The food was set out on the kitchen island ready for us to dig into.
We just needed our two missing pieces. “You texted them, right?“, I asked Colt.
Rolling his eyes at me, he picked up a fry and popped it in his mouth before leaning back into his chair. “Dude. Yes, I texted them. Aidan said they were on their way”.
Grey and I shared a look across the island, and I knew we were both thinking the same thing. Aidan and Lark were, hopefully, figuring out their relationship. It had been a long time coming for everyone, but Aidan was the worst at expressing his emotions.
“Should we have the ‘talk’ or something? She’s opening up to all of us in her own time and hopefully after tonight her and Aidan will have worked their shit out”. Greyson leaned his forearms against the kitchen island as he finished speaking.
Colt and I were both quiet for a moment as we thought it over.
“I think we should”, he spoke first.
I was a little surprised that he would be down for a group heart-to-heart, but far be it from me to put a stop to it.
“I think it would be a good idea too. Just to make sure she’s okay with everything and to set some ground rules or something”.
As if our conversation summoned them, Lark and Aidan stepped out of the elevator hand-in-hand – immediately putting an end to the conversation we had just been having.
Interestingly, they both appeared to have wet hair.
“Well,” Greyson started, “it took you two long enough. I’m fucking starving”.
Lark narrowed her eyes at him playfully. “I’m sure you were fine”. I didn’t miss the way she squeezed Aidan’s hand as she stepped away from him and towards Grey. “Although I’m starving too so let’s eat please”.
She hopped up on the stool next to me, digging into the cheeseburger I had laid out in front of her.
I couldn’t resist the joke that she had practically laid in my lap. “Starving huh? What could have possibly made you so hungry if you were just waiting for Aidan to finish up his- ”
My words were cut off when an arsenal of fries connected with my face. Aidan and Colt looked like they were ready to start throwing other things, heavier things, if I didn’t shut up.
Lark didn’t look upset though.
We all knew that she and Aidan had kissed. The guy may be awful at expressing his emotions, but he also can’t keep a secret and his happiness was written all over his face. Knowing Lark, she would start feeling guilty about being intimate with all of us the second she saw everyone together.
It was our job to make sure that didn’t happen.
I bumped her shoulder with mine as Greyson, Colt, and Aidan dove into a discussion about the fight. “Only teasing. We are happy if you are happy”.
She smiled at me before turning her attention back to the guys and taking a sip of her Dr. Pepper.
“All I want to know,” Colt began, “is why in the fuck you let yourself get knocked around so much tonight”.
“The guy is a tank, Colt. I wasn’t as prepared as I should have been and I got a few lucky hits in”, Aidan spoke between bites. “And before you start with a lecture that I don’t need, X already grilled me on it before you guys got to the locker room. I’m pulling double workouts for two weeks because of it”.
Normally Aidan only worked out once a day. Albeit for multiple hours, but if he was going to be putting double’s in he must have really been in danger of losing tonight.
Colt looked like he wanted to say more but Lark cut him off before he had the chance.
“No more shoptalk tonight okay guys? Let’s just hang out. Watch a movie, play video games or a board game. I don’t care”.
Aidan threw her a grateful look that he didn’t even bother hiding from Colt.
“Actually, we were wondering if we could talk... about what’s happening between all of us”, Greyson said. He had always had a calming tone to his voice. I wondered if he was suddenly laying it on thick to keep her at ease.
Lark put down the fry she was about to eat. “Talk... right. About the fact that I’ve kissed most of you I’m guessing”.
Pride washed over me as I took in her words. The Lark we met a couple of months ago would have never been so forward. When she first stumbled back into our lives, she was strong physically but timid and cautious. Now, she was starting to build up that mental strength too.
“Exactly. This is new for us too”, Grey said.
She nodded before getting up to throw the remaining scraps of her meal away. “Come on”, she said. “If we are going to have this conversation let’s at least be comfy for it”. Walking out of the kitchen, she plopped down on the couch in the living room and threw her favorite blanket over her legs.
Colt had gone out and bought her a bunch of different blankets of various sizes and textures after she complained about our apartment feeling too cold a few weeks ago. He thought she had meant the literal temperature.
