When Meg, Ben and son Benjy Evans along with the rest of the Cummings family make an unexpected stop in a town called Sunset Beach they discover his past and it changes their plans for the future.
As you can guess by the summary this is a nod and wink to the Soap Opera and is a family mystery and to say too much more would take the fun out of things. Time wise possibly set around late 1998 onwards as not everything we take for granted today regarding internet and communications up and running. Fact and fiction merge into the mesh of the story so I hope no one will take offence at anything written.
Of course the characters and some of the storyline belong to the writers of Sunset Beach just borrowing them for fun. All the modifications and mistakes belong to me and my muse, who decided I should take this path and not the other ones. … Oh yes this is done for fun not profit.
Would also like to thank to everyone who reads my stories, you leave tiny footprints that ff lets me see and it's really amazing to find out where you come from and gives my muse some lovely pictures to play with. It's also frightening as I only really write for myself ... okay to shut my muse up before it drives me crazy.
A special hug and thanks to Annie11117 for her reviews and still being there. Hope you enjoy these ramblings.
And of course any reviews and comments are always welcome; it's nice to know what you think and see in the story ... wonder what is coming.
Unfortunately I can't guarantee regular updates … that thing called Real Life is still there ... just as well really when you think about it.
Enough said on to the story.
An Interesting Day
Walking along the bustling promenade taking in the scenery Meg silently wondered if fate was playing a game with them because they were enjoying the views of the wrong town. Having only seen photos and read notes about their proper destination they'd planned to get there early to check it out so her husband could go into the interview armed with a definite opinion about the place and be able to give a yes or no if asked to take the job.
For once on this trip things had gone fairly smoothly and very nearly gone to plan, they'd not got lost, and were just a little off schedule having called in an extra kiddie stop before joining the freeway for the last leg of their journey. And, that freeway would have sent them sailing past this little town without them really noticing it. It, would have been just another name on one of the many road signs they had passed that morning.
Instead, as they came up to the junction before the one they wanted, a dirty great big police diversion that no one couldn't argue with or ignore sent them off onto the old coastal road and through this town. Still no need to stop or panic, all they had to do was to follow the queue for a slower and prettier drive to their final destination. Of course, the whole thing made them sigh and comment in frustration and hearing their sighs and comments Benjy, bless his little heart started vocally and physically fidgeting for yet another kiddie stop. Soo not wanting to give in and stop because it really wasn't that far to their proper destination they'd grabbed at straws telling him the nice things they would do when they got there and how soon they would get there if they didn't stop. As well as making up stories about going through Sunset Beach … this town to get to Sunrise their proper and final destination. And, as her sister was with them those stories got really way out and giggly. But, they succeeded the moaning for a kiddie stopped and was forgotten and as they got near to sea level, seeing the huge ocean, the cliff, the beach and town … they settled down for the rest of the journey realising the beauty and promises Sunrise could bring.
Only to have Ben, her husband, her soulmate and love of her life … top their son's antics by going very pale, closing his eyes and groaning before demanding an immediate pit stop. Well, they really could not argue with that one, now could they. Of course, all the signs to car parks promptly disappeared as did turnings into the rest of the town and the parking spaces along the busy seafront were full or were being taken by the cars in front or ones coming the other way, so all they could do was look and hope. But, then luck or fate shone on them and they spotted a car trying to pull out, so they came to a halt, let it them out then promptly dived into the space before the guy coming the other way could beat them to it. They then anxiously scrambled out to give Ben space and air, and hung around for a moment or two seriously wondering if a 911 call would be needed and how would they explain where they were.
Thank goodness it wasn't, her soulmate decided he needed a walk to get rid of a very bad headache that had flashed up without warning and caused his demise. Her Dad went off, found and fought the ticket machine coming back muttering it ate enough for three hours before giving him the ticket so no rush they could eat here earlier than planned and still have time to look round Sunrise before the appointed hour that afternoon.
So, here they were walking along the promenade taking in the sights and the cure should be working, this was so different from their inland home state of Kansas. They had lakes there but they all had boundaries that kept the water in, here was the end of their country … the coastline was meeting the deep blue sea that disappeared over the horizon … out in front, left and right … and seemed to go on forever. Stunningly amazing in beauty and for what it was … an awful lot of water.
