Lauren's Lighthouse Love (continued)

Lauren's Lighthouse Love (continued)

A Story by Lea Sheryn
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Lauren's Adventures on Long Beach Island

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Lauren’s Lighthouse Love

By Lea Sheryn

 

Prologue

When Lauren and Eric told their friends they were going to honeymoon on Long Beach Island, they received looks of astonishment.  Sure, most newlyweds opted to go to the islands.  Hawaii was a romantic spot for the newly married and, if not, there were plenty of beautiful places in the Caribbean.  For those who were more adventurous, Thailand would provide the taste of the exotic and there was always Paris where love is said to bloom the year round.  So why Long Beach Island of all places? 

 

Their friends quizzical glances didn’t deter the young lovers in the very least.  A secret smile between the two promised their choice was secure.  They wouldn’t have chosen another place even if it were given to them all expenses paid.  LBI was their choice and it was going to remain their choice.  

 

The engagement party was throbbing along at full speed.  Many glasses were raised to toast the upcoming nuptials followed by a string of lewd jokes that accompanied such gatherings.  The private dining area of Dmitri’s Pizzeria was full to the brim.  The Frank Sinatra tunes that played in the background were drowned out by loud voices and laughter that could be heard in the main room of the restaurant.  Lauren and Eric were beginning to feel comfortably numbed by the many glasses of champagne they had already consumed as glasses were raised in salute again and again.  This was only the beginning of the happiest event of their lives.  Both were ecstatic over their choice to spend their lives together.

 

It was nearing midnight when Lauren found herself cornered in the lady’s restroom by her two best friends, Chloe Field and Emerson Delacroix.  They had been hovering, one on each side, at the stall door the bride-to-be was position behind.  As soon as she exited, the two women pounced. 

 

“Why LBI?” Emerson demanded as she thrust her overly made-up face into Lauren’s.  Chloe closed in to voice her own command, “What gives?  C’mon, tell us.”  Although both women were beautiful enough in their spaghetti strap sheath dresses with their long blond hair swooping over the right sides of their faces and midway down their backs, they were both far on the other side of tipsy.   

 

“It’s no real mystery,” Lauren sighed as she leaned back against the stall door.  It was getting late; the party was going into overtime and she had told Eric she was only going to be a moment but there was a story to be told.  “Eric and I met in the shadow of Barnegat Lighthouse when we were six years old.”

 

Chapter One

 

The little girl sat in the sand at the water’s edge building a sandcastle.  The sand was damp but just wet enough to hold together as her small hands patted it into a mound.  Although it was only a rough shape, in Lauren’s eyes it was the most beautiful fairy tale castle you could imagine.  A princess lived there with the king and queen.  She dreamed of a handsome prince who would come to rescue her riding a winged red dragon.  Even at six years of age, Lauren had a wonderful imagination. 

 

Lauren was a pretty little girl with honey colored blonde hair pulled into two pigtails tied up with pink ribbons to match her white bikini with hyacinths patterned all over the top and bottom.  A cloth hat of the same floral material perched on her head to keep the hot sun from beating down too hard on the fair skin of her face.  The beach was a happy place to be.  Before her the waves crashed against the shore; a few feet behind, mother and father sat in beach chairs chatting comfortably.  A Styrofoam cooler sat between the two chairs so dad could reach for a beer or momma could have a spring water.  It was their first visit as a family to Long Beach Island.             

 

Hidden behind the dunes, their summer rental cottage stood amongst a line of similar ones.  The Cabot family had rented the same one year upon year ever since Lauren’s grandparents had married.  It was, as daddy stated, a tradition.  Now, for the first time, the newest generation had come to spend their week at the shore.  A grand year was ahead of the little trio.  Evan Cabot had received a huge promotion and raise in salary from the advertising agency he worked for while Janelle’s arts and craft store finally began to thrive.  Sometime soon, they were going to leave apartment living behind them and move into a house of their own in a little town just north of Philadelphia called Trevose.  But their long overdue vacation had to come ahead of all else so on a bright and sunny summer Saturday, they were Long Beach Island bound.   

