The next morning Riley woke with Evan’s arm draped over her waist. She smiled and shut off her alarm. They had still been up talking when she went to bed. She gently pressed a kiss to his cheek before getting up and taking a shower. He was still lightly snoring as she got dressed and made her way to the spacious kitchen. She got the coffee maker going and grabbed some waffles from the freezer. She figured the guys would be asleep for a while so she didn’t bother making them breakfast. Riley put them in the toaster. She remembered how she had Evan when Chris broke things off with her. She wondered if Evan was the guy everyone went to. It made her happy that she was the one he went to when things went south with that girl in New York.
“Hey gorgeous,” Syd said in her ear making her jump.
“What the hell, Syd! You scared the shit out of me!” Riley shouted smacking him. Syd laughed maniacally and ran his hand through his spiky hair.
“What did you do to Evan? I have never seen him like that with any girl, not even Cash,” Syd said reaching over her and grabbing a coffee mug. He stood a good foot above her, how did these guys get so tall?
Riley smirked, “I have no idea what you’re talking about.”
“Seriously... He has never stood up for himself, not once. Anytime we were after the same girl he'd be the first one to back down. I was surprised as hell, when he told me to back off. He’s so nice that he lets his friend’s just walk all over him. I think I like this new more fiery Evan,” Syd said as he poured himself a cup of coffee.
“What you want competition for the fiery one?” Riley asked shooting him a smile.
“I don’t know, I guess I just feel like the real Evan is coming out. Mind you he is the first one any of us go to for comfort, mostly because he’s not judgmental, but also because he will go along with anything we say. He’s a good listener. Occasionally he even shows his true nature and comes out with a snide comment or two about whoever hurt us,” Syd responded and took a sip of the coffee.
He continued, “But I always felt like he wasn’t comfortable with us enough to show his real side, even though we know each other inside and out. I mean we have spent every summer together since we were like ten, but I just feel like he never stands up for himself because he hates when we fight. Oh, and we have fought, but usually we get over it. This is the first time I’ve seen Evan ready to fight about something with us. We’re more like brothers than friends, and honestly it makes me feel like he’s finally comfortable enough to stand up for himself, at least with me. I’m sure Chris will be a different story. For some reason Evan’s always kind of looked up to Chris and now that he’s with you he’s probably not looking forward to the upcoming confrontation.”
“You really think Chris cares who I date? I mean it was a while ago,” Riley said, “Do you really think I hurt him that bad? You know, we weren’t even together that long before he found out.”
Syd laughed, “You weren’t together that long but he trusted you and you kept the truth from him. He was super defensive when he was doing that stuff to get back at you. Sometimes Chris goes too far. We had to stop him and get you out of there before he did something he’d regret.”
“Well, thank you for that. I am sorry for ruining your summer, but it was fun while it lasted. You guys have such interesting personalities that there was never a dull moment,” Riley replied taking a bite of waffle.
Syd laughed, “That’s part of why we fight. We all have such different personalities and sometimes they clash.”
“Syd, are you okay?” Riley asked looking at him seriously and changing the subject.
Syd looked Riley in the eye, “I’m fine.”
“No you’re not,” Riley replied.
“No, I’m not,” Syd said looking down, “I thought Evan was still single. It really hurts right now to be around my friends and their girlfriends. That’s why I left Rex’s.”
“We’ll try to keep the PDA to ourselves. I understand that, but I can tell that you’re hurting,” Riley said touching his shoulder and Syd looked back up to her.
“I guess I just feel betrayed, kind of like Chris did. I hate her right now, and I’m sad that she’s gone at the same time,” Syd replied, “You probably don’t get that people tend to use you when you have money. There are a lot of selfish people out there. I thought she was different. I thought she wanted me for who I really am, but I guess I was wrong.”
“Yeah, people make mistakes. It’s part of life. We all know I’ve made a few, but the important thing is that we learn from them. Someday you’ll find someone who’ll sweep you off your feet. You’ll be glad then that you weren’t stuck in a marriage with someone who didn’t really care about you,” Riley said.
“True,” Syd replied.
“Just take your time and wallow. I know I always wallow in misery a bit after a bad break-up. That dark cloud will pass eventually,” Riley said giving him a hug, “And know that your friends are always there for you.”
“I knew I decided to make you a friend for a reason,” Syd said, “If anything just for some hugs. You and Evan are good together. You’re like the perfect comfort couple.”
Riley laughed and shook her head. She patted Syd’s shoulder as she took her travel mug. She was going to be late.
“I have to get to class. I’ll see you later,” Riley said waving as she left.
Evan woke to an empty bed, he glanced at the clock and groaned. Riley had been long gone. Syd’s break up brought ideas to his head. Syd even voiced his opinion about how much Evan was helping Riley. She wouldn’t be after his money, would she? He closed his eyes and rubbed his face. He was tempted to bring it up with her but he didn’t want to wake her.
“Evan are you getting up sometime today?” Syd asked from the doorway, “Why are you in this room anyway?”
“Riley was in here,” Evan grumbled, sitting up.
“Whoa, please tell me you have something on, because I don’t want to see that stuff,” Syd said stopping him. Evan laughed and pulled the blanket off.
“Yes, I’ve got shorts on,” Evan shook his head and trudged towards the kitchen, “How long have you been up anyway?”
