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Created by Diane Brown, Buena Beach is an online soap opera, giving up all the juicy details of some of the hottest guys and gals of Buena Beach, a small town in Southern California. Check back everyday for a new episode here on HelloBeautiful.com.

The Voice

A decade ago, Danny prided himself on rising before the sun for a two-mile run, lifting weights for ten minutes in front of the tube while catching the morning’s headlines, and blending homemade protein smoothies before sneaking into the girls’ rooms to admire them during their serene sleep. Now, a typical day started with four swats to the SNOOZE button, a sprint to the guest bathroom down the hall at the demand of his bladder (because his wife, Annette, will have beaten him to the master bath), the racket of televisions, I-Pods, and radios competing in the audio spectrum for the attention of all the women in the house, and a couple of burnt toaster waffles eaten on the way out the door. And these days, he wouldn’t even think of catching a wistful glimpse at any of the girls as they slept, not with Jen screaming at the top of her lungs when he tried a few years ago, later telling Danny, “Dad, that is soooooo creepy!”

This particular morning, his mobile phone vibrating nearby on the dresser disturbs Danny from his normal routine. Trying his best not to wake Annette, he stumbles over to retrieve the phone, only then noticing the time – 5:15.

“Hello?” he says, hushed, before tiptoeing out to the kitchen.

“Hey, it’s me.”

“I know. Is everything alright?” he asks, double-checking the time on the oven clock.

The woman on the other end sighs. “Oh, yes. I’m sorry to call so early. You know my day. I figured this might be the best time for us to talk, you know?”

In other words, her husband is still asleep.

“Anyway, I just wanted to know how things are working out. With Veronica.”

He figured as much. “So far, so good. She seems to be doing fine.”

“Yah?”

“Yes. No fights. Nothing stolen. So far,” he tells the woman, a lightness to his tone. The woman laughs.

“Well, that’s good news.” Danny nods to himself, heading over to the freezer for his waffles. The woman takes a deep breath. “Listen, Danny. I just want you to know how much I appreciate this. I owe you big time.”

“You don’t owe me anything.”

“No, I absolutely do. If you ever need anything…”

“Get outta here, girl.”

She laughs. “Okay, Danny. I should know better, right? Well, you take care of yourself, okay?”

Danny agrees.

“How’s Jennifer doing?”

He’s waiting anxiously for the waffles to pop out of the toaster. “Alright. Got a boyfriend.”

The woman sighs again. “Wonderful.”

“Tell me about it. I’ve already had to change my blood pressure medicine twice in the last year. And I’ve been having these panic attacks.”

“Oh my gosh!”

Now, it’s Danny’s turn to sigh. “I know. I know. I can’t blame Jennifer, though. Honestly, she seems to be doing pretty well. Even this boyfriend of hers is not so bad. I met him a few times. Of course, I had to rough the poor guy up a bit. He’s sort of nerdy to be honest with you. Always with the books. Doesn’t really seem like Jennifer’s type. But, I guess that makes sense for her in a strange sort of way.”

“Mmm-hmm.”

Danny goes back to the freezer for another round of waffles as he ends the call. No sense in going back to sleep for just an hour. Might as well get something else in his stomach in case he doesn’t get a chance to eat lunch.

This time, he uses a plate, lathering all four waffles with the whipped honey butter he hides in the back of the produce drawer. It’s nice to be up this early, he thinks to himself. Gives him a chance to catch an entire episode of Sports Center. Just as he’s about to settle down in his chair, he hears the soft rumbling of someone slowly coming through the back door.

His trusty wooden baseball bat is nowhere in sight, so he has no choice but to stack what’s left of his waffles on top of his glass of milk, and wield the plate high above his head as he creeps delicately along the carpet to meet who or what’s on the other side of the door.

As the it creeks open, Danny raises the plate to attack mode, ready to crack open the skull of the knucklehead foolish enough to break into his place. But instead, he drops the plate, sending it crashing to the floor, as the intruder screams at eardrum exploding decibels.

“Dad, please – don’t!”

His eyes triple in size. “Jennifer. What the…?”

“Dad, what are you doing up?”

“What are you doing out?”

She drags herself all the way inside, along with a large bag. “I was at the gym.”

Danny folds his arms and backs up to get a look at his oldest daughter, who has casually settled down into his easy chair.

This is too much for him. What kind of idiot does Jen take him for – the gym? He paces, then paces a little more as Jen picks at her cuticles.

The gym? She is wearing a t-shirt, sweats, and tennis shoes. Danny’s eyes jump down to her bag, and Jen’s eyes follow his, still keeping cool. She shakes her head when Danny stomps over and picks it up, fumbling to get it open. He pulls out a water bottle, a damp towel, and sweatshirt. Rooting around a bit more, he takes out a pink drawstring bag.

“Dad,” Jen calls out in protest as he dramatically stretches it open.

“No, for real, Dad. That’s my bag of tampons.”

Danny pauses, finally giving up a smile. Okay, so maybe she really was at the gym, he decides.

She better have been at the gym.

She better.

Check back tomorrow for the next episode of Buena Beach!

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