 

As they headed east toward the Jersey shore, Lauren’s excitement grew.  Long Beach Island (commonly known to the locals as LBI) is one of several barrier islands along the Jersey shore.  To the north of Atlantic City and south of Seaside, the island is roughly eighteen miles long with the towns of Barnegat Light at the tip and Holgate at the end.  Approaching their destination by causeway that terminated in Ship Bottom, the Cabot’s blue Ford Edge made a left-hand turn at the Boulevard and headed toward Surf City. 

 

Lauren immediately fell in love with the little towns they passed through.  Loveladies made her heart throb as she imagined a town full of ladies ready to be loved.  Next came Harvey Cedars�"how fascinating! �"and finally, at long last, the lighthouse came into view.  Tall and straight, half in red and half in white, Old Barney stood as a beacon of hope to the people who fished the Atlantic Ocean along the Jersey shore.  For one whole week, the Cabot family was going to live in the shadow of that majestic obelisk.  The little girl sitting in the backseat of the SUV clapped her hands with joy. 

Their two-story rental house stood on the dunes facing north toward the mighty Atlantic.  Weathered white clapboards with a slate shingled roof gave the dwelling a true beach feel.  The seashore feeling penetrated into the house as the open living room/kitchen set up was decorated with a nautical theme.  A highly varnished ship’s wheel hung above the whitewashed fireplace while figurines of ship’s captains stood along the mantelpiece.  Lauren particularly loved the white bearded old man wearing a yellow rain slicker, blue jeans, hip boots and smoking a corncob pine.  Lovingly, momma took it down to place in her eager outstretched hands.  The bright little girl went to sit on the blue cushioned couch to study the little man and thus embed him in her memory. 

 

After exploring the little cottage with its downstairs combination living room/kitchen/dining area and two upstairs bedrooms, each nautically decorated, the little family spent the rest of the evening sitting in deck chairs on the upstairs beach facing veranda.  When night fell, Lauren was rocked to sleep by the sound of waves crashing just outside her screened window.  The scent of the salt sea air caused her to peacefully drift off into the land of nod. 

 

The next morning found the Cabot family on the beach.  Momma and Lauren each had their beach badges pinned to the tops of their bikinis while daddy wore his on the waistband of his swimming trunks.  On Long Beach Island, everyone who used the beach had to buy a little plastic oval badge saying they had paid for the privilege to swim or build sandcastles or to paddle along the shore.  Daddy said it was a LBI tradition.

 

Lauren was happy to play in the surf and to jump the waves that rolled onto the shore while Momma and Daddy hung onto her hands.  Pulling her body up out of the water, she could pretend she was a great athlete leaping over the huge white caps even though they were only the small ones that lapped at the edge of the water.  After they ate a hamburger lunch and roasted marshmallows over the small hibachi on the downstairs veranda, the family returned to the beach where Lauren began to build her first sandcastle. 

 

Deeply into her imaginations about the beautiful princess and the dragon riding prince who loved her, Lauren missed the sound of boys’ voices shouting until their feet crashed through her majestic building.  The three boys who hurtled themselves into her fantasy stomped and kicked at each other right where she was playing.  “What do you think you’re doing?” she shouted as she jumped to her feet and pushed the first boy she spotted into the sand.  “You ruined my castle!”  With tight little fists pressed deeply into her sides, she slowly turned so she could face each one of the three intruders. 

 

“What castle?” questioned the boy she had pushed.  The fact that his feet were stretched out into the remains of it were lost on him.  He was about the same age as Lauren.  His plump baby cheeks were just showing signs of thinning into boyhood while his brown hair was lightened to blond on top by playing out in the sun for most of the summer.  His expression as he asked, “What castle?” was studious bordering on serious.  Still, Lauren thought as she sized him up, his blue eyes showed a hint of a sparkle. 

 

“Aw, don’t pay attention to her, Eric,” the dark curly haired boy who was one of his companions laughed.  “She’s just another shoobee.” 

 

“What did you call me?” Lauren coolly asked, as she turned toward the second boy.

 

“A shoobee, a shoobee, a silly little shoobee,” chortled the second and third boys. 

