A/N: As usual, I don't own Twilight.
Yep, I started a new fic, and no, it's not lemon centric. Oddly enough, the idea spawned from a dragonfly landing on my knee one day when I was sitting on my deck, enjoying the sun. It's kind of strange where the mind takes you sometimes.
Thank you to my beta Askthemagic8ball and prereaders sncmom and coldplaywhore. Also thanks to Bri for taking a gander at this puppy too. Cereulean Blue is going to be my go to girl for all things in the Florida Keys.
"What's wrong, Abby?" I say, holding up my chin a little because my mouth is full of toothpaste.
Abby is holding her toothbrush in front of her, a thick, blue line of paste sits on top of the bristles as she stares at it. She's thinking. Her eyebrows are pulled together behind the dark frames of her glasses, and her lips are pursed, but she's pushing them more toward the right than the center. I can only imagine what she's going to say.
She never ceases to surprise me.
"If my toothpaste is watermelon flavor, why is it blue?"
Because she always has a valid point.
"And yours is minty and icy, and it should be white and it is, but watermelon is pink, so my paste should be pink."
I continue to brush my teeth, stalling for time in order to come up with a satisfactory answer to my seven year old daughter's question. If I leave an open ended answer, she'll ask another question, I'll answer, so on and so on – it's a never ending cycle.
I spit, rinse, then dry my mouth. "Probably because boys like watermelon, too, and might not want to use pink paste."
Abby looks up at me and pushes back her glasses. "Oh."
"Brush," I say and bend down to kiss the top of her head.
She brushes - a little too quickly – spits then rinses. Abby steps off her stool that like everything else that belongs to her has dragonflies painted on it and puts it under the sink. She's seven and should be able to reach the sink without a problem, but she's small for her age.
"Did you say goodnight to Grandpa?" I ask and flick off the bathroom light.
As I walk into her bedroom, Abby runs down the hall, into the family room, and I hear Charlie let out an "Umph" undoubtedly from Abby jumping on him.
On her nightstand, there's a picture in a white, wooden frame of her dad and me holding her when she was a baby. I wonder if she still remembers him.
I tell her stories of how we met one summer when he and some of his friends came down from Miami and reserved a charter with us and how he wouldn't leave me alone the entire trip until I agreed to go out on a date with him. Abby thinks it's hysterical that I'd only let him take me out if he caught a tarpon.
He didn't. We weren't in the right waters, but he didn't know that.
I went out with him anyway. He had the most gorgeous pale blue eyes, and I couldn't resist. He knew all he had to do was flash them at me once or twice, and I'd turn into a puddle of goo, but it was more than that. His eyes were kind and honest.
Abby looks just like him. She has the same dirty blonde hair, and her eyes squint when she's mad about something just like he used to do. Her chin is square like his, and I see him when she smiles. Abby would be a miniature version of her dad if she didn't have my brown eyes.
She thinks it's pretty cool that she was at our wedding, so to speak; I was a few months pregnant with her. I tell her she was there because her grandmother, Renee, couldn't be. That conversation led to a very long discussion about heaven.
I don't tell her how livid Charlie was when he found out Riley had gotten his twenty year old daughter pregnant. I remember reminding him that he and my mom were right around the same age when they had me. His point didn't hold much validity after that.
We would have gotten married anyway. Riley proposed on our fourth date. I didn't say yes, nor did I say yes to any of the countless times he proposed thereafter. He asked what it would take, and I told him if he caught a shark for me then, and only then, would I say yes. It became a running joke with us.
He caught a bonnethead, I said yes, and that was the night I got pregnant.
I don't tell Abby about all the plans Riley and I had either. It hurts too much to think about how I was going to finish my degree in nursing, and he was going to get his Masters in philosophy. He'd teach and I'd heal – that's what we used to say to each other. We were going to buy a small house on the beach, and I was going to paint the front door flamingo pink – he hated that color, but said he didn't care. "Whatever you want, baby," he'd said. Together we were going to teach Abby how to fish and look at the world with both openness and logic, and we'd love her and spoil her rotten.
I miss him.
