Chapter 18 - Hate mail
It'd been two weeks since Jackson left.
Two weeks of living under the same roof as Beau meant fourteen days of doing my best to ignore him.
But ignoring someone who sucked all of the air out of every room he was in was no easy task.
And honestly, I was exhausted.
"Are you coming over this afternoon?"
Taylor asked as he pulled his car out of the library’s parking lot. I'd been going to his house almost every day after summer study group.
"Not today, I have a lot of laundry to do."
That wasn't a lie, I had to stop slacking or I would run out of clean clothes soon.
"You sure? My mom is making chili and I know how much you love it."
He poked my side and laughed because he knew that I hated chili but I was barely paying attention. I had pulled out the latest note that had been shoved in my bag. There was no question about who it was from but I still wasn't sure why they were still so concentrated on me.
I was boring, didn't they know that?
"What does it say?"
Taylor asked already knowing exactly what it was.
"Edie saw me and Callum talking on the beach. Apparently, she wants me to stay away from him."
I balled the paper up and rolled my eyes while I shoved it in my bag. I didn't want Taylor to see what else it said. Warning me to stay away from his as well.
"I thought maybe it was a love note."
"More like hate mail."
"Don't worry about her River. Hey, you guys are still coming to the cookout this weekend, right?”
He wasn't the best at changing the subject but I figured I'd let it go because I loved that he tried.
It felt weird to show up to a military function without Jackson, but I’d already promised Taylor that I would go.
He bent his head down and kissed my cheek and I wished so much that I felt something.
I opened the passenger side door and climbed out. I knew Beau wouldn't be home for at least another hour so I had enough time to prepare.
I could smell the roast that had been cooking in the crockpot all day as soon as I walked in the door. It had been too long since I made an actual meal.
I cooked for Jackson all the time, almost every night. He grilled twice a week and we would occasionally order pizza. . . I missed real food so much but I missed cooking for another person more.
And lucky for me, Beau really liked to eat.
After I changed my clothes and pulled my hair up I started getting into it. I peeled and cut the potatoes, rinsed and prepared the green beans, and preheated the oven for the rolls. I was mashing the potatoes when Beau unlocked the front door.
"In the kitchen."
I yelled back to him.
"You've been busy."
He walked into the kitchen and stopped when he made it to the crockpot.
"Should I be worried?"
He eyed me and I shook my head, trying not to laugh.
"Okay well, I'm going to clean up. I won't be long."
I nodded while I focused on the green beans and not on how normal my unconventional life felt.
It was easy for me to admit to myself that I liked Beau.
I liked talking to him, listening to him, and even feeding him.
Hell, I liked being in the same room as him.
But it was difficult to admit that I was without a doubt in love with someone that I wasn't allowed to have.
I laid awake in my bed last night and mentally compiled a list of all the things he had unselfishly done for me. The list was long but what really got me was that even as I was being a brat and shutting him out the last two weeks, he was still doing things for me.
It made me wonder why I was even giving him the cold shoulder to begin with.
And more I thought about it, the more it pissed me off.
I was mad at myself for losing time with him. Because whatever he was willing to give me, I was going to take it.
Beau was back in the kitchen within five minutes, just as I was pulling the rolls from the oven, he cleared his throat
"You didn't have to do all of this."
"I don't know, you looked like you've lost some weight."
I teased him. He looked exactly the same as he did the first time I saw him, large.
I handed him a plate and he didn't hesitate to fill it up. I did the same before we both sat down at the table.
I watched Beau as he shoveled the food in his mouth. Most boys acted like they hadn't eaten in days, but Beau enjoyed every bite.
And I enjoyed watching him.
"River, this is the best roast I've ever had."
I was sort of expecting him to say that. Jackson had said the same thing and neither of them would lie about food.
He put a fork full of green beans in his mouth.
As many times as Beau had been to our house, he was seldom around for dinner. He would come over when Jackson grilled but that was it.
He got up and filled his plate again and I made a mental note to buy a bigger roast next time.
I wanted to talk to him. To lay it all out. But something inside of me wanted to enjoy this more. I didn't just want to live in the same house as him, I wanted us to enjoy it.
It didn't require crossing any lines, it was only us. We could go back to how things were before, that's exactly what I wanted.
Well, not exactly but I would settle for this version.
So I decided that I wouldn't mention it, I’d lock that moment away.
"Have you ever watched Grey's Anatomy?"
I had no idea why of all things I would ask him that.
He shook his head as he wiped his mouth with a napkin.
"The guys at work talk about it sometimes but I've never watched it. Is it any good?"
"The guys at work?"
I couldn't for the life of me picture a bunch of military guys watching that type of show.
"Yeah, the other medics."
He raised one brow.
"Medics? You don't transfer stuff like Jackson?"
How could I have known him for this long and not really know what he did every day?
He just laughed. . . It didn't seem to bother him as much as it did me.
"No. I work at the clinic. Actually, I'm a special forces combat medic. . . I usually work in the field but I messed my knee up so I'm at the clinic for a bit."
His job title terrified me and I didn't know what the field was, or exactly how long a bit could be.
I thought about all the instances Beau had been angry with me for doing certain things and the whole time I'd just thought it was because he was bossy, but really, I think he was scared that I would get hurt.
"Is that why you were so worried about my lip?"
I blurted out. I was amazed that there was this big section of his life that I had no clue about.
He nodded but I wanted more.
"Is that why you spaz out on me all the time? Why you're always worried?"
This time I didn't rush the words. I let them fall softly around us.
Beau stared at me as he chewed his last bite of food. I waited for him to speak but it never came.
Instead, he slowly shook his head from side to side and even though it was a slight, silent movement, it told me exactly what I needed to know.