Connor hadn’t actually spoken to me at all, even sending me my work through the online system without so much as an accompanying message. I don’t blame him, I knew he was still getting his head together.
I was just finishing my final essay, the pain in my wrist so bad I finally realised what it must feel like to be a hormonal teenage boy, when the door to my room came flying open.
“We got it!”
Al’s screaming voice making me jump out of my skin and type some gibberish along with my final line.
“Bitch you scared the crap out of me! You got what? Herpes? Because that may interfere with this water birth crap you want to do.”
She doesn’t even react to my joke, grabbing my hand and yanking me from my seat. “Come on, I’ll show you.” I lean over to save my work before that damn pregnancy strength of hers powers through her like the Hulk, which it does as she drags me down the stairs and out the front door. “Babe, it’s like ten at night. Where are we going?”
There’s no pause, she doesn’t even make an attempt to answer as she continues to drag me along this power walk. We get to the end of the street and take a sharp right, doubling back on ourselves.
It’s crazy how streets can be so close yet miles apart. This side has all fancier houses and cleaner sidewalks, although I’ve always felt like our house now is such a step up from where I grew up it’s practically a Palace to my family.
Stopping halfway down the next road Al pulls me to look at her. A huge smiles spreads across her face before she holds up her hand, dangling a pair of keys in front of my eyes.
Turning to face the house we’re standing in front of I see my favourite basketball player is leaning against the open door frame, a smile on his face that matches the future mother of his child. “You got the house?!”
She gleams at me as she nods her head repeatedly and I throw my arms around her, squeezing her so tight I think I might be able to get this kid out if her. “Finalised today, it’s ours Brie. It needs a fuck-ton of work but it’s ours.”
Running out of her arms I chase up the driveway and launch myself at Jayce who catches me with so much ease I feel like a kid again. “We’re neighbours, no getting rid of me now sweet cheeks.”
He throws his head back laughing as I tie my whole body around him. “Like there was any chance of that happening anyway. I knew when I picked her that you came with the package, to be honest I always expected some day you’d be in the bedroom at the bottom of the hall.”
I chuckle as he lowers me back to the floor. “Don’t count your chickens yet Romeo, there’s still time.”
Al gets her little waddling behind up the stairs. “Want to come see it?” I nod whilst clapping my hands repeatedly, Jayce lopping his arm around her waist as she throws open the front door.
Fuck. It’s amazing.
Standing in the hall there’s a giant staircase right in the middle, wrapping around to the top floor. The place is really run down but the potential is undeniable. I can see where their kids will dump their shoes in the closet and where Aleah will stand to shout at Jayce for letting them drag mud through the house. There whole world will grow within these walls.
Following Al into the room to the left it’s a large living room, the wallpaper is knackered but there’s a gorgeous stone original fireplace that I can already see she’s so excited about. “Damn babe, how did you guys get this sorted so fast?”
Al continues her tour, taking us through into a very tired but giant kitchen. “He needed the cash, once we said we had it he wanted it over as quickly as he could. Tara went all lawyer and got the paperwork expedited, we got the keys this afternoon. I’m hoping to have Dad and the boys from work in here ripping everything we don’t want to restore out by the end of the week.”
I stand at the back door, looking over the fence at the bottom of the yard and seeing the light still glowing out from May’s bedroom window. “Babe it’s going to be perfect.”
Jayce stands next to me, opening the door and pointing out where he plans to build the gym. Of course he’d need a bloody gym.
I almost fall through the stairs after leaning against the part Al specifically told me not to, following instructions was never my best personality trait. Upstairs is gorgeous, it doesn’t quite need the same level of work as the downstairs, it’s more cosmetic up here. Opening the double doors at the end of the hall I step into what will one day be their room.
“Wow!” It’s going to be unbelievable in here. There are three large windows along the far wall that look out straight over the yard below, a small balcony that Cole has warned isn’t quite safe enough yet is accessed through a pair of original French doors and I already know that’s where we’re going to do our bitching and wine drinking.
I turn and open the door to another bedroom. “Is this going to be the baby’s room?”
She smirks shaking her head. “Not exactly... Jayce wants that to be the closet.”
