Tyson Willis parked his car and exited it, grabbing his bag from the back seat. He hadn't packed a whole lot for he had his doubts, but he packed enough – just in case.
"There you are," a voice called.
Tyson looked up from the car and grinned.
"Joseph you dog," he said as he hurried to run up the wooden steps of the wraparound porch. "I wasn't sure if you'd be here."
"Dude," Joey said. "Have I ever let you down?"
"Not ever," Tyson answered truthfully. He pulled the other guy into a man-hug and held onto him a little longer than necessary. But the truth was that Joey was probably the only person in the world who still had a little faith in Tyson Willis, former lead singer of Clean Shot, one of the hottest bands that had shot up the top twenty charts just a few years ago. Of course, that was ancient history now.
"Dude," Joey said as he stepped out of Tyson's embrace. "This is just what you need."
Tyson gazed at the rather primitive lawn furniture on the porch before transferring his gaze to the shimmering lake and nodded. Sure, it was a far cry from the luxurious lifestyle that Tyson had lived only a few years ago, but he wasn't complaining. It sure beat the crappy apartment he currently occupied.
"Joey, dude, it's perfect," he said.
Joey beamed as he rocked on his heels. "I knew it would be."
Joey opened the door and Tyson followed him inside. The cabin was small – the living room bled straight into the eat-in kitchen. There was no long hallway but only three doors which – Tyson figured – led to the bathroom and the two bedrooms. But he wouldn't sweat it. Artists usually had to suffer in order to produce their masterpieces and if that was the case, Tyson was willing to suffer. What was a little more misery, anyway?
"So, the fridge is stocked and the place has been cleaned. The place is peaceful and the lake – as I've heard – is fantastic this time of year," Joey said as if he'd suddenly transformed from entertainment agent into real estate agent. "What do you think?"
"It's great," Tyson said. He dropped his bag at his feet and turned toward his friend – the only friend that he felt he had left – and offered him a sincere smile. "I appreciate all that you've done for me, man."
"I know," Joey sighed. "I know. And now that you have a place away from it all, I hope you'll work your ass off and get us into the limelight. I'd love to make some money off of you, bro."
Tyson laughed and playfully punched Joey in the arm. "Dude, I'd love to make some money off myself."
"See, we have a common goal," Joey proclaimed. He sighed. "But seriously, you asked and I provided. I honestly hope it works for you, man. All joking aside, you're my friend and even though I've taken on the role as your agent, I'd much rather see you succeed as your friend rather than as your agent."
"I know that," Tyson said. "And I'd rather let you down as my agent than my friend."
Joey grinned. "I have a dinner meeting in the city tonight so I better get out of here. Call me if you need anything at all, okay?"
"Yep," Tyson said with a touch of shame. "Joseph, I can't thank you enough."
Joey held up his hand. "Not another word. I'll check in after a few days."
Tyson nodded and smiled when Joey squeezed his arm and left.
Tyson picked up his bag and took it to the master bedroom, trying hard not to dwell on his new living quarters.
"So, Aunt Charlotte has a lot planned for this summer," Nancy Wagner said with much enthusiasm in her voice. "It is going to be great."
"I know," Lily Wagner said for what felt like the millionth time since she graduated high school just two weeks earlier. "I can't wait."
Nancy parked in the dirt drive of the small cabin and grinned. "Let's go! I can't wait to get unpacked and take a dip in the lake."
"Me, either," Lily lied. Actually, what she really wanted was to hide away in her bedroom like she'd been trying to do since February. She was getting good at ducking under the blankets of her bed and shutting out the world. Too bad her parents thought it wasn't healthy. And too bad they gave her an ultimatum – either spend the summer at Aunt Charlotte's cabin or see a therapist. The cabin was looking pretty damn good.
"It's going to be so fun having one last hurrah before you go off to college," Lily's mom was saying. Lily forced another smile and nodded.
Truth be told, Lily had always hated any time she'd been forced to spend on Lake Perry in the tiny touristy town of Ridgemoor, Indiana.
Lily got out of the car and helped her mother with the bags. As she was carrying them into what looked like an oversized shed, she couldn't help but take in her surroundings. She couldn't see another cabin in her vicinity but she knew there were neighbors close by. She wondered if there was anyone her age and if not, would she be doomed to a summer of nothing but parent-aged people? She shuddered at the thought.
She took her stuff to the room her aunt had assigned to her and joined the other two women in the kitchen. She was aching to retreat to privacy but her mother was determined that she socialize. So, she ate dinner and helped to clean up. Then, she sat on the porch with the others and listened as the two sisters caught up. She was growing more and more desperate to escape and not just out of boredom but now out of exhaustion.
Finally, her mother mentioned that it was late and they should go to bed. Lily bid them good night and once she got to her room, she sat near the window and gazed out across the lake. There, she spotted another cabin with a fire burning in the yard. She closed her eyes and imagined that it was someone her age – someone cool – and hoped that maybe she could meet that someone and soon. Even though she'd gone through hell this past winter, she felt as though she was ready to put it behind her and move on with her life. Perhaps she'd meet a friend this summer – someone who didn't know her and wouldn't judge. Maybe that person would just accept her and maybe she would have a good time this summer.
Judging from her past, Lily highly doubted it.
She sighed and went to bed, lonely.