[Good Evening, friends! Call me lazy, but what follows is an excerpt from my June 2012 Camp NaNoWriMo novel. I'm ALMOST too tired to set it up at all. The people in this scene have gathered at the beach at the request of their dead longtime friend. It's the first morning. Some of them have hangovers.]
Saturday morning scampered up from the Atlantic Ocean with a sparkling blue sky, little fluffy cloudlets and a warm southerly breeze. It was the kind of day for which beaches, boats and convertible cars were all invented. With the house situated on the west side of narrow strip of salty land that is Southern Shores, morning has to work its way over several blocks of houses and trees in order to reach it. The sun had tried to wake Nicole when it first shot through her bedroom window, but she had hit snooze, by way of a pillow over her head. From the third floor suite, she couldn't hear anyone stirring, but by nine-thirty she could smell them. Someone was cooking, and it was filling the house with aromas that simply would not be ignored.
She showered, pulled on her swimsuit, shorts and a tank-top. Wait. Swackhammer is here, she thought. Over the tank went Bobby's old Ocean City t-shirt. She fought with her makeup for a few minutes, but her eyeliner was in a mood, and refused to cooperate. She tossed it aside, said "meh" to her reflection, grabbed her beach towel and trashy beach book, took a couple of deep breaths, then headed downstairs.
Almost everyone else was already up. The girls were on the deck with Dean, who was trying to teach them how to operate his remote-controlled helicopter, but they were quickly losing interest, because they were girls and it was boring. Nicole zombied over to the coffee maker, but found it to be missing its pot. She turned and surveyed the kitchen though half-open eyes with uneven eyeliner. "Coffee," she grunted.
"Here it is Nic. Maybe two minutes old." Chloe held up the pot, but before she could get up, Nicole was at her side, holding out her mug like a beggar.
She inhaled the caffeinated fumes hungrily, then took that first, too-hot-but-I-don't-care sip. "Coffee," she sighed.
"Good morning Nic," Ted whispered, recalling from their last reunion the 'don't engage Nicole before her first cup of coffee' rule. He gestured gently in the direction of an unoccupied chair next to Astrid.
"Coffee," she smiled, and sat. "Coffee, coffee."
They let her drink her beloved elixir, while Astrid and Chloe finished working out a rough plan for the day, which left Chloe visibly relieved. Ted was cooking, and cleaning as he went.
"Mmmm... coffee," Nicole sighed. She stopped and looked thoughtfully at her mug, as if suddenly realizing she had picked up someone else's by mistake. "Good coffee. What is this?"
"Some rich-people coffee," Astrid said. "Swack brought it. Probably just bought the most expensive thing he could find and assumed it would be good."
"That's true, except for the assuming. It's a blend of some blue Java and organic Ethiopian beans, and I know it's good, baby." Swack announced, stepping into the kitchen. He was clean, but looked rather like he'd been water-boarded for the past 60 hours.
"Morning, Nic. Sorry I missed you, last night." He leaned over and kissed the top of her head.
"Coffee," she said. "Morning. Thank you. Coffee. Fabulous."
Swack smiled. "She still on her first cup?"
"Yes," the others chorused softly.
"Got it," he whispered with a wink. "Wow, Ted - did you make all this?"
"Yep. I'm about to do another batch of French toast. There are a couple homemade waffles left, fruit, fresh juice - and banana-nut muffins should be done in about five."
"And coffee!" Nicole added, pouring herself a second cup, and finally beginning to meet people's eyes.
"So, Ted's gonna be the house bitch, this time, or what?" Swack laughed, pouring himself some of his expensive coffee.
"You know what - maybe you'd prefer the corn flakes, sir." Ted snapped.
"All right, all right. Easy there, Martha Stewart. I can't not give you a hard time. It's my role in the group, and I take it very seriously."
"Well, that's true." Chloe agreed.
Nicole was coming to life. "Seriously, Ted - when did you become such an amazing cook? Before yesterday, I don't think we had ever seen you take on more than a frozen pizza."
"Well when Sarah and I were together--"
"Ooh - She Who Shall Not Be Named!" Astrid, Chole and Nicole said to each other, with wide eyes.
"Yes. She used to complain a lot about my uselessness in the kitchen, and she was right. I couldn't boil water. When we split up, she waited until the divorce was final, then told me that she had been seeing some other guy off and on for years, because he could cook."
"And by 'cook,' I assume she meant 'bone,' right?" Swack said.
"Shut up, Swack!" the room shouted.
"Ow, " moaned Astrid.
"Whatever, Swack. You're just sad because you're the only one here who can't get anyone to sleep with you more than once." Ted almost felt bad saying it, but Swack laughed it off, so he figured it must have been okay. "Anyway, I had all that free time. I took a couple of classes, bought some cookbooks and just started trying stuff. It's been a lot harder these past two years, with the unemployment and all, but I kind of like it. I'm considering trying to get a line cook or sous chef job, now that my benefits have run out."
"The hell you are!" Swack bellowed.
"Aaaahh... No yelling! Coffee. Coffee..." Nicole had resumed a defensive posture, holding her mug in front of her face with both hands.
"Sorry," Swack said. "Ted's going to be the new spokesman for my friends at Smithfield. Right, Ted?"
"What? Are you serious? When did this happen?" Astrid nearly shrieked, flinching at the self-inflicted pain of the first word, and whispering the rest.
"I said I'd think about it. Swack's just going to get me an interview. I doubt anything will come of it."
"Think about it, my ass. I'm telling you, that job is yours for the taking. Even you can't screw this up."
[Thanks for reading, guys. Join us next time, when I will hopefully have something written less than 5 months ago...]