Chapter 54 - Made it real
I looked back up toward the perfect view of the sky and resisted the urge to scream.
He bought a house.
He bought a house for me.
What was wrong with him?
I let my eyes find him again. His big, beautiful eyes were filled with uncertainty and I wished that I could take it away. But I knew it was impossible, I was just as uncertain as he was. Possibly more.
"I need to leave."
He looked down and kicked his boot against the wood at his feet.
"River, say anything else except that. Please."
But I had no idea what else there was to say. I tortured myself for almost a year trying not to wonder what he was doing because that was the closest I could get to doing what he asked of me. I had tried to do everything I could to not think of him, and all the while all he had been doing was thinking of me.
I couldn't work it out in my thoughts. I didn't know how I felt about any of it. But being so close to him screwed with my mind, so I needed to get away.
"I have to."
I walked past him and he let me, he didn't try and stop me.
I got in my car and drove home to the tiny apartment that I could barely afford. It was hard but it was a normal part of being in college and being this age. A house that was nicer than anything I'd ever lived in definitely did not fit in with my lifestyle. The lifestyle Beau had all but begged me to have.
I pushed the door open to the apartment to find my brother's mouth pressed against Maria's as she practically sat on top of him on the couch. I squealed and they broke apart instantly.
"Oh my God."
I covered my eyes as I tried to make it to my room without running into anything. I was planning on locking myself inside and never coming out because everyone had lost their minds.
Jackson followed me down the hall and caught my arm before I could safely get inside my cave.
He wiped Maria's lipstick from his mouth and I wanted to hurl until I realized he must have been who she'd been talking to these past few weeks, why she was so happy. I was still a little grossed out but not even close to mad at them.
I leaned my head out of my doorframe and saw Maria standing at the end of the hall, chewing her nails nervously.
"My how the tables have turned."
I eyed my brother and he laughed an awkward laugh while he rubbed the back of his neck.
"Yeah, I guess so."
I poked his side and turned to go to the bathroom, I could tell just based on the happiness in his eyes that there was no need to discuss it further.
After I showered and changed into my warmest pair of pajamas, the three of us sat in the living room. Maria made us all hot chocolate before she and Jackson sat back on the couch while I settled on the floor. I wasn't sure I'd ever even be able to look at the couch the same now. I watched him as he put his arm around her shoulder, I had never seen my brother with anyone other than a random date here and there but by the way he was looking at Maria, this was no one-night stand.
"He bought you a house?"
Maria asked after I finished telling them about my night.
I nodded and noticed my brother being particularly quiet.
Maria and I both turned to him at the same time, he looked up from his hot chocolate and sighed.
"I knew he was buying a house here but he didn't tell me it was specifically for you. Although I suppose I should've known."
Why? Why should he have known that? It was an insane thing to do. People didn't just go around doing things like that.
I must've been silent for too long because my brother sat his cup down on the coffee table and sat next to me on the floor. He slung his arm around me and pulled me into a bear hug.
"He's trying to make it right, Riv."
I didn't respond, I just rested my head on his arm and wondered how long I could go on pretending that I didn't want Beau to make it right. Deep down, that was the only thing I wanted.
I let my brother hug me a little bit longer before standing up.
"I'll let you two, continue what I interrupted."
I managed to say before walking to the sink and rinsing my cup out.
Maria was beside me before I had a chance to turn the water off.
"I'm sorry, River. I should've said something."
I shook my head.
"It's okay. You guys don't owe me an explanation, if you're happy, I'm happy."
I smiled and she wrapped her arms around my neck.
"I really like him."
She whispered in my ear before pulling away. I turned to see my brother's outstretched arm wrap around her as she fell back onto the couch. It was a sweet sight and while it was one that I had never considered before, it created a sense of peace inside of me.
I walked back to my room and grabbed my phone. I scrolled down to Taylor's number and pressed it. He picked up on after the first ring.
"Hey. Is everything okay?"
I laugh worked its way up my throat.
"Yeah, just had an interesting night. What are you doing?"
"Uh, I'm out. With Anna-Kate."
"Oh gosh, I'm sorry."
Taylor was back in North Carolina spending the Christmas break with his family, and apparently taking Anna-Kate out on a date. And I was two for two with interruptions.
"Don't apologize. So everything is okay?"
"Yeah, all good. I'll fill you in when you get back. Have fun."
I told him before ending the call.
I laid in my bed and stared at the ceiling. I didn't want to do it but I felt like the little white box I had hidden was calling my name. I had contemplated throwing it away more times than I could remember but at that moment, I was glad that I hadn't. I reached into the back of the drawer in my nightstand and pulled out the projector Beau had given me.
I turned it on and laid on my side as I admired the stars that danced across my wall.
I remember thinking how next level this gift was when I walked into my old room and saw it set up for the first time.
Beau had always given me gifts, sometimes they were only words, and other times they were material things that no one else would've known me well enough to give me.
I remember the conversation about what we would want in our dream houses very well. They were theoretical and separate in my mind. But now it was literal, he had made it real. I had been inside of it and I had seen how my life could play out there.
I saw Beau in the backyard with my brother, grilling, or playing cornhole.
I saw myself baking an obscene amount of cookies in the kitchen.
I saw us painting the smaller room closest to the master a light yellow and rocking our baby to sleep in the glider he had near the window.
I saw it all so easily.
I turned the projector off and closed my eyes.
I couldn't tell if my head was still above the clouds or not.
But I didn't think that was where I wanted to be anymore anyway.