Kai plays kicky bag on the dock while he waits for Alejandro.
The port that Torres family's houseboat is currently docked at is just across the bay from the emoty shack of this lonely island, so it's a quick sail for Alejandro to get here.
Alejandro joins in the game, and the boys talk about starting high school on Monday.
Kai gives Alejandro the birthday gift he bought for him, a sweet new guitar, and Alejandro promptly plays some tunes for him.
"You're really good," Kai compliments him.
"I used to shred on my xylophone when I was a toddler," Alejandro laughs.
"I had one of those xylophones, too," Kai answered, "But it doesn't mean I can play guitar. You're a natural."
"That's what they say," Alejandro shrugs, "I just know I like to play."
"Maybe we shouldn't hang out here so long," Alejandro says as the boys sit down next to each other on the dock, "I don't know who owns this old shack. We might get in trouble."
"You didn't know? This whole island belongs to my family," Kai answers, "I wouldn't have asked you here if we didn't have a right to be here."
"What do you do with this place? I mean, it never seems to be used for anything, at least not that I've seen. And we're docked across the bay most of the time."
Kai shrugs, "My parents just like collecting little islands, I guess. We own like 5 of them, but besides our house and the island my Dad's lab is on, we don't really do anything with them. This shack has always been empty. But I've been thinking I could set up an art studio for myself here. Away from the family, you know. Not that they bother me, exactly, when I'm painting in my room. But it would be great to not have any distractions at all."
"Wow, it must be nice to be the richest family in Isla Paradiso," Alejandro teases, "You and your sister are the most spoiled kids I've ever met."
"We are not!" Kai protests, and then backs down, "Okay, well, Dyl and I do get pretty much anything we want. But we aren't the richest family in Isla Paradiso. What about Alphonse Alto? He lives in that huge mansion..."
"Alto used to be the richest guy on the island," Alejandro says, "But according to my Mom, you guys have him beat out now. And she should know, she used to be married to him"
"Really? I had no idea..."
"Well, it was before I was born, obviously. My Mom has always been ambitious, and she married him because he was the richest guy on the island. And she put up with his cheating, even when he ended up getting one of his girlfriends pregnant. She figured, she had the house, the cars and the money, so she didn't care who had Alphonse. And then she met my Dad. He's just like her, all about the money, and finding the easiest way to get it. He's a thief, you know...you probably shouldn't tell anyone..."
"I won't say a thing, I promise."
"So, yeah, Dad's a burglar. He broke into the Alto house one night while my Mom and Alphonse were at a party. They fought, my Mom came home early and caught my Dad. And she says he stole her heart," Alejandro laughs, "My parents are kind of fucked up, both of them. She gave up her wealthy life to be with him. He's half her age, but he's still crazy in love with her. But, still, they both talk about money all the time, and keep score of everyone on the island. Ever since we became friends in grade school, she never lets a day go by where she doesn't remind me about how rich you are or what a great catch you'd be," Alejandro ends his story with a wry laugh.
"Are you planning on marrying me for my money?" Kai asks, laughing himself.
"You know me better than that," Alejandro answers, though he knows it doesn't have to said. Their bond has been unbreakable since the first day they met in school, and nothing could ever come between them.
Kai opens his arms and Alejandro falls back against his chest, leaning his head back so their lips can meet.
"The sun is starting to set," Kai observes, brushing his jeans off as he stands and stretches his legs, "Part of me wants to be all romantic and sit here watching it with you. But I haven't eaten since breakfast, and it's pizza night at my house...I'm starving and I'm not sure I can resist the call of pizza. Want to come over and have dinner with us?"
"Your parents will be okay with that?"
"Of course they will," Kai laughs, "I'm a spoiled kid that gets everything he wants, right?"
Alejandro laughs, "Yeah, you joke about it, but you are incredibly spoiled. But, seriously, though, they'll be okay with me just showing up for dinner?"
"Of course," Kai reassures him, "There's always more than enough pizza for guests."
Julian has made several important scientific breakthroughs, but his greatest achievement might be his perfect pizzas.
The Brannons welcomed Alejandro warmly; he had nothing to worry about on that account. But even though they aren't a particularly large family, the teen is overwhelmed by their numbers. Like Kai, he's shy of crowds and tends to anxiousness when overstimulated. For Kai, this house is a familiar safe zone, but for Alejandro, it's a panic inducing nightmare and he struggles to eat his pizza, saying nothing while the family chatters away at the table.
Alejandro is more comfortable after dinner when it's just himself, Kai and his father playing video games. Though he still shy around Julian, he does manage to remark on the extensive collection of games the family owns.
It's a blissful relief to finally be totally alone with Kai again out in the family's hot tub. Dylan is only a few yards away, playing in her jungle gym, as much in her own world as Kai and Alejandro are lost in theirs.
I haven't even mentioned it in the story, but Jillyan's Misc. Fun is My Precious and she has a sea themed collection going for that. I feel like I'm copying from Becky, lol, but like her founder, the sea themed knick knacks seemed the most appropriate. So here's the collection so far. I was aiming for things that could plausibly be found while scuba diving. The model boat and mini treasure chest don't really fit that, but, eh. The souvenir pic of Jill and Julian aren't an official part of the collection, but I hung with the rest of the display just because. The Hanging Pescado is part of the collection.
Jill also keeps an unofficial collection of things she actually has found while scuba diving: one of each kind of sea shell, a couple of messages in a bottle, one of the large gems from a treasure chest. And her pink diamond that the burglar (not Alejandro's dad, though Matteo Torres is in the Criminal career) keeps trying to steal. (My tumblr followers have seen the repeated burglary attempts that Jill has foiled). She's also got a tank full of fish that are exclusive to scuba diving, including 2 Seahorses, the only 2 she's caught, as they are super rare.
The family also has a nice collection of islands. The one where Kai & Alejandro are on in the beginning of the chapter is the one Jill got by doing the quest chain that included beating up a shark. The one they live on was gotten by befriending an NPC mermaid. Julian's lab island came from just sailing close to it. And then there's one from finding 4 map pieces from treasure chests/bottles, and one from finding a secret exit from an underwater cave. According to Carl's Guide, Jill can get one more by finding a super special message in a bottle. I haven't found that yet. There's also one you can get from the lifeguard career and one from owning a 5 star resort. I'm not even trying for those.
And here's a sunset pic. I post a lot of scenery pics on my tumblr, and this one is one of my favorites.