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My brother’s best friend is an inked bad boy from Australia…and I’m completely obsessed.
I decide to escape the cold of the Northern Hemisphere’s brutal winter to get closer to the older man of my dreams. But will I escape detection down under when he gets closer to finding out just how obsessive my need for him really is?
And when secrets are shared, and truths revealed, will I find out my obsession for him pales in comparison to what I discover under the Sydney sunset?
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He’s five minutes late.
I sit one table over from his favorite table, my back against the wall looking out at Manly Beach in Sydney, Australia.
He walks in, sees his table is empty, and makes a beeline for it even though there’s no need to rush. I’ve been telling people it’s taken, not that many have asked.
Locals and tourists alike are all congregated on the tables outside, watching the waves roll in just past the pine trees that line the beach.
I’d be sitting outside watching the waves too, but I already have. I’ve been doing it for the last few weeks, knowing he surfs this spot every Tuesday morning before coming into the Bluewater Cafe where he orders three eggs over easy with toast and bacon and a side of oysters.
It’s not weird or quirky, it’s idiosyncratic. He’s just like me…just like everyone. We all have our certain little things we do and things we like. Well, I like him and today he’s going to find that out for the first time.
See, I’ve been watching these waves for weeks, but not here in the flesh…from thousands of miles away. With surfing being the number one sport in his home country, I was easily able to watch the waves from one of the Manly Beach live surf cameras that are mounted in the area. They’re meant for surfers to check on websites like Surfline.com, where they can make a decision from their couch as to whether or not they want to paddle out each morning.
Surfline only charges seventy bucks a year, which is pocket change to him, but a lot for me. Working the kitchen in a high-end hotel sounds glamorous, if you’re the head chef. But if you’re the one actually doing the work, getting the third-degree grease burns, and having ten percent of all dishes sent back because the food is cold, you’d see it’s not glamorous at all.
See the thing is the food isn’t cold when wait staff delivers it to our diner’s tables. The problem is after spending ten to fifteen minutes getting the perfect Instagram shot, uploading it, tagging it, and waiting for that first like to come in the laws of physics come into play and the heat disburses. Then our dining guests take a bite and leave a bad review on Yelp.com, and send the food back, unaware that more time has passed since they took their first bite than it takes him to eat an entire meal.
It makes complete sense to me. My brother is his best friend and he’s just as impatient…always in a hurry to scarf down his food. In a hurry to go surfing. In a hurry to ride motorcycles. In a hurry to do everything.
That’s why they’re such good friends, and why I’m able to learn so much about him just from my brother’s private Instagram account.
See, the entire world gets his curated feed that his manager puts together. One of the world’s best action sports athletes couldn’t be expected to manage his own social media now could he? It’s a business. One wrong slip up and millions in endorsements can be lost overnight. Just ask Kevin Hart, right?
So he’s got an entire team taking care of that for him, while I follow along on my brother’s Insta, which only has one hundred and thirty-seven followers. Most people would wonder why my brother even has an account, but not me. Last time he told me he was thinking of deleting it I felt my hands shake and my palms immediately sweat, reminding him that he needs it if he wants to get sponsored for his surfing one day too. I even showed him how to use filters and hashtags so he could get more likes. And then I made sure his account was private, kind of defeating the purpose…but not my purpose.
“I’ll have three eggs over easy with toast and bacon and a side of oysters,” he says to the waitress as I mouth his order at the same time, trying not to giggle as I do.
He pulls out his GoPro to review this morning’s surf session and when he does he accidentally flips just a few drops of water on me.
Now’s my chance.
I don’t look over. Instead I take the napkin I had in my hand and slide it down the side of my leg.
“Oh sorry. Did I get you wet?”
Oh, he got me wet a long time ago.
“No, it’s okay. We’re close to the beach and it’s to be expected. Plus it reminds me I shouldn’t be in here eating this,” I say looking at my food. “I should be out there enjoying the beach myself.”
I let my eyes linger over my food just a second longer than necessary, but not long enough to make it obvious.
His eyes look ever so briefly and they lock up, his brows furrowing. Yes, I ordered the same thing he did. No, it wasn’t an accident.