"Um excuse me?" I called. There were people everywhere and no one was paying attention to me. "Hello? Is the owner of that boat even here?" I sighed before pushing past a couple of police officers. Finally I saw him. "Duke!" I ran at him and gave him a hug.
"Whoa!" He said surprised. I pulled back and grabbed my shoulders. "Leila? What are you doing here?" He hugged me again before I had the chance to answer. A blonde I'd never seen before walked up next to him. She looked at us looking pretty confused.
"Oh my gosh, is this your girlfriend?" I asked.
"No!" The both answered at the same time.
"Well your question clears up my assumption that you were Duke's girlfriend," the blonde said. I laughed. "Long lost cousin? Childhood friend?"
"Little sister," I said smiling. "Leila Crocker, nice to meet you."
"You have a sister named Leila?" The blonde asked looking at Duke skeptically.
"Often times in my life I wondered why I ended up with a name like Duke and she ended up with Leila," Duke said rubbing his chin.
I rolled my eyes. "Our parents loved me more."
Duke snorted. "That's true enough."
"Anyways, now that I've introduced myself, who are you?" I asked.
"Oh right. Audrey Parker, I'm new to town," she said.
"She's a police officer," Duke said in a stage whisper.
"You're friends with a cop?" I asked surprised.
"I know. I'm not sure how it happened either."
I glanced around again at the cops walking around. "What happened?" Knowing my brother I was sure he was the reason behind it.
"It's a long story," Audrey said.
"Haven is a whole series of long stories," I said. I glanced behind Audrey at another familiar face. "Nathan!" Audrey stepped out of the way and I gave Nathan a huge hug.
"What are you doing here? I heard you were in Europe," he said.
"I was! But after a couple of years I started missing my brother and my town and I just had to come home."
"Seriously, why are you here?" Duke asked me.
"Am I not allowed to miss my big brother?" I asked.
"You are, but I know that's not the reason why you're here."
"Well technically you're right. I'm here to write a book, but that's only the official reason. My publisher wouldn't let me come back very long if I didn't tell her I was going to write another book." Duke was still looking at me suspiciously; I was going to get the third degree later.
"A book?" Audrey asked, preventing Duke from making another comment.
"Leila is a journalist, she's been traveling all over writing for travel magazines and she's written some books too," Nathan said.
"Well someone has been keeping tabs on me," I said, grinning.
"I've never read anything you've written though," he said quickly.
I laughed. "At least you're honest." I glanced at Duke.
"What was that look for? I never said I read your book! I told you I was using it as a paper weight and I am!" He said throwing his hands up.
"I never would have figured you two were related," Audrey said. "Besides the hair, you don't look anything alike."
I shrugged. "Probably for the best. Could you imagine me if I looked like Duke?"
"What's that supposed to mean? I like my face!" Duke said. "At least you got my stellar personality."
Audrey, Nathan and I all scoffed. "I think that Leila is Duke's opposite in pretty much every single way," Nathan said.
"Thank god," I said.
"Excuse me; is this pick on Duke day?" My brother asked.
"Every day is pick on Duke day, get used to it." I smiled. "I'm back!"
"Speaking of which, where are you planning on staying?" He asked.
"On your boat," I mumbled.
"On my boat?" He asked.
"Oh that sounds like an excellent idea!" I said. "I'll run and grab my bags." I turned away and heard Duke grumble something about falling for that trick every time.
It was good to be home.
Later on Duke's boat I was unpacking some of my bags. "When are you moving out?" He asked me.
I rolled my eyes. "I just got here. Can you give me at the very least a full day to find a new place?" I asked.
"Why are you back, Leila?"
"I told you. I missed Haven." I turned back to my last suitcase and tried to figure out if I wanted to fool with unpacking it.
"No one misses Haven."
"Maybe you didn't, but I did." He didn't say anything but he also didn't leave me alone either. I decided I might as well try to figure out what had been happening since I'd been gone. "So, Nathan and Audrey?"
"What about them?"
"Are they a thing?" I asked.
He laughed. "Why do you want to know?"
"Why are my motives in question today? I was going to ask if you'd make me some waffles but you'll probably have to interrogate me." I put on my best Duke voice, "Why do you want sugary breakfast food? Why do you want me to make them?" He glared at me.
"Are you done?"
I continued on, "But whatever, I'll just ask Audrey about Nathan when we got get coffee later. I was just trying to make sure I wasn't going to be stepping on any toes."
"You are Audrey already made coffee plans?" Duke asked.
"Yeah, I want to know more about the new girl."
"Can I come?"
"Why would you want to come?" I asked, turning the tables on him. He shrugged in response. "We're probably going to talk about shoes or something." At Duke's skeptical look I laughed. "Ok probably not, we'll probably just talk about you. I'm sure she has plenty to say about you. I know I do."
"That's what I'm worried about."
"Oh! You like Audrey."
He stared at me for a minute. "You've been here an hour or something? I will never understand how you can just look at me and know what I'm thinking."
