There was no easy way to get over an unreciprocated ... ex-love. Naomi would gladly suggest rebound sex, but Annie knew that once that was over, she'd only feel more ashamed of herself. And who knows if she might blurt out Liam's name instead of the rebound guy since he was the one occupying half her mind almost all the time. Seeing that she was Miss Righteous - well, mostly, with doses of sin once in a while - the Wilson decided that she ought to make better use of her time and mind doing things that could benefit herself or even others. No one else could judge her actions or question her motives - not openly anyway - hence there was nothing to stop Annie from trying to organise a charity event. It wasn't so much of charity actually, since perhaps the very reason Annie felt like doing this was to make herself feel better in hopes of putting her days of being a prostitute in the past.
With a little help from her friends and a rich, spoiled guy named PJ Hillingsbrook - whom Naomi was immediately convinced she was in love with - to sponsor the event, Annie managed to organise a surfing fundraiser for some environmental cause none of her friends ever thought she was passionate about. It was rather unexpected of Annie, but hey, no judgements, right?
There was a tiny catch though; she needed the Offshore for drinks, a place for people to hang out and all that jazz. But she did not want to face Liam. Most of her other plans were more or less set in stone, but to her dismay, Annie knew there was no other way she could put off discussing this with Liam any longer since the event was only a week away.
They had barely crossed paths since the relaunch of the bar two weeks ago. Annie was desperately trying to think less of Liam by occupying herself with all the fundraiser planning. While Liam was trying to get over Annie by well, being with Vanessa, of course. With much reluctance, Annie walked into the very empty Offshore one Friday noon and inhaled sharply upon seeing Liam behind the counter. She did not why his presence evoked such a response from her in the first place; who else was she expecting at the bar? Liam seemed surprised to see Annie as well, but his expression quickly turned into one of mild annoyance.
"Believe me, I do not want to be here," Annie began, upon seeing his reaction. "But I need to ask you a favour. Not that you're in any position to-..."
Just cut to the chase, Annie thought to herself. "I'm organising a fundraiser at the beach next weekend. Surfing competition, saving coral reefs, music all day... Do you think you could provide the space for people to hang out, have a drink and stuff like that?"
Liam paused when Annie started talking. He had initially planned on giving her the cold shoulder if she were to mention anything regarding their relationship (or non-relationship) or even Vanessa, but apparently it had absolutely nothing to do with those two issues. His tense shoulders began to relax as Liam thought it through. He figured that it would be terrible of him to reject her request. After all, there was no reason for him to turn her down. He'd have more customers, he'd be supporting a seemingly good cause...
"Umm, yeah, why not?" Liam answered her, with a ghost of a smile on his face. "Dixon did mention something about joining his surf team for some charity. Didn't know it was your event."
With a small polite grin, Annie commented, "Yep, that's the one. I got Dixon to be the DJ towards the evening as well. It's a good thing I've got famous friends and brother. You guys seem like you can help me out."
With little else to say (or both of them having little courage or will to voice their thoughts) and an agreement with Liam, Annie walked out of the bar feeling rather accomplished because firstly, she had managed to settle her logistics at the Offshore and secondly, she had survived a conversation with Liam Court without getting upset. Perhaps they even ended it slightly cordially, if Annie were to push it, in her opinion. And that was a hell of an attainment these days.
A week passed and the fundraiser was in full swing. If anyone forced it out of Annie, she would have to admit that she could not help but watch Liam while he surfed for who knows how long he was out with the rest of other surfers. She hadn't seen him out in the waters for a pretty long time but he still looked pretty damn natural surfing about on the waves.
"How much for your services, sexy?" Annie heard a whisper in her ear which rudely interrupted her thoughts, and felt the presence of another individual standing too close behind her. She was ready to get furious at that reminder of her being an escort - but wait, how did this person know? Turning around with a certain carefulness, Annie was more than just a little surprised to see that it was none other than Austin.
Annie playfully shoved him away and with a faux seething tone, retorted at him. "That's not funny. At all."
