By the time Courtney finished her run and had talked to one of her teammates from the basketball team about team stuff; she got a text from Mel saying she was awake. Courtney gave a see ya later to her teammate and headed into the girls’ guest house. When she got there Mel was reading something on her phone, she then typed something in and put her phone down. “Morning.” she said to Courtney.

“How are you feeling?” Courtney asked.

“Sore but I kind of expected that.” Melissa responded. “I don't feel as bad as I thought I might.”

Courtney nodded. “Do you need anything?”

“Some water, then some help, I’d like to ...I suppose taking a shower won’t work.” Melissa sighed. Her ankle would make it impossible for her to stand up in a shower.

“Well, why don’t I get you that water and then I can run you a bath.” Fortunately this room had a tub and shower combination. “By the time we get done with that and my shower it should be breakfast time.” Courtney said, trying to sound upbeat, despite her tiredness, for Mel’s sake.

“Oh, I thought...maybe...we could eat in here or at least I could.” Melissa wasn’t sure, just yet, about facing the world or the school.

Courtney sat down on her bed and looked at the other girl trying to think about what to say. She wasn’t about to force Melissa to go to breakfast if she wasn’t ready but she also knew that Mel would have to face everyone at some point. It was several hours off but eventually everyone would have to go back to the dorms. Besides, she really didn’t want to see Melissa spend the one day she was free of Doug and his group inside and not enjoying the beach.

“Look, for what it’s worth, it’s no secret you got injured.” It really wasn’t, even Courtney’s teammate who didn’t know Melissa had asked about it. “People just know you were in an accident yesterday. No one is asking for details. You don’t have to say anything you don’t want to.”

“I just don’t want all the questions.” Melissa glanced down at her phone and sighed. “When you came; I was answering Doug on the text. He told me that he got into trouble for coming back, after curfew, last night.” She went on to tell how he mentioned he was on restriction. “He kept saying he was sorry I got hurt.”

Courtney wanted to go over to the school, right then, and let Doug know exactly what she thought of him and his fake apology. However, she didn’t let that show. “Oh? Can I see the message?” Maybe it would have some actual evidence of what had happened last night.

Melissa responded with a nod and handed Courtney the phone. She scrolled down and there was the text.

Doug: I’m so sorry you got hurt, last night. I never meant for that to happen. Let's not argue again but I need you to let everyone know it wasn’t my fault.

Melissa: What do you mean?

Doug: Just tell them that we argued, then l left. I mean I don’t know what happened. I mean it’s the truth, right.

Had the asshole really convinced himself that he hadn’t hurt Melissa? Unfortunately, it was worded in such a way, including the apology, that made it seem like it wasn’t his fault. Courtney however didn’t believe it. Wasn’t there something about this? She seemed to recall learning about how to spot abusive relationships in a health class freshman year and learning about the cycle. Had Mel and Doug reached the “honeymoon” phase? She noticed that Melissa had just typed back that she would do that but Courtney figured that if Melissa was scared of him before, she was probably terrified, even more, of him now and for good reason. Courtney didn’t blame her for the response and knew, especially now, she might never get Melissa to confirm what really happened to her last night.

Courtney handed Melissa back her phone and was going to say something about all of this but changed her mind. “Well, if anyone asks we can just say it was an accident. If they won’t leave it alone, send them to me.” She paused. “I just don’t want to see you spend your last day on the beach inside. Especially being, not only is Doug not here but none of his group is either.”

“What?” Melissa looked surprised.

“I guess Doug failed to mention that.” Courtney said. With Mel’s nod of her head, it was taken as an affirmative and so Courtney filled Melissa in on Doug’s entire group, along with many of the other rich kids going to the boardwalk. “So, you can spend the day with Matt and I and whoever else we can get to hang out with us.”

Melissa was still unsure about it but it did make her feel better to know none of Doug’s group would be there. That meant no spies or at least as much as she had narrowed down who it possibly could be. “Sure, I won’t be a third wheel.” She said,

Courtney raised a brow at her. “Third wheel? Of course not. It won’t just be us, after all. I’ll make sure of it.” She had an idea that might join them.

Melissa had her own thoughts of who could possibly join them but she wasn’t sure if that would happen, even if it would be nice, if just for a short while.

Courtney then got from the bed, got Melissa her water and made the bath. Once Melissa was done with her bath, Courtney helped her dry her hair, as her arm was still sore and put on makeup to cover her black eye, which looked better than it did last night but certainly not healed. She then helped Mel get dressed. Then Courtney took a shower and got herself ready. She texted Matt to meet them at the lobby of the guest house, as boys were permitted in that part. Melissa took her crutches and Courtney helped her stand so she could balance herself with the crutches. Then Courtney and Melissa headed out both carrying sunglasses which might have seemed strange but it was the beach.

As promised Matt was there and he gave a friendly smile to both girls. He was happy to see Mel seemed to be doing better and while Courtney looked tired, she always looked beautiful to him. “Bonjour mes demoiselles” (Good morning, ladies). He then turned to Melissa and with a friendly tone said. “If you need anything, just let me know. Ok?”

“Ok,” Melissa said.

“Well, let’s go find a table.” He opened the door for the girl’s and Melissa went first, Courtney behind her in case she had any problems navigating the doorway. She made it through without any problems and moved to the side to wait for Courtney and Matt. The three of them looked around, then Courtney said to Melissa, “Do you want to eat with just us or do you mind being at a table with other people?”

“I guess I don’t mind eating with other people.” Melissa said. Still, not totally sure about this but willing to give it a try.

Courtney said, “Wait here a moment.” She headed to the table that held Jack, Ashley, Justin and Blossom. Once she got there she said. “Mornin’” To everyone at the table. “Is it ok with all of you if Melissa joins us for breakfast?” It was the norm that Courtney and Matt would join that group for breakfast so there was no need to ask that part or if that wasn’t ok, she was certain they would tell her, but Mel wasn’t part of the usual crew. However, she didn’t think any of them had a problem with Melissa, either or at least none that she knew about. If they weren’t alright with it, Courtney would just find some place but else but she really thought it might be good for Melissa to spend time with people that weren’t part of Doug’s group.

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