30 Days Of Summer

One year. Twelve months. 365 days to find myself and live on the wild side in Australia. It seemed like a long time at the start. I made friends, learned how to surf, got a nice tan. The usual. Then I met five crazy Australians who changed my life. It wasn’t just the fun, the laughs, the risks, the love. They showed me a part of myself I didn’t even know existed. And suddenly, one year didn’t seem so long anymore. {http://www.wattpad.com/story/11732664-30-days-of-summer}


10. Chapter 10

{ A/N - vote, comment and enjoy. }

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The restaurant, which resembled more of a wooden hut than a diner, rested upon the shoreline and had a trademark scent of ocean spray, vanilla candles and char grilled steaks.

The dim lighting was atmospheric and the tables were booths with cushioned sofas in the style of a throwback American diner. The soft pang of acoustic music was audible under the lull of conversation and the chime of glasses and cutlery against plates piled with food. Distressed oak planks lined the walls and ceiling, and pinned to the walls were framed collections of sea shells.

The muted aura of the diner was punctured as six teenagers collapsed in, water still dripping from their hair. The adolescents were loud and rowdy, sparked by the burning hunger in their bellies. A waiter with hair as greasy as the steaks he served and a suit too tight around the waist greeted them with a grim-face, handing them each a menu and beckoning for them to follow him.

I ran a hand through my damp mahogany locks, tousled from the sea. “I don’t know about you, but I’m starving.”

Jai grunted in reply. “Surfing really wears you out.”

“You think? I don’t think I could ever get tired of surfing.”

“Maybe you’re a mermaid then,” Jai smirked.

“Shut up,” I scowled before my glare evaporated into a grin.

I sunk into the retro booth, the back of my legs gliding against the sticky red upholstery. The boys all hid behind tall menus, their faces disappearing. I glanced around until my gaze found Luke, the menu covering half his face. He caught my eye and shot me a grin.

The waiter returned, jotting down our drink requests in a feverish manner before scurrying off to the kitchen. The boys all set down their menus and glanced around cheekily. Daniel clicked his knuckles, his gaze darting around like a lion searching for its prey. I knew what was coming.

“Hey,” I said, clearing my throat. “Is it possible to ask for a formal, calm meal in which there are no awkward public situations, gross table manners or inappropriate conversation topics?”

“Well then, my friend, I think you are sitting at the wrong table,” James clarified, smirking at me. I sighed dramatically and glanced back at the menu.

“I’ll be having the same as normal,” Jai announced, flicking his menu at his brother opposite him.

“What, a quarter pounder with extra cheese and unlimited chips?” Beau said.

“No,” Jai glared at him. “Just a regular steak and chips, actually.

“Do you guys come here often?” I asked.

“Kind of. It’s literally a shack on the beach – there’s no point trekking all the way into town for another restaurant,” Luke replied.

I shrugged. “But all the food here has been in the deep-fryer for one hundred years and the chips are coated in oil. So much oil, in fact, that if you wrung a plate of them out you could potentially end America’s dependence on foreign oil.”

The boys laughed. “I’m guessing you’re not a fan of Jimmy’s Steak Shack then?”

I shrugged again. “Food is food.”

Beau doubled over in hysterics. “What the hell? You just, like, majorly contradicted yourself.”

“Beau Peter Brooks, I’m surprised you used such a big word.”

He scowled, his laughter gone. Instead, it hopped onto me and I beamed at him playfully.

The waiter returned, balancing a tray of iced drinks precariously on his forearm. He set down the drinks and I took a tentative sip of my lemonade, letting the refreshing, tangy liquid swirl in my mouth.

“Can I take your orders?” the waiter asked in a thick Southern drawl. The boys quickly scrabbled to deliver their requests to the waiter, their voices too loud. The man seemed slightly taken aback as he scribbled down on his small notepad.

Finally he glanced at me, raising his busy eyebrows at me questioningly. I realized that I’d been so absorbed watching the boys’ ridiculous antics that I hadn’t decided what I wanted to eat. I bit my lip, hastily thinking of a meal I knew they’d have on offer.

“Um...a regular steak and chips please,” I mumbled.

“ 'N how would y'all like yaw steak?”

I paused, struggling to decipher what the waiter had said through his heavy accent. “Er...medium rare?” The waiter nodded and collected the menus, scampering off.

“Someone’s hungry,” James quizzed, grinning at me. I frowned, unsure what he meant.

Beau cleared his throat, striking his fork against his glass. Heads turned from tables scattered across the room as all eyes snapped on Beau. I felt my cheeks flush as Beau straightened up, staring at the five of us. Eventually, the other people resumed their meals, resolving that it was just a hyper teenage boy craving attention. They weren’t particularly wrong.

“Okay, so. I’m sure you’re aware that we didn’t come out to this restaurant for no reason. We have something to celebrate.”

“Daniel is going to be having a baby!” James exclaimed. “Congratulations you little Gremlin!”

Daniel rubbed a hand over his stomach, puffing it out for effect. “Thank you, thank you.”

“Who’s the father?” I questioned, playing along. Daniel nodded towards Beau, who clapped a head over his chest and shook his head proudly.

“No, seriously. Lilly, it seems that the fans love you as much as we do,” Beau winked at me.

