Living With The Boys (Journey to Love, #1)

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13. Kitchen Talks

Hope’s POV

It took us exactly ten minutes to arrive at the hospital and of course it also took us nearly as long to find a parking space. I have cooled down a little bit on the way here but now I am just plain worried and curious as to how the night is going to end like this.

Mike and I haven’t spoke on this car ride but I can guess that he is feeling something similar to me, worry and anger. I have never been involved in a fight or known someone that was in a public fight before so I have no idea if and how the police is going to get involved in this. I just hope that this is the last place we’re going to have to pick Mark up from.

“He’s just been released so they’re waiting for us at the entrance.” I say as I read the message on my phone from Martin and I hear Mike swear as the ticket we just bought is going to be useless as we will be here for less than 10 minutes but we paid for a full hour.

“He better have broken his hand real good.” Mike complains as we make our way through the large car park, as the only spot we found was the one furthest away from the actual hospital; lucky us.

“You don’t mean that.” I reply as I watch an angry Mike, I thought that he would be more worried but he seems to be sticking with anger. Looks like once again I am going to have to be the peace maker between everyone, which can get pretty tiring when you yourself are angry and want to ask the questions.

“Well if he hasn’t broken his hand properly then I am going to break it for him.” He replies and it’s even worse than the thing he said before so I am just going to leave him be, so he doesn’t end up killing his brother for getting himself in the hospital.

“We both know you’re not going to do that.” I say as we near the entrance and I think I can see their outline.

“Depends on why he was in a fight.” He answers and it’s a fair enough judgement as fighting is never good but sometimes it’s needed, so Mark better have a good excuse as to why we have to pick him up from the hospital.

It looks like Mark and Martin are arguing about something as Martin stares at his phone and hi fingers move across it in great speed. Of course, I can’t tell if that is his or Mark’s phone because we all have the same type of phone which gets confusing in the mornings.

As they turn out way and see us, they immediately stop talking and returning to glaring at each other. I have never really seen them so the fact that in the last week or two there has been some kind of tension between them seems to have come out of nowhere. I do have a feeling it has something to do with Martin going on all those dates, maybe Mark feels angry that he broke our relationship. I have no idea what it is, and right now all I can do is guess.

Even if it is that, I don’t see why the two of them are arguing about it and Mike seems absolutely fine that Martin is going on dates and is out of the house a lot. I have been spending a lot more time with Mike these past couple of days but then again, we have been alone. I have been avoiding talking to any of them about this for the past week and now as you can clearly feel the tension in the house between Mark and Martin, it’s clear that avoiding the issue has not made it go away.

“You alright?” I ask Mark as we get close enough to them and bring him for a hug, he is still pretty tense but relaxes a little bit when I wrap my arms around him. He uses his free arm to give me a one-armed hug and kisses my cheek as we separate, he has not calmed down yet but I can see that he is trying for my sake.

“I’m fine, I’ve just broken one of my fingers and bruised my hands. I should be fine in a couple of days and the break will heal in a couple of weeks.” He replies with a small smile as Mike and Martin start walking ahead of us, Martin not even looking my way. If I didn’t know any better I would think that he is mad at me.

“Guess you’re not going to work for the next couple of weeks.” I say and feel bad because he of course depends on his salary to pay the rent. As master’s students don’t have as many contact hours and have more freedom to work, they also don’t get the same support that I do as an undergraduate student.

“I’ll be fine, I have some savings and have paid my rent in advance.” He reassures me and I am glad that he thinks ahead, I know full well how easy it is to slip up and spend all the money that you have saved up.

“Well it’s a good thing you’re going home for the holidays so that should at least save you some money.” I reply and avoid the topic that I am going to be joining him for the holidays, I don’t know if Mike has told him that I am going to be a part of the celebrations this year.

“I’m not really worried about money babe, I made a mistake in fighting the guy tonight but it’s not the end of the world.” He smiles down at me and it’s amazing how he is so different to Mike when they have grown up in the same place with the same genes.

