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}

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12. Chapter 12

{ A/N - There's a lot of room for improvement on this chapter, but vote, comment and enjoy. }

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“Have you any idea how many calories are in that thing?”

I glanced at my best friend warily, pinching the straw of my Frappuccino and taking a sip tentatively. Tiffany had her eyebrows raised at me expectantly as she sipped her soy latte. I shrugged in response.

“I don’t know, Tiff,” I sighed, swooping into a seat at a free table.

“Well, there are 11 spoons of sugar in it at least,” she informed me, snapping a sesame stick in half for effect and perching on the chair opposite me.

I nodded absently. “Okay.”

Tiffany waved the stick in front of my face in a bid to grab my attention. “Hello? Earth to Lilly? Is anyone in there?”

I batted her hand away. “Hello, Tiffany.”

“What’s the matter with you today? You’re so distracted.”

I sighed. “Nothing. I’m fine.”

Tiffany frowned concernedly. “I’ve known you for long enough to know that you are not telling the full truth. So spill it. Is it something to do with Luke?”

I shot her a look. “Tiffany. Please. There is nothing going on between us.

 “Okay, so what is it then?”

I exhaled deeply again, scanning the room. The coffee shop was swarming with customers in search for a cool drink to quench their thirst, sparked by the burning heat of the day. Ellis was dishing change into the barrister’s hand, clutching an iced caramel macchiato. I waved to alert him of our position and he sidled over us.

“Jai found out about me leaving soon last night,” I informed her, stealing a glance at Ellis. He was swirling his straw around his coffee absently, tuned out of the conversation.

“That’s good...right?” Tiffany prompted. “Now you don’t have to hide anything from him anymore.”

“Yeah, but he didn’t hear it from me,” I said purposefully, shooting Ellis a glare. This time, he got the hint and bowed his head in shame. “Someone got pretty drunk last night.”

Tiffany pursed her lips disapprovingly, glaring at our friend as well. She crumbled the last of her savoury snack in her hand and dusted the remains onto the ground. But her tone was reasoning as she defended Ellis. “Look, you can hardly blame him. Jai was going to find out sooner or later, even if it was from the mouth of your drunken best friend.”

Ellis snorted. “I wasn’t as pissed as you make me out to be.”

Tiffany shot him a venomous look. “Ellison, you were annihilated. And that’s fair enough for you to say that, but was the one who had to drive you home.”

He nursed his forehead in reply, illustrating Tiffany’s point.

“You were pretending to drive the car with a paper plate as Tiffany drove,” I added, dead-pan. He squinted at me in disbelief.

“Oh,” he grunted. “I’m sorry. I’m also sorry for telling Jai without your permission.”

I offered him a weak smile. “It’s no big deal.”

An uncomfortable silence dawned between us and I shifted in my seat, stirring the cream which was ladled on my drink with my straw. I craned my neck up at the ceiling, peering around.

“Is there even air-conditioning in here?” I queried. “I feel like I’ve been stuck in a giant oven all day.”

“Welcome to Australia, mon ami,” Ellis commented, referring to his limited knowledge of the French language once again. I glanced at him with a frown on my face, silently urging him to reconsider his words. He slapped his hand over his mouth as he acknowledged his mistake.

“I mean...you should be used to it by now?” he resurrected.

I shook my head grimly. “Not much better.”

“Sorry,” he pointed to his head. “Still got a hangover. My head’s killing me.”

“Ellis, you are like this most of the time, hangover or not,” Tiffany corrected, fanning a hand in front of her face, to no avail. “But I’m pretty sure you’re right, Lilly. The air con is either broken or it’s too hot for it to have any effect.”

I shrugged as a cool breeze wafted into the shop, puncturing the heat briefly. The gust was followed by a chorus of loud voices and every head snapped towards the entrance, where five young men were traipsing in clumsily.

“I have never needed a Frappuccino more in my life,” Luke announced loudly, shaking his t-shirt to cool himself. I caught a glimpse of his tanned chest as he did so.

“Oh my God, look how long to queue is! I told you we should’ve gone to Shake Shack!” Daniel moaned, dragging his feet behind the rest of them.

“What, and drive another half an hour into town in a car with a broken air con?” Beau shot back, elbowing his friend. “Fucktard.”

James peered at the ceiling curiously. “I don’t think the air conditioning is working in here, either.”

By now, the customers had resumed their conversations or sitting around idly, drinking coffee and tapping away at their tablets or laptops. But my gaze remained fixed on my friends as they joined the queue.

Luke’s gaze scanned the crowd, as if he was searching for someone. When his eyes rested on me, a victorious beam blossomed on his lips. “Lilly!”

I grinned back, swivelling in my chair. “Could you guys have made a more quiet entrance? I barely noticed you arrive.”

“Ever the Queen of Sarcasm,” he answered, elbowing his twin. “Look who it is.”

Jai peered over his shoulder, glancing at me. He shot me a half-hearted grin which didn’t reach his eyes, before returning to the menu board.

