"So you all know Birdie?" Jack asked breaking the awkward silence that seemed to have settled suddenly across the two boats.
Veronica watched Logan nod as the two of them continued to stare at each other.
"Yeah, we all went to high school together," she heard Casey explain from a few feet away from her.
"That's a bizarre coincidence," she heard Bennett say from behind her. Apparently the universe likes throwing insanely bizarre coincidences at me.
"Yeah, it is," Jack agreed. "So you already know Worm, Shelly and GQ then. That's Toad and Wonderland," Jack added. Veronica could see him point at Bennett and Dinah out of the corner of her eye. "And my girlfriend Twiz." She could also see Casey out of the corner of her eye and noticed he was nodding at the others on her boat.
"GQ?" She heard Bennett ask as he moved closer to her and held out his hand to shake Casey's. "It's actually Bennett for me."
Casey laughed and reached out to shake Bennett's. "Yep... Casey."
So Logan's Worm. Of course he is… Birdie and Worm… just fucking perfect. Shelly was still sort of standing between the two guys and Veronica was anxiously waiting to see which one she moved toward. She felt her heart beating rapidly in her chest as she tried to better read the situation. She really hoped of course that Shelly wasn’t with Logan. She knew Shelly and Duncan had dated briefly junior year of high school and wondered if Logan would really hook up with another one of Duncan’s exes. She realized the precedent to that though had already been set with her. She also couldn’t help but notice that Jack hadn’t given Shelly some nickname. Apparently Jack’s not a fan of Shelly either.
“And that’s Logan,” Casey continued, apparently pointing at Logan. That drew his attention away from Veronica and she watched him focus in the direction of Bennett and Dinah with a friendly smile and a nod.
“Dinah,” she heard Dinah say in reply as well.
She’d been so focused on staring at Logan that she hadn’t realized Bianca had been tying their speedboat up alongside the houseboat.
“You timed your arrival perfectly,” Jack said as he pulled out some bumpers to secure the two boats together. “We were just saying we should come in and get some lunch.”
Logan still had the ski vest on and started unzipping it as Veronica saw Shelly pick up a tank-top that was sitting on one of the seats closest to her and hand it to Logan. “Thanks Shell,” Logan said as he slipped off the vest and took the shirt from her. Veronica looked away from them, not really wanting to see the two of them getting any friendlier than that. She reached down and grabbed her bags and then turned to climb over the edge of the boat to where Bianca was already standing on the deck of the houseboat. Bianca must have noticed something was wrong and gave her a concerned look. She knew Bianca wouldn’t make a big deal in front of a bunch of people, but she gave her a quick smile anyway hoping to diffuse any worry. She looked around the deck area, trying not to focus back on Logan and Shelly at all.
“We’re just going to go change,” she heard Shelly say, and then she walked by Veronica into the main cabin area. Veronica steeled herself to watch Logan follow behind her, but was relieved to see Casey quicken his pace to catch up to her instead. As they walked through the door, she saw Casey wrap his arms around her waist and kiss her on her bare shoulder. Veronica felt the tension that had built up in her body since she realized Logan was there and potentially with Shelly finally start to leave.
“Your room’s the first one on the starboard side, Birdie,” she heard Jack call out. Damn Jack and his sailing lingo. His family had owned sailboats for years, so he knew his way around nautical vessels very well.
She turned toward Jack with a confused look on her face and saw Logan give her a small smirk. “I need to grab something from my bag, so I’ll show you,” he said as he started to walk toward her. As he got close enough to her he whispered, “They put you closest to the kitchen.”
She rolled her eyes slightly, but secretly loved that he’d find that amusing. Dinah and Bennett were arguing again, although she wasn’t exactly sure what it was about at this particular moment, but she did hear Dinah threaten to dump Bennett’s suitcase in the lake if he didn’t stop being such a pain in the ass. Veronica tried not to laugh because she really didn’t want to encourage her. Dinah was sometimes like a young child and encouraging her bad behavior only made things worse. Logan was leading the way and she took the opportunity to check him out from behind. He definitely seemed leaner than the last time she’d seen him over two years before, and while some things seemed very different, a lot of things were still very familiar about him too. Of course the tattoo was definitely something new. She’d noticed his abs looked extremely cut when he’d unzipped his vest, before she’d turned away, and she could see his shoulders, barely covered by the tank-top, looked more muscular than she remembered.
She was so focused on him that she really wasn’t paying much attention to the inside of the cabin at all as they walked through it. Logan turned right into an open door and she followed him inside. There was a large duffle bag sitting on the end of the bed and he walked over to it and unzipped the main pocket. “If you’d rather I not keep my bag in here, I’m sure I can find someplace to stash it out in the main cabin,” he said breaking the trance that she seemed to have fallen into just watching him. She heard a squeal and a loud laugh through the wall, coming from the adjoining suite and looked in that direction for a moment before turning her attention back to him.
