Status: In progress

Back to the Beach

Chapter 10

My brothers are the first to notice my escort and charge at Zach like he is the Easter Bunny himself! He pulls out Easter gifts for each of them and then hands my Grandma a beautiful bouquet for the table. I’m flabbergasted to say the least. I give him a quick elbow to the side – “Hey, don’t I get an Easter gift?” I smile at him, playing along just to get myself through this ‘new and improved’ Zach. “Patience Bernadette, you’ll see your gift later.” He replies quickly. What is he up to now?

For some reason, the whole family seems to be here for dinner. Mostly everyone remembers Zach so it should be easygoing, plus I’m hoping with everyone around me they will be able to run interference for me. I don’t want Zach thinking that all is right with us when it isn’t. Although he could use a dose of his own medicine, I don’t have it in me to be that way. As we are all gathered in the living room, the family stories start flowing. Thankfully, Zach has heard most of my embarrassing stories so I don’t have to worry. I excuse myself to go help in the kitchen and it’s not long before my mother corners me.
“Bernadette Moira O’Rourke! What is going on?” she asks quietly as I ready the mashed potatoes. “Mom, I honestly couldn’t tell you. I was having breakfast on the porch and Zach just showed up to bring me home. I’m just as surprised as you.” I whisper back. She crosses her arms. “Hmm, I don’t know what he is up to Bern, please tread carefully.” Mom warns. “I’m trying Mom, really I am.” I don’t know if I say that for her benefit or my own.

Dinner is finally served and Zach chooses to sit at the ‘kids table’. He is really putting on quite a show for my family. My cousin, Kirsten has so many questions, when Will and Declan find out he loves hockey poor Zach will be done for. My older cousin, Seamus gives me a poke as he follows behind his fiancée, Abby to find their seats. “What’s all this about B? Thought that one was history?” he says so that only those closest to us could hear. My sister doesn’t miss the opportunity to chime in. “That one will never be history for Bern.” Keegan says sarcastically. “Thanks for the vote of confidence sis.” I quickly reply before taking my seat. I do not want to have this discussion at Easter dinner with my entire family present.

The meal is almost done and I steal a glance at Zach. He has made himself right at home and is seriously entertaining the kids. He catches me looking at him and he winks at me. Busted! My breath catches just a bit, and crap! I think I’m blushing too. “Are you warm Bern? You look flushed.” My Grandma asks. There is a hearty chuckle emanating from the other room. Zach is quite satisfied with himself at the moment.

As we start to clear the table for dessert, Zach offers to help. I’m not sure how much more of this new Zach I can handle. “We’ve got this Zach.” I admonish him just a bit. My sister once again chimes in. “Cool; if Zach is helping, I’m going to watch the game.” I can’t win for trying it seems. Before I know it, it’s just Zach and I in the kitchen. He is cleaning the dishes while I load them into the dishwasher. Without warning, this mundane task takes a more serious turn. “Wow Bern, I can imagine us doing this in our own home one day.” He muses out loud. What? “Did I just say that Bern? I’m sorry.” He whispers quietly. “I don’t want to put any pressure on you here.” “Zach, please. I haven’t even had a minute to breathe since you picked me up. Let’s get through the rest of the Easter festivities please.” I plead. “Of course Bern, anything you want. I’m just along for the ride.” He replies as we finish cleaning up in silence.

For the life of me, I do not know what is going on. All of the things I ever wanted Zach to be he has become. It’s like he matured overnight and I can’t deal with it, especially with my family surrounding me, and thoughts of Jake still lingering in my mind. Just then my phone lights up – it’s Jake. “Happy Easter love, missing you already xo.” A wide smile crosses my face as I read his message and Zach is not pleased. “I used to be the one who put that smile there.” He says before leaving me in the kitchen. The last thing I want to do is hurt Zach right now. He has been amazing to me today and for the first time in a long while, I’m happy with him. As I walk out of the kitchen, I shoot him a quick text. “You can still make me smile – look!” As he opens the message, I give him a sweet smile. He seems relieved. Gah! I wish I knew what his game is. This is so frustrating.

Dessert is being served and we all make our way back into the dining room. Seeing all the ice cream makes me think of delicious memories of Jake. I’ll be sure to text him back later. In the meantime, Zach is concocting the biggest sundae possible, much to the awe of my young cousins. He takes a seat next to me with his gigantic creation. “Ahh Bern, I’ve built us a perfect sundae for two, wanna share?” The look on Declan’s face is priceless as he exclaims “Ew! You like girls?” The whole table erupts in laughter.