Ewan’s brand-new home
Ewan pointed towards his kitchen.
“You sure I can’t make you some coffee or bouillon or something?”
Her face reflected disbelief.
“Did you seriously just offer me bouillon?! What are you, 90?! Maybe a butterscotch candy too, from your pocket, without wrapper but plenty of lint?”
“Not 90, but the grandson of a retired chef. Grandma says bouillon is a great base and any dish needs a good base. And bouillon can warm you up, settle an upset stomach. I don’t know how you are feeling this morning, all I know is I have felt better, my stomach is a bit queasy and would almost admit to having a mild hangover, not bad enough to regret my entire life, but enough that I am gonna need a bucket of coffee to function.”
“No thanks, I am fine, nothing a few Aspirin couldn’t fix. And you are creepy. I can’t believe I tapped that last night. Bouillon. Seriously!”
“Creepy? For being nice? That’s rude. What would you prefer me to say? Thank you kindly for last night, then kick you out?”
“No. Look, I don’t know how you usually handle one-night-stands, can’t claim to be an expert, all I am saying is bouillon seems extremely random. Can I take a shower maybe? And maybe borrow some old sweater or something? I can’t get on a public ferry in bright daylight like this. Not in a town like Windenburg. This is clearly last night’s club wear and has walk of shame written all over it in bright letters.”
“Well, sure. Shower’s through there. I’ll get you something to wear.” Ewan said, then went into his bedroom, dug around in a drawer, handing some folded clothing to her, with which she disappeared into his bathroom.
Way to go, dude. Good thing this is not awkward at all. Ewan thought.
He had not even had his housewarming party yet, just moved into this house not even three weeks ago, first time living on his own, but after clubbing with friends on the mainland last night he ended up making out like it was going out of style with some cute girl he then took home, both of them beyond tipsy. Luckily it was only a short stroll from the club to the ferry landing and about same distance to his house once on the island, so no driving involved. Not necessarily unheard-of behavior for a young, single man his age, but if his parents were to get wind of this … eeesh. They would start with the usual ‘Cameron Curse’ warning about unwanted pregnancies, then move on to the fact that Ewan’s dad was the Mayor of Windenburg and end with Cameron Enterprises, and how the oldest son shouldn’t have quickies with hotties he met at clubs.
Ewan and his sister Esmée generally got along well, except both now worked in manager positions at Cameron Enterprises to learn the ropes of what all running that company entailed and had been in some serious competition with each other ever since graduating college. Both were jockeying for the position of CEO in the family business which could only go to one of them, it was up to their grandfather Jamie to decide who the better candidate was gonna be after both finished their in-house training.
No matter how diligent a worker he’d be, a nugget like no-strings-attached type one-night-stands could seriously work against him, big time point reductions for soiling the family’s good name, giving Ezzy’s a leg up on him for sure. Bad move. Dang it!
When his overnight guest emerged from the bathroom, Ewan handed her hot coffee, which she took a big sip of, before starting to look around his home, picking up this nic-nac and another, looking at the few photos he had out so far, even though he hadn’t had time to decorate much, it all made him feel strange. That, and the fact she was wearing his clothes. Oddly familiar, while he knew nothing about her. Not even her name. Oops. He was sure it had come up, but he honestly couldn’t remember it.
“Hey, I am Ewan by the way.” he offered, hoping she would follow suit.
“Cool. Ewan, do you by chance have a girlfriend? If yes, this is gonna get awkward really soon.” she asked and pointed at the window, Ewan craned his head and saw Esmée.
“Oh, that’s just my sister. She lives next door to me.”
“Which one is your sister?”
“I don’t know who’s out there; I only saw one. Mind stepping away from the window? I mean, unless you wanna explain all this to my family.” Ewan didn’t feel like getting closer to the window, he didn’t have curtains up, so if he could see someone outside, they could see him, and he really didn’t feel like talking to family right this second. Never mind them looking up and seeing a strange girl in his home. Hopefully they weren’t gonna. But the girl moved out of sight from anyone outside on her own, peeking out from around a cabinet.
“Three. I see two brunettes and a blonde. One brunette seems younger, the other two about our age, I’d say.” his guest told him.
“Then probably all of them are my sisters. Same explanation, all live next door to me. Literally.”
“You have three sisters?!”