“You know I have a lot of questions about what happened tonight.” I warn him as we come to stand next to the car, Mike driving again with me and Mark in the back. I feel my phone in pocket vibrate and take note to check it in the car.

“There is really nothing to tell, the guy insulted me and threw the first punch so I defended myself.” He explains when we’re in the car and I can see Mike listening in from the driver seat, but Martin looks back and meets Mark’s eyes in a look that I miss because I was checking my phone.

I see that weirdly Martin has sent me a couple of snapchats two minutes ago when he was in the same car as me. That means he wants to tell me something that won’t be saved on text, it better be a better explanation than the one Mark gave me. I don’t think he is lying but it sounds pretty simple and I don’t believe he has told me everything that has happened tonight.

I open the snapchats, trying to ignore the awkward silence that has taken over the car. I realise that men are different and the guys are probably going to solve this whole thing by never talking about it, which if course will get nothing done. I can’t push them though because then I will become the annoying woman that they live with.

The only thing that Martin sent me was that he wanted to talk to me later and to reassure me that everything was fine. I don’t know what the hell is going on but it doesn’t feel fine to me, I no longer think that I am over reacting because whatever is going on with Mark landed him in a fight.

There have been plenty of times when he was insulted or I was and you get angry of course, but I have yet to see any of them get in a fight in those situations. I just don’t see how a stranger could get under his skin so much as to make him violent. Mark or any of the guys are not violent, they are chilled out guys who I thought would never resort to fighting.

We make the journey home in complete silence and same thing when we all silently walk into the house, Mark walks ahead and I’m pleasantly surprised when Mike follows him up the stairs. I hope that he will be able to get something out of his brother, but they’re probably just going to stay silent and brush off the incident, I hope they don’t do that.

I stay back with Martin as we take off out winter clothes, even though I only have my coat on over my tank top and leggings, I didn’t exactly have a lot of time to get changed before we left for the hospital. Martin behind me is frowning and just seems to be very annoyed and almost angry as he walks into the kitchen to grab a beer.

“You can start interrogating me.” He says with his back turned to me, opening his beer and taking a large gulp of it. Though his comment does rub me the wrong way, I don’t want to interrogate them but find out what’s going on in the house that I’m living in with the people I love.

“I’m not going to interrogate you, I just want to know why Mark was in a fight. You guys don’t get in fights.” I say as I walk around the kitchen counter and meet his gaze, I want to be looking him in the eyes when he tells me the whole truth.

“Well tonight he did and I have no idea why. I did not hear what him and the guy were arguing about, I just came back from the bathroom to find them throwing punches at each other and the bar cheering them on.” He explains and I can see that he is tired, since it is nearing midnight and I don’t think he has been home before 1am the whole of this past week.

“Was it some stranger that he was fighting with?” I ask because that seems even weirder to me, I always thought that fighting in bars doesn’t happen very often in the UK. The other surprising thing is that the bar was cheering them on, they should have been thrown out before the fight started, they must have argued before they started hitting each other, surely.

“No, he was fighting with my date.” He whispers his reply as he throws a look to the stairs to check if the guys are coming down. I don’t hear any noise or talking coming from upstairs so they must have shut the door.

“What was Mark doing on your date?” I ask because they left the house hours apart and with the tension that has been living between them I wasn’t under the impression that they would be meeting up when they’re out.

“He was in the same pub that my date and I went to, but of course Mark doesn’t know that I was on a date with the guy. We said hi to each other as we were both with other people and I didn’t know the group he was with. Then my date started acting all weird so I went to the bathroom to get a bit of a break.” He continues telling me the story and I can see that he is still confused as to what happened tonight.

“So, the guys don’t know you’ve been dating men?” I ask quietly because if it is true then I don’t really want to out him, if he hasn’t told them that means he might not be quite ready to do so yet.

“I’ve only told you, and I’ve only been on dates with two different guys but tonight was my third date with this guy and I thought the pub was a safe option because that’s not where we normally go. I came back from the bathroom to see Mark and my date standing face to face, moments before Mark threw the first punch and all hell broke loose.” He holds the cold beer up to his temple as he must be sporting one hell of a headache, this night would be challenging to anyone.