 

“What?”  Now the little girl was really confused. 

 

“A shoobee.  It’s means you’re not a local; you’re a tourist,” the boy called Eric stated.  “Someone who eats their lunch on the beach out of a shoe box or a tourist who wears shoes and Bermuda shorts, get it?  Whichever one, I don’t know.  It’s just what they call summer people around here.” 

 

“Oh,” was all Lauren could say, more perplexed than ever. 

 

“C’mon, Brad, Kieran, let’s go play somewhere else,” Eric decided as he turned away from Lauren.  “Who wants to hang around with girls anyway.”  Without a look back, the three boys walked on toward the lighthouse where they swam into the surf, dove into the oncoming waves and body surfed back to shore.  

 

The fun had gone out of sandcastle building for Lauren.  Instead of rebuilding it, she went to sit on her purple and pink paisley beach towel in front of momma and daddy.  When the ice cream man rang his bell, Evan gave her enough money to buy a Good Humor Strawberry Shortcake.  She stood in a group around the man clad in his white uniform and cap.  Eric, Brad and Kieran were also in the gathering of popsicle hungry children, but she chose to ignore them. 

 

Later in the evening, the Cabot family showered and dressed to go out to dinner at the Starboard Inn.  Janelle looked beautiful in a white eyelet summer dress sprinkled with delicate blue flowers.  Around her shoulders she wore a light lace shawl.  Her pretty blonde hair swung across her back as she reached to unbutton the top fastener of Evan’s polo shirt.  He had a habit of doing up all his buttons to the neck even when he wasn’t wearing a tie.  Laughingly his wife chastised him for forgetting they were on vacation.  Lauren checked her daddy over and sure enough he was wearing navy shorts and tan boat shoes with socks.  She had on her favorite pink dress with a yellow belt and small white sandals.  Looking over her parents, Lauren thought they looked like a nice family on a summer vacation.  Inside, she was proud to be going out to eat with her parents. 

 

The Starboard Inn was a popular restaurant in Surf City.  There were crowds of people waiting to be seated and plenty more inside enjoying their meals.  When the Cabot family was finally seated, Lauren was chagrined to find that boy Eric sitting a couple of tables over.  Although she attempted to ignore him as much as possible, she couldn’t help stealing glances in his direction and noticing him looking back at her. 

 

As the waitress was setting plates of peach pie ala mode in front of them, Eric appeared to stand beside Lauren’s chair.  Clearing his throat loudly, he finally stated, “I’m sorry about your sandcastle.   I didn’t see it.”

 

“That’s okay,” Lauren answered, almost in a whisper.  She was still sore about it. 

 

“I’m Eric Henry Holbrook,” the boy stated as though being Eric Henry Holbrook meant something special.  “Can we be friends?” 

 

“Sure, okay,” Lauren answered with the smallest of small smiles.  “My name is Lauren Cabot.”  She almost said Lauren Elizabeth Cabot but stopped herself.  She didn’t want to use her whole name like he had. 

 

Secretly Lauren was pleased to have made her first friend on Long Beach Island.  Maybe she would make other friends as the week progressed.    

 

Chapter Two

 

“Daddy, Eric wants me to climb the lighthouse with him,” Lauren stated as she stood before her father’s beach chair.  “Can I go with him?  Please?”  Her little voice trembled slightly as she asked for permission.  At nine years of age she felt as though she were old enough to go places without her mother and father. 

 

Throwing a glance toward his wife, Evan Cabot wasn’t sure how to respond.  Although they had attempted on many occasions to give their daughter a little brother or sister to play with, all their endeavors had fallen short.  Sure, they had tried everything possible, but nothing worked.  The Philadelphia doctors they visited had all claimed they were healthy enough to produce more children; still Lauren was the only one.  As it was, both parents were overprotective of their sole offspring.  Other than school, they barely allowed the pretty little girl with honey colored hair and sparkling blue eyes out of their sight. 