Abby's happy though, she says she's glad we live with Grandpa; she likes his big, hairy mustache and his French toast.
We moved in with Charlie after Riley died on a dive four years ago. Riley had coronary artery disease. We didn't find out until after the autopsy.
"I'm ready!" she yells and flops on her bed.
"Okay!" I answer and find that I don't need to work to hard to force a smile watching Abby bounce up and down on her knees.
She crawls under the covers, and I remove her glasses then set them on her nightstand next to the picture of the three of us. Abby scoffs because she wants to read, and I tell her she needs to sleep because we're going to see Alice and Jack in the morning. It's late June so school is out for the summer, and she complains that she can't stay up later.
"You're not fishing with Grandpa tomorrow?"
I shake my head.
Charlie and Emmett are taking a group off the Atlantic side of Marathon Key for dolphin. I don't go with them to that spot.
"No, baby. I think Alice wants us to come help her and Jack bake cupcakes for Jasper's birthday."
Abby's eyes light up. "Uncle Jasper likes vanilla cake, and so do I."
"I know that." I smile and tuck her pink and green quilt with dragonfly patches around her. "Goodnight, Abigail Kathryn Swan Biers."
She laughs. "Goodnight, Isabella Marie Swan Biers."
"I love you, baby,"
"I love you, too, Mommy."
"You need to get laid," Alice tells me in a hushed voice. She's sitting across the table from me with her feet propped up on another chair. Abby and Jack are sitting at the other end of the table, shaking sprinkles on the cupcakes we've already frosted.
I roll my eyes at her.
She nods. "Don't you miss it?" Alice licks some of the icing off the butter knife she's using then puts it into her mouth, and as she pulls it out, her eyes dart toward Abby and Jack. When she sees they're not looking, she puts on her best porn face and moans.
"You're sick, you know that?" I laugh.
"Is it good, Mommy?" Jack asks her.
He's five, has shoulder length blond hair like his dad, and it pisses Alice off when people mistake him for a girl. It doesn't happen often, hardly ever really, but on the rare occasion it does, it's always a vacationer who's come into their dive shop. She refuses to cut his hair just on principle alone.
"It's very good, honey," she responds to Jack, her eyes widen because she knows she's been busted. Alice leans forward and whispers, "It's going to dry up and turn to dust if you don't use it."
I lean forward, too, and Alice and I are almost nose to nose. I want to say something sarcastic and funny like I normally would, but my mind is blank save the image of Riley's face that's popped into it unexpectedly.
Instead, I kiss her cheek and tell her Abby and I have to go and that we'll meet her tonight at Rudder's for Jasper's party.
She knows I'm not interested in dating, but she pushes anyway, suggesting I hook up with a random guy every now and then. She says if for no other reason, I should have sex just for the freedom of it all. Alice is a free spirit, and so is Jasper. They're not married. They say they don't need a piece of paper to show they're committed to each other. They're actually very perfect for one another. It's as if where Alice ends, Jasper begins. He claims she's the yin to his yang even though they're both so similar. It's all quite sickening in a sweet sort of way.
I'm busy with Abby and Charlie's charter business, and I'm happy about that. I don't want a relationship… I can't.
Abby and Jack are running around the back part of Rudder's between the bar and the tables. Liz, the owner, has blocked off the outdoor section for us. Abby adores Liz and Liz adores Abby; Liz treats Abby as if she were her granddaughter. The times Alice can't watch Abby while I'm on a trip with Charlie, Liz does.
Everything is casual: grayish wood floors, booths, and tables. There's a nautical themed bar, although pretty much everything has a nautical theme down here, and a perfect view of the Gulf. We've lowered the rolling blinds a third of the way to block the strong light coming in from the sunset. I never tire of it, though – the sun setting on the Gulf side. No matter how many times I've seen it, the pink and orange streaked sky connecting with the ocean is always a breathtaking sight. Although watching the sun rise over the Atlantic is by far my favorite.
Beer bottles clank together and against the tables, and Emmett's voice booms over everyone else's. He and Charlie are talking about the day and how one of the passengers spent most of the trip in the salon of the boat because he couldn't handle the choppy waters. They said the time he was on deck was spent hanging over the edge throwing his guts up. This isn't a rarity at all. We get a lot of people who think they're going to spend the day relaxing in the sun and pick up some fish to take home for dinner and end up getting seasick.