She knew her parents didn't feel the same awe she did but they did appreciated its beauty. They'd visited another coastal town sometime before she was born, when her Grandma and Grandpa Cummings ran the farm. After she was born having two sets of aging parents, the farm and young family to cope with holidays like that were out question. True, she'd gone to University had offers of holiday trips while there but as cash was short and she needed good grades, she had studied hard and worked either there or back on the farm and, never regretted it.
She also knew her husband should be feeling that first time awe as he'd never travelled out of his adopted State, but holding his hand as they walked she could sense his quietness wasn't one of relief that the headache was going or gone. It was more like he was brooding because it was still there or was getting worse. And knew, she needed to call in the troops before they really disappeared in the crowd ahead and find out what was wrong with him.
Turning to warn Ben what she was going to do she was immediately distracted by a stronger tug than before on her other hand. And wishing not for first time they hadn't misplaced her son's walking reins in the family bus said softly but firmly to him. "Benjy, don't do that or run off. There are lots of people around and cars nearby so you could get hurt or lost." She certainly wasn't going to add the sea or sand to the list for obvious reasons.
Slowing to a stop she raised voice hoping her parents would hear her and called. "Mum. Can you look after him? He's getting fidgety again." And immediately spotted a sign saying 'The Waffle Shop Café' and 'Business for Sale' in red letters underneath it, and knew the last thing her parents would want with them was a fidgety grandson should they want to look the place over. So, with half a hope she immediately checked around for her sister and spotting Sara even further ahead looking intently across the beach towards the shoreline knew she wouldn't be any help.
While the people around them glanced knowingly and walked on, Joan Cummings stopped and turned back to answer her daughter's plea recognising the edge to it and knew her husband Hank would do the same and asked. "Everything all right dear?" While holding out her hand to their fidgety excited grandson so he would come to her and Meg would know she had their full attention. And knew they'd let their attention wander from their suddenly troubled son-in-law to the tempting sight of the business for sale.
Totally relieved her plea was answered and hearing that impish chuckle from Benjy as he ran to his Grandma, Meg shrugged her shoulders and couldn't help her slight smile. She'd been suckered once again … he was a cute cunning devil just like his father. And with a slight toss of her head that her long dark hair emphasised, she silently indicated to her parents where her other concern lay and they would understand she needed a moment's so called 'quiet time' with her husband.
Taking in the scenery as they walked away from the 'family bus' as they called the people carrier Hank Cummings reckoned it had been a build up or rush of nerves and guilt that had knocked his son-in-law for six. Knew it was understandable but unfounded; because he not Ben had started the idea for change. With his family grown up, youngest daughter in Washington and Meg married to Ben, who wasn't interesting in farming he'd decided what with all the new expensive technology and regulations that seemed to appear daily it was time to sell up and do something new. Something that meant he could be there for the growing family and visit the other one if she settled away from them, rather than be out in all weathers and worrying about the future.
So after a heart to heart with his wife, who he always listened to they'd decided to take Ben's advice and sell then rather than keep pondering about it over the year as the produce grew or failed, and were pleased they had. The market had dropped a month after they'd signed the papers so they would have lost a lot of the nest egg that enabled them to as their quiet son-in-law had said with a smile and a twinkle in his eye … 'chill out and enjoy the moments before rushing into a new venture'. They'd rented a house in town and enjoyed the different life style, would have still be doing it but fate struck twice and made Ben decide they needed to move out of the State rather than just the town.
Glancing around he reckoned if Sunrise was like this town things would be good, coming in he'd noticed it was bustling with energy rather than a sleepy old place and just before his son-in-law had done his flip had spotted a nightclub come restaurant that was smart and possibly open during the day as well. And being amongst residents and holidaymakers he liked the feel of the place … the difference it presented … sea to the horizon rather than fields of crops … and then spotting the Waffle shop for sale he decided it looked very interesting indeed.
