Chapter Twenty Five
The hot water feels great running over my body. After the morning I’ve had everything feels very sensitized. I must’ve been in the shower for a while because the room is steam filled when I emerge from the shower. I quickly dry myself off and manage to pull on a pair of jeans before the bathroom door flies open.
Lexi and Rowan stand there leaning against the door frame. Lexi looks like she’s trying to suppress a laugh while Rowan in wearing his shit eating grin.
“What?” I ask suspiciously as I see Lexi holding a piece of paper in front of her as she reads.
“This certificate of excellence is awarded to Lincoln Beauregard Jefferson.” She announces barely able to keep from laughing. She finally found out my middle name. And my traitor brother led her straight to it. I shoot him a death glare. “Oh my God it’s true.” Lexi exclaims then bursts into hysterical laughter as she looks at me. I sigh trying to control anger at my brother.
“Lexi I warned you that when you found out my middle name I would have to kill you.” I say wickedly and her laughter screams to a higher pitch. Bam! Rowan slams the door shut between us.
“Run Lexi!” Rowan screams and I hear her scream still laughing as her footsteps run down the hall. I reach the door handle trying to open it. Rowan must be holding the other side. I try a few more times pulling the door before he lets go and laughs as I stumble back to the floor. I’m up in a second and I’m about to go after him before I see him point in the direction that Lexi fled in.
I give chase still bare chested and barefoot running through the house. I’m satisfied she’s not upstairs so I go down clearing the last five steps landing with a loud jump. “Lexi darlin’ where are you?” I call out sweetly. “I warned you this would happen, but you didn’t listen.” I add threateningly. I search the rooms downstairs until I happen upon the kitchen. I find Damien sitting —laughing into his coffee— as I enter.
I eye him suspiciously but he gives nothing away. “I don’t want to do this Lexi, but you’ve left me no choice.” I call playfully and Damien’s laughter increases. I look around the dining room keeping an eye on Damien for any indication to her location. Then I hear it, the telltale sign of the front screen door squeaking. “Shit.” I hear her curse.
“Gotcha.” I call running full out towards the door. I see her outside and I leap from the porch clearing all the steps landing on the grass. She’s holding her hands up in surrender still laughing. I run at her and tackle her into my arms lifting her off the ground. Her legs wrap around my waist as I push her up against the side of my truck. Her hands fist tightly in my hair as I grab a hold of her face securely looking into her eyes. She’s trying to control her laughter as I glare playfully threatening her.
Suddenly she shifts her hips against my groin and bites her lip seductively. All traces of laughter are gone from her as her hands latch onto my bare waist. She digs her hands in and pulls me against her as she grinds again against my hips pinning her to the side if the truck. I groan in pleasure as I rest my forehead against her shoulder and exhale loudly.
“You make a convincing case for me to spare you.” I say playfully meeting her eyes. She smiles her heart stopping smile at me.
“So I don’t have to be killed off for knowing your dark secret?” She pleads seductively. I shake my head.
“No I like having you around too much. Maybe we could make a deal.” I offer her wickedly. She smiles challenging me. She leans close to my ear.
“Tell me what you want me to do for you.” She whispers seductively and nips my earlobe with her teeth. I slam my entire body against hers in response and she clings tightly around me.
“Just promise to keep my secret.” I whisper playfully into her neck. I lift my cheek to hers as she nods compliantly. I crush my lips to hers to seal the deal with a bruising kiss.
“Fuck! Is that dad’s car?” Rowan yells from the porch. Sheer panic grips me as I drop Lexi and spin around to face the driveway. There’s nothing there. Rowan’s cackling fills the air as I turn back around to face him. “Holy shit your face.” Rowan chortles as he’s racked with side splitting laughter again. Damien is standing beside him laughing as well.
“You’re such an asshole.” I spit at him viciously. His laughter just gets more riotous. Soft chuckling from behind me draws my attention and I turn back to face Lexi who is laughing at me as well. I crook an eyebrow at her. “Are you laughing at me again?” I challenge her. She bites her lip and her shoulders shake as she shakes her head desperately trying to suppress her laughter.
“I’m sorry.” She says still smiling. “But you really should’ve seen your face.” She adds as another fit of giggles takes her.
