I'm back with Chapter 3. There were a couple of scenes that took a lot more time than others and I don't know if there's too much speech. Feedback would be much appreciated.
The following Saturday morning, Alan was returning to where he’d left his towel after his first sunrise surf in Summer Bay when Ziggy Astoni ran down the beach towards the ocean with her own surfboard.
“Hey, do I know you from somewhere?” Ziggy asked, double-taking.
“Yeah, you might,” Alan replied. “It’s Ziggy Astoni, right?”
“Yeah, it is. I think I’ve seen you surfing up the coast before. You’re Bella-Rose Marshall’s cousin?”
“It’s Alan Nash.”
“It’s great to see you again,” Ziggy put down her surfboard to give her old surfing friend a hug. “What brings you to Summer Bay?”
“The waves and my family, mostly. I got a job at Ben’s Boards at the Surf Club.”
“You’re working for Dean Thompson?”
“Yeah, my mum called Uncle Alf to tell him that I’d be coming to stay here for a while, and he thought that a job at the board shop could be a good fit for me.”
“You’ll soon learn that everybody knows everybody around here. Dean and I are a bit “on-and-off”.”
“Ooh, I sense a story there,” Alan nudged Ziggy playfully. “Tell me what I need to know about my new boss.”
“Not before I go for a surf,” Ziggy blocked the question. “I might tell you over a coffee later though. You had breakfast yet?”
“I’m about to meet up with Ryder and his friends for breakfast at the Diner, but then we’re just going to see where the day takes us.”
“How about drinks at Salt? It’s upstairs from the board shop.”
“I know. Aunty Roo and I had drinks there while Ryder was working last night.”
“How does 8 o’ clock sound?”
“It’s a date!” Alan confirmed, putting on his shoes and gathering his things together to leave.
“See you later,” Ziggy headed out into the waves.
"So Alan, did you have a girlfriend at home?" Chloe flirted while she waited with Ryder, Nikau and Alan for Bella and their breakfast to arrive.
"Excuse me," Ryder protested, "your boyfriend is literally sitting right here."
"Well, what if I got bored of you?" Chloe shrugged.
"But he's my COUSIN!"
"You're not the one who's dating him, Ryder," Nikau piped in.
"I heard that our mums once dated the same guy," Alan told Ryder.
"Ewww," Ryder shuddered in disgust at this information about his mother's former dating life.
"You mean Steven Matheson?" Marilyn asked, delivering a tray of milkshakes to the teens' table.
"Yeah, Mum and Dad are still great friends with him," Alan replied. “He and Selina have two girls and a boy now.”
"I dated him too for a short time," Marilyn admitted.
“You did?” Ryder asked, intrigued.
“Yes, we did the HSC together, and then when he came back to teach at Summer Bay High for a while, I asked him to teach me some self-defence and I quite literally fell for him. He has a black belt in karate.”
“Do you remember any of those karate moves now?” Nikau challenged.
“Oh no, don’t be silly,” Marilyn blushed.
Ryder and Alan both pulled faces.
"Hey Marilyn, do you have any empty rubbish bags and anything we can pick litter with?" Alan asked.
"Yes, we have some in the kitchen. Why do you ask?"
"Well, Dad got me into youth environment and litter-picking campaigns, and I thought it could be a good idea to do a beach clean."
"I think that's a wonderful idea," Marilyn. "Let Irene know what you're borrowing and help yourself."
“This is boring,” Ryder moaned as he and Chloe trailed behind Alan, Bella and Nikau as they picked up litter on the beach.
“Yeah, I’d rather just lie down in the sun or go to the Surf Club for a gelato,” Chloe agreed.
“Come on, you guys,” Alan encouraged them. “We need to save our beaches for the future generations of teenagers in Summer Bay.”
“And photographs of beaches filled with plastic look pretty gross,” Bella added, picking some plastic out of the sand and holding it up.
