Nicholas looked firmly at his best friend, then told him
“Now that the greeting and exchange of news are out of the way, and you still haven’t said anything, I am going to ask: what’s wrong with your sister?”
“Ezzy’s fine. Wasn’t she just here yesterday?” Ethan tried to look nonchalant.
“Yep, and gave me the same hogwash about everything is awesome. Not buying it. Esmée seemed kind of on the edge already so I didn’t dare ask, because the last thing I need is to have her upset at me and avoid me again. Too risky to grill her, so I am asking you, my best friend.”
“Dude, come on, don’t do that to me. Don’t pull the bro card on me. Ez specifically threatened terrible things if I were to tell you a thing.”
“I am going to do much worse to you if you don’t, so TALK, man!”
“She got fired and when she got home found a letter saying her lease was cancelled.
She has to be out of her apartment by the end of the month. She is destroyed! Without a job she has no money to move and she does not want help from me or mom and dad, you know her. She is about to sell the car and all.”
“WHAT?! That is crazy! I told her to house-sit my penthouse. I was under the impression she was staying there. Why is she not moving into my place?”
“She goes over there all the time, to water plants, mop, dust … you know, Ezzy-stuff. But she does not want to – and I quote – ‘use’ you.” Ethan shrugged.
“Use me?! Is that a joke?! Get your sister’s ass up into my crib, please! I don’t care how, but you are her brother and I know you can do it. And why the hell would they fire her?” Nick wondered.
“The official reason is ‘personnel reduction’ which is BS. She blew the whistle on some shady shit her bosses were doing.” Ethan told him.
“What the …. did you guys forget that I am an attorney?! That is literally what I get paid to do! Why am I just now hearing about this? We have so many options …”
The nurse came to inform them that visitation was over, not much more they could do but say their goodbyes.
The next time Ezzy came to see him, as they were sitting on a bench in the adjacent park area belonging to the clinic, he didn’t even fake it, but addressed this right away. After her rant about slapping Ethan for telling him, Nick shook his head at her
“Ezzy, that kind of stuff is what I do every day at work! Why did you not trust me?”
“It’s not that. I need to be able to handle things myself… and I don’t want to use you, Nick. It’s not right to take advantage of the fact that you happen to be an …”
He leaned over and kissed her.
“Ez, do you still not get it? You are my life. If I cannot help you, what good is any of this to me?”
She said nothing, so he continued.
“You are going to move into my penthouse and …”
“No. Nick …”
“OK, I am discharging myself from rehab then and take care of things myself …”
“No! You are half-way through therapy!”
“Move into my penthouse and look for a new job. Take your time, get one you want, not just any random job, ok?”
“I … can’t sleep in your bed … not without you …” the latter part was more of a whisper.
“Oh gawd baby, I will be out in two weeks. Actually, hearing this is going to make me want to discharge myself now.”
“No. Let’s walk to that tree, ok?”
Upon reaching it she looked over her shoulder, then pulled him off the path behind some bushes, kissed him.
“I don’t think we are supposed to go off roading …”
She whispered something in his ear.
“Gawd girl … you are killing me! Athletic pants are not a man’s best friend in public when a girl is teasing you like that …”
“Who’s teasing? If you promise to finish rehab, I have a special treat for you.”
“If you talk like that I’ll promise you anything you want!” the looks she gave him and her words had him hot under the collar.
With one swift move she pulled down his drawstring pants baring him entirely, then kissed him hard.
After the kiss that had him all woozy, she gave him a quick shove, hard enough to send him backwards into the soft grass, where he landed on his behind, before he could protest, she straddled him, kissing him as she pinned him to the ground.
All he could do was moan, as he greedily returned her kisses, until she sat up and began to rhythmically move atop him, slowly at first then more demanding. She didn’t need to tell him twice and within seconds he was inside of her, moaning, eyes closed, unless he managed to force them open to make sure she was real not some extremely naughty dream.
When it was over, she leaned forward, kissed him and whispered into his ear
“See you next weekend. And remember your promise! Finish the therapy.”
She jumped up and then she was gone.
He knew running after her wouldn’t do an good, so he just dropped backwards into the grass, closed his eyes and smiled
“That girl is my entire life and the death of me at the same time. Damn! I think I need to pinch myself. Ouch! Yep, this really happened. Damn!”
For the rest of the day he couldn’t wipe the grin off his face. At this point he was confident they would be back together. Soon.
He sat through his therapy session, then dinner, later in his bed at night he thought about how it would be to live with her. Not just in the same apartment complex visiting like they had through college, but downright living in his penthouse as the couple he wanted them to be so badly
Weeks ago he had told his mother that Esmée was part of his life again and that he needed her to understand how important she was to him. Kaila Gray told her son that all she ever wanted was for him to be happy, to which he told her that Ezzy made him very happy. In his mind this meant his mother would treat Ezzy respectful from now on. Had to. He did not want to be made to choose.
Then he remembered that they still were not even a couple again yet.
Although, her deviant actions from the afternoon gave him hope. He knew she cared about him, was certain she loved him, she had always been there for him when he needed her. And she obviously wanted him. If he could tame himself and not pressure her or rush things, it would happen. Had to.
