Chapter 2"Goddamnit, Sue!" Jump cursed at her longtime, yet perpetually late friend. She had run by the surf shop to drop off some stuff and then pick up her mountain bike to go riding when she saw that the shop was still closed. It should have been open half an hour ago. She could see a few people heading towards her from the nearby beach. Obviously they'd been waiting for the store to open.
"Jump, maybe you should hire someone who can tell time!" called out Tim, a regular who thought he was funny.
She heard him as she turned the key and smiled.
Without looking back at him she banged through the door and quipped, "If you would become a productive citizen instead of surf all day, I'd offer you a job!"
"Oh…good one!" he chuckled as he grabbed the door to help her with the box she was carrying. She walked to the counter of the darkened shop and let the box slip from her arms as he found the lights and turned them on.
"Man, I was so looking forward to getting an early start." She ran her fingers carelessly through her reddish gold hair that was at the awkward stage of growing out.
"I could man the shop until Sue shows up, if you want…" Tim said as he helped himself to some board wax. She was tempted to let him but knew he was just offering to be polite. Tim was not one to be kept from such a beautiful day for surfing.
"Nah, just make sure you send all of your friends in to buy one item at a time throughout the day." She smiled at the thought of Sue and a long line of customers with just one item in their hand. "And tell them to pay in pennies."
Jump had been at the shop for about 15 minutes, just in time to get the store set up for the day with the postcard racks and sunscreen display just outside the door and register on when she saw a shock of white-blonde hair walking hurriedly into the store.
"I'm sooo sorry!" she said dramatically as she saw Jump with her hands on her hips.
Sue shuffled past her and stood behind the counter, organizing the pens and bags and credit card machine just the way she liked them while talking at rapid-fire speed to a miffed Jump.
"You won't believe my story so I won't tell you. But, I'm here now. I'll dock my own pay and clean the restrooms for the next week. Do you want me to make you coffee before you go?"
Jump had a hard time staying mad at anyone. Even at Sue who would probably late her own funeral. This is why Sue rarely opens, Jump reminded herself. The only reason she was opening today was because Jump was really hoping to get in a morning bike ride just once this month.
Sue was a good worker and would come in at a moment's notice. She'd been there to help Jump through the tough times of starting a business, even taking little to no pay a couple of times.
This always went through Jump's mind when she wanted to throttle the young woman. So, being Jump, she just smiled and tossed the keys to Sue who snatched them out of the air.
"I'm assuming that somewhere in that story I won't believe that you forgot your keys to the shop as well?"
"God, you know me that well, don't you?" Sue said with genuine surprise as a sheepish smile spread across her lips.
Jump smirked her answer and rolled her well-ridden mountain bike out the door. "I'll be a little late today!" Jump called back as she headed down the sidewalk.
The bike trail Jump liked to take began in a small meadow. She liked riding it in the morning because of the way the sun spread its light through the small valley and enveloped the meadow in hazy illumination.
Since she opened the surf shop five years ago, her mornings usually belonged to it and she rarely got to go biking before 3pm. She'd never gotten around to hiring someone else to work the store, so it was just her and Sue. Jump would open and Sue would usually close.
Mondays were the one day they decided to close the store so they could both have a day off. So far, it was working out. But Jump really needed a bike ride today, so she'd asked Sue yesterday to switch shifts.
Even with the late morning start, she was still happy to get out and climb the hills and ride along the ridge that overlooked the Pacific Ocean. Up here, she thought of nothing but pushing through on her pedal strokes and navigating the slightly rocky terrain of the single-track trail.
At the summit, she stopped to take a drink of her water and enjoy the view for a few moments. She looked down to where she knew her shop would be and then let her eyes scan the beach. She could barely make out the people soaking up the last of the late September warmth.
She then shielded her eyes as she gazed into the vast blue-green ocean seemingly filled with billions of dancing diamonds as it reflected the sun back up to the sky.
She leaned on her bike in a bit of trance for a few more moments until she heard some voices coming up the trail. Her solitude now gone, she pulled her gloves back on, clipped into her pedals and with three strong strokes, was flying down the back of the ridge.
"Christ, sis, couldn't you see I have my ear plugs in!" He cried as he pointed to his ear with one hand while he held the welding torch with the other.
"Sorry, I should have realized." She smiled sheepishly at him. "Is the concrete almost ready?"