Was weighing it up and starting to talk to his wife about possibilities of it or something like it as they'd done stints at local barbeques and home-made produce shops and found it fun. Hearing Meg's call and that edge in it had brought him back to the reason they'd stopped and turning to follow his wife hoped it wasn't fate striking for third time … a 911 call and that interview would have to be cancelled.
Knowing his daughter's call wasn't just about Benjy as Meg was a very capable mother he weighed up his son-in-law as he followed his wife and saw a silent edgy broodiness rather than real trouble. Knew the man needed Meg to work her magic on him and probably some reassurance from him that they were all right with the situation would help so said easily. "We'll take Benjy to the Waffle Shop over there for ice cream etc and look at the place. We don't have to decide anything on the spot we can do it over the next few days, same with your job as you'll have the choice of two towns instead of one to work or live in. If the roads are as good as they've been off the freeway reckon it will be about fifteen minutes or so between the towns, way shorter than back home so no problem there. And don't forget this was a family decision to make the move and there's still plenty of time to see Sunrise so don't feel you've got to rush and follow us."
Seeing Ben's slight nod he knew something had got through so with Joan and Benjy beside him he turned to start making his way towards the Waffle shop knowing he needed to find and tell his youngest and wayward daughter where they were going. Spotting her further ahead in the crowd looking away from them he yelled. "Sara."
Then waited till the blonde haired lady he was looking at turned in his direction to make sure it was her and not some look-alike. Seeing he'd got the right person and knowing signs would be easier than words gave the family sign they were stopping and where before walking off in that direction knowing she would follow.
If she didn't then he would phone her, that intents gaze across the beach didn't fool him one bit. And knew there was one important thing he'd forgotten when thinking about this proposed move to the coast. That was the abundant number of well muscled bronzed men parading around all day wearing shorts or swimming trunks and shirts on or off. Her reason for coming home early with that rabid pack of reporters on her heals a month ago was man trouble. True the shark in Washington DC hadn't been young or bronzed, he'd been mature, rich and influential and so tempting she'd forgotten all he'd told her before she'd flown the nest. So fate had dropped the other shoe and she'd come back with a broken heart as well, which had mended …well sort of.
And dodging a boy on roller-skates that was getting too close for comfort knew he'd be better concentrate on where they were going rather than letting those thoughts drive him crazy. She really could have been be looking at the view, could have learnt that important lesson, was an adult now and knew the schedule. ... And that Waffle Shop Cafe did look good from the outside ... Wondered what the waffles would be like …they were his favourite treat … well, the ones his wife made were…
Watching her father walk away Meg hoped those words had helped Ben and finished gently rubbing her aching back feeling all of her six month's pregnancy even though the walk had eased some of the kinks of the car journey out. Knew one stop before the freeway and this one was really about right for her, though she wouldn't admit it to anyone. And fleetingly wondered if she'd influenced fate without knowing it … Ben unconsciously caught her needs and that heightened his nerves … Now they on their own amongst the bustling people they could sort things out and turned her full attention to her silent husband asking him softly. "Are you all right Ben?"
Ben gave a quiet sigh and looked at her, he'd been totally aware of what had been going on around him and had stayed silent not wanting to worry her. But now she'd asked he knew he couldn't lie to her, she knew him too well for that and said casually. "Headache still rumbling along rather than going completely so I'm guessing the sea air is far too strong for me."
Seeing 'that' loving but knowing look of hers he shrugged his shoulders in defeat and admitted. "But that's not the only thing. The odd person or two … or three around here seem to be doing a double take when they see us. If alone they walk on without a word, if with someone they comment to who is next to them and walk on giving that quick look away. Can't hear what's said or get eye contact after they've looked away and I certainly don't want to cause a scene by calling out and asking, especially as I don't know them. But all their body language is telling me they know me, and I should not be here with you or my son, and that is so weird."
A sigh slipped out so he added. "The strongest reaction was just now from a rather good looking, long haired redhead on the other side of the road. We made fleeting eye contact and she immediately mouthed something I'm certainly not going to repeat. Then she tossed her head, turned and stormed off up the street rummaging in her bag for something. Of course it could have been pure chance our eyes met and she'd just had that sudden thought she'd forgotten something important, and I got what she said wrong and she was saving time by storming off while making sure she had actually forgotten whatever it was. But it didn't feel like that, it felt personal to me ... Just like the others."
