Lark wasn’t kidding when she said we’d be able to pack everything in a day.
Between her lack of belongings and Colt’s drill sergeant routine, we had her place packed up and cleaned in under four hours.
“Em!“, I called out. “Do you have a storage locker in the building that needs to get cleaned out or is this it?“.
“She went outside”, Greyson told me as he passed me the roll of tape so I could close this last box. “Something about needing to let someone know she was moving”.
“Who would she need to let know?“, I asked mostly to myself.
“Likely whoever is paying for this place”, Colt said from the doorway. He had just taken a box down to the car and was wiping away sweat with the hem of his t-shirt. “My guess is witness protection services or some other government agency”.
“Why would a government agency be paying for Lark’s place?“, I asked.
It was Aidan who responded this time. “She did testify against her blood relatives to take down a highly organized international criminal organization and was held hostage by them for nine years because the FBI, or whoever oversees kidnappings failed to find her. My guess is she got a pretty penny in exchange for her cooperation and silence”.
We all mulled that over as we did one last sweep of her place. There was something else that bothered me too. “Have you guys noticed how often Lark is on her phone lately?”
Greyson gave me an incredulous look before picking up the box I had finished taping. “No? She’s allowed to be on her phone whenever she wants to be”.
“Man, that’s not what I meant, of course she is. I’m just saying that she’s usually the first one to yell at us to put our phones down if we are eating dinner together, and she never checks it that often when we hang out. It seems like in the past couple of weeks or so, she’s always checking something or stepping away to take phone calls. It’s weird is all I’m saying”.
“Maybe she’s just meeting more people Luka. We sort of called dibs and never stopped ever since your first week of classes”, Aidan tried to reassure me. “But I don’t disagree with you that it’s a bit odd”.
Colt and Greyson didn’t say anything further but they both nodded their heads in agreement. Before I could ask them about it, Lark came bounding through the door. “Guys, I’m starving. Can we get food yet?“.
“You got it baby”, Colt said as he put his arm around her shoulders. “Do you want to do a quick walk-through to make sure everything is out?“.
She turned around and seemed to look at the place for the first time since we arrived. She had been so distracted and I was worried that she was regretting her decision to move in with us.
She looked past the four of us and took in her surroundings. Bare walls. Cracked ceiling. Creaky floorboards.
“Looks good to me”, she said far more casually than I expected her to.
The look Aidan sent me told me he was thinking the same thing. Something was going on with her, but I wasn’t going to push her on it. She’d tell us when she was ready.
“Now I don’t know about you guys, but I’m thinking pizza and garlic bread”.
“If you want to go to FiFi’s just say so Em. You don’t have to hint at it by listing off the only two things they sell”, Aid said teasingly.
She laughed before walking over to grab his hand, pulling him along as she led us out of the apartment. “Please can we go to FiFi’s?”
“Much better”, he said before kissing her.
Seeing the guys all be affectionate with her, or in Greyson’s case hearing them, wasn’t as weird as I thought it was going to be. When we first proposed this idea I didn’t know if I was just convincing myself it could work instead of knowing it could.
But seeing the way we all interact with her and the way she interacts with us, I couldn’t have been happier with the decision we made.
We were happy and together and for a long time it felt like that was never going to happen. As we drove away from Lark’s first apartment I snapped a quick picture of the outside with my phone.
Lark didn’t like to keep a lot of things, but memories were something she cherished. If there ever came a day when she wanted to look back and remember this place, all she’d have to do is look at the photo.
I send the photo to her without saying anything and shortly after she glanced down at her phone. When she opened the photo up and zoomed in on the window that used to be hers, I knew I had made a good call.
My phone buzzed a moment later.
Lark: Thank you