“It was priceless man.” Rowan calls from the porch as he finally manages to stop laughing. “It’s Sunday, you know damn well they wouldn’t leave Florida until they’ve been to Church somewhere. We’re fine.” He reminds me and I let out a deep breath. Rowan pulls Damien back inside the house and I turn to look at Lexi. Her laughter is gone but so is her smile. She looks thoughtful.
“Are you okay?” I ask her concerned. She smiles a half smile at me and nods her head. I eye her directly not buying it. She shrugs and looks away from me.
“It’s just the way you reacted. Do you really not want them to meet me? Would they hate me that much?” She asks nervously. I let out a breath as I gently bring my hand to cup her face.
“If I had normal parents I would love nothing more than to introduce you to them.” I say softly and she smiles at me. “My not wanting you to meet my parents falls under my promise to never hurt you. I would never expose you to their narrow mindedness and complete ungracious behavior.” I tell her certainly. Her eyes light up as she smiles at me brightly.
I kiss her quickly to reassure her of my feelings. Then I lead her back into the house to grab my things. I lead Lexi into the kitchen and place a plate of breakfast in front of her and a cup of coffee. She smiles.
“Are you my waitress today?” She asks playfully. I laugh.
“I’ll give you anything you ask for so I suppose I am yes.” I shoot back playfully. Her appreciative kiss is disturbed by a high pitched scream and a loud crashing noise from high in the ceiling.
“What was that?” She asks concerned.
“That was unmistakably the sound of my brother seeing a rat.” I tell her sweetly. I kiss her nose as she giggles. “Eat your breakfast, I’ll go make sure the rat is okay.” I smile before turning to leave the kitchen. I reach Rowan on the second floor near the attic entrance. He looks flustered.
“Man you know I love you, and I would do almost anything for you. But I draw the line at fucking rats.” He spits marching past me. “You’re on your own.” He calls back over his shoulder as he marches down the stairs. I turn back to the attic stairs and come face to face with Damien who seems to be suppressing a smile after Rowan.
I laugh at him. “I hope you weren’t injured when the big bad rat attacked.” I tease him. He chuckles lightly.
“I think I’ll live.” He shrugs. “Not sure about the rat though, your brother through a cabinet at it.” He laughs and I shake my head. “Most of the stuff is boxed, but did you need a hand?” Damien asks looking back up the stairs towards the attic floor. I clap him on the shoulder.
“Nah man I’ve got it. Thanks.” I tell him gratefully as I duck past him and jog up the attic stairs.
“Ow.” I exclaim aloud as my head hits one of the rafter beams. I forgot how confined this place is. I start making my way through to the back. There’s furniture strewn everywhere and boxes stacked high. Thankfully mama was always good about labelling everything before it was tucked away up here. I grab a box of photos labelled with my name on it. I decide to leave the trophies and most of the school memorabilia.
I take the box labelled college memories. I laugh as I pull the lid up and find my old sweat shirt and different photos and new clippings from my games. I accidently knock over another box as I try to grab mine up. It splits open and crap spills out everywhere. The side of the box is labelled knitting patterns. I sigh as I drop down to pick up the mess. I laugh as I pick up the first piece of paper to find it’s a photo.
A picture of me and Rowan standing by our water hole when we were about ten and eleven. Were bathed in sunlight and were both holding a pose demonstrating who has the biggest muscles. Our smiles are both proud happy ones that cover our entire faces. I smile sadly as I look down and realize that the entire box is photos of me and Rowan and some of just Rowan.
Mama must’ve hidden them from our father to stop him destroying everything. I love that woman. I tuck that photo into my pocket as I pick up the photos and different items from Rowans childhood. He mustn’t have looked in this box. I try to carefully pick it up so as not to drop it again. I turn to see a figure studying me curiously. She smiles.
“I came to protect you from the monster sized rats.” She says with a playful lilt. I laugh.
“Thank God, I thought I was a goner.” I play back. She laughs and holds out her arms.
“Let me take that, and you can take those.” She says tipping her head to the two boxes I was originally trying to pick up.
“Okay, just be careful. I think the bottom split when I knocked it over.” I tell her and she nods taking the box from me. We leave the attic and carry the boxes straight out to the truck.
“Is there anything else you need to get?” Lexi asks me as we load our boxes into the tray.
“I’ll just check my bedroom for clothes and anything else.” I tell her as we walk back into the house.
