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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

Chris is as delighted as ever, practically skipping past his cubed-in colleagues, when 4:30 arrives. Getting to work a half hour earlier these last couple of weeks has worked out well, enabling him to head over to the Café and get settled in behind the counter well before the evening rush. And it provides him some additional time with Jen, adding to the hour or so they spend together on a typical morning as he watches her whip up batches of her famous cupcakes in the Café’s kitchen before heading off to his day job. Their crack of dawn and late afternoon dates are all they’ve been able to maneuver as of late thanks to the new curfew Jen’s father, Danny (a.k.a. Chris’s boss at that day job of his), recently imposed. But as ga-ga as Chris is for Jen, he’s willing to work with it.

Once he parks his car, rounds the corner near the front of the Buena Beach Café – which he co-owns with buddy Alice – and enters, he loses some of the pep he had in his step. What he hopes must be just his imagination is confirmed as the real thing when he gets a few steps closer to the action – his beautiful (yet underage) lover Jen kissing her fake boyfriend, Micah.

“Hey!” Chris calls, his voice booming much louder than he had anticipated. Jen jumps upon hearing his voice and quickly drops Micah’s hand.

“Babe,” she says to him, smiling brightly as if she didn’t just have her tongue down Micah’s throat.

“What’s going on here?” he asks, working hard to stay composed as he looks back and forth between the two parties in front of him.

Micah has checked out of the conversation already, Chris sees, waiting for Jen to respond as he plays with the cheesecake crumbs on his plate. “Chris, we’re just playing along. Remember, he’s supposed to be my boyfriend,” she tells him, pointing to Micah while giving her “Duh…hell-o?” face. “No one’s going to buy our relationship much longer if we don’t show any affection.”

“Affection’s one thing. Making out in the Café is something else.”

She tries to laugh off his point. “Chris, all we’re trying to do is be realistic. This is what we crazy teenagers do – make out. Besides, I keep telling you that Mario is onto us.”

“Mario can kiss my ass.”

“Chris, babe. Calm down.”

“And Mario’s not here. In fact,” he says, looking around the empty place, “No one’s here.”

“Alice is in the back,” she says with a smug smile.

“So why not save your little slobber show for her…when she’s here?”

Jen looks to Micah for help, but the guy’s still silent. With him being utterly useless at this point, Chris tells him to get going; that he’s done enough for the day. As he stands and picks up his backpack, Micah looks down at Chris and requests his pay for the day.

“Dude, are you kidding me? I hire you to pretend to be Jen’s boyfriend and you decide somewhere to change the rules? To try to make this the real thing?” Honestly, Chris feels sort of bad blaming Micah since, from his perspective, it looked like Jen was the aggressor, practically climbing aboard the guy as she went in. But then again, Micah could have pushed her away, Chris figures, telling her to back off.

“Here, Micah,” says Jen, handing him a crumpled $20 bill from her jeans pocket.

“Thanks,” he tells her. “See you on Saturday.”

Chris takes over Micah’s vacated chair, staring at Jen with disbelief and disgust. “Saturday? That’s not on the schedule.”

He prepares himself to hear more b.s. from her when she bats her eyelashes and takes one of his hands. “Babe, my dad is insisting that Micah come over for dinner.”

“Why?”

“Well, I guess he figures that we are getting more serious,” she says, making quotes in the air with her fingers with the word ‘serious’. “He just wants to get to know him better.”

“Heck no. Forget that. You need to tell Danny that the two of your broke up.”

Chris frowns, momentarily ashamed at getting himself in this situation when she starts laughing at him…again. “Chris, if I do that, we’ll never get to spend any time together outside the Café. My dad’s not gonna just let me go out on Friday and Saturday nights by myself.

“Find a girlfriend.”

“Ooo-kay, Chris. My dad’s pretty open-minded, but I think he might have just as many concerns about me being a lesbian than he would with me dating one of his staff, who happens to be in his mid-twenties.”

Sigh. “No, I mean a female friend to hang out with. And you can use her as your alibi.”

She reminds Chris that she doesn’t have any female friends; that girls just seem to hate her as a general rule.

“Well, yah, but if we could pay Micah to be your fake boyfriend, I’m sure there’s some young lady out there who’d be down to fake it as your homie. Sure beats babysitting.”

“No way,” she says straightaway. “First, how pathetic would I look paying for a friend – that’s way different than our deal with Micah. Secondly, girls are catty and they can’t keep secrets.”

Chris admits that she might have a point, but he quickly counters with, “How about my sister Melissa? She’s always looking for extra money. And she’d never be disloyal to her own brother.”

Jen just shakes her head. “Chris, you have a whole lot to learn about women.” She doesn’t even look around to make sure Alice or anyone else isn’t peeping them out as she lovingly rubs his head.

“Look,” she finally says as they both wind down from their defensives. “Let’s just stick with the Micah thing a little longer. I bet you anything that once Daddy meets him and decides he’s a great guy, he’ll ease up on me a bit. And then, we’ll be able to spend more time together. Just watch.”

He can’t help but consider this. With all his anxiety lately, Danny has put a lot of pressure on Jen, all but blaming her for his recent panic attacks. According to Jen, he’s even been having her document her every coming and going via a sign-out sheet. Strange since the opposite is true at work, Danny being much more easygoing the last week or so than usual. Chris had even heard talk about him being considered for a promotion to a Coordinator II, a position that came with an assistant and a bigger cubicle. Although he probably wouldn’t be very interested, preferring to quit working for the City altogether in order to be at the Café full-time, it was nice to be noticed.

So maybe Jen was right about the approach – with Danny being so fragile, there’s no sense shaking things up by getting rid of Micah; not yet, at least. But dude’s gotta go soon.

“Alright,” he finally says, cracking his first smile since arriving to the restaurant. “But if I catch you kissing that kid again…I’m kicking his ass.”

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