It was past eight o’clock the next day, when Michael arrived home. His was still buzzing from having spent the whole weekend with Olivia. They spent the weekend making love and then whispering to each other more details about their lives.
They had hung out in her house, watching a couple of shows she’d had taped with her TiVo. Though he had suggested they go out, Olivia had distracted him with the things they could do within the walls of her house. He knew that the main reason she didn’t want to be seen in public with him was because what they had done, had not been without consequences. Though it may have seem it was just them, reality lingered at the back of both their minds. Michael had not missed the guilty glances she’d thrown his way when she thought he wasn’t watching her. Not that his conscience had been guilt-free, especially after numerous texts from his brother telling him he would regret this, both of them would.
He tried to ignore Jerry’s lecture. To him, all that mattered was that he had been able to keep his arms around her the whole time and breath in her strawberry scent. When they had started some serious necking like a couple of horny teenagers she had insisted they rush upstairs instead of making love on the couch. He had been surprised they had made it past the stairs.
But as he’d feared Saturday morning, it had to come to an end. Still, they’d tried to linger in each others company as much as possible after Olivia had amazed him with her long-promised lasagna. As a man, he preferred it with big chunks of lean sirloin and a good dose of tomato sauce drowning the rectangular sheets of pasta. But it turned out a white-creamy cheese sauced lasagna with mushrooms and spinach could also make him cry for joy as well.
Michael had been reluctant to break their goodbye kiss as they’d stood outside her house, but the feelings for her had finally transformed into words. They had come just as knowing her had, as a jolt. It had happened this morning as they’d been cuddled next to each other in her bed. Olivia had been deep asleep, her body rising almost imperceptibly as her head rested on his chest. He’d taken to toy with her hair while in bed and he’d been doing just that when a small sigh escaped her parted lips. It was probably just part of her sleeping ritual but such a delicate sound reminded Michael of the many times she had done the same as he’d been busy exploring her body. Whenever she had said his name had been in that same breezy way. It had touched him in an unknown way. Its sheer power had baffled him at first.
And just as she’d begun to open up those sleepy brown eyes, Michael had taken one long look at them and had seen himself in them, and he’d known. He was in love with Olivia Beckett. A woman so out of his reach, he might as well have fallen for Angelina Jolie and live with the pain for his entire life.
Michael Hurst should’ve known that not only Jerry but Camie would be expecting his arrival. The second his car pulled into his driveway the front door swung open, revealing a not so happy Jerry and a face glowing with curiosity next to him. However, he could tell his niece was also worried about him. Which caused reality to grip him tighter by the throat than his brother’s solemn stare.
Camie raced down to where he was getting down from his car and Michael couldn’t help the impulse of twirling her up in the air while she clung to his neck.
“Uncle Michael! We were so worried about you.” She gave him another hug before he put her down on her feet.
He’d left them a note yesterday morning when he’d come to pick up a change of clothes, informing both father and daughter that he was okay and would be coming back today. Camie was sharp enough to know who he’d been with. Unfortunately for Michael, so was Jerry.
“Well, as you can see I am fine. I am freezing, though. Let’s go inside, okay?”
When he passed Jerry, he nodded somberly and followed both his daughter and brother into the warm kitchen, where Michael dropped his overnight bag on the hardwood floor and ate a couple of chocolate chip cookies Camie had baked that afternoon.
Even before Camie could set off the tidal wave of questions Michael saw shinning from her eyes, Jerry made it clear Michael was in for the lecture of a lifetime.
“Camie, why don’t you go upstairs to your room? I have to talk with your uncle.” The tone in Jerry’s request was translated into this-is-not-an-arguable-request. Deflated like a balloon with no air, Camie made a pout and slumped her shoulders. Mouthing a sorry to her uncle, she reluctantly retraced her steps and went up to her room.
Ignoring Jerry’s piercing stare, Michael took out his Blackberry and began texting his niece.
“We need to talk.” Jerry announced as he, too, grabbed one of the chocolate chip cookies and waited until Michael looked up from his phone.
“In a minute, I just remembered I must have a meeting with one of the engineers from the site. Relax it won’t take a minute.” Not bothering to check on Jerry and see if he believed him, his fingers rapidly over the number pad as he texted:
Sorry kiddo, but your dad is about to freak out. Wait up for me, and I’ll tell you the PG-13 details.
Her response was immediate as she replied:
Sure, he was 2 mad yesterday. Can’t wait to hear how it went. Love u. Glad u r happy.
The smile was inevitable as he put away his phone and focused on Jerry.
“Where the hell have you been?”
In sheer frustration, Jerry raked his fingers through his hair and demanded.