"The guy's wife reminded me of you, Bella!" Emmett yells from a couple of booths down.
I'm picking through a huge plate of onion rings that sits in front of me. After I take a sip of my beer, I crane my neck so I can see him over the people who are sitting in the booth between us. "How so?"
The outside deck where we're sitting is full of locals, including Embry and Quil from Jasper's dive shop. Leah and Claire, who run the small store which sells t-shirts, mugs, and beach accessories to tourists, are here, too. Their store is also the place where Abby gets her supplies for her pet hermit crabs. Embry and Quil are brothers who came down on vacation a few years back and never left. Leah and Claire have been here a lot longer, and as long as I've known them they've been a couple.
Jack, Abby, and I are the only conchs of the group. We're considered conchs because we were born here and have lived in the Keys our entire lives. We live in Tavernier which, thankfully, has not turned into a major vacation spot like Islamorada, where my dad's charter business and Jasper's dive shop are located.
"She was tough, hooked a few black fins and brought 'em in without help. Even the chum didn't seem to bother her too much," he says.
Charlie's sitting next to Emmett and peeks up to nod in agreement. He's wearing his mirrored sunglasses; Abby says he looks like a beetle when he has them on.
"You chummed for dolphin?" I ask, ignoring Emmett's comparison. We only use live bait for dolphin - never chum unless we're fishing marlin or something equally as big.
I roll my eyes because I realize what he means. Emmett snickers. "What happened?" I ask as Abby scoots into the seat across from me and picks up her book.
Emmett and Charlie side-glance each other then smile. "The chick's husband might have said something about our lack of technology on the boat and complained that we wouldn't find a good spot without a GPS. And he might have hinted if they didn't catch anything he was going to ask for a refund."
"So? We get people like that every once in awhile."
"He was also making fun of his wife because she had a hard time holding the rod at first."
I smile and raise my beer to him; assholes get the full-service tour of the boat which includes a tutorial of what chum is made of and how and why it's used.
"And this is the guy that got sick, right?" Emmett winks and nods as he returns my gesture with his own beer.
"Girls can do anything boys can do," Abby says and grabs an onion ring, never taking her eyes off her book. "And Grandpa doesn't need fancy stuff to know where the fish are, right, Mommy?"
It's true; Charlie has sort of a sixth sense about fishing. He refuses to install any kind of sonar equipment on the boat in order to track fish. He says GPS's are for pussies. I don't question him because he's always right.
"There's the birthday boy!" Liz yells from behind the bar as Jasper walks in. Abby's head pops up. She's been waiting patiently for cupcakes.
Apparently, he got tied up at the dive shop waiting for some guy to come in so he could appraise a supposed artifact the diver found out by Plantation Key.
Jasper takes people treasure diving, and he's pretty well-known in the middle Keys for his knowledge of wrecks as well as the value of anything found.
He's grinning widely and has these perpetually sleepy eyes. Jasper always has a casually happy expression on his face as if he were stoned – he's not though. He just drinks beer like the rest of us. It's like water around here.
We all hold our bottles up as sort of a toast to him, and he throws his fists in the air as if he's cheering for himself for turning thirty-one after he takes a beer from Liz. It's as though Norm from Cheers has just walked in… if Norm had been thin, tan, and blond.
Alice practically tackles Jasper and engulfs him in an embarrassingly long kiss as Jack runs up the steps that lead from the beach, screaming, "Cupcakes!"
I look toward Abby and smile. She marks her page with the bookmark she's made out of construction paper then places the book on the table. I watch her face while she takes in Jasper, Alice, and Jack hugging, kissing, and being playful with each other. I can't help but worry she misses her dad more than she lets on, but she just smiles as Alice hands her a cupcake.
Alice slides into the booth next to me as Jasper sits across from us next to Abby. Jack's gone back down to the beach, face and hair covered in frosting.
"Well, hello there, Miss Abigail," Jasper says.
