“Liam! Liam, where are you?” Liam was working out, he had heard Leonie’s car drive up, then heard her calling for him.
He stopped his exercise, wiped off and followed her voice.
“Here. What’s up, baby?”
“Oh my gawd, you would not believe whom I ran into?” she said, her voice nearly tipping over when he kissed her on the cheek.
“Judging by how excited you are, somebody you haven’t seen in a while?” Liam guessed.
“Yup! An old college classmate of mine. I had no idea they lived so close. I went to see my mom and they live practically next door in Newcrest. Who knew?! Actually, he was visiting his parents too, and THEY live next door. I had no clue.”
“He? So it’s some ugly nerdy dude, right?” Liam said carefully.
“Oh no. No, not at all. Total hottie! I remember in college he was super-popular. VERY popular with the girls, to put it mildly.” she ruffled her nose, smiling at Liam.
“That’s great. Do I even want to know HOW well you know him then?” Liam felt a pang of jealousy, even though he knew she was pushing his buttons on purpose.
“Liam – nothing like that. Besides, I had a boyfriend then, remember? Raoul?”
“Urgh. I really do not want to hear about the dudes from your past, Leo. Happy you saw him. The end.” Oh yeah, Liam remembered Raoul. Still a sore subject. Even though they were broken up at the time, more specifically because HE broke up with her, seeing her with that Raoul was not a good moment and forever burned into his mind, even though that had been ages ago now.
“Uh uh. Not ‘the end’. We are going over there tonight. So get yourself cleaned up, I want to flaunt you.” Leonie gave Liam a quick kiss and a pat on the rear before she left him standing there. Oh, goodie gumdrop. Meeting some ‘hottie’ from her past, right next door to his in-laws home. Yikes.
Hours later Liam was driving a very familiar route from Brindleton Bay to basically next door to Leo’s parents’ home. Leonie was too excited for him to do what he really wanted to do, which was bow out. He had absolutely no desire to meet any man from Leonie’s past. Especially not any good looking ones.
“So what is that dude’s name?” he asked, still not impressed by any of this.
“Cole. Cole Murdock.”
“Ah.” Liam processed. Still not crazy about him. Soon they arrived, he parked. He had a fight or flight moment as they walked up to the door.
Once the door was opened, Liam’s mood sunk further. Yup, definite competition. Leonie noticed and gave him another one of those looks, reminding him to behave or face the consequences. Yes, dear, he thought.
His mood took a strong upturn when a beautiful brunette came into view, smiling, and was introduced as Cole’s wife Avery.
Polite handshakes and greetings were exchanged.
Then the mood took a nose dive again, especially when Leo and that Cole-dude acted like they had not seen each other in decades.
Didn’t they just see one another hours ago? He forced a smile and played along, watched Leonie and that Cole-dude chatter like two school girls, then cozy up for a selfie.
Avery seemed nice. Very polite, intelligent … and seemingly about as happy to be here as Liam was.
This was her in-laws home as well, and since Liam’s in-laws home was next door and he was about as crazy to hang out there as he would be about having his wisdom teeth pulled, he could relate.
Even though her in-laws apparently were not in.
Liam had never been so lucky.
They all sat together and talked, of course they both knew who Liam was, so the pesky talk about his movie career and all the usual questions rained upon him. He took it in stride. Then finally the topic changed.
Eventually the hopping-down-memory-lane began.
Avery started zoning out, suppressing yawns, then typing around on her cell phone.
Liam was left to listening to their blasts from the past about people he never heard of and their quirks, inside jokes that made no sense to him. He glanced over at Avery still busy on her phone.
Cole was a patient man. Liam knew if he tried to play on his phone, Leonie would slap it out of his hands. So he looked around the room, at pictures of people who vaguely all resembled Cole to a degree, evidently his parents, and children. He had two, as they heard and Cole was amazed to hear that Liam and Leonie had four. Liam did not miss the quick glances between Cole and his wife, which made her grimace. A-ha. Trouble in paradise on the kids-front then.
Finally there was one of those awkward pauses, when Leonie went to the restroom.
Avery was completely engrossed in her cell still.
Liam felt bad, so he decided on light conversation.
“So, what exactly did you study, Cole?” he began the small talk.
“Veterinary medicine. I actually run a vet clinic. And my dad owns a development business, which is where Avery works, right sweetheart?” Cole’s attempt to involve Avery into the conversation failed. She did not even hear him.
“Oh really? That’s cool. Your father’s not hiring by any chance? My best friend is an architect and currently in between jobs.” Liam thought it couldn’t hurt to ask, to help Corbin.
Maybe a new job would get him thinking with the right head again. He had always been good at work.
If he could stay focused on it, and not his assistant’s feminine charms.