"Yep, it's setting up pretty nice, we are just waiting for Alex and Clay to finish up so they can help pour."
"Great. Are you still coming over for dinner tonight? Mark is cooking." Bernadette asked as she made a show of inspecting his work. He unconsciously leaned out of the way so she could get a better look. It made her smile.
"Well, he is leaving for a year, I guess I could take his cooking one more time." They both shared chuckles at Mark's ability, or rather, inability to cook. At least she had extinguishers at home. And Tums.
"I talked him into barbequing steak. I'll watch him closely too." Bernadette winked.
"Right on." Matt said as he flipped his goggles back down. A few seconds later, he flipped them back up and called after Bernadette's retreating form.
"Can I… Oh never mind." Matt faltered.
"What?" She had a good idea what he wanted to ask. She just enjoyed torturing her little brother.
He really is having a hard time with this, she thought. She decided to help him out.
"Does this have anything to do with a certain blonde?" She smiled as he turned a little red. I guess I have my answer, she mused.
"Bring her along. Perhaps we can go dancing afterwards." She couldn't resist.
For weeks, Matt had been suspiciously quiet about his love life. He was usually very forthright in telling his sister about women he would flirt with or go out with. Not to brag, it was just the way he was. Where Mark and herself were pretty low-key daters, and their younger sister Carrie was already married, Matt would go out on dates weekly.
He was handsome, very charming and boyish; something that it seemed every girl in the region was interested in. So it wasn't a big surprise when Matt started talking about a blonde he'd been dating.
What was a surprise was that he'd kept it a secret for a couple of weeks and that the girl was the same one he asked to dance with the night of his birthday.
When he'd finally told Bernadette about it, she couldn't help but smile. It was just too damn cute. He stopped several times during the telling and threatened not to go on until she stopped sighing like a love-struck teenager. He truly thought she was mocking him when in reality she was a tad bit jealous. She suddenly realized that she would have liked to have someone talking excitedly about her like Matt was about this one.
"So, one night, I just picked up that piece of paper with the dance instructor's name thinking, what have I got to lose? Perhaps I can learn some moves and pick up even more chicks!" He grinned widely at that while his sister just groaned.
"Anyway, I decided to call. I figure the worse that could happen would be she just gave me a bogus name and number and I would just pretend I had the wrong number."
His face lights up a bit as he continues. "So I dial the number and a woman answers. I ask if this is the Charles Lucas Dance Studio and she starts laughing. I started to hang up when she says, "Hey what is your name again?"
"We talked for like an hour and decided to meet. When I asked her about the whole dance instructor thing she told me that if I thought enough to call about dance lessons, I might be good dating material."
"Why did you keep her a secret?" Bernadette realized she really wanted to know the answer.
He drew his eyebrows together in thought, trying to find words to explain his feelings.
"Usually the girls I meet just become anecdotal stories I tell others. Not that I don't enjoy going out with them or don't respect them. I'm just not interested in pursuing them for more than just a couple of fun dates. With Sue it is different. I guess I didn't want to jinx it or something. Is that silly of me, Bernsy?"
"No, Matt…not at all. Not at all." Bernadette had said.
"So you aren't afraid to bring her to meet the crazy Rand family?" Bernadette asked as they were cleaning up at the end of the day.
Matt smiled and answered, "No, well, except for Dad. I'm afraid he'll give me a hard time about her being a little older than me."
"By how much?" Bernadette asked.
"Um, about 6 years." He said quietly.
"Really? Wow, you go little brother!" Bernadette laughed as they walked to their trucks.
"What's wrong?" Jump said as she caught sight of Sue in the shop. This wouldn't have usually caused alarm but Sue was early for her shift. Naturally Jump thought something was wrong.
"Nothing is wrong, Boss. A girl can't be a little early to work once in awhile?" Sue continued to the back of the store to drop off her stuff as Jump muttered, "Try never in awhile."
"I heard that!" Sue called to her as she checked the dressing rooms for clothing to put away. Both Jump and the customer she was ringing up chuckled as they exchanged quick, friendly glances.
"Thanks for coming in." Jump smiled as the customer left with her beach sundries. Sue waited until the customer was out the door before hopping onto the counter and batting her eyelashes at her boss.
"You know that doesn't work on me… much." Jump swatted the girl on the hip. "Whaddya want?"
"Could I skip the store clean up tonight and just lock up? I'll keep it up during the rest of the day so there won't be much to do when you open tomorrow. I promise."