“THE CLOSET?!” I think I hate her. Maybe I should get me a basketball player... We wonder through the rest of the house, Al pointing out all the cute original features they plan to keep or restore. My heart almost leaps out of my chest when I see the little room they plan to make the nursery for the baby, scattered paint samples in an array of yellows already on the wall.
This is a hell of a house to grow up in, it’s not a mansion or like the Manor, I can already see what it will be – a home.
We stop at the guest room, or as I’ve renamed it – the Brie suite. I’m not saying I’m picky, I’m just saying the kid has her own bathroom and I don’t. Something’s not right there.
Stepping back out into the yard Jayce has started a small fire in the built in pit and moved some very rusted old chairs to circle it. Handing me a beer I take the seat next to him, whist he pulls Al straight down into his lap and engulfs her in his arms.
Looking at the house then back at them my heart swells, they’re really building a life for themselves. I watch Jayce’s hand cradle her stomach, her lips placed to his head. They’re so perfect, Romeo and Juliet without the tragic ending. They’re endgame.
“It’s beautiful guys, a lot of work but you’ll get there. When do you want it done?”
Jayce takes a swig of his beer. “Before the baby comes hopefully, I’ve got a few weeks until I get called in for boot camp and then the season starts in three months. I’m just going to spend every second I can here before then, can’t be worse than getting The Wilson up and running.”
True, that boat was a shit show when he started. I sink back into the chair, watching the burning embers pop under the flames in front of me.
Will I ever have this? Someone who wants to give me the world, but my world. I thought that’s what I had with Connor but then I fucked it, I thought at one point it was the thrill of what I had with Antonio but I don’t think that was ever right either.
I’m not sure I’m destined for this, maybe I’m just supposed to be cool Auntie Beebee, the aunt that travels the world and buys the best presents but never brings her man to the family barbecue.
“Are you going to the school for the memorial tomorrow?” I nod at Al, taking another swig of my beer. I’d made sure Sonya knew tomorrow was a no go for me, the anniversary of the shooting is enough to cope with for one day without her or Clarisse making it harder.
“Yeah, I only have to work in the morning. Me and Josh usually go to the beach after, have our moment with Harley, if you want to come? Harley’s mum can’t make it this year, his sister is getting married this weekend but it’s all the way out on the West Coast so they flew out this morning. Josh would want you there.” Aleah’s never come to any of the memorial services, I understood why but now her and Jayce are together I hope she’ll be there with us.
“I’ll be there, I don’t want you guys going alone.” She clutches her bracelet to her chest before Jayce takes her arm, kissing the gems on the cuff before trailing the kisses along the inside of her wrist and making her melt into him. He’s long accepted there will always be love in her heart for Chad, it’s part of the reason they’re so perfect together. He accepts every single part of her, no matter how difficult.
They probably need some time alone. I down the rest of my beer and rise to my feet. “I’ll leave you guys too it. The place is amazing you two, I’m shit with construction but if you need someone to keep the guys working in order you know where my fine ass is.”
Al rises her head from Jayce’s shoulder, smiling at me. “Think you’re forgetting something babes, there’s something we need to do first.” Jumping out of Jayce’s lap she giggles, handing me a hammer.
I look at her like she’s lost it. “You can’t be serious babe, Jayce wouldn’t want this.”
Jayce glares at me before standing and pulling me into his arms. “When are you going to learn? You’re my family Brie, this is exactly what I want.” He leaves a kiss on the top of my head, my eyes meeting Al’s with so much love.
She smirks, racing me to the back fence as we go to town on the weathered wood. Has anyone told you that hammering the crap out of something is a great stress reliever? Because it fucking is.
The fence was practically falling down already but me and Al smash our way through until I find myself staring straight into my own backyard.
We did it, we completed the plan.
I smother them all in my love before stepping over the flowerbed back into my home, the tattered pieces of wood strewn about without a care.
Walking away I don’t miss their smiles, the ones they’re giving each other and the ones they’re giving me.
I may never have the man, I may never have the house or the job. I may never have the kids...
But what I do have is worth everything. I have them.