 

At nine years of age, Lauren was steady and reliable.  As with most children, there were times when she found herself in over her head with certain situations but soon straightened herself out.  Both Evan and Janelle knew they couldn’t keep a hold on her all her life; little girls should be surrounded by their friends and join in with the same activities their peers enjoyed.  Besides, LBI was a safe place for children to play and Eric had been a steady companion ever since their first summer vacation.  If she wanted to climb Old Barney, as Barnegat Lighthouse was nicknamed, there was no reason to hold her back. 

 

Digging her toes into the sun warmed beach sand Lauren stood before her father.  Eagerly, she awaited his answer.  Her one-piece bathing suit was navy blue with a wide diagonal red stripe crossing from the top of her left shoulder to the bottom of her right hip; a thinner white stripe lay inside the red one.  A single braid of tawny hair swung down to her waist.  Her nose was freckled from the summer sun.  At a short distance from the trio, Eric stood at the edge of the shore anticipating a long climb to the top of the lighthouse.  Wistfully, she threw a smile in his direction. 

 

“Okay,” Evan finally responded.  Reaching into the multicolored beach bag that hung from the arm of his chair, he drew out his wallet and handed his daughter the money she would need to pay for the expedition to the top of Old Barney.  “Treat Eric to an ice cream when you come down, honey, and don’t forget to say, ‘please and thank you’.”

 

“Oh yes, daddy,” Lauren squealed with delight.  “Thank you, daddy.”  Flinging herself at Evan, she joyfully hugged him and kissed his cheek.  Bouncing off in the direction of her closest companion, she checked herself to run back to hug and kiss her mommy also. 

 

The sight of the two children running along the edge of the shore caused Evan and Janelle Cabot to share a reassuring smile.  They were proud of their daughter; they liked Eric Holbrook.  If they were thinking of the future--as they surely were�"they were already hearing church bells ringing to announce the nuptials of the grown-up version the two youngsters would become. 

 

Together Lauren and Eric gazed up at Barnegat Lighthouse.  The tall structure reached up into the blue sky from where it stood at the tip of Long Beach Island.  Paying the admission charge, they began the 217-step climb to the top.  At 172 feet tall, there was a panoramic view of the Atlantic Ocean and Barnegat Bay.  Breathtakingly, Lauren took in the entire sight.  Grasping Eric by the hand, she traversed the circle around the light, making sure she pointed out everything that caught her attention.  As a wide grin spread across the young boy’s face, he found himself caught up in his little friend’s enthusiasm.  Before long, the little girl’s imagination had them soaring with the birds and riding the surf.  After half an hour, the descent was made at a much slower pace than the one that had taken them upwards. 

 

“It’s always harder coming down,” Eric complained as he threw himself down onto the sand to catch his breath. 

 

Lauren sat beside him and tucked her legs beneath her bottom.  Although their friendship had a rough start when Eric and his friends had knocked down her sandcastle, she soon found herself growing fond of her companion.  To her young mind, they seemed to go together.  He was smart, witty and sometimes a little sarcastic but that was perfectly all right with her.  She liked the sand that seemed to perpetually cling in his sun blonde hair and the way his eyes snapped when he was excited about something she said.  As much as she wanted to tell him how much she liked being with him, the words got stuck between her mind and her lips. 

 

“Let’s go in the gift shops,” the boy suggested as he stood to his feet and wiped sand from his orange bathing trunks and legs. 

 

Together they walked along the promenade until they came to the quaint shanty-style shops at the entrance to Barnegat Lighthouse State Park.  Lauren smiled secretly to herself thinking of the ice cream surprise she had for Eric.  It pleased her to have the money to treat her friend to a cold creamy treat. 

 

“You still hanging with the shoo-bee?” a voice called from behind them as they were nearing the Good Humor cooler at the back of the gift shop.  It was Eric’s cousin, Kieran McIntyre.  Lauren wished he hadn’t shown up since she didn’t have enough money to buy three popsicles. 

 

“Who are you calling a shoo-bee?” Lauren exclaimed, turning on the dark curly headed boy. 

 

“You.  You’re only a summer person.  You don’t live here,” Kieran responded as he advanced on the girl.  “I have every right to call you a shoo-bee.” 

