Meet Me at Pebble Beach_ Part Three – Sink or Swim (Meet Me at Pebble Beach #3) - Bella Osborne

Chapter Eleven

Regan and Charlie had abandoned their walk on the beach because Regan had too many questions spinning around her mind. They went to the Hug In A Mug café and drank coffee like they had done the previous week – but this time everything was different. Now she knew that Charlie had a brain tumour everything had changed. She was struggling to make any sense of what he was trying to explain to her. It was like her own brain was in shock.

‘So what do you want to know?’ asked Charlie. The odd thing was he was exactly the same. His demeanour, his attitude, his smile – all unchanged. How was he so jolly when he was walking around with a time bomb in his head?

‘Only what you’re comfortable to share with me.’ She went to pick up her coffee mug but realised she was shaking, so she hastily put it down again.

‘I’m comfortable sharing it all with you, Regan. I’ll tell you anything.’

Somehow this didn’t give her any comfort. ‘How long have you known?’

‘Seven months. I took a nasty blow to the head at work. I know, it explains a lot,’ he said, with a cheeky grin. Regan couldn’t pull a smile however hard she tried. ‘And they sent me for a brain scan. That’s when they spotted it. It’s extremely close to my spinal cord so any operation could kill me or leave me paralysed. I decided against surgery because that’s not how I want to spend my life. I’d rather just enjoy my last months.’

‘Months?’ It came out as a croak.

Charlie sipped his coffee. ‘Nobody’s really sure but it looks like it’s growing at a pace.’

‘Why are you still working?’

‘I’ve got no symptoms. I’ve declared it to the Fire Service and my station commander is really supportive. My crew know so if something was to happen at work they would make sure there was no impact on the public. And I love my job and really need to stay busy.’

An icy shiver ran up Regan’s spine and she shuddered. ‘I don’t know what to say.’ She couldn’t take her eyes off him. He was young, fit and appeared healthy – none of it made sense.

‘Don’t look at me like that. Like I’m at death’s door. I feel fine and as long as I do then I want to carry on with a normal life. I want to squeeze as much fun as I can into every day.’

Regan joined some dots. ‘That’s why you’re so kind. Why you believe in karma.’

‘Hey, I’d be kind without the tumour,’ he scolded, but he was smiling. Always bloody smiling. ‘But you’re right. I’m on a bit of a mission to spread some kindness.’ He gave a self-conscious shrug. ‘I figured someone upstairs might let me stay on earth a little bit longer if I did.’

Regan was choked. How could this lovely man be dying? He looked the picture of health. ‘Are you sure there’s not been some horrible mistake?’

‘Nope. I’ve seen the scan pictures. Bloody great lump. But, you know, I’m still really lucky.’

Regan shook her head. ‘How on earth do you figure that?’

‘Because I know my time is running out. I have a chance to make my last few months count. Some people are taken just like that.’ He clicked his fingers and Regan jumped. She wasn’t seeing the bright side he seemed to have discovered. ‘I want to spend some time with you, Regan. Nothing serious, just some fun. But if it’s all too much, I’d understand.’

Regan was choked with emotion and didn’t know how to answer. Yes, she wanted to spend time with him, but the thought of what would happen when his time was over was too much to take. ‘I don’t know if I can do this. I can’t think straight. I’m sorry.’

He reached out and covered her hand with his. ‘No apology needed.’

Regan popped to the loo, and switched her phone to camera to check her eyes weren’t too puffy. Her face was a bit blotchy, but if she held the phone further away it wasn’t so bad. She leaned back against the cool of the toilet door and pressed the button to FaceTime the one person she always told everything to.

A pleased-looking Cleo answered. ‘Your timing is perfect. I’m at a very dull drinks reception. Let me duck outside.’ Regan caught a glimpse of a stony-faced Oscar as Cleo made her apologies. ‘Right,’ she said, when the background had changed to sky. ‘How are