In the shower this morning with Lochlan. He takes me by the elbows and walks me backward under the spray until I'm drowning. Then he pulls me back out, smooths my hair back and kisses me.
I christen you every morning in boiling hot water, Peanut and we start over. I wish I could put in rules. I was I could take you with me and run. I wish to God Sam would stop falling asleep holding a lock of my hair.
He laughs and sticks his whole face back under the spray. Then he rubs it hard and is back in front of me, where I have made a tower of my hair, full of shampoo, up into a tall soapy point. He looks up and laughs as it falls over and deposits a blob of shampoo in my eye. I yelp when it burns and he takes a damp facecloth and holds it over my face until the soap is gone and the pain with it. He then dips me back in the spray again until I am rinsed clean. He could baptize me a thousand times over and I'm fine with starting over again with every single breath. If this is the way it has to be for him then this is the way it is.
We've taken Sam in as a fixture or something at this point. He's lonely and a little unsure, a little shaky in real life when he isn't on a pulpit speaking as the representative of the Lord and he's cute to a debilitating fault. He's not a threat either. Not anymore. Not how they thought he would be anyway. At least very very few people see him as one, and Lochlan and Ben are not two of them.
Caleb and Batman, on the other hand, well, they bitch long and loud about this.
But it isn't their business.
Sure it is. You're my girlfriend. Caleb's fairly certain he can have a say in all of it. I'm certain he has a say in none of it. Also...girlfriend? He's never ever talked like that in a thousand years. He's transferred all of his energy that used to be used to bully Lochlan and figures he can do it to Sam. I don't think so.
Sure it is my business. I promised to look after you. Batman's still got one hell of a fucked-up allegiance to Cole that seems to transcend any business or personal relationship they had. He acts as if he's lost a lover and he's racked by the guilt. My brain never went there before and I don't know if I want to let it now. Neither Cole nor Batman has ever expressed interest in men but then again I run with a strangely progressive and permissive crowd-
No. You know what he's doing? He's hiding his personal distaste for any relationship I have that doesn't involve him behind his loyal duty to keep a promise to someone who's dead and can't care any more.
Hey, look. It's only the third time I've ever used that word to describe Cole since he left.
He is dead.
God, I hate that word so much.
So if I want to fill my wakeful moments and then my dreams with as much love as I can because it feels good, it feels safe and it feels right I will and they can't do anything about it.
Sure I can. Caleb gives Sam a shove when he walks in through the kitchen archway. Sam bumps against the wall and his phone bounces off the floor. It's fine. He's fine. He says nothing to Caleb and collects his phone and heads out anyway, and I turn and stare at Caleb as he takes a seat at the island to watch me finish cleaning up. He positively glowers with jealousy and I finally ask him to leave if he's just going to spread negative tension everywhere.
PJ stands up. PJ's never all that far away and doesn't like any of this. Not for jealousy's sake, just for peace of mind.
You can sit, Padraig. There's no drama. I promise. I just want to speak to Bridget in private.
That doesn't exist-
It damn well does! Caleb yells at him and I slap my hand flat on the counter and lean way over.
You don't get to speak to him like that. Go. Please.
GO. You can apologize to him later and I'll talk to you tomorrow. That's all.
Dismissed. Like that. He won't be over for dinner. I won't be over later. He lost the day for his temper. I can't give him an inch or he'll take everything and there's no way I'm letting him take out his ire on people I care for just as much. Nor will he be allowed to come in here and start ordering anyone around. I balance up here on such a thin wire of keeping the demon in check with the monster and it hasn't been, nor will it ever be easy but I'm doing it anyway. I'm well-trained and I have a lot of experience staying up here forever and if civility is what makes us work then that's what will be law around here, instead of the wild west it used to be.
I hold on to Lochlan's shoulders and he leans me way back under the spray again, landing a kiss against the hollow of my throat. You get to make the rules now, Peanut. Just make sure you say very clearly what it is that you want.