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The Beginning After by Kiersten Modglin (13)

Fourteen

FRANK, 2001

Frank walked into Todd’s study, handing him a beer. He sat down on his friend’s desk. “What’s up?”

Todd sighed. “Work. The answer is always work.” He took a swig of his beer. “You’re off early.”

“I’m at work, my friend.”

“Oh, is that right? What are we paying you for again?” He laughed.

“You and Peighton want to go with me to Harding? I need a vacation.”

“From your oh-so-stressful job, you mean?” Todd smiled, shutting his laptop. “What did Peighton say?”

“I didn’t ask her yet, I was going to let you have the pleasure of that. She’s out there with Drew.”

“Oh, not Drew. If I ask her, he’ll have to come.”

“Can’t you just send him home?”

“He isn’t a dog, Frank. He doesn’t mind me.”

Frank laughed. “Tell Peighton to send him home then.”

“Yeah, that’ll work. Hey, why don’t we just try to outrun him?”

“Why, your Mayoral Highness!” Frank donned a British accent. “You wouldn’t want that to end up on a campaign trailer, would you?”

Todd scoffed. “Well, since the two people supposed to be running my campaign are currently planted on my couch downing whole bottles of wine, I don’t think I stand much of a chance anyway.” The men walked out of his office and headed down the hallway toward the living room. Peighton was lying on the couch, her head resting beside Drew’s lap, two empty wine glasses on the table.

“Who’s up for a trip to the lake?”

Peighton sat up. “We have work to do,” she said softly, eyeing the wine glasses. She burst out in laughter, covering her mouth. Todd grinned at her.

“You big dork,” he said, walking over and planting a kiss on her head. “Are you drunk at two p.m.?”

“No,” she said, looking as though she were a child with something to hide. She laughed again.

Drew looked at him happily, his own cheeks red. “She’s a little buzzed.”

“You think?” Todd laughed. “Do you want to stay here and sleep it off?”

Peighton shook her head ferociously. “I want to go to the beach!”

“The lake,” Frank corrected from across the room. “We aren’t going to the beach. Your drunk ass will get us kicked out.” He smiled at her dotingly as he took another drink of his beer.

“But the beach is much more fun.”

“It’s also in Florida,” Frank said, “and in case you didn’t know, it’s November. So, big fat no, sweetheart,” he teased her.

“You’re a party pooper.” She giggled.

He shrugged. “I’m rubber, babe.”

“All right, I’m going to go then, so you guys can head out,” Drew said, standing up.

“No way, man, not like that. You can go to the lake with us or stay here and wait it out. I’m not letting you leave here after you’ve been drinking.”

“I’m fine, man,” he assured him.

“No,” Todd said firmly. “Not a chance. I can take you home if you want.”

“Yeah, I’d appreciate that,” Drew agreed, nodding his head. He grabbed his jacket from the back of the couch, taking the wine glasses into the kitchen.

Isabel appeared from around the corner, taking the wine glasses from him. “Anything special you want for supper, dears?”

“We’re going to have fish, Izzy,” Frank said.

“Fish? I don’t know that we have fish.”

“We’ve got to catch it first,” Peighton said. “Come with us, Izzy! Come, come!”

Isabel laughed. “There’s plenty for me to do around here, lassie. You all just have a good time. I’ll be here when you get back.”

“There’s no reason for you to stay, Iz. You can go on home when you finish up dishes.”

“Thank you, Mr. Todd, I don’t mind a bit though. I have a few other things I’d like to tidy up and then I’ll be on my way.”

Drew pulled his jacket over his shoulders. “All right, are we ready then?”

Frank stood up from the couch, handing his beer bottle to Isabel.

Todd nodded. “Take Peighton with you and go ahead and grab the poles and tackle from your place. God knows they’re probably lost in that landfill you call a garage. I’ll take Drew home and meet you over there.”

“Bye Drew!” Peighton called, throwing her arms around him and hugging him close. She placed a drunk kiss on his cheek.

“Peighton!” Todd yelled, pulling her back. “Sorry about that,” he apologized. “She’s extra friendly when she’s drinking wine.”

Drew wiped his cheek, his face growing even more red. “Issallright,” he slurred the words together in a hurry.

Frank grabbed hold of Peighton’s arm. “Come on, Peight, let’s go.” Drew and Todd walked out the door first, Frank pulling her behind them. He grabbed her coat off the coatrack, throwing it over her arms.

“Shotgun!” Peighton yelled as he shut the door, bouncing around.

“You’re the only one in the car, weirdo,” he told her jokingly as he threw his arm around her, leading her to the car.