With a glance around as people carried on walking by he came back to her and with a gentle sigh in his tone explained his thoughts. "The place seems so nice, just a few of the people are odd, a bit like home I suppose." Then with a slight smile he squeezed her hand to reassure her and lightened his tone saying. "Better catch Dad and the gang up, he won't want Benjy with him as they take the place to pieces. Or, perhaps he does. Dear old fidget tests everyone and things to the limits, while Sara samples the food and Mum acts as quiet back up."
Meg couldn't help smiling at his last remarks and was glad to see his sense of humour hadn't left him. Reckoned the strangeness he was picking up could be his people reading skills were on high alert due to the up and coming interview and silently wished he could relax a bit more. Then loving him as she did, knew kissing him here wasn't the right thing so returned the squeeze of his hand and as they turned towards the Waffle Shop said softly. "Perhaps she did forget something important and the others are just jealous … you are so obviously mine and we are a family."
It was a gentle loving tease as they both knew they looked good together, had a presence … a sparkle that announced they were 'soulmates' rather than just a ordinary married couple. She wasn't vain but she knew she was pretty and with her black shoulder length hair in half a ponytail so the sides were free showed off all her good points. And she would have been slim if not for her pregnancy which she carried well. As for her soulmate, he was a picture of six foot tall, medium build, dark haired, comfortably handsome male, with a quiet presence of his own even when she wasn't with him.
It was a presence that always grabbed her with an extra tingle, but especially if he stood alone in their garden or at their parent's farm and even more so if it was at the end of the day with dusk was rolling in. Or early morning just after sunrise if they had had one of those disturbed nights that couldn't be helped. At either times she would silently watch him and then if need be call him or wait for him to sense she was there and would have that other special moment of his … theirs. That slow smile of his as he came back to her … one that would reach into her soul and send gooey warm ripples of deep love through her whole body and she knew her responding smile did the same to him … strengthening the deep bond between them.
As for the silent moment before the smile when he was looking into the distance and didn't know she was there. Well, he always reminded her of someone silently trying to reach an elusive something that was just out of reach. But usually they knew it was earth bound like mulling over a problem, a thought, or just looking at the view and enjoying nature. Even then though she knew there was a pull he could not explain … a whisper beyond his reach and she knew it was not unhappiness about his life they were too much in love for that. And in view of his past they just accepted it as being part of him and let it rest.
Though the events that had forced them to move from her home hadn't affected their love for each other she unconsciously felt the need to reassure herself and him and added softly. "Its not going to happen again, no one knows us here and the family won't bother now we've moved away. And if your head's not clearing perhaps you should pop into the local hospital and get checked over. Use your professional goodwill to cut through the red tape if needs be. You have your medical notes so it won't take long to get a check up. Peace of mind might help you."
Ben sighed, knowing she spoke sense but also he hated the idea of using his medical standing to do that, especially in a strange town. Though he would go through the channels if it was an emergency, but he'd not had a really bad headache in years and this one though sudden and splitting to start off with had now steadied down into a non- threatening constant thumping or rumbling. Felt like a calling of some kind that he should know, recognise possibly, and it would disappear once the trigger was found. Not understanding that piece of logic he knew he couldn't expect anyone else to either, not without calling in the men in white coats that is, and hoped the thumping or rumbling would lessen a bit more so he could work it out rather than have to talk about it.
There was also the obvious fact if he did check himself into the hospital here he'd have to cancel the interview in Sunrise and give them the reason. Now wouldn't that sound good? … Then, after the all clear was given either later that day or the next day as they would bound to keep him overnight, he would have to ask for a new interview date. And of course all the other applicants would have had theirs and would not have this particular embarrassing blot on their CVs.
