“She could have had a fun summer.” Tomas said with disappointment while they were dragging themselves back home.
“Give it up already! She’s not interested!” Reed was at his wits end – he wouldn’t shut up about it!
“Are you kidding? Have I ever met a woman, who can refuse this charm?” he puffed up his muscles and demonstrated them. He did look like statue of Zeus in Olympia, but he was immune to his charms.
“Put your guns away, gigolo.” Reed continued walking without spearing him a glance. “Keep this up and some bird might take you for a new tree.”
“You really are in a bad mood!” Tomas huffed.
“I’m surprised you’re not. I’m not tourist, I live here,” he mocked her speech, “what’s that about?”
“So you were eavesdropping!” Tomas murmured, hurrying up to be closer to him while a older couple passed them on the other side of the road.
He could feel his cheeks heat up and he turned away to avoid looking at him. Caught red handed, he gritted his teeth. He didn’t want to discuss it with him right now or ever.
“I’m not giving up. The girl needs to live a little before she’s old and cranky.”
He didn’t make a sound. That was the only thing that registered in Reed’s brain, when a moment later he found his brother flat against wooden boathouse, his wrist aching and another hand pressing against his chest, hard. He didn’t know, where he’d hit him, but according to the pain in his own knuckles, he had. Tomas stared at him with wide eyes, but made no attempts to stop him. His hands began shaking as he pulled away and let him down on his feet. It couldn’t have been very hard hit, by the looks of it, but his guts cave in anyway and he wanted to run, to apologize, to hit him again. Too many things in too short time frame.
Tomas didn’t move from his spot, his stare unwavering. He could understand he was shocked, but he couldn’t read out if he was angry or not. If anything, he seemed to be observing him, calculating something and it irritated Reed more than his anger would have. Tomas swung his jaw from one side to another and back, testing if it was broken or not. It was gonna hurt him tomorrow and probably spurt a nasty bruise.
Reed tried to get his breathing back under control. He didn’t want to admit it was another girl coming between him and his brother. This couldn’t be happening. He was losing it. Why couldn’t he be like everybody else?
An arm grabbed hold of his shoulder and yank him back from what he gathered was him trying to run.
“Where do you think you’re going? This is an island – next ferry goes in four days. Besides, don’t you think you owe me something?”
“An apology?” Reed snarled, still not looking up at him. If that’s what he was hoping, he wasn’t getting any. He didn’t feel sorry for it, as far as he was concerned, he’d earned it, but it didn’t stop his guilt trip to hell. He was twenty six, not a teenager any more. Which made this even scarier, because he really didn’t want this back in his life.
Tomas sighed. Reed could see him falling back into the pattern they had when he’d first attacked him when he was fifteen. Forcing him to apologize had never worked, so Tomas had found a chink in his armor.
He flinched when Tomas arm came resting on his shoulder and he lead them back towards their cottage. “Explanation then? I am having mighty case of deja vu.”
Few minutes later they were sitting behind Tomas’ cottage on the small board Tomas had found near by and settled on two large flat stones. It wasn’t the best sitting bench, but it was hidden from the rest of the island and gave one mighty look over the sea behind the cottage. With work done, there was nothing to distract them besides their own thoughts and so they left their jackets inside and sat there, soaking up the sun and drinking glass of water.
There wasn’t gonna be any explanation. Instead they sat and he waited. Tomas would give up soon enough and let him off the hook. But it did give him time to calm down and for that he was thankful that at least his older brother wasn’t teenager any more.
He cleared his throat. “Sorry about the earlier.”
“Are you still seeing your therapist?”
Reed stiffened. He had hated that part in his rehabilitation. He agreed it was good for him, but going back to any of them made his skin crawl. It had kept him out of jail, although sometimes he wondered if that hadn’t been the better solution for his problem. More straight forward for sure.
“Never mind.” Tomas cut him off. “Interesting though.”
“I -” His last statement took him off guard. Interesting?
“You’re not a violent guy, never have been.” Reed didn’t know if to thank him for his assessment or kick him to prove him wrong. “Honestly, if this were medieval times, I would have some weird fairy tale explanation for it, but in today’s world, honestly? It’s as if you have a catalyst, don’t you think? All fine until you get near by to it and then boom! All reason flies out of the window and stays there until we get you far, far away again.”
“What are you talking about?” He asked defensively. He wasn’t as clueless as he played out to be. He’d figured it out already. He had taken a rolling jump backwards in evolution and acting like a caveman, who had a sniff of a woman.
“It always struck me odd, why you attacked me back then. Roy thought it was your hormones in overdrive, but you’re older now, so to explain it with that would be, well, silly.”
“Who’s Roy?” Reed asked, picking up from him something interesting. He’d never heard that name before. He wasn’t any of his friends, nor people from work, for he knew them all, working there together.
“He’s my -” Tomas said without thinking, but gasped, shutting up. “He’s someone.” He added quietly after he thought over it for a moment.