The four of us had a nice laugh at his expense when he came through the elevator in a tornado throw blankets and Lark didn’t have the heart to tell him that she was talking about the interior design.
Following suit, I threw my cup and burger wrappings away before claiming the spot next to her on the couch. Her hand reached out to take mine and I suddenly didn’t feel as nervous for this conversation as I had a moment ago.
Aidan claimed the other side of the couch and Colt and Greyson sat on the leather chairs that faced the three of us.
An awkward silence fell over us before Colt broke it. “Where should we start?”
All eyes fell to Lark and she began fidgeting next to me. “Hey, you guys are the one that called a family meeting”.
“Maybe we should start by naming this, whatever this is. I for one would like to call it dating”, I said casually. Hoping that I sounded like I knew what I was talking about.
Everyone seemed to mull this over.
“Dating”, Aidan began, “So we’re all dating Lark?“.
Colt crossed his right leg over his left and put his chin in his hand. “I’d be comfortable with that. As long as everyone else is too. Not exactly conventional, but who the fuck cares? Not like it’s anyone’s business anyway”.
“So you all want to date me? You don’t want me to choose?“, Lark asked quietly.
“Of course we want to date you, Lark,” Greyson said firmly. “We love you. To be honest the word dating feels too small for what you mean to me”.
“Same here”, I said.
“I feel the same”, Colt spoke.
“Me too”, Aidan said last.
“But how is this going to work?“, she asked. “Do we schedule date nights so everyone gets alone time with me? Do I stop spending the night here? I don’t want to make you guys uncomfortable in your own home if I’m spending time with one of you but not all of you”.
“Lark give us some credit”, Aidan said. “We’re all adults that have learned to share and respect each other. I think we can figure out how not to step on each other’s relationships with you”.
“Plus”, Grey chimed in, “Nothing about our relationship was normal anyway. Five foster kids who became everything to each other, were ripped apart by tragedy, and have now somehow found their way back to each other. We’ve been through a lot. You’ve been through a lot Lark. I want you so bad that I’m willing to make anything work. Even if that means we make a date night schedule”, he laughed.
Colt shifted in his chair. “Baby we will make this work. I don’t give two shits about you being here and spending time with one of them and not me. Fuck, I don’t care if you are here and doing your own thing and not spending time with any of us. This is your home too and we don’t have any expectations of how you choose to live your life”.
I squeezed her hand and she turned to face me. Worry lines creased her forehead. “We let each relationship grow naturally. Just because you take a step with Colt doesn’t mean you need to take the same one with me or Aidan or Grey. We do what we always do. Find a way to make it work. Okay?”
She seemed to ponder this for a moment before closing her eyes and taking a deep breath. When she opened them again, they were wet with unshed tears. “I never thought I would experience love with someone after what I went through. Never mind with four people. I just don’t want to fuck this up and lose what we have”. Her voice was thick and I knew she had been thinking about this before we even asked to have this meeting.
“I know that must sound silly”, she laughed humorlessly. “I’ve already told each of you I love. Kissed each of you. I probably should have worried about these things before it all became so intense”.
She looked us all in the eye before continuing. I couldn’t tell if she was searching for an answer or giving herself a moment to gather her thoughts.
“But I don’t want to stop this. Whatever this is. I want you all so much and I never thought I’d see you again. Sometimes it still takes my breath away. The magic of it all. Dating feels too small for me too. Can we just call it love and leave it at that?“.
Her voice was clear and her face was filled with hope.
“Yeah. Let’s call it love and leave it that”, I said.
“To love”, Grey spoke softly.
Aidan didn’t speak. He simply brought his arm around her shoulders and pressed a kiss to her temple.
Colt rose and up from his chair and walked over to crouch in front of Lark. He reached out to hold her face in his hands. “Whatever you want, we will give you. I promise”.
Slowly, Lark let out a breath.
“Okay,” she said. “Now that that’s settled. Let’s get the board games out. I’m in the mood to kick all of your asses at Uno”.
The laughter that bounced off the walls was infectious, and the moment couldn’t have been more perfect. I only wish I had been able to capture it on camera.