Cancelling because of a headache sounded so off, especially as it was likely to be nerves and or stress … job interview and long journey. It was the longest journey he could remember doing … about seven hours driving each day and all in strange territory. True they'd split the driving between the four of them leaving Meg out of it, had ample breaks for his oh so fidgety son who hated cars at the best of times. Added in time for Meg because of her condition as well as making sure they stayed in good hotels so they would get some sleep. Sort of sleep, it was looking as though their daughter-to-be had the same fidgety traits as their son.
And so this was a case of doctor diagnose and heal thyself. Well he'd done the first one and was trying to do the other hence the break. Of course if it didn't work he could take a couple of those pills he really hated….
While they were walking and he was mulling things over, he'd put his arm around Meg's shoulders and started to gently guide them both out the way of a couple heading in their direction. The couple were chatting intently and loudly to or at each other, no doubt on automatic pilot and unconsciously banking on people getting out of their way, which he was. And knowing Meg's worries he explained some of his thoughts saying. "I'll be fine after a drink. I'll keep to water in case its dehydration and if needs be take a pill or consult someone once the interview is over. No alarm bells needed it's only just come on as we entered the town so it's most likely nerves, though I'm not consciously over worried by this interview or us moving out of the State and leaving the so called clan behind.
Must admit though I was glad Hank was driving at the time as it was like hitting a brick wall and frightening for a second or two. Now it's a nuisance, but I think it proves we are doing the right thing and if the job doesn't turn out to be what we think it is or I don't get it or town doesn't suit us, I can always turn to lecturing or writing. Even just take time out for a while or follow your father's idea and do something totally different with a lot of free time so we can both enjoy the children or swap duties ..." and broke off.
Without giving any warning the couple Ben had been quietly trying to avoid had suddenly changed direction so the man collided with Ben's shoulder causing the three of them to stumble, the other woman wasn't close enough to be caught up in that bit and managed to step clear.
While recovering his balance the man glanced round to see who he'd bumped into and automatically immediately apologized. "Sorry Ben didn't see you there." And moving away while checking he'd not hurt Ben's wife his smile of apology turned into a glare of utter disbelief and disgust.
Seeing the whole thing the woman had shut up and quickly moved in pulling the man's arm so he had no option but to walk away rather than rant at the couple. But she wasn't quick enough to stop his exclamation of "Did you see that! And in broad daylight too!" to her. All she could do was to increase their pace and snap back at him "Shut Up! And not a word to anyone about this ever….
Ben heard that bit but he was too busy making sure Meg was alright to yell at the couple to stop and explain. When he was sure she was okay, the couple were out of sight so they started to walk on conscious of the hasty glances of the witnesses and wanted the sanity of their family in the Waffle Shop …
Opening the door into the Waffle Shop Café and registering it was nearly empty Ben couldn't stop his angry puzzled mutterings. "How can he know me? I've never been here before and why shouldn't I hug my wife to keep her safe …he blundered into us. And the tone he used…" Then stopped knowing anger and headache weren't good companions, also Meg couldn't help she didn't know the couple either.
Meg still couldn't believe the whole thing, the man's glare and his tone made her feel as if she was a 'bit on side' 'a street tart' one to be hidden away rather than the loving wife and mother she was. And couldn't stop her comment "An old patient perhaps or family of one and on holiday here." realising immediately it was out it was the wrong thing to say considering why they were leaving their old life behind them.
Ben sighed again trying to stop the sudden flashbacks that comment produced … Of what should have been a nice normal safe short walk from the car to the house … Meg at the front door unlocking it and him locking the car door then carrying shopping in and their son running happily to get to her … so safe and normal. But, it had changed in a blink of an eye into a nightmare as their son was snatched by a family friend turned menacing and bitter stalker.
It had only been luck that others saw it happen so called the authorities and it was contained to the area of their home. But all the same it was hours of stress and his talking down skills that had helped to prevent loss of lives. All three of their lives as well as the stalker's. Tim Truman that friend and stalker was now behind bars being treated for delusions and obsession behaviour, had accepted what he'd done was totally wrong and apologised to them, so life should have gone back to normal. But Tim's family wouldn't accept the truth and started to make their lives intolerable so they left before stress took its toll and a family war ensued.
