Cedrick waited until the both the men lifting the boxes had left and closed the door behind them. He reached out and pulled Efren to sit down next to his books.
“Don’t’ you have any trust in your family?” He asked after he massaged his shoulders for a bit and reminded him to breath.
“Oh yeah!” Efren scoffed. “Dad only had me to take over my body, my mom had no trouble selling off her own kid and now uses children to blackmail me and my stepbrother signed me up for a life of misery. Yeah, I can see where the trust part fits.”
Cedrick gaped at him for a moment before he remembered to close his mouth. He had no comeback on that. His eyebrows flew up, then fell back on the root of his nose before floating back somewhere in the middle.
“Well…” He began quietly, but lost his trail of thought and shrugged, trying again. “You’re no longer his contractor, so he saw fit that you move out.” He shot his hands up to stop the sarcastic comment lingering on the tip of his tongue. “Look, I find it as confusing as you do, but he cares a great deal about his family.” Another snort from Efren. “Hear me out!” He warned. “He won’t toss you on the street. He has an apartment picked out for you and I’m sure you’ll love it there.”
“I don’t -”
“I picked it out.” Cedrick corrected quickly. “It has three bedrooms, modern kitchen, is on the edge of the city center and you don’t have to use public transport to get to work and back. It isn’t large like hell and it doesn’t have a shining surface in site!”
Efren couldn’t suppress a smile. The man had noticed his dislike towards the cold glass-like surfaces around this place. His brother might have liked them like high end hotel, but it did nothing to make it look more home. Cedrick saw things his way, probably after meeting Pearl and Marc, he saw it completely differently, being family man himself.
“But it comes with a access to a small inner yard and it allows pets.” Cedrick finished and waited.
Efren’s eyes drawled up to look at him. “Just like that? What’s the catch?” He asked, sensing the secretary wasn’t finished. “Come on, tell me.”
“Steven wants to set up Sunday dinner tradition.”
Efren burst out in laughter. “What? We never did that and my mom is not welcome where I live. Never.” That was said without any hesitation. He really didn’t want her around.
“Steven hasn’t had that either. But he wants to get to know you and your family, because he considers you as family. You, Marc and Pearl. I’m not sure about the cat though. Hm, maybe I should warn his housekeeper to check the jackets for cat hair on Mondays.”
Efren frowned, peering his eyes in Cedrick. A lone wolf suddenly wanting a pack?
“You put him up to this!” he accused and a sly smile lit the older man’s face. He clasped his hands together with a relieved sigh.
“Glad we’ve come to agreement! He is scheduled at your place every Sunday at six for the next half a year. After March we’ll see how it goes, OK?”
“Why?” Efren demanded while Cedrick dug back into his books and began packing the next load into the free box.
“Family is important, Efren. We both have the need for it and it tears us apart when there is a discord.” Cedrick glanced over the title of a small paperback before tossing it in. “Steven has that need too, although he likes to think of himself as untouched by it. It is up to us to provide our families what they need, not what they always want. It’s what drove Steven out to find the chemists to provide you with your medicals and why he kept lady Theresia close to him instead of leaving her for her faith. But we, deary, need it more than others. It’s what…” he thought of a better wording, “grounds us.”
Efren didn’t answer. Cedrick was right, but right now he was in no mood to confirm it.
“Cedrick?” He turned around, watching him working.
“How many kids do you have?”
Cedrick’s hands stilled for a moment. “Two. Emma and Marilyn. Actually, it was meant to be name for one, but we got two, so we divided the name.”
Efren smiled. He liked hearing how tenderly he spoke of the things he liked.
“Someday, maybe. Pearl seemed like a nice girl. Mind if she comes for a visit sometimes? Girls were asking for her.”
“You’d have to ask Mark about that.”
He hadn’t seen either of them since he was submitted to the hospital. He’d waited at first, his heartbeat going louder each time the door opened, but after he’d woken up, neither of them had come for a visit. He didn’t spend that much time there anyway. Oddly, it hadn’t bothered him. Unlike before, it didn’t bother him that they were not in the same room with him, but he could sense them close by. He’d analyzed the sensation he felt connecting him to the couple, strange calm taking over as he meditated and sought out the threads between them. Like someone had switched them on for his beacon. He knew they could sense it too, even if they didn’t have name for it.
“Alright, I’ll trust you.” Efren said finally and got up. What did he have to lose? “I see you’ve made quite a mess of my books again. Did you pack them last time too?”
“How did you know?”
He let his eyes travel over the mountains of books. “You like order in the wrong order.” He sighed, but instead of arguing against his system, he started picking up books from the piles and stuffing them into boxes. By their sizes, not by their topics like he did.