“No, that’s fine. I’m sure there’s plenty of room for it in here,” she replied as she glanced around the room. It was bigger than she'd been expecting when Bianca had first told her about the boat they rented. She seemed to recall though that two of the suites were slightly larger than the other two and wondered if this was one of those or one of the smaller pair. There still wasn’t much space in it for more than a bed, and a small nightstand on one side of it. There was also a small narrow built in dresser, that at least offered a little bit of space to put things.
“Thanks,” he said as he gave her a curious look. “I still can’t believe it’s really you.”
“Yeah, you're the last person I ever expected to see here,” she said, not intending it to come out as abruptly and harshly as it did.
A slight frown crossed his face, apparently a reaction from the tone she had inadvertently taken. “Sorry if it’s such a disappointment. Were you hoping for some random stranger you could hook up with?”
“What?” she looked at him with indignation. “No, of course not… I didn’t mean…” She let out a frustrated breath. “Look I just never expected in a million years for you to be on this boat.” That maybe wasn't any better, Veronica.
“Well lucky for you it’s a very big boat and I’m sure we can easily avoid each other most of the week,” he quickly replied. The angry expression on his face remained unchanged.
“Logan that’s not…” She paused and let out a deep breath. “I’m sorry… can we just start over?” She gave him a conciliatory smile and hoped it would work. She really hadn’t meant to sound as frigid as she was sure her first response came out. She was just completely caught off guard finding him here and had put up her defenses out of habit, not sure what exactly would happen.
“Sure,” he said as he nodded his head hesitantly.
“I didn’t even think you were in the US, so can you cut me a little slack for being surprised to see you?” she asked with an apologetic smile. He nodded again and she noticed the crease that had been across his forehead finally started to relax again. “How is it you’ve been going to UCLA all this time, and you never show up in any celebrity magazines? The only articles I ever see pop up from time to time are of Logan Echolls in Paris or Ibiza… at wild parties or big celebrity events.”
She watched his smile become a little cocky and realized that she probably shouldn’t have asked that, because now he knew that she’d actually noticed articles he’d been in and it sounded like she was actually trying to keep tabs on him. She expected some smart ass comment, but instead he unzipped another pocket on his bag.
“That’s because Logan Echolls is the one in Europe… Logan Lester is the guy who goes to UCLA.” He pulled out a pair of dark rimmed glasses and put them on, giving her a mischievous grin.
She laughed and shook her head. “So you think you’re Clark Kent and Superman?” He smiled more and nodded. “And that actually works?” she asked in disbelief.
Logan laughed too and nodded again. “So far… yeah.” He ran his hand through his hair. “I usually keep my hair shorter and lighter when I’m here too and if I’m going over to Europe for a visit, I let it grow out a bit more and darken it before I go.”
She gave him a puzzled look. “All that so you keep you being here a secret?”
“Yeah… it’s much easier… and um…” he gave her a hesitant look. “I decided it was probably better for safety reasons too… um… beating up someone with connections to the mob wasn’t one of my smarter moves… and don’t even try to say anything… you warned me…”
She cringed and swallowed down a sudden ill feeling that hit her. “I’m sorry…”
“Hey no…” he waved his hand in the air at her. “You warned me… I was a stupid ass and didn’t listen… Gory thinks Logan Echolls is in Europe and that’s good for lots of reasons. And I also couldn’t have gotten where I am right now if I had to constantly deal with all the crap that was tied to being an Echolls anyway. And who knows… Gory’s probably forgotten all about me by now anyway… but it really is just easier not being someone who has a famous last-name, especially in LA.”
She tried to give him an understanding smile, but she wasn’t sure how convincing she was being. She still felt bad about the whole Castle ordeal… how much danger she’d put all her friends in… what it did to her dad’s campaign to be sheriff again.
“Hey… I’ve got a present for you,” he said with a playful smile. She gave him a confused look as she arched an eyebrow at him. “Close your eyes,” he said before she looked more skeptically at him. “Trust me,” he added with a pointed look.
She let out a loud sigh and closed her eyes, very nervous about what he might have. She heard him digging around in his bag again and then heard him move closer to her. He grabbed her hand with his and then he placed something in it and closed her hands around it. It felt like a small box and she was a little worried about what actually might be in it. “Okay, you can look now,” he said and she could tell he’d take a few steps away from her again by the sound of his voice.
She opened her eyes and looked curiously at him before she opened her hand to see what he’d given her. She laughed and shook her head as she saw it was a box with a pair of ear plugs. “Really?” she asked with a skeptical look.
“Oh trust me… you’ll be glad you have them later tonight. Shelly is quite the screamer and they're the ones sharing a wall with you,” he explained as he pointed at the adjoining wall. “And houseboat walls don’t have any soundproofing.”
Veronica laughed and shook her head. “Well... thanks... and I hope I don’t actually have to use them.”
He laughed too. “Oh you will… I’d be willing to bet on it… up for a wager?”