"It's just because I know you so well, it's not because I'm troubled or anything," I said a little more defensively than I meant to.
"I wasn't saying– never mind." His phone rang and it looked down at it. "I need to take this." He walked out onto deck and I started walking around. I grabbed a sticky pad and started making notes for my book; I stuck one on an old table and another on the lamp. I continued walking around sticking notes up until I was in a semi-circle of colors. I tended to write in 3D, the more space my thoughts took up the more information I could process. Duke walked back inside and looked around. "My boat has neon orange, pink and yellow spots."
"They're notes for my book."
"You're writing your book about Haven?" He asked. I nodded. "You can't write a book about Haven."
"Do I even have to answer that question? You know why."
My eyes widened. "You mean they're back?"
"Yeah, they are." He tilted his head looking confused. "You didn't know?"
"No, of course not." It wasn't exactly a lie, I hadn't known for sure.
"I just assumed that was why you were back."
"Well it's not. If you don't mind, I think I'm going to change clothes."
"Do you and Audrey want to come by The Grey Gull instead? You look like you're starving. I'll make those waffles you wanted."
"Ok, that sounds good. I'll call her."
A few hours later Audrey and I were sitting at the bar in Duke's restaurant eating waffles. Mine were smothered in syrup and he had tossed in some chocolate chips, they were absolutely delicious. "Ok you got me; I'm not really back because I missed you. I'm back because I missed these," I told him.
"I knew it!" He said. We both laughed and Audrey just shook her head.
"One thing you'll learn about Duke and me, we're perpetually kids when we hang out," I told her.
"I can see that."
"Are you going to ask her that question you were asking about earlier?" Duke asked, not at all subtly.
"We've been sitting here for," I glanced at my phone "exactly twelve and a half minutes."
"What?" Audrey asked.
"Leila was wondering if you were dating Nathan," Duke said. I stuck a bite of waffle in my mouth so I wouldn't be expected to speak. Audrey just laughed.
"At the rate you're going, you're going to have rumors going that I'm dating half the town," Audrey said. I shrugged.
"Audrey doesn't have any friends, besides me and Nathan," Duke said.
"What does that have to do with anything?" I asked around my bite of waffle.
"I have friends!" Audrey snapped. "Leila is friends with me."
"Watch out for that one, she's not nearly as sweet as Nathan made her seem."
"Hey!" I said.
Duke laughed and put his hands up in surrender. "I'm going to go check on the paying customers."
"Sorry about him," I said.
"That's alright, I've gotten to know him pretty well since I've been here."
"No one knows Duke very well," I said. I shook my head, "I'm glad he's playing nice."
"I don't know if that's exactly how I'd describe what Duke's doing, but I don't hate him."
"Well that's a step up from how most people feel."
"So why did you ask about Nathan?" Audrey asked. It took me a second to remember she was new and hadn't been around before I'd left.
"Oh, we were really good friends," I said casually.
"They dated for years," Duke said, running by.
"Go away Duke," I called after him.
"It's my restaurant," he yelled back.
I sighed and looked back at Audrey. "Yeah, I dated him for a while." I glanced back around to see if Duke was going to pop out of nowhere and make another comment.
"And you still like him?" She asked curious.
"I mean-" Duke walked past me again but didn't say anything this time. I shrugged in response to Audrey's question.
"Well he's just my partner and we're friends," she assured me.
I nodded. "So, you and Duke are friends," I said. "Have you thought about going on a date with him? He makes really good waffles."
"Me and Duke? No way. Could you imagine that?" She shook her head.
I shrugged. "I could see it."
She looked at me. "I can't decide which angle you're coming at with this. Either you really want to set me up with your brother, or you want me out of your way with Nathan."
"Seriously, why does everyone think I have some ulterior motive? Can I not just ask questions?" I sighed dramatically which made Audrey laugh. "I'm going to get a drink." I walked around the bar and looked for something I wanted. "Want anything?" She shook her head.
"You moved out of Haven before the troubles started, didn't you?" She asked.
"Yeah, the last time they happened I was six."
She looked conflicted about telling me something. Finally she said, "you know about Nathan's trouble don't you?" Duke saw me behind the bar and walked over.
"His is back too?" I asked. She nodded. "What triggered it?"
She shook her head. "I don't know, he hasn't told me." I glanced at Duke who had grabbed my glass out of my hand was and was busily making me a drink.
"Do you know, Duke?" I asked. He glanced at me before looking back down and what he was doing.
"Why would I know? Nathan and I aren't exactly close." I watched him make my drink but he didn't say anything. I took my glass and sat back down and he disappeared again.
"Well that was weird," Audrey said.
"That's Duke for you."
Audrey's phone rang and she checked it. "Work call, I should go. This was fun?" She laughed.
"Maybe we shouldn't hang out with my brother next time," I said.
"Want me to tell Nathan to call you?" She asked teasingly.
"No!" I said embarrassed. "I'll go see him, later or something," I mumbled.
"My lips are sealed," she said. She waved as she walked out.