Like a Memory(8)By: Abbi Glines
MOST GUYS WHO had their own place would live in filth. Not that I’d ever seen another guy’s apartment. But I did have three brothers and knew what their bedrooms looked like. When momma had enough she would threaten them, often within an inch of their lives, then they quickly put their rooms in order.
Eli wasn’t like that. He was clean, tidy and neat. He had a place for everything. I was a little worried that I wouldn’t be able to keep things as clean as he wanted them. I wasn’t as tidy as he was. I never mentioned it because Eli would lie and tell me it’s okay, that my comfort was most important. Which we would both know was not true. Even a small mess would drive him nuts.
I watched him put the last box in my new bedroom. The smile on his face matched mine. It had taken longer than we’d both planned but we were here now getting started. Living on our own like we’d always planned. Eli moved out when he began college and got a job to support himself. I often wondered when I could join him. When our brothers and sisters were driving us nuts we’d planned this very thing. Being roommates and living on our own.
I had just beaten cancer when he left. It was too soon for me. I knew I couldn’t leave my parents. Not yet, they were too raw, from everything we’d been through as a family. I stayed at home with them for four long years.
This was my late start. The beginning of living on my own. I couldn’t wait to dig in and do this.
“I’ve got a bottle of Pinot Gris in the fridge. You want a glass? I think we should celebrate.”
I loved Pinot Gris. He knew that. Just like he knew everything about me. “Yes! That would be perfect.”
He looked around my room. “When I rented this place I had you in mind. This has always been your room.”
That made my eyes sting with tears. Eli wasn’t one to hide his emotions. He was honest and direct about them. I loved that. But then I loved Eli. I have since we were kids. I just wasn’t in love with him. There was a difference and I recognized it, at a younger age than most. Over the years I’ve often wondered if he understood that difference. There were moments when he looked at me with something more than friendly adoration. I’d convince myself I made it up. At least I hoped I made it up. Wanting MORE would ruin everything.
A knock on the door saved me from having to appropriately respond. Whatever that may be. I still wasn’t sure how to reply to something so heartfelt. I wasn’t as sensitive as Eli. What I’d been through had hardened me.
Eli turned and headed for the door. I scanned my new room one more time before I followed. Glancing over his shoulder at me he smirked. “I’d apologize about this, but I think they’re being here has more to do with you than me.”
He shook his head as he opened the door.
Micah Falco walked in carrying a six-pack followed by Damon Victor, Micah’s best friend and Jude Falco, who was Micah’s younger brother. Micah was twenty-five. He had a master’s degree in computer science, yet he looked like a thug. Micah drank like a fish, cursed like a sailor, and was the most entertaining guy I knew, the exception being his dad, who was technically his uncle. Long story.
“Move a girl in and don’t invite the fucking team. Hardy, you suck,” Micah said, placing the beer on the bar. “By the way, this is mine, I’m not sharing. I assumed it was BYOB.”
Damon had a case in his arms. He laid the beer right beside it. “I brought enough for me and the kid.”
The kid was Jude. He was nineteen. Since he’d grown up with Micah and his friends he acted ten years older.
“Call me a fucking kid again and I’ll shove those beers up your ass.” He then walked past Damon with a scowl. He was four inches taller than Damon and expanding before our eyes. By twenty-five he would be huge.
“Touchy ass bastard,” Damon muttered.
“You’re finally free, B,” Micah grinned with a beer in his hand. “How’s it feel? Liberating?”
“How the hell do you think it feels? She’s free of her crazy, wild ass brothers,” Jude answered for me as he retrieved a beer from the counter and popped it open.
Jude was only a year older than Cruz and the two were close. That was why he could get away with bashing my brothers. He loved them like family and I knew that.