Chapter 16 - Kick the habit
"I'm not really sure what to say."
Maria’s voice finally came through my phone. I'd been holding my breath waiting for her to reply.
I caved. I was going to lose my mind if I didn't spill my guts about Beau.
So I told her.
Actually, it was more like I rushed every word out of my mouth, and the more I spoke, the dumber I felt.
Taylor had kissed me on the cheek so many times. It didn't mean anything romantic.
Why did Beau putting his lips in the same place Taylor had countless times send my mind into a tailspin?
Then there were the words he spoke, one day.
They were haunting me. I saw those two words no matter where I looked and I'd thought about them even more in the past week since he'd said them. He was gone bright and early the next day so I didn't have a chance to talk to him.
Not that it would've gotten me anywhere.
"I don't know what you should say either. I just had to tell someone before I exploded."
I sighed and rubbed my forehead, I was giving myself a headache again.
"Why don't you just ask him?"
Was she serious?
"Why can't you?"
Why couldn't I?
Because he would never talk about it.
Not to me, not to anyone.
"He's not very forthcoming."
I joked but it was the truth.
"I'm not sure about that. It seems like if he's going to talk to anyone, it would be you. Especially about this."
I let Maria's words sink it.
Beau used to talk to me all the time. Maybe not anything as serious as feelings but he still talked to me more than anyone, even more than he spoke to Jackson.
"Okay. I'll try."
What other choice did I have?
Wait until he got drunk again?
After Maria and I hung up I walked out of my room and down the hallway to find my brother. He had been acting weird. As if he was on edge and that was so far from his normal temperament.
Jackson was sweet and so easy going that sometimes it infuriated me. But lately, something was bugging him and I wanted to ignore what was going on in my mind and figure out what was eating at his.
I found him standing in front of the kitchen sink, scrubbing a baking sheet with so much force I thought that he would leave a hulk-style imprint in the metal.
"You okay, Jack?"
He scrubbed harder into the pan but didn't speak.
"What is it?"
I walked over and took the sponge from his hand and he sighed.
"I have to leave."
"What do you mean?"
I knew exactly what he meant but I had to hear him say it.
"I'm deploying in two weeks."
No no no no.
This wasn't the first time my brother had been deployed but I could already tell that this time would be far worse.
"I'm sorry, River. If there was some way around it I promise you, I would do it. But there's not, I have to go."
He hung his head and stared at the water in the sink.
I didn't want him to worry about me. He already had plenty to worry about.
I walked over, stood beside him, and wrapped one arm around his waist.
My brother only had one hug mode: bear hug.
And I'm sure he was offended by my sorry side hug but if he was, he didn't show it.
He put his massive arm around my shoulder and rested his chin on my head.
"I'll be okay Jackson."
He sighed before kissing me on top of my head.
What the heck was I going to do?
I was okay staying here by myself but I knew Jackson wouldn't let that happen.
"You have a few options."
I looked up at my brother, hoping whatever options he came up with weren't anywhere near the ones I was thinking.
"Aunt Jean said-"
He started but I interrupted him.
There was no way I could live with my great Aunt Jean. My dad's aunt was a Bible thumping hypocrite. Not that I had anything against Bible thumpers. It was the hypocrite part I wasn't okay with.
I earned a laugh from my brother and that was enough to cut through the tension the conversation created.
Jackson brewed a pot of coffee and when it was ready we both set down at the kitchen table with our mugs filled to their brims.
"I spoke to Taylor's dad last night and while I don't love the idea, he said you could stay with them until I get back, or until you turn eighteen, whichever comes first."
He was going to be gone that long?
And living with Taylor's family? That was a no go.
I loved his family, they were all great but Taylor had four brothers and sisters. In a three-bedroom house, no less.
"Is there another option?"
I couldn't think of anymore but I knew Jackson had been obsessing over this a lot longer than I had.
He sat up straighter in his chair.
"There's one more."
I said the word slowly.
Beau's voice beat him into the kitchen and stopped my heart.
No no no no no.
How many times could I think that word?
I looked between Beau and my brother. Neither of them would make eye contact with me.
"Jackson, I do not need a babysitter. I'll only be here alone for a few months as a seventeen-year-old. No one will know."
I shook my head.
"You have to live with an adult, you know that."
I propped my head against the back of my chair and closed my eyes. This was not happening.
Beau had spent the better part of the last six months avoiding me, only seeing me to boss me around. Even if it was only with his glare.
Then after last week, he expected me to live with him and not lose my sanity?
That alone made me wonder if he even remembered what he said.
I could feel him looking at me now, he was trying to get my attention but I wouldn't let him have it.
Jackson was leaving and Beau was moving in.
My brother had no idea what he was opening up.
But Beau did.
He could have come up with some excuse, literally anything. But instead, he chose to torture us both. What were all these months avoiding me for if we were just going to end up living under the same roof?
"This is the best choice, River. Nothing about your life will change, you'll live in the same house, and go to the same school. It actually works out perfectly because Beau's lease just ended."
I opened my eyes to see Jackson smile at Beau.
"Let's grill tonight. Burgers?"
Jackson got up and smacked Beau on the back.
He disappeared into the garage leaving me and Beau alone in the kitchen.
I wanted to hate the sound of his voice because surely that would make my life easier. If I hated his velvety voice and obnoxiously perfect face then I could convince myself to hate his heart too, but it was impossible.
From the first time I laid eyes on Beau Holmes, I was hooked.
But I was about to kick the habit.
If I wanted to cohabitate with him, then I had no other choice.
I turned my head and looked at him. He was still standing in the same spot and I swear he took up half of the room.
Something about the way he said the words twisted my insides but I pushed the feeling away as I stood up and walked out of the room.
He wasn't sorry yet.
Not by a long shot.
But he would be.
Hey guys! Thanks so much for all the engagement with this story! I try and update every day but starting today 10/15 until 10/18 I'm going to be very busy with my personal life so I can't promise anything during this time. However, 10/19. . . it's on ;)