Second Hearts (The Wishes Series)

BOOK: Second Hearts (The Wishes Series)
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Second Hearts

by GJ Walker-Smith

Kindle
Edition

© 2013 GJ Walker-Smith

 

Cover by Scarlett Rugers, http://scarlettrugers.com

 

Other Books by G.J Walker-Smith

Saving Wishes (Book One, The Wishes Series)

Contact the author:

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All rights reserved. No part of this book may be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the author.

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are the product of the author’s imagination. Any resemblance to actual events, places or people, living or dead, is coincidental.

Dedication

For mum, wish you were here.

Table Of Contents

1. Sober Words

2. Crazy Brave

3. Lessons

4. Elvis

5. Smash Cake

6. Devil’s Advocate

7. Ebbs And Flows

8. Humble In Victory

9. Trespass

10. Five Minute Rule

11. Set In Stone

12. Little Elephant

13. Intelligence Gathering

14. Social Butterflies

15. The Purple Circle

16. The Right Question

17. Star Splinters

18. Promises

19. Fallout

20. Coup de Grâce

21. Finding Balance

22. Legends

23. Gold Digger

24. Losing Numbers

25. Tomorrow, The Louvre

26. Glass Houses

27. Showpiece

28. English Rose

29. Second Hearts

30. Effort

31. Snookered

32. Pound Puppy

33. Billet-doux

34. Peace

35. Proof

36. House Of Cards

37. Rule Change

38. Poison Ivy League

39. Small Details

1. Sober Words

It was shaping up to be a bad day.

We’d been in the tiny south-western African town of Kaimte for almost three months, the longest we’d stayed anywhere since leaving Australia over a year earlier. Kaimte was a haven for backpackers over the summer months. Constant sunny weather and brilliant surf were a huge drawcard. Casual work was easy to find and short-term rental properties were in abundance, thanks mainly to a local landlord called Leroy Van Der Walt. He owned a long row of decrepit old shacks along the beach, affectionately known as the cardboard village. The miniscule rent he charged made them perfect abodes for non-discerning tenants like us.

Mitchell maintained that one big winter storm would be all it took to send the huts toppling like a deck of cards. On days when the wind shifted the loose roof tiles and we could see sunlight bleeding through the cracks in the ceiling, I believed him. Not surprisingly, our plan was to be long gone before winter.

Leroy was a great landlord – unless you owed him money or needed something repaired. It wasn’t unusual for residents to pack up and skip town in the middle of the night rather than face him over a couple of hundred dollars in owed rent. Defaulters often came home to find their possessions scattered along the beach in front of their house. He was by far the most intimidating man I’d ever met. And that was partly the reason it was shaping up to be a very bad day.

Our rent was due.

Mitchell and I had secured jobs within days of hitting town. I waitressed at a local café and Mitchell laboured for a local building company. The money wasn’t great, but we were managing. Every Friday afternoon Mitchell would walk to Leroy’s office in town to deliver the rent. It was a routine that had gone off without a hitch for weeks – until today.

Taking a short cut through an industrial estate didn’t work out so well. Mitchell was a big guy, over six feet tall and brawny, but he was powerless against the three men who knocked him to the ground and emptied his pockets. Sore and shaken, he made his way home sporting a nasty cut above his eye.

“I think it needs stitching,” I said, working hard to keep the worry out of my voice.

“We don’t have money for rent, Charli. We definitely don’t have money for a doctor,” he grumbled.

Gingerly removing the cloth from his forehead, I held it out to him. I didn’t need to speak. Mitchell grabbed my wrist and pulled it back to his face, catching the trickle of blood as it ran down his cheek. “I’ll go to Zoe,” he said shakily.

We’d met a lot of travellers during our time in Kaimte. Mitchell had fallen head over heels for an English nurse called Zoe. I don’t think it was quite love – just major like. She was a female version of him. Blonde, tanned and good looking.

Twenty-four-year-old Zoe and her best friend Rose lived a few houses down from ours, at number sixty-three – a curious number considering the shacks totalled eighteen. Maybe the other forty-five had succumbed to the weather or a rampaging Leroy.

By the time we’d made the short trek down the beach to their house, I was exhausted. Mitchell’s arm was slung over my shoulder and I did my best to prop him up, but it was hopeless. Woozy and weak, he was dead weight.

Zoe appeared on the balcony as soon as I called her name. “What on earth happened?”

“He was mugged,” I explained, staggering to the side as Mitchell did. “I think he needs stitches.”

“Oh, dear.” She sounded nowhere near as horrified as I thought she should. “I’d better take a look then.” She walked out the door a minute later, armed with a small toiletry bag filled with medical supplies. Mitchell sat on the edge of the veranda and she knelt in front of him, humming a tune as she stitched him back together.

“It could have happened anywhere,” she reasoned. “I once had my handbag snatched in Knightsbridge. Any place can be rough.”

I wasn’t used to rough. I was used to Pipers Cove. The only crimes to happen there were crimes against fashion. And as strong and tough as Mitchell was, he was clearly traumatised by the ordeal. His hands were shaking.

“There. All done,” Zoe announced, quickly kissing his lips before leaning back to admire her work. Mitchell snaked his arm around her waist and pulled her in close again. That was my cue to leave. He could thank her in private. I needed time alone to think.

Hanging out at our shack wasn’t exactly inspiring, so it wasn’t something I did often. It was tiny and tragically underfurnished. Our beds, two beanbags and an old tea chest were just about all we had, and unless I could come up with a way of paying the rent, we were about to lose it all.

Daylight had long since faced by the time Mitchell arrived home. He looked a mess. A jagged line of sharp black sutures ran horizontally across his brow, and in the few hours since I’d seen him his eye had blackened.

He smiled. “No real harm done, Charli.”

“It doesn’t look that way.”

He flopped down beside me on the beanbag, pushing me aside. “What are you doing?”

I shoved back with all my might, and didn’t shift him an inch. “Trying to work out how we’re going to make up the rent.”

“What did you come up with?”

“I think we should move on,” I suggested. “We can fly north to Dakar and go just about anywhere from there.”

He half-frowned, then brought his hand to his head. The expression must have hurt. “I like it here. I thought you did too. What happened to our plan of staying until the end of summer?”

“I want to leave, Mitch.”

“Look, if it’s about the rent –”

I shook my head. “It’s not about the rent. Didn’t today frighten you?”

Mitchell drew in a deep breath, exhaling slowly. “I’m sure it was a one-off. I shouldn’t have been anywhere near that area.”

“What if I had been with you?”

“I would never have taken you down there,” he scoffed.

I changed tack, trying to talk him around. “We’ve been here a long time. There are other places to see.”

Levering himself off the beanbag, he reached for my hand, pulling me to my feet. “I like it here, Charli.”

I had no right to argue with him. Mitchell had made so many concessions for me over the past year that pushing the issue would have been criminal.

Whether I liked it or not, our partnership was never going to be equal. Throughout our trip he had protected me, watched out for me and sometimes carried me, never once complaining. I don’t know what I did for him, other than provide company. And judging by the string of broken romances he’d left along the way, companionship was not something Mitchell Tate ever lacked.

We never argued. It wasn’t something he was good at. When we disagreed, he’d walk away before I had a chance to kick up. He didn’t respond to being given the silent treatment, either. If anything, he seemed to enjoy it. That meant I had no choice but to let the subject drop – for now.

It took three days for Kaimte’s very own dictator to catch up with us. Leroy was sitting on our porch when we arrived home from our morning surf. We’d had fair warning that he was there. His paisley shirt could be seen half a mile down the beach.

The aging man with wiry long grey hair walked with a wooden cane. It was an unnecessary prop. There was nothing frail about him. It was more likely a big walloping stick for his delinquent tenants.

I approached the shack with my arm hooked tightly around Mitchell’s.

“I’ll deal with it,” he promised, leaning down to whisper the words. I nodded stiffly.

“I’ve been waiting for you two,” roared Leroy, levering himself off the deckchair with his cane.

“We just need a few more days,” explained Mitchell.

“Impossible!” he boomed, smashing the cane down on the concrete floor. “You’re out!”

“We just need a couple more days, Leroy,” pleaded Mitchell.

Pointing his cane, Leroy stared straight at me, narrowing his already beady eyes. My grip on Mitchell’s hand tightened.

“I’ve been more than patient with you two. You have twenty-four hours.”

It didn’t sound like much but coming from Leroy, it was a remarkably generous gesture.

“We’ll have it for you tomorrow,” promised Mitchell, relieved.

I said absolutely nothing during the exchange. Leroy hung around much longer than necessary, raving about how irresponsible we were, occasionally whacking his cane on the floor for effect. By the time he left, I was a wreck.

I followed Mitchell into the house and paced around the small room, trying to calm myself. Mitchell didn’t look anxious at all. He flopped on the beanbag, leaned back and closed his eyes. I hoped he was hatching a plan and not sleeping.

“What are we going to do?”

“We’re going to pay him,” he replied flatly.

“With what? Good intentions?”

He opened his eyes, tilted his head and grinned craftily. “Since when have I been full of good intentions? We’ll just have to dip into the travel money.”

His lax solution infuriated me. Keeping money aside for plane tickets was the most sensible thing we’d done. Neither of us had saved a cent during our time in Kaimte, so our travel kitty was the only hope we had of being able to move on.

“If we use that money, we’ll never save it up again. We’re never going to get out of here.”

“Charli, have I ever let you down?” I glared at him and he laughed. “Okay, let me rephrase my question. Have I ever let you down since we left home?”

“No,” I mumbled.

“So trust me.”

I trusted Mitchell implicitly, but that was beside the point. My desire to leave was growing stronger. Unfortunately, he didn’t feel the same way.

“I’m not going to be able to talk you around, am I?”

“I like it here, Charli,” he repeated for the umpteenth time. “I just want to see the summer out.”

I shook my head, defeated. I walked out of the room giving him the false impression that the subject was closed.

BOOK: Second Hearts (The Wishes Series)
6.46Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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