 

“Leave her alone, Key.”  Eric stepped in.  “You forget I’m a summer person too.  Mother and I may have lived with your family for the first three years of my life while mom and dad were getting a divorce, but we live in Willow Penn now.  We only come down here for the summer.”

 

Lauren’s mind raced as Eric spoke.  Willow Penn wasn’t far from her own home in Trevose, Pennsylvania.  All the time she had known him, she never knew he didn’t live on LBI and that he was so close to her own hometown.  Making a mental note to ask daddy about it later, she determined to visit her friend during the winter months too.  But, uppermost in her mind, at the moment, was figuring out how to offer an ice cream to Eric while Kieran was still with them.  She knew her parents would be very upset with her if she were rude to either one of the boys.                           

 

The dilemma was solved when Eric stated, “Let’s get an ice cream.  It’s my treat.”  Digging into the inside pocket of his swimming trunks, he pulled out a wadded up ten-dollar bill before heading toward the popsicle cooler.  Although Lauren was disappointed about not being able to make the offer to her friend; she was glad the embarrassment she faced before the two boys was solved.  She was just as happy to have her Strawberry Shortcake Good Humor bar as the boys were with their Chocolate Eclairs. 

 

“What are you guys doing?” Kieran inquired as they walked through the large Barnegat Lighthouse parking lot toward the beach. 

 

Eric shrugged his shoulders to indicate they weren’t doing much of anything.  “Swimming, I guess, or maybe we’ll build a sandcastle with a moat then fill it with water.”  Lauren beamed at the idea; in her imagination the prince and princess she dreamed about had married, moved into a castle of their own and were breeding dragons to compete in fire-breathing competitions. 

 

“Aw, that’s nothing,” Kieran jeered.  “Baby stuff.  Let’s go down to Ship Bottom and play miniature golf.”

 

“Sure.  Let’s go,” Eric exclaimed, the excitement showing in his voice.  Hanging around on the beach was fun but sometimes a boy wanted other things to do. 

 

As the two boys put their heads together to plan their golf strategies, Lauren asked, “How are we going to get there?”  Always the logical one in the group, she was a little girl who had to know the when, where, why and how of everything.   

 

The little blond boy and his dark curly-headed companion stopped in mid-sentence to stare at their female friend.  They hadn’t thought of the distance between Barnegat Light and Ship Bottom; they just wanted to play golf.  After a couple of shrugs and a few “I don’t knows”, Kieran finally suggested: “Go ask your dad if he can take us.” 

 

Slowly Lauren walked toward where her mother and father were relaxing in their beach chairs.  As much as she didn’t want to disturb them, she wanted to play with the boys.  Digging her feet in the sand once again, she stood before her parents and asked her question.  Much to her surprise, Evan immediately agreed, telling his daughter to take a shower and change out of her bathing suit.  Before he could change his mind, she rushed off toward the outdoor shower and was standing in the living room dressed in a pair of blue denim shorts with white daisies printed all over and a yellow halter top with a large daisy on the front.           

 

It wasn’t long before three boys walked in through the beach-facing door of the rented summer cottage.  Believing the miniature golf plans had only included Eric and Kieran, Lauren was surprised to find Bradley Andrews had been asked to join them.  ‘Well, the more the merrier,’ the little girl thought to herself as she looked them up and down.  All three wore their LBI tee shirts over their swimsuits; Brad’s proclaimed: “LIFE’S A BEACH” in bold orange lettering.  Lauren rolled her eyes upwards in exasperation as she turned to watch her mother and father walk downstairs together. 

 

Three children and two adults packed into the family’s Ford Explorer to make the journey along the boulevard toward the town of Ship Bottom in the middle of LBI.  Lauren enjoyed watching the scenery as they drove along.  In some places between Harvey Cedars and Loveladies, she could see both the beach and the bay but where the island widened at the beginning of Surf City through to Ship Bottom, there were shops and restaurants lining both sides of the road.  There was a real feeling of summer activity all around her as she watched groups of people on their way to the beach or mingling on the sidewalks. 