“And what if all this plastic got into the sea, huh?” Alan continued. “My dad had a whale-watching business when he lived here and what if all those whales died because they swallowed plastic that YOU hadn’t cleaned up and then a vet opened up a whale that had washed up on the beach and found its stomach filled with little pieces of plastic?”
“But this plastic isn’t in the sea yet,” Ryder countered. “It’s just on the beach.”
“Well, the birds could still accidentally eat it,” Nikau took Alan and Bella’s side.
“There’s already plastic in the sea and we don’t want to add more to it,” Alan explained. “My cousin and I know Ziggy Astoni from some of our surfing trips and I ran into her when I went for a surf this morning, and I had the idea of going paddle boarding and doing a litter pick at the same time. I’m going to mention it to her when we catch up over drinks at Salt tonight, and then I’m going to ask Alf if there’s any equipment at Salt that we can borrow.”
“That sounds like a great idea, but I think I’ll stick to litter-picking on dry land,” Bella grimaced at another piece of litter that she’d found.
“So he’s spent the entire duration of our relationship hiding the fact that he’d witnessed his best friend killing a man and had then helped him to hide the body,” Ziggy recounted the details of her messy relationship with Dean Thompson to Alan as she downed the remainder of her cocktail at a booth in Salt. “Oh, and his best friend was a cop.”
“That’s wild,” Alan listened attentively as he also finished his own drink. “Another round of the same?”
“Sounds good to me,” Ziggy took a quick glance at her watch. It was still fairly early and her new boyfriend Tane was out of town for a few days, so it wasn’t like she had anyone at home expecting her.
While Alan was ordering drinks at the bar, his mobile buzzed. Ziggy had a quick look at who it was from but decided it wasn’t her place to answer the call.
“Your phone rang while you were away,” Ziggy informed Alan as he returned to the table and passed her another cocktail.
“Thanks,” Alan replied, taking his mobile and scrolling through his missed calls. “Anyway, do you still have feelings for Dean?”
“Well, he’s still the one who helped me through my divorce and fixed up a car with me to go racing in the bush,” Ziggy thought about the reasons why she still liked Dean. “Dad left his business to him when he and Mum left for Italy, so he obviously trusted Dean. He’s loyal and a great surfer.”
“I heard Bella say something about Dean having a kid. What about their dad?” Alan asked.
“Amber? It didn’t work out between them and they agreed to just co-parent Jai.”
“So the coast is clear?” Alan pressed.
“For you and Dean to give things another go.”
“I’m still seeing Tane, so I don’t really know what I can do about any feelings for Dean,” Ziggy shrugged. “Maybe someday.”
Alan’s mobile buzzed again with an incoming call.
“Are you going to get that?” Ziggy asked.
“It’s just Bella-Rose,” Alan let the call go to voicemail and continued drinking. “I’ll call her back later.”
Alan’s mobile soon buzzed again as a voicemail came through.
Summer Bay House
Roo was waiting at the dining table with some schoolwork and a cup of tea when Alan unlocked the door shortly after midnight.
“Sorry, did I keep you awake?” Alan whispered.
“Nah, I usually wait up for Ryder if he’s out late too,” Roo paused marking. “Did you have a good night?”
“Yeah, I had a catch-up with Ziggy Astoni at Salt,” Alan went into the kitchen to get a glass of orange juice. “I didn’t realise that I’m going to be working for her ex-boyfriend.”
“Ah yes, the rollercoaster ride of Ziggy Astoni and Dean Thompson,” Roo mused. “Anyway, I’m going to head up to bed. I’ll see you in the morning.”
Once Roo had gone upstairs, Alan sat down to listen to Bella-Rose’s voicemail:
“Hey Al, I hope you’re settling in well in Summer Bay. Have you heard from Lily recently? Dad said that Gypsy called to see if she’s been in touch with me because Lily hasn’t answered her calls or messages in over three weeks, but I haven’t heard from her either. Gypsy’s getting a bit worried. Call me back.”