(This worry is completely unrelated to oh..everything else. But it's here nonetheless and someone who turned out to be completely unqualified told me once that I should write down my worries so that I might let them go. Instead it highlighted them and now they fester and burn.)
Lochlan is in a much better mood today.
He has allowed his brain to melt all over the inside of his skull and he isn't expending much energy on anything other than softly teasing me. He came to find me when he got home from his meeting. It seems weird to see Lochlan going to meetings but that's how he gets paid. He goes off in the one suit he owns (a medium-brown linen that goes well with his red hair) and then comes back and finds me to show me his cheques, direct from Batman, who would rather expend the energy to do absolutely everything in person instead of doing everything the easy way with the technology at hand. Though it seems to me the wealthiest among us share that trait of being so old-fashioned in business. Huh.
Today we sat out front weeding the gardens just because I wanted fifteen minutes of sun to help even out my Neapolitan tan. Loch unbuttoned his shirt three buttons down because he is choking in the heat. The jacket he has already abandoned, tossed overhand to land on the porch railing up above us.
You think you'll have any parts that match any time soon? His eyes are twinkling. He's looking rested, in spite of the unease he carries about living in such close proximity to Caleb. He hasn't touched a drop of alcohol for a little while now as he attempts to find better ways to manage the tension aside from drowning it. He's made some amazing changes. I'm not sure all of them are good so I give him my worried, silent eyes instead of what he is seeking, a gentle comeback.
I pass him back the two cheques he held out to me only after registering a practiced blank expression to conceal my stunned surprise. He is working for far more than I realized and the stakes have just become that much greater with the addition of the extra digits. It's all coming back now.
Don't, Bridgie. It's not the same thing.
I was there, remember? I don't know if you're aligning with the right stars, here, Locket.
The only people I align with are you and Ben and the kids.
Then give up the curse of doing commissions for Batman's contacts.
The money is too good. I'll work the run and when it's over it's over.
He said the exact same thing to me in 1985 and so I wait. He presses his forehead against mine and keeps his eyes locked on me. I try to look anywhere but directly at him but fail. I start to laugh but sob at the same time. Just quietly, just once and he reaches out and pulls me in close.
I'm not doing anything but trying to make a little money while I can, peanut. I'm getting old. It's about time I had a proper savings account. I have a daughter going to college like...tomorrow, it seems. Jesus Christ.
I can give you money.
I don't want the Devil's money.
Then I'll get some from Ben.
No, everything is okay. This will be for us. I'm using Batman, that's all. He's got the connections and maybe Cole knew exactly what he was doing.
Cole got eaten alive by their attention and it went to his head. His ego exploded. He became someone els-
I'm not going to ever be anyone but me. I promise you that. I'm just a loser with a paintbrush.
He said the same thing once.
I'm not Cole, peanut.
He stiffens and I can't breathe, his arms are so tight. I tuck my head under his jaw, wiping my nose on his shirt. You will be.
Never. He whispers it and brings up his hand to hold my head pressed hard against his chest. Not in a million years. Not for anything.