Let’s get some sun over at Daddy’s while we do laundry, Bettina tells Lana.  An hour later, after cleaning the apartment, they each come out with an overnight bag, and a basket of laundry, and throw them in the trunk of the Mustang.

***

Bettina unlocks the front door to her father’s house, and picks up the laundry basket and carries it inside, while Lana carries their bags upstairs.  She goes into the guest room to change and sees that the bed is unmade, and that there are khaki shorts and a pair of dock shoes strewn on the floor.  She looks around quickly and recognizes the laptop that’s open on the desk, and brings a palm to her forehead.  She turns around with her overnight bag, and closes the door behind her, and heads back downstairs, and finds Bettina setting the washer going.  Bettina, Jax is here.  No, he’s not.  He’s in Michigan; Simon just went up there and visited him a couple days ago.  Go look in the guest room.  Bettina marches upstairs, and comes back down a minute later.  Well, where is he then?  They check the garage and see Lana’s red Volvo that Simon has borrowed.  He and Simon must be out at the pool.  Bettina says.  Do you want to just leave?  She asks Lana.  We’re here.  Might as well go say hi.

HELLO.  Bettina says merrily as she comes up to the guys at the pool.  Jax bolts upright when he sees Bettina and Lana approach.  Simon has his ear buds in, and Bettina reaches down and puts a finger on his lips.  He startles, and quickly removes his ear buds.  Hi, Bettina tells him.  Hi! He says with surprised delight. Bettina grins at him.  Lana and I came over to do laundry and get some sun, only to find that the guest room was occupied.  Scoot over.  She sits down next to him, and takes his hand in hers, as they sit facing Jax.  Hi, Lana, Jax says hoarsely, and then clears his throat.  It’s good to see you again.  She just looks at him steadily until he looks away.  Do you want me to leave?  He asks her.  Lana shakes her head no, and looks at Simon.  I had my reasons, he tells her.   Time out, Bettina interrupts.  Lana and I have been living out of our suitcases for too long.  We’ll cook you something, Jax says quickly.  You can have the pool.  Any special requests?  Simon asks.  A chef salad, Bettina says, looking at Lana, who nods.  Let us come in on our own though, okay? Bettina tells Simon, who nods.

***

Two hours later, the girls come back inside.  Bettina puts the clothes in the dryer while Lana heads straight upstairs to hop in the shower.   Then Bettina wanders over to the kitchen, where the guys are sitting down.  Don’t get up, Bettina says quickly.  Jax, can I use your shower?  I want to rinse off.  Sure.  You look so much better, Jax, she tells him with a smile, and gently rubs his shoulders.  Is Lana upset?  Simon asks.  I don’t think so.  We know you had your reasons, she tells Simon.  What do you want on your chef salads?  Egg and ham.

***

I needed a cold shower; I was burning up, Bettina admits as everyone sits down at the dining room table.  Did you go straight to cold or did you do hot first, and then turn it gradually down?  Simon asks.  Bettina doesn’t answer and looks at Lana.  Straight to cold, Lana admits.  Shower off when you got in or running?  Bettina asks.  Off - I’m still used to a tiny bathtub with a shower curtain.  You would have heard me scream, Simon, if I tried taking a cold shower like Lana.  Everyone laughs.

This is really good, Jax, thank you, Bettina tells him.  Jax nods.  Lana sighs.  I really didn’t want to ever speak to you again, Jax.  But Bettina is right; this is delicious.  Thank you for preparing it.  Jax nods while looking down.  Simon lets out a big sigh of relief.  There, hard part’s over.  Now, tell us, what do you think of his beard?  Lana looks at him and purses her lips.  Jury is still out; it needs to be fuller.  She looks at Bettina.  Just don’t let your hair grow out with your beard, Jax.  Bettina tells him.  I don’t care for the Bon Iver unkempt look.  Lana nods her agreement.  Bettina leans in for a closer look.  I think it has potential.  Stay clean shaven under the jawline, she says emphatically. I agree.  Don’t do the neckbeard, Lana says.

It didn’t make any sense to tell you, Jax blurts out, abruptly changing the subject, as he looks across the table at Lana.  Let me put it another way.  If I’d told you, the outcome would have been the same - you’d still have left me.  No one says anything, and Lana takes a sip of her water.  I wouldn’t have seen the pictures then, Jax.  When the yellow flowers and the large envelope came, I would have known what they were.  Would they have ended up on top of the other guy?  Simon asks.  Lana shakes her head no.  I knew about Raul’s tests and dismissed them.  How did you know?  Jax asks.  Kostamo told me.  What did he say when you told him what you’d done?  Simon asks.  He was there for me when I needed him, Lana replies.  <awkward pause>

Why did you come back, Jax?  Haven’t I hurt you enough already?  He doesn’t answer, and looks down at his plate.  Simon, was it your idea or my dad’s?  Bettina asks.  He had me pass along the offer, Simon admits.  Being up there alone wasn’t a good fit for him.  Yeah, it’s beautiful up there.  But now that the leaves are out, the bugs are out, and the nights are really cold.  What was your favorite time of day when you were up there in the woods?  Bettina asks Jax.  Hiking up to Wifi Rock to connect, Jax admits.  Thanks for taking the time to talk to me, he tells Bettina.  Did you ever see the skunk?  She asks him with a big grin.  He shakes his head no as he grins back at her.