I wait to see if he will tell me anything more but as I wait, I walk to one of the cabinets where I’ve stashed some medicine and vitamins. I drink them in the morning when I eat and it’s just smart to keep mild pain relief in the kitchen. I hand him some aspirin with a glass of water and he smiles gratefully, swallowing it as if his life depended on it.

“Did the police turn up?” I ask the next important question because it doesn’t seem that Martin is in the mood to tell me anything more. But I am sad that Mark outright lied to me, he said that he didn’t throw the first punch and that he was defending himself, when Martin has just told me he was something very different.

“No, we just got thrown out as my date called his friends to come and pick him up. I think they went to a different hospital why I tried to wrap Mark’s hand in my scarf and called us an Uber to the hospital.” He further explains, but he doesn’t have such an intense frown anymore so the headache must be starting to lessen.

“Why did you call us to pick you up then, if you used an Uber to get to the hospital?” I ask because they could have called us from the pub or not called at all the whole night, we wouldn’t have known that Mark was in a fight and didn’t just hit or cut his hand at work.

“I insisted, Mark was getting his bandages while I waited outside and he didn’t want to call you guys but I did anyway. That’s what we were arguing about when you guys came.” He explains and some things are finally starting to make some sense.

“So, you don’t know why Mark was fighting with your date?” I have to ask because this is the only missing piece of information from tonight but it’s the most important one. What could have that guy said to make Mark so angry that he would start a fight?

“I have no idea what they were fighting about, my date is not picking up his phone but then he was in a worse shape than Mark is. Mark only hurt his hands, but his hands hurt my date’s face. I don’t think there is going to be fourth date.” He jokes slightly and I have to return the smile, as it seems his spirits are lifting little by little.

“His loss then, he must have said something pretty insulting or horrible to make Mark lose it like that.” I say with conviction because I still don’t think that Mark would start a fight over something little or unimportant, I refuse to believe that he would just go around starting fights.

“I have no idea what is going on with Mark, I was just trying to find out more about myself by going on these dates and the guy I was with was pretty nice, but that’s over now.” He rolls his eyes and throws his now empty beer in the bin.

“You of course have the right to go on as many dates with however many people you want because you’re trying to find something. Something is bothering him and the guys are in the dark here, they might be thinking that you’re lying to me.” I say and feel pretty selfish to keep thinking about this reason, the tension might have nothing to do with me but I feel as though since moving in I have caused this and I feel guilty.

“I didn’t about it this way. I told you and you were fine with it, even helping me so I didn’t think that the guys might think that I’m hurting you. They are pretty protective of you.” He comments and I don’t know whether to feel good that I’ve helped him think of this in another way or that once again I am putting myself the centre of attention, I don’t like being the centre of attention.

“That might not be the case, the world doesn’t revolve around me but you need to talk to him. He probably fought because of something your date said about you.” I reply because I just don’t see how this stranger could know something about Mark that would set him off. To get someone very angry and to start a fight, you need to hit a sensitive nerve, at least that is what would make me aggressive or if someone insults someone that I love.

“I doubt that Mark fought because he was protecting me. I will speak to him when he calms down but I doubt it’s going to be anything ground-breaking. He just got angry and threw the first punch, I don’t think it’s going to be anything dramatic or even worth talking to him about.” Martin replies and if I wasn’t so sure that there is something wrong then his confidence would have persuaded me.

“Please just talk to him when you get the chance.” I plead with him, I just want things to go back to the laid-back way there were a couple of weeks ago when all we had to worry about was out grades, without the added extra drama of arguing in the house.

“You don’t have to worry so much about us babe.” He smiles at me to reassure me and hugs me close, offering me the affection that he normally gives. I feel a little bit better now that I see flickers of his old self peeking through and some of this hard-shell start to slowly crack and fall off.

“I’ll always worry about you guys.” I reply with a genuine smile and kiss his cheek, before I turn to walk upstairs. I am beyond exhausted and I see that Mark’s door is still closed and I can hear murmuring from inside, I am glad they’re talking because I have no fucking clue what is going on or what to say.

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