“Yup. And a brother. Well, and another brother actually, so two brothers technically, but we’re not close with the other one. Half-brother. Long awkward story.”
“Oh jeeze, did your parents not have a TV?! Six kids – OOOF!”
“Funny. My mom was only pregnant twice. Multiples each time. We were five growing up together, like I said, the other brother and we weren’t close, he is my bio-dad’s new family. Mom and he split before we were born, she’s married to my stepdad, who’s pretty much just dad to all of us.”
“Good grief! I read multiples are hereditary, so you better get a warning tattooed on your prized piece down there, reading: ‘engage at your own risk or you may drown in diapers’. I am glad I am on some good birth control, and remember you put something on too, or I would really be worried right now.” she giggled; Ewan couldn’t help but smile.
“Yeah, we’re good. However, I’ll keep that tattoo suggestion in mind for the future.”
Sudden banging on the door startled both of them, Ewan answered and in came one blonde girl. His sister Emmy.
“Just you?” Ewan wondered, while peeking past her, relieved not to see anyone.
“Yeah, why? Were you expecting someone?”
“Uh uh, just thought you were with Sophie and Ezzy.”
“I was, we just ran into each other in front of your house. They’re catching the ferry to do some shopping. I am here to get your help. The damn faucet in my downstairs bathroom leaks! I mean, major. I can see the dollar signs go down the drain at lightning speed. Can you come help? Dad’s at some work function and Silas is out with friends, Ezzy and Soph are headed out and mom is about as skilled with tools as I am. You’re my only hope … please Ewie … “
“Yeah yeah, you got it. So, your little dark prince got two left hands, huh? Or has he never seen a tool before except the one in his pants?” Ewan teased.
“You’re a tool! And no, for your information, Connell is very good with his hands, in ALL ways imaginable, but he is away on an assignment and … wait – who’s that? Isn’t that your sweater … and your bike shorts? Uh oh … did I walk into something juicy here?” Emmy grinned at her brother, while briefly pointing at his overnight guest.
“Well, Emmy, that’s … uh … actually I don’t know. What’s your name again?” Ewan wondered.
“Jane. Jane Doe.”
“Oh jeeze, right. Well, ‘Jane’ and I … umm … you know what, I got nothing, Em. It’s exactly what it looks like. Whatever. Judge away.” Ewan said defeated.
“Wow. That is so unlike you. No judgement here, I mean, you’re single, you can’t sweat it out, so why not, right? You are very pretty by the way … ahem, ‘Jane‘. Even in my brother’s clothing.”
“Thanks, I guess.” ‘Jane Doe’ shrugged uncomfortable.
“Emmy, let it go. She doesn’t want to talk or you to be nice. Trust me, I tried and was called a creep.” Ewan said, shooting ‘Jane‘ a glare making Emmy giggle.
“Well, you can be kinda creepy sometimes … just kidding! You are one big sweet goofy teddy bear, Ewie!” Emmy nudged her brother, obviously teasing lovingly.
“Thanks, funny coming from you. You married creepy! Creepy, who can’t even fix a faucet for his wife, which is like super-basic. I’ll get my toolbox. Can you do me a favor though and walk ‘Jane Doe‘ here to the ferry port? Not trying to kick you out and no offense there – ‘Jane’ – but I am not comfortable leaving you at my home alone. Sorry, I don’t have shoes for ya, so your heels will have to get you home. There are reusable bags in the drawer by the counter to take your clothes home in.”
They parted ways and Ewan didn’t think he’d ever see her again.
A week later, it was weekend again, he was returning home from a run, when someone was sitting on the porch swing at his house.
“Well, fancy meeting you here – ‘Jane Doe‘, was it?”
“Hey Ewan. Came to return your clothes. Washed and folded. Thank you again for not making me do the walk of shame in my club wear. By the way, your sister is very nice.”
“Sure. That’s one of my favorite sweaters actually. So, thanks for returning it. Really. Emmy had nice things to say about you too.”
“I also came to apologize. I am sorry I came across kinda rude. I don’t normally do this kind of stuff. Also … Confession. My name is actually not really Jane Doe …”
“Shocker. Never would have guessed.” Ewan’s tone dripped sarcasm.
“I am Ashley. Ashley Roberts.” she stuck her hand out for him to shake, he wiped his hands on his shorts then took it and shook it.
“Well, still Ewan here. Ewan Cameron, to be exact.”