"That's fine. Just don't forget to bring in the display racks from outside, okay? You can bring them in a little early if you want."
"Thank you!" Sue beamed as she hopped off the counter to put the clothing away she'd collected from the dressing rooms.
"You have a date with that same guy?" Jump asked casually as she began collecting her stuff to go home.
"Yep, I'm meeting his family tonight. Apparently he has a brother…"
Jump cut that line of conversation right off.
"Don't even start with me Suzy Matchmaker. I'm way too busy, and besides, I really like where I am right now in my life. I have no one to answer to, no one drinking the last of the orange juice and putting the empty carton back, no one creating extra laundry in the bathroom or extra dishes in the sink. Nope, I'm fine with my life."
Sue sighed. Jump didn't know what she was missing. She'd only known Matt a few weeks but she already sensed this guy was the one. She got butterflies just thinking about him. Some day Jump would know this feeling.
She knew Jump well enough not to push her though. As sweet as her boss was, she was pretty set in her ways and not just a little headstrong. She knew what it took Jump to get this prime spot for her shop 5 years ago. It wasn't on her good looks alone.
She'd been friends with Jump since meeting her at lifeguard training 8 years ago. They'd become friends pretty much instantly; definitely supporting the opposites attract theory. Sue's wildness was yin to Jump's practical yang.
Yet they seemed to compliment each other in a way. Sue would drag her out to parties to try and get her friend to cut loose once in a while. Jump actually would, but never to the point where she couldn't track down the blonde who'd inevitably cut loose way too much and make sure she got home safely.
Jump always had it together and Sue was happy to be along for the ride.
So, when Jump announced that she was going to open a surf shop and pointed to the exact location where she was going to open it, a small building in desperate need of repair, Sue had no doubt that it was going to happen.
It took her friend 3 years of working God knows how many jobs, saving, going without, pawning and borrowing for enough to buy the lease to the little shop.
Once she did, she called in favors from friends, working herself 15 to 18 hours a day for months to get it where it is today- a reputable, stable business with a steady stream of regulars and tourists.
There were many other surf shops on the same street but everyone loved the easy nature of the owner and her willingness to go above and beyond to make her customers happy. She was active in the community, always volunteering her time and or products to help keep the beach clean and kept up.
Now, five years later the shop had finally begun to turn a marginal profit and what Jump didn't use on living expenses went right back into the little shop for little improvements.
"Have a good time tonight. And remember, don't do anything I wouldn't do!" Called Jump as she went to collect her stuff to leave.
Sue giggled at her and couldn't help wishing for her friend the happiness she herself had just begun to experience.
"What's the number to order pizza, Bernsy?" Matt called out to Bernadette who was on the back deck of the house.
"It's the little pizza magnet on the fridge. Order whatever you want just make sure it has pepperoni, pineapple and no green peppers!" Bernadette yelled back as her and Mark finished putting out the little 'fire' that used to be 7 lovely cuts of rib-eye.
"Wow, I didn't realize your bbq burned so hot. You should get one of those new ones. You know with the…"
Mark felt the glare more than saw it from his older sister. Frank, their father, just sat back in his beach chair, chuckling.
"Shut up, pop!" they both growled in unison, which made him laugh even louder.
He sobered a little and wiping the laughing tears from his eyes he said, "What would your mom think, telling your old man off like that!"
They both looked at each other and Mark replied, "She'd have told you to put down the beer and get the fire extinguisher instead of yelling, "Steaks are on fire!"
All three laughed and then trailed off into their own memories, each remembering something about the woman they'd lost almost three years ago to a vicious, indiscriminate killer-cancer. It was times like this when the family was together, that they'd feel her loss the most.
It was their father that broke out of the reverie first with a smile and red-rimmed eyes. "Come on, my children. Let's go make sure Matt ordered enough pizza."
"So, Sue, did you grow up around here?" Mark asked, making small talk while they ate pizza.
"Yeah, lived my whole life within 10 minutes of the beach. I wouldn't trade it for anything. The people are just so nice and easy going, you know?"
Bernadette could tell Mark took a liking to the friendly blonde. If she didn't know Mark better she'd swear he was flirting with her. Watch it, bro.