She gave him a thoughtful look, and then heard another squeal and a bang against the wall next door. She shook her head at him. “Nope… on second thought… thanks.” She walked over to the small nightstand that was next to the bed and pulled the top drawer open to drop them in there for when she went to sleep. She cringed slightly as she saw a box of condoms in the drawer with a note attached that was definitely in Bianca’s handwriting. The note said, ‘Better safe than sorry – Love B.’ She quickly tossed in the ear plugs and slammed the drawer shut, hoping Logan hadn’t seen the box as well. She figured since he’d been out wakeboarding ever since Bianca got back from her shopping excursion that hopefully he hadn’t. She turned back toward him with what she was sure was a light blush on her cheeks and saw that he was grabbing his bag off the bed.
“I’ll just put my bag in the closet,” he said as he went over and opened the door to the small closet and set it inside. “And I can trust that you won’t rifle through my stuff right?” he asked with a stern look, although the look quickly vanished and he smiled at her instead. “Seriously though… feel free to dig through it if you want… I’ve got nothing to hide.” He shut the closet door and then started walking toward the outer door. “Well I guess I’ll see you out there for lunch in a little bit. I’d better go help Dallas with the grill, unless you want your burger more like a hockey puck and less like a juicy hamburger patty.” Before she could say another word, he’d opened the door, stepped out into the hall and then closed it behind him.
She let out a deep sigh and flopped back on the bed. She was only lying like that for less than a minute when she heard a light knocking at her door. She was sure she knew who it was so yelled ‘come in’ with out moving. She glanced up to see concerned brown eyes with long black lashes staring back at her. Bianca came over and flopped on the bed next to her.
"Yeah... fascinating ceiling isn't it?" Veronica said jokingly.
"You okay?" Bianca asked, not reacting to the ceiling comment at all. "He was in here for a while."
Veronica let out a deep sigh. "Of all the houseboats in all the world... he had to show up on mine."
She saw Bianca roll on to her side out of the corner of her eye. "I saw the way he looked at you... I'm guessing you were more than just casual acquaintances?"
Veronica turned her head toward her friend. "Yeah... remember the guy I said broke my heart and I sometimes regretted how that all ended?" One night over too many glasses of wine, she'd told Bianca a bit about Logan, but never brought herself to actually say his name, as if the anonymity would make it hurt less.
"Oh fuck..." Bianca said as she rolled over onto her back again. "I'm so sorry V, I had no idea..."
They laid there in silence for a few minutes before Bianca rolled on her side again. "So do you think this is good karma or bad karma?" she asked with a curious look.
Veronica let out a deep sigh. "I don't really know. Thank god he wasn't with Shelly though or that would have qualified as the absolute worst karma for sure."
Bianca gave her a sly smile. "You still like him, don't you?"
Veronica shrugged. "I don't really know him anymore."
"Well I guess this is your chance to get to know him again. Some higher power must have thought you needed him back in your life."
Veronica laughed and shook her head at her always optimistic roommate. Bianca always believed in higher powers causing things to happen regardless of what a person may think they want. Sometimes Veronica tried to be as optimistic as Bianca was, but was typically much more pragmatic. "I don't know about that, but you're right that I probably will learn who he is now.”
"Well Dallas has always spoken really highly of him… of both of them actually."
"And Jack's such a great judge of character."
"Hey... he loves me," Bianca protested.
Veronica gave her a playful smile. "And I love you too Twizzz."
Bianca laughed and shook her head. "I know I'm in trouble when you call me that."
Veronica nodded and gave her a wicked smile. "If this week goes to hell, you know who I'm going to blame..."
"Dallas of course," Bianca replied back with a big grin. "Let's go get you liquored up. I told Dallas to make us a pitcher of piña coladas... And based on how the scene on the speedboats went, I said to make them strong."
Veronica laughed and nodded. She knew Jack wouldn't actually make it ridiculously strong though. He knew quite well that Veronica was very careful about what and how much she drank, and he was always very cognizant of that whenever they all went out together. He never pressed her about it, but she'd come to rely on him to help keep her safe. She may like to pick on him, but he really was a good guy that she’d grown to trust unconditionally. Which was another reason she hadn't been too worried about the trip, knowing that he felt the guy who'd be sharing her room was a decent enough person to invite her along in the first place. She was still having a hard time believing that guy had turned out to be Logan though.
Bianca stood up and held out her hand to pull Veronica up from the bed. Bianca wrapped her arm around Veronica’s shoulders and started to lead her to the door.
"I saw your note," Veronica said in a judgmental tone.
Bianca laughed and shook her head. "If only I'd known... I would have picked up two boxes instead..."
Veronica shook her head and hip checked Bianca as they walked toward the door.
"Our room is right across the hall from you... if you need anything," Bianca said as they walked out into the narrow hall.
"Did we both get the larger rooms then?" Veronica asked as she glanced in the direction of the other room. Bianca nodded. She knew they had agreed that the couples with the larger rooms would pay a little more of the rental share. Of course Casey and Logan could both easily afford whatever the amount was, but she was a little surprised he had stuck with the larger one knowing he wasn't going to actually be using it. Unless of course he was hoping Bianca's friend would turn out to be easy. I wonder how disappointed he is now?