“Officially nice to meet you, Ewan. Sorry again. I really am thankful. For everything. And you really seem to be a good guy. I mean, for what it’s worth, all things considered.”
“Yeah, cool. Well, have a nice evening then, Ashley and thanks for returning the sweater and shorts.”
“Ewan – would you maybe … as a thank you and a sorry … would you have dinner with me?”
“Dinner? Are you asking me out?”
“No. I mean … yes. But not like a date. Like I said, as a thank you. An apology.”
“Tempting, I am actually famished, but the problem with living on an island is that I just saw the ferry leave while I was on my way home, meaning since it’s weekend it will be at least two hours till the next one. I can’t wait that long to eat, or I will be the new spokesmodel for hangry people around the world. Best I can offer is a suggestion you’ll probably shoot down and tell me I am being creepy again: eat at my place.”
“If you are right about the ferry situation, what am I supposed to do on this island for two hours? Do you know how to cook real food, other than bouillon, Ewan?”
“I do. Remember, my grandmother is a chef. All ten of her grandkids can cook. She saw to that. We all share the theory that was only so she can delegate out the Thanksgiving and Christmas cooking tasks to all of us, but hey, it’s useful when you move out on your own.”
“TEN GRANDCHILDREN?! You guys’ parents really need hobbies.”
“Just a very fertile family.” Ewan smirked.
“You should add that to your down there area too, along with the other warning. In BIG bright red letters and three exclamation marks.” she giggled.
“I thank you for the confidence thinking I am so well-endowed that all that would fit on there in some legible manner, but on a serious note, what would you like to eat for dinner? Any special dietary things to be aware of?”
“Nothing, I am easy. Well, evidently sometimes in more ways than one. Just to clarify again, I normally don’t do one-night-stands.”
“Makes two of us. You were my first. Ahem, one-night-stand, I mean. How about pasta? I make a mean Chicken Parmigiana.”
“Lead the way, chef Cameron. Awaiting your instructions.”
“How about you have some coffee while I jump into the shower real quick? Then we’ll cook and eat. I prefer not to put both of us off our appetites reeking like scared skunk.” he chuckled, making Ashley laugh.
“Good thinking. Go shower, I can make the coffee.”
“Make it strong. We Camerons like it thicker than quicksand.”
“Aye aye, Chef! Thick, muddy broth coming up. I can even boil the pasta already, AND make a salad, all without instruction, then all we need is your magic on the Chicken Parmigiana.”
After Ewan’s speedy shower they cooked together, which was surprisingly fun.
They enjoyed the dinner while getting to know each other a little better.
“Any more things you weren’t honest about?” Ewan asked, sipping a glass of wine.
Looking up from her plate, surprised at first, then a tiny smirk appeared on Ashley’s face.
“Yes! A big one. This is going to knock you off your seat – theatric pause here and drumroll – my hair is not naturally aubergine colored. Beneath some bottle magic I am but a dishwater blonde. Alas, now I must kill you! Pity, you are actually a decent cook.”
Chuckling, he shook his head, wondering what this was. A friendship that started in bed? A budding relationship, which started by putting the carriage before the horse? Did she even want that? Was she interested in him like that? Was he interested in her like that? Ashley wasn’t at all the type of girl Ewan usually liked. However, he couldn’t deny liking her. A lot.
“Once again, it’ll shock you, but I actually guessed that too. I grew up in a house full of women, and know the telltale signs, such as seeing blonde eyebrows when you had your make-up off.”
“Clever man! Seriously, Ewan, I am as plain as they come. Maybe that’s why the hair and the naughty ending to a night out clubbing. Sorry if you expected something more mysterious.”
“Oh, you are plenty mysterious for what I am used to. Do you have family?”
“No, I was created in a lab. Another big secret. I really have to kill you now.”
“I meant are your parents alive, any siblings?”
“Parents are alive, one annoying brother. Need me to draw you a family tree? Or do you want to request a background check, while I work up a urine sample for the drug testing? How about some DNA too?”
“I didn’t mean it like that. You know most there is to know about me, I am boring. Small town boy from a big, weird family who will one day die in the same town he was born in. The end. My autobiography will literally be an informational leaflet.”
“Oh, I don’t believe that. You are very interesting, Ewan. Why do you think I came back?”
“To return my sweater and shorts.”
