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Catching onix, p.3
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       Catching Onix, p.3

           Renee Conoulty
 
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  * * *

  Grace’s phone vibrated sending her heart skipping. Maybe Jackson was cancelling? No, it couldn’t be. She hadn’t given him her number. She glanced down to see one of those cute little furry Pokémon. Finn was flying on the net swing, so she flicked a few balls at the creature.

  “Did you catch it?”

  She flinched.

  “Sorry, didn’t mean to scare you.” Jackson sat beside her on the concrete bench. “Eevee.”

  “No, I’m Grace.”

  Jackson chuckled, his deep voice resonating off the concrete tower supports. “I meant the Pokémon you caught, it was an Eevee. I know you’re Grace. Grace Diamond. How could I forget a name as beautiful as that?”

  Heat prickled Grace’s neck. She clenched her toes, curling them into the soft rubber of her thongs. She watched her pink varnished toenails reappear as she let them unfurl then lifted her gaze to meet Jackson’s. “Happy birthday.”

  His eyes crinkled as the smile spread across his face. “Let’s go eat cake.”

  “Finn,” Grace called, her gaze captured by Jackson.

  “You don’t have to yell.”

  She spun her head to find Finn already standing beside her, thongs back on and raring to go.

  “C’mon, Sharko. Let’s get cake.”

  The bell jingled as they stepped into the bakery.

  Finn went straight to the fridge and grabbed a bottle of Coke.

  Jackson peered into the display. “I think I’ll have a chocolate muffin.”

  “Me too. I love chocolate and they look like little birthday cakes.” Finn pressed his face up against the glass.

  “Finn.” Grace pulled him off the glass by his shoulder. “I’ll get a muffin too.”

  “Is it your birthday?” the barista asked Finn.

  “Nope, it’s his.” Finn pointed to Jackson.

  Grace placed her order then led Finn to a vacant table.

  Jackson came over moments later and slid a bottle onto the table in front of Finn. “You left this on the counter.”

  Jackson sat opposite Grace and the table suddenly felt tiny. She tucked her feet under her chair as he pulled his chair in. She looked down at her handbag in the vacant chair. She’d made sure his arm wouldn’t brush against hers, but she had forgotten about his eyes. Each time she looked up, those big brown eyes were studying her.

  The awkward silence was broken as the waitress delivered the hot drinks. She reappeared moments later with the food. A solitary candle flickered in the centre of Jackson’s muffin.

  Finn broke into song. “Happy birthday to you.”

  Grace joined in on the second line, albeit much quieter than Finn. “Happy birthday to you.”

  Finn took the volume up a notch, drowning her out. “You look like a Mankey, and you smell like one too!”

  Jackson burst into laughter. His deep chuckle was infectious and Grace couldn’t help but join in. By the time Jackson had gathered himself together enough to blow out the candle, it had shrunk to half its size, leaving a puddle of wax on the top of his muffin. Jackson flinched as he attempted to pick the wax off. A glob stuck to his thumb.

  Grace snatched the bottle of Coke from Finn’s hands.

  “Mum!”

  Grace ignored him, reaching across the table to grab Jackson’s hand. She flicked the hardening wax off with her fingernail and pressed the cold bottle against his thumb.

  “Thanks.” Jackson made no attempt to take the bottle from her.

  “I know you’re supposed to run cold water over burns, but the water doesn’t come out of the tap cold enough here. I did a first aid course ages ago. My certificate’s way out of date, but—”

  “It’s feeling better already,” Jackson cut in.

  Grace bit her bottom lip, looking down at their hands. She imagined entwining her fingers with his but released her grip instead.

  “Mum.”

  Her son’s voice caught her attention.

  “Can I have my drink back now?”

  How had she forgotten to give that back? She slid it over.

  Finn slurped the last of his soft drink and clunked the empty bottle on the table. “Can we go and catch some Pokémon now?”

 
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