I rubbed the muscles on my neck as Aidan and I came out of the elevator and made a beeline for the kitchen. I seriously needed an icepack.
Aidan’s laughter followed behind me. “I told you that we were going to have to push it a little more today. My fight’s next week so Xavier is upping my training for a bit”.
“Man, you did not say that. You said that YOU were going to have to push it”.
“Semantics. You volunteered to train with me today so it’s a WE by default”.
I gave his shoulder a nudge with my own before moving past him to open the freezer. It was almost 6 pm on a Friday and we were all home with no plans to go out. We were all in our twenties and sometimes I think we forgot to step back and enjoy the life we were living.
Don’t get me wrong, I usually preferred to hang out around the apartment if I wasn’t out taking photos or going to class. I just couldn’t remember the last time any of us went out- together or not.
Aidan was still with me in the kitchen and Greyson and Colt were close by in the living room. The latter of the two was still on his laptop. No doubt still answering work emails.
“Let’s go out tomorrow. We can try that club we’ve been meaning to go to for months now”.
Surprisingly Colt was the one who seemed the most game for my idea. “Hell yeah. I need a fucking drink after the week I just had”. Shutting his laptop, he leaned back on the couch with his hands resting behind his head. It was a running joke in our house that while Aidan may have been the professional athlete, Colt was the one that most looked the part.
The guy was massive. Where Greyson and I had more lanky muscles, Colt was more on the bulky side. He didn’t look like he was shoveling protein shakes into his mouth every week, but he did look like someone you would want to think twice before getting into an argument with.
“I’m cool with going out too. I’m feeling stressed about my fight next weekend so I think I need to get out and have some fun. Relax a bit”. Aidan had a way of closing himself off from most people. But with us, he was able to be more vulnerable and honest about his feelings. “Do you think Lark would come?“.
His question hung in the air.
Besides Greyson, none of us had talked to Lark in-depth for a couple of days now besides seeing her in class and passing text messages. I think she appreciated that we gave her space to do her own thing. After nine years of being told what to do and who to be, we never wanted her to feel like she was smothered.
It was Colt who broke the silence. “I’d like to see her”.
I nodded my agreement and offered to text her an invitation for tomorrow night. As I was typing out the message, I realized that Greyson had been notably quiet. We hadn’t gotten a chance to talk about his date with her since he stayed at her place last night.
Before I sent her the message I looked over to Greyson. “You’re oddly quiet this evening”.
He didn’t say anything, even though it looked like he wanted to. Greyson was always concerned with words. They were everything to him and sometimes I was jealous of the way he could create art from thin air; just using the words that everyone else took for granted. Sometimes though that concern and love stopped him from expressing his own feelings.
He was great at telling other people stories. Not so great at telling his own.
“I think we need to talk. The four of us”. I could tell he meant about Lark.
Aidan and I ventured to the living room, sitting in the chairs opposite the sectional. We all waited for Greyson to speak again, our attention solely on him. He looked nervous.
“Last night at the poetry reading she asked me to read something of mine and I wasn’t prepared to do that. The only one I could think to perform was a new one I had been working on,” he rushed out. “It was about her. The whole time I was speaking she had her eyes locked on me and I knew, I knew she could tell it was about her”.
He fidgeted in his seat, raking his hand through his hair as he continued to speak. “She asked me to go outside with her and she- she told me she loved me”.
My eyes immediately went to Aidan’s as I knew he would be easier to read than Colt. He looked shocked but there was something else. “What did you say back to her?“. Aidan leaned forward, resting his arms on his knees as we waited for Grey’s response.
“I wasn’t going to lie to her. I told her the truth, that I loved her too”.
“So that’s it then. She chose you”. Colt spoke harshly, but we all heard the hurt he tried to hide. I hadn’t told the other two about my kiss with her and the words we shared on our date last weekend. I didn’t want to tell them until she did and I had the sense that even though she told me she loved me, she wouldn’t ever kiss me again.
But if she kissed Greyson... there may still be hope for us yet. “No. I don’t think she chose him Colt”, I said.
“Did you miss the part where she told him she loved him, Luka? Because I sure as fuck didn’t”. He crossed his arms over his chest and leaned back slightly.
“I did hear that,” I countered gently. “But I also know that she told me she loved me too. We also kissed”.
I saw Aidan whip around in his seat to face me. “When the fuck did this happen?“. I realized that something else behind his previous expression had been jealousy.
