she knew she was pushing all the wrong buttons on Karin at the moment.

“I don’t know how Christine and I could survive without you,” she expressed what really worried her.

“Hey,” Karin protested. “No one said anything about us leaving New York.  I’m not going anywhere, Pansy.”

“Yet.” Pansy argued. “Does Landry know that, by the way?”

Karin was quiet.  Between last night and this morning, Landry and she had not had much time to talk – neither about her meeting his parents nor about his plan to travel to Sweden with her – and not about how they would make their relationship work when they each have careers in separate countries.

Jess and she looked at each other, unable to totally contradict Pansy’s statement. Because no one knows the future…

“You still both owe me details,” Pansy murmured, deciding to change the subject.

“Details?”  Karin didn’t understand.

Jess laughed.  She knew this was coming.

Pansy straightened up in her chair – looked directly at Jess and asked, “So… how many times?”

Jess blushed and held up a hand to show three fingers.

Karin gasped and Pansy slapped her thigh, “Ugh – bloody perfect.”

“Since I have a non-existent lovelife, I have to live vicariously through you,” she grumbled.

She turned her attention to Karin.  “I’m waiting…”

Karin cleared her throat.  “Well, the first time was three times, too.”

“And last night?”  Pansy insisted.

“How…?”  At the look her friends were giving her, she gave up.  “Okay… once in the water, once in the shower and twice in bed,” she rushed out.

“Yeah, I can’t compete with that,” Jess laughed.

Pansy groaned, “I need to get laid – by an athlete.”  Her friends laughed at that.

“Don’t you mean you need a boyfriend?”  Jess asked.

“Too busy to have a relationship – boyfriends are too high maintenance,” Pansy explained.

Jess and Karin laughed – they’d known Pansy long enough to know that she was Pansy – and they love her.  Their friend was a free spirit who lived by her rules.  She was totally devoted to her friends, but she certainly danced to the beat of her own drums.

“Joe has been giving you shy glances since he got here,” Jess pointed out.  “My dear brother has been razzing him about it.”

“Aw, that’s sweet,” Karin commented, even while trying to keep a straight face.

“He’s a boy,” Pansy sniffed.  “I’m no cougar.”

“You’re only five years older than him,” Jess said – not because she thought Joe and Pansy would hook up, but because it gave her a chance to tease her friend.

“That’s a big enough gap, thank you,” Pansy replied as she found her phone and punched in: Short report on our beach trip in Cali. Jess and Jer did it 3 times yesterday, Karin and Landry – 4 times, and Pansy – none.

“There… Christine now knows about your exploits.”

When the two grumbled, she shushed them, “She shouldn’t miss out on the fun.  Okay… positions…”

When they started hearing voices coming from the beach, they stopped talking.

“So you’re joining Jeremy on his Asian tour?” Jonnie was asking Joe.

“Yeah – until I start at Hamilton again,” Joe told him.

They waved at the three ladies on the deck as they passed.  Joe tried not to stare at Pansy, but couldn’t help it. She looked great in her white shorts, halter top and aviator shades.  He looked quickly away.

“I like her legs,” Jonnie whispered under his breath.

Shh... she might hear you,” Joe answered while he hit Jonnie lightly on the arm with his knuckle.  He had been at the firing end of Jonnies’ teasing ever since he had noticed Joe’s stares towards Pansy.

It’s not like Pansy had been giving him attention. She was friendly, but not as friendly as Joe wanted.

I’ll always be the little brother,  Joe thought with a heavy heart.  He sneaked one more quick look before the ladies disappeared from their line of sight.

When the boys went into the house, Karin snorted in her attempt to keep laughter in.  Jess was laughing, but not so loud that Jonnie and Joe might hear her.

“Oh, just shut up,” Pansy said as she buried her head under her hat.  Poor kid has a crush on me, she thought.

***

Lunch was a loud and boisterous affair; conversation criss-crossed between them all.

Like they were all squeezing all they could out of the few hours they had left together, Jeremy thought.

Jared was the first to leave; his ride to the airport came for him in the afternoon.

“Maybe I’ll see you play in the NBA, Joe,” he told Joe as they shook hands.

Joe smiled, “I hope so.”

Jonnie smiled at Jared and said, “It was nice meeting you.”

“You, too, Jonnie,”  Jared grinned.

As he gave the ladies hugs, Jeremy and Landry were quiet.

“Take care, man.  Thanks for everything,” Jeremy said.  He will be forever grateful for the guidance Jared had shown him in the short time they had been teammates.

“Damn, that sounds so final,” Jared replied.  “Stay a friend, okay?  Take care of yourself.  Remember…”

There are four quarters,” Jeremy finished as he hugged Jared.

“You,” Jared looked at Landry.  “should practice French and learn Swedish.”

Landry chuckled and gave him Jared a hug and a pat on the back.  “Good luck in Portland.”

Jess and Karin both knew how important Jared was to Jeremy and Landry – they, too, were sad about how things had developed.

“Ladies, you take care of my boys,” Jared said as he went into the cab.

“Say hi to Jenni,”  Karin remembered.

“If I’m in New York, we can catch some hockey,”  Jared winked at her.

As they waved at the departing car, each person left standing on the beach had a different thought in mind.

Karin was already fretting about meeting Landry’s parents.

Landry reminded himself to call a travelling agency about tickets to Sweden.

Jess was thinking about staying in the beach house a few more days – alone with Jeremy.

Jeremy was thinking of time alone – with Jess.

And Pansy, feeling Joe stare from behind, thought, yeah, I hate being the fifth wheel.

(end of Serendipity Book One)

On to Serendipity, Book Two – Prologue