“You can’t have that shirt. It’s mine now and I already packed it into my bag.” She informs me playfully as we ascend the stairs. I laugh out loud at her.
“That’s fine darlin’ it looks better on you anyway.” I say leaning close to kiss her cheek as we reach the bedroom. I make my way over to the closet while she looks through the draws. I pull out a few things. There’s not much from my high school days that will still fit. In the top of the closet a bear falls and I snatch it from the air. I laugh when I see it.
“Who’s this?” Lexi asks sweetly leaning her head against my arm.
“Red Baron.” I tell her honestly and she laughs.
“You named you’re teddy bear Red Baron?” She ask incredulously. I shake my head.
“No he was originally just called Red. Then I got older he lost an eye and I changed it to Red Baron.” I explain with a smile. Throwing him back up in the closet.
“You don’t want to take him?” She asks curiously. I smile at her.
“I don’t really need him anymore.” I tell her assuredly. She smiles at me.
“What about for your kids?” She asks boldly then her expression shies as she looks away from me seeming to regret the statement. I smile at her reassuringly as I grab the bear and place it gently into the bag. She smiles at me as we continue our searching. There isn’t much here that I really need or want. Everything important was in those boxes. I drop the bag onto the bed and I look at Lexi who is blushing violently as her eyes linger over the bed.
I wrap my arms around her shoulder and pull her to me. “Last night and especially this morning, are the best memories I have of this room.” I confess in her ear. She leans back and gives me a playful look.
“What? No other hearts have been lost to you here?” She asks incredulously. I shake my head honestly.
“You’re the first, only, and last girl I’ve had in my bed.” I tell her. She beams her smile at me.
“Yeah but the loft in the barn is a whole other story.” Rowan’s voice interrupts us and I go after him tackling him in the hall. He’s laughing as we roll around the floor then I secure him with his arm behind him. “Uncle.” He screams still laughing and I help him up and clip him upside his head. He laughs as he rubs his head. I turn and walk back in the room towards Lexi who has her arms crossed in front of her.
She’s fixed a cold glare on me and I smile at her sheepishly. She shakes her head in mock disappointment. I need to fix this. I step closer to her and she leans back challenging me. I step around her and walk towards the wall behind her. I can feel her angry glare burning a hole in my back. I reach up and take down the poster of the Indian and I roll it carefully before turning back to her. Her eyes have softened and she’s fighting a smile.
“Now I have everything that means anything to me.” I announce. Her face lights up and all anger dissipates.
“Smooth.” Rowan congratulates clapping his hands. I shoot him a deathly glare and he squeals and vanishes. I stroll back towards Lexi and I reach my arms out to wrap around her but I wait for permission. She smiles and steps into them and leans against my chest. I kiss the top of her head.
“Are you ready to get back to the city?” I whisper and she shakes her head against my chest.
“I never want to leave here.” She confesses. I laugh as I hold her tighter.
“You won’t like it so much once my parents get home.” I tell her certainly. She shakes her head again.
“Not this place. I mean here.” She emphasizes tucking herself tighter against my chest gripping my torso tightly. I hold her tightly, my heart swells at her words. I start to pull her gently towards the door as I grab the bag and poster in my other hand. She smiles at me as we make our way downstairs. We find Rowan and Damien in the kitchen.
“Hey I grabbed some of your army photos from the mantle over the fireplace and your medals as well, they’re in the truck.” Rowan informs me. I nod appreciatively at him.
“Are you sure your parents don’t want these things?” Lexi asks me concerned. I sigh and I look at Rowan.
“Lexi honey, I was here the other day. I promise you we’re saving Link’s history from a backyard bonfire. I’m actually surprised the stuff was still here when we arrived.” Rowan explains sadly. Her eyes fill with compassion as she looks between us. I kiss her forehead reassuringly.
“It’s okay darlin’.” I assure her. She smiles a half smile at me. Then I meet Rowans sad eyes and I remember my discovery.
“Hey.” I say stepping towards him. “Look what I found.” I pull the picture from my pocket and hand it to him. His face lights up when he sees it then he laughs at the memory.
“Baby look,” He says showing it to Damien. “I told you I was always this hot.” He says proudly. We all laugh but I can see how much this means to him. I think I leave the rest until he’s alone to appreciate it all.
“Shall we get out of here?” I ask everyone. Everyone starts gathering their things and heading towards the truck.