"Hi, Uncle Jasper." She smiles. "Happy birthday."
Alice extends her hand palm up toward Jasper, and he takes an onion ring from my plate. "Thank you, doll," he replies. He glances at Alice's hand then her. "What?"
"You know what - I want my booty."
Jasper digs into his pocket. "It's my birthday. I think you should be giving me booty." He winks.
"You'll get your boot-"
"Alice!" I warn and mouth for her to shut up, trying not to laugh. She mouths back she's sorry and takes a pull of her beer.
Jasper chuckles and turns toward Abby, holding out his closed fists in front of her. "Pick one."
Abby's eyes dart up toward Jasper then at his hands. She's staring at them methodically; her eyes traveling back and forth from his left hand to his right, her lips are pulled in.
I wonder if Jasper's hands are beginning to cramp because she's taking so long to choose, so I gently remind her to hurry up. Abby takes a deep breath and points. "This one."
"Mmm… are you sure?" he asks, and she nods. He opens his hand, revealing a gold coin.
"It's just like yours!" Abby excitedly pulls out the thin chain Jasper is wearing that's under his shirt. It has a coin attached to it and he never takes it off.
She's holding them side by side, flipping them over and then back again. "Yes, ma'am. It's good luck, you know," he says.
Abby nods still comparing the coins. "Can you make me a necklace, too?" she asks, and Jasper agrees.
Charlie's pulled a chair up to the end of our table. "Whatcha got there, munchkin?" he asks as Emmett walks up behind him.
"Booty," she replies. Abby scrambles to her knees and places her hand on Jasper's shoulder as she leans across him to proudly show Charlie. "Uncle Jasper said it's good luck, and he's going to make a necklace for me like his. Do you want one, too, Mommy?"
"Yes, Abs, your mommy wants some booty, too," Alice interrupts then sticks her tongue out at me. I throw an onion ring at her, and when I do, Alice's expression changes. She purses her lips and narrows her eyes. I turn to see Jack pouring a bucket of sand over his head and laugh – serves her right. "Jack!" she screams right next to my ear, her voice intentionally deeper than usual. She tries to sound menacing, but it's hard to take her seriously because she's so very not. Even Jack realizes this and laughs.
My ears are still ringing as she takes off down the steps after him – she's fast, but Jack is faster and runs away from her. "Jasper Whitlock! Come get your son!" she yells, completely exasperated.
An hour has passed, and Jasper has opened his presents: a t-shirt from Claire and Leah's store with a stupid diving joke written on it, a case of beer from Embry and Quil, and a baseball cap with Charlie's charter logo printed on it from Abby, Charlie, and me. Liz made him his favorite burger, and Emmett promised that he and his wife, Rose, would take him out for drinks the next night she had off from the hospital.
Before we leave, I check with Liz to see if she can watch Abby the next morning. We have a half-day trip scheduled, and Abby asked if she could help out in the restaurant instead of playing with Jack. She likes to help Liz with breakfast; she takes orders for coffee and eggs.
Abby has seemingly fallen asleep within minutes of getting her into bed; sometimes she pretends, and as soon as I walk out of her room and close the door she pulls a flashlight out from under her pillow to read. She doesn't think I know about her flashlight, but I do.
Once I hear her snoring softly, I walk into the kitchen where Charlie is making sandwiches for our trip the following day. I kiss him on the cheek then grab the boat key off the hook by the back door.
"Goin' out for a bit?" he asks, and I nod - he doesn't ask where or why any more.
Our house and several others back to the canal where my boat is slipped. Every so often I take it out when I need to feel him. Tonight is one of those nights because I miss Riley so fucking much I can't stand it.
So there you have it. I originally planned to have a bunch of chapters written before I posted this one, but have finally realized I'm too impatient. Hints is roughly 2/3 of the way finished and that's where you'll find your smut. Dragonflies is all fluff with a mix of UST.
Speaking of smut… go read this: http:/www(dot)fanfiction(dot)net/s/5953212/25/A_Thousand_Words_Twilight_25_Picture_Prompts
It's rather unf, like very much so.
Thank you so much for reading & I hope you enjoyed this chapter and what's to come.