Ben walked right through the wall of flames round about four-ish and picked us both up by the backs of our necks. Like kittens.
You guys done? Can we have some dinner out on the patio? Maybe straighten up a little? Because every time I step aside and give you two a chance you both or someone else comes along and squanders it. It's hard to watch. I may as well stay right here.
Yes, you really should. I'm so drunk right now I don't know if I remember what Cole looks like but I'm not going to double check with his big old doppelganger down in the boathouse. Who threatened Lochlan into giving me up for the week.
Harsh. Christ. Someone fix this please.
Must have been one hell of a threat, I said as I passed Lochlan the bottle.
You could say that, he said, white as a sheet. I never got the bottle back. Yes, it must have been one hell of a threat. Probably payback for the stitches necessary after Lochlan drew a line across his face with the watch after the last time Caleb hurt me because they don't seem to ever learn. Probably payback because Caleb thinks it's Lochlan's fault that I fell in love with Loch instead of Caleb in the first place.
I could make this easy and cut off all contact with Caleb but he fucked me up so bad I can't.
Why. Why is it even possible for someone so smart to think he can order someone to love him?
The children had been dispatched to spend the day/evening out with Daniel and Schuyler and the army still had a lovely wall up. Joel skulks on the wrong side of it, thankfully. Claus is near enough but more on call than anything and since I only have the plaques in the sea that they took away because they were too dangerous to look at and the memorial trees that are trees and kind of boring and no benches or anything else I looked through some of Cole's photos and his voice came back to me, not like Caleb's at all. Lower. His radio voice. Smoldering, simmering. I took out his guitar. The one I never let anyone touch, still with his fingerprints all over it. I put on his big grey sweater and for fifteen terrible awful seconds I contemplated joining him and then I took the sweater off and I put away the guitar and the photographs and I filed his voice away where the memory thief won't be able to destroy it along with everything else and I ordered a stack of pizzas (the usual, for the Point) and August caught up with me, kissed the top of my head and I think Loch's so drunk and so relieved we're going to have to put him to bed early to sleep it off and Sam's looking after Claus and keeping an eye on everything and Ben is finally back where he should be and I very carefully climbed up above the lake of blood and fire when no one was looking and I unpinned Cole's wings from where I had imprisoned him and I put him back in the concrete room behind Jake for safekeeping.
Just for a little longer, I promised as I closed the door against their protests while they both looked at me with accusing blue eyes.
I turned and smashed into Ben, bouncing off him, landing on my ass, hard. Jesus! He's the only one who's not afraid to follow me all the way down here.
You can't keep them locked up forever, Bee. Even Cole deserves better than this.
I need to deal with them later. Right now I have to tend to the living.
I think we need to tend to you.
Possibly. Little drunk right now. Can't do it. And I swayed and bailed on standing up altogether. He caught me up in his arms and carried me back down the corridor and up into the light.
Set them loose, Bee. Soon. It's been way too long.
Don't push, Benny. Please.
I sat at dinner, profoundly sad. I wanted to stick around, to see where Cole goes when I'm not there. I wanted to see how Loch feels when I don't take up his whole life and I want to know why Ben does pretty much everything Ben does.
How are you doing, Bridget? Sam asked me finally as I picked up my blood-soaked coffee cup full of whiskey and drank it all, again. Someone's keeping it full. Remind me to thank them.
This is a zoo.
I beg your pardon?
We live in a zoo. This is the monkey house and down there is the apex predator. I point to the boathouse and start to laugh.
Jesus, she's still drunk. Loch puts on his glasses. Mr. Perfect has sobered quickly. Must be the extra sixty pounds he has over me.
You know when you do that you distance yourself from who you are. You're suddenly civilized. You're Clark Kent. I tell him.
Monkey indeed. He smiles at me. You're so fucked right now, Peanut. It's bedtime.
But I'm hungry.
If you eat now, you'll be sick.
Wait, maybe she should eat and get sobered up. If she goes to sleep now she'll just feel worse.
I don't think there's worse than this, Sammy. This is Bottom Rock in the monkey house. I tell him and keep laughing. I watch PJ turn sideways and pour the rest of the whiskey into his own glass. Then I watch Lochlan catch him. Oh SHIT.
There goes the table. There goes the food. There goes Ben to save PJ from the red monkey and there goes Bridget, off her chair because the table was the only thing holding her up.
So this morning, I feel GREAT. Because I didn't get any dinner. I didn't get any water, I didn't have any aspirin or good ideas. Cole is still dead. Caleb is still the apex predator of my nightmares and Lochlan is angry that I called him out for distancing himself from helping me and from being who he is instead of trying to be someone he's not. He should be happy that we found out he was being coerced within an inch of his life into giving me up, to the point where I can't even describe it here, instead detailing it to my baby lawyerlets to see if they have any insights whatsoever because you can't tell me threats like that aren't at least punishable somehow, and yet at the end of the day he's still there with his back against the wall watching me fall apart and refusing to pick up any of the pieces.
That's the problem. Right there.
Bridget, look at him. Look what the Devil did to him. Don't think he isn't just as damaged.
That's just it, Benjamin. It's not a pissing contest.
Are you holding him up?
Exactly my point. Maybe he can't hold you up either. That's what I'm here for, stupid.