I ignored the persistent sound of my doorbell and buried further into my pit of despair, complete with a dozen pillows, my favourite throw and a large enough duvet to drown my sorrows. A comfortable pit that allowed me to feed my misery and keep it alive; an incubator for the sad and lonely.
The buzzing progressed to a pounding, which was much harder to ignore. To begin with my neighbour was an ogre (not a real one but he made a pretty good impersonation when his sleep was interrupted) and more importantly, I felt the resonating sound like a hammer to my skull.
Dragging myself from bed, I shuffled to the door. Since I’d spent the past two days wallowing I didn’t have the energy to pick up the pace, so the boom, boom, boom echoed through my feet and provided a percussion to the beat in my head.
I paused momentarily when I caught sight of the creature in the hallway mirror. It kind of resembled me, if you looked past the matted hair, wrinkled t-shirt and the bags that could have carried the shopping I had yet to do.
“If you don’t open this door right now, I’m going to break it down!” The booming voice was followed by an irate punctuation of knuckles against wood.
Luckily, I’d reached the door so flipped the lock and yanked it open before it was pulverized by my bear of a brother and his trusty sidekick. They were like two peas in a pod, if the peas had been left in the fertiliser too long.
Both were glaring at me with identical expressions, which had its usual effect. I was torn between slamming the door and telling them to butt out and embracing the comfort they so readily offered.
Adam took the choice away when he pushed past my brother and stepped into the flat. He stopped when we were toe to toe, his big body way to deep into my personal space. “We’ve been trying to reach you for days. Would it kill you to pick up your phone?”
Stepping back, I turned to look over my shoulder and spied the debris where I’d left it on the floor. “Be my guest, but I don’t think it works anymore.”
It would take a miracle. My phone was in pieces against the skirting board. With some distance I could be impressed by my show of strength. Clearly, I’d had more energy at the time.
“Jesus Christ, Sammy, look at the mess.”
I frowned, about to tell my brother it wasn’t that bad, until I realised he was talking about the room. I’d done a number of that, too.
“Whatever. I’m alive, you have proof, now kindly leave me in peace.” I met Ky’s worried brown eyes and my irritation vanished. “I’m okay.”
“When was the last time you ate?” He shot back, ignoring me. Something he excelled at.
“I eat plenty,” I said, thinking of the empty bag of Doritos and the remnants of fiery hot flavouring which was probably staining my sheets.
“Crisps don’t count.” He shook his head and turned to head to the kitchen. “Buddy. It’s over to you.”
Adam clamped a big hand around my wrist and began to pull me in the direction of the bathroom.
“Get your hands off me, you big oaf,” I shouted, twisting to try and catch my brother’s attention. “Call off your guard dog, Ky or I won’t be responsible for my actions.”
The sound that came from Adam was somewhere between a curse and a growl. He picked me up and threw me over his shoulder. I was so shocked I couldn’t speak again until he was dumping me on my feet in the bathroom and moving to turn on the shower.
“You did not just do that.” Not very original, but I still hadn’t recovered from Adam’s caveman routine.
“I did, and I’d do it again.” He slid the shower door shut and turned back to me. “You can’t spend any more time wallowing over that piece of shit, Sam. I gave you time after news of the engagement, but I’m through doing that. I’m through with a lot of things. He was never good enough.”
My mind blanked at his words. I couldn’t find my anger, couldn’t drum up any fiery indignation at being treated like a child, because it hit me just how much he’d been hiding. That and the fact he hadn’t included Ky, like it was personal.
When my brain kicked back into gear I felt my body sag and the rest of my energy wane. “It hurts,” I whispered, not even trying to stop the tears.
The next thing I knew I was pressed against Adam’s chest and one of his arms hooked me in tight. The other began to make soothing motions down my back. A dozen thoughts vied for supremacy; the fact I was in nothing more than a long shirt and my underwear, that I hadn’t bathed in days and Adam smelled so good, and that, for the first time in weeks, I felt something other than empty.
But the thoughts that won out were actually a kaleidoscope of memories from the past couple of months. The times Adam had called to ask about my day, or dropped by to check in, and each time he’d been alone. I’d gotten so used to thinking of him and my brother as a double act, I didn’t stop to consider what it meant that he was offering me a piece of himself.
“I’d take away the hurt if I could,” he whispered, bringing me back to the present.
You do. “I know.” I didn’t share that he’d been doing that all along and I was too blind to see it. Instead, I leaned back so I could look at him. “You’d better rescue Ky before he burns down my kitchen. I’ll shower and be out in a few minutes.”
He leaned in to press a kiss against my temple and then let me go. “That was a ruse to give us a moment. We both know there’s nothing in your cupboards to cook.”
I thought I’d understood what I’d missed by being foolish, but I had no idea. Since I also had no clue what to do with all that, I shut down the flurry of emotion and rolled my eyes to cover the onslaught. “Well then, you’d better let me get to it.”
He grinned and walked to the door but stopped just in the entryway to look back. “Do you understand what I meant about being through?”
Nodding, I cleared my throat. “Yes.”
“Good. Because there’s no going back. I’m not your brother’s best friend, not to you.”
Oh yes, he’d been hiding a lot. “I’m beginning to see that.”
At my words something flashed across his face, something good. “Finally.”
He left before I could respond, and it took me quite a while to remember that the shower was still running, and I had a job to do.
Fifteen minutes later when I entered the living room showered and dressed in jeans and a sweatshirt, my long hair combed through and hanging free, I was greeted by a dose of all the goodness yet to come.
It wasn’t the fact that Adam and Ky had tidied up my living space and the room looked good as new. No. It was the look on Adam’s face. He was no longer holding anything back. What he felt was right there for me to see and I discovered I liked it very much.
“Now tell me how glad you are that we dragged your sorry ass out of that pity pit there’s no way I’m touching,” Ky said, and I heard the smile in his voice.
I didn’t take my attention away from Adam. “Totally worth confronting an ogre and the price of a new door.”
Adam grinned. “What does it mean that I completely understood that?”
“It means I’ve been an idiot.”
“I could have told you that!”
This time I did turn to my brother, and then, giant or not, I set about making him eat his words.
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