He had been gone for most of the next day when he finally got back.  The others were all out by the pool so they didn’t hear him come in.  No one knew he was home until he came out onto the deck in his black swimming trunks.

            “Mind if I join you?”  He said, grinning.  The guys welcomed him with a cheer, and they started a water fight in the deep end as soon as he came up for air from the cannonball he used to splash them all upon his entrance into the water.  Chaos ensued and so much water was splashed that it hit the girls.

            Genevieve, sunbathing with Zoë on the deck, sat up, concerned.  She lifted her sunglasses away from her eyes and yelled for Ethan to come out of the water.

            “What is it?”  He asked, swimming to the edge of the pool and resting his arms on the deck.  He didn’t get out of the pool, and it was clear he wanted to return to the water fight.

            “Where’s Hope?  Isn’t she with you?”

            “No.  She had to go.”  He said, turning to leave.

            “What do you mean, she left?  Why?”  Genevieve demanded.

            “She didn’t say.  We talked, and she got really upset, so I let her go.”  He said matter-of-factly.  “She and I still have issues, and I guess that made her really uncomfortable.”

            “Maybe I should call her.”  Zoë said, sitting up and looking at Eve. 

            “That’s a good idea, I’ll come with you.”  Genevieve grabbed her towel.

            “That’s silly,” her brother said, “She just left, she couldn’t possibly be home yet.  Wait at least a few days.  I wouldn’t bother, though.  She probably won’t be able to talk about it.”

            “Sure she will.  If she’s upset, she’d want her friends to be there for her, even if it’s just over the phone.”  Zoë disagreed. 

            “Okay, if you say so.”  He turned and dove back into the water.

            Genevieve shook her head.  It wasn’t like Ethan to be so rude, let alone so callous about a friend leaving.  Usually he’d be really concerned if he had upset someone he cared about.

            “Do you think Ethan was acting strange?”  She asked Zoë, who was settling back into her lounging chair to recommence sunbathing.

            “Not really.  Ethan likes keeping things to himself.  He’s probably just as upset as Hope was, only he’s too proud to show it, so he’s pretending that he doesn’t care.  I’m sure in a few days he’ll probably talk to one of us about it, and maybe even call her.  You and I can talk to her tomorrow, and hear how she is.”

            “Okay,” Genevieve said.  “I hope you’re right.”

            The next day there was a thunderstorm that knocked out the electricity and the phone lines.  Lightning knocked over a few of the telephone poles on the road.  Being out on a rural road meant that the repairmen didn’t get out to fix the problem until the next day.  The day after that, Mr. Lamb took them all into the city for lunch before the guys had a recording session, as the record producers they’d met with were very interested, but wanted a demo tape.  To pass the time, Eve and Zoë went shopping and caught a movie.  That night they went out for dinner and dancing to celebrate the impending success of the band and the beginning of the road towards founding the new church that they were planning.

            So, it was three days before Zoë thought to call Hope’s house.  She and Eve gathered around the phone in the kitchen just after lunch.  Zoë dialled, and waited.  After a few rings, a computerized voice said “The number you have dialled is no longer in service.  Please hang up and try again.”

            “That’s odd,” Zoë said, her brow furrowed with confusion.  “I didn’t get the number wrong.  Maybe they changed it?”

            “Let me call home.  Grandma should be there, maybe she can get a hold of them.”

            Genevieve waited while the phone rang, and then heard her grandmother pick up.

            “Grandma?  Hi, it’s me, Eve.”

            “Hello, child!  How are you?  How’s that brother of yours?  We haven’t heard from him, yet, you know!”

            “I’m fine, and Ethan’s okay, I guess.  I nag him about calling, but I guess he never finds the time.  You know how he hates phones.”

            “That I do.  He’d make you kids answer it, and never used the thing unless he had to.”  Eve heard her grandmother chuckle, and could imagine the familiar smile that must have been on Grandma’s face.  She smiled to herself, thinking how much she missed her family.

            “Listen, Gran, I was wondering if you’ve heard from the Kelleys lately.  Has Hope come home?”

            “I haven’t heard anything in particular, dear.  I thought that Hope went out to see you all with Zoë, though.  Isn’t she there?”

            “Zoë’s here.  Hope went back home a few days ago.  Ethan said that she was kind of upset after a conversation they had.” 

            “Your father’s good friends with Mr. Kelley, so I guess I could ask him to give them a call after he gets home if you like.  Not much point before then, everyone’s at work or school but me.”  Her grandmother paused.  “That’s odd though, that Ethan should upset her.  They were awfully close, as I seem to recall.”

            “Yes, Gran.  They sort of had a falling out before Hope graduated, and I guess they’re not ready to make amends yet.”

            “That’s odd, too.  Hope was here a month or so ago, and she was sure worried about you and Ethan.  I can’t see her giving up on him now, when she kept all of us hoping that he was all right while you were all missing.  I think you should talk to that boy, find out what he said that drove her off.  That’s just not like him.”

            Genevieve grinned at Zoë and whispered, “See, even Gran thinks Ethan’s acting strange and she’s not even here.”  She then turned back to her conversation on the phone.

            “I will, Gran, don’t worry.  Send my love to everyone and tell Mom I’ll call her soon.”

            “I’ll be sure to do that, child, don’t worry.  Just talk to that boy and see that he calls home.  When are you two coming back?”

            “Hopefully soon.  There are still a few things to do here, and then we can come home for the summer.  Mr. Lamb is getting the guys ready for some band stuff, I think he has some gigs planned for the summer and Ethan doesn’t want to leave until everything’s set.  We both want to see their first performance, and then we’ll be on the next plane home.  Shouldn’t be later than the end of June or the beginning of July.”

            “Well, sooner would be better than later.  Your baby sister Gwen’s been nagging your parents to tell you she wants you both home.  She says she has something important to tell you, but won’t tell us what.”

            “I’ll keep that in mind.  Maybe I should call her later, but for now I gotta go, Gran.  Love ya!”

            Genevieve hung up.  “Well, she’s getting Dad to call after work, so maybe he can reach them.  If no one answers, maybe he’ll go over there.”

            “I’m sure everything’s fine.”  Zoë said.  “Don’t worry about it.”

            And for the rest of the day, she didn’t.

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