Filthy Foreign Exchange(10)

By: Angela Graham & S.E. Hall



“Why do you say it like that?” My hands ball in defensive fists. “My brother is talented, kind, and my best friend. If you say a single bad word about him, I’ll knock your teeth out.”

“Absolutely beautiful. I may just have to keep your knickers in knots—it’s a magnificent look on you.” He laughs, edging a bit closer. “I meant no disrespect. I merely heard a lot about him today, and the adoration in you and Sam’s eyes when you speak of him is unmistakable. I’m curious to learn more of the fellow whose place I’ve taken.”

“You haven’t taken anything. No one could ever take Sebastian’s place.” I shrug a shoulder. “He wanted to see new things. I get it, I guess. But he’ll be back, and you’ll be gone. So you’re borrowing his place, at best.”

“Of course. And it may be of interest to you to know he spoke just as highly of you, and the rest of his family, in his video. But especially you.”

“What video?”

“Forgive me,” he mumbles, turning away. “Perhaps I spoke out of turn.”

“Oh, no you don’t!” I poke him on the shoulder. “What video?”

He exhales heavily. “Your brother made a video, to accompany his application to the exchange program. That’s what drew my father’s attention to him particularly, and had him working this whole thing out with quick determination. Suddenly being ordered to pack, out of nowhere, seemed dodgy, so I did some searching on my father’s computer and found it.”

“I see,” I say in a hushed voice, tamping down the sting I can’t help but feel for him. I’m happy Sebastian has an adventurous spirit and always goes after what he wants. I just thought what he wanted was here—doing our act together, helping our family.

“So, if you saw this video…why the questions about him?”

“It’s late.” He starts to stand. “A chat for a different time, perhaps.”

I lean forward and tug him back down by the bottom of his shirt. “Stop doing that! You can’t just spit out elusive sentences, then act like you’re too busy for follow-up questions. It’s a transparent game that I won’t fall for, and honestly, it’s pissing me off! Not the drunk kind of pissed, either—the it-makes-me-mad kind—so knock it off. You brought it up because you wanted me to ask, and I’m asking. So talk.”

“No rubbish with you, then?” He shakes his head and laughs. “Brilliant.”

“Talk.”

He rubs his chin, taking his sweet time. “I have to wonder how an esteemed bloke who earns your unshakeable respect—no easy feat, I’ve already surmised—can be the same man who associates with such tossers.”

Tossers, tossers... I wrack my brain for the translation, but finally give up. “Say again? Or differently.”

“Your best mate, Savannah? Sebastian’s girlfriend, correct?” he asks, ignoring my request.

“Yesss,” I drawl. “Why? No, you know what? Never mind. I got it. Sebastian’s amazing, but he’s also a twenty-year-old guy, just like you. Doesn’t take anything away from his character that, like you, he happened to notice huge boobs and a round ass attached to a perky blonde. But that’s not why he’s with her.”

“I would hope not, because if that’s truly all he noticed, it was short-sighted. There’s much more to see there.” He mutters the last part under his breath—a weird layer to it that suggests it isn’t a compliment. “And Clay, his mate—your admirer. How’s he feel about that?”

“Sebastian is well aware of Clay’s…I don’t know, crush? Flirtiness? Whatever you want to call it. And he’s already put a stop to it immediately, and repeatedly. Not that he needed to.” I shiver. “Never gonna happen.”

“And that’s your only observation?” he asks, with an unmistakable, unspoken second question mysteriously underlining the one he airs.

“I don’t spend a lot of time observing Clay. Why?”

He stands again, and this time I let him. I don’t like the dubious tingle in the room, and I’m ready for this conversation to end.

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