“I didn’t sleep well. I haven’t since Val left,” Syd replied following him, “So, you're sleeping with her?”
“Not your business,” Evan said filling up a mug with coffee. Syd's eyes widened, and he smirked.
“Riley said you just hired her. Don’t you think you’re moving a bit fast?” Syd asked.
“Yeah, we probably are, but I can’t seem to control myself around her. I just want to be with her. I have for a while, honestly I think even before Cash cheated on me. I regretted not getting her e-mail or something before she left. I never thought she was like Chris said. I just figured he was hurt and saying stuff to hurt her back,” Evan replied with a shrug.
“He was, but I just don’t want you to get hurt like I did. Did you talk to her? I mean, I don’t think she’s like Val, they are way different. I just don’t want to see your heart broken, you’re too nice for that,” Syd said taking a seat on the counter.
“I know you’re just trying to look out for me, but honestly Syd, I can take care of myself. Do you really see Riley running off with my bank account?” Evan asked looking Syd in the eye.
“No, but Rex said she didn’t have much money to her name when we were at Chris’ place and she was saving up for college,” Syd replied.
“Yeah, and she was working. She was working two jobs, driving a car that was going to fall apart any minute, and sleeping in an apartment that was smaller than my closet. I don’t think she desperately needs to have a lot of money to survive,” Evan said taking a sip of the hot beverage.
“Really?” Syd asked, “Two jobs? She must be relying on you a lot then. I just want you to ask. I don’t think she’ll get mad.”
“Maybe after we get to know each other better, I mean we really haven’t been together that long,” Evan replied running his hand through his hair, “I have to get to work, you coming?”
“No, not right now, I have to do some work. I might go by there tomorrow. I’m sure the place is great,” Syd said watching Evan leave and hoping Riley didn’t hurt him. Syd took a deep breath and grabbed his phone and cigarettes before going outside.
Riley got home later than usual, because of the tutoring job. She was exhausted after dealing with an antsy eight year old and not looking forward to making dinner. Riley sighed as she opened the door and dropped her book bag in her room as she made her way down the hall. The house was pretty dark, she was turning lights on as she walked. Evan would probably still be at the dojo, but where was Syd?
She heard people talking and walked towards the noise. She walked into the dark living room, curtains drawn and the T.V. on. Opening the curtains to the setting sun Riley heard a moan. She turned and saw Syd laying belly down on the couch with his arm draped over the side with his eyes closed. Riley smiled and put her hand on his head before going in search of a blanket. She gave up and settled for the comforter in Syd’s room she opened the door to find Rex and Liz in his room. Riley jumped. She didn’t see another car in the driveway.
“Riley! It’s true! You are here!” Liz said smiling. She wrapped her arms around her sister.
“I’m glad to hear you’re doing well,” Rex said smiling. He looked like he was all business in a black suit and green tie.
“Thanks, it’s great to see you again,” Riley said giving Rex a hug, “Did you know Syd fell asleep on the couch?”
“Yeah, we were just getting him a blanket,” Rex said glancing at Liz.
“Yeah, let me do that for you,” Liz said grabbing the blanket from the bed and leaving the room.
“Don’t go far, Liz,” Rex said smiling at her.
“I won’t,” she said moving that much faster. Riley watched her leave a little surprised at how nervous she seemed.
“Riley, we need to talk,” Rex said walking over to the window, “You see, I was okay with you and Chris at first, hoping he had grown up a bit. That’s fine, but then things went sour. I told Syd to talk to you, but maybe he didn’t get through. I consider you a friend and will help you however I can...”
Riley looked at Rex surprised at the change of attitude. He was looking out the window but she almost felt a sense of danger coming from him. Was Rex threatening her? No, Rex is shy and quiet he would never do anything like that.
“Evan is another story though,” Rex said turning and looking at her, his green eyes narrowing, “Yes, Syd called me to tell me about you working here, and about you being in a relationship with Evan. No one keeps secrets from me, they know I’ll find out eventually and Syd is a little apprehensive.”
“Rex, my relationship with Evan is really not your business-,” Riley started.
“It is my business!” Rex said, walking up to loom over Riley, “You have already hurt one of my friends, I will not let you hurt another. I assure you that if your intentions are deceptive, there will be no corner of this earth where you can hide. You want to stay on my good side Riley, trust me.”
Riley’s eyes widened, she had never seen this side of Rex. He glared at her and she shivered. He meant business. His green eyes stared daggers at her, and all she could do was nod slightly.
“Evan is much more delicate than Chris, we all know that. I’m just saying that if you ever hurt him…,” Rex said tightening his fists, “I will see to it that your life becomes more miserable than you could ever dream, financially and psychologically. I will strike hard again and again. You will not know when I will strike again, but rest assured, I will make your life a living hell.”
Rex glared, looking her in the eye to get his point across. Liz made a small noise from the doorway that caused him to break the contact and look over her head.
“We have to go. We were never here. Syd promised not to tell, do not let Evan know that he told me,” Rex said giving her one last glare before brushing roughly past her to the door. Liz glanced at her sadly and waved before following Rex out.
Riley sank to the floor in disbelief. She didn’t see that one coming. Didn’t Syd say that Rex didn’t like confrontation? He may not like it but he sure can intimidate a person when he wants to.