The day of his release came.
His parents picked him up from the rehab center, took him home, where they were impressed with the building.
Especially his mother wouldn’t stop smiling and telling him how proud they were of him.
Kaila Gray’s smile faded fast and gave way to a frown when they found Ezzy waiting for them and Mrs. Gray almost lost it when Nick just kissed Esmée intensely right away.
Esmée had cooked for them, complete with dessert.
He couldn’t stop grinning, hoping his parents would leave right after the meal, but was relieved that his mother and Esmée interacted in a fairly civil manner. Mostly.
After the dessert and coffee had been served, his parents left. As soon as the door shut he kissed Ezzy in a way that reflected how much he had missed her.
“Someone’s still hungry …” she smirked.
“Very. After that day at the park you left me famished for more ….” he mumbled in between kissing her neck.
“Down boy. We need to talk first.”
“We’ll talk after. Or during … not now. I don’t have enough blood in my brain for that right now.” he kept kissing while she tried to pluck him away from herself.
“Nick! Focus, please, for a minute! I hate to do this, but I need to leave. I will be back later, just didn’t want you to think this wasn’t important to me. It is. Just really bad timing.”
“Leave?! Timing for what?” Nick could not be more shocked if he tried.
“I need to go meet my mom downtown. To look at another apartment. She’ll co-sign. And help with the rent until I get back on my feet.”
“What?! You HAVE a home. Here. I thought we agreed …”
“Nick, we agreed on nothing. You talked and talked, I never agreed. I took care of this penthouse, but I am not living here. It’s not right. Especially since we are not even together.”
“We’re not!? Still?! What the hell was all that in the park about? And the welcome home lunch?”
“Friends. Evidently the type with benefits.”
“Ez, I don’t want to be some … side-piece. I thought all this means something! I don’t want to be some booty call! Esmée, we belong together. And you have seen it, my mother got the message. Maybe you’ll never be BFFs but this was good enough. Wasn’t it?”
“You see what you want to see. I saw her chewing like a regurgitating cow, frown about the spices, then flood her guts with water to get the taste out. She’s fakin’ it for you, but still sending the message to me.”
“This isn’t fair. I love you, you KNOW I do, and I know you love me back. We cannot do this Romeo and Juliet thing just because you hate my mom. I am sure you are not the only woman who feels that way. Others have managed, please at least try. Things are different now. We are both more mature.”
“I … will think about it.”
“No Ez. Not again. I need an answer NOW. Please.”
“Well, you’re not getting one. I need to go now anyway.”
“But you’re not gonna!”
“What? Don’t be silly. Let me by!”
“You’re an attorney. This is … abduction.”
“I didn’t abduct you, you were already here when I got here.”
“Well, you are holding me against my will. So whatever that charge would be, you are guilty. All I have to do is call the cops.”
“I’ll take my chances.” he kissed her forehead.
“Why are you being so difficult?!”
“I am being difficult?! Wanna try that logic again?”
“I am not living with you in YOUR penthouse as your friend. I cannot be your girlfriend, not only because of your mother, but because I have a whole 47 Simoleons and change to my name. You know what people would say, right?”
“What? Give her 3 bucks to make it an even 50?”
“I am glad you find this humorous. I don’t! I am 22, a college grad in Business, got fired from a job I hated where I was nothing but a glorified secretary, lost the shittiest apartment humanity has ever seen, so I had to crawl back to mommy and daddy for money and help. Trust me adding trophy girlfriend to that list of shame is not even on my radar.”
“Fine. be my glorified secretary until you can find something better. We pay well, it’s hard to get into our firm unless you have connections, but guess what? You have a connection. You HAVE a home. This. As crazy as you went the first time you saw this place, I didn’t think it would be such a hard sell. And I do not give a rat’s ass what others think about our relationship, Ez, I know better. You had my tail in a spin since I was 13. Oh yeah, I would have NEVER admitted it then, but I have been crushing on you, Xena, for almost a decade. So cut the shit, Ez. Call your mother and let her do something productive instead of this drama.”
“If I call her and the realtor now, I am never getting my own place.”
“I’ll even let you girlify this place … well … within boundaries.”
“Let me call my mom. See if she hasn’t left yet …. stay here.”
Esmée ran into the bedroom, shut the door and dialed.
After a few minutes she came out, walked up to Nicholas.
“And? What did your mom say?”
“Nothing. She was on the landline with some last minute work drama. Grandma was over and answered.” Esmée took Nick’s hands into hers and started playing with them.
“So what did granny say?”
“She said – and I quote – ‘Hang up the phone and get that boy, while your mother and I will pack your bags, kid!’ Oh- and she also told me ‘don’t you dare bring that cute butt of yours home tonight or I will personally spank it!'”
“I love your grandma!”
The next day Katie answered the door at the Beach House, Everett’s eyes grew big when she returned with a nice bouquet of flowers. No card.
“Do you have a boyfriend?” Rett joked.
“I don’t … but I would bet someone else in the family does now. I have a good idea why I got these today.” she smiled satisfied as she placed the flowers on the table.