As Sue started telling Mark about her friend's shop she works at, Bernadette's eyes casually scanned over the table. She caught Matt looking at Sue's profile. She'd never seen Matt look at anyone like that before. It was somewhere between, "What did I do to deserve this" and "I want to jump your bones." She was a little embarrassed at catching that semi-private moment, until it dawned on her. He hadn't slept with her yet. Wow. I'm impressed.
She tuned back into the conversation in time to hear the makings of a textbook matchmaking attempt.
"So, if you are still here for a few more months, you should stop by and meet her. She's really cool and she loves to mountain bike too. Perhaps you could go together." Sue paused and then added, "Her nickname is Jump. Everyone calls her that. Ask her how she got it. That should break the ice easily." She finished with a glint of mischief in her sparkling brown eyes.
Smooth, Sue, but Mark will never go for it, thought Bernadette. Still, she liked this girl. She had a lot of spunk.
"How was dinner with Loverboy and his family last night?" asked Jump as she and Sue were busy opening some boxes filled with light jackets and sweats for the upcoming fall season.
"Well, I'll have you know it was a lot of fun. His family is great. And gorgeous, everyone of them." She seemed to be entertaining a very private, naughty thought when Jump cleared her throat to get her attention.
"Sorry. What was I saying?"
"Never mind what you were saying, what were you thinking?" Jump asked with a grin on her face to match Sue's.
Sue dropped what she was doing and faced her long-time friend.
In her Sue-like way she blurted out, "I think I'm in love with him and I haven't even slept with him!"
"Wow. Really?" This was not something Jump expected Sue to say. Ever.
"I really think he's it, my friend. No… I know, he is the one."
After a beat, Jump took her friend's hands in her own and smiled so big her nose and eyes crinkled. Sue rarely saw this type of smile from her friend. It made it all the more special to know that this rare smile was solely for her. Then it made her feel all the more guilty when a newly familiar handsome face sauntered into the shop.
Oh boy… Jump's gonna kill me.
"Remind me again why you're my friend?" Jump said through clenched teeth as Sue showed up to relieve her the next day, an hour early. "Cuz I honestly can't remember."
Sue knew Jump had been livid when she finally realized what was going on. Sue didn't have time to explain before Mark spotted them and nervously introduced himself.
Sue realized that Matt was right in saying Mark was good-looking, but really shy. She imagined the coaxing it must have taken from Matt to get the guy into Jump's shop. Sue stepped in after an awkward silence and formerly introduced them. "Jessie, this is Mark. Mark is Matt's brother."
To her credit, Jump was very polite and gave him a small smile and held out her hand. "Hi, Jessie. It is nice to meet you. Uh…Sue was telling me about what a nice shop you have and I uh…" Both girls were internally wincing at his awkwardness. Right before Sue stepped in to help the poor guy out, he seemed to gather a bit of courage and said, "Would you like to go mountain biking sometime? I mean… Sue told me you liked to and…"
Jump shot Sue a look that said, "You'll pay for this".
But still, she couldn't stand seeing the man any more uncomfortable. Besides he was gorgeous, like Sue said.
"Sure, Mark." She replied with a smile.
Mark took a second to register the 'sure.' "Great! When would you like to go?"
"How's next Saturday morning? I'm sure Sue will open the store for me bright and early. Right, Sue?"
"Right!" Sue said a little too happily. She thought she could see Jump relaxing a bit as she began to show Mark around the shop.
Sue happily continued unpacking the boxes thinking she'd done her too serious friend a favor.
Until Mark asked about her nickname.
Sue sighed. She really had her heart in the right place. As long as she'd known Jump, she'd rarely dated and she just seemed so…lonely. She looked at her friend and knew she was doing the right thing in trying to get her out there into the dating scene.
"Besides, how was I to know you'd be so sensitive about your nickname. Everyone else thinks its cool!"
"It's cool to people who live their lives recklessly and have no regard for their own safety. It's cool to hotdoggers and wanna bes." Jump blew out an exacerbated breath and continued. "It's not cool to have to explain to someone you don't know who…" She didn't know how to finish the sentence.
"You might care what they think?" Sue cautiously finished for her.
Before Jump could argue, Sue continued. "Look, it was dumb of me to tell him to ask you. I just thought with the mountain biking interest and all…"
"It's okay Sue, really…just do me a favor. Never, ever spring something on me like that again, okay?" Jump made Sue promise.
"Okay!" She finally said as green eyes peered at her with intensity.
Continued in Chapter 3
Return to the Academy