“Right. That’s why I waited for an eternity while you were running around the island, but who’s counting, right? Not like I actually have a life or something. I could have just left your clothes at your doorstep or mailed them here. I mean, it’s a frigging tiny island, I would have sent a drone and drop it over the middle, and it would have probably landed in your backyard.”
“Hmm … so … we ARE on a date after all?”
“Do you want this to be a date?”
“I don’t know. Normally I tend to dress up a little for dates. Shorts and t-shirt plus damp hair are not normally my style for something like that.”
“Fair enough, I usually dress up as well. Okay, right, so, maybe this is not a date, but since I am a modern woman and you were nice enough to cook, here goes: Ewan, would you go on a date with me, maybe tomorrow if you are free? An actual date, outside of your house and off the island, at a real restaurant or cafe or club … whatever you prefer?”
Ewan took a sip of the wine, then grinned, leaning back in his chair.
“Maybe. But I have a condition.”
“A condition? Oh, this oughta be good.”
“Yeah, I want to know more about you. Without snarky clap-backs and evasion of answers.”
“Okay. Deal. You show up for our date and I will become an open book. Read at your own risk, though, I warned you, I am boring.”
“Let me be the judge of that. But – I want to pick you up at your place and drop you off afterwards. Like, ring the doorbell and you come out, and afterwards I walk you to your door and all.”
“You realize I live at home, with my parents, whom you WILL meet if you do that? There is NO WAY they let me go on a date with the guy picking me up at home without them investigating.”
“I can handle parents. You already met one of my sisters and saw another. If you wanted to get to know the rest, we can walk over there RIGHT NOW. I’d do it. Just remember I said it’s a crazy family.”
“Let’s keep that idea holstered. So, you can pick me up, but don’t come the door. Not yet. Let’s keep the parents out of this until we know where we stand with each other. My dad can be kinda analytical of boys I bring home and we really need a better story about how we met than … you know … the truth. That may be a bit much and I am a terrible liar.”
“No shit, Jane Doe! I was actually thinking me telling your dad what a great lay his little girl is after getting her drunk would be a great ice breaker.” teased Ewan.
“Oh gawd! Don’t even joke about that! And I wasn’t drunk, we both were a bit tipsy. I knew full well what I was doing when I went home with you, and I remember very well what we did once we got here. Thanks for the kudos though. You’re not so bad yourself in the sack, Ewan.” Ashley joked back.
“So, where do they think you were that night? And whose clothes you came back in?”
“Friend. The usual standby. And yes, I did text my friend so she knew she had to cover. You sure Emmy hasn’t tattled to your parents about us yet?”
“Positive. Emmy wouldn’t. For as many siblings as we are, we get along pretty well. Except Esmée, the triplet you haven’t met, the dark haired one. She and I are kinda competing at work, so she would 100% gonna give us shit about this, were she to find out. Emmy has some history with hiding boyfriends herself, so she wouldn’t say anything.”
“Didn’t you say she was married? To some guy with two left hands or something.”
Ewan laughed up.
“I did, but don’t say that around him. And yeah, they’re married. She was sneaking around with him since she was 15, as soon as she turned 18 they got married and now trying to have a baby.”
“Oh jeeze! How old are you guys?”
“21. I am not even thinking about marriage and kids yet. I have no idea where I even stand on that subject. Wow.”
“Yeah, they’re both pretty special. Emmy’s always been such a romantic and a dreamer, I don’t think anyone is really surprised.”
“On that note, Ewan, I think I should start heading out. Don’t want to miss the last ferry over.”
“Oh man, it got dark already! Time really does fly, I guess. Next ferry is leaving in 15 minutes. I’ll walk you to the port.”
They walked down the pathways and arrived at port before the ferry was even in sight.
“Hey, I still need your address. Where do you live, anyway?” Ewan wondered.
“Also Windenburg. Give me your phone, I’ll add my contact. Pick me up at 7 pm? Oh, and stay in the car, I mean it. My dad is super-nice generally, but if he even suspects what we did and how we did it, he would investigate you like the FBI and one false word out of your mouth and we may end up married next, with my dad’s shotgun aimed at our heads. I need this to be one of those ‘met at the club and decided to go out again’ kinda stories, for both our sakes.” Ashley laughed.
“Okay, okay, chill. I’ll wait outside, promise.” Ewan laughed, before watching her enter the ferry, waving back at him until they were only a dot at the horizon.