 

The Sand Trap miniature golf course was the first place they stopped.  There was a moment of confusion when Evan Cabot discovered none of the boys had brought any money with them to pay for their admission.  Exchanging worried looks with Janelle, he finally drew his wallet from the pocket of his Dockers shorts to pay for the entire group.  Lauren bit her lip as she realized her father would have to pay for each round of golf for everyone at all three courses they intended to play at.  However it wasn’t long before they were all laughing when Brad hit his ball hard enough to send it sailing high into the air and out of sight. 

 

Stopping at T-Burger on the Boulevard in Ship Bottom, Evan ordered hamburgers and fries with soda for lunch.  Since it was only a counter service stand, they stayed in the parking lot and ate in the SUV.  Lauren was just as happy to sit in the backseat with Eric and steal his fries when hers were all gone. 

 

Their next stop was at Flamingo Golf where the boys were cautioned by an employee for being too rowdy.  Kieran had accused Brad of knocking his green ball out of the way then accidentally picked up Eric’s red ball and threw it off the course.  Evan was in the midst of the battle while Janelle held Lauren back even though her daughter was itching to get into the melee. 

 

Island Golf was the last stop on the list.  Threatening to take the foursome home if there was any misbehavior, Evan reluctantly pulled in and let the children out.  By this time, Janelle was weary of all the excitement and decided to stay in the SUV to rest.  Fortunately the youngsters were worn out too; they played the course with no interruptions then piled back into the vehicle for the trip back to Barnegat Light.  As they passed the Trampolines in Surf City, Lauren declared that she wanted jump and whimpered when Evan refused to stop. 

 

“But I wanted to jump, daddy,” she stated in her most petulant voice.  Visions of children having a fun on the trampolines danced in her mind as she contemplated bouncing up and down or turning a somersault or two.  Slumping in her seat, she crossed her arms over her chest and pouted. 

 

“We’re going back to Barnegat Light where we’re going to relax on the upstairs sundeck for an hour or so,” Janelle explained as she turned in her seat to view her daughter slouched down in the back.  “The McIntyre’s invited us to a cookout at their place tonight.  We’ll come back and jump another time.”

 

Immediately brightening up, Lauren sat taller in her seat.  Since they’ve been vacationing on LBI during the summers, the Cabot’s and the McIntyre’s had become good friends, along with Eleanor Holbrook who was Eric’s mother.  When the sun went down and the firepit was lit, the children would have a fun time roasting hot dogs and marshmallows while the grownups talked.  The sounds of the cracking of the fire and the crashing of the waves along the shore in the night were good and cozy sounds.  They were part of the mosaic that made Long Beach Island Lauren’s favorite place.  She knew the memories she made there would always be the best ones of her life.                       

© 2019 Lea Sheryn


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Reviews

Very detailed story from a child's viewpoint. Fascinating nonetheless!

Posted 1 Month Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Lea Sheryn

1 Month Ago

Thank you, Augustus!
"he bride-to-be was position behind" - positioned?
"Harvey Cedars�"how fascinating! �"and finally," ?

A good sense of story but more than the two correctables I noted.

Posted 1 Month Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Lea Sheryn

1 Month Ago

Thank you for pointing them out. It's always good to have a second set of eyes.
Chris

1 Month Ago

I wanted to turn the pages ...correctables are distracting.
Lea Sheryn

1 Month Ago

True. Since this is a continuing story, I'll make the corrections on the next version. :-))
on a honeymoon in a two bedroom cottage,loved it

Posted 1 Month Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Lea Sheryn

1 Month Ago

Are they? Quiet around here?
 wordman

1 Month Ago

nothing like it used to be,to many clicks here,troll ran off a lot,
Lea Sheryn

1 Month Ago

Too bad. Nothing worse than a troll.

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Added on December 7, 2019
Last Updated on December 7, 2019
Tags: Romance, Lighthouse, Memories

Author

Lea Sheryn
Lea Sheryn

Sarasota, FL



About
I love to write! To have the ability to put words together to express myself is an ability that I cherish. Working for years to strengthen my talent, I am a self taught Word Weaver. Up until now, I.. more..

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