Amberle turned on the water and gingerly stepped into the shower. This feels so good, I think I'll just stay here for a few days. No need to leave the shower. I can live for three days on just water, so I'll come out on Friday. Amberle leaned over to grab the soap and accidentally put some of her weight on her injured foot. She gasped and stood up straight quickly. Or maybe I'll get out as soon as I'm done. She quickly washed her hair and body, wincing often.
When she got out, she washed her panties in the sink and used the hairdryer to dry them. This will work for now, but if I'm staying here a few days, I need underwear. But that's a logistics problem, and I'm not going to worry about it until the time comes.
Amberle hopped on her left foot out into the bedroom. She stopped at the end of the bed and looked at the clothes. Perfect. For some reason, even though she knew she was safe here, she still wanted to avoid any kind of feminine clothing. She put on the pants and drew the drawstring to keep them from falling off. The pants were a little too big, as was the shirt. But they were comfortable, and even if they were baggy, they're adjustable.
Amberle sat down on the edge of the bed. Now what? She looked around the room for something to do. She saw the window and went over to the curtains. If the sun's out, I'll go outside. If not, I'll listen to music. When she pulled the curtains aside, she saw a perfect Florida spring day. Okay, outside it is.
Amberle limped to the door and went towards the stairs. Going down the stairs was a tad more difficult, but by leaning on the banister, she managed to avoid falling. When she got to the platform near the bottom, she saw Howie sitting at a table surrounded by folders and loose papers.
"Hi. Feel any better?" Howie watched Amberle come down the stairs and wondered what she'd needed the hairdryer for. Her hair, still wet, was pulled back by one of the covered elastic ponytail holders he bought in those huge packs. Howie almost always loses them after one use, so he has to have a huge stash available.
"Much better. Could I go outside?" Amberle asked, unsure of where exactly she was. She couldn't see past the tree out the window, so she wasn't sure if she was in a city, or in an apartment building, or a house with a yard.
"Sure. We've got chairs by the pool, or a swing under the porch." He got up and offered his arm again, noticing that she leaned towards him a little more than before. I wonder if her other leg is getting tired. I remember spraining my ankle once and getting tired from going down the hall.
They rounded a corner and entered a Florida room. Amberle looked around the backyard and said, "Wow. Your yard is beautiful."
All Amberle could see was trees, bushes, and flowers. There were palm and malaluca trees along the sides, palmetto bushes surrounding the entire yard, azaleas and red flowered bushes in the corners, and flowers everywhere.
"Do you have neighbors or are those empty lots?"
"There are houses there, but I don't think there's anyone home now. There is a house across the creek that they only live in about a month a year."
"There's a creek?" Amberle said, surprised. I can't see it."
Howie started walking towards the back of the yard, going slowly. "The original owner said he wanted to have a completely private yard. I just think it's pretty."
"It is." she agreed. They reached the end of the path and walked between two palm trees. Behind the palm trees was a row of azalea bushes. Howie turned towards the right and passed between a gap in the bushes.
"So this is why I couldn't see the creek. You have to go through a maze first."
Howie laughed, saying, "It's not really a maze, just two turns. And it makes the backyard completely surrounded." Howie opened the gate at the end of the dock without letting go of Amberle's arm. Amberle could see a few other houses down the creek and one huge gray home directly across the creek.
"It really is beautiful here."
"The creek leads to a river that eventually gets to the ocean. It's almost an hour by boat, but it's worth it." Howie said.
"Who takes care of the flowers?" Amberle asked, gesturing towards the huge planters just at the water's edge.
"I don't know, but we all pick them when we're here." Howie and Amberle sat down on the bench at the end of the dock.
"How much are you here? Someone said earlier that you'd just gotten here. Were you on tour?"
"No. We don't always live here. I actually still live at home usually, Kevin, Brian, and A.J. live together in Orlando, and Nick lives by Tampa. This house is for any of us to use at anytime. This is the first time we've all been here at the same time."
"Well, we were touring for almost a year nonstop. No matter how much you love someone, they get on your nerves if you spend 20 hours a day in close quarters with them for that long, so when we're not on tour, we don't live together. Kevin, Brian, and A.J. live in the same house, but they each have their own lives. But, we haven't toured in 4 months, and we missed each other. In two and a half months, we're going on a tour of Europe and Asia. I'll get sick of them again then, and so will they."
"A year without your families?"
"Nope. Mine came out all the time. Almost every week, someone was visiting!"
Amberle giggled as she dipped her feet in the water. "How did you get any work done?"
Howie smiled at the sound of her giggle and sat down next to her, throwing his shoes up on the lawn. "I didn't, at first. Then, I was seeing them so much, it was like at home. I'm not the only one that brought family along, though. A.J.'s mom travels with us, and usually Nick's mom does, too. Kevin and Brian fly family out all the time, too."
Amberle raised her right eyebrow and peered at him sideways, looking skeptical.
Howie looked at her and couldn't stop the laugh. "Although I had family there more than them." When her eyebrow went even higher, he laughed again and said, "Okay, more then all of them combined! There, I said it."
"I knew I was missing part of the story. By the way, where is Kevin? Did he go to work after all?"
"He left a little over an hour ago to get food."
Just then, Amberle heard a splash and looked to the left. A manatee surfaced and grabbed at the seagrass at the shore. She quickly stopped her foot and pulled it out of the water. "Look!" she whispered to Howie, pointing to the manatee.
They stayed still for a few minutes, then heard the glass door open. Howie got up just as he heard Kevin call him. Howie walked quickly up to the house. "Come here," he said as soon as he got to the pool, "There's a manatee in the creek!"
Kevin followed Howie and they both slowed down when they got to the gate, not wanting to scare it away.
"How long has it been here?" Kevin whispered as he sat down.
"About five minutes."
A minute later, another, slightly smaller manatee joined the first one.
"I've never seen a manatee in this creek."
Kevin looked over at Howie and said, "Maybe they're lost." He tried not to smile, but heard a muffled laugh from Amberle.
Howie looked serious for a second, and said "Kevin, I don't think manatees get lost. They just..." He stopped and looked over at Amberle, "What are you laughing at?"
Before she could answer, Kevin started to laugh softly too.
"Oh hush, both of you. You're going to scare them away."
Howie's comment was cut off by a loud clap of thunder. They looked behind them, towards the house, and saw the dark sky approaching quickly. When Amberle looked back at the manatees, she saw the back of the larger one disappear below the surface of the water.
"I think it's time to go inside."