Maybe, in retrospect, asking this guy was not the best move.
“Actually they are hiring, right Avery? Umm … they just opened a branch in Windenburg and are hiring like crazy. I’ll give you Avery’s and my dad’s business cards, have your friend contact them.” Another attempt to involve his wife went awry, who was now listening to some voicemail, evidently, but Cole recovered quickly.
Leonie had come back for the last part and what looking at Liam.
“For Corbin?” she asked.
Leonie shot him a look as if to say ‘you better make sure Corbin does not embarrass me!’.
Not long after that they left.
“Are you seriously thinking about having Corbin apply there? Not sure that is a good idea. Afraid he’d try to nail everybody there. Cole has a sister, forgot her name, I think it was Ami, pretty little thing. And his wife, too. Don’t want Corbin to try anything with either of them, please. Last thing I would want to be responsible for is ruining Cole’s marriage by way of your primal urge driven Neanderthal best friend, Liam!”
“Come on now! He may have overreacted a bit to the divorce, but he is better now. A new job would do him good. Keeps him occupied and his mind focused on something productive, so he would not have time to – ya know.”
“I believe that when I see it.”
“When did you become such a hater, Leo? I thought you liked Corbin.”
“I like him because he is your best friend. I was never a fan. Did you know that he tried to hit on Nathan and Mae’s teen daughter?”
“No. Are you sure?”
Leonie just gave him a look, but then leaned up against him.
“Damn.” Liam knew she was telling the truth. Leonie had never been one for idle gossip. Nathan was not one to let something like that slide. Corbin better tread lightly. Nathan was by far the strongest and tallest of the boys, and he worked in construction. And had a very low tolerance level.
They arrived home. Soon after Liam left again to visit Corbin and give him the good news – and the business cards. While thinking about it, Liam decided on only giving him Cole’s father’s card. Just in case.
He knocked and hoped that this time it would not be Zoey leaving. If he saw her with him again, he would have to tell Vivian. And that was not a discussion he was looking forward to having. But this time Corbin himself answered. Sober. Phew!
After the usual niceties, Liam went straight to the point. Corbin seemed interested. Maybe he had been right. There was hope and all this was just a phase to deal with the slump after the divorce.
This time when Liam left, he felt good about it all.
Corbin did get the job, as a matter of fact Cole’s father supposedly had been rather impressed by his portfolio. He started the job and even got to hire in the first employees, since Ben Murdock and Avery were tied up with the orginal branch and some medical emergency Cole’s sister had been involved in. (read here)
Weeks passed calmly and fairly uneventful.
Life was good.
Liam had been able to calm down Nathan’s emotions.
All would be back to normal soon, right?
Or would it?
Liam came home from a jog one day when Emily was leaving as he was entering. She only greeted him briefly. Not a good sign.
He found Leonie in the kitchen, with a grim expression.
“Do I even want to know?” Liam started carefully.
“YOUR friend. Your best friend, he is an asshole!” Leonie told him.
Uh oh. What now?
“What did Corbin do now?” Liam expected her to tell him he left some off color voice mail for Emily after drunk dialing her or something to that tune, when Leonie dropped some pictures in front of Liam. Every single one showed Corbin somewhere in the offices of C&M Development Windenburg in very unmistakably un-officelike situations with different females. Liam only looked at two, his eyes glazed over for the rest of them
Some Liam recognized, some he had never seen before. Dammit!
Looking questioning at Leonie she answered
“Someone stuck these in an envelope into the Bjergsen’s mailbox, obviously unaware that Corbin no longer lives there. Emily was NOT happy about this. She wanted me to give these to you, so you can fix it.”
“Fix it? How am I supposed to do that?”
“Beats me, but you better do something. If this comes back to Cole and on me, you and I are gonna have a problem.”
Liam was grateful that none of the images showed him with Avery. Or that sister. That would have not been pretty.
Once more, Liam drove over to Corbin’s place. He knocked and knocked, no answer. This was odd. He had texted him that he was coming and Corbin replied that he would be home.
Liam walked around the house, peeking into the windows, careful not to attract attention by looking like a burglar. He could see nothing. Either the rooms were empty or the reflections were too much to make out anything. So he looked for a spare key. As often as Corbin had come home drunk of late, he definitely would have one. It took Liam 4 attempts and he found one in a fake rock by the front door. Grinning he shook his head, then unlocked. His smile faded.
“Corbin? Hey Corbin?”
Liam had initially thought Corbin had just gotten drunk and passed out again, but walking closer he realized that assumption had been wrong.
“Oh my gawd, CORBIN!!!”
*This post featured a cameo from the protagonists of ‘New Beginnings’. Check out their adventures here.