With the hope that the thumping headache would squash the flashbacks, because he knew he and his family were safe and it was over Ben walked up to the counter and noting Sara was the only one of their group around said to the young assistant. "Two mineral waters please, chilled no ice."
Then handing over the right money he turned his attention to his sister-in-law asking. "Where are the others?" while starting to wonder if they'd stormed out of the other door in disgust and left her to tell them to meet somewhere else.
Sara gave a slight smile then rolled her eyes and adding a dramatic sigh said. "Can't you guess?" Then settling down to start her very large fresh strawberries and ice cream shake she explained between delicious mouthfuls. "Being shown the ropes round back … in the so called kitchen … Tiny is soo not the word … Decided to stay here and got this … Dad is ecstatic and Mum's happy … Benjy's over the moon … go figure."
Then after a suck on the straw to get some of the milky drink she eyed her brother-in-law and with a wistful edge to her words added. "Have to say the beach looks good and the town has more than two shops so can't be all that bad."
Watching her sister's performance while accepting her chilled water, and using the bar stool as a leaning post rather than hiking herself up on it, Meg gave a gentle laugh. And then with soft sisterly innocence commented before Ben could. "Don't you mean the men on the beach and promenade look good Sis?"
Sara smiled at her sister and slowly took a large spoonful of strawberry ice cream and after a slow lick of it added satisfied and casually. "Lifeguards certainly do, Sis."
Meg gave a gently laugh and a sigh knowing her sister had probably already picked one out, then said softly. "Down girl, he's likely to be married or engaged and don't forget you've just come back from that affair in DC so, Dad will be watching you closely."
Sara gave her older sister a 'look' at being brought down to earth with a bump, and concentrated her gaze on her brother-in-law as he drank his water. Then, remembering the slight edge to his tone just now and noting his body language she asked softly with true concern. "No better then?"
Knowing Ben could hear and would join in if he felt like it Meg answered honestly. "No, it's still thumping away, a bit more in the background rather than mind blowing it was at the beginning. Strange thing is someone just bumped into him called him Ben and gave me a glaring look as if I shouldn't be with my husband … And we don't know the man … the couple."
Sara gave a sigh of puzzled sympathy and realising her sister's worry added. "It needn't be a patient or relation could just be someone who visited the club …." and stopped because Ben's phone rang.
The sisters watched and waited in silence as Ben got it out and acknowledged the caller then listened for a moment before ending it with a very quiet serious. "Thank you, I'll bear that in mind."
Giving a quiet huff at what he'd been told Ben didn't put the phone away but looked Meg and said dejectedly. "It's off. They've decided to appoint internally by reshuffling the work load and using a trainee, though why they couldn't have decided that in the first place I don't know. We'll cancel our hotel if we can stay here for the next few days; I don't think Benjy, you or I want to travel any further. We can make it a beach holiday as we rethink of our ideas I saw an advert for one as we hit town and can remember the number so start there."
Feeling her happiness bubble because they weren't moving on Sara said softly. "And if they or the others are full you can always buy something and sell it on later." Seeing their looks she added with another dramatic sigh. "Okaay, rent a furnished house for a month or two, there's bound to be one in the area that's big enough for all of us."
Meg smiled, knowing her sister was right they could or even split the family up in two if need be, and moved closer to her husband resting her head gently against his arm knowing that tucking into her usual comfort place with him was impossible as he was sat on the stool. Feeling him gently rest against her, accepting her comfort while giving her support she knew he was definitely not having a good day. Was most probably waiting for the next thing to go wrong, as they usually came in threes … then again they might have just had their third if she could counted that man just now as the second one.
And, if she was really honest with herself, Ben was right she was fed up with travelling and said softly. "We'll be fine whatever happens. It's not as though we are starving or broke. Now the immediate pressure is off perhaps the headache will ease. You know Ray was happy to take over the practice straight away so that's no problem. And the house will be watched for us by your relations and… ….. …. …
Listening Ben nodded in the right places while letting her words wash over him, wrapping himself in her love and understanding, knowing exactly what she meant. Knew they were free from all restrictions so could do what they liked and hoped the thumping with an edge would go down to an ignorable level while he checked out that hotel by phone … …