"What happened?" Ti asks, wondering if she's supposed to speak at all.
"She kind of fell apart when my dad left," Coby says, "Her doctor put her on meds. They don't know if the overdose was intentional or not."
"Thanks for coming with me," he says, hugging her, "Heather usually does this with me. But this year, she's got a boyfriend who wants to do the whole Mother's Day thing with her. And she deserves it, you know."
Stina had completely forgotten about Mother's Day until Coby asked her to visit Forest Lawn with her to visit his mother's grave. Her own mother must be waiting on her to call. Or not, Stina thinks, no one who knew her would expect her to remember a holiday like Mother's Day.
"There's one more," Coby says, taking her hand.
He leads her to a smaller grave in a different section of the cemetery. "Krista," he says, placing a flower on her grave. "I don't even remember what she looked like now." Coby stands to face her, tears in his eyes. "We were fifteen. I didn't even know she was pregnant, until they told me she died trying to..." he shakes his head, doesn't finish. "Her parents didn't let me come to her funeral. I don't blame them, I guess. And I know it doesn't do any good now, but I visit her every year. It's my fault, you know, that she's gone."
"It's not your fault," Ti tries to comfort him.
"You don't have to do that," he says, squeezing her hand, "I know what I did."
He thanks her again when they get back to his apartment. "I really would hate to do that alone," he says, "I'm glad you were there with me."
"Of course, Coby," she says, "I'm always there for you."
That's something he's not so sure of these days. More and more, she's been hanging out with that French guy. She's says it's platonic, that they're just friends. And it's true, maybe they haven't had sex or even kissed, but Coby has seen the intention in his rival's eyes, and he knows Ti all too well.
His cell rings. "It's on," the voice says, and hangs up. Coby sighs. That was the 24 hour notice call, and it's an eight hour drive to Half Moon Bay. He has to go now. For one moment, he considers blowing it off, to stay here and protect his territory. But surfing is what he lives for, and the Mavericks contest is the biggest event of the year, when the waves allow. He grabs his gear and leaves a note for Ti, still asleep in his bed. "Gone surfing. Will be back in two days."
Stina is certainly going to just sit at home while Coby is out surfing somewhere. Rainier has asked her to go dancing with him several times, but she's persistently turned him down, trying to keep on the right side of the line between lovers and 'just friends'. Tonight, she gives in. It's that or stay home alone. And it's not like you can't go clubbing with your friends. Just because it's at night, that doesn't make it a date, right?
There's an undeniable attraction between them, but she really loves Coby, and she knows that will stop her from letting the thing with Rainier get beyond mild flirting.
"Stina," Gavin approaches when he sees her on the dance floor. "What's going on with you? You've been skipping all your classes. I know for a fact that you're going to fail Art History..."
Stina rolls her eyes, "School is lame," she says, "And stop trying to be my daddy."
"I'm just worried about you," Gavin explains, "Eleanor told me you never even call her anymore, either."
"Well, she doesn't exactly have time for me these days, either. Or haven't you noticed your roommate Justin has lodged himself up her ass?"
Gavin frowns, "That's a vulgar way to describe true love. Justin and Eleanor are a great couple."
"Yeah, whatever," Stina says, "I'm going back to my date now, okay, Daddy?"
"That was an old boyfriend," Stina explains, responding to Rainier's inquisitive expression.
"I have so many rivals for your affection," he laughs, running his fingers along her arm.
"Gavin isn't a rival," Stina says.
"One down, then, and one to go," Rainier laughs.
"Don't be silly," Stina says, blushing, "You don't have any rivals."
"No?" he asks, pulling her close.
"I meant..." she starts to say, but his lips are against hers before she can speak. She meant the he wasn't even the running, but in her heart, she knows that not true. Every time she goes out with Rainier, every time she flirts with him is another step away from Coby. And with this kiss, which came unexpectedly, but which she doesn't try to resist, she's crossed the line, entered a new territory.
"Why don't you come back to my place?" Rainier whispers in her ear.
And so she goes back to Rainier's apartment, and into his bed. She gives one last thought for what she's giving up, one moment of regret for her betrayal, before giving herself over to her new lover completely.
"Dude, there are some hot chicks here tonight," George says, "Let's go bag a couple, celebrate your victory."
