‘Hey, Will. What can I get you? Your usual?’ Nate greeted Will when he entered the bar area.
‘Thanks, Nate. How is Owen today?’
‘He was still in bed when I left. He’s pretty browned off having to rest up, but Han and I are trying to keep him occupied when we’re home. We’ve been playing Scrabble and have an ongoing game of Diplomacy.’
‘Don’t know that one.’ Will picked up the beer Nate had poured while he was talking. ‘I may pop round when I finish this afternoon.’
‘He’d like that. I think it’s being on his own so much that’s getting him down. Owen likes to be with people.’
Nate was right. Will felt guilty. He could have offered to take Owen out, bring him to the club for lunch. What sort of father was he, not to think of that? He checked the time on his phone. It wasn’t too late. ‘Keep a cold one for Owen,’ he said to Nate, draining his glass and heading out and down the stairs.
‘Owen!’ Will called when there was no answer to his knock. He knocked again, louder than before, to be rewarded by the thump, thump of Owen’s crutches and the sound of him grumbling something unintelligible.
‘Dad!’ Owen appeared surprised to see Will. ‘What are you doing here?’
‘Come to take you to lunch.’ He surveyed his son. Owen hadn’t shaved since he injured his ankle and might not even have washed. His hair was a mess. He was wearing one of his old tee-shirts, the one with the Hawaiian logo, and a pair of board shorts, and was supporting himself with the crutches. It was obvious he’d only just got up.
‘Lunch? What time is it? Aren’t you working today?’
‘It’s after twelve. I’ve been talking to Nate who tells me you’re a bit down. Let me help you get washed and dressed and I’ll drive you to the club. There’s a beer there with your name on it.’
Owen’s mouth turned down. ‘I’m not supposed to drink while I’m on painkillers.’
‘I’m sure one beer won’t hurt. But I’ll need to get back to the beach by two, so let’s get you moving.’
To Will’s surprise, Owen allowed him to help with his shower, and managed to dress himself in a more reputable tee-shirt and a pair of his decent shorts, and they were soon in the car and on their way back to the club.
This time, when he entered the building, Will made for the lift.
‘Thanks, Dad,’ Owen said. ‘I was going mad stuck in the house. I was even thinking of asking Nate to give me a ride on his bike.’
‘No way.’ Will shuddered at the thought of Owen with his injured ankle riding on the back of Nate’s motorbike, the one he’d had an accident on only a couple of years earlier.
‘Hey Owen, mate.’ Nate high-fived Owen as the two reached the bar. ‘What’ll it be? Soda? Lemon, lime and bitters?’ He chuckled.
‘Dad says one beer should be okay.’ Owen grinned.
‘Coming up. Another for you, Will?’
Will nodded and went off to order two burger and chips. There was no need to ask Owen what he wanted. His choice never varied.
‘How did last night go?’ Owen asked, when they were seated on the deck with a good view of the beach. What had been a gentle breeze in the morning, had whipped up and the waves were tinged with white – his mother used to call waves like this white horses when he was a child.
‘Last night?’ Will stared at his son.
‘Han said you had a date with her mum.’
Will should have known it wouldn’t stay a secret for long, but he had expected a bit of breathing space before Owen found out. ‘Not a date, exactly,’ he said.
‘Oh, Han said it was some sort of subterfuge to piss off an annoying woman who was running after you, but you can tell me.’ He tapped the side of his nose and winked. ‘I don’t mind, Dad. Mum’s been gone a long time and you’re on your own now I’ve moved out. It would be good for you to have someone your own age to keep you company.’
Will’s jaw dropped.Was Owen giving him permission to have a relationship? Their meals arrived before he managed to form a reply.
‘Han thinks it’s a good idea, too,’ Owen continued, picking up his burger and taking a bite. ‘She thinks her mum’s lonely. You must be, too.’
‘Don’t talk with your mouth full.’ Will knew it was a weak response, but he couldn’t think of anything appropriate to say to the revelation Owen and Hannah had been discussing their parents in such a fashion.