 “That is not a good sign,” I frowned at Tiffany, taking a long swig from my drink. She shrugged and withdrew another sesame stick from the packet.

The boys trudged over, grasping refreshing drinks. They pulled the nearest table closer to ours, the legs scraping against the floor – only drawing more unwanted attention. I noticed that they were laden with filming gear, which they dumped on the floor haphazardly.

“Thirty-two degrees Celsius,” James announced, peering at his phone. “And that’s just indoors.”

“I think I’ll take an ice bath when I get home,” I stated.

“I think I’ll join you,” Skip replied.

“I hope you meant that metaphorically and not literally,” I wrinkled my nose.

“So, what are you guys up to today?” Ellis inquired conversationally.

“We’re going to film a new video,” Luke replied gleefully, indicating to the camera equipment. “Lilly, do you want to help me edit it again tomorrow?”

I smiled. “Maybe.”

“Maybe?” he raised his eyebrows.

“Lilly might have other things to do,” Beau interrupted, failing to disguise the venom in his voice. “Making the most of every last day, y’know.”

I gawped at him, stung by his remark. I bit my lip, glancing at Jai. His head was bowed over his phone.

Luke shot me a mischievous smile. “She can make the most of everyday with me. Can’t you, Lilly?”

I smiled and nodded in a non-committal response, my eyes drifting towards Tiffany for help. She sipped her latte innocently, raising her hands as if to demonstrate that she was not getting involved.

“Talking making the most of everyday...” James said, his words uttered so quick they seemed to melt into the next. “We should make a summer bucket list. Do something fun each day to maximise fun.”

“Who needs fun when you have the Janoskians?” Beau said, leaning back in his chair with his hands behind his head.

 James ignored him. “We could go bowling and penny-boarding and have a barbeque and go to a theme park and have a Disney movie-marathon!”

“Disney move marathon?” Ellis questioned, squaring his shoulders in a wordless reminder of his masculinity.

“You are never too old for Disney movies,” I answered for James.

“Yeah - especially High School Musical,” Luke added. We all shot him a questioningly glare in unison and he shrugged carelessly.

“Or go on a hot air balloon...and climb to the top of the Eiffel Tower...and ride an elephant...” James continued, his ideas getting more far-fetched.

“All in one summer?” Daniel questioned. “Because a summer can go faster than you think, sometimes.”

I frowned again, staring pointedly at my drink. I couldn’t help but feel like this conversation was secretly directed towards me.

“I think a joint summer bucket list is a good idea,” Tiffany piped up, sensing the same hint I had caught wind of. She shot me a sympathetic glance. “I mean, I can’t guarantee that we can climb to the top of the Eiffel Tower by the end of the summer or ride an elephant, but we can teach you guys to surf and...go to a theme park, naturally, have a Disney move marathon.”

“And put soap in a public fountain,” Skip added with a playful grin. We all shot him the same look we had given Luke just moments before.

“Or we could adopt a hedgehog,” Luke said, earning another of the group stares. “What? Hedgehogs are cute.”

“Do you know what? That sounds like a deal,” Jai said, parting with his phone briefly. He stole a glance at me out of the corner of his eye.

“You guys are crazy,” Ellis said, leaning back in his chair and stretching dramatically. “I didn’t realize you could get so high on sugar and caffeine.”

Beau glanced at his phone before pushing back his chair and jumping to his feet. “Right, we better start filming this video. Make the most of our time, you know...”

 “We better get going too. Lilly, I’m going to the mall – need some new shorts. Are you coming?” Tiffany said, numbing the force of Beau’s indirect words.

I nodded, staggering to my feet. A sigh slipped its way out of my mouth. The underlying message in the boys’ words was unmistakable. I knew what they were getting at.

The large huddle of us found our way to the door, where we were immediately greeted with a blast of beaming sun which instantly clawed at our skin mercilessly. A soft breeze was laced in the heat however, refreshingly cool in comparison to the stuffiness of the coffee shop.

I fell into stride with Jai, a couple of paces behind the rest of the group. He shoved his hands in his pockets, his gaze glued to the ground.

“Jai...” I began, my voice trailing off into another sigh.

His jaw tensed. “I told them. I told them, because they deserve to know.”

I ran a hand over my forehead. “So I gathered. How did they take it?”

“Better than I expected. I mean, we’ve only known you for two weeks. It’s hardly the end of the world.”

I chewed my lip, the weight of his words stinging me. It hurt more than I’d anticipated, because the truth cut through what I wanted to hear. To me, the two weeks I had known the boys had been a whirlwind; but it still felt like they were old friends I’d known my whole life.

Maybe they didn’t feel the same way.

“But it might be the end of Luke’s world...” Jai said lowly, daring to look at me. I met his eyes, my face framed with despair.

“You didn’t tell him...?”

 “That’s your responsibility,” he informed me. “And you better tell him before someone else does.”

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