They weren’t bosom buddies, but the rush Tomas had put up defenses with obvious signs to keep out, it made him suspicious. A new friend he couldn’t introduce? Those were never good news.
After that Tomas said nothing for a while until he declared he was too tired, picked up their glasses and went to get some sleep.
He couldn’t keep sitting here. He felt claustrophobic, even with all the space around him and seemingly endless water in front of him with small rocks peaking out on the sides where the shore reached deeper into it. He wanted to be alone, but at the same he hated the idea of marinating in his own thoughts.
He went walking. He knew he could go down the shoreline for about half an hour before he had to get off the track and go around the small boathouse. So instead he took a hook to right and found himself surrounded by the village’ houses from another angle. The commotion in the center hadn’t cooled off since they had left. Instead he saw more people, who now that the sun wasn’t burning everything, had taken time for a walk too.
Meredith ran past him. He only registered the fact when the small girl patted on his leg to get his attention, said hello, waved and was gone again faster than he could raise his own hand to respond. She seemed happier than usual and he wondered if it had to do with seeing Valerie alone earlier. That must have meant the girl’s father was back? What was his name? He knew he’d read it from the information folder.
He walked around the corner and realized he was standing next to the Santana’s Cafe again. Over the bushes he could see it was still busy, with an old man sitting in a corner table, four other guests and Valerie next to the table he’d broken earlier with a man he hadn’t met yet.
He guessed the old man sitting in the corner table was old Jasper he’d heard about. He couldn’t think of any other on the island to match that description so spot on – long white hair and beard, which was trimmed to match the image. Someone, who still held on to the viking lore, he guessed, looking at his brown linen shirt and a round pin holding the hems together. He couldn’t see what he was drinking, but he doubted it could be anything more than tea or coffee. The strongest they seemed to have here was sodas, and even those were probably home made.
The man didn’t resemble Meredith. He was way darker, but his hair had bleached lighter, probably from spending a lot of time outside. He was dressed in light clothes which were meant to last through all weather and next to his feet stood a large bag, which he recognized to be a camera bag. He’d seen a large photo at her place and seeing the bag, he guessed it had been done by this man. It had been the only personal photograph he had seen around the kitchen area, but he doubted there were many more in the bedroom or on the attic room.
They were discussing something vividly and He stood there, leaning against the corner of the house and watched that idyllic scene in silence. He felt the urge to go there and make his appearance known, but the sudden pain in his heart made him stand back and assess the situation instead.
Could it be she was really involved with him? They seemed friendly enough. Given, this entire island looked like a huge outgoing family to outsiders, but the way he reached his hand out and slapped a mosquito off couldn’t be considered normal!
“I hate to be rude…” a woman’s voice began. Reed saw a woman rise from the corner of his eyes. She was not much older than they. She was living few houses away in one of the guest houses.
Valerie’s face darkened, like knowing where this was going and Garret clenched his fists under the cafe table.
“Garret!” Valerie warned him with a whisper.
“I understand that to you it might seem like fleeting summer fling, but to see this aside is obscene – to go after married man and then our neighbor…”
Reed wondered how he happened to be here, listening this right now – didn’t they usually wait for a moment the offending party was alone before going in for the kill? This was so public, out of place he doubted if there was everything alright in her meddling head. Then he remembered the woman was already packing her cottage and would take the next ferry back to mainland. So that’s where the courage came.
“All I’m saying is you deserve better. It is not too late to change your way of life, sweet.” Then her attention moved to Garret. “Every marriage has its problems, but I’m sure none of them is so hard you have to ruin a young woman’s life, especially when you have such a lovely daughter.”
Reed watched Valerie glance around, looking for escape route. He reacted without thinking, taking few steps and whispered to them, leaning lower.
“You owe me big time.”
Sliding his hand around her shoulders, locking on to her dress he pulled her closer. Valerie made a surprised sound deep in her throat before he devoured her mouth and ran his tongue along the seam of her lips, before he realized what he was doing and pulled away with wide eyes.
They regarded each other uneasily, neither quite knowing what to say. Valerie nervously licked her lips and Reed followed the movement with his eyes. Kissing had not been part of his plan. God, he wanted to lean in and taste them one more time, press in and suck on to them.
Then the commotion started around them, pulling Reed back to reality.
“The giant kissed a fairy…” Jasper drawled before bursting to fits of laughter.
“Shit.” He whispered, his eyes searching around and landing on Garret’s glare. “Sorry, Garret. She just went on this stuff about my girlfriend and…” he pointed at the tourist behind them. The woman gasped loudly. Reed felt life crawling back in him the longer their eyes stuck at each other. Moment later the woman ran, red as a beet, incapable to keep his staring any longer.
“Since when have I been your girlfriend?” Valerie asked.
Reed shrugged. “I saved you just now – give me some credit!”
Instead, she beckoned him closer and slapped him so hard he saw stars flying behind his eyes.