“Well, nearly as much,” Luke added in an undertone, winking as well. "Unfortunately, you lack the masculine charm we posess."

“And our new Daresundays video reached one hundred thousand views in less than twenty-four hours," Beau continued, "now if this isn’t a cause for celebration, I don’t know what is.”

The boys erupted in a round of applause, drawing unwanted attention and dirty glares from neighbouring tables once more. Beau cleared his throat again and raised his glass.

“A toast! To Lilly.”

“To Lilly!” The Janoskians echoed, clinking their glasses together in unison. A little too violently, perhaps, as Coke sloshed all over the table.

“You guys are crazy,” I said, shaking my head. But the smile I wore on my face felt bigger and more real than it had ever felt. These five crazy, immature Aussies made me feel like the happiest girl on Earth.

My joy vanished the second the waiter reappeared at our table, cradling several plates full of food. The salty aroma made my stomach churn with hunger, but as he placed a steaming dish piled with greasy food before me, I started to feel nauseous.

I wished I had considered my order more wisely. Jimmy’s Steak Shack was known for serving giant portions and even a ‘regular’ was large, too large. Suddenly, I understood why James had questioned my choice earlier.

The waiter caught my look of disgust. “Is everything okay, Miss?”

I glanced at him, forging a smile. “Yes, thank you.”

He nodded swiftly, unconvinced, before walking off. I stared at my plate blankly. There was enough food on it to feed a family of four for at least two Christmases.

“Too much food, Lil?” Beau chirped, reaching over and plucking a salt-drenched chip from my plate. “I’ll help you, don’t worry.”

“Now who’s the greedy one?” Jai cooed, pointing a fork accusingly at his brother.

“Well I only ordered a small, so I’ll have room to spare. Unlike you,” Beau shot back.

“You only ordered a woman’s portion, Beau!” Daniel teased. He picked up a fork and twirled spaghetti coated in tomato sauce around it before shoving it in his mouth.

“Skip, why have you ordered spaghetti at a steak restaurant?” I quizzed, raising an eyebrow.

“Leave him. He’s just a confused little gremlin,” Luke told me softly. “Plus, he’s teasing Beau for ordering a woman’s portion when only this morning he was considering dying his hair blonde.”

I snorted with laughter, stabbing my fork at a chip casually. “You’ve got to be kidding me.”

“Uh-uh,” Luke shook his head.

The meal took more willpower than I’d anticipated; I had to concentrate on chewing each mouthful of tough steak and swallowing the oily chips. Conversation dialled down to nothing as the boys savoured their meal. By the time the hunger in my stomach had disappeared, the plate was still half full.

“I’m stuffed,” I announced, pushing my plate forward and leaning back in my seat, patting my stomach. “Beau?”

Beau nodded towards his plate, which was scattered with steak fat trimmings. “This was too filling.”

“C’mon, Beau. You could do with some more meat on you,” James said, pinching his friend’s arm. Beau shrugged him off and flexed his biceps.

“This is pure muscle.”

“It will be pure muscle if you finished my steak,” I prompted. Beau shook his head solemnly.

“Are you too full for dessert?” Jai asked me.

“You can never be too full for dessert,” I smirked.

“You’re contradicting yourself again,” Beau warned in a sing-song voice.

The waiter came to clear our plates up, handing us the bill. The boys all glanced warily around the table, shooting each other challenging glares as they silently debated how they were going to share the costs.

I cleared my throat, pulling my phone out of my pocket to check the time. As I placed it on the table, it buzzed loudly. An incoming text flashed up on screen.

Tiffany Wood: Since you’ve only got 16 precious days left in the Land of Oz, how do u fancy joining Ellis & I for a party? Meet u at ur house at half 9 if you're free xx

“What’s that?” Jai’s voice dragged me back into reality as he peered at the screen. I snatched the phone away quickly, cursing Tiffany mentally for dropping such valuable details so casually, and cursing myself for putting the phone in Jai’s view.

I glanced at him warily. “Nothing.”

Jai gritted his teeth and dropped his voice to a low growl. “What did that text say?”

I gulped, unable to meet his eye. “Um...Tiffany was inviting me to a party. You know what; I think I’ll ask her if we can all go. I think we need to, um...let our hair down?”

Jai stared at me, his jaw tight. His eyes were searching mine, staring right through me. The air between us became thick and intense. Finally, he dropped my gaze and exhaled deeply.

“Yeah. That’s a good idea.”

My palms were sweaty as I texted Tiffany back, my fingers dancing over the keypad hesitantly.

is it ok if the boys come along too? xx

Her reply came through just seconds later, confirming that it was alright. The boys had managed to split the costs of the meal evenly and we stood to leave, tipping the waiter as we left. The dull feeling in the pit of my stomach was now caused not only by how stuffed I was, but the haunting image of Jai’s face as he saw the text.

“Guys, we’ve got a party to go to. Drinks are on me!” I announced. I tried to force optimism into my voice, but it was still shaky.

“We can’t let a lady pay for the drinks,” Luke grinned, slipping his arm around my shoulder.

“But you guys paid for the meal,” I argued.

“If you want to pay for our drinks, you’re gonna be broke by the end of the night,” Luke joked. I giggled shyly, my gaze falling to the ground. He had no idea what I was hiding from him. He had no idea I was hiding anything from him at all.

The problem was, Jai did.

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