“It happened last weekend, but I didn’t want to say anything since I knew she was conflicted about what she was feeling”.
Colt cocked his head to the side. “What do you mean conflicted?“.
Greyson cleared his throat and the three of us returned our attention to him. “That’s why I thought we should talk. I sort of... told her that we all love her. And before you yell at me or try to deny it, you should know that she admitted to loving all of us too”.
At that moment I wished I had my camera ready because the expressions on Colt and Aidan’s faces? Absolutely priceless.
Aidan spoke first, his voice rough with emotion. “Why wouldn’t she tell us?”
Greyson pinned him with a look I was familiar with. “Damn Aidan I wonder why she wouldn’t tell us? Maybe because she’s terrified of losing us because she can’t control who she loves. Or because of the fact that the two of you have girlfriends”.
“She really said she loves us?” Colt had been so quiet that I almost forgot about him.
“Yes,” Grey confirmed. “She is scared because she doesn’t want to hurt us... and because she feels like we deserve better than her”.
“What do we do?“, Aidan questioned.
“I want to be with her”, I said firmly. “But I also want her to be happy. And I’m willing to take whatever love she will give me. Even if it means I share that love with the three of you. She deserves this, you guys. She deserves to love and be loved wholly. That means that you two”, I looked between Aid and Colt, “You two need to figure your shit out. We all know that you love Lark and now...so does she. But you have to deal with your relationships first”.
“She’s been it for me from the first time I laid eyes on her”. Colt didn’t look at us as he spoke. Instead, his gaze was fixed on the city beyond our windows.
He got up from the couch abruptly. Taking his phone with him and heading for the stairs that lead to our bedrooms on the second level.
“I know I was never Taylor’s biggest fan, but if he breaks up with her over the phone that would kind of be a douche move”, Greyson joked. I think it was his attempt to lighten the mood. In my case, it worked. In Aidan’s case, not so much. He rubbed his hand over his jaw as his eyes bore into the coffee table.
Unlike Colt, I think Aidan had tried to have real feelings for Liz. I know that he had never told her he loved her, but I do think he had enjoyed spending time with her for the most part.
“Aidan are you alright?“, I asked.
“She’s the only person I ever felt like understood me. Lark is- she’s just... Fuck. I love her and I want to tell her that and make her feel like she will never have to go another day without knowing that she is loved. But I feel awful”. He brought his head back to his hands.
Greyson was watching the two of us intently but decided to let me take the lead on this conversation now.
“Why do you feel awful?“.
Aidan let out an exasperated sigh and turned back to face me. “I feel awful because while I don’t love Liz, I don’t want to hurt her either. But I’m not going to let this chance with Lark slip away”.
I stood and rested my hand on his shoulder, squeezing gently. “You’re a good guy Aidan. You’ll figure this out”.
He gave me a thankful smile before heading upstairs as well. His bedroom was closest to the stairs and Greyson and I hear his door shut behind him.
“Do you think I made a mistake? In telling them?“.
I looked back over to Greyson, taking my eyes off the stairs where I had watched Aidan disappear. “No, I don’t think you did. Both of them needed to know otherwise they might have fucked up big time by making a move on Lark before breaking it off with Taylor and Liz. And you and I both know Lark would have blamed herself for their actions if that happened”.
He nodded and looked more relaxed. “Did you invite her to the club yet?”
I raised one eyebrow, confused at the sudden change in conversation. “No I was about to before this conversation started, but I’m glad I hadn’t sent the text yet. Do you think we still should?”
Greyson considered my question a moment before seeming to come to a conclusion. “Not yet. Let’s give those two some time to process everything before we put them in a room with her. We can check in with them later tonight to see if they would still be up for inviting her. If they are cool with it just text her in the morning. She told me this morning when we left class that she didn’t have any plans for the weekend anyway”.
“While we wait for them to put their heads on straight, want to watch a movie?”
The tension Greyson had been carrying seemed to go away with the promise of a movie and I knew I had asked the right question.
“You pick and I’ll make some popcorn”. He walked over to the kitchen to start on his task. As I sorted through our streaming options, my thoughts went back to what I had said earlier.
I would share her love with them. It wouldn’t even be hard. Greyson, Colt, and Aidan were my brothers even if we didn’t share blood. I knew they would treat her with respect, and I also knew that they needed her as much as I did.
We could do this. It might be unconventional but who cares?
Over the years I’ve realized how precious family is.
Now that Lark was back, ours was finally complete again and I think the four of us would do whatever it takes to keep it that way.