What do you want me to do, Lana?  Jax asks her.  I’m fine with you staying here, she tells him, if that is what you are asking me.  Do Rolf and Jon know?  Lana asks Simon.  Simon shakes his head no.  They still haven’t invited me to join their metalcore band, Simon says in a huff.  That’s only because they don’t want to get between you and Bettina, Simon.  I heard Rolf tell James as much.

That’s not going to be an issue, Bettina tells him.  Go forth and conquer.  Everyone chuckles.

I’d like to help them teach at the college, Jax admits.  Do you want me to call Jon? Bettina asks him.  Put him on speaker, Simon tells her.

Wait, Lana interrupts.  There is something you guys need to know first.  Rolf and Jon are working on getting you a clean slate.  How?  Simon asks.  Uppsala, their ABR tribute band.  I suspect that they’re going to want you to stay in the background, Jax.  What’s the plan?  Jax asks.  Don Ramon wants to play bass.  He complained to Sam that there weren’t any tryouts, and she sent Raul to see Rolf.  Rolf told him that it was invitation only, and Raul asked what it would take to get an invitation.  Once the pictures in police custody and the originals are destroyed, he’s in.   Rolf told Raul that he didn’t want those pictures hanging over you for the rest of your life; that you had suffered enough.  When did you talk to Rolf?  Bettina asks.  This is straight from Raul, Lana admits.

So you’re seeing him now?  Jax asks.  I was, but he’s left town; he’s back in Mexico.  Why?  Bettina asks.  It’s a preemptive move.  Otherwise when the cat’s away, the mice will play, Lana explains.  So you two are done?  Simon asks.  He’s not going to be able to get rid of me that easily, Lana says, looking down with her Mona Lisa smile.

What are you going to do?  Jax asks Lana.  Lana sighs.  Bettina is my best friend, and you are Simon’s best friend, so avoiding you is not an option.  <Pause> I have ten thousand dollars that I’d like to put in the market.  How much would you charge to invest my money for me?  Nothing if I lose you money, Jax replies, but I get to keep half of the gains.  Hedge fund managers typically charge 20% of the gains, Lana replies, giving him a skeptical look.  But they don’t guarantee your principal, Jax responds.  Lana glances over at Bettina, who nods slightly.  Okay.  Let me know who I made the check out to, Lana tells Jax.  Is this fund open to other investors?  Bettina asks grinning.  Let me get back to you on that, Bettina, Jax replies seriously, steepling his hands in thought.

You didn’t answer Jax’s question, Lana.  Simon interjects.  I’m willing to get together for coffee with my money manager every once in awhile to hear how my portfolio is doing and what is his latest thesis.  Eventually, I expect him to hand me a check closing out my position, and explain that his fiance isn’t comfortable with him investing on my behalf.

What about church?  Bettina asks after a long silence.  You’re welcome to come, Jax.  Lana tells him.  The ground is level at the foot of the cross.

Let him who is without sin cast the first stone, Jax tells Lana.  I’m not casting stones, Jax.  What about forgiveness?  He asks.  I don’t expect you to ever forgive me for what I did to you, Lana admits.  What do you expect me to do, Lana?  Jax asks.  Move on with your life.  Be the man that God has called you to be and eventually lead your family as husband and father, protector and provider.

Shipwreck, tropical island paradise, and it’s just the four of us.  Simon tells Lana.  That ship has already sailed, Simon.  <awkward pause>  Lana looks at Bettina.  Would you mind if I borrowed the Mustang and went to see Rolf?  Bring him over, Simon tells her, and Bettina and I will go get Jonny.  Lana shakes her head no.  We’re going pier fishing.  Are you going to come back to pick me up after?  Bettina asks.  I’ll probably spend the night at Rolf’s.  Storm’s coming in later; you’re going to get rained on.  Jax comments.  Lana shrugs.  I won’t melt. Do you want your car back?  Simon asks.  When I can drive a convertible?  Lana scoffs.  Everyone chuckles.  I’ll stay here then, Bettina decides.  We might stop over later, Jax mentions.