"Just curious," he continued, as though Annie was still in on his joke. "I've heard stories going around." Austin held his hands up in mock surrender and stepped back eventually, chuckling at Annie's obvious defense.
Annie dismissed Austin's words. Nevermind what she had gone through; what was Austin doing here? The last time she saw him was a little more than a month ago. "Didn't you-... I thought you turned yourself in," she mumbled slightly, not really wanting others around to pick up on their conversation, yet unable to hide her surprise.
"I did. Don't you worry about that," he replied, his tone suddenly slightly sour. Of course Annie would be worried about herself. "But my dad bailed me out. And I've been trying to get out of his bad books this whole time."
Annie mumbled an apology, instinctively looking away because guilt was starting to rise up her throat. Being the magnanimous friend Austin could be at times though, he shrugged off the matter almost instantly, declaring that he wasn't there to pick on Annie. If anything, he was glad that she was trying to do something good to pick herself up - though he had to admit planning a charity event was a little unlike Annie, for some reason. Someone had told him before that Silver was passionate about finding a cure for cancer and it was perfectly understandable since her family had gone through it. But Annie and coral reefs? Didn't quite match up, really.
"I was thinking more feeding dogs at the animal shelter," he pleasantly joked. "But this has surpassed my expectations, Wilson."
Annie scowled at Austin's remark. She enquired the reason why he was still hovering about. It wasn't that she disliked his presence there, it was just a little disconcerting that she had to make small talk and entertain him once in a while, when she had matters to attend to. Austin replied that everyone else seems to be occupied. Dixon and Liam were out in the waters, Adrianna was working at the Offshore - "And she hates my guts because she thinks I'm an arsonist," Austin quipped - hence, to put in his words, "Looks like you're stuck with me for now." If Annie hadn't known better, she would say that he disliked being alone and would much rather be in someone's company. Nevertheless, the Wilson daughter had little to complain about her cowboy friend, since he lent a helping hand occasionally throughout the span of the fundraiser.
As evening drew nearer and Annie found herself no longer bound to anymore responsibilities related to the fundraiser, she agreed to watched Dixon's performance together with Austin. The two friends sat by the beach a distance away from the stage, not really wanting to join the crowd who were standing around enjoying Dixon's performace or trying to get Liam's photograph (she couldn't tell the difference from the excitement of the audience). It was a rather foreign feeling for Annie, spending the day with Austin; she realised that she had never sat down alone with him before, they never really had a very close friendship but she figured that after the many hours of having him quite literally by her side today, they could well be joined at the hip.
Annie and Austin sat through a thoroughly enjoyable performance by Dixon; once in a while either of them would make a small remark till they eventually settled upon a somewhat comfortable silence.
"Thanks for being a good company today, Austin," Annie genuinely credited him, chuckling slightly as their day came to a close. "Didn't think you could survive a whole day without being a pain in the ass, but you're surprisingly bearable."
"Yeah, you're lucky I took pity on you today. Next time you see me, I won't be so nice."
"Hm, I'm sure."
Austin eventually stood up, a grin plastered across his face, as he realised that the beach was starting to clear. "People are leaving, Annie. I think you did fairly decent today with the fundraiser. It was quite a success, this whole event."
Annie helped herself up, nodding in agreement. She was about to thank Austin again for his help today, but was interrupted when he said in a suddenly low voice, "I could help some more, you know. I'll donate to this cause. Just... return the favour in other ways."
"Get out of here," Annie scowled at Austin, before laughing out loud and shoving him away, knowing that he did not mean what he said. At least, she didn't think so.
Although Austin did remind her rather frequently exactly what she wanted to forget this whole time, Annie had to admit that at least he poked fun at her rather tastefully. Somehow, he was more forgiving than Annie was to herself regarding the whole escort thing. He really did help her out, in more ways than Austin knew at the moment. Annie had to admit, she had really taken a different perspective of him, and it comforted her that he seemed to be at ease around her too. But who knows, behind their strengthening bond, perhaps it is because misery does love company.