Guess the scene
(Which MJ blog does this UA diary entry correlate to…?)
“Laney,” I heard a gentle whisper. It was Max, rather than Donovan, helping me with the kids. Max took each kid, put him and her in their respective beds and helped me off the chair. I should have gone straight to bed myself, but since Max led me toward the kitchen, I followed and the four of us began reheating dinner.
Dazed, I watched the pasta boil when Josh made a visit. He was a welcome distraction as we started talking about both our pending trips. Josh gave me his tentative itinerary, and I told him some of the places I wanted to visit when I got to London. We were having an info exchange when Donovan made another crack at me being lazy and not wanting to live in the real world and get work experience. I thought about responding, but decided not to let it bother me. There weren’t enough words for me if I was going to have it out with Donovan Taylor.
“Laney?” Max interrupted my thought. I’d been mostly a space cadet this evening since I’d come down from the kids’ room. “Everyone’s gone. I’d like to stay and hang out with you till you’re ready to go to sleep. Do you mind?”
Where was I when everyone left?
“I don’t mind, Max, but it’s OK. You can go and hang out with Jane instead. The twins and I will be all right by ourselves. I’ve babysat them many times before.”
“I know, but it would make me feel much better if I stayed with you little bit.”
“Would you like some coffee and a slice of cake? I saw a coconut cake sitting in the fridge.”
“That Em has such a sweet tooth this pregnancy.” Max started the coffee himself while I took out the cake. “I think every time I come here she has a different cake in the fridge.”
I agreed. “I think Jake’s been feeding her habit by bringing home cake every chance he gets.”
“Well, I know I’ve enjoyed this habit of hers.”
When we got to the table, I hesitated wondering if I should ask him the question that’s been on my mind.
“You look like you have something you want to ask me.”
“How did you know?”
“You have a very expressive face, Laney. I don’t think you could ever lie, because it will show up right on your face.”
“That’s not good.” I worried.
“You afraid Donovan might catch on to your big secret?”
My face must have blanched because Max choked on his coffee trying to keep himself from laughing. Damn! This was seriously not good.
“You Reid girls all have a crush on him at some point in your lives?”
“Is it that obvious?” What a nightmare! If Max caught on this easily, who else knew?
Max tousled my hair. He would’ve made such a neat older brother. I could see why Emily had loved him so much, and why Jane was so crazy about him now.
“I don’t think anyone else knows. I only noticed when Josh took a liking to you. I watched you a little bit more carefully, wondering where my brother was going wrong. And that’s when I noticed the obvious answer. How long have you liked him?”
“May I ask you to keep this confidential, even from Jane? Would it make things difficult for you if I asked you to hold a secret from her?”
“Not at all, Laney. If you tell me something in confidence, it’s just between you and me. It has nothing to do with Jane.”
“I’ve had a crush on him since I was ten.” I put my head down on the table and put my hands over my head because I was so embarrassed. “I’m so pathetic, huh?”
“Since you were ten?” Max was in shock. “Wow. That’s half your life.”
“I think it’s wonderful Laney. I think you two suit nicely.”
“You do? You’re probably the only one who thinks that way. I don’t even think we suit. I’m too young and definitely not cosmopolitan enough.”
“I think you’re a beautiful young lady with a lot going for her. In my opinion, he’s not good enough for you.”
“That’s sweet of you to say. But, no matter—I leave soon and all should be back to normal.”
“What does that mean?”
“This is probably something you won’t understand, but my heart is so bruised from years of ‘loving’ someone without being loved in return, I needed a clean break. I had that break when I didn’t see Donovan for years, but since he’s come back into my life, the pain’s been inescapable. You must think I’m such a loser—running away. Initially, this trip to London started as a getaway from reality, but now, it’s turned into a getaway from Donovan.”
“I wish you wouldn’t do that, but I can’t say I don’t understand what you’re feeling. When Emily and I first broke up, I wished I had a place to go and not have any contact with her. The first time I saw her a year and a half after our break-up was almost as bad as the break-up itself.”
“How did you do it? You were both so much in love. How did you let her go?”
“Em meant that much to me. I didn’t see any other way but to allow her to find her happiness. And look who she found. She and Jake are perfect for one another.”
“They are, and so are you and Jane. I know she isn’t the easiest person to please, but Jane’s one of the best people I know.” I didn’t know if I should reassure Max that Jane’s harmless flirting with Donovan was nothing more than fun banter. I desperately wanted to give Max the same comfort he afforded me, but I thought I may be overstepping what’s proper. “You are lucky to have Jane as your girlfriend, and she’s more than lucky to be with you. Right after Jake, I think you are the best fish in the pond.”
Deciding we’d had enough of this maudlin conversation, I gave Max a wide smile, and he smiled right back at me. I hoped Jane understood what a prize she had in this man.
“What are you still doing here?” Donovan questioned, mildly irritated.
“Taking care of someone who needed a little taking care of,” Max said with a wink and a grin. “You want me to kick him out?” he whispered and hugged me good night. “Or you could try letting him know how you feel before you leave.” I pulled away shocked at the suggestion. Max nodded his head in encouragement. “Try it. You may be surprised at the result.”
“Don’t you have a girlfriend to tend to?”
“I surely do!” Max kissed my head and patted me on the back as a farewell.