“Last I checked, this is my house and I can go in and out as I damn please. Besides, I haven’t had to inform others of my whereabouts since I was twenty.”
“Cut the crap Michael.” Jerry snapped. “You were with Olivia, weren’t you?”
“If you already knew the answer, why are you wasting both of our times? Most importantly, why I am here facing the mother of all lectures when all I want is to take a shower and call it a night?”
“Goddamn it, Michael.” Jerry banged his fist on the counter. Unfazed, Michael moved to the living room where he slumped on the couch. He followed his brother with his stare, as he began to pace with worry, just as their mom and dad had done whenever they’d gotten into trouble at school.
“I am assuming you didn’t go over there and help her put up her Christmas lights. Which by the way you’re gonna have to do tomorrow.”
“Actually, I went over there to help her put up her Christmas tree. And sure, I’ll put up the lights. And before you ask yet again what you already know, yes I slept with her. So now please give the sermon on how I am being stupid, how I am leaving a bad impression on Camie for staying over at another woman’s place. That this is a mistake, that I a being irresponsible and whatever else you dads tell kids so I can leave.” Michael was unable to hide his own rising temper, as he not only had to deal with Jerry’s recriminations, but he was still coming to terms with being in love with a woman who was already taken.
Jerry sat down next to his brother and sighed.
“You think that is what this is all about? That I am just so self righteous I can’t stand my brother staying over at a woman’s house? Camie is smart and she can deal with her uncle not coming come every once in a while. But you are right, it was a huge mistake and you’re being irresponsible to you and toward Olivia.”
“What happens between her and me is our business. So if that’s all then I really would like to take that shower.”
Before Michael rose up from the couch, Jerry demanded.
“Did she mention her boyfriend? Did she say she is planning on leaving him for you? I mean, I would assume you’d have covered this important matter right before jumping into bed with her.”
His own anger already at a dangerous level, Michael shot back.
“Jeez, Jerry usually talking with a woman about another man is kind of a turn off. So no, we didn’t discuss the subject of the boyfriend.”
“She is still with him, isn’t she? Damn it, Michael. Can’t you see this won’t end up good for you? You are already in too deep about this woman. Walk away now that you can. If not you’ll end up….”
“What? Falling in love with her? Well, guess what Jerry? Too late.”
This time he did get up and went over to the kitchen and grabbed a beer from the fridge. He took one large gulp, as he waited for Jerry’s head to explode.
“Oh, well I didn’t see that one coming.” Jerry blinked twice as he waited for Michael to sit back down.
His younger brother set the beer on the table in front and rubbed his face with his hands.
“That’s makes two of us. I understand all you’re saying Jerry but I am in love with Olivia. And I know in the end I will be the one who’ll stay behind to pick up the pieces. I also know that the next time I see her I’ll know whether she feels the same or this was just some slip on her part. I knew all that when I took her to bed but I have this ache for her it burns a hole inside. I can’t help what I feel for her.”
“She is quite an amazing woman. And perfect for you, if not for the fact that she has stayed with the same guy for ten years. I’m afraid it means she’ll probably stay with him another ten more.”
Because he needed it, too, Jerry took a swig from Michael’s beer can and gave his brother some time.
“I know, but it still baffles me this guy has been content enough to have her as the eternal girlfriend. Me, I would have already done everything I could to keep her with me. She’s far too precious to take for granted.”
“Yeah, well. I knew you would never fall for a bland woman. Olivia is as interesting as she is beautiful.”
“She is. Anyway, I know you care about me because you have to.”
“Right, one of the disadvantages of being the big brother.” Jerry replied sarcastically.
“But I’ll deal with this when the time comes.”
“I know. You always do. You’re just like Camie in that way. You can be impulsive but you never shy away from the consequences.”
“Too bad she looks like you, that kid would’ve been perfect otherwise.”
“Speaking of which. You better hurry, tomorrow is Monday and I don’t want her staying up late. Besides, I imagine she’s been pacing up and down, she’s about to carve a hole on her room’s floor.”
Michael’s face transformed from genuine brotherly love to one of puzzlement.
“What’s that supposed to mean?”·
“That mail about a meeting? You forget I have a teenage daughter, I can smell a lie within a mile. Plus your smile is a tell-all.”
“Jesus, remind me to practice my poker face better for next time you’re around.”
With that, he left the kitchen and hurried to Camie’s room. Alone in the kitchen, Jerry hadn’t ceased to worry that it wouldn’t be long before their roles were righted and once again, he would stand by his brother’s side and would help him weather the storm already brewing on the horizon. As a man going through a divorce, he knew from firsthand experience that a broken heart and wounded pride were a bitch to heal with.