He’d lived with Steven less than a week and seen four new places by the beginning of the second. After the little fiasco, Steven wanted him nowhere near his cast and that gave Efren some much needed time for himself. He spent it on contemplation and looking through the things they’d brought with them.
The four apartments had been delightful, but none of them would be available fast enough for him to move, so he had to decline them. One had a balcony and that had brought his thoughts back to his plants plants and how he missed having a living creature by his side. At least someone, who didn’t ignore him completely.
“Hi! I made dinner!” Efren shouted to the opening door without looking up from the sauce. “Just a sec, I’m gonna take it off the heat and then will help you!” he kept shouting.
Steven appeared from behind the corner and when Efren looked up, he saw Cedrick putting away the coat. He frowned. Wasn’t that his duty?
“Don’t bother.” Steven said, his eyes fixed on the pan. “I already ate.” He said it with a low grunt and wrinkled his face. “God I hate chicken! Don’t leave it in the fridge – the stench makes me sick!”
Efren felt the edges of his vision go read. The spatula found its place in the sink together with the rest of the sauce.
“Then why buy it in the first place?”
He switched on the garbage disposal and opened the tap to its full. He hadn’t eaten yet, but he lost his appetite anyway.
“We do need coffee, we have things to discuss.”
“We or you two?” he asked, pushing the pieces deeper into the disposal. Then he cleaned his hands and pressed the prepared coffee machine on. He’d learned quickly that coffee machine had to be fully stocked at all times. The man was junkie for caffeine.
“Me and Cedrick. It would be kind if you left us alone for few hours.”
“And go where?” He couldn’t bite back the snort of irony leaving his tongue.
Steven glared at him with eyes that declared clearly how he didn’t care. Great, Efren sighed. He spin around and went to the living room, where Cedrick was setting up their work station. He stood next to the armchair and Cedrick helped him out of his jacket before laying it, folded, on the edge of it.
Meanwhile, Efren kept himself busy making the coffees. Black for Steven and with milk for Cedrick. The latter came to the counter to pick up the beverages.
“You could have just put it in a container and leave it for tomorrow?” he asked softly, so quietly that it sounded like a lullaby.
“I suspect he doesn’t eat warmed up food.” Efren chipped, his eyes leveled in the secretary’s. “I would be tossing it out in few days anyway.”
“Oh yes. It would be wise to call and ask if he is eating out or not.” Cedrick suggested. Efren glanced at his way and hadn’t he been so serious with the statement, he would have thought the secretary was making fun of him. “The housekeepers always called me before Steven’s workday ended.”
“Couldn’t you have told me this before? How am I supposed to know how things work with you people? Where I come from people don’t run off to restaurants before going home to their wives, who have made them dinners!”
Cedrick chuckled. “You see yourself as his wife?”
Efren pressed his lips together and kept his tongue at bay. “I’m supposed to be his brother!” He glanced down on the hands holding the ears of the mugs and his eyes widened. A golden ring around his left hand’s ring finger! Cedrick was married!
“Don’t you want to go home to check on your own wife’s cooking?” he asked with venom.
His chuckle turned in a mild grin. “I already have.”
“I see.” Efren did the math. “He ate at your place, huh?” he asked, not really waiting for reply.
“Filled turkey breasts.”
“Turkey, as in poultry…” Efren drawled with growing resentment to this place. Keep rubbing it in, why don’t you? Then he remembered he wouldn’t be there for much longer and he smiled involuntarily, pulling a confused frown out of the older man.
“Wow, that’s just…” so teenager. He wanted to scream. Better, he wanted to make them scream and just sit back and relax. Perhaps raw stinking chicken would do it? Sitting in the lower part of the fridge right behind the carrots where he wouldn’t look. Oh, that would make such a nice gift after he left…
“I asked if you’d add milk for Steven’s coffee?” Cedrick repeated.
“Sure, I’ll just…” he giggled over the thought. He knew in his heart he would never do it, for that was a true juvenile statement, but that didn’t stop him fantasizing. “I’m gonna grab a burger.”
“If you’d kept the sauce, you could have eaten it.” Steven mumbled, but not quiet enough so they wouldn’t hear.
“It was poisoned.” Efren answered without heartbeat. “If you don’t eat it, no point of keeping it. Some poor rat might get a dummy ache.” He took his jacket from the closet, walked over to living room and reached out his hand to Steven, waiting. Both men stared at him as if he’d grown a second head. He didn’t care if they found it funny or insulting. Cedrick sure found it funny, but he was too busy coughing the coffee from his nose. “Next page, please.”
Steven’s mouth twitched upwards while he follower his rigid figure from top to bottom. He then dug into the pile of documents already set for assessments and pulled out a foil pouch which held piece of dirty rimmed page.
Efren recognized it from far and wave of disappointment washed over his back. Painkiller recipe could make his days easier, but it was far from what he was hoping for.