I grabbed my coat from the back of the ice cream shop (not that I needed it) and headed across the road with the boy I’d just bought ice cream to the Starbucks and slipped into one of the chairs outside allowing the warm rays of sunlight to wash over me.
“Wish I’d bought my sunglasses with me now” I said with a chuckle, squinting through the sunlight at the boy in the chair opposite me who laughed too and gave me a warm smile.
“Sorry, I never caught your name” he asked,
“I never told you my name but its Jane all the same, what’s yours?” I asked him.
“Joe” he said.
“Funny, I know that name from somewhere and you do look familiar….” I said but before I could ponder why he looked familiar he cut in;
“We met on the beech yesterday, you ran off to talk to Hannah,”
“Oh yeah, I remember now but even then you looked familiar, do you go to the sixth form?”
“Yeah I do and I have seen you around once or twice but I think we are in different classes” he said, a note of disappointment in his voice at this.
“Oh that will be why then” I said with another laugh and at that moment a waitress bustled over, a notepad and pen clutched in her hand.
“What can I get you both today?” she asked politely.
“A hot chocolate with cream and marshmallows for me and …..” I looked at Joe,
“A Mocha for me please” he said smiling kindly at the waitress who nodded, writing down our orders before scurrying away.
She returned five minutes later with our drinks and I pulled out ten pound note and told her to keep the change.
It felt easy chatting to Joe and I was sad when it was time for me to return to work, for a whole hour I had been able to forget about what had happened at the beach but as soon as we had exchanged numbers, agreed that we had to go for a coffee again and I had given him a cheery wave of farewell I could feel the wave of dread in the pit of my stomach again.
Finally I clocked off and leaned against the ice cream shop, the destroyed beech was clearly visible from where I was standing and I felt the dread in my stomach intensify – the police believed it to be arson and were looking for the culprits.
Hannah came into view and at the sight of her I ran towards her, thankful to see her and to know that she was feeling exactly how I was feeling.
“Hannah! Oh my god, did you hear what happened? They've taken them into custody!!”
“Yeah, now we're all in for it.” Tyler’s voice said as he stepped out of nowhere and I spotted Nate in the distance staring across the wreckage of the pier which the whole town had cherished.
“Oh this doesn't look suspicious at all,” Hannah muttered and I had to admit I agreed with her. Nate turned, his eyes meeting Hannah’s before he turned and started to walk away.
“Nate” I called, running to catch up to him,
“Nate, come on” I said pulling him back to Tyler and Hannah who were now having a heated argument.
“Save me from your shit Tyler, I don't want to hear it. Right now we should all decide on what we're going to do. The police are gonna want to interview us if the tourists snitch on us. We don't know if they are or not, but we should get our stories straight. I've already lied to my father, I guess I'm gonna have to get used to it.”
“Lied to my mother,' Nate reluctantly shrugged. "What are we supposed to tell them? I'm not going to jail because of a stupid mistake this psycho made though.”
“If you had faced me like a man and not run off this wouldn't have happened,” Tyler retorted angrily.
“Enough!' I shouted firing up and my friends bickering. 'Put this silly childish behavior aside for one second and think. What's going to happen if our stories don't match up? I've seen CSI a thousand times - it's just like this.”
'We haven't committed a murder,' Nate scoffed.
“No, but it was arson,” I replied.
“I didn't set the pier on fire intentionally,” Tyler frowned. 'I'm not an arsonist.'
“Really?' Nate raised his eyebrows. 'Wouldn't have guessed it. And I'm not even being sarcastic. You've got the whole sociopath thing down to a T.”
'You're just asking for another fight,' Tyler laughed humorlessly. 'I'll give you a heads start if you want to run like a little girl again.”
I sighed, giving Hannah a look which she too had on her face, a look that said quite clearly that if we all didn’t think logically we weren’t going to get anywhere and the police would be onto us.
“For God’s sake,” Hannah muttered becoming riled herself now “Can't you two go five minutes without bickering? We have to get this sorted.”
'No, you know what? I'm out of here.' Nate grabbed his bike and headed off, I gave Hannah an apologetic look before running after Nate.
“Nate!” I shouted and he slowed down allowing me to catch up, he was fast when he wanted to be and I was not clutching a stitch in my side.
“You. Shouldn’t. Let. Him. Get. To You” I panted
“No kidding...” he muttered, “he just...I don't know, I hate that jerk!”
“I know, I think everyone knows,” I said with a smile sitting down with Nate on the grass,
“What have we done ….?” I muttered
“I was meant to be surfing in Bali, having the time of my life...instead I'm alone, about to get a criminal record and spend the rest of my summer behind bars,”
“You're not alone, you've got me,”
“You know what I mean, I thought despite Bali I'd still have Hannah but I don't even have her!”
“Nate,” I said suddenly, an idea had just clicked,
“Come on spit it out,” he grinned and nudged me, “take too long and I'll be in jail,”
“I like you,” I said with no idea why I had just said it
“Er thanks, I like you too...”
I raised my eyebrows at him as we got to our feet
“What?” he asked
“Nothing” I muttered.
“Okay...” Nate said slowly, “I'm going for a surf before I get arrested,”
“Will you stop?!” I cried suddenly getting annoyed, “You're being pathetic!”
“You're being really weird today Jane, are you alright?”
“I'm fine!” I said in an exasperated, “Enough of this talk about being arrested, if we don't want the tourists to grass on us we should go and ask them not to!”
“How?” Nate asked stupidly picking up his bike,
“Go and talk to them idiot!” I said rolling my eyes skywards slightly.
Nate mounted his bike and I hopped on the back wrapping my arms around him, and we started to make our way towards the police station my work apron whipping in the breeze.