"You go ahead," Coby says, "I'm just going to chill."
"Dude, seriously?" George is flabbergasted, "Even when you don't win, you always get the babes all over you. Today, you are king of the beach, you could have your pick of these fine ladies."
"Yeah, my girlfriend, back home..." Coby shakes his head, "She might not be there for me when I get back."
"So, that's like more reason to score tonight, right?"
"Just go, have fun," Coby says, slapping George on the arm, "I'm just going to have a drink and turn in early. I have shit to think about, is all."
George doesn't need to be told twice, and heads out to join the girls on the dance floor. Coby sits at the bar and has a solitary drink. It's like a test, he decides. If she actually manages to get through two days on her own without sleeping with the French dude, then Coby will know it's solid. And if she doesn't, he'll at least have the comfort of knowing that, this time, he wasn't the one who cheated, that for once, he gave it his best shot.
"Look, your boyfriend is on TV," Rainier says, flipping the channels to get to a sports station.
And to Stina's surprise, there he is on the screen. She wouldn't recognize him as the tiny figure riding the giant wave, if his named wasn't on the bottom of the screen, along with a bunch of numbers she figures must be some kind of score. "I didn't know there were TV shows about surfing," she says.
"It's a recap of yesterday's contest," Rainier explains, "Your boyfriend won the event."
The TV switches views to show an interview with Coby, talking about waver conditions or whatever. Stina isn't really listening. "Huh, I had no idea surfing was such a big deal."
"It is a big deal for a lot of people. Your Coby is a celebrity in his world."
"Really?" Stina is stunned by this news. Coby talked about surfing a lot, but never mentioned his being famous for it.
Rainier laughs, "How long were you dating him, that you don't even know this?"
Stina just shrugs, "I guess he was just modest. Or maybe he figured I wouldn't care."
"And now that you know who he is, have you changed your mind about who you want to be with?" Rainier asks.
"No," Stina says, "I'm with you, now."
Rainier leans into her, kissing her deeply. His hand crosses over her, starts unbuckling her belt. His phone chooses this moment to start ringing.
He speaks in French to whoever is calling, and Stina has no idea what he's saying. But at one point she swears she hears him say Coby's name. When the call is done, he turns to her. "Chère," he says, "I have work to do. I'll see you later."
Stina goes back to her apartment and waits. Coby will be home soon, and she's going to have to tell him.
He comes into her apartment that evening like a convict awaiting his sentence. He can tell just by the distance she keeps between them when they hug in greeting that it's over.
"I saw you on TV," she says, "Congratulations."
"Yeah? I didn't think you'd watch that."
"I didn't even know," she says, "Until Rainier..." she's getting ahead of herself, she thinks, "Coby you were right...I tried to tell myself the thing with Rainier was strictly platonic..."
"But you slept with him the second you got the chance to," Coby finishes for her.
Stina winces, "Well, I wouldn't...yes, that's what happened," she admits.
"Okay, then," Coby says, starting to get up and leave, surprised by how numb he feels. Maybe because he saw it coming, maybe because his heart has been slowly breaking instead of being torn apart in one sudden revelation...
"That's it?" Stina asks, "Are you okay, Coby?"
"Is there something else you want to say?" he asks.
"I--I'm sorry," she says, starting to cry, "I really didn't want it to be like this. I love you, Coby, so much, but Rainier..."
"You know, this is the first time you've said you love me, Ti, while you're breaking up with me," he says with a slight laugh, "I remember how you used to cry over the last guy you broke up with. Don't cry over me like that, okay?"
He walks out on her then, without another words. She's surprised by the way he's taking it, she expected an argument, or tears, or something. But he just took it and left.
It's not like he didn't know it was coming, Coby tells himself. Even the biggest waves have to break eventually. He'd expected to be crushed by her breaking, but she just left him with this dead, empty feeling, and all he wanted now was to get as far away from her as he could. So he found himself an apartment in Venice, one with a view of the surf. This is where he belongs, he thinks, and not seeing her everyday will just make it easier to get over it, get back to the way he used to be.
Anyone who knows surfing will know I fudged the timing of the Mavericks contest, which normally falls somewhere between Nov - March, depending on wave conditions. So take it as story > reality, or it's just a really late season for the big waves.