I’d been right about the number of campfires on the beach, and about each one inviting us to join them. A surfer was a surfer, and I was in the club from my looks alone.
Maggie and I turned down as many beers that evening as there had been campfires. Even from one group who were obviously high school students. I recognized some of them and we stopped longer there so I could introduce Maggie.
“Hey, you guys starting at SMH next month?” I asked the teenagers. Their campfire seemed larger and less-efficient than the others, as if they didn’t really know what they were doing and had the juvenile opinion that bigger was better. “Maggie just moved here. She’ll be a senior.”
“Nice to meet you, Bunny.” A guy called Rocky held out his hand which Maggie tried to shake but he kissed the back of her hand and added two more kisses up her wrist and arm. She pulled away and basically tucked herself behind me. Several of the guys at the campfire laughed.
“Dude! Keep y’er lips off my girl.” I tried to laugh it off but was uncomfortable with his advance.
“Sorry, Dude.” Rocky slurred his words and took another swig from his beer bottle. “When y’er ready t’share, lemme know.”
“Dude, never.” I gave a couple of the other guys fist bumps then backed away, Maggie clinging to my arm. “See ya on the waves.”
“See ya at school next month, Bunny,” Rocky called out to Maggie.
I turned and took large strides away from the jerk to avoid losing my temper and popping him in the nose. Maggie hurried to keep up with me.
“Did he just call me Bunny?” she asked when we were far enough away.
“Yeah, beach bunny is a derogatory nickname for a surfer’s girlfriend,” I explained, still fuming.
“Well, gosh, I’m not sure I want to be a surfer’s girlfriend.” Maggie pulled herself away from where she was clinging to my arm and folded her arms across her chest.
“Ah, come on, babe.” I pulled her to a halt, and she kept her gaze over my shoulder, not meeting my eyes, even as I tried to regain her attention. “Don’t let them ruin our night.”
“I actually should probably be getting home anyway,” Maggie said as she resumed trudging through the thick sand. “I didn’t exactly tell my parents I was hanging out after work tonight.”
“Thank you for hanging out with me,” I said with all the sincerity I could muster through my disappointment. I didn’t want her to think I was pressuring her to stay out later than she should or hang out with me when she just met me today. “We’ll have more fun on our next date, I promise.”
“Who says there’s going to be a next date?” Maggie mumbled; her words barely audible over the low waves crashing beside us.
“You say,” I told her.
“You get to decide when and where our next date is.” I laid the power back in her hands.
“I think the word you’re looking for is ‘if’,” she said, a tiny smirk pulling at the corners of her mouth.
“If, when, same difference,” I teased, catching up to her with my longer and stronger legs.
“Not at all the same thing.” She laughed.
“I’m just extremely overconfident,” I said.
“Arrogant is more like it,” she said, stepping onto the boardwalk, making her footing more sure.
“Semantics.” I waved my hand dismissively. “Where ya parked? I’ll walk you to your car.”
“I’m pretty sure I can walk by myself,” she said.
“I trust that you can walk by yourself,” I said. “I just don’t trust guys like that Rocky kid back there. What if there are more like him up near yer car? You need a bodyguard like me.”
“An overconfident, arrogant, and cocky bodyguard,” she teased.
“Whatever turns ya on.”
“Nothing about you turns me on.” She was trying unsuccessfully to keep from grinning.
“Liar. Everything about me turns you on. My bod, my mysteriously colorful eyes, my hair. Especially my hair.”
“Especially not your hair.” She pushed me away playfully.
I took advantage of her nearness and grabbed her hand again. We walked in silence for a moment until we got to the parking lot of the sub shop where she approached an ordinary Buick sedan that had probably been her mom’s ten years ago. She clicked the key fob and opened the driver’s side door.
“Thanks for walking me to my car.” There was that coy shyness I saw a hint of when we first met.
“See ya for lunch tomorrow,” I said, my voice lowering.
“I have to work tomorrow,” she said. “Besides, you said I get to choose the next date.”
“Which is why I’m coming to the Surf and Sub shop for lunch tomorrow. You can make me a sandwich and let me know when and where you want to go for our next date.”
“How about teaching me how to surf?” she asked. “That could be a fun date.”
“That would be an awesome date,” I agreed. My brain conjured up a vision of Maggie in a swimsuit and I couldn’t wait. “When?”
“I get out at three tomorrow.” She shrugged.
“Perfect. How about you meet me at Buddy’s Surf Shop, and I’ll loan you a board from Buddy’s collection.”
“Cool.” I started to back away. “I’ll still see you at lunch. A guy’s gotta eat.”
“For sure, dude.” She started to climb into her car.
“You’re already gettin’ the surfer lingo down. Radical.”
She pulled out of the parking lot and I sauntered back across the street to my van with a cheesy smile on my face.
My smile grew wider when I realized she was still wearing my sweatshirt. I liked the idea of her snuggling with my sweatshirt. Almost like a hug from me to her.
Maggie. Yeah, I kinda liked Maggie.