“What are you laughing at?” Nick asked once we finished having a quickie after teasing and being teased all day. “You better not be laughing at the fact that I lasted all of four minutes this round. It’s not my fault that you were a tease all day.”
“Oh, I was the tease when you placed your hand on my inner thigh at dinner? At least I teased in private. You do know your brother could see your hand from his seat at the head of the table? And you didn’t last four minutes. It was more like two!” I scoffed at his accusation.
“So? What if I was having a little fun at the dinner table?”
“Sure. Turn me into the slut in front of your family.” I got up from bed to clean up our mess. “Just so you know, I wasn’t laughing at your in-and-out performance. I’m still laughing about the plane ride over here.”
“Shit. I’m sorry. I thought you and I would have a quiet vacation here without a Reid or Taylor.” ‘Without a Reid or Taylor…’ What a joke! Nick and I were told to show up to the plane, early Saturday morning. Waiting for us with the biggest grins on their faces were Jake and Emily plus three, Donovan and Laney, and Max and Jane. Doug bailed as soon as he learned all six of them were flying together. He told Nick he didn’t want anyone making wrong assumptions about him and Ruby. They teased us the entire five-hour plane ride asking for details about our “secret getaway.” Nick and I resorted to playing with the twins to get away from the adults. “Max and Jane promised to vacate the other bedroom on New Year’s Day. Since they spent last New Year’s Eve here in New York, they wanted to do the same this year.”
“It’s all good, Nicholas. Your family is fun. I enjoy spending time with them. What should we do tomorrow?” I asked before stepping in the shower.
“I’m one step ahead of you. I thought I’d be the perfect friend with benefits and help you all morning when you go to the mart. I heard you tell Emily tonight you needed to meet with some vendors and suppliers.”
Should it have pissed me off that he called me a “friend with benefits” or should it have made me happy that he was willing to be my errand boy all morning?
“Is that what we are calling each other? Friends with benefits?”
“Um…” He was hesitant, but not hesitant enough. “Well we’re not boyfriend and girlfriend, and we’re not exactly platonic friends, so friends with benefits seem to be the best way to describe this…situation.”
He was too afraid to call this idiotic status of ours, a relationship. That straw broke this camel’s back. I had had enough. I was tired of being a second-class citizen in his life and I was tired of being his bedmate. Rather than taking a shower, I started packing my bags.
Nick whistled his way to the kitchen to get a snack with no freaking clue what I was doing and how I was feeling. I finished packing, walked out to the living room, and called out, “Goodbye.”
“Where the hell are you going?”
I didn’t want his lame attempt at rectifying or justifying this situation. And I sure as hell didn’t want him to know he was starting to mean something to me. Stupid me! I was hoping this trip might finalize us as a couple. I looked at him with a schooled expression and answered, “I don’t know. Either I’ll go to a hotel, or I’m going back home once I get all my errands done tomorrow.”
“I don’t understand why you’re leaving. What did I do? What happened in the last five minutes that got you upset enough to make you want to leave?”
Damn idiot! “I think I’m done with our friends with benefits relationship…or no…let me correct myself…not a relationship, a ‘situation.’ I am done having you as a bedmate, I don’t need your help as an errand boy, and I sure as hell don’t want to be with somebody who’s embarrassed to be with me. Have a nice life, Nicholas Reid.”
Stupid me, again, expected an obligatory stop-at-the-front-door or at least a follow-me-out-to-the-hallway-and-try-and-convince-me-to-come-back scenario. I supposed I shouldn’t have been surprised when none of that happened.
What the hell, now?
I wasn’t going to feel sorry for myself or was I going to be upset that this relationship never happened. I marched myself over to Ruby’s apartment and knocked on her door.
“Bee!” Michael surprisingly answered the door. I walked in without an invitation. “Are you…moving in with us…?” He stared at my suitcase.
“What brings you here?” I asked this stupid question. “I thought you were staying in London.”
“I…live here.” He was at a loss for words. “No let me rephrase that, I don’t live here, but this is one of our family homes. I will be here temporarily.”
I glossed over what he said and asked, “Ruby’s not here?”
“She was supposed to come in last night with me but she had an event she needed to attend back in London. She’s arriving tomorrow morning, instead.”
Knowing Ruby wasn’t here, I felt deflated. I was lost. Though Ruby and I were not close friends, she was a friend I felt I could count on. She had sent me this address and welcomed me to her apartment any time. I was hoping I could find a friend in her as I did in Laney.
I picked up my suitcase, turned around and said, “Will you let Ruby know that I was here? Never mind. I’ll call her when I get situated in a hotel.”
“Wait!” A man finally stopped me from leaving. “Do you need a place to stay? You are welcomed to stay here. Ruby and I only take up two out of the seven bedrooms. We are not exactly lacking for space.”
“I’m not very good company right now. I don’t know if you’ll want to be with me.”
“I haven’t been very good company since August. We can brood together.”
Michael made me to laugh at my pathetic situation. Deciding this was where I wanted to be, and Michael was the friend I needed, I promised, “Tomorrow, after I finish taking care of business…you, me, dinner and drinks